An Analysis of Faculty and Academic Librarian Relationships

See original article at



GAFE: Personal Reflections

It is really no surprise to hear that the internet has changed the way we live and work in the realm of information science. Virtually anyone can create and publish information, new tools emerge on an incredibly rapid pace, and people of every level of expertise can locate credible information without a research consultation with a librarian. I think it is incredibly important for information professionals (aka Librarians) to be active participants in the communities in which we find ourselves. This means understanding how our fellow information detectives find and use information, and how that information is transmitted back into the community.

In academia, it is rare for a group of individuals to create new knowledge without publishing that information in some way. Typically, this takes the shape of formalized publications in journals which are recognized by the rest of the academic establishment. More and more, these publications are being augmented with data and supplemental material that is loaded on professional websites or within digital archives. By recognizing the most prolific authors and publications, information professionals can find and use the most authoritative published resources.

It has been quite interesting to take a step back from my participation in the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) community, to study GAFE as a formal information community. I realized that this community is a vital group of educators and professionals lierally from all around the world. Many of the participants are blazing a trail by utilizing a vendor provided cloud-based solution for their productivity needs. They not only discover new finds by “clicking around,” but they share that knowledge via websites, mail lists, conferences, informal meetings, and more. Google has recognized the value of these activities, and has worked to foster this cycle of discovery and information sharing. Not only was I able to learn more about the community in which I participate, but I learned a few new things about the tools I’ve used for years!

Put simply, information professionals can be more effective if/when we understand the communities in which we live and work. Not only does that allow us to understand how information is created, published, and shared, but it makes us more of a guide on the adventure that is research.

A Community of Explorers

For many educators, GAFE is a doorway into emerging technology. Here are just a few examples:

  • Google Drive and cloud computing
  • YouTube and shared video
  • Google Docs and collaborative editing in real-time
  • Google Hangouts and web conferencing
  • Google Sites and wiki-type editing of web content

The list could go on… One of the reasons the GAFE community continues to thrive is that new features and functionality are regularly released. The community becomes a source of information about the new and cool tools that are available.

For this week’s post, I interviewed an educator who both uses Google Apps and coordinates professional development for her site (and district). She echoed the need to have curated information about new releases from information technology professionals.

On a number of occasions, this educator has stumbled upon a new feature in Google Apps. Her nearly immediate response was to share the find with colleagues, and chat about ways this new bell and whistle might be used. This type of sharing is the quintessential feature of an information community!

One of the points she made is that instructors are less likely to use a tool in an instructional setting if they are not completely comfortable with the tool. An interesting idea she shared was to establish a regular exploratory session, where information professionals are on hand to “play” with the emerging technology. This might take the shape of an information faire, where there are no formalized presentations, but stations setup around a bustling room. Educators could vist booths and actually experiment with the new tools.

It is interesting to note that what one person considers an emergent technology is another person’s regular productivity tool. I personally think this is the beauty of an information community. By sharing the results of the inner explorer in all of us, the community can blaze many more trails than we each travel individually.

History of Google

OK, admittedly, I’m learning a lot about Google, and the information community around Google Apps for Education (GAFE). I hope you’re finding the information I’ve presented interesting as well!

Here’s a very cool site for the history buff in all of us. This is the official “in depth” history of Google!

Anyone even remember search engines before 1997? Maybe Lycos or Alta Vista? It’s pretty amazing how far things have progressed in such a relatively short period of time…