Friday, August 05, 2022

How to read academic books and articles

My SU office

This is off-topic, but honestly something that does come up in conversations especially with new college students (of any age). 

When you were in high school, did your teachers teach you how to read academic materials? Mine didn't and I think it is the same for most students. Yet some guidance on how to read academic materials can make a huge difference. You might use your time better, cover more materials, and understand more about the topic. 

This is a topic where schools and others have produced good information, some of which is below (and you can find others). I encourage you to look at some of those resources and learn the techniques. My summary of the techniques is:

  • Not every work should be read the same way. This is a truth that instinctive we might know, but do not put into practice.
  • Understand why you are reading the work. What's the goal? This can help you determine how to read it.
  • Pre-read the work by reading the title, introduction, headings, table/graphic captions, and conclusion. This can help you understand the arch of the work and determine where to focus your energy in it. Perhaps you need to focus on one section, for example, and not the entire thing.
    • You might also read the first sentence  in every paragraph.
    • Notice any words you don't and find out what they mean.
    • Read. Don't underline.  
    • If it is a book, look at the table of contents and the index. Both will give you a sense of what the entire book contains.
  • Now read the entire work or the sections that contain new content or content that is important to the topic you are studying.
    • Limit how much you underline. We tend to underline too much! Consider underlining only after you have read the work. In other words, go back and understand key words or phrases.
  • Capture key points about the work. This could be notes that you create for each work. Perhaps it is notice written on the work (article) itself. This will help you remember what the work is about, especially if you will need to reference this work later.

This technique takes practice. You will need to be intentional about it, especially at first. However, once you understand it, I think you'll apply it to other words like long (non-academic) journal articles, the law, and other works. 

One final piece of advice. Just because you started reading a work doesn't mean that you need to finish it. True. If it isn't useful, move onto something else and don't feel guilty.

Okay, you've read (or skimmed) this far! What are your tips?

Resources

Monday, July 25, 2022

Blog Post: This Bear’s For You! (Or, Is It?)

Winnie the PoohThe subtitle to Jennifer Jenkins' post is, "Can Companies Use Copyright and Trademark To Claim Rights to Public Domain Works?" Of course they will try!  Jenkins provides excellent details about this, specifically regarding:

  • What Happens When the Same Characters Appear in Both Public Domain and Copyrighted Stories?
  • When Trademarks and Copyrights Overlap

If you're curious about what in the Pooh universe entered the public domain earlier this year or want to know more about how think about the distinctions between what is public domain and what is not, this post is for you!

 

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Building accessibility into what your organization does

Art in the Starbucks signing store in Washington, DC
The other day I heard about a fireman's carnival that used imaged of the different drink that could be ordered, so people could point at what they wanted. That was useful for those who are Deaf and, since the environment was quite noisy, it was useful for everyone else. It also meant the staff could cross out anything that was no longer available, which was helpful for those ordering drinks. That was an easy accommodation that benefitted everyone. It likely didn't take a lot of time to create and probably saved time and frustration during the carnival.

Today I was in a diner where two Deaf friends were ordering breakfast. The server was having a hard time understanding a detail about their order, which meant that ordering took a bit longer. That made me wonder if the menu could be formatted differently not only to help with communication, but also in understanding food options. How some restaurants changed their menus and food ordering during the COVID pandemic tells me that the answer is "yes." Some restaurants used the pandemic to narrow (focus) their menus. Others simplified options available. Still others added online ordering and payment - even if you're sitting in the restaurant - as a way of limiting exposure to COVID and deal with not having enough staff, while maintaining good customer service. Yes, some of these changes did increase accessibility depending on how they were implemented.

BTW the image above is from the Starbucks on H Street in Washington, DC which is known as the "signing Starbucks." Everyone who works there - both Deaf and hearing - are proficient in American Sign Language (ASL). There are also digital tablets available for anyone who needs to write their order rather than sign it. When you give your name to the server that is used to signal on a digital board that your order is ready. (I'm sure their ordering system will accommodate someone who is Deaf-blind, although I didn't see in action.) Everyone is welcome and everyone can have a Starbucks experience.

With all of that in mind...How has your organization - library, museum, archive, whatever - built accessibility into its daily operations? Not "we can be accessible if asked", but being accessible as a default.

  • What did you learn about accessibility during the COVID pandemic when you perhaps moved programs online? 
  • When you made adjustments in your physical space, how did those changes increase access for those who use assistive devices? Did you make signage easier for everyone to read? Is your layout more obvious?
  • Have you implement captioning for your recorded videos and live video presentations? 
    • Automatic captioning is useful, but it can produce errors. If you are using automatic captioning, please take time to go through and make corrections, including adding in some punctuation. (Having a 10-minute run-on sentence, for example, is not helpful.)
  • How have you made your website more accessible, no matter the type of device being used to view it?
  • Who tests your accessibility options so you know you are truly accessible?
  • If accessibility isn't part of your daily operations, then why not?
  • Where is accessibility on your list of priorities?
  • How has your accessibility efforts made your organization a preferred place to work?
I have had blind students in my classes, have friends and family with mobility issues, and now have friends who are Deaf, so I perhaps think about accessibility a bit more than most people. If you have accessibility as something that is always part of your thinking, you will be surprised where you will see the need for changes, perhaps even in your own organization. I encourage you to makes changes, even small ones at first. Every change you make on the path of being full accessible will be worthwhile.

Clark Quinn: Writing (And Reading) Conference Session Descriptions

Clark Quinn starts this 2011 blog post by stating:

Have you ever been to a conference session, and realized that there was a mismatch between what you read, and what you experienced? On the other hand, how often have you written a conference submission that has been rejected? In the middle is a lesson about what a good conference submission is. 

Yes, writing a good conference description and proposal takes a bit of work, and it is worth it! It means that you know what you're going to present and the audience knows what they are going to hear. And as Clark notes, a well written proposal will get the conference committee's attention! 

I know this is an old post, but I also know some people could benefit from reading it, so... 

Friday, July 08, 2022

Library Futures eBooks Policy Paper: Mitigating the Library eBook Conundrum Through Legislative Action in the States

If you - or someone you know - is considering proposing legislative action in your state to protect libraries from harmful eBook contacts, then you will be interested in this 9-page policy paper.  I'm pasting the executive summary below.  Follow the link for the entire paper.

Executive Summary

To mitigate the eBooks conundrum, Library Futures is recommending the adoption of state laws based on state contract law, state consumer protection, state procurement law, and contract preemption. The Library Futures model eBooks bill is based on the recent eBook legislation and resulting litigation, as outlined below. This model bill language is designed to nullify efforts by the publishers to use the threat of copyright and federal preemption lawsuits against the library community and the public, by harnessing the coercive power of the state to protect against
harmful eBook contracts.

Currently, a number of publishers and eBook aggregators are preventing libraries from acquiring eBooks with licensing (or purchasing) terms that make it impossible for libraries to fully meet their standard access and preservation missions. Often, eBook licenses offered to libraries come with many restrictions on use and/or are prohibitively expensive,1 or worse, sometimes are not available to libraries at any price.2 And when they are available, eBooks can cost a library three
to 10 times the consumer prices for the same eBook.3 Further, most libraries have little, if any, bargaining power and are rarely able to change the terms of the contracts offered to them by publishers. As a result, many libraries face financial and practical challenges in making eBooks available to their patrons and are unable to develop their own digital collections.

In response to the unavailability of equitable terms and fair pricing, library associations in several states are working on various solutions to the eBook problem for libraries. Each legislative solution is focused on providing a pathway for libraries to obtain licensing terms more suited to normal library use. As of June 2022, six states have active bills to address many of these issues. Library Futures supports policies that help libraries fulfill their essential role of making knowledge and culture available and accessible to all, and therefore supports legislation that aims to equitize the eBook marketplace. To that end, we have developed model legislative language that we believe will hold up against legal challenges.

This issue goes much deeper than just the unsustainably high prices for eBooks. Legally, traditional library lending is protected by the “first sale doctrine,” which establishes that ownership confers the right to lend. But new eBook formats have been used to frustrate the public purpose of first sale, and Library Futures believes that legislation is necessary to restore the mission of all libraries to acquire, preserve, maintain, and share materials, even with new technologies.