doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

An Interview with @UWOEducLibrary

I think this is very cool.  I’m interviewing a library!  My teacher-librarian friends will be so jealous.  I started following @UWOEducLibrary (Educational Library and the Faculty of Education, University of Western Ontario) on Twitter and the account has been a great resource for educators everywhere, whether they’re using UWOEducLibrary’s physical services or not.  Years ago, when I took Additional Qualification courses, they were at UWO and, of course, the Library was a great place for study and research.

Doug:  First of all, since this is an institutional account, there has to be a person behind this!  Who manages the account?

UWOEducLibrary: My name is Denise Horoky. I am the Research and Instructional Services Librarian for the Education Library. I have worked here for over 25 years and managing the social media for Western’s Education Library is one of my responsibilities.

Doug:  Do you speak for the entire Faculty or just the Library?

UWOEducLibrary: While my job includes library and research support for Western’s Faculty of Education I only speak for the Education Library.

Doug:  Recently, you tweeted you encompass three floors full of resources for educators.  In absolute numeric terms, how big is the Library at the Faculty of Education?

UWOEducLibrary: I do not have numbers close at hand but I can get them for you.

Doug:  What services do you offer to pre-service and in-service educators?

UWOEducLibrary: We offer the whole range of traditional library and research support for all of our user groups.  We buy and provide access to books, ebooks, games, DVD’s, streaming video and multimedia hands-on Ontario curriculum support materials in both English and French languages.

Doug:  What kind of computing services are offered to visitors?

UWOEducLibrary: Every student, staff and faculty member of Western has a unique username and password. This allows them to access online materials through the library catalogue, the research databases and the videostreaming. Visitors can acquire a temporary log in to use the onsite library computers.

Doug:  What relationships do you have with your local school districts?

UWOEducLibrary: We cultivate a close relationship with the Media Resources departments in our local school boards.  We belong to a consortium of Southern Ontario school boards buying group to purchase multi-media resources.

Doug:  Do you have UWO students from other faculties drop in to use your facilities?

UWOEducLibrary: Oh my, yes. The Education Library is a destination of choice of many students and researchers.  We have a wonderful collection of old and current Ontario textbooks that are attractive resources to students and researchers in history, gender studies and aboriginal education.  The Education Library has a children’s book collection that interests many main campus folks. I worked with main campus graduate students who want to create education programs to teach young children about atmospheric environmentalism. Their research revolved around immersing of young children into the world of environmental activism as a way of life. Fascinating research.  I work with many nursing, kinesology and occupational therapy students.  Western, like many other post-secondary institutions, is very interested in providing online course content and the Education Library has been collecting resources about online teaching for many years so we can provide support in that area, as well.  

Doug:  Similarly, do your students need to go on campus to use their services?

UWOEducLibrary:  The Education Library serves the needs of our pre-service teacher candidates very well and most of their materials can be found in our collections.  However, researchers and graduate students usually end of using almost all of the campus libraries at one time or another.

Doug:  Other than Twitter, what online presence does the Library have?

UWOEducLibrary:   I have always been an early adopter of social media and educational technology.  I use the technology to promote the Education Library.  I am a shameless promoter of the Education Library’s collections and services.  I started an Education Library Blog about seven years ago to support graduate students and researchers. The Education Library has a web site (a refreshed version will be ready for September – we are so excited!) that keeps students apprised of our new resources, book displays and our services. We have a Facebook page and our Twitter account. Within the Education Library we prize strong customer service.  We see the use social media to connect our collections and services to our students and researchers as just another extension of our customer service committment.

Doug:  What sorts of subscription databases do you offer for students and their research?

UWOEducLibrary: I do not know the exact number of databases Western Libraries offers so I am going to say ‘a lot.”  The databases are numerous and a very diverse since they support all of the programs offered by Western University.  Western students, staff and faculty are very lucky with the abundance of research databases literally at their fingertips.  

Doug:  A statement that’s often heard these days is that “the younger generation is perfectly fluent with online technology, internet fluency and literacy”.  Do you find this to be true?

UWOEducLibrary: I think that statement is only partially true.  Our incoming students are often very fluent in the use of their own individual devices.  They can use Google and YouTube and perhaps they can create web pages. But, most of our students cannot necessarily perform an efficient search on a database that takes some degree of sophisticated online literacy.  I always say “if only all of the students truly understood boolean logic” they would be much more satisfied with their database search results, would find better journal article references and write better papers.

Doug:  How does this change the interaction between students and the Library?

UWOEducLibrary:  That is a very good question.

Doug:  If you had to estimate, how many students show up with their own computing device to attach to your wireless network?

UWOEducLibrary: That is easy.  All of our students now come equipped with their own devices.  We rarely see students without a phone, a laptop or an iPad – usually all three.

Doug:  What’s the technology of choice for students?

UWOEducLibrary: iPads and laptops. And, of course, phones.

Doug:  Another Twitter message from your account recently talked about copyright.  Are students arriving at the faculty knowing about copyright?  How about Creative Commons?

UWOEducLibrary:  Often students know very little about copyright as they enter university as an undergraduate. This is especially so in the last couple of years when the laws and regulations of copyright have been changing so fast and some of changes are subtle renderings of law and legal language. Students are aware of the serious ethics breach of plagiarism as this is noted in all Western course outlines. At Western we educate our students about copyright in tandem with academic integrity.

Doug:  Does the Library have any programs in place to outreach to the school districts in Western Ontario?

UWOEducLibrary: No.  Universities do much outreach into schools all over Canada, but no, Western Libraries does not provide that type of program.  

Doug:  Many public school libraries have been the target of funding cuts lately.  Has your funding been affected?

UWOEducLibrary: Everyone’s funding is affected in these economic times. No institution or department within a institution is immune.

Doug:  How many staff members do you have and what are their roles?

UWOEducLibrary:  There are two professional librarians (myself and the Director of the Education Library).  We provide the professional services, teaching and collections development. We also have three full time library assistants who tend to the patrons and all the day-to-day activities of the Education Library.  In addition, we have a full time sessional staff member who works from September to April and part time university students.

Doug:  If you could gaze into the future, what does it hold for public school libraries?

UWOEducLibrary: I think the fate and future of all libraries will look very similar since we are all being affected by the same societal and technological changes.  Actual physical books took up so much space in a traditional library. Now, libraries may be buying less physical materials and buying more virtual or online materials. So, the physical space of libraries is able to change. That physical space can now be used in some other way.  Books are not going away but we cannot deny that computers of some nature are now a huge part of our student’s lives and a large part of their learning experience.  Mobile learning will soon become the norm. Students will have tablets or phones so they need the library space and the internet access. They still need a creative space that libraries have afforded students for so many years. Students will always need teachers and teacher-librarians for guidance.  The world of information is too large for any teacher to expect a child or adolescent to navigate it on their own. We need to provide guidance and support to our students.  Libraries and librarians will continue to play a role in education, learning and teaching.

Doug:  What does it hold for libraries at a Faculty of Education?

UWOEducLibrary: I guess I cannot just say “See above.”  As noted in my answer above libraries at Faculties of Education are also transitioning from using their physical space to house physical books and journals to freeing up some of that space to devote to collaborative student activities. A case can be made that academic libraries within Faculties of Education may not need to be as large as they once were but no case can be made that academic libraries and academic librarians are less important to the scholarly enterprise of teaching and learning. A strong academic library is an integral part of a post secondary institution.

Doug, as an aside to this answer I would like to comment on a topic that has interested me over the last few years.  The word “library” conjures up a picture of a traditional book filled space for most people.  It is interesting to me to see when a shift in thinking will occur in our society. At some random point in the future the word “library” will most likely change to conjure up a different scenario. I think right now we are still in that transitioning stages and no of us knows for certain what the library of the future will look like. The library world has struggled with this changing language by trying to name libraries all sorts of other kinds of names like Learning Commons.  I wonder if there will be some AHA moment when we look back and pinpoint a moment in time when the mental imagery changes. Of course, classrooms also fall into this category where we picture the traditional image in our mind when in fact classrooms may look completely different in reality.  

Doug: Thank you for taking the time for the interview.  Libraries have always been the centres for literacy and research.  Thousands of teachers have made the Faculty of Education at UWO one of their stops for professional learning.

UWOEducLibrary: Thank you for your kind words of support and this opportunity to talk about the Education Library and our collections.  

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5 responses to “An Interview with @UWOEducLibrary”

  1. Great interview, Doug. Had to giggle at the fact that you kept using UWO (and it’s in the Twitter name), while she resolutely referred to the newer “Western University”. Older small boy at this house always corrects me when I say we’re off to the bibliotheque, by reminding me it’s the mediatheque, now. What’s the equivalent in English, I wonder.


  2. At least both of use refrained from using the word “Althouse”!


  3. […] of Western Ontario is worth bookmarking and reading daily.  Denise Horoky, who I interviewed here keeps the site fresh many times daily from stories from all […]


  4. […] Library at Western.  I did have a wonderful opportunity to interview the brains behind the social, Denise Horoky a while back and follow the Twitter account and the blog from the library.  There’s always […]


  5. […] An Interview with @UWOEducLibrary – doug — off the record […]


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