Professional Development

“Jumpstart Your Preparedness” workshop

Tuesday, January 27, 2015 3:48 pm

On Monday, January 26, 2015, most of the Safety and Security Team attended the workshop entitled “Jumpstart Your Preparedness” held at the High Point Museum. In addition to the attendees from ZSR, which included James Harper, Thomas Dowling, Meghan Webb, Craig Fansler and Mary Beth Lock, the workshop was attended by representatives from 20 other triad area cultural institutions, (museums and libraries) all of whom were interested in learning about increasing preparedness for the inevitable emergency. The morning’s conversation started with a recounting of the fire that took place in one of the historic buildings on Mendenhall Plantation in Jamestown, NC. The fire, (determined to be arson) took place during Thanksgiving week, while the director, Shawn Rogers, was out of town visiting family. The story he related was a gripping account. Both he and his assistant Shirley Haworth noted the importance of establishing relationships in advance with vendors who you can call on in an emergency. Their experience with the more nefarious workmen who show up the night of the event offering to assist with securing the property as a “service to the community” only to afterward submit a bill for services served as a lesson for us all.

The balance of the morning was spent discussing the services available through North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and their “Connecting to Collections” IMLS grant. The grant has afforded creation of burn workshops which enable individuals to get boots on the ground training on how to recover from a fire in a cultural institution or library. They also discussed the importance of creating an Area Cultural Resources Emergency Network, or ACREN for our region. There is already an ACREN that exists on the coast of North Carolina, one in the Triangle, and one in the Mountains, but there isn’t one that serves the triad. At the end of the discussion, a sign up sheet was sent around to indicate who was interested in starting up such an entity. Several members of our Safety and Security Team signed up.

Following lunch, the group of us were invited to visit the site of the Mendenhall Plantation fire and see first hand the recovery after the fire. We had an opportunity to see the methods for removing soot with a soot sponge and learn of the additional plans on recovering the space while still honoring the age of the building. As it was mentioned, when you have such a situation in an historic building, you can’t just rip up the floorboards and lay down laminate. The workshop was very instructive and illustrated how much more there is to learn to be really prepared. There is yet more to do!

Adrienne Berney demonstrates how to use a chamber to remove smoke odor from books

Adrienne Berney demonstrates how to use a chamber to remove smoke odor from books

Meghan Webb and Mary Beth Lock "get their hands dirty" using a soot sponge. Not really though. We were wearing gloves!

Meghan Webb and Mary Beth Lock “get their hands dirty” using a soot sponge. Not really though. We were wearing gloves!

Rebecca at CurateGear 2015

Friday, January 16, 2015 10:48 am

Last week, Tanya and I travelled to Chapel Hill for CurateGear 2015: Enabling the Curation of Digital Collections. After reading Tanya’s acoount of her experience, I thought I would fill in some of my favorite bits of the day.

Susan Malsbury – The GMHC Hotline Database: Capturing a snapshot of AIDS service providers in NYC

Susan presented a fascinating demonstration of emulation of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis hotline database in the Manuscripts and Archives Division reading room at NYPL. She explained the very simple setup of an emulation experience for researchers to access a disk image of the original born-digital materials from the collections. They have a dedicated machine in the reading room, offline and USB blocked (so patrons cannot make copies). There is a reader login account to access the records. They also load a pdf of the finding aid on the machine so researchers can see what they are looking at (since there is no internet). Serving the disk images in this way allows researchers to experience and utilize the materials without any harm to the original records. Given the many disks in our collections here in Special Collections & Archives, I found this to be a very inspiring and accessible way to provide access to patrons.

Lori Donovan – Archive-It 5.0

Lori spent a lot of time discussing Archive-It’s 5.0 updates that started rolling out in October of 2014 and will continue in 2015. This was a great session, as I think about WFU’s use of Archive-It a lot and enjoy hearing about how we can do this better. Some of the highlights of her talk included the fact that Archive-It is overhauling the user interface for the first time since they started in 2006. This is great news! It’s not done yet, but the reports section has been released. The reports (and later everything else) has a much cleaner, streamlined look and dynamic visualization of the information in the reports. You can really mine down into the information in the reports and fine tune your crawls with a much better understanding of what information you have captured. I was truly excited about these changes and can’t wait to see the future rollouts of Archive-It 5.0

I found the whole day at CurateGear 2015 a very interesting and inspiring experience. I would be happy to talk more about the presentations I mentioned or any others that I attended at CurateGear 2015. Thank you to the Dean’s office for the opportunity to attend.

 

CurateGear 2015 by Tanya

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:51 pm

Rebecca and I again had the opportunity to attend UNC’s CurateGear last week, and the presentations were excellent. CurateGear provides an overview and technical demos of selected digital curation tools, but this year seems to be focused on broader issues and I found it much more useful.

Erika Farr reported on Emory’s use of Redbooth in her presentation “Measure for Measure: Tracking Effort in Born Digital Processing,” which enabled them to collect assessment data on how long it actually took staff to process digital files for the archives. Their numbers came down to 5MB per hour (18 files), not necessarily encouraging in regards to speed and effort, but there always needs to be a starting point.

Nancy McGovern (MIT) updated the group on Digital Preservation Management Tools. She has been involved for many years with the DP workshops, and they are expanding their repertoire to include Collection Management Workflows, Disaster Preparedness, and a Self-Assessment Audit. I also attended a NYPL session on providing research room access to electronic records with a stand-alone PC. As the speaker, Susan Malbury noted, archivists have been focusing on the ingest and preservation of electronic records, as opposed to researchers accessing them, but this will change in the future. Katherine Skinner spoke about MetaArchive, a cooperative network preserving digital records by following the LOCKSS concept. Angela Spinazze spoke about CollectionsSpace, an open-source platform to handle eclectic collections such as archaeological objects and botanical specimens. CollectionsSpace is now under the LYRASIS umbrella.

If anyone is interested, please see the CurateGear agenda as there are links to all of the presentations: http://ils.unc.edu/digccurr/curategear2015.html

The Multi-Cultural Classroom

Monday, January 12, 2015 11:24 am

On Friday Jan 9th, the TLC offered a series of 5 workshops on how to create an inclusive classroom. Hu, Amanda and Mary attended most of them and we’ve created a joint blog post.

Session 1. Teaching Inclusively: a Pedagogical Exploration
The first session of the day was “Teaching Inclusively: a Pedagogical Exploration” which Hu and Mary attended. Led by Katherine Ross, the session began by watching video clips of two college classes followed by an extensive discussion comparing and contrasting the two styles of instruction. We developed a list of characteristics of the more effective of the two including: create a sense of community; verify learning throughout the semester; engage students through technology; know your students; make the material relevant; articulate explicitly the learning objectives; and go to the place they are. Bottom line: good curriculum design creates an inclusive classroom

Here are some course design questions to ask oneself:
Who are we teaching?
What their concerns and needs?
What do they need or want to learn?
What big, interesting questions are we answering?

Additional considerations:
Is the desired learning visible?
is there a metacognitive organizational structure to the course?
Are the assignments and assessments (quizzes, tests, etc.) clearly targeted at the learning objectives? Are they weighted appropriately to the objectives?

Some of this material overlapped with other classes I’ve taken at the TLC such as Deep Learning, How to Conduct the First Day of Class, and others.

Session 3. Exploring the Inclusive Syllabus: What, Why and How
The third session of the day, “Exploring the Inclusive Syllabus: What, Why, and How,” was attended by Mary and Amanda and facilitated by Katherine Ross and Niki McInteer, a visiting professor teaching German Masterworks in Translation. The class highlighted ways to use the syllabus as a place to “set the tone” for an inclusive classroom. Suggestions included:
Using inclusive language like “you” and “we,”
Utilizing a “create your own” style grading scheme where students can choose among assignments and drop lowest scores
Including a complete course schedule
Creating a visually pleasing syllabus to entice students to read it

The session also included a brief tutorial on using Microsoft Publisher to build a visually appealing syllabus.

Session 4. Facilitating Difficult Discussions in the Classroom
The fourth session of the day was led by Anthropology professor and cultural anthropologist, Sherri Lawson Clark. This session began with each participant responding to one of four questions as a means of introduction. The questions included:
How do you define Diversity?
How many times today have you thought about your Diversity?
What is your Privilege?
What is a difficult topic you discuss in your class?

This led to a discussion of vocabulary around topics of diversity and some tools for facilitating difficult discussions in the classroom. The primary method discussed centered around addressing “the elephant in the room” at the start of any discussion. We also discussed a method that came up in the morning session, “meeting the students where they are.” Professor Clark uses Turning Point clickers, like the kits we check out to faculty and students, to get anonymous responses from students in her class. She also used the clickers as part of the workshop to shed light on current issues around diversity and inclusion in the US today.

Session 5. Working with International, Multilingual Readers and Writers
Session 5 was taught by Zak Lancaster from the English Department. International students come to us with different backgrounds that can strongly influence their English language skills. He divided this cohort into 3 groups: those who went to English-language high schools, those who’ve been learning English in school since the first grade and those who attended high school in the US. The group that attended high school in the US may have excellent command of the spoken language including slang and pop culture vocabulary, but have a less well developed command of the written language, while the former groups may have excellent command of the rules of grammar for written language, but lack verbal skills and vocabulary of the latter group. We talked in small groups and as a whole about the broad spectrum of ways in which to address errors in written and spoken English in classroom assignments.

Special Collections Folio Project

Monday, January 5, 2015 2:17 pm

An Introduction for Craig’s Folio Review
by Tanya Zanish-Belcher, Director of Special Collections & Archives

When I first arrived at ZSR, the first thing which caught my attention was the mismatch of storage space with our SCA collections, in particular the rare book collection. This collection, numbering over 50,000 volumes, is currently stored in five different storage areas. One of our long-term goals is to review our storage environment and as part of that effort, we applied for a Preservation Assessment Grant for Small Institutions from the National Endowment for the Humanities. NEH recently notified us our grant has been approved, and Tom Wilsted, a nationally known consultant, will be visiting ZSR in early 2015 to conduct such a review (http://www2.archivists.org/prof-education/faculty/thomas-wilsted).

However, the other issue which was of immediate concern, was the fact that every folio was stored upright. It is standard practice, due to the weight of the volume, that these books should be stored flat (for more information on book sizes, please see here: http://www.abebooks.com/books/RareBooks/collecting-guide/understanding-rare-books/guide-book-formats.shtml). Craig and I discussed his completing a folio survey, which would enable us to know how much space we would need for storage, and as Craig points out below, provide him with in-depth knowledge of this part of our collection and its conservation/preservation needs. Congratulations to Craig for completing this long-term project!

IMG_2453

Photograph by Ansel Adams

In May, 2013, I began a folio assessment project in ZSR Special Collections. A folio is any item in the collection that is approximately 15 inches in any dimension (38 cm). During this project, I measured and assessed each folio item in Special Collections. This project had two goals: to identify space needs for Special Collections folio items in order for them to be stored flat (as is best for these large, heavy materials); and to identify any preservation needs with each item. There were over 3000 items that I assessed and measured in this project.

So what did I learn in a year and a half of examining these materials?

Florence Theater Tickets

-Number one, we have a wonderful and amazing collection! We hold a number of early printed titles (15th-16th century), a strong collection of items on printing, paper-making, fine press bindings and poetry broadsides. We have Irish bookplates and 18th century Italian theater tickets, prints of North American wildflowers and even marbled paper in the form of flowers. There are the old books, which are wonderful…but there are the wonderful books that are just wonderful regardless of their age. I’m only mentioning a few of these.

Primitive Papermaking- Dard Hunter

Primitive Papermaking by Dard Hunter, early paper-making pioneer

Arion Press-this fine press in San Francisco operated for decades as the Grabhorn Press, but became Arion Press in 1974. It is a very respected fine press operation which prints and binds their work in-house. We receive everything they print. Special Collections recently received the 100th book printed by Arion Press, a commemorative edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass.

Arion press- Leaves of Grass title page

Barry Moser- Moser is likely the most talented wood engraver and printmaker in the US. Several of his illustrations can be found in our collection. I’m including two images here. One, of Sampson and Delilah, is from a version of the Bible printed by Pennyroyal Press. The other image is the cover of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Barry Moser used former professor Allen Mandelbaum as the model for the Madhatter on this cover.

Sampson and Deliah - Barry Moser

Alice in Wonderland-Barry Moser

What were the preservation issues? I found many books that simply need a glassine dust jacket to protect it from wear and light damage. It was amazing to me how much damage light has caused to our collections. The lights in our closed stack areas are not on that much, but they have a cumulative effect. Many items were also damaged from the wear and tear of sliding in and out of the space where they are stored. Some leather bound books stained the cloth and paper books next to them as well. There are numerous more complicated repairs that I’ll need to address as well as some that should be sent to a conservator for expert repair work. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on many of these materials.

I have not added the numbers from my measurement of each folio item in Special Collections, but this information will help us plan for a kinder storage of these irreplaceable items, hopefully flat instead of standing on their spines. I am also concerned that we be proactive in protecting items in good condition now before they deteriorate. It is a good feeling to have this knowledge and the ability to go forward with support to conserve our incredible collection.

Thomas Takes Left Turn at Albuquerque, Ends Up in DC

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 4:00 pm

TPD at LITA Forum and CNI

Last month (where does the time go?), I was in Albuquerque for the LITA National Forum. I can’t say strongly enough what a good, small conference this is for topics on applying technology to library projects (the 2015 Forum will be in Minneapolis, which will simplify travel – I expect to see ZSR faces there!). It packs an awful lot into 48 hours.

Keynotes:

AnnMarie Thomas, University of St. Thomas. AnnMarie is an engineering professor who specializes in playing and making. She spoke about setting up maker spaces that are something more than just a 3D printer. One of her specialties is Squishy Circuits, an innovative way to electrical circuit design using circuits made of play dough. Fun stuff (which is the point), and a good way to foster interest in STEM topics.

Lorcan Dempsey, Thinker of Deep Thoughts, OCLC. Lorcan’s talk, “Thinking About Technology…Differently” touched on a wide range of topics: how the relationship between information and knowledge mirrors the relationship between “stuff on the web” and “linked data on the web”; the growing use [by Google et al.] of embedded metadata in web pages, and the work to boost the quality and granularity of metadata for bibliographic items; the link from the reality that Google is where people are to the need to make our content more discoverable and to mesh our workflows for things like IR submission to the workflows of our authors – not the other way around.

Kortney Ryan Ziegler, founder of Trans*h4ck. Trans*h4ck is a hackathon and tech-oriented get-together for the trans a gender non-conforming community. An interesting and eye-opening talk, including the sad fact that in many libraries, trans patrons can’t even search the word transgender in library databases because filtering software automatically flags it as pornography. Another sad part of day-to-day life is the simple act of finding a public restroom where people won’t hassle you for which door you go in; one of Trans*h4ck’s first accomplishments was YoRestrooms, a mobile web site that uses Google Maps to locate gender-safe public restrooms.

Highlights of Breakout Sessions:

Forum usually packs in about 30 breakout sessions. Of the ones I could get to, highlights included further details on OCLC’s work to expand the vocabulary for embedding bibliographic data in web pages without giving Google the whole shebang of MARC fields. Also, a great session on improving libraries’ presence on social media by A) actually participating in Twitter and Facebook rather than using them as post-only media; and B) employing SMO (Social Media Optimization). As a parallel to SEO (search engine optimization), SMO helps explain a page to Facebook or Twitter in order to improve what people see when you Like that page.

Not long after returning from Albuquerque, I was on my way to Washington, DC, for the CNI Fall Meeting. If LITA Forum packs a lot into 48 hours, CNI packs at least as much into 26 hours (though with breakout sessions running in 9 concurrent streams, the percentage of content you can get to has gone down).

The opening plenary was a discussion featuring Tom Cramer, Chief Technology Strategist at Stanford; James Hilton, Dean of Libraries and Vice Provost for Educational Initiatives, University of Michigan, and Michele Kimpton, CEO of Duraspace (the organization that coordinates development on DSpace and Fedora). Interesting stuff on the role of educational institutions in creating the software we want to use; sustainable software development; and the difference between simply open source software and software that is the product of open communities.

There was a good session on interoperating with Wikipedia. There’s no denying that students’ research often follows a path of Google→Wikipedia→References, so we can at least work in the Wikipedia community to improve the visibility of relevant library holdings, and in particular digital objects in our repositories. One of the presenters is the head of the Wikipedia Library Program, which among other things is working on a program of Wikipedia Visiting Scholars. Often, prolific Wikipedia editors need the kind of database and full text access we take for granted, but don’t have access to a good academic library. As visiting scholars, they can get remote access to high quality sources, and improve Wikipedia for everyone’s benefit. Rutgers and George Mason were noted as universities that have supported Wikipedia visiting scholars.

Another good session on OCLC’s efforts to articulate bibliographic information through embedded metadata.

Several sessions on patron privacy, including some sobering examples of exactly how much private information “leaks” out of web sites. Takeaways from this session are being rolled into the forthcoming ZSR privacy audit.

“What Have You Learned, Dorothy?”

New Mexico has an Official State Question: “Red or Green?” I usually answer Green. Also, green chile cheeseburgers ftw.

One-seventh of the way through the 21st century, conference hotels still routinely fail at providing adequate wi-fi. Routinely.

Embedded metadata is happening, often in subterranean ways, but it is definitely a thing. Getting books, articles, and other library goodies in on the action is going to be important.

I didn’t mention it above, but Kuali OLE is also a thing, if only just barely. The Open Library Environment is inching forward, and two schools (Lehigh and Chicago) are successfully using its first modules in production. We track this project as having the potential to provide a community developed, open source, academically oriented ILS in the (near?) future.

NC-LITe comes back to ZSR

Friday, December 19, 2014 5:14 pm

Have you ever thrown together a regional mini-conference in the short window between final grades and the holiday break? ZSR just did, and let me tell you, it was awesome.

NC-LITe, a semi-annual meeting of NC instructional-techy librarians, meets twice a year to talk about current happenings in instructional technology and libraries. This time we had about 35 folks from around the state, including representation from, I think, nine different campuses. This time we made some significant changes to the format, wanting to make the best use of everyone’s time. Feedback on the changes was really positive!

Campus sharing

Per tradition, we started with some informal campus sharing. This usually drags on (instruction librarians can be …wordy), but we cut this portion to 30 minutes and gave each campus 3 minutes. After that, they got the hook. Some highlights I was able to scribble down:

Breakout sessions

Sarah facilitates a breakout session

Sarah facilitates a breakout session

The next change we made was to the format of the breakout sessions, which have traditionally been interest-based and participant-driven. This sometimes worked, but every so often a room of people interested in makerspaces would realize that no one in the room had any experience with makerspaces. We wanted to change that, so we had dedicated facilitators at four different tables, and a different discussion prompt at each table. They were:

  • Blue sky: imagine everyone in your group is a member of your library’s instruction team. You have an unlimited budget. What roles do you assign to your ten-member library instruction dream team? What about positions that don’t exist anywhere yet?
  • Fill in the blank: _________ will be the most important instructional technology in the next 5 years. Discuss.
  • Everyone can agree that there are a lot of really bad online instruction videos. First, create a list of the undesirable qualities these videos have in common, then create a list of best practices for creating online tutorials.
  • You have an unlimited budget to design the library classroom of your dreams. What do you put in it? How is the room set up? What kinds of technology does it have, and what kinds of learning does that technology facilitate?

We had some great discussion, and everyone was able to contribute something to each conversation. It worked really well! When I get a chance to compile the notes from these discussions, I’ll link to them here.

Lightning talks

We wrapped things up with four awesome lightning talks.

  • Our own Amanda Foster talked about her experience using Google Glass in the LIB100 classroom
  • Dre Orphanides and Anne Burke from NCSU shared their process for creating the amazing new “Teach Yourself” platform of library instruction videos.
  • Karen Grigg at UNCG talked about an ongoing research study she and her colleagues are conducting to identify transfer students and evaluate their information skills so they can be more effective in reaching them.
  • Megan Johnson at ASU demonstrated their online linked library meta course–essentially a way for faculty in the disciplines to select online library instruction modules for their classes.

The whole day went off without a hitch, and no small thanks to all the help from Joy, Hu, Amanda, and Kaeley, who helped with planning and wrangled, coffee, snacks, signage, and the logistics of taking 20 people to Shorty’s over break, and to Sarah, for volunteering to facilitate a breakout session.

Molly at ProQuest Advisory Board Meeting

Thursday, December 18, 2014 4:57 pm

In early November, I was invited to join the newly-created ProQuest International Dissertations and Theses Advisory Board, which I readily accepted. As some of you may know, Wake Forest contributes our Master’s theses and doctoral dissertations to the ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Database (PQDT), and use the ProQuest/UMI ETD Administrator system to manage student submissions of electronic theses and dissertations (ETDs) to both PQDT and WakeSpace. As ETDs bridge the purview of the Graduate School and the library, I am the lead administrator for our ETD program at the University, hence my invitation to join the Advisory Board.

Last Wednesday through Friday found me attending the Board’s first in-person meeting at ProQuest (PQ) headquarters in Ann Arbor, MI. (And no, December is not an optimal time to visit Michigan, but at least it was in the mid-30s and there was no snow. No offense to any native Michiganders in ZSR for knocking a visit to your home state, although I’m guessing you agree!) Those who gathered in A2 (as Lynn has taught me to call Ann Arbor in shorthand) were board members from across the US and UK; our one current member from Taiwan was unable to attend, and additional members from Southeast Asia and Europe are still being recruited. I knew one board member and one PQ representative previously, and a few others by name/reputation.

I’ve signed a non-disclosure agreement with PQ, so I am unable to share much from our time. But I can say that this board membership promises to be one of the most rewarding professional activities I’ve pursued to date, and that PQ has recruited a knowledgeable and diverse board. And I can also say that the highlight of the meeting was our Thursday afternoon tour of the PQ digitization and microfilm facility. They have digitization equipment and set-ups that would make many in ZSR weep with incredulity and envy. Our tour included the on-site vault, which houses approximately 30,000 canisters, each containing 50 or so rolls of microfilmed theses and dissertations. And the off-site vault at Iron Mountain, in Pennsylvania, is co-located with the CIA, NSA, and Disney vaults, so there is no need to worry about archival storage for microfilms of our nation’s (and Wake’s) ETDs – they are well-cared for!

SACS-COC in Nashville

Thursday, December 18, 2014 4:14 pm

Sunrise Reflections

Nashville skyline at sunrise

Earlier this month, I traveled to Nashville with a group of Wake Forest colleagues to attend the annual meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools – Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC). All of us have a role in writing the narratives for Wake Forest’s 2016 SACS-COC reaffirmation . The entire meeting (conference) is devoted to content that is aimed at helping schools navigate the accreditation process, as evidenced by the 164 concurrent sessions scheduled over 2 days.. The accreditation process is a complex and lengthy one that spans 2 years. First we submit a compliance certification that demonstrates we are in compliance with core requirements, comprehensive standards and federal requirements. This is submitted 15 months in advance of the scheduled reaffirmation. After it is submitted, the documentation is reviewed by an Off-Site Reaffirmation Committee and its findings on the status of compliance go to the On-Site Reaffirmation Committee. We submit a Quality Enhancement Plan (which Lauren Corbett is involved with) 4-6 weeks in advance of the on-site review. The final decision for reaffirmation comes from the Commission’s Board of Trustees. For Wake Forest, we will find out whether we are reaffirmed in December 2016. Since we are at the beginning of this long process, attending this annual meeting provided a good opportunity to hear perspectives from

  • other schools who are undergoing reaffirmation or have recently completed the process,
  • off-site reviewers
  • on-site reviewers
  • Commission staff

Of all the standards that must be complied with, Library Services are a small but important component. There are 4 standards: 2.9 (a core requirement that focuses on collections) and 3 comprehensive standards (3.8.1 (facilities), 3.8.2 (instruction), 3.8.3 (qualified staff)). In the entire lineup of sessions, only one concurrent session was devoted to these standards. Additionally, there was a group discussion on them. I went to both, confident that I would get concrete answers to any questions posed. However, I found that this was not to be. At all the sessions I attended, the theme was that standards are written broadly because every institution is unique. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. The standards have to serve to work for public/private, community colleges/undergraduate schools/universities with graduate programs. So, as one presenter asked, “Does the glove fit?” Writing a narrative about compliance for your institution is all about rightness of fit. To muddy the waters even more, the perspectives offered by the two library standards presenters did not align with each other. One, an off-site reviewer, gave advice that was different from the other presenter (who is a SACS-COC Vice President).My take away from this experience was that our narratives should reflect what feels right for us. Not necessarily the kind of specificity a librarian prefers, but it’s what we have to work with!

Lest anyone who has made it this far in this posting think that I spent 2 days in Nashville and only had to attend 2 sessions, rest assured that I took advantage of other programs, many of which were assessment-focused. I went to one that talked about assessing teaching in an online environment. Often assessment takes place on the design of the course while not addressing the effectiveness of the teaching that takes place. Another presentation by an art professor described the process his department undertook to overhaul their assessment program. I liked the term he used – stealth assessment – the process faculty do from semester to semester to tweak curriculum from lessons learned the previous semester. It may not be formal, but it’s a common informal assessment activity.

Also worth mentioning (with a link) came from one of the keynoters, Cameron Evans of Microsoft. He talked about the trend of trying to personalize learning experiences and showed a Microsoft vision video to illustrate. A final recommendation comes from a session I attended by Dr. John R. Dew, Back to the Future, where he updated the audience on 16 higher education trends he had presented at SACS-COC the previous year. The original article was in The World Future Review, Winter 2012, p.7-13 (restricted access to WFU).

I’ll close with a nod to the Music City honky-tonk vibes that permeated all around the downtown Nashville area:

"Honky-Tonk Heroes" Guitar Sculpture (?) on a Corner of Broadway

Chelcie at the CNI Fall 2014 Membership Meeting

Tuesday, December 16, 2014 4:00 pm

Last week I attended an “executive roundtable” on supporting digital humanities sponsored by the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) during their Fall 2014 Membership Meeting in Washington, DC.

Because academic library deans and university CIOs make up the majority of the crowd at CNI, the meeting offers a relative newcomer to the profession like me a 30,000 foot view of library and university operations that I don’t often see. The same is true at CNI’s executive roundtable discussions, which they have recently hosted on topics such as institutional strategies and platforms for scholarly publishing, e-book strategies, and software as service & cloud applications. This executive roundtable on supporting digital humanities received so many requests for participation that CNI could have hosted 6 roundtable discussions! Clearly, the topic is one with which many people at many campuses are deeply engaged.

The call for participation specified that institutions could be represented by one person or two people with distinct roles. Mary Foskett (Director of the Humanities Institute) and I represented Wake Forest. Potential topics of discussion enumerated ahead of time included:

  • Organizational models — institutional units supporting digital humanities and their roles
  • Supporting established projects vs. supporting new projects
  • Providing space, technology infrastructure, hardware and tools, staff expertise, exhibit space (physical and virtual)
  • Providing repository, research data management, and preservation services
  • Supporting digital humanities in teaching and learning
  • Staff skills needed
  • The realities of collaboration between information professionals and digital humanities scholars
  • Digital humanities and e-research in social sciences and sciences — one program or separate programs
  • Assessment strategies
  • Connections with institutional publishing strategies and programs
  • What happens when projects end
  • Funding models
  • Future directions

Cliff Lynch (Executive Director of CNI) opened the roundtable discussion by noting that many campuses are introduced to digital humanities through large Mellon or IMLS grants in which one or a few faculty are deeply involved. Often after this introductory period, the challenge becomes laying the infrastructure (organizational, technological, financial, etc.) such that pursuing digital humanities research and pedagogy is an option for every faculty member. Institutions of every size face this challenge of supporting digital humanities at scale, and there are many different ways of meeting this challenge, as the recent Ithaka S+R report on Sustaining the Digital Humanities demonstrates.

Below is my summary of some of the threads of conversation that seemed to be of particular interest to our context here at Wake Forest:

  • Often we think of the primary digital humanities activities at institutions of higher education as being research-centric, but increasingly campuses are thinking about how to support digital humanities in the classroom. What is the role of digital humanities in the liberal arts education? One participant pointed out that no engineer or scientist completes a college career without a collaborative, project-based course — but virtually every humanities undergraduate does. Another participant noted that she is thinking less in terms of digital humanities “projects” and more in terms of digital humanities as an element of the curriculum; this person has developed a proposal for an “Introduction to Digital Humanities” course co-taught by an English faculty member and a librarian. This thread of discussion resonated with my experience, having developed multiple semester-long collaborations with faculty to integrate digital projects into their courses.
  • What is the nature of “support” for digital humanities? As one participant noted, digital humanities is not a set of skills; it’s a methodology, a set of methodologies, an argument, a set of arguments. Consequently, can digital humanities be a “service” provided by a library or other unit on campus? Rather, the service rendered may be sustainable support for web projects of various levels of complexity, or consultations about metadata, or a referral by a library liaison to relevant campus or library resources. That said, it’s difficult to design infrastructure (technological or human) without knowing what we’re infrastructuring.
  • Support for digital humanities can be centered in one unit of the organization (such as ZSR’s Digital Scholarship Unit) while also being more distributed throughout the organization. Inreach is crucial to educating front-line liaisons about the core services of units such as our Digital Scholarship Unit, so that a natural part of their liaison work is connecting faculty with those core services.
  • Preserving the products of digital humanities research may be integral to legitimizing the digital humanities enterprise. Librarians are well-equipped to face the challenges of preserving scholarly works, including the outputs of digital humanities research. In order to demonstrate the value of digital humanities research, one long-term strategy is to preserve digital humanities research.
  • Regardless of the size of the institution, building the relationship infrastructure is just as crucial as building the technological infrastructure. Here at ZSR, I think we are positioned well to continue strengthening the relationships that already exist between ZSR, the Humanities Institute, Campus IS, academic departments, and individual faculty members.

CNI will issue a report summarizing the roundtable discussions in the coming months. In the meantime, we have plenty of food for thought!


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