On Sunday, I attended the Alexander Street Press breakfast and it was great. All of us agree EBSCO can learn a thing or two about how to combine the message of your product while providing a meal to your attendees. The speaker, Lynn Novicki, the producer of three PBS series, Prohibition, Baseball: the Tenth Inning, and The War spoke about her most recent production Prohibition. I was so impressed, I bought all three sets of DVDs and got her to sign them. The parallels she drew between the mood and politics in the country in 1920 and today were startling and insightful.
The first session of Sunday was the most valuable of all that I attended at ALA midwinter. The LLAMA Library Storage Discussion Group’s session was entitled “Recovering from Disaster” and I anticipated that it would be similar to the session I attended at annual where the topic was all about offsite storage recovery. But this was actually about how to prepare and recover your library from disaster. The two libraries represented had survived tornadoes, fires and flooding. June DeWeese, of the University of Missouri-Columbia had suffered a tornado in 1998 and an arsonists attack in 2011. Nancy Kraft, University of Iowa shared the story of the flooding in her library and community in 2008. The thing that made this a most valuable session was that, while telling their stories and sharing best practices, they also provided actual recommendations for preparation, a bibliography and checklists. One of the most memorable moments was when June said, “When someone is recovering from an arsonist, they are the victim. Treat them as such and don’t say things like ‘well at least that’s one way to get your library remodeled’ or ‘what a way to avoid cleaning out your office.’” Later, Nancy explained how important it is to have a good plan, but also to recognize that very early on, you will “go off script.” I think we can use much of what we received from them to update and improve our own disaster plans.
In the afternoon, I attended the RUSA MARS Creative Learning Commons Discussion Forum with Giz, Roz, and Susan. It was a good thing that we all were there because the large group divided up into 4 smaller groups to discuss, form and function; direction and discovery; collaboration and motivation; and collections and connections. I assigned myself to collaboration and motivation and was sitting next to librarians who were all in different stages of implementing a “learning commons” or an “information commons.” One librarian who started this5 years ago said that there continued to be some problems overcoming cultural and training differences with combining the desks and functions. Having a clear delineation of duties and open communication is essential and ongoing.
Monday morning brought an ILL/Vendor discussion group where open discussion gave librarians a chance to share with publishers and vendors how difficult it is to navigate the license agreements for e-journals and how we wrestle with the idea of lending e-books. The conversation was frank and open. Not much was resolved, but publishers did ask of the audience of ILL librarians “give me some ammunition that I can take back to my management to indicate why we shouldn’t be wary of this new trend, or why we shouldn’t treat it differently.” Among the answers were a librarian who was a former faculty member who said that if a faculty member needs material for research that is discovered through ILL, he or she will buy it! Another point discussed was the careful attention that collection development pays to ILL transactions and once a threshold is passed, a purchase will result. This was all eye opening to the publishers and aggregators in the room. OCLC and Ingram are creating a service that will allow for short term loans or “buy it now” options. The conversation about e-materials ranged from video, to audio, ebook and ejournal. Things are certainly in flux for all parties involved.