Professional Development

Amanda at LOEX 2015

Tuesday, May 19, 2015 4:06 pm

Earlier this month, Joy and I attended the annual LOEX Conference in Denver, Colorado. Like previous years, this continues to be the standout library instruction conference and I’m so happy we were able to go.


I would agree with Joy’s assessment that the opening keynote, presented by Anne-Marie Dietering, was one of the best I have heard. It was the highlight of the conference. If I had to identify a theme for it, it would be about challenging traditional narratives and binaries. Dietering has the full transcript available on her website, but here were some of my takeaways:

  • It’s easy to build up a narrative of what “good” instructional practice looks like. Sometimes these narratives can be helpful, but they are just as easily stressful and harmful, especially when we accept assumptions like “any instruction librarian can fix any bad situation” and judge our performance accordingly
  • Sometimes our assignment design can favor students that are already familiar with traditional assignment narratives (and by extension, good at telling the instructor what they want to hear). Additionally, some traditional assignment designs may result in students “performing” the act of an assignment (e.g. reflection) without actually engaging in the critical thinking the instructor intended. This alone has given me lots of food for thought when designing future assignments.
  • Dietering challenged us to review potentially false binaries in our own teaching (popular vs. scholarly is an easy one to pick on) and how we might re-frame those conversations to include in-between spaces. This topic is very timely, considering the recent introduction of the new Framework for Information Literacy. I feel like I’m hearing lots of conversation in our profession about wanting to move away from teaching “checklists” into how to have more complex conversations about authority, inquiry, and scholarship.
Denver Art Museum

Of course we took some time to sight see. This is the entrance to the Denver Art Museum (conveniently located next to the Denver Public Library).

For the rest of the conference I focused on two main goals: finding new potential learning activities for my LIB 100 classroom and listening to what other library’s are doing for instructional assessment.

Learning Activities:

  • One session focused on developing your own “Choose Your Own Adventure” online game using the storyboarding tool, Twine.
  • Another session discussed creating a “Source Stack” that consists of visual printouts of various library sources on a single research topic. The source stack can then be used for different in-class activities (e.g. information timeline, source evaluation)
  • Joy covered the session on using satirical news sources to teach information literacy concepts, but here is the LibGuide that is cataloging some of these clips if you’d like to browse


  • I attended a very helpful session on pre/post test design since we are talking about including one as a LIB 100 assessment in the fall. The session was really on how to write better test questions — I’ve definitely fallen into the trap of writing pre-test questions that are too easy, which makes it hard to get good data on student learning over the length of the course. The presenter offered tips like utilizing plausible distractors for multiple-choice questions, randomizing the test questions, and potentially using open-ended questions graded with a rubric.
  • Another session reviewed one library’s assessment of cited references (using a rubric) to measure student information literacy skills. I’ve done this kind of assessment before and I like it’s authenticity — it assesses the final product of student work. The main caveat is it’s rather time-intensive, and difficult to scale up, so it’s important to consider what the goals of the assessment are and how often/long to collect this type of data. .
  • One library was using course registration data to learn more about their students and how many of them were getting repeat library sessions. While I think we usually avoid the “I’ve had this session before” conundrum at ZSR, my takeaway was that we could potentially use course registration data to “track” first-year students who’ve taken LIB 100. We might use this multiple ways, but I would be interested to see if taking LIB 100 has a positive impact on student performance in later classes (for example, a capstone research class). Grades might not tell us the whole story, so this might be an example of where the rubric assessment of student work could come in handy!
Joy and I at the Molly Brown house in Denver.

Joy and I at the Molly Brown house in Denver. Turns out, she was way more than just the lady on the Titanic!

2015 ABLD at Vanderbilt

Friday, May 15, 2015 2:53 pm

In April I attended the annual meeting of the Academic Business Library Directors (ABLD) on the campus of Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

ABLD members in front of Vanderbilt b-school

ABLD is a small association of librarians from most of the top 50 business schools in North America. During the past year, I served as chair of the board of directors of the group. The Vanderbilt meeting marked the end of my term as chair and I will now serve one more year on the board as past chair.

ABLD holds its meetings on the campus of a member school. Doing so allows the members of ABLD to become familiar with other business schools and the libraries that serve them. Among ABLD schools and their libraries, there are many organizational models and no two schools and libraries are exactly alike. Vanderbilt’s business school offers only graduate degrees and its library is a full-service branch of the main library.

The conference began on a Tuesday afternoon with a campus tour led by Vanderbilt’s landscape architect. He pointed out the many exotic species of trees found on the campus that allow the entire campus to be designated as the Vanderbilt arboretum. After the tour Vanderbilt’s Interim Dean of Libraries, Jody Combs, hosted a reception in the main library.

Most of Wednesday’s program consisted of a variety of presentations by ABLD members. I was interested in a presentation by Meg Trauner of Duke who described the experience of the Duke business school library with an e-book program from Overdrive. Overdrive allows library users to borrow e-books and audio books from libraries and access them via the Overdrive app on a smartphone or tablet. Meg reported that business school library users much prefer this means of access to accessing e-books on a computer.

After a lunch at Vanderbilt’s on-campus University Club, the members spent some time with the seven vendor representatives who had been invited to showcase their products at the meeting. I learned more about BCC Research, a company that provides full text market research reports on industrial (rather than consumer) products. It’s a database to which we would like to subscribe if the price is right.

Later Tuesday afternoon the group visited the Nashville Entrepreneur Center in downtown Nashville. Michael Burcham is a member of the faculty at Vanderbilt and he founded the Entrepreneur Center as an organization to foster entrepreneurs in the city. It’s an impressive facility that is home to many companies that are just starting out. It provides office space, training and opportunities for mentoring and networking.

Thursday’s program contained more presentations by ABLD members along with a couple others by faculty from the business school. Professor David Owens spoke about the topic of innovation and Professor Kimberly Pace spoke about communication skills.

Prof. David Owens

Prof. Kimberly Pace

Among the topics discussed in member presentations were library space, teaching classes for credit and library support for classes in entrepreneurship.

Two guests from abroad attended the meeting: Andy Priestner of Cambridge University and president of the European Business School Librarians’ Group (EBSLG) and Gina de Alwis of Singapore Institute of Management and representing the Asia Pacific Business School Library Group (APBSLG) both made presentations. Andy spoke about his experience using ethnographic techniques to study library users and Gina spoke about the plans for the 2016 joint meeting of ABLD, EBSLG and APBSLG in Singapore.

The meeting concluded with a Thursday night visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame in downtown Nashville and a dinner on the site. After dinner, some of the members continued the fun on Nashville’s famous Honky Tonk Row.

Robert’s Western World Bar

More photos from my trip to Vanderbilt and Nashville are located here.

Molly at ARCS

Friday, May 15, 2015 1:21 pm

In late April, I attended the inaugural Advancing Research Communication & Scholarship (ARCS) conference in Philadelphia. Modeled on the early days of the Charleston Conference, ARCS aimed to be the first conference dedicated to scholarly communication that brought together the key stakeholders in the system: librarians, publishers, authors, and researchers. For two days, the 170 or so attendees gathered for keynotes, concurrent sessions, 24×7 talks, and a reception and poster session to exchange ideas on what works and what does not work in current scholarly communication practices, and to offer suggestions for where we might go in the future.

The opening keynote on Monday morning was extraordinarily fascinating. Will Noel, Penn Libraries Special Collections Center and Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, discussed how humanists do have data, they just don’t recognize that they do. To illustrate his point—literally and figuratively—he shared the work that he and others did at The Walter Art Museum in Baltimore on an Archimedes Palimpsest held by the Museum’s special collections. The palimpsest was first identified in 1906 and provided 78 previously unknown Archimedes treatises. He discussed how work on transcribing and saving the Archimedes works has progressed throughout the 20th and 21st centuries, from human eye translation to x-rays to ultraviolet and infrared scans to highlight the Archimedes text for study. The museum has released all of the images throughout the project openly online, and others have built viewers for scholars to be able to study these texts. The images themselves are data, and by making the data openly available, the opportunities for scholars and interested people to engage with this fragile artifact have expanded beyond what would otherwise have been possible had the images been restricted. The entire time he was speaking, I kept wishing that Chelcie, Tanya, Rebecca, Megan, Beth, Craig, and Stephanie could have been in the room with me!

The concurrent sessions I attended throughout the two days were on a variety of scholarly communication topics, many addressing openness and the future of digital scholarship. Points I’m still pondering:

  • Do we really know what scholarship is? (One panelist’s answer is that “it’s an event, it’s embodied, it’s materiality”)
  • How do we ask where scholarship begins and where does it end?
  • How do new forms of scholarship allow us to understand scholarly questions differently?

An insight that struck a chord is that scholarship no longer has to be a fixed form, i.e. a journal article or a monograph, but we haven’t yet developed systems to handle dynamic scholarship, either technically or in our mental framework of scholarship.

One of the best panels I’ve ever heard was at ARCS, bringing together a for-profit publisher, a non-profit library-based publisher, a current PhD student, and a librarian turned consultant. These four individuals, although bringing a variety of perspectives, came to some points of consensus that the model of open access that we have now—particularly looking to publishing—is likely not sustainable in it’s current iteration. Pressure points were identified by all, and while we certainly did not solve the problems of open access publishing, it was encouraging to hear representatives from across the system be able to agree on the challenges and opportunities. It was also refreshing to hear a for-profit publisher publicly acknowledge that publishers are in it for the business, not for advancing scholarship or supporting tenure, and therefore need profit. While this is known to be true, it isn’t always stated quite as bluntly.

The highlight of attending ARCS was the opportunity to connect with many scholarly communication colleagues, and also with several vendors. I shared meals or drinks with colleagues I’ve met through the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshow, the ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee, ASERL, the University Intellectual Property Officers group, the ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Advisory Board, and beyond. Because ARCS was a small conference, opportunities for conversations were plentiful, as we weren’t all dashing in different directions to catch shuttles to here, there, and everywhere as is the case at larger conferences (*cough, ALA, cough*).

This current fiscal year, I changed up the conferences I elected to attend, passing on ALA Midwinter and Annual, as well as ACRL, in favor of attending smaller, more focused conferences: Charleston, UIPO, ARCS, and next week, the ASERL Scholarly Communication Unconference. While I may yet return to the larger conferences, given the niche focus of my field, the conferences I’ve attended this year have proven to be a good match for my professional interests and needs, and I anticipate keeping to the smaller conferences for the foreseeable future.

Chris at the 2015 Carolina Consortium Meeting

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 7:17 pm

On Tuesday, I attended my first Carolina Consortium meeting. I’ve attended similar meetings previously, but this one was truly unique for me in that electronic resources were the primary focus. E-books were, of course, dominant in the conversation of the day as more packages were being offered by many vendors and libraries considered the choices in a public setting. It was interesting to me to see the forum in this format, particularly with the amount of e-mails I’ve received relating to the business of the Consortium over the years.

I also had the chance to see UNCG’s Tim Bucknall in action for the first time. When I was in library school, I took a class with him about “Emerging Technological Trends in Information Access”, but since it was an online course I hadn’t met him face to face. I have to commend him and his team at UNCG for the work they have put into building this Consortium among such a diverse group of libraries from North and South Carolina. The fact that we are able to receive discounted prices on so many electronic products is a quite an achievement, especially since there is no formal governing structure that is present with other library consortia across the country.

In addition to sessions about new deals for the Consortium and new products from the attending vendors and publishers, there was one breakout session that stood out to me. This session, “Evolving Consortial Roles in Collection Development and Acquisitions”, addressed how a consortium may shift its focus in response to the needs of its respective members. This session was presented by two librarians from the PASCAL consortium in South Carolina, and they shared how they were able to coordinate a short-term loan program for specific e-book packages across the entire state. (I plan to retrieve the slides for their presentation when they become available!) This is an interesting concept to approach an escalating problem, and it could be an opportunity of some fashion here in North Carolina.

Finally, as Carol mentioned in her post, there was a fire alarm during the Lightning Round sessions that closed the day. Coincidentally, Carol had mentioned the emergency exit doors on one side of the anteroom as we walked into the theatre in the Elliott University Center. As the fire alarm blared overhead, Carol remembered those doors and directed several members of the audience to follow us outside to the safety of a nearby courtyard. With the delay caused by arriving fire trucks and the required safety checks for the building, the decision was made by conference organizers to wrap early so that attendees with long commutes could head home. However, like the rest of the presentations at the conference, slides from all of Lightning Rounds would be available online at a later date.

UNCG’s Beth Bernhardt (third from right) thanks attendees outside of the Elliott Center.

This was a conference of firsts for me, but it was a well done event with a lot of shared information. From an acquisitions perspective, I found this to be a valuable meeting that I would attend again.

Carol at the Carolina Consortium Meeting

Wednesday, May 13, 2015 3:50 pm

On May 12, Chris and I attended the annual Carolina Consortium Meeting at UNCG. The format was half business meeting/half mini-conference with a focus on the resources that we purchase (or potentially could purchase) using the Consortium’s discounts. In the business half, I scribbled down the product names of a few offers that we might pursue.

After lunch, I attended the breakout session entitled, “The CC OCLC Deal: An Oxford-style Debate.” The two debaters were Angry Tim and Satisfied Tim, both played by Tim Bucknall of UNCG. Angry Tim sported a black hat and compared OCLC to The Borg swallowing up everything in its path (“resistance is futile”). Wearing a white hat and using the identical set of slides, Satisfied Tim painted OCLC as Capt. Picard leading a diverse crew of libraries into the final frontier. By using this style, the “two” Tims cleverly engaged our attention to deliver what could otherwise have been very boring information.

Satisied Tim

The program continued with Lightning Rounds. First, Steve Cramer from UNCG asked, “Are there alternatives to expensive business content?” (Answer: Sometimes.) Then, Liz Siler spoke on “A follow-up on UNCC’s eTextbook program.” I reported on this initiative back in November. Liz just started explaining student and faculty reaction to the program when…

BRAYNK! BRAYNK! Fire alarm!

After locating the nearest exit (it was indeed behind us), we spent 20 minutes enjoying the beautiful weather and rejoicing that the Elliott Center had not yet burst into flames. The organizers cancelled the remainder of the conference with a pledge that they’ll do something (e.g. webinar, shared slides) about the 2½ Lightning Round presentations we missed.

Stephanie at Midwest Archives

Tuesday, May 12, 2015 9:33 am

As Tanya mentioned, I also attended the Midwest Archives Conference annual meeting last week. It was my first trip to bourbon country, and thanks to the local arrangements committee, I kicked it off at Buffalo Trace, the longest running bourbon distillery in America, and a narrated amble through horse country. Another first for an archives: the plenary speaker was Joel Pett, a Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Lexington Herald-Leader; his talk was a laugh a minute.

The trip was not all fun and games, though, I did make time for learning! I attended a very informative session on audiovisual preservation, which is timely since I’m currently processing about 8 linear feet of cassette tapes, videotapes, and audioreels in the Edgar Christman collection. All the sessions were great, though. Other highlights included:

  • A hands-on session about digital forensics presented in part by Jason Evans Groth of NC State: I may be taking a field trip soon to see their digital imaging workstation
  • A quick brown bag lunch session on strategic career planning featuring our own TZB
  • Event planning and social media management solutions for solo archivist shops (translates well to our department, as well)
  • A “speed geeking” session on records management-related outreach and marketing that provided four different, creative approaches

It’s rare that every session of a conference offers something that is directly applicable to my work, but happily this was the case in Lexington. I also presented a poster on Saturday morning, “How Much Do You Earn? An Informal Look at Archives Salaries,” presenting the results of a survey that I conducted last spring. I got some good questions and feedback, which was useful for thinking about my next steps. Many thanks to Craig for providing some tips on making the poster look good! Alas, I failed to take a photo of my masterpiece.

Midwest Archives Conference Annual meeting–Lexington, KY–Tanya

Monday, May 11, 2015 1:18 pm

I had a wonderful time at the most recent MAC meeting—there was learning, sharing information, and hearing horror stories. I was able to attend the Society of American Archivists workshop: Accessioning and Ingest of Electronic Records. The workshop was excellent, and included discussion of how to combine the practice of archival appraisal with accepting and documenting born-digital records. There was a focus on policies, file formats, storage considerations, and a number of tools available for archivists to use. The donation of born-digital and electronic records is becoming an increasing issue for the University Archives, and the time could not be better to attend a workshop such as this.

I also gave a presentation on Thursday on Assessing our Public Services, part of a broader session on Assessment (including Collections and Trusted Digital Repository Criteria). We had around 70 people in the room and there were lots of questions afterwards. My presentation is available here:

The opening reception was held at The Carrick House ( in downtown Lexington. There were variations on ham and biscuits, and yes, I witnessed archivists square-dancing. They also had a photo booth and it was just as popular as ours was at the Dean’s List Gala. I was able to attend more sessions on archives internships and implementing organizational change, and see posters on Documenting Ferguson and the current status of archivists’ salaries (courtesy of our own Stephanie Bennett).

Finally, I was able to knock another item off my bucket list as I traveled back via the Cumberland Gap Parkway.

LOEX 2015, April 30-May 2 in Denver, CO

Tuesday, May 5, 2015 10:39 am

Last week, Amanda Foster and I had the privilege of attending LOEX 2015 which was held this year in Denver, Colorado. This year, 390 instruction librarians from the United States, Canada, and Norway (yes, two librarians from Norway!) gathered to exchange ideas, commiserate, and re-energize. Our common bond was library instruction. As with past LOEX experiences, this was an extremely well executed event filled with outstanding plenary and breakout sessions. The entire conference took place in the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center located 10.5 miles from downtown Denver.

Thursday Evening Opening Reception

One of the best parts of LOEX is having the opportunity to meet some of the most interesting people in the world. At the Friday night reception, I sat with the engineering librarian at the University of North Dakota who was an entomologist and worked for the USDA for many years, including a three year stint in Raleigh, NC (and this is just one small example of interesting people!). At the reception, I learned that LOEX is now a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization thanks to a behind-the-scenes successful rescue by a group of librarians who helped LOEX dodge being absorbed into Eastern Michigan University’s budget!

Friday Morning Plenary Session

The opening plenary session was one of the best I’ve heard. Anne-Marie Dietering from Oregon State University spoke on “Reflections on Reflection: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Embrace the Meta.” Two years ago, I incorporated metacognition elements in my LIB100 sections and I was less than pleased with the experience. Anne-Marie never used the term “metacognition,” but instead used the term “metathinking,” which I really liked. You can read her entire speech, including the findings here (it includes the names of several books that we have in our library that helped shaped her five year journey with this topic). The punch line of her talk focused on Mary Helen Immordino-Yang‘s findings which connects “social emotion, cognition and culture.” It seems that through the 1980’s, scientists believed that thinking and emotion were separate, controlled by different parts of the brain. But it turns out that emotion is an essential part of higher-level thinking. New experiences receive “tags” that we put into our emotional knowledge banks that determine how we make decisions moving forward. Anne-Marie says that our world is comfortable with binary thinking (good/bad; guilty/innocent, scholarly/popular, novice/expert, etc.). She challenged us to stretch ourselves and our students to accept the uncomfortable spaces between the binaries. We are not good or bad, but in the middle and we must learn to deal with the complexities in between. She says that librarians are particularly equipped to navigate grey areas and that we should embrace our unique role. I personally loved this speech for several reasons. It helped me to understand what was wrong with my metacognition exercises that I used in my classes two years ago which were completely analytical, “What I learned” reflections. It also affirmed what happens naturally in my classes when most of the students let go of old research habits and embrace new search strategies and tools. We introduce them to the uncomfortable world of databases, the catalog, and Summon and the angst they experience is the sweet spot for knowledge. I was so inspired by this speech that I could have gone home after her presentation and declared LOEX 2015 a success!

I will very briefly discuss some of the other highlights of the conference:

Breakout: “Using Satirical News Sources to Promote Active Learning and Student Engagement” By Stephanie Alexander (California State University East Bay)

In this session, the presented showed three video clips and then asked us to use the new ACRL Framework for Information Literacy and select the threshold concepts the clips addressed. The presenter shows the clips in one shot sessions. Amanda and I were both at this session and we agreed that the first two clips could not be used in our classes (both took jabs at conservatives: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and Rand Paul’s Plagiarism Problem by Stephen Colbert). However, the last clip was John Oliver’s Commentary on the Sugar Industry had more potential. She showed an excerpt from the clip that quotes research from the sugar industry that says sugar does not cause obesity. This clip could be used to discuss the first concept, “Authority is Constructed and Contextual” where learners determine the credibility of sources and understand the elements that might temper their credibility.

Breakout: “Hacking the Framework: Using the Art and Science of Story to Address the Dispositions” By John Watts and Joshua Vossler.

I attended this session because I attended a LOEX preconference two years ago led by this pair and I thought it would be a fun session. It was entertaining, but I was disturbed by the story on which they hinged the presentation. Josh gave a very dramatic presentation about an English professor he had in graduate school who screamed at them for not using proper MLA format when they were given an introductory exercise in class and the answer was Moby Dick: Or, the Whale. After the class, I asked him which threshold concept this represented and he said it fell under, “Scholarly is a conversation,” and the disposition under that was, “systems privilege authorities and not having a fluency in the language and process of a discipline disempowers their ability to participate and engage.” I have thought about this a lot, and it is my sincere hope that this is not the meaning of this disposition. By the way, the Framework was a common thread throughout the conference, and it was clear that everyone is still trying to figure out what it means and how it will be used.

Roundtable Discussion: Assessment of Instruction

During lunch, I attended this roundtable discussion (with Susan Smith in mind), just to hear what others were doing. We will be a beta site for the new SAILs assessment tool starting this fall and I will be using it in my classes. I learned that the full version of SAILs requires a lot classroom time and that other institutions are using “Research Ready” and “Guide on the Side,” but no group seemed thrilled with their tools. I also learned that Megan Oakleaf is a consultant on this topic and she was given rave reviews by those in attendance.

Breakout: Teachers-turned-Librarians Share Tips for Improving Instruction

This session was filled with common sense tips for classroom management and effectiveness. Instructors should engage students, build rapport, and work to prevent distractions. When disruptions occur, subtlety is the key—focus on positives, keep your cool, ignore if possible, never reprimand in front of the class, discuss issues with students one-on-one. Up to 90% of how we communicate is with body language, so be self-aware! Stand still when you are giving directions, be aware of boundaries, use eye contact, be positive and upbeat, and be honest. Find ways to improve your instruction by using peer observation, practicing reflective teaching, co-teaching, and using mentors.

Breakout: Teaching Evaluation Can be a One Dish Meal by Heather Campbell at Brescia University College in Canada

I thought this was a particularly interesting breakout. Heather is the coordinator of instruction at her school, and she implemented a 360 degree style teaching evaluation to help strengthen the presentation/teaching skills of their teaching librarians. She shared copies of the feedback form as well as the rubric they developed. The purpose of the evaluation is to be supportive and helpful, and is not used for job evaluation.

I attended other sessions, but I have summarized what I thought was most interesting. It was a wonderful conference and I am grateful for the opportunity to attend!



Steve at 2015 LAUNC-CH Conference

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 5:51 pm

Once again, I have to apologize for being so late in posting about a conference that happened in March (the 13th, to be precise), but March and April really were the months that ate my life.

So, the 2015 LAUNC-CH Conference. I found the most interesting session was the opening keynote, “Fostering Digital Literacy in the 21st Century,” by Jeffrey Greene, a professor in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at UNC-CH. Greene argued that Marc Prensky’s conception of the digital native is false. Why? Because the digital divide is still a very real thing and poor kids without access to computers are not digital natives, even if they’re part of the same generational cohort. Also, human brains don’t really work any differently in a digital environment, except in the most superficial ways. Plus, he argues that genuine multi-tasking is not possible, at least one activity suffers during multi-tasking. And finally, and perhaps most controversially, he argues that learning styles are bunk. Research has shown that there’s really nothing to learning styles. While it is true that the more ways we encounter information, the better able we are to master that information, no single style works best for one person. Greene went on to state that digital literacy, among other things, involves the knowledge and skills to understand tasks, make plans, and to navigate, critique, and integrate multiple sources. For Greene, a digitally literate person would be able to understand tasks, make plans, enact strategies, monitor their progress, evaluate and adapt, and essentially self-regulate their digital world. A more advanced type of digital literacy would involve thinking like a scholar, which leads to extensive, targeted searching, critical evaluation of sources, better integration of information, and deeper understanding of information. He wants students to become effective curators of digital information. (He also said one of my favorite sentences I’ve ever heard at a conference, “You can’t be intrinsically motivated about everything. That’s a crazy person.”)

I also saw Ellen, Kaeley and Leslie give a great presentation on their LIB 250 class, I did not know my colleagues were such fantastic presenters! There was also a very interesting, if somewhat underdeveloped, lightning session by a UNC-CH SILS student, Jaci Paige WIlkinson, called “Beats That Collected Dust: Hip Hop Sampling & Academic Metadata,” which discussed how because hip hop is often based on sampling, the music is effectively an inter-related text, with references to earlier recordings. She argued that we could use linked data to link derivative works and original works to show where samples came from. There seemed to be a lot of steps missing from her argument, but I think the short time frame really worked against her. I’d definitely be interested in seeing what her more developed research finds.

Arabian Gulf States Chapter of the Special Libraries Association

Monday, April 27, 2015 2:13 pm

Last summer I received an e-mail, which at first I thought must be a mistake. It was an invitation to present at the 21st annual conference of the Arabian Gulf Chapter of the Special Libraries Association in Abu Dhabi. The invitation was for Mary Beth, Mary Krautter of UNC-Greensboro and me. You may recall that in 2012 we had published The Entrepreneurial Librarian and we surmised it was our roles as editors that had earned us the invitation. We felt it was a rare opportunity and an honor to have been invited. We accepted promptly and began planning our presentation.

Mary Krautter, Mohamed Mubarak, Mary Beth Lock, Mary Scanlon
We were asked to present a four-hour pre-conference workshop and a 90-minute concurrent session, both of which were to be based on the topic of entrepreneurship in libraries. After many early morning meetings at Panera and several all-day Saturday work sessions, we were ready to present How to Create an Entrepreneurial Culture in Your Library and Entrepreneurship in Libraries.
The full title of the conference was: The Internet and the Positive Change to Librarians and Information Professionals: Enhancing the Digital Knowledge Society’s Information Needs. Three hundred librarians attended the conference and one hundred vendors exhibited their products and services. I met librarians from across the Gulf States of Oman, Qatar, the UAE (naturally) and Kuwait along with a number of expats working at UAE libraries who had come from Morocco and the US, including my fellow BLINC librarian Melanie Wood who’s currently working at Zayed University in Dubai. Melanie served as our moderator during the presentation.
The conference, which ran for 2.5 days, was preceded by a day of pre-conference workshops including ours. The workshops were held at the Petroleum Institute not far from the conference hotel. We were fortunate to have a small audience for it allowed us to engage with each of them in a very interactive manner. As Mary Beth noted, most of our attendees were associated with the tourism & hospitality industries in some capacity. These are important and growing industries in the UAE. We conducted the workshop in English without simultaneous translators which worked out well for the most part. The local SLA chapter used a professional event-planning company to organize the pre-conference workshops and the conference; their work was in evidence every day as the conference progressed.
The conference opened on Tuesday morning. Following a recitation from the Holy Koran and greetings from the conference organizers and local hosts, Dr. Eesa Mohammed Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai presented the keynote address, “Knowledge-based Societies”. He laid out a vision for the UAE as a knowledge-based ecosystem that would provide economic prosperity for all. The main components of a knowledge-based ecosystem consist of: education; research and business development (R&BD); and incubation and entrepreneurship. In the area of R&BD he asserted that the element that’s missing in the UAE is a culture of entrepreneurship. He presented such a compelling case for developing these traits in the Arab societies & economies that I wished we had offered our workshop after his talk. He presented the why and we presented the how for developing an entrepreneurial culture in an organization. His talk was an energetic call to action for entrepreneurship in the region.
We presented during the first set of concurrent sessions which began after lunch on the first day. We had a good-sized audience which engaged with the material, asked questions and stayed after the talk to get copies of our slides downloaded onto their thumb drives.
I attended a concurrent session on embedded applications by McGraw Medical. The company representative explained how a medical textbook evolved into a fully digital application with tons of embedded content that’s customized to a class or program. Its focus is on surgical education for students as well as clinicians with a focus on accuracy and ease of search.
The second day’s keynote session was delivered by Professor Sherif Kamel Shaheen, Professor of Library and Information Science at Cairo University. His talk, “How to Create Real Future impact? People Make the Difference” spoke to 4 issues facing our profession: innovation and entrepreneurship; social responsibility; code of ethics; strategic partnerships. His was another call to action, to take ideas and implement them, but not just for the sake of being different. As Mary Beth noted, the UAE is making a concerted effort to differentiate its economy beyond the petroleum industry and infusing the culture with a spirit of entrepreneurship is part of the plan, even though it doesn’t blend neatly with the current culture which is somewhat hierarchical. As you see, entrepreneurship was a thread that wove its way through the entire conference and we were part of the thread.

I also attended sessions on Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) which varies slightly from our DDA; a session on Technology in Libraries which focused on online education; and a vendor presentation on Plum Analytics, among others.
English was the primary language for the conference, although the program was printed in both English and Arabic. Most presentations were in English and the conference provided headsets and simultaneous translators for both English to Arabic and Arabic to English. I tended to skip the few sessions in which the presentation and the slides were both in Arabic.

I spent some time in the exhibit hall, too. The vendors seemed to fall into several categories: the database and e-book vendors, the furniture vendors, and the digital scanning equipment or services vendors. Among the database vendors I saw many familiar names, but the focus was all on STEM. Given the importance of petroleum engineering to the Gulf States this isn’t very surprising, but except for Euromonitor, there wasn’t a single business database in the hall.

As Mary Beth has already noted, the hospitality shown us was delightful. Conference organizers and attendees alike made us feel welcome. It was a great experience and I’m grateful to Mohamed Mubarak, Past President of the chapter for inviting us.


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