Library Gazette

In the 'Staff' Category...

ZSRx Digital Publishing: The Reckoning

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 5:24 pm

Back in the Fall of 2013 (when we were all young and innocent), a young librarian named Billy was approached by a nice library dean and asked if he wanted to conduct a MOOC of his own. He agreed, under one condition: pro humanitate. As such, our (normally shy) hero enjoyed complete autonomy and/or academic freedom re the content of the thing. This is his story. This is history. This is the dramatic story of ZSRx Digital Publishing.

Our friend Kyle had a platform, but needed content. Billy happened to have content, but needed a platform. Either way, Lynn had the “students.” And so the deal went down: Bill would record three modules’ worth of digital publishing-related content, provide external links and readings, conduct online (and “plausibly live”) discussions going for about three weeks, and promise to keep the distracting Tom Waits clips to a minimum, with Kyle massaging said content into the Canvas platform, all while Lynn would recruit some registrants.

Meanwhile, I used primarily the (free) screen-capture program called ScreenCast-O-Matic, and it was awesome, in that it recorded my yammering in front of PowerPoint slides and online websites in such a way that I didn’t really even need a firm script, and so the clips had the distinct feel of a loosey-goosey (who me?) lecture — complete with my incessant stammering and ill-paced cadences. (Honestly, ten minutes of that at time is plenty.) These clips were published directly to my YouTube channel (everyone has one, btw), which Kyle would then “embed” into the Canvas platform, so we didn’t need to bother with fancy/costly video production (or lighting (or makeup (though we probably could’ve stood some of the latter))) or other hassles regarding video storage or distribution. (And I was ready with a rejoinder if anyone might’ve complained about the homemade/rickety aspects of the clips: you get what you pay for.)

Anyhow, we sent come-hither emails in January to various listservs (ASERL, Library Publishing Coaltion, WFU Alums, etc.) and waited. I bought a press release, which got picked up by LJ online, and we waited some more. By the time the course started in February, we had about 400 students signed up — librarians, publishers, vendors, parents, friends, neighbors, homeless people — mostly from North Carolina and the U.S., but some international folks. And since there were actually at least one student each from the continents of Europe, Asia, and Australia, it’s fair to say that ZSRx Digital Publishing was a global phenomenon by the time it officially launched in February (right after the SuperBowl).

We rolled out one “module” a week, for three weeks, with each module consisting of maybe 1 hour’s worth of video (in maybe 6- to 12-minute segments) and links and readings and discussion considerations. I would send a jaunty “announcement” each week, and Kyle and I would prompt some “engaging” discussions based on that week’s module’s content. The discussions turned out to be a hoot and a half — we had a nice handful of maybe a dozen regular contributors, who helped move things along.

Speaking of moving along, I better get around to telling the dark side of my mini-MOOC: there was some distinct attrition, participation-wise. That is, though we had ~400 folks sign up, and though those folks consumed thousands of pages of web content, the course analytics indicated a pretty significant (if typical, according to Kyle) drop-off:

Still, and though the formal exit survey is yet to come, I did fashion a fun little “final exam,” wherein I left some room for “final thoughts,” and here’s where I’ll perk back up by quoting exactly what some students said therein:

  • I appreciate the time that was spent putting this together!
  • I did learn a lot, although I was definitely a passive learner simply because of other commitments for my time!
  • This was an awesome MOOC!
  • I learned so much about digital publishing that I never had an inkling about!
  • Every MOOC should be this much fun!
  • Very interesting course. Thank you for offering it!
  • Enjoyed the course; lots of good information!
  • For my first “online” course…I really enjoyed this!
  • Thanks for your time and effort to put this together!
  • Mindboggling – the amount of digital information and books available!
  • Thanks!!

Not gonna lie, the exclamation points got to me.

And so I’ll close now by just stone-cold declaring my personal and genuine feelings about the whole deal (minus any and all hint of irony or sarcasm or impatience (of which I’m sometimes accused)): my participation in ZSRx has been the highlight of my career at Wake Forest University (and maybe anywhere) so far. And I can’t thank Kyle and Lynn and everyone at ZSR Library enough for allowing me the honor.

–wpk

 

 

Access Services Retreat-July 24, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013 2:14 pm

The Access Services Team, comprising the staff that provide Circulation, Stacks Maintenance, Interlibrary Loan, Course Reserves, Offsite Storage services and more, had a day long retreat on July 24. The purpose of our team retreat was to allow us to get away from our regular daily work and get some fresh perspective, get questions answered, air concerns, and problem solve as well as plan for the future. The team started the day at the New Winston Museum which was a great place to have our morning meeting. The Museum staff were very gracious and accommodating. We had the place to ourselves all morning. Chris, the Director of Programs, and Katherine, the Executive Director were both there to welcome us and make sure we had all we needed. During our break, they turned on the exhibits so we could see the videos that were lining the walls and learn more about what was on display.

During the three and a half hour morning session we discussed strategic priorities and directions and identified how we might address the challenges we faced (including such hot topics as the MUVZ project, preparing for future building renovations, demonstrating value to our constituencies, and student assistant management and evaluation). After our morning meeting, filled with constructive ideas, note taking, and of course, laughs, we adjourned to the Old Salem Tavern, which is right around the corner. (Try the Syllabub topped with strawberries for dessert. Delicious!)

After our lunch, we walked over to Salem College to meet up with Anna Milholland, newly ensconced Public Services Librarian at the Gramley Library, who gave us a tour of the library. We saw the collection, their study rooms, the combined services desk. The library is tiny by comparison to ours, but it seems to fit their needs nicely. Anna graciously snapped this photo of us all after the tour.

We finished the day by walking to “God’s Acre” the Moravian Cemetery at Old Salem on a quest to see where RJ Reynolds and Z. Smith Reynolds were buried. While it was a hot and humid afternoon, and we didn’t quite know where we were going, we had a vague idea and started across the cemetery grounds. Armed with a flickr photo that Susan Smith provided, and the memory of Ellen Makaravage who’d been there 20 or so years before, we found the site after one false start, (we discovered the “wrong” Reynolds brother’s grave first. )

It was an enriching and entertaining day. There is great value of spending a day apart from your regular job, as it ironically brings work life into better focus. It allows us to see more clearly how all of the pieces of our operation interconnect and gives us the ability to streamline our operations, think outside of our regular boxes and work more closely together the rest of the year.

 

Library folks reading books!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 4:56 pm

Today, Kaeley, Joy, Molly, Carolyn, Mary Beth, Kevin, Craig, and I got together to discuss Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains. We had enthusiastic and interesting conversations about the book, which broadened to address work, ethics, community values, and built on some of the discussion we had as a larger group on Monday. It was great fun, and any of us would be happy to continue the discussions if you’re interested.

We had so much fun we decided to do it again! Over Spring Break we’d like to get together to discuss another book that has implications for work and our personal lives. Those of us in the room thought it’d be interesting to read David Weinburger’sToo Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren’t the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. However, we realize some people didn’t make it that have other interesting book ideas, and could easily be persuaded to choose another one. Leave a message in the comments if you have other book titles you’re interested in, and we’ll find a way to select one and a date for our March discussion.

ZSR Rocks Habitat for Humanity in 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011 5:57 pm

The 2011 ZSR (and Bridge) Habitat Crew

Mary Beth, Giz (top). Barry, Craig, Anna, Wanda, Susan, Steve, Rachel, Chris: this year’s crew!

For the third year, ZSR Library faculty and staff stepped forward to spend a day working at Wake Forest’s Habitat for Humanity House. We had a big crew this year with enough manpower to work on two different houses all day. Once again, we were fortunate to be supervised by Tony, who assured us that the only skill set he expected from us was to be breathing! He and his supervisors are some of the most patient instructors I’ve ever seen. Just think about having to start every day with a group of brand new volunteers! But they calmly showed us how to hold a hammer, use a power saw, and straighten out a bent nail. Before long, all of us were productively hammering, cutting wood, moving scaffolding, and even shingling a porch roof. As usual, all of the ZSR volunteers had a very rewarding experience, even with all the sore muscles that went home with us at the end of the day. Next year, we hope to send another team of enthusiastic house builders (for a day)! Check out a few pictures from the day!

The ZSR Habitat crew would also like to thank our colleagues who covered for us back at the library during this very busy time. Another volunteer was impressed that we had a fabulous team back at the library that would support our ability to be there for the entire day.

Liberian Students visit ZSR

Friday, September 16, 2011 3:45 pm

Wake Forest University is hosting two visiting students from the University of Liberia in order to continue to strengthen the ties between the two institutions after the visit that Lynn and others took there in the spring. The two students, Jacob Jallah and JoeWilson, had an opportunity to visit ZSR this afternoon and it was my privilege to tour the two of them around the building and highlight some of our existing services. I also discussed aspirations that we have for the library and how our existing infrastructure made it challenging. We took a leisurely tour of the building starting on the 8th floor and ending on Wilson 1. The tour included stops in the Special Collections Reading room where Megan gave a brief overview of the collection, how it developed, and explained the current exhibit on display that is in conjunction with the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. The two had an opportunity to handle a book that was over 600 years old, and while they needed a little coaxing to actually touch it, ended up requesting that I take their picture with the book and Megan. We also visited the Writing Center, room 401, the terrace and the new DVD/viewing room where we had a chat with Mary about the new space. The auditorium was in use, so we only got a brief glimpse into the room, but couldn’t enter it. On Wilson 4, I took them into the Mandlebaum Room. While showing them our newspaper collection thinking that they might be interested in how many international papers we subscribe to, they showed me that their picture was actually on the cover of the Winston-Salem Chronicle! I had them sign our copy immediately! Sarah gave them an overview of our Reference collection and discussed our Lib100 and Lib200 classes. They asked about online books and she shared how to access Google Books as well as how to get access to our databases. Since Joe is an Economics student and Jacob is a Sociology student, we showed them how to get into The Economist and found a “freely available” copy. They were excited to see that! We then traveled to the Bridge where I highlighted the services they provide and I showed them the MultiMedia Lab. Then down to Wilson 1 to show our mobile shelving as a solution to our overcrowded shelves. (Talk about an embarrassment of riches!)

We returned to the circ desk and had about 15 minutes to spare so I took them into Starbucks to buy them some tea. They both found the chilly NC day unexpected, and needed some tea to warm up! I asked them about how their visit was thus far and they said everyone was friendly and welcoming and unlike what they had been told to expect in the States, everyone has been willing to take the time to help them out. They arrived last Saturday and when they were picked up were excited to discover that they could go and see a football game…only to be surprised that it wasn’t football! (They were, of course, expecting soccer.) Their time had been pretty scheduled, but they did have some opportunity to provide input on which events and departments they were most interested in seeing. They will be on campus until October 2nd before returning to Liberia. I encouraged them to come and make use of our services and our collections until then.

ZSR Zephyrs Compete in 2011 Staff Summer Olympics

Friday, July 29, 2011 4:00 pm

ZSR Zephyrs Summer Olympic Team 2011

ZSR Zephyrs 2011: Erik Mitchell (doing his farewell tour), Gretchen Edwards (bringing a new generation of spirit to the team), Rebecca Petersen (a new speed rival to Erik), Susan Smith (oldest Zephyr around), Mary Beth Lock (major cheerleader and team Pollyanna about our weekly chances at winning), and Barry Davis (sport photographer and voted most willing to do anything but swim)

ZSR Library once again fielded a team for Campus Recreation’s annual Staff Summer Olympics, this year called the “Biggest Winner Summer Challenge.” The library has had a team in the 8 week-long event since its inception in 2003 (minus the lost year 2007, that’s another story). The format has changed over time, as have the team members. Only two original members remain: Erik and Susan! And for you curious readers, here is the Gaz article from the first year we competed (when we won the cup!)

As always, there is an activity component where, this year, each individual could earn up to 5 points daily for doing cardio, strength or by taking CR classes. New this year was a weight/fat loss angle that was accompanied by 2 nutrition lectures (don’t ask how we all did on that one!). That left 6 weeks of Wednesday athletic competitions that included old favorites such as bowling, water polo, quadrathlon, Frisbee golf and table tennis. The last day is always a mystery field day. This year Erik did a backward run then paired up with Susan for the wheelbarrow portion. Gretchen had to put on a vest, backpack and helmet to sprint to where she exchanged the gear Mary Beth who then bicycled back to the start line. Our pictures demonstrate that the Olympics remain a great deal of fun and a wonderful way to get to know colleagues better across campus!

This is Erik’s last showing as a Zephyr and he managed to go out in a blaze of glory winning the overall individual award for most exercise points earned over the 8 weeks. Is anyone surprised?

 

 

Recent Technology “Lunch and Learns” – Let’s Keep It Going!

Thursday, July 21, 2011 3:26 pm

Last Thursday ZSR hosted a Google+ “Lunch and Learn” that was attended by a dozen members of the WFU community. This Thursday, three people attended the Spotify “Lunch and Learn” to hear about this new “invitation only” application for streaming and sharing music. Both of these came out of an interest by the staff to discuss and explore new technology. I would like to try to keep these going as cool new technologies become available. If you have suggestions let me know! Just today Bill Kane showed me BookLamp.org a beta site that matches readers to books through an analysis of writing styles, similar to the way thatPandora.com matches music lovers to new music. Send me cool tools you discover and let’s see if we can learn more about all these new technologies!

One Giant Leap for Off Site Storage

Thursday, March 3, 2011 12:54 pm

Yesterday morning, the last of the individual books from Data Chambers were delivered, barcoded, accessioned and shelved onto the shelves at the off site storage facility. While we are not nearly “done” with what has to be shelved in the new facility, completing this step was about as important to the start up of this operation as landing a man on the moon was for the space program. One Giant Leap.

Carolyn, Ellen, Bradley and Tony pause to present the last volume

As of 3pm yesterday afternoon, we had accessioned a combined total of 102,297 items, shelved over the period from December 5 to March 2. Included in that total is all of the volumes from Data Chambers, (nearly 100,000) plus about another 20,000 volumes that were moved out of ZSR last summer.

Cristina and Chris size the last tray

Whats next? We have yet to accession the archival boxes of Special Collection material as well as another approximately 50,000 volumes from ZSR.

Progress The shelves are about 65% full.

This is cause for celebration and certainly a reason to pause and be appreciative of all of the hard work that’s been done to get us this far. Still, we know there is that final frontier just out of our reach, (aka, space…in ZSR) and certainly more discoveries to be made.

Scott and Bradley show how its done.

Special thanks to all who worked at the off site facility to date: Erik, Molly, Susan, Tim, Jean-Paul, Travis, Giz, Roz, Kevin, Beth, Leslie, Steve, Kaeley, David, Peter, Patrick, Lynn, Anna, Derrik, Prentice, Katherine, Craig, Cristina, Doris, Audra, Wanda, Rebecca, Barry, Charles, Linda E., Bradley, Megan, Chris, Ellen M., Vicki, Carolyn and of course, Tony, Roddie and Scott. A special thank you to all of you who stepped up to my calls for assistance at the last minute, taking on extra shifts on short notice. And a sincere nod of appreciation for those of you who couldn’t participate at off site, but instead, lent your hand to keeping things afloat in ZSR while your colleagues went off to do this mysterious work. Working with you all, even when the work is hard, is not work at all.

ZSR Visits Accounts Payable at the UCC

Monday, September 20, 2010 4:49 pm

It’s great to put faces with names for those of us who interact with people in Accounts Payable (AP), so this afternoon Lauren C., Prentice, Chris, Carol, Linda E. and Kristen went over to the UCC for a quick meet and greet. Angie Downing did the honors of introducing us to the people who process our invoices, credit card statements, credit memos, travel reimbursements and manage the payments and claiming of reimbursements for sales tax. Several members of AP complimented the library’s organized work flow of thorough documentation to their department.

We learned that much like us, the people in Accounts Payable are working on implementing more internal report functionality and are working on system changes and upgrades upgrades. They will be sending out a code manual to us all soon that will list account numbers. We also learned that much like us, they get a lot of the mail that is addressed to the University which lacks a specific recipient.

They also have to pay attention to state law changes and each year they watch to see if the state will decide to no longer reimburse sales tax to organizations such as educational institutions. If the state made such a decision, it would impact our budget, so we’re glad they are watching and would let us know if this happened.

We talked about how we’d love to have more automated exchange of info between us in the distant future, dependent on systems changes. We also learned that the big project coming up for AP is getting W-9 and W-8 BEN forms on file for every vendor so that they can send out 1099 forms to those vendors in the future. There is a change happening in the level of dollar amount that triggers the requirement, which will result in a shift from about 500 to 5000 in volume for the 1099 forms that AP will have to send out. AP will enlist our help on collecting W-9 and W-8 BEN forms when necessary (i.e. in the case of lack of responsiveness from a vendor), but they are planning to manage it as a project from their office for the most part. We are grateful for that.

ZSR and AP alike enjoyed the chance to meet each other face-to-face and to confirm that each had a good basic understanding of the needs and wishes of the other.

Zephyrs roll the lanes in Week 4

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 7:37 pm

Carolyn rolls a strike!

The Zephyrs hit the lanes today to bowl in the Summer Olympics Challenge. We are an ethical group so didn’t try to sneak Wanda into the line up! It was tempting though…..Our primary competitors were Audra, Erik, JP and Carolyn. Carolyn was the anchor, with the most experience and consistency. Over the course of 2 games, she rolled at least 5 strikes! The first game was for top individual scores. We had fun. The second game was for overall best team. During this game, we were allowed to use substitutes, so Heather and Susan checked out some bowling shoes and joined in. Once again, we had fun! To see the bowling forms of some of the Zephyrs, check out these pics.

ZSR Zephyrs Bowlers

Zephyr Bowlers: Jean-Paul Bessou, Audra Eagle, Erik Mitchell, Carolyn McCallum, Heather Gillette. Not pictured (behind the camera), Susan Smith.


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