Professional Development

During August 2012...

Lauren at Elon’s Teaching & Learning Conference

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Elon University Teaching and Learning Conference. I have gotten to go to this several times and always take away something useful from it. Last year it was threshold concepts. This year it was the power of slowing down and reflecting.

Not that I had to be taught, per se, to be reflective. According to my Strengthsfinder results, that’s pretty core to how I work. Just in the past few years I’ve fallen out of the practice of carving out time for it and the exact same time that I’ve gotten busier at work due to meetings and at home because of other (adorable) obligations.

And at this point reflection resonated with me because it really aligned with other things I’ve been thinking about lately. For example, I’m reading a great book on introversion:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

As some reviewers have noted, this book is a bit judgmental towards extroverted folks, but still contains a lot of interesting and useful points about introverts and the importance of time alone to be creative and innovative.

Okay, so with that as the background:

The keynote of this conference was given by Ashley Finley, Senior Director of Assessment and Research – Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU). This was particularly exciting to me as those of us involved in instruction have been discussing the AACU Value Rubrics a lot over the past year. If you’re interested in her talk, you can watch it for yourself! She spoke on the importance of authentic assessment of the learning process rather than focusing only on the learning outcome. It was a level of nuanced discussion that can only be had once an institution has gotten used to assessing learning outcomes, so I was especially glad that we have been talking about that for the past year. Much of my personal take away from the talk was the importance of metacognition and reflection in the learning process.

Following that keynote, I attended Catherine Ross and Peter Felten’s (of Elon’s Elon’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning) session on evaluating teaching. This seemed particularly relevant to me as that’s one of the instruction projects on tap for this semester, and was useful in particular as I was reminded of the importance of using several types of evaluation in considering your own teaching. Student evaluations provide useful information, but it’s only useful in context. Catherine pointed out that further context can be provided by (very structured) peer evaluation and personal reflection on one’s own teaching. Reflection–again!

My next session was on thinking out loud in the process of teaching. It was a workshop given by philosophy professors and more than anything made me wish I could go back and get an advanced degree in my favorite discipline. The premise of the workshop was that reading is approached differently in different disciplines and the best way to approach this is to have the students read (and think) out loud with support from the instructor. The instructor should also do that as demonstration to the students. The facilitators pointed out that math, as a discipline, has been doing this for some time by asking students to write out their work. I couldn’t help but think that we do that in libraries, too. Anytime we do an unplanned search in a class, and explain what we’re looking at and how we’re interpreting it, the students are getting a chance to see what we’re thinking. If any of us have done the exercise where students print out a list of results and notate it with what they think about each source, that’s a chance to see student thinking. I am going to want to look for more opportunities to do this as a result of this session, so that was a clear outcome of the day for me.

My final presentation was on first generation students. It was a good session, packed with facts from Davidson. My main takeaway from this session was not necessarily what was planned by the instructor. I kept thinking about Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. In those approaches you design something for one group, but it has benefits for another. In Universal Design you might build a building with a ramp for wheelchairs, but then it also benefits those with strollers or rolling luggage. Win-win-win! In UDL you might design a learning object, like a video, to have subtitles for those who have trouble hearing. However, those subtitles also benefit those who learn best from reading or those who are using the video in a crowded place on a muted computer. In this session the presenter kept talking about the needs specific to a majority of first generation students, such as a hard time participating in group discussions due to language challenges, and I kept thinking of how if you designed a class that didn’t rely on group discussions then shy students would also be able to succeed. Likewise, if you don’t require very expensive textbooks, then no one would be faced with purchasing them. If you designed a class keeping in mind that it would be hard for students working jobs in the evening (many first generation students are in this situation) it would also benefit students who are returning while keeping their jobs or are parenting when they’re not in class. Universal design is good in all contexts.

So, for me, it was a really good day. Lots to reflect on in light of what I’m thinking about these days and several tangible things I can implement back at ZSR. It was a good use of the day!

Rebecca at SAA

Thursday, August 16, 2012 4:03 pm
New San Diego Public Library

New San Diego Public Library

I have traveled to and from San Diego for the Society of American Archivists Annual Conference “Beyond Borders” and I have a lot to tell you all about. The first day was a long day of travel and an equally long facilitated “SAA/Regional Archival Organization Summit” where myself and Katie Nash of Elon University represented SNCA (the Society of North Carolina Archivists). The idea of this summit is to gather state and regional archives associations and prioritize what is important to us and create an action plan. There were quite a lot of representatives from regional conferences including Rocky Mountain Archivists, Inter-Mountain Archivists, California Archivists, Metropolitan New York Archivists, Ohio Archivists, Northwest Archivists, Southwest Archivists, Hawaii Archivists, Florida Archivists, and Midwest Archivists. After discussion, the efforts to establish formal lines of communication between state, regional, and national organizations are now a priority. In addition to this, the issues of advocacy, national continuing education programs, and a regional committee at SAA are all ideas that will be presented to SAA Council in an effort to make the regional and state organizations heard.

I did have a chance to pop my head into the Archivists’ Toolkit/ Archon Roundtable Meeting. Archivists’ Toolkit (AT) is the data management system we currently use in Special Collections at ZSR but there has been talk of AT and Archon merging into ArchivesSpace. This talk has been going on for many years now, but some of the news I heard at this meeting was that Lyrasis will be the organizational home of the ArchivesSpace and that Hudson Molonglo will be the development partner. There wasn’t much new information about ArchivesSpace. Two very basic and brief screenshots of ArchivesSpace were shown as well as encouragement to join the Google Group or participate in beta testing. Needless to say, the wait continues on what is promised to be a very exciting software change in the archives world, eventually.

Sky bridge from conference hotel

Sky bridge from conference hotel


Finally, Craig and I left the conference hotel and our own fabulous Gaslamp District hotel in search of a San Diego staple, fish tacos. We ended up at the fantastic, fresh, and adventurous Mariscos El Pulpo where we had fish and octopus tacos! Yum!

Mariscos El Pulpo

Mariscos El Pulpo


Day 2 began with an inspiring Plenary Session featuring both the Archivist of the United States David Ferriero and Historypin‘s Jon Voss. The AOTUS Ferriero discussed the history making Presidential Memorandum on Managing Government Records as part of the Open Government Initiative that in the words of Barack Obama will “establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy, and promote efficiency and effectiveness in government.” Voss emphasized the “mashup culture” of linked open data in libraries, archives, and museums (LODLAM). His interest in taking a search from an idea, to a location, to a picture, to a catalog record, etc. is possible through linked open data. Instead of closing information off, we should open it up. He stated simply “we are a community of innovators, not litigators. We want your data.” I must say, he got the crowd excited.


My first session of the day interested me because of the prospect of hearing about the digitization of audiovisual collections, something we here at ZSR are talking about. “Choose You Own Arrangement: Using Large-scale Digitization Efforts to Process image and Audiovisual Collections” was a very interesting session indeed, if not all that applicable to our audiovisual collections, definitely helpful in some of our photo digitization initiatives.

Sarah Dorpinghaus of the University of Kentucky spoke of her work at the Lowcountry Digital Library on the Rabbi William A. Rosenthall Judaica Collection and Papers. This particular collection came with no original order, was a very large and varied collection, and was under tremendous time constraints due to grant funding and donor expectations. In an effort to make this project happen, the archivist decided to forgo arrangement and use digitization as a form of arrangement and description. By starting at the beginning of a box, assistants took each item from the box, scanned it, put it in a folder, assigned metadata and location information, and out it in a box for it to stay. No series arrangement by subject, date, format, or anything we are used to. The processing staff spent the most amount of time creating extremely robust metadata (although the Sarah did say she would lessen it if she could do it again) to match to the digital images in ContentDM rather than re-arranging the materials beforehand. She did put together a finding aid that included front matter to contextualize the container list style of finding aid, but no other processing was done on the collection. The advantages are that there is a better handle of the contents of the collection as well as access to some of the materials. The disadvantages are that the collection isn’t completely digitized nor is there a clear understanding of the whole collection yet.

Benn Joseph of Northwestern University provided another perspective on a negative digitization project. The Justine Caldwell photo collection is limited to campus use only as part of the art slide library. This collection consists of negatives of Caldwell’s PhD work in African Studies at Northwestern in the 1950’s. A verbal agreement was struck between the donor, 90, and the library to digitize the negatives and return them to the donor, to be given back to the library upon her death. Time was of the essence to have the donor help identify metadata for the negatives before this information was lost. The workflow went from scanning the items in batches, printing copies for Caldwell, her handwriting information on copies, and returning them to the library. The narrative nature of her description proved both helpful and hindering. During the process, the donor passed away, leaving incomplete metadata and an incomplete project in general. In addition to the question of completion, the archivist now asks the question, is this collection processed? He discussed the fact that there was so much work done in description and scanning that the 1 linear foot of “processing” seems to sell short the amount of work and time spent. These questions were thought provoking and on the minds of many archivists processing and digitizing collections.

Finally, Amanda Ross of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum spoke of the Nixon Era White House tapes. Needless to say, she has a very interesting job.

Lunch followed with colleagues from near and far. Katie Nash of Elon University, the archivist formerly known as Audra Eagle, Craig and I had a delicious meal at a restaurant called Mission.

Craig and Katie at Mission

Craig and Katie at Mission





A very exciting after-lunch experience was the mass of archivists waiting to see the Green Bay Packers exit the conference hotel on their way to play the San Diego Chargers. Although we didn’t see (or recognize) anyone famous, it did put the archivists into quite a tizzy and got all of us to get out our smart phones and start snapping pictures. See the crowd in the picture below:)

Archivists waiting to look at football players

Archivists waiting to look at football players

The second session of the day “Hybrids and Legacies: Challenges of Finding Aids in the Digital Age” talked about something everyone is talking about, born digital collections.

Eira Tansey of Tulane University and Lucinda Cockerell of Middle Tennessee State University’s Center for Popular Music both spoke of their efforts to get their paper finding aids in a digital format, something we here at ZSR are very familiar with.

Alexis Antracoli of Drexel University described her work with a hybrid collection of traditional “born physical” materials as well as 35GB hard drive and 500-plus pieces of removable media. The issues that came up such as original order and space are ones that archivists grapple with all the time, but the fact that digital media was part of it created an interesting twist. She discussed her decision to retain the full connection of the born digital items to the analog folder and not process it as two parallel collections, analog and digital. This meant creating an access copy to integrate into the finding aid in addition to a preservation copy. The conversion and description of the newly created copies added time to processing. It was imperative that description of the digital copy was present and consistent with the analog folder it corresponded with.

Olga Virakhovskaya of the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library described her work on a hybrid collection that was processed quite differently than Alexis’. In spite of the fact that the analog portion of the collection was already processed when a 10GB hard drive showed up at the library, Olga would have processed this separately anyways. Because the hard drive was a separate entity, they treated it as a unique series within the larger finding aid. With file renaming, creation of access copies, and some rearrangement to make things more understandable Olga integrated the digital files into the finding aid for the whole hybrid collection.

The day ended with the opening of the Exhibit Hall where we could mingle with vendors and archivists. The All-Attendee Reception finished the evening. It was a beautiful party on the lawn of the hotel next to the bay front. As soon as the cake pops were gone, we called it a night.

All-Attendee Reception

All-Attendee Reception


“Crowdsourcing Our Collections: Three Case Studies of User Participation in Metadata Creation and Enhancement” was a very interesting session on Friday morning.

Courtney Michael spoke of her time working on the WGBH Educational Foundation. At WGBH they approach the crowdsourcing of their educational videos as a mixture of private and public contributions. Although the “public” can contribute, one must acquire a login and password to be able to see items that need transcription on metadata. This allows WGBH to control who is altering what. This is what they call a “participatory cataloging” project where people can tag, identify, transcribe, and add metadata.

Meredith Stewart of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) talked about the amazing Citizen Archivist program which is an amazing program started by the AUTOS in 2010. As a citizen archivist you can tag, transcribe, edit articles, and even index the census. There is no login, meaning anyone can contribute at any time. The variety of work, the degrees of difficulty, and the access to materials has made the program extremely successful. NARA has not had issues with bad work as the work is iterative and people can continue fixing records as expertise permits.

Finally, Greg Prickman of the University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives described the crowdsourcing effort to transcribe their Civil War Diaries. He described that he started the project with no budget, software, or administrators and now it has been an incredibly successful. It was slowly going along before it went viral from a “TIL” post “TIL [Today I learned] how to participate in history while sitting on my a** by transcribing Civil War Diaries online.” Although this viral coverage did crash their server, it also brought a lot of attention to the project resulting in completion of the transcription of all of the Civil War diaries they had online at the time.

All in all, I had a very good conference. I heard a lot of great ideas, met some wonderful new archivists, and caught up with some wonderful old archivists. If anyone would like to discuss more about my experience or hear about any round table or section meetings, please ask me. I would love to chat about it.

Petco Park

Petco Park


Beyond Borders- Society of American Archivists-2012

Thursday, August 16, 2012 11:29 am

Sculpture-San Deigo Convention Center

My experience at SAA this year in San Diego was excellent and filled with sessions about preservation-related topics. I kept thinking the whole time I was there- “Craig you might have found your niche”.

Over the past year, the Preservation Section of SAA has been working on a fund raiser for the SAA Disaster Relief Fund. We decided on selling aprons (for the kitchen or the archive) and I was given the job of designing the image on the aprons. We sold 91 out of 100 of the aprons sending $920 to the SAA Disaster Relief Fund-so this was a real success.
SAA Apron

In the Opening Plenary, David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, emphasized three points: a new records management initiative by the Obama administration, a convergence of skills for librarians and archivists to build a skill set for the future (think GLAM) and the Digital Public Library of America.
The Plenary speech was given by Jon Voss, the Strategic Partnerships Director for History Pin. After exclaiming that he was using a Mac and he was a huge fan of archivists, he made the statement that ‘linked data’ or coming out of the card catalog is where the internet revolution began. Using linked data and taking a tip from the ‘mash-up culture’, History Pin has created some great content. Mr. Voss touted the site we are what we do as an example. This site sells products that have a built in ‘good behavior’ attached to their use. Voss also showed some History Pin samples, such as a Dorthea Lange photo of Japanese-Americans being removed during WWII and a current photo. He also mentioned a San Francisco project called pastmapper. which uses online maps to create to help describe the past in certain geographic areas. In saying that linked open data helps us move beyond tables to graphs, Voss showed the site which uses archival material and RDF (Resource Description Framework) data to make connections such as this one with the First Regiment Michigan Infantry, 102nd U.S. Colored Troops. Another innovative use of these tools is which uses maps to show conflict locations and basic information on these events.

“Partnerships New and Old: Preservation in the 21st Century” was my first session, which was moderated by Shannon Zachery, University of Michigan Library Preservation. Much of this dealt with the preservation of digital elements as preservation (digital copies of materials and media and preservation metadata). Preservation job descriptions currently ask for both hand skills and technical skills for digital preservation. Some institutions are actually creating the hybrid position of digital archivist. Many institutions are struggling with digital preservation since there is no clear standard for file formats or storage methods at this time. (although the ALA/ALCTS/Preservation Reformatting Section is drafting a document). In addition, few universities are actually using the cloud for storage. This session actually made me feel good because we are in a similar situation as many institutions.

I enjoyed a wonderful lunch after this session with our former friend and colleague, Audra Yun, Katie Nash from Elon and Rebecca Petersen.

“Taking Stock and Making Hay: Archival Collections Assessment in Action” was the next session moderated by Merrilee Proffitt of OCLC Research. In this session, Jennifer Waxman, Center for Jewish History, described a collections survey project she led at NYU. The project used graduate students to survey 5000 containers using a relational database to store the data. This project identified over 50% of the containers that needed remediation for slumped or overstuffed folders. Ben Goldman from Penn State made the case for the urgency to preserve legacy media and born digital materials in our collections. Lisa Callahan, University of Chicago, Black Metropolis Research Consortium argued for the access to African-American research material to create discovery of hidden collections. Martha O’Hara Conway, University of Michigan Special Collections Library described a project using graduate students from the School of Information to process unprocessed collections which helped the library, as well as build confidence in the students.

During the Preservation Section meeting, a panel discussed “Preservation in the 21st Century”. Michele Cloonan, Dean of Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science gave a short history of preservation education. Michele mentioned the landmark acts that got preservation on the map in the 1930’s such as establishment of the National Archives(1934), the Rome Conference of the League of Nations, the Athens Charter, and the Historic Sites Act. The general tenor of the discussion was the evolution of preservation skills from hands-on to stronger IT skills. In the words of Karen Gracy from Kent State: “Preservation professionals should become as familiar with the structure of digital materials as they have been with paper-based materials.”

On Friday morning, I attended a session on greater collaboration with Wikipedia moderated by Karen B. Weiss, Archives of American Art. A discussion was held on the value of “Wikipedian in Residence”. At NARA and the Smithsonian, they have successfully used this program to build community and to use their fans for transcribing documents. By building community, they try to engage people by holding events like a “Scan-a-thon” where volunteers scan and describe images that have never been scanned before. In this way, using a hybrid model of volunteers and professionals, these institutions attempt to get their holdings out to people more efficiently. Some institutions are also holding “Edit-a-thons” where volunteers work together to edit Wikipedia entries from the institution holding the event. These are unique and innovative programs to be more of your holdings out.
My final session was moderated by Kara McClurken, Head of Preservation Services at UVA, and was entitled “Favorite Collaborative Tools for Preservation.” These tools were presented in a lightning round format and included: Conducting a Condition Survey; Environmental Monitoring; Using the Lyrasis Pocket Response Plan; the Costep Coordinated Statewide Emergency Preparedness program for cultural institutions in the northeast; and using social media to recover lost items (Hauls of Shame, Facebook at NARA, Flickr at Denver Public Library )

This conference was extremely positive in many ways: networking with other preservation and archival professionals, learning what people are up to, getting involved in a great organization and seeing a new city. Can’t beat that!

Carol at MSU LEETS, Part II

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 3:32 pm

The second day of the MSU LEETS conference focused on emerging technologies. These presentations overlapped more with each other so I’ll just give some general impressions. The main speaker was Nicole Hennig from MIT.

  • NUIs (Natural User Interfaces) to replace GUIs
  • Libraries creating “hackerspaces” or “makerspaces” which feature 3-D printers. Our own Dr. Atala got a shout-out in the context of 3-D printers (look at 11:05).

We watched the video “What is a MOOC?” by Dave Cormier. The narrator highlighted “distribution” as a key component of MOOCs (starting at 2:50). He mentions “pockets and clusters” of information like blogs, tweets, tags, discussions posts, etc. Later, in the context of user experience studies, a major theme was “Fragmentation Hurts.” What is “fragmentation” but a negative way to say “distribution”? Hennig mentioned another of her presentations on this topic, and I followed it up more thoroughly. I learned that “fragmentation” was used in several contexts, such as the annoyances of e-books (e.g. platform proliferation; some work on certain devices but not others). Fragmentation was also mentioned in light of the cloud and one’s personal cache of information. I know I have work information on Google Docs, Evernote, Gmail, acad1, my hard drive and the wiki. I feel the pain when a needed piece of information isn’t in the first (or second) place I look for it. I also think about distribution/fragmentation in light of the library sharing information with patrons. We currently use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, (multiple) blogs, ZSReads, Pinterest and maybe others. In some cases, the various outlets point back and forth to each other. I understand that some patrons are on Facebook but not Twitter and vice versa, and we certainly want to reach them all. However, it’s a constant challenge to make sure that our information sharing is aptly described as “distribution” instead of “fragmentation.” What I’m describing is just “events” type info. Don’t get me started on the fragmented sources for research, a problem only partially solved by Summon.

Resources to follow up on:

Augmented Reality Apps that I might consider:

  • Layar
  • Tagwhat
  • Google Goggles
  • LeafSnap

Apparently, MSU LEETS was the first library conference to have an official Instagram feed.

MSU On-Campus Guest House, Dwarfed by Football Stadium

MSU On-Campus Guest House, Dwarfed by Football Stadium

The folks at Mississippi State practiced pleasant hospitality and treated their speakers royally. The MSU community clearly loves its football.

The stadium backed right over the on-campus hotel where I stayed. (By contrast, I never found the basketball arena.) They also got me a guest pass to their fabulous fitness center. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit and would recommend this conference to others.

Carol at MSU LEETS, Part I

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 4:34 pm

I spent last weekend in Starkville, Mississippi at the MSU LEETS conference. LEETS stands for Libraries eResource and Emerging Technologies Summit. The first day of the conference focused on electronic resources.

Tim Collins from EBSCO Publishing emphasized the development of the EDS discovery service in his opening keynote. He worries more about the erosion of library funding than the potential threat of Google. Just as Google covers all things free, he hopes that EBSCO will provide all things vetted. EBSCO bought up indexes like AHL and HA primarily because they can enhance other products like EDS.

He also reflected on EDS participation. All of the major publishers participate because usage increases, and nobody gets access without paying. Aggregators (like LexisNexis) may not participate if they don’t have rights to re-distribute the content. Indexers (like MLA) are reluctant to participate since their customers may stop buying MLA and may start relying on the discovery service instead.

Regina Reynolds from the U.S. ISSN Center at the Library of Congress spoke next on PIE-J. The proposed best practices under development for e-journals include (inter alia):

  • Keep all article content under the title current as of the time of publication.
  • Include accurate ISSNs, including variant ISSNs like p-ISSN and e-ISSN.
  • Include title history.

Western Carolina University recently canceled 190 journals. Kristin Calvert discussed the process of discovering and activating their post-cancellation access (PCA) rights. She affirmed that:

  • ERM data entry is time-consuming.
  • Long grace periods make it difficult to discern whether your archival access works or not.
  • Portico did not work as well as publisher sites for getting PCA.

Ed Cherry and Stephanie Rollins from Samford tried to assess whether library use correlated with academic success. They defined “library use” as logging into an e-resource, and they measured “academic success” by GPA. First, they set EZproxy to require logins for all users, on- and off-campus. Once they had a semester’s worth of login data (i.e., capturing usernames), their partner in Institutional Research could compare library use to Banner information like class year, major and GPA. They learned that more frequent library use correlated with academic success. (They carefully noted that their methodology could not prove causality.) They also determined which majors had low use of resources, so they could better target outreach efforts.

Tammy Sugarman from Georgia State discussed Institutional Repositories. First, she gave an overview of the concept and described the types of materials that typically enter the repositories. Then she outlined how Technical Services staff can be a critical ingredient in the success of an IR.

Yours truly closed out the day with a discussion of DDA. Some tidbits I haven’t shared out with ZSR yet:

  • In the first four months of our DDA program, five books were triggered for automatic purchase (at sixth use). In the most recent four months, 24 books were triggered, including five triggers in July 2012.
  • Of the eight books used on July 30, seven were used for the first time, and four of these titles were loaded on the very first day of DDA in March 2011.

Building Effective Mentoring Relationships

Wednesday, August 8, 2012 12:22 pm

In July, the Mentoring Committee (Craig, Mary Beth, and Bobbie) started planning and coordinating this year’s mentoring events and activities. Last year the Committee asked Allison McWilliams (Director of Career Education and Counseling, Professional Development, and the Mentoring Resource Center at Wake Forest University) to lead a training session for mentors/mentees. During her presentation, Allison did an excellent job introducing the group to some of the principles of effective mentoring practices.

To kick off this year’s mentoring program, the Committee decided to invite Allison to come and once again give our new mentor/mentee pairs a quick overview to help us start our mentoring journey. As usual, Allison’s presentation was very well organized and provided opportunities for us to engage in “intentional conversations” and practice active listening. Allison mentioned the importance of setting goals for professional growth and encouraged us to consider completing a “Mentoring Relationship Agreement.”

Allison brought copies of John C. Maxwell’s Mentoring 101 and gave each participant a copy. Skimming through some of the chapters, I can see that this book is going to be a really good resource for our mentors and mentees as we move forward in our mentoring relationships.

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