Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thirst for Knowledge

I've been quiet on this blog during my vacation from library-related activities.  I've been finding myself away from the computer ... and racing around ... mentally as well as physically.

I've been learning ... or trying to to learn.

My last day of work before vacation ... my first customer of the day ... I saw an "older gentleman" (as my professional co-worker would say) on crutches ... gingerly making his way over to me: "Good morning.  How can I help you?"  I gathered that he wanted to make a copy but had no library card.  I explained the procedure for this circumstance: "You'll need a card to get the machine to work.  If you go to the front desk with your ten cents, you can get a Courtesy Card."  The patron replied, "I want you to make the copy."  I read his tone as slightly demanding, and I asserted that the copiers were self-service but that I would show him how to use it once he had a card.  In perfect measure the older gentleman responded, "I'll go to the post offiice then."

...


I didn't know what to say.  I had relayed the information. I was ready to help in the way I could ...
I watched him crutch away and  felt unhappy about the interaction.

...

What would you have done?


I recently bought this at Rogers Farmer's Market!  Smart People DO Thirst for Knowledge!

After this experience, I immediately consulted with a colleague.  I feel my reactions weren't the best human response, but I wonder how to work that into "policy."

I've learning about these topics of communication and emotion in my personal life as well ... Which reminds me, I need to update my Shelfari shelf ...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Intelligence in Learning Environments

The following was posted on the storytell listerv: http://www.storynet.org/storytell.html. For me, it's a reminder about the overarching goal of libraries to provide access to all kinds of information and to provide programs that meet those educational gaps as well as to motivate learning in general as opposed to learning a particular kind of knowledge:

What Is Intelligence, Anyway?
By Isaac Asimov

What is intelligence, anyway?

When I was in the army, I received the kind of aptitude test that all
soldiers took and, against a normal of 100, scored 160. No one at the
base had ever seen a figure like that, and for two hours they made a big
fuss over me.

(It didn't mean anything. The next day I was still a buck private with
KP - kitchen police - as my highest duty.)

All my life I've been registering scores like that, so that I have the
complacent feeling that I'm highly intelligent, and I expect other
people to think so too.

Actually, though, don't such scores simply mean that I am very good at
answering the type of academic questions that are considered worthy of
answers by people who make up the intelligence tests - people with
intellectual bents similar to mine?

For instance, I had an auto-repair man once, who, on these intelligence
tests, could not possibly have scored more than 80, by my estimate. I
always took it for granted that I was far more intelligent than he was.

Yet, when anything went wrong with my car I hastened to him with it,
watched him anxiously as he explored its vitals, and listened to his
pronouncements as though they were divine oracles - and he always fixed
my car.

Well, then, suppose my auto-repair man devised questions for an
intelligence test.

Or suppose a carpenter did, or a farmer, or, indeed, almost anyone but
an academician. By every one of those tests, I'd prove myself a moron,
and I'd be a moron, too.

In a world where I could not use my academic training and my verbal
talents but had to do something intricate or hard, working with my
hands, I would do poorly.

My intelligence, then, is not absolute but is a function of the society
I live in and of the fact that a small subsection of that society has
managed to foist itself on the rest as an arbiter of such matters.

Consider my auto-repair man, again.

He had a habit of telling me jokes whenever he saw me.

One time he raised his head from under the automobile hood to say: "Doc,
a deaf-and-mute guy went into a hardware store to ask for some nails. He
put two fingers together on the counter and made hammering motions with
the other hand.

"The clerk brought him a hammer. He shook his head and pointed to the
two fingers he was hammering. The clerk brought him nails. He picked out
the sizes he wanted, and left. Well, doc, the next guy who came in was a
blind man. He wanted scissors. How do you suppose he asked for them?"

Indulgently, I lifted by right hand and made scissoring motions with my
first two fingers.

Whereupon my auto-repair man laughed raucously and said, "Why, you dumb
jerk, He used his voice and asked for them."

Then he said smugly, "I've been trying that on all my customers today."
"Did you catch many?" I asked. "Quite a few," he said, "but I knew for
sure I'd catch you."

"Why is that?" I asked. "Because you're so goddamned educated, doc, I
knew you couldn't be very smart."

And I have an uneasy feeling he had something there.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nonviolent Communication (quotes)

Things to think about while helping an angry person:

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg

"Behind all those messages we've allowed ourselves to be intimidated by are just individuals with unmet needs appealing to us to contribute to their well being." (99)

"...messages previously experienced as critical or blaming begin to be seen for the gifts they are: opportunites to give to people who are in pain." (100)



Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Digital (Wiki) Storytelling

Ready for an oxymoron? --> Here's some old news.

Did you know that Penguin launched an online storytelling experience using the wiki format in 2007?
http://thepenguinblog.typepad.com/the_penguin_blog/2007/02/a_million_pengu.html

Here's an interesting report of that experience:
http://www.ioct.dmu.ac.uk/documents/amillionpenguinsreport.pdf

Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the actual, online finished story. However, this does recall a program activity I read about when CSLP was doing the "Creative" summer reading theme a few years ago.  While sitting in a circle, kids were invited to contribute to an improvised story.  Perhaps this experience could be continued on a library website, though much monitoring would have to occur.  At the very least, it's an interesting social experiment.

Has anyone ever tried something like this in a library setting?

Friday, August 5, 2011