Thank you University of Dubuque

Over this Easter weekend I'm becoming increasingly nostalgic about my seven years with the University of Dubuque. I am, and my entire family is, excited about my new position at St. Norbert College and all the new opportunities for us as a family. I really feel called to work with the students and the library there. Feeling called to a job is a strange and wonderful feeling. And writing about it as the sun raises on Easter Sunday feels appropriate.

Answering that calling is not hard. What is hard is saying goodbye to the people and friendships that I've developed over the last seven years. I am very thankful for the friendship and partnerships I've made over my seven years at the University of Dubuque.

I am excited about what comes next for me, and I am excited about what comes next for the students at the University of Dubuque. The University Librarian, Mary Anne Knefel, has built an excellent team and I am lucky to have worked for and with her. I consider Mary Anne a friend and I know that I would not be the person and librarian I am today without her. When I was asked during my interview with St. Norbert who I admired, Mary Anne was first on that list. Her dedication to the staff, the library, the campus, and most importantly the students is an asset that I aspire to continue for my new community at St. Norbert College.

I know that the Charles C. Myers Library will continue to serve students and faculty extremely well. Mary Anne's leadership and the staff's commitment to quality service will go on. I am also excited and have the full confidence that Anne Marie, as the new Assistant Director, continue to improve and serve our community well beyond what I can imagine. I have written and raved about Anne Marie before, and it is all true.

Anne Marie, I am so very grateful for your friendship and our relationship as colleagues. In all my varied careers, working side by side with you has been one of my greatest joys. I've learned so much from you. I believe that our partnership was and is one of the greatest assets to the students. I am thankful you have this new opportunity and excited to see the directions you take the information literacy program.

Thank you Mary Anne, Anne Marie, the entire staff of the Charles C. Myers Library, and the University of Dubuque community.

If we build it, they will come... jump starting an information literacy program

Now that I've promoted the open position at my current library and the library has announced my replacement, it is time to talk about my new position.

I was offered and accepted a position at St. Norbert College in De Pere, WI. The college is just outside of Green Bay and is about 2000 students. You can learn more about the college here.

My new position is Information Literacy and Instruction librarian. The Todd Wehr Library has an exciting director who is moving the library forward in new and interesting ways. The staff is full of dedicated and eager people, whom I'm looking forward to working with. The campus has also just broken ground for a new library. St. Norbert College also recently announced a new President. There are a lot of changes happening on campus, and I'm excited to have the chance to be part of them.

The focus of the library is to grow and formalize their instruction program. My new position was created to build their instruction program, develop an overall plan, implement information literacy across the curriculum, and assess the program. I will also be helping train and update the library staff in pedagogy and instruction. The position has the support of faculty, the dean, and the writing center. I'm looking forward to working with them all to successfully build and jump start their information literacy program.

I'm already starting to think about the position and I will be writing about the ideas here. The chance to help jump start a program with video game strategies and pedagogy is exciting. The library staff are interested for my experience with video games and student engagement.

It is an exciting position with many challenges, but I know that what I've learned at the University of Dubuque will help me bring this same level of quality service provided by the Charles C. Myers Library to other students. I have the opportunity to help serve students and help contribute to their overall education.

While I'm shifting positions, colleges, and cities - my focus, research, and instructional application of video games in information literacy will continue. I hope that you will join me in this new application and adventure.

You Know Someone Who Wants this Job!

Now that my transition is official around campus and my replacement is determined, there is an official opening at the Charles C. Myers at the University of Dubuque. And please if you know someone who is looking - pass this along.

If you or anyone you know is looking for a creative, innovative, collaborative environment to work and grow... the University of Dubuque is an excellent choice. The full job description is listed on the University's HR page.

The Charles C. Myers Library is an excellent place to work. The environment is supportive. The people are wonderful both as colleagues and partners. I would not have accomplished what I have without the support and assistance of the librarians and staff at the Charles C. Myers Library. It is a great place and this open position is a great way to join an amazing staff. I strongly encourage anyone interested to apply.

Reference & Instruction Librarian
The Charles C. Myers Library at the University of Dubuque is looking for a creative, dynamic Reference & Instruction Librarian to contribute to an innovative team dedicated to providing outstanding service to the University. This full-time position participates in all aspects of the first-year information literacy program; serves as liaison to several departments to develop the collection and information literacy program; and provides reference services to students and faculty. One evening per week and occasional weekend hours are required during the academic year. Available June 1.
Qualifications: Required: ALA-accredited library degree (MLS or equivalent); demonstrated teaching excellence; demonstrated knowledge of current trends in information literacy, transition to college, and higher education; demonstrated knowledge of relevant tools including Web 2.0 technologies; excellent problem-solving, communication, and interpersonal skills; ability to manage change, work independently, and collaborate both with the library staff and UD community to provide innovative service in a dynamic environment. Preferred: Experience in an academic library, experience in information literacy and reference.

Apply online at or send a letter of application, resume, and three current references to: Human Resources, University of Dubuque, 2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, IA 52001. Visit us at

Out from under my blogging blackout

Wow, I'm sorry.

2 weeks since my last post. Ouch.

Reason: I'm moving. Moving jobs. Moving houses. Moving cities.

The last few months were filled with a lot of decisions, some easy, some incredibly challenging. It's been almost a month since I received a job offer, struggled through the discernment process, had multiple conversations with both my current and future employer, and come to a decision. As of June, I will have a new position at a new college.

Since my last post, I told my employer of my decision and spent the following week talking with the rest of the staff about my decision, thanking them for all that I've learned, and working through my personal emotional fallout. Moving on after seven years, puts a strain on a lot of working relationships and friendships. Part of my blogging blackout, was devoted to both the time and emotional focus to work through these transitions.

The rest of my blogging blackout and my free time was eaten up by preparing our house for sale, finding a buyer, working with them through the paperwork, looking for a new house, and starting to pack our current house. Between cleaning, fixing, packing, and searching my evenings were booked. Granted we still are looking for a house and packing... but having a buyer for our house is a huge relief.

So with all the changes, stress, and excitement over the last few weeks, I'm glad to be through most of it and moving on and looking ahead. I'll be back and blogging on a more consistent basis again.

"Reading isn't dying, just look up from behind your book."

My final wrap-up post from the Iowa ACRL Spring Conference is to take issue with one presentation claiming the death of reading. While the content of the presentation was fine, the speakers made the claim that reading is dying and because of the loss of reading many other societal benefits are dying as well.

Is reading really dying?

Or is it just changing?

The statistics given in the session focused on pleasure reading and fiction reading. 21% of high school students in 2004 read little or nothing for pleasure. 39% of 1st year college students in 2005 read little or nothing for pleasure.

Now, I remember my reading habits taking a dive in college because there was so much reading to do for school that I was soured to reading more. But my issue with their claim isn't with some personal experience, it is with the larger definition. Reading for pleasure happens well beyond just novels. How many lines of text do students read on a daily basis? How much of that is online or game based?

I would argue that high school and college students are reading. And they are reading a lot. The text in video games, the online guides, walkthroughs, and FAQs, the discussion boards, and game review sites. Video game players are reading and connecting all these various forms into one common experience. I'm reminded of a post from theshiftedlibrarian from way back in 2003. Video game players read - they are just not reading traditional texts.

Steven Johnson in his book "Everything Bad is Good For You" talks about this as well. Reading is judged on books because books came first. If video games or some other medium came first, it would be our benchmark. Johnson argues that it is unfair do judge reading against different mediums. Each brings unique and valuable assets.

Reading is changing. What our students are reading is changing. How we advocate reading can change a little as well.

Steven Johnson's "Everything Bad is Good For You" image via WorldCat

Video Games Provide Meaningful Context for Diversity

Earlier this week at the Iowa ACRL Spring Conference, Dr. Roberto Ibarra presented an update from his ACRL National Conference paper. His presentation, "Context Diversity and the Role of Academic Libraries," applied much of the initial findings from his "A Place to Belong: The Library as Prototype for Context Diversity." While his speech had a number of messages for libraries as a whole, I found his "high context" and "low context" discussion important to the appeal and success of video games.

Ibarra described "high context" as a need to have more social and cultural context to communicate and interact with the world. Knowledge and learning in "low context" is isolated and divorced from real world application, it is simply words and tasks. "Low context" learners do not need additional information to make the content meaningful. "High context" learners do. "High context" includes gestures, social setting, history, posture, tone, and status in addition to words and tasks. These learners see the full picture and each part as equally important.

Video games allow a player to be either high context or low context.

Players with a "low context" model can be successful in a game based on the straightforward information a game offers. They can understand the words and text in a game and give it meaning. The task are straightforward tasks the allow the player the ability to keep moving forward in the game. "Low context" players can enjoy the game and be successful with this learning diversity model.

Video games are also "high concept." Players with a "high context" learning style can understand a video game through much more than the information presented in the gameplay. Video games players gain a deeper understanding and meaning of a game with the "high context" elements are applied. Players gain the history of the character, the social tone, and the interactions with non-playable characters (NPCs), in addition to the gameplay and tasks involved in a game.

"High context" diversity, according to Ibarra, includes a personal commitment, is a nonlinear process, and applies comprehensive thinking. Many researchers have said similar things about why video games are engaging and attractive to players. The player has the choice to engage in these aspects of a game and add meaning their.

This is one reason why video games are engaging across cultures and ages. If a player is from a "low context" understanding of the world and knowledge - video games work. They appeal to the factual and direct tasks of learners. But they also work if players live in a "high context" understanding of knowledge based on the comprehensive experience that video games can offer.

Now, I'm not arguing that video games create diversity. Video games do allow all contextual diverse players to be successful. Video games can connect with players regardless of their cultural background. And this is why understanding video games' application of contextual diversity is important. Video games provide a valuable common cultural experience.

Ibarra's keynote was insightful and he pushed that we as libraries can create spaces of both "low" and "high" contextual meaning. Video games are creating diverse learning experiences and our classrooms and libraries can too.

Newly Updated Gaming Statistics

Via a post over at WIRED's Game|Life, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has recently updated their "Top Ten Industry Facts." Some of the facts, like the number of "E" rated versus "M" rated games and the average age of gamers (33), have not changed very much... but none the less it is good to have updated figures.

Sixty-seven percent of American heads of households play computer and video games.

Thirty-eight percent of all game players are women. In fact, women over the age of 18 represent a significantly greater portion of the game-playing population (31%) than boys age 17 or younger (20%).
Gaming spans generations and genders.

Thirty-six percent of American parents say they play computer and video games. Further, 80 percent of gamer parents say they play video games with their kids. Sixty-six percent feel that playing games has brought their families closer together.
Video games, like any other media, can be a family experience. The Wii has brought this to the cultural forefront, but parents gaming with their children is always a positive experience for both parent and child - regardless of the system or platform.
Forty-nine percent of game players say they play games online one or more hours per week. In addition, 34 percent of heads of households play games on a wireless device, such as a cell phone or PDA, up from 20 percent in 2002.
Video games are more than home consoles, handhelds, and PCs. As devices become more technologically advanced gaming will continue to expand.

Questions from "The Road to Information Literacy Championships"

Yesterday I wrote about the questions from the audience. There were a number of good questions that both clarified some points from my presentation and expanded the scope of applying fantasy sports to information literacy. Below are two of the questions asked and the my comments and reflections on them.

Challenges & Roadblocks
1. "What about women?" Yes, fantasy sports are dominated by males, but the gender gap is shrinking. Granted, it's a huge (95% male) gap. The truth is that female interest in football or in other sports should not be discounted and assumed to be nonexistent. While fantasy sports outreach should be targeted across genders, there are other ways to apply bridging real life experiences to information literacy.

Last fall, The University of Dubuque applied a similar lesson as the fantasy football one to movie reviews. Students were asked to choose which movie they thought scored the highest and then had a little time to dig and report the results. The same evaluation criteria that were discussed in the fantasy football lesson applied to this lesson as well. Any way that we can connect students' existing experiences to information literacy we can help them not only understand the concepts
but the applications as well.

2. Doesn't this promote gambling?
I told the person in the audience the truth - "It doesn't matter if it does or doesn't, what we do will not stop students."

Now while this is easy and rather glib to say, it doesn’t answer the question. I did go on to truly answer the question, and it really depends on what the attitude and concerns are of your campus and community. If this question is being raised, gambling is a concern. And in places like this, talk about fantasy football as an example and application of the information tools students and patrons need to be successful.

The University of Dubuque framed this as a way to help students understand information literacy skills and gain confidence in their ability to apply them.

Now if you are at campus or in a community that isn’t raising the gambling question – then run with it. Promote your library’s involvement to students and patrons in terms of “build a better fantasy football team” or “how to succeed in the draft.” Talk about it in terms that is meaningful for the audience. But keep the information literacy talking points handy for faculty and administrators wanting more information.

Thank you again to everyone that's written and expressed comments. The more that we can make information literacy relevant and real in our students' lives through fantasy sports, video games, and others - the more meaningful it can be in their academic life.

Fantasy Football: The Road to Information Literacy Championships

Thank you. Thank you for everyone that came to my presentation this morning at the Iowa ACRL conference. I was incredibly pleased with the turnout and the questions from the audience. The energy that the audience had was wonderful and it really seemed that people left with some new ideas about connecting information literacy to students.

The bridge metaphor isn't new. And I have to thank David Warlick for introducing me to the bridge metaphor. Fantasy football, video games, and many other cultural experiences contain useful information literacy skills that we can help our students recognize and build on.

For those asking and for everyone interested, here is the link to the powerpoint slides I used. Granted they were in widescreen format, so a few images might be off if you are not using 2007.

As always, any feedback, questions, or comments on the slides is welcomed.

Note: I started this post on Monday, but for a number of reasons it is going up late.

Fantasy Football Toolkit

What do you need to apply fantasy football to your library?

What resources do you want to use fantasy football for information literacy?

What resources do you need to start fantasy leagues at your library?

The Fantasy Football Librarian, Sara Holladay, and I are working on a fantasy football toolkit and I want your feedback and input. What resources should be included. Sara and I are presenting at LOEX and LOEX of the West this summer about fantasy sports and the connection to information literacy. In addition to information literacy, we are looking at how fantasy sports can be used for community building and patron outreach as well.

The initial template for Fantasy Football Toolkit includes:

  • Fantasy Football 101
    • What is fantasy football
    • How does one play
    • General rules & strategies
  • League Setup
    • Options for setup
    • Scoring
    • Suggested online league managers
  • Draft Board
    • Resources to bring patrons together for a community building draft
  • Suggested Resources
    • Print and online sources
    • Varying scope and focus
  • Promotional Materials
  • Suggested Lessons

So what would you need?

Photo by Rochie

ACRL Information Literacy Standards for Fantasy Football

As I'm preparing for my fantasy football presentation, I wanted to provide the ACRL standards handout. I hope this can be a resource to help provide evidence to others about the information value in fantasy sports. You can download the file here… ACRL Information Literacy Standards.

ACRL Information Literacy Standard

ACRL Indicator

Fantasy Football Activity

Standard 1: "The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed."

Indicator 1: "The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information literacy."

As players determine the strengths and weaknesses of their team, they need to decide on what information is needed to make decision. Players need to know what positions are required and what strong roster match-ups exist. Players explore general information sources in order to gain a specific focus relative to their needs.

Standard 1

Indicator 2: "The information literate student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information."

Fantasy players identify a variety of sources including: printed guides, websites, interviews, peer conversations, forum discussions for information. Players then construct information from the raw data (game statistics) from the box score primary sources.

Standard 1

Indicator 3: "The information literate student considers the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information."

With the expansion of internet and print resources, players determine what information is available for free and what is fee based. Players weigh this information with the potential benefits of each source before deciding what information required.

Standard 2: "The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently."

Indicator 2: "The information literate student constructs and implements effectively designed search strategies."

In order to find the information desired, players identify what terms (positions, players, keywords) to search for. This search process implements a variety of retrieval methods to find the required material.

Standard 2

Indicator 3: "The information literate student retrieves information online or in person using a variety of methods."

Fantasy players use chats, forums, call-in shows, interviews, email letters to gain primary information from sports writers and other experts.

Standard 2

Indicator 4: "The information literate student refines the search strategy if necessary."

Players assesses the quality the information they obtained and determines if they have enough to make roster, player, draft decision. During this process, players identify gaps in their information and repeats any searches.

ACRL Information Literacy Standard

ACRL Indicator

Fantasy Football Activity

Standard 2

Indicator 5: "The information literate student extracts, records, and manages the information and its sources."

Many players create personalized organizational systems like spreadsheets and draft cheat sheets organize their information. Players track citation of sources in order to come back to the information and analysis during the season.

Standard 3: "The information literate student summarizes the main ideas to be extracted from the information gathered."

Indicator 1: "The information literate student summarizes the main ideas to be extracted from the information gathered."

Fantasy players reads source content and selects the key data that applies to need (roster, team, match-up).

Standard 3

Indicator 2: "The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluation both the information and its sources."

Players determine the reliability, bias, validity, authority and timeliness of sources in order to make roster and drafting decisions. It is important for fantasy players to recognizes the potential prejudice in fan based sites compared to professional sites in order to make informed decisions.

Standard 3

Indicator 3: "The information literate student synthesizes main ideas to construct new concepts."

Team owners recognize trends and relationships in statistics (primary sources) and commentaries in order to make roster decisions. Players often use spreadsheets and tables to construct comparison charts and rankings for drafting a roster.

Standard 3

Indicator 4: "The information literate student compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information."

Based on the knowledge the player gained, they decide if they have enough information to make a roster decision. As the season progresses, the players integrate new and ongoing information with previous knowledge to make timely decisions about their rosters and teams

Standard 3

Indicator 5: "The information literate student determines whether the new knowledge has an impact on the individuals' value system and takes steps to reconcile the differences."

Players encounter commentaries and information that contract their own beliefs on teams/athletes and their value. Based on their evaluation of this information, the player how and if the information will impact their roster.

ACRL Information Literacy Standard

ACRL Indicator

Fantasy Football Activity

Standard 3

Indicator 6: "The information literate student validates understanding and interpretation of the information through discourse with other individuals, subject-area experts, and / or practitioners"

Players engage in personal and electronic discussions about players and roster decisions to gain additional knowledge on their players and roster choices. Throughout any fantasy sports season, players can seek expert opinions through weekly shows and chats conducted by paid professionals like writers for ESPN, NFL, and

Standard 4: "The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose."

Indicator 1: "The information literate student applies new and prior information to the planning and creation of a particular product or performance."

The player articulates the knowledge gained in the drafting process and weekly roster moves every time they begin a new week.

Standard 4

Indicator 2: "The information literate student revises the development process for the product or performance."

After every match-up, the player reflects on the process and the results (win/loss) to determine future strategies.

Fanasty Football as Kuhlthau's Research Process

This past week, I've been scrambling getting two presentations ready for an Iowa ACRL conference. One presentation follows up the C&RL News article on Information Literacy and Fantasy Football.

The opening of my presentation is below. Because the audience has various experience with fantasy sports, I am connecting it to Carol Kuhlthau's library research process. Fantasy football is a research process and putting it in the Kuhlthau model makes that connection even more clearly.