Here we go again!  Another summer, another exciting RYSAG camp!  We are just a week and two days away from counselor orientation and then on Monday, July 19, about 60 middle and high school students from the Rochester City School District (RCSD) will descend upon SUNY Geneseo‘s campus.  This is the time of the summer when my organizational efforts really hit mach speed.

Thanks to the diligence and consciensciousness of one of our outstanding counselors, currently home for the summer and away from the hustle and bustle of confirming plans for the camp organization and storyline, I’ve been (positively) pushed to focus on finalizing schedules and google docs so that everyone involved will have the necessary information before arriving on campus.  Last night, I spent time refining the camp storyline in a google doc, adding notes from a previous meeting with the Camp Director as well as new ideas developed in a recent meeting with the camp’s faculty planning group.

Potential volunteer interviewees (faculty and staff from all different academic disciplines) have been contacted and most have responded with their availability to meet with our students to discuss personal experiences with conflict, difference and/or adaptation.  One more reminder should hopefully push the lagging interviewees along.  The hope is to have a nearly finalized interview schedule before our Monday (7/12) meeting with all camp volunteers.  At this meeting, everyone will be informed of the general camp plan, goals and expectations, putting us all on the same page.  We arranged for a similar meeting two years ago and that really helped for a smooth transition into the camp’s “theater.”

This year’s camp, whose theme focuses on peacekeeping and conflict negotiation, should be interesting with two teams consisting of brand new (to RYSAG) RCSD students entering seventh and eighth grades in the fall.  For the past two years, we’ve seen a lot of repeat students, many of whom have participated in every camp experience since the 2007 inception.  Our numbers for four-peaters are dwindling but we have still retained nine of the original RYSAG CSI candidates.  Understandable considering these students are likely to be entering the tenth grade this fall, where scholastic expectations and requirements are heightened and students are now at an age where they can begin working full-time summer jobs.

Our four-peaters, and even a handful of three-peaters, form one of our four camp teams and serve as CITs – counselors-in-training – where leadership skills and roles are stressed, placing the students in good stead for future counselor positions.  How amazing will it be if/when these students return in their pre-senior and even post-senior/college summers to assist with the running of the camp!!!!  Our first introduction to these students was when they were entering seventh grade!  How quickly time passes.

But I digress . . . the reasoning behind the title of this post refers to a recent SUNYLA conference presentation I offered.  I had two main reasons for developing the presentation.  First, to highlight the amazing RYSAG camp experience, which I’ve been wanting to boast about for a few years now.  The second reason was to encourage librarians, especially those new to the field, to identify their strengths and interests – both personal and professional – and promote them by joining campus projects and committees where librarian talents are seriously needed.

The strengths and interests I identified within myself at the presentation include:

  • organizational skills, especially where logic and scheduling are involved
  • technological knowledge and ability to make practical use of technological tools to bring people together
  • creativity
  • risk taking
  • pedagogical knowledge
  • team player, wanting to bring people together in meaningful and fun ways
  • mediator, using my contacts and knowledge among various academic departments

All of these attributes have come in handy when putting together the RYSAG camp infrastructure.  From creating rotating schedules for campers, instructors, counselors and interviewees to using a variety of social networking tools for the good of document and idea sharing (i.e., google docs, wikis, blogs), camper communication and training (i.e., gmail accounts, blogs, Truveo multimedia searching, interactive web scavenger hunt), and tracking volunteers’ availability (i.e., Doodle) to suggesting key players to the camp storyline based on a wide range of contacts in different departments due to library instruction efforts and other campus-wide committee participation.

As mentioned in the SUNYLA presentation, while I am well aware of the amazing skills and special talents librarians bring to the table, especially in campus-wide forums, I become downright giddy when I hear of stories where librarians lead the faculty/staff pack and offer a sense of unity, focus, organization, creativity and expertise.  It is these stories that remind me what a valuable service we provide to the campus community.

And again, I encourage all librarians to realize the unique attributes they have to offer, to get involved in campus projects and to promote the good that our librarian superpowers can foster.

  • I have imported an RSS feed from Scopus into this blog which will update me on all new publications pertaining to Librarian-Faculty Collaboration. When I can find the time, hopefully this summer, I will go through the articles – most recent first and work my way backward – writing up key points on each. This will be a good system for me to keep up with literature in the field. At current time, and for quite some time, there hasn’t been a moment for this kind of professional activity!
  • I will document my comings and goings with professors/teachers in my ultimate goal of formulating successful relationships and partnerships, inside and outside of the classroom. The dream is to have certain academic departments working closely with the instruction librarians with a progressive, developmental approach. As students move through their major, we should have a plan in place for when library instruction takes place (in what year and in which courses) and what will be covered in each of those sessions – starting small and simple and ending with a pretty sophisticated and comprehensive approach to research and critical thinking.
  • I would like to make this blog a practical place for colleagues (librarians and faculty) to gain new ideas for activities and partnerships. Of course, I cannot offer all of this information on my own, so feedback and brainstorming among those looking at my blog is greatly appreciated. At SUNY Geneseo, there have been a number of successful collaborative models happening, so there is by no means, one right way to form a successful teaching partnership.
  • It would be great to get some discussion going about challenges and triumphs, from the side of the librarian and the professor . . . and even students if they were to look at this blog.
  • It is possible that I vocalize my continuous “soul searching” as I consider the pros and cons of remaining in a traditional teaching role vs moving into a more managerial position. At current, I am still very much wedded to creating new lesson plans and working closely with students and faculty. Can you take the girl out of the classroom, but not the classroom out of the girl? Right now, I think not. 🙂
  • Finally, as you may have already read, I have become heavily involved in a wonderful summer program with middle school students and the reasons for my inclusion in this new project stem from my previous work in the college classroom with a Sociology professor. This opportunity has me branching out and forging friendships and professional working relationships that I might not otherwise have had. Based on the CSI (now DIG) curriculum, I am developing new lesson plans and activities geared at the middle school level and this has allowed me to try similar approaches, although more advanced, in the college classroom. My use of different technologies in the classroom has certainly increased. I now find myself teaching other faculty how to implement these different tools into their teaching repertoire. Very cool!