On Censorship

“There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”  Joseph Brodsky

Censorship seeks to maintain social control by depriving people of information that challenges the status quo. Brodsky would know, having first been committed to a mental hospital then sent to a work camp before the Soviet Union expelled him in 1972 calling his poetry, “gibberish.”

Poets and writers have likened books to many things, beacons of light, navigational tools, gardens, and magic tickets. All of these represent possibility. Books can transport you to another time and place, or they can change your worldview. However, an unopened book is a dead object. Unlike censorship which can still allow ideas to flourish through unofficial channels, choosing not to read something is a form of self-censorship. It is perhaps an even more insidious one since apathy and inertia squash the need for state control over what we read.

National Library Week is a good time to celebrate our freedom to read whatever we wish, and to reflect on the possibilities and advantages of our intellectual liberty.

Context, Culture & the Classroom

I was introduced to several new constructs this semester including Blooms Taxonomy, Kirkpatrick’s Four Levels of Assessment, and Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. The latter I discovered doing a deep dive on Chapter 13 of Grassian and Kaplowitz, (2009, p. 251-6). I thought that the authors’ discussion of high context cultures vs. low context ones was very interesting because it examined cross-cultural issues in information literacy in a very meta way.

In high context societies learners place a high degree of faith in the authority of the instructor and strive to create an exact replica of the material (Grassian and Kaplowitz, 2009, p. 252). An individual from a low context society favors individualism, originality and is comfortable with ambiguity (p. 252), which is often expressed by questioning authority. The discussion also delves into the differences between connected and separate learners (p. 253). It’s easy to see that there is both a wide variety of contexts and levels of connectedness that learners bring to the classroom, moreover individuals will frequently have crossover traits from one or the other. This mirrors what is often seen in a higher education learning situation, as people who are drawn to education are usually more open to change.

After reading this section of the textbook, I decided to look up some of the references and this is what led me to Hofstede (2016). His work deals with culture in general, so I searched the Digital Commons Network (2016) and found an open access article about an online course offered to students at the University of Massachusetts, Boston and at the University of Pannonia, Veszprem, Hungary (Romar, Sas, Yukhananov, Girelli, and Hristov, 2011).

The authors found difficulties in some of the technical aspects of conducting a course across such a wide time difference, but also experienced some issues with collaboration (Romar, et al, 2011, p.40) and motivation (p.47), (One of the recommendations made by the team that designed and implemented the course, was to allow for some informal interaction to enable the learners to get to know one another while testing out the software that would be used for the class (p.47).


Digital Commons Network. (2016). Retrieved November 27, 2016 from http://network.bepress.com/

Geert Hofstede: Cultural Dimensions. (2016). Retrieved November 27, 2016 from https://www.geert-hofstede.com/cultural-dimensions.html

Grassian, E. & Kaplowitz, .R. (2009). Information Literacy Instruction: Theory and Practice, Second Edition. New York: Neal-Schuman.

Romar, E.J., Sas, A., Yukhananov, I., Girelli, A. & Hristov, T. (2011). “Two Markets, Two Universities”: An Experimental, Cross-Cultural, and Cross Institutional Course Using Online Educational Technologies, Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge, 9(3), 37-49. Retrieved from http://scholarworks.umb.edu/humanarchitecture/vol9/iss3/4/

Topic Three Readings

I have not employed any formal instructional design in anything that I have ever attempted to teach, except for ideas that I read/heard about. I am familiar with the concept of SMART goals and learning objectives and I think having the terms from Bloom’s Taxonomy to wrap around objectives would be useful for creating a good instructional plan.

I can see that if I had a sense of instructional design, I could have developed more thematic activities and then even figured out a way to assess my learners in the few times that I have taught. I would get anecdotal evidence, but not always and never from everyone. I think the strength of what I created came from knowing my learners’ needs very well rather than creating an actionable plan.

I’ve been enjoying all of the readings/videos in this topic and having most of it in an alternate format was an interesting break for me since I am almost always drawn to text-based resources. I spent a fair amount of time looking at the No Significant Difference Phenomenon Web Site and it linked to an interesting article at Inside Higher Ed.

The article reported on a meta-analysis of 1,000 empirical studies published between 1996-2008 that compared the academic success rates of online learners vs. F2F ones. The findings concluded that online students had a slightly higher success rate and blended instruction (online & F2F) students did the best overall.

The study also found that while online quizzes do not appear to enhance learning:

“Studies indicate that manipulations that trigger learner activity or learner reflection and self-monitoring of understanding are effective when students pursue online learning as individuals,” the report says.”

So, it would seem that while there is a space for interactive features, they serve a more intangible need.

Something else from the article that anyone in an online program can relate to and is time. One of the factors for success in online learning is that students tend to spend more time exploring the topic on their own, referred to in the article as “the expansion of learning time.” This was certainly true of this post, because, by the time I reached the end, I had actually gone all the way to the primary source.


Jaschik, S. (2009, June 29) The Evidence on Online Education. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2009/06/29/online

No Significant Difference Phenomenon. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.nosignificantdifference.org/

U.S. Department of Education. (2010). Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. (ED-04-CO-0040 Task 0006). Retrieved from: http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf

Learning Styles

I took the Multiple Intelligences Self-Assessment from Edutopia and the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire from NC State University. My results are below:


Linguistic 92%

Logical-Mathematical: 56%

Visual-Spatial 83%

Intrapersonal 88%

Interpersonal 81%

Musical 0

Bodily-Kinesthetic 0%

Naturalistic 75%

I’m not sure how well this quiz really reflects my learning style and I think it has some inherent bias in it or some of the wording was strange. For example, I got a 0% on Bodily-Kinesthetic, because I don’t really dance and don’t play sports, but I do bike ride a lot, so I’m actually in really good shape. Maybe the problem is that I don’t really consider biking to be a sport.

On the other scale that I took, the NC State University one, I scored right down the middle. Again, I thought I had some problems with the way that the test was worded, I think my approach to a task depends on the nature of the task itself, but my scores show I am well balanced in my learning style.

I think the most striking thing from the reading this topic has been the combination of two discrete learning styles first identified by Kolb, (Grassian & Kaplowitz, 2009, p. 42). I think that I had always viewed reflective learners and experiential learners as being from very different camps, but I immediately recognized in myself the need to reflect on concrete, direct experiences. I felt that Henry & Mumford’s Learning Styles Questionnaire, to be refinement of Kolb’s earlier ideas but run the risk of being overly reductionist, (Grassian & Kaplowitz, p. 43).

Evidence in the literature points shows us that well designed instruction will have something for everyone. This is more than just common sense or an economy of scale approach, Rogowsky, Calhoun and Tallal (2015) showed no correlation between learning style preferences, aptitude and achievement.

I find myself wondering how learning styles are impacted by learning disabilities. Do deficits dictate learning styles, are they remediated by them, or are they hindered? This is probably beyond the scope of this class, but it’s what I’ve been thinking about nevertheless.

Grassian, E. & Kaplowitz, J.R. (2009). Information literacy instruction: Theory and Practice (2nd ed.). New York: Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Multiple Intelligences Self-Assessment from Edutopia. (2015). Retrieved September 10, 2016 from http://www.edutopia.org/multiple-intelligences-assessment

Rogowsky, B.A, Calhoun, B.M., & Tallal, P. (2015). Matching learning style to instructional method: Effects on comprehension, Journal of Education Psychology

Solomon, R.M. & Fedler, B.A. (2016). Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire. Retrieved Retrieved September 10, 2016 from http://www.engr.ncsu.edu/learningstyles/ilsweb.html



Still Waters Run Deep

Libraries are never as placid as they appear.  They are often sources and centers of controversy and conflict.  The better they are, the more dangerous libraries can seem.”  –Siva Vaidhyanathan


As public institutions that strive to present a wide variety of materials on different experiences and perspectives, libraries often invite criticism and create controversy. This is particularly evident when books are banned, and the response is often unexpectedly strong but often quite effective.

In 2013 the Chicago Public School System banned the graphic novel “Persepolis” from all school classrooms and libraries due to a depiction of torture in revolutionary Iran. The teacher’s union called the move “Orwellian,” and pointed out that the only other place the book had been banned was in Iran. A student run book club, 451 Degrees, protested and CPS reversed its decision allowing the book to remain in classrooms and on library shelves.

Controversy continues to swirl around Marjane Satrapi’s novel. In 2013 it was banned in three more school districts and the following year it earned the #2 spot on the American Library Association Office of Intellectual Freedom’s Top Ten List of Frequently Challenged Books.  We should not be afraid of controversial and disruptive ideas, it is a far more dangerous omen when there is a lack of them.

*This was originally written for Library Week 2016.


Technology Adoption Proposal: Google Scholar in the Law Library


The University of New Hampshire School of Law Library has materials in print and in digital format on a wide variety of legal topics that reflect the academic offerings of the school. These include numerous specialized databases, electronic journal subscriptions both individually and through Serials Solution and scholarship created by the law school community hosted in the UNH Scholars’ Repository and in the NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository. The library is also a federal depository for government documents with a special designation as a patent and trademark resource center (PTRC). The library is used by faculty, students, visiting scholars, reciprocal students from other area colleges, and paying members of the local state bar association. The library’s depository status mandates a certain, but limited, level of public access to the physical GPO materials and one computer station.

It would be very useful to have a tool that offered a single search interface for the diverse set of resources that the UNH Law Library has to offer. At present many of the resources listed above are accessible through the Innovative Millennium OPAC MELcat:  UNH Law Library’s Online Catalog as individual titles, but users are required to click through to a login screen that then takes them to the resource. Other users will find that they need to visit individual databases. In order to deliver users a seamless search interface it is recommended that the law library pursue a two-step discovery strategy consisting of a link resolver and a discovery layer.

Discovery layers work in conjunction with a link resolver, which is software that uses OpenURL technology to facilitate direct access to electronic items such as databases and ebooks when users search for them in the catalog. There are many different ones to choose from that are compatible with our library system and coordination with other UNH campus libraries should be considered to limit expenditures. Once a link resolver has been installed and tested, it would be possible to implement a discovery layer with a unified, single search box.

Web scale discovery tools are essentially massive indexes that are created in one of two ways, either by aggregating content supplied by publishers or by using the API to query individual databases (Brubaker, Leach-Murray & Parker, 2011, p. 22). One of the functions of the discovery system is to decipher data on licensing agreements to figure out whether a library user has access to an item or not (Craigle, 2011, p.7). It is up to the discovery service provider to negotiate what database products can be harvested for the index (p.8).

Much of the value of the discovery layer is in its index. These mega-aggregates strive to have the capacity to represent everything ever published. Not every index is as inclusive as another, however, and some seem to excel in some disciplines while disappointing in others. This reflects the fact that vendors and publishers, often one in the same, must “cultivate partnerships” (Breeding, 2014, p. 13) between themselves to be able to license the rights to use one another’s indexing content. Some publishers however, will not allow their content to be indexed by any discovery service. This is due to concerns that discipline-specific proprietary taxonomies will be made freely available to anyone using the service (Breeding, 2014, p.14).

Ellero (2013) warns that having a discovery system does “not necessarily equate with librarian disintermediation” (p.313). There are some other limitations to WSDS as well. The systems seem to have difficulties handling the “blended thesauri” (p.311) from the different databases and a survey found that “patrons with advanced, discipline-specific information requirements” (Breeding, 2014, p. 13) preferred databases geared towards their area of interest.

Relevancy remains a problem (Breeding, 2014, p. 9). Known item searches are an area of relative weakness (Ellero, 2013 p. 312; Fahey, Gordon & Rose, 2011, p.4) and a user study comparing Summon and WorldCat discovery systems found book retrieval to be especially low (Brantley, 2014, p. 11, 12). Faceted searching is another area that seems to be poorly understood by users (Ellero, p. 315) While Asher (2013) makes the point that time spent teaching information literacy might be reduced if students were only required to learn one system (p.476), the curriculum will likely need to be refocused to include keyword selection and critical evaluation of resources (Ellero, 2013, p.315) in addition to instruction in facet searching.

Discovery layers can be rather incomplete in their coverage of legal materials, which might be limiting their adoption in law libraries. A 2011 survey of 58 law libraries found that discovery systems were being used in just over half of them (Craigle, p.7). Of those Encore seemed to be the most popular choice, with 44% (p.7). This is not surprising since they also make Millennium, which is used in many law libraries. However, many Encore users noted “frustration with the lack of legal information databases available for activation within the system” (p.7). A larger study involving several hundred libraries also found that legal materials were not well represented in any of the five major vendors (Breeding, 2014). In particular EDS was found to have poor law coverage (p.17), Primo users had problems with Westlaw discovery (p.18), and libraries using Summon noted problems with HeinOnline (p.19) as well as specialized legal databases (p.20). It was also mentioned that datasets were not well represented by Summon (p.19).

The law library should consider using Google Scholar instead. This is considered to be a free discovery service (Asher, 2013; Breeding, 2015). Lambert (2010) wrote that Google Scholar provides access to primary materials and indexes “secondary sources through its arrangement with third-party vendors like HeinOnline” (p. 54). It is clearly not as robust as the commercially availably solutions, it scored lowest in terms of relevancy in a study that compared five different products (Asher, p. 474). It also does not have nearly as much content. While exact numbers are not easy to derive, a rough estimate places the number around 160 million (Breeding, 2015, p. 6), while other indexes boast over a billion (p.13). Nevertheless using Google Library Links in conjunction with a link resolver it is possible to provide free “article-level links to subscription full text for patrons affiliated with a library.” In addition to providing full text where available, Google Scholar features the ability to search by case law, limit searches by patents and citation, as well as save items to a folder. Mattson (2015) notes that some of these features are similar to Westlaw and LexisNexis (p. 39). Another reason to pursue a free solution for a discovery layer now is that the “realization of Linked Data” (Ellero, p.321), might be imminent and the fact that UNH has adopted Symplectic Elements also points to implementing linked data solutions as a long-range goal.

Web scale discovery systems can offer the benefit of reducing the “cognitive load on students” (Asher, 2013, p.476) caused by selecting and repeating the same search on multiple databases. They can steer students towards full text resources that are not as well known (p.476). Breeding (2015) wrote that universities have found that discovery search interfaces “can have very high strategic value to the institutions implementing the service” (p.5). In spite of their shortcomings many academic law libraries are using discovery layers and prospective students will be comparing library technology offerings, so this is an important issue to consider. Electronic access to subscribed materials in a seamless single search format is mission critical if we are to increase our remote course offerings, as well as attract scholars from other disciplines.


Asher, A.D., Duke, L.M. & Wilson, S. (2013). Paths of discovery: comparing the search effectiveness of EBSCO Discovery Service, Summon, Google Scholar, and conventional library resources. College & Research Libraries, 74(5), 464-488. Retrieved from http://crl.acrl.org/content/74/5/464.full.pdf+html

Brantley, S. (2014). Discovering Usability: Comparing two discovery systems at one academic library. Retrieved from http://works.bepress.com/steve_brantley/23

Breeding, M. (2015). Discovery product functionality. Library Technology Reports, 50, 5-32. Retrieved from https://journals.ala.org/ltr/article/view/5779/7236

Breeding, M. (2015). The future of library resource discovery: A white paper commissioned by the NISO Discovery to Delivery (D2D) Topic Committee. Retrieved from http://www.niso.org/apps/group_public/download.php/14487/future_library_resource_discovery.pdf

Brubaker, N., Leach-Murray, S., & Parker, S. (2011). Shapes in the Cloud: Finding the Right Discovery Layer. Online35(2), 20-26.

Craigle, V. (2011). Discovery Layers in Law Libraries: A progress report on how our institutions are implementing this new technology. AALL Spectrum16(3), 7-9. Retrieved from http://www.aallnet.org/mm/Publications/spectrum/archives/Vol-16/No-3/discovery-layers.pdf

Ellero, N.P. (2013). Integration or Disintegration: Where Is Discovery Headed? Journal of Library Metadata, 13, 311–329 DOI: 10.1080/19386389.2013.831277 Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/19386389.2013.831277

Fahey, S., Gordon, S. & Rose, C. (2011). Seeing double at Memorial University: Two WorldCat Local usability studies. Partnership: the Canadian Journal of Library and Information Practice and Research, 6, 2-14. Retrieved from http://research.library.mun.ca/124/

Federal Depository Library Program. (2014). Retrieved November 28, 2015 from http://library.law.unh.edu/fdlp

Introduction to Symplectic Elements. (2015). Retrieved December 6, 2015 from http://www.unh.edu/research/event/2015/09/introduction-symplectic-elements

Library Support: Library Links. (2015). Retrieved November 28, 2015 from https://scholar.google.com/intl/en/scholar/libraries.html

Lambert, G. (2010). Casemaker unique among legal research providers. Michigan Bar Journal, 89, p. 54-56. Retrieved from http://www.michbar.org/file/barjournal/article/documents/pdf4article1776.pdf

MELcat:  UNH Law Library’s Online Catalog. (2015). Retrieved December 6, 2015 from https://cardcatalog.law.unh.edu/

Mattson, R. (September/October 2015). Filling the Google Gaps: Harnessing the power of Google through instruction. AALL Spectrum (20)1, 38-39. Retrieved from http://elibrary.law.psu.edu/library_faculty/12/

NELLCO Legal Scholarship Repository. (2015). Retrieved December 6, 2015 from http://lsr.nellco.org/nellco/

OpenURL Resolver Products & Vendors. (2005). Retrieved December 6, 2015 from http://www.loc.gov/catdir/lcpaig/openurl.html

Patent Trademark Resource Center. (2014). Retrieved November 28, 2015 from http://library.law.unh.edu/PTRC

UNH Scholars’ Repository. (2015). Retrieved December 6, 2015 from http://scholars.unh.edu/law_facpub/

Welcome to the UNH Law Library (2014). Retrieved November 28, 2015 from http://library.law.unh.edu/Home



More about this later…

Video games that require “visual analysis” such as Tetris could be instrumental in alleviating the symptoms of PTSD, a study has found.



Talking ’bout Thesauri

In March 2015 I gave a presentation to my Online Searching Class (244) where I describe my love of the reference tool known as The Thesaurus.

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The second one is the comments portion from the audience. I only have the embedded code and not a link like I do for the screenshot above.

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Music and the Mere Exposure Theory

Can getting into the groove help boost your concentration? People have their preferences for whether or not they like to listen to music while concentrating on creative tasks. WordPress founder, poet and music composer Matt Mullenweg listens to the same song on repeat to boost cognitive performance.

There is some science behind this, based on the theory of mere exposure. This is an interesting application of music for neural self-hacking. Theabove link to the article by Joseph Mosby details an interesting anecdotal experience, it would be really interesting to see the results in a controlled experiment.