Now is Now

Finally, four months into our exciting and challenging cross-training project at the IU Libraries the blog entry that was intended to introduce the project and its companion blog is ready.

Our project is an aggressive one, and one which has the potential and the necessity to be fluid, we have learned quickly.  In spite of our best efforts to develop a steady and firm schedule for our next few months, we finally had to let go of the dream of consistency and long-range planning.  Holidays, weather, time, and other learning opportunities on campus have colluded and collided with our agenda.  Working in library public service is characterized in part by interruption and uncertainty, so we will be accustomed to that when our new configuration is unveiled after renovation.

For the specifics of our project, learning goals, outcomes, please see our About page.

Our team comprises librarians and staff from across the libraries: Reference Services, Digital Collections Services, Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences, Area Studies, Teaching & Learning, Library Technologies, and Scholarly Communications, with many other librarians talking with us about what they do and how we can interact. While we understand that our cross-training efforts are designed to help us to become better librarians, researchers, and scholars, our efforts will also position us to work together as an interdepartmental team when we open our new Scholars’ Commons.  With strong support from the Library Administration, we have been given the freedom to develop a series of weekly workshops to position librarians and staff to participate, collaborate, and partner in new and innovative research directions.

Our project started as a smaller cross-training semester in the spring of 2013, in which Digital Collections Services and Reference Services met regularly in order to get to know each other and become familiar with the activities of the members of each department. The initial semester made it clear that we needed a more focused and hands on approach, leading to our current project to create a digital exhibit that chronicles the history of the Indiana University Libraries on the Bloomington campus.

We are lucky to have a range of expertise within the libraries, and the project has benefitted from our colleagues’ willingness to participate in this project and to share their knowledge and skills.  To date, we have learned how to use Twitter (with several of us now actively tweeting); been introduced to Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox as we slowly begin to participate in collaborative note-taking; had a crash course in archival practices; enjoyed an amazingly understandable introduction to copyright; channeled our inner cheerleader while enjoying the quirky history of reference librarianship; discovered the uncertainties that characterize the research lifecycle; and remained interested, curious, and questioning at every turn.

As we move ahead, we will dive into technologies that are new to many of us and learn more about the skills of a reference generalist as well as the range of our subject specialists.  Importantly, we will work together as a team to create an online history of our libraries.

We invite our colleagues to join us through this experience: read our blog, follow our Twitter conversation (@ilurn, #scholarscommons), and explore our wiki that is linked from this page under helpful links (it includes our amazingly fluid schedule and links to our increasingly collaborative notes).

We truly hope that our experience speaks to a larger community outside our campus, and welcome feedback, comments, questions…

Why Critical Reflections?

We have created this “Critical Reflections” space on our blog to be a forum for participants to talk about what we discuss, explore, learn, or practice in our weekly meetings.  Active participation from our group, writing, reading, and commenting, will help develop an online conversation that will run parallel with, and often intersect, the activities and discussions in our meetings.

We intend for this cross-training program to continue beyond our initial preparation for the opening of this Scholars’ Commons.  These reflections will help guide our future directions.