Professional Development

During April 2011...

Final Day at ACRL

Saturday, April 2, 2011 11:06 pm

Every so often, maybe once a decade, I hear a presentation at a conference that profoundly affects my thinking. The first was in 1985 at the Medical Library Association conference in New York. Leland Kaiser, health care futurist, predicted the current health care financing crisis due to the outdated fee-for-service model, but what affected me most was his folksy saying, “it is the job of the shoe to fit the foot; not the job of the foot to fit the shoe.” This led to my evolving philosophy of “it’s not about us, all about them” and our mission to help our users succeed.

At the 1995 ACRL National Conference in Pittsburgh, I heard a brilliant paper by Saskia Sassen on global cities and the centrality of place, which helped to explain why humans choose to be together, even if they are alone in a crowd, which we see every day in the ZSR atrium as part of the “library as place” phenomenon.

Today, I heard a paper that may be in that class. Not quite sure yet, I need to digest it some more. Jaron Lanier was introduced as a computer scientist, composer, visual artist and author. He warned libraries not to bring about the same fate as the music industry when the intellectual property wars led to the destruction of both industry moguls and artists/performers. When we promote access to speech as widely, freely and openly as possible, then we demystify the magic of the book and the mystique of authorship that has kept it special and viable for so long. People fall in love with things they have to work for. If things are too easy, they are not valued. Part of the historical respect that libraries have enjoyed and one reason they have been successful in promoting the democratization of information is the elite nature of their content and the access that is hard-won. There is value to the inconvenience ritual that is not appreciated until it is gone, like the music industry.

He says giants like Google and Facebook do not allow a level playing field. They have made the investment that is prohibitive to replicate and they are doing to information what the bankers and hedge fund managers have done to finance.They own both ends of the process and can pull money out without risk, which defeats capitalism and destroys the middle class.

The most disquieting thing he said was that we, the users of Google and Facebook are not the customers, we are the product. We are what is sold to others in the form of monetized access between people in the guise of advertising.

He advises that the future of the academic library is not to make things too open and easy, but to become ever more personal (ala Kaiser and Sassen) while at the same time recognizing the connections between technologically heterogeneous data that no one else without our particular view of the world can see.

Need to chew on this some more.

Susan’s ACRL Day Two With a Little Day One Spillover

Saturday, April 2, 2011 9:20 am

Philadelphia Conference Center

Day Two offered another full day of sessions and since everyone here from ZSR seems to have embraced Roz’s theme approach to reporting, I’ll roll in my unreported day one stuff into this post. One of my themes has been distance education because our workgroup is putting together a plan to ready us for when DE arrives at Wake. It is a topic that surfaced in many sessions, even ones where it wasn’t the main topic. I attended two panel discussions on DE: Fostering Library as Place for Distance Students and Going the Distance: A Closer Look at Uniting with Remote Users. One of my big take aways from both of these is that UNCG’s Beth Filar-Williams was on both panels, alerting me to the fact that we have a great resource person right in our back yard! You can see from the presentation slides (linked to the session titles) that she is a very pro-active DE coordinator for UNCG which has a very hybrid model with varied populations of distance students. They have 950 purely distance students but plenty of others who do some classes online. An interesting fact is that all new instructors to UNCG are told they will be teaching online at some level.

Lynn reported on data curation, which is another hot topic these days. In fact, I had suggested it as a topic for a future special issue of JWL (Journal of Web Librarianship) and Erik and I are going to do a summer project to look at existing data sources. So I jumped on the opportunity to go to the panel session Roles for Librarians in Research Data Curation. Different institutions are taking different approaches and it was reflected in the titles of the various speakers: Data Research Scientist, Research Data Project Librarian, Digital Repository Librarian, and Research Data and Environment Sciences Librarian. After reviewing the literature, they distilled the roles for librarians in this field down to behavioral scientist (one who understands the needs of the researcher), advocate (one who articulates the value proposition, does best practice training, develops standards, markets services to users), broker (a concierge who works with other units to provide services), and the more traditional library focus of collection builder (maintains awareness of research on campus to get researchers to deposit data and provide long term custodial preservation and access).

Another of my conference themes has been about the impact and value of academic libraries to the larger institution. So the session that was to present a new ACRL report on the environmental scan that is done every two years was a pull for me. Unfortunately, it was also a big pull for too many other people, so the room was packed and I ended up perched on a corner shelf for the duration. The convener was surprised so many people came and had only prepared 25 copies of the report draft, which wasn’t quite final even though the purpose of the session was to present the final findings. But they promise it will be out in the next couple of weeks. Instead, faculty from the Drexel ischool made some remarks about themes they found in the report’s draft:

  • transforming librarians as well as the library. Traditionally we have been seen as those that serve. It’s time to think about ourselves as leaders in the academy, among those that make things happen
  • Higher education is a business so what can we do to contribute to the student experience to help them choose to come to our school and to stay there? (right on my theme of impact and value!)
  • Assessment and accountability, coupled with outcome based approaches
  • Partnerships. Libraries are the places for building communities. We should think of ourselves as mentors/coaches and reach out as being the place where there is cross-disciplinary intersection in a Switzerland-like (neutral) environment.
  • Simplify. It’s time to work seriously on how we can make it easier for our users to get what they need.
  • Building the profession and looking to the future. There are major demographic changes in higher education and we need to reflect that diversity. We also need to figure out how to compete with other professions to attract the best and the brightest.

I will continue to anticipate the actual report so that I can see how they tied in these themes for myself!

The rain finally let up a bit in the late afternoon, so I grabbed my camera and headed out for some fresh air and photo opportunities. My main destination was Love Park, which is named after the replica LOVE statue that is there.
LOVE Sculpture

From there, I spotted the Philadelphia Museum of Art “just down the street” so hiked there (it was a bit further than I thought!) to run up the stairs that were made famous in the Rocky movies!

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I had to double-time it back to the hotel to meet up with my fellow ZSR conference colleagues for the ULS social, followed by the ACRL All Conference Reception, which was held at the Constitution Museum. I’ll end with one final picture and challenge you to find two of our colleagues in it!
 at the ACRL All Conference Reception

A Long Friday at ACRL

Friday, April 1, 2011 11:01 pm

I just got back from the ACRL All Conference Reception at the National Constitution Center. Whew, it’s been a long day. For whatever reason, today’s sessions were much more crowded than yesterday. Either there were fewer sessions and the same number of people or more people for the same number of sessions.

Since Copyright seems to be one of my themes, I attended two sessions today. Both of the speakers had spoken up at the Google Book Settlement discussion yesterday, so I knew they would be good. Nancy Sims from Minnesota did a study determining that faculty really didn’t know much about copyright and what they did know was generally wrong. There is an opportunity for librarians to guide them and the best way to get their attention is to appeal to their self-interests about their own rights. Jim Neal gave his second presentation of the conference with the provocative title “Fair Use is not Civil Disobedience” and generally challenged librarians to get some guts and not give away fair use as a defense against infringement. He is right when he says that we should not try to define it too exactly because it becomes narrower each time we do. He cited the Rule of Five as one example of a floor becoming a ceiling very quickly. He closed with a quote from Emerson: “Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis.” Amen.

All of us are finding that Discovery is a theme of this conference. Summon seems to be the product with which people are least unhappy, if that means anything. I asked Susan and Roz to stop by the booth to check it out.

Like Roz, Susan and Mary Beth, I attended a number of sessions examining new models of reference. Each example has its own local features and flavors but there are areas of similarity as well. All are pretty much agreed that face-to-face reference encounters are on the decline and therefore creative minds are encouraged to take a look at what might better serve user needs.

I also attended two data curation programs. Even though Wake Forest does not have the strong research agenda that other universities have, we do have researchers with data management needs. Molly and I have been following the NSF guidelines that impose new requirements on grantees and will keep working with the Research Office and faculty to figure out what is best for Wake.

And then because this is ACRL, for the sheer fun of it I attended a session on “The Ancient Library of Alexandria: Embracing the Excellent, Avoiding its Fate.” Extolling Greek culture, damning the Romans, what a great way to spend 20 minutes…

Susan’s ACRL Day One

Friday, April 1, 2011 11:15 am

The first day of this conference was jam-packed from early morning to midnight. This year I took a more disciplined approach to the programming than I usually do, so I had charted out my day’s plan of action. The logistics of this particular conference location made it easy to execute since our hotel is connected to the conference center and all the events and programming are taking place here.

The day started with a Serials Solution breakfast (it was hard on my low carb diet plan). I left before the end so that I could attend my first session of the day, Mashup or Crashup? This session was about two projects, at Emory and Georgia Tech, to consolidate merged service desks. Both schools aimed to consolidate their circulation and reference service desks and it was interesting to hear the comparison between the two approaches. One interesting difference was the way they planned to staff the new desk. At Georgia Tech, a driving force was to get librarians off the desk, yet they also made a decision not to use student assistants, because they did not think this would assure a minimum acceptable service level. At Emory, librarians stayed on the desk for 3-4 hours weekly as they feel it is an important way to gather “customer intelligence”. They had different approaches to the actual desk. Emory did simulations to test various pre manufactured options, while Georgia Tech has selected a custom millwork solution. One of the interesting aspects of this session was their use of polling via texting using

Mashup or Crashup?

Both schools involved their students in the planning process through things like forums and surveys. They shared their training plan and implementation process. It was a good session to get ideas of how we might think of a consolidation project when the time comes!

ACRL has a track for contributed papers, and I enjoyed hearing two of them: ” Helping the hand that feeds you: supporting the research needs of campus executive officers” and “The Budgetary Importance of Building Relationships.” I’ve linked to both presentations so you can get the details. Both of these presentations have to do with the importance of politics and relationship building in creating value for the library and securing resources.

I have another vendor to thank for my next meal of the day, Ebsco puts on a big event (with another high carb menu). The product they were highlighting is the addition of Netlibrary to their lineup.

I had looked with anticipation at my first afternoon session which was a panel discussion about the recent ACRL Value of Academic Libraries report. I had studied the report last fall as I was doing some of my classwork at UNCG. The report aims to raise awareness of the need for academic librarians to become contributors to campus conversations on accountability and impact. The report “identifies the research documenting library impact that exists and where gaps occur in research about the performance of academic libraries”. The scope of the report is to provide

  • A clear view of the current state of the literature on value of libraries within an institutional context
  • Suggestions for immediate “next steps” in the demonstration of academic library value, and
  • A “research agenda” for articulating academic library value.

It strives to help librarians understand, based on professional literature, the current answer to the question, “how does the library advance the missions of the institution?”

During this session researcher Megan Oakleaf highlighted important areas of the report, particularly 4 specific recommendations out of the more than 20 in the full report:

  1. Define outcomes
  2. Where possible, use existing data (do a data audit)
  3. Develop systems to collect data on individual library user behavior, while maintaining privacy
  4. Generate data that “plays well” with assessment management systems.

Lisa Hinchliffe (ACRL president who recently visited ZSR for the award presentation) talked about what administrators can do to get positioned to make the paradigm switch from assessing use to assessing impact and outcomes.

  • Communicate assessment needs and results to library stakeholders
  • Use evidence-based decision making
  • Create confidence in library assessment efforts
  • Dedicate assessment personnel and training
  • Foster environments that encourage creativity and risk taking
  • Integrate library assessment within library planning, budget and reward structures
  • Ensure that assessment efforts have requisite resources

I think the report offers lots of food for thought in regards to helping determine what to do to assess our impact and to measure our value.

This image gives my impression of the post sessions. They are well attended, too well IMHO as I had trouble getting close enough to talk to the presenter or see the poster:

MB at the Poster Session

I’ve gone way past my self-imposed posting limit and have not finished sharing Day One. But it’s time to head to the next session, so I’ll post this and pick up another post later!

Giz ACRL Thursday

Friday, April 1, 2011 10:19 am

This is my first ACRL and I’m enjoying the size (smaller than ALA) and the focus (almost every program is relevant in some way!) I’ll try to convey the great energy at this conference in my blog post, but I’m sure I can’t do it justice.

I’ve always liked Roz’s theme approach to conference blogging, so I’ll try to frame my posts on a few themes. My first theme is “Doing it Better”. I started the day at the Poster Sessions and Exhibits Hall. Both offered me some new ideas. First, I saw several posters use QR codes (which Roz discussed in her Cyber Zed Shed program) that allowed me to quickly and easily gather information about the presentation in an electronic format. This came in very handy in a crowded venue where poster viewing was a challenge. I also saw some uses of LibGuides as a way to create mobile browser ready content (now I just need to figure out how to leverage that feature of LibGuides!) and I saw a new version of the ScanPro software for our microtext Reader that should make life even easier for our users of microtext. (I’ll be installing that free upgrade on our ScanPro station next week!) Throughout the conference I keep jotting down ideas to improve my teaching and technology skills.

Another theme was “The Embedded Librarian”. As I find more and more opportunities to be embedded in my role as an Instruction and Outreach Librarian, I’ve become more interested in this theme. One session in particular compared the virtual embedded librarian to the librarian physically embedded in a program at McMaster University. Both were very effective, but it was clear the virtually embedded librarian, available through a learning management system like Sakai or Blackboard, could reach far more students than a physically embedded librarian, thus reaching more students. What was unclear was if the physically embedded librarian was more effective based on the face to face contact. I think the real take away here is that no matter how you embed, the point is getting the users what they need when they need it in whatever format works.

“Outreach” was another theme that appeared (and is very appropriate for an “Instruction and Outreach Librarian” One presentation that was of particular interest to me was “Unraveling the Mystery of the Library: A ‘Big Games’ Approach to Library Orientation” Librarians at Lycoming College, a private liberal arts college held a library “mystery” game during freshman orientation that introduced students to the library as space and to some of the library’s services and collections, while staying fun and simple.

Char Booth’s “The Librarian as Situated Educator: Instructional Literacy and Participation in Communities of Practice” was a compelling session. She discussed the four elements of Instructional Literacy: reflective practice, educational theory, teaching technologies and instructional design.

Here is some Raj Patel video. Roz was right, he was an incredible keynote! Hearing him explain how a $1 hamburger has a real cost of over $200 was an “A-HA” moment for me!

The conference schedule and links to posted articles and presentations can be found here!

ALA Annual
ALA Midwinter
Career Development for Women Leaders
Carolina Consortium
CASE Conference
Celebration: Entrepreneurial Conference
Charleston Conference
Coalition for Networked Information
Digital Forsyth
Electronic Resources and Libraries
Elon Teaching and Learning Conference
Entrepreneurial Conference
Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)
Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA)
First-Year Experience Conference
Handheld Librarian
ILLiad Conference
Innovative Library Classroom Conference
Journal reading group
Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians
Library Assessment Conference
Lilly Conference
LITA National Forum
Mentoring Committee
Music Library Association
NCCU Conference on Digital Libraries
North Carolina Serials Conference
online course
Online Learning Summit
Open Repositories
Professional Development Center
Site Visits and Tours
Society of American Archivists
Society of North Carolina Archivists
Southeast Music Library Association
Sun Webinar Series
TALA Conference
UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference
University Libraries Group
ZSR Library Leadership Retreat
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