Professional Development

During July 2013...

Chris at NASIG 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013 8:03 pm

Several weeks ago, I attended the NASIG annual conference in Buffalo, New York. This year, I took a special interest in sessions that dealt with licensing, such as using templates and “model” licenses as well as how to effectively negotiate licenses without an extensive legal background. The care and feeding of electronic resources was also a highlight, giving me a chance to brush up on concepts such as TERMS (Techniques for Electronic Resource Management) which I learned about while attending the virtual ER&L Conference earlier in the spring.

I did find three additional takeaways from this year’s conference, all of which I found interesting in their own way. If you have any questions about them, please let me know.

Vision sessions. NASIG has always had thought-provoking vision sessions, but this year there were two sessions centered on a similar idea but operating as counterpoints. The first session was facilitated by Bryan Alexander who spoke on “Libraries and Mobile Technologies in the Age of the Visible College”. Mr. Alexander explained how mobile technology has changed the world of higher education in recent years, starting with smartphones and extending into touchscreen interfaces, clickers, smart pens, and even marker-based augmented reality (such as QR codes). Mr. Alexander also highlighted four possible futures for technology on college campuses- phantom learning, open world, silo world, and alternate residential. Although each concept has merit there is an uncertainty about which one would be the actual direction to be followed.

Conversely, the title of the other session was “Googlization and the Challenge of Big Data, or Knowledge and Integrity in the Era of Big Data”, presented by Siva Vaidhyanathan. With the knowledge of Edward Snowden and his connection to the NSA entering the national dialogue, as well as the revelations of Google, Verizon and other corporations turning consumer data over to government agencies, Mr. Vaidhyanathan discussed the downside to big data. He proposed that the silos around the management of data, particularly those since the abuses of the 1970s, have eroded steadily over the decades since. In Mr. Vaidhyanathan’s words, we live in a cryptopticon, a stage beyond Bentham’s Panopticon where we’re being monitored for a variety of commercial purposes, such as grocery store discount cards that are linked to our buying habits. Digital literacy instruction, he suggested, was the next frontier for information literacy itself. For further explanation, he suggested the films Minority Report, The Lives of Others, and a double feature of The Conversation and Enemy of the State.

E-Resources Acquisition Checklist. This was one of the most productive sessions of its kind I’ve attended. Based on the TERMS guidelines, it focused on the e-resource lifecycle that I could remember as largely nebulous only a few years ago. Now, the basic steps have been captured so that anyone who works with electronic resources can see the entire landscape.

These procedures also incorporate the process of re-evaluating an e-resource, a definite departure from the standards of print materials. By doing so, it incorporates a measure of flexibility for resources that may have a shorter span of value to an institution and a set of guidelines for either their removal or replacement. With the growing number of similar databases on the market, this process can have added value in the years to come.

Showcase. This was a new feature, which went far beyond the poster sessions of previous conferences. In addition to posters which highlighted what a particular library was doing well in terms of technical services, this was a chance for libraries to feature what they were doing well as an organization. This was a “show and tell”, and the Showcase featured a broad mixture of ideas. There were two that caught my eye:

  • A demonstration of 3-D printing, which students are using to build constructs for classwork and special projects.
  • A description of how one library used relaxation techniques for stressed-out students during exams, including pet therapy. The idea of puppies in the library was a popular one!

Another memorable event of note from Buffalo was this year’s all-conference reception. It was held at the Pierce Arrow Museum, which featured the cars from the popular luxury car manufacturers of the early twentieth century. This was a unique site for the reception because of the conversation pieces (cars) that held everyone’s interest. I had my first taste of sponge candy (pure heaven) and saw the construction of a gas station that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright but was never built. This glimpse of architectural history was remarkable. If you’d like to see all of my photos from Buffalo, follow this link.

Steve at ALA Annual 2013 (and RDA Training at Winthrop University)

Friday, July 12, 2013 4:08 pm

Since this is an ALA re-cap from me, you probably know what’s coming-a lot of jabbering about RDA. But wait, this one includes even more jabbering about RDA, because right before leaving for Chicago, I went down to Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina for two full days of RDA training (I missed the final half day, because I had to fly to Chicago for ALA). The enterprising folks at Winthrop had somehow managed to wrangle an in-person training session taught by Jessalyn Zoom, a cataloger from the Library of Congress who specializes in cataloging training through her work with the PCC (Program for Cooperative Cataloging). In-person training by experts at her level is hard to come by, so Winthrop was very lucky to land her. Leslie and I went to the training, along with Alan Keeley from PCL and Mark McKone from Carpenter. We all agreed that the training was excellent and really deepened our understanding of the practical aspects of RDA cataloging.

The training sessions were so good they got me energized for ALA and the meetings of my two committees, the Continuing Resources Section Cataloging Committee (i.e. serials cataloging) and CC:DA, the Cataloging Committee for Description and Access (the committee that develops ALA’s position on RDA. I’m one of the seven voting members on this committee. I know in a previous post I wrote I was one of nine voting members, but I got the number wrong, it’s seven). CC:DA met for four hours on Saturday afternoon and three hours on Monday morning, so it’s a pretty big time commitment. I also attended the Bibframe Update Forum, the final RDA Update Forum and a session on RDA Implementation Stories. Because so much of the discussion from these various sessions overlapped, I think I’ll break my discussion of these sessions down thematically.

Day-to-Day RDA Stuff

The RDA Implementation Stories session was particularly useful. Erin Stahlberg, formerly of North Carolina State, now of Mounty Holyoke, discussed transitioning to RDA at a much smaller institution. She pointed out that acquisitions staff never really knew AACR2, or at least, never really had any formal training in AACR2. What they knew about cataloging came from on-the-job, local training. Similarly, copy catalogers have generally had no formal training in AACR2, beyond local training materials, which may be of variable quality. With the move to RDA, both acquisitions staff and especially copy catalogers need training. Stahlberg recommended skipping training in cataloging formats that you don’t collect in (for example, if you don’t have much of a map collection, don’t bother with map cataloging training). She recommended that staff consult with co-workers and colleagues. Acknowledge that everyone is trying to figure it out at the same time. Consult the rules, and don’t feel like you have to know it all immediately. Mistakes can be fixed, so don’t freak out. Also, admit that RDA may not be the most important priority at your library (heaven forbid!). But she also pointed out that training is necessary, and you need to get support from your library Administration for training resources. Stahlberg also said that you have to consider how much you want to encourage cataloger’s judgment, and be patient, because catalogers (both professional and paraprofessional) will be wrestling with issues they’ve never had to face before. She encouraged libraries to accept RDA copy, accept AACR2 copy, and learn to live with the ambiguity that comes from living through a code change.

Deborah Fritz of MARC of Quality echoed many of Stahlberg’s points, but she also emphasized that copy cataloging has never been as easy as some folks think it is, and that cataloging through a code change is particularly hard. She pointed out that we have many hybrid records that are coded part in AACR2 and part in RDA, and that we should just accept them. Fritz also pointed out that so many RDA records are being produced that small libraries who though they could avoid RDA implementation, now have to get RDA training to understand what’s in the new RDA copy records they are downloading. She also said to “embrace the chaos.”

Related to Fritz’s point about downloading RDA copy, during the RDA Forum, Glenn Patton of OCLC discussed OCLC’s policy on RDA records. OCLC is still accepting AACR2 coded records and is not requiring that all records be in RDA. Their policy is for WorldCat to be a master record database with one record per manifestation (edition) per language. The preference will be for an RDA record. So, if an AACR2 record is upgraded to RDA, that will be the new master record for that edition. As you can imagine, this will mean that the number of AACR2 records will gradually shrink in the OCLC database. There’s no requirement to upgrade to an AACR2 record to RDA, but if it happens, great.

Higher Level RDA Stuff

A lot of my time at ALA was devoted to discussions of changes to RDA. In the Continuing Resources Section Cataloging Committee meeting, we discussed the problem of what level of cataloging the ISSN was associated with the Manifestation level or the Expression level (for translations). I realize that this may sound like the cataloging equivalent of debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin (if it doesn’t sound like flat-out gibberish), but trust me, there are actual discovery and access implications. In fact, I was very struck during this meeting and in both of my CC:DA meetings with the passion for helping patrons that was displayed by my fellow catalogers. I think a number of non-cataloging librarians suspect that catalogers prefer to develop arcane, impenetrable systems that only they can navigate, but I saw the exact opposite in these meetings. What I saw were people who were dedicated to helping patrons meet the four user tasks outlined by the FRBR principles (find, identify, select and obtain resources), and who even cited these principles in their arguments. The fact that they had disagreements over the best ways to help users meet these needs led to some fairly passionate arguments. One proposal that we approved in the CC:DA meetings that is pretty easy to explain is a change to the cataloging rules for treaties. RDA used to (well still does until the change is implemented) require catalogers to create an access point, or heading, for the country that comes first alphabetically that is a participant in a treaty. So, the catalog records for a lot of treaties have an access point for Afghanistan or Albania, just because they come first alphabetically, even if it’s a UN treaty that has 80 or 90 participant countries and Afghanistan or Albania aren’t major players in the treaty. The new rules we approved will require creating an access point for the preferred title of the treaty, with the option of adding an access point for any country you want to note (like if you would want to have an access point for the United States for every treaty we participate in). That’s just a taste of the kinds of rule changes we discussed, I’ll spare you the others, although I’d be happy to talk about them with you, if you’re interested.

One other high level RDA thing I learned that I think is worth sharing had to do with Library of Congress’s approach to the authority file. RDA has different rules for formulating authorized headings, so Library of Congress used programmatic methods to make changes to a fair number of their authority records. Last August, 436,000 authority records were changed automatically during phase 1 of their project, and in April of this year, another 371,000 records were changed in phase 2. To belabor the obvious, that’s a lot of changed authority records.


BIBFRAME is the name of a project to develop a new encoding format to replace MARC. Many non-catalogers confuse and conflate AACR2 (or RDA) and MARC. They are very different. RDA and AACR2 are content standards that tell you what data you need to record. MARC is an encoding standard that tells you where to put the data so the computer can read it. It’s rather like accounting (which admittedly, I know nothing about, but I looked up some stuff to help this metaphor). You can do accounting with the cash basis method or the accrual basis method. Those methods tell you what numbers you need to record and keep track of. But you can record those numbers in an Excel spreadsheet or a paper ledger or Quicken or whatever. RDA and AACR2 are like accounting methods and MARC is like an Excel spreadsheet.

Anyway, BIBFRAME is needed because, with RDA, we want to record data that is just too hard to fit anywhere in the MARC record. Chris Oliver elaborated a great metaphor to explain why BIBFRAME is needed. She compared RDA to TGV trains in France. These trains are very fast, but they need the right track to run at peak speeds. TGV trains will run on old-fashioned standard track, but they’ll run at regular speeds. RDA is like the TGV train. MARC is like standard track, and BIBFRAME is like the specialized TGV-compatible track. However, BIBFRAME is not being designed simply for RDA. BIBFRAME is expected to be content-standard agnostic, just as RDA is encoding standard-agnostic (go back to my accounting metaphor, you can do cash basis accounting in Excel or a paper ledger, or do accrual basis in Excel or a paper ledger).

BIBFRAME is still a long way away. Beecher Wiggins of Library of Congress gave a rough guess of the transition to BIBFRAME taking 2 to 5 years, but, from what I’ve seen, it’ll take even longer than that. Eric Miller of Zephira, one of the key players in the development of BIBFRAME said that it is still very much a work-in-progress and is very draft-y.

If anyone would like to get together and discuss RDA or BIBFRAME or any of these issues, just let me know, I’d be happy to gab about it. Conversely, if anyone would like to avoid hearing me talk about this stuff, I can be bribed to shut up about it.

2013 ATLA Conference-Days 2 & 3

Thursday, July 11, 2013 3:36 pm

My favorite session from the last two days of the conference spoke to a topic I’ve been thinking about for awhile. We teach students how to find information, but don’t really give them assistance in reading or processing the information they find. Academic reading, like academic writing, is a skill that many of our students probably haven’t developed (well) prior to coming to college.

The session “Teaching Analytic Reading Skills and Reading Strategies to Seminary Students” described a one-credit course created by Laura Harris from Iliff School of Theology in Denver. The course met over a Friday afternoon and all day Saturday (not her ideal!) and students started by working through the same article that they had all read prior to class, completing four assignments. For the first assignment, using a strict set of instructions, students marked up the article, focusing on thesis statements, supporting information, verb use and the article apparatus (headings, footnotes, etc….). Writing a descriptive outline of the article was the second assignment. The third assignment was to create an argument map of the article, which could be in the form of a flow chart or a mind map. This technique particularly helps visual or second language learners. The last assignment was to write a 300 word evaluation of the article, looking at clarity, consistency, logic, assumptions and biases of the author and their writing. After going through one article together, students then completed the same assignments using an (pre-approved) article that they brought in, hopefully one they needed to read already!

Harris found that this technique helped students not only with their reading, but with also with their writing. By seeing the techniques and styles of successful authors, they could use them as models, and use the less successful authors and examples of what to avoid. Harris also gave us a great bibliography (I’m happy to share) and I would like to incorporate this somehow with the Divinity students to start with, and also in my LIB250 course.

My other two favorite sessions were related to book history, one focusing on the history and structure of Christian reference bibles, and the other on the publication history of Luther’s collected works. “Information Structures in the Christian Reference Bible” was presented by John Walsh from Indiana University, and began with a discussion of paratexts, which are devices and conventions inside and outside the book that mediate the book to the reader: titles, subtitles, epigraphs, dedications, notes, afterwords, prefaces, etc… Christian reference bibles have a large number and a wide variety of these types of additions to the main text (which is another discussion itself…) and include things as basic as chapter and verse divisions, as helpful as maps as genealogy charts, and as problematic as section headings and cross-references. These problematic section headings and cross-references can also be helpful, but frequently they have been used to project a specific theological perspective, and they have been codified in such a way to make one interpretation seem to be the only legitimate interpretation (ie, marginal cross-references in the Gospels that refer to passages in the Hebrew Bible to make seem as if they are prophetic fulfillments). I found this session particularly interesting and it brought up some issues that I hadn’t considered before.

Armin Siedlecki from Pitts Theological Library at Emory University presented “From Wittenberg to Weimar: The History of Publication of Martin Luther’s Collected Works.” Collections of Luther’s works began to be published before he had died, as early as 1518 (he died in 1546) so it was quite some time before there would be a complete collection of his letters, speeches, pamphlets, and books. Siedlecki highlighted 12 major editions of Luther’s work, which had varying methods of organization (chronological, topical, format, etc…), were published in both German and Latin, and in varying sizes of different portability. The most recent of these editions, the Weimar Edition, was started in 1883, 400 years after Luther’s birth. It was supposed to take 10 years to finish, but because of several wars, including the Cold War, it was only completed in 2009, with 120 volumes. The American Edition was started in 1955, but was stopped incomplete in 1986. Work began on it again in 2011, and the edition is projected to be 75 volumes when complete.


Sarah at ALA Annual 2013

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 4:52 pm

ALA Annual in Chicago was great this year, and I attended multiple programs sponsored by the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) and the Association of College & Research Libraries Science & Technology Section (ACRL STS). APALA is an affiliate of ALA, and I met some of my fellow Executive Board members when I volunteered at the Association Options Fair as incoming Board Member-at-Large.

One of the best sessions that I attended was the annual Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature Ceremony sponsored by APALA.

This year, the APALA President’s Program was co-sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Round Table (GLBTRT) on “Pushing the Boundaries: LGBTQ Presentation and Representation of/by Asian/Pacific American Writers.” The panel was moderated by Mary Anne Mohanraj and included authors Malinda Lo, Dwight Okita, and MOONROOT zine collective members Sine Hwang Jensen and Linda Nguyen.

One of the highlights of ALA was attending the APALA Social at the Oak Park home of writer Mary Anne Mohanraj. Dr. Mohanraj is Professor of Fiction and Literature at the University of Illinois-Chicago. I enjoyed Sri Lankan cuisine and networking with other APALA members.

I am a member of the ACRL STS Continuing Education Committee, and over the last year I led the update of the STS Guide to Professional Development Resources for Science & Technology Librarians.

Monday morning, I attended a program co-sponsored by ACRL STS and the Health Sciences Interest Group (HSIG) on “There’s an App for That: The Use of Mobile Devices, Apps and Resources for Health and Sci-Tech Librarians and Their Users.” The takeaway from the presentation is to start with learning outcomes and then think about which apps and technology to support the learning outcomes in instruction. Other related issues with using mobile apps in instruction are cost, device, function and usability, security and privacy, support, reliability, and access. I brought up the point that it would be a good idea to do a pre-course clicker survey to assess how many students have an iPhone, Android smartphone or neither.

Resources and further reading:

National Library of Medicine Gallery of Mobile Apps

MIT Libraries’ Apps for Academics

The Handheld Library: Mobile Technology and the Librarian by Thomas Peters and Lori Bell
Mobile Library Services: Best Practices edited by Charles Harmon and Michael Messina
Tablet Computers in the Academic Library edited by Rebecca Miller, Heather Moorefield-Lang, and Carolyn Meier

Monday afternoon, I attended a program on “Altmetrics, the Decoupled Journal, and the Future of Scholarly Publishing” by Jason Priem. Here are some highlights from his talk:

  • altmetrics is a new way of measuring impact
  • “Communication is the soul of science”, and librarians are the experts of scholarly communication (pun intended)
  • Philosophical Transactions was the first journal based on the available technology (printing press) to improve dissemination
  • Instead of moving paper-native products, creating web-native science
  • Favorite quote: “An article is a story about data”
  • Bibliometrics mined impact on the first scholarly web by measuring citations
  • The old way: counting citations but citations only tell part of the story
  • Impact has multiple dimensions: PDF views, discussion on scholarly blogs and Twitter, Mendeley and CiteULike saves, citations, and recommendation
  • ImpactStory is for researchers and is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
  • Abstrac: “Your dynamic personal scientific journal”
  • “Online simulation and more for nanotechnology”

I also made time to talk to vendors on the Exhibits floor and met with the Proquest Vice President STEM and provided input on the development of new science information resources. My summer reading list has become longer as a result of ALA, and I am looking forward to serving on the APALA Executive Board.


MB’s ALA Annual in Chicago

Tuesday, July 9, 2013 12:46 pm

On Friday, June 28, I attended the day long “preconference”, the Proquest User Group. Proquest was interested in identifying what challenges libraries face so they can build products and services that will help us succeed. They weren’t trying to sell products, and in fact tried hard not to suggest solutions. They were just there to ask questions and listen. It was really fascinating to listen to the others around the table at other (mostly academic) institutions and hear the challenges they face that were similar and different from our own.

First session I attended was on “Communicating Library Impact & ROI”. Impact and assessment is essential to demonstrating value. The value of the library was always measured by metrics like gate count, number of circulations, and number of books the library owns. With those measures libraries could demonstrate how important they were to the enterprise. Now that we are no longer warehousing books and simultaneously developing services that get the information to the user without ever needing to come into the library, how can we demonstrate our value? Aside from “branding” our online services so that people become aware that when they are clicking on a service it is actually brought to you because of decisions made at the library, there are no easy numbers that one can apply to demonstrate how impactful we are on campus. Some ideas discussed included:

  • demonstrate how quality of papers improved after interactions with librarians
  • capturing usage by students to see if they then graduate within 4-5 years might be a valuable statistic (but it would tread all over patron privacy).
  • did the size or breadth of the library’s collections impact the ability to get grants?

Existing metrics require that we take important new data and pound them into statistical categories that may or may not really work anymore. We could and should focus on student and faculty outcomes. Librarians in one institution were referred from the Writing Center as “Research Coaches” and that made the librarians seem more approachable, and their referrals shot up! New methods of demonstrating value to our users could include:

  • how students are affected by services
  • mining information in bibliographies and citation analysis to show that students are using material available through library collections
  • putting the actual cost of information on a receipt at checkout, or when accessed through a database. (If you’d purchased this book, it would have cost you $98. Or: If you weren’t a Wake Forest Student, this article would have cost you $35.)
  • Articles ILL’d and the cost for each article, (not that they’d have to pay, but just what was the SAVINGS to them for using their library)
  • A dashboard that identifies how many new journals/ebooks/how many more buildings could be required to house them if they were actual books. (I love this idea)
  • How many articles are added through the course management system
  • Research consultations and referrals from other departments on campus (ie writing center)
  • Library resources that were helpful for getting grants

We’d need to have methods to demonstrate the value of our e-resources, our physical resources, and our buildings. This was a very interesting conversation and generated many good ideas, as well as identifying how much is not captured in our statistical gathering.

The luncheon speaker during the Proquest User Group meeting was Roger C. Shonfield from Ithaka S&R who discussed the “Ithaka S&R Faculty Survey.” “Conducted every three years, these large-scale surveys of thousands of academics examine changes in faculty member research processes, teaching practices, publishing and scholarly dissemination, the role of the library, and the role of the learned society.”

The survey asked faculty such questions as: “When conducting your research, where do you typically start? A specific electronic research resource/computer database? A general purpose search engine on the internet or worldwide web? Your online library catalog? The library building?” and “When you try to locate a specific piece of secondary scholarly literature that you already know about but do not have in hand, how do you most often begin your process? Visit my college or university’s libraries website? Search on a specific database or search engine? Search on a general purpose search engine? Ask a colleague? Ask a librarian? Other?”

“How do you “keep up” with current scholarship in your field?” The top two: 71% attend conferences, 67% read material suggested by other scholars indicate that peer resources are very important to scholars.

Interestingly, 26% of respondents said they were very frustrated by having to use a variety of different tools and databases to find materials they need. While that may be a small number, that is fully one quarter of our most influential users who are potentially VERY FRUSTRATED by the tools we provide for them.

Another result the survey identified is that 50% of the faculty, when they can’t easily find a known item, give up! I asked Mr. Shonfield during the Q&A if it would be possible to use this survey to give to WFU’s faculty, and he said that there has been discussion about all ASERL institutions utilizing it. I’d love to see how our faculty are using us and what they find frustrating about our services.

In the afternoon I attended a session on Marketing your Library. Because Proquest can only be successful if libraries are, they are interested in helping us succeed. They highlighted many of the PDFs that are available through their website that were previously unknown to those of us around the table. They are customizable and highlight generally good practices for how and where to start research.

We also discussed how difficult it is to show how valuable libraries are to users now that we can’t dilute down our “value” to the number of volumes added, now that users can get their information from so many different places and information is everywhere. One idea that we discussed was making the library “dark” for a day, as Wikipedia did not long ago. Since good libraries are like electricity, you really value both when you don’t have them anymore. The Proquest people really liked that idea. The conversation returned, time and again to how we can demonstrate our value to our constituency. It was a sobering and exciting interaction.

I also attended the “LLAMA President’s Program: Standing on Marbles: Ensuring Steady Leadership in Unsteady Times.” The presentation was given by Karol M. Washlyshyn author of Behind the Executive Door: Unexpected Lessons for Managing Your Boss and Career and Standing on Marbles. She identified 3 factors that go into making a successful leader: education, experience and behavior. Leaders don’t need to get smarter to lead, and they get to leadership positions by virtue of their experience. Where leaders fail most often is that they don’t always get the behavior right. She identified three kinds of leaders: remarkable, perilous and toxic using 3 measures.
– Total Brain Leadership (left/right brains)
– Emotional intelligence (awareness of emotions) and the 4 dimensions SO SMART: (Self Observation, Self Management, Attunement to Others, Relationship Traction)
– Productive Narcissim– described as one who is confident about decisions but get it right because their focus is on the business, not their personal advancement.
Remarkable leaders are those that are able to engage on all levels with subordinates and pull, push, and prod them on an intellectual as well as an emotional level. They have a clarity of purpose, and are committed to the organization. She identified Mother Theresa as a Remarkable Leader, as well as John Keating, the teacher in Dead Poet’s Society. Perilous Leaders are those that may be great leaders, but incite fear and uncertainty in those they lead. Leadership is based on providing the “what” but they take no time to describe the “why.” Steve Jobs and Richard Nixon were categorized as Perilous Leaders. Toxic leaders are those that bully to get the job done. Steve Jobs (again) and Bobby Knight were in this category. If you are working for an organization that has a toxic leader, plan your escape. There is no way to win.
Some tips for being a Remarkable Leader:

  • Be mindful, especially when decisions have to be made. Be sure to consider facts and people.
  • Establish emotional resonance with others.
  • Nurture productive narcissism.
  • Develop reciprocity and, create an atmosphere that ensures reciprocity.

The last session I attended before leaving ALA was “The Myth and Reality of the Evolving Patron” which was attended my many in ZSR and has been mentioned in other posts. Here is the entire presentation. It was very engaging. We do love our Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project data! It provides fascinating insight into what is really going on in American households and their digital lives.

Carolyn at ALA Annual 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013 9:11 pm

My time at ALA was spent going to sessions on cataloging/technical services along with sessions and a committee meeting sponsored by the Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) of ACRL. Below are recaps of some of the sessions I found most meaningful this ALA.

RDA & Audiovisual Cataloging was the first session I attended at ALA in Chicago. This particular session was sponsored by the ALCTS Copy Cataloging Interest Group. Susan Morris, Special Assistant to the Director for Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access at Library of Congress (LC), reported about reductions in LC budgets and staff as well as RDA training for copy catalogers. Tricia Mackenzie, Metadata Librarian at George Mason University, explained and presented differences between cataloging AV materials using AACR2 vs. RDA. Ms. Mackenzie stated that the OLAC group (Online Audiovisual Catalogers) is currently working on best practices for DVD cataloging. Additionally, two librarians from Troy University spoke about their experiences cataloging AV materials in RDA for a multi-campus library and maintaining consistency in the process. Procedures were documented using a wiki. RDA training was provided not only to catalogers and acquisitions staff but to staff in public services because they are the ones who interact daily with patrons and will have to explain changes in the way resources are being displayed in the OPAC. Comparison documents of records cataloged in AACR2 and RDA were provided to help explain the differences.

Next-generation Technical Services: Improving Access and Discovery through Collaboration featured speakers from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) and from the Orbis Cascade Alliance which is comprised of 37 universities, colleges, and community colleges in Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. Martha Hruska of UCSD briefly described UC’s ten campus system and its culture. She stated that funding cuts in the last five years averaged 20% and were not expected to be restored. Backlogs in cataloging and archival processing were growing (100,000+ items and 13.5 miles respectively), and for example in 2011, 1.8 trillion GB of data was created. The UC system needed to find a better, more efficient way to make their growing resources more discoverable as well as reduce work redundancy. In response to a question from the audience, the speaker indicated that centralization of services is not practiced in the UC culture, but collaboration is. Collaboration in collection development, technical services, and digital initiatives along with seeking financial and technical infrastructure for collaboration were established as goals by the UC system. Defining cataloging record standards served as the basis for collaborative cataloging work among campuses. Inventoried backlogs and examination of technical services staff members’ expertise helped in the development of a system-wide collections services staff. Building versus acquiring digital asset management systems software was investigated by members of the UC system. To accelerate processing of archival and manuscript collections, the Archivists’ Toolkit was deployed system-wide, minimal collection record specifications were defined, and “more product, less process” practices were implemented. Representatives from the Orbis Cascade Alliance discussed their experience with DDA ebooks collaboration. They identified challenges in the areas of workflow development, staffing, and levels of expertise. Foreign language materials catalogers provided assistance in cataloging select consortial libraries’ foreign language materials, but sustainability in this assistance was found to be problematic. Collaboration is slow and not always the answer. A safe environment is needed to expose one’s ignorance and allows others to query one’s processes.

Studying Ourselves: Libraries and the User Experience panel program was presented by ACRL’s ANSS in collaboration with the University Library Section. The room was packed with attendees. The first speaker was Dr. Andrew Abbott, sociology professor at the University of Chicago, who stated scholars do not use libraries the way librarians think they do or should do. “Aimless behavior” is the term he used, and librarians’ problem is to discover the logic in this behavior. What are the routines and strategies of researchers? Surveys have indicated that observation and interviews do not work, but self ethnography can be a discovery tool. He has taught classes in library methods in the social sciences. Moving away from exercises, the course is about project management, not in how to manage things. Library research is about finding something for which you ought to have been looking. Students are good at finding things, but they don’t know what to ignore. No student’s research project ends up being about the thing in which they came into the library to research initially. We (i.e. librarians) need to figure out how we do research in order to teach others. We should ethnographize ourselves and keep an accurate documented account of our habits. Expert library users don’t have an idea of how they do what they do. Having to think about and document our own processes would greatly assist in our teaching students how to conduct research and become expert researchers themselves. In 2011, Dr. Abbott published the article “Library research infrastructure for humanistic and social scientific scholarship in the twentieth century,” in Social Knowledge in the Making, Charles Camic et al., eds., University of Chicago Press.

Dr. Andrew Asher, Assessment Librarian at Indiana University, Bloomington, began his talk discussing how anthropological studies in libraries have expanded over the last several years. With most of the research being conducted in the 70’s, few books have been published on the studies of college students. Titles mentioned included:

  • Coming of Age in New Jersey: College and American Culture (1989) by Michael Moffatt
  • Educated in Romance: Women, Achievement, and College Culture (1990) by Dorothy Holland & Margaret Eisenhart
  • My Freshman Year: What a Professor Learned by Becoming a Student (2005) by Rebekah Nathan
  • My Word! Plagiarism and College Culture (2009) by Susan Blum
  • Studying Students: the Undergraduate Research Project at the University of Rochester (2007) edited by Nancy Foster and Susan Gibbons

And yes, ZSR has all in its collection!

Dr. Asher proceeded to discuss the Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries Project (i.e ERIAL Project) that was conducted to determine how students find and use information for their academic assignments and to determine the social context of these assignments. Dr. Asher holds a Ph.D. in sociocultural anthropology and was the Lead Research Anthropologist for the project. Methods utilized include interviewing, observation, visual, and mapping (e.g. time use, drawing library maps). Filmed interviews were conducted for a research process assignment and revealed things that would likely not be assessed in an information literacy test. To discover the context of why people come to the library and spaces where they did work, students were asked to keep mapping diaries. Using a six-minute time frame, cognitive maps were drawn by students using three different colors of ink (red, blue, and green) with changes in ink color every two minutes. From the drawings it was discovered that librarians were invisible; students did not know where the librarians’ offices were located. In addition, books often didn’t appear in the maps, Books appeared to be secondary to other functions which the library serves. The library was seen as a social space. Results of the study were published in 2011 by the American Library Association in College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know, edited by Dr. Asher and Lynda Duke. ZSR has this title too! A toolkit for doing an ethnographic research project in one’s library is available on the ERIAL Project web site.

Diane Wahl, User Experience Librarian at the University of North Texas, headed up an ethnographic research study at her university. She attended a CLIR (Council on Library and Information Resources) workshop conducted by Nancy Foster from the University of Rochester. She stated there was no charge for the workshop; her only expense was for travel. Following the workshop, Ms. Wahl reached out to her universities anthropology and sociology departments’ faculty because they are always looking for projects in which their students can be involved. Review of LibQual responses from dissatisfied online students, graduate students, and new faculty provided a starting point for the research study. Recruitment for student researchers was handled through various channels (i.e. Blackboard, announcements to faculty). Some faculty gave extra credit for participating students. Methods utilized in the study included observations, focus groups and interviews. The sampling of individuals studied was one of convenience and purposeful; Ms. Wahl specifically wanted to hear from a specific segment of the university student population. Challenges encountered during the study included time zones, non-traditional student schedules, and technology. From the data collected, she found that students wanted access to library services through Blackboard. Additionally from the perspectives shared by students with disabilities, the library now has a disability training awareness program for library employees along with a brochure listing available services for library users with disabilities.

This particular session was the most interesting of the ones I attended at this ALA. I now have several books to add to my professional reading list. One more thing to add about the greatness of this session, a Good Humor ice cream freezer with various treats was provided to attendees, and my favorite Good Humor treat was available: the Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar. Yum yum!




Steve at NASIG 2013

Monday, July 8, 2013 12:24 pm

The 2013 NASIG Conference was held in Buffalo, New York, from June 6th to 9th. I flew in two days early so I could attend an all-day Executive Board meeting on the 5th, in my role as incoming Vice President. It was nice to be back on the Board and get into the issues facing NASIG, although I can’t really talk about what we discussed (confidentiality and all that).

As for the conference content, the opening and closing Vision Sessions were particularly interesting and formed neat bookends (Derrik did a great job describing Megan Oakleaf’s Vision Session on the second day). First up was Bryan Alexander, of the National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education (NITLE). Alexander described how computer interfaces have changed dramatically and how they have grown in ubiquity. He talked about how the use of computer technology to reach out to the public has grown so much that even the government is using computers to communicate in unprecedented ways (in a funny coincidence, just after he said this, I fidgeted with my phone and checked my email, and received an email from the North Carolina Wildlife Commission reminding me that my fishing license was due to expire and offering me the chance to renew online. From a meeting room in Buffalo, NY). Alexander was very matter-of-fact about how pervasive computer technology is throughout our lives. He described a project, or possibly a new app, in Denmark that uses facial recognition technology to identify people in a photograph, which then takes you directly to their Facebook page and social media presence. I was shocked by this, because it sounds like a stalker’s delight, but Alexander did not seemed disturbed by the development. Perhaps he is concerned about the privacy implications of such technology, but it wasn’t apparent during his speech. Alexander went on to describe three possible futures that he sees developing from the proliferation of information technology: 1) The Phantom Learning World – In this world, schools and libraries are rare, because information is available on demand anywhere. Institutions supplement content, not vice versa, and MOOCs are everywhere. 2) The Open World – A future where open source, open access and open content have won. Global conversations increase exponentially in this world, but industries such as publishing collapse, and it is generally chaotic (malware thrives, privacy is gone). 3) The Silo World – In this world, closed architecture has triumphed and there are lots of stacks and silos. Campuses have to contend with increasingly difficult IP issues. Alexander acknowledged that the three variations were all pretty extreme and what eventually develops will probably have features of all three. But he emphasized that, as information professionals, we have to participate in shaping our information future.

While Alexander’s speech seemed to accept that the horse was already out of the barn when it comes to our privacy in the information technology realm, Siva Vaidhyanathan’s Vision Session speech was very much focused on privacy issues. Vaidhyanathan is from the University of Virginia, and he wrote the book “The Googlization of Everything-And Why We Should Worry.” He discussed how Google tries to read our minds and anticipate our behavior, based on our previous online behavior. He argued that Google’s desire to read our minds is actually the reason behind the Google Books project, which won’t make money for them. So, why do they do it? Vaidhyanathan argued that Google is trying to reverse engineer the sentence. They want to create an enormous reservoir of millions and millions of sentences, so they can sift through them to find patterns and simulate artificial intelligence. This would give Google and huge boost to their predictive abilities. Furthermore, he argued that Google is in a very close relationship with the government which should be worrying (particularly in light of the Edward Snowden case, which broke just days before his speech). Considering the enormity of the data at Google’s disposal, this could have enormous consequences. Vaidhyanathan argued that there is currently no incentive to curb Big Data, from the point of view of government, business and even academia. Why go small when there’s so much data to trawl through? Nobody’s trying to stop it, even if they should be. Vaidhyanathan went on to discuss Jeremy Bentham’s idea of the Panopticon, which was a prison with a circular design, with the cells placed in a ring around a central guard tower. The guard tower would have mirrored windows which would prevent the prisoner from ever knowing if they were being watched at any particular time. This was presumed to keep the prisoner on his best behavior. Vaidhyanathan argued that we now live in a Cryptopticon, where we don’t know who is watching us and when (here he gave the example of store loyalty cards, which are used to create a profile of your purchases that is cross-referenced with your credit card, and which is shared with other commercial entities). Unlike the Panopticon, which had the goal of keeping you on your best behavior, the Cryptopticon has the goal of catching you at your worst behavior. And while the Panopticon was visible, the state wants the systems of surveillance to be invisible (hence the Cyrptopticon). The state wants you to do what comes naturally, so as to catch you if you do something wrong. Vaidhyanathan argued that hidden instruments of surveillance are particularly worrying. For example, he discussed the No Fly List and the Terrorist Watch List. We don’t know what it takes to get on or off one of those lists. In essence we’re not allowed to know what laws are governing us, and that’s wrong. And these lists are very fallible. While there are a lot of false positives on the lists (people who don’t belong on the lists, but are, such as the late Sen. Edward Kennedy), there are also a lot of false negatives (people who aren’t on the lists but should be, such as the Boston Marathon bombers). The No Fly and Terrorist Watch Lists could be useful, but they are poorly executed. Vaidhyanathan argued that these lists might function better with more transparency. In conclusion, Vaidhyanathan discussed how, thanks to the proliferation of data about our lives on the web, we are creating a system where it’s hard to get a second chance. Youthful indiscretions and stupid mistakes will be with you for good. It made me think that the classic Vice Principal threat, “This will go down on your permanent record,” is now true. Vaidhyanathan argued that while savvy technology users may be able to take measures to protect their privacy on the web, we should be worried about protecting everyone’s privacy, not just our own.

Of course there were also a number of sessions that I attended, but I think I’ve already written enough and hopefully provided some food for thought.

Hu’s ALA 2013 Wrap-up

Friday, July 5, 2013 3:39 pm

I spent ALA wearing two hats, my tech geek hat (which is a bit old and dusty) and my reference librarian hat (which is a much better fit these days!) Streaming the LITA Top Tech Trends and the LITA President’s Program gave me an opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and dust off that tech geek hat. It was nerve-racking to pull of the streaming, but it forced me to learn some new skills and it gave me a chance to work with a great committee and meet some interesting people on the Top Tech Trends panel! (And it gave me a great excuse to buy a cool, new MacBook Pro!) You can check out the less than perfect results of my streaming video at the links below:

Cory Doctorow onVimeo
Top Tech Trends onVimeo
Streaming LITA Top Tech Trends

Streaming LITA Top Tech Trends

While wearing my reference librarian hat, I attended an interesting session on screen sharing for reference questions. The two applications discussed were Google+ hangouts and I really like the idea of screen sharing as a way of enhancing our virtual reference, the trick seems to be making it as easy as chat! There are issues to using Google+ hangouts in our computing environment, but I’m confident that we will get past those issues at some point and need to consider how to best incorporate screen sharing into our services.

So to recap, there is a reason they call it a comfort zone and I’m happy I don’t have to spend all my time outside of it!

Rebecca at RBMS 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013 3:17 pm
Minneapolis from across the Mississippi River


Last week, I traveled to Minneapolis for my first Rare Book and Manuscripts Section pre-conference. Many of you may know that RBMS is a section of ACRL, which is a division of ALA. It is a niche group of people within a very large organization, so it makes sense that the preconference is separate from ALA. I found the conference to be intimate and thought provoking and I am glad I had the opportunity to attend.

This year’s RBMS theme “O Rare! Performance in Special Collections” fit perfectly with ourGertrude and Max Hoffmann Papers, allowing Megan and I to present a poster on the topic. We traveled to Minneapolis last Sunday for two an a half action-packed days of conferencing. Anna and I hit up the “Technology Petting Zoo” where a variety of librarians and archivists showed their innovative use of technology in their everyday work. Projects included an automated recall system for Special Collections holdings over *seven* Special Collections libraries at the University of Minnesota! Following the petting zoo, we attended the Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association of America’s Showcase Reception. This was really an amazing reception highlighting the beautiful books that the vendors were selling. Needless to say, I didn’t buy anything.

Monday morning began with a very interesting Plenary Session “Submerged Voices in Underground Performance” in which Dr. Larisa Mann, Professor of Culture & Communication at NYU and Brooklyn College spoke of the Jamaican Dance Music scene, and Katherine Reagan and Ben Ortiz spoke of theCornell University Hip Hop Collection. The session brought up the topics of documenting living cultures, marginalized communities’ claim to the documentation of their own culture, the disconnect between the stakeholders within the living culture and the people documenting them, and the value of both groups. Truly fascinating stuff. In both instances, the “otherness” or “underground” nature of the original scenes (both Jamaican dance music and hip hop) is what makes it unique. Integrating these into mainstream institutions takes away the legitimacy within the community the institution is trying to document. I really could go on and on about the implications these projects have on the communities, but I will just say that this plenary was talked about in many later sessions and had everyone thinking. If you want to hear more about it, I am happy to discuss.

The next session, “Collecting in the Moment,” was very applicable to my work. Gretchen Gueguen of the University of Virginia talked about her work “capturing” all of the tweets, blogs, new articles, and Facebook posts relating to the ousting and reinstatement of UVA’s President Teresa Sullivan. With both a sense of “collecting in the moment” and an extreme sense of “immediacy” the library decided to save the historic record of events. As digital archivist, Gretchen along with the rest of the University Archives, had not decided on a clear policy for web-archiving, especially in terms of social media. Some points that I found particularly interesting:

  • “The Internet is not longer ephemeral”
  • “It is THE publishing platform”
  • “The HOW of the medium was part of the message”

Gretchen described the ad-hoc methods she devised to gather the materials and advised the audience not to do what she did. In addition, the conversation turned to privacy and ownership, duplicates, and censorship. I enjoyed this session and have a lot more to think about in terms of our web-archiving initiative.

I attended an afternoon discussion “Putting Diversity into Action: Showcasing Diverse Collections” where a lively discussion followed that focused mainly adding diverse community collections to your Special Collections. One of the main takeaways was the importance of bridging the cultural gap before approaching diverse groups. Implying to a separate community that their cultural heritage materials are better taken care of by your institution can be a tricky and sometimes disastrous implication. Even if an archivist has the best of intentions, sometimes a breakdown in communication can turn community members off from donating their materials. Similar to the plenary session, the ins and outs of working with a collection that represents a collective, and living, culture is not easy business. This session gave me a lot to think about, and I hope to be able to apply it to my work.

Our lovely poster

On the second day, Megan and I represented Wake Forest with our poster “Hidden Treasures: The Max and Gertrude Hoffmann Papers.” Our poster was well received, sparking discussion about the variety of resources within Max and Gertrude’s collection.

After lunch, I attended a very interesting seminar “Metadata, The Reboot: Making Reusable Metadata and Making Metadata Reusable” with Jenn Riley from UNC Chapel Hill, Aaron Rubenstein from UMass Amherst, and Matthew Battles from Harvard. The presenters put together a very provocative panel stressing the move from structured data towards linked data and the “web” of information. Jenn Riley quoted heavily from David Weinberger’s “Everything Is Miscellaneous” and urged archivists and librarians to “let go” of their metadata in an effort for others to use it in innovative and exciting new ways. “In a relatively open digital information network characterized by linkability, metadata is ripe for change, for a new paradigm of utility, of re-usability.” The idea that people make their own connections, not just the connections we make for them is coming across in many digital humanities projects. The panelists urged us archivists to take part in a psychological shift to expose our metadata to the web and embrace what can be done with “our” metadata when we “let go.” This was a truly interesting session and gave me a lot to think about in terms of structured data.

From the top of the Mill City Museum

The afternoon session allowed me to sit in on Megan and Anna’s session, which was quite a good conversation. We rounded out the evening with a reception at the Mill City Museum. A beautiful and creative use of mill ruins, we had a great time mingling with rare book librarians, archivists, special collections librarians, and even the odd ILL person:)

This is a brief recap of a fun-filled and informative conference. If anyone wants to hear more about the sessions I mentioned, or others that I didn’t, I am happy to have a cup of coffee and discuss. Thanks to all who made it possible to attend, I appreciate the opportunity.


Molly at ALA 2013

Friday, July 5, 2013 3:14 pm

Strengthening my network of scholarly communication colleagues was the highlight of ALA this time around. The sessions I attended were only average, although the copyright in media session provided welcome details on copyright issues I rarely encounter. But my meetings, both formal and informal, were excellent!

ACRL Scholarly Communications Roadshow Presenters Retreat

My ALA kicked off with a planning retreat for the Roadshow presenters group. For the first time since launching the program, we completed all 5 Roadshows of the 2013 season *before* ALA (yep, that’s right: we did 5 in 5 weeks + 1 day, in three different time zones!). While we all arrived in Chicago a bit travel worn (thankfully we all don’t do all workshops), being able to reflect on an entire season of workshops – especially since we overhauled our curriculum this year – was fruitful. We feel confident that the new curriculum works, and have some exciting ideas for new exercises and activities to enhance the improved curriculum next year. We also discussed potential “next step” virtual programming ideas. There’s a risk with any program that has been running for 5 years that it will grow stale, or that one will become disenchanted by it, but our team has done an excellent job evolving the program to maintain relevance and keep it fresh for presenters. In fact, the Roadshow I co-presented in May in Bloomington, IL, was my best to date!

ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee Meeting

ReSEC, formerly the Scholarly Communications Committee, is a fascinating committee to be part of, and I’m delighted to have been reappointed through June 2015. In addition to doing important work for ACRL, supporting one of the three goals of the ACRL Plan for Excellence, ReSEC works beyond ACRL in the larger scholcomm field. As such, part of our committee meeting includes updates from the field from representatives of SPARC, ARL, COAPI (the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions, of which ZSR was a founding member), and SCOAP3. Strong conversation and insightful Q&A with our guest representatives makes sticking to the agenda timetable difficult, but the field updates are worthwhile. SPARC and ARL are closely monitoring the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy’s February charge to Federal agencies with $100m+ annual R&D expenses to have a plan by the end of July for making research publicly available via (an) archive(s), a la the NIH Public Access Policy. To that end, ARL is spearheading SHARE, a proposal to support agency archiving via a federated system of IRs around the US (publishers have an alternate proposal, CHORUS). ARL is also looking to partner with ACRL to offer a session on assessing and evaluating scholcomm programs sometime in 2014. COAPI has grown to 58 member institutions since its launch two years ago. SCOAP3 is in the process of working with publishers and libraries to convert subscriptions to high-energy physics journals to a shared access membership-type system. Within ReSEC, we will be overhauling the Toolkit (presumably in time for Open Access Week in October) and assisting in the transition of the CRLN scholcomm column from bimonthly to monthly.

Out ‘n About, Meeting People

As mentioned at the beginning, strengthening my network by connecting with known and new colleagues was the standout of ALA for me. I attended three group dinners while in Chicago, including one, organized by a publisher, at which I met two ASERL colleagues: Mary Page, AUL at University of Central Florida, and Bill Garrison, Dean at University of South Florida. I met Leah Dunn, the new(ish) library director at UNC-Asheville, who is joining me on ReSEC, and is looking to build scholcomm awareness at UNCA. I also met in person several people I already knew online, including Cathy Sarli from Washington University in St. Louis with whom I’ve published and co-presented a webinar but never overlapped at conference, and two personal friends, one who lives in Chicago and one in town for ALA. I bumped into several ZSR colleagues around the conference center and Chicago, sometimes for conversation, other times for a quick wave and hello. And since Lauren Pressley and I have a habit of being roomies for “Camp ALA,” I had quality time catching up with her!


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