Professional Development

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 goes 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!

Amanda at NCLA-College and University Section Conference

Monday, December 15, 2014 4:59 pm

On Friday, December 5th I had to opportunity to present at the NCLA College and University Section Conference in Charlotte, NC. The conference took place at the UNC-Charlotte City Center Campus which is where UNC-Charlotte hosts its MBA program. It’s pretty fancy, check it out:

UNC-Charlotte City Center Building (Credit: flickr.com/photos/kenfagerdotcom)

Confession: I’m not a big photo taker! It never occurs to me until after the fact. So, please refer to the creative-commons friendly image above :)

The Keynote Speaker for the conference was Patrick Deaton, Associate Director for Learning Spaces and Capital Management at NCSU Libraries. He spoke to the audience about Hunt Library. The lecture focused having two years perspective on things that Hunt Library got right and things that they might change if they could do it over again. The biggest takeaway for me was the need for “as-yet-unplanned” space for future unknowns — e.g. what happens when you decide shortly before you open a new space that you wish you had room for a makerspace?

After the keynote, I gave my presentation which focused on how Google Glass was implemented in LIB 100. You can find my slides in the link below:

Ok, Class: Library Instruction with Google Glass from amandabfoster

There were several other good presentations given by North Carolina librarians. I shared a time slot with some of our colleagues at Appalachian State who spoke on creating online library instruction in Moodle for their First Year students. They had several great insights for working within course-management systems. Another of our colleagues led an interesting discussion on using social media to enhance library instruction. There was also ample time provided for lunch and networking, so this was a wonderful conference for me to meet some other semi-local librarians.

Book Repair Workshop @ Charlotte Public Library

Monday, December 15, 2014 3:03 pm

Charlotte Public Library Book Repair Workshop Dec. 12, 2014

On Friday, December 12th, I traveled to Charlotte – Mecklenburg Public Library to teach a book repair workshop sponsored by the North Carolina Preservation Consortium. They came from Fayetteville, Gastonia, Charlotte, and Raleigh. The twelve attendees represented public, community college, university and school libraries. We also had library school students from UNC-G and UNC SILS.

This was a basic book repair workshop and so we covered the basics. The workshop was almost totally a hands-on workshop where I demonstrated a technique and each person had the chance to practice. Together, we all did tipping-in loose pages, repairing paper tears with heat-set tissue, spine replacement, paperback repair, Japanese tissue hinge repairs and replacing end sheets. One individual brought some of their own books to work on, so we also repaired those items together. I enjoyed meeting and working with this group and appreciated the hospitality of Jane Johnson and Robert Stocker at CMPL. I hope to continue these workshops into the future.

Chelcie at the 2014 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute

Friday, December 12, 2014 12:12 pm

This November I was fortunate to participate in the 2014 Triangle Scholarly Communication Institute.[1]

Publishing Makerspace design charrette at the 2014 Triangle SCI

The Publishing Makerspace team at Triangle SCI participates in a design charrette.

Early publicity surrounding the request for proposals encouraged prospective participants to take the following approach when putting together proposals:

Put together a working group that includes not just people you regularly interact with, but also people you want to work with but haven’t yet been able to. We’ll cover costs for your team to spend four days together in Chapel Hill, NC, in an Institute that’s part retreat, part seminar, part development sprint, part unconference.

You set the agenda, you define the deliverables. We bring everybody together and supply the environment and a network of peers to help stimulate and develop creative thinking and provide a diversity of perspectives about changes in research methods, publishing, digital humanities, digital archives, or other topics related to transformations in scholarly communication.

In short, the Institute provided teams the time and space to germinate actionable ideas in the realm of scholarly communication, broadly defined.

I was a member of the Publishing Makerspace team, whose aim was to have a creative discussion about what publishing is and what it can become. The members of our group included:

  • Courtney Berger, Senior Editor & Editorial Department Manager, Duke University Press
  • Marjorie Fowler, Digital Asset Coordinator, UNC Press
  • John D. Martin III, Doctoral Fellow, School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Sylvia K. Miller, Senior Program Manager, Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes
  • David Phillips, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities, Innovation, Creativity, and Entrepreneurship (ICE), and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Wake Forest University
  • Chelcie Juliet Rowell, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Z. Smith Reynolds Library, Wake Forest University

By the end of the Institute, we had come to the collective realization that what we were proposing was a workshop series for multimodal publishing that would bring together people who have different kinds of expertise to contribute to the publishing endeavor. What is multimodal publishing, you ask? Possible elements of a multimodal scholarly project might include:

  • a book to be published by a scholarly press
  • audio or video interviews
  • documentary film
  • photographs
  • blogs and other kinds of reflective or personal narrative
  • public or collective bibliographies
  • physical or virtual exhibits
  • maps and other visualizations such as 3D models and virtual worlds
  • digital collections
  • journal articles
  • print-on-demand essays or pamphlets

With that list of formats of scholarly publishing in mind, it’s easy to recognize that there are many experts in producing these rich published works — scholars, publishers, librarians, designers, programmers and other technologists — but their expertise doesn’t reside in one place. A Publishing Makerspace workshop would provide a space for these individuals to collaborate more fully.

To learn more about our vision for a series of Publishing Makerspace workshops — the problem it aims to address, the appeal to different communities, the format and expected outcomes of a workshop — please visit the blog post introducing our working group in advance of SCI, as well as our blog post summarizing our elevator pitch for the Publishing Makerspace, which we presented on the final morning of SCI.

Our next major step will be developing pilots for Publishing Makerspace workshops. I’m very much looking forward to being a part of this continuing effort.

1. [Return to top.] From 2003–2013 the Scholarly Communication Institute (SCI) was hosted at the University of Virginia, with funding from the Mellon Foundation. This year, supported by a new Mellon grant, SCI transitioned to the Research Triangle, hosted by Duke University.

2014 Access Services Conference

Tuesday, November 25, 2014 12:18 pm

This was my first time attending the Access Services Conference in Atlanta, GA. This is the 6th year of the Conference and there were over 300 attendees.

The Keynote speaker was Trevor Dawes, the 2013-14 President of ACRL. Citing recent reports, such as the NMC Horizons Report, he spoke on the future of libraries and the skills needed to meet new trends.

Sessions and highlights included:

Assessment of an ILL Buy Not Borrow program

  • The presenter from Northern Illinois University concluded that their program did not save time or money but still considered it a success because they were able to fill requests for items that were difficult or impossible to obtain through ILL. Items purchased were sent to the subject specialist to determine if it would be added to the library collection. 72% were added.

Opening Course Reserves for self-check out

  • If we have a spare $31K (CAD), we could set up open shelves for students to retrieve and check out Course Reserves material on their own. This includes a security gate and a self-service check out machine. The library at the University of Toronto Scarborough was circulating Reserves books at a higher rate than the rest of their collection so this plan freed the staff to focus on other tasks. They saw a 30% increase in the use of the Reserves books. Food for thought.

Orienting Access Services staff to other library service points

  • Rob Withers of Miami University shared how they changed their training by beginning with a staff-initiated list of questions about other services in the library. Rather than inundate new staff with a building-wide tour using local acronyms, they invited staff from other areas of the library to come to meetings to tell Access Services about their role in the library. In addition to an improved retention rate, they reported that the staff was better informed and could provide better service.

OERs and Open Textbooks

  • This session reported on the efforts of libraries to help deal with the cost of textbooks. At the University of South Carolina they initiated a reserves textbook program in 2008. They have over 1,000 in their collection and do not de-accession in case an older edition will meet a need. The cost is $20-25K per year and the circulation of the textbooks accounts for 20% of their total circulations. At Valdosta University the library is encouraging faculty to develop OERs (Open Educational Resources) in place of textbooks.

Marketing a new library service

  • When the University of Maryland joined the Big 10 Conference the library gained access to an expedited delivery service called UBorrow. This session outlined the process of promoting the service to the campus community. One of the first steps was to create an adorable mascot named UBot. The others steps were: Plan, Define message, ID audience, Use data to plan, Execute campaign. Because this service duplicated some OCLC ILL services, the library saw a 47% decrease in OCLC requests which they calculated as saving $100K.

A library storage facility’s success

  • At the University of Syracuse they have a storage facility that is similar to ours so I wanted to see how they operated. The setting up process was very familiar probably in part because they were working with Chris Brennan from GFA who helped us set up our facility and was at this presentation. Like ZSR, they use ILLiad to process requests but differ in that they purchased a satellite license for ILLiad at the storage facility.

To Boldly Go: E-Reserves from Home-Grown to Standalone to CMS

  • So I attended this session thinking I would hear about a new approach to electronic course reserves using a course management system. Instead I learned that the library at the University of West Georgia no longer manages electronic reserves for their faculty. They abandoned their plans to use Ares as a course reserves management system. Citing the Georgia Board of Regents’ policy that faculty are personally responsible for copyright compliance, the faculty use their CMS (Desire2Learn) to post articles. The remaining related services offered are scanning and copyright consultation. They reported that there had been no negative feedback regarding this decision. I’d be interested to hear others’ thoughts on this.

In conclusion, I certainly appreciated the professional relevancy of almost all of the sessions. This was my favorite aspect of the conference. The Atlanta traffic was not. (I live in a town with 1 stoplight.)

 

Bits and Bytes – DSU in Charleston

Monday, November 17, 2014 9:44 am

[Really, our title should be Bits and Bytes (and Bites!), but y'all know we were in the culinary wonderland that is Charleston, so the bites are a given.]

Chelcie and Molly attended the inaugural Charleston Seminar, a new two-day intensive workshop preceding the Charleston Conference. This year’s topic was Introduction to Data Curation, taught by two guys from UNC: Cal Lee, faculty at the School of Information and Library Science, and Jonathan Crabtree, Associate Director at the Odum Institute. We were two of approximately 30 librarians, faculty, administrators, and vendors from across the U.S. and Canada who attended. Wake Forest was in the middle in terms of institutional research focus represented.

The seminar was a mix of lecture and hands-on activities—Molly used a hex editor for the first time!—and addressed the sociocultural concerns of data curation, as well as the how-to aspects. We were reassured to realize that the paths we have been pursuing are on target for an institution of our size and research context.

Key takeaways:

  • keep data lifecycle stages simple; move complexity into functions
  • not about data ownership, but data stewardship
  • digital curation not the end, but the means to the end of better research
  • if we really love this data, need to acknowledge that we (aka, libraries) may not be the best place for it; is it a library conversation, or a campus conversation?
  • metadata tells you how to sift through data
  • must acknowledge the “Hermeneutic Gap” of archived data: context is often not captured, and is never the same
  • ask researchers what terms they would type into Google to find this data; often their terms will be pretty good, and can be used in descriptive metadata

We came back with definite steps to pursue to further the data curation conversations at Wake Forest, but also with the reassurance that libraries’ roles with data need to be ones of advocacy and coordination, not sole responsibility.

The Charleston Conference 2014, via Ellen D.

Friday, November 14, 2014 3:55 pm

I attended the 34th annual Charleston Conference November 5-8, where the theme, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” inspired myriad presentation titles, including the opening address, “Being Earnest in the New Normal.” Presented by Anthea Stratigos of Outsell, Inc., a firm which offers strategic marketing for libraries, the talk was rife with market-based jargon rather than the libraryland lingo that tends to lace most presentations. She urged libraries to get better at delivering our branded experience via strategic marketing (there was a passing reference to “brand halo”), and limned the current landscape of the information industry: vendors struggling with growth, talent gaps for sales and analytics, changing cost structures, and, since vendors need to bring growth to stakeholders, mergers designed to create such growth. She listed the elements that constitute the strategic marketing that libraries need to develop: have a strategy and mission (only 50% of libraries have this); build a target market map (administration, key user groups, services and offerings); complete a needs assessment (understand what users want); weed and feed a portfolio of services; and brand and market internally, delivering “wow.” Finally, she urged libraries to do the things that matter to our marketplace, establishing a portfolio that spells out what to drop or add, moneys to request, and for which targets. She urged moving one’s institution from a passive posture to a more active stance, while not getting too far ahead: the balancing act involves avoiding an innovation curve that might disenfranchise stakeholders, who have their own points of view.

Several sessions broached the issue of students’ responses to e-books, and I attended a number of these.

“How Users’ Perceptions of E-Books Have Changed – Or Not: Comparing Parallel Survey Responses” was presented by librarians from the University of Florida: Steve Carrico, Tara Cataldo, Trey Shelton, and Cecilia Botero. The group discussed surveys taken in 2009 and 2014 at the University of Florida. The surveys took the form of pop-ups on library computers, urging users to “Help us make better decisions: take our survey.” During those five years, there were slight declines in the percentages of users who had ever used e-books (77% to 76%) and those who had used e-books from the university library (66% to 56%). The caveat may be that users may not know that something is an e-book, or that it is from the library; they also had trouble distinguishing between book chapters and journal articles. Significantly, they often prefer to wait for print books via ILL for a week, rather than use e-books. Students noted problems with ease of use, reading, and the pleasure of reading. Aspects of e-books singled out as grounds for disapproval and dislike include eye strain, access problems, annotation problems, love of print (the feel of print books), dearth of titles, navigation issues (e.g. inability to flip through pages), lack of graphics, portability, DRM, poor quality, and reliance on technology. In addition, they complained of finding it hard to locate or to remember where a portion of text is situated: all e-books look and “feel” alike. Unsurprisingly, a greater amount of experience affects awareness of issues. Among the notable comments was the familiar observation, that students feel that they do not read as carefully in e-books (distractions seem to abound in that environment), and they do not focus as well. Of those not using e-books, 32% were undergraduates; so ironically, library users among whom many are digital natives do not really like e-books. As one user succinctly proclaimed, “No paper, no soul.”

“Are We There Yet? A Longitudinal Study of the Student E-Book Experience,” by Kendall Hobbs and Diane Klare of Wesleyan University, reflected the fourth year of data-gathering in what has become an annual presentation of an ongoing ethnographic study by the CTW Library Consortium (Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University). They found that although more students have encountered e-books, this has not translated into a preference for e-books or greater sophistication in use. However, their strong preference for print diminishes somewhat after participation in library sessions guiding them in the use of e-books. Initial interviews asked them how they use e-books, what e-books are, then to find and use an e-book, and additionally included surveys of preference for print or electronic, devices used, and gauged familiarity with searching, downloading, highlighting, annotating, and copying/pasting material. The studies found that over the years, the number of e-books used has increased, but not the degree of sophistication in using e-books and their advanced features, despite the fact that e-journals have become well integrated into students’ research strategies. 70% had used library e-books, but half of them only 1-2 times per semester. 86% prefer print for both academic and pleasure reading, and they use print and e-books in different ways: e-books for discovery (searching and skimming the text), but they prefer to have print when careful, close reading is needed for serious study. They like the physicality of print (the very thickness of books), being able to flip through the pages, and even the ability to use post-it notes (some students rank books according to the number of sticky-notes posted in them; those books with the most notes are obviously deemed the most useful). They also like to hand-write notes or outlines, feeling that this makes them more engaged with the text; it gets into their brains better than is the case with mechanically copying and pasting. They want everything at hand when writing their papers; they do not want technology to get in the way, requiring them to navigate through multiple platforms. They cited problems with finding functionality since icons are not always comprehensible. Finally, students have two goals: they want their own print copies, and they want easy access with more intuitive interfaces.

I myself find such findings to be consistent with my own experiences in BI and PRS sessions. I always go over the use of e-books, and when I ask how many students prefer e-books, at most 1-2 students raise their hands. I acknowledge the ambivalence surrounding e-books, but then emphasize that despite a generally shared preference for print, the library’s e-book program offers a troika of advantages: immediate, simultaneous access to a larger number of books than we could afford to purchase in print. I also show them how to print out selected content, including how to determine in advance (under the Details tab) how many pages the book’s publisher permits for printing or copying. It is difficult to gauge response to this information in classes, but in one-on-one encounters in PRS sessions or at the reference desk, the relief is apparent.

 

 

 


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2007 ACRL Baltimore
2007 ALA Annual
2007 ALA Gaming Symposium
2007 ALA Midwinter
2007 ASERL New Age of Discovery
2007 Charleston Conference
2007 ECU Gaming Presentation
2007 ELUNA
2007 Evidence Based Librarianship
2007 Innovations in Instruction
2007 Kilgour Symposium
2007 LAUNC-CH Conference
2007 LITA National Forum
2007 NASIG Conference
2007 North Carolina Library Association
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