About Jill Luedke

I am a Reference and Instruction Librarian at the Adam & Sophie Gimbel Design Library - The New School Libraries, New York.

Be Curious: Research Instruction for First Year Studio Students

Recently I was asked to provide research instruction for a brand new 1 credit course required for all new incoming BFA and BArch students at Tyler School of Art. This course was designed to create a community of learning and introduce students to the world of art and design. I had 35 minutes and was asked to talk about image research and demonstrate only two databases. The professors requested specifically the free database of Compfight.com and our in-house image database of objects in our special collections. I was one of several “guest speakers” invited to talk to the students. The instruction room was packed with about 150 students.

I rarely teach with Powerpoint, but wanted to have visual material that represented my ideas and that engaged the students during my introductory talk. I took cue from my yoga class to spend some time at the beginning of the class giving a type of “pep talk” about what it was we, as a class, were about to embark on.

While I was composing my session, it occurred to me that when I’m teaching students about research, I’m really teaching them about curiosity – what it means to be curious, why they should be curious and how to act on their curiosity. I started my talk with the students by addressing that same concept. [I’ve illustrated this post with various slides from the presentation. You can watch and download the entire presentation at the end of this post.]

Slides 2 – 5: Illustrating Curiosity


In an effort to illustrate what I meant by curiosity, and to start them thinking about visual representations of concepts, I showed images of different ways to represent curiosity. As I clicked through the “Be Curious.” slides, I talked about the different ways to define what it means to be curious and the different ways in which you can illustrate those definitions.

Slide 7: Why be Curious

Slid 7 is animated and the images appear one at a time starting from the bottom right with Shepard Fairey’s Obama Hope poster and working to the left, then up to the book cover of Graphic Design, moving right to Art in the Streets, then Art of Obama and ending with the headlines about the copyright case of Shepard Fairey’s Hope poster. During this slide I spoke about reasons why you would want to be curious. I used this slide to illustrate how curiosity can help you contextualize objects and give them depth. With curiosity you can discover the history of objects, learn about their influences and possibly find relationships between them and your own work.

For this slide I needed to start with an image I knew the students would recognize. The starting image also needed to be something I knew I could connect in an obvious way to other images. I was not going to talk about the images, so the connections had to speak for themselves. The bottom row are objects that demonstrate a sort of history of image making and the top row are resources about the objects.

Slid 8: Utilize Resources

From this slide I link to the image databases found in an art research guide I created. I demonstrated the free online image database Compfight.com, and our Head of Special Collections demonstrated searching images in our in-house image database. I used this opportunity to briefly talk about utilizing all resources available to them, whether they be Google or lectures, or professors or peers or the library. Different resources will connect you to different pieces of information.

Slide 9: Practice. Practice. Practice.

Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice drives our curiosity. The more we use something and the more we practice with it, the more we understand what it can do for us, and the more we understand how we can make it work for us. There is no level of perfection in information seeking, only levels of improvement.

Little did I know that the next reading assignment scheduled for the class was and essay entitled “Curiosity Cabinets, Museums, and Universities” by E. Bruce Robertson from the book, Cabinet of Curiosities: Mark Dion and the University as Installation. Two weeks after this session I spoke with the students more about developing a vocabulary for researching.

I’m curious to know about what you do to teach students about research.


Where Do You Get Your Juice?

As I prepared for this year’s ARLIS/NA conference in Indianapolis, the familiar feeling of excitement began to build as I thought about the idea of connecting with colleagues, sharing ideas and expanding my understanding of what it means to be a librarian. This year will be my fourth ARLIS/NA conference. My first was in 2006 in Banff, Canada. At that time I was still in library school and was nervous to be around all the professionals. I understood that I was new on the scene and needed to spend my time observing, and taking notes on who, what and how. I sort of felt like I was in a foreign country; still learning the language. Is there really that much of a difference between academic libraries and art & design school libraries to require separate division groups? What’s so difficult about outreach to faculty and departments? How do the Director and Circulation affect my role as a librarian? Four years later, I have a much better understanding of the differences and the challenges and the consequences. I’ve been a real librarian for two years and I am amazed and even inspired by how much I’ve learned.

Each year that I attend the ARLIS conference I meet and connect with more people. I learn who shares my interests, who would be a reliable partner for session moderation or panel session, who knows what ropes and who needs me to show them my ropes. It’s a great source of juice to power me through the year, but I find that I often need a bump here and there to keep me motivated until I see these colleagues again the next conference. Staying connected to colleagues and sharing and brainstorming ideas with them I think is so vital to my success as a librarian. During our ADSL Division discussion this year we also discussed ways to stay connected. This blog was one way we thought would help keep us juiced during the year. Outside of the ARLIS community, I also read the ACRLog and belong to the ili-l@ala.org listserv. What are some of the ways you all stay juiced during the year?

Screen Recording Technology

I have been experimenting with a software that allows me to create screencasts. I can record my screen actions, narrate and even video myself while demonstrating how to use various library technologies. Screen recording software also allows for lecture capturing, all of which can be easily uploaded to a website, LibGuide or emailed to faculty and students. The software I have been experimenting with is called ScreenFlow. Others include Adobe Captivate, Camptasia. I’ve just found out about some free online screen recording software. Some of these are: Screencast-O-Matic, ScreenToaster, Skoffer,. Reviews about these online screencasting software here.
As for learning the software, I would say that a small amount of tech savviness is necessary, but most importantly is that you understand the capabilities of the software and be curious and enthusiastic to learn how to harness those capabilities. I am cetainly on the low end of the tech savvy scale, but I knew that screen capturing software would give me the freedom to create everything from a short tutorial on “How to Renew Library Materials Online” to full library instruction sessions for distance learning classes. Our Digital Libraries Department used Adobe Captivate to create a dynamic tutorial introducing our new online catalog. Below I used ScreenFlow to create a very simple rough draft mock up (note: this is not my final product) tutorial on “How to Renew Books Online“.

Meet Your Moderator for 2009/2010

Hello. I am one of your moderators for the 09/10 year along with Holly Hatheway. I am a new librarian and have worked as a Reference and Instructional Librarian at the Adam & Sophie Gimbel Design Library at The New School in New York for two years. I am one of two Reference and Instructional librarians for that library, which supports the curriculum of Parsons The New School for Design. I have a dual masters degree from Pratt Institute in Art History and Library Science. This will be my fourth ARLIS/NA conference. I have also served on the Membership Committee for two years.

As always, I am excited to reconnect with everyone at the conference as well as meet new professionals. I look forward to sharing ideas with everyone in Indianapolis and reading your ideas on this blog.

Jill E. Luedke

Instruction Exercise for International Students

In this post, I thought I would share some of my experiments with creative instruction. I am a very green librarian (just one and a half years in the profession) and I’ve been practicing what I like to call “fearless creativity” with my outreach and instruction. I thought this blog would be a good place to share those ideas with other ADSL professionals and hopefully spur some dialogue and maybe even collaboration on other helpful approaches to instruction and outreach.

Since the article published in Urban Library Journal was written, I expanded on the button idea for an instructional project.

The Project

Every summer I teach four (one each day of the week) library instruction sessions to a group of students who are part of a program called SOPIS (Summer Orientation for Parsons International Students). SOPIS is an intensive summer program for international students that combines English language skills with a design project. Students who successfully complete this program will be accepted as full-time Parsons students in the Fall. Therefore, these students have a short amount of time to be successful: they work hard and ask a lot of questions.
This was my second summer to teach these students, and I decided to up the ante on the hands-on project I planned for them. My first summer with this program was much more challenging since I had been on the job for just about two months. I use this group of students as my test group for innovative projects for a couple of reasons: the time of year (summer) affords me a little more time to spend preparing new and often time consuming projects, and the four classes allows me to conduct a small case-study for the project.
After I showed the students how to use the online resources including our OPAC, I wanted an exercise that required them to use written and oral skills, in order for them to work on their English. Since I was only allotted an hour for the instruction session, I knew I needed the create a project that was simple, useful and quick. Each class received a button card that looked like this:
The image used to make the button came from the book mentioned in the middle of the card. In the lower right-hand corner of the card are a list of possible keywords to use when searching this book in the OPAC. The students were given a piece of paper with these instructions:

What To Do With Your Button Card?

  • Your card has information about a book. Your card also has a list of Keywords that relate to that book.
  • Using one or more of the Keywords in the list, find another book in BobCat.
  • After you find another book in BobCat, write down the Title, Author and Call Number of that book on the back of your card.
  • Now locate the new book in the stacks and bring it back to the group.
  • Be prepared to say something about your book. (Why did you choose it? Was it easy/difficult to find? Were there other books nearby that looked interesting?)
  • Now you have information for two books that relate to your class projects!

I also verbally explained the exercise to the class.

The Result:

Unfortunately, time only permitted one class to actually participate in this exercise. The exercise only takes about 10 minutes, but miscommunication meant I was not informed until after the fact that I only had 50 minutes with the students. At any rate, the section that allowed time for the exercise was the section with the lowest English speaking ability. Most of the students tried to find the book on the card, rather than search for a different book using the given search terms.

What I Learned:

If I did this exercise again, I would read the instructions to the students rather than just explain in my own words. Despite my efforts, many students still seemed confused about what to do. Since English is not their first language, reading the instructions to them would allow them to read and follow along. I also may just have them search for the one book and not have them use keywords. That seemed to be where most of the confusion happened.

If anyone has thoughts for next summer’s project, I’d love to hear them!

The Creative Library

The current issue of Urban Library Journal is about the creative endeavors of librarians. The articles in the issue discuss innovated services and programs librarians are implementing in their libraries today. My colleague (Sarah Laleman Ward) and I wrote an article titled “It All Started with a Button” for the “Reports from the Field” section about some of our practical and inexpensive creative marketing and outreach ventures. The article begins with a discussion about how we’ve utilized the “buttons” in our library, and then elaborates on other creative marketing and outreach techniques we’ve used. Take a look.