Professional Development

During October 2011...

Derrik at NCLA 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011 2:37 pm

I just realized I haven’t yet posted a report of my attendance at NCLA. Should be a good test of my note-taking. As I had observed at ALA this summer, I found the presentations by and one-on-one discussions with vendors to be a very valuable part of the conference.

During a presentation by the Executive Director on NC LIVE, I learned about a “vendor showcase” immediately afterward, highlighting EBSCO e-books. So I skipped the exhibits and poster sessions (sorry Carol) and went to learn more about this successor to NetLibrary. Through this presentation and subsequent discussions with the EBSCO Steves, I learned much about this new product, and I have already been able to make some improvements to our service. For instance, I obtained the correct database-level URL to direct users to the EBSCO e-books home page. I also learned how to set up a “notify” option so that when an EBSCO e-book is in use, the user can have an e-mail sent when the e-book becomes available (before NCLA, our users simply got the NetLibrary equivalent of a busy signal). I also learned that users can share notes, citations, etc., by creating shared folders in MyEBSCOhost.

I attended an informative presentation by Andrew Pace of OCLC about their new product Webscale Management Services (WMS). WMS is a cloud-based integrated library system; my impression was that they had added Circulation and Acquisitions functions to WorldCat. Three WMS Beta implementers-a public library system, Davidson College, and High Point Univ.-spoke about their experience thus far with WMS. All three spoke favorably of the product and of OCLC (perhaps because they were co-presenting with OCLC?). One said that “the support from OCLC has been wonderful”; another said that students have taken to the product with little or no training; and the librarian from Davidson said “I hope I never have to do another ILS migration in my career.”

I also had a couple of good conversations with our EBL representative about managing our DDA title files. We didn’t solve any problems (yet), but I learned more about how the process is designed to work, and he learned more about how we want it to work.

Other sessions I attended:

  • e-book approval – this enlightening discussion of the e-book approval plans at NC State and Duke was previously described by Carol
  • providing access to online resources – this presentation turned out to be too basic to be helpful, with its tab-by-tab tour of LibGuides and its very rudimentary explanation of how a proxy server works.
  • authentication on public computers – staff from the WCU Hunter Library reported on their research into academic libraries’ practices for authenticating users at public computers

 

Leslie at SEMLA 2011

Tuesday, October 25, 2011 6:01 pm

This year’s meeting of the Southeast Music Library Association, in Chapel Hill, had a special event to celebrate: the seventy-fifth anniversary of UNC-CH’s Music Library, now the largest music collection in the Southeast. Some of the collection’s rarest treasures were on exhibit at the opening reception.

Among the most interesting presentations was one given by Sonia Archer-Capuzzo of UNCG, posing the question “How can librarians support faculty and students doing fieldwork?” Music librarians, in particular, have rarely given much thought as to how they can fill this role. By like token, their traditional patrons — musicians — often find fieldwork intimidating; classical musicians tend to be introverted types. Nonetheless, fieldwork is done by ethnomusicologists (who study musical traditions using ethnographic methods), music educators, performers, and even music theorists. And of course fieldworkers in other disciplines – religion, dance, anthropology – encounter musical traditions. Sonia notes that librarians can add value by: (1) reminding our users that we also do fieldwork (e.g., library user studies); (2) stocking our collections with the right resources, of course; and (3) leveraging our connections: knowing the experts among our colleagues and other scholars, to whom we can make referrals. Finding little existing literature designed specifically to guide the librarian, Sonia conducted two email surveys: one of fieldworkers in music and other disciplines, asking how they used libraries in their fieldwork; and one of librarians, asking how they had helped fieldworkers. (The survey instruments, and Sonia’s presentation slides, are posted at https://sites.google.com/site/soniaarchercapuzzo.) Responses revealed that fieldworkers do value libraries, and librarians’ assistance, in doing the background research for their fieldwork; they also appreciate having one online portal — the library’s website — for re-consulting resources as needed while in the field.

Ethnographic studies of library user behavior have attracted attention in the last decade or so. David Hursh of East Carolina reported on the first such study conducted in a music library. ECU’s music library staff collaborated with a resident ethnologist to design a study using “seating sweep” and “timecard” methods to collect data on such factors as group vs. solo study, social activity, time spent in the library, use of technology, and volume and type of activity in various areas of the library. The timecards were short questionnaires handed to users as they entered the library; staff recorded the time of entry, asked the user to return the card when they left, and recorded the time of departure. Because “people often say one thing but do another,” library staff also did unobtrusive visual sweeps of the premises at designated time intervals, recording their own observations of user activities. As expected, there was some variance between the self-reported and observed data. Results from both, however, suggested that users spent most of their time working alone; spent up to a quarter of their time socializing; and used the tech lab (which included the music listening stations) more heavily than the study carrols, reference collection, or the stacks. Multi-tasking was not quite as ubiquitous as might be expected: some 30% of users were observed spending more than 20 minutes on a single task, but when technology was in use, there was a strong correlation with multi-tasking.

Like many library associations, SEMLA and its parent organization, the Music Library Association, have seen declining membership in recent years, in large part due to the current economic climate. Some strategies brainstormed during the business meeting included:

  • Demonstrating our association’s value to music faculty by hosting a clearinghouse of lesson plans, and reminding advisers about music librarianship as a career option.
  • Cheaper dues; reduced dues for the first year; additional membership options (e-membership; membership without the journal subscription).
  • Dropping the membership requirement for first-time conference attendees; sponsoring an attendee; inviting local library-school students to conferences, where they would be mentored by student members.
  • Recruiting from more diverse populations.
  • More webinars, podcasting, etc. for those who can’t travel to meetings.

Rethinking Reference Collections

Friday, October 21, 2011 4:19 pm

Today, I completed a four week online course title “Rethinking Reference Collections” which was offered by Infopeople and was taught by Dave Tyckoson, Associate Dean of the Library at the University of California, Fresno. Dave spent many years as a reference librarian and is still a reference librarian at heart! One of my new job responsibilities is collection management of our reference collection, so Roz encouraged me to take this course and Lynn very generously provided funding. The timing of this course fortuitously came just as we are preparing for a massive weeding of the reference collection in preparation for the consolidation of the reference and circulation desks next year.

There were 74 participants for this course coming from a wide variety of libraries from small public libraries to Stanford and UCLA (most libraries represented were from California). Here are the highlights of what I learned:

  1. The first week, the punch line was: All librarianship is local!! It is our responsibility to tailor our collections to the needs of our community.
  2. The second week we did usage studies of our reference collections. Thanks to Carol Cramer, I learned that we have 9,994 unique titles in our collection and 22,704 volumes. Tim Mitchell graciously created an Excel spreadsheet of our usage for the week; the spreadsheet was used as a model in our WebEx class for how to manipulate the data to make decisions about what to weed from our collections. That week, we had 148 titles scanned in from Reference. As Dave observed, we have a highly used collection, particularly in our religion section (no surprise to any of us who work at the reference desk). Having all reference materials bar coded is the optimal way to assess usage. Hats off to those who thought of bar coding the reference collection and implemented the system-you earned a star for our library in this class!.
  3. The second week, we also compared print and electronic resources. We were given access to the online version of World Book as well as Oxford Reference Online. What struck me about both online sources was how far we are from seeing the power of the web in reference resources! The Oxford Reference materials are just the print materials put online (similar to the Gale Reference Sources). There are no updates, videos, visuals, etc. World Book is better, but still very much like the print with some links thrown in to websites and videos. The online reference materials are still very bland and usually no more up-to-date than what we have on our shelves. While access is much more convenient through the web, the presentation is no better. As more libraries move to electronic sources, it is my hope that publishers will seriously upgrade the content and presentations! They are competing with Wikipedia, shouldn’t Oxford Reference be and look more cutting edge? I will say the same for Gale Virtual Reference, our current electronic reference resource of choice. Can they please upgrade their products to be more than reprints from their print collections?
  4. The third week he introduced the concept of circulating reference materials. It seems that the current trend is to allow reference materials to circulate for 3 days at a time. Dave advocates creating a ready reference collection that does not circulate and then allowing all other reference materials to circulate. He suggests putting the circulating reference materials in the main stacks with special marking on the books for 3 day check out. This was something I had not really thought about and I’m still chewing on the idea for our collection. It is clear to me that we have many reference books that will need to be in our ready reference collection. The question is whether or not we need the 3 day check out option for the books we move to the stacks, or should they just circulate like regular titles?
  5. The current trend is to move to electronic resources while print reference collections are shrinking. However, he predicts that as we allow reference books to circulate, the use of print reference materials will go up.
  6. Another thing to ponder is how we will promote the use of our reference resources. I plan to do some informal usability testing with our students at the reference desk to see if they have a clue about where to go to find encyclopedia articles from our Databases page. Do they know what Gale Virtual Reference Library contains? I’m putting this on my to do list for the second half of the semester!
  7. The last helpful piece of this course was learning that there are tools that will specifically search reference collections. One is called Paratext and it searches electronic and print collections. The next one is Credo Reference and it searches across all electronic reference materials. These tools are seriously meeting a need and I wish we had Paratext (though I have never seen it in real life). I wish we could get Summon to easily navigate and limit to our reference sources; that is something we will probably see by the time Summon 10.0 is released!

Overall, I really enjoyed this course and the online learning environment! Thank you, Roz and Lynn for making this possible!

Mary at NCLA

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1:40 pm

I attended NCLA’s 59th Biennial Conference on Wednesday; my teaching schedule on Tuesday and Thursday limited my time at the conference, but it was valuable none-the-less. I attended a terrific panel discussion about LibGuides in which librarians from 7 different libraries shared their implementation processes, policies, and uses of this very useful tool. Most of the implementations were thoughtful and well-planned, but several were staged – class guides first, topical guides next, and so forth; and one library described a ‘shotgun wedding’ approach to implementation that was successful despite its rapidity. Like ZSR, most identified a person or small committee to plan and roll out their use. The main motivation for moving to LibGuides was the ease and speed with which guides can be created or revised. Several practices caught my attention: NC Central Law Library uses the LibGuide landing page as the home page for all of its public library computers. UNCG discovered that students don’t see the tabs along the top so they now place links to each tab in each guide’s welcome box. NCA& T adds a box in each LibGuide with links to related topics.

In the afternoon, I presented “Using the Economic Census to Support Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners”. I’ve long been a fan of this data-rich resource for business and economic research, having first discovered it when I was a business analyst with an investment firm. In its report “Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development” the Urban Institute describes how libraries support regional economic development by providing specialized resources and research services to entrepreneurs and small business people. In the current budget environment free, reliable resources are even more valuable and the Economic Census is one such resource. The interface to the data is challenging and, therefore, the Census remains an underutilized resource among non-specialists. In my talk, I tried to de-mystify the Census and demonstrate how librarians can turn data into information for their business patrons. The audience actively engaged with the topic and we had a lively conversation about using this and other government sources. We also mourned the loss of “Statistical Abstract of the United States” another valuable source of data, which will print its last edition in 2013, after which budget cuts will cause the GPO to cease its publication.

BLINC, Business Librarians in North Carolina, was actively involved in the conference. Mine was one of 8 sessions presented in part or entirely by BLINC members; in addition, BLINC librarians led several poster sessions. Following the vendor reception, BLINC held its post-conference dinner, hosted by two of our vendors. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and each other’s company at Carrabba’s.

The conference represented the close of Steve Cramer’s tenure as Chair of BLINC and the beginning of my two-year term. During the conference I held my first cabinet meeting with Vice-Chair Leslie Farison of Appalachian State and Secretary/Treasurer Sara Thynne of Alamance Regional Public Library. We developed ideas for future workshop topics and I laid out several initiatives that I plan to pursue during my term.

It was a full and productive day in Hickory; while I wish I could have heard other programs on other days, I appreciated the time I was able to spend at the conference. Kudos to Sarah Jeong for the great job she did organizing the conference store which was the busiest spot in the exhibit hall and to Steve Kelley for his very well laid-out exhibit hall.

NCLA According to Carol: E-preferred Approval Plans?

Monday, October 17, 2011 9:01 pm

NCLA marked my first experience as a member of a conference planning committee. I managed the poster sessions with my excellent co-chair and long-time friend of ZSR, Iyanna Sims. I didn’t get to attend that many concurrent sessions, since I frequently needed to help the next poster session set up.

The most relevant session to my daily work was about the e-preferred approval plans offered by YBP. In an e-preferred approval plan, you pay up front for the e-book instead of auto-purchasing a print book. The speakers were from NCSU and Duke. The main thrust of their presentation was about streamlining workflow for these orders as much as possible. Personally I was more interested in why rather than how they implemented it. Having heard their experiences, I’m still not convinced that an e-preferred approval plan is the way to go here at WFU. Since they are both significantly larger than us, it’s likely that many more books would pass the high-use threshold, and buying in advance is the best policy for them. From the WFU experience thus far, I believe that a school our size is better served by just-in-case DDA. It was notable that Duke has dropped DDA altogether, while NCSU wants to investigate integrating DDA and e-preferred approvals, two ordering streams which are currently completely separate.

Some of this goes back to one’s philosophy of an approval plan (or a standing order for that matter). Are we buying these books because we think a library like ours should have these imprints regardless of use, or is it because we “know” these titles will get used? If it’s the former, than an e-preferred approval plan is a good idea. If it’s the latter, then maybe our DDA set-up could someday replace most of our approval plan. This is not an academic question for the future. I’m working on a project (sidelined by the whole poster session thing, but I’ll get back to it soon) to identify cases where a book series is on auto-ship and also available DDA. We would need to decide if we want to buy the series as an e-book, or just turn on DDA and let nature take its course.

Other memorable moments from Hickory included a delicious dinner at the Olde German Schnitzel Haus (does that count as liaison work?) and a near-death experience caused either by the poster sessions’ proximity to a dog show or by a literacy program featuring live dogs. Thank God and Priscilla Lewis for Benadryl!

Chris at NCLA

Monday, October 17, 2011 2:38 pm

Last Thursday, I attended NCLA as a presenter for the first time. Dr. Anthony Chow, who was one of my professors when I was in library school, asked me if I could present two sessions with him that day. I agreed, suited up (literally) and made the journey to Hickory early that morning.

Our first presentation was called “To Fine or Not to Fine? This is the Question” and took place at 9 a.m. While I was I school, I served as a research assistant with Dr. Chow on this project, which investigated the use of positive reinforcement methods (rewards) as an alternative to negative reinforcement methods (fines) in order to encourage library patrons to return their materials in a timely manner. We had used one academic library in our study, and the results supported our initial hypotheses in somewhat surprising ways. This presentation was attended by thirty people who represented a mixture of libraries; each person was interested in learning more about how to implement a rewards program at their respective location. Further, there were several people who wanted to find out of the study would continue and if their library could participate. Dr. Chow was encouraged by this possibility, as we had hoped to use different libraries in our study initially but were forced to scale back because of a lack of interest. This project has the potential to grow, so there may be a revised presentation at a future conference.

“What Does a Typical Library Website Look Like?” was not only our second presentation for the day but it was also one of the last set of presentations for the day itself. Dr. Chow and his research assistants analyzed over 1,400 websites for this study, using a combination of checklists and surveys to determine a standard design layout, common features and content, responsibilities for design and maintenance, and the extent that these websites follow recommended guidelines for overall design. A set of nine usability testing criteria was applied, with the resulting data being notable for what was found (contact information for the library) as well as what was not (a space for feedback from patrons). My role was to facilitate this session; Dr. Chow had returned to Greensboro for personal business and planned to use Skype to present his PowerPoint slides, while I was to drive the presentation in person from Hickory. This was the first time that I had participated in a “long distance” presentation, and Murphy ‘s Law came to bear when Skype failed to connect at the start of the session, leaving me to open the session without Dr. Chow. Fortunately, Dr. Chow was able to connect after the fifth slide and we were able to co-present until he had to leave for personal business leaving me to close the session. Even though I didn’t have an intricate understanding of the material in this presentation, I was able to use some of my experience on the ZSR Web Committee to answer questions and stimulate discussion at the end of the presentation.

NCLA has been a different experience every time for me every time I have been involved, and this year was no exception. Now that I have been a presenter at the conference, I would like to have the opportunity to do it again in the future. Two presentations in one day was one way to increase my personal understanding!

eBooks Summit

Wednesday, October 12, 2011 7:21 pm

Today, in the screening room, people drifted in and out to watch parts of the Digital Shift‘s eBook Summit, Ebooks: The New Normal. The event was cosponsored by Library Journal and School Library Journal and was an all-day conference.

We heard the opening keynote, and then followed the academic library track. This track included a session on DDA as well as a session on marketing ebooks to students. The content was good, the conversation those of us in the room had was good, and it was nice to get a lay of the land for ebooks in academic libraries.

I was particularly struck by the venue. The event was set up to feel like a “real” conference. You entered into a plaza, that looked like a large foyer in a convention center. The hallways were labeled with “auditorium,” “exhibits,” “help desk,” etc, and if you clicked through you were directed to the webcasting software that ran the particular room you were in. It seemed like a likely bridge technology to help people feel comfortable with webinars who have never attended before. That being said, we weren’t able to get the slides to run during the presentations, so we paged through ourselves as people spoke. In one of the lulls between talks I spent some time in the exhibits. You literally clicked on the booth you wanted to attend, could talk to the people in the booth, enter drawings, and get demos. It was a lot like a real vendor floor. (…though less stressful for me!)

We’ll have the ability to log in later to view the recordings. Let me know if you’re interested!

EllenD at NCLA

Tuesday, October 11, 2011 12:48 pm

I attended this year’s NCLA Conference in Hickory on October 6, and went through the usual pre-conference dithering over sessions to attend. Although I would have enjoyed one presentation on researching Civil War ancestors, given the approach of the War’s sesquicentennial and a recent summer pilgrimage to Gettysburg with two keenly engaged family members, I opted for a pragmatic topic of interest, “Patrons Left to Their Own Devices: Library Databases and E-Readers.” The four presenters, Lynda Kellam and Amy Harris of UNCG, Mark Sanders of ECU, and Lauren P., succinctly covered the attributes, virtues, and vices of the Amazon Kindle, Apple iPad, Sony Touch, and nookColor eReaders. Their varying designs, capabilities, and ease of use were covered both from old gen and new gen perspectives, with a quick round at the end of “Why I Like My —–.” One recurring theme was the continued challenge for libraries and their patrons regarding the integrations of e-readers with library e-books and full-text library databases. No magic wand in sight at the present moment.

I attended the REMCo Luncheon and thoroughly enjoyed not only the food and the speaker, but also especially a chance conversation at our table with Philip Cherry III, Vice-Chair/Chair Elect. He had attended that Civil War Ancestors session, and told me how he was involved in a fascinating project involving tracing Onslow County slaves who had participated in the War. As an example, he recounted how the name of one former slave, who had been on a large Onslow plantation raided by Union troops, shows up in a later census in the Lake Pontchartrain area, with the right age. Now his descendants are cooperating with the project to determine if it is indeed the same individual, since their ancestral tracking stops at that census; no one has any idea, of course, as to how he ended up in the New Orleans area. One can easily imagine the challenges of such a project, given the vagaries of plantation slave and African-American soldier record-keeping, as well as the vicissitudes of post-Emancipation struggles of former slaves. The luncheon speaker was Nooma Rhue, of Preserve Pro, Inc. An archivist, library director, and author, she discussed the impetus and experience behind her book, Organizing and Preserving Family History and Religious Records. Her experience had commenced at Johnson C. Smith University, where she had been tasked with organizing the Inez Moore Parker Archives, then in a state of absolute disarray. This led to a career in archival work melded with community engagement, all buttressed by a strong sense of mission regarding the importance of preserving family and religious archives.

In the afternoon, I spent a couple of hours volunteering for Sarah at the Conference Store, trying to emulate sales techniques for pushing items that needed to be sold (e.g. the unique Dewey Decimal-embellished coffee mug that would otherwise need to be shipped back to ALA, or time-limited Conference T-shirts). It was fun to chat with people as they came to browse and buy. Oddly enough, I constantly had to suppress an impulse to keep statistics….

Lauren P. at NCLA

Monday, October 10, 2011 10:53 pm

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to present for two NCLA events. The first was for Everybody Teaches: Creating effective online e-learning experiences
with Beth Filar Williams and Amy Archambault.

NCLA preconference

I got to know Amy late last year, as she’s a former Instructional Designer who is now working on a MLIS at UNCG. We knew we had to collaborate on something. Then, I found out she worked with Beth, who I’ve known for a while as the Distance Learning Librarian at UNCG. They were working on an instructional design preconference for NCLA, which was a lot like the preconference Kaeley and I put on for ACRL a while back, so it was a natural fit for a way for the three of us to get to work together.

It was a fun event, and the crowd was quite engaged. We had planned enough content to get through half the day, but as chatty as everyone was, it could have been a full day preconference. That’s just the type of crowd you want! We focused our workshop on creating elearning opportunities, which as you might know, is on my mind a lot these days. It was nice to have the chance to work with others who are also in the thick of that type of work from all across the state (and one attendee from out of state)!

The other event I participated in was a panel on ebook readers. Mark Sanders, from ECU, spoke about the Nook Color, Lynda Kellam, from UNCG, spoke about the Kindle family of devices, I spoke about the eink Nooks and Sony, and Amy Harris, also from UNCG, spoke on the iPad. Those of you who know me know that I love a well designed slidedeck. However, this was just a panel, so in our email discussion we talked about just speaking about our devices. Little did I know that everyone else had decided to make one! So I spoke off the cuff, which was a really good experience for me in not making assumptions as well as helping me realize that it is possible to speak coherently and entertainingly without slides. Hopefully it went okay for those in the room. My favorite part of the panel was an idea of Amy’s. At the end we all had to make a pitch for why our device was the best. It was fun hearing the reasons (or not) each person had for their devices, and it helped me reremember why I loved the Nook in the first place (I’ve been mighty tempted by the Kindle these days).

It was a great conference overall, too. I got to ride in and out with Gretchen one day, which was fun to catch up. I ran into countless friends from library school, the NCLA Leadership Institute, and even from LITA. People were energized and full of ideas. Next time, I hope to attend the entireconference.

Ellen’s Tuesday at NCLA

Friday, October 7, 2011 6:28 pm

Tuesday I was able to attend the Pre-Conference Workshop, Everybody Teaches! Creating Effective Online e-learning Experiences, at NCLA presented by Lauren Pressley, Amy Archambault (UNCG) and Beth Filar Williams (UNCG).

The outline for the workshop centered on the ADDIE instructional design principles. (I was very glad that I had attended the recent Teaching, Teaching class and my group had been assigned this principle to explore!) We split into groups with similar teaching goals and discussed how we could apply the phases to our projects. Because there were different perspectives (public, academic, government) and different goals (online classes, tutorials, enhancing face-to-face teaching) the discussions were lively and helped spark ideas that we probably wouldn’t have thought of on our own.

The workshop gave me some good ideas for incorporating technology into upcoming face-to-face LIB 100 classes as well as thinking about how to create engaging online classes. I’m looking forward to playing with some of the tools that were suggested to inspire even more ideas.


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