Grades for Fall 2006 Have Been Posted

January 5, 2007

I’m not entirely sure why I worry so much about my schoolwork. It cant’ be good for me. It seems like every semester I hold my breath until the final grades for the class have been posted. It is one of those situations where I don’t realize how tense I actually am about it until I actually feel the relief washing over me when I get the final grade.  Am I worried that I am going to fail? I shouldn’t be, since I’m not even close to that point.

I was fortunate that the professor for ILS530-Information Systems Analysis & Design told us directly (via the online course) what our final grade was. I didn’t have to worry about that one. However, I didn’t know my final grade for ILS565-Library Management. But again, I know what grades I received on all four assignments and the final exam. The only piece that was left was grading on class participation. What was there to worry about??? Really, it all seems a huge waste of energy now.

Grades are not supposed to be officially released until sometime next week. However, I have noticed in the past that sometimes they are available a bit early – so I have been checking daily. I was thrilled to notice that my Fall 2006 grades had been posted. Another semester is gone – and it is time to start thinking about the next one.

Why do I worry so much about these things?

And on a another subject that really proves how masochistic I really am, the ILS department has added another section of ILS560-College & University Libraries and I’m seriously considering taking it this spring. It is one of the classes that I have to take. Who knows when it will be offered again? And, it is taught by my favorite ILS professor at SCSU. I need to have my head examined!!!!!!

Update: Grades were actually released officially on January 5th. I find this strange because when I looked at the academic calendar I would swear that January 11th was the date given for grade availability. Of course, now I’m questioning how sure I am about that.

A Truly Dedicated Professor

December 5, 2006

The professor for my ILS565-Library Management class is truly wonderful. I passed in my final exam yesterday evening about 5:45PM and received an email with my grade about 10:40AM this morning. This is a habit that he has had all semester – and a refreshing change from the time involved to receive grades in my other class this semester. It is absolutely wonderful to have things graded so quickly, especially the final exam. I admit to being very nervous about the exam. When I opened it and read through the questions, I blanked for a bit. I wasn’t very confident – and know that I made some silly mistakes. Fortunately, I  caught most of them (but definitely not all). I was never very comfortable while taking the exam (despite everything I tried to do to put myself at ease). So, I’m very happy with my grade – which should translate to me being happy with my overall grade in the class.

However, my intention in this post is to say a big thank you to this professor. I can tell that he has spent a great deal of time figuring out how best to teach in the online environment. As a result, this class (and ILS501 – Introduction to Information Science and Technology which I also took him for) was one of my all time favorites – even though I could have done more to be a better student. It was engaging, challenging and even fun. The class discussions were lively, entertaining and extensive – mostly due to great discussion questions and the way in which the professor participated. He stepped in to make points when necessary, agreed with points students made and yet did not overshadow or hamper our commentary on the subject matter. I looked forward to reading what my fellow students and the professor had to say each week. Overall, his teaching style has become the bar that I use to measure all others professors against in the online arena.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!! Now, I am truly relaxed.

Am I Sad To See The Semester Go?

December 4, 2006

Ah, the answer to that would have to be a big NO! I just spent the past hour and a half working on my final exam for ILS565-Library Management. It didn’t go as well as I would have liked – but I think that may be how I view this entire semester. There was a great deal of angst, frustration, work to which I couldn’t give my all and general discontent with library school. However, I made it through – and belive me, there were several times during the semester when I wasn’t confident that I would make it through the semester with passing grades. At this point, I’m confident I passed – just feeling bad that I couldn’t (or didn’t) spend the amount of time I would have liked on both classes. I have to remind myself that I have now finished six out of twelve classes, and that is reason enough to celebrate a bit. I also am trying to remind myself that I had way too much going on this semester. Work was amazingly busy (a note to all of those systems librarians wanna bees: the start of the fall semester in academic libraries can crush the life right out of you), and demanded much more of my time than normal, especially in September and October. So really, I did the best that I could – I should be proud of that fact and just move on.

So, now I will let myself celebrate a bit – and enjoy having nothing really to do (well, at least until I realize how much stuff I have to do for Christmas).

One Class Down

December 2, 2006

I just passed in my final project (an analysis of a library system) for ILS530 – Information Systems Analysis & Design. I’m not entirely sure that I have ever been this excited about being done with a class before. While logged on to the class site to submit my project, I also noticed that I finally got a grade on the tech growth paper (a paper anaylzing a library system ten years from now) that I submitted on October 8. It was actually graded on Monday, November 27th – but I had no reason to log onto the class web site after Monday afternoon. Typical!!! Anyway, I really feel  like shouting from the rooftops to anyone who will listen that I actually survived two classes with this professor.

I still have a final exam to do for ILS565 – Library Management (which has been an awesome class with an excellent blend of theorectical knowledge and practical exercises). The professor should make it available some time tomorrow – and it must be completed by Tuesday, December 5th. I have been busy studying and think I will take it sometime Monday afternoon. But for tonight, I am done with school work. Hooray!!!!!!

A Plea For Some Sanity

November 27, 2006

During the last week, I have been feverishly working on school assignments. With the end of the semester looming like a big, nasty storm cloud, I have had to buckle down and concentrate on my school work. For ILS565-Library Management, I had my in-basket exercise (a management simulation exercise where we pose as a library director who comes into work on a Monday morning and has 12 items waiting to be addressed in the “in-basket” before having to leave for the afternoon) due on Sunday. While working on that I happened to read through the syllabus to learn that the final project for ILS530-Information Systems Analysis & Design was due today (27th). While I did kind of know this, it had slipped my mind. As such, I started spending every waking moment working on this project.

Fortunately, I had a wonderful Thanksgiving – and only did a little bit of homework in the morning. However, the rest of the holiday weekend was schoolwork followed by more schoolwork. I was able to finish the in-basket exercise early Saturday afternoon. I emailed it to the professor (who returned it graded by about 5:30PM). I then spent all day yesterday continuing to work on the systems analysis project. I even took today off – since it was supposed to be due today. Now, I will admit that I am a tad bit grouchy – maybe even irritable and/or irascible. However, when the professor for ILS530 posted the assignment tool for the final project today, the due date was listed as December 4th. On one hand, I’m glad that I am mostly done with the project and that I have some time to work on refining it – however, on the other hand, I’m not very happy. I’ve been working hard not to complain too bitterly about this particular class, but my patience is wearing quite thin. Really, I need to get the project finished and turn it in so that I can consider this class over and done.

I definintely need some time away from school!!!!!!

School Musings

November 19, 2006

I got my grade back on my cost finding exercise and did well – YEAH!!!!!! I really needed to do well on it after the last assignment that I did for ILS565-Library Management (and on which I did really, really mediocre). I thoroughly enjoyed the assignment and getting a decent grade also helped to boost my spirits. This will help me get through the next three weeks to the end of the semester. Next, we have an “in-basket exercise” to complete. In this assignment, we are to act as a library director, take a prescribed set of personnel to design an employment scheme for a library and deal with a variety of problems and issues. We have to choose which problems to delegate, which to deal with and how exactly to deal with those problems that we do not delegate. I find this very, very, very challenging. I have been working on it, mostly in vague terms – meaning that I have been pondering options in my head. This assignment is due next Sunday (November 26th). Then, we have a final in this class.

For ILS530 – Information Systems Analysis & Design, I’m not really sure how it is going. We have had three papers due – and I have only received one grade. I do know that some of the others in the class have received a second grade – which is extremely frustrating. However, many may remember that I took this professor over the summer and had the same issues. Despite, the fact that I have no one to blame but myself for the predicament I find myself in, I am extremely frustrated and annoyed with this class. I cannot wait for it to be over.  I have tried not to dwell on it – and just make the most of the class. I love the material, and think it is of utmost importance for those interested in library systems.  ARGHHH!!!!!! Meanwhile, I just keep plugging away at everything – and smile at the thought that the end of this semester is in sight!

Cost Finding Exercise

November 12, 2006

The latest assignment for my ILS565-Library Management class was a cost finding exercise. The assignment was to pick one aspect or service that a library provides and determine its actual cost – including both direct costs and indirect costs. I decided to determine the cost of accessing a document via a library’s electronic course reserve management system. The direct costs were fairly straightforward to figure out. I determined the steps involved in putting materials on reserve, the amount of time that each step took and then figured out the cost of labor hours for this. I then calculated the cost for other direct costs including the server, the software, maintenance fees, system’s support, etc. The indirect costs were for more difficult to determine. The professor reminded us to include building costs (heat, hvac, cost of building, etc) and administrative overhead (cost of supervision, etc.). This was where much of the stress came into play. Also, every-time I thought I had determined all of the indirect costs, another one came to mind. However, I prepared early for this assignment, and finished most of it yesterday (This fact was really important because today is my birthday – and I don’t think anyone should have to do homework on their birthday).

Overall, this was a really fascinating assignment. Regardless of how I did, I learned quite a bit. I was really shocked that the major percentage of the cost is from the cost of labor – I think it was about 54% of the total. But even more important, I had fun doing this assignment – which I think was something that I really needed this semester. Learning can be fun, and I was beginning to forget that. I’m actually looking forward to the last couple of weeks of the semester. Yeah!!!!!

Getting Back To My Homework

October 26, 2006

After my heinous day on Monday, I decided to take Tuesday off – and get away from both work and school. I did – and it was absolutely wonderful. I had one of those days where I did absolutely nothing but watch my favorite movies, read some of my favorite books and just veg out. It definitely worked. I was much more sane when I went back to work on Wednesday morning – and in a better frame of mind to deal with the roller coaster that is systems librarianship. I also took time to thoroughly re-read my syllabi and class assignments to give me a better sense of where I am in the semester and what I have left to do.

I’m happy to say that I feel better about the semester. I doubt I will ever be really happy with it – one of my classes is just bad, and I doubt that will change. I need to just deal with it, however. I’m also making good progress on my major, semester-long project for ILS530 – Information Systems Analysis & Design. We need to choose one automated library system that “performs a library function.” We need to research the product, how it works, technical details, etc. The final project will be a formal report that describes the package and evaluate several parts of the package, including service plan, information storage and retrieval design, system configuration, service architecture, usefulness, ease of use, flexibility for use in varied environments, cost and documentation. We have a progress report due on Sunday. Although this will not be graded, I think the point is to have a good portion of the project done. In this vein, I am working hard because I have admittedly been laggin a bit behind on this. But, the good news is that I am getting somewhere finally!!!

For more specifics, I have choosen to study the interlibrary loan software package Ariel. I think it is a fascinating program that has revolutionized the world of ILL. In the library where I work, we do almost all of our article delivery through Ariel. However, the program is fraught with bugs, problems and/or technical difficulties. For this reason, I think it will make an interesting source of study.

Another Assignment Completed

October 22, 2006

Today, I had a book review assignment due for my ILS565-Library Management class. Ok, it really wasn’t a book review since the assignment was to write a speech using the ideas from the book. This was a tough one. I have never written a speech before – and I really have no clue about the quality of the paper I turned in. Oh well, we will see!!!! Meanwhile, the angst is a killer.

The book that I chose for this assignment is Fundamentals of Customer-Focused Management(Wesport, CT: Praeger, 2006) by Joby John. I liked this book because of its focus on customer service for a successful business – something which I think is incredibly important for libraries. In the book, John elaborate’s on the management techniques discussed by Peter Drucker in the 1954 work, The Practice of Management (New York: Harper Collins). Drucker wrote that “there is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer,” and John builds upon this tenet in his book.

Part of John’s purpose in writing this books seems to be trying to explain why some many dot-com businesses of the 1990s failed so miserably. John thinks it is important to be customer-focused and that companies must utilize new technologies within their customer-focused mission. John asserts that many of the dot-com businesses that failed tried to build businesses around the new technologies – the internet, etc – without having a handle on their purpose or mission, on who their customers actually were or what service they were actually providing to their customers.

One of John’s ideas that I think directly relates to libraries is “Businesses cannot succeed in the long term unless they are focused on its customers so as to provide them with superior service” (p.16). I don’t think libraries will succeed if they do not provide their customers with superior service. Overall, there is a great deal of good stuff in this book – that all comes down to developing a customer-focused environment.

I think one of the reasons that I found it difficult to complete this assignment was that there is so much in the book (despite the fact that it is only about 200 pages). The speech was only supposed to be 2-3 double spaced pages. So much didn’t make it in to the speech – instead it is all running around in my head!!!!

My Service Assignment

October 4, 2006

Improving Library Services: A Review of Techniques

There are several different techniques that libraries can employ to improve the quality of service that it offers to it community. The following is a list of some of the various techniques that a library may choose to employ. 

  • Use of integrated service points – One method currently in use by many libraries is the use of integrated public service points. The point of this method is to combine all public service points, especially the reference and circulation points, into one access point. The hope is to eliminate the confusion on the part of the patrons who may be unsure about which desk to take their question. Some universities have actually combined their public service points with the IT help desk and created information commons. This helps to improve service because of the increasing number of technology questions that patrons ask of library staff. (Flanagan and Horowitz, 2005).
  • Cross training of staff – This point can be closely related to the use of integrated service points. When combing service points, staff generally need to be cross-trained to handle a variety of new tasks. Usually, reference librarians need to be trained to handle basic circulation tasks – ie checking out material, inputting patron records, etc. Circulation staff need to be able to handle basic information requests. More complicated reference questions are usually still handled by reference librarians. This often means that job descriptions for circulation staff need to be reworked to include the new job responsibilities. Additionally, cross training of acquisitions and cataloging staff can be employed in order to streamline the process by which books and material are ordered and processed. (Callahan and Watson, 1995).
  • Flexible management technique – One of the tenets of the total quality of management technique which requires focus on customer needs and their expectations is that management be flexible. Directors need to engage library staff in the decision making process in order to respond to different issues and problems. Management that is not flexible will not allow the library organization to respond quickly to changes in the needs of the community. This would be especially problematic in today’s society where change happens often. (Ehigie and McAndrew, 2005).
  • Redefine the library’s physical space – The physical makeup of libraries is changing dramatically in reaction to new forms of media in collections and new patrons demands. Coffee shops, comfortable seating, computer labs, internet connections and communal workspaces are among the new types of services people are expecting to see at their local libraries. People also expect access to movies, computer software, audio and e-books and electronic databases. The Arena Park Library in
    Coventry, UK, is actually located in the heart of a retail environment in order to attract users. (Childs, 2006).
  • Allow users to participate in decisions about which services to offer – There has been a great deal of talk about needing to reorient library’s service models based on user-centered change. Library 2.0 is a current buzzword that is getting a fair amount of press of late. One of the basic principles is to allow the customers to tailor the library services to fit their needs. One way to help accomplish this goal is through the use of social software which patrons can use to interact with library services and make recommendations to library staff about their information needs and habits. (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006).
  • Focus on new models of professional development for the entire staff – With the current fast pace of technological change, management needs to find ways to keep staff abreast of such changes and aware of the changes taking place in the world of libraries. One important way to accomplish this is create a library committee with the backing of the library management to suggest programs and find resources for training. Allowing staff to have input and discuss their training needs is very important. (Callahan and Watson, 1995). Staff often need training for new technologies, but also often request classes in management and personal development (i.e. stress reduction). It is critical that the library management make a real commitment to staff development. Creating a committee and then not following through with recommendations would inhibit the process  and give staff the message that the management was not committed to training. (Callahan and Watson, 1995).
  • Adding content to library catalogs (OPACs) – Given the popularity of web sites like Google and Amazon, many patrons choose to bypass the library and seek information elsewhere. In order to compete, library catalogs need to be transformed into something usable for patrons. Adding federated searching capabilities is one way to add functionality. It would also be advisable to add patron functionality such as patron self-renewal, document delivery requests, etc. Adding such capabilities to the OPAC will make the services offered much more useful to the library community. Many libraries are also incorporating new content into their OPACs: book jackets, book reviews, table of contents, etc. Not only do these new services add useful content that make the OPAC a good source of information, they also help to enhance the visual impact of the library catalog. (Carden, 2004).
  • Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to advertise library services – Traditionally, libraries, especially academic ones, have not considered marketing to be an important part of library services. However, in today’s changing world, marketing library services has become a necessity. Many people are simply unaware of the types of materials and services that libraries offer. People are much more familiar with the services that Google and Amazon can supply, and they tend to these places quickly because they know about them. (Sen, 2006).
  • Re-evaluate the current library user and their information needs – Libraries love to count things and keep statistics about usage. However, the needs of the library user are changing dramatically – as is the way the people actually use libraries. In order to determine how best to serve its patrons, libraries need to take a look at how its patrons use the library (i.e. via the physical space or remotely). Implementation of new services, like virtual reference, online forms, audio and video downloads, can only be effective if they suit the needs of the community. As such, it is imperative that libraries understand who their patrons are and what they need. Bejune and Kinkus write “While questions still remain as to how the needs of virtual and face-to-face patrons are similar and/or different, librarians and libraries must remain flexible and open to change if they are to continue to satisfy their patrons’ needs, whenever and wherever the patron may be.” It is important to note that this needs be a continuous and dynamic process. Patrons and their needs must be reassessed constantly. (Bejune and Kinkus, 2006).
  • Re-evaluate library signage – Negative signage has a tendency to make libraries seem like forbidding places. Signage is important to help users feel comfortable and to understand how to navigate the library. However, patrons will be overwhelmed by too many signs. Too often, the majority of signs are the “No Cell Phones, “No Food or Drink,” etc. Libraries should rethink their signage policy; remove signs they do not need and rethink the wording of signs that are deemed critical. Making the library an inviting place for patrons to come is essential in order for libraries to continue to attract customers. (Bosman, 1997).
  • Beware of technology for technology’s sake – Many libraries tend to implement technologies without fully understanding them and the need that they support. Technology is not the solution, but can be a means to provide better service to library patrons. Many of the new services that patrons are demanding or expecting are dependent on technology. It is easy to think that simply throwing technology at the users will impress them. However, poorly implemented technology can simply frustrate patrons and make them look elsewhere to fulfill their information needs. Technology can only help provide better service if it fulfills a real need, is well planned and well executed. (Casey and Savastinuk, 2006).


Bejune, Matthew and Jane Kinkus, “Creating a Composite of User Behavior to Inform Decisions about New and Existing Library Services,” Reference Services Review 34(2), (2006): 185-192. 

Bosman, Ellen and Carol Rusinek, “Creating the User-Friendly Library by Evaluating Patron Perceptions of Signage”, Reference Services Review 25(1), (1997): 71-82. 

Callahan, Daren and Mark Watson, “Care of the Organization: Training and Development Strategies,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 21(5), (September 1995): 376-381. 

Carden, Mark, “Library Portals and Enterprise Portals: Why Libraries Need to at the Centre of Enterprise Portal Projects,” Information Services & Use 24 (2004): 171-177. 

Casey, Michael E. and Laura C. Savastinuk, “Library 2.0,” Library Journal 131(14), (September 1, 2006): 40-42.   

Childs, Paul, “Sssh! The Quiet Revolution,” New Library World 107(1222/1223), (2006), 149-156. 

Ehigie, Benjamin Osayawe and Elizabeth B. McAndrew, “Innovation, Diffusion and Adoption of Total Quality of Management (TQM),” Management Decision 43(6), (2005): 925-940. 

Flanagan, Pat and Lisa R. Horowitz, “Exploring New Service Models: Can Consolidating Public Service Points Improve Response to Customer needs?,” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 36(5) (Summer 2000): 329-338. 

Sen, Barbara, “Defining Market Orientation for Libraries,” Library Management 27(4/5) (2006): 201-217.