Professional Development

Lynn’s version of CNI in St. Louis

Sunday, April 13, 2014 8:24 pm

Chelcie has already reported on her experience at the Coalition for Networked Information in St. Louis, so I will add my version. One of my goals for this series of biannual meetings is to introduce the talents of our librarians to the national community of library and IT people. Last year it was Kyle and ZSRx. This year it was Chelcie and her work with the Digital Public Library of America. She did a splendid job, I can attest. She and her co-presenter had communicated beforehand and coordinated their presentations. People were lined up afterward to talk to both of them, including DPLA founder, Dan Cohen.

The CNI meeting itself started with a conversation between CNI Executive Director Cliff Lynch and his guest, Bryan Alexander, Senior Fellow National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education. They first started talking about MOOCs, always of interest to me, and Alexander said while there are still plenty of challenges, he sees them in the Gartner hype cycle as coming out of the trough of disillusionment and starting up the slope of enlightenment. He also saw a place for them in the world of libraries and museums (yay for ZSRx!), saying they had good content to offer and it would give them good publicity.

I went to a program on “Fostering a graduate research community with digital scholarship programs and services,” because I am always looking for ways to strengthen our support for graduate research. The University of Oregon invented an interdisciplinary New Media and Culture certificate program that counts as a transcripted credential but adds no more to the time of degree completion. Ingenious.

“Four Questions You Should Never Ask in Evaluation/Assessment in Libraries and IT, and a Number of Questions that You Should!” was a fun talk on assessment (or as fun as assessment can be). We were cautioned against ambiguous questions, double-barreled questions, substituting usage for quality, over-emphasis on statistical significance, and both overpowering and underpowering a test.

Another useful session on assessment was “Assessment of e-book strategies.” Claremont College did a study of ebook usage for texts that were on reserve. They found that high usage while on reserve justified their purchase for their entire shelf life (might we try e-book format for our own Textbook Collection??). University of Richmond found that usage was highest in the social sciences. Long-form reading is discouraging in the humanities and law. Their DDA usage led to a drop in firm orders, which would probably happen here if we did not actively seek to prevent it. Lafayette College had policies and practices similar to ours and found that DDA costs were less than print costs.

The one program I wanted to attend but did not was “Transforming Community with Strategic Social Media.” I noticed it because the speakers were from Montana State University, where our own WFU alum Nilam Patel found a job this fall as a social media strategist. I went and introduced myself after their talk and then found their slides on the outstanding Twitter feed that Chelcie mentioned. We should study their success and learn from them.

During my stay, I also toured Washington University St. Louis where my long-time friend and colleague Jeff Trzciak is the University Librarian. It is a beautiful library on a beautiful campus. On Monday night, Chelcie and I attended a dinner for Wake Forest parents and alumni, arranged by one of the regional officers in Advancement. It was a good group and we made several contacts that we will pursue. So, all things considered, it was a very good trip!

 

 

 

 

SNCA Conference in Raleigh

Friday, April 11, 2014 1:56 pm

On April 8, I attended the Society of North Carolina Archivists Conference at the McKimmon Center of NC State.
McKimmon Center, NC State

My first session was a panel discussion entitled: Publishing and Managing Digital Content without Content dm given by our own Chelcie Rowell, Molly Bragg, from Duke and Caitlin Christian-Lamb, of Davidson. Each of these three described customizing their institutional repository to meet their specific needs. Caitlin uses Lyrasis hosted Islandora, Chelcie described our customization of Dspace and Molly discussed their development of Tripod. A discussion afterwards discussed the costs of developing these stand alone systems and how much staff time costs to develop and maintain them.
Session about Institutional Repositories

Paging through History, Lessons Learned from a Scrapbook Digitization Project was a panel by Anna Kraft, David Gwynn and Kathelene Smith, of UNCG. They digitized a collection of 244 scrapbooks in their archives from 1906-2002 in a variety of conditions and contents. these scrapbooks were very compelling and the project is being used by students.

The takeaway from this session was a quote Kathelene read from Charles McIver, first President of UNCG:

“you educate a man, and you educate one person…you educate a woman, you educate a family”

I also enjoyed the Lunch Plenary by Sarah Koontz, before which I got to second a motion. Good times!

In the afternoon, I enjoyed a session by colleagues Rebecca Petersen and Vicki Johnson called
Connecting Community and Campus to the Arts. They the Secrest Series how we got that collection, created a finding aid, and the plan to create an online Bibliolabs exhibit with the visual content.

Following this session, I presented a poster on the Dolmen Press Collection.
SNCA-SAA-Dolmen-poster

I then heard a session by Tanya Zanish-Belcher and Erin Lawrimore on the Archives Leadeship institute held at Luther College. Great program.

I enjoyed the SNCA meeting this spring. Rebecca is the new VP!

2014 ER&L virtual conference

Thursday, April 10, 2014 5:03 pm

For the second year running, I “attended” the Electronic Resources & Libraries conference by watching streamed sessions. I still plan on watching sessions as time permits throughout the year, since the group purchase that Derrik made runs until the next conference is held in 2015. (ZSR folks: Ask Derrik if you need the password.)

One trend that popped up in multiple presentations was Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA). Like its close relative Demand-Driven (or Patron-Driven) Acquisition, it has two names and two initialisms. So you may also hear of Usage-Driven Acquisition (UDA). With EBA, you give a provider an up-front deposit, say, $5,000. Then then provider turns on their entire catalog of e-books or streaming films. After a set time, say, a year, you get a usage report and can choose $5,000-worth of products for permanent ownership. There are some pros and cons to this approach, especially vis-à-vis DDA. (What if you don’t get $5,000 worth of use? What if all the use is long tail with no “short head”?) However, since providers who use this model generally do not participate in DDA models, EBA may be the most cost-effective way to buy certain types of material.

Another hot topic was the end-user experience with e-books and certain multimedia databases. Basically, it’s bad. Typical problems with e-books include not being able to print, not being able to use the book on certain devices, not being able to store the book for later consultation. Multimedia has a different but related set of concerns. (I’m reminded of this comic and this infographic. They both claim that poor UX drives customers to piracy.) The presenters didn’t go as far as claiming that library resources drive folks to piracy, but they did claim that students will instead either download free alternatives or the “haves” might buy individual copies instead, which could magnify the effects of economic disparities among students. The presenters insisted that libraries should put their collective foot down and refuse to buy user-hostile resources (even if the information contained is high quality). They called out one well-known database as particularly awful. A quick check of that library’s website established that they still subscribe to the bad product, so the force of their argument was somewhat undermined. I have hope, however, because I can remember a time in the 90s when e-journals and e-newspapers were just as bad as e-books are today. Printing from JSTOR used to be a nightmare, and you had to use certain specific computers if you wanted to use ProQuest. Then you had to use a different computer entirely for LexisNexis. These days, e-journals generally just work. Maybe e-books and multimedia sites will get there someday if we keep leaning on the vendors and if we at least occasionally refuse to buy products that are the worst UX offenders.

Chelcie at CNI Spring 2014 Membership Meeting

Thursday, April 10, 2014 4:31 pm

A few weeks ago Lynn and I attended the Spring 2014 Membership Meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) in St. Louis, MO. I had never attended CNI in the past, but was pleased to discover how much overlap there is with the Digital Library Federation (DLF), the community that I consider to be my professional home. Like the DLF, CNI is a rich mix of back end and front end; thought leaders and on-the-ground people; and deans, directors, department heads, and a few early career librarians.

I also gave a presentation (my first as ZSR’s Digital Initiatives Librarian!) on Wake Forest’s participation in the Digital Public Library of America, or DPLA. Although the DPLA has been very much a part of the CNI conversation in past meetings, DPLA staff delivered presentations and focused on its vision rather than its implementation. My presentation was part of a two-person panel that shifted the focus to local participation in the DPLA. Alongside Chris Freeland, Associate University Librarian at Washington University in St. Louis,who shared his experiences leading an initiative to organize a DPLA service hub in Missouri, I spoke about our approach as a contributing institution to the DPLA.

Both of our slides are below.

A Pond Feeding a Lake Feeding an Ocean: Wake Forest University as a Contributing Institution to the DPLA from Chelcie Rowell

We contribute our collections to the DPLA via the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center service hub, which aggregates the metadata of contributing institutions across the state of North Carolina and feeds it to the DPLA. We benefit from a relationship infrastructure already in place in North Carolina that Chris and others are working to establish in Missouri. Their goal is to contribute digital collections from Missouri contributing institutions by October 2014. I’m excited to be a part of the DPLA community. It’s not just a national interface to digital collections; it’s an ethos and a movement.

Organizing a DPLA Service Hub in Missouri from Chris Freeland

Compared to other conferences I’ve attended, the #cni14s Twitter stream was particularly active -recording, commenting on, and sometimes challenging the perspectives shared by speakers. As a first time presenter, I used the Twitter stream as an informal assessment mechanism to see what talking points resonated with listeners.

SNCA Meeting, Raleigh (NC) by Tanya

Thursday, April 10, 2014 12:41 pm

While I had some challenges making it to the SNCA meeting on April 8 (a sprained ankle necessitated some crutches), the opportunity for networking and hearing about all the ongoing archives projects in NC, was well worth the trip! I moderated a session focusing on the Digital Public Library (including Chelcie) and was interested to hear about the logistics and challenges of contributing to such a far-reaching project. Over lunch, State Archivist Sarah Koontz spoke and I greatly enjoyed hearing her remarks about the work of the State Archives of North Carolina. She gave excellent advice about combining advocacy and Archives Week, and as the new SNCA Archives Week coordinator, I greatly appreciated the ideas.

I also attended the Student Lightning Round session where five projects were described. Duke Divinity School student Dr. Ken Woo presented on his outreach plans for the Religion in North Carolina project, which includes our Special Collections. His presentation focused on the effectiveness of reaching a user base through online social media and collaborating with local communities.

Lastly, I co-presented with Erin Lawrimore (UNC-Greensboro) about the Archives Leadership Institute. The Institute, funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) selects twenty-five archivists to attend a week-long retreat in Decorah, Iowa, and to complete a number of professional projects. I serve on the Steering Committee for ALI, and Erin was a recent 2013 participant. This was an effort to publicize the Institute in the hopes of increasing applications for 2015.

All in all, it was good to get out and see all the archives activity taking place in North Carolina!

SNCA, Secrest, and a New Finding Aid!

Thursday, April 10, 2014 11:15 am

Marcel Marceau materials from the Secrest Artists Series collection

On Monday, Vicki Johnson and I presented at the Society of North Carolina Archivists (SNCA) Conference on the Secrest Artists Series. Our theme, like that of the SNCA conference, was on community engagement and connections. We used the Secrest Artists Series, and the archival collection for the series, as an example of holdings in Special Collections and Archives that has a great deal of potential to bridge the gap between Special Collections, campus, and the Winston-Salem community. With the retirement of the long time director of the series, Lillian Shelton, Special Collections and Archives acquired a large archives of the Secrest Artists Series and began processing. Shortly after Lillian’s retirement, Marion Secrest passed away prompting community interest in the series and the collection. Special Collections and Archives made the Secrest Artists Series collection a processing priority for patron use, community outreach, and digitization. We have completed the processing and are pleased to have the Secrest Artists Series finding aid available for researchers and people interested in the series! Like the series itself, this collection is an amazing testament to the arts and Wake Forest’s commitment to bringing world-class performers to campus. Many attendees of our SNCA presentation showed interest and suggested ways to connect this collection to the greater Winston-Salem arts community. I enjoyed SNCA and appreciate the opportunity for Vicki and me to showcase such a great collection.

The Winter Institute for Intercultural Communication

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:10 am

Thanks to a scholarship from the University I was able to spend March 12- 15 in Charlotte attending the Inaugural Winter Institute for Cultural Communication sponsored by the Institute and the Wake Forest Office of Diversity & Inclusion. It was a great gathering of about 80 attendees; thirty of which were from WFU. The Institute offered a choice of four different three day classes. During breaks and meals together, it was obvious that folks were all engaging in some pretty lively discussions. My class choice entitled Emotional Intelligence and Diversity: Building the Personal Infrastructure for Interpersonal and Organizational Effectiveness was taught by Lee Gardenswartz and was one of the best I’ve had on this particular topic.

Like me, you may be wondering how these two concepts Emotional Intelligence and Diversity work together within the workplace. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us. Emotions are at the heart of our energy and motivations. Emotions drive behavior. They are fundamental in how we react to the differences we see in others. Gaining understanding and mastery over our emotions leads to greater success as an employee, manager or leader. Emotions are the source of energy for doing the right and the smart thing. Each day’s class featured role playing, self-exploration and tons of spirited conversation. Class discussions focused around these four key elements:

Affirmative Introspection addresses why we behave and react the way we do. The more we know about ourselves and how life experiences have shaped who we are and how we respond to any given situation, the more we can manage our emotions. The more we understand and manage our emotional responses, the more comfortable we are in working relationships, the more effective we are in our daily interactions and the more we are at peace within our own skin.

Self-governance enables one to gain mastery over the feelings that arise when facing uncertainty, change and difficult people. This aspect of Emotional Intelligence involves dealing with the ambiguity that diverse environments bring. Management of our own mental self-talk is seen as crucial. Bringing logic, accuracy and reason to the forefront aids in mastering self-talk aids and in governing our emotions.

Intercultural Literacy involves understanding others cultural rules, norms and values, while being able to empathize with them and walk in their shoes. Resist the temptation to judge as inferior, styles, customs and values that are different from your own. Each culture has its’ own set of norms. Rules for “polite behavior” differ from culture to culture, family to family and even from person to person. Empathizing demonstrates caring and understanding. What do we as an organization do to learn about the cultures of those we serve and interact with daily?

Social Architecting is an intentional and conscious decision to build productive relationships by serving as a cultural interpreter. The Interpreter helps others understand the different cultural perspectives involved in situations. Serving as a cultural interpreter involves these “mindful” steps: being aware of our first reaction to and interpretation of an event, suspending our judgment of it, identifying alternative ways of understanding it and finally having a repertoire of choices in responding to the situation in order to increase our effectiveness with others.

I have a workbook on each of the elements. This is really good stuff. I would love to continue conversations around this topic and/or share the material with anyone who’s interested.

Society of North Carolina Archivists Exhibits Workshop

Monday, April 7, 2014 8:57 pm

On Monday, April 7, I attended an exhibits workshop sponsored by the Society of North Carolina Archivists at the NC State Library in Raleigh. This workshop was led by three UNC-CH librarians: Linda Jacobson, Andrea Knowlton and Rachel Reynolds.

Sculpture at NC State Capitol
Sculpture at NC State Capitol

The day began with a group exercise where we took a variety of containers on our table (ceramic, wood, metal and plastic). My group decided to design an exhibit for children on recycling. The idea for this exercise was that you can design an exhibit using a theme. We came up with our theme, as did everyone else, by looking at an array of dissimilar objects on our table. After sharing our ideas with the group, we moved on. Advanced planning is often necessary as a way to get loaned artifacts in time, to allow time to write the copy and labels and give the opportunity to produce the individual exhibit elements.

The main point of Rachel’s discussion of exhibit labels was: exhibit labels should be written with the audience in mind, not an individual’s colleagues. Labels are best when they are easy to read, and written in simple, direct language. Rachel Reynolds emphasized you should know your key points and make them first in your text (in case the viewer stops reading after the first paragraph). One should avoid technical jargon or expect people to have prior knowledge of people, events or places (apparently the Air & Space Museum has found this out since many current visitors have no memory of the Apollo Space Program). Rachel said you should have one idea per sentence and one subject per paragraph.

Linda Jacobson followed with a short talk focusing on font size for good readability and best color contrasts. We all laughed as one of the following slides had really bad color contrast. Back in our groups, we used an English census record to think about designing an interactive exhibit. Following this discussion, we all designed an exhibit case on paper, complete with photos, text, and captions.

Polyester corners holding a document
Polyester corners hold this feline print on archival board

In the afternoon session, Andrea Knowlton spoke about the use of approved, acid free and archivally safe materials used in constructing the exhibit. Fact: did you know Mylar is no longer made and has been replaced by a product called Melinex? Believe it! Most exhibits designers now use polyester.

Cutting foamboard for labels

Trimming labels mounted on foam board

We looked at a number of materials used in exhibits such foam board, archival museum board, acrylic mounts, adhesives and polyester strapping. Andrea mentioned light exposure for most library materials is 5-10 foot candles and less for sensitive materials ( wood pulp papers, 19th century photos, watercolors, and colored ink or felt tip pen drawings). Mitigating light damage may be done by using UV sleeves over fluorescent bulbs and UV filters on exterior windows, and of course by using curtains and turning off any lights when possible. Andrea also discussed supports and book cradles. After which, we had an activity in which we made a book cradle and cut labels we put together on foam board. This was a super useful workshop.

Chris at the 2014 NC Serials Conference

Monday, April 7, 2014 5:13 pm

On March 14, I attended the twenty-third annual North Carolina Serials Conference. As in previous years, it was an excellent conference that brought together representatives from both libraries and library vendors to talk about current ideas and emerging technologies. In recent years, however, the broadening of the definition of what is a serial has grown dramatically, and in coming years the conference may have to be renamed to address these new types of resources. In any case, that is a topic for another time and place.

This was also one of the more heavily-attended gatherings for the Serials Conference, and it touched on a variety of topics in areas such as assessment, streaming video, ebooks, and altmetrics (where one speaker pointed out the notion of “one metric to rule them all” is archaic and ineffective in the contemporary environment). There were three points that I found particularly interesting from this conference, and all had a great deal of promise for future events.

It’s always important for libraries to tell their stories. Libraries have no difficulty explaining their individual mission and vision to the communities they serve, but libraries can find it difficult to explain to those outside of the library world how they accomplish those objectives. Assessment tools are some of the best measures for these goals, but the means to explain to those not versed in library jargon can be challenging. The University of Virginia Library, for instance, has devoted a section of its website to collect information from past and present surveys, but they used some of that information to communicate with student patrons in their “I Wish” campaign. Turning those data elements into actual engagement was one way that libraries can continuously reinvigorate and renew themselves and their missions.

As streaming media matures for libraries, the users are gaining more control. When new formats emerge in libraries, it takes time for libraries to “hammer out” the rough places they may have before the users can begin using them. Rarely are these resolved quickly; it may take either months or years before a product become bug-free, but it can vary widely. Streaming media is the latest technology introduced to libraries, and factors such as licensing, pricing, copyright and sharing have delayed their advent in many libraries. Collaboration between libraries and vendors has managed to address most of those larger issues, and now the ability to use streaming music and video is in the hands of users. Granted, there are still concerns around copyright, public performance rights and linking, but the technology is now in the hands of the end user who must determine how to make it work for their own needs.

Gems from a panel discussion regarding open access. There are moments during a panel discussion when profound truths can be brought to light, and this one was no exception. With three panelists representing the viewpoints of publishers, libraries and faculty, there were points made that were worth considering. In brief:

  • From publishers: like traditional journals, what constitutes results for data in open access titles is field-dependent, leading to false equivalencies.
  • From libraries: creating an open access library with all areas represented in its development and stewardship.
  • From faculty: open access is not the end of the academic world but a nascent one that requires education and attention if it is to be used to its highest potential.

The conference ended on a poignant note because it was announced during the closing remarks that it would be the last conference for Nancy Gibbs following her retirement from Duke University Libraries. Nancy has been one of the major players in the serials community for several decades, and the depth and breadth of her knowledge cannot be replicated so easily. Even though she said that she would still be around for the near future, it was impossible not to notice that a changing of the guard was taking place. Best wishes to Nancy on the next phase of her life, and may the conference continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead.

Two Thoughts from the NC Serials Conference

Monday, April 7, 2014 1:59 pm

I also attended the North Carolina Serials Conference last month. Since several other ZSR bloggers have already reported, I will focus on two ideas put forward during a late-morning plenary session, which featured David Crotty again.

Crotty remarked that the paper announcing the cure is not as important as the actual cure. We might make the paper available via Open Access while the cure itself (say, a drug) might be protected by patent law.

Crotty also asserted that, contrary to popular belief, Humanities often runs at a profit while Physical Science runs a deficit within a university budget. He claimed that’s because a lot of tuition money is paid by Humanities majors, which subsidizes expensive lab space in Physical Science. (I’m carefully noting that he didn’t say Life Sciences, which probably attracts the most grant money of all and is also a popular undergraduate major.) He cited a recent NPR story about Duke that focused on where all the money goes. I listened to that story today, but didn’t hear the same interdepartmental subsidy message that Crotty asserted. So, I don’t know if he cited some other evidence for his claim (that I didn’t write down) or what. Nevertheless, I would be very interested in whether this is true at Wake Forest or not. I have often thought about this issue on a smaller scale when we allocate the collections budget. Even if you just look within a broad discipline group like Humanities, it appears that larger, more popular majors subsidize smaller ones. I have two defenses to offer. The first is that Demand Driven Acquisition serves as a correction to this tendency. The second is that a certain amount of inter-departmental subsidizing is necessary. Students are attracted to Wake Forest because they like the idea that they have over 40 choices for their major. Once they actually get here, over half of the students cluster in a just a few majors. However, many students would not choose WFU at all if we only offered, say, ten majors. Crotty’s broader point, and the point of the NPR story, is to ask whether it’s a good idea for student tuition dollars to go towards research, especially when the tuition comes in the form of a loan that must be repaid with interest.


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