Professional Development

During June 2012...

2012 NASIG Conference According to Chris

Friday, June 29, 2012 5:28 pm

“Creating Harmony from Dis-Chord was” the theme of the 2012 NASIG Conference, and with topics ranging from managing e-books, licensing skills and incorporating mobile devices, there were a few disparate notes to be brought together. Steve, Derrik and I made the trip to Nashville with an eight hour drive (one way) in the library van, and discord was not an element of the trip. In that spirit, there were two broad themes of the conference that I took away with me: sharing the unity of a common vision, and finding solutions to emerging problems.

NASIG has invited leading professionals from both inside and outside of the library world to give their insights about the future of libraries, and this year’s conference was no exception. Friday’s speaker was Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC, and she discussed her research about student research and library workflow. The previous paradigm of academic libraries was that patrons had to work around library-centric workflows, but now it’s the reverse where users have greater influence by having libraries respond to their needs. Dr. Connaway proposed that students should have greater leeway in the direction of library services; personally, however, I wasn’t certain if this would be a correct approach. I would submit that libraries should meet their patrons halfway; while it is ideal to adapt to the changing needs of users, libraries still have something to offer in terms of what their users would need in terms of instruction and self-enrichment. Information literacy is becoming the reality of the 21st century, and a partnership between libraries and their patrons would be beneficial for both groups.

The vision session on Saturday was presented by Kevin Smith of Duke University, and he spoke about the relationship between copyright and new technologies in libraries. He made the point that although lawsuits against libraries are a new phenomenon, the litigation that has been produced has advanced and updated elements of copyright that hadn’t been revised since photocopiers were the dominant technology. Situations regarding fair use now include whether or not new iterations can transform an original work and not compete with it, and whether the amount used within the new work is actually appropriate. Considering recent cases against Georgia State University (involving electronic resources), UCLA (involving streaming media) and the Hathi Trust (digital scans and distribution of “orphan” works via libraries), risk has become part of the procedure as libraries move toward adopting more robust technologies. At the same time, however, the reward of bringing the services represented by these technologies to potential patrons would have an uncalculated value.

On Sunday, the vision session was presented by Rick Anderson, past president of NASIG, who currently works at the University of Utah. Rick has always had interesting things to say about libraries and library procedures, but in his topic “Is the Journal Dead?” pointed to a much larger question in terms of access and the changing nature of research. Rick contended that a new crossroads has been reached for library development, where the ground is still fertile for changes that weren’t possible five years ago and may not be possible two years from now. This is the period where networked environments have changed the model of distribution for resources; a parallel would be the distribution model that emerged not when the music moved from vinyl albums to CDs, but when CDs could be imported into iTunes. Freeing articles from journals can redefine the distribution of that content to the point where journal becomes an afterthought. When asked whether this will mean librarians will be out of a job, he stated that an attachment to professional identity can get in the way of our usefulness. It was definitely food for thought.

The other element of the conference was the problem-solving measures that libraries had taken to address their needs. The most interesting of these sessions was about the CORAL electronic resource management system, featuring three speakers including our own Derrik Hiatt. Derrik and his two co-presenters, each from a different kind of academic library, outlined how they used CORAL to address a specific gap in managing their own electronic resources. As an open-source interface, each library could customize the software around their respective workflows, such as information regarding licenses, contacts, and troubleshooting. Derrik related his own experience extremely well and even had a few people express interest in trying the product themselves-good job!

I’ll end my report with three bits of trivia I learned during the conference.

  • The city of Nashville was built around a natural salt lick that attracted herds of animals to the area. The salt lick has since disappeared.
  • When sued for their parody of Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman,” 2 Live Crew won the case on the grounds of fair use.
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame includes two cars: Elvis Presley’s solid gold Cadillac, and Webb Pierce’s silver dollar convertible.

Roz at ALA

Thursday, June 28, 2012 11:35 am

So I am not as enamored with Southern California as many people, but all in all the trip to Anaheim was worth it. We started out at a lovely dinner with our former colleague Elisabeth Leonard on Friday night. Elisabeth is now a market research analyst with Sage Publications and she had assembled a lovely group of librarians and Sage folks for a great dinner discussion.

A good portion of my time was spent in committee meetings for the Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) of ACRL. I am on the Instruction Committee and the Marta Lange/Sage-CQ Press Awards Committee. The Instruction Committee met to begin discussion our upcoming revision to the Political Science Research Compentency Guidelines. Our plans include updating them to include a more global perspective over the next year. We also began discussing some other issues affecting the committee that will stem from a revision to the LPSS Strategic Plan. The Marta Lange committee votes on an award recipient each year (nominated by LPSS members) who has made significant contributions to law or political science librarianship. I attended the luncheon for this years recipient. I will be chairing the committee next year so I paid close attention to all that happened. It was a lovely event with a great group of people. If anyone is interested in getting more involved in ACRL or ALA I’d suggest going with one of the subject specific groups. I have found LPSS easy to get involved with and really delightful group of people to get to know.

My presentation was well attended and well received. I was one of four presenters on a panel sponsored by The Library Instruction Round Table (LIRt) entitled: “Critical Thinking and Library Instruction: Fantasyland or Adventureland.” Two of the panelists were more theoretical, two of us gave more concrete examples of ways we have included critical thinking in actual classes with students. I discussed an exercise I first developed with Dr. Steve Giles in our Communication Department on ‘Junk Science.’ I have since revised and repurposed it for many different contexts. I have my very minimal presentation up here but am happy to discuss it more with anyone who is interested.

Lynn has already reported on our lovely afternoon at the home of Rob Holland and his wife discussing library issues with WFU Alumni. It was really lovely and I felt honored to be a part of it. Rob was a student in the late 1990s and early 2000s and he was an amazing resource for the ITC at that point on digital video. It was not surprise to me that he has done so well for himself but it was great to catch up with him.

I didn’t have much time to get to presentations, but the ACRL President’s Program was outstanding. The speaker was Duane Bray, Head of Global Digital Business and Partner at IDEO and his topic was the Future of the Book which referenced their very provocative video on the subject. The projects IDEO is involved in are fascinating but they essentially present companies the customer perspective and information about customer behavior so they can make their products and services more customer centered. He discussed projects that involved videotaping an emergency room visit from the perspective of the patient, and going to look at NASCAR pit crews to see how they worked together so they could take suggestions back to hospital surgery personnel. One of his points was that maybe your problem has been solved somewhere else – NASCAR pit crews had kits for the five things most likely to go wrong with a car – a suggestion that the surgeons immediately saw as useful – there are things most likely to go wrong in surgeries and having pre-prepared kits for dealing with them could save time and lives. He also discussed the intersection of place and narrative – stories that change if you are in a particular place. Our mobile devices can now detect location so if you are reading a mystery about Chicago and you are in Chicago, maybe new information will be revealed to you if you pass by a location from the story. There were so many more interesting ideas in the talk that I can’t cover them all (Hu will discuss some others) but come chat if you want to hear more!!

Not surprisingly I made several booth visits in the exhibit hall and found out about new databases from the UN and WorldBank, the new LibChat product from Springshare, got some questions answered by the Summon folks and drooled over some seriously cool library furniture.

ALA Anaheim with Lynn

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 10:22 am

I like Anaheim as a conference site. While it doesn’t have big city stores and museums, the weather was perfect for four days, the Convention Center was like a garden, and the hotels and programs were all close. It was a nice change.

One of the things I enjoyed most about the conference was attending presentations by ZSR people. Carolyn teamed up with former colleague Erik Mitchell to coordinate a panel and give the paper “Current Research on and Use of FRBR in Libraries.” I know very little about FRBR but they presented the information very clearly and what I got out of it was that in a pilot competition to analyze the works of Mark Twain, Carolyn went up against The Machine and won. Go Carolyn!

I also saw Molly more than hold her own on a distinguished panel of copyright experts analyzing the Georgia State e-reserves case. Molly was the only non- lawyer on the panel but she was every bit as knowledgeable and insightful as the other panelists. A person from Georgia State was in the audience and contributed quite a bit to the discussion. It must be strange to hear your own library discussed at every library conference in such great detail!

Sarah did a poster session for the Science and Technology Section of ACRL that put together all of her experiences in serving science students at Wake Forest. I remember reading and hearing her talk about these things individually, but when put all together, it was quite impressive. Her poster was very well received, and I even had to stand in line to talk to her about it!

Due to conflicts, I missed Hu’s presentation of Susan’s paper on embedded librarianship but I ran into three different people afterward who told me how good it was! And Roz reported that there were about 400 people present in a standing room only crowd to hear her presentation “Critical Thinking & Library Instruction: Fantasyland or Adventureland?” Did I miss any other presentations? It is so wonderful to see ZSR and Wake Forest shine so brightly in a national forum!

One of the main reasons I attended Annual this year was to co-chair the Cyber Zed Shed Committee for the 2013 ACRL National Conference. I attended three sets of meetings related to this task as we prepare to receive and judge the submissions this fall and winter. Roz is on the Committee with me.

The other main reason I came to Anaheim was to meet with groups of WFU alums in southern California. Angela Glover did a great job at setting up events where I could meet with people and tell them what we are doing in the Library. On Saturday afternoon, Angela, Roz and I drove up to Pacific Palisades to meet with about 25 people in the gorgeous backyard of a former student of Roz and Hu’s. I talked for about 10 minutes and then answered lots of good questions from people who were genuinely interested in books, reading, libraries and, pf course, Wake Forest! The event made it to the WFU Alumni blog, which you can read here.

Then, Angela drove me down to San Diego Monday afternoon, where I had dinner with a group of 10 alums who are just about the most fun group of people I have ever met! I never did get around to giving my speech because we were having too much fun, but I did talk a lot about how ZSR has changed through the years, how our mission helps the university advance it’s mission, etc. They said that not too many WFU administrators take the time to come all the way out to San Diego, zo they were thrilled to have me and made me promise to come back, which I will!

All in all, a great conference!

Derrik at NASIG 2012

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 12:00 pm

One of the things I have always liked about NASIG is that representatives from journal publishers and subscription agents participate fully as members of the organization. Our Alexander Street Press sales rep, Jenni Wilson, has been serving on the NASIG Board, and the new President of NASIG is from Springer. I also find it valuable to attend presentations given by vendor reps, since these sessions teach me about the vendors’ processes, timelines, values, etc.

One such presentation this year was called “JSTOR and Summon Under the Hood.” Summon Product Manager Laura Robinson talked about how Serials Solutions approached the development of Summon. She said their goal is to help researchers start broad and then focus. She explained a little about their relevance ranking, and said they are exploring using the searcher’s geographic location to influence the rankings. Robinson also said that Summon is building a new knowledge base; this sounded important to me, but she made the comment in passing and didn’t go into any detail.

Ron Snyder from ITHAKA spoke about upcoming changes in JSTOR, based on their analysis of actual users’ behavior. He spoke about their Local Discovery Integration pilot, which I reported hearing about at this year’s ER&L conference. He also said they are trying to develop a machine-based article classifier, in an attempt to assign subject disciplines at the article level (JSTOR disciplines are currently at the journal level). Snyder also announced that there will be a complete overhaul of JSTOR’s search infrastructure this summer (but no mention of whether or how the user interface will change).

Another session, presented by Eleanor Cook from ECU and Megan Hurst from EBSCO, talked about the use of mobile technologies in libraries. Hurst gave some excellent definitions of the differences between mobile apps vs. mobile websites, e-readers vs. tablets, etc. She said that currently in the U.S. and its territories, there are more mobile devices than people (how many devices do you have?). Hurst also said that over the last 4 years, mobile traffic as a percentage of total web traffic has been roughly doubling every year; as of January 2012 in the U.S., mobile traffic accounted for about 8.75% of total web traffic.

The opening keynote address was given by Dr. Lynn Silipigni Connaway of OCLC. Dr. Connaway presented results from multiple studies from the US and UK on information-seeking behavior. Much of it sounded familiar (users prefer keyword searching, they are confident in their skills, and they value convenience and speed), but I appreciated that it was backed up by evidence, not just anecdotes. Dr. Connaway was an entertaining speaker, and included many direct quotes from users that were both humorous and a little painful. She said that many users don’t want to approach a librarian for help because we look busy and they don’t want to bother us. She also said that users often complain about insufficient or cryptic signage (e.g. “I’m a smart person, but when I go to the library it makes me feel stupid”). She also spoke about avoiding jargon, and urged us not to put it on the users to figure things out (e.g. Don’t say “former title,” say “used to be called”). She told about walking into a library where she saw a sign that said “Help”; she was confused by it and wasn’t sure what the desk was for, but observed that the users were ok with it and weren’t confused at all.

In another keynote address, Duke University’s Kevin Smith talked about copyright and fair use in light of current litigation. The main points I took away were (1) Don’t put professional activities on hold while waiting for the outcome of cases “out there”; and (2) Fair Use is always a risk analysis: when weighing the risks, be sure to consider the risk of doing nothing.

In Rick Anderson’s closing keynote address, he spoke about the shifting scholarly communication landscape and questioned the continuing relevance of the scholarly journal. He wondered aloud how long it will be before we can ask our smartphones: “Siri, I need 5 scholarly articles on the demographics of Iceland, published in the last 5 years, in journals with an impact factor of at least 11.” Anderson talked about blurry boundaries between types of information, saying that these changes will be a tremendous boon for researchers even while making things much harder for librarians.

I guess that about wraps it up for me. I’ll let Chris tell about the totally awesome presentation he heard about CORAL.

Kaeley @ Metrolina 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012 5:16 pm

On Thursday, June 14, Mary Scanlon and I attended the 7th Annual Metrolina Information Literacy Conference in Charlotte. This one-day conference is packed with useful presentations and is a great way to get new ideas for both practical teaching skills and strategies for working with faculty members. There were four sessions, and four tracks (Collaborate, Sharpen, Remodel and Engage) with an option from each of these tracks during every session. The closing session was an entertaining keynote presentation by Jessamyn West, who blogs at Mary and I divided up a few sessions, and attending a few sessions together, so we’ll each talk about three of the sessions we attended.

Session 1: Collaborate: Fostering a Community of Collaboration: Scaffolding the Student Research Process

This session really presented the partnership that has flourished between Amy Burns, a Reference librarian at Central Piedmont Community College, and Jaime Pollard-Smith, an English professor there. They have worked together in both online and face-to-face environments and have done a great job creating assignments and projects that clearly incorporate the use of the library. Jamie started the presentation by assuming her role as teacher and led us through three techniques she uses in her class before the students attend a library research session:

  • looping: students write about their research question for 5-10 minutes. This can include what they “know” about their topic, questions they have, where they think they should look, etc… Then they circle the most interesting thing they wrote, and then write about that for 3-5 minutes, and then circle the most interesting thing they wrote… At the end, they should hopefully have a list of keywords and a more focused idea of what their question is and how they might tackle it.
  • 20 questions: the students write down their research question, and then move around the classroom, finding out what questions the other students would ask regarding their topic. This can help students see their topic from a different perspective.
  • ticket into/out of the library: before the students come to the library session, they must email Jaime: their topic, why they are interested in it, what do they want to learn from their research, their research question and what they learned from their pre-writing exercises. Before they can leave the library, they have to get a ticket out of the library by getting a solid source approved by one of the instructors.

I found these exercises really useful. Frequently, classes are supposed to come to the library with research questions prepared, but often that doesn’t happen. A condensed version of the looping technique could help focus them and give them a place to start their research for the session.

Session 2: Collaborate: LAF: Librarians and Faculty as Teaching Partners

Michael Frye from Winston-Salem State University presented on their program to facilitate librarians and faculty working together on planning courses. The instruction team at O’Kelly Library took advantage of a change in the gen ed requirements to reach out to faculty and help them plan or revamp courses to incorporate information literacy skills. Frye, a life sciences liaison, demonstrated the work he did with Stephanie Dance on a course about infectious diseases. He was embedded in the class, and they created several activities that combined the course content with info lit skills. One example was a bingo game with different columns (geography, gender, etc..) and when someone thought they had a “bingo” they would have to create a search strategy out of their bingo words (male, lymphoma NOT smoker). Frye also shared a great video their department produced that they can use for marketing to other faculty.

Session 3: Remodel: Liberating LibGuides: Designing Guides to Support Student Research

Judy Walker of University of North Carolina-Charlotte started her presentation by saying that she hates LibGuides! She doesn’t like the way LibGuides “boxes” you in with its design and formatting, so her presentation was driven by implementing design strategies within the LibGuides structure to make the guides better. Her Prezi presentation, as well as her documentation, is all on a great LibGuide. A few of the main points she raised:

  • Eye reading patterns have changed: when reading print, our eye moves in a “z” pattern across the page. Online, our eye moves in more of an “f” pattern, with the majority of the focus on items in the top, left 1/3 of the page. Put the most important information in that area.
  • Make sure that your columns are balanced in length, and break-up information into smaller chunks.
  • Be consistent in terminology, headings and placement of information across different guides and individual tabs.
  • Don’t overwhelm your users with information! Present only a few examples, and the most important for the task(s) they have been asked to do.

I plan to use these tips as I clean up my LibGuides. The LibGuide she posted has lots of great information, including useability studies and articles that discuss website usage, so check it out!

Keynote Speaker: Myths and Facts about the Digital Divide

Jessamyn West gave an interesting and entertaining presentation on the state of the digital divide, and why it isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. The website linked above includes West’s presentation, the sources she discussed and the statistics that she presented. The thing I found most interesting was the way that she presented that there are really multiple divides, not just one “digital” divide, and that there are many reasons why people don’t use technology or get online:

  • economic divide: can’t afford the technology or access, or access doesn’t come to where they are located
  • usability divide: physically can’t use, or don’t know how, to use the technology
  • empowerment divide: are intimidated by the technology, or have their introduction to the technology at a stressful time (unemployment, taxes, etc…)

From start to finish, Metrolina had great presentations that made me think about my teaching and relationships with faculty members, as well as different ways of approaching my work with our patrons. I would recommend that others interested in teaching look for it next year!

NISO webinar on Usage Statistics

Friday, June 15, 2012 4:35 pm

On Wednesday June 13, Lauren, Chris, and I met to watch a NISO-sponsored webinar on the latest developments in usage statistics standards COUNTER and SUSHI. For those of you wondering, COUNTER is the standard that defines what statistics should be provided by vendors and in what format; SUSHI is a communication protocol that defines how those stats can be shared between computers (and can thus be set up so that harvesting the stats can be automated).

In Wednesday’s webinar, Peter Shepherd (project director for COUNTER) and Oliver Pesch (co-chair of the SUSHI standing committee) spoke about changes coming with the newest release of COUNTER (release 4), then Amy Lynn Fry (E-resources Librarian at Bowling Green State University) described some of the methods and workflows BGSU uses to collect and record usage statistics.

Release 4 of the COUNTER code includes some good changes, IMHO. Shepherd described some of the committee’s objectives in developing the new release, including wanting all publishers to be able to use it, and also making it possible to include usage for local institutional repositories. Some of the new report features include:

  • no longer requires database “session” counts; instead reports “record views” and “result clicks”
  • allows for reporting usage from mobile devices (optional)
  • includes a report specifically for usage of “Gold” Open Access journals
  • will include additional data to facilitate the linking of usage stats to other data (e.g. subscription info)
  • a new report specifically for usage of online multimedia resources
  • a new report that will list journal stats by the year of publication (not just current vs. archival as in release 3)

Pesch said that automating the collecting of usage statistics (i.e. SUSHI) is a step toward “comprehensive” usage collection and increasing the value of usage stats. He also said that although there are changes to the COUNTER code, there are no changes to the SUSHI schema in COUNTER release 4 (the SUSHI communication protocol has been a part of the COUNTER standard since release 3). He described the tools available to providers at the SUSHI website, including FAQ, tools, and a COUNTER-SUSHI Implementation Profile.

Compliance with the COUNTER code of practice is verified by auditors, and compliant vendors are listed on the COUNTER website. Because of the number of changes in release 4, vendors have until December 31, 2013, to adopt the Release 4 standard in order to remain compliant.

… Now, where did I put my notes from NASIG?

Steve at NASIG 2012

Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:03 pm

Last Thursday, Chris, Derrik and I hopped in the library van and drove to Nashville for the NASIG Conference, returning on Sunday. It was a busy and informative conference, full of lots of information on serials and subscriptions. I will cover a few of the interesting sessions I attended in this post.
One such session was called “Everyone’s a Player: Creation of Standards in a Fast-Paced Shared World,” which discussed the work of NISO and the development of new standards and “best practices.” Marshall Breeding discussed the ongoing development of the Open Discovery Initiative (ODI), a project that seeks to identify the requirements of web-scale discovery tools, such as Summon. Breeding pointed out that it makes no sense for libraries to spend millions of dollars on subscriptions, if nobody can find anything. So, in this context, it makes sense for libraries to spend tens of thousands on discovery tools. But, since these tools are still so new, there are no standards for how these tools should function and operate with each other. ODI plans to develop a set of best practices for web-scale discovery tools, and is beginning this process by developing a standard vocabulary as well as a standard way to format and transfer data. The project is still in its earliest phases and will have its first work available for review this fall. Also at this session, Regina Reynolds from the Library of Congress discussed her work with the PIE-J initiative, which has developed a draft set of best practices that is ready for comment. PIE-J stands for the Presentation & Identification of E-Journals, and is a set of best practices that gives guidance to publishers on how to present title changes, issue numbering, dates, ISSN information, publishing statements, etc. on their e-journal websites. Currently, it’s pretty much the Wild West out there, with publishers following unique and puzzling practices. PIE-J hopes to help clean up the mess.
Another session that was quite useful was on “CONSER Serials RDA Workflow,” where Les Hawkins, Valerie Bross and Hien Nguyen from Library of Congress discussed the development of RDA training materials at the Library of Congress, including CONSER serials cataloging materials and general RDA training materials from the PCC (Program for Cooperative Cataloging). I haven’t had a chance yet to root around on the Library of Congress website, but these materials are available for free, and include a multi-part course called “Essentials for Effective RDA Learning” that includes 27 hours (yikes!) of instruction on RDA, including a 9 hour training block on FRBR, a 3 hour block on the RDA toolkit, and 15 hours on authority and description in RDA. This is for general cataloging, not specific to serials. Also, because LC is working to develop a replacement for the MARC formats, there is a visualization tool called RIMMF available at that allows for creating visual representations of records and record-relationships in a post-MARC record environment. It sounds promising, but I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet. Also, the CONSER training program, which focuses on serials cataloging, is developing a “bridge” training plan to transition serials catalogers from AACR2 to RDA, which will be available this fall.
Another interesting session I attended was “Automated Metadata Creation: Possibilities and Pitfalls” by Wilhelmina Randtke of Florida State University Law Research Center. She pointed out that computers like black and white decisions and are bad with discretion, while creating metadata is all about identifying and noting important information. Randtke said computers love keywords but are not good with “aboutness” or subjects. So, in her project, she tried to develop a method to use computers to generate metadata for graduate theses. Some of the computer talk got very technical and confusing for me, but her discussion of subject analysis was fascinating. Using certain computer programs for automated indexing, Randtke did a data scrape of the digitally-encoded theses and identified recurring keywords. This keyword data was run through ontologies/thesauruses to identify more accurate subject headings, which were applied to the records. A person needs to select the appropriate ontology/thesaurus for the item(s) and review the results, but the basic subject analysis can be performed by the computer. Randtke found that the results were cheap and fast, but incomplete. She said, “It’s better than a shuffled pile of 30,000 pages. But, it’s not as good as an organized pile of 30,000 pages.” So, her work showed some promise, but still needs some work.
Of course there were a number of other interesting presentations, but I have to leave something for Chris and Derrik to write about. One idea that particularly struck me came from Rick Anderson during his thought provoking all-conference vision session on the final day, “To bring simplicity to our patrons means taking on an enormous level of complexity for us.” That basic idea has been something of an obsession of mine for the last few months while wrestling with authority control and RDA and considering the semantic web. To make our materials easily discoverable by the non-expert (and even the expert) user, we have to make sure our data is rigorously structured and that requires a lot of work. It’s almost as if there’s a certain quantity of work that has to be done to find stuff, and we either push it off onto the patron or take it on ourselves. I’m in favor of taking it on ourselves.
The slides for all of the conference presentations are available here: for anyone who is interested. You do not need to be a member of NASIG to check them out.

Vicki at 2012 Baptist History and Heritage Conference

Thursday, June 14, 2012 4:39 pm

On June 7th and 8th, I attended the annual conference of the Baptist History and Heritage Society, which was held in Raleigh this year. The BHHS ” a 73-year old non-profit, professional organization with members worldwide, bridges the worlds of the academy and the congregation, communicating the story of Baptists through print and digital media publications, conferences and seminars”. I was familiar with this group because many of the books they publish are wonderful resources that we add to the NC Baptist Collection, and we receive their journal Baptist History and Heritage, which is also part of the NC Baptist Collection. But I had not been to a conference before…


This year, the stars aligned just right to make this a great time for me to attend. The conference was in Raleigh, hosted at First Baptist Church Raleigh, and it would be a perfect opportunity for me to share information about our Biblical Recorder Digitization Project. I hoped that it would be possible for me to have a poster on display along with some take-along cards that have the website for the BR project as well as the Special Collections email address, phone and website. I contacted the Executive Director of the society and asked him about my idea. He said that would be fine, but he also wanted to find some time for me to present the information to the attendees. Even though most of the program was already scheduled, they found a slot for me to speak briefly on Thursday night. I told about how the digitization project came about through an IMLS grant, and about the processes we went through to finally wind up with the finished product. My presentation tied in nicely as the intro for the main speaker that night, Dr. Glenn Jonas of Campbell University. Dr. Jonas has written a book about the history of the First Baptist Church of Raleigh which is celebrating its 200th anniversary and used the Biblical Recorder for a lot of his research. He said he just wished it had been online and searchable earlier! He spoke about his research and how fortunate he was that FBC Raleigh had kept such detailed and organized records. He then told of how FBC Raleigh had been very progressive all along in regards to having black members as well as female deacons all in the 1800’s.

Sanctuary at FBC Raleigh

Dr. Glenn Jonas speaking at FBC Raleigh


Sanctuary at FBC Raleigh

Sanctuary at FBC Raleigh

( A side note of interest: the name “Charles Lee Smith” appears at the bottom of the stained glass window behind Dr. Jonas. He was a member of FBC Raleigh, and donated his library to Wake Forest College in 1941. His books was the core of what is now the Rare Books collection here at ZSR!)


After the presentations were finished, several people came up to ask me about various aspects of our project. They said that they had heard about it and were very excited to use it! Wake Forest’s own Bill Leonard was there, too, and said he was very glad that I was spreading the word about the BR and he had also used it. BHHS director, Bruce Gourley, asked if we have plans to do more digitization of other Baptist materials, and complemented the BR site which he had already used to research for his blog, Baptists and the American Civil War. It was so good to hear such positive feedback, and know that it is such an appreciated resource.

The next day, I attended several sessions and heard paper presentations on interesting topics in Baptist history.

*Deane Langdon told about Alma May Scarborough who wrote church materials for children and was a proponent of teaching children through play rather than lecture. She trained hundreds of teachers across the country and helped to bring about change in the way children’s Sunday School classes were taught.

*Steve Lemke from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary presented research on theological perspectives in hymnody, showing how Baptist theology is expressed in hymns and relating how this theology has been tested over the centuries in three major “Worship Wars”. The first was in the 16th century and dealt with sacred spaces and how Baptists “did worship”. The language of hymns, the tunes, and the use of musical instruments were all points of contention for those who were establishing new patterns of Reformation worship. Worship War II was in the 17th and 18th centuries. During this time, hymns became more personal and evangelical. But some groups of Baptists did not like congregational singing, and this is still a trait of Primitive Baptist churches today. Others didn’t like the personal wording and theology of the “new hymns” and this led to a split of many congregations. Worship War III is happening today, with issues such as the use of “praise choruses”, the theology that is focused on in traditional versus contemporary hymns and how a congregation can find its most suitable style of worship and hymns based on its theology.

*Jay Smith from Yellowstone Theological Institute ( a new school in Montana) spoke about new ways of “doing and being church” (he quoted Bill Leonard on that). He addressed the fact that there are many ways to be a Baptist theologically and that many pastors and congregations today are trying to embrace a post-modern era.

*Philip Thompson fro Sioux Falls Seminary in South Dakota talked about how Baptist history and identity have been argued about for years, and that Baptist principles can’t be separated from Baptist history. He quoted Nathan Hatch as saying “we are in an age of radical anti-elitism” and how this attitude shows up in many congregations across the country.

In addition to hearing informative speakers, I was able to meet other archivists and librarians who work with state Baptist collections in Georgia, Alabama and Texas. It was great to make those connections and compare notes. One even said “we were talking about your Biblical Recorder project the other day, and would like to do something similar to that”! Great to hear that our work has been noticed. I’m glad I had the chance to attend this conference and meet people who maintain similar kinds of collections as well as those who research heavily in our collections and appreciate our materials on a different level than a casual user. I hope to attend again next year!


Chris at the 2012 NCICU Library Purchasing Committee meeting

Monday, June 4, 2012 4:45 pm

The annual meeting of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU) Library Purchasing Committee took place on May 17. At these meetings, representatives from several library vendors and publishers present their latest products and inform their customers of the latest news regarding their services. The location of the meeting varies from one year to the next, depending upon the home campus of the current chair of the group; this year, the meeting took place at the Dover Memorial Library on the campus of Gardner-Webb University.

I was glad to attend the Purchasing Committee meeting for the first time; this year, the topic was serials. Although it was structured as a working meeting, it was an opportunity to hear directly from the agencies we communicate with on a regular basis as well as the ones we see sparingly. At the meeting, the group saw presentations from the American Chemical Society, Duke University Press, EBSCO, Elsevier, Gale-Cengage, JSTOR, NC LIVE, Oxford University Press, ProQuest, Sage, and Springer. Although that was a lot of vendors to see in a single daylong session, the agenda compacted each into twenty minute slots that allowed each one to make their presentations within their respective time frame. I came away from this session with a greater awareness of several services that could be worth further investigation and study. Because of the relaxed setting, it was easy to talk with vendors without the hustle and bustle of a conference in the background.

Next year, the Purchasing Group meeting will move to Guilford College and explore a new topic for consideration. Although the topic was not chosen at Gardner-Webb, ideas included streaming media, online reference sources, audiobooks and eBooks. In 2014, however, the meeting will come to Wake Forest because the chair-elect for that meeting will be Lauren Corbett. Congratulations Lauren!

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