Professional Development

Steve at NASIG 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:35 pm

Okay, so by now you know what’s coming: I apologize for being so darn late in writing this blog post. I lost my notebook! The dog ate my homework! I had to see a guy about a thing! I know there’s no good excuse for writing about a conference almost two months after it happened, but I promise I’ll not get that far behind again.

Anyway, the 2015 NASIG Conference in Washington, DC (well, technically Crystal City, Virginia, but close enough) was a very special one for me, because I served as president at this conference. Also, it was our 30th anniversary (there was a nice party to celebrate) and NASIG did its first joint program with another organization (the Society for Scholarly Publishing, or SSP) since 1992. Presiding over the conference was a fun if slightly nerve-wracking experience, as it entailed far more public speaking than I am comfortable with (for the record, I am comfortable with approximately zero public speaking, so, more than that).

Chris and Derrik have both written about the conference proper, so I think I’ll delve into the joint program with SSP a bit. Now, full disclosure, I was on the planning group that organized this event, so I might be a little biased in my reporting. The joint program was called “Evolving Information Policies and Their Implications: A Conversation for Librarians and Publishers,” and it consisted of three keynote addresses, one each by a publisher (Jayne Marks of Wolters Kluwer), a librarian (T. Scott Plutchak of the University of Alabama, Birmingham), and a vendor (Caitlin Trasande, formerly of Digital Science), a panel of two intellectual property lawyers (Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law at American University, and Michael Remington of the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath), and a closing panel with all five previous speakers.

Although each of them brought up interesting points, (especially Jayne Marks conversation about how publishers are experimenting with new models and tools for their customers, but it is difficult to fully develop them because every customer wants their products customized and personalized to such an extent that the publishers are constantly stuck in development), I will focus on Scott Plutchak’s keynote, which addressed the problems related to preserving and providing access to research data sets. Plutchak emphasized how current and trendy this issue is with the memorable phrase, “Data is the new bacon.” However, research data sets are also enormously difficult to manage. Plutchak said that managing research data sets is a “wicked problem.” This is not just a snappy way to refer to the problem, but an actual term from social planning. Wicked problems are problems that have edges that are hard to define, that require a multi-disciplinary approach, and that is probably not solvable in one permanent way, but that can be mitigated and managed (an example might be urban planning). According to Plutchak, when it comes to preserving and providing access to material, “Publications are easy, data is a beast.” One of the complicating factors is that now, not only are funding agencies often demanding data set deposits, so too are publishers, which means researchers are getting hit from both sides. Plutchak argues that managing data sets is an institutional issue, not just a library issue, and the problem can’t be handled like we do with institutional repositories for publications (which are easy, but data is a beast). To manage data sets, not only will libraries need to be involved, but also academic research offices, information technology departments, faculty, etc. If researchers are going to be successful with grants, we will need to have infrastructure, policies, and resources in place to manage their data sets.

Plutchak’s keynote address was probably the most interesting and share-worthy of the conference content I was able to attend and focus on without having to do presidenting. Between welcoming folks to the joint program, opening and closing the conference, doing a drawing at the first-timer’s reception, introducing a keynote speaker, conducting the all-conference business meeting, installing my successor as NASIG President (the intrepid Carol Ann Borchert of the University of South Florida), speaking at the 30th anniversary celebration, and conducting the NASIG Executive Board meeting (which I actually enjoyed), I was kept quite busy. But I have to say, it was very cool to be comped the hotel’s presidential suite. All in all, it was an exhausting, but extremely satisfying experierience.

Wanda at ALA 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015 3:20 pm

Everyone has posted such beautiful pictures of San Francisco. I am envious of your photographing abilities. I think for me though, it is official; I am just not a huge fan of the big city. While there the following lyrics just kept ringing in my ears. Green acres is the place for me. Farm livin’ is the life for me. Land spreadin’ out so far and wide. Keep Manhattan San Francisco, just give me that countryside.

Ok, so the city may have not been appealing, but the conference was great. After finishing my BCALA Executive Board responsibilities, I spent Friday afternoon in a LLAMA sponsored pre-conference entitled: “Mind Over Matter: Sustainable success for library leaders.” Presenter, Kim Nichol spoke of mindfulness as engaging curiosity in an intentional way. Mindfulness has to do with the quality of your attention, your awareness of self and of others, your ability to keep an even keel, and lastly your being responsive and not reactive. Practicing mindfulness is a necessary component for effective leadership. Mindful leaders bring their best selves to work each day. How? They recognize that they are human and so are those who work with them. We each have a human need for physical rest. We have an emotional need to feel valued, welcomed accepted and even loved. We have an intellectual need to explore, to learn and to participate in. We have a spiritual need for community, for purpose and for legacy. Being mindful of these needs and bringing them to the forefront of our daily interactions, will aid leaders in their ability to lead others. This not only ensures that they bring their best selves to work, but also those around them will be more likely to do the same.

The ACRL Personnel Administrator’s group discussed practices and timelines around academic librarian searches. Three to six months was about the average length of time for search from post to offer. Many of the practices shared were similar to those we have in place here. Such as the use of grids/metrics to evaluate each applicant by the same set of criteria. The one option discussed, not in practice here, that I found appealing was that of establishing of timelines up front. So in the beginning of the search process dates of the search committee members as well as other key players were identified and held as possible phone interview and onsite interview dates. The onsite interview dates are then shared with the applicants during the phone interview. Attendees confessed that in most cases delays around bringing candidates to campus resulted from scheduling conflicts at the Dean/Director levels. This was the one step that I thought could impact our ability to keep the search moving along. Discussion followed on the topic of when reviewing of applicants took place. Many agreed that starting the review early in the process, rather than waiting for all the applications to arrive also helped to move the search along.
Supervision of millennials in the workplace was another topic of interest. Student assistant and supervisor training were amongst the areas most in need of attention discussed. Communication, collaboration and the setting of clearly defined expectations were equally deemed as necessary components to a successful partnership. This topic was slated for further conversations.

Below is a list of the BCALA Literary Award winners. One of the winners currently works right here in North Carolina.

The winner of the 1st Novelist Award went to Forty Acres: A Thriller by Dwayne Alexander Smith (Atria Books). The Fiction category winner was Citizens Creek: A Novel by Lalita Tademy (Atria Books). Award winners for Honor Books for Fiction were, Saint Monkey: A Novel by Jacinda Townsend (W. W. Norton & Company), Til the Well Runs Dry: A Novel by Lauren Francis-Sharma (Henry Holt & Company and Ruby by Cynthia Bond (Crown Publishing Group). The winner in the Nonfiction category is Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas by Jeffrey B. Leak (University of Georgia Press). Leak is an associate professor of English and director of the Center for the Study of the New South at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Honor Books for Nonfiction went to Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina by Misty Copeland with Charisse Jones (Touchstone), Dorothy Porter Wesley at Howard University; Building a Legacy of Black History by Janet Sims-Wood (The History Press); and The Oxford Handbook of African American Theology, edited by Katie G. Cannon and Anthony B. Pinn (Oxford University Press). The winner for BCALA’s Best Poetry Award is Books of Hours: Poems by Kevin Young (Knopf).

As always, I am happy to continue conversations around any of these topics, just let me know.

Chelcie at ALA Annual 2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 8:22 am
San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge seen from the Golden Gate Promenade (June 29, 2015)

San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge seen from the Golden Gate Promenade (June 29, 2015)

Getting my feet wet with committee service (not, alas, in the Bay)

The overarching theme for my ALA 2015 was getting oriented to committee service. For the past two years, I have co-led an interest group on Preservation Metadata within the Preservation and Reformatting Section of ALCTS, which has been a great opportunity to educate myself on a narrow but pertinent subject for my work overseeing our digitized special collections. At ALA in San Francisco I led my final interest group meeting and began to serve on two ALCTS committees, which are less specialized but more broadly engaged in the profession.

This year’s ALCTS President’s Program Committee is charged with planning a day-long symposium at Midwinter in Boston, as well as the President’s Program at Annual in Orlando. The committee actually started meeting virtually before the official July 1 start date. I’m really, really excited about the speaker we’re inviting for the ALCTS President’s Program, but she (that’s your only clue) hasn’t accepted yet, so I have to stay quiet.

I’m also thrilled to join this year’s LRTS Editorial Board. As a newbie, my primary role will be to serve as a peer reviewer of submitted manuscripts assigned to me by the editor. I’m very much looking forward to participating in the process of developing our field’s body of literature from the vantage point of an Editorial Board. As a once-upon-a-time writing consultant, I believe that offering quality feedback ultimately makes you a stronger writer yourself.

ACRL Digital Scholarship Centers Interest Group

As Susan mentioned, she and I both attended the ACRL Digital Scholarship Centers Interest Group, a newly minted interest group formed in response to the proliferation of Digital Scholarship Centers at campuses all over the map. Joan Lippincott reported on the results of CNI’s Digital Scholarship Centers Workshop, a summary and synthesis I was fortunate to hear at the CNI Fall 2014 Membership Meeting. Also presenting were Zach Coble (Digital Scholarship Specialist) and April Hathcock (Scholarly Communication Librarian) — two people who fill roles very similar to mine and Molly’s within ZSR — about Digital Scholarship Services at NYU Libraries. It was heartening to hear that our Digital Scholarship Unit at ZSR faces many of the same opportunities and challenges as their unit at NYU. We have also developed a similar suite of services with similar staffing resources. Following our unit’s retreat next Monday, we hope to have a plan to clearly communicate our unit’s identity clearly and succinctly, internally and externally.

ACRL Digital Curation Interest Group

Since I’ve been attending ALA, I’ve been attending meetings of the Digital Curation Interest Group. In fact, it’s where Molly and I met for the first time! So it was a pleasure to be one of the presenters this year — on using BiblioBoard Creator to build online exhibits of special collections materials. Thanks to our friends at BiblioLabs, we’ve gotten to play with this new product for building online exhibits almost as soon as it was on the market. Consequently, we’ve been able to offer constructive criticism during a formative stage for BiblioBoard Creator. The story I was trying to tell during my presentation was (1) engaging audiences with institutional history on- and off-campus (2) engaging students in curatorial activities and (3) seeing ourselves as development partners with BiblioLabs, in the same way that we see ourselves as members of other, open-source development communities.

Building Library Exhibits with BiblioBoard Creator from Chelcie Rowell

Sarah at the APALA 35th Anniversary Symposium & ALA Annual

Monday, July 20, 2015 11:45 am

The Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) celebrated its 35th anniversary with a daylong Symposium on June 25th at the University of San Francisco. ALA President Courtney Young and President-Elect Sari Feldman opened the Symposium. The keynote speaker was Valerie Kaur, civil rights lawyer and documentary filmmaker. The theme of the Symposium was “Building Bridges: Connecting Communities through Librarianship & Advocacy”. Over 100 librarians, presenters, community activists, and writers/artists/filmmakers came together to celebrate this milestone.

My term as Secretary of the APALA Executive Board ended at ALA Annual. I became well-versed in parliamentary procedures through monthly virtual Executive Board meetings, and I gave an overview of Robert’s Rules of Order for incoming Executive Board members at ALA Annual. I also served as Co-Chair of the Archives and Handbook Task Force and co-authored the APALA Operational Manual, which was approved by the Executive Board in June 2015.

It will provide a reference for the Executive Board officers and committee chairs on committee procedures and timelines as well as provide a better understanding of the organization for succession planning.

I have been a member of the ACRL Science & Technology Section (STS) Continuing Education Committee for 3 years, and we met on Saturday morning. I am continuing to monitor the STS listserv for announcements of upcoming conferences, including science librarian boot camps, and uploading the conference links to the CE Professional Development webpage. The Continuing Education Committee also co-hosts the STS Membership Breakfast, which I helped organize. We had a great turnout, and here are a couple resources that were shared at the breakfast:

http://insidescienceresources.wordpress.com

http://iue.libguides.com/STS-informationliteracyresources

I also learned about a new-to-me teaching methodology called the Cephalonian Method, which was used in the STS College Science Librarians Discussion Group with pre-canned questions on color-coded cards for the audience. The Cephalonian Method was created by two UK librarians to increase participation in the middle of class. I’m planning to use the Cephalonian Method in my library instruction and LIB220 Science Research Sources and Strategies course.

 

Roz at SAGE/CQ Press Advisory Board

Friday, July 17, 2015 2:01 pm

As some of you may know, I serve on the Reference Library Advisory Board for SAGE/CQ Press. This board meets virtually two or three times a year and for dinner at ALA Midwinter and Annual to provide feedback to SAGE and CQ Press about ideas in development for new products, interface upgrades and even to provide the library perspective on issues in the publishing world. SAGE has a variety of boards (Reference, Collection Development, Aquisitions, etc.), all run by our old ZSR friend Elisabeth Leonard who is now Director for Market Research for SAGE/CQ Press. Each year she brings members from across the various library boards to their headquarters in Thousand Oaks, CA for a meeting/brainstorming session. This was my second time to be invited and just like last year, I feel I may have gotten as much from the discussion as SAGE did (and the spectacularly beautiful SoCal weather did not stink).

This year there were five of us from the various boards in attendance and one other joined virtually during the Monday meeting. Two were collection management folks, one was head of a consortium, another soon to be head of resource services at an ARL and myself – the lone public services person. This time our conversations ranged from the state of ebook thinking in libraries, to upcoming improvements to the Sage Knowledge platform, to communication and outreach strategies to faculty and we ended with a discussion of the place video has in our collection development and teaching/research environments on our campuses. I always learn so much about how other places are doing things and thoroughly enjoy the chance to talk libraries with other people as passionate about them as I am. Sitting in a room with people from the publisher side of things also is a really wonderful experience. We will not always agree on everything with publishers but in many ways we are on the same side. SAGE is always really ready to hear what we have to say and eager to discuss tricky issues with us. We covered issues of cost, Carnegie classification and pricing models, streaming video and its future as a research source, the usefulness of publisher-specific journal search interfaces, discovery services and so much more.

This year Elisabeth asked me to stay an extra day and do a presentation for the SAGE/CQ Press staff about librarians and how/where we factor in to the research and selection process in libraries. I discussed the research process as students view it, how our research assistance differs with faculty and students, the factors that we weigh when deciding to purchase something and what libraries want from content providers. It was a fun presentation to put together and the group that attended had really great questions. I have uploaded the presentation on slideshare for anyone who is curious.

Megan at RBMS

Friday, July 17, 2015 9:39 am

“Preserve the Humanities! Special Collections as Liberal Arts Laboratory” was the theme for the annual conference of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Section of ACRL, held this year in Oakland, CA during the week preceding ALA. Sessions at the Oakland conference center and the Berkeley campus explored the idea of special collections as source material for humanities research, and librarians as both facilitators of and participants in this research.

Many of the sessions were about planning and providing instruction in special collections. I participated in one on undergraduate instruction (along with librarians from Johns Hopkins and Auburn), giving a presentation on how I developed and taught ZSR’s History of the Book (LIB260) class. Our session drew a standing-room-only crowd, which I think attests to the fact that instruction has become a major priority for special collections librarians and archivists in recent years.

There were of course more very interesting concurrent sessions than I could attend (without a time-turner). One proposed a “User-Driven Manifesto” and offered case studies of how a user-centered culture can be implemented in special collections outreach. Another session, “Bridging Borders between Special Collections and Area Studies,” discussed the challenges of collecting and outreach for collections of materials from non-western cultures.

I particularly enjoyed the second plenary session, “Special Collections Libraries as Liberal Arts Laboratories.” Rachel Sagner Buurma from Swarthmore gave an account of her ongoing Early Novels Database project, in which undergraduate researchers create detailed metadata for works of 18th century fiction. And Kimberly Christen Withey described the Plateau Peoples project at Washington State University. This digital portal for archival materials of Indians of eastern Washington and surrounding areas uses Murkutu, a CMS software designed specifically for digital heritage collections of indigenous communities.

As always, I came away from RBMS with many new ideas and a renewed appreciation for the innovative work being done by special collections librarians across the country!

Carolyn at ALA Annual 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015 7:51 am

When I first heard ALA Annual 2015 was going to be held in San Francisco, I knew this was one ALA I did not want to skip. Having been once before with my husband at one of his conferences, I was excited to return to this beautiful, historic, and exciting city. Those three adjectives could not have rung truer than on June 26, 2015, the day the SCOTUS declared marriage equality for all to be the law of the land! Such a beautiful day!

Moscone Convention Center

 

Annual 2015 began with me attending my first ever all-day preconference, which was sponsored by ALCTS (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services), OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers), and the Video Round Table. Video Demystified: Cataloging with Best Practices Guides presented attendees with an overview on cataloging video recordings using RDA (Resource Description and Access), MARC21, and the recently published (January 2015) best practices cataloging guides for DVD/Blu-ray discs and streaming media. Because most of my work is DVD cataloging, I found the preconference especially worthwhile and informative as this was the first officially (i.e. ALA, OCLC, Library of Congress) sponsored face-to-face training I’ve received on RDA cataloging. Most of my DVD cataloging with RDA education has been through watching webinars (not the most useful), utilizing an online guide developed by Stanford University’s metadata department (very helpful) and the RDA Toolkit, and review of the ZSR RDA Workshop LibGuide created by Leslie McCall as well as consultation with her and Steve Kelley to clarify issues with RDA. Attendees participated in guided exercises and took home a workbook that contained all of the day’s presented PowerPoint slides.

While at ALA, I attended 4 ACRL Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) sponsored meetings/sessions: the Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee (SBAC) of which I chair; the Executive Committee meeting; the Libraries behind Bars: Education and Outreach to Prisoners program that was co-sponsored with ACRL’s Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) and Literatures in English Section (LES); and the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. I was unable to attend the ANSS Social due to having to attend the editorial board dinner for Technical Services Quarterly (TSQ); Steve Kelley and I are the new co-editors of the journal’s book reviews column. We dined at the Stinking Rose: a Garlic Restaurant, where I got to try delicious garlic ice-cream (another first).

Social Justice Librarianship: Focus on Ferguson & Black Lives Matter was the topic discussed at the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. Librarians Makiba Foster (Washington University in St. Louis) and Niamh Wallace (University of Arizona) spoke about their roles as academic librarians in helping the Black Lives Matter movement.

Observing a lack of quality information and misinformation pertaining to the police shooting of Michael Brown and the events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri, Ms. Foster created the FaceBook page Resource List on Policing and Community Protest which contains specific categorized lists for a variety of topics (e.g. policing, grief & trauma, community protest & unrest, personal rights, and local community organizations). Two weeks after its posting, the university gave the green light to post it as a LibGuide. The digital repository Documenting Ferguson (DF) followed. The DF project team was comprised of members from several library units (e.g. special collections, copyright, reference, etc.) who wanted to assist in the preservation of their regional and national history. Ms. Foster’s role was to seek out community engagement for content. She partnered with an African American Women’s History professor whose sophomore seminar students (1/2 her class) developed interview questions and conducted oral histories of individuals living in Ferguson or the areas particularly affected by the protests and unrest, many of whom worked at the university. Specific community activists were interviewed also. Interviewees were selected based on their response to a faculty call out by the library, each signed a participant consent form. The oral histories captured in the digital repository include the interviewees’ names so that researchers would know that all persons interviewed actually lived in Ferguson. Ms. Foster admitted that content from the oral histories was one-sided as individuals with opposing views (i.e. supporters of Darren Wilson) were not interviewed for the project. She also stated that some people wanted no association with the DF project due to potential backlash, although they were proud to be working on the project. The digital repository for this particular project is semi-anonymous as some participant uploaded content is traceable only by an email address. Digital stations are being set up to capture images. There is a need to employ one person working solely on this large project, and grant funding is being investigated She closed by saying that the library will soon be preparing for 1 year memorials and commemorative events; a regional meeting is in the works to discuss collecting efforts; and marketing strategies to increase participation will be reassessed.

At Ms. Wallace’s institution, she also created a LibGuide to Ferguson resources for instructional purposes. Consent from the university’s IRB was unnecessary. Liaisons whose subject areas were relevant to the creation of this resource were asked to solicit feedback from their faculty. The LibGuide was used as a resource listing for a Black Life Matters Conference held on campus this past January. No negative feedback was received, and Ms. Wallace stated that she is not trying to capture opposing viewpoints in this research guide. More work is being done to update the guide with information about the recent June 17th church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Other sessions I attended included

  • Maryanne Wolf’s Lessons from the Reading Brain: 3 Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age, which Lauren so aptly covered in her blog post
  • 2 sessions on linked data: Getting Started with Library Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU, on which Lauren again reported, and the Linked Library Data Interest Group. The interest group session was comprised of a panel of 2 speakers. Kristi Holmes (Northwestern Medicine) provided an overview on the Cornell-developed open source semantic web application, VIVO, was presented. VIVO harvests data from verified institution data sources, and allows institutions to showcase their researchers’ credentials, expertise, and skills. A VIVO institution’s library can provide its faculty product education, training, and adoption utilizing liaison outreach, ontology and controlled vocabulary expertise, negotiating with data providers, programming and technical expertise. Cornell’s Steven Folsom reported on the Linked Data 4 Libraries Mellon funded grant between Cornell, Stanford and Harvard. One can search for works by individuals and discover additional works of interest based on connections to other people. Utilization of URIs in MARC records that align with VIVO can enhance an academic library’s catalog. Cornell has rolled out an authority browse in their Blacklight catalog. Using 3xx field data in his authority file generates data and provides context about him and what what he does professionally. Theses advisors’ names appearing in a MARC 700 Personal Name field can now be enhanced with VIVO URIs. A post-processor to provide entity resolution of URIs is required for the evolving BIBFRAME. A limit of its ontology, this means that linked data within the BIBFRAME platform cannot have multiple URIs for an individual. BIBFRAME RDF still makes heavy use of strings which are a dead end for linked data.
  • Resource Discovery in the Age of Wikipedia: Jake Orbwitz and Alex Stinson, both of The Wikipedia Library, shared reasons why Wikipedia matters for librarians and various ways in which librarians can become involved in Wikipedia. In addition to adding information and citations from a library’s collections, librarians can teach “Wikipedia as a Starting Point” workshops, run an editathon, and donate images. Libraries can also sponsor a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar to create quality content for Wikipedia using their individual institution’s resources.

After my last Monday session at ALA, Lauren, Derrik and I took a bus to tour the Internet Archive (IA) founded by Brewster Kahle. Housed in a former Christian Science church, the IA’s mission and purpose is to provide free access to collections of digital materials. The Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the World Wide Web, was created by the IA. Such an impressive place and leader.

Brewster Kahle stands in front of the Internet Archive’s server, which is housed in the church sanctuary.

Touring the basement of the IA with Brewster. In the background, IA employees digitize video materials

Clock in IA basement.

Hanging in the IA's basement is an animation cel of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and their WABAC Machine, which was used to transport the two back in time to visit important, historic events.

Hanging in the IA’s basement is an animation cel of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and their WABAC Machine, which was used to transport the two back in time to visit important, historic events.

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful dinner organized by Susan of past and present ZSR colleagues. It was great catching up with Lauren Pressley and Erik Mitchell, and Erik’s partner Jeff Loo. Also worth mentioning is the fabulous final dinner in San Francisco that Susan and I had at Burma Superstar. All in all this was a great ALA, and I hope I get another chance to visit San Francisco in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve at ALA Annual 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015 5:15 pm

This year’s ALA in San Francisco was, in some ways, an usual conference for me, while in other ways, it was the same thing as always. The unusual part was that I flew out with Mimi and Shane the Saturday before the conference started and had nearly a week of vacation before the conference began. The usual part was actually the conference itself, because once again, my conference activity was consumed with committee work and BIBFRAME and RDA stuff.

Like Lauren, I attended the BIBFRAME Update Forum, but I had some different takeaways, which I’ll share. The first speaker, Sally McCallum from Library of Congress, described how LC has their catalogers experimenting with inputting BIBFRAME descriptions, keeping the records in a triple store. They have found that it is not easy to transform MARC data into BIBFRAME data, and are looking to see if the BIBFRAME dichotomy between work and instance records is clear and useful for catalogers. At present, they are focusing on how catalogers can search the data. They are not looking at end user searching, they are not doing acquisitions processing, they are not managing holdings and circulation using BIBFRAME, and they are not even looking at how they’d go about distributing records. So, it’s very early days for them. They do have 19 million former MARC descriptions redone as BIBFRAME works and instances, which is an awful lot of data to work with. Despite the fact that LC still has so much work to do with BIBFRAME, Beecher Wiggins of LC said that their plan is to have data ready to be broadly distributed in five years. We’ll have to see. As Lauren mentioned, the forum also featured brief presentations by ILS companies to discuss how they are preparing for BIBFRAME. The main thing I got from each of them is that they are all working on training among their staff and they’re all listening to/asking questions of customers to see what kind of things they’d like to see in a BIBFRAME-based system.

During the conference I also attended a total of seven hours of meetings (split across two sessions) of CC:DA (Catalog Committee for Description and Access), the committee that develops ALA’s official position on RDA. Normally, these meetings are super inside-baseball and of no interest to anyone who isn’t really into RDA rule, but there were three pretty interesting things to share out. (Trust me there was plenty of super-inside baseball stuff at these meetings, like the seemingly never-ending discussion of a 154 page report on machine-actionable data.) This stuff may still be too inside-cataloging for most folks, but I’ll take a stab at describing it:

1. The Library of Congress Authority File is going to get a massive automated re-vamp thanks the wizardry of Gary Strawn at Northwestern University (who our own Kathy Martlock worked with on a project…brush with fame!). These changes will not involve changing the 1XX or heading fields, but will involve adding lots of good stuff to the attribute fields that enrich the descriptions of authorized headings. Over 3.5 million authority records will have ISNIs added to them, which I know will make Lauren quite happy. This project was described as a “heart transplant” for the LC authority file.

2. The Functional Requirements models, FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data), and FRSAD (Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data), are being consolidated and will have major revisions in the next couple of years. That means that the conceptual models that underlying RDA will be going through major revisions, which are pretty much guaranteed to have major impacts on RDA.

3. The governance structure for RDA is going to become more international and is going to be entirely revamped. Back when we had AACR2, pretty much whatever the US and the UK said was it. Which made sense, because AACR2 stood for “Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed.” But RDA is trying to be more international. So, the proposed plan is to have an RDA Board, which will consist of six representatives, one each from North America, Latin America & the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. We’ll have to see how this develops, but it could have a major change in how much input ALA has on RDA.

Okay, that’s probably enough conference stuff for now. On our last night in town, Jeff and I joined Thomas, who still had another night to go, taking in an A’s game in Oakland. Although the stadium is a concrete bunker with all the charm of a parking garage, it was quite fun. The stadium is also the home of the Oakland Raiders, and the huge Raiders banner at the front gate that read “A Commitment to Excellence” had Jeff and me wondering if this was meant as some sort of Northern California hipster irony. But the big Athletics sign across the seats was kinda cool.

MBL at ALA15 in SF

Thursday, July 9, 2015 5:17 pm

This ALA Annual in San Francisco marked a high water mark in my ALA going experience. I was happy to present a poster session as the final assignment as chair of ZSR’s Assessment in Action team, and I did so along side of Meghan Webb, my fellow AiA team member. Assessment in Action is an ACRL grant funded program whose purpose is to build capacity in Academic Libraries to conduct high level assessment projects that will demonstrate the value of the library to the larger institution.

Our project focused on finding out how students define a successful year, and determining if the library was truly helping them to meet their goals. (Since our mission is to help students, faculty and staff succeed, this seemed a logical question to pursue.) The poster session was very busy. Many of the attendees, admittedly, were either past or future participants in the Assessment in Action project. (Assessment in Action is a three year project, and I applied for and was granted the opportunity to participate in the Year 2 cohort.) I heard positive feedback about our process, namely our decision to have students define success themselves, instead of using some academic definition like their position in class, or their GPA. We also heard positive comments of our use of graphics on our poster. Many of the year 3 Assessment in Action participants made note of the infographic we used to define our conclusions, and found it a powerful way to create meaning while minimizing text. Year 3 participants hoped to use such a method in their own poster a year from now. I appreciated having had the opportunity to chair such a vibrant and engaged team that included Meghan Webb, Le’Ron Byrd our former ZSR fellow, John Champlin of the Professional Development Center, Ryan Shirey of the Writing Center, and Glenda Boyles from the Bridge.

In attending sessions, my experience was better this year than previous years, either because I’m better and sussing out what will be the most helpful sessions to attend, or maybe sessions were just better overall. The sessions were quite varied, though, so “themes” are difficult to identify. I’ll give my biggest takeaways here.

Gems from Gloria Steinem’s opening keynote:

Gloria Steinem started her speech by reading a segment from her book My Life on the Road. She spent most of the time with the attendees answering questions that they posed. Among her best quotes:

–“The truth will set you free–but first it’s going to piss you off”

–“The single greatest stimulus to the economy our country could ever have is equal pay.”

–“The paradigm of ‘most violent societies’ is also the paradigm of strict heirarchy.”

–“The voting booth is the only place on earth where the richest people have no more power than the poorest people.”

–“Laughter is the only free emotion. So don’t go anywhere you can’t laugh. In fact, libraries should put up signs that say ‘No talking/but laughter is OK!'”

In responding to someone who said “I’m humbled to be in your presence,” she said “But I’m here to make you not humbled!”

She also recommended two books Sex and World Peace (which ZSR owns as an ebook) and The Mermaid and the Minataur (which ZSR owns in print.)

Assessment:

Whenever I am at ALA or ACRL I always seek out opportunities to sit in on any session that Lisa Hinchcliffe (form ACRL president, AiA team leader, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction at the University of Illinois) is giving. This conference she presented as a part of a panel discussion entitled “All the Data: Privacy, Service Quality and Analytics.” Her co-presenter was Andrew Asher from Indiana University. They each had strong but different perspectives of the amount of data we keep about our users and what we should do about it. Lisa’s position was that we should be open and honest with users about what we keep and why, but not actively keep no data, since the recognizing patterns in the data allows us to improve services. Andrew was of the opinion that libraries should keep the absolute minimum data about users, even if it means we sacrifice the ability to improve services. Both interesting perspectives! The one point both agreed upon is that academic libraries, in order to ethically manage data and be responsible to our patrons, need to investigate and contractually agree upon exactly what data our vendors are keeping about our patrons every time they use information in one of their databases. “If you can’t control it, disclose it” became the mantra. Also, only track that information which you might care to analyze. If you won’t be analyzing data to improve services, don’t track it at all.

Merging public services desks:

Another very interesting session I went to was entitled “To Merge or not to Merge?” Three libraries gave their perspectives on the success/failure of a merging operations that had been in separate desks into a single service point. I’ve been to many of these sorts of sessions over the years hoping to gain some insight into what could be a very difficult transition in co-locating disparate services, even in such a friendly place as ZSR. This one was refreshing in its candor. Here are some of the takeaways from the different libraries’ presentations:

–Planning starts at least a year before the actual change with input from all sides about what exactly will take place at the desk, what will take place away from the desk, and how those operations will coordinate.

–When two groups of people are serving the same function at the same desk but are at two different pay grades, morale will decline.

–Communication is the key to making over the transition, and continues after the combining. It is an ongoing struggle to communicate enough.

–Deciding in advance that the new desk is not a merger of two different desks, but instead is a whole new service, might help ease the transition. Be clear and obvious about how and what you decide will happen at the desk.

–The most successful model (by that I mean, the desk with the happiest staff) moved reference librarians off of their desk, did training with the circulation staff to give them the ability to triage the easiest questions and provided methods to pass along the harder ones without judgement. Reference librarians used their former desk time to increase liaison contacts, do more teaching, embed in instruction, etc.

I don’t know what ultimately our flavor of “merger” will take, or how soon it may happen. There are as many options as there are libraries merging desks. Every time I attend a session on this topic I get more comfortable with the idea, and more aware of the responsibility to make sure we do it right because it is fraught with opportunities to do it wrong.

Finally, because it’s ALA at San Francisco, a few photos: Chinatown, Pride Parade, and a vendor visit with an awesome booth!

 

 

Kyle’s ALA 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 5:10 pm
The Internet Archive: IRL

The Internet Archive: IRL

My ALA conference started with an unconference that presented the lens through which I was to view almost everything else that happened in San Francisco. This is going to be more of a thematic post than a play-by-play. Stay with me here.

#critlib: context and an unconference

One of the most interesting things I’ve been following for the past year or so has been the emerging community that’s calling itself #critlib, short for critical librarianship, which meets every other Tuesday on Twitter under that hashtag (more about the chats here and here). In these chats, participants wrestle with the concept of critical librarianship, which, for the purposes of this post, I’ll paraphrase as the application of critical theories to library practice: challenging racial, gender, socioeconomic, and other structural inequalities through the work we do as librarians (more about critical librarianship here, and check out the Zotero group if you want a deeper dive). The energy from this group is refreshing and relevant, especially in light of Ferguson and Charleston. (You might have heard of #charlestonsyllabus. You might not know that it was a few #critlib people who helped put it together.)

Anyhow, as a white male raised in a middle-class family, I have more to learn from this discussion than to add to it. When I heard that there was going to be a #critlib unconference on the Friday of ALA, I signed up immediately. About 100 of us gathered in the Gleeson Library on the beautiful hilly campus of the University of San Francisco for a full day of lively discussion. Being an unconference, there was no facilitator for any of the breakout sessions (the rule of the day was “there are no experts”). In the first round, I decided to make myself somewhat uncomfortable and attend a session called “Working in the patriarchal library/why are all my administrators dudes?” It’s really no secret that there is a disproportionate number of male administrators in this female-dominated profession, which I’ve always felt weird about. But since I might one day decide to pursue library administration, I wanted to learn about the things that I should pay close attention to in order to avoid being one of “those” male administrators. The key advice from the others in the room: listen more than you speak, and use your privilege to give voice to those being marginalized.

LITA, all-male panels, and responsibility

I was confronted almost immediately with what I’d learned at the unconference. As a member of LITA’s Program Planning Committee, I was asked to introduce a panel and do some general LITA hype work. I showed up to the panel, read my piece, and took a seat to hear what the panelists had to say. Then I looked at the panel. Five middle-aged white dudes talking about library technology, introduced by an (almost) middle-aged white dude representing a library technology association. The panel was great, but I couldn’t help but think of the message the makeup of the panel was sending.

Later that same day, I was set to present as part of my own panel–this one on library support for MOOCs. The organizer hadn’t provided me with a lot of detail ahead of time, so I showed up without any knowledge of who else would be on the panel. Sure enough, I was part of my very own all-male panel. It was like a punch to the gut.

Had these things happened just a week earlier–before my unconference experience–I wouldn’t have thought twice about them. I’ve presented on all-male panels before. I’ve attended plenty of them. The takeaway, for me, is that being aware that male voices are dominating certain conversations makes me responsible, inasmuch as I’m able, to use my privilege and my position on planning committees to ensure that a diversity of voices get to be heard. That means encouraging panel organizers to seek out additional voices. That means organizing diverse panels of my own. That means turning down invitations to speak if it’s clear that I’m just another dude voice in a sea of dude voices.

Plenty of awesome things

Phew!

As personally challenging as much of my conference was, there were still plenty of awesome things to bring home:

  • Not surprisingly, lots of folks were talking about the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. One particularly interesting panel introduced me to Champlain College’s stellar inquiry-based IL program. There are really too many good things to say about it here, but I was very impressed with the fact that they eschew teaching tools in favor of wrestling with “big picture” questions related to certain frames. And check out that curriculum map! I do love me a good curriculum map.
  • Flipping the one-shot was another motif I saw pop up a few times. Librarians at the University of Central Florida are having their students complete online tutorials before coming to their one-shot sessions, which they’re now using for more active learning.
  • I got to check out the Internet Archive (yes, their physical location!) They hosted a little open house with tours and demos. I took some photos. It was fun.
  • I got to meet Dan Russell, he of Power Searching with Google fame. The Power Searching course was the biggest inspiration for creating our first ZSRx course, and to see Dan in attendance at my panel was a little surreal. Very smart, very passionate guy.
  • San Francisco puts on awesome parades.

So that’s it! This turned out to be a much longer post than I’d anticipated, but if you’ve read this far, I hope you’re able to take something away from it.

 


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