Professional Development

Access Services Conference 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015 4:34 pm

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to attend the Access Service Conference in Atlanta, GA with Mary Beth Lock. As she pointed out in her post, there were many relevant sessions available. I mostly attended those relating to Course Reserves. The keynote speaker, Peter Bromberg, was an engaging speaker with a positive attitude. My favorite quote of the Conference: “It’s not failure, it’s data!”

It’s always interesting to see how other libraries handle the same challenges we have here at ZSR. There was a follow-up session from last year about UTSC‘s self-service model for Course Reserves. They had just implemented the service last year and came back to report on lessons learned. By providing self-service they estimated a 54% increase in circulation of Course Reserves material. They also reported a 90% drop in Circulation Desk traffic which resulted in having to repurpose that staff. Fines were charged for overdue items at $.50/hour and it sounded like they strictly enforced them. Only 4 items out of 1300 have gone missing since they adopted this model even though they allow Course Reserves books to taken out of the library. While this model is not practical for ZSR ($31K (CAD)), it does demonstrate that some security concerns could be reevaluated.

Peter Bae from Princeton University Library began his presentation by showing us one slide that he said summed up the entire presentation: “Consider more Ebooks for Ereserves and do your math. It may save you time and money”. While he was basically correct, we all stuck around to learn more. Factors used to evaluate an available Ebook included: instructor preference, multi- or single-use access model, price, quality of printing options, the print format (pdf, html, etc.), and whether additional software was need to view the books. We currently use Ebooks for Course Reserves whenever possible but there may be opportunities to be more proactive in finding an Ebook that meets the instructor’s needs.

Textbook cost was addressed as it has been in other conferences lately. Sewanee‘s Library made a decision to purchase every class text and place them on Course Reserves. They felt these books would be more likely to be used than many of the other books that were being purchased by the library. With the assistance of the bookstore they identified and purchased over 600 books ($24,500) which resulted in a 2,284% increase in circulation statistics. They also charge fines for overdue Course Reserves materials ($.75/hour) and reported that they were taking in quite a bit of money. They did not include course packs on Reserves, instead, offering supplemental course materials through SIPX.

Other presentations on circulating technology items (cameras, iPads, GPS, and microphones) and marketing library services had similarities to what we’re doing here at ZSR.

Our self-guided tour of the Georgia Tech library was a fun adventure (included a trolley ride) and the weather, the facilities and the fellowship were great.

Three Conferences = Busy Autumn

Monday, November 23, 2015 5:47 pm

I attended three different conferences this fall, Designing Libraries IV: Designing 21st Century Libraries at North Carolina State University, NCLA in Greensboro and the Access Services Conference in Atlanta, GA. In order to be most succinct, I’m combining posts for all three, though the subject matter ranged quite extensively.

The Designing Libraries conference was chock full of libraries telling the stories of what they did to be prepared for the academic library’s reinvention as place. The presentations are all available online. Story after story of how each library made significant changes to their space that had historically held books. Library leaders, planners and their architects conducted panel discussions from “Creating the Vision,” to “Designing Great Library Environments for Staff,” and “The Role of Makerspaces in Academic Libraries.” Thematically, all of the various speakers identified the importance of making spaces that are flexible, making space for the study and collaboration needs of today’s student, and the need to hire experts to ensure that you will do it right. Renovation is not for the faint of heart.

At NCLA, I presented in two different sessions. The first one on “Developing and Entrepreneurial Library Culture” along with Mary Scanlon and Mary Krautter (of UNCG) was delivered to a very full room. The presentation was one we pared down from the fuller workshop we’d delivered in Abu Dhabi last spring. The audience participated in a lively discussion after the presentation was done. The second session I participated in was one entitled “A Library for the Whole Student: Creating a Multidimensional Culture of Health & Wellness at your Library” along with Meghan Webb, Susan Smith and Hu Womack. We discussed the 9 dimensions of wellness described by our Thrive office, and how the library has partnered in creating initiatives to help. Interestingly, one of the questions asked was about how our “Cans for Fines” program works wherein students can bring in canned goods to eliminate overdue fines from their record. I am continually surprised how things that are so embedded in our culture here are ground breaking ideas elsewhere.

It is rare when one goes to a conference wherein every session is relevant, but that is actually true with The Access Services Conference, held in Atlanta, GA from November 11-13. The featured keynote speaker was Peter Bromberg, a very dynamic speaker with a terrific message about how difficult it is for us to continue to adapt to the pace of change when change is increasing exponentially. He used this great and very funny video to illustrate his point entitled “Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy.” Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to watch it. Other sessions I attended were focused on staff training to maximize customer service, creating a reserve textbook collection, and on using student feedback to redefine library spaces. Much of what was related were ideas we’ve already implemented, so that at least reassured me that we are on the right path. Ellen Makaravage and I took a field trip to tour the Georgia Tech Info Commons. That space was actually highlighted as one of the examples in the first conference and takes me full circle back to that designing 21st century libraries idea.

LOEX Fall Focus Conference 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 9:17 am

On Friday, November 13 I traveled to Ypsilanti, Michigan to attend the inaugural LOEX Fall Focus Conference. This two day conference focused exclusively on the new Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. There were about 120 instruction librarians in attendance from across the nation.

A Brief History of the Framework

For those of you who keep up with what has been happening in the ACRL world of instruction librarianship, you know that our world has been rocked by the February 2015 filing of the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education. In 2011, it was decided by an ACRL Review Task Force, that significant revisions were needed to the fifteen year old Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education. In March 2013, the Revision Task Force began their work and in January 2014 the first draft of the Framework was introduced. Reactions to the Framework were mixed and many discussions (often heated) ensued. The controversy swirled around the nature of the Framework. While the Standards focused on information literacy as skills-based, the Framework introduced information literacy as a social practice. Originally, the Framework was supposed to replace the Standards, but in February 2015, the ACRL Board of Directors decided to “file” (as opposed to “adopt”) the Framework. And so this past weekend, 120 instruction librarians from across the country gathered together to try and figure out what all of this means for the instructional programs at our institutions.

LOEX day one – Friday

I will begin by saying that I wish they had kicked off this conference with a plenary session such as the one we had Saturday morning. While many key concepts were introduced throughout the conference, it would have been great to have someone provide a more structured context for the new Framework with more discussion about the learning theory behind the Framework. While I believe I finally have a grasp on “Threshold Concepts” as being transformative, troublesome, and irreversible, there are other learning theory ideas that I’m still trying to digest. For example, there was mention throughout the two days that information literacy can only be understood within the context of a discipline or social context. Also, it was evident that some of the concepts truly resonated with the librarians (so many references to “Scholarship is a Conversation”!), but some of the concepts were rarely mentioned such as “Research as Inquiry.”

SESSION one – “Translating the Framework into Your Current Practice” by Jo Angela Oehrli and Diana Perpich (U of Michigan)

This session incorporated a jigsaw exercise which the presenters use to train the 100 people who do library instruction at the University of Michigan. They took three of the concepts and distributed them on colored cards throughout the room so that each person held one frame: Authority is Constructed and Contextual; Scholarship as Conversation; and Searching as Strategic Exploration. You first found 2 other people who had your same concept (mine was “Scholarship is a Conversation”) and I must say that it was very interesting to hear what others are doing with that frame! When I teach, I just mention the concept in class (which is a valid approach I later learned!), but some instructors have students examine articles that build upon previous articles/research. The first group was our “expert” group. We then formed our “jigsaw” group and found people with the same color card but with different concepts. We then shared what we learned and that was also interesting! For the “Authority is Contextual,” one librarian was into rock bands and she talked about how a band becomes an “authority” for that type of music. That is not an analogy I could use, but I bet Steve Kelley could nail that!

SESSION Two – Information Literacy by Design by Jonathan McMichael and Liz McGlynn (UNC-CH)

Some of the sessions I attended just tbecause of who was presenting (in this case Jonathan). This presentation was based on Liz McGlynn’s SILS Master’s Paper. In this presentation, they talked about how they trained graduate students and paraprofessionals to use Understanding by Design (which they changed to Information Literacy by Design) to shape their library instruction sessions for their freshmen English 105 classes. They credited the Framework with freeing up the canned sessions they previously presented, to empowering their instructors to tailor the sessions by keeping the learning outcomes for the session the main purpose of the session. They use “Big Ideas” to transform student experiences (very much in line with “Threshold Concepts”) and they teach using “chunking” rather than “coverage.” On a side note, every time I hear Jonathan speak I feel like I’m not working hard enough! The undergraduate library at UNC has two instruction librarians and they are reaching over 300 sections of this writing class by using graduate students and paraprofessionals as instructors, and that is just one piece of what he accomplishes each semester!

SESSION Three – Framing New Frames by Lisa Hinchliffe (U of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Laura Saunders (Simmons College)

This was probably the most highly anticipated breakout sessions of the conference. Lisa is the lead instructor for “Immersion,” a past ACRL President, and an active contributor to listserves and social media about information literacy issues. Her skepticism of the Framework has been well documented. Laura Saunders is an Assistant Professor at the Simmons School of Library and Information Science.

They began their discussion by talking about the pros and cons of the Framework. They saw its potential in how it is conceptually based, how it inspires pedagogy, how the metaphors invite exploration, and how the new-ness is energizing. They saw the pitfalls as: treat frames as standards (I will reiterate this later, but this was mentioned several times—frames were never meant to be measured or treated like standards); thresholds become ends; functions to limit and not expand; unclear state of concepts rejected. Lisa and Laura both pitched the idea that we need to go with the idea of just “concepts” and give up the theoretical “threshold concepts.” They also believe that the Framework should allow for new concepts to be added. Laura’s new Concept was “Information Social Justice” and Lisa’s Concept was “Information Apprenticeship in Community.” You can read their Knowledge Practices and Dispositions here.

LOEX day two – Saturday

PLENARY – Merinda Kaye Hensley (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)

By far, the highlight of the conference was the plenary session on Saturday morning. Merinda Kaye Hensley served on the Framework committee and I learned so many things from her presentation! She presented findings from a study from a survey (in which I participated!) about how the Framework was being used in the Fall of 2015. While that information was interesting, it was the nuggets of additional information that were fascinating! She was a superb presenter and she reminded the group that the Framework was a committee effort and she did not agree with all of the document. She talked about the new definition of information literacy. The old definition could easily be summed up by saying: “an information literate person is one who can find, evaluate, and use information.” Here is the new definition: “Information literacy is the set of integrated abilities encompassing the reflective discovery of information, the understanding of how information is produced and valued, and the use of information in creating new knowledge and participating ethically in communities of learning.” Merinda pointed out that there is nothing in the new definition about evaluating which she sees as an essential element to information literacy.

Here are some findings from the survey: 1) most believe that threshold concepts help to elevate librarians from practitioners to instructors; 2) one of the complaints of the Framework is that the learning theory jargon contributes to confusion; 3) people are divided over whether or not information literacy is a discipline (most do not think it is).

She said that FRAMES CANNOT BE TESTED and she specifically mentioned the TATIL test that is being developed to test the Framework! This was reiterated in other sessions by other presenters, but she clearly stated that TATIL was missing the intent of the Framework. This was significant for a couple of reasons: one was that TATIL was presented a breakout the day before, and also we (ZSR) agreed to help test the BETA version of this with at least 25 of our students. Learning Outcomes should be tested, not the Frames.

Another very important criticism of the Framework is that there are no Learning Outcomes included. Each institution is encouraged to come up with their own Learning Outcomes to meet the particular needs of their institution. She stated that the knowledge practices and dispositions should be based on Learning Outcomes and not the Frames. This one idea was worth the entire conference for me! No wonder we are all grasping to understand this document. She also believes that the Standards and the Framework can exist together and that many people are pulling Learning Outcomes from the Standards to be used in the Framework.

The last nugget of gold that she tossed out, was that “No one is expected to teach all the frames.” She went on to say that sometimes just mentioning a concept at the beginning or end of a class is enough. By the way, I did not realize the Frames are listed in alphabetical order! The committee could never agree on an order based on priority.

Session 5 – “A Framework Rubric” by Emily Z. Brown and Susan Souza Mort (Bristol Community College)

Emily and Susan used the LEAP VALUE Information Literacy Rubric to assess the information literacy skills of the students at their community college. When the Framework was introduced, they changed the rubric to reflect the new concepts. This was the only session I attended that gave out their Powerpoint as a handout and they also gave everyone a copy of their rubric. They were primarily doing citation analysis, but Amanda, Kyle and I will be able to use many of their ideas on a LIB100 final project rubric we are in the process of developing.

I attended a few other sessions, but those are the highlights. Overall, it was a fantastic conference! Friday night, I enjoyed eating at a local restaurant with 11 other librarians from the conference (a “dine around”). It was fascinating to talk about all kinds of things. I did not know that at Emory, their I.T. department and Library are combined, and the head of I.T. reports to the University Librarian! Now that is an interesting model!

I am very thankful for the opportunity to attend this conference and I look forward to attending LOEX in the May in Pittsburg!


The 2015 Charleston Conference according to Derrik

Monday, November 16, 2015 12:13 pm

This was my first time at the Charleston Conference. My overall impressions: (1) This conference has a lot of content (I was afraid I would run out of paper for notes); (2) The content was mostly very practical and detailed; (3) Those practical details were more “cutting edge” than in other conferences I’ve attended, i.e. dealing with new initiatives or developments in the business of library resources.

I think I just put myself on the spot to describe some of those new initiatives or developments, huh?

Library/Vendor relations

I attended a couple of lunch discussions dealing with library/vendor relations. In one, panelists & the audience discussed the evolving role of book vendors in managing libraries’ e-book collections. Among other challenges, a vendor rep pointed out that vendors are now being asked to help libraries manage collections of materials they have not bought from the vendor (for example, e-book collections bought directly from a publisher or aggregator).


Online privacy was a hot topic at the conference, especially after day 2’s plenary session in which a panel of three legal experts scared everyone by showing—in real time—what everyone connected to the room’s Wi-Fi was doing online. One panelist discussed a European law that protects the “right to be forgotten” (for example, ordering Google to remove certain web pages from its search results). I also learned more about a NISO initiative to develop a “Consensus Framework to Support Patron Privacy”. The goal of the initiative is to find common ground for publishers/vendors and libraries, who have different needs and interests. The resulting document will address 12 areas, including transparency, data collection & use, anonymization, access to one’s own user data, and accountability.


There are some new developments and experimentation with e-books. I learned about a Mellon Foundation-funded project at the University of Minnesota Press, in partnership with CUNY Digital Scholarship Lab, to develop a software platform for what they call “iterative editions,” a sort of grey-literature monograph. The platform, called Manifold, is designed for interaction, including contributing and discussing. The platform software will be open source, and the UMN Press speaker said that books published by UMN Press will be open access, though that is not an inherent feature of the software.

In another presentation, which Lauren already mentioned, I learned that the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) is starting to expand their work with e-books. See more about DPLA and e-books at . One of the panelists in the DPLA presentation was Jill Morris, who used to work with NC LIVE, and told about the NC LIVE Home Grown E-books project. Basically, the point of the presentation was that DPLA is examining some of the innovative things going on with e-books and exploring ways to use those ideas.

I also attended (alongside Lauren) a presentation about EPUB format vs. PDF, discussing the many advantages of the former and users’ ongoing love of the latter, despite its clunkiness. It is apparent that users don’t know much about EPUB, and where there is a choice between EPUB and PDF, they gravitate toward the familiar (and branded) icon. An e-book aggregator rep talked about the difficulty of supporting both formats. And the librarian presenting told about their work with instructors to teach them about the advantages of EPUB format, and to find and promote EPUB versions for course use.


I’ll end with my favorite quote from the conference, by Roën Janyk of Okanagan College, British Columbia:

“The difference between things that might go wrong and things that can’t possibly go wrong is that when things that can’t possibly go wrong go wrong, they’re usually impossible to repair.”

[UPDATE] I wrote it down wrong (but close). Apparently this quote is taken from the book Mostly Harmless, by Douglas Adams: “The major difference between a thing that might go wrong and a thing that cannot possibly go wrong is that when a thing that cannot possibly go wrong goes wrong it usually turns out to be impossible to get at or repair.”

Charleston Conference 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015 11:28 am

At the Charleston Conference I generally seek out sessions that focus on liaison- or user-related issues, but a dominant topic of recent years–user preferences for print or electronic books—seemed to have loosened its grip on the Conference, and I had the opportunity to explore a diverse range of topics. So, pleasantly enough, my notes are not filled with frantically scribbled statistics and formulae that dissolve haplessly into broad generalizations along the lines of “If E then P, but also If P then E, maybe.”

In “Collections as a Service,” Daniel Dollar, Director of Collection Development at Yale University Library and self-styled grief counselor (see below), argued that collections are not an end in themselves, and that one may move away from acquiring books in certain areas when there is no near term anticipation of use. He makes data-informed decisions, guided by a collection development philosophy of collecting materials that align themselves with research and teaching needs as well as with strategic developments. He outlined five data “stories:”

  1. Approval titles consist largely of print YBP titles for English language, plus European plans. They found that Harrassowitz circulation statistics were decreasing for approval titles (circulation rate goes up to about 15% compared to YBP’s 60% after a few years), and so adjustments guided by the circulation data were made, transitioning some money away from the European plans to e-books. In addition they expanded shelf-ready services since English language titles are used so heavily.
  2. Borrow Direct is an “Ivy Plus” service (the Ivy League schools plus Stanford, MIT, and Duke) used mostly by graduate students requesting materials, so to accommodate this need the libraries may have second and third copies of titles.
  3. Print books, always singled out as important for immersive reading, reveal declining use statistics: undergraduate circulations decreased 47% from 2006-2015, and graduate circulation decreased 51% from 2011-2015.
  4. Ebrary Academic Complete has been in place since 2003, including a “deep dive” in Religion, Philosophy, and Psychology. 42% of Ebrary is available in print at Yale, but there is diversity of use: for 45-50% of the titles both print and electronic were used, 10% electronic only, 25-30% print only, and 25% were not used. So he believes that there is a role for the “good enough” concept (e-books in lieu of print), even in areas of the humanities.
  5. E-resource usage (with print circulation flat) shows e-books and e-journals going up. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library predictably distorts the numbers somewhat, with significant expenditures and use in humanities-related primary source materials, which continue to grow. But if one takes out the Beinecke, e-resources show 70% use, monographs 18%.

So where is this leading? There is an inexorable movement towards digital and e-resources, accounting for most of the resource collections expenditures. But there are clear differences among the various subject libraries: for example, 90% electronic use for the medical library, compared 10% for the art library. Collection development and management are part of multiple networks, in Yale’s case Ivy Plus, HathiTrust, and CRL. He acknowledges that he plays in part the role of grief counselor because there is some sense of loss and concern for the scholarly record. He singled out the need to work closely in particular with graduate students, for help in understanding emerging areas of scholarship, or very narrow areas of inquiry in which they pursue their research.

The panel discussion on “Size, Perception, and Power in Library/Vendor Relations,” included librarians from a range of large and small institutions: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (the largest public university library system in the country, and second in size to Harvard), Appalachian State, UNC Asheville, and Caltech. The discussions focused largely on the question of how smaller schools with less name recognition and smaller budgets fare in the stratified arena of sales and acquisitions. Librarians from smaller libraries, both on the panel and in the audience, spoke to the challenges at times of even obtaining responses from vendors: the Caltech librarian had previously worked at a small school with “ZERO” name recognition, and both institutions were approximately the same size, but now at Caltech she finds that there is no problem with vendors getting back with requested information. The assumption appears to be that the smaller school library could not afford products, but ironically her previous institution had a substantial endowment. Moreover, smaller schools, she pointed out, often do not have the luxury of waiting a year to see if statistics improve. Vendors were not universally deplored, however; it was noted that they may contribute to improved use of a new resource by providing turn-away numbers or pointing out if a resource was omitted from a LibGuide. By contrast, the UIUC librarian, from a Tier 1 Research Library, enjoys all the expected major name recognition. She pointed out that with size comes a multiplicity of relationships, and it is important to open up vendor visits to the larger community. Clearly the impact of a product is larger, with a corresponding amount of potential feedback compared to smaller institutions, although in smaller libraries, librarians may wear multiple hats and therefore can give feedback from multiple perspectives. The speakers also addressed ethical issues inherent in the tension between larger institutions’ priorities and wishes, vs those of smaller ones: UIUC will get what it wants, and it will not necessarily be what is best for smaller libraries. Consortial efforts exist to counter the relative powerlessness of small institutions. But smaller libraries have less of a voice regarding their interests and price issues; if such an institution drops a subscription, how much will it matter? The UIUC librarian pointed out that if a large school buys a product, it is not necessarily an endorsement and the product may not be relevant to smaller schools’ priorities and needs. One should not assume that a larger library made the better decision; it made the best decision for what it needs. A show of hands at the beginning revealed a commendable number of vendors in the audience, but I was not aware of any of them participating in the give and take regarding the issues raised in the presentation and discussion!

Who knows how many conference attendees were lured by the alliterative title of Doug Way’s “Saying Sayonara to the STL: Strategy, Scale and Systematic Abandonment in the Ebook Marketplace”—but I was also drawn by his place of employment, since he is AUL for Collections and Research Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I earned my library degree and worked for many years at the beginning of my library career. He began by asserting that he likes DDA; what he dislikes is the notion that one size fits all. Scale is an important consideration, and UW-Madison is a Research 1 institution, with 43,000 students, of whom 12,000 are graduate students. The local environment is significant: what kind of users there are and how many, the mission of the library, attitudes and dispositions, and level of faculty engagement. He noted that librarians expressed disbelief when confronted with the actual amount of of e-book usage and surprise at the fact that the highest EBL use was in the social sciences, not the STEM fields. Librarians may express dissatisfaction from a lack of clarity (why they are doing what they are doing) and from workflow problems (which often are homegrown–we did it to ourselves). So they decided to reboot the e-book program. The strategy was not a collection development policy and not a values statement, but an internal document with a short to medium term frame, guiding areas of focus and emphasis. There was an emphasis on efficiency of access and price, flexibility, and choice. Preference was given to providers who allow resource sharing, offer content without DRM, allow simultaneous users, ensure access by way of perpetual licenses, and preservation options such as Portico. A task force reviewed the DDA program with a familiar EBL $250 price cap, $50 cap STL, and purchase after 3 STLs, for a collection of 23,000 titles.

The program was taken down due to a long list of challenges and problems: workflow inefficiencies (albeit locally created ones), scale (a limited budget and the limited size of the candidate pool of 23,000 titles–vs 900,000 print titles), the limited ability to increase access to content, price increases for the STL cap, publishers pulling out including top publishers (CUP, OUP, PUP), and the opportunity to effect “systematic abandonment.” He cautioned against a reluctance to abandon dying or declining services when declining services neglect or stunt the growth of new and growing services– the trap of sunk costs. He turned to Academic Complete for a 3-year contract, with its top use titles, multiple users, purchasing options for long term access if titles will be going away. (In response to a question about the missing front list in Academic Complete, he responded that AC is but one part of the entire strategy.) They have also started a pilot with Project Muse with evidence-based access, selecting individual titles for long term access, ILL rights, and DRM free e-books in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The revised e-book program goals include increasing the number of e-books available to users (now 250,000 at lower annual cost), saving money over the existing DDA program, and experimenting with EBA acquisition models. There is continuing increased e-book use. He said that they may return to STL, perhaps as a supplemental program. With announcements of the death of STL, publishers have the hatchet, as he phrased it. They can raise the price of STLs, but he for one does not have more money hidden around the office. If publishers raise the price and pull e-books, then he will not buy the books. It was rather stunning to hear that the UW-M library system has had a flat budget since 2000; a library probably does not recover from that kind of extended deficit and resulting lacunae in its collections. He stated that he needs books that get used; in addition, he noted that the school is both a top ILL lender and borrower. He acknowledges that everyone prefers print but given a choice between waiting for ILL, requesting from offsite, many users choose immediate access—another nod to the “good enough” notion.

Rare book cataloging class

Monday, November 16, 2015 9:14 am

On November 3-5 I attended an online class on rare book cataloging offered by Midwest Collaborative for Library Services. The class was taught by Patrick Olson, rare books cataloger from Michigan State University. Megan Mulder also joined me as well as Steve Kelly, Carolyn McCallum, and Leslie McCall from resource services. I won’t go into detail about how rare book cataloging is different than general cataloging, but suffice it to say that in rare book cataloging, the more specific the better. We tend to put more information in records and the class did a great job of breaking down the type of information we need to include. Signatures, bookplates, printing mistakes in the text, binding differences, editions, and handwritten notes in the margins are all things we like to include in records. Patrick covered how and what to include in the record such as the MARC fields to include, for instance 246, 500s, 655, 700s are the most added fields for rare books. He also covered the reasons to create a new record, or when you can use one already created and then just add on information that relates to your copy. Also covered was the differences in format, signatures (the small letters and numbers at the bottom of some pages in a copy), and the use of RBMS controlled vocabularies and relationship designators. While I have learned many things about rare book cataloging just by doing the work and asking questions of Megan, this class cleared up some questions I have had about what information to include and where it needs to go in the record. All in all this was a great class and I learned a lot more about why rare book catalogers do what we do and why it needs to be done.

Stephanie at the Image Permanence Institute in Rochester, NY

Friday, November 13, 2015 4:43 pm

In mid-October, I spent three days soaking up the science of image preservation and conservation at the Image Permanence Institute, located at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York. I am relatively science-minded (for an English major) and am fascinated by the work of IPI in general and the workshop specifically, which focused on digital image creation and care. The participants came from Australia, Peru and, you know, Urbana-Champaign, which gave us fun topics for breaks besides the microscopic patterns of offset lithographs (also fun!).

Testing the reaction of different inks and printing methods in water

The work of IPI outside of its workshops is worth highlighting, because their expertise is available widely. They manage the Graphics Atlas, which can be used to identify images throughout the history of photography. IPI’s Digital Print Preservation Portal focuses specifically on digitally created works; given digital’s relative “youth,” we are learning on the fly about the best ways to create, care for, and restore digitally printed images. Tip: when in doubt, treat a digital print like its analog counterparts.

“Digital image” is a concept without definitive definition, but for the workshop’s purposes, it included prints made using digital technology, whether that meant an electronic file or a digital printing method instead of an analog one (for example, an inkjet printer in lieu of a printing press). Skilled IPI faculty members Daniel Burge, Doug Nishimura, and Andrea Venosa guided us through lectures on the analog and digital methods of image creation; lab experiments where we destroyed different print types, pictured above; more labs where we practiced IDing print methods and substrates (typically paper or canvas) to provide correct care; and more lectures about identifying and preserving all kinds of prints, digital or not. Now I’m well-prepared to put all of SCA’s prints under my new pocket microscopes!

After the workshop, a few members of my cohort piled into a car and took a quick trip to the George Eastman House, a museum of photography and historic home. Archivists and conservators both speak about it in hushed tones, and indeed there was a lot of photographic and film equipment that I’d never had the chance to see in real life. If you’re into obsolete technologies, put the Eastman House on your list!

Tweeting NCLA

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 3:00 pm

Last month I attended my first NCLA. While I had previously worked in NC libraries for 16 years and been a past president of the Society of NC Archivists, I had never taken advantage of this great networking opportunity before. In Greensboro I reconnected with old colleagues (including one from Penn State), saw one of my former professors honored, and met new colleagues. I also learned that Wanda Brown is truly a NCLA rock star and got to enjoy being at a conference with my new ZSR colleagues.

One of the things I like to do when attending a conference is tweet. I find it helps me focus and is similar to taking notes. Here are some of my tweets from NCLA:

In her remarks at the keynote address, Wanda “called out” all the academic library directors and deans to support their librarians’ participation in NCLA. I’m glad we had a strong presence and will encourage us all to be active members and leaders of NCLA!

Charleston 2015

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 11:00 am

Unseasonably warm weather, severely overcrowded rooms, and as many varieties of head cold as there are attendees: the Charleston Conference might not be for everyone. You have to really like acquisitions. Which, fortunately, some of us do.

James O’Donnell, Arizona State’s University Librarian (and a Classicist) gave a keynote-style talk about the need for libraries to embrace the changes that online education and resources have brought. He referred to a “universal collection” in which barriers are broken down between institutions, and called for access to be extended as far as possible. We shouldn’t think of libraries as stable collections or storehouses of information, rather as active and ever-changing “makers of knowledge.” As online education becomes more prevalent (at ASU it is huge), providing online access to our print collections becomes a truly essential function, because so much unique material exists only in that format. Mr. O’Donnell spoke intelligently and convincingly, as classicists tend to do.

Doug Way from Wisconsin (about whom Carol has already written and I will write a bit more later) participated in a panel about industry consolidation in the book-jobber business. Recent acquisitions of YBP by EBSCO and Coutts by ProQuest have sent tremors through the admittedly tremor-prone Technical Services world; there is an increasing sense that we libraries have exactly two choices; and as Mr. Way noted, options equal power, whereas fewer options mean less leverage for the customer. It is quite true, and we have already seen some of the ramifications of consolidation – a term which the companies involved, incidentally, seem to find hurtful. The question of whether book jobbers like YBP and Coutts will continue to play well with a variety of ILS/LSPs, regardless of corporate parentage, is presently unanswerable. As Mr. Way said, we need to see proof of neutrality. Press releases promising continued cooperation are inadequate.

At a “Lively Lunch” session (interpretation: you don’t really get a lunch break), Will Cross and Darby Orcutt from NC State led a very participatory discussion of emerging practices for providing non-academic video content in streaming format. All attendees contributed to the conversation. This was helpful in and of itself, as people in this line of work (i.e. my line of work) often feel as if they are trying to figure these things out on an island. Talk centered around legal questions pertaining to Fair Use, the TEACH Act, and libraries’ good-faith wish to deliver their professors the content they need for instruction. I have repeatedly confronted these issues in my time at ZSR (working with more colleagues than I can name) as we continue to seek solutions for provision of commercial content, especially in cases where the only version is not available to the educational market. To wit: Transparent. But take heart! I happen to know that Molly and Kyle are making important efforts in this area.

And now, about those short-term loans. Carol has already written about Doug Way’s presentation on Wisconsin-Madison’s “systematic abandonment” of this model of ebook acquisition. She also stated, correctly, I think, that we needn’t do the same at this time. On a side note, I found the idea of systematic abandonment oddly compelling: the relinquishment of dying or declining services so as to create opportunities for growth. It made me think of a tree falling in a forest, leaving a hole in the canopy that lets in new light and opens up space for fresh growth. Of course, the tree also crushes innumerable other plants; I haven’t worked out that part of the metaphor yet. At any rate, short-term loans and demand-driven access in general are changing before our eyes, as publishers try via STL price hikes and embargoes to make some money out of this whole ebook thing. Evidence-based acquisition (EBA) seems to be one direction that libraries are going, and I’m sure we’ll have conversations about that in the future. At “Will It Ever Settle Down? The Impact of Rapidly Shifting Ebook Business Models on Libraries and Publishers” David Givens from Loyola-Chicago spoke hilariously about his institution’s initial googly-eyed embrace of DDA and STLs and eventual significant reduction to the program’s breadth due to the aforementioned changes in pricing models. By now they have reduced their DDA pool by two thirds. It’s hard to say where we’ll be in two years, but it’s safe to say that it will be somewhere else; as it always is.

Other programs I attended included such various topics as acquisition of books in “squiggly languages;” Europe’s stricter online privacy laws and Google’s mandate to remove personal information about individuals from its web searches upon request; strategic, as opposed to speculative, collection building; a review of the literature on library users’ satisfaction with ebooks; and an effort by librarians at multiple institutions to create an acquisitions data standard, with emphasis on linked data, for an increasingly interconnected world.

And on Saturday afternoon, after the conference ended, this is where I fished. You can’t see the huge redfish that I caught, because it is still out there.


NCLA Textbook Talks

Wednesday, November 11, 2015 10:05 am

Textbook costs were a popular topic at the NCLA Biennial Conference this year. Since this concern affects so many aspects of Access Services, I was particularly interested in seeing how other academic libraries have tried to help their students and faculty deal with the high cost of textbooks.

At the beginning of every semester in Interlibrary Loan we get a barrage of requests from our students and other libraries to borrow and lend textbooks. Having used ILL for textbooks in grad school myself, I can sympathize. In Course Reserves, we have instructors tell us that they are using readings in place of costly textbooks. At the Circulation Desk we are trying to determine the best balance between providing costly, highly-used textbooks and not buying “required readings” that end up not being circulated.

At the Conference, Johnson & Wales presented a poster session on their textbook program. They keep about 150 textbooks on a shelf where students can access them without assistance. Most of the books are donated and are non-circulating. I spoke to Justin Herman, a reference librarian at Johnson & Wales and he said that only a very few had gone missing. He also pointed out that there was a 71% increase in library usage in the last few years and they attribute some of that increase to the textbook program.

I also attended the presentation by UNC-Greensboro on open educational resource (OER) textbooks as reported by Susan. A good list of OER projects was included and will provide interesting further research.

UNC-Charlotte’s library presented a session on collection management that included information about their ebook program for textbooks. They enter into licensing agreements with publishers with stipulations including unlimited access, freedom of digital rights management (DRM) and retention of archival rights. I’m interested in exploring the costs involved and how that compares with copyright permissions in Course Reserves.

Further research into these textbook ideas could help us guide our students and faculty to quality resources that may help mitigate the cost issues.

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