Professional Development

During June 2009...

Metrolina Library Association Information Literacy Conference

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 4:02 pm

On Thursday, June 18th, Bobbie Collins, Carolyn McCallum, Leslie McCall, and Sarah Jeong attended the 4th Annual Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. As usual, the organizers of this conference did an excellent job pulling together an impressive group of speakers who addressed a variety of issues and trends relating to information literacy. The 100 attendees were able to select from several breakout sessions that focused on the broad areas of pedagogy, assessment, and technology. And for the first time attendees were able to view several poster sessions. The poster sessions added a new dimension to the conference and provided an opportunity for poster session presenters to exchange information with other attendees in a relaxed setting.

Bobbie, Carolyn, Leslie and Sarah submitted a poster session proposal to Metrolina and were very pleased when the proposal was accepted. During our assigned time period, we discussed with other conference participants the challenges that we faced in developing and teaching the subject specific IL credit courses for the Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities. Sarah and Carolyn were able to capture some pictures of the posters.



This year’s keynote speaker was Jill Gremmels, Leland M. Park Director of the Davidson College Library. Prior to her position at Davidson, Jill was the College Librarian at Warburg College in Iowa. In 2002, Warburg College was one of 10 institutions invited to the Best Practices in Information Literacy Conference. As part of her presentation, Jill discussed the “Characteristics of Programs of Information Literacy that Illustrate Best Practices: A Guideline.” Before the conference, attendees received a link in an email with a note to review this information before the conference: http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/standards/characteristics.cfm
This document which was approved by the ACRL Board in 2003 provides some excellent background information to help individuals develop, assess and improve IL programs. Moreover, the document notes that these characteristics may be useful for benchmarking purposes.

Jill mentioned that San Francisco State University undertook a self-study of its IL program and used the ACRL best practices characteristics as a benchmark to compare their data. For additional information about how they went about creating and implementing the survey instrument, Jill recommended reading the article by Kendra Van Cleave entitled “The Self-Study as an Information Literacy Program Assessment Tool” which appeared in the 2008 issue of College & Undergraduate Libraries Vol. 15(4), pp – 414-431. This article is available online if you are interested in reading it.

Mike Olson from UNC Charlotte asked the question: “How do we get students to discern?” During his presentation, he mentioned the ACRL standards and provided the ACRL defintion of IL. He noted that Donna Gunter (Coordinator, Information Literacy and Instructional Services at the J. Murrey Atkins Library) is busy preparing materials for a new online resource that will be up on the library’s website by August 24. Mike reported that 490 library instruction sessions were given during 2007-2008 and 690 sessions were provided during 2008-2009 reaching 14,794 students.

Joan Petit, who is the Instruction and Reference Librarian at the American University in Cairo, Egypt, led a session called Library Instruction 2.0. Many of the technologies she discussed, ZSR has been utilizing (i.e. Facebook, blogs, and wikis). According to Ms. Petit, students in Egypt are nuts about Facebook, so she created a FB page for her library. It took quite a while for her to get approval to create the page. AUC Main Library’s FB page has 966 fans. She uses WetPaint.com, a free website builder software program, to set up a wiki for her IL classes and wishes that her library would use Twitter. Ms. Petit authors a blog called The Chatty Librarian and can be followed on Twitter as well by the username chattylibrarian. One interesting thing she reported is that Duke has created an iPhone app. for individuals to browse Duke’s digital collections.

“I Never Wanted to be a Teacher” was the title of the session led by Nora Bird and Linda Gann, both of UNCG’s Department of Library and Information Studies. At the beginning, they asked attendees to write on a note card two job responsibilities one had when they were first hired and two responsibilities that one is currently doing in their job but wasn’t listed in the original job description. They feel there is a disconnect between library school curriculum and instruction/teaching and they are gathering information to determine how MLIS programs should respond. Using Powerpoint, they flashed job advertisements for public and academic libraries on a screen that dated back to the 70′s, 80′s, 90′s and today. One could definitely see a trend in advertisements going from “seeking a person with people skills” to ones that required skills in teaching and instruction of technology and other library resources.

Diane Harvey from Duke University led a session on “Assessing for Improvement: Student Learning Outcomes Assessment for Information Literacy Instruction.” Student Learning Outcomes Assessment is a systematic look at what students are learning. Learning Outcomes Assessment is not an evaluation of teaching, but it moves instruction away from “What am I going to teach today?” to “What do I want students to learn today?” Some examples of assessment methods include knowledge tests, the One Minute Paper, bibliography analysis, concept inventory, and standardized tests. Student Learning Outcomes Assessment provides a practical student-centered approach to teaching as well as a means to improve teaching.

Amy Gustavson and Clark Nall from East Carolina University led a session on “Evidence-Based Librarianship in Assessment of Information Literacy Instruction.” Gustavson and Nall’s presentation focused on the theory and different research methodologies of Evidence-Based Librarianship research. Evidence-Based Librarianship provides a foundation for the practitioner and helps practitioners make effective evidence-based decisions. Gustavson and Nall are currently researching the comparison of students’ self-reported confidence in their research skills and testing their knowledge of research skills.

Overall, this conference was very informative. We highly recommend it to those interested in information literacy. If you would like to discuss any of the sessions that we attended, please let us know!

RBMS day 2

Friday, June 19, 2009 8:26 am

Today was the first official day of the RBMS preconference in Charlottesville. It’s the 50th annual RBMS, so we learned a lot about the history of the section. Plenary sessions began with a reminiscence by David Stam, University Librarian Emeritus at Syracuse, who had attended the first RBMS as a 23-year-old brand new employee at NYPL. Then there was the Keynote by the President of UVA, John Casteen, who emphasized the importance of primary sources in scholarly research.

The second plenary session featured Beverly Lynch discussing the interrelationship and parallel development of ACRL, RBMS, and library education.

All of the speakers were interesting, but the session that had me furiously taking notes was the presentation by Francis Blouin, director of the Bentley Historical Library at U of Michigan. Blouin’s talk was titled “Working with Our Research Communities”, but he managed in the space of 30 minutes to sum up the major challenges facing special collections today and to suggest some approaches that librarians and archivists should take to meet these challenges.

In brief, the two most important developments for special collections in the past 50 yearswere the birth of the digital world and the changes in historical approaches in scholarly research.

The challenges of digitization are well known and frequently discussed: digital access to special collections materials forces us to reconsider the importance of owning actual objects and changes the relationship between librarian/archivist and user. The concept of special collections as physical spaces has to be reconsidered– collections will become like banks, with most users of materials never setting foot in the actual buildings. And the challenge of archiving digital materials is a huge one. Blouin suggested that special collections need to recognize the importance of conceptual frameworks over ownership: we need to explain our collections and put them into context, not just acquire and index items.

The second major challenge that Blouin discussed was what he termed the Archival Divide. He suggested that special collections and the historical scholarship it has traditionally supported are on divergent paths of development. Fifty years ago there was convergenceof how special collections were described and maintained and how they were used. Archives collected the materials that scholars agreed were important, and thus had a monopoly on authoritative historical understanding. However, developments in social history, deconstruction of language, etc. havechanged this relationship.Scholars now look for historical evidence in materials outside the scope of traditional archival collections. And they are using materials in ways not addressed by traditional descriptive formats. Meanwhile, special collections have been faced with many new issues: technical challenges of DB and systems design (which demand precision in language and authority control), changing demands of diverse constituencies, broader definitions of what constitutes a historical document.

In sum, researchers are looking to use special collections materials in complex ways which cannot be understood by traditional theories of information-seeking. Referring to the ACLS Committee on Cyberinfrastructure report, Blouin suggested that librarians andarchivists must take the lead in organizing new knowledge structures.

Blouin’s concluding points on the future relationship of special collections and academic research:

  • Scholars will have more responsibility for identifying information communities
  • Traditional finding aid structures will be supplemented by these information communities

  • There will be a need for more attention to EAD and cross-collection indexing– “subcatalogs” supplementing traditional catalog.

  • Special collections will continue to exist as an academic and intellectualcenter, not just collection of materials;emphasis on teaching with collections,visible academic personnel, special programs.
  • Special Collections, finally, are a point of mediation between old and new ways of creating and recording knowledge and ideas; special collections is a place of connection, not just a repository of static materials.

My afternoon seminar of choice was “Partners in Processing: Students, Volunteers, and Paraprofessionals in the Library”. Three presentations on using non-MLS personnel to address the ubiquitous problem of the special collections backlog. Presenters from UCLA, Yale, and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Library– all very different institutions from WFU, but still there were some interesting ideas. I was particularly intrigued by UCLA’s Center for Primary Research and Training, which provides fellowships for graduate students to work on processing manuscript collections in the library. Jack Robertson of the Jefferson Foundation described inspiringly ingenious solutions to the problems of a growing collection with a small professional staff. Aftertheir project of reconstructing Jefferson’s libraries was turned down for grant funding, the foundationgave Jefferson a membership on LibraryThing. And after six months of unsuccessful attempts to correct and enhance the Wikipedia entry on Jefferson, they gave up and started their own wiki (called the Jefferson Encyclopedia, because their BOT objected to the term wiki!).

The student/volunteer processingsuccess stories were very encouraging, since we’re about to undertake a similar project.

Steve at NASIG 2009

Thursday, June 18, 2009 1:14 pm

I know this is a bit late, but I’ve finally been able to dig myself out from under.The 24th Conference of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) was held during the first week of June, and I served as co-chair of the Conference Planning Committee, with the spectacular support of Chris Burris as our AV Coordinator.Planning and running a conference is an interesting and exhausting experience (as many of you found out with the Entrepreneurship Conference).The Conference Planning Committee is sort of the Tech Services Department for the conference, we handle the logistics, while the Program Planning Committee handles the solicitation and selection of programs.

Our attendance was down this year, to only about 450 people, but it went fairly smoothly, if I do say so myself (I only lost my temper once, and that wasn’t even a major meltdown).The conference included a day and a half of pre-conferences, and two and a half days of regular conference sessions.There were also two off-site catered events (one all-conference event, and one optional event that required separate payment), an all-conference reception for the opening night, a first-time attendee reception, and a lunch and three breakfasts to coordinate.We had to take care of room assignments for sessions, signage, computer and other technical needs, set up of an internet cafe, copying programs and info for attendees, stuffing bags for attendees, poster session set-up, and registration.In addition, we not only had to coordinate the bus travel to and from our off-site events, we had to improvise a shuttle service from the Asheville airport.After NASIG signed the hotel contract to bring the conference to Asheville, the shuttle company that ran from the airport to the hotels went out of business, and the taxis in Asheville are outrageously expensive.So, we chartered a bus and ran our own operation.

To be honest, the whole thing felt kind of like organizing a massive wedding for 450 people that lasted for four days.It was satisfying, but exhausting.I came home the day the conference ended and slept for 13 hours.

If you get involved in conference planning (although with Wanda becoming Vice Pres/Pres.-Elect of NCLA I should say “When you get involved in conference planning”), I have three major suggestions:

1) Set deadlines and keep them as best you can.Conferences are big operations that involve a lot of players, and there are lots of moving parts.Some players can’t get to work on their tasks until other tasks are completed, so it’s key to have a schedule and firm(ish) deadlines.With my CPC, I arranged for monthly conference calls and sent out rough timelines that sketched out the major tasks that needed to be completed over the next two months, with an indication of who was responsible for that task.It seemed to help keep us on pace.

2) Nail down plans for everything you can anticipate you will need to do.This is really very basic, but the more detailed your plans are for the stuff you know you’re going to have to deal with, the better able you are to handle the unexpected stuff that inevitably arises.

3) Be flexible.This goes with my second point.The more you have planned, the better able you are to handle the surprises along the way.Even changing a plan you’ve already developed is better than having to improvise an entire approach on the fly.

Above all, keep a sense of humor (I know I said I had three suggestions…so sue me).

RBMS day 1: Special Collections in the Classroom

Wednesday, June 17, 2009 8:44 pm

First day at the Rare Books & Manuscripts Section preconference in Charlottesville, VA. Today was pre-pre-conference workshop day, and I attended “Beyond Show and Tell: Teaching Strategies for Special Collections Professionals”. Presenters were Julie Grob, Digital Projects and Instruction Librarian for Special Collections at U. of Houston, and Matt Ball, Outreach and Student Services Librarian at the undergrad library of UVA.There were about 30 participants from all over the U.S. (including one with the best job title I’ve heard this week: Curator of Puzzles at the Lilly Library at IU).

The goal of the workshop was for us to discuss the increased role of instruction in the special collections librarian’s job, to learn from current pedagogical theories, and to learn from colleagues’ experiences and innovations. We started out with lots of discussion about learning styles, which was OK but nothing I hadn’t heard before. Things improved a lot once we moved on to discussion of trends in higher ed toward inquiry based, active learning. Special collections instruction lends itself extremely well to this, and presenters and participants shared a lot of great ideas and examples of activities for getting students engaged and faculty convinced of the relevance ofour stuff to their curriculum.We ended up with a discussion of the importance of assessment and the need to develop assessment tools geared specifically toward special collections classes.

I was hoping to swap experiences with other special collections librarians who’d been embedded in classes outside the library, but apparently this isn’t as common as one would think (Julie Grob was the only other person who’d had an embedded experience). But I got loads of good ideas for next year’s class presentations and did a lot of bonding with other librarians who spend their time explaining old books to young students.

The Big Read Orientation

Tuesday, June 16, 2009 7:02 pm

Once again, the Z. Smith Reynolds Library is partnering with the Forsyth County Public Library for the “Big Read 2009.” You may recall that last year Rosalind Tedford was the ZSR representative for this project when the book selected was “Fahrenheit 451″ by Ray Bradbury. This year I’ve taken on that role and the book selected this year is Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Were Watching God”.In preparation for the various Big Read programs in September and October, Elizabeth Skinner of FCPL and I are attending the “Big Read” orientation this week in Minneapolis! Elizabeth has been leading the “On the Same Page” community reading program for years and in recent years combining and supplementing that program with the “Big Read” NEA grant which offers funds to match those contributed by ZSR and FCPL. As a result, more programming can be offered and more copies of the book can be made available in the community.

The orientation began with David Kipen National Reading Initiatives Director, National Endowment of the Arts kicking off the event and welcoming us to the orientation. Almost half of the audience was new to the Big Read. David Kipen reminded us that the program has grown from a handful of books to 33 titles and that this year there are over 269 communities/libraries receiving grants. Once again Mr. Kipen will be out in the Big Read mobile (a hybrid Ford Escape) crossing America and attending events. He is the author of the blog http://www.arts.gov/bigreadblog/ He also told us about a community that had 100% participation, the 140 residents of Kelleys Island, Ohio. It was a fun, entertaining way to kick off the event!

David Kipen was followed by Christine Taylor, the Program Director of Arts Midwest, one of the Big Read organizers. She pointed out the “hotline” information and introduced the members of her team who are there to help the grantees. Additionally we received a quick overview of the required deadlines and features of the website. They have made all the images and logos available via the web and secured all the necessary copyright for the audio files and essays available in the reader’s guide.

Tomorrow we will learn more about managing public and media relations, working with publishers and securing community partnerships just to name a few of the topics!

During some free time today I took advantage of the opportunity to walk the 6 blocks to the Minneapolis Public Library at 300 Nicollet Mall. This impressive building by Cesar Pelli boasts an 18,500 square foot green roof of low-growing drought resistant ground cover.

And no trip to Minneapolis would be complete without a photo of the Mary Tyler Moore bronze statue on Nicollet.

2009 North Carolina ILL Users Group Meeting

Monday, June 15, 2009 1:58 pm

Angie Hobbs, Kate Irwin-Smiler, Ellen and I braved the rain and the wind to attend the annual North Carolina ILL Users Group Meeting on Friday, June 5, 2009. The traffic was really backed up over Lake Norman. Fortunately, Ellen is adept at driving in unfamiliar places using back road. We arrived at UNC-Charlotte only half an hour late.

Tony Melvin from OCLC talked about various OCLC products and updated us on Open WorldCat, ILLiad and ALIAS. What grabbed everyone’s attention was ALIAS, Article Licensing Availability Service, an unmediated article resource sharing program. It is OCLC’s answer to RAPID, a service came out of Colorado State University. The biggest difference and the reason why everyone was excited about ALIAS is ALIAS will be FREE!!! What a concept! After a Q/A session with Tony, the group went to the faculty/staff cafeteria for lunch. It is a very nice building with a decent buffet.

The afternoon sessions included a presentation on some highlights of this year’s ILLiad conference in Virginia Beach. Then a round table discussion on whatever anyone wanted to bring up, which is one of my favorite part of the meeting.

People asked about copyright, ejournal printing, ILLiad workflow, etc. One of the exciting things we learned was “printing” the ejournal articles to Microsoft Office Image Writer, instead of paper and import to various devices to send to borrowing libraries. It will save a lot of paper. We look forward to experimenting with that.

The ILL Users Group is an intimate small group of people that started meeting in 2000 after SOLINET dissolved their formal annual meeting. We ILLers rely on each other for services; we talk to one another often. It is nice to meet informally every year to discuss issues, get updates and see old friends. We had representatives from other types of libraries when we first met at Wake Forest. Eventually the public libraries dropped out of scene because they were not interested in issues that concerned academic libraries. So now, only academic libraries participate in the meetings. Lynn has graciously agreed to host the 2010 meeting at ZSR. Ellen and I look foward to having our colleagues visit us and see all the great improvements we have made since 2000.

Generating interest in your campus IR

Thursday, June 11, 2009 10:35 am

Erik, Sarah J, Molly K, and Steve K (anyone else?) attended a web-based conference on marketing institutional repositories to the university. The two presenters were from CalPoly and discussed how their IR supported a wide range of resources including university archives, masters theses, and faculty publications.

They covered a wide range of topics but by far the most interesting comment came from Marisa Ramirez who said that the two positions that are primarily concerned with the IR dedicate about 80% of their time to working with the system.

Inspiration, Innovation, Celebration

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 3:34 pm

I also had the opportunity to serve as a session timer at the Inspiration, Innovation, Celebration conference at UNCG.

The first session I attended/timed was “Going Green in the Library: It’s Not Just for Contractors”.

The speakers for this session were: Michael Crumpton, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Sarah Dorsey, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Beth Filar-Williams, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro; Mary Scanlon, Wake Forest University; Ameet Doshi, Georgia Perimeter Collegesion.

Several ideas were offered for reevaluating how we do business in libraries. An electronic poll was taken to evaluate the current participation levels of the attendees and their sponsoring insitutions.

Among the ideas:

Try to use environmentally-friendly cleaning products in your library and try to work with your maintainance department to order the best products. A cleaning product was introduced that was not only more “green” but had been produced in a factory that had used “green” techonolgy.

Paper use was another issue addressed. Attendees were encouraged to set their printers to duplex mode when possible.

We were advised that recycling containers are used most often when they are located next to a regular trash can. If someone needs to track down a recycling bin, they are less likely to try to recycle.

It was pointed out that laptop computers use less electricity than a desktop computer and old computers can be recycled.

This session was thought-provoking and hopefully will yield substantive results.

I was able to attend the next session without having to be the timer because they had enough assistance. The speaker was our own Mary Beth Lock. Having arrived at ZSR the Monday afterthe Wake the Library 5K, I was interested to hear the history of the project. A video clip from the other 2 scheduled presenters, Erik Mitchell and Susan Smith, added a nice touch of innovation in keeping with the conference. I’m looking forward to getting onboard this year and doing what I can to help bring about another successful race.

The last session I attended/timed was “Enriching the Academic Experience: The Library and Experiential Learning at Middle Tennessee State University”. I too found this presentation very interesting andwill defer to Patty Strickland’s description of the projects presented. The hands-on approach to the learning process seemed to contribute to the students’ dedication to their projects and the willingness of the library to be a partner/platform/guinea pig showed their genuine interest in the success of each project.

Inspiration, Innovation, Celebration an entrepreneurial conference for librarians

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 1:32 pm

Like Craig and Heather I also volunteered to help with this conference and was able to attend multiple session. The first keynote speaker Joyce Ogburn had an interesting suggestion on the way we think about our profession and an information profession. She suggested we think of it as a knowledge profession. To think of our libraries as place information technology, libraries as an integrated environment for research and accessing technology. With open source information out there we have an open future. To help our faculty and students with integrating the new technology into the classrooms. Joyce spoke of innovation and how to make innovation happen here are her suggestions:

  • Fast Design
  • Adapt and Adjust
  • Step out of comfort zone
  • Create new areas
  • Share Information
  • It takes multiple ideas to make innovation happen.

I also attended Competing for Fun and Funds this presentation was put on by our own Mary Beth with some long distance help from Erik and Susan. I helped with the 5K run last year and wanted to learn more about what happen before I came on the scene. The presentation was full of tidbits of lessons learned and what and where to start to put on an event of this magnitude. It was neat that Eric and Susan where there in picture and voice from their South trip with a video that was sent to Mary Beth. Gotta love the technology.

Enriching the Academic Experience: The Library and Experiential Learning at Middle Tennessee State University was one of the most interesting presentations that I attended. They are partnering with different departments across campus to give the students real life experiences and meet their needs. Some examples that they gave where partnering with the Anthropology Department to have the student do a study that helped the library find out what the students needs were that were not being met. They have already started to implement programs to meet these needs. They also teamed with the Art Department to help bring awareness to the use of paper (the students print for free) by having the are students make art work showing how much paper was being used. They later found out that two projects involing the library also occured. They were some athropology students study the garbology of the library and found that students usually went to the same are to sudy every day. They also found that students usually brought in outside food while workers usually brought food from home. The last thing that was discussed was working with facilities to have a carptenter and a wielder make a replication of Thomas Edison’s printing press. They use it to help educate in multiple departments including history, anthorpology and education. They use it on campus to clebrate our american heritage. They use it for visiting artists and for hands on demonstrations to elementry school childern. They have the thinking that the more they can get the student involved with the library and give them real life experiences it is a win win situation.

SCOAP3 Web conference

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 12:35 pm

Tired of hearing from me yet? :)

I just attended an ASERL-sponsored Webcast about SCOAP3, a fairly new initiative to change the model of scholarly communication within the field of High-Energy Physics (HEP). The presenter was Salvatore Mele, Project Manager for SCOAP3 and Head of Open Access at CERN in Switzerland (think Large Hadron Collider and the end of the world). The basic idea of SCOAP3 is for libraries worldwide to pool the money they currently pay for HEP journals and pay centrally for peer review, with the stipulation that all publications become open access. Publications will be put up for bid by the SCOAP3 governing body, with publishers essentially becoming contractors. SCOAP3 is currently seeking pledges of support from libraries so that they can begin the bidding process.

According to Dr. Mele, very few HEP researchers actually read articles from HEP journals; they read pre-prints in open-access repositories. HEP journals exist for peer review and “officialdom.” I asked what the advantage to libraries would be, if we end up paying the same amount we already pay for subscriptions. Dr. Mele made a fairly convincing argument that under the SCOAP3 model, we would continue to support faculty by paying for the peer-review process. He also asserts that the bid process will link price to quality, as publishers compete for rights to publish. Another aspect is that the bids will be based on a per-article price (not per-journal), so journals could not decrease the amount of content and still raise prices at the same time.


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