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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Should You Run Before You Walk?

This is the third and final conference session for the asynchronous conference, The Different Aspects of a Library Collection.

Recently, college libraries have been advertising information literacy courses to be embedded from within regular courses.  It requires the Developmental Reading professor to share their lesson plans with the “liaison” librarian.  The liaison librarian, then designs an information literacy course from within the Developmental Reading course. Both the librarian and professor confer with each other about the meshing of the two courses into one before the course would begin.  The idea is to appear seamlessly to the students who enter into the course.  In theory, this plan would work great but there are not enough liaison librarians to work on each developmental reading course.  There cannot be a “one size fits all” template for the information literacy course and the developmental reading course partnership.  The reading comprehension needs are usually too great in the developmental reading courses to be a cookie-cutter solution that would try to lend to a partnership of the library that cannot be cookie-cutter either.  The two courses end up not working seamlessly and the students become confused with not knowing which instructions to follow from their professor or their librarian.

Many of my Developmental Reading students cannot read or write. Speaking, also, as a librarian, I have found that some of the students’ only reading outlet is through reading texts that come in every minute on their smart phones and tablets.  If they need to perform research, the students do not have time in their busy lives to go to the library.  They “Google-it” through their smart phones and tablets.  Then, this leaves time for work and family commitments.

If the students could be shown the importance of learning the ability to know when they need information, when to get that information, how to get that information, and demonstrate that they know that information, they could have a chance of successfully passing the developmental reading course and quite possibility other courses that they would need to take in the future.   The emphasis has to be not on what the students did not learn in K-12th grades.  It has to be on what they need to learn now.

The Association of College and Research Libraries defines information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information." (  Every year there will be between 16% and 40% entering freshmen who are unprepared for college level courses (Boylan, 2001, p.3).  This will happen in any institution.  Their unpreparedness can range from lack of development in “their writing skills, and many need to develop their mathematics skills” (Boylan, 2001, p. 3).    Different higher educational institutions have defined how to save information literacy when these unprepared college freshmen come through the door.  The students take an entrance test that places them in different developmental courses and college planning courses so that they will succeed.  How can they take more courses if they do not understand what they had gotten wrong on the entrance test?

Taking the Test Leads to a Problem

College Board’s tests ( ACCUPLACER ®; ACT’s COMPASS ®; ASSET ®) and locally designed tests are commercial or standardized tests.  These types of test have allowed the higher educational institutions to measure different issues that are covered in the test “but they do not have any specified or consistent cut score or level that designates readiness for credit-bearing courses” (Conley, 2010c, p. 5). So, the educational institutions have designated grades for the students to achieve in developmental courses that would show “college-readiness” for credit-bearing courses. 

The test works only if it were aligned with the content covered in the entry-level courses of that institution. Unfortunately, college students are unfamiliar with their formats and high school administrators are not familiar with the content covered.  It is because of this non-consistency that can cause students to be wrongly classified in developmental education or “pre” college courses (Conley, 2010c, p. 5-6).

As one study had shown, these types of tests cannot be the only way to determine what educational needs entering freshmen may have.  Different tests can generate different results, for example, different profiles of what they lack can be generated.  This is dependent on what content is covered by each test.  These commercialized tests seem to lack “information on student key cognitive strategies and higher-order thinking in addition to some specific content knowledge areas” (Conley, 2010b, p.16).

Placement tests analyze students’ comprehension rates through short literary and nonfiction passages.  The content used for their reading proficiency did not resemble any reading materials that would be found in their college textbooks (Conley,2010b, p. 16). Can it effectively test them on their information literacy skills on how to find information and use it effectively for college course-work and for work-loads in their future careers?

Higher Education’s Solution

High school students are not guaranteed success in college when they have completed college-preparatory courses (Conley, p. 4).  Preparation for the graduate would come from their high school’s curriculum that would:  (a)  measure student academic progress; (b) observe the methods in which states, districts, schools, principals, and teachers are educating students;  and (c) observe  teachers’ adjusting  their educating styles (DOE, 2010 p. 8).  In high school English, mathematics, and science courses, students have not been taught  how  “to draw inferences, interpret results, analyze conflicting source documents, support arguments with evidence, solve complex problems that have no obvious answer, draw conclusions, offer  explanations, conduct research, and generally think deeply about what they are being taught” (Conley, 2007c, p. 23).

There is no teaching to the test.  In order to be college-ready, students would need to be taught the following skills in high school: “expanding vocabulary and learning word analysis;  strategic reading; writing skills;  problem-solving abilities; thoroughly understand the basic concepts, principles, and techniques of algebra;  teaching the steps of the scientific method; use empirical evidence to draw conclusions, and how they subject such conclusions to challenge and interpretation;  skills of interpreting sources, evaluating evidence and competing claims, and understanding historical themes and the importance of key events”  (Conley, 2007c, p. 26-27).  Without these, unprepared high school graduates scoring low on the college placement tests would be placed into developmental education courses to learn pre-college content that was not offered or not mastered in high school.   

Through the developmental education course track, entering freshmen can have a “successful transition to the college environment” (Conley, 2008b, p. 24).  After finishing the developmental education course track, the college students would show “development of key cognitive strategies, mastery of key content knowledge, proficiency with a set of academic behaviors, and sufficient “college knowledge” about what postsecondary education requires” (Conley, 2010a, p. 18).

Eighty-three per cent of college students who passed developmental reading could, in 2011, “pass their first college social science course” (Boylan & Bonham, 2011, p. 31).    Also, in 2011, 77.2% students who passed developmental mathematics, could “also pass their first college mathematics course; and of those passing developmental English, 91.1% also pass their first college English course” (Boylan & Bonham , 2011, p. 31).

One of many solutions that higher education institutions’ have created to combat college unpreparedness and information illiteracy is to place the unprepared students into developmental reading, English, writing, and mathematics.  They have also created a college preparation course to help students adjust to the attitudes, environment, and studying skills needed to succeed in college.  The students I receive each semester usually have a years-worth of courses to complete with a passing grade of a “B” (or greater) for Mathematics and “C” (or greater) for Reading, Writing, and English.

It is through these courses that some higher education institutions believe students would learn how to determine when they would need information to help them solve problems in college course work, how to know where to go to get it and how to use it. Seventy per cent of college students entering community colleges are placed into remedial courses ( ).    This usually occurs because they did not make acceptable scores on the entrance level tests or the institutions made the assumption that they needed these courses to prepare for college-credit bearing courses.

But those courses were not the remedial courses that were for students that were great at writing or mathematics.  Remedial courses were meant as a refresher of skills that were already learned in high school but needed a “pre” course to take before the “real” entry-level course would be taken (Boylan & Bonham, 2007).  The “pre” courses were known as existing in the institution’s remedial programs and were designed “to compensate for deficiencies in prior learning” (Boylan & Bonham, 2007, p. 2).  Developmental education courses were for students who needed to be taught what they had never learned or had forgotten.

Emphasis on Self-Evaluation of Teachers, Staff, and Students

Institutions would need to also emphasize faculty and staff learning from each other through a collaborative effort.  This would be through a self-evaluation of the institution and a collection of “data about goal achievement; most colleges do not understand, or fail to make, the critical links between goal and expected outcomes in identifying the appropriate data to be collected” (Roueche and Roueche, 2003, p. 8).  Once placed into the developmental education course track from the placement tests, the students would need mandatory completion of those courses in order to be prepared for college level courses. 
The underprepared entry-level college student is in this condition because they do not understand the difference between college and high school (Conley, 2010b).  These students are adults and not children.  They must be responsible for their actions. 

College allows these students to practice and increase their skills that they had learned in the high school and lower levels. It is a time of transition that takes high school competence and builds it up to college readiness (Conley, 2007c).  Some college courses are sometimes called the same name as some of the high school courses.  What the students are not prepared for is the fast pace in which they are taught a large coverage of material in a short amount of time.  Students would have to adjust in making critical thinking and analysis of collected data.

Developmental education courses and academic success in those courses are linked when professional development and trained staff are a part of the learning process (Boylan, Bliss, Bonham & Claxton, 1992).   The effectiveness of individual program components of developmental education programs would need to increase.  The following are the components:  instruction; counseling; tutoring (Boylan, Bliss, & Bonham, 1994).

Studies at La Guardia Community College (Chaffee, 1992) had shown that teaching critical thinking helped the under-prepared students.  Courses, programs, and activities designed to enhance critical thinking improved students’ performance in reading and writing (Chaffee, 1992).  Students were satisfied with the course content when the course used critical 
thinking (Harris & Eleser, 1997). 

Thoughts on the Subject

For five years, I taught entering college freshmen developmental reading.  The students had been tested and placed into this particular course.  Since most of these students said that they could read, they could not figure out why they were placed into developmental reading. During the first few days of class, I could readily establish that they had no time management, study, or comprehension skills.  I was their professor for developmental reading, however they needed instruction in the use of the library.  Therefore it appears to me that these two professionals should have been meld into one course into information literacy instead of a bare course into developmental reading.


Aarons, D. I. (2009). Enthusiasm builds for data systems. Education Week, 28(34), 18-19.

Adelman, C. (2008). Accountability "light": Our version is going the way of the dollar vs. the euro. Liberal Education, 94(4), 6-13.

Boylan, H. (2001).  Making the case for developmental education.  Research in Developmental Education, 12(2), 1-4. 

Boylan, H. (2002). What works: Research-based best practices in developmental education. Boone, NC: Continuous Quality Improvement Network with the National Center for Developmental Education.

Boylan, H. R. & Bonham, B. S. (2011). Seven myths about developmental education. Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, 27(2), 29-36.

Boylan, H. R. & Bonham, B. S. (2011). Seven myths about developmental education. Research & Teaching in Developmental Education, 27(2), 29-36.

Boylan, H., Bliss, L., & Bonham, B. (1994). National study of developmental education: Characteristics of faculty and staff. Paper presented at the National Association for Developmental Education Conference. Retrieved from Remediation.htm

Boylan, H., Bliss, L., Bonham, B., & Claxton, C. (1992). The state of the arts in developmental education. Paper presented at the First National Conference on Research in Developmental Education, Charlotte, NC. Retrieved from reserve_reading/Outcomes of Remediation.htm

Boylan, H. R., & Bonham, B. S. (2007). 30 years of developmental education: A retrospective. Journal of Developmental Education, 30(3), 2-4.

Chaffee, J. (1992). Critical thinking skills: The cornerstone of developmental education. Journal of Developmental Education, 15(3), 2-8, 39.

Conley, D. (2007c). The challenge of college readiness. Educational Leadership, 64(7), 23–29.

Conley, D. (2008b). Rethinking college readiness. New England Journal of Higher Education, 22(5), 24–26.

Conley, D. (2010a). Eligible and ready for college. Principal Leadership, 18–22.

Conley, D. (2010b). Replacing remediation with readiness. Invitational conference on developmental education sponsored by the National Center for Postsecondary Research. New York, NY.

Conley, D. (2010c).  College and career ready: Helping all students succeed beyond high school.  San Francisco, CA.

Department of Education (DOE). (2010).  A blueprint for reform: The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Washington, DC.

Harris, J., & Eleser, C. (1997). Developing critical thinking: Melding two imperatives. Journal of Developmental Education, 21(1), 12-19.

Los Medanos College. (2011).  Developmental education program.  Retrieved from

MiraCosta College. (2011). Developmental skills initiative.  Retrieved from

Obama, B. (2011). President Obama calls on Congress to fix No Child Left Behind before the start of the next school year. Retrieved from

Office of Program Policy Analysis & Government Accountability. (2007). Steps can be taken to reduce remediation rates; 78% of Community College Students, 10% of University Students Need Remediation. Report No. 06-40.  Retrieved from

Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Roueche, J. E. & Roueche, S. D.  (2003). Making remedial education work: Community colleges still have a long way to go to meet the needs of at-risk students.  Washington, DC: American Association for Higher Education & Accreditation, Inc. Retrieved from

Harsh Realities of the Information Age Discussed by the Computer Savviness Guest Blogger William Badke, author of Research Strategies: Finding your Way through the Information Fog, 5th ed.

Badke will be the Computer Savviness guest blogger on the following issue, "Students as Researchers: The Faculty Role".

Here is some of his discussion: 
Any time I discuss student research with faculty members, professorial eyes start to roll.  Our students are hung up on websites, they seem to love Google and Wikipedia more than libraries, and the level of writing and research in what they do produce is abysmal.  They don’t seem to be motivated to do research well and probably do most of their work on each project in the wee small hours the night before it is due.  For some faculty, this is a sad reality but not a terribly big deal.  Research projects, after all, are only one part of our assessment of learning.  It’s not as if we can teach students to do better research, let alone improve their motivation anyway.  Students hate research projects, and that’s just the way it is.  If they improve, it is only because they put their energy into practicing their skills. Thus a lot of faculty members may be dismayed at poor student research skills but not see much of a problem at all. They argue that today’s students are absolutely flush with technology and can run rings around most adults when it comes to searching Google and filtering through tons of data.  “If students have a problem,” they declare, “it’s that we’ve made our academic databases too challenging, when they should be as simple as Google.  Yet, give our students a bit of time and they can master any research task we throw at them.  Have no fear.  Students still graduate and go on into vital careers and ministries.  They must have picked up on their own the information abilities they needed.”  I’d like to take a different tack and argue that student ability to handle information well and to do research matters a great deal.  Let me share some harsh realities of the information age…..

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Collection’s Strength

Based on comments from postings, Can One Size Fit All--What is a library?  (Friday, July 31, 2015; ) and How can we save libraries from "book burnings"?  (Thursday, August 6, 2015; )

Abstract. The collection is only as strong as its community.  Public and institutional libraries are defined by their communities and allotted funds from governments and/or the associated institutions.   Staff can range from students volunteering time to help maintain the collection to paid archivists and librarians with degree levels in the PhD area.  Through online customers, required customers, and luxuriate customers, the collection develops and thrives due to the format of the items from the collection.

1 Introduction

Classic definitions of a library restrict the term to a collection of information resources which are kept for consideration and not for sale.  From clay tablets to cloud storage, it has become a wonder how we could continually save our libraries from disappearing?

First, it has depended on the different formats in which the various items in the collection existed. The preservation methods of information had to take into account not only saving the library collection from natural occurrences of fire and floods but also from disagreements that can lead to war and destruction.

Also, it relied upon its community to define what the collection should contain.  Libraries’ communities have a large appetite for reading materials for their education and recreation.  Wilsted (2012) stated that “Libraries have refocused their mission toward delivery of information in whatever format it is available as well as training faculty and students how to use and evaluate the ever-growing sources” (p.322).   

Collections decrease due to their items that are never returned by customers.  Some communities have tried to slow down the destruction of the library collections by donating reading materials from their own collections.  This effort helps to defray some of the costs due to “lost” books that may have been absorbed into personal collections.

Funding of the library’s collection has been shrinking over the years (American Libraries, 2010).  Personal donations from their communities could make the difference.  Other ways that libraries could build up their collections would be through money obtained through book fairs selling donated or weeded items that did not match the mission of the library.  American Libraries (2010) pointed out that 219 million Americans believed that the public library increased the quality of life in their neighbourhood. “More than 223 million Americans felt that because it provides free access to materials and resources, the public library plays an important role in giving everyone a chance to succeed” (American Libraries, 2010, p. 13).

2 Communities

The classic definition of a library can be extended to include a place that holds a collection of information resources dedicated to a community.  Within a community there are diversified groups.   

One group are people who do not have the time and are too busy to get to a library.  Today, there can be completely electronic libraries to allow these people to browse books on the shelves online.  The libraries may have minimum staff since the collection has been minimized to e-books which can be downloaded. 

The second group are students that are required by their teachers to go to a conventional library to look for sources for a research paper.  This prevents students from consulting social media sites like Facebook or Wikipedia.  This interactive communication is not usually stored in a library and would not be the type of information the instructor is looking for.

The third group loves to luxuriate in the library enjoying conventional libraries which may have some computers, librarians, book cases, and quiet spaces. Some of the members of this group may be part of the Friends of the Library in their area.

This is not to say that you cannot have a combination of all 3 of these in one location.  In order to keep all 3 types of communities returning to the library to check-out more items from the collection and to keep circulation numbers up, perhaps staff should adopt the service model of vendors:
·         “address the various needs and voices of the community of decision-makers and decision-infuencers at the institution…;
·         develop consultative partnerships;
·         focus the offer to meet a dynamic solution;
·         offer assistance in managing e-resources, possibly through egateways…;
·         continue to provide pro-active customer service” (Kennedy, p.45).

3 Format

From clay tablets to cloud storage, it has become a wonder how we could continually save our libraries from disappearing.
It depended on the different formats in which the various items in the collection existed.  The preservation methods of information had to take into account not only saving the library collection from natural occurrences of fire and floods but also from disagreements that could lead to war and destruction.  What format can our library collections exist in that could withstand intentional book burning, book banning,  and the destructive nature from disagreements which might end in types of social destruction?

Until humans started to write in media that was not durable and that could fade like papyrus, linen, leather, or paper, records in clay tablets was almost indestructible.  We may have started to lead to our own undoing by creating technological advances in media to store information that can be fast, easy to store on, but also not permanent.  For example, paper documents, pictures and recordings on perishable media, and digital content are not always permanent. 
Hence, many modern storage media do not last like clay tablets.   Some last longer than others but depending on the fleeting time of the various storage media, could this mean the beginning of our library collections going up in a proverbial flame?

Wilsted (2012) stated that “collections may have a specific focus that relates to the institution’s physical location, its specific academic interests, or may have been donor driven” (p.321).     This could relate to a special collection of rare items or a collection meeting the needs of the general public. Whatever the collection’s format is, “security, handling, and environmental requirements” (p.321) are essential to note of the building to house the library collection. 

Acidic paper in the library could go through a deacidification program which would take “a paper-based object to neutralize its acidic content, with the objective of prolonging the object’s useful life” (John, Maitland, Minter, Hubbe, & Jordan-Mowery, 2010, p.2).  This effort could treat large volumes of bound books extending the useful life of the books or whole collections, preserving items of historical significance in their paper form, saving evidence for more review, which would make the paper-based documents ready for readers in the future (p.3). 

Avoid losing the major collections by scanning and digitizing library collections.  Through workflow automation, “documents are scanned and digitized (converted to digital images), which allows them to be stored and retrieved” (LEVINE & AURAND, 1994, p. 142).    In 2012,  the National Central Library (NCL) scanned and made available to the public 7,610 titles (3,969,832 images) of pre-1795 rare books through NCL’s Rare Books Images Search System (Yu, 2014).

In order for electronic based collections to survive, the following needs to occur:   

-“the need to market the library to a wider and often remote ‘‘audience’’ as well as within the library;
-shifts in budget; new models of allocations;
-shifts in infrastructure;
-shifts in staffing, with new skills and expertise required;
-shifts in power and spheres of influence;
-new and or existing trading partners (i.e., vendors) working in;
-new ways and on new projects and/or in new areas;
-resource sharing, interlibrary loan, fair use copying, and licensing;
-opportunities/challenges for archiving, long-term retrieval (access) issues”(Kennedy, 2012, p.42).

4 Thoughts on the Subject

One size cannot successfully fit all for maintaining a library collection.  The collection is dependent on the needs of whatever community is funding and nurturing it.  Whether it is a private or a public collection, its materials are defined by location, reading need, and format.   


History of Storage Media.  Retrieved from

John W., B., Maitland, C. L., Minter, W., Hubbe, M. A., & Jordan-Mowery, S. K. (2010). DEACIDIFICATION FOR THE CONSERVATION AND PRESERVATION OF PAPER-BASED WORKS: A REVIEW. Bioresources, 5(3), 1-69.
 Kennedy, K. (2000). Research Collections: Content/Format/Service, a Vendor's Perspective. Journal Of Library Administration, 31(2), 39.


State of America's Libraries: Usage Soars, Funding Shrinks. (2010). American Libraries, (5). 13.

Wilsted, T. P. (2012). Renovating Special Collections Facilities. Journal Of Library Administration, 52(3/4), 321-331. doi:10.1080/01930826.2012.684530

Yu, H. (2014). International Collaboration on Digitization of Rare Chinese Books at National Central Library: Models and Outcomes. Journal Of Humanities & Arts Computing: A Journal Of Digital Humanities, 8124-151. doi:10.3366/ijhac.2014.0103

Stay Tuned, next week, for the 3rd and final session of the Different Aspects of a Library called “Saving Information Literacy”.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

INTERACTIVE AGENDA SHAREPOINT Usage in the Library Conference (AsynConf-Asynchronous Conference)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

INTERACTIVE AGENDA of The Different Aspects of a Collection Conference


 Interactive agenda
The Different Aspects of a Library Collection [1]

Opening Ceremonies
The Different Aspects of a Library Collection  (Conference Definition)  (Aug. 10, 2015)
(Aug. 10, 2015)

Post your questions or comments at this link:
(Aug. 17, 2015)
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(Aug. 24, 2015)
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[1] This program is based on the topics that interest you, which is found on the Computer Savviness blog, which gathers generalized individual personal views and disseminates them in non-conclusive AsynConf (Asynchronous Conferences).   

© 2015 Lorette S.J. Weldon. AsynConf (Asynchronous Conference).