Thursday, May 05, 2005

Who am I and why am I here?

This post is inspired by the discussion on blog ethics and guidelines. I decided that, for both my and my readers' good, a nice, clear outline of why I'm doing this would be a great idea. I'll link this post from the right column of the blog, so that newcomers and visitors can find out who I am, too. So, in the interest of full disclosure...

Who am I?
I am the Distance Education Library Coordinator (aka the DE Librarian) for Southern Connecticut State University's Buley Library. I have a Master's degree in Library and Information Services (M.L.I.S.) from University of Rhode Island and a Master's degree in Adult Education and Distance Learning (M.A.Ed) from University of Phoenix. I got my education degree through UoP's online program, so I know exactly what online students experience in their online classes. Previously, I've worked as an Interlibrary Loan Librarian, and I worked often with commuting students who experience many of the same frustrations of online students (not on campus often, work schedules, family committments, etc.)

What is a DE Librarian?
In my case, I am the contact point for faculty and students in our online programs. I represent their interests when library decisions need to be made (Should we get this resource in print or online? Can students access this from off campus?) I help faculty deal with the challenges of moving their courses online (How can students get access to this reading? What resources does the library have online for this subject?) I help students with their online research, pointing them to resources inside and outside the library, helping them decide if a particular source is appropriate, or reviewing print materials to help them decide if they want to request a photocopy. DE Librarian positions are mostly brand new, so we all get to make it up as we go along. I suspect that every one of my colleagues has a slightly different job description.

What the DE Librarian isn't?
  • A photocopier. (Order articles through Interlibrary Loan, please.)
  • A ghost writer or ghost researcher. (I'll get you started, but you have to do your own research and writing.)
  • A subject specialist in every field with online classes. (Nope, sorry, I don't know everything. But I know who you can talk to!)
  • A computer technician. (I know a lot about computers, and about the things that go wrong online, but I'm not a certified tech in anything, and I'm not the person to talk to about the campus computer network. Please see the Help Desk.)

What is this blog for?
One of the main issues is communicating what resources and services are available. Hence, this blog, which is just one method of communication. This blog will cover:
  • Online resources, both subscription based (i.e. databases, ejournals) and on the open web.
  • Tools and techniques for online instructors and students.
  • Announcements and news affecting online instructors and students, including information on library closings and hours for students who have to travel (and therefore, plan ahead) to visit campus.
What this blog doesn't cover:
  • Personal politics and rants. I'm making an effort to steer clear of controversial subjects unless they directly affect our online classes. But, I'm only human, and some things probably will slip in that are on the edge. Such as the possiblity of losing public access to mapping data and weather data from the federal government. (Oops, did I say that!)*
  • Daily news. If you are interested in keeping up with news that affects distance education, let me know and I'll forward the sites that I follow.
  • Personal information, about me or others. Ask me about my cat off the blog, please.* And while I may post information about issues raised in private conversation, I won't mention names. If three students call about not being able to get into something they thought we should have access to, it's probably time to post that the database lost our proxy addresses and the techs estimate it will be up by X time, or that we never did have access to that and here are some alternatives.
* I've decided to start a more personal blog for this sort of thing, Librarian Musings. Feel no obligation to read it. I still won't post personal info, I promise.


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