Monday, February 20, 2006

Learning through vodcasting and podcasting – the good, the bad and the ugly

This is indeed a great idea. It would stay great if this is also open access – for students I mean. Suppose I live in some far away country and go to a University where the professor is about to retire and does not care much about the subject he is teaching, I can always go online to the big North American universities and quench my thirst for knowledge. It would be ideal if the papers they mention in class are also available via Open Access.

But, what about the professors who teach? Are they okay with their lectures being heard in unknown parts of the world? Will they be comfortable teaching or speaking their mind to students when they know someone is watching? Will the government come down on them for expressing their views on religion, politics and what not, every time there is a national disaster? For we all know how 9/11 affected freedom of personal opinions and thoughts and librarians are still trying to work on a perfect Patriot Act.

If Web masters at Universities have a final say in what is broadcast (outside of the University) and what isn’t, doesn’t that make them too powerful. I realize there will be others who have a say in what is allowed for broadcasting openly. Maybe a committee! How will the committee decide? What should the University be afraid of? And for whom? Will they be worried for the professor, the students who learn things from him or for the reputation of the university? Will they be worried about the funds they get, the grants they might not get and the future enrollment of students? Will something discussed in class affect global relationships and international marketing? If for the above fears, professors are told what to or not to talk about in class, doesn’t that affect freedom of expression?

As wonderful as vodcasting and podcasting l sound, I am also apprehensive about it for the above mentioned reasons.

Until next time...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Got a job! Is it The Job?

I am happy to say I have got a job. Is it The job? Well, what would make a job “the job?”

• Permanency – this is good for you don’t have to start the applying process all over again at the end of your contract
• Vacation pay – oh fantastic! Who wouldn’t want that!
• Vacation time – and lots of it with pay
• Competitive salaries and benefits – no need to say more

I have to say my job doesn’t have any of the above. But there are other things that constitute to the greatness of a job. Those would be:
A good challenge – I am the kind of person who loves this. I don’t like to get into a rut and do the same thing over and over again. I love to learn new things everyday. My job has provided me with good challenges and here are a few
o I am the first librarian hired by this institution – that cannot be easy for a new graduate who has never worked as a librarian
o I drafted a collection development policy
o I wrote goals, visions and missions for the library based on the organizations goals and visions.
o My first month was spent on weeding
o The rest of the collection is being divided into broad subject categories (some categories already existed) and is being given call numbers
o These subject categories are also being color coded or given some kind of spine labels to visually differentiate them from the rest
o I am researching automation and circulation software possibilities for such a small collection as ours
o With the automation/circulation software, I am hoping to get barcodes for our collection
o I am trying to get us library cards – make it all official
o I am in the process of redesigning the website in collaboration with a Web designer who works from Ontario
o My users complained that the way items are “annotated” on the Web site doesn’t make much sense to them as to what is in the book. So I have decided to type up the Table of Contents and display them for each item. Some of our collection, as it is produced by provincial or federal agencies, is available on line. The URL for that is being included on the website, so users can access the information with a click from their homes. This will be an informal digital or electronic library in a way. Or call it Open Access.
Great co-workers – this is really important as it can make or mar your job. I have got them.
Parent organizations’ support – having support from who ever is above you that has the control buttons to have your library running or not is critical. My organizations’ director is willing to hear me out and learn from me what the library should be like. That doesn’t happen very often. She likes my vision for the library and is willing to do things that she possibly can.
Future possibilities – As this is a very young library the possibilities are endless. With some funding help this will be a great library – have ILL, form consortia, digitize our information – oh! the possibilities are exciting.

Don’t go away for too long. I will have more to ramble next time.