Professional Development

During February 2010...

Kaeley rocks the Webinar

Friday, February 26, 2010 5:05 pm

I know that this is somewhat tangential but I thought that it was interesting. Today I hosted my first webinar as part of the on-line Indexing & abstracting class and it was my pleasure to have (our own) Kaeley McMahan and Mark Schumacher as my two guest speakers.

We used Elluminate but there are lots of other options out there. If anyone is looking for ideas about how to host a webinar or what the experience is like feel free to get in touch!

Promoting Meaningful Classroom Participation- is it possible?

Thursday, February 25, 2010 5:53 pm

On Feb. 4th (the only day that week that the campus opened at the regular time) I attended a presentation on promoting meaningful classroom participation, sponsored by the TLC. Dr. Dee Oseroff-Varnell, professor in the Communications Department, led our session. For anyone who has taught LIB 100 or any other class, you will recognize many of the common frustrations that were voiced!

We began by defining “classroom participation”, which meant different things to different people. Some defined participation as expressing critical thinking, disagreeing with the instructor, or making thoughtful contributions. Others mentioned incorporating current events into a discussion, asking questions, and taking the content to a different level. We then identified the road-blocks that hinder participation, such as distractions from electronic devices, under-prepared students, students who are afraid to say something “wrong”, time limits, lack of motivation (on the students’ part)! and that some students are there to be entertained and don’t do anything to contribute.

It was interesting to hear how other people had tried to address these issues, and I will try some of these ideas in my next LIB 100 class! We agreed that learning the students’ names early and then addressing them several times in class helps to encourage them to at least pay attention more, and talking them personally outside of class also helps them to be more comfortable with you. Hopefully this will translate into their feeling more comfortable talking in class! Having students work in small groups as well as sitting in a “conference style” can also help encourage participation by not focusing on just one person, and making class feel more like a discussion than a lecture.

We all agreed that it is important to let the students know the expectations and goals of the class early, especially what we expect as far as participation. For many instructors, “classroom engagement” is a better term to use when setting goals, with contributions to a discussion being one part of that. Some students participate in nonverbal ways, and are just as involved in learning the material as students who speak often in class. Ultimately, it is important that the instructor get a good “feel” for the type of students in the class and use methods that will best encourage them to be active participants. I hope these ideas will be effective in my next LIB 100 class; we’ll see in a few weeks!

Public Speaking and Presentations day two

Thursday, February 25, 2010 5:00 pm

Ellen and I attended the second of six sessions offered by the PDC on Public Speaking and Presenting today. Because I was the only one who hadn’t given my 3 minute speech on an assigned topic yet, I gave my speech today. (The rest of the 15 attendees had to give their speech with very little preparation, in the same hour long class last week.) Then, after an introduction on the elements and differences between informative and persuasive speeches, the rest of the class was all preparation for the speeches we must give next week. For next week we are to prepare a 4-5 minute informative speech on any topic of our choice. (My topic: Community Gardens!) The presenter and Andrea Ellis came around to give pointers on what our speeches should contain. They did warn us though that we needed to practice our speeches in front of a mirror and with a stopwatch. They will cut us off at 5 minutes! The exercise is meant to emulate creating an elevator speech. The group is visibly getting more comfortable with the material and with each other, so it promises to be a very engaging class next week!

Day three at Code4Lib

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 6:24 pm

The Code4Lib Conference started yesterday and Cathy Marshall, Senior Researcher at Microsoft’s Silicon Valley Lab gave the keynote speech. She talked about personal digital archiving and shared some insights on how with digitization, people can now hold on to everything digital. I found her talk pretty interesting as it made me wonder if I should keep everything. Then I looked at files and folders on my work computer that I have had for about six months now and I realized that I saved everything I came across and my Outlook inbox is so cluttered right now because I kept all emails that I received so far. In addition, I even downloaded files from my old computer that I kept for several years and that I have never used since the first time I saved them. Now I ask myself: am I a digital hoarder? Maybe I am (to a certain extent) . Kathy also talked about how people react initially with horror when they lose data stored on a computer hard drive but almost feel good about the loss later on once they realize they just got rid of unwanted digital artifacts.

Jeremy Frumkin from the University of Arizona and Terry Reese from the Oregon State University introduced Cloud4Lib which is an open digital library platform. The idea here is to leverage the implementation of tools like Evergreen, Koha, Vufind, LibraryFind, Duraspace, dSpace, Blacklight, Tellico, Moai, Solrmarc, Greenstone, Pymarc, and Fedora Commons to benefit more than one community. Doing so will enable libraries to collaboratively build and use common infrastructures. Ultimately, not just one institution that installs a product will benefit but the whole community of users. This enables development efforts to enhance an entire platform.

For Terry, team work is key in leveraging implementations. The work should be extended to the entire library and having a wiki could help when talking about collaborative space. He recommended Amazon (S3, Web Server, EC2 instances) as collaborative workspace. Jeremy added that breakout sessions, discovery across platforms could further enhance this process.

Ross Singer talked about liked library data cloud which can be implemented by building a linked data service using MarcXML. He mentioned how RDF and SPARQL could be used to provide users with useful information when they look up a URI. He actually used this concept to embed some RDFs into a Vufind instance to link external data.

Harrison Dekke, Data Librarian at UC Berkeley defined the role of the cloud as a replacement of the desktop and mentioned that this may make users work smarter. He also talked about Rapache which is an apache module that puts an instance of R in each apache process where R is an interpreter.

Karen Coombs recommended ways to improve library user interfaces with OCLC web services. She talked about cross listing print and electronic records and suggested the use of Open URL resolvers to aggregate and add a link to the library interface to allow display of print availability at other libraries. She also talked about a web interface that accepts an OCLC number and a zip code and returns a map with libraries that have a searched item.

Jennifer Bowen from the University of Rochester gave an overview of the eXtensible Catalog to take control of library metadata and websites. At Rochester, they used NCIP and OAI to provide connectivity between eXtensible Catalog and ILS, and developed a user interface offering facets and a customizable search interface and metadata tools for automated processing of large batches of metadata.

Anjanette Young, Systems Librarian and Jeff Sherwood, Programmer from the University of Washington talked about matching dirty data. Just like us at the ZSR Library, they use DSpace as a repository for electronic theses and dissertations. They use Pymarc for dirty data matching where they match marc bibliographic data with corresponding authors. The great thing about this Pymarc software is that its latest release has the ability to change records from MARC-8 encoding toUnicode-UTF8.

More posts to come…:-)

c4l10 – tuesday/wednesday

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 5:17 pm

One thing I love about Code4Lib – I find out about projects that are complex, neat, well outside my technical expertise range, and every now and then, something that I can’t wait to play around with. I decided to spare everyone the gritty details from Tuesday & Wednesday – if you want to see them the session descriptions are on the code4lib wiki. But – a few common themes emerged (for me) through during the long sessions, lightning rounds, breakout sessions, and accidental discussions.

  • Code management, continuous integration, agile development and development frameworks were a recurring theme. People are seeking, and in some cases have found, good tools and methods for helping them develop more efficiently and effectively.
  • System integration – I heard several presentations that talked about using central platforms to show/manage/produce digital repositories, online catalogs, and website content. One platform used Fedora/active-fedora/Blacklight to bring together digital/book collections into a single discovery system. The eXtensible Catalog project has made a lot of progress with their drupal tools & there was some interesting talk of Islandora (a drupal plug-in for fedora).
  • Open source, open content, open solutions – It was nice to be in an environment where the ideas, tools, and projects focused on open source ideals. Ian Walls gave an interesting talk about his experience migrating from a proprietary ILS to Koha, countless presenters showed how open source solutions helped them do things not possible or too expensive in proprietary environments, and it was common to showoff ideas for solving problems in lots of different ways.
  • If tecchies are the canaries of technological change - the future is connected, cloudy, not based on a single client or operating system, not based on a single approach to solving complex problems, and not based on a single form of interaction. This conference included a wide mix of presentation formats (including an open Q&A session, a very active IRC channel, multiple lightning rounds, and one great screencast), featured virtual and real-world methods for solving common conference problems (coordination, events, spontaneous planning), and included a wide array of devices, platforms, and approaches to problem solving (e.g. virtual bookshelf browsing at NCSU, Univ. Wisconsin & Stanford).

Public Speaking & Presentations

Wednesday, February 24, 2010 2:36 pm

Last Thursday, Mary Beth and I attended the first of 6 sessions offered by the PDC on preparing and presenting speeches and presentations. The class is taught by Dr. Dee Oseroff-Varnell from the Communications Dept.. There are 15 WFU employees in the class with as many objectives for taking the course. In our first class we were given a basic outline of elements to include in a speech and discussed mannerisms to avoid. Next we were given a randomly assigned topic and 5 minutes to prepare a speech using the elements. Our gracious and sympathetic classmates critiqued our presentations. Next week we continue to face our fear of public speaking with more immersion therapy.

Code4Lib Pre-conferences – Blacklight

Monday, February 22, 2010 7:05 pm

Erik and I drove down to Asheville this morning for the Code4Lib conference that is being hosted at the Renaissance Marriott hotel. We got in town around 9:15 and after checking in and dropping our luggage, we attended the pre-conference on Koha that Erik signed up for. I signed up for the blacklight pre-conference, which was scheduled for 1:30pm so I had a lot of time to killJ. I am sure Erik will enjoy talking about Koha so I am going to focus on blacklight.

Naomi Dushay, Jessie Keck, and Bess Sadler presented on blacklight. Blacklight is an open source UVa‘s faceted Next Generation Discovery tool based on solr. It is a plugin to the rails framework and offers features including faceted browsing, keyword searching, relevancy, and display of content types. The great thing about blacklight is that it has a highly configurable ruby on rails interface. In addition, blacklight can index and retrieve several kinds of xml documents including EAD, TEI, and GDMS.

I installed blacklight on an ubuntu platform on a virtual box running on my vista laptop. The installation was pretty straight forward except for some few configurations here and there. Blacklight can be used to serve the same purpose as Vufind ( but can also be used for searching and displaying digital objects like the Northwest Digital Archive. The coolest feature that blacklight offers is the ability to write your own application helper using existing helper methods included in the blacklight application. This allows back-end users to basically write pure text and see it converted into html suitable for a good display in a browser.

Code4Lib Preconferences – Koha/blacklight/dev tools

Monday, February 22, 2010 5:32 pm

JP and Erik hit Code4Lib on Monday and started off with attending a pre-conference on Koha. Koha has hit version 3 & includes some interesting serials and acquisitions functionality now. The presenter was Galen Charlton, the programmer who previously helped ZSR on our Meridian implementation.

During the break we had an opportunity to chat with Evergreen & Koha users & found that the Acquisitions and serials implementations are in process (evergreen) or functioning (Koha). We had an interesting discussion about the utility of serials check-in.

During the dream-the-dream segment some ideas for best world scanrios included lots of talk of system integration – integration of digital library stuff with the ILS< integration of ERM stuff with the ILS, the integration of Koha/Evergreen.

After a lunch at Salsas JP & I split up. He hit the Blacklight session & I went to Dan Chudnov’s tools session in which we learned some python programming, talked about Django, Kohana, and the overall value of testing your code :)

Preserving Forsyth’s Past

Saturday, February 20, 2010 10:37 pm

Lewisville -Preserving Forsyth's Past

On Saturday, February 20th, Audra, Barry, Craig and Rachel Hoff (UNC-CH Medical Sciences Library) led 3 sessions on preservation and digitization at the Lewisville Branch, Forsyth Public Library. Giz, Audra and Craig surveyed the space a few weeks back and it proved to be a new, tech friendly space. Giz and Barry came early to set up the video recording equipment, and Craig brought his traveling preservation book repair kit. Merrikay Everett Brown, the Lewisville Branch Director welcomed the 30 participants. Audra then introduced each presenter and described the three 2-hour sessions: Preservation theory and terminology, Hands-on Preservation, and Digitization. Audra also mentioned the small grants available for local history organizations, such as the grants offered by NCPC.

Rachel Hoff then began discussing the basic tenets of preservation theory: Do no harm and reversibility. She didn’t linger too long on terminology or lingo but talked to the audience as if they were peers. This made the early Saturday morning crowd soften up and pay attention. Rachel spent time discussing adhesives, care and handling of materials, the environment (light, temperature and relative humidity, and air quality), pests, disaster planning and cleaning.

After lunch, during session #2, Rachel and Craig demonstrated basic preservation repairs: tipping in a loose page, repairing paper tears, text block consolidation and paperback repairs (Danielle Steele!). We also covered basic repair tools, technique and suppliers.

Barry Davis led session #3, demonstrating how to scan paper materials as well as digitizing cassettes and video tapes. This was of particular interest to the crowd. ZSR should be proud to have a talent like Barry, whose skills were evident throughout the day.

There will be two more sessions like today’s for Preserving Forsyth’s Past: in April and in June at the Walkertown and Central Branches.

Mobile Library, Handheld Librarian

Thursday, February 18, 2010 5:01 pm

On February 17, I attended the keynote session entitled “This is Now: The Mobile Library” as part of the Handheld Librarian Online Conference. The presenter was Joe Murphy who received the Library Journal ‘Movers & Shakers” award in 2009. As a “trend setter,” Murphy believes that librarians need to think mobile about library services. As librarians adapt to the mobile revolution, there will be new expectations and frontiers for us to explore. Murphy stressed the importance of “mobile friendly library spaces.” In addition to creating library spaces for our mobile users, librarians should be gaining the skills and knowledge to offer effective mobile services. As he noted, we need to take steps to “keep the library at the center of the mobile information world.”

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