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TL v60n3: Do TEL Them about It: Outreach Activities to Promote the Tennessee Electronic Library
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Tennessee Libraries 

Volume 60 Number 3



 TEL Them about It: Outreach Activities to Promote
the Tennessee Electronic Library


Philenese Slaughter

Nancy Gibson

Sharon Johnson

Christina Chester-Fangman

Inga Filippo

Instructional Services Librarians
Austin Peay State University



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TLA 2010 Conference Program Abstract: Join the APSU Library Instruction Team to learn how they market the University library’s services through TEL training to a wide variety of audiences which include school media specialists, teachers, student teachers, community organizations and more.       



Hello, I am Philenese Slaughter, the Instructional Services Coordinator at Austin Peay State University.  I would like to introduce my colleagues in the order they will be addressing you today: Nancy Gibson is our Instructional Technology Librarian; Sharon Johnson, Christina Chester-Fangman, and Inga Filippo are also Instruction Librarians.  The Instructional Services Team is excited about sharing the Tennessee Electronic Library with an ever-widening group of audiences, both on and off campus.


Inga Filippo and Nancy Gibson volunteered the APSU librarians to become TEL Trainers at the 2007 Fall CULS conference in Nashville after attending a session about TEL.  The following summer, I got a phone call asking if we would consider going to Dickson County for an in-service session for their school media specialists in late summer.  Of course I agreed, but stipulated that we needed at least two slots at the Train the Trainer workshop held in Murfreesboro during the summer.  Nancy and I attended the workshop, and we were really excited about what we learned and shared with our fellow instruction librarians.  Our enthusiasm must have been contagious because all the instruction librarians wanted to participate in Dickson.  That first experience was so successful that we have opted to develop our TEL training programs on a team-teaching model.  

Team teaching works for us on so many levels.  First, it works well for the audience because sessions are usually lengthy and our different teaching styles and voices help keep them focused.  Second, there are librarians who can help individuals keep up during the “hands on” training without stopping the forward flow of the class.  Third, it has given us the opportunity to work together.  Lastly, we are able to critically assess each session and discuss how to “do it better” next time.

Essentials to TEL-ing

  • You MUST have the support from your director/administration.  This makes it possible for travel funds for longer trips and release time from your usual work duties.  We have been very fortunate that our director sees the value of sharing TEL resources with the audiences off campus.  In fact, I think he is enthusiastic about the potential good TEL resources offer the general public (as well as the potential benefits of marketing APSU at the same time!)  
  • You MUST be so enthusiastic about the TEL resources that your audience knows this is more to you than just a duty that needs doing.
  • Lastly, you MUST be so enthusiastic about TEL that you literally tell absolutely everyone about TEL and offer to share with them or their favorite group.

Next we will hear from Nancy.

TEL-ing the Teachers/Media Specialists

Thank you, Philenese.  I’m Nancy Gibson, Instructional Technology Librarian and the tech guru for our Instruction Team and TEL training outreach.  In this segment of our presentation, TEL-ing the Teachers, I’ll talk about how we got involved in working with public schools.  I’ll also speak about how we went about organizing and conducting the TEL training workshops.

“Just do it!”

As mentioned in the background, we got our start working with school media specialists who had heard about TEL and wanted a workshop.  We also used personal connections and gentle persistence to invite school media specialists to visit our university library--which we used as an enticement--and learn more about TEL.

Over the last two years, we’ve conducted TEL workshops for four county school systems:

    • Dickson
    • Montgomery
    • Benton
    • Sumner

The Cycle

Here’s the cycle we go through for presenting a workshop for school librarians and teachers:

  • Initiating the workshop
  • Preparation
  • Set-up & Technology
  • Training
  • Evaluation
  • Next Steps

Initiating the Workshop

As far as initiating the workshop, there are two things to keep in mind.  One, we live in the Volunteer state, so volunteer!  Volunteer to be a TEL trainer.  Two, spread the word about TEL to everyone, and we mean everyone.


Once you’ve caught the TEL bug and have a workshop to present, ask your contacts what they want.  If they aren’t sure, ask about their demographics.  What populations are they serving?  How much time can they give you?  We recommend 30-45 minutes per database or resource for active hands-on engagement.  Be aware that you may have to start small--an hour or two--and use evaluations to get invited back again for more time.

Set-up & Technology

If traveling to a school, ask your contact how many computers are in the room and how many people are expected to attend.  As we learned, if you have more than two people to a computer, your audience is not going to be very engaged on the whole.  Ideally, we try to have a one-to-one ratio of attendees to computers.  Don’t forget to ask if someone will be on hand to make sure you can login and use the technology, including the computer and projector from which you will be presenting.  When traveling to a school, we try to get there at least 30-45 minutes early to be relaxed and have time to deal with any technology problems that may come our way, including locating the technology, hooking up, and logging in.  We also usually bring a back-up laptop and projector, as well as cords and batteries just in case we might need them.

Training: 2008

Our first crack at doing workshops was in 2008, and we did two.  The first workshop was for Dickson County, to which we traveled on a weekday before the school year.  The workshop was about two and a half hours and the four of us each took a database to teach.  That same week we hosted our local county school system, the Clarksville Montgomery County system.  The databases presented, which were the same as those for Dickson, included two new TEL databases--EBSCO’s Points of View Reference Center and LearningExpress Library--and two updates to existing TEL databases--Gale’s databases and Newsbank’s Tennessee Newspaper Collection.

That first year we recreated and tweaked the handouts we had received at the TEL Trainers workshop.  Philenese also prepared an agenda.  Using the hard copies we got at the Train the Trainer session, she also recreated the information about TEL, how to get statistics, and the evaluation.

Participant comments from our first year included:

  1. “extremely practical”
  2. “very worthwhile presentation”
  3. “All schools should have a training workshop. I use TEL but found numerous new aspects to use in my school program.”
  4. “Excellent! I hope to suggest it to other counties for their librarians!”

Training: 2009

The following year, 2009, we had two new requests and two invites back.  Two were in-services at the end of the school year and two were before the school year.  The second year, the five of us created our own handouts and rotated who was presenting which database.  We covered EBSCO’s Points of View Reference Center, LearningExpress Library, and Gale’s Kids InfoBits and Health & Wellness Resource Center, as well as database features and research strategies.

One thing we totally forgot the first year was a camera!  We also forgot the camera our first two workshops in 2009.  Since then we’ve been very careful to remember to bring it and make it visible so that we’ll take pictures.  This has often been my personal camera, but we have also used our library’s camera.

Participant comments from our second year included:

  1. “I was surprised that TEL actually was navigable to elementary students.”
  2. “I’d like to see our teachers have more training.”
  3. “Make a full day next year!”


Lastly, as the workshop is winding down, we ask workshop participants to fill out an evaluation form.  The most frequent comments fell in three categories:

  • more time and computers for hands-on practice
  • teachers need to know about TEL and its resources
  • appreciation for a team of presenters.

Of course we’re showing you the positive comments!  We did get some negative comments, many of which related to factors mostly out of our control, including time on task needed to be longer, not enough computers for everyone, and our lack of familiarity with host school equipment set-up.

Next Steps

Because you’re probably not going to be able to cover everything in the allotted time, you have the perfect opening to offer to come back another time.  Also, many participants will comment on the evaluation form about wanting more time for practice, and when you send the report of resources covered and evaluation results to your contact, they will likely get you more time the next time around.  In the meantime, continue to tell everyone you know about TEL!  Offer to do a workshop for the local PTA/PTO.  Grandparents are another audience that will likely be very receptive to learning how TEL can help their grandkids and relatives succeed academically and personally.

Sharon will now talk about getting TEL and TEL workshops into private schools.

TEL-ing the Private School Sector

Thank you, Nancy.  I am Sharon Johnson, a member of the Instruction Team at Austin Peay, and I’m going to talk a little bit about how I became involved with a private school and was able to get the Instruction Team invited to provide a TEL in-service.  TEL is the marketing tool we use to sell information literacy to the citizens of Tennessee through the public and private schools and any other organization we can talk to.  By the time students reach us at the university level, we want them to have been exposed to TEL which can increase information literacy and critical thinking skills, two things essential for a successful college career and lifelong learning.  By the way, let me give a shout out to Points of View, one of the best databases to use in teaching critical thinking skills across all subjects.  It’s one of the databases you can find in TEL.  

It’s All in Who You Know (And Who Knows You!) 

Marketing is all about relationships, people to people.  Our invitation came about not so much because of what I know about TEL.  It came about because of who I knew or, more importantly, who knew me.  So think about your relationships.  Who do you know who may be associated with a private school? What contacts have you made recently?  Who can you pull from your list of acquaintances, professional and personal?  Remember all those cards you collected at the last library or teacher conference that were just sitting around cluttering up your rolodex?  Get them out and hit them up.  Or better yet, stay connected with all those people behind the cards.  Or you can start with a list of people you run in to every day: Who are some of the key-players at a private school?

  • Principal: I may have had a slight advantage because I am a member of one of the churches that supports the school and it just so happens each principal over the years knew me.  Knowing the principal is a big plus--you know, the big Cheese who can require the teachers to attend an in-service?  Convince them and you’re in!  And sometimes it doesn’t take much convincing.  Principals are always on the look-out for in-service or continuing education activities for their teachers.
  • Teachers: Teachers make the assignments, so getting them on board is most important.  Making a teacher aware of TEL will gain points, especially if you TEL how it can help stretch an ever shrinking budget: personal and professional.  Let them know about the toolbox that contains forms and helpful hints to create active learning assignments.  They will ask the principal to arrange the in-service!
  • Parents: Parents associated with private schools can be found all over the place: grocery store, gym, golf course, down the street, barber shop, the next cubicle, spa.  Tell them how their geniuses can find a safe haven in TEL so they don’t have to worry about them winding up on inappropriate sites.  And the parents can use the Learning Express Library to brush up on their own skills, just in case they have to help out with homework.
  • Students: Quiet as it’s kept, students are very influential in getting out the news.  If they like it, they will surely tell their friends, and their friends will tell their friends, and so on, and so on... 
  • Secretary: This is very important!  The secretary/administrative assistant knows where all the bodies are buried and how to contact all the key players in any operation.  They can point you to the movers and shakers, the ones to whom others will listen.
  • Board Members: TEL the board members (who you found through the secretary).  Show them how they can find information for jobs through TEL.
  • PTA Chair: Arrange a TEL-ing for a PTA meeting through the chair.  There you will have the ears of everyone on the list--one-stop shopping so to speak.

"That’s How Librarians Are”

Librarians market themselves and their resources each time they help someone.  Because it was known that my profession was a librarian, I was the first one called when the school affiliated with our church needed a consultant to help set up their library.  Even though ‘librarian-ing’ is what I do every day, I accepted the challenge of helping out, because that’s what librarians do.  We are trained to view knowledge as interconnected and take every opportunity to share that view with everyone, so we get in where we fit in.  I had consulted with the principal in preparation for a review of the school library.  I was faithful in keeping in contact with the principal--sending articles, educational news, and notifications of free resources.  I had also pledged planned financial support and participated in the fund-raising activities.

What You Do Is So Loud I CAN Hear What You Say! 

Actions speak louder than words.  No matter how good your information is or how much it may benefit your target audience, you first have to get their attention.  To get someone to listen to you, you either have to be in a position of authority or have developed a relationship with them.  Since positions of authority are few and far between, I recommend developing a relationship.  I got to know the principals and sent them notices of information and resources that would be of interest or benefit the school and teachers.  I assisted with the set up and review of the library.  I participated in fund-raisers.  I was a presence that was known. The school experienced me working alongside them (putting my actions where my mouth was).  I was viewed as a trusted and knowledgeable friend.  So when I suggested that the APSU Instruction Team could come present an in-service outlining the value of incorporating TEL into their school, I received an enthusiastic ‘Yes!’  In the fall of 2009, the Team presented TEL to these teachers.

Results: Thinking outside the Box

So what are the results of thinking outside the box?

  1. Potential PTA and Board Presentations (more potential contacts = Bigger Web)
  2. Paved the way for other private schools to request our training
  3. When they think Library, Resources, Friendly Service with Results, they think APSU!


Philenese will now come back to talk about our next example.

TEL-ing the Student Teachers

Thank you, Sharon.  Another advantage of team teaching is talking about what we learn from each session and the new ideas those discussions generate.  With each training session, we became convinced that it wasn’t enough to just share TEL with fellow librarians or media specialists!  We needed to be training classroom teachers about TEL.  The upshot of our discussions was that our own College of Education was the perfect new audience.  We wanted to send new teachers into the school systems already knowing about TEL and being used to using the resources.  All we had to do was find a way to share TEL resources with the faculty and gain their interest and cooperation.

We had an inside track because Sharon Johnson is our Education librarian liaison--she works with the Education faculty regularly with collection development and library instruction.  She suggested I call and talk to the Clinicals Coordinator.  So I made an appointment and then Sharon and I wrote a proposal and met with the coordinator to “sell” her on our idea.   We did such an outstanding sales pitch that we ended up with less than two weeks to pull our presentation together for the student teachers’ mid-term workshop!  This workshop comes between their two student teaching assignments.

What We Told Them TEL Had To Offer Student Teachers…

At that time, we introduced these student teachers to TEL as an invaluable FREE resource to all Tennessee citizens with internet access, and demonstrated how to use these resources to supplement lessons plans, for homework assignments, and to help capture and keep their students’ attention.  We suggested that introducing the “trusted” resources available through TEL would go a long way to improving student papers and critical thinking skills.  We suggested incorporating these resources to capture their students’ attention, which could increase student interest, reduce behavior issues that boredom and frustration spark, and possibly improve retention.  We also stressed the importance of using TEL resources to help ensure future access and funding.

Assessing the Feedback…

I adapted the evaluation form to suit this audience and, although the responses were not as positive as we had hoped, they were great help when we prepared for our next Clinicals Workshop.  Their responses to the open-ended questions gave us a much better understanding of their needs and we were able to adapt our presentations to meet those needs.  Compiling the data and comments into a formal report gave us a clear picture of what we needed to do to make the experience better for them.  We also used this report to collaborate with the Clinicals Coordinator for the next presentation.  I am delighted to say that our next workshop was much better received because of the adjustments made from participant responses.

Now it is time to hear from Christina.

TEL-ing Our Little Govs: Campus Outreach

Thank you, Philenese.  I am Christina Chester-Fangman, and I am going to talk about sharing TEL resources with kids in our campus summer camp.

You never know where you will make the connections that will allow you to share TEL!  A librarian colleague who plays racquetball was approached at our Rec Center by the Camp Coordinator who asked if the Library would be a part of the kids’ summer camp, and she said “great idea!”  She asked me if I would be interested and I took it to my colleagues in Instructional Services and they were very supportive.

Junior Govs Summer Camp at APSU

Thus began our relationship with the Junior Govs (“Govs” is short for Governors, as we are the Austin Peay State University Governors).  Junior Govs is a recreational-based summer day camp at Austin Peay.  The camp promotes healthy lifestyles among children, ages five to eight (the “Junior” campers), and ages nine to twelve (the “Senior” campers).  Activities include games, arts and crafts, swimming, weekly field trips, and other special “enrichment” activities--which is where the Library comes in!  These activities are split among five, ten-day sessions, and each session has a theme:

  • “Let’s Go Peay” (APSU, higher education) (And yes, it really is our cheer!)
  • “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” (trust and teamwork)
  • “Govs Go Green” (protecting the environment)
  • “Discover Yourself” (talent, self-esteem) (Culminating in the entertaining and uplifting camp talent show!)
  • “Build Your Future Now” (careers)

Library’s Role in Junior Govs

The campers participated in one half-hour visit per two-week session, and the Instruction Librarians planned activities around each theme.  For the younger campers, we had storytimes.  Woodward Library has a collection of children’s books, and we supplemented those with titles from our local public library.  We would usually read two or three books in the half-hour period.  The older campers participated in basic research on TEL’s age-appropriate Kids InfoBits database in one of our Library Instruction Rooms. 

Sample Lesson / Worksheet for “Senior” Junior Govs Using TEL’s Kids InfoBits

The members of the Instructional Services Team could easily tie-in the session themes to Kids InfoBits.  We did a new assignment each time covering information literacy concepts like the differences in open Web resources and databases, search strategies, and citation basics.  The students could explore such topics as plants and animals, sports, geography, and arts and entertainment.  It worked very well because the older kids in the group and the camp counselors could help the younger ones.  There can be a big difference in skills and abilities just in the nine to twelve age range.

I created this exercise for the “Build Your Future Now” session focusing on career exploration.  The campers used the icons in Kids InfoBits to navigate to the section on careers.  Once there, the students chose a career from the list in which they were interested, and then found a magazine article about it.  From that point, the campers were to read through the articles, identify the important elements of the citations for the articles, and fill in those citation elements on the handout.  At the end of the session, the students could print out the articles to attach to the handout and take home--which many of them wanted to do!

Marketing Tools

The Instruction Team arranged to have each of the campers take home something at the end of each session.  We distributed handouts from the lessons and reading lists from the storytimes, TEL bookmarks, and theme stickers and pencils.  Sue Maszaros, at Tennessee State Library and Archives and our contact with TEL, provided posters.  Finally, on the last day of camp, the Instructional Services Team distributed free age-appropriate books to the campers.  There were two titles from which each group could choose.  The books were funded by APSU’s Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts and the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council, and included a custom bookplate which I designed.  These materials were useful marketing tools.  We wanted the children to share their treats and what they learned with parents, siblings, grandparents, and friends in the hopes that they would develop an appreciation for the library and for TEL, and so that they, in turn, could TEL others about it. 

Now, I am going to turn it over to Inga Filippo who is going to talk about sharing TEL with our local Friends of the Library group.

TEL-ing the Friends of the Library: “The Webs We Wove in Order to Succeed…”

Thank you, Christina.

The Woodward Library Society of Austin Peay State University – First Fall Program

The Woodward Library Society of Austin Peay State University had its first Society meeting and program five months past its founding date.  The Society board members welcomed the suggestion that the Instructional Services Librarians should provide the first Society program and talk about their past successful TEL workshops and training programs, and that the TEL founder, the former Tennessee Secretary of State Riley Darnell who lives in the neighborhood, would be the main presenter.  Mr. Darnell is well known in the community and much liked by community members.  His family is the fifth generation of Darnells in Clarksville.  Mr. Darnell is a graduate of APSU (along with six family members).  He was the recipient of the Clarksville Arts & Heritage Development Council’s 2008 Heritage Lifetime Achievement Award for being the great supporter and pacesetter of the virtual library now available to all Tennesseans for free. 

Our Motto for a Winning Web

Our motto for the winning web is that we, the Instruction Librarians, know it is absolutely essential to understand the nature of social networking and how social contacts are created and formed by all of us.  Social and professional contacts serve as a starting point for networking.  Networking is important and people are actually VERY good at it.  It is generally known that politicians are exceptionally talented at networking, and a politician friend of mine says that the key to successful networking is to:

“Watch for what you are looking for in a person or situation!”

Research testimonies on this subject also state that human beings are very quick to judge whether someone is useful, good, friendly, unfriendly, and so forth, and when--usually after eight (8) seconds--we are ready to either move closer to a selected person or end the conversation and find someone else to network with.  Peter Zaballos, who writes frequently about effective networking, mentions two observations to be aware of:

  • “networking is the ability to develop a real sincere personal relationship with someone around a topic that the two of us find interesting, relevant and important”
  • networking is also about taking the saying “what goes around comes around” seriously and focusing on what you can offer to someone.

Dr. Hamed El-Said, whose research agenda is industrialization in developing countries of the Middle East, states that “successful understanding of the nature of social relations and of the ways in which social networks themselves are webbed by people during good times and bad times are for both survival and advancement.”

You plant an ego you go nowhere, but weave those mesmerizing webs and you’ll go everywhere.  And this is what the Instruction Librarians did at the Friends of the Library’s meeting and program.  We move in and start building the web!!  We all have become spiders!  We do it as a team--each one of us has a part to play in weaving those webs, we do it well, and we have been most successful in TEL-ing about it--because we believe that the Tennessee Electronic Library is a good thing and here to stay! 

The Program Presentation: What and How We “TEL”

The program we presented was about “What and How we TEL.”  We did a summary of TEL resources (, showcased selected databases suited for a particular audience (e.g., General One File for high school teachers and librarians, Kids InfoBits for elementary school age children), highlighted individual favorite TEL components (Christina likes to show Health & Wellness Resource Center, while Sharon is a huge fan of Points of View Reference Center), and illustrated how to effectively use Boolean operators, as well as test preparation practice and resources.

The Webs We Wove from a Two-Hour Friends of the Library Social

The webs we wove with persons who attended the two-hour Friends of the Library meeting and Social included: 

  • the Dean of APSU Enrollment Management and Academic Support who directs the writing center, the career services, and the middle college
  • the College of Education in-service connection
  • local librarians and teachers
  • parents and grandparents 

Next, Philenese will provide you with a summary of our presentation.

TEL-ing You Today (Conclusion)

Thank you, Inga.  In conclusion, I would like to review a few of the most important things we have found to be successful when it comes to TEL-ing them about TEL.

Assessing Our Past To Improve Our Future

First, I cannot stress enough that evaluation forms are essential to successful presentations and our assessment cycle!  We use an adaptation of the “Workshop Evaluation Form” available on the TEL website ( 

  • Revamp the form for each audience.  I change the audience identification query to accurately describe the participants.  This helps us better understand the qualitative responses.  For instance, the identification questions include job/position (i.e. librarian/media specialist, teacher or administrator) and appropriate level (elementary, middle and high school).  Each of these groups has different needs and expectations. 
  • Compile all data from the evaluations and compose a report.  I have standardized the format of my reports for ease of reading and analyzing.  For the raw data, I use an Excel spreadsheet for both the audience identification and the quantitative questions.  For the qualitative responses, I copy them verbatim into the report.
  • Review the report critically and incorporate what you learned.  We work as a team, and we discuss each presentation and the findings in the report as a group.  It is from both our impressions of the session and the more concrete findings from the evaluations, that we determine what adjustments to try next time.
  • Share this assessment information.  I have also found it very useful to share the assessment report, along with any proposed changes, with our contact.

Targeting Possible Audiences for TEL-ing

Second, let’s recap the audiences we shared with you today:

  • Public schools: media specialists, librarians, classroom teachers, counselors, and administrators
  • Private schools: media specialists, librarians, classroom teachers, and administrators
  • Parent organizations
  • College of Education students
  • Service organizations like the Friends of the Library
  • Summer camps
  • Anyone and everyone who needs to learn about TEL!

Take Pictures and Share!

Share those pictures you took at TEL events!  Why?  It is fun to have the pictures to recall the presentations, to send to the contacts, and to promote TEL to the community through publication in local media.  Pictures are just one more way of TEL-ing everyone about TEL!

The Webs We Wove…

Finally, take a look at the webs we wove!  Leads came from everywhere--even from a racquetball court!

So…who are you going to TEL?!



Booth, C. (2009, August 14). APSU librarians give free books to campers. The Leaf-Chronicle, pp. B1.

El-Said, H. & Harrigan, J. (2009). “You reap what you plant”: Social networks in the Arab world. World Development, 37 (7), 1235-1249. doi:10.1016/j.worlddev.2008.12.004

Morris, C. D. (2007) The boy who was raised by librarians. Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Publishers.

Tennessee, Department of State. (2005). Riley C. Darnell, Secretary of State. In Tennessee Blue Book, 2005-2006. Retrieved from

Zaballos, P. (2009, March 19). Effective networking – as easy as public speaking [Web log]. Retrieved from


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