Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Storytelling for reference and information #wlic2017

At the 2017 World Library and Information Conference in Wroclaw, Poland I attended yesterday a session on Storytelling for Sustainability and Solidarity - Reference and Information Services. The photo is of one of the dwarf statues that are a feature in Wroclaw: I'm not sure if she's telling a story or casting a spell.
The WLIC session was chaired by Marydee Ojala, and I'll say something about each of the papers. It started with an introduction to storytelling from Erik Boekesteijn (National Library of the Netherlands), which I have to confess I missed. However I discovered this article in which he talks about using stories in libraries:
Boekesteijn, E. (2008). Discover Innovations at DOK, Holland’s 'Library Concept Center'. Marketing Library Services, 22(2). http://www.infotoday.com/MLS/mar08/Boekesteijn.shtml
and this short interview with him Connecting people to stories with library innovation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kH529HcXeeU I
n fact there is loads on storytelling for librarians eg this and this.
However, I did hear the rest of the talks! Most of them had already deposited full text papers in the IFLA library, and I'll link to those.
Raymond Pun (Fresno State University, United States) gave a talk Telling First Year Experience: Visual Techniques to Assess First Year Students and Their Information Seeking Behaviors (coauthored with Yujin Hong (Kyung Hee University, Republic of Korea) and Minsun Kim (Sogang University, Republic of Korea). Their strategies included using photovoice with first year students. photovoice means asking people to take photos on the topic you are interested in, for example you might say "take photos of places, things etc. that help you write your essay". You then use the photos as a focus for discussing the topic with the students. This can give you insight into their world and narrative. I will add (from a talk I attended at another conference) that you also need to brief the students about the ethics of taking photos (in particular asking people's permission to take photos).
Ray talked about getting students to share on instagram etc. and this use of social media being a good way to share and get feedback/reaction. He also talked about ethno-mapping, i.e. using mapping as a way to understand people's conceptions of something. For example, you could ask students to draw a map of the library or a picture of the library website. From that, you can get an idea of how much and what they use, and possibly how they feel about it too. His library had drawn on the research they had done to develop a video 10 Things You Should Know About the Henry Madden Library https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwyBTJK6cJs

The full paper is available here: http://library.ifla.org/1634/1/122-pun-en.pdf

The next paper I heard was: Crisis of Professional Identity or Challenge for Personal Development : My Story as a Reference and User Services Librarian. Maja Krulić Gačan talked about how they had used marketing strategies to develop services in her library to meet users needs (Public Library "Fran Galovic" Koprivnica, Croatia). For example, she talked about services for babies and parents, and campaigns using social media. The paper is here: http://library.ifla.org/1638/1/122-krulic-en.pdf

This was followed by Before and Beyond Embedding: A Reference Fable from the National Library of Technology in Prague authored by Martin Stehlik, Sasha Skenderija and Tomas Houdek.
Their initiative was triggered by an impressive new library building: on the one hand the new building was an apparent success, but there was a disconnect with academic life. The librarians identified a narrative disconnect, which included library-centred narratives, librarians' lack of experience with research environments and low subject knowledge, and low expectations of reference services.
By identifying different discourses, they aimed to get into the academic narrative.To pull out a key sentence from their paper "we now present our services using vocabulary and messages that make more sense to our users, employing both “small” narratives surrounding individual user tasks (need help writing your thesis?) to “grand” or “meta” narratives regarding fundamental values and beliefs shared within academia (e.g., research integrity)". The slide includes an interesting thought, that to say you are "embedded" implies that you are are still an outside observer. The full paper is here, and it gives numerous concrete examples: http://library.ifla.org/1636/1/122-skenderija-en.pdf They also played this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXCB2ZZgiRI

The final paper in the session was Why Horror Stories Don’t Lead to Nightmares, by Helen Morgan and Heather Todd (The University of Queensland Library, Australia). They had been trying to find ways to make researchers interested in the rather dry subject of Research Data Management. They had done this by collecting real-life horror stories of people losing their research data (e.g. losing the data stick; having your computer lost in a fire) and having the research rejected because they couldn't produce the raw research data. They started with examples from elsewhere, but now have stories from within the University of Queensland, and found some senior researchers very helpful in sharing stories. This has indeed helped to make researchers more engaged with the issue.

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