One-Shot Workshops: Some Thoughts

Last week in class, we presented (and participated in) our one-shot workshops. Despite the tiny room we were scheduled in, it was a very enjoyable (and informative) time! I was impressed with the diversity of both topics and formats that my classmates came up with, as well as the enthusiasm with which we all participated, despite the grueling schedule.

Two of the workshops in particular stood out to me:

First, there was a presentation and discussion workshop on Google’s new privacy policy from Kelly and Meggan. What impressed me most about this workshop was the unbiased presentation of information about the new policy. When looking around other blogs, and the Internet in general, for information on this policy, a reader can feel attacked on all sides by the extremity of viewpoints out there. One on hand, there are the Google fans, who seem to defend everything Google does with the twin claims of “Google’s motto is ‘don’t be evil’” and “Well, you’re getting the services for free, so….!.” On the other hand, there are the online privacy zealots who seem to attack any site’s changes in policy without considering (a) what the policy was before or (b) how the policy compares to other websites. I thought it was very helpful, and refreshing, to see such a balanced representation of both the costs and the benefits of Google’s new policy. It is something we all need to give careful consideration to as Google users ourselves, but it is also, of course, something that we need to be able to articulate in such an unbiased fashion for our library users who may have concerns.

The other workshop that really has had me thinking over the past week was the final workshop, on “how to have the ‘eBook conversation’ with patrons.” This workshop was focused on ways that libraries have attempted to communicate concerns/issues in the library/publisher eBook ‘war’ to their users; the workshop also included an activity which saw participants making their own example signs for communicating these issues with patrons. This is also a very important issue in library-user communications, and one which is riddled with extreme viewpoints. It is also, in my opinion, extra difficult because of the nature of the question itself. The issues at hand is eBook access – but should we necessarily attempt to communicate this information virtually? My opinion, which I didn’t get to speak about because of time constraints, is that this issue is a perfect opportunity for libraries and librarians to do the work of community building with their users. Signs to inform users are wonderful, and for some users, signs can address all of their concerns. However, I think this is an opportunity for librarians to flex their face-to-face communication skills as well.

Currently, one of my part-time jobs is at Trader Joe’s. Whenever an issue comes up that could be of concern to our shoppers, we may post a small sign near the product in question, but more than that, we make sure that all of our employees understand the issue at hand, and are comfortable communicating with our shoppers about this issue (or at least that they know who to go get who is comfortable with this). This type of communication not only builds shoppers’ confidence that we care enough to talk to them individually (and that we know what we are working with), but also lets shoppers know that we are more than just a store. In the same way, I think that by following similar face-to-face, community-building communication practices in our libraries, we can help to build users’ confidence that libraries are more than just a place to get books and DVDs. As Matos, Matsuoka-Motely, and Mayer (2010) said in their article “The Embedded Librarian Online or Face-to-Face: American University’s Experiences,” virtual librarianship can be helpful to a point, but it is imperative for the future of health of libraries that users learn that librarians are friendly, approachable and helpful people who know more than just how to find books.

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About rclement643

I am currently a graduate student at University of Michigan's School of Information. This blog is being kept as a place for reflections on the readings for the class
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One Response to One-Shot Workshops: Some Thoughts

  1. Kelly says:

    I’m so glad you found our Google talk useful. It was surprisingly difficult to find balanced information about the policy and its implications, partly because (like many things) it’s open to interpretation. It seems to me that libraries can help play a quasi-journalistic role in these matters, though, by digging up credible information and providing the context for understanding it.

    The eBook sign challenge was also one of my favorites from this week. I had a hard time making a sign on the fly because I couldn’t figure out how patrons might feel about this information or what level of information would be useful to their understanding. It’s also tough to figure out what tone to take without seeming paternalistic.

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