Professional Development

ALA 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 3:31 pm

In case I’d been longing for parades (turns out I had), a confluence of well-known events made the 2015 ALA Annual Conference the perfect place to be. How do New Orleans and San Francisco parades compare, you ask? San Francisco parades involve less alcohol; more illegal-smelling smoke; smaller floats; fewer thrown objects; and more daytime nudity (not pictured).

The first session I attended was put on by the Cataloging Norms Interest Group of ALCTS. Nancy Fallgren of the National Library of Medicine gave an update on NLM’s BIBFRAME pilot project, which has been underway for some time. BIBFRAME Lite is an experimental set of core elements meant to be used in the new encoding framework, and NLM is working on mapping from MARC, Dublin Core, and other non-MARC legacy formats to BF Lite. However, Ms. Fallgren emphasized that their primary focus is on creation of new metadata using BIBFRAME, not conversion. A print monograph BIBFRAME mockup is viewable here.

At the same session, Roman Panchyshyn from Kent State talked about the non-stop nature of change experienced by technical services staff in the 21st Century. Managing change has become a key function for managers in technical services departments. Traditional breakdowns between acquisitions, cataloging, serials, etc. are disappearing. This trend, I think, is reflected here in Resource Services at ZSR. Mr. Panchyschyn identified eight skills/competencies that all technical services staff need to possess in order to keep up. I won’t list all of them here (full list available upon request), but suffice it to say they are metadata-centric, linked data-oriented, and future-looking. Liberal use of hyphens, sadly, isn’t one of them.

Still at the same session, Diane Hillmann from Syracuse speculated as to whether libraries will retain their legacy metadata once conversion to BIBFRAME is complete. She concluded that this is advisable; storage is relatively cheap, and you never know when you might need the data again. “Park the MARC,” she advised, wisely I think. As to whether we are making the right choice in moving toward BIBFRAME, Ms. Hillmann said that this is a moot question: there is no one right choice, and in future we will need to be multiply conversant as metadata takes on new forms and different libraries and other cultural heritage communities decide to go in divergent directions. This is part of the promise of BIBFRAME: it is to be flexible, extensible, and adaptable.

Believe it or not, I did go to other sessions and meetings. Later on Saturday I met with my ALCTS Acquisitions Section Organization and Management Committee, and on Sunday I met with my division-level ALCTS Planning Committee, where we continued to work on a three-year ALCTS strategic plan, with new emphasis on how best to track progress on that plan once it is in place. My work on the Planning Committee has provided a broad view of ALCTS as a whole – its different divisions, its reporting structure and micro-cultures, and its direction. I’ve only completed one year of a three-year term, so I have more enlightenment to look forward to, as my power and influence grow daily.

Roy Tennant from OCLC gave a fun presentation titled “Ground Truthing MARC,” in which he made a worthy comparison between the geographical process of ground truthing and the value of analyzing the existing MARC record landscape before we move to convert it en masse. He has been performing some interesting automated analyses of the ridiculously huge universe of records present in OCLC’s database, and found some interesting (if not surprising) results. A relatively small number of tags (100, 245, etc.) make up the vast majority of instances of populated subfields in OCLC; whereas hundreds of tags are used only infrequently and, all told, constitute a very small percentage of the data in OCLC. This type of analysis, he believes, will be essential as we start to think about mapping OCLC’s data into a BIBFRAME environment.

In other presentations, Amber Billey from the University of Vermont made an interesting case that in requiring NACO-authorized catalogers to choose between “Male,” “Female,” and “Not known” when assigning gender to an authority (RDA Rule 9.7), LC is expressing a false and regressively binary conception of gender. She and others have submitted a fast-track proposal that “Transgender” be added as an additional option; this proposal would seem to have merit. Joseph Kiegel from the University of Washington and Beth Camden from Penn discussed their libraries’ experiences migrating to the Ex Libris Alma and Kuali Ole ILS’s, respectively. In such migrations technical support is essential, whether provided by the system vendor or (as in the case of an open-source system like Kuali Ole) a third-party company that contracts to provide support.

On the last day, Corynne McSherry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation discussed several important copyright-related legal cases from the last year, including Authors Guild v. Hathitrust, Authors Guild v. Google, and Cambridge University Press v. Patton. The EFF is seeking a Digital Millennium Copyright Act exception for circumventing access-restriction technology in no-longer-supported video games so that archivists can preserve them, as these games are an important part of our cultural heritage. This was an entirely new topic to me and caused me to think back fondly on the days when Halo was young and I was too, when video games weren’t things to preserve, but to play. I suppose that preservation is the next-best thing.

Molly at SHARE Community Meeting

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 3:15 pm

June 22nd & 23rd found me in blazing-hot Washington, D.C., for the SHARE Community Meeting, Summer 2015. SHARE is an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries and the Center for Open Science, and is:

“…a higher education initiative whose mission is to maximize research impact by making a comprehensive inventory of research widely accessible, discoverable, and reuseable. To fulfill this mission SHARE is creating an openly available data set about research activities across their lifecycle.”

The initial vision for SHARE came from discussions in response to the February 2013 White House Office of Science & Technology Policy memorandums that stipulate that all Federal agencies with $100+ million R&D annually must make funded research articles and data publicly available. SHARE Notify, a feed of research events, launched in public beta in April. Although I’ve been following SHARE from it’s beginning, this was my first direct involvement with SHARE, as I attended the meeting representing ACRL on behalf of Mary Ellen Davis, Executive Director of ACRL.

The two-day meeting primarily focused on assessing where SHARE is to date, and giving the four task groups time to meet, during which they each identified next steps. I joined the Manual Curation Task Group, which is focusing on the metadata that SHARE ingests from various sources: publishers, agencies, subject repositories, and institutional repositories (but not yet WakeSpace). It was fascinating to be in attendance, as I made great connections and learned much more about the aims for SHARE. I don’t know if I’ll continue to represent ACRL, or if this was a one-time gig, but it was worthwhile.

Kyle at NC-LITe at NCSU

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 11:52 am

On June 12, I traveled as the lone emissary from ZSR to NC-LITe, the twice-annual mini-conference loosely focused on instructional technology in libraries. We had it here in ZSR back in December, if you recall.

This time we gathered at the D.H. Hill Library at NC State, where they’ve recently undergone a few changes, the most notable of which is a brand-new makerspace. (We got a sneak preview the day before it opened!) This is a purpose-designed space to the left of their main circulation desk, and it is pretty fantastic.

David shows the group the new makerspace

David shows the group the new makerspace

Campus updates

As with most NC-LITes, we started with some campus sharing. Among the most notable updates:

  • NCSU’s Library Stories project is a great example of a library being ahead of the game in sharing ways they can help faculty and students enhance their teaching and learning.
  • NCSU continues to churn out their popular “Teach Yourself” tutorials. They’re really carrying a lot of weight for the entire library instruction field: we use the heck out of their videos, including in our online LIB100 course. They added a new one on source evaluation. There was much rejoicing.
  • A representative from Davidson College joined us for the first time! It was great to connect with her, as Davidson is the closest cousin to Wake in its emphasis on teaching. Davidson is also interesting in that they’ve been doing MOOCs with edX for a few years now. The library has recently been involved in developing a new course on Electronic Literature that starts in October (join me!)
  • UNC Chapel Hill just hired a new digital scholarship librarian, who will be teaching a series of digital humanities workshops out of the library.
  • Duke just opened a new commons for technology, research, and collaboration that they call The Edge (er.. sorry, this is the actual link).
  • Kim Duckett, formerly of NCSU, a founding participant of NC-LITe, and an all-around awesome person, recently took a new job at Duke as their Head of Research & Instructional Services.

Lightning talks

We also got a few in-depth looks at some recent projects. These had the greatest takeaways for me.

Katy Webb of ECU shared how their reference department went to Youcanbook.me and a shared Google Calendar for patron-driven scheduling all of their personal research sessions. Youcanbook.me presents users a calendar with available time slots, allowing them to select the time that fits their calendar, eliminates all the email back-and-forth, and pushes the “messy” end of scheduling to happen behind-the-scenes. They call the service “Book a Librarian” and it seems like a great enhancement to their user experience! Check it out.

Hannah Rozear of Duke talked about a collaboration she’s part of with their writing program, in which she’s integrating critical digital pedagogy to make her instruction more student-centered and inclusive of diverse voices, and to challenge students to think critically about the online sources they use.

Rebecca Hyman at the State Library of NC and I shared our experience with developing and running RootsMOOC. We were (and still are) a little exhausted from a year of running the project at full-steam, but the course evaluations are in and and I promise to give the project a proper write-up soon!

Ideas from breakout sessions

I didn’t take copious notes during our breakout sessions (they’re loose, informal discussions), but I did jot down some ideas I wanted to share.

I maintain that Open Educational Resources will be an increasingly important part of the higher educational landscape as the traditional textbook model breaks down. Several libraries are offering grants to faculty who are interested in OER–small ones for attending OER workshops, larger ones for developing their own OER or integrating OER into their classes. As an institution, I don’t think we’re quite there culturally, but I’m keeping my eye on this. See also UNCG, Emory

Lots of people shared frustration with boosting workshop attendance. (Can I get an amen?) I heard some great ideas:

  • co-develop workshops with other groups on campus (example: a “Designing effective research assignments” workshop through the TLC);
  • host webinars instead of f2f workshops (and record the content!);
  • send personal invites to known partners and influencers in the academic departments (even better if there’s a lunch or coffee)
  • rather than advertising the thing you’re going to teach (eg, Zotero), advertise the compelling use case (Hey, grad students, come learn how to do a lit review!)

Always lots of good ideas from NC-LITe. Looking forward to next time!

 

Roz @ ALA San Fran

Monday, July 6, 2015 3:56 pm

As has been my trend over the last few ALA conferences, most of my work was done in the Law and Political Science Section of ACRL. I am the incoming chair of the section (as of July 1) so there was lots to do. On Friday I attended the ACRL Leadership Council meeting where we get updates on what is happening at ACRL and provide input on various initiatives. This time we were asked to comment on what ACRL should be doing to continue/revise/refresh their strategic plan, the ACRL Plan for Excellence. It is entering it’s fifth year and now is the time to look at it and see what needs to be modified for the next five years. It was an interesting discussion.

Then on Saturday we had our LPSS Executive Committee meeting followed by our general membership meeting. Then in the afternoon we had our program that we put on jointly with the Anthropology and Sociology Section and the ASCLA Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest group. It was a great panel – Libraries Behind Bars: Education and Outreach to Prisoners.

I followed up that panel with a trip to the exhibits which were, for the first time in my memory, split across two exhibit halls in adjoining buildings. I visited some furniture vendors including Agati who had the coolest new individual study pods ever (we want some to try out in ZSR), Swank who has a new academic package of films and a new model for access to them (feature films, not documentaries), our microfilm machine vendor to hear what’s new with the new models and software, and some of the usual suspects of publishers.

Sunday morning was the Alexander Street Press breakfast and the guest speaker was Cynthia Sandberg who owns Love Apple Farms and is the farmer from The Farmer and The Chef documentary. She spoke about Biodynamic farming - a system of farming that is more rigorous than organic and takes into account the entire ecosystem. It was not a term I was familiar with but resonates with much of what one of my heroes, Joel Saladin, does at Polyface Farm in Virginia.

I wrapped up my ALA by going to a Proquest focus group about SIPX – a company that ProQuest recently bought. ProQuest is trying to figure out how they might integrate the services SIPX offers into their discovery services. SIPX is in some ways a course pack builder program that faculty can use to build reading lists, etc. It has some potential and Mary Beth (who came to the focus group with me) and I will keep our eyes on it for how ProQuest incorporates it in the future.

It was, quite frankly, a bit hard to concentrate in San Francisco with the SCOTUS decision and the Pride Parade all happening while we were there – but all in all it was good conference in a beautiful city!! I suspect we will be thinking back fondly on the SF weather next June when we are stuck in Orlando’s heat and humidity.

Thomas @ ALA

Monday, July 6, 2015 3:40 pm

You remember that scene in L.A. Story where the Wacky Weekend Weather Guy is replaced by George Plimpton intoning, “Sunny. 72. Our next weather forecast will be in four days”? That’s me at ALA through next summer. Not exciting, and not much variation.

[Day 0: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 6:30am, deprived of sleep, food, and caffeine. Not really conference related, but I had to do it, so you have to hear about it.]

Day 1: Thomas meets with the LITA executive committee to discuss issues related to governance, budget, and membership; Thomas meets with the LITA financial advisory committee to discuss issues related to budget, membership, and governance; Thomas attends the LITA Open House, which touches on governance and membership; Thomas goes out to dinner with members of the LITA governing board to discuss issues related to seafood and beer; the current and incoming vice presidents entertain the table with anecdotes about their respective childhoods in south central Wisconsin and northern Wisconsin. Current LITA president reminds me that her term is up in three days.

Day 2: More of the same, only without the seafood and beer (the LITA committee of committee chairs, and the first of two LITA board meetings, where the current president reminds me her term is up in two days), punctuated by lunch with the other divisional presidents-elect and ALA president-elect Sari Feldman.

This was Sari’s chance to give us an informal sneak peek at the ALA publicity and visibility campaign now available at librariestransform.org. I think this is a very interesting campaign: it’s really ALA amping up the message that libraries are increasingly about services, and how valuable those services are. The web site has a cool video that’s worth a watch (about two minutes).

Day 3: Let’s just say I was up early enough that I had no trouble getting across the Pride Parade route. I attended the ALA Leadership breakfast, which focused on membership recruitment and retention. A couple of numbers that illustrate why this is such an issue. Since the 2008 economic implosion, the library profession has lost 60,000 positions; in the same period, enrollment in library schools has dropped by a quarter, from about 20,000 to 15,000. The median age of librarians continues to inch up, so: there are fewer current librarians; fewer future librarians; and more librarians edging toward retirement. Which is maybe why it will help to be more visible with the message that libraries provide transformative services (note to ourselves: we should also make sure that we actually provide transformative services).

Day 3.5. I did have a good meeting with an Ex Libris rep, and I did get to go to Top Tech Trends and the LITA President’s Program on Sunday afternoon, which Susan already covered. The speaker (or interviewee) at the President’s Program was Lou Rosenfeld, Information Architect. There aren’t that many people I can claim as acquaintances who literally wrote the book on the subject.

The current LITA president (who, all kidding aside, did a fantastic job this year, in trying circumstances) points out – from the stage – that her term is up in one day.

Day 4: A morning session to orient new board members and then an afternoon board meeting, at the end of which I was presented with a gavel and pronounced LITA president. I believe the now past-president’s comment was, “Bwahahaha!”

Highly productive dinner meeting with Steve Kelley and Jeff Eller at the Oakland Coliseum (A’s 7, Rockies 1).

Day 5: Up early in a coat and tie to be paraded through not one but two ceremonies, along with my cohort of new divisional presidents and many friends and well-wishers from LITA. I remind the new vice president that my term is up in 365 days and catch the red-eye home.

[Day 6: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 6:30am, deprived of sleep, food, and caffeine. Maybe it was all a dream! No, wait, here’s my gavel.]

Lauren at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:13 pm

It probably seemed like everyone was talking about linked data because that was the focus of most of the sessions I attended.

One of the more interesting ones was the Library of Congress BIBFRAME Update Forum, because in addition to Sally McCallum and Beacher Wiggins of LC, they had speakers from Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix, Atlas (think ILLIAD and ARES), OCLC, and Zepheira. At this stage, I think they were all trying to reassure clients that they will keep up with change. I took more notes on Ex Libris than the others since we’re a current customer: After some prologue on revolution vs evolution, Ido Peled, VP, Soluations and Marketing, said, that moving to a native linked data catalog is more revolutionary and Ex Libris is more comfortable with evolution. But I thought he gave more concrete evidence of readiness for linked data than the others because he said ALMA was built to support MARC and Dublin Core already and that Primo Central is already in RDF format, using JSON-LD. He also emphasized the multi-tenant environment and said, “Technology isn’t the focus. The focus is outcomes.” Because linked data includes relying on the data of others and interlinking with your own data, the “multi-tenant” environment concept made sense suddenly and helped me understand why I keep hearing about groups moving to ALMA, like Orbis-Cascade. I’ve also heard from individuals that it hasn’t been easy, but when is a system migration ever easy?

I also attended “Getting Started with Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU.” They each worked on their own linked data projects, figuring out tools to use (like OpenRefine) and work flows. Then they tested on each other’s data to help them refine the tools for use with different future projects and for sharing them broadly in the library community. They both said they learned a lot and made adjustments to the tools they used. I got a much better sense of what might be involved in taking on a linked data project. Successes and issues they covered reminded me of our work on authority control and RDA enhancement: matches and near matches through an automated process, hits and non-hits against VIAF, cleaning up and normalizing data for extra spaces, punctuation, etc. In fact this session built well on “Data Clean-Up: Let’s Not Sweep it Under the Rug,” which was sponsored by the committee I’m on with Erik Mitchell, the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee. I got a good foundation regarding use of MARCedit and OpenRefine for normalizing data to eliminate spaces and punctuation. While I knew regular expressions were powerful, I finally learned what they can do. In one example, punctuation stemming from an ampersand in an organization name caused data to become parsed incorrectly, breaking apart the name of the organization every time for the thousands of times it appeared. A regular expression can overcome this problem in an automated way — there’s no need to fix each instance one by one. (Think in terms of how macros save work.)

The ALCTS President’s Program: Three Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age featured Maryanne Wolf, Director, Center for Reading and Language Research and John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University. It was interesting to learn from her that brains weren’t designed for reading — think about cave men and their primary goals, which didn’t include reading. She gave a great overview of the development of language and reading and incidentally showed that those who operate in CJK languages have different parts of the brain lighting up than those of us who operate in other languages. This was all foundation leading up to how the brain operates and the effects of reading on the screen. The way we read on a screen results in the loss of certain abilities like reflection and creating connections. She measured that it takes time to regain those abilities too. She isn’t by any means anti-electronic though — she’s doing interesting work in Ethiopia with kids learning by using tablets. We’ll have to get her forthcoming book when it is finished!

I also attended committee meetings, met with vendors, networked, and got to catch up with former colleagues Erik Mitchell and Lauren Pressley over a dinner that Susan organized. (Thanks, Susan!) I especially enjoyed catching up with former colleagues Charles Hillen and Ed Summers, both dating back to my days at ODU in Norfolk, Virginia. Charles now works for YBP as Director of Library Technical Services and Ed just received the Kilgour Award from LITA/OCLC. Thanks to Ed, I got to meet Eric Hellman, president of the company that runs Unglue.it. And thanks to WFU Romance Languages faculty member Alan Jose, who mentioned the idea, I went Monday afternoon with Derrik and Carolyn to visit the Internet Archive offices, where we met Brewster Kahle. The volume the organization handles is mind-blowing! Kahle says they only collect about 40 TV channels right now and it is not enough. They have designed the book digitization equipment they are using (and selling it at a reasonable price too). They have people digitizing reels of films, VHS, and audio, but Kahle says they’ve got to come up with a better method than equipment using magnetic heads that are hard to find. Someone is working on improving search right now too. Some major advice offered was to learn Python!

 

Derrik at ALA 2015

Thursday, July 2, 2015 3:51 pm

Since I am still serving on the ALCTS Standards Committee, I’ll start my ALA report talking about one standard (sort of) that you’ve probably heard of, and two you’re probably less familiar with.

BIBFRAME (heard of it?) – I attended a presentation describing results from converting serials catalog records from MARC into BIBFRAME. I didn’t catch the name of the conversion software, but the presenter was from UC-Davis. Disclaimer: This session reminded me that my cataloging skills have gotten rusty, so I’m not sure I can describe this very well. First of all, she pointed out that most libraries will have MARC records following several different sets of cataloging rules—for example, pre-AACR2, AACR2, & RDA. If I understood correctly, the ISSN, title fields (210, 222, 245), and previous/subsequent title fields (780/785) all transferred fairly well into BIBFRAME. The converter ran into trouble with the older “latest entry” catalog records, which list a serial’s entire title-change history on a single record, because RDA considers each separate title to be a Work, but the conversion software migrated them as Instances. The older date range format also caused problems, because the software interpreted the first issue’s volume number (correctly) as the first issue, but then it interpreted the first issue’s date as the last issue. The speaker also raised the question of how to handle local adaptations when converting to BIBFRAME. The work of analysis and evaluation continues.

ODI – I heard Marshall Breeding speak about NISO’s Open Discovery Initiative (ODI), which lays out ways to improve interoperability of discovery systems with other database products. Breeding discussed the history of “discovery” products (like Summon) and some of the associated challenges. ODI seeks to alleviate some of the problems by providing a recommended structure for data exchange, covering data formats, method of delivery, usage reporting, updates, etc. Breeding acknowledged that index-based systems will never be “done,” but the ODI standard will help add some needed transparency and will provide a framework for evaluating discovery systems. His final thought was that “we need discovery systems that both users and librarians will love … but that’s not going to be easy.”

PESC – The Protocol for Exchanging Serial Content (PESC) is a very newly-published NISO Recommended Practice (published less than a week ago). It provides a recommended structure for transmitting serial content. The speaker pointed out that sending and receiving files is not very complex when it’s one sender and one receiver. But PESC aims to bring order to the chaos of many senders and many receivers. For example, a publisher may send content to EBSCO, ProQuest, JSTOR, Portico, and other receivers, all of whom receive content from multiple publishers. The recommendations cover things like including a manifest (list of files), contents of the manifest, file naming conventions, etc.

Speaking of receiving content from multiple sources, I went to a session on data cleanup that included a presentation by Amy Rudersdorf of the Digital Public Library of America. She described a new ingestion system the DPLA is using, aptly called Heiðrún. Rudersdorf explained that “Heiðrún” refers to a mythical goat who would eat anything and produce mead.

I attended a good presentation on leadership by Susan Massey from the University of North Florida. Massey said to think of the organization chart as a hanging mobile, and when one piece is out of balance it affects all the other pieces above and below it. She discussed some of the character traits of a good leader: trustworthiness, fairness, integrity, loyalty. She said leaders should be real & transparent, communicate openly, model mature response to crises, etc. She also encouraged service leadership, seeing that those you supervise have the resources necessary for their jobs, helping them excel in their jobs, and knowing and helping them achieve their goals.

In the exhibit hall I met a few vendor reps face-to-face for the first time. I also joined Lauren and Jeff in meeting with two vendors at the same time to try to iron out some e-book data problems. I think we may have finally gotten through to at least one of the people we needed to get through to. I also got some questions answered, learned about some upcoming database enhancements, etc.

Susan at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 10:58 am

Moscone Center

Moscone Center, site of ALA Annual 2015

This year’s ALA Annual conference took place in a popular destination location, on the weekend following the historic decision from the Supreme Court on the right for same-sex marriage. Add to this that it was the annual Pride parade weekend and there were close to 20,000 librarians in town and you can imagine how high the energy level was in San Francisco! I felt so fortunate that I was able to witness the thousands who came out to celebrate “Love is Love” at Sunday’s parade.

San Francisco Pride Parade

“Love Won” newspaper headline from the San Francisco Chronicle during the Pride Parade

The parade was a highlight, but the conference itself provided plenty of interesting moments as well. This past spring I was elected to a 3-year term as a Director-at-Large for LITA (Library Information and Technology Association). Although I’ve been involved with LITA for many years in a variety of roles, I will be serving on the Board for the next 3 years. So my LITA education began at this conference. I attended the board meetings as a guest and took part in an orientation session to help us new board members get up to speed. I discovered there is quite a bit of background reading to help me learn about the organization, including a manual and the bylaws. I attended LITA’s main program day on Sunday that includes the popular Top Tech Trends panel discussion and the President’s Program, which featured a conversation with Lou Rosenfeld,co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.

The top trends highlighted by the panel included

  • scalable internal connectivity (think about all those mobile devices connecting simultaneously)
  • interesting applications for RFID (example – Art Library in Switzerland that uses it for a daily inventory)
  • open source software
  • free, ubiquitous internet access in cities
  • cross-sector collaboration with purpose to improve services
  • ILS bloat
  • renaissance of podcasting
  • innovation communities founded around the library

Rosenfeld discussed his work with UX (user experience) and one of the interesting concepts that I learned about was the “short head.” We all know about the “long tail” but not so much about the short head attached to it! This term refers to the figure that is shown on the Zipf curve pictured below (comes from Zipf’s Law). The figure shows the most frequently searched terms on the left, and these make up the “short head.” Rosenfeld uses this curve to demonstrate how to use the law when tuning your website.

Zipf Curve from Louis Rosenfeld

Zipf Curve from Louis Rosenfeld

With my increased committee involvement, I didn’t have as much time to attend a variety of program sessions, but I managed to select at least one from most of my main areas of responsibility:

Digital Scholarship IG Discussion. I’m certain that Chelcie will give a more granular report for this session, but it was a good program that featured Joan Lippincott from CNI who presented Trends in digital scholarship centers: a view from CNI. She described findings from CNI’s work on trends in digital scholarship centers and her own observations from interviews and on-site visits. One of the main sources of data came from a workshop CNI conducted in April 2014 that involved 35 participants from 24 institutions and resulted in a report published in December. Also presenting were two people from NYU’s Digital Scholarship Services, which has some resemblance to what we are doing at ZSR. They don’t have a specific physical space and pull people in as needed to provide their services.

Creating Impactful Assessment Reports. This program, sponsored by LLAMA, was a panel discussion. The new dean for UNCC, Anne Cooper Moore, was joined by two librarians from Florida State University (Julia Zimmerman, Dean and University Librarian and Kirsten Kinsley, Assessment Librarian). The format of the session was for the panel to field questions relating to leveraging assessment reports to be effective tools to present to stakeholders. Julia noted that most stakeholders are busy people and long reports don’t get read, so she recommended executive summaries as key. Here are some other recommendations:

  • Use both qualitative and quantitative data to tell the narrative.
  • Individual quotes from people have impact.
  • There is a tie between assessment and marketing.
  • Data visualizations should be clear, colorful and should stand apart from the text.

An interesting discussion took place about what sort of assessment personnel different libraries have. Many have a single assessment librarian but who that person reports to is all over the map. There was an opinion from the panel that the most effective reporting line is to the library dean. There was also a consensus that having a committee in place either as a stand alone (if there isn’t a designated assessment position) or to supplement the assessment librarian is a good idea. It helps to have more eyes on the data and to get different perspectives.

Library of the Future: the Learning Optimized Library. This presentation was given by Steelcase. The speaker, Mark Walters, gave an overview on the company’s research on human behavior in libraries and provided examples of how to design for the tensions that have emerged between learning activities and space design (of course, using their furniture as the examples of solutions! Two new products that caught my interest are the Brody and the Thread). Mark is with the Education division at Steelcase, which launched in 2008. More than once he referenced an article by Scott Bennett on the changing roles of libraries that was published in 2009 (Muse title, restricted to subscribers). He described the methodology of their observational study which included time spent at 20 libraries. They have a living lab at Grand Valley State and this video shows what they’ve done there. The main thrust of their recommendations is to plan in zones with realistic adjacencies that take into account the concept of “alone together” and spanning from private to public:

Informal Learning Matrix

Informal Learning Matrix

Findings include:

  • Learning is social, but it takes many forms
  • Deep thinking requires blocking out distractions (both visual and sound)
  • Technology is ubiquitous so there are issues of infrastructure (the whole outlet thing) and ergonomics
  • Spaces have different rhythms of behavior

If any of these short narratives have caught your interest, I have more detailed notes I’ll be glad to share. As usual, I’ll close with a link to all the photos I took while I was out and about in San Francisco.

Heading to Coit Tower

View of Bay Near Coit Tower

Chris at NASIG 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015 12:37 pm

2015 is a significant milestone for NASIG in two distinct areas: the organization celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, and the name of the organization changes from “North American Serials Interest Group” to simply “NASIG”. Both events were commemorated at this year’s conference that was held outside of Washington, D.C. with ZSR’s own Steve Kelley serving as president. On a personal level, this conference expanded my understanding of the internal workings of the organization while still challenging my own growth in the changing nature of continuing resources.

Programming

This year’s conference was one of the best in recent years in terms of programing. In addition to sessions about e-books and RDA, one of the strongest concepts represented was preservation. As electronic resources have become more commonplace, questions about their permanence have become even more of a concern. The questions regarding access remain at the center of this discussion, and digital repositories have begun to enter this dialogue as another option to house a growing array materials associated with faculty research.

Beyond that, however, are the questions of accessing those materials not just a century from now but ten years from now. Linked data represents the next generation in terms of cataloging resources, particularly those that aren’t considered traditional library materials, and it’s definitely on the way. Presentations by NASIG’s excellent vision speakers challenged their audiences to consider the larger picture around the issues that face everyone working in and beside libraries. Concepts presented were equally provocative in terms of privacy, open access and the power of collective action.

Mentorship

This year, I volunteered for the first time to serve as a mentor to a new attendee of the conference. After speaking by telephone and through several e-mails and text messages, we connected during a reception on the first day of the conference. She is a new librarian in the continuing resources area, who is getting started with the management of journal packages such as ScienceDirect.

I checked in with my mentee several times during the conference, and she said that she was enjoying each session and getting good notes to take back to her institution. When we met again toward the end of the conference, she was still enthusiastic about the experience as well as everything she had learned. She even expressed her desire to attend the next conference; in any case, we will remain in touch during the following year and especially during autumn’s renewal period. Overall, this was a rewarding opportunity!

Board

This past spring, I was elected to NASIG’s Executive Board as a member at large. I’m joining the board with two other incoming members at large as well as a new president, vice president/president elect, and secretary. Three members at large left the board at the conclusion of the conference, and Steve Kelley will stay on for one more year as the immediate past president.

My term as member at large began at the end of this year’s conference and will end at the conclusion of the 2017 conference in Indianapolis. During this time, I’ll serve as the board’s liaison to NASIG’s Communications and Marketing Committee which manages the organization’s website and listservs while disseminating information to the membership and coordinating with other committees when necessary. I’m looking forward to the next two years and serving the organization in this way.

As always, no NASIG would be complete for me without a round of sightseeing. I was able to get into Washington with a colleague following the board meeting on Sunday morning, and we spent the next six hours around the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol before I had to catch my flight home. You can see the pictures from that excursion here.

Stephanie to attend Image Permanence Institute workshop

Friday, June 26, 2015 10:57 am

Special Collections and Archives would like to announce that Collections Archivist Stephanie Bennett has been selected to attend an Image Permanence Institute (IPI) workshop, Preservation of Digitally Printed Materials in Libraries, Archives and Museums. Bennett was one of 15 participants selected from a pool of more than 50 applicants. The workshop, for which tuition of waived due to generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will be held October 20-22, 20115, at IPI’s facilities at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY. IPI is a nonprofit, university-based laboratory and recognized world leader in the development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural property.


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