Professional Development

During June 2010...

Top Tech Trends – LITA / ALA

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 9:12 am

Sunday afternoon found many WFUers at the LITA top tech trends panel. If you want the full session, notes from it, or the twitter feed, hit the LITA live blog of the event.

There were lots of interesting ideas – the impact of the ipad on future client technologies, the impending adoption of e-readers and the impact that cheap e-book readers will have on the market, the importance of cloud computing, and the need to incorporate social/community features into your sites were just a few.

From my perspective, the panel included two really provocative ideas. First – the idea that libraries are positioned to no longer be the best place to access, aggregate, or preserve content. The panel introduced the concept that the problem of physical copy scarcity is almost over and that libraries, while optimized for print storage and preservation, are not necessarily the best environments for the digital analogues of these tasks. This idea recurred a few times, notably as the panel at turns indicated that libraries should embrace and be concerned with outsourcing. Almost sequentially, one panelst indicated that outsourcing IT to the cloud would free up staff to take on more patron-centric roles, while another indicated that most patrons are/will interacting with the library in a digital environment, freeing up public service staff to focus on more IT aspects. Of course, technical services was not left out of the ‘what does outsourcing mean’ discussion.

As anyone on the tech team who has been working on a little cloud computing project over the last year can tell you, it is easy to outsource hardware and software but very difficult to outsource expertise. I expect that as libraries grapple with the issues behind content access, core values, and efficiency this discussion will continue to be relevant.

The second really provocative idea came as a comparison to the current situation in the Gulf. “How will we handle our first information disaster?” one panellist asked. She suggested that an emerging role of libraries is to serve as a ‘strategic information reserve.’ We have seen some examples of technologies that support these ideas already – from LOCKSS to DuraSpace. I thought it was interesting however that the question, as it was phrased to me indicated the real problem – that each of these focused reserves may not be complete enough in a large scale disaster. In particular I thought that this question was nearly the answers that came out of the above issue.

Kevin at ALA Annual 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 6:58 am

In what was a quick two-day abbreviation of the ALA Annual conference (my first), the same observation kept recurring: there are a lot of librarians here. For every session I attended, there were more librarians than the chairs (and walls and floors) could accommodate. Erik’s Saturday morning cloud computing session was a case in point: chairs stolen from adjacent rooms, concerned librarians checking the fire code room capacity, other concerned librarians threading narrow fire escapes through the throng, and still other librarians spilling through the doors into the hallway.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday: different sessions, same story. After two full days of extended tech sessions, it was clear: there are a lot of librarians here and there are a lot of librarians here interested in technology.

Some of the sessions I attended discussed rich internet applications, emerging technologies, cloud computing, digital experience design, and top technology trends. More specifically, we discussed:

  • application screen design (e.g. Should I use a dashboard or a spreadsheet layout?)
  • usability heuristics (e.g. The system status must be visible.)
  • the disjunction between vision and beta (e.g. Your imagination exceeds my resources.)
  • the role of experience design (e.g. What kind of experience did you have with this website? What kind of experience do we want you to have?)

Overall, an important theme emerged: for all these considerations, there must be balance between the handcrafted and the industrial, between creativity and scale, between care and control.

Sunday morning was the LYRASIS awards breakfast. As one of three winners of the NextGen Librarian Award, I feel very honored and am very grateful. It is a good feeling to be recognized for one’s hard work. Thanks, Susan!

Continuing ALA for Wanda

Tuesday, June 29, 2010 9:03 am

With two very long days of board meetings and conference planning behind me, I settled down to center my attention on two different tracks held during the conference; assessment and staff development. The assessment sessions were sponsored by the Measurement, Assessment, and Evaluation Section of the Library Leadership and Management Association (LLAMA). The assessment first “Myth Busting: Using Data to Challenge Assumptions” showcased speakers from different libraries who used data to challenge their assumptions. Of particular interest was the one case-study which explored the notion that library patrons are the primary offenders for incorrectly re-shelving books? Data generated from this specific study showed a parallel between checked-in dates and inventory dates. The study actually revealed a very close proximity to the checked-in date and the inventory date. The home grown inventory system used also calculated the distance the item was away from its’ correctly shelved location. This and other findings led the librarians to rethink student training, as well as the number of back to back hours students were assigned to re-shelve books. Unlike the other studies this one was not captured on the LLAMA webpage.

“Assessment for the Rest of Us: Informal Techniques You Can Use,” turned out to be a very fast paced program that featured presenters in a speed date style of information sharing on the select techniques used. Among those shared were: listening groups, unobtrusive user observation, let them try it before you buy it, why don’t you use my chat reference, poster surveys, chatting with patrons, community users in an academic library, flip video cameras and mapping student use of the library. Each presenter gave just enough information to give the audience an idea of the technique used. In conclusion they each agreed that informal assessment in many forms can be useful in decision making and could lead to creating a culture of assessment throughout the library.

The third session entitled “And the Survey says..! Strengthening Services through Surveying,”featured Karen Neurohr of Oklahoma State University who gave a brief comparison of features in LibQUAL versus LibQUAL light. She reminded the audience that “customers define service quality.” Market your survey! Ask students what prizes would appeal to them. Think carefully about and include early in discussions all the departments on campus that should be included in the survey process; institutional research, marketing department, finance and accounting and the institutional review board.

Debbie Moss of the Orange County Library System, Orlando, Florida spoke from the public library angle using Counting Opinions (CO). We here at ZSR can attest that CO is possibly a better option for public more so than private.

Both speakers stressed the need to be inclusive, deciding what areas are important for your library’s success and seeking help if necessary to understand the data generated from any survey tool used.

The second series was sponsored by ALA’s Learning Round Table (LEARNRT). The first event was a “Training Showcase: Best Practices in Training, Staff Development and Library Continuing Education.” Our own ACE Scholar intern, Krishawna Brown helped me navigate the maze at the convention center to finally find the poster sessions. The majority of the presenters were training consultants advertising their businesses; lots of customer services training experts. A few were more were in line with what I wanted to see; examples from libraries that had planned successful staff development days.

In search of more, I chose to attend another LEARNRT discussion on staff development. This session was hosted by Sharon Morris, Director of Library Development & Innovation, Colorado State Library, Denver. Session topics included tips for planning, getting everyone to buy-in to continued learning, keeping training energized, how much to require, the need to connect training to the strategic plan of the library and also how to get new ideas accepted by administration.

Our BCALA annual meeting which is held on Sunday night featured Dr. Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Valdez is the author of “Wench” a fictional work based on a popular vacation destination in Xenia, Ohio for southern slaveholders and their enslaved mistresses. Valdez says:

I took this forgotten historical note and sketched in a fictional account of what it would have been like to be an enslaved woman traveling to this free state each summer. Why wouldn’t the women try to escape? What kinds of emotional attachments did they have with these men?

The BCALA Literary Awards are given on Monday night during annual. Of the seven award winners, five came and read from their works. I thought each award winner had a truly amazing story surrounding the book they wrote. Each one was a delight to hear. Of the ones I’ll list below, Adriane Lentz-Smith, Assistant Professor of History at Duke University is one I wish WFU could lure away to here. She recently finished her first book, published by Harvard University Press, about black soldiers in World War I and the strong tie between manhood and fitness for government and citizenship rights. At Duke, Lentz-Smith teaches African-American history, modern U.S. history and topics pertaining to U.S. encounters with the world. She also taught a seminar on the nation and Jim Crow, exploring how the rise of racial segregation as a political and social program might be connected to American expansion overseas.

Here’s a list of winner and category:

Fiction- Pamela Samuels Young’s Buying Time

NonfictionGwen Ifill Breakthrough

First Novelist - K.C. Marshall, My Sister’s Veil

Fiction Honor Books – Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor

Allen Ballard, Carried by Six

Nonfiction Honor Books – Adriane Lentz-Smith, Freedom Struggles

Outstanding Publishing Citation-Henry Louis Gates, Jr., In Search of Our Roots

Today I am heading to meet other North Carolina Library representatives traveling up for the Library Advocacy Day which will this year replace National Library Legislative Day. Library advocates from all 50 states and Washington, D.C. will meet at the Upper Senate Park. As a first time attendee to this event, i am not sure what to expect.

RBMS 2010

Monday, June 28, 2010 12:22 pm

2010 ACRL Rare Books & Manuscripts Section preconference.

RBMS was in Philadelphia this year, with an official theme of Join or Die: Collaboration in Special Collections.

The opening plenary session highlighted the work of PACSCL (Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries), a 25-year-old consortium that now includes over 30 member institutions. Although the particular concentration of academic and independent cultural resource institutions in the Philadelphia area make PACSCL unique, the principles on which it was founded and its continuing mission can provide a model for cooperative special collections programs. Perhaps most interesting is the way in which its collective energies are being refocused from cataloging/processing projects to more outwardly focused initiatives, especially K-12 educational programs. Not that processing and digitization projects have been abandoned: we heard at length about PACSCL’s latest project, a CLIR Hidden Collections grant-funded initiative to address manuscript backlogs at several member institutions using a MPLP model.

As usual, RBMS had many, many interesting and concurrently scheduled sessions!

Some highlights:

Discussion session: Quick Innovations for Teaching with Special Collections

Three brief case study papers, followed by lively discussion.

  • Mattie Taormina (Stanford) described a class session designed for middle-schoolers that demonstrated how books provide artifactual information
  • Anne Bahde (SanDiego State) demonstrated how she had successfully used Zotero for collaborative class assignments involving special collections materials
  • Jeffrey Makala (U of South Carolina) described Craig’s and my dream class! Combined history of books component with rare books librarian and hands-on letterpress printing component in library’s printing lab. AND they have a brand-new special collections library building at USC. Yes, I am jealous.

Lots of interesting discussion in this session, with people sharing different ideas and programs that they’ve found successful. I put in a plug for our ALA Connect group on Teaching Strategies for Special Collections, in hopes of attracting some new members.

Case Study panel on teaching

A second session on teaching gave some more in-depth case studies involving special collections collaboration and pedagogy.

Julie Grob collaborated with an English faculty member in an embedded-ish manner for a semester long class. Students used special collections materials related to the subject of the class for a series of specific assignments throughout the semester and for their final research papers. Julie stressed the need for communication and collaboration between librarian and professor both in planning stages and as the class progressed. Since they were able to demonstrate that the class contributed to the U. of Houston’s mandate for development of inquiry-based learning, they were able to get university funding to purchase relevant special collections materials for future classes. Indeed, all three of the projects described in this session received some type of financial support from their parent institutions.

Marianne Hansen described an intensely collaborative art history class at Bryn Mawr in which students studied and then created a sizeable library exhibit about medieval books of hours. This provided the students with a scenario in which collaboration was genuinely necessary– in contrast to some artificially constructed “group projects”. Students enjoyed the class, and even university administration took note!

Stewart Plein and English professor Marilyn Francus developed a rare books pedagogy project– a flexible series of exercises designed that can be adapted to classes in a variety of disciplines. The intent was to encourage faculty at West Virginia U. to integrate special collections into their syllabi. Success among WVU faculty has been somewhat limited. Faculty initially seemed confused about the intent of the exercises– didn’t understand that they were models to be adapted– and were reluctant to change their syllabi to include special collections activities. However, the website has generated interest from people at various other institutions.

Discussion session- Small & Medium Sized Libraries

Anne Bahde (SanDiego State) and Lynne Thomas (Northern Illinois) moderated this very active discussion session on a variety of issues affecting non-large collections. Participants included those of us attached to larger academic libraries (sometimes very large universities/libraries with proportionally small special collections depts.) and others from independent historical societies, museums, and other institutions. Discussion was wide-ranging, but some general themes included:

  • the importance of assessment tools and procedures for smaller collections which may need to justify their existences to parent institutions;
  • the challenge of providing good access and reference service with very limited staff;
  • and the potential of various Web 2.0 tools in small special collections.

Seminar: Collections Processing: Innovations in student involvement

This session highlighted programs at Goucher College and at the Amistad Research Center that made extensive use of student employees, interns, and volunteers for cataloging and processing projects.

Goucher College CLIR grant project used students to create DCRB level bibliographic descriptions for monograph and sheet music collections. Students were carefully screened– application process included submission of a resume and academic writing sample, and an interview with project staff– and they received fairly intensive training in descriptive bibliography. Students were tasked with bibliographic description of items from the rare books collection. They filled out a standard worksheet based on MARC fields and DCRB; completed worksheets were reviewed by project staff and entered into actual MARC record by cataloger. Intensive level of description and narrowly defined collections meant that students became subject experts fairly quickly and were able to work mostly independently after initial training and workshops.

Amistad Research Center is an independent research library on the campus of Tulane U. It employs student interns from many area institutions and uses student volunteers from Tulane, which recently added a community service component to its undergraduate curriculum. Two undergraduate history classes worked on enhancing descriptions for underprocessed collections and on creating finding aids for completely unprocessed collections. Interns from other schools, most of whom were minority students, worked on processing other collections from the backlog. After training in archival processing — a key component of which was observing professional staff process collections– students began by producing a collection survey, including list of authority terms and notes on preservation needs and original order. They then wrote the biographical/historical notes for their collections. Once these steps were accomplished, students could generally complete the processing relatively independently.

There were many lessons learned from the various experiences with student processors:

Invest time in thorough training at the beginning of projects or semesters; this will mean more independent students and fewer interruptions for staff in the long run.

For class projects, make sure to get a clear idea of faculty member’s vision for how the students’ processing projects fit with overall goals and outcomes of the class.

“Students will be students” — build in ways to deal with procrastination, varying aptitudes and learning styles/rates.

Develop methods for tracking students’ daily workflow when permanent staff is otherwise occupied. Amistad used student work journals filled out after every session.

It’s always nice to be able to match processing projects to student interests. But this may not always be possible, since repository’s priorities must also be taken into account.

Small collections are best for student processors. Enhancement of existing minimal finding aids is also a good thing for students to do.

Considerable discussion ensued on the pros and cons of using students to do processing and cataloging work. Pros: students are cheap and readily available; for those with minimal permanent staff, students are sometimes the only option for addressing backlogs; using students for meaningful work in special collections provides an opportunity for librarians to be teachers/mentors; and in the case of places like Amistad, student internships can help recruit minorities into the profession. Cons: “students will be students”– they have lots of competing priorities and are sometimes unreliable; actual output of student workers may not justify a large investment of staff time for training and supervision; current economic situation can result in cheap or free students doing work that should really be done by permanent professional or paraprofessional staff.

Seminar: Bridging the Gap: Communication between Catalogers and Archivists

Very interesting speakers… addressing a problem that I’ve never really had, since I’ve been doing both rare books cataloging and manuscripts processing for the past decade or so. But for larger special collections the trend toward merging of technical services functions and cross-training of metadata specialists can be a challenge. Margaret Nichols of Cornell and Kathy Wisser, late of UNC SILS and now part of the Simmons faculty, described historical differences in methods and philosophy between catalogers and archivists. David DeLorenzo of UC Berkeley discussed the changing role of a tech services department in a large special collection.

Traditional thinking is that cataloging and processing require opposite skills– splitting (cataloging) vs. lumping (processing). Catalogers deal with individual items that are consciously created. The purpose of a catalog record is to transcribe features of an item in a highly proscribed fashion, in order to distinguish one manifestation of a work from another. Archivists, on the other hand, deal with materials that are the sometimes accidental by-products of people’s lives. The purpose of an archival finding aid is to summarize the contents of a collection and put it in historical context. Hardcore practitioners in either field tend to be suspicious of the other’s methods.

However, the reality is that there are many forces of convergence for cataloging and processing today. Technical services in general is moving away from silos (note: first mention of s-word so far this conference) divided by format to a more team-based, cross-trained model. Digitization projects require shared metadata standards. They can also necessitate collection-level description of book collections and item-level description of manuscript items.

At any rate, I think it’s safe to say that ZSR is ahead of the curve on this trend.

Taking our Pulse: OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives

This was an informative session on the preliminary data gained from OCLC’s 2009 survey on special collections and archives. The OCLC survey was intended as a follow-up to the similar survey done by ARL in 1998, which spawned a lot of discussion and efforts, most notably the Hidden Collections initiative. The purpose of the OCLC study was to see what changes had occurred in special collections in the past ten years.

The distinguished panel of speakers – Jackie Dooley from OCLC, Bill Joyce representing ARL, Tom Hickerson (CARL), Steve Enniss (IRLA), and Suzy Taraba (Oberlin Group)-gave their perspectives on the survey’s findings and their implications.

Some trends that emerged were:

  • Special collections are growing quickly – 50% increase in print materials, 300-400% increase in audio-visual and other formats.
  • Space (lack of) is a primary concern for most institutions.
  • Use of special collections, especially by undergraduate students/classes is way up.
  • Many special collections are taking on entirely new collecting areas as a result of gifts and/or new curricular or other initiatives of their larger institutions.
  • There has been no corresponding increase in staffing of special collections. Small increases in digitization/technology staff are offset by decrease in reference staff.
  • There are still a lot of “hidden” collections and backlogs.
  • Many institutions have seen budget cuts due to economic downturn.
  • 78% of respondents have at least one completed digitization project; 25% have contracts with vendors to include materials from their collections in commercial digital products.
  • 44% have online finding aids for manuscript collections.
  • Institutional archives are often responsible by default for records management.
  • No one is prepared to deal with born-digital materials.
  • 75% of institutions do at least some “more product less process” type processing of manuscript and archival collections
  • 60% of respondents house some materials in off-site storage facilities.

Some questions/challenges/implications of all this:

  • Is dramatic growth in special collections and archives sustainable without major increases in funding/staffing?
  • Born-digital materials are a major problem-currently undercollected, underprocessed, undermanaged, and inaccessible. Special collections staff are already stretched thin and are not prepared to deal with this. Will require a collective effort by special collections community.
  • Trend toward minimally processed collections means more work for special collections reference staff, but these positions are being cut back.
  • Formal collaborative collection development projects are still rare. Why?
  • There is an urgent need for standardized metrics for gathering statistics on special collections.
  • Trend toward off-site storage of general library collections may free up space for special collections, but often this space is not useable without costly modifications.
  • OCLC survey did not address the increase in teaching – way beyond bibliographic instruction-now expected of special collections staff.

Sunday at ALA for Susan

Sunday, June 27, 2010 10:19 pm

Today has been a busy day with a variety of interesting activities that made for a different than usual conference experience.

Lyrasis Award Winners

This morning I started the day off at an awards breakfast where Kevin was presented with his award from Lyrasis as a Next Gen librarian. I was expecting a big impersonal affair, but it turned out to be a very cozy event held in a hotel suite. There were about a dozen people present – Lyrasis staff, members from the Lyrasis Board and the awardees and their guests. Each recipient received a fine looking memento that was an engraved curved plexiglass design. After the ceremony, we all had ample opportunity to chat with each other and learn more about each person who received an award.

From there I headed to the convention center to attend a talk by Dave Isay, the founder of Story Corps. If you are not familiar with the stories, which you may have heard on NPR, it is a 7 year old program with a mission to “provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives.” There have been 30,000 stories recorded from 60,000 people. Each interview is recorded on 2 CD’s, one that is given to the interviewee and one that is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Story Corps has partnered with the NPR and libraries across the country. Mobile recording booths travel across the country collecting interviews. Over 99% of the participants agree to make their stories public. Isley was an eloquent speaker and played snippets of the interview throughout the presentation. He said that part of the power of the recordings is that they are different from yourself and allow you to walk in someone else’s footprints. What the interview facilitators believe is that people are basically good and they are collecting the wisdom of humanity. My interest in hearing about this program is that WFDD has asked ZSR Library to provide a local archive of the interviews recorded in Winston-Salem last year. Their current model of access is to transmit brief excerpts of interviews, with the full interviews being made available through a trip to the library. We are working with Story Corps to allow access on a wider basis.

Story Corp's Founder Dave Isay

Dave Isay

Erik and I had a lunch meeting with the editor and board members from the Journal of Web Librarianship, along with Stacy Stanislaw from Routledge, the journal’s publisher. Erik is a regular columnist and I am a board member. The publisher shared publication statistics with us, including a subscription analysis, online journal usage and the top ten dowloaded articles through early 2010 (our article on using Facebook was #6!).

It was a LITA afternoon, with the annual Top Tech Trends session (blogged live), followed by the LITA awards reception.

The grand finale of the day came when Erik, Carolyn and I met up with Waits and Christian for dinner. They’ve moved to Washington, DC recently and got in touch with us when Waits found out from Wanda that we’d all be at ALA. It was wonderful to visit with them and Waits said to tell everyone in the library hello!

Tomorrow morning, we’ll pick Kevin up from his hotel and head back south. It’s been a good conference this time around, but it will be good to get back home!

Chris at the 2010 NASIG Conference- Day 3

Sunday, June 27, 2010 8:42 pm

Due to the departure time of my flight back to North Carolina, I was unable to attend the final vision session. However, I did get to one last tactics session before it was time to leave.

Tactics- One Identifier: Find Your Oasis with NISO’s I2 (Institutional Identifier) Standard

For years, libraries vendors, publishers, and other agencies have had a series of numbers to identify a single institution in their records. However, these numbers do not transfer from one agency to another, nor do they have similar value from an international standpoint. A NISO working group has been developing a strategy of creating an institutional identifier, or I2 (for I-squared) since early 2008 to fulfill this goal based on existing standards as well as one metadata structure. By partnering with libraries, publishers and vendors from around the world, NISO has slowly developed a schema and an implementation process.

The results of the study and subsequent reports have been posted to the website for the working group, with institutional feedback requested by August 2, 2010. Presentations about the I2 standard have begun at national conferences and will continue through the end of the year.

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The last photo was taken on the way back to the airport. If you would like to see the rest of my pictures, please visit the set on Flickr!

Chris at the 2010 NASIG Conference- Day 2

Sunday, June 27, 2010 8:41 pm

These are observations from the second day of the conference.

Vision Session #2: Kent Anderson of JBJS, Inc. on Publishing 2.0: How the Internet Changes Publications in Society

Mr. Anderson is the CEO/Publisher of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery who also maintains “The Scholarly Kitchen” blog. His talk centered on the concept of users increasingly seeking knowledge by using non-linear methods. As the Web shifts to 2.0 and beyond, the culture surrounding it has also shifted towards a platform to bring together in a single medium. This has led to a heterarchy, rather than a hierarchy, that is only made possible by the ever-increasing bandwidth that makes the transfer of knowledge faster over time.

The role of librarians returns to the discussion, and Mr. Anderson suggested the term apomediation. This is another way of saying librarians serve as guides to the abundant economy; in this case the exchange of information and ideas. As the real-time aspects of the Web continue to increase, notably through sites such as Facebook and Twitter, librarians can help users separate the useful from the useless in order to get the results they were seeking. Serialists, like other members of the library field, attempt to solve puzzles in their work; this is nothing new, but these should be continuous reminders for those who would attempt to put libraries in a framework of growing irrelevance.

Strategy Session- When Jobs Disappear: The Staffing Implications of the Elimination of Print Serials Management Tasks

The title of this presentation touches on another real concern for serials personnel as the number of print serials continues to dwindle in many libraries. The presenter, Sarah Glasser of Hofstra University, was inspired by an informal program at the 2009 NASIG conference and developed a survey to determine how other libraries were attempting to address this situation. What she discovered was that although the number of tasks such as check-in and claiming have decreased, most of the responses indicated that libraries have not eliminated staff positions altogether. Rather, those existing positions were reclassified and rewritten to include additional duties, whether shifted into the maintenance of electronic subscriptions or to address gaps that had resulted in other areas of workflow.

One of the most interesting portions of the session occurred during the discussion. One attendee asked whether the skills needed for paraprofessional positions could be adequately rewritten as the needs of positions in libraries continue to change. There was no definite answer to the question, but several members of the group proposed that libraries had to keep their position descriptions as current and flexible as possible to adjust for the changes. As the technologies change, the positions of those who manage them, librarians and support staff alike, must also remain current.

Strategy Session- What to Withdraw? Grappling with Print Collections Management in the Wake of Digitization

ITHAKA, responsible for services such as JSTOR and Portico, has a third branch of service known as ITHAKA S+R that focuses on strategies and research initiatives that, according to their website, serves to report on the influence of digital media on academic libraries. “What to Withdraw” is one of its latest projects to assist libraries in reducing the size of their print collections as digital counterparts replace them. By analyzing a set of criteria based on preservation factors and a scientific framework, ITHAKA S+R has developed a tool that can be used to aid libraries based on their individual withdrawal needs. The Center of Research Libraries (CRL) was a collaborator on many aspects of this project.

Although the tool has been available for download at the ITHAKA S+R website since late 2009, it was not widely publicized until ALA’s 2010 Midwinter Meeting. Promotion has continued at other conferences and through a series of webinars since that time. Details of the report, along with the tool itself, can be found here.

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Today’s picture is from the terrace of the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, the site of conference. As Steve indicated in his report, there are no pics from the dancing that took place that evening!

Chris at the 2010 NASIG Conference- Day 1

Sunday, June 27, 2010 8:41 pm

This year, NASIG celebrated its 25th anniversary at its conference in Palm Springs, California. Since I was not part of the conference planning committee, I was able to be an “attendee” once again and learn more about the latest challenges for serials and other continuing resources. These are the highlights for the sessions I attended on the first day.

Vision Session #1: Eric Miller of Zepheira, LLC on Linked Data and Librarians

With linked data becoming the latest trend in computing, I was glad that I attended Erik‘s session before going to the conference! Linked data allows users to pull information that had been previously inaccessible on the “front end” of websites and makes it available for users to connect it to other data points across the Internet. Miller went further to explain that this does not involve bringing this data together into one database: rather, applications and similar programs would manipulate the data without harvesting it locally.

Where does this leave libraries? Miller suggested that libraries can participate by contributing their expertise in specific areas such as controlled vocabulary and data portability. Sites such as the BBC and The New York Times have made their information available to users on the back end, but creating standards for that data would be the next possible step. As with so many other emerging technologies, libraries may have an advantage in bringing eventual order to the initial chaos.

Strategy Session- Not for the Faint of Heart! A New Approach to “Serials” Management

This session was presented by two members of OCLC about developing new approaches to managing the workflows required to serials in electronic format. Working as a partner with several libraries, OCLC has begun to develop a user-driven product that can respond to the specific needs of a particular institution. Core portions of the electronic management workflow have been outlined already: selecting and ordering, negotiation and licensing, receiving and maintenance, and payment and invoicing. Combining these with several “pain points” that can create potential bottlenecks in the workflow, OCLC hopes to aid libraries by making this process as routine and painless as possible.

The results for this study by OCLC are expected to be released later this year, and the presenters sought feedback from the audience as to any information that they may have missed. Although the title and description of this presentation did not correspond with what was presented, it was interesting nonetheless. It demonstrated that others are attempting the grapple with the issues associated with the concerns of electronic serials management.

Tactics Session- Don’t Pay Twice! Leveraging Licenses to Lower Student Costs

UCLA relies heavily on printed course readers that supplement the textbooks that students are required to purchase for their classes. In 2008, several student organizations approached the library about how to reduce the costs for these readers, which were usually assembled using articles and other materials that had been licensed by the library. Two librarians approached this dilemma by examining every aspect of a course pack, from the license negotiations for journals all the way to the costs of with the campus copy center. As a result, the library was able to reduce the costs for the readers by as much as $42,000 over three quarters (depending on the discipline, emphasis on journals over monographs, and so forth) as well as hundreds of dollars in copying fees. In the end, the library was not only able to gain more from its license negotiations, but it was able to leverage its campus connections to create successful partnerships with student organizations.

Moving forward, the librarians considered other possibilities: developing potential partnerships with the bookstore, analyzing the pros and cons of an annual license with the Copyright Clearance Center, assessing whether the potential risk of fair use would be viable and sustainable, examining other options such as the public domain and Creative Commons, and support for license portals. The question of developing electronic course readers that could be placed behind course management software has also emerged, and that may reduce costs further. By successfully marketing this program through student organizations, its continued growth and success seems assured. This library service can be progressive as the licensing process will evolve in the coming years.

Tactics Session- Licensing Electronic Journals through Non-Subscription-Agent “Go Betweens”

Subscription agents have long served an essential function in serials management, serving as intermediaries between libraries and publishers. However, there are areas around the world where subscription agents neither have a significant presence nor a relationship with the local publishers. This is where non-agents can play a role. Non-agents function as either for-profit or non-profit entities that work between libraries and publishing agencies- particularly society presses and small agencies- in foreign countries. The cost of their business is not passed to libraries, and the invoices for purchased items come directly from those publishers.

This is a business model of which I was unaware before the conference. As the curriculum of the university continues to build an international focus, the usefulness of these non-agents becomes clear. I believe that it could have possibilities for subscriptions that cannot be secured by any other method, and it could have a similar benefit for monographs. Two organizations that serve in this capacity are Accucoms and FASEB.

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Here is a photo taken from the flight on the way to Palm Springs. More to come in Day 2!

Twitter, mobile tech, conferences and communication

Sunday, June 27, 2010 10:55 am

In my days as a thrift store junkie I had an unproven theory about the ability to predict social, economic and fashion trends by shopping at a thrift store. I noticed then that it was common to find multiple identical but otherwise unique items that had been donated to the thrift store at the same time ( for a while I owned several gaggia espresso makers that I obtained this way).

I had a similar experience at this conference seeing the use of Twitter, mobile tech, and structured conference tags and hearing from different people on how this is a good case study of the utility of the abstracted action of SMS.


Not only we’re people using Twitter to document, seek information, ask questions and critique content they were doing it in a lot of different ways and with some different goals. More than once I overheard or participated in a conversation about how this specific use was a good example of how technologies can be purposed and combined in ways that support unexpected actions.

More Cloud Computing, Some Screencasting and EBSCO for Lunch!

Saturday, June 26, 2010 4:45 pm

I’m doing the abbreviated version of ALA. I arrived late Friday night and leave early Sunday evening, but I’m making the most out of a fast weekend! I was fortunate to be one of Erik’s “Lightning Round” presenters at his marathon Cloud Computing session. Turnout was amazing, Erik did an amazing job keeping things moving, and Susan diligently shot video of the session (and we all helped drag in extra chairs for people!) Since my portion of the “Lightning Round” was at 9:15AM, I attended the 8AM panel discussion that served as an excellent introduction to those new at Cloud Computing. The 15 minute panel presentations kept the session moving, as did the 5 minute lightning round presentations.

I followed up this session with a trip to the ALA Store and saw Susan’s book! (She got an entire shelf!) Next I went to the exhibit hall and stopped at the ALA SCVNGR table where I learned about an iPhone/Android/text app similar to FourSquare that allowed participants to be part of a “scavenger hunt” that involved stopping at booths, taking and posting pictures a even some QR Codes! Speaking of QR codes, Alexander Street Press had a QR code they were handing out for a free playlist of music for the 4th of July holiday! Once I scanned the code, my iPhone (still the old one, haven’t been able to get my hands on an iPhone 4 yet!) I was taken to a website with the playlist and links to stream the music. Alexander Street Press also offers free classical music downloads every month. I only had a half hour on the exhibit floor before my next session, so I plan to go back tomorrow to see all the vendors.

Susan\'s Book at the ALA Store

The next session, “The (Screen) Casting Couch: Tips and Tricks to Effectively Use Screencasting Tools for Library Instruction” gave a good overview of slidecasting, screencasting and common craft videos. One librarian even used Jing to create video answers on the fly to reference questions, considering these “one-time” use videos easier than using text to answer some questions. I thought this was an interesting proposition.

For lunch I attended the EBSCO Luncheon at the Renaissance Hotel about a block from the convention center. EBSCO focused primarily on their Discovery solution and on their recent acquisition of NetLibrary and their future plans for those e-book and audiobooks.

I’m excited to hear Toni Morrison later this afternoon/evening and Marlo Thomas tomorrow morning. (I loved “Free to Be, You and Me”) Once I’m checked out of the hotel tomorrow I’ll attend a few more sessions and cover the exhibit hall before taking the Metro back to DCA at 5. See you all Monday!

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