Cool Tool Day

Thanks to Bronwyn Guiton for this inspiring piece detailing how students at University of British Columbia hacked their LIS education.

Last fall, students at the School of Library, Archives, and Information Studies at University of British Columbia were invited to the school’s first ever Cool Tool Day sponsored by the school’s local ASIS&T chapter. The event was loosely inspired by TEDTalks, Ignite, and the tool/tip of the week segments on the TWiT network podcasts.

During the school’s common lunch hour, students gathered in the computer classroom to hear or give 5-minute presentations on a tech tool that was making library school more interesting, more enriching, and/or more fun. Presenters had to keep to a strict 5-minute limit, (they could request a 10-minute slot in advance if needed in the sequel events). Afterwards, there were free snacks and coffee to encourage students to stick around and chat.

When I’m asked how library school is treating me, my standard line is: love the students; disappointed with the courses. Honestly, hanging out with fellow students and talking about our interests, hobbies, and obsessions inspires me the most.But it’s not enough to moan about the bad (something I’m all too guilty of) and just occasionally recognize the good. In the spirit of Roy Tennant’s Library Journal bit, I’m going to tell you about an event initiated by students at my library school.

tools mosaic | CC by-nc-nd |Flickr user M Kasahara

Here’s a link to a quick recap of the first Cool Tool Day. My own favourite tools included a demo of how to download audio versions of articles on WilsonWeb and some school-specific use-cases for Dropbox.

Cool Tool Day received positive feedback from participants and two encores showcasing new tools have followed.

The organizers used the school’s listserv to advertise the event. They also used a wiki to sign up presenters, manage the tech needs for each presentation, and create a list of links for participants to refer to before, during, and afterwards.

Full credit goes to the ASIS&T student group that initiated Cool Tool Day. They maintain an active webpage with up to date contact info. A few of their members are on Twitter, including – @mahrialebow, @jjackunrau, @axfelix, and @daftkifty.

Cool Tool Day was a fun way to formalize those interesting conversations between library students about their favourite, interesting discoveries. For me, the event was the awesome tech course my library school doesn’t offer. For the organizers, it was marketable event planning experience. Finally, because Cool Tool Day was a low-cost, crowd-sourced event, I recommend it as a model for library students to build upon at their own school.

So when’s your next event?

Bronwyn loves Canadian politics but loathes the whole getting-elected-and-toeing-party-lines bit. She’s becoming a law librarian instead. Bronwyn will receive her MLIS from UBC in Vancouver in June 2012. She’s mildly obsessed with Tamora Pierce & Cooks Illustrated. Find her online: OR @BronwynMaye

Categories: Technology

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3 replies

  1. First – I LOVE this idea!

    Second – call me a spy, but I love reading this blog. It’s really inspiring.

    BUT, I admit, the poster’s comment about “love[ing] the students; disappointed with the courses” resonated with me, both as a former LIS student, and as a current LIS adjunct.

    I could have taught the tech-related classes I took in grad school, and far better than anyone teaching them. I also came to understand that classes in a master’s level LIS program were not going to be the same kind of intellectually stimulating classes as those in my friends’ PhD programs in other disciplines, but I realized I was learning to look at the world through the lens of a professional librarian, with an eye to how my patrons would use the resources I select for my library. (Definitely not something I’d thought about before!)

    I would love to see more posts highlighting things that students could do to make LS engaging – maybe some of us on the other side could encourage other faculty to be more supportive or – shockingly – even incorporate change their classes!


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