Professional Development

During February 2014...

Rebecca at the Modern Archives Institute

Monday, February 17, 2014 4:28 pm
Archives I

Archives I

Recently, I had the great pleasure of attending the Modern Archives Institute (MAI) at the National Archives and Record Administration (NARA) in Washington, DC. This was a two week intensive archival training course covering all aspects of archival work. Held twice a year (January and June) the MAI session I attended was the 115th. With thirty two attendees from all over the United States, this was a tremendous learning experience for all of us. The format was mostly lectures by professionals in the field as well as some tours, hands-on exercises, and plenty of time for discussion. Although we all had a wonderful time and saw some really cool stuff, priority number one was learning as much as possible.

Reading materials

Reading materials

The first week was spent at “Archives I” which many of you may know as the main NARA building in downtown Washington, DC. We were guided throughout the two week course by the amazing Mary Rephlo and welcomed the first morning by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. We had roughly eight hour days of lectures on topics including: introduction to archives, overview of records management, appraisal & acquisition, arrangement & description, archival management, grants, and archives & law. We were lectured by leaders in the field with years of experience. I cannot express how grateful I am to have been able to sit in on the first week of lectures and would be happy to discuss each and every one further.

Archives II

Archives II


Week two appropriately kicked off with two days at “Archives II” in College Park, Maryland. For our class, Archives II was all about non-textual materials. We attended lectures on and took tours of: preservation, conservation, cartographic records, photographic records, A/V media preservation and reformatting, and electronic records.

One of many Preservation labs at Archives II

One of many Preservation labs at Archives II

These sessions were invaluable in addressing the much messier, confusing, and sometimes un-readable materials that lurk in archival collections.

Obsolete media

Obsolete media


We continued our week at Archives I with an immersion day into education, access, exhibits, and reference. As you can imagine, like so much of what we learned at NARA, the scale they work on is slightly larger than what we do here. It was inspiring to see, however, how important of a priority they make these aspects of archival management. As well as one arranges, describes, and preserves the records, they mean nothing if no one knows about them, uses them, or sees them.

Archives I Rotunda

Archives I Rotunda


We spent our penultimate day at the Library of Congress where the Manuscript Division hosted our visit. We had a very inspiring presentation by Laura Kells and Meg MacAleer, two processing archivists, titled “The Truth Behind Original Order: Or What To Do If A Collection Shows Up In Garbage Cans.” Although the LC Manuscript Division is also working on a scale far larger than ZSR, it was great to hear from two archivists who are working with personal papers and manuscript collections rather than large government record groups.

Original manuscript of Rhapsody in Blue

Original manuscript of Rhapsody in Blue

As you may imagine, we got to go on some pretty cool tours at the Library of Congress. Both the Music Manuscript Division and the Rare Books and Special Collections Division pulled out some treasures to show off to us gawking visitors.

Draft of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

Draft of "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music

The Lincoln Bible!!

The Lincoln Bible!!

Woodrow Wilson's Nobel Peace Prize (that's my hand)

Woodrow Wilson's Nobel Peace Prize (that's my hand)


After picking ourselves up off of the floor of The Library of Congress, we spent our last day back at Archives I discussing ethics and ongoing professional issues. It was a bittersweet day for our group knowing it was all over but we were excited to get back to our institutions to use the knowledge we had acquired. I am inspired by all of the professionals I met on this trip and equipped with information and a solid network of people to turn to with questions. I am confident that each and every lecture I attended will inform the work I do here at ZSR and will impact the Archives positively. Thank you to everyone here who made it possible and to my teachers and cohort in Washington, DC. This was a once in a lifetime experience! I would be happy to talk anyone’s ear off about the minute details I have written in my notes and floating around in my head.


Steve at 2014 ALA Midwinter

Monday, February 10, 2014 5:42 pm

Well, it looks like I’m bringing up the rear on reporting on my experience at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference, which is somewhat ironic, because I think I was the first person from ZSR to fly up to Philly. I had to get in town two days earlier than I normally would, so I could attend an all-day meeting of the NASIG Executive Board. NASIG isn’t affiliated with ALA, so we met off the conference grid, at the main library of the University of Pennsylvania. I can’t talk much about what we discussed because much of the material is confidential, but I can say that we discussed plans for our 2015 conference in Washington, D.C. The 2015 conference will feature NASIG’s first joint programming with another organization, namely the Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP). It will also be NASIG’s 30th conference, which will require a special celebration. And it’ll be the year that I’m serving as NASIG’s President, so I’ll get to be right in the thick of planning it.

As for ALA Midwinter proper, much of my involvement revolved around committee meetings. My big committee responsibility is CC:DA (Catalog Committee: Description and Access), which develops ALA’s position on RDA. That means that we read and discuss proposed changes to RDA that come in from all sorts of constituencies. It’s been really interesting to see how the process works. I won’t bore you all by describing it in detail here, but I’d be happy to talk about it with anyone who is interested. CC:DA met for 4.5 hours on one day and 3 hours on another day, which is kind of a lot. We voted and an approved a couple of proposals (which will now move up to the Joint Steering Committee, which is the final arbiter of RDA), and had vigorous debate about several other proposals, including one on how to record the duration of recordings and one on a problem that has the colorfully melodramatic nickname “the cascading vortex of horror.” The committee also saw a presentation on the RDA/ONIX Framework, which would radically change how resource content and resource carriers are described. The RDA/ONIX Framework is years away from implementation (consensus needs to be developed among the relevant constituencies), but it promises to enormously facilitate the machine processing of catalog data (including things like natural language searching), by providing a means to record very specific, very granular data. For example, the Framework allows for recording the sensory mode used to access a resource (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell), the dimensionality of the resource (2-dimensional, 3-dimensional), and the movement of an image (still, moving). That’s just a taste of the level of detail that it would be possible to record if the Framework were adopted. It’s pretty complex and dense stuff, and I know I only grasped a portion of it. On the more practical level, I have volunteered to serve on a CC:DA task force that has been working for a year or two on developing a list of personal relationship designators (things like father-son, teacher-student, etc.) for RDA.

On to other topics, Carolyn has already done an admirable job of recounting the Authority Control Interest Group meeting, so I will mention the Cataloging & Classification Research Interest Group session. We saw a presentation about an interesting project called the ProMusic Database, which is trying to make it easier to track the identity and roles of musicians, which can be tricky when you look at what a person did on a particular record. The example used was Quincy Jones, who is a composer, a performer and a producer. The ProMusic Database makes it easier to figure out what role or roles Quincy played with a given record. It is a joint project that involves the extensive databases of musician unions, music companies, etc. These professional organizations have a great interest in tracking this data, so they can track things like royalty payments to musicians.

I ended my Midwinter by attending the Update Forum of the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee (which is another committee that I belong to). Much of it was inside baseball that would be of no interest to anyone but me, but one very interesting thing is that the ISSN (International Standard Serial Number) Centers are going to start assigning ISSNs to institutional repositories. So IRs are starting to be thought of as default continuing resources. Go figure.

ALA Midwinter according to Derrik

Friday, February 7, 2014 12:09 pm

Vendor meetings

As usual, I spent a large part of this conference in the vendor exhibit hall.

I learned that Alexander Street Press is close to signing a deal to offer a certain film collection that I’ve heard people here express specific interest in (I don’t want to jinx the deal by naming the collection before it’s finalized). Bad news: it will be by subscription only, at least at the start. I also had an interesting after-dinner conversation with the President of Alexander Street Press, about how hard it is to come up with a good short-term loan model for streaming media (do you charge by the minute? what’s the appropriate price point?), and the difficulty of getting rights holders on board with it.

Data-Planet (provider of Statistical Datasets database) is targeting June/July for the release of a java-free user interface, and are also contemplating offering a one-time purchase option for their Statistical Data Sheets.

Elsevier‘s main development focus seems to be on Mendeley right now.

I learned more about the respective e-book models of both JSTOR and Project MUSE. Both e-book collections primarily feature university presses. A Project MUSE presenter said they try to select their e-books to match their existing subject strengths, so that the journal and book collections will complement each other. MUSE offers single-title purchasing via YBP, and JSTOR expects to offer it “in a few months.” JSTOR also offers a DDA model for e-books.

Oxford University Press now offers individual title purchasing for their Oxford Scholarship Online books. They are also now offering journal backfiles for title-by-title purchase.

A week before ALA, ZSR was asked/invited to become a Beta test site for the new EBL administrative module. So I spent half an hour at the ProQuest booth with Alison Bobal of EBL, getting a sneak preview. The new module seems much easier to use, and includes some functionality that up until now could only be handled by contacting EBL support, so I’m excited to be an early adopter. I also appreciate the opportunity to help shape the product. We went live on the new admin module today!

At the Third Iron booth, I learned more about a new feature of BrowZine, a product we subscribed to last August that allows WFU users to create a personalized collection of library-subscribed journals on their mobile devices. BrowZine can now include journals from ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and Ovid aggregator databases (initially it only included journals on publisher websites). We have, of course, turned on this new feature.

I learned about a couple of new e-book providers, and also had one-on-one meetings with our sales reps from APA Publishing, SAGE, Springer, Taylor & Francis, Thomson, and Wiley.


Committee meetings

I am in my third year of serving on the ALCTS Transforming Collections Task Force. The Task Force manages an ALCTS microgrant program to fund projects in support of the ALCTS goal of transforming collections. The first year we received a good number of applications, but the second year (last year) we only got a few few, so a good portion of this committee meeting was spent discussing whether or not to continue the microgrants (we decided yes, for at least one more year) and how to drum up applications. We talked about the many different ways in which collections and collecting are being transformed (e.g. shared collections, DDA, digitized local collections, open-access journals, user-generated content, etc.) and brainstormed ways to promote the theme of transforming collections.

I am also a member of the newly-formed ALCTS Standards Committee. The purposes of the committee are to educate ALCTS members about and encourage their involvement in the development of relevant standards and to support ALA’s voting representative to NISO. As this was the committee’s first meeting, it was mostly about getting organized, discussing how to best fulfill the committee’s role.

At my previous ALA conferences, I have enjoyed attending presentations sponsored by the Publisher-Vendor-Library Relations Interest Group (PVLR). At last month’s conference, I had (or made) time available to attend the PVLR business meeting. The group is made up of 3 co-chairs and anybody else who wants to attend. There were about 15-20 people there, and the meeting was simply an open discussion of possible topics for future PVLR presentations. Ideas included security/hacking; data mining & analysis (how to explain legitimate uses to publishers, how to explain rights holders’ concerns to the end-user); self-publishing; hybrid Open Access; and the future of society publishing.



I did manage to attend a few presentations. In one, Rick Anderson, Associate Dean for Scholarly Resources & Collections at the University of Utah, discussed “predatory publishing,” and what makes a publisher “predatory.” Anderson admitted that there could be several kinds of predation, but he focused on two broad categories: misrepresentation (e.g. deliberately misleading journal titles, publisher name mimicking a legitimate-sounding organization, fictitious editorial board or real people’s names used without permission) and selling false prestige (e.g. false claims of peer review or impact factor). Anderson encouraged getting the word out to scholars about predatory publishers, but emphasized the need to do it delicately, lest we inadvertently send the message that all open-access third-world, small, or new publishers are bad. Following Anderson’s remarks, Regina Reynolds of the U.S. ISSN Center discussed how the ISSN network (U.S. and internationally) can and cannot help. Reynolds stressed that the ISSN is not a stamp of legitimacy, it’s just a “dumb number.” On the other hand, the ISSN network recognizes that they cannot be perceived to enable fraudulent publishing, so they have established some guidelines, such as no longer assigning an ISSN prior to the publication of the first issue, and being more careful about publishers requesting a large block of ISSNs.

In a session sponsored by ProQuest, Michael Levine-Clark presented results of his analysis of e-book usage over multiple years on the ebrary and EBL platforms. ProQuest had provided him with usage data from both providers, covering 4 years and 750,000 titles. It’s hard to pick out the salient points when there was so much information presented, but here’s my version of the highlights:

  • University press titles consistently got higher use (sessions, page views, printing, etc.) than the overall collection average. BUT this might simply be because university press titles are available in more libraries and therefore to more users. Levine-Clark was working with aggregate data, and did not have information about individual library usage or holdings.
  • Books in the Social Sciences seem to be used at a slightly higher rate than the Humanities or STM. BUT page views and printing per user session were highest in STM. In other words, even though a lower percentage of STM books got used, they seem to get used more intensely.
  • Question: Does more page views per session = more time in the book? or just rapidly “flipping” through? Levine-Clark did not have data regarding amount of time spent in the book.
  • Question: What constitutes a meaningful use of an e-book? Levine-Clark suggested that copying may be the best measure (indicates the user found something they wanted to save). Printing or time in the book might be other possibilities, though it is not uncommon for a user to print something just for offline reading.

The presentation slides are available at

One of the authors who spoke at the conference was David Baldacci. I credit Baldacci with getting me interested again in reading for pleasure, after I heard him speak back in 2002 or 2003, so of course I had to go hear him again. He only spoke for about 20 minutes, but made up for it with an unannounced book signing, signing proofs of his forthcoming young-adult fiction novel The Finisher.

ALA Midwinter 2014 with Carolyn

Thursday, February 6, 2014 7:35 pm

Unlike last year’s flight out to ALA’s Midwinter meeting, my Friday morning flight to Philadelphia was uneventful, and that plus having Mary Beth as my traveling companion once again was a great thing! On Saturday, I attended ACRL’s Western European Studies Section’s (WESS) because they were sponsoring a romance languages and cataloging issues discussion group. It began with a 45 minute discussion about what RDA means to the non-catalogers of the group and why certain data no longer displays in online catalogs (e.g. |h [GMDs], and publication dates). The conversation next turned to display issues with utilizing Summon in catalogs, and from the statements made, it is apparent that Summon’s performance does not always meet librarians’ expectations (e.g. the language limit function does not always limit properly). One librarian from a university 1 1/2 hours away from WFU piped up and said, “I’m just so tired of being fed the propaganda of Summon.” I chuckled at that one. Following this session, I participated in my committee meeting, the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee, where we generated a list of cataloging questions and topics for the upcoming months. Some of the questions and topics included: subject headings for social work; how is the relationship between a person or corporate body now labeled in RDA bibliographic records; what is FRSAD; and subject headings for food deserts and community gardening. In the afternoon, I attended the Catalog Management Interest Group where one individual from Kent State spoke about catalog and display issues with RDA implementation at his library. The removal of the GMD (general material designator) that is found in the subfield h of the 245 field (e.g. [videorecording], [microform]) was problematic for both the librarians and public. After writing a letter to Millenium, their ILS vendor, they eventually decided to display a visual icon by each title in a results list that is based on the type of record that is found in a cataloging record’s leader 06 position and the carrier type term found in RDA’s 338 field. I’ve heard comments from ZSR staff that they miss having the GMD display in a results list, especially when looking for a videorecording. At the Catalog Form and Function Interest Group, a librarian from Stephen F. Austin State University talked about her university’s experience utilizing VuFind and Summon together in their catalog. After performing a search in the library’s catalog, results are displayed split-screen style with books and more on one side and articles and more on the other.

Sunday morning at the Alexander Street Press breakfast, I heard psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo speak about his Stanford Prison Experiment which was conducted in 1971 and continues to be one of the most discussed and studied psychological studies today. At the Cataloging and Classification Research Interest Group, a librarian from the University of Central Florida Libraries discussed workflow tips and tricks to add table of contents (TOC) information based on RDA standards to cataloging records. These access points aid record discovery and adds patron value to cataloging records. If one chooses to use publishers’ TOC information on a web site to copy and paste into a record, make sure one compares that to the book in hand. He has found erroneous book chapters listed on the web site that were not listed in the actual book. At the Authority Control Interest Group, Janis Young from the Library of Congress (LC) reported on two big vocabulary developments: LC medium performance terms for music and the LC demographic group terms. The first set of terms is a cooperative effort of the LC and the Subject Access Subcommittee of the Music Library Association. The 802 proposed terms are available on a tentative list, and they will be approved on February 10, 2014. The second set will be used to describe the demographic characteristics of creators and contributors and audiences. New MARC fields 385 and 386 will accommodate audience characteristics and creator/contributor characteristics respectively. These terms will be full faceted and are scheduled for late 2014. My last session of the day was attending the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. Dr. Janet Monge of the University of Pennsylvania’s Department of Anthropology and the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, was our guest speaker. Dr. Monge discussed the Open Research Scan Archive (ORSA) with which she has been involved. With the assistance of the local hospital’s CT lab, the museum has scanned over 5200 human and nonhuman specimens of its collection (e.g. objects, bones, mummies) for use by researchers in anthropology, biology, and medicine.

In addition to all the meetings I attended, I did manage time to squeeze in some fun by attending with colleagues two great receptions, one at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art and the other at the National Constitution Center. Mary Beth and I also checked out Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, which came highly recommended by Susan Smith, on Sunday during lunchtime.




ALA Midwinter with Wanda

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:59 am

Continuing in my quest to get more involved with the Library Leadership and Management Section (LLAMA), I attended my first meeting as Member at Large for the Human Resources Section. I had a dual role during the meeting as I also reported for the Leadership Skills Committee, of which I am also a member. In late fall I was asked to run for Chair-Elect of the Human Resources Section. To be honest I wasn’t sure how all this aligned with my current service as Member at Large. I kept trying to get the LLAMA organization visually in my head. I found this LLAMA organization chart from 2012 and it does help some to make all this clearer. I thought you might also like to see the other areas of emphasis.

I enjoy the work of Human Resources, so I can’t believe that I will not for a second be fully engaged in this work. As we outlined a program proposal on leading virtual teams, I knew this area was a good fit for me. What are some of the best practices around leading teams of which the lead has no real authoritative power? What are some of the tools available for hosting virtual meetings? How do you keep members motivated and on task? One committee member suggested we partner with LITA on this program. Of course one hurdle is getting board approval to host at this annual and not annual 2015. Discovering at this meeting that our timeline was off, we immediately began discussing ideas for our program at annual of 2015. Our next program will look at ways to identify unconscious biases and understand how they impact your everyday beliefs and interactions. The program will also offer strategies for overcoming unconscious biases.

During the ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group meeting, I heard Karen Calhoun share details on the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System Leadership Development Program. This is an internal to Pittsburgh program open to any library worker. Both Librarian and library worker may elect to self nominate or may be nominated by the Dean or supervisor. With an annual budget of $25,000, Karen manages a 9 month program that seeks to make strong people even stronger. Attendees learn to identify and acknowledge their own individual strengths and then how to make best use of them to benefit the library. Other session topics include time management, organizational change, effective meetings, project management, managing your professional image, team-building, crucial conversations and communication planning. Change within our libraries has to occur quickly, so a lot of emphasis is placed on leading from right where you are. From the audience came concerns on the benefits of having open and free flowing conversations and how this might be dampened with attendees all coming from the same organization.

We also heard from UNC-Charlotte’s University Librarian, Stanley Wilder who gave a review of Library demographics within ARL Libraries. Though he spoke primarily on ARL trends, I found much of what he said to be right on the mark for ZSR Library as well. We have been hearing for years now about the graying of the profession and the big retirement trending. Around 2009/10 we were right in the middle of it. With the economic downturn during this same time some elected to push retiring back a few more years. Those retirements however made way for libraries to evolve and meet the current needs of their users. Look back a few years and you’ll see we were able also to do the same. Positions such as Scholarly Communications, Access Archivist, and Instructional Design were made possible from staff retirements. Wilder stated that libraries are paying more for in many cases fewer positions. Student assistant hiring is down 25% and down in expenditures 3%; support staff though down 20%, expenditures are up 25%; professionals up 10.5% and up 57.5% in expenditures. Also the focus on IT skills has impacted the gender swing in libraries.

Of course I spent considerable amounts of time with my BCALA family and did my usual tour of the exhibits. It was here that I took my one conference photo. It’s not a great photo, but I am always amazed at bravery in any form. And you must admit that one has to be pretty brave to wear this outfit when there’s snow outside all around. STimaging paid tribute to breast cancer awareness with a bright pink scanner and of course a salesperson willing to be on the spot!

Sarah at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia

Monday, February 3, 2014 4:56 pm

Throughout last fall, I participated in monthly virtual Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Executive Board meetings, and it was great to see the planned events come to fruition at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia. I spent Friday afternoon at the Asian Arts Initiative, where I heard talks on the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) by Samip Mallick and about Philadelphia’s Asian American community by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and Mary Yee of Asian Americans United. We had a great turnout and enjoyed a catered lunch from Philadelphia Chutney Company.

On Friday evening, I attended the APALA Executive Board meeting at the convention center, where I provided the APALA Mentoring Committee Report. Early Saturday morning, I participated in the ACRL Science & Technology Section (STS) Continuing Education Committee meeting. I am responsible for maintaining the Guide to Professional Development Resources for Science & Technology Librarians. On Saturday afternoon, I attended the APALA All Committees meeting and discussed plans of the Local Arrangements Task Force for the upcoming ALA Annual Conference.

On Saturday evening, I went to Karma Restaurant for the APALA Midwinter Dinner and listened to an excellent talk by authors Ellen Oh (The Prophecy Series, originally The Dragon King Chronicles), Soman Chainani (New York Times bestseller The School for Good and Evil) and publisher Phoebe Yeh of Crown Books for Young Readers.

Although my ALA Midwinter was busy with APALA and ACRL STS meetings, it was great to catch up with colleagues and meet new people, as well.

Mary Beth at ALAMW in Philadelphia

Monday, February 3, 2014 12:37 pm

My ALA Mid-Winter meeting this year was different from any other midwinter I’ve attended before. The Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) for ALA was just approved to become a Roundtable a year ago and as such there’s still some organizing and introductions going on to get started on some of the initiatives we’d like to pursue. As a result of my early involvement in SustainRT I was given the appointment to represent the round table to the Planning and Budget Assembly of ALA. (PBA). As a result of this appointment I had a number of meetings I had to attend to learn as much as I could about how planning and budgeting works for ALA. In conjunction with this appointment was the obligation to attend meetings that were held by the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) as well as PBA itself. The Budget Analysis and Review Committee meeting provided an opportunity for those on that body to get an update and ask questions about the state of ALA’s budget.
Here are a few things of interest I learned during the course of attending these meetings:
· Publishing has been a significant drain on ALA’s finances in the last year.
· Some of that drain has been due to the acquisition of Neal Schuman by ALA
· There is a great deal of confusion about how “good will” is translated to a balance sheet. (My graduate classes in Business came in handy here.)
· The Annual Conference is “pulling its weight” as far as generating revenue for ALA. Midwinter Conference continually loses money for the organization.
· The number of attendees to ALA Mid-Winter is actually rising over the last few conferences. Dallas was the low, with ~ 4200 attendees. Seattle saw a rebound to over 5000. Philadelphia had over 7000 attendees to Midwinter this year. Costs still outpace attendance, however.
· BARC makes available videos on their website called the ALA Financial Learning Series. Those produced thus far include:
Organizational structure and decision making
Budget Cycle and Process
The Long Term Investment Fund
Round Tables Financial Orientation
In addition to all of these budget meetings, I also had time to actually attend the Sustainability Round Table meeting on Monday morning before flying back to Winston-Salem. The attendance was spare, (only 6 people, 4 of them there just to find out what the round table was about.) We discussed plans for the Round Table including an initiative taking shape to encourage ALA to divest itself from any fossil fuel interests. There was some discussion about whether we would devote our efforts to helping libraries become more sustainable, or whether we were going to focus on encouraging ALA itself to become more sustainable. Since the measure of the sustainability of any effort is determined by the nexus of people, planet and profit, it was suggested that SustainRT might also begin an initiative to eliminate Mid-Winter and just have an annual conference. The group, though small, was very engaged and I look forward to working with them in the coming conferences, and through online channels.

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Music Library Association
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North Carolina Serials Conference
online course
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Society of American Archivists
Society of North Carolina Archivists
Southeast Music Library Association
Sun Webinar Series
TALA Conference
UNC Teaching and Learning with Technology Conference
University Libraries Group
ZSR Library Leadership Retreat
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