Home » Professional

Category Archives: Professional

Developing Latin America: The arrival of information literacy


Jesus Lau and I just published an article where we remember and explore how did information literacy (infolit) get in the Latin American region. You may find it in the second issue of Developing Latin America, available in the journal Information Development, published by Sage. The most important elements in this article are two tables, one of them ranks Latin American countries by their academic production regarding infolit (with data gathered from the AlfinIberoamérica wiki) and the other table highlights the eight infolit declarations that have been made in the region, their date, place and the name of the event or declaration.

Abstract: Paul Zurkowski coined the term Information Literacy in 1974, since then it has evolved into a dynamic research area within library and information science, with many milestones achieved in Europe and the United States, reflected in English-written literature. This issue of Developing Latin America traces an alternative route, exploring the arrival of information literacy to the region and its main developments.

You may find the full text here, you need a suscription to Sage Publications

Slidecasts to be (killed) Discontinued


After the turn of the year, on February 7, Slideshare announced through its blog that slidecasts are going to be discontinued. Slidecasts are presentations uploaded to Slideshare that are synched to a MP3 audio file. While it’s relatively easy to create a slidecast, it may be seen as a niche practice, as some preparation and technical expertise is needed to do it, let alone the fact that Slideshare must be a niche social media site. For example, I used to do the presentation either with Powerpoint or Keynote and then record and edit its corresponding audio with Audacity or Soundforge. Hence, I suppose that only a limited number of Slideshare users have actually created this type of resource.

However, any way I see this decision from Slideshare, I call it a mistake similar to that of Google with its Google Reader (RIP), when they attempted to destroy RSS and the blogosphere to favor a lesser service/technology such as Google+. Of course, this decision is theirs to make, as it’s their service and, like me, most users are likely to use a free account. Even so, I can’t help but think that users of social media sites should have some stake in these types of decisions. I think this particular action from Slideshare is wrong because:

  • Slidecasts have way more views than the presentations without audio: although my presentations have a quite low profile compared to those of other users, my normal  presentations use to have hundreds of views while my slidecasts have thousands of them. I believe that is that shows the impact this advanced function may have. I think while static presentations are decentlly viewed, the amount of views slidecasts get show that they were a powerful type of media, not offered by any other social media site. This takes me to my other argument why this is a mistake.
  • Slidecasts are (were) one of the best and unique Slideshare features, if not the most unique. I understand that by killing it they might be killing the service altogether.

For me the most unsettling part of Slideshare’s announcement is that they state they are going to focus their energy instead “on building new and innovative ways for our users to share presentations”. I don’t want to be skeptic about innovating in social media but I wonder, is that even possible from the point of view of Slideshare, or is this just a sad excuse? You can already share presentations with your other social sites and embed any presentation on any site with an html string.

Since February 28 you’re not able to create new slidecasts. You have until April 30 to download yours and not lose them. What options do we have to cover this absence? By now, I’m thinking of downloading the existing slidecasts I have and uploading them to YouTube and doing future ones using Camtasia or Captivate, although as you may be guessing after reading this post, I’m not very comfortable with the idea of giving more of my content to Google. In any case, I would recommend that you check out Slideshare blog and take a look at the post and the comments. Take a stand, if you liked slidecasts.

Articles for the European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL)

ECIL 2013

The first European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL) took place on 22-25 October 2013, in Istambul, Turkey. I proposed two papers for this conference and I had the opportunity to get both accepted. This was an important milestone in my career to have two papers selected for the same conference, among the quite impressive sample from Iberoamerican works, Alejandro Uribe Tirado counted 23 contributions, in a conference with an European focus. Athough I could not attend the conference, both these papers were presented by my coauthors and they got published by Springer in the conference proceedings ‘Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice’. In the following paragraphs you will find the information of both articles and some bullet points about them.


1. Machin-Mastromatteo, J., Lau, J., Virkus, S. (2013). Participatory action research and information literacy: Revising an old new hope for research and practice. Worldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice: Communications in Computer and Information Science, 397, pp. 48-53.

  • Slides available!
  • Tracks and rebuilds a research agenda integrating information literacy with participative methodologies (E.g. action research).
  • It deals with some topics that are also dealt with on my own PhD research, although on a meta level
  • Develops and presents a questionnaire for worldwide experts that is being answered at this moment. You can still answer this questionnaire and share it with your colleagues!
  • It studies the future contributions of this perspectives for the advance of information literacy
  • Sheila Webber wrote a nice post about this research on her blog, thanks!

2. Machin-Mastromatteo, J., Virkus, S. (2013). Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills:  A Mutual Shaping Perspective for Information Literacy Research and PracticeWorldwide Commonalities and Challenges in Information Literacy Research and Practice: Communications in Computer and Information Science, 397, pp. 380-385.

  • Slides available!
  • It’s part of my PhD research, it integrates social media in a learning experience, discovering the role of information literacy in such integration.
  • The research and methodological framework ‘Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills’ is presented.
  • It advances a conceptual, epistemological and methodological understanding that is important for online learning activities.
  • This particular article discusses the conceptual idea of mututal shaping in this research

International Colloquium on Alternative Models of Learning and Access


On September 19, 2013, CETYS Universidad hosted the International Colloquium ‘Higher Education: Alternative Models of Learning and Access’ and I had the opportunity of moderating its second panel ‘How to successfully swim in learning new schemes Info – skills, MOOCs, ICT and other technologies’. I dedicated some words of introduction to this interesting topic from my perspective as a librarian and as an academic and I also presented the panel’s speakers: Alison Hicks and Jesús Lau.

I wanted to share with you some of my notes of introduction to this session:

  • Although my background is in Library and Information Science, I have been interested in technology and education since I graduated from my bachelor studies on Librarianship, as you may see if you read this blog. I have not been able to study or use Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), although they are perhaps one of the most important conceptual and technological innovations regarding alternative models of education.
  • MOOCs are massive, imagine having hundreds or thousand of students; they are open, as they follow the philosophy of openness; and they are online, after all they are courses, online courses.
  • MOOCs are quite interesting as an alternative model, as they may provide universal access to the university, which might have lost its way regarding its uni prefix.
  • I see that MOOCs have plenty of opportunities and challenges for those teaching them and learning from them, some of them have to do with the competences individuals must develop to deal with them, to develop a strong discipline when it comes to study and for managing one’s own time.
  • Information and digital literacies play a very important role when dealing with MOOCs as well as processes of academic certification and rigor, which acquire a new and perhaps more demanding dimension because MOOCs differ a great deal from classic courses.
  • I believe MOOCs must be oriented and grounded on research and problem solving assignments, and that takes a very special academic to lead them. A special type of course needs special teachers and special students and they can be taught special competences for dealing with them. Training would involve various university departments, such as research, the academia, and the university libraries.
  • It is interesting to point out the importance of the focus of this panel, where we have two librarians as guest speakers, Jesús Lau and Alison Hicks, as well as myself, the Learning and Information Development Librarian of CETYS Universidad, having the honor of introducing the topic in discussion and our distinguished guests. I believe that this configuration of speakers is quite a statement from CETYS’ part, because it means that libraries and librarians must be integrated as part of the engine of educational innovations. One clear path to follow is through information and digital literacies but we must question and enhance libraries’ role in breaking educational ground.

You can take a look at the whole session, which was recorded. I also prepared a Spanish/English bibliography on MOOCs, higher education and skills for this Colloquium.

Participatory action research in the age of social media: Literacies, affinity spaces and learning

PAR NLW Machin

Past November I published in the journal New Library World my article titled ‘Participatory action research in the age of social media: Literacies, affinity spaces and learning’, today I’m pleased to offer everyone an open access version, courtesy of the publisher of the journal, which allows an author version to be published in a repository, so of course you may find it in E-LIS. You can find the journal article here as well.

This article is very important for me, as it is the first time I present officially the research framework from my PhD research ‘Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills’ (DORIS). This research framework is originally intended to study the roles of information literacy, digital literacy, and new literacies in technology mediated (specifically social media) education environments. The abstract of this article is as follows:

This article summarizes the developments, methodological design, and some of the theories framed within a PhD research about the integration of social media in higher education. Its aims are to determine significant issues, challenges and opportunities that emerge when social media are integrated into learning environments in higher education. ‘Doing Online Relearning through Information Skills’ (DORIS) is proposed as a research framework to address the aims, objectives, and research questions of this study. It was conceived from a Participatory Action Research perspective. This approach is intended to help discover and reflect upon teaching and learning practices in a technologically mediated educational setting. Furthermore, the concept of affinity spaces is discussed, together with its distinction from the concept of communities of practice. The data collection methods planned to conduct the study are: diagnostic questionnaire, blog, social learners’ input and reports, a second questionnaire, and semi-structured interviews. The theory of affinity spaces offers a powerful way of thinking about teaching and learning processes mediated by different technologies. The heuristics that will focus the data collection and analysis are: a) on the function of content, and b) on the function of participants’ interactions with the content and/or with one another. DORIS is proposed as a powerful way to organize learning interventions through the structure of information literacy skills. It is grounded on action research and on constructivist, blended, and problem based learning. Researchers, librarians or educators can adapt this model for teaching, learning and researching about and with social media or for other technologically mediated learning environments, or could be adapted for information literacy programs.

Course ‘Managing and running information and digital literacy projects for libraries and archives’ (2nd edition)

From December 10 to 14, between 11:00 and 15:00. (Mexico time) I will be delivering the second edition of the online course ‘Managing and running information and digital literacy projects for libraries and archives’ (in Spanish, sorry, but you may hire me for an English version!), through the online training system of Información Científica Internacional (ICI).

This course is excellent for library and archives professionals whom wish to know more about the topic or whoever wants to develop a literacy initiative but doesn’t know where to start. It is also good for those who have worked with literacy and wish to revise and improve their projects. During the course we will be following a methodology which will take us step-by-step throughout the design of a literacy project, considering the structure, pedagogies, resources, among many others.

You can check out the promotional slides, which include results and impressions from participants of the first edition of the course (in Spanish only for now, sorry again!)

How to raise and develop a librarian

Published originally by InfoTecarios


This post emerges from a question that Julián Marquina made on Facebook: how to make his little daughter to understand the word “No”. After answering something, I realized that I have plently of experience as a mother, something around thirthy years, and that tumbling and not always spot-on I can give today some “instructions” on how to raise a librarian. Together with my experience as a mother, I have also collaborated in the formation of 21 generations of venezuelan librarians. This is why this post is inspired by Julián, to whom I thank and as a homage to my ex-students and my “favorite colleague”, Juan Daniel, with whom we have had agreements and disagreements and from whom I am very proued as a mother, as teacher and professional.

Intructions for before childbirth

For this period, it is very important that the mother works at a library. I am sorry if the fathers are feeling left out. In this case, the mother will no longer work alone but in company “from the inside”. It is something quite peculiar this feeling of being in company all the time, it is like you can take on the whole world. I was studying architecture and the need for having a job took me to the Library of the Faculty of Architecture. This is how we, Juan Daniel and I, discovered together the wonderful world of libraries. Not only attending the users, but also diving for the first time into cataloguing and classification. How was that possible? The director of the library, Carmencita Bigott, quite a character in the field, somehow saw our vocation towards library tasks. In the same way, Juan Daniel and I had our first experiences in academic libraries.

It also helps that the baby listen to short stories before birth, which can also develop since the infancy an affinity for writing, and the possibility to win literary contests. Related to this, a particular poem by Juan Daniel, “La lluvia” (The Rain) had the particularity that when read by him in public, it would turn any sunny day into rain. Although you may not believe this, it is also good to sing to them, in my case they were songs by Miguel Bosé, and yes, I admit it, I still like his music a lot. Sitting in the hospital bed, waiting for the time of childbirth, the two of us alone, singing: “te amaré, te amaré” (I will love you)…

The child has born, now to continue development…

I did not have anyone to take care of him, so from his first days of life he went with me to work in the library. In a long shift you have to divide time, between the carriage, a blanked in the middle of some books, or in the secretary’s lap. With the baby carriage we catalogued and classified, we sought for books and we put them back in the shelves. Some day, he was in the blanket when a professor came and he was in awe to see a baby, awaken and not making any noise. Of course, it is important to keep quiet in the libraries… Shhhhh! With the secretary, Juan Daniel wrote his first library cards. We made several tests and we could verify that the last thing he always did was to write a period (.), even when we asked him to keep writing.

In the first years it is very important to read for them everyday. Many, many short stories, every day, some days more than once. The child responds with surprise to each reading as if it were the first time. In this way, “Where is Spot?”, a short story about a mother dog searching for her cub all over the house, became quite an adventure. Books with records, in that age of vinyl, such as Winnie the Pooh: “I am not disguised as a cloud, I am not a very chubby bear” or similar, could be the first songs of your “librarian cubs”. In that moment even the music for children can be useful for the child to be creative, take a mic and roleplay the circus, etc., or running from one side to the other singing Don Diablo: “Ron con cocacola”…

The short stories that my father used to tell him were also helpful. I have no idea how they were, in my times they were of “Pepín y Don Paquito and Pastrafulata the witch”. Do not believe me, but it is also important to give your child a wall to paint, to let them tape “The Smurfs”, to draw and to write short stories. Before they learn to write we should perform the task of writing the text of their stories, while they narrate them out loud and illustrate them.

The last school years

It is for sure that, as mother, student, and professional you would need help to organize some library. If we remember that the boy could write library cards since he was a baby, now I could propose some business to him: while you classify, catalog and input the documents into the database, your son could -for an attractive fee- could write the labels and paste them on the books. We see graciously how our children come to tell us that a certain book should not be into classified within a certain number or with a certain cutter code. But that is how life is, we see with pleasure how our children learn day by day and we look forward for them to go beyond than us.

In high school

The library of the Faculty of Humanities was migrating their catalogs to a database when Juan Daniel was studying his last high school years. It was necessary to form a team to transcribe their collection in the holiday season. Given the fact that our boy had experience enough, he could be part of such team, integrated by professors and students from the School of Librarianship. This endeavor was a success and it was difficult to play to compete with him.

A difficult choice: to study librarianship

I do not recommend the academic aptitude tests conducted in high schools. Juan Daniel was as capable to be an engineer as a fashion designer, something that does not help a boy of 16 years old to choose his career. It is true that you should not interfere in those matters, it is overkill to say that he has “a certain affinity” with libraries, books, and writing. His poems are very good, he could have studied literature, but as I said in that opportunity, you have to live from something. I know, mothers are horrible!

So he entered the School of Librarianship occupying the 5th place in the admission test and I found him and a hundred more students in class. My usual question, ‘all those who did not want to study librarianship, please raise your hand’. More than half of the classroom, including Juan Daniel, raised their hands. Quite frankly, I told them that my wish in that moment was to escape, but that instead, I took on the challenge of developing very good librarians, with the same love as I towards the career. That semester was quite the challenge, my son was among those who did not want to do it…

Today many of them are information professionals, some have done postgraduate studies in the field or studied other careers. Many of my ex students show everyday that they are very good professionals. Some of them are dedicated to theater, fashion design or sales, I think that being librarians has been a good life experience for them, they are good people, they love reading and books. Juan Daniel has been one of my best students. I cheated, I was much more demanding with him than with his classmates, but I had to do it. The things had to be more difficult for him. Regardless, he chose to take the courses with his demanding teacher. In many occasions we had the chance to work together, an awesome team. But I also saw him grow as a professional, to work on his own and going to study in Europe.

As a manner of conclusion

Up until this point you would like to know the end of this story, but it is not over yet. Juan Daniel has a master and he is finishing his PhD. In some days he will reunite with his mother again, now in a new country, where many things might happen. That little thing who danced and sang, who told short stories and made circus functions is on my memory and in my heart. Today he is married, he offers courses and conferences, write books and loves his career. The merit is all his and I as his mother, happy and proud.

I hope that these “instructions” to raise and develop a librarian may be useful. Of course, they do not always work. In my case, I also have a daughter who is an illustrator, but it is not far from our field. Regardless, what is important is that they are good people.

Estela Mastromatteo @emastromatteo


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 388 other followers

%d bloggers like this: