Professional Development

During July 2009...

NASIG 2009- Behind the Scenes

Friday, July 31, 2009 4:17 pm

My professional development experience at the NASIG Annual Conference in Asheville, North Carolina was a different one this year. I was involved in the operation of the conference as a member of the Conference Planning Committee (CPC), which was jointly chaired by Eleanor Cook of East Carolina University and ZSR’s own Steve Kelley. I served as the audio-visual coordinator for the conference, and while it was a rewarding experience, there was a lot of work involved.

Planning for the conference began over a year before anyone arrived in Asheville. The CPC met as a group for the first time during the 2008 conference in Phoenix, Arizona and assigned all of the tasks and responsibilities necessary to operate the conference: food, registration, transportation, and so forth. Meetings continued during the year with monthly conference calls to keep all areas on target as well as to resolve any issues that developed. Along the way, the Program Planning Committee (PPC) was meeting independently to line up all of the sessions and speakers who would appear.

My role began to take shape earlier this year, as the PPC started to send details about the schedule to the CPC. Steve forwarded them to me as soon as he had received them and included room assignments as they became known as well. Using that information, I created a series of spreadsheets that evolved over time. They broke down the details for each session in three different categories: by each day of the conference, a summary of equipment needs, and a list of needs for sessions happening concurrently. (Please let me know if you would like to see an example!) From there, I sent the various incarnations to the event technology manager for the conference hotel. We worked closely to lay out the needs for each presenter and the equipment required in each room. Steve, Eleanor, and I also traveled to Asheville for site visits at the conference hotel, familiarizing ourselves with the facility and getting acquainted with the staff who would be working with us.

When the conference began in June, I became the primary contact for all AV needs. As the event technology manager set up rooms, he would check with me to make certain that everything was in place. Conversely, I served as the point person for any last minute situations that developed during the conference itself. These included:

  • A printer for the registration desk
  • A lapel microphone and Mac connection cables for the last Vision Speaker
  • Feedback from several microphones
  • Recording the Vision Sessions on cassette for conference reporters
  • Display stands for the poster sessions

As Steve indicated in his report, the conference was a success. For me, the conference was a chance to expand my professional growth by giving me experience in areas that were not part of my normal responsibilities. I have worked with conference preparation in the past, but the preparation and effort that was needed to put on this conference was truly astonishing. Effective leadership made a significant difference (thank you Steve), but I had to be on point with my own contributions to guarantee a smooth operation.

And there’s always the most valuable lesson: never underestimate the value of comfortable shoes.

Panel Discussion on Kindle Loan Programs at the Handheld Librarian Online Conference

Friday, July 31, 2009 3:35 pm

Yesterday, Susan Smith, Mary Scanlon, and I viewed the online panel discussion on Kindle loan programs at various libraries at the Handheld Librarian Online Conference. At the River Forest Public Library in Illinois, e-books are pre-loaded onto each Kindle. The River Forest Public Library currently circulates three Kindles with fixed, selected content: Popular Fiction Kindle, Popular Non-Fiction Kindle, and Mystery and Suspense Kindle. The selector also considers suggestions for particular titles from patrons. Circulation policies range from 2-3 weeks, and renewal policies vary by library from no renewals to one renewal. At the Univ. of Nebraska at Omaha Library, the overdue fine is $5 per item. After 5 days, there is a “$10 additional processing fee and the replacement cost for each item is assessed.” It was interesting to hear the various ways these libraries are implementing their Kindle loan programs. More information about the Handheld Librarian Conference is available at

Launching a Text a Librarian Service: Cornell’s Experience with Text-a-Librarian

Friday, July 31, 2009 3:34 pm

I sat in on a couple of the concurrent sessions of the day-long “Hand-Held Librarian” online conference on July 30. I was particularly interested in hearing how a library system with the stature of Cornell University had implemented a service which we ourselves have in fact successfully launched already. The participants were Virginia Cole, Reference and Digital Services Librarian at Olin, Cornell University’s humanities and social sciences library Baseema Banoo Krkoska, Reference & Instruction Coordinator at Albert R. Mann Library for the Colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences & Human Ecology; and Gabriel Marcias, VP of Sales and Marketing of Mosio, the makers of Text a Librarian (TAL). Bearing in mind the 85-90% Americans-with-cellphones statistics, the Digital Reference Committee at Cornell University decided to launch a service that would reach students via their preferred mode of communication. They negotiated important privacy provisions with the service provider, Mosio, in order to disassociate student phone numbers from their queries, but do retain an archive of questions which can actually be searched to find earlier answers to repeat questions. Mosio offers a Q & A technology that has been at the cutting edge SMS, and it uses the same encryption that online bankers use. At Cornell, the service operates on a first come-first serve basis, and any staff can answer; there’s a built-in alert so anyone can see if a question is taken. They market via in-house promotional material, by distributing business cards that include the number for the service, and through library instruction sessions. In the future, they hope to have all librarians offering chat, with hourly shift changes. The types of questions typically cover hours, circulation policies, resources, course-related topics, or the inevitable complaints–an excellent way to preserve anonymity while venting regarding a problem. They began this with a “stealthy” launch, in one course only, in order to test the system and methods, so this totaled 26 texts from April 20 to July 29. A particular challenge, they noted, is the ambiguous question, although some people are savvy enough only to ask precise, specific questions that lend themselves well to this mode of communication. The librarians warned that one has to be prepared for the lack of the reference interview and the general lack of dialogue. They look forward to expanding the service in the coming school year. The Mosio representative, Gabriel, singled out security, privacy, dependability, and simplicity has attributes that their system has to offer. The statistics on texting are impressive; 3.5 billion per day in American in 2008, twice as many as phone calls. He showed the screen features with one- click access to favorite research tools, Web 2.0 sites, and social networks. The issue, he wryly pointed out, is teaching librarians to text, not students, except in the sense that students are not all using reference services. It’s a promising system, but with a price tag of $1199 per year, charges are daunting, and our impending Meebo and GoogleVoice services at the opposite end of the price range promise virtues of their own!

Handheld Librarian “Trends” in Twitter

Friday, July 31, 2009 11:48 am

Yesterday, a group of us attended the virtual conference Handheld Librarian.It was presented as a combination of PowerPoint presentations with live voice-overs.Attendees had to log into the conference site to watch and listen; attendees could submit questions and comments to the presenters and moderators in real time via IM.The topic of the conference was delivering library services via mobile or handheld devices.

The conference was so well attended that we were unable to log into the opening keynote session for about 30 minutes until they opened a second log-in site.Four hundred seventy-seven individuals or groups attended the morning sessions. Needless to say, the attendees were a self-selecting crowd of tech-loving librarians, many of whom Twittered the conference.Throughout the morning, #hhlib trended in Twitter which means it was among the top 10 topics mentioned.Every few moments, I’d get a refresh reminder telling me I had 75 new tweets on #hhlib.It added an interesting dimension to the conference to watch and hear the presenter while reading attendees reactions on Twitter at the same time.Many tweets lauded speakers comments, others posed questions to the audience, while a few complained about audio quality or disagreed with speaker comments.

Surprisingly, people have continued to Twitter about the conference `today.Presenters’ have been posting their slides on their blogs or web pages and the audio recordings are not available at

“Launching a Text-a-Librarian Service” from the Handheld Librarian

Thursday, July 30, 2009 5:12 pm

Today, a group of us attended the Handheld Librarian, an online conference about using mobile devices to deliver library services. I’m reporting on the session about Cornell’s experience launching their text reference service.

In August of 2008, Cornell University library launched their text-a-librarian service.Librarians there had recognized that approximately 90% of Americans carry mobile phones and when approached by Mosio, a supplier, and asked to beta test their program, Cornell agreed.The development phase lasted through spring break and included changes, both major and minor, such as revising the software to disassociate the cell phone number from the user to protect user privacy.The development period also included extensive training time for the reference desk staff.In the spring the library had a soft launch so they could work out any issues before driving a lot of traffic to the service.As part of this testing period, they asked members of one class to use the service; 26 texts were received over a 90-day period, most asking circulation and direction-type questions.The library has prepared its own promotional materials and plans a major roll-out this fall. The program that runs the service is from Mosio ( ; the interface looks simple and easy to use, but comes with an annual subscription price of $1,139 or their basic service. The Cornell librarians have been very happy with the service and expect to see a lot of activity on the new service this coming semester. The slides from this presentation will be available for 6 months if you’d like to view this or other presentations.

Who Let the Librarians Out? ZSR Journal Reading Group

Thursday, July 30, 2009 3:50 pm

This month, I was asked to select the journal article for our reading group. Since I’ve been in the midst of researching embedded librarianship, I chose a very current article about the topic, by one of the big names on topic, David Shumaker. The article Who Let the Librarians Out? Embedded Librarianship and the Library Manager gives a good introduction on the subject and then talks about ideas and considerations for initiating and sustaining an embedded library service. Mary Scanlon, David Stewart, Sarah Jeong, Charles Bombeld and Megan Mulder joined in the discussion. David talked about their services over at CCCL where the three reference librarians are serving in clinical librarian roles for three departments. Megan told about her embedded experience in Miriam Jacobson’s seminar class, Renaissance Poetry and Materiality. Mary talked about her recent embedded time with the Cherokee summer program, CCAT. We discussed the possibilities for embeddedness in a business center and how it could scale and be sustainable with limited human resources. I explained about the South embedded model. We also discussed ways to integrate virtual embedment in our current environment. Everyone agreed it’s a fascinating subject; one that warrants more thorough investigation as to how a workable model for ZSR embedment services at WFU might be possible on a program level.

ACRL OnPoint Chat Series: “Are Reference Desks Passé?”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009 2:52 pm

On Wednesday, July 29th, Mary Scanlon and I participated in the ACRL OnPoint Chat series, “Are Reference Desks Passé?” While no definitive conclusion was reached, many salient points were discussed. The format of this series was a Meebo Chatroom with 80 participants. Two parallel threads emerged during the 45 minute conversation: the medium and the provider of reference service.

The title challenged people to discuss different service points and varying technologies available for users. Service points included the traditional stand-alone reference desk, a single service point (reference and circulation) or virtual service points which included Twitter, IM, VOIP, video, text, email, walkie talkies, Vocera devices and software such as LibraryH3lp, Google Voice, and others. By and large the librarians in the discussion found that faculty were not users of chat clients, while undergraduates used both chat and text. No consensus was reached regarding the necessity of a reference desk, but many excellent questions were raised.

Who should staff the desk was the other dominant theme in the conversation. Current solutions ran the full spectrum, but a recurring theme was the de-professionalization of the desk staff. Numerous libraries are using a triage model to refer difficult questions to subject specialists. Another aspect of this discussion was that embedded widgets throughout a library’s website were viewed to be a powerful way to drive traffic to subject specialists.

As first-time participants in a chat session like this, both Mary and I were struck by the chaotic nature of the format. Participants were answering multiple questions simultaneously, creating a challenging discussion environment. However, in spite of these challenges, it was possible to see the overarching themes emerge and glean the experiences of other academic libraries. If you would like to see the transcript it can be found at:

ACRL OnPoint Discussion

Carolyn’s Sunday and Monday at ALA

Friday, July 17, 2009 7:12 am

Sunday at ALA was a busy day for me. It started off with me attending a program sponsored by the Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) of ACRL titled “Chicago’s Ethnic Mosaic: Cultural Identity and Neighborhood Change”. Although I only stayed two of the four hours program, I heard and learned much on the history of European immigration and in-migration of African Americans and Mexican Americans to Chicago as well as the history of Chicago’s public housing.

Next, I went to the exhibits to attend Lauren Pressley’s book signing and to visit vendors’ booths to pick up any interesting free stuff. I stopped by the Library of Congress’ booth and picked up several informational booklets on MARC and FRBR records. Afterwards, I went to Au Bon Pain in the conference center to purchase something for lunch ($6 for a small bag of chips and a bottled water–outrageous) and spotted an escorted Judy Blume trying to make a decision about lunch. I loved her books as a young girl.

The afternoon session I attended was called “New Selectors and Selecting in New Subjects: Meeting the Challenges”. Linda Phillips, Head of Scholarly Communication at the University of Tennessee, began the panel session by likening selectors to entrepreneurs. We need to be client-centered in providing content and services to faculty and students. She said selectors must:

  • approach collection development in a digital library framework
  • take an active role in creating scholarly publications
  • assert professional principles for free and unbiased access to knowledge
  • understand and fully exploit the potential of the local and the immediate

She went on to say libraries need to complete the migration from print to electronic collections. Her library embarked on a reorganization where the emphasis is on liaisons and their academic departments, the expansion of unique local digital publications, and adding freely accessible web content to collection (e.g. Directory of Open Access Journals and OAIster). Her advice for new selectors is:

  • learn the library’s explicit and implied collection policies and practices
  • talk with colleagues
  • know the library’s budget and expectations; understand recordkeeping and encumbrances/expenditures for accountability
  • learn library’s strategy for managing cost increases
  • get to know clietele (i.e. faculty) and their search preferences; build trust; collaborate with faculty–this is the key to enhancing research and instruction on campus
  • get acquainted with vendor materials
  • be knowledgeable in intellectual property issues, creative commons, SPARC, NIH open access–this will increase your credibility with scholars
  • learn about your faculty’s discipline–how are they involving students
  • participate in at least two disciplinary related programs each semester
  • encourage researchers to consider open access publishing

Supervisors should lead discussions about research practices and discipline culture and encourage liaisons to include these things in yearly goals.

TRACE (Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange) is the University of Tennessee’s digital repository.

Arro Smith of the San Marcos Public Library spoke on and showed attendees resources on the ALCTS (Association for Library Collections and Technical Services) web site for new selectors. By clicking on “Conferences & Events” which appears on the lefthand side of the web page, one can discover webinars, workshops and web courses available. The Collection and Management and Development Section (CMDS) of ALCTS has recently started publishing a new series of monographs called the Sudden Selectors Guide and they are available through the ALA Store. These monographs are designed to address niche topics. Business resources is the only guide so far to be published. Mr. Smith said forthcoming discipline guides to be published include biology, English, art, chemistry and GLBITQ.

Next on the panel to speak was Jeff Kosokoff of Tufts University. He feels libraries shouldn’t take possession of things not needed. We should think about information in terms of having access not about having it sitting on shelves or owning it. Information, as a service, becomes ever more dominant from a user perspective and needs to be delivered in a way people would use it, otherwise it won’t be used.

My last session of the day was attending the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. At our meeting there was an Alexander Street Press representative who reported that the vendor is looking to develop a streaming video database of anthropology films that would be transcribed and text searchable. He was seeking input on what types of films should be included in the proposed database. One person suggested to the rep. that the product should be marketed to anthropology and area studies. Serials cancellations was another topic on the agenda. Several attendees said they were having to make decisions about cutting dual formats of journals and expressed concerns over how some electronic anthropological journals sometimes don’t contain illustrations that accompany the print format. From this discussion, I felt that Wake is ahead of the curve in eliminating dual formats of anthropological journal titles. I really enjoyed going to this session and talking with other anthropology librarians. I believe I was the only cataloger in the room.

On Monday, I attended “Resuscitating the Catalog: Next-Generation Strategies for Keeping the Catalog Relevant” which Kaeley has already summarized in her ALA Annual 2009 day 4 post. I also went to the ALCTS sponsored “President’s Program: Who owns Antiquity? Museums and the Battle over Our Ancient Heritage” in which James Cuno, Director of the Art Institute of Chicago, discussed whether museums should return ancient artifacts to their country of origin. Mr. Cuno has written and published a book with the same title as his talk. At the conclusion of his talk, it was time to make my way to O’Hare Airport to go home.

Kaeley at ALA Annual 2009-Day 4

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:34 am

I started Monday morning off with a session entitled, “Resuscitating the Catalog: Next-Generation Strategies for Keeping the Catalog Relevant.”Four panelists discussed OCLC initiatives, and the public and academic library experience with the catalog.Several of the most helpful comments came from Beth Jefferson of Bibliocommons in Ontario.She has studied both public and academic libraries in Ontario, and though she focused on public libraries in her comments, she demonstrated some great features in an online catalog based on user behaviors that could be incorporated into academic libraries.She indicated that in regards to searching, less is more.When information was scarce, casting a wide net was helpful.Now that we search so much more information on a regular basis, it is more helpful to have a focused set of results.A few other features she discussed were:

-putting metadata where patrons expect it-type ahead (if they are typing “cook” for cookbook, show them “use cookery” rather than an error)

-rather than call number searches, a link to “browse the shelf” with book cover images

-more browsability with dvds and audio (their most popular patron searches were “dvd,” “dvds,” “movie,” “films”)

-browsing recent new books, recently returned books, and indicating “available now” rather than “checked in”

David Flaxbart of University of Texas-Austin discussed their implementation of a new ILS.They had a helpful item record display that had item information like call number and location in a separate, colored box right below the title and author information that set it apart from any other information on the page.In talking about any future software implementations, he indicated they were working under the “perpetual beta” model, recognizing that they would always be a little behind the curve, that the current system is just a bridge to the next, and that though no one likes change, no change will be remembered more than a few months after it happens.

The last two sessions I attended were again sponsored by LITA: Social Software Showcase and The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise.Both sessions looked at current trends such as cloud computing, mashups and technology tools, focusing on how we can use them best to communicate and engage with our patrons

Kaeley at ALA Annual 2009-Day 3

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:30 am

Sunday morning started early at the Alexander Street Press breakfast, where they shared information about their upcoming releases.Breakfast was great and they had a very interesting speaker, Gary Giddens, a jazz critic and writer, who spoke about his career in journalism and his long connection with jazz music.After checking out the exhibits and Lauren P.’s booksigning, I headed to “Who Cares About Privacy: Boundaries, Millennials and the Myspace Mindset.”I missed most of the first speaker’s presentation, but got to hear all of Siva Vaidhyanathan’s discussion.The most memorable thing he said, to much applause, was that there is no such thing as a millennial, and that looking at issues through a generational lens creates huge inaccuracies.Regarding millennials, he mentioned three problems that a focus on generations creates (though I think this could be applied to a focus on any generation): it makes them exotic (different from us), it homogenizes them (the same as each other), and encourages pandering to their needs.He also discussed his strong views regarding privacy and the many ways that it is violated by commercial and state institutions without most of the public realizing it.

During the afternoon, I attended two LITA events, Top Technology Trends and the President’s Forum.The Top Technology Trends was a panel discussion looking at mobile and cloud computing and open access issues, as well as the top three trends of each panelist.A few things that stood out to me were:

-more exploration of the digital humanities

-reducing our carbon footprint

-people used to “go” online and now we “are” online

-changes in our expectations regarding access to information and broadband/wireless issues

The President’s Forum focused mostly on the Dutch Boys, their Shanachie Road Trip across the US, and what they are doing at their home library, DOK in Delft.They showed several video clips and images of their building and how they are using technology to connect their patrons with cultural and historical information.

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