Practicum Day 23: Archives

With the practicum winding I’m trying to finish up loose ends and still enjoy my time at the same. However Tuesday I found myself out of commission with a day of sickness. Thursday I was much better.

Another round of reference desk hours, the weather was a bit gray that morning so we didn’t see many people in the library.

Class was a work day. Tuesday is the last day of class and we have them scheduled to do their final presentations. They have to give a 5-7 minute presentation about their topic. I hate that I missed Tuesday as I was told they didn’t do so well on their website source presentations. Apparently most of the groups slacked off on the presentation and their sources. I know websites are hard to find but we expected them to have so not so great sites and at least 1 great site. Apparently that wasn’t the case. So I’m interested to see how the final presentations go.

After class I headed to Archives for a crash course into archives and digital archives. First I read through their processing and accession manual. Which outlined how they processed new collections and additions. As well as how to fill out the accession form, when to organize and when not, and how to prepare the items for addition to the actual Archives. Even though I’ve had an archival class some of the steps were still hard to understand and by the end of it all I was a bit cross-eyed. After reading it I went of it with one of the archivist and she help break it down and answered the questions I had. Then we moved to the digital side by walking through Archivist Toolkit and Dspace. She also outlined the project that I will working on. Excitement!

I was able to take a copy of the manual home so I could read over it again, I really want to understand the thing for my edification.


Cloth Bound Book Repair: Spine Attaching

Now return to our for our last lesson in book repair. I hope you’ve had fun learning these last three days…no? Oh well =P to you!
At any point today we’re going to attach the “new and improve” spine back to our desecrated book. First let’s grab a book. This book was fixed two days ago…it’s the first book I fixed. Which means it’s not perfect!Before you attach it make sure you’ve orienting it the right way. Now insert the edges under the lifted covers. You might want to bend the bristol so it wraps around the book better. Match up the edges as best you can.

Now gently place the book on it’s back without moving anything. Lift the cover of one side so you can start attaching it.

Glue it out with PVA in a thin even layer on the bottom side. Just on the cardboard part of the cover. Press the spine to the board and burnish it with the bone folder. Use the edge to get the crease of the book as well, so it bends and opens easily. Repeat the step on the top with the original cover and burnish it. You can do this with the bone folder or a waded up piece of paper towel to get the glue that might squeeze out.

Repeat on the other side. Almost done.

Now use some glue to close up the cuts on the top and bottom of the book. We don’t want that to get frayed.

Guess what you’re done…almost…Grab a book press like this one. Wrapping the book in wax paper for the glue that will seep out, push it in backwards to the end of the mental brackets.

So that it looks like this. Those metal brackets should fit in the crease of the book.

Why? To reinforce that crease…like this? Tighten the screws just enough to apply pressure, not as tight as it’ll go. Now set it aside for 24-48 hours and you’ve fixed your first cloth bound book.

Celebrate by doing it again and again…remember the first shot of all those book waiting. A preservationists librarian work is never done.

Cloth Bound Book Repair: Spine Removal part 2

Time for part 2 of my adventures in book repair. If you haven’t read part one go do so now then come back. If you have then this image should look familiar to you. Yes? Great. Last time we left off we had just attacked a slip of bristol paper with PVA glue.

Now place the bristol slip on the back of the book cloth to make a backing for the new spine.

Then miter the corners of the book cloth to take away some of the material. Cut a central cut all the way to the edge of the paper.
Glue that edges down.

Now glue out the book’s spine and attach it to the front of the book cloth. An easy way to make sure you are centered bend the cloth over the edges of the bristol on the back.

Then guess what you’re done! Now place the finished product in between to sheets of wax paper, and place it under something heavy to flatten and squeeze out any excess glue. Let over dry for 24-48 hours.
That’s the end of part one of fixing a cloth bound book’s spine. Tomorrow? Attaching it back to the book.

Cloth Bound Book Repair: Spine Removal

As promised here’s the photos and process break down from my time in Preservation.

This is just a section of all the books waiting to have their spines fixed. On most modern books the spine is the first thing to give out after years of usage. The newer textbook like books with paper covers and glued in papers can’t stand up to excessive usage.

I choose the small black book because it seemed like the easiest to fix and the cover was still attached to the text block.

See the spine is coming apart from both sides of the book, this one wasn’t the worst but it could quickly become worse.

Tools of the trade: PVA glue, scissors, Ruler, exacto knife, bone folder (this one is plastic, there are some made out of real bone), mini spatula, artist brush,cutting mat,  and scrap paper.

Now it’s time for the fun part, after using the ruler and exacto knife to cut the cover about an inch away from the spine, take the spatula to lift up the cover. Lifting back the cover, do this on both sides of the book.

Now switch and start taking off the spine, be careful you just want the cloth spin. Don’t cut the cover board away from the book.

After taking the spine off, clean up the spine by cutting away the edges.

Now cut some book cloth, leaving about an inch and half of cloth on both ends of the spine. If the color matters to you than choose one that either matches or complements the original color.

Take time to enjoy the scenery. xD

After measuring the spine cut a strip of bristol paper to match. The large paper cutter isn’t really needed…I just wanted to use it. =D

Cover the bristol paper with glue, make sure you cover the entire strip in a thin even layer.

So I don’t overload the post with images I’m going to break up it up. Come back tomorrow for part 2.

Thoughts on Instruction

With the end of my practicum coming to an end and teaching my last class I thought I would write down my thoughts about instruction. When I first sat down with the Assistant Director of ZSR Reference dept. we talked about me teaching a class or two. I was both interested and intimidated at the same time. All I could think about was I had decided to go to Grad school because I didn’t want to teach. You see back then I was convinced I didn’t have the patience to teach nor did I have the understanding needed. I wasn’t confident in my own skills.

What changed? I did basically I think in the last two years I’ve done some major growing up. While I still have some issues with tooting my on horn (but I’m getting better) I now know I’ve skills to share. As the semester continued I went along collecting information from the librarians about their jobs and journeys. But in the back of my mind I knew the time was coming when I would have to stand in front of a group of students not munch younger than me. In all honesty I think it was the support of my supervisor and the Instruction Librarian I co-taught with that helped so much. They were both critical in my preparation and they were very eager to share their thoughts with me.

Class One

My first class was on Zotero. I was nervous and using a new tool, Prezi. I started the class with an introduction then walked the class through download and install of Zotero in Firefox and the Word Plug in. With a few hiccups we moved on to me showing how to pull in material. I had a whole lesson worked out to show different materials, what to do when it didn’t automatically pull in the information and then making a citation and bibliography using Zotero in Word. Unfortunately I ran out of time. I didn’t take into account the speed and level students would catch on. For future reference I would cut down on the introduction and just jump into the download and install.

Class Two

My second class was another big one as I had to lead the class alone, as my co-teacher was away at ACRL. So I was extra nervous and again I was using a new tool. I was using power point with the clickers. Which involved learning a new program…TurningPoint. I joked with one of the other librarians that I wondered if the whole class would show up. Of course the whole class showed up and we went through Scholarly Journals fairly quickly. Most students know about journals, well they know they exist. They might not know how much the library pays for them or why they should use them but they know there’s something called Journals. What surprised me, although it shouldn’t have, was that no one had used the Journal Finder tool and I don’t think any of them had used a database really. So the tips I shared was to not start in Journal Finder as it would just make life harder. For future reference I would have had them do an activity to show that they understood. Since I knew we would be talking more about them the next class I let them go a bit early.

Class Three

Scholarly databases and citing journals. By this time I thought I had the hang of it. I was focused on timing and making sure I got the lesson across in whole. I think I made my co-teacher proud. This time I didn’t do a presentation I used the library webpage to give examples. By showing how to do searches using their topic search terms I think I engaged them better. I made sure to stop and ask for answers to questions and asked if I was loosing anyone. I should them general and subject specific databases and had the general citation format written on the white board. For an activity I asked them all to find a relating article and pull it into Zotero for the next class. It was interesting to see those who used the databases I talked about and then to see them use the boolean searching and truncation tips I shared. None of them knew about these two things before hand. I felt proud of myself.

Class Four

The last class was a major challenge. But by this time I was more comfortable talking about sources, the weakness and strengths of sources. So I told them about a million times websites as sources was a tricky thing to master. Citing them would be even harder. I made a point to look at what others were saying about the subject, ZSR has a page about website sources and links to two other college’s thoughts. This helped a lot on pulling my own thoughts together. For the class I again relied on actual examples…but I felt it wasn’t as interactive as I might have wanted. For future reference I want to come up with better ways to communicate something that I’m not as skilled in.

My Overall Experience

I think between shadowing and actually teaching my experience has grown 100%. I’m more comfortable in front of the class than I thought I would be. And I enjoy it immensely, which is a great surprise to me. There’s a lot of things I still need to learn about, like timing, engaging the students, and communicating a tricky subject matter.

I would love to hear about other people thoughts on Bibliographic Instruction. How did you feel the first time you taught a class? Any tips you would like to share?

My Time in Special Collections

Me working in Special Collections

I realized that I never spoke about my time in Special Collections. If you’ve read my blog doing the early months then you probably know that I entered grad school believing I wanted to work in Archives or Special Collections. It soon morphed to me not really knowing where I wanted to fit it and only recently have I felt like I’ve found my calling in the Reference department.

When I got a chance to tour special collections and archives at ZSR, I took it as a chance to get some hours and experience in. I still love special collections and archives because at heart I will always be a history geek. One day I hope to be able to combine reference and archives but that’s for another day. Today we’re going to talk about my three weeks in Special Collection, specifically Rare Books.

While there I started an inventory project. ZSR Rare Books is basically built around the library of one man. Charles Lee Smith, a professor, university president, publisher, bibliophile. He donated his entire collection in 1941. The inventory project came about when they noticed that some of the books where not showing up in the catalog. While some books are in multiples and housed in different departments it was important to note the ones in Rare Books.

My part in the project was to check each book against the catalog. Note the ones that weren’t in there and any strange occurrences. Thinking that I would find one or two in a section. Imagine my surprise when only one or two on the shelf WAS in the catalog. Here’s some snapshots I took.

The Alcove where I worked

Shelf full of old books

One of the books protected by a wax paper cover

Showing the catalog card Charles Smith created for his library

The call numbers, the collection is organized by this system

In the end I was able to handle the rare books and learn from the librarians about rare books. Even though this wasn’t the point of my practicum I’m still glad I was able to fit this in. It was a great experience and now I can say I’ve handled rare books and have knowledge of special collection management.

Practicum Week: Day 21 and 22


Again I started the day on the reference desk. I had one scheduled Personal Research Session which I thought would be an easy session. But I’ve learned one of the golden rules of Reference librarianism…nothing is as simple as you think. When the student asked for the session she gave us one topic. Which I know not to automatically assume that’s the topic they really want to write on. But normally the real topic is in the same vein but more narrowed down. However that wasn’t the case this time the student had already changed their idea to something completely different. So I wasn’t really ready for that. I relied heavily on the reference interview only to discover that their topic was to contemporary and perhaps to narrowed. As the geographic area they wanted to focus on was not known for allowing literature on activities that weren’t generally globally smiled upon. I told them they would have problems finding anything but a few articles and they weren’t going to be scholarly. But they were gung ho about doing that topic so I did my best and I really focused on connecting with them. So when it it that they were not going to be able to write the paper they envision but it was still due in a couple of days they would know they could come back and we would be there to help find an easier topic. Let’s be real that’s part of the job right? Easing the pain.

At any rate this was the first time I experience conflict with in my own mind about helping a student. Because I as a person wanted to say, “Point blank this is a bit to much and is going to lead to a heart of headache for a class asking for short assignment.” But as a librarian I felt that it wasn’t really my place. In the end they could write an awesome paper and do it with out any problems. They had a lot of passion about the subject matter so I’m wishing them a lot luck.

After lunch I taught my last class of the semester. And I am going to be quite honest with you, it was the hardest class ever! In the course of preparing for the class on Scholarly Website I realized how little I know of such things. In my research I don’t really use websites, outside of those maintained by newspapers and the occasional government site. So it took me a while to get familiar with these sources. My lesson ended up touching on ways to evaluate a website and the types of websites. I stressed how hard websites are to categorize because of the nature of the internet. But to use their best judgement as critical researchers and do their due diligence. We went over citing the web and even that’s a hard thing to master. APA doesn’t even mention how to do so in their manual. I pointed them towards the WFU MLA Libguide.

After class I went for my hours in Preservation. I learned how to fix the spines of cloth bound books. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was even able to snap some shoots of the process. I’ll be doing a separate post for those. During my time there we had some great discussion on the future of music and books. Great time.


Thursday saw the same schedule as Tuesday. I finished working on the APA guide, in the MLA guide there’s a separate tab for online databases. APA doesn’t make a difference between things found in a database and those found elsewhere online. So now I’m trying to see if there are certain examples that should be pulled out without redoing the whole book. Also the MLA has screenshots of the examples with annotation of the parts. The problem is the program used is on the librarian’s personal laptop. Not to mention the quality of the screenshots vary. Some are fuzzy and not really legible. Others are small and much clearer. My OCD won’t allow for that much difference. So I’m waiting on word from my supervisor.

After lunch we had the class complete Assignment three. Which called for them to find a website for their topic then to create a presentation where they picked one website out of the group as the best source for their topic. They had to show us why it was better and everyone had to speak. I think everyone kind of struggled on picking a webpage that their partners hadn’t already chosen. I think everyone automatically gravitated to the government pages. So I tried to push people out of the box to .edu and .org sites. Because I really wanted to see if they understood how to tell a better one out of an okay one. I felt for the marijuana group as I knew there would be tons of sites with random people toting the benefits of making it legal and they had no credentials to speak on the topic what so ever.They’ll be presenting next week as we ran out of time helping them all with their sites.

Preservation was fun once again. I continued on fixing spines and playing in glue. I hadn’t played with glue since grade school and my time in Interior Architecture.

My Thoughts

This week lesson was of course in Preservation. I’ve had lessons on how to fix paper back books in order to extend their life for a couple of more months at best. But now I can do some real preservation. I only wished I could have done some work with Japanese rice paper but at last the librarian had a personal mini crisis and had to leave.

Practicum Week: Day 19 and Day 20

Tuesday started with time on the reference desk. Which gave me some much-needed time to finish up some last-minute details and conduct another Personal Research Meeting with a student. This time the topic was political science and dealing with tax havens. I’ve only taken one course in political science and that was a 101 course. Luckily there was a Research Guide that my supervisor had created for the course. So I ran through the guide and when the student came I sat them in front of the computer and starting asking a lot of questions. More questions that probably any other Librarian would have asked but I really needed the student to narrow down her topic. It was for a 100 level course and only 6 pages. Thankfully they already had a specific location they wanted to talk about. And soon we got it narrowed down to “How tax shelters in the Caribbean affect the people in those countries and how it affects the US economy.” We found one article in a general reference journal that spoke directly to that topic. Which was a great starting point for them, I explained how they could search out the references to gather more information. Then I explained how to conduct a search in the database and that they needed to play around with the narrowing tools to narrow down their results. Since they didn’t need many sources to get 6 pages. We also talked about websites as their topic is an ongoing theme. They were very adamant that her professor didn’t want websites. So it was kind of hard to get through her the difference between scholarly websites and general websites.

After lunch I taught a class on Scholarly databases and citing a Journal. I opted not to do a presentation but instead I had notes and I talked while showing them the steps overhead. I also had them follow along on their on laptops. I tied in the examples with their group topics so they could see how to take their general topics like Nuclear Energy or Online Privacy and get results that would help them on Assignment 2. After I showed the databases, I had them take some time to explore and find an article to pull into Zotero for next class. Then I went over how to cite a journal using MLA. I wrote the general citation on the white board and walked through it. This was all for them to be able to do Assignment 2 for the next class. Which we told them over and over. Because last Assignment we had some students run late because they used a good chunk of time searching for sources. After class I went to work with Preservation for the rest of the day. I help pull an exhibit together for a conference at the end of the Month. This included gathering photos and bios of the speakers and cleaning out the old exhibits.

Thursday I was finally able to find the time to finish up the APA LibGuide that I’ve been working on since for half of forever. Finding my own examples and create it from scratch took longer than I thought but I know that it’s right and I’m not in danger of impugning on anyone’s copyright privileges. When I looked at other Libguides on APA at other schools I noticed that they used the same examples that can be found in the book, on OWL Perdue’s website, or they didn’t give examples just the general format. Knowing that the MLA guide is the top used guide I wanted the APA to be just as useful. Now I’m just waiting on my supervisor to go over it and give suggestions on things. I didn’t have any research meetings scheduled so that gave me the time. I did have one student as for help, I ended up referring him to another Librarian as his topic was very broad and he didn’t fully know what he wanted. And my questions weren’t getting us to a good spot. Once the librarian was done it ended up being she had to give him a topic, which I wouldn’t have been able to do.

After lunch we did Assignment 2, and again their were students who didn’t have an article for the assignment. So while some students got to leave early, as the assignment wasn’t that big of a task. We still had some students run late. On the positive side they were using the databases I showed them. I saw them using the general databases that I showed them and then moving to the more subject specific ones that I pointed out and showed. They also had to write how they conducted their search, they used the tips that I showed (truncation and boolean). While we were in their we had them do a mid-class survey about how the class was going and anything they wished we spent more time on. Turns out Zotero was kind of the big thing they wanted to know more about. Which I’m on the fence about it was my first class but at the same time they seem to want to know about things I hadn’t covered. So I don’t know what to think of that. And I’ve done two classes since then on things that none of them had used, Journals and Databases and they seemed to be okay with those things. After class I did an hour in Special Collections again and then I covered the reference desk for my supervisor. It was a great difference being on their during the afternoon and being on their during the morning. More walk-in students came for help. Some who had attended a BI class that very day. I booked a personal research session for Tuesday while on the desk.

My Thoughts
I know almost every post I gush about how much fun I’m having and how much I’m learning, so I’m not going to do that this time…SIKE! No seriously, I’ve just never met so many people who are so supportive of me learning how to do their job. Ha! I’ve had some good and some bad times in the library but before this I was venting to friends about how I was beyond ready to start putting all the theory and ideas to the test of what was really in the field. Now I’ve got this chance to do just that I’m kind of overwhelmed. My supervisor has been so great in allowing me to get as much experience as I can. I also think the fact that a good number of the librarians went to UNCG for the MLIS helps. I think I’ve made marked improvement in reference services, which has helped me with my own research skills. Being exposed to different subjects means I’m looking at new databases and journals and sources that stem new ways to think about any given topic. Going back to my first posts about instruction and now, I think, “Wait is that the same person.” I took on the extra class last week with no hesitation. Next week is my last class to teach and I’m already thinking if I can squeeze in another one. I’m loving it so much.

One Month and Counting

As of today there is but one month left before I can switch the words MLIS candidate to just plain MLIS (I’ll have to wait about a month before I can hold the actual degree in my hand). I’m a mix between being excited, nervous, and a little sadden at the same time. Another chapter in my life is quickly coming to an end. Two years honestly flew by in a flash.

To catch you all up since I didn’t post much last month besides the Practicum update here and there I’m steadily applying for employment. Granted I could be applying more but I’m just a bit tired to be honest. For instance today with a long list of things to do I got up early, but ended up taking a 2 hour nap before doing anything. There’s so much more I feel like I could and should be doing but at the same I’ve been non-stop since 2009. I’m running on empty here. But if I can make it to the finish line and accept that job offer than I can think about resting then.

Classes are going good, the final papers will be due soon and I’ve started rewriting my Professional Value Statement. It’s interesting to see how much I’ve not changed what I value professionally, but my understanding as to why I value these things has changed. I should have it all completed by next week. Technically I’ve completed the minimum hours needed for my practicum and could use the hours to do other things,  but I’m continuing to go because I’m just learning and experiencing  so much. Which you’ll learn more from the many posts I’ve been sharing…(insert some sarcasm there.) The only class giving me some pause is my Academic Library class. The final paper is due at the end of the month and I’m suffering from information overload. I’m glad I’m not stuck with a topic that lacks information but now I can’t stop finding relevant articles and books. I need to narrow my topic and just start writing. I’ll talk more about the paper at another time.

I guess it’s fine to speak about this since she’s officially made the announcement but my BFF is having her first child in August. I’ve been named the Godmother and I’m beyond excited.

I think that’s really all for now. Time to bunker in for the long haul.

Practicum Week: Day 17 and 18

Graduation is almost one month away and everything is starting to blur together. I think I’m going to slammed with writing papers. So blog posting might become even more scarce around here. I will however get the post up about how the conference went last week. Just got to find the time. It turned out great though!


Me at work in Special Collections

Tuesday saw me conducting my first official Personal Research session with a Jr. for help with finding sources on a term paper for a HIS 300 level course. They originally wanted to find sources for the Inquisition during the Italian Renaissance. The problem being that the Inquisition started after the Italian Renaissance so coming in to the meeting I had a feeling they hadn’t done any preliminary research. At first it was hard to get the student to narrow down on a topic. So I asked my supervisor for some tips. I had gone from the inquisition point of view and she suggested I go with the Renaissance. Which proved to be a better starting point, we can narrow it down to the church’s role during the Italian renaissance with their argument being how that role leads to the inquisition. I can help them find the section of books that would be most helpful as well as showed them how to get primary resources in a language they don’t how to read (also known as reading the citations). After lunch I went to my class were we had them complete assignment one. That involved them finding a reference material and a book from the main stacks that was pertinent to their group’s research topic. They also had to write a citation for both using MLA. We told them last Thursday to try and find a book to bring to class to cut down on searching time; I think only one did. In the end I had to offer help on telling the difference between the reference materials they were finding. By the end of the day I was really feeling like I had made some major contributions to my librarianistic (I don’t think that’s a word) future.


Thursday I had another Personal Research session that went better as the student had done some searching before hand. Not to mention the paper was shorter and for a 100 level course. So we were able to narrow down to a topic and find a couple of articles that would lead to enough sources to write the paper. I explained how to do use the research guides and the databases. Most of the librarians were away at the ACRL conference including the librarian who co-instructs with me. That meant I had to lead the class alone. And it went great if I do say so myself. The whole class showed up and I think I got the message across. The class was on Finding Scholarly Journals. There were no questions at the end so I can only hope they got it.

This week was another great week at feeling comfortable sharing information. I think most of my apprehension came from knowing that the students were in essence depending on me to show them how navigate the world of information. But every time they that little light of understanding and they take that little breath that signals them relaxing and knowing they are going to be able to write that paper makes me feel all warm inside.