Professional Development

Author Archive

Wanda at Midwinter 2013

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 4:34 pm

Battling a viral infection for most of 2013, there were many times near the time for my flight to Seattle that I thought most seriously about not making the trip. I had a couple of commitments, one to a new LLAMA Leadership Committee for which I just got appointed a few months ago and the other was an appointment as BCALA Membership Task Force Chair. Both of these I had promised to attend and had assignments in each. So wanting more to uphold my word, I plunged away warning my roommate that spending 5 nights together might be more than anyone would willingly signup for.

Friday morning was spent attending the BCALA Executive Board meeting. One of the ups or downs depending upon how you view it is revisiting strategic priorities. Results were shared with the larger group of a SWOT analysis that was conducted by the board during its new member retreat on Thursday night. Listed among our strengths were; networking, promoting African American literature, and sustaining our legacy and organization. Weaknesses seem to mirror some of the same ones identified in almost every strategic review done during my 20+ years as a member. And yes believe it or not we had the discussion of image and what we call ourselves. Black librarians or African American or perhaps something entirely new, doesn’t really matter to me. Ultimately whatever the term we choose to identify with, we need to avails ourselves of the opportunity to be an advocate for librarians of color, promoter for authors of color and their works, to be mentors for and providers of networking opportunities for librarians new to the profession and to be providers of a venue, our listserv, instrumental to libraries looking to increase the diversity within its staffing. These all confirm our need to exist. And if we can manage effectively those things that may be threats to our success; communication, technology, image and structure, then we can remain a necessary and welcomed organization within our profession. The Membership Task Force, of which I serve as Chair, has been charged to conduct a survey of our membership this spring. Our committee met and did a rough draft of the survey we plan to conduct.
Saturday’s ACRL Personnel Administrators groups gathering centered on several topics of personal interest to me. A discussion of social media policies concerning recruitment proved as varied as one would imagine. Some believe that it minimizes the likelihood that the person could be judged fairly. Others believe it sheds an open door to more about an individual than they would willingly share in an onsite interview. If all people were fair and impartial, it could potentially play an integral role. The fact that my blue haired facebook photo would likely cause a few of the librarians I know in our profession to remove my application from the pool, however is a reality and does concern me. The group also explored electronic system options for sharing dossiers in the peer review process. This topic really got me thinking and I am eager to pursue options for our use here at ZSR.
I am a member of the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) Leadership Skills Committee. We met to continue conversations regarding the program proposal we submitted for annual on “Project Management for Libraries.” We also brainstormed ideas for future program topics planning. Some of the topics to make the short list were, work life balance and new hire orientation. Only one topic was proposed as a please don’t talk about anymore and that was succession planning for libraries. So, I wasn’t sure what led to that plea, but it came across loud and clear.
ARL unveiled a searchable database of position description designed to house a libraries position descriptions, but those of their neighboring ARL academic institutions as well. With limit functions, you can do a variety of internal only searches as well as searching for similar titles across the spectrum. I thought it would be an excellent tool, especially when we look to write advertisements for our own vacancies. The database is free to all ARL libraries, however currently it is not open to non-ARL, leaving us out of the loop. For more info look here: http://www.uflib.ufl.edu/arlpdbank/
Mindful Leadership through Tough Times, a panel discussion also sponsored by LLAMA, was also a hit for the standing room only crowd. Mindful leadership was described as a connection between the brain and leadership. Mindful leaders are thoughtful and attentive, nurturing those in their care towards their goals. A Mindful leader manages emotions while building a sense of community. The Mindful leader is self-aware and therefore your followers are likely to see you as empathic and most authentic. Your authenticity generates trust and your team wants to follow you. As the discussion came to a close, the following recommendations were offered:
• Talk to your peers, share ideas and share stories.
• Talk to your staff about what really matters.
• Share tools with your staff that help them reflect and think.
• Remind yourself that in times of change, lie great opportunities.
• Keep the mission and vision alive.
• Walk the walk.
• Take time to nurture creativity.
• Create a positive environment, where experimentation is welcomed.
• Allow yourself time to pause and reflect.
• If you don’t look around and ahead, who will?
• LISTEN and consciously practice being in the moment, being mentally present.
• Mind full or Mindful, your choice.

Joint Conference of Librarians of Color (JCLC)

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 12:06 pm

The Joint Conference of Librarians of Color was held in Kansas City September 19 -23. This conference brings together Native American, Hispanic, African American, Chinese American and Asia Pacific Librarians. This is the second such gathering for the group. The first one was held in Dallas back in 2006. I didn’t hear any official numbers, but I’d guess around 600 or so librarians were there. I am sure our friends over at UNC-G won the prize for most in attendance, with twenty-two students and six librarians on the roster. We had a splendid welcoming at the Kansas City Public Library which featured cultural cuisine and entertainment representative of each of the ethnic groups celebrated at the conference. The library was very attractive and most welcoming with lots of really cool stuff. This vault turned into a film viewing studio and an outdoor chess set available for patron use were just a few of the more noteworthy happenings.

The opening speaker was Sonia Manzano of Sesame Street, where she continues to portray Maria since the 1970′s. She spoke of family and community and how it has influenced every book as well as many of the Sesame Street episodes she wrote. And yes she still has such great looks. I was really disappointed when my pre-conference on writing diversity action plans turned out to be nothing more than a review of the leadership principles found in appreciative inquiry and organizational development. Not to worry though, diversity in some form was the primary topic of the conference. By then end of the week, I felt like I had heard the same message over and over again. I also believed that most of the recommendations given to those in attendance, were the same ones to benefit the most from others hearing and applying the message. However, one of my strongest beliefs is that each time you hear a varying form of the somewhat similar message, the more it reinforces the underlying principle of the message. Here’s a summary of the sessions I attended or shall I say a few takeaways.

Diversity is a commitment to recognizing and appreciating the variety of characteristics that make individuals unique in an atmosphere that promotes and celebrates individual and collective achievement. All are empowered when we have an inclusive organization that recognizes, yet values those differences. If libraries are to continue being indispensable organizations on their campuses and within their communities, their staff must reflect the communities they serve. Libraries must provide quality services and collections to their increasingly diverse constituencies.

Deep diversity is not all about the numbers. It’s all about value and respect. Diversity thinking has gone from tolerating to celebrating. Traditional recruitment efforts alone are not enough. Librarian residency programs can aid, but also can do much to damage if everyone on board has not fully brought in to the value of why this is a necessary tool. Setting and communicating clear expectations for all parties is essential to a successful program. It’s about retaining. How well has your new hire adjusted to the community? Is the library the only place in your community that is welcoming? How honest and upfront were you concerning the organization you recruited for?

Who we are, how we think, interact and learn is shaped by our own experiences. What our lives have held inform how we react to any given situation. The more we, as a person or as a collective organization, know about each others experiences, the more we can relate to and understand each other. The more effective our communication with each other becomes and the more our sensitivity is enhanced within any situation or conversation.

An emotionally healthy workplace is positive, nurturing, caring and respectful. A healthy workplace has vitality, integrity, tolerance, appreciation, latitude and empowerment. Over one million absences within the workplace each year are stress related. Other signs of workplace stress are poor concentration, repeated respiratory infections, fatigue and the general I just don’t feel well.

Jamaal Joseph the closing speaker, author of Panther Baby, was most inspiring. His story of how a Black Panthers organizational leader armed him with his first set of books, with lessons he learned in prison, to his triumph ascension to the faculty at Columbia University, left the audience in tears. He charged us as Librarians to arm our communities with the knowledge and support our youth need to be successful at life. He asked that we make a personal commitment to ending institutional slavery (prisons) to our nations “black and hispanic boys.” This was the best conference closing message Librarians of color could have ever hoped for. JCLC was a wonderful celebration of cultures, a celebration of librarians of color, a sharing of our stories and yes a gathering at the waters. I sincerely welcome the opportunity for further discussion on any of my conference takeaways.- Wanda

NCICU Assessment Conference

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 10:18 am

The 8th Annual NCICU Assessment conference was held at Methodist University back in May and was themed “Improving Institutions One Assessment at a Time.” Participants in attendance represented twenty-four of the thirty six North Carolina private colleges and universities with eleven of those there on behalf of their university library. The majority in attendance were from the Office of Institutional research. I always find this gathering enjoyable. It gives me not only the opportunity to hear assessment efforts from the larger university context, but also almost always there are some interesting library specific sessions.
Building a Better Graduate: the Development and Use of Assessment Tools for General Education,” was given by Carol Rowe, Barton College faculty member and their QEP Director, Kevin Pennington. The focus of this session was designing general education courses with embedded learning outcomes. The learning outcomes were based on soft skills surrounding written communication, oral communication and critical thinking. Faculty members took a deliberate intentional approach to creating a syllabus around these outcomes. The course discussed was a current affairs course, so students had a written assignment, oral projects as well as group discussions. Rubrics were used to provide targets for assignments and to provide consistency in assessment.
Brent Atwater and Nancy Elveen of Greensboro College discussed, “Using Assessment Results to Improve Internship Experiences.” This was a collaborative venture between their Career Services and their Office of Institutional Research. The expectations of the internship are clearly defined. What will the student gain by way of experiences? Here are some of the assessment questions asked at the end of the internship. We could possibly incorporate some of these in an effort to assess effectiveness of the internship opportunities we provide here at ZSR.
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in writing?
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in speaking clearly?
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in working effectively with others?
• To what extent has your experience here contributed to your knowledge, skills and personal development in acquiring work related skills?
New Tools for Examining Library Impact on Student Learning,” was the most interesting and most relevant sessions of the day. Please view the slides from this joint project between Elon University Library and UNC- Chapel Hill Ph.D. student Derek Rodriquez. In particular note the slides that outline student use of library resources during a work task within their academic major. Check out slide 18 which list the top 15 uses within the library by the Elon University students.
My final session for the day was given by David Eubanks of Johnson C. Smith University on “Building and Using a General Education Assessment Dashboard.” The dashboard is a warehouse of liberal arts assessment data within the core learning outcomes of the university, critical thinking, effective writing and effective speaking. Students are assessed by faculty at the beginning of the course and then again at the end. Students are evaluated as being ready to graduate or not. Stats are also maintained regarding the amount of effort put towards obtaining any one particular skill. You can find out more about this model by searching for Eubanks work entitled “Assessing the Elephant.”
I have a notebook from the conference which has all the slides from each presenter. If you’d like to see them, just let me know.

Wanda’s ALA in Anaheim

Monday, July 9, 2012 3:14 pm

This year I decided to take a late flight into Los Angeles, arriving in the middle of a beautiful night and enjoying a pleasant less hectic shuttle ride into Anaheim. It was BCALA business as usual though on Friday morning. I naively thought that we’d be done with my portion of the morning agenda by noon and that I could possibly make one of OCLC noon day sessions. To my disappointment my committee report was moved to last on the agenda, making my noon departure impossible. During our Sunday night membership meeting Gladys Smiley Bell and I were co-winners of the Distinguished Service to BCALA Award.

While at ALA I attended three assessment related sessions. The first was the “Libraries Value Project,” a presentation sponsored by ARL. Some of the projects highlighted are briefly described below:
Select a collection – see how many times the collection is viewed – average time per visit – determine how the collection was accessed.
Engage in real time conversations with faculty – do you believe that using the Library to support your teaching saves you time or does it save you money? If so, how much?
Feature a monthly portrait of a successful faculty member – showcase number of articles and/or books written – average articles etc. read in a month – awards and honors received.
Take the actual student survey to class – what library services have you used this year? – If the library didn’t offer this as a free to you service, how much would you have paid for this service? – How much would you be willing to pay?

The second session was for “ARL survey coordinators.” Changes to the annual library survey were discussed. Though we are not an ARL library, our ASERL group’s survey is based on the same survey. Among the changes discussed were dropping the counts for individually owned titles by formats, to collective titles owned; from a volumes held monograph, volumes held serials, to volumes held. Also there are changes to the library expenditures reporting statistics. Many in attendance believe that it is much too soon to change any of our collecting practices because it is certain that another statistical gathering agency will inevitably ask for these same numbers.

My final assessment related session was entitled, “Using Data to Plan the Changing Face of an Academic Library.” The College of Staten Island New York used data from multiple LibQual surveys to increase electrical data outlets, rearrange seating configurations and improve the quality of the restrooms. These survey results all sound quite normal yes, but wait, they also reversed their food and beverage policy. Based upon continuing complaints year after year they have now banned food and beverage use within the library. I think this is most interesting.

I would group my next set of workshops as “diversity” themed. “Diversity Begins at Home: Valuing Every Kind of Difference,” featured representatives from each of the ethnic causes; REFORMA, BCALA, CALA, PALA and AILA sharing experiences on lesser known intra-community differences. From the presenters, I learned that there are 36 ethnic minority groups in China, that Samoans are classed very similar to African Americans in their educational and health challenges. American Indian librarians are still subjected to reservation related comments. Hispanics as a culture are known for being very family oriented but less inclusive to some non-traditional family compositions.
ACRL’s Racial and Ethnic Diversity Committee hosted a panel of speakers discussing, “Cultural Competence in Practice: Improving User and Staff Experiences.” Cultural competence was defined as acceptance and respect for diversity, continuing self-assessment regarding culture, and the ongoing development of knowledge, resources and service models that work towards effectively meeting the needs of diverse populations. Of the varying programs shared, I personally think our own Gatekeepers series available through the PDC, seems to be a perfect match. Our Gatekeeper series has a very similar objective as those shared within the panel. Each should, if successful, enable us to build and maintain more effective interpersonal and professional relationships, in which in return we will improve our user experiences if of course we put what we learn into our daily practice.
“Using an LIS Undergraduate Program to Attract Minorities to the Profession,” was the last session in the series surrounding diversity initiatives. Lincoln University, an HBCU, developed an undergraduate minor in Library and Information Science. The five courses are taught by Library faculty. The panel featured six of the first class graduates. All were excited. Each student appreciated the real introduction to library resources, the reference research project and the review of current issues affecting the profession. Mostly they were somewhat shocked at how cool our profession really is. I took great pride as they shared stories of acceptance. They seemed amazed that tattoos were acceptable, knowledge of other subject matter would be valued and that dressing a little different would not necessarily be frowned upon as foreign. This they cheered, was a profession welcoming of all races, ethnicities, sexual preferences and religious beliefs and practices.

Wanda in the Big D.

Monday, January 23, 2012 9:40 am

My midwinter adventure began with a 5:30 departure from Greensboro. This required a 3:20 alarm and resulted in a long, really tiring first day in Dallas. With BCALA meetings for most of Friday, I soon decided this had not been a wise decision. Saturday was off to a much better start. The ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group had a very rich and full agenda. An update on the ongoing ARL Annual Statistics Survey indicated that discussions were underway considering the removal of some of these collecting categories; microforms, computer files, cartographic materials, audio materials, film and video. One of the recommendations under reference was to add ‘technical assistance” as a category under the types of reference transactions. The Salary survey is considering merging together the various reference specialist positions and also creating a series of titles with a “digital” component. At least it looks like revisions may be on the horizon.

A proposed ARL job bank of position descriptions would be a welcomed resource. It is most common for personnel folk to share position descriptions. It was not clear during the discussion if non-ARL libraries would have access. The University of Florida gave an update on its’ Academic Libraries Recruitment study. The study included recruitment data from 13 submitting libraries with 77 open searches. Hiring results showed women as the clear majority with 37 white, 4 Black, 3 Asian, and 2 Latinos. Males hired were 20 white and 3 Asian. The study also has data on advertising venues. I have a copy of the report if you are interested in reading more.
“Empowering Diverse Voices” is an initiative of ALA President Molly Raphael. This program invited “Champions” within the field to spend an afternoon on a speed dating style interviewing session. I received an invitation to serve as a champion. I met with five “champion seekers” in an effort to build connections, find out about their interest and what their immediate needs are. The group was totally energized, yet a little on the uncertain side. I tried to work through this and offered advise where appropriate. I remained in the room for the SPARC/ACRL Forum that Molly talked about in her ALA recap. It was refreshing to hear the passionate speakers address an area of librarianship of which I was somewhat less informed.

Like Giz, I also enjoyed the Alexander Street breakfast and speaker. Afterwards, I had planned to attend the second day meeting of the Personnel group; however I had promised our NCLA ALA chapter representative that I would come to Council where state presidents were to be introduced. While waiting, I attended a session entitled; “OCLC the Evolution of a Classic: A Sneak Peak of First Search and the Future of Discovery.” It’s been quite a while since I’ve done this type session. It looks like 2012 will bring changes to World Cat Local as they continue to look for ways to present as much relevant information upfront as possible.
I’ll share more of ALA Big D. in part 2. Stay tuned.

Wanda’s ALA

Tuesday, June 28, 2011 10:07 am

This may be about the 4th ALA I have attended here in New Orleans. However, something was so very different about this one. It took me a while to figure it out, then it hit me, it was the loud noise and over abundance of people stumbling all around. My hotel was too much in the French Quarter district. One lesson learned. I have observed however on the other hand noticed that the face of the conference attendee has changed. Perhaps it is the location, but for sure the librarians here this week seem to mirror the evolving communities with which we live. My BCALA sessions were filled with younger new faces. It was a delight to see.

Saturday morning I heard a representative from the University of Miami discuss the road to their Summons installation during a Serial Solutions hosted breakfast. Their each subject librarian had to visit several Summon sites, conduct relevant research and then write an assessment. They convened and voted yes or no, it was an unanimous decision. Initial assessment numbers still indicate a preference to their catalog, even though these numbers have decreased significantly. However they also report a 40% increase in searches in their top 50 databases. Support during installation was great.

Serial Solutions also announced a new forthcoming WebScale management solution, not yet named, to be unveiled in phases beginning in 2012. They promise it will, manage all content in a single unified service, automate print management in a central highly accurate knowledgebase, simplify and automate selection, improve acquisitions have platform assessment and reporting.

During the ACRL Presidents program Jason Young, ex-manager of customer services at Southwest Airlines, shared his vision for culturetopia. Culturetopia he defines as the ultimate high-performance workplace. The power of relationships drives performance. The key to employee fulfillment and to employee productivity is the company’s culture. The humor present on any Southwest flight was also interwoven in Jason’s presentation. I brought the book, Culturetopia.” So if you like to borrow it, just let me know.

During the Springer lunch and learn I heard about a service I was not familiar with available at Authormapping.com. It is here that you may search and limit by institution and retrieve a list of articles published by your faculty. Springer also has an ebook service coming that will allow library patrons and faculty members to purchase any desired ebook after viewing it the Library subscription service for a mere $24.95. This would be a tremendous savings to the patron. Since these are personal requested and paid for items, the library saves.

ZSR Library was the recipient of Honorable Mention in the PR Exchange Best of Show awards in the programs promotional category for Craig’s promotional material he produced for the Ammons symposium we hosted in the fall. Yeah! There much have been 10 categories and at least 5 winners in each category. The winners and honorable mentioned all received the same certificate and button. They were a few libraries that won awards in several different categories. I believe our annual report would be an excellent candidate, as well as the book Susan pulled together reflecting our award ceremony. Also our faculty and student brochures could be other possibilities.

Each of the assessment sessions I attended had overflowing standing room only audiences. One featured NC States, Annette Day discussing the assessment they conducted comparing money spent on monographs, serials and databases relative to each individual academic department. Analysis of the departments took a look at the total number of faculty within the department, number of degrees awarded within that discipline and number of students in the program and grant money awarded to the department. This data was used to justify fund allocations.

During another session, virtual reference was the focus of the assessment. They appointed a project team, conducted surveys, held focus groups and analyzed the data. Using the data collected, they changed the hours they were offering IM, added more librarians to staff the hours and changed how they advertised the services. These IM stats show success. 2007 – 468, 2008 – 383, 2009 – 549, 2010 – 2293, 2011 through May – 1722.

Monday was spent at two very interesting LibQual sessions. The morning was a sharing session where members revealed what works, what doesn’t. The greatest take-away from the morning was from Virginia Commonwealth, who offered as an incentive one dollar to be donated to the local food bank for every completed survey. They donated $2,800. The University of South Florida offered an ipad to the winner with a not necessary to complete the survey disclaimer.

The afternoon was a five hour grueling look at statistic analysis using SPSS. Yes, it was to say the least way over my head. To me, a visual learning, it was a disaster to hear 4 hours of lecture and only one hour of actual hands on. I look forward to working with others J on this.

Winners announced during BCALA’s Literary Award presentation included, Bernice McFadden for Glorious, in the fiction category; Wes Moore for The Other Wes More: One Name, Two Fates, in the nonfiction category; Dolen Perkins-Valdez for Wench, in the first novelist category; Keith Gilyard for John Oliver Killens: a Life of Black Literary Activism, in the Nonfiction honor books category; Wilbert Rideau for In the Place of Justice: A Story of Punishment and Deliverance, also in the nonfiction honor books category; and Harold Battiste Jr. and Karen Celestan for Unfinished Blues: Memories of a New Orleans Music Man, in the outstanding publishing citation. Four of the authors were present last night for the awards. Most inspiring was Harold Battiste Jr. who must have been 90 plus years old. Battiste wrote songs that Sam Cooke and Sony Bruno later made famous.

I attended other sessions that I want include in this summary, but as always I am eager to share my handouts, notes and hold informal conversations.

Wanda’a ALA days 1-3

Monday, January 10, 2011 3:11 am

On Friday afternoon after my BCALA filled morning, I attended the OCLC symposium entitled “Transformational Literacy: preparing user’s for life’s transitions.” Keynoter Dr. Mimi Ito, discussed principles for libraries to consider that help create environments that encourage lifelong learning as well as the critical role librarians play in this. The future is already here, it is just not so evenly distributed. It is up to us to make sure the positive benefits are available to as broad an audience as possible. To succeed now, we have to continually refresh our stock of knowledge. We must welcome contributions from all regardless of age and institutional status. We need to make sure that our resources are open, remixable and transparent. Panelist defined the four stages of life as student, householder, retired and forest dweller. The student is receiving, the householder is embedding, retired is sharing with others and forest dweller is transcending.

On Saturday I attended the ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers discussion group. One agenda item addressed library assessment assignments. Some libraries had staff devoted exclusively to assessment while others share the responsibility amongst several. Some libraries have added assessment language within position descriptions of all vacancies. Language such as familiarity with assessment efforts, commitment to assessment efforts or ability to assess resources and services were offered as vocabulary examples. The University of Florida discussed the results of an academic recruitment study. The study collected data from about 24 libraries on where they advertised, how many applications received, actual interviews and then finally how many jobs were offered. Of the positions filled, one went to a Black, one to an Asian and then 18 were filled by Whites. I can get the same data, I think, from our WFU Openhire system. It would be good to see university wide results. We could also feed our library results to the Florida study.

The LLAMA Human Resources Emerging Trends discussion group focused on the topic of recruitment. Of the institutions still able to fill vacant positions the song was the same. Lots of applications for entry level positions and then very small pools for the middle management and senior level positions. Fear of not being able to sell there homes, to fear of their spouses not being able to find work were some of the reasons offered. Changes in work ethic, ability to integrate work life balance and a feeling by many that young and energetic don’t necessarily have to be tied together all the time.

The ACRL Metrics discussion was quite promising. The ability to see ASERL and NCES data submitted by our library in a form that is easily retrievable and available for comparison to peer institutions was most impressive. According to the demo, for example, I could retrieve ILL stats from all NC libraries in an user friendly easy to navigate system and export to an excel spreadsheet. That same list could be narrowed to only my peer institutions if I wanted. This is a joint Counting Opinions and ACRL project.

This morning I was asked to participate in an OCLC focus group. I was relieved when the other 5 guest arrived and they also didn’t know the proposed topic. As it turned out OCLC wanted to know how we felt about them and their ability to communicate effectively with their users. They also wanted us to identify the sources we turn to for emerging trends as well as experts. When asked concerning the decoupling from our regional experts, I attempted to explain how difficult it is to think of OCLC without thinking of SOLINET now Lyrasis.

The Evidence Based Management for Libraries session was an overview of LibPAS a library performance assessment system managed by Counting Opinions. Cornell University Library worked with them in this academic case study. Prior to this they used excel spreadsheets to complie 60 -80 page statistical reports annually. Running reports from the data was complicated. LibPAS provided them with a centralized database. With this they could open statisical reporting to staff across the library. Cornell staff believe that data compilation is easier and more readily available for decision makers to extract the data they need.

Rutgers University is using LibSat (Customer satisfaction management module) & LibPAS to improve customer satisfaction and library performance. Counting Opinions representatives acknowledged that they had learned a lot by trial and error but above all had been willing to listen to their customers. They admitted that the patience of their customers coupled with advice and guidance have paved the way for product improvement.

The LLAMA afternoon session featured panelists who spoke on tragedies at Southern University and Colorado State Universities. “Providing Leadership Under Adverse Conditions was the selected topic. What makes people step-up in the time of crises? Comparing the two disasters showed that pre-disaster training may have helped in the Colorado case. The Southern University case that training had not occurred. Both panelist referenced value, trust and morale as key components in the recovery process.

Assessment in Libraries – day 2

Wednesday, October 27, 2010 12:30 am

Stephen Town, University Librarian at the University of York, UK, Tuesday’s opening keynoter, reminded librarians that library assessment has been mostly about quality and quantity, but not about value. However, libraries are under pressure to prove their value. Value he defined as the quality or fact of being excellent, useful or desirable. But what is value to libraries? Town felt that cost efficiency and cost effectiveness equal to value in the minds of many. Both concepts correspond to the two bottom lines that libraries have, one for being financial and the other for being academic. A new higher order framework for evaluation and performance measurement based on a values scorecard was suggested. Mission is the “what” for libraries and values is the “how.” In the question and answer follow up, Steven Bell asked if the “how” isn’t indeed the “why” that libraries also have struggle identifying.

“Assessing Organizational Effectiveness: the Role of Frameworks” given by Joseph Matthews, discussed the challenges associated with demonstrating organizational effectiveness. The real value of performance measures is when an organization goes through a planning process that identifies performance measures that are linked to the organization’s vision, goals and objectives.

Good performance measures are:

1. Balanced – include both financial and non financial measures

2. Aligned to the organization’s strategies

3. Flexible – can be changed as needed

4. Timely and accurate

5. Simple to understand

6. Focused on improvement

I attended three sessions under the organizational performance track on the use of Balanced Scorecards. The Balanced Scorecard is an organizational performance model that ties strategy to performance in four different areas. Those areas are finance, learning and growth, customers and internal processes. One session of particular interest was an initiative that ARL undertook with four libraries to explore the suitability of scorecards for academic research; to see if they would benefit from consultant expertise; to encourage cross collaboration and to see if common objectives would emerge. The four schools included in the project were the University of Richmond, the University of Washington, Johns Hospital University and McMaster University. When asked why they opted in on the study; one wanted to create a culture of assessment; one wanted to drive organizational change; one wanted to drive the conversation about the value of libraries and finally one wanted to create a framework for strategic planning. Twenty months into the pilot, a few commonalities surfaced. They were:

· Financial – securing funding for operation needs.

· Customer – provide productive and user centered spaces.

· Learning and growth – develop workforces that are productive, motivated and engaged.

· Internal process – promote library resources, services and value.

Making the scorecard understandable and making the time commitment were each listed as challenges to implementation. In conclusion this ARL quote was given. “Any tool that forces you to identify priorities, measure what matters, and engages staff about the future is valuable.”

The luncheon speaker was great. David Shulenburger, Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, warned librarians that failure to use the data generated by your library may be hazardous to your health. Presidents and provost throughout the country are bombarded with mandates to cut their budgets. Academic support services are first on their list. Libraries must show how their vision, mission and goals align with the university’s strategic initiatives. Data is being collected on campuses in almost every domain, but none of this data is being used to support the value of libraries. Retention rates, graduation rates, time to degree, national ranking of academic programs and the ability of faculty members to successfully obtain grant funding are all areas with data that could and should be used.

A later program analyzed data from the MISO Survey. (http://misosurvey.org/) This survey gathers input from faculty, staff, and students about the importance, use and satisfaction with campus library and computing services. For the presentation data was collected and analyzed from 38 colleges and smaller universities. The MISO survey team provided a look at relationships between services and trends in service popularity. The survey was sent to all faculty and staff and then a selective sampling of students. Findings suggested that faculty consider library research instruction, library liaisons, the library website and interlibrary loan as increasingly important, while faculty use of library catalogs, circulation services and library reference services are decreasingly less important. The cost to administer the survey and analyze the data currently runs about $1500 dollars.

Wanda

Assessment in Libraries Conference

Monday, October 25, 2010 11:00 pm

The 2010 Library Assessment Conference themed, Building Effective, Sustainable, Practical Assessment, is the third in a series of planned conferences devoted to building an assessment culture and community within libraries. Held every two years, the conference is co-sponsored by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), the University of Virginia and the University of Washington. This years’ conference attendance was capped at 460 with almost as many waitlisted. The 2012 conference will return back to the University of Virginia, home of the first conference.

This morning’s opening session featured Fred Heath from the University of Texas, who gave an overview of the major library assessment initiatives over the past century. From its chaotic beginnings to its adoption by ARL, assessment efforts continue to improve. Heath paid tribute to several pioneers, acknowledging significant contributions down through the years.

“Are They Learning? Are We? Learning Outcomes & the Academic Library,” was the selected topic given by the second opening keynoter, Megan Oakleaf. According to Oakleaf, librarians face a new assessment challenge. We must demonstrate the impact of academic libraries on student learning. Librarians should begin the process with a list of desired outcomes. These outcomes should describe what they want students to learn and then how this intersects with institutional and departmental goals. Oakleaf suggest the following six questions are most relevant to the assessment challenges faced by librarians today. 1) How committed are librarians to student learning? 2) What do librarians want students to learn? 3) How do librarians document student learning? 4) How committed are librarians to their learning? 5) What do librarians need to learn? 6) How can librarians document their own learning?

The afternoon sessions were ninety minutes long and featured three different presenters, each giving brief overviews. The first of these shared a focus on the use of rubrics in the assessment process. UNCG’s Kathy Crowe used a rubric to score worksheets used within a Communication Studies upper level course. This department had a long standing relationship with the library, but faculty members continued to be frustrated with the quality or resources selected and the student’s poor citation skills. As a result of the worksheet scores, changes were implemented that resulted in dramatically improved performance.

The third session entitled “But What Did They Learn? What Classroom Assessment Can Tell You about Student Learning,” compared typical course evaluations with a classroom assessment technique called the “minute paper.” Common techniques tend to reveal if students are satisfied with the classroom instruction, but rarely do they reveal what the student learned. The “minute paper” approach asks two questions. 1) Name one useful thing you learned? 2) Name one thing you’re still confused on?

The second parallel session I attended focused more on general academic library assessment. I was most impressed with the University of Mississippi’s campus wide assessment program. This program required all campus units to submit biannual reports which have to include at least three objectives with multiple means of assessment for each objective. The program also requires that the campus unit develop changes to their operations based on the assessment. The program specifically prohibits lack of funding as a rationale for not making necessary improvements.

Unlike most conferences, planners carved out tonight for dinner and poster sharing. I found this approach very nice. I was able to view the eighty plus posters with ease, have several meaningful conversations with colleagues and enjoy a splendid dinner buffet. I’ll share more later.

Wanda

Wanda’s journey from IDR to SELA

Friday, October 1, 2010 2:53 pm

I spent last weekend with several WFU colleagues from both campuses in an Institute for Dismantling Racism (IDR). We were joined by students from the Divinity School, and other representatives from the Forsyth Health Department, ECHO and the Green Street Baptist Church. One undergraduate WFU student was also in the group. The Institute was facilitated by Crossroads, a company that specializes in anti-racism organizing and training. The weekend began Thursday evening with a wall of history. This was a year 1492 – 2010 review of events. Each of which had a direct impact on race relations in the United States. Racism was defined and then discussed in terms of how it still occurs, though not necessarily as overt as one might think. A couple of films were shown that helped members of the class see the many faces of current day discrimination. Mental destruction in elementary schools, attacks on self esteem, increased likely hood of being stopped by law enforcement officers and greater chance to be given longer prison sentences were all discussed as manifestations of racism. That yes, even in this post racial society, still exist. We also discussed the direct impact of this on the general overall health of African Americans. How can we dismantle racism? The answers lie in modeling correct behavior, motivating others, agitating and providing support to those in the fight. At the beginning of the session we got the “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” speech. However I will share that one class member made the following comment to me. “You would have to close your eyes not to see it, I on the other hand, have to focus really hard to see it.”

After two and a half days with the institute, I had an early a.m. start to Little Rock, Arkansas to attend the Southeastern Library Association meeting which was held jointly with the Arkansas State Librarians Association. You might wonder why I have chosen to review the IDR and SELA in the same blog, but I think you’ll see the lessons learned from each belong together in this review. I came to Little Rock to speak on a panel tasked with discussing Information Literacy. Thanks to Roz and Lauren P. for sharing the book chapter they co-authored which pretty much detailed the WFU information literacy experience from beginning til now. I had all the data I needed. The audience was most receptive to our strategy for assigning teaching responsibilities, the for credit course offering and especially our teacher support network. Other panelists focused on the transition from stand alone course offerings, to immersion in the 1st year English/writing seminars. As I looked out at the audience, walked down the hallways of the conference center, I saw very little evidence of diversity. I found myself wondering why I had volunteered for this journey and dreading the moment. Then I thought about everything I had spent the weekend thinking on. No one had done anything to make me feel any less welcomed. Was I guilty of pre-judging the audience by how they looked; possibly their age? Was it necessarily their fault that the numbers showed little evidence of diversity? Why was I feeling like an outsider, after all I did belong here. Here in rooms filled with Librarians. When I changed my attitude, I loosened up. I reached out starting conversations and found as librarians of course, we had lots to discuss and share. With my new attitude in check, I went heart and head first into the sessions I attended.

The SELA/ArLA session choices were not as plentiful as some conference offerings. Also ZSR, as you well know, is really out there leading the way and that attendees sometimes we will not necessarily get exposed to the new. Hearing different perspectives on varying topics however is a value within itself. Librarians shared stories on assessment efforts in small rural libraries. Assessment documents that sought answers around library usage. Was your visit today to use the library for its computer or for the internet. Interesting?? An attendee inquired concerning minority usage of the library resources and shared his before and after story. After they hired a staff member that was African American they noticed more of the African American community would visit. When they ordered more African American books they checked out more titles. As minor as this may seem, I wondered what the difference in our minority visits to ZSR reference would be if we had an African American librarian on our staff.

Camila Alire, immediate past president of ALA was the opening keynoter. Her focus was on the need for more library front line advocates. This is work for all library staff, in all library types. Alire states that each of us is the face of the library to our communities and influences what the community knows and thinks about the library. It then becomes a part of the administrative agenda to make sure all are equipped for this service.

The presenter for “Defining Digital Projects” identified five key questions every manager should answer to define and justify any digital project. Why are you undertaking this project? What do you want the project to achieve? For whom are you undertaking the project? When will you achieve it? How will you achieve it? The presenter touched on everything from identifying relevancy, defining audience, conducting environmental scans, SWOT analysis, constraints, and even risk benefit analysis. I do have the handout from this session.

“RDA: A Brave New World of Cataloging” was a historical review of cataloging trends. It was refreshing for me if you buy that cliche, once a cataloger always a cataloger, to revisit cataloging standards. His view of RDA, was most positive as he believed the focus shifted from institutional focus to more emphasis on the user. RDA should help the user identify, select and obtain information with less complications. This handout is available also.

What I found most interesting in the “Article Delivery: Increasing Access to Print and Microform Collections” session was the display of statistics around this service. They had detailed numbers relating to all angles of this service. How many items were filled as a result of a request for a title already owned by the library, how many items delivered each month, how many items they had to pay copyright for etc.

On Monday night several attendees visited the Clinton Presidential Library. It was a beautiful building and nice to revisit mentally events during that political time. One of the visiting Library directors commented on how he’d have to hide this visit from his mom. Another attendee who opted out of the event, but who choose to share her reason for not participating as a conflict with her party affiliation. And I thought well how silly until the next morning when I won the table prize of a potted flower cup and a book entitled: Barbara Bush: A Memoir. As I offered both items to another librarian at my table, I understood. You see strangely, In a most unique way, we are all the same. Now do you see now how easy it was to combine both events?


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