Professional Development

Derrik at ALA 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010 4:00 pm

This was my first ALA Annual. As I prepared for the conference, I was amazed (and a little disconcerted) at the amount of relevant programming. Every slot seemed to have multiple programs that looked good; one time slot had at least 6 programs of interest. Plus I knew I needed time to visit the vendor exhibits. This was bound to be a good conference.

Three of the sessions I attended dealt specifically with e-resources:

  • Sue Polanka of Wright State Univ. spoke about e-book formats and freeing e-books from DRM. She recommended that librarians urge e-book publishers to use the ePUB standard. Polanka also talked somewhat about electronic textbooks and problems such as ADA compliance and increased demand for bandwidth.
  • In another session, four presenters spoke about usage statistics. One common theme was the need for more content providers to use the COUNTER standard. One speaker described how her library had used usage statistics to communicate value to the university administration, comparing their ScienceDirect payment to what it would have cost to pay for individual downloads.
  • Another presentation dealt specifically with measuring e-book usage, and featured my former department chair, Tom Wright of BYU. He noted that the apparent low use of e-books seems to parallel print; about 50% of print books purchased by his library from 2000 to 2010 have never circulated. BYU is currently working on devising a way to integrate patron-driven acquisition with an approval profile, an intriguing idea which an audience member from Univ. of Iowa said had worked fairly well for them.

I also saw a demo of Notre Dame’s new ERM system, CORAL, which I originally saw last February at the ER&L Conference. CORAL is a fairly simple, open-source system for managing e-resource licenses and acquisitions. The libraries at Stanford and at Duke’s Medical Center have recently implemented CORAL, and Emma Cryer at Duke said that she is “a big fan.” She said it took their programmer an hour to get it set up! I’ll definitely be taking a closer look.

As I said, I knew I would need to spend time in the exhibit hall. What I didn’t anticipate was how productive that time would be; as Susan put it, I had work to do! In my first half-hour visit to the exhibits, I discovered a new full-text Latin American periodicals database. Then a Saturday afternoon program got out early so I spent another half hour in the exhibit hall and learned about a new web-scale discovery product called Deep Web (or something like that), which I’ll be following up on soon. In other visits to the exhibit hall I checked up on upcoming platform changes to ProQuest, SpringerLink, and Wiley Journals, I told Alexander Street Press that we wanted a la carte purchasing &/or customized collections (they’re coming), and spent some time talking with ebrary about their proprietary reader and their web-based reader.

Finally, I’ll add my voice to Lauren’s comment about the iPad with 3G. The instant-on feature is great; if I’d had to wait for it to boot up, I’m not sure I would have used it at all, at least not for taking notes. And the 3G access was important since very few of the places I went had free wi-fi access. Very nice tool; thank you to those responsible!

2 Responses to “Derrik at ALA 2010”

  1. You did a great job managing your first ALA. It isn’t easy!

  2. Good stuff on the e-books! I’m looking forward to exploring new ways to make some more progress in e-book acquisitions here.


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