Professional Development

During June 2014...

Thomas @ ALA Annual 2014

Monday, June 30, 2014 3:44 pm

“I want you to know that we’re on our way to Las Vegas to find the American Dream…this is a very ominous assignment-with overtones of personal danger.”
Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

The show so far:

It’s hot. But it’s a dry heat, you say? Shya. At 110, hot is just hot. (“Too cold, too hot – does this guy ever dummy up about temperature?”) But with all the time everyone gets to spend waiting for a bus, a taxi, or a hotel’s promised shuttle, you get a lot of opportunities to think about the heat.

Worst. Signage. Ever. I should have arrived at LITA Top Tech Trends a polite five minutes late. Instead, I spent 45 minutes walking around, because at some point the convention center just stopped putting up signs for the South Hall. Finally, knowing I was within shouting distance, I found a long hallway with no signs at all, not even visible room numbers. Just go halfway down that hallway, turn left, and go all the way to the end of another hallway. I do find it helpful, in a cautionary way, to experience such bad user design in a non-web setting. (Toaster ovens and clock radios often provide this kind of good example of a bad example.) It reminds me of the high standards we set for ourselves and mostly meet.

In 15 years we’ve gone from convention centers without wireless to convention centers without enough wireless. Ditto hotels. Check back in 2029.

The rest of the world did something about second-hand smoke. Just saying.


For me, this conference is mostly a total immersion program for winding down LITA committee work and ramping up LITA governing board work. The to-do list for an incoming vice president is a lot of fun.

I did make it to two very good programs. The LITA President’s Program featured Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code ( This non-profit organization works to address the disproportionately low number of women of color in the fields of IT, programming, web development, and related fields. Black Girls Code works in several locations in the US and a new location in South Africa, with programming for girls aged 7 to 17. It’s a pretty amazing example of what happens when you give girls (or anyone) the tools to do a job, and explicitly tell them “you can do this” (and block to too common implicit messages of “no you can’t”).

Monday morning was my one other time slot for catching a program, and almost by chance I saw Jeremy Frumkin of the University of Arizona, talking about technical solutions to address academic libaries’ online branding. Or in other words: we’re increasingly being asked to justify the money we spend, and simultaneously making ourselves invisible to usersin services like discovery and delivery of [very, very expensive] journal articles. InArizona’s case, they’re experimenting with a method that spotsPDF downloads through a campus proxy (like our EZProxy) and on the fly insertsa cover sheet to providing branding information – think “Access to this journal is provided by [Your University Library].”

A second part of this idea is maximize the amount of information a library logs in their proxy and to do more data mining there to pull out more specific answers to Who Benefits And How Much (terms like Business Intelligence and Value Proposition came up).

This is very early in the development of this service, and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

And so, off to another Board meeting, then an early dinner, and a flight home that’s so hilariously early tomorrow morning, most people in this town would call it tonight.

ALA 2014 according to Hu….(I can’t think of a catchy title for this.)

Saturday, June 28, 2014 4:49 pm

I know, I know, it’s Vegas, and I should have a catchy title for this post. Alas no catchy title, but hopefully some good content!

Friday started with a 6am run on the strip, followed by an online meeting about flipping my Lib210 class. (During this meeting I discovered that my iPhone hot spot and the cell signals in Las Vegas were not robust enough for a smooth Google+ Hangout, but Bally’s is not getting $15 a day for WiFi from me!)


Next, I had the pleasure of joining the APALA sponsored tour of the Zappos corporate headquarters located in the historic Las Vegas City Hall (Only in Vegas can a 40 year old building be historic!) Sarah Jeong, and the other leaders of APALA, did an amazing job arranging this tour. Many of you may have heard about the Zappos CEO, Tony Hsieh, and his new book, “Delivering Happiness.” Zappos is known for its corporate culture and we were witness to it while there! The new employees who had just finished their four-week training program (all employees, no matter the job, go through a month-long training program, and all take shifts doing customer service!) held a parade through the headquarters, celebrating their completion of the program! We also saw the bocce court and hammocks pictured below!

Streaming Video in Academic Libraries

After lunch, the group visited the Downtown Project, a plan revitalized downtown Las Vegas, spearheaded by Hsieh, but I had to dash off to ProQuest Day at ALA to hear the presentation “Streaming Video in Academic Libraries.” Jane Hutchison from William Paterson University and Deg Farrelly from Arizona State University surveyed a variety of libraries regarding streaming video and presented some of their finding at this presentation. Keep in mind, while the survey data wasbroken up by Carnegie classification, the data presented at this program isaggregated. Their survey instrument can be found at

Here are some of the interesting points they discovered or confirmed. First, most libraries reported that tech support comes from the IT department, but primary responsibility comes from the library, where key responsibilities are widely distributed.


Only 3% of libraries have a dedicated agent, 16% were media librarians, 34% were Acquisitions Librarians, 39% other (from director to consortium and all in between)

Converting collections:

  • 63% already stream
  • 89% plan to convert
  • 35% have not converted but plan to in the next 3 years

81% converting content with digital content licensing from a distributor as opposed to in-house digitization

58% don’t digitize on request

40% who digitize on request do it via licensing

33.3% digitize under fair use, following guidelines from some of the documents listed below:

  • Code of best practices in fair use
  • Fair Use Evaluator
  • Copyright Guidelines (NYU)
  • ARL Code
  • TEACH Act
  • Internal copyright guides

The libraries that were digitizing on request were very serious about making a case for fair use. They were not just going about it without considering the repercussions.


In the aggregate, libraries were found to be spending more on streaming than hard copy video, 28K for streaming as opposed to 20K for hard copy video.

  • 32% anticipate spending less for hard copy video next year.
  • 42% anticipate spending more for streaming individual titles
  • 48% anticipate spending more for streaming collections
  • 44% purchased streaming titles in perpetuity
  • 42% purchased streaming collections in perpetuity
  • 66% use term license titles
  • 90% subscribe to at least one collection from an aggregator

Films Media Group and Alexander Street Press were the two primary players during the time of the survey. New players include: Kanopy, Docuseek2, Hoopla.

  • 34% of libraries place lease records in catalog
  • 46% of libraries place purchase records in catalog
  • 57% of libraries place subscription records in catalog
  • 22% of libraries don’t catalog any of the individual streaming video titles
  • 72% use a vendor’s hosting (cloud storage for some or all of streaming video)

I look forward to seeingthe full report when it is published. The researchersplan to run this survey again and improve some issues with the survey instrument before the next round.

RUSA 101

Next, I attended RUSA 101 session and met Andrea Hill. I had worked with Andrea on presenting a recent webinar for RUSA and wanted to meet her in person and thank her for the opportunity. She mentioned there will be another open call to submit a proposal to lead a RUSA webinar soon after ALA if anyone is interested! This session offered a greatintroduction to RUSA and plenty of time to meet with the various sections set up at tables around the room.

Keynote-Jane McGonigal

I thought nothing could be better than the Zappos tour, but Opening Keynote, Jane McGonigal, game designer and author, proved me wrong! She was just as amazing as Zappos! I’ve been a fan of her TED Talks for years and was pleased to have the opportunity to hear her speak in person.

She began her talk by explaining that there are currently over1 billion gamers world wide! (Those are people who spend one hour a day or more gaming.)
Next she quoted a study that found that 81% of workers are not engaged in their work, which results in a 3.1 billion dollar loss in productivity. She argues that people are looking for a source of engagement. If we could take 1% of the 7 billion hours spent on games, we could build a new Wikipedia each day.

After presenting research that shows gaming can improve positive emotional resilience. for example, gamers spend 80% of time failing in videogames! She believes the coming generation of gamers will be super-empowered hopeful individuals! If we can harness that gaming energy toward constructive games, it could change the world. She used the example of the “game” Foldit, a multiplayer online game that engages non-scientists in solving hard prediction problems, and how its 50K players were all listed as authors in the 2010 “Nature” article resulting from their efforts.

She then asked the audience, what if libraries were the place for solving these epic challenges. Her game “Find the Future” a pioneering, interactive experience created especially for NYPL’s Centennial, did just that, using the New York Public Library as a place where 500 players wrote found artifacts and prompts that directed them to write their own essays. At the end of the 12 hour event, the essays were published in a book and added to NYPL’s collection, with each of the 500 participants listed as authors!

After hearing Jane McGonigal describe this event, Carolyn McCallum and I spent the next half hour discussing how ZSR could host this kind of event!

ANSS Social at Tamba Indian Cuisine

I ended the day with Carolyn McCallum at the ANSS Social, where we met a prison librarian and two librarians who had recently worked in Russian libraries. We also chatted witha librarian from Arizona State University about the new Starbucks/ASU online education program! It was a interesting crowd and a great way to end a busy day!

More to come!


2014 American Theological Library Association Annual Conference

Friday, June 27, 2014 3:52 pm

Last week I headed to New Orleans for the ATLA Annual Conference. I had never been to New Orleans before, so a big “thank you” to Roz, Jeff, Meghan, and Rebecca, who gave me some great recommendations!

“Common Ends: Libraries, Imagination, and the Conflict of Values in the Digital Moment”-Joe Lucia, Temple University

After the opening reception on Wednesday night, the conference started off with the plenary session on Thursday morning. Joe Lucia, dean of the Temple University Libraries (previously at Villanova/vufind, winner of the 2013 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award), spoke on the topic of “Common Ends.” He framed his discussion with the idea that we are currently in an “intertidal” period. Intertidal spaces are in-between places, where both/and is the norm and things are not black or white. While this can be frustrating for decision making or future planning, these intertidal places are also places of great creativity and fertility, and we should be capitalizing on the ideas they produce. This dichotomy is most prominent in the digital/physical transition we are currently experiencing; we all have seen the importance of ZSR as a place grow, especially over the last decade, but so many resources we provide are shifting to being digital.

At Temple, Lucia has been tasked with building a completely new library space, from the ground up (with a $200 million budget!). These are some of the ideas or principles they are using as the conceptualize what this new space will be:

  • library as commons: open space for access, meeting space, also a physical manifestation of the concepts of open access that libraries promote
  • library as catalyst: engages with change and flow, continues our cultural role of inspiration “even as the world of the book gives way to the world of the digital”
  • library as threshold: libraries are transformational spaces, should reflect the shift in what information/knowledge is, from physical to digital
  • library as exploratory space: combine scholars’ knowledge with our own technology/organizational skills to create new products (DPLA, digital humanities)

“Quest for Elusive Teaching Opportunities”-Jane Elder, Southern Methodist University, Elizabeth Leahy, Azusa Pacific University

“Librarian as Co-Teacher: Information Literacy Embedded in Theology Courses”-Martha Adkins and Mark Bilby, University of San Diego

“Preparing Librarians for Changes in Classroom Instruction”-Ken Boyd, Taylor University

I attended three sessions dealing with teaching and information literacy. Here are some of the main points/themes they touched on:

  • Survey faculty to find out what they see as consistent problems with student work, create a handout for students listing these and how to avoid them, create programming to respond to these issues
  • Short, 15-minute sessions on small topics or new products
  • Pointing out to faculty/administration that for the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), student interaction with the library is a criteria for accreditation. Need to create programming that can demonstrate this is happening!
  • Create a checklist/menu of options for what can be covered in an information literacy session, along with how long each would take to present. Offer the list to faculty so they can help create the instruction session that best fits their needs.
  • Frame sessions as timesavers: “Do you want more time to do X? We’ll help you with your citations!”
  • Quick instruction evaluation: “Tell your roommate one thing you learned about research in the class.”

A few resources mentioned:

I also attended an updated session that I attended last year, Teaching Analytical Reading Skills to Seminary Students, lead by Laura Harris from Iliff School of Theology. Here is my write-up of that session from last year. I’m planning on incorporate some of these ideas into some workshops in the Fall.

New and Forthcoming Resources on Dougherty, Baylor University, and Robert Martin, Pennsylvania State University

I encourage you all to explore the data that is presented at! The Association of Research Data Archives began in 1998, and organizes and presents the data collected by researchers who study religion. Beyond the statistical data, ARDA has collected syllabi, assignments, videos, and other classroom resources that can help instructors who are teaching about religion. All of the information on the site has been peer-reviewed (data collected for published studies, syllabi vetted for rigor), and all of the data sets are included, so if you know how to crunch the numbers, you can download them and do so!

A few points that might be of interest to those in other disciplines:

  • National constitutions and religion: From the International tab>national profiles>select country. The last tab for each country has excerpts from their constitution which delineate the religious rights granted in that country. Here’s Botswana.
  • Creating surveys, asking appropriate questions: The Measurement Wizard has 114 categories that are frequently surveyed and includes examples of questions asked in the topic. Here’s School Prayer, Attitude about. The Measurement Wizard is part of the larger Best Practices Center, which also includes useful information on surveys and understanding and interpreting data.
  • Demographic Data: The GIS Maps section allows you to enter the zipcode or city/state for a location and view demographic maps, as well as religious and congregation maps. Here’s 27103. You can select for different categories, including race, income, marital status, employment, etc… For example, when selecting income, you can then narrow to median household income, or average income by race, or households by income type.

“Part of the Furniture”: Family Bibles in Nation, Home, and Library-Bruce Eldevik, Luther Seminary

This session was a fascinating overview of the history of family bibles in the United States. As with the session on the publication history of Luther’s complete works that I attended last year, there was a lot here that I hadn’t considered or thought about. Changes in publication technology, family structure, economics, education and demographics can be traced by looking at family bibles.

The first illustrated bible in the US was published in 1791. It also included the first page dedicated to family info. Previously, this genealogical information was just recorded where there was space, like on the cover page. The illustrations in this bible were mostly of scenes or events in the text. As time went on and printing technology improved, illustrations shifted to be more “academic”, such as symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel or the parts of the tabernacle. These publications were also more academic (but not necessarily scholarly!) in the sense that they began to include concordances, histories (Egypt and Greece), scientific information (animals and plants), and timelines. In 1843, the Harper Brothers published what sounded like the most successful of these bibles, Harper’s Illuminated Bible. This bible was published by subscription and customers could select which sections they wanted to include in their individual bibles (all or portions of the “academic” content, the apocryphal books, etc…). 25,000 copies were printed in the first twelve years, at a profit of $500,000.

After 1900, the popularity of these types of bibles began to wane. Interiors were becoming more informal and these large books and the tables and stands they were usually displayed on were no longer fashionable, and they frequently ended up in closets or trunks. This made them prime fodder to be donated to libraries or special collections! There was some discussion regarding whether these types of books should be accepted as donations and what types of preservation issues they might have (flowers pressed in their pages!).

If anyone wants to talk more about this, I have more notes from the presentation, as well as a handout with a bibliography!

2014 Archives Leadership Institute (Decorah, Iowa) by Tanya

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 4:25 pm

I recently attended the second iteration of the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI), hosted by Luther College and located in Decorah, Iowa (I participated in the 2008 ALI held in Madison, WI). Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the goal for the Institute is to “bring to tomorrow’s leaders the insights and understanding necessary for increasing public use and appreciation of archives.” I am now part of the Steering Committee, organizing the current 3-year set of ALI (still sponsored by NHPRC):

The Steering Committee consists of archivists (Rachel Vagts, ALI Director, and Sasha Griffin) from Luther College as well as representatives from New York (Geof Huth), Michigan (Beth Myers), Ohio (Dan Noonan), Oregon (Terry Baxter), Texas (Brenda Gunn), and of course, North Carolina (Tanya). For our second year, we worked with the faculty to revise the schedule and again reviewed applications (there were nearly 100 for 25 slots). The Committee conducted daily evaluations of the curriculum, and monitored the overall process by serving as faciliators for small groups in the cohort. Again, we had a wonderful week and built many new relationships.

The core curriculum consisted of the following: The first day focused on New Leadership Thinking and Methods (faculty and facilitator, Luther Snow). Our second day brought Dr. David Gracy (retired from the archives faculty at UT-Austin) who spoke on Advocacy. Dr. Gracy is such a personality, the tweeters in the group couldn’t keep up with all of his quotes! Day three brought Dan Noonan from Ohio State who presented on Strategies for Born Digital Resources. Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, George Mason) who oversees OMEKA and Scripto, focused on project management for day four. Christopher Barth, from West Point, spoke on Strategic Visioning and Team Development. A new addition was StrengthsFinder, so, yes, I managed to take it again. My number 1 strength Activator has remained the same, but I have added Achiever and Connectedness. My other two, Learner and Responsibility remain. Of course, during our Strengthsfinder presentation, we had a tornado warning and had to complete part of the presentation in the laundry room. Good times.

The week again ended with a special celebratory dinner (which included funny and heartfelt stories from the participants). The group is scheduled to meet again at the annual meeting for the Society of American Archivists, being held in Washington, D.C. in August. There will be a dinner (including ALI alumni from past years) as well as a morning workshop to discuss potential service activities. ALI has had a tremendous impact on the archival profession by developing the potential leadership skills in a wide range of archival professionals throughout the country. I am glad I was able to continue my participation in this important program.


NCLA GRS Annual Meeting & Workshop

Monday, June 23, 2014 11:42 am

Recently, I attended the NCLA Government Resources Section Annual Meeting & Workshop. This event was held on the campus of Elon University and was sponsored by the Carol Grotnes Belk Library. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet with colleagues, and discuss current issues and upcoming changes within the Federal Depository Library Program and the NC statewide depository program.

Here are some of the highlights:

Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) Update
David Durant, GRS Chair & Federal Documents Librarian @ ECU
Beth Rowe, Federal Regional Depository Library Representative & Documents Librarian @ UNC-CH
During the 2014 FDLP Conference proceedings this past April, GPO unveiled a new strategic direction for the FDLP . Developed from external reports and feedback from library users and contributing institutions, the National Plan for the Future of the FDLPproposes some changes to the current program, while maintaining it’s original mission and core values. The plan has not yet been enacted, as GPO wanted to give member libraries and invested users an opportunity to provide input and feedback about what the program will become. The proposed changes include:

– a partnership with the Digital Public Library, which would serve as a host for collecting and housing materials.

– Rebranding efforts: (seems to be a trend, as GPO has adopted a new motto/slogan–Official. Digital. Secure.) FDLP (Federal Depository Library Program) will become FIALP (Federal Information Access Library Program). FIALP member libraries will become “Regional Federal Access Libraries” (currently Regional Depository Libraries) & “Federal Access Libraries” (currently Selective Depository Libraries). The possibility of changing GPO: Government Printing Office to GPO: Government Publishing Office was also mentioned (although there has already been a lot of back and forth discussion about this change with the increase of born-digital GovDocs).

– a collaborative network called the Government Information Access and Preservation Network, and a partnership program (the Federal Information Access Assurance Partners) to manage legacy print collections, promote investment in the preservation & digitization efforts, and to provide continued access to partnering government collections.

Because it is still in the planning phase, the plan is purposefully vague, presented without many details as to how the program will operate. During our discussion, concerns were expressed about how the proposed plan would impact current collaborative efforts by regional GovDocs consortia (such as ASERL). Additionally, some of my colleagues expressed their concerns over the varying tracks of focus that exist within Government Documents programs– one focused on access, and one focused on preservation, and how some depository programs may have to choose to prioritize one over the other. If you would like more information about the plan and current discussion about the proposed changes, please see GPO’s National Plan for the Future of the FDLP& ASERL Deans’ Letter to GPO re: “National Plan for the Future of FDLP”.

NC State Documents Update
Jennifer Davison, State Library of NC
Denise Jones, State Library of NC
The NC Government Publications Clearinghouseis currently focused on NC state digital publications and collections, and recent digitization efforts. The Clearinghouse manages more than 16,000 born-digital items, and 4,000 digitized items.

Jennifer shared some recent digitization projects that are available through the NC State Government Publications Collection, and some very useful Research Guides that pull together associated documents for themed NC research (such as ‘Agricultural Stats in NC‘ & ‘Native American History in NC‘). I am glad to know these exist!

Jennifer & Denise also discussed the challenges associated with managing digital state documents, such as collecting “Fugitive Documents“. These are online publications that meet all of the requirements for distribution through the government depository program, but were never submitted to the clearinghouse & therefore are not directly accessible to contributing libraries or agencies through the depository program. Apparently, it is estimated that about 50% of Federal documents are fugitive, and apparently, the percentage is even higher in NC state documents (!!).

Online Mapping Made Easy: Create a Map in 10 Minutes
Phil McDaniel, GIS Librarian @ UNC-Chapel Hill
Having a background in Geography, and an interest in datamapping and geocoding, I was admittedly jazzed for this presentation. Phil shared two mapping applications that are *free* and relatively easy for GIS beginners to create maps from their data– ArcGIS & Google Fusion Tables. Phil demonstrated uploading tabular data (that includes geographic values) with both programs, and how to modify the design and focus of your data map. Here is an example of a map that I created through the ArcGIS system, with data available from the Winston-Salem Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Winston-Salem Annual Average Daily Traffic (1981 vs 2013)

You may not believe me, but I’ve had three unique map requests from faculty members in the past year–not the typical reference request. Knowing what these programs are & the opportunities for data visualization that they provide is a good trick to have up my sleeve.
*sidebar: if you also geek-out over maps & all things GIS-related, drop me a line and let’s schedule a map-a-thon!

NC Open Government Coalition & Issues in Open Government
Jonathan Jones, Director of the NC Open Government Coalition
The North Carolina Open Government Coalitionis a nonpartisan organization that advocates for transparency in government, and the public’s access to government activity, records, and meetings. Jonathan shared with us the Coalition’s Mission and guiding principles, both of which are focused on ensuring and enhancing the public’s access to government activity, records, and meetings.

Jonathan also shared with us some common access issues that the NCOGC face, and exemptions to public record access laws (such as information related to criminal investigations, trial preparation materials, emergency response plans, autopsy photos, & email listservs).

There are some very useful resources available from the Sunshine Center’s website, aaand they have an app (NC Sunshine Center) that delightfully summarizes Public Record Laws, Open Meeting Laws, AND has a button to the NCOGC hotline (should you ever need clarification on your rights as a seeker of government information or a holder of government information).

All in all, a great meeting and workshop! I am looking forward to becoming more involved with the NCLA Government Resources Section in the future.

9th Annual Metrolina Library Association Conference

Monday, June 16, 2014 5:55 pm

As Mary mentioned in her post, I’ll be covering the sessions I attended on my own, as well as two sessions that we attended together: the plenary session and the first session.

The plenary session was by Paul Jones, Director of ibiblio and a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. His presentation was an overview of the many library and information projects that are run or supported by ibiblio and programs at Chapel Hill. Besides the significant fact that he stopped using email in June 2011, here are a few of the projects that stood out to me:

  • WiderNet Project: Affiliated with UNC-Chapel Hill, this project serves schools, clinics, libraries and homes with little to no access to digital forms of communication. This includes the eGranary Digital Library, which delivers resources which can be accessed via intranetwithin an organizationrather than needing to connect to external internet resources. Based on their interactive map, this product is being utilized most significantly in sub-Saharan Africa and south-east Asia.
  • Interactive Information Systems Laboratory (sorry, I couldn’t find a link to this!): The task of this project is to understand how people search and the psychological aspects of searching (i.e., how does getting bad search results impact future searching?). He also mentioned that most users don’t use more than two search terms in a given search.
  • Carolina Digital Humanities Initiative: There are tons of projects linked here, not all from UNC-Chapel Hill, and I encourage you to take a look! I’ve bookmarked a bunch to add to LibGuides! The one project Jones mentioned during his talk was the interactive 1911 Charlotte map. By using city directories and maps, Tom Hanchett was able to map the racial changes to the core of Charlotte during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Really fascinating work!

Personal Librarian: From Resources to Relationships

During this first session, librarians from Johnson and Wales University (and one faculty member) described their implementation of the personal librarian approach, which has been used by many libraries over the last 20 years. In their implementation, the Johnson and Wales librarians divided the introductory English comp courses evenly between them and they were added to each of the Blackboard courses. Students were emailed before they met with the librarians for library instruction sessions, and each faculty member could determine how involved they wanted the librarian to be in their individual courses. Since they first tried the personal librarian approach in Fall 2012, they have had a good response, from both students and faculty. Student grades increased quite dramatically and faculty are open to having the librarians work with them in their classes.

A few tips:

  • Personalization: students like a personal approach, they like to see a face or hear a voice in instructional videos, or see a picture in a LibGuide, which they can connect to their librarian
  • Branding: give your program a name, promote it, and don’t be afraid to update the program as you go from semester to semester
  • From the faculty perspective: need faculty buy-in, highlight that you share the same goal of student success, make sure that faculty have choice in how the librarians are involved in their courses, communicate consistently

Mindful Research Paper: Getting Students to Sloooow Down and Actively Focus

In this session, Joe Eshleman and Fernanda Tate Owens, a librarian and writing instructor, respectively, from Johnson and Wales, described how they have used the concept of mindfulness when teaching students. They explained that being mindful means that you are in the moment, present to what is happening and not thinking about future actions. You are also attentive, aware, and, importantly for the learning process, non-judgemental. These concepts can impact the research and writing projects when they can help students focus and pace themselves, making sure that they don’t jump around or skip steps, but have a deliberate approach and realize that there is a process to what they are working on.

In practice, Joe and Fernanda have created smaller assignments that help students really focus on two of the major roadblocks in research: procrastinating and picking a topic. When it comes time to create a research proposal from their topic, they use the SLOW approach: search, learn, outline, write. The students select a problem, find three sources and annotate them (which must be approved by Joe, the librarian), and then write an outline incorporating their research question, claims, and support. This helps the students to break down each step in the process and see how they fit together, and that they should follow one another. Another added benefit is that because a librarian is grading a portion of their assignment and is working closely with their professor in their course, they view Joe as an authority and are not as reluctant to approach him for assistance in other areas.

“Me” Learning: A Constructivist Approach to Web Evaluation

Four librarians from Radford University (Jennifer Resor Whicker, Craig Arthur, Lisa Vassady, and Alyssa Archer) presented their method for teaching students how to evaluate websites using the Constructivist model. The Constructivist model of learning teaches that students learn by doing and by adding new information to what they’ve learned before. This type of learning tends to be active, but also is learner centered and places the responsibility for learning on the student. Historically, web evaluation exercises consisted of looking at disreputable websites and using a checklist (based on print resources) to decide if they were appropriate for research. This lead to students thinking a website was either right or wrong, not that it could be appropriate or not depending on the circumstances.

The librarians reworked their web evaluation worksheet to incorporate three exercises (ideally this would be in a 60 minute class). In the first exercise, students look at the website Secondhand Smoke: The Big Lie and in groups of two-three, list five reasons why it is not a credible website. Students then share their reasons to the class and the librarians can help address any misconceptions or dualistic thinking (.org is always ok, .com is always bad, etc…). In the next exercise, the students are given a question they need to answer, such as, “is it safe to drink out of water bottles that have been left in the car?” If they had to find the perfect website to answer that question, what criteria would it have to meet, based on “who, what, when, where, why?” For example, who would an appropriate author need to be? A doctor, researcher, concerned parent? How recently would the website need to be? Is 2003 recent enough, or should it be 2014? Once they have decided on their criteria, in exercise three they have to find a website that meets them and present it to the class. They call the presentation “The Smackdown” and other groups are allowed to bring up negative points or point out problems, and then the class votes on which groups’ website was the best.

More information here, in the article they published last year: Teaching Web Evaluation: A Cognitive Development Approach


As always, I enjoyed the Metrolina Conference and learned a lot! It was also great to get to touch base with Mary and hear how things are going in the Schools of Business, as well as see friends from UNCG and High Point! I have handouts and bibliographies from several presentations, so let me know if you have any questions!

Metrolina Library Association’s 9th Annual Conference

Monday, June 16, 2014 1:25 pm

Last week, Kaeley and I attended the Metrolina conference in Charlotte. It was different from prior Metrolina conferences in that it was held on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College rather than at Johnson & Wales Univ. in downtown Charlotte. The conference center served as our venue and did so very well. The conference began with a keynote speech followed by 4 concurrent sessions that wrapped around a lunch and poster session. Kaeley and I have agreed to split our write-ups rather than submitting duplicate entries on the sessions we attended together.

During session 2, we attended New Frontiers: Rethinking Library Instruction in Online Learning Spaces. The speaker began by outlining the short-comings of one-shot library instruction sessions: there’s insufficient time to help students refine their topics, to encourage them to read and analyze sources, or connect different information sources in a meaningful way. He asserts that digital learning objects can overcome these short-comings.

A Digital Learning Object is an electronic resource with clear learning objectives that often has assessment tied to it. It can take many formats: lecture, tutorial, online game, interactive online exercise, or a video tutorial embedded in a research guide. It’s short and focused and the most effective ones contain interactive elements. Our toolkit videos were an early version of Digital Learning Objects.

The presenter’s advice for creating effective DLOs includes these design suggestions: start with clear objectives; use a combination of AV and text; break it into discrete sections so none is too long; include interactive elements. His process for producing an 8-module DLO on information literacy consisted of the following steps: define the objectives; assess the intended audience; write the script; design the visuals; record the audio; import captions; review, edit, finalize; distribute.

He used Adobe Captivate to create the modules, but there are many options for making DLOs. They can be embedded in research guides or in course management programs. Finally, he stressed that interactivity is the key to successful online learning.

For session 3, I attended Change Your Approach to Faculty Collaboration, the description for which read “This presentation will provide guidance on how to change approaches to faculty collaboration by playing a more integral role in academic writing and publishing teams” and she did exactly that. Ms. Sorrell provided suggestions for how librarians can move from supporting faculty research and writing to becoming co-authors with the faculty. This is especially possible when a faculty member is working on literature review.

Melanie Sorrell of UNC-Charlotte suggested librarians can play a more integral role in researching and writing lit reviews beyond searching for articles. First, she suggests, publicize your desire or intention to your faculty – let them know what you’d like to do. Publicize your own articles to your faculty so they understand you’re a published author. Approach younger, tenure-seeking faculty; they may be more open to working with you since their need to publish is great. Once you start working with a faculty member(s) negotiate with the primary author and make it clear you can do more than search for articles, such as identifying target journals or writing a section of the review. Establish author order. Once these items have been agreed upon, send an e-mail to the primary author documenting the conversation that includes you as co-author.

Once you’re established as a member of the research team, she recommends doing the following: establish a draft timeline and be sure to hit your deadlines; manage the citation management software; do some background reading on the topic; ask the lead author for a draft of the abstract; and establish a list of keywords, and share them with the author(s) to verify.

Ms. Sorrell recommends documenting your search strategy and including it in the methodology section of the article. Include keywords or subject headings, date range limitations, and any filters you applied. As the search evolves, document how you altered it, document synonyms, truncation or other changes you made. I had never thought of this before and it was a real ‘light bulb’ moment for me.

In the later stages, edit the 2nd draft, using the knowledge gained from the background reading to insure that the lit review reflects the articles’ content. Finally, help your co-authors understand the difference between subscription and open access journals as you decide where to submit it for publication.

Ms. Sorrell’s co-presenter spent the second portion describing open access and copyright issues for authors, but since Molly has covered these topics with us so thoroughly, I don’t feel it’s necessary to repeat that content here.

For session 4, I attended Crossing the Threshold: Threshold Concepts & IL by Kathy Shields and Jenny Dale in which they shared ACRL’s evolution from IL standards towards a set of threshold concepts. Threshold concepts are basic or foundational concepts without an understanding of which, a student cannot move forward or cross the threshold. Once one grasps a TC, one cannot unlearn it. Often TCs are so basic that they go unrecognized by those who understand them.

To qualify as a TC, an idea must be: transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded and troublesome. They are often concepts that define a discipline and the way of thinking for professionals in that discipline.

Why switch from standards to threshold concepts? TCs are easier to explain to faculty in other disciplines, they offer a greater potential for collaboration, they help explain the ‘why’ behind particular practices and they’re more comprehensive – more than a matter of checking of boxes.

The threshold concepts being proposed by ACRL include: scholarship is a conversation; research is inquiry; format as process; authority is constructed and contextual; and searching is strategic. During the session, we broke into small groups and mapped the new TCs to the current standards. This made it easier to see the shift as an evolution rather than a sharp break with past practices.

Sessions 3 and 4 were the most interesting to me as the concepts are so relevant to my practice of librarianship. I’m already thinking about how I might integrate threshold concepts into my LIB230 and LIB235/ESE305 classes.

NC-BIG Camp @ UNC-G 2014

Thursday, June 5, 2014 9:29 am

NC-BIG Camp had the coolest name tags ever! Designed by Kyle and printed by Craig Fansler.

On Friday, May 30 Hu, Amanda, Kyle, and Joy traveled to UNC-Greensboro to attend the second annual meeting of NC-BIG. NC-BIG is sponsored by the Bibliographic Instruction section of the North Carolina Library Association. Kyle was on the steering committee, and it was an extremely organized and well-planned unconference. The entire event consisted of three break-out sessions with four group choices in each session. Unlike NC-LITe, this was a larger group of librarians representing a variety of institution types such as high schools, community colleges, public libraries, special libraries (from the Research Triangle Park), and college and universities. Here are some of the breakout sessions we attended:

Presentation Tips and Tools(Joy)
The facilitator for this group was Amanda Glenn-Bradley who works at UNC-Asheville. I always enjoy learning about new presentation ideas and tools, and this session delivered both. I decided to try out Haiku Deck to demonstrate one of the free presentation tools I learned about. Here’s the presentation, and I think it looks great, but I had to switch it to Google Presentation to make it public (I could not get it to upload to Slideshare) and I was not able to include links to the tools. I thought the most helpful link shared was Sam Harlow’s Free Media Software LibGuide. I mentioned this link in my NC-LITe post, but her guides are simply amazing and include tools for MindMaps, Brainstorming, Screencasts, Presentations, Word Clouds, etc. We could use a ZSR LibGuide like this!!

Digital and Visual Literacies (Joy)
I think I have become a Sam Harlow groupie! Sam (the facilitator for this session) is the Media & Digital Resource Librarian at High Point University and she works with faculty to help them integrate digital resources into their curriculums. ACRL developed Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education in October 2011. Visual Literacy is defined as a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Digital literacy is defined as the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. The part I found most interesting in this session was Sam’s discussion of her Research Poster Creation instruction sessions. She even offers suggestions for developing and grading multimedia projects.

ACRL Information Literacy Framework (Amanda)
This breakout session was quite popular — everyone wants to talk about the framework! As we get further into summer break, I believe librarians have had more time to digest the recent drafts of the new framework. Since then, the discussions about the framework are only getting better and more thought-provoking. Several interesting ideas were discussed at NC-BIG Camp. One was using the new information literacy framework as a gateway to move away from information literacy as a one-shot library instruction session and into something that is integrated throughout the curriculum. I think this will be difficult for many libraries, especially those without lots of institutional/faculty buy-in and some wondered if it was necessary to get institutional buy-in for the new framework. Since not all the threshold concepts have been decided upon, we also made predictions on what threshold concepts may be coming down the pipe in upcoming drafts of the framework to be revealed around the time of ALA. I placed my bets on something that encompasses Information as Commodity* or Information Privilege so we will have to wait and see! (*This is not my idea, I’m basing my guess on possible threshold concepts presented in this article: Troublesome Concepts and Information Literacy: Investigating Threshold Concepts for IL Instruction).

Program Assessment (Amanda)
Joy and I led a breakout session on program assessment. Though we were “leading” the discussion, I think we both learned quite a lot about what some other institutions in the area are doing for program assessment. For example, we learned that Wake Tech is also participating in Assessment in Action: Academic Libraries and Student Success and overhauled their information literacy assessment and wrote a 100 page (!!) QEP proposal for information literacy. They detailed the changes they made to their program assessment and the group discussed moving away from “user satisfaction” assessment to “did they learn” assessment. This theme was repeated later in a breakout session about Student Learning Outcome Assessment, where we discussed final product assessment.

Creative Outreach Programs(Hu)
Facilitating this session was the highlight of my day! First, it offered me the opportunity to introduce the session by talking about all the great outreach programs at ZSR this semester! After discussing the new ZSR Fellow position, and their role in planning and implementing these big events, I described the Dean’s List Gala, The Future of Higher Education Symposium “The Big Disruption: The Coming Transformation of Higher Education,” and the Connections and Conversations, an alumni weekend focused on well-being, I also mentioned the 5th Annual Senior Showcase , and ZSR’s Role in the Wake Will Capital Campaign.

This led to a discussion of creative outreach programs at other libraries. Here are some highlights from the session notes:

  • Durham Public Libraries have a new bookmobile and they are revamping that program. They also have a new library mascot, a moose the kids named, you can “check out” the moose and take it on vacation!
  • High Point University worked with a group of freshman leaders, from student government, to promote the library, host an event, and share the library’s page on social media. (This reminded me of our Library Ambassadors program!)
  • Meredith College has a sports equipment collection that circulates; student activities funds went toward it; students get to know them and come into the Library!
  • Campbell Student Government came to the library with a lunch, and Librarians talked to these students about their lives, the library, the chat service, all in an effort to better know their users.
  • Vance-Granville Community College in Henderson– Poster competition through an art class and a professor; online scavenger hunt

Libraries at commuter schools are a particular challenge. Creative outreach programs at these schools must reach students who spend a minimal amount of time on campus, increasing the need for opportunities to effectively engage these students online. We had a diverse group of libraries represented at this session, and it was inspiring to hear such a variety of creative outreach stories.

Gaming and Gamification (Kyle)
This session was all over the place, as people approached it with completely different ideas of what gaming in libraries means. I actually can’t believe we were able to talk about all of these things, but we did:

  • game lending programs
  • video game labs (such as that at UNCG)
  • gaming events in the library that serve the purpose of outreach (like our own HvZ and Capture the Flag, and other libraries that have hosted board game nights),
  • library instruction disguised as big games (such as the live-action CLUE game at UNC-CH that has students solving a murder mystery by combing through some pieces in their special collections)
  • “gamified” library instructional materials (such as the “Goblin Threat” plagiarism game)
  • “gamified” library instruction in general (which includes digital badging programs like Purdue’s Passport)

I was glad I went to this one! I went into it thinking we’d just talk about gamifying library instruction, but I learned so much from some of the folks there that are paying more attention to gaming in general.

Teaching with Technology (Kyle)
I facilitated this session, which was a lot of fun. We each got a chance to share some of our successes with using technology in the classroom, some failures we’ve learned from, some of our favorite instructional technology tools, and how we keep up with new developments in instructional technology. I wound up sharing a lot about ZSRx, which I didn’t expect to do, since NC-BIG is focused on classroom instruction. Nonetheless, people were eager to learn about what we’ve been doing with that platform, and I was able to share some of the tools I’ve been using to build those courses. Out of that discussion, I learned that Durham County Public Library is working with a contractor to offer more than 500 free online courses, which is kind of amazing.


NC-LITe at UNC-Charlotte May 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014 3:11 pm

Joy, Amanda, Kyle, and Kaeley

On Wednesday, May 28, Joy, Amanda, Kyle, and Kaeley traveled to UNC-Charlotte’s Atkins Library to attend the biannual meeting of NC-LITe. In order to keep from repeating ourselves, this post is combined into one. For those of you who need a refresher on the NC-LITe, this is a biannual “unconference” that brings together college librarians interested in discussing instructional technology uses and ideas. UNC-Charlotte’s librarians were amazing hosts and they provided muffins and coffee when we arrived and they also provided our lunches.

There were ten colleges and universities represented with a total of about 30 librarians in attendance. The day kicked off with introductions and updates from each campus represented. It is fascinating to hear how technologies are being used in classrooms, both face-to-face and online. If you have not checked out NCSU’s newest 3 minute videos, “Picking Your Topic IS Research,” “From Idea to Library,” and “Peer Review in 3 Minutes,” I suggest you take some time to look at them. Appalachian, UNC-Charlotte, and NCSU all reported that they are in the process of combining their service desks into one. NCSU and UNC-Charlotte are also in the process of creating Makerspaces in their libraries. NCSU also has a grant for purchasing ebooks as an alternative to printed textbooks. About an hour of our day was spent listening to the updates from the various campuses.

After the campus updates, we had breakout session to discuss topics such as “Creating Tutorials for Freshmen,” “Using Google Communities & Google Hangout in the Classroom,” and “Creating Makerspaces.” Joy went to the breakout session on Google Communities and Hangouts and in typical “unconference” style, it turns out that none of us had ever looked at Google Communities. We watched the video about it and then a lively discussion ensued that covered everything from speculation about how this tool could be used with book clubs to a tangential discussion of how Google Scholar continues to improve. It was interesting to note that all of the librarians in my group frequently directed students to Google Scholar (if you have not tried it out lately, you should). “Unconferences” are great fun because of the informal ideas that come up such as using Trello for project management work.

After the lunch, there was a round of lightning talks. NCSU talked about a new program that refer to in-house as the “Walk-in Wisdom” program. It builds on the idea of what Hu does with bringing the Library to the students by setting up a table in a dorm lobby and just hanging out. They came up with the idea of a “popup” service station within their library that offers the answer to a specific question. They chose three days in mid-November from 10:00-1:30 and 1:00-2:30 and they located the table in a high traffic area. They hand-drew beautifully designed signs on whiteboards (they only displayed one “offering” at a time): “How to become a Google Scholar Power User,” and “How to get books & articles from Across the Universe with Tripsaver.” Tripsaver is NCSU’s Interlibrary Loan service. It was a big hit and they plan to do it in the future. They attributed the success of the program to the novelty of it and a big bowl of candy also helped lure the students over.

Another interesting lightning talk was presented by Samantha Harlow at High Point University. Samantha is their Media & Digital Resource Librarian and she has made some very helpful LibGuides related to media topics such copyright & visual resources. I especially liked her guide that offers a list of where to go for open source/acceptable images for academic papers and projects. Her guides offer many how-to instruction videos that are also very helpful.

After the meeting, the UNC-Charlotte librarians offered a tour of their Library. It is an impressive space that includes 35 study rooms and some awesome technology like the whiteboard we are posing in front of in the picture at the top of this article.

NC-Lite is always a fun and informative experience, but perhaps its greatest strength comes from having the opportunity to get to know other librarians in our state with similar interests and experiences. If we get approval, we are hoping that ZSR will be hosting NC-LITe in December!!


Kaeley in front of coffeeshop.

Advertisement for printing from phones in the Atkins Library.

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