A recent survey from the Project Information Literacy Progress Report found that only 30% of 8,353 college students spread across 25 campuses in the United States ask for help at their college’s Reference Desks.  And I, as an academic Research and Instruction Librarian find this percentage to be disturbing.  I wrote a paper in Library School about nonverbal language in the reference encounter, and discovered that two-thirds of what we communicate is done so noverbally.

I think academic libraries have done a great job of reconfiguring their physical reference desk spaces to be more welcoming, but we (Reference Librarians) still need to improve on our nonverbal communication skills.  I’m suggesting that if our collective nonverbal communication skills improved, students would be much more willing to approach the desk and ask for help.


According to a recent survey by the National Association of Colleges, “76 percent of students would pick a printed book over an e-textbook if the choice was left entirely up to them.”  Why?  Because they can sell back their paper textbooks at the end of the semester, and rent them–and this saves them money.  Read the article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  In these tough economic times, expense is often the bottom line for students.

According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled “YU Luv Texts, H8 Calls”, the “average 13- to 17-year-old sends and receives 3,339 texts a month–more than 100 a day” (Nielsen Co., the media research firm).  And, since many of these teenagers will soon be college students, should all academic libraries be looking into using services like Text a Librarian?   Elms College doesn’t currently have a texting reference service in place.  Have other academic libraries found texting reference services to be useful?

Elms College’s Alumnae Library just published its first Library Newsletter.  My “Reference Ramblings” are on page 3:  Check it Out! Library Newsletter – Fall 2010

I haven’t yet read an ebook yet, have you?  I was sitting in a Jiffy Lube waiting room the other day, and noticed there was a woman sitting beside me reading an ebook on her Kindle.  She was kind enough (thrilled actually) to let me have a look at the Kindle and explore its many pleasing features.  I was struck at how easy the screen was on my eyes–no irritating glare–and how many (“around 100” she said) ebooks she had stored in the darn thing.

When I was in high school in the early 1980s, I was obsessed with music and used to buy a new vinyl record every week.  Audio cds came on the scene in 1982, but I was skeptical of this new technolgy at first.  I can remember thinking that these new digital discs didn’t sound as “warm” as the analog vinyl.  And I loved album cover art–the packaging of conventional LPs.  I haven’t leaped into the world of ebook technology yet, but I can defintely say that I will in the near future.  People say “I can’t curl up on the sofa and read an ebook the way I can a paperback.”  Well, as the old saying goes, “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”  Isn’t it the riveting prose that takes us away when we read, not the “feel of the book in our hands” as anti-ebook people tend to argue?  I would argue that the “warm” feeling we get from reading comes from the prose itself, not the book’s medium.  I think conventional paper books will be around for a long time to come (just as vinyl records still are 28 years later), but I also believe that ebook technology will become mainstream in the future.  Has it already?  Not with the librarians I know.

I have been exploring the six classes of tea lately, and I recently discovered yellow tea.  

Yellow Tea is often miscategorized as green tea, but, unlike green tea that is unfermented, yellow tea is lightly fermented or oxidized.  Harvested leaves are either basket-fired or pan-fired, smothered, and then finish-fired.  “The smothering step, known as men huan, or ‘sealing yellow,’ is how yellow tea leaf develops its special flavor characteristics.”

This information was taken from Mary Lou and Robert Heiss’ book, The Tea Enthusiast’s Handbook–a must for all tea enthusiasts.  Ditch the tea bags and give the six classes (green, white, yellow, oolong, black, and pu-er) of loose-leaf tea a try!  You can purchase good quality tea online from www.teatrekker.com.

Elms College just purchased LibGuides.  Now students can access all the materials for their classes in one place!  Check out my new LibGuide for ENG 101 (Rhetoric).