‘Tis the Season for Lists, Awards, and Nominations

by Emily Hamstra

I always look forward to this time of year for many reasons–spending time with family and friends over the holidays, the end of a busy semester is approaching, and of course, lists and awards galore. I was delighted by this year’s National Book Award winners. Yesterday, The New York Times released the 100 Notable Books of 2012.

As you scour your favorite lists and anticipate your favorite award winners this year, I want to remind you to add RUSA’s lists and awards to your list of lists and award to watch. The RUSA awards are given out yearly to honor outstanding librarians, stellar books, and forward thinking publishers and editors. The RUSA awards are something that I look forward to. I always find the winners inspiring and encouraging, and I learn about exciting resources through the awardees.

The nominations for the RUSA awards are due December 15th. There certainly isn’t better way to honor your colleagues, someone who inspires you, or your favorite resource than by putting forward an award nomination! Do you know of a library or librarian who has developed a resource or guide to literature to meet the unique needs of patrons? If so, consider recommending them for the Gale Cengage Learning Award for Excellence in Reference and Adult Library Services Award. The winner of this award will receive $3,000. Where do you go to find a good book review? Do you have a favorite book reviewer or book blog you follow? If so, consider nominating an outstanding book reviewer, book review medium, or an organization for the Louis Shores Award. The winner will be recognized at the RUSA Awards Ceremony at the ALA Midwinter Conference. There are too many awards to mention them all, so read about all the awards on the RUSA Awards website.  


Oh, Wonderopolis! (or how I use a site intended for children to make college students better searchers)

by Carrie Dunham-LaGree

I’ve written here about how much search fascinates me and my personal devotion to A Google a Day. As an academic instruction librarian, I’ve had some success incorporating these quizzes into instruction, but often the savvy students stumble upon an online forum with the exact answer without going through the steps. Lately, I’ve turned to Wonderopolis to inspire search topics for instruction sessions. Wonderopolis bills itself as “a place where wonder and learning are nurtured through the power of discovery, creativity and imagination.” The target audience for Wonderopolis isn’t college students, but I’ve had good luck incorporating the site into library instruction session. How?

Continue reading

The Librarian of MOOC

It seems that everybody is talking about massive open online courses (MOOCs). Steven J. Bell sang their praises during a doom and gloom ACRL/NEC keynote. The Ubiquitous Librarian, Brian Mathews, credited the universities who pioneer(ed) MOOCs with “inventing the future,” in a recent essay for The Chronicle Blog Network. And, the New York Times published a story last week about how the ventures of MOOC companies, like Coursera, are “part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education.” Readers’ reactions were mixed.

Feeling curious, and following an incredibly simple and intellect-affirming admissions process, I registered for a free, six week Coursera class to, hopefully, learn more about US Food Systems through the lens of public health. Though I would have preferred to enroll in an art, theater, or historical topic course, there were almost none. At first the limited selection of Humanities courses discouraged me, but I persevered, knowing that I may skip class, ignore assignments, and withdraw at any point. There are no grades, no pass/fail. Without spending a dime (or thousands of dimes), I’ll be learning for the sake of learning, and from experts in their fields. I like it. What librarian wouldn’t? Continue reading

GIS and Mapping for Reference Librarians: A Short Guide

by Sarah Elichko

open street map of Haiti earthquake damage

Chances are high that you’ve used Google Maps (or Bing Maps or Mapquest) to find your way somewhere.

But there are far more interesting applications of these technologies than finding the nearest coffee shop (essential though that is).  I’ve learned about some of these possibilities from the short online course from RUSA called Spatial Literacy 101, taught by Eva Dodsworth of the University of Waterloo.

I’ll skip professional-level GIS programs (e.g. ArcGIS) and focus on freely available resources that you can explore and share with your library patrons.  Here are a few of the resources we’ve looked at in the course.  (The course goes into these resources and others in much greater depth, so this is just a preview.)