Professional Development

During October 2013...

Chris at NCLA 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013 4:48 pm

This year’s NCLA conference was the first one for several years that I’ve attended in its entirety, and I was glad that I did. It was also good to have the conference back in Winston-Salem after it had been in Greenville and Hickory last, so in many ways it was like a homecoming and the chance to reconnect with colleagues and friends from across the state. Plus, I could say that I really did know the president! There were several memorable moments from the 2013 conference for me, and they made it a unique experience.

Sessions. I attended several sessions that are outside of my normal duties, and I was glad because they increased my understanding of areas of library work that I normally don’t see. I leaned about the history of the “Congressional Record of the United States”, the podcast “Let’s Talk Learning Spaces”, and a presentation for research literacy where the library takes a role in research and grant proposals at a university. I also enjoyed a presentation by Derrik and a panel about electronic resource management systems, learning more about some of the recent systems on the market.

Free beer vs. free kittens. In a session about receiving gifts and donations, the presenters told the audience about their experiences of dealing with items received as materials given to the library through various means. Their stories reflected tales in resource services over the years about what to do with these items, and I know that it has been raised in other libraries at various times. The presenters also referred to an article written by Rick Anderson called “The Myth of the Free Gift“, about how some donations can be easily absorbed with little effort (a “free beer”) while others bring unexpected concerns about care and feeding (a “free kitten”). If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it.

Poster session. Although I’ve presented at conferences before, I had never done a poster session. As an attendee at NCLA’s Leadership Institute last fall, I was informed that participants would be expected to present at this year’s NCLA conference in some fashion and I knew what I wanted to do. I’ve been researching library services for first-generation students at Wake Forest as part of my research project for the Institute over the past year, and I turned some of my findings into a poster session that I presented on Thursday afternoon.

The session was supposed to last for half an hour, but I took questions for almost 45 minutes. The experience was a positive one, and now I don’t feel so hesitant about the next opportunity!

In all, this biennium’s conference was a good experience. I’ve started thinking about participating at the next conference in 2015; but in the meantime I’m going to look more into podcasting. A “Power of ‘Z’” show, perhaps?

 

MBL @ NCLA

Thursday, October 31, 2013 3:31 pm

My day at NCLA started with my presentation entitled “Two Roads to Offsite Storage: Duke and Wake Forest.” to a small but interested group who were there to hear about offsite storage solutions. In a straw poll taken at the start of the session, about half of the people that attended were from Special Collections, interestingly, and about a third of the audience already had offsite storage in place. Marvin Tillman and I shared our separate but parallel paths to Offsite Storage. The contrasting methodologies tends to give a greater perspective than either of us alone, and serves to educate those in the audience on all of the different decision points that are necessary to examine before accepting offsite storage as a solution for a crowded library. The session provided positive reinforcement that the problems in academic libraries are universal, even if the solutions are not.

After my session I stopped in to hear Mary Scanlon present along with Leslie Farison of ASU, and Debbie Hargett of Wingate who gave the presentation entitled “Economic Development in your Community: Become Mission Critical”. Their session was moderated by Jill Morris of NCLIVE. It was an entertaining look at all of the information available to people interested in starting a business. Using the various tools, they determined where in North Carolina a dairy farmer might want to start producing and selling his own ice cream. I had no idea that there was this much information available, and can’t help but think that if people who wanted to start a small business just talked to their friendly local librarian, no small business would fail!

The final presentation I attended was given by Jean Ells and Yvonne Allen of Wake County Public Library system and was entitled “Assessing the Look of Your Library”. They discussed the struggles of trying to maintain a uniform look across many different library branches that exist throughout the county. Since the county has many branches of all different sizes and ages, it is difficult to keep all of them equivalently equipped, but that is their goal. They have attacked the problem by conducting an annual walk through of every library in the county and assessing such things as their furniture, their signage and wayfinding, the repair of the building, etc. One very successful strategy they’ve adopted is to purchase most of their products, furniture, services and equipment in bulk and deploy them across all of the library buildings. This enables them to swap out furnishings from one library to another when needed if, say, one branch closes and another expands. They evaluate everything from displays and clutter, to general repair and layout of the library. After each walk-through a review with the library director is conducted, and a list of concerns generated. From that conversation they develop a list of purchases that can be made centrally to address issues where appropriate. There was an interesting and lively discussion following the presentation.

Ellen @ NCLA 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013 7:15 pm

At this year’s NCLA Conference I was able to find sessions relevant to my service on the ZSR Marketing Committee as well as others which can be applied more generally to librarianship.

“Grumble Theory in the Workplace” with Michael Crumpton and Kathy Bradshaw from UNCG was the first session I attended. They referred to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which, in its most basic form includes three levels of need:

  • Low – These are basic creature comforts such as temperature of your surroundings, food, sleep, etc.
  • High – More complex interpersonal needs including dignity, respect and praise
  • Meta – Includes concerns for values such as truth, justice, and perfection.

The speakers talked about how to identify the concerns of a library staff and work through these levels of need. The process reminded me of the Strategic Planning Refresh initiative at ZSR in January of 2012 and was a good reminder of the importance of listening to concerns and making people feel heard.

Wednesday afternoon I attended “Taming the Hydra” with Kim Vassiliadis, Emily King & Chad Haefele from UNC. As Carol has already reported, they spoke on LibGuides management and maintenance. They likened the lifecycle of a LibGuide to owning a cat. The initial stage was a “free kitten” which, in its infancy has good information and is heavily promoted. “Middle age” LibGuides are quirky, with outdated designer themes and incorrect navigation. In their “old age” they don’t look good, aren’t correct and have dead links. The final stage was the “undead” which you swore you deleted but kept showing up again.

The goal for the UNC LibGuides was to have the users view the library as reliable. If the content is wrong, the users lose faith. Consistency, timeliness, and accuracy were the key factors to accomplishing their goal.

On Thursday I worked a morning shift at the Registration Desk, checking in attendees. I was then able to attend the session, “Upstairs Downstairs: Reaching our Patrons and Staff” with April Everett from Rowan County. This session was marketed as presenting “low-cost, creative ideas for marketing”. Since that is just what the ZSR Marketing Committee needs, I attended.

April emphasized that you need to know your market and discover what their specifics needs/interests are. The next step is to put inexpensive promotional material (webpage, Facebook, flyer, pamphlet, bookmark, community calendar) into the “hands of influencers” that can pass on the information. Immediately after an event she suggested that promotional material be taken down so your target market trusts your information.

That afternoon at the Ogilvie Lecture, ALA President, Barbara Stripling spoke about her initiative regarding the Declaration for the Right to Libraries document. She outlined the motivating factors behind each of the statements and encouraged participation in signing and supporting the Declaration.

Friday morning I attended another marketing session presented by Nancy Dowd, the author of the book “Bite-Sized Marketing: Realistic Solutions for the Over-Worked Librarian”, and Pam Jaskot, a Library Consultant.

Some suggestions from this session:

  • Think about your audience – “If you try to market to everyone, you market to no one.”
  • Messaging – Use key values of your audience to craft your message. (use “winning” when targeting athletes, etc.)
  • Communication Plan – For this audience, what is most effective? (social media, newspaper article with pictures, targeted newsletter)
  • Communication Blueprint – grid format showing what communication medium was used for which program. Do this before and after a program and use it for evaluation of the effectiveness of your marketing
  • Partnerships – Go outside your own audience to reach people that don’t come into your library or read your marketing material
  • Cross Promotion – Once someone comes in to your library, be sure they have the opportunity to learn what else they can find there.
  • Give away free stuff – This is where the presenters gave away promotional material for LibraryAware.com.

The last session I attended was, “Outreach to Faculty in the Digital Age” where academic librarians from UNC-G, GTCC, WSSU and Elon spoke about their personal experiences in supporting faculty which included:

  • Use of LibGuides and screenshots to communicate services and features to faculty
  • Attending meetings to raise awareness of library’s services
  • Understanding and supporting instructional needs of the faculty
  • Awareness of the format of courses to see how the library can fit in.
  • Identifying key, required courses to reach maximum number of students.

I hope to be able to put some of this information to use on the Marketing Committee and beyond. It was great to have the opportunity to attend.

 

Sarah at the NCLA Conference

Monday, October 28, 2013 11:46 am

This year at the NCLA Conference, I co-presented with Molly Keener on “The Impact Factor, Eigenfactor, and Altmetrics: From Theory to Analysis.” I covered the history of bibliometrics, and Molly covered altmetrics. Each of us provided an analysis with regards to science information literacy and research assessment. I posted our presentation slides on the NCLA conference website. We had a small, but engaged audience with many questions afterward.

In addition to presenting at the NCLA Conference, I completed my 4-year term on the Women’s Issues in Libraries Roundtable (WILR) Executive Committee as Web Coordinator. B.A. Shapiro was an excellent WILR luncheon speaker about her book The Art Forger, a New York Times bestseller.

Since other colleagues have written good summaries of some of the programs that I attended, I will provide highlights of other programs that I attended:

“Strengthening Instruction Through Curriculum Mapping: A Collaborative Strategy for Targeted Teaching” by Katy Kavanagh, ECU; Amy Harris Houk, UNCG; Catherin Tinglestad, Pitt CC; and Heigdi Buchanan, WCU

  • Map learning outcomes (destination) to instruction — Where are we now? Where do we want to go? Look at gaps in instruction
  • Look at how students progress in major over time through core courses and capstone courses and map them from basic to advanced learning outcomes
  • Moving to subject LibGuides instead of courses
  • Tiered LibGuides for Communication majors
  • LibGuides need to be mapped to ACRL Information Literacy Standards and not just to courses
  • Think of ideal learning outcomes; what does the ideal graduate look like in terms of information literacy? Are there courses that address those outcomes?
  • Reflect on what learning outcomes did I teach? Continually evaluate and update along with changes in syllabi

Closing General Session
“Stronger Together: Sustaining Excellence in Our Libraries” by Trevor Dawes, ACRL President

Some of my takeaways from his excellent talk:

  • Libraries should not be complacent and rest on laurels
  • “Institutions that stand still get left behind”
  • As the needs of the users change, how does the library change?
  • Develop staff
  • Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate

 

Steve at NCLA 2013

Friday, October 25, 2013 5:27 pm

So, as you all know, the NCLA Conference was held here in Winston-Salem last week. Here’s what I did at it.

I served as a consultant to the Exhibits Committee this year, rather than chairing it, which was a big relief. I shared all the information with them that I could beforehand and visited Amy Harris and the rest of the Exhibits Committee often during the conference to see how things were going, be available for questions, and generally commiserate about what is a fairly tough job. They did fantastic work, in my opinion.

Since I could actually attend sessions at an NCLA Conference for the first time since 2003, not being tied down to managing the Exhibits or the Conference Store, I decided to focus my attention on seeing presentations by my fellow ZSR librarians.

I saw Roz’s presentation “‘New Research Shows’ – Or Does It? Using Junk Science in Information Literacy Instruction,” where Roz spoke about having students compare popular news reports of scientific studies to the studies themselves. Most popular reports of scientific studies get much if not most of the information wrong, from basic stuff like the number of study participants to the actual conclusions drawn by the study. In fact, many popular reports will say that a study concludes the exact opposite of what it actually says. Roz uses this exercise as a jumping off point for discussing the peer review process with students and well as the politics of publishing. The crowd was very enthusiastic about the presentation, with one audience member saying flat out that she’s copying the idea herself.

I also saw Hu’s presentation “‘Big Games’ in Academic Libraries.” I finally understood what happened to the video game nights we used to have a few years back. Turns out they were rather expensive and the attendance wasn’t so great, so they’ve been supplanted by Capture the Flag and Humans vs. Zombies. Hu talked about the good features of these two games, including that they are cheap to stage, popular, and get students into the library in a fun setting. His repeated statement that he has “the best library dean in the world” caused my friend from an institution that shall not be named to whisper to me jealously, “I hate you.” The crowd loved Hu’s presentation.

I saw Mary Beth’s presentation with the wonderful Marvin Tillman called “Two Roads to Offsite Storage: Duke and Wake Forest.” The audience, while somewhat small, was riveted and paid very close attention. These folks meant business and really wanted to hear about offsite storage options, in detail. Mary Beth and Marvin provided them with great detail. It was very interesting to get the perspective from two very different ends of the size scale, with Duke’s massive operation for their own enormous collections as well as storage from UNC-Chapel Hill, to our own more modestly-sized storage operation.

I also saw Megan’s presentation with Matt Reynolds of ECU, called “Stuff In Dusty Boxes: Connecting Undergraduates With Special Collections Holdings.” Megan spoke about her undergraduate history of the book class and its development, including how she was the one who initiated it. She spoke about the challenges involved in developing a new class, including getting approval from the curriculum committee, making logistical arrangements, recruiting students, and especially, course planning (she couldn’t find any other undergraduate history of the book classes to model hers on). Megan was enthusiastic about the class and drew lessons from the experience that included: be prepared, design the class around your collection strengths, keep your expectations realistic for undergrads, and have fun. The crowd really appreciated her presentation.

Unfortunately, my NCLA was cut a bit short by a cold that I was fighting all week, which led me to stay home of Friday, so I can’t speak about the last day’s activities.

Contributing ZSR Digital Collections to the DPLA!

Friday, October 25, 2013 4:07 pm

Tanya, Craig, and Vicki all mentioned the keynote about the DPLA (Digital Public Library of America) at the Tri-State Archivists’ Conference. Before Emily Gore of the DPLA headed to Greenville, SC to deliver her keynote, she was in Greensboro, NC meeting with digital collection managers. I attended the meeting to learn more about the nitty gritty how-to of contributing ZSR’s digital collections to the DPLA.

For those who aren’t familiar, the DPLA aggregates metadata from the digital collections of libraries, archives, and museums across the United States. In addition to providing a slick search interface at dp.la, the DPLA also makes its API open to developers and encourages the building of apps on top of this platform. By contributing our metadata to the DPLA, we will expose our collections to a national audience. In addition, we will drive traffic to our site from both the dp.la site and apps built on top of the DPLA API.

DPLA App Library

At DPLAfest 2013, the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center was recognized as one of three new service hubs that will aggregate metadata from their regions and serve as a conduit to the DPLA. Over 120,000 records from North Carolina institutions are currently available at dp.la, including records from the State Library of North Carolina, State Archives of North Carolina, and the libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, East Carolina University, and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in addition to all the records made available by the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center itself at digitalnc.org.

When an institution contributes collections to the DPLA via a service hub such as the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, they share an item’s metadata as well as its thumbnail.

The DPLA record recognizes both the service hub (in the example above the North Carolina Digital Heritage Center) and the contributing institution (Transylvania County Library). Clicking on either the item’s thumbnail or “View Object” takes the user to the item as it appears on the original site, in this case digitalnc.org (see below).

One more interesting thing to note about the DPLA’s approach to aggregating digital collections is that metadata shared with the DPLA is made available under a CC0 license. By participating in the DPLA, we agree that others may re-use our metadata. However, it’s important to recognize that metadata rights are not equal to digital object rights. Rather, the digital objects we make available via Wake Space remain available under whatever terms we determine.

The North Carolina Digital Heritage Center is currently in the process of evaluating our feeds before adding selected collections to the DPLA. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

Rebecca at SNCA Tri-State Conference

Friday, October 25, 2013 10:46 am

 

Last week, I traveled to Furman University for the Tri-State Archivists Conference. In addition to attending sessions, I represented SNCA as the Archives Week chair and did quite a bit of promotion of this year’s Archives Week. I must say it was a very worthwhile conference and I will try to hit some highlights for you.

“All Together Now! The Archives as Collaborative Space”

Katie Nash and Patrick Rudd of Elon University discussed their collaboration to work with the Education department at Elon to require the use of primary sources in their classrooms. Kristy Merryman from NC State highlighted her wonderful work with the “Cultivating a Revolution” project and her effort to make this project accessible to K-12 teachers. The project integrated a teacher portal with lesson guides to assist teachers in utilizing the online content. Kristy emphasized that these materials were all web based and the reasoning was that when teachers are preparing and executing lesson plans, they are not traveling to the archives, they are accessing materials online. Finally, Paula Jeanette Mangiafico from Duke spoke about their efforts to make intern experiences more valuable for both the individual as well as the institution. Giving students more context, encouraging discovery and collaboration, and creating a real learning experience allows everyone to “be awesome together.” I found this session extremely helpful and encouraging! I hope to use some strategies and ideas in my work here at ZSR.

“Social Media Archiving in State Government”

Rachel Trent from the State Archives of North Carolina and Kathleen Kenney from the State Library of North Carolina presented on a very timely and interesting topic, web archiving. The efforts of the State Archives and the State Library mirror much of the work we are doing here at ZSR with ArchiveIt. They discussed challenges they have had in terms of privacy, access, and completeness. They discussed using Archive Social to more effectively gather social media content, but also the pitfalls of display. Although Archive Social captures content, the content does not look like it does when hosted by the social media sites. This is an issue to archivists when presenting how something looked to future generations. I hope to further discuss strategies with Rachel and Kathleen to more effectively capture the social media presence at WFU.

“We the People: Creating a More Perfect Archive”

Vicki and I put together this panel (along with Maureen McCormick Harlow) to discuss a variety of diversity programming in N.C. I spent my time discussing the success of SNCA’s 2012 N.C. Archives Week “Journeys to Justice: Civil Rights in NC.” The theme was chosen to allow archives across the state to showcase materials relating to a variety of civil rights issues: integration, women’s rights, LGBTQ community, Amendment One, and many others. SNCA’s role in N.C. Archives week is to help facilitate, promote, and encourage institutions across the state to plan events, hang posters, and generally get the “archival” word out. Beyond heralding the successes of last year’s N.C. Archives Week, I shamelessly promoted this year’s Archives Week “Home Grown! A Celebration of NC Food Culture & History.” I was very pleased with the response I got from archivists seeking promotional materials or sharing events they were planning for Archives Week.

Overall, I found the Tri-State conference to be a success! I enjoyed my time networking, learned a lot from archivists in the region, and promoted Archives Week 2013. Thanks to Lynn, Wanda, and Tanya for the opportunity to attend.

Vicki at Tri-State Archivists’ Conference 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013 5:27 pm

On October 17 and 18, I attended the Tri-State Archivists’ Conference, along with Rebecca, Craig and Tanya. It was a great opportunity for us to meet with other archivists and librarians from NC, SC and GA and hear about what they are working on. Making the experience even more enjoyable was the fact that the conference was hosted at Furman University, my alma mater. It is always wonderful to be back on campus and see how things have changed, or stayed the same.

As mentioned by my colleagues, Emily Gore’s opening talk was very interesting and thought-provoking for what might be possible for archives and libraries in the future. The Digital Public Library “The DPLA aims to expand this crucial realm of openly available materials, and make those riches more easily discovered and more widely usable and used…” This site can be especially helpful to archives and libraries that want to make their materials available online but may not be able to undertake such a large project on their own, as well as to institutions that experience a high demand for their collections. For more information, see the website for DPLA.

There were many sessions to choose from over the two days we were there, and I was able to get some good ideas for future projects that we can incorporate here at WFU. It was exciting to hear about all the good work being done around the region, and helpful to hear about other peoples’ lessons learned and recommendations.

Some topics and highlights included:
*Collaborative projects with professors and students
Katie Nash at Elon shared how she and their Coordinator of Access Services, Patrick Rudd, worked together to help introduce education majors to primary source research. They worked closely with the education professor as well to help develop the lesson plans, which the student teachers then implemented in their classrooms. Katie and Patrick then observed the student teachers teaching the lesson to their classes and could see if they (teachers and students) “got it” or not.

Kristen Merryman at NC State also worked closely with an education professor to create guides about using primary sources for student teachers. She headed up a 2-year grant project that had an educational outreach component in which they were to create 8 lesson plans for 8th grade teachers in NC. By working with the collection management staff, college of education faculty and graduate students, they could look at all aspects of the project and decide how best to present the information. Graduate students in the “Digital History in the Classroom” class spearheaded the efforts and the result was lesson plans that could be easily used by teachers and they could access all of the materials online.

Paula Jeanette Mangiafico from Duke told about the student interns they have and how they re-worked their internship guidelines to fit the strengths of the students, and to help the students actually learn how archives work and the principles behind them. Archives staff serve as mentors to the interns and include them in the day-to-day activities of the department (i.e. staff meetings, brainstorming sessions, etc.). They have had several interns go on to library school or into archives programs, and some who are now professors sent their students to the Duke archives for research since they know what the collection has to offer.

 

*Collaborating with the community to strengthen collections

Marleigh Chiles from USC discussed documenting survivors of Hurricane Katrina;those whose lives were spared but who were uprooted and forced to find a new home. The people who died were named and listed, and the institutions that were damaged or destroyed were shown on the news and noted. But those who were left behind to start over either there or somewhere else were rarely documented. Their oral history interviews helped fill in the gaps of the whole Katrina experience and made the collection more inclusive.

Andrea L’hommedieu and Jennifer Marshall talked about the importance of building a good relationship with the people you will interview, as well as the community in which you work. It is also important to honor the wishes of those you talk to. If they are reluctant to share criticisms of a topic or to share the full story, you can offer to seal the interview for a period of time which lets the person know that the information is important in the long run and not just right now. By embracing inclusive methods and having diversity in an archives, you can have a more complete representation of the community or institution you work in.

*Rethinking the way we process collections

Linda Sellers from NC State and Nancy Kaiser from UNC-Chapel Hill discussed how they had to revisit the ways they processed materials at their institutions in order to make collections available sooner, but also not leave out important information that helps researchers find what they need. They developed new work flows and many times do a more general processing job instead of the very detailed finding aids that had been done in years past. But, they also said that not one processing approach fits all, so they asses each collection and determine how to best process it.

 

There were several other very interesting sessions regarding preservation of born-digital materials, social media, and electronic records as well as how to make them accessible. Rebecca and I were happy to present about the Archives Week events and efforts of SNCA to help promote them, as well as our own Documenting Diversity event that we hosted last year to help make our archives more diverse and inclusive to reflect the full history of Wake Forest.

The conference was very worth-while and gave us a chance to connect to colleagues in other states. I would be happy to share more details with anyone if you have questions.

 

 

 

Carol at NCLA 2013

Thursday, October 24, 2013 10:02 am

Since I live very close to the Convention Center, I volunteered for the Local Arrangements Committee. In addition to managing the bag-stuffing operation, I spent several hours staffing the Local Information Booth, from which I gave opinionated advice about local restaurants (and handed out restaurant guides prepared by Hu!). I was thrilled to leave my car at home for three days straight, but was mildly disappointed to discover that I didn’t win the short distance award. To my knowledge, that honor belongs to another ZSR librarian (ask around offline if you want to know who!) and a librarian from High Point U. who lives downtown.

Local Information Table
I still had time to attend some of the sessions. I’ll skip talking about sessions already discussed by other ZSR bloggers, and a few others where my main takeaway was confirming that I am already up on current trends. Here are more details on three sessions where I learned a lot of valuable new-to-me information.

Demystifying Fund Formulas in an Academic Library Setting

Lisa Barricella & Cindy Shirkey, ECU
ECU was looking for a different way to allocate the monograph portion of their budget. Their previous formula – based on factors like credit hours, faculty headcount, grad students, etc. – had several flaws. For instance, using credit hours earned in a subject would overfund areas like foreign languages where there is a lot of enrollment at the lower levels, but not a lot of need for library materials. Also their old formula – just for monographs – didn’t account for the journals v. books breakdown which is unique to each discipline. (There was also the procedural issue that the data, which came from sources external to the library, was sometimes very difficult to collect.) Their new formula relied heavily on two factors: how much the collection in, say, Art was used as a proportion of the entire collection and how many ILLs did Art generate in proportion to their holdings. Both of these criteria more closely map to the actual demand for monographic materials in that subject. (The ILL part was not fully implemented due to specific failures in ILLIAD reporting.) Finally the average price of books was considered. While I’m not looking to redo all the monograph budgets anytime soon, I will keep these ideas in mind in case we ever need to overhaul our monograph budget structure.

Taming the Hydra: A Strategic Approach

Kim Vassiliadis, Emily King & Chad Haefele, UNC
This presentation is about how UNC corralled a whole bunch of subject guide thingies all over their website, deleted about half of them, and got all the rest into LibGuides with an updated (and consistent) look-and-feel. Then they initiated a plan to make sure that each LibGuide gets some maintenance at least once a year. Guides that are not updated are given “unpublished” status (i.e. suppressed from public view) in LibGuides. I’m impressed that they were able to pull this off in the decentralized environment at UNC. One rule they implemented was that you can’t have more than one row of tabs. Also every guide has to have an intro paragraph that lists all the tabs. I actually disagree with the intro paragraph idea. More on that in a minute.

I Honestly Had No Idea: LibGuides Usability Assessment in an Academic Library

Randall Bowman, Teresa LePors & Shannon Tennant, Elon
LibGuides best practices is an area where a lot of folks (including yours truly) have lots of ideas but very little evidence. Elon conducted a usability test with some undergraduates to fill the evidence gap. In addition to asking students to perform tasks, they asked some subjective questions at the end.
Some of their conclusions:

  • Students go straight for the search box, any search box. That’s bad news on my guides since the only embedded search box is for “Search this Guide.” That’s also bad if the source with a search box is not the best place to go for that topic. For one task, the relevant guide had a JSTOR search box embedded (also with the pretty “J” logo). However, JSTOR did not contain the particular article that students needed to find.
  • Students don’t read the text on the page. They quickly scan for something that looks familiar.
  • Students ignore the tabs. (Paraphrased comment from audience: I’ve been to three presentations on LibGuides, and they all say that students don’t use tabs! However, LibGuides is built around tabs!)
  • Students were split (on both the tasks and the subjective questions) as to whether “Articles” or “Databases” was the best word for leading students to databases that contain articles. (My own guides hedge on this one by saying e.g. “Linguistics Databases for Finding Journal Articles”)
  • Students don’t scroll, which is bad news if you’re also not using tabs
  • Elon’s main LibGuides page prominently featured the tag cloud. Students didn’t use it, and on the subjective questions they Xed it out as an unnecessary element.
  • Students liked the librarian profiles, which include an embedded chat window. A significant percentage of their chat questions are referred by the research guide pages.

Based on what they learned, Elon is going to lose the tag cloud and have the front page of each LibGuide list all the tabs (like UNC). I disagree with this “intro paragraph” approach since it was also established that students don’t read the text! When I have time, I’m going to edit my LibGuides so that the #1 resource is a search widget, preferably with a pretty logo. If there is no pretty logo, then maybe I’ll add the “Best Bet” star like we use on the database pages.

Chelcie at NCLA 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 11:01 am

The NCLA 60th Biennial Conference was the first conference I attended in my first professional library position – and what a great time it was! I enjoyed meeting lots of North Carolina librarians, including those who are doing similar work to me right now and those who like me are just starting out.

Most of the sessions I attended fell in the broad category of digital projects – North Carolina’s contribution to the National Digital Newspaper Program; social media strategies for special collections and digital projects; and the new NC ECHO, which harvests the metadata of digital collections across the state of North Carolina and provides simple keyword searching across the collections whose metadata was harvested.

But two of the most memorable sessions I attended were those that fell just a little bit outside my comfort zone but nevertheless still touch on my work.

Always Be Closing: Liaisons As Sales Force

Nathaniel King and Jacqueline Solis of UNC led this session. Drawing on both Karen Williams’ Framework for Articulating New Library Roles and Neil Rackham’s SPIN selling techniques, Nathaniel and Jacqueline argued that engagement requires offering library solutions to solve user problems – in essence, being a salesperson.

Applying the SPIN framework to liaison work looks something like this:

  • Situation questions
    • How long have you been in this department?
    • What are you working on now?
    • What kind of data do you collect in your research?
  • Problem questions – Get the customer to talk about difficulties or dissatisfaction with their current situation.
    • Do you have data sets without a way to easily store & retrieve?
  • Implication questions – Take the stated problem to its logical conclusion. How is the problem affecting the research/teaching/productivity of the customer?
    • How does not easily accessing data affect your research?
  • Needs-payoff questions – Customer describes the benefits of solving the identified problem and tells you the payoff they would receive by solving it.
    • How would it help your research if you had one secure place to store all your data? We have an IR…

Nathaniel and Jacqueline used role playing to demonstrate the framework and encouraged participants to practice during the session, as well. This framework gave me a lot of food for thought about strategies that I’d been using implicitly when engaging with humanities faculty at new faculty receptions, but having an explicit framework within which to place my strategies will, I’m sure, help me to close the sale more frequently in the future.

Telling Your Story with Data

Joyce Chapman and Beth Hayden of the State Library of North Carolina led this session, which focused on using data to support arguments. Joyce was the person behind the beautiful digitization progress charts for a collaborative digitization project among Duke, UNC, NC State, and NC Central so I was excited to attend her session. Most of the data sources Joyce and Beth highlighted were targeted towards public librarians, but the framework they provided for substantiating either claims of need or claims of excellence in service is applicable to all library contexts.

For me, the most useful exercise from their presentation was to take an anonymized example paragraph from an actual grant application and consider how its argument could be strengthened with data:

“This type of special collections materials is frequently accessed by users. The papers of X, Y, Z are among our most requested. The papers of A, B, and C were recently processed and therefore have been accessible for only a couple years. Nonetheless, they have seen growing research interest during that brief time.”

A reviewer of this grant application might ask “Well, how frequently are these materials requested or accessed by users? How do you know research interest has grown?” so it would be helpful to incorporate evidence into the claim. One might say a collection is among the top 10 most requested each year, or that it has been requested more than 40% of other collections. The most important takeaway was to contextualize your data – not to provide numbers in isolation but to answer the question “compared to what?”.

Attending this session gave me food for thought about how to track our digitization stats in such a way that we have data at the ready when we sit down to make an argument – either when reporting on the strength of our services or applying for a grant.


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