Professional Development

During August 2011...

Audra at SAA, Days 4 & 5: e-records, metrics, collaboration

Tuesday, August 30, 2011 5:54 pm

Friday in Chicago started with coffee with Christian Dupont from Atlas Systems (and former consultant for Special Collections), followed by Session 302: “Practical Approaches to Born-Digital Records: What Works Today.” Again, Rebecca offered some great highlights from the session, which was standing-room only (some archivists quipped that we must have broken fire codes with the number of people sitting on the floor)! Chris Prom from U Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, moderated the excellent panel on practical solutions to dealing with born-digital archival collections. Suzanne Belovari of Tufts referred to the AIMS project (which sponsored the workshop I attended on Tuesday) and the Personal Archives in Digital Media (paradigm) project, which offers an excellent “Workbook on digital private papers” and “Guidelines for creators of personal archives.” She also referenced the research of Catherine Marshall of the Center for the Study of Digital Libraries at Texas A&M, who has posted her research and papers regarding personal digital archives on her website. All of the speakers referred to Chris Prom’s Practical E-Records blog, which includes lots of guidelines and tools for archivists to deal with born digital material.

Ben Goldman of U Wyoming, who wrote an excellent piece in RB&M entitled “Bridging the Gap: Taking Practical Steps Toward Managing Born-Digital Collections in Manuscript Repositories,” talked about basic steps for dealing with electronic records, including network storage, virus checking, format information, generating checksums, and capturing descriptive metadata. He uses Enterprise Checker for virus checking, Duke DataAccessioner to generate checksums, and a Word doc or spreadsheet to track actions taken for individual files. Melissa Salrin of U Illinois, Urbana-Champaign spoke about her use of a program called Firefly to detect social security numbers in files, TreeSize Pro to identify file types, and a process through which she ensures that the files are read-only when moved. She urged the audience to remember to document every step of the transfer process, and that “people use and create files electronically as inefficiently as analog.” Laura Carroll, formerly of Emory, talked about the famous Salman Rushdie digital archives, noting that donor restrictions are what helped shape their workflow for dealing with Rushdie’s born digital material. The material is now available on a secure Fedora repository. Seth Shaw from Duke spoke about DataAccessioner (see previous posts) but mostly spoke eloquently in what promises to be an historic speech about the need to “do something, even if it isn’t perfect.”

After lunch, I attended Session 410: “The Archivists’ Toolkit: Innovative Uses and Collaborations,” starring none other than our own Rebecca Petersen! The session highlighted interesting collaborations and experiments with AT, and the most interesting was by Adrianna Del Collo of the Met, who found a way to convert folder-level inventories into XML for import into AT. Following Rebecca’s session, I was invited last-minute to a meeting of the “Processing Metrics Collaborative,” led by Emily Novak Gustainis of Harvard. The small group included two brief presentations by Emily Walters of NC State and Adrienne Pruitt of the Free Library of Philadelphia, both of whom have experimented with Gustainis’ Processing Metrics Database, which is an exciting tool to help archivists track statistical information about archival processing timing and costs. Walters also mentioned NC State’s new tool called Steady, which allows archivists to take container list spreadsheets and easily convert them into XML stub documents for easy import into AT. Walters used the PMD for tracking supply cost and time tracking, while Pruitt used the database to help with grant applications. Everyone noted that metrics should be used to compare collections, processing levels, and collection needs, taking special care to note that metrics should NOT be used to compare people. The average processing rate at NC State for their architectural material was 4 linear feet per hour, while it was 2 linear feet per hour for folder lists at Princeton (as noted by meeting participant Christie Petersen).

I had dinner with my future UC Irvine colleagues before heading over to the All-Attendee Reception at the Field Museum, where I caught up with friends and colleagues.

On Saturday morning I woke up early to prepare for my session, Session 503: “Exposing Hidden Collections Through Consortia and Collaboration.” I was honored and proud to chair the session with distinguished speakers Holly Mengel of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries, Nick Graham of the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, and Sherri Berger of the California Digital Library. The panelists defined and explored the exposure of hidden collections, from local/practical projects to regional/service-based projects. Each spoke about levels of “hidden-ness,” and the decisionmaking process of choosing partners and service recipients. It was a joy to listen to and facilitate presentations by archivists with such inspirational projects.

After my session, I attended Session 605: “Acquiring Organizational Records in a Social Media World: Documentation Strategies in the Facebook Era.” The focus on documenting student groups is very appealing, since documenting student life is one of the greatest challenges for university archivists. Most of the speakers recommended web archiving for twitter and facebook, which were not new ideas to me. However, Jackie Esposito of Penn State suggested a new strategy for documenting student organizations, which focuses on capture/recapture of social media sites and direct conversations with student groups, including the requirement that every group have a student archivist or historian. Jackie taught an “Archives 101″ class to these students during the week after 7 pm early in the fall, and made sure to follow up with student groups before graduation.

Rebecca and I headed to lunch, where we enjoyed delicious bao (steamed buns) at Wow Bao, which is officially my favorite chain restaurant. I’ve decided that I’m going to start a franchise someday! After lunch, we went to Session 702: “Return on Investment: Metadata, Metrics, and Management.” All I can say about the session is…wow. Joyce Chapman of TRLN (formerly an NC State Library Fellow) spoke about her research into ROI (return on investment) for manual metadata enhancement and a project to understand researcher expectations of finding aids. The first project addressed the challenge of measuring value in a nonprofit (which cannot measure value via sales like for-profit organizations) through A/B testing of enhancements made to photographic metadata by cataloging staff. Her testing found that page views for enhanced metadata records were quadruple those of unenhanced records, a staggering statistic. Web analytics found that 28% of search strings for their photographs included names, which were only added to enhanced records. In terms of cataloger time, their goal was 5 minutes per image but the average was 7 minutes of metadata work per image. Her project documentation is available online. In her other study, she did a study of discovery success within finding aids by academic researchers using behavior, perception, and rank information. In order from most to least useful for researchers were: collection inventory, abstract, subjects, scope and contents, and biography/history. The abstract was looked at first in 60% of user tests. Users did not know the difference between abstract and scope and contents notes; in fact, 64% of users did not even read the scope at all after reading the abstract! Researchers explained that their reason for ignoring the biography/history note was a lack of trust in the information, since biographies/histories do not tend to include footnotes and the notes are impossible to cite.

Emily Novak Gustainis from Harvard talked about her processing metrics database, as mentioned in the paragraph about the “Processing Metrics Collaborative” session. Her reasoning behind metrics was simple: it is hard to change something until you know what you are doing. Her database tracks 38 aspects of archival processing, including timing and processing levels. She repeated that you cannot compare people, only collections; however, an employee report showed that a permanent processing archivist was spending only 20% of his time processing, so her team was able to use this information to better leverage staff responsibilities to respond to this information.

Adrian Turner from the California Digital Library talked about the Uncovering California Environmental Collections (UCEC) project, a CLIR-funded grant project to help process environmental collections across the state. While metrics were not built into the project, the group thought that it would be beneficial for the project. In another project, the UC Next Generation Technical Services initiative found 71000 feet in backlogs, and developed tactics for collection-level records in EAD and Archivists’ Toolkit using minimal processing techniques. Through info gathering in a Google doc spreadsheet, they found no discernable difference between date ranges, personal papers, and record groups processed through their project. They found processing rates of 1 linear foot per hour for series level arrangement and description and 4-6 linear feet per hour for folder level arrangement and description. He recommended formally incorporating metrics into project plans and creating a shared methodology for processing levels.

Rebecca and I had to head out for Midway before Q&A started so we could get on the train in time for our flight, which thankfully wasn’t canceled from Hurricane Irene. As we passed through Chicago, I thought about how much I had learned about new projects and tools, and how much I look forward to SAA next year.

Audra at SAA, Days 2 & 3: assessment, copyright, conversation

Monday, August 29, 2011 8:28 pm

I started Wednesday with a birthday breakfast with a friend from college, then lunch with a former mentor, followed by roundtable meetings. Rebecca has already written eloquently about the Archivists’ Toolkit / Archon Roundtable meeting, which is always a big draw for archivists interested in new developments with the software programs. Perhaps the biggest news came from Merilee Proffitt of OCLC, who announced that ArchiveGrid discovery interface for finding aids has been updated and will be freely available (no longer subscription based) for users seeking archival collections online. A demo of the updated interface, to be released soon, was available in the Exhibit Hall. I think ZSR should contribute its EAD to ArchiveGrid as soon as possible — it’s a global search engine for finding aids! In addition, Jennifer Waxman and Nathan Stevens described their digital object workflow plug-in for Archivists’ Toolkit to help archivists avoid cut-and-paste of digital object information. Their plugin is available online and allows archivists to map persistent identifiers to files in digital repositories, auto-create digital object handles, create tab-delimited work orders, and create a workflow from the rapid entry dropdown in AT.

Later that day, Rebecca took me to the Cubs game at Wrigley Field for my birthday and we had a great time with archivists from across North Carolina and Georgia. The Cubs emerged victorious over the Braves, much to the chagrin of our colleagues from Georgia as well as Vicki and Bill!

On Thursday, I attended Session 109: “Engaged! Innovative Engagement and Outreach and Its Assessment.” The session was based on responses to the 2010 ARL survey on special collections (SPEC Kit 317), which found that 90% of special collections librarians are doing ongoing events, instruction sessions, and exhibits. The speakers were interested in how to assess the success of these efforts. Genya O’Meara from NC State cited Michelle McCoy’s article entitled “The Manuscript as Question: Teaching Primary Sources in the Archives — The China Missions Project,” published in C&RL in 2010, suggesting that we have a need for standard metrics for assessment of our outreach work as archivists. Steve MacLeod of UC Irvine explored his work with the Humanities Core Course program, which teaches writing skills in 3 quarters, and how he helped design course sessions with faculty to smoothly incorporate archives instruction into humanities instruction. Basic learning outcomes included the ability to answer two questions: what is a primary source? and what is the different between a first and primary source? He also created a LibGuide for the course and helped subject specialist reference/instruction librarians add primary source resources into their LibGuides. There were over 45 sections, whereby he and his colleagues taught over 1000 students. He suggested that the learning outcomes can help us know when our students “get it.” Florence Turcotte from UF discussed an archives internship program where students got course credit at UF for writing biographical notes and doing basic archival processing. I stepped out of the session in time to catch the riveting tail-end of Session 105: “Pay It Forward: Interns, Volunteers, and the Development of New Archivists and the Archives Profession,” just as Lance Stuchell from the Henry Ford started speaking about the ethics of unpaid intern work. He suggested that paid work is a moral and dignity issue and that unpaid work is not equal to professional work without pay.

After a delicious lunch of Chicago deep-dish pizza with Vicki and Rebecca, I headed over to Session 204: “Rights, Risk, and Reality: Beyond ‘Undue Diligence’ in Rights Analysis for Digitization.” Rebecca covered this session well in her post, so I won’t repeat too much. I took away a few important points, including “be respectful, not afraid,” that archivists should form communities of practice where we persuade lawyers through peer practice such as the TRLN guidelines and the freshly-endorsed SAA standard Well-intentioned practice document. The speakers called for risk assessment over strict compliance, as well as encouraging the fair use defense and maintaining a liberal take-down policy for any challenges to unpublished material placed online. Perhaps most importantly, Merrilee Proffitt reminded us that no special collections library has been successfully sued for copyright infringement by posting unpublished archival material online for educational use. After looking around the Exhibit Hall, I met a former mentor for dinner and went to the UCLA MLIS alumni party, where I was inspired by colleagues and faculty to list some presentation ideas on a napkin. Ideas for next year (theme: crossing boundaries/borders) included US/Mexico archivist relations; water rights such as the Hoover Dam, Rio Grande, Mulholland, etc; community based archives (my area of interest); and repatriation of Native American material. Lots of great ideas floated around…

Audra at SAA, Day 1: Collecting Repositories and E-Records Workshop

Monday, August 29, 2011 7:31 pm

On Tuesday, I arrived in rainy Chicago and headed straight for the Hotel Palomar for the AIMS Project (“Born-Digital Collections: An Inter-Institutional Model for Stewardship”) workshop regarding born-digital archival material in collecting repositories. The free workshop, called “CREW: Collecting Repositories and E-Records Workshop,” included archivists and technologists from around the world to discuss issues related to collection development, accessioning, appraisal, arrangement and description, and discovery and access of born-digital archival materials.

The workshop program started with Glynn Edwards of Stanford and Gretchen Gueguen of UVa, who discussed collection development of born-digital records. The speakers suggested that both collection development policies and donor agreements should have clear language about born-digital material, including asking donors to contribute metadata to electronic records from his/her collection. The challenge, they note, is in collaboratively developing sound guidelines and policies to help archivists/curators make decisions about what to acquire. A group discussion about talking to donors about their personal digital lives and creating a “digital will,” both of which help provide important information about an individual’s work, communication, and history of using technologies.

Kevin Glick and Mark Matienzo from Yale and Seth Shaw from Duke discussed accessioning, the process through which a repository gains control over records and gathers information that informs other functions in the archival workflow. While many of the procedures for accessioning born-digital material is the same for analog material, the speakers distinguished accessioning the records from accessioning the media themselves (ie the Word document versus the floppy disk on which it is saved). Mark described his process of “re-accessioning” material through a forensic (or bit-level) disk imaging process, whereby he write-protected accessioned files to protect data from manipulation. He used FTK imager to create a media log with unique identifiers and physical/logical characteristics of the media, followed by BagIt to create packages with high level info about accessions. Seth discussed Duke’s DataAccessioner program, which he created as an easy way for archivists to migrate and identify data from disks. A group discussion asked: what level of control is necessary for collections containing electronic records at your institution? and, what are the most common barriers to accessioning electronic records, and how would they show up? Our table agreed that barriers include staffing (skills and time); being able to read media; software AND hardware; storage limits; and greater need for students/interns.

Simon Wilson from Hull, Peter Chan from Stanford, and Gabriela Redwine from the Harry Ransom Center at UT Austin discussed arrangement and description. They questioned whether archivists can appraise digital material without knowing content therein, which conflicts with the high-level, minimal processing emphasized in our field in the past few years. Another major issue is with volume: space is cheap, but does that mean archivists shouldn’t appraise? It isn’t practical to describe every item, but how will archivists know what is sensitive or restricted? Hypatia provides an easy-to-use interface that allows drag-and-drop for easy intellectual organization of e-records, as well as the ability to add rights and permissions information. Peter Chan described a complex method for using a combination of AccessData FTK in combination with TransitSolution and Oxygen to compare checksums, find duplicate records, and do a “pattern search” for sensitive terms and numbers (such as social security numbers). Gabi Redwine explored her work with a hybrid collection (analog and digital records) where she learned that descriptive standards should be a learning process for staff, not students or volunteers. Her finding aids for the collection included hyperlinks to electronic content and she advocated for disk imaging. The group discussion following this session was intense! The hotbed topic was: are professional skills of appraisal, arrangement, description still relevant for born digital materials? Our group agreed that appraisal and description remain important; however, we were strongly divided about whether archivists will need to contribute to arrangement of e-records. I believe that arrangement becomes less important as things become more searchable, as argued in David Weinberger’s Everything is Miscellaneous. Arrangement emerged before the digital realm as a way for archivists and librarians to contextualize and organize material based on topics/subjects; however, with better description, users can create their own ways of organizing e-records!

Finally, Gretchen Gueguen (UVa) and Erin O’Meara of UNC Chapel Hill discussed discovery and access. Our goals as archivists include to preserve original format and order as much as possible, and apply restrictions as necessary, while balancing this with our mission to make things accessible and available. Gretchen suggested the idea of Google Books’ “snippet” idea as a way to provide access without compromising privacy or restrictions on sensitive material. Her models for access for digital material include: in-person versus not; authenticated versus not; physical versus online access; and dynamic versus static. Erin described her use of Curator’s Workbenchwithin FOXML and Solr to control access permissions and assign restrictions and roles to e-records. Another group discussion included chewy scenarios for dealing with born-digital materials; my table had to consider: “you are at a large public academic research library; director brings several CDROMs, Zip disks and floppy disks of famous (secretive) professor from campus; they are backup files created over the years; office has more paper files; professor and his laptop are missing; no one can give further details on files; write 1 page plan for preserving/describing files; working institutional repository exists.” With no donor agreement and an understanding that the faculty member was very private, we couldn’t go ahead with full access of the material.

At the end of the day, I left with a much better grasp of how I see myself as an archivist dealing with born-digital material (primarily those on optical and disk media). It seems that item-level description works best for born-digital while aggregate description works best for analog materials. Digital records are dealt with best through collaboratively-created policies and procedures for acquiring, processing, and describing them. Great stuff!



SAA’s Sweet Home, Chicago!

Monday, August 29, 2011 6:02 pm

Last week, I had another wonderful opportunity for professional development by attending the SAA Archives 360 Conference in Chicago. I learned quite a bit and met some wonderful archivists doing amazing projects. I will try to summarize my experiences each day with highlights but I am happy to talk about my experience with anyone who wants to know more.


Attended the Archivists’ Toolkit/Archon Roundtable

  • Heard that the merger of these two (ArchivesSpace) will not be public for at least 3-5 years
  • Marisa Hudspeth of the Rockefeller Archive Center presented a very interesting Plugin they created for a reference module that can be used within AT. This is something that we should look into for use in Special Collections and Archive, although we have been successfully using LibStats in the same capacity for some time now
  • ArchivesSpace (the next generation merger) does not plan to have a reference module

Attended the Cubs vs. Braves Baseball game at Wrigley field

  • Over 270 archivists from the SAA conference attended
  • Had the chance to meet many great archivists in a fun setting, including Kristy Dixon from UNC Charlotte, Renna Tuten from The University of Georgia, Laura Starratt from the Atlanta History Center, and Erin Lawrimore from UNCG
  • The Cubs WON!


Pay It Forward: Interns, Volunteers, and the Development of New Archivists and the Archives Profession

  • Linda Sellars of NCSU’s Special Collections Research Center spoke of her approach to working with students, interns, fellows, and volunteers. Her talk “Balancing Productivity and Learning in Work experiences for Beginning Archivists” stressed making the priorities of student projects fit in with the overall program of the department, not just “busy work.” Linda talked about the major time commitment involved in supervising students but the great amount of productivity that can be achieved when students are supervised effectively. Building in the time and the tools benefits the supervisor and the program on a whole, checking in with students often, and having a question answer area (in their case a wiki) where students and supervisors can post questions and answers, building common knowledge for the whole team. She stressed “Excellence not Perfection” when it comes to interns and students, if you strive for perfection, nothing will ever get done.
  • Lance Stuchall of the Henry Ford delivered a thought provoking and informative talk “Wanted: Free Labor: The Impact and Ethics of Unpaid Work” that really got the room buzzing. He spoke of the importance of paid internships and not “cycling one unpaid position after the other” but instead “affording dignity to the students for their professional level work.” He stated that “unpaid positions are not equal to professional positions without pay” and “if you can pay-pay” even if it is a very modest amount. An archivist from Kent State spoke up in the question and answer portion suggesting that institutions are perpetuating a cycle of poverty by requiring a MLIS for unpaid internships. I must say this was a very passionate discussion and got me thinking about how we treat our own students and interns and would love to talk more about it with anyone interested.

Rights, Risk, and Reality: Beyond “Undue Diligence” in Rights Analysis for Digitization


Practical Approaches to Born-Digital Records: What Works Today

  • All I can say is Wow! What a session. Led by Chris Prom of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, five panelists discussed born digital materials and “hybrid” collections emphasizing the need to plan, have an open dialog with donors, and most importantly take action!
  • Susanne Belovari of Tufts University encouraged having discussions with donors regarding the materials coming in and how they see their own “archive.” Most donors are not thinking about the digital aspect of their donations nor of their lives, it is just “stuff.” Ms. Belovari stressed that hybrid collections (that is ones containing traditional paper-based formats as well as born-digital materials) have been organized by the donors with specific record keeping practices, naming conventions, and structuring. In some cases, there is much overlap between paper and digital materials.
  • University of Wyoming’s archivist Ben Goldman encouraged action by getting the materials off the disks, drives, etc. He explained that immediate action not only got valuable materials off of potentially fragile or obsolete formats but also eliminated one more backlog of things to do later.
  • Seth Shaw of Duke University was inspirational, informative, and influential to the conversation. Many of the speakers before him had mentioned using his Duke Data Accessioner as a way of migrating data off disks. Seth encouraged institutions to “do something, even if it is not perfect” and left us all thinking about ways to better serve the needs of our patrons, donors, and institutions in a digital way.

The Archivists’ Toolkit: Innovative Uses and Collaboration

  • This was my first time speaking at a conference, I was lucky it was just a lightening talk (only 8 minutes)! I was lucky to be with a group of impressive people doing exciting things with software that I use everyday.

I did get a chance to go to the Chicago Art Institute…amazing!



Exposing Hidden Collections Through Consortia and Collaboration

Fostering a Diverse Profession: Mentoring and Internship Programs

  • A panel of four archivists and a graduate intern discuss how internship and mentoring programs intersect with SAA’s Strategic Priorities, which include promoting and fostering diversity within the profession.

Like I have said, I would love to talk about this further with anyone who wants to hear more about my experience. I learned quite a lot and look forward to adding this knowledge to my work here at ZSR. Many thanks to Lynn for making this experience possible!

SUE the T. rex, surrounded by archivists at the Field Museum reception. Very cool!


Society of American Archivists- Archives 360

Monday, August 29, 2011 10:01 am

I’m trying something new this year, and journeyed to the SAA “Archives 360″ Conference in Chicago from August 25-28. This is new because I’m trying to become involved with a new national organization after exploring the Guild of Bookworkers in 2009-2010. I had corresponded with board members and officers of the Preservation Section of SAA beforehand, and so I was excited about the future with this great organization. Although SAA is geared toward archivists (as the name implies) they also focus strongly on a number of other areas like description, outreach and education, digitization and yes, preservation.

But first, let me digress a bit. On the flight to Chicago because of mechanical problems, I added to my nearly 100% flight bonking list by being inside the Atlanta Airport long enough to have both breakfast and lunch. I arrived in Atlanta at 8 am and departed at 1:40 pm. Here’s my flight record (and although it’s impressive, although I know it can be topped by several ZSR staffers):
2006-last leg of my flight cancelled, stranded in Charlotte; 2008-flight cancelled, spent the night in the LaGuardia baggage area; 2009-flawless!; 2010-last leg of flight cancelled, able to get on standby flight. This brings us to today. Enough said.

After I arrived at the conference, I attended the opening of the exhibits and poster sessions. I had a good talk with Nick Warnoc, President of Atiz, our book scanner company. Their new model is almost identical to the Internet Scribe machines I saw at the Library of Congress, with better cameras and lights, and a monitor behind the scanning platform.
ATIZ book scanner
The poster sessions were great with many tackling the preservation of born digital materials. I also had a good conversation with one poster presenter who used Archive-it at Michigan State-we’re shared stories of our mutual issues fine tuning the seeds for our crawls.
Poster- Archive-it at SAA
The most unique poster was an oral history project with New York city taxi drivers.
Taxi Driver Oral History poster at SAA
Friday morning, I started at 7 am with a “Write Away”- an introduction to all the writing opportunities SAA has to offer. Mary Jo Pugh, the SAA Journal editor was impressive when she stated the SAA Journal-American Archivist- was the oldest and largest circulating journal in the English language. They want articles dealing with their 3 goals: advocacy, diversity and technology. In addition, Peter Wosh, their Print and Electronics Editor spoke about their publications and advised folks to hang in there through the editorial review process.
The Plenary speaker was David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States.
David Ferriero
He briefly described the damages caused by the earthquake last week to areas around DC-which was minimal. I feel bad for them that following the earthquake, they have to face Hurricane Irene. Ferriero named three challenges for archives into the future:
1. Quantity-Born-digital materials are coming towards everyone. At the National Archives, they got 240 million emails alone from the Bush administration.
2. Format challenge-discarded formats and software(DOS, Netscape for example) and hardware which have content are a challenge to collect and preserve.
3. Social media- Facebook has one trillion page views in June, 2011 alone.
Following Ferriero, SAA President Helen Tibbo spoke on the challenge of born digital materials. PIC Tibbo said that a flood of digital content is outstripping our storage capacity. She said the OCLC Report identified 3 issues in Special Collections into the future:
1. Space
2. Born-digital material
3. Digitization
The lack of training in the area of preserving born digital materials (digital preservation) is a problem as most professionals are only trained in handling paper-based materials. SAA is responding to this by announcing a Digital Archives Specialist Certificate. This is a brand new program which I’m sure will get lots of interest. Beyond this point, Tibbo advised everyone to do something to advance their skill and knowledge this year.
The session on “Practical Approaches to Born Digital Electronic records was packed with folks on the floors and standing in the back. Think this topic was a popular one? A panel of speakers discussed their individual take: Suzanne Belovari, Tufts University, discussed her projects and the conversations needed with donors about their ‘hybrid’ collections-or those with both print and electronic content-and the need for backup and weeding. Suzanne has been working with the panel moderator, Christopher Prom using some of his tools. Ben Goldman, American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming, made the statement that many collections are “undermanaged, undercounted and inaccessible.” Ben advocated for “secure and redundant storage and likened our container records to items in a box. Ben described a thorough process for processing electronic records including a virus check, running various reports to insure no harm came to these records. Melissa Salrin, University of Illinois, uses Firefly to scan incoming digital files for credit card or Social Security information, and maintains a “Preservation file” for masters of each individual record. Laura Carroll, of the Salman Rushdie Archives at Emory, described the abundance of electronic records they received from Rushdie. This included not only the files, but several generations of Mac computers (which they use). The Rushdie material included a substantial amount of born digital material and had huge privacy issues. Duke’s Seth Shaw was terrific. He is the brains behind the Duke Data Accessioner. Seth, a natural speaker, asked these questions for born digital/electronic records:
1. What are you providing access to (what form of electronic file-bitstream, emulated environment, etc.)
2. What do your users need or expect?
3. What can you actually do?
Seth basically feels you should “do something” and if it’s a little off, you can fix it later. Waiting until things are perfect is not his way.
Rebecca, Audra and I chatted with Seth after the session.

In the evening, we were treated to a reception in the Field Museum.

Although I attended other session on Archivists’ Toolkit (where Rebecca Peterson did a wonderful job explaining her collaboration with Audra Yun and Carolyn McCallum) and Exposing Hidden Collections Through Collaborations and consortia (where Audra Yun did a great job as a panel moderator), I want to talk about the Preservation Section meeting I attended.
As I mentioned earlier, I want to become involved in the Preservation Section. At the meeting, I was rewarded by a second talk by the Archivist of Congress, David Ferriero, who spoke on Collections Security. Following Ferriero, a panel spoke on collections security. They were Diane Vogt-O’Connor (Library of Congress), Larry Evangelista and Richard Dine (National Archives) and Brittany Turner (a private security consultant). The bulk of the talk was centered around a news-breaking theft involving multiple institutions along the I-95 corridor. Two men, Barry Landau (a Presidential historian and collector) and Jason Savedoff have stolen materials from libraries using the diabolical means of also stealing the catalog records, so as to cover their tracks. The two men were observed in one of the University of Maryland Libraries taking a historical document. When apprehended, over 60 documents were found in a library locker the two had. A search of Landau’s apartment yielded an array of historical documents, including a letter from Benjamin Franklin to John Paul Jones. Fascinating cloak and dagger stuff! NARA has implemented a Collections Security team and a series of training videos for their staff on the heels of this case. Following this session, I met the new president of the Preservation section, Jennifer Waxman and renewed my interest in volunteering for one of their committees. Encouraged, I trotted off.

SAA was productive, educational, and a friendly gathering that I hope to attend again. Thanks to Lynn for making this trip possible.

2011 School of Divinity Orientation

Friday, August 26, 2011 4:09 pm

On August 25 and 26 I participated in two orientation sessions for the incoming class of first year students at the School of Divinity. While I have done a library orientation session every year since the inaugural year of 1999, this was the first year that I was asked to also do a presentation on plagiarism during the first day of orientation.

After asking for advice from Molly and Roz on content, and adopting the Lauren P. method for PowerPoint presentations, I led the first session in Wingate Hall. The students used the clickers to answer questions about plagiarism and the appropriate use of information, and I spread the news about Zotero, The Writing Center and some of the seminary/theology research-and-writing specific resources we have at ZSR. They laughed at my jokes and got most of the questions right, so I considered the presentation a success!

Today I led my usual library orientation from 476 and throughout the building. As usual, I went on too long about Reference sources, but they were an engaged group and asked a lot of questions. Also as usual, this is a diverse group of students with a pretty wide age range and varied backgrounds. I look forward to assisting them with their work at the School of Divinity over the next three years!

Elon’s Teaching and Learning Conference

Friday, August 19, 2011 11:14 am

Yesterday was the 8th annual Elon Teaching and Learning Conference and the theme this year was “Thresholds to Learning.” Joy and I drove down together for the day. As always, it was a great event. I’m always surprised at the quality of presentations given that it’s both local and free. I’ll send something out next year when they announce the dates, so keep it in mind if you’re looking for something low-barrier in the instruction realm.

The first keynote was by Ray Land, Professor of Higher Education and Director of Centre for Academic Practice and Learning Enhancement at University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. He spoke on his area of expertise: Threshold Concepts. He’s written and edited a few books on these, which I’ll be sure to get at the TLC liaison. The idea of a Threshold Concept makes perfect sense once you hear about it. It’s those pieces of knowledge that change who you are as a person and how you see the world. You cannot unlearn them. The example that resonated most with me was that after taking women’s studies courses, you can’t see the world the same: family is different, work is different, your expectations for your own role change. He also pointed to other familiar concepts like evolution, deconstructionism, and very specific discipline based concepts like “photoprotection in plants” or “confidence to challenge” in design. The very last few minutes were about how to concretely apply this idea to course design and teaching, and I really would have liked to have seen a whole second session on that. They recorded his session and it’ll be available on the website later today.

Throughout Land’s presentation I was thinking about what this means for information literacy instruction. I could think of two of those major shifts I went through. One was that there was an economics of information. As a child, prior to learning about employment, publishing models, tenure, and the like, I thought people sought out knowledge because that was important to do. And they made true knowledge available because that was the right thing to do with it. It never occurred to me that certain questions were asked because the investigator could get a grant to support the research or because it was something that could get published by a journal that was trying to make money. This was a major Threshold Concept for me. Another was that there are complex systems that might reveal information that would otherwise be unknowable. A librarian specifically taught me this when showing me Web of Science to track citations for a philosophy paper. Learning this system showed me a new type of information that I didn’t even understand could exist prior to that session. And learning it helped me realize that there were probably lots of other types of information out there that could only be revealed through these complex systems that I also did not even know existed. (…making libraries all the more exciting!)

Joy and I chatted about how for today’s students, that you can’t find everything on Google is a Threshold Concept. It didn’t occur to me because search wasn’t so useful when I was in college. It was clear you’d have to do something to go beyond whatever you found on the web for an academic paper. Today’s students have a very different experience. And learning that they would have to go beyond the web is a certain Threshold Concept: it’s troublesome knowledge in that they prefer the old world they lived in where Google could get them everything, it’s irreversible that once they learn about how limited that world is they’ll know they have to keep looking elsewhere for information, it’s integrative that it becomes part of who they are to continue to have to seek information through more complex means, and on and on.
Land mentioned that some faculty are reconstructing their classes around Threshold Concepts since they’re the ones that take more of a personal approach to helping students fully understand them and integrate them into their understanding. These faulty take the approach that the rest (or much of the rest) are details that can be self-taught, found through another resource, or could be taught in class to bolster the Threshold Concept. Interesting stuff!

I also attended a session on the SCALE-UP model, which reminded me a lot of Erik’s POGIL work and a session on online learning. The most personally interesting session I attended was about if counter-normative pedagogies (like Service Learning) have Threshold Concepts. This was more of an intellectually interesting question rather than something directly applicable to work. As someone who has done some work in faculty training, I was interested in the idea that there might be a Threshold Concept around student centered learning or some other non-traditional approach. I also attended this session because it was led by one of my college professors! She taught the (fantastic) service learning class I took at NCSU and made quite an impact on me. She’s apparently now doing consulting around service learning and working at UNCG. Small world!

All in all, a great day! Let me know if you want to chat about any of it!

Elon Teaching and Learning Conference, August 18, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011 11:13 am

Yesterday, Lauren Pressley and I journeyed to Elon University to attend their 8th Annual Teaching and Learning Conference. It was well worth attending for many different reasons including the opportunity to meet colleagues from across the state. I ate lunch with Elon’s instruction librarian, Randall Bowman, along with a couple of other Elon faculty members. It was my first visit to Elon and was very impressed with the campus as well as the people. This conference was offered at no charge to the attendees including lunch, amazing!

The theme for the conference was “Thresholds to Learning” and it began with a plenary session led by Ray Land, Professor of Higher Education at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow. The title of the presentation was Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge: a Transformative Approach to Learning. Most of the presentation was spent describing the meaning of “Threshold Concepts” which he described as somewhat like a portal which opens up new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking about something. Unless a learner experiences this transformed way of understanding or viewing something, they cannot progress. He described the consequences of not being transformed as being “stuck.” These elements of knowledge needed to make the leap from being “stuck” often involve what he termed “troublesome knowledge.” There are a many reasons why learners my not move beyond this “troublesome knowledge” including the fact that it may be conceptually difficult or alien or perhaps the learner does not wish to change their way of seeing things. He offered numerous quotes including one that said that students are required to venture into new places, strange places, anxiety-provoking places. If here is no anxiety it is difficult to believe that we are in higher education.

During the last ten minutes of Land’s presentation, he presented “10 Considerations for Course Design.”

  1. Threshold concepts can be used to define potentially powerful transformative points in learning.
  2. Engagement is important
  3. It is important to listen for understanding (listen to your students to gauge where they are in their understanding)
  4. Reconstitution of self – pay attention to the discomforts of troublesome knowledge.
  5. Recursiveness – moving beyond the simple learning outcomes model. Reflect on past semesters to create the new one.
  6. Students must be able to self-regulate within the liminal state (stuck spot)
  7. Assessment – concept mapping
  8. Contestability of generic good pedagogy
  9. Students must gain epistemic fluency
  10. Professional Development

I believe that Catherine Ross plans to offer a book discussion of Land’s book in the Teaching and Learning Center for those of us who attended the session. I hope that I will be able to attend!

Concurrent Session I: Effective Feedback and Efficient Grading by Katie King and Peter Felton, Elon University

This was an excellent session that began with the question, “What is your grading philosophy?” “What do you grade and what do you leave off?” Through this session, I was please to discover that I’m on the right track! They gave examples of too much red ink and not enough red ink. They stressed the importance of giving students the opportunity to revise and to use the instructor’s comments. The most helpful part was a two-column chart that showed “Learning Orientation” in one column and “Performance Orientation” in the other. Students who are “Learning Oriented” want to improve competence, seek challenge, be successful through effort, persist and they view instructors as resources. Students who are “Performance oriented” want to prove they are competent (get the “A”), avoid challenge, exert little effort, and they view instructors as evaluators. I found these categories to be very help and on target with my experience with students! Catherine Ross was in the room and she described the performance oriented students as subscribing to “inoculation theory” which is the idea that “I’ve had AP biology so I can’t learn any more about that.” They gave several good ideas about how to create assessments worth everyone’s time.

Concurrent Session II: Writing Transitions/Writing Thresholds by Jessie Moore, Elon University

In this session, the presenter talked about how almost all universities require a freshman writing course with the theory that they will transfer their skills in other courses in college. It turns out that research shows that students have very few writing assignments during their first two years of college. We spent the session coming up with ideas for good assignments and critiquing a student paper that needed a lot of help. This was not my favorite session.

Concurrent Session III: The Threshold of Consciousness: How to Wake Up Your Students by Ed Neal, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

This session was well worth attending! He gave out a packet of hands-on activity exercises and ideas to help engage students in problem-solving and critical thinking. All of the strategies are low-risk and most can be easily adapted for the classroom (including LIB100).

Overall, it was a very good conference!










New Faculty Orientation

Thursday, August 18, 2011 5:08 pm

Last week, I had the great opportunity to attend the New Faculty Orientation. Echoing some of Molly Keener’s thoughts from her post on the same topic last year, I did feel a little strange attending a “new” person orientation but I could not have been more wrong and I am so pleased that I attended.

Day one began here in the library with a presentation from the Provost’s Office. The vast amounts of information given by Mark Welker, Interim Provost, and the Associate and Assistant Provosts was impressive. Each presenter added to the opening remarks by Mark Welker who encouraged the teacher-scholar model, mentoring, and service. Jennifer Collins discussed the Academic Initiatives at Wake Forest, including the Humanities Institute, the Institute for Public Engagement, and the Women’s Center, to name a few. Jennifer encourage seeking out the academic initiatives and the exciting opportunities for the Wake Forest community. Kline Harrison, Associate Provost for International Affairs, spoke of the international efforts across the campus. This includes not only the various study abroad programs (approximately 60% of WFU undergrads study abroad), but also developing faculty exchanges, intercultural skills enhancement, language across the curriculum, international admissions, and international professional development. Rick Matthews discussed technology on campus and highlighted GoogleApps and WebEx as exciting new teaching tools. Barbee Oakes, Assistant Provost for Diversity & Inclusion, encouraged the Gatekeepers workshop, spoke of the upcoming LGBTQ Center, and scholarships for a workshop on eliminating racism. Beth Hoagland, Assistant Provost for Budget and Planning, introduced herself as the point person for any awards, grants, etc. She also encouraged faculty/student engagement and explained the “popcorn” fund, and other opportunities such as the student/faculty lunch program, for use by professors to socialize with students outside of the classroom. The final presenter, new registrar Harold Pace, went over the academic calendar, especially add/drop and grade submission. I must say that this session left me with a tremendous sense of growth and opportunity for students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest.

Although I have worked at ZSR for over a year in some capacity, I learned a lot from the presentations by the librarians and the introduction of the liaisons. Talking with the new professors after this portion of the day, I can say that many shared my sentiments and I was swelled with pride that I work among such a knowledgeable and welcoming group.

Following a delicious lunch, more exciting conversations, and multiple introductions, I decided to join the campus walking tour. Besides not knowing where any of the buildings are on campus besides the library, I was thrilled to hear the perspective of a former student. The tour guide Jennie Harris made the campus tour fun and informative. She was a guide as an undergraduate and has been working in admissions since she graduated. I consider her a real expert!

I did skip out on the Human Resources day since I have already been through most of it, but if you have read Joy’s description of this day as an episode of Oprah’s favorite things, I was sorry to have missed it!

Day three at Graylyn was another day of encouraging words, exciting opportunities, great food, and wonderful people. Jacquelyn Fetrow, the Dean of the College, along with President Hatch and representatives from the TLC, the Learning Assistance Program, the Writing Center seemed to all have the same message: “We like you, we want to help you, we want you to be successful, we want our students to be successful.” Another favorite part of the day was a panel discussion with three professors who are entering into their second year at Wake Forest: Jarrod Atchinson of Communications, Morna O’Neill of the Art Department, and Amanda Jones of Chemistry. Some thoughts I came away with:

  • it’s ok to take your time and figure things out
  • take full advantage of institutional opportunities
  • Wake Forest rewards initiative
  • new faculty means that you are the new eyes on campus
  • don’t be underwhelmed by small bits of progress
  • have a presence and be collegial

Overall, I found the new faculty orientation to be a very valuable experience. I am happy that I was able to be a part of it and look forward to the students returning to campus to put my knowledge to use and see the other members of the new faculty shine.


New Faculty Orientation

Wednesday, August 17, 2011 3:19 pm

New faculty orientation was one of the most informative and enjoyable experiences that I have had since coming to work at Wake Forest. I am convinced that my gratitude for this opportunity is much deeper than it ever could have been if I had had this experience when I first started working as an adjunct five years ago.

On Wednesday, August 10, the new faculty gathered in the Mandelbaum Reading Room where we began the day with a light breakfast and mingling. What an interesting group of people! I met several new faculty from the English Department who have offices in the Writing Center. I also met Sandy Sikes whose picture is on the front page of today’s Winston-Salem Journal (and she would not have known it if I had not told her this morning!). The networking that happens through faculty orientation is invaluable.

The first day set the pace for a remarkable three days. The program kicked off with an introduction to the provost’s office. After being here for five years, it felt like I was in the presence of rock stars! Finally, I was able to put faces to names that I have heard and seen. These “Ah-ha” moments were consistent for me all three days.

Next, we were introduced to the ZSR Library and all I can say is, “Wow!” What great PR for the Library and kudos to the presenters. It could not have been better.

After a delightful lunch in Room 401 where we ate on white table clothes (a rare treat for me!), we were introduced to more WFU people. I then took a campus tour led by Jennie Harris, Assistant Dean of Admissions. I wish I had a video of the first part of tour where she began by talking about our wonderful Library; everything she said was completely in line with what was said in the earlier Mandelbaum presentation. She said many interesting things that I did not know, such as the fact that Tribble is the largest academic building on campus and Reynolda was bigger than all of the academic buildings combined on the old campus. Also, she said that 85% of Wake students are involved in some sport, mostly intermural.

The second day was spent with Human Resources. It felt a little like the Oprah Winfrey show in that a department would make a presentation and then people appeared bearing gifts for all the new faculty, such as tickets to the tennis open, a pedometer, posters, bags, a cup, pencils, a Metlife stuffed Snoopy, etc. How fun is that? I learned several helpful things such as the fact that WFU employees get a 22% discount from Verizon.

The third day was held at the Graylyn Conference Center. Is there any more beautiful place on earth to have a meeting? It was a delight to meet Jacquelyn Fetrow, the Dean of the College. We also met the five associate deans from her office. My personal favorite presentation was by Jane Caldwell. Since I teach so many athletes, my respect for her department and how she runs that program made me want to give her a standing ovation. I am convinced that we are the most compliant school in the NCAA and ACC.

I was most curious to hear what President Hatch would have to say to a new group of faculty and I was not disappointed. He started with a self-deprecating story about his own experience as a new faculty member. And then he asked a simple question, “What are we about?” He referred to William Powers’ book, Hamlet’s Blackberry and the fact that we have become a society of continuous partial attention. He said that at our core we are about learning and to learn anything well requires concentration. It is an idea that I continue to ponder.

Today, I attended the Gatekeeper Workshop for new faculty. If you have not attended one of these, I highly recommend it. I’m now ready to sign up for 2 and 3 in the series.

Overall, it has been a remarkable week and it never would have happened without faculty status for ZSR librarians. Hats off to Lynn and the other forward thinking people who made it possible for me to participate in these events!



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Career Development for Women Leaders
Carolina Consortium
CASE Conference
Celebration: Entrepreneurial Conference
Charleston Conference
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Digital Forsyth
Electronic Resources and Libraries
Elon Teaching and Learning Conference
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Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (EBLIP)
Ex Libris Users of North America (ELUNA)
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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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