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Molly at ALA Midwinter

Friday, February 8, 2013 2:43 pm

My 2013 Midwinter conference happenings started earlier than they did for most of our ZSR colleagues, as the presenter group for the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshows gathered for a planning retreat Friday afternoon. We started these retreats at ALA Annual in NOLA in 2011, and they’ve become a valuable time for us to assess our program and identify new areas of growth. In 2012, we overhauled the original program to better address changes in scholcomm, and to take the program from a half-day to full-day workshop. After 6 iterations of the new program last year, we realized that further restructuring was warranted, and this year we are organizing our workshop around four new themes: Emerging Opportunities, Access, Intellectual Property, and Engagement. We also welcomed two new presenters to our group, one of whom was able to join us in Seattle, giving us new perspective and energy!

Saturday was chock full of scholcomm sessions, and I’m still digesting my pages and pages of notes. I fueled up for my busy day at the ProQuest Serials Solutions breakfast, along with several ZSR colleagues, where incoming ACRL president Steven Bell spoke on the “unbundled, unbooted, disrupted” higher ed environment. Although his ideas were not new to me (I follow his LJ blog), Steven is a compelling speaker and is always worth hearing. First session after breakfast was the ALA Washington Office Update breakout session, where a panel of librarians spoke on the Kirtsaeng v. Wiley case before the Supreme Court. This case hinges upon the first sale doctrine, and whether lawfully obtained, foreign-made works are subject to the right of first sale, which is what allows us to buy and lend, resell, gift, destroy, etc. objects such as books, DVDs, CDs, clothes, furniture, cars, phones, computers, and on and on and on, both as libraries and individuals. Libraries are understandably nervous about the outcome of the case: if the lower courts’ rulings are upheld at the strictest interpretation, no book (or anything else we own) that was published and purchased internationally without a US distributor, or possibly even merely manufactured overseas, could be lent from our collections. But this also means that garage sales, consignment stores, eBay, Etsy, Redbox, used car lots, used book stores, and a host of other businesses would be severely impacted (at the Supreme Court hearings, this was called the “parade of horribles”). Because of the far-reaching implications of the strictest interpretation of first sale, which would apply to goods manufactured only in the US, the consensus is that neither Kirtsaeng nor Wiley will get an outright “win,” with it likely that legislative action might be needed to clarify the first sale doctrine in light of the ruling. Again, I didn’t hear anything new here, but it was sobering nonetheless. Fortunately, the rest of my Saturday was much more positive, as I heard updates on SCOAP3 at the ALCTS Scholarly Communications Discussion Group, and learned about new developments in alt-metrics – the phrase used to describe multiple attempts to liberate faculty from the clutches of the “sainted” Impact Factor using article-level and social impact measurements – at the 10th annual SPARC/ACRL Forum.

Sunday found me in the Westin Hotel all day, barring quick lunch and doughnut breaks! My morning kicked off early with a 3+ hour meeting of the ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee (known as ReSEC; formerly the Scholarly Communications Committee). We heard updates from the field, discussed ACRL projects/events we support, and brainstormed how we might serve as a nexus to connect the different groups – committees, subcommittees, discussion groups, interest groups – working throughout ALA and its divisions on scholcomm issues. I feel good about my participation on this committee, and hope to be reappointed for another two year term. Sunday afternoon I branched out a bit into scholcomm-related group meetings: the ACRL Digital Curation Interest Group and the Digital Humanities Discussion Group. My reasons for attending these two were three-fold: 1) to enhance my knowledge of these issues; 2) to gain perspective on how these issues might be tackled by the Digital Initiatives Librarian we will be hiring, with whom I’ll be working closely; and, 3) to identify groups that ReSEC might want to connect with. I didn’t learn quite as much as I’d hoped, but made a few connections with folks and jotted down some projects happening at other libraries that sound intriguing. I also attended the ACRL Scholarly Communications Discussion Group, which continued the conversation from the Forum about alt-metrics.

I caught a break Monday morning when my ACRL 2013 conference planning committee meeting was canceled, so I made one more pass through the vendor floor to talk to a couple of publisher reps (McGraw-Hill being the main target), and pick up a few (ahem) last books. Because I thought I had committee obligations through Monday, I didn’t leave until early Tuesday morning, which was lucky, as I was able to travel home with several ZSR colleagues; it’s nice to have friends to pass airport hours with! My Midwinter was a worthwhile conference, with good information, good meetings, and good networking all around.

Molly at ALA Anaheim

Tuesday, July 3, 2012 4:24 pm

It doesn’t quite seem possible that I’ve been home from ALA for a week now, just as it didn’t seem possible that my time at ALA passed so quickly (nor does it seem possible that tomorrow is July 4th, but that’s a bit beside the point of this post!). This was only my second time at ALA Annual, so I’m definitely still learning how to maximize my schedule. For most program/meeting slots, I had two, if not three, events I wanted to get to, and I missed a lot of wonderful-sounding programs due to meetings. I know this is the bane of most people’s ALA experience, but it’s still frustrating!

As it shook out, my non-meeting ALA experience centered around the theme of fair use in libraries. With the recent GSU e-reserves decision, and the late January, post-Midwinter release of ARL’s Code of Best Practices in Fair Use in Academic and Research Libraries, there were many panels and discussion groups on this theme. I attended two panels on fair use Saturday morning and early afternoon, the latter of which drew a standing room only crowd. The afternoon panel discussed three fair use cases involving libraries: the GSU case, the UCLA film streaming lawsuit, and the HathiTrust lawsuit. It was fascinating to hear two non-librarian lawyers’ perspectives on the UCLA and HathiTrust cases. There was a healthy Q&A that delved into libraries’ responsibilities–and limitations–in assisting patrons using our orphan work materials for scholarship and documentary film production. I also heard the clearest set of questions to use in evaluating if a proposed use is fair:

1. Are you using the material to illustrate a specific point?
2. Are you using only an amount sufficient to illustrate the point?
3. Is is clear to your audience what point you are making?

If you can answer yes to all three, then your proposed use is likely going to be fair. Definitely need to share these with the doc film folks! My final fair use-themed event was the late Sunday afternoon ACRL Scholarly Communication Discussion Group, which also focused on the GSU case decision and its impact upon libraries. However, this time I was at the front of the room as a panelist, providing the non-lawyer librarian perspective. I really like the format of the discussion group, as the panelists give intentionally brief comments before opening up for questions and discussion in the room. We had a GSU librarian in attendance who gamely provided information and perspective that enriched our conversation. Thanks again to Lynn and Carolyn for coming!

Breaking with the fair use theme, the ACRL/SPARC Forum late Saturday afternoon highlighted campus open access funds. As you know, Wake Forest has had such a fund for Reynolda campus faculty since 2008. Between experiences in administering our fund in the past year, and information I learned at the Forum, I have some ideas brewing on how we might need to adjust our fund criteria for the future to best serve both our faculty and the larger open access movement. More is likely to come as my ideas ferment.

I had three major meetings while in Anaheim: a planning meeting (that spilled into dinner) for the ACRL Scholarly Communication Road Show presenters on Friday afternoon/evening; the ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee meeting Sunday morning; and, the ACRL 2013 Panel Session Committee meeting Monday morning. All were productive, and I feel good about my participation in each group.

The one thing I felt I did a great job of managing at ALA was maximizing mealtimes to network and catch up with colleagues. Other than breakfasts, I had plans with others for each meal, splitting those between colleagues working in scholarly communication/copyright, friends made through Emerging Leaders, and catching up with ZSR folks. Generating new ideas and learning new practices are beneficial, but so too are maintaining connections with colleagues, and I returned from Anaheim succeeding in all!


New code to help libraries exercise Fair Use

Tuesday, February 28, 2012 5:52 pm

In late January, ARL released the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. The code “enhances the ability of librarians to rely on fair use by documenting the considered views of the library community about best practices in fair use, drawn from the actual practices and experience of the library community itself” (p. 3). The code uses eight common situations where consensus on acceptable practice and rights application was reached in a series of long-form interviews with 65 librarians, conducting around the country over the course of 10 months in 2010-2011, to illustrate the principles, limitations and enhancements of exercising fair use.

It is important to recognize that this code outlines best practices, and does not establish guidelines; it contains “principles, not rules; limitations, not bans; reasoning, not rote” (Peter Jaszi, Emory University panel, Feb. 14). ARL coordinated the creation of this code of best practices in part because other communities of practice that have established similar codes (e.g., documentary filmmakers) have had successful implementation across the field, and favorable viewing as good documentation of community standards by courts when cases have been brought. Furthermore, fair use in libraries is consistently under-used, and often risk aversion is substituted for fair use analysis. It is hoped that with the establishment of this code of best practices, libraries can better fulfill their mission to preserve knowledge by looking to the best practices to reduce insecurity and hesitation in exercising fair use.

Over the past month, I have participated in a series of webinars and live-streamed panel events introducing and discussing the code. I have pages and pages of notes, and as with all things copyright-related, I’d love to talk to anyone who wants to know more. But for now, I’ll share my key take-aways:

  • Increasingly, courts are assessing fair use on transformativeness of the work, in addition to the traditional four factors (nature, amount, purpose, impact); can be easier to determine if use is transformative than if it clears all four factors.
  • With digital content, so much is being licensed that we aren’t dealing with copyright–and by extension, fair use–as much as we are contract law; this is concerning.
  • If the maximum isn’t supported from the top-down, faculty will resort to the minimum use in course reserves.
  • Q: Is the transformative nature of work in digitizing collections in Special Collections enough to justify fair use? A: “Please, God yes!” (from Emory live-streamed panel; digitization a primary transformative use)
  • Distinction between legal analysis and risk management analysis is important.
  • Making one copy to share among 7 libraries would actually enhance fair use scenario as it would limit the number of copies created. [Interesting, not sure yet how I come down on this point – MK]
  • If someone is speaking before a camera, should expect to be distributed; agreement to be filmed should be implicit agreement to be distributed, implicit nonexclusive agreement covering copyrighted content in speech. [Again, very interesting point that I’m still mulling over – MK]
  • Presumption has usually been to first seek permission, and only rely on fair use as a last resort; need to flip this.
  • In highly transformative use, existence or high likelihood of license revenue not recognized as valid argument against fair use; transformative use licenses do not belong to copyright owner; when transformative, effect on market no longer a factor.
  • Most of the time, libraries exercising fair use aren’t going to land in the middle of lawsuit, but rather be issued a cease-and-desist order, at which point *you take it down.*
  • Embrace ambiguity and risk management!
  • In evaluating risk, must evaluate both bad AND good; acknowledge the good that will NOT happen if fair use isn’t exercised.
  • Fair use is context-sensitive: who is the user and why is this being done?
  • Reliance on fair use statements and codes adds to good-faith defense when questioned.

Finally, the code of best practices is not meant to be a ceiling (or even a floor), but represents current consensus on topics in which agreement among the 65 librarian interviewees could be reached. If it is too conservative, then it reflects the current conservative nature of our execution of fair use as a profession, and we need to go out and push those boundaries!

A Midwinter Weekend in Dallas

Monday, January 23, 2012 1:27 am

As you might imagine, my Midwinter weekend in Dallas continued Saturday with more scholarly communication-related meetings. First up yesterday morning (and by first up, I mean at a lovely 10:30am start time!) was the ALCTS Scholarly Communication Interest Group, addressing “Identifiers, Citation & Linked Data as Part of the Scholarly Communication System.” Three panelists from California Digital Library, Biodiversity Heritage Library (not an actual library, but a consortium), and the Smithsonian Institutes Libraries addressed the reasons we need to care about linked open data, and the myriad challenges bad, closed data presents. Very interesting projects were highlighted, and as I was walking from the session to the EBSCO lunch, my head was buzzing with thoughts about all the data we produce at ZSR and related implications.

After a pleasant, if long, EBSCO lunch with lots of ZSR folks, I grabbed a couch in the Omni and took a break for a bit before hitting the exhibit floor. From the exhibits I walked to Timbuktu (aka, the far end of the convention center) for the SPARC/ACRL Forum. The Forum theme was “Getting the Rights Right,” and the five panelists represented a broad range of views, from librarians in the UK and US to a technologist using open data to Creative Commons to a large Holland-based publisher. Each speaker had varying and interesting perspectives on rights issues, but I felt that the overarching theme was a tad lost this time, as the speakers’ messages didn’t weave together in a clear manner. Apparently, the audience (which included Wanda on the far side of the room!) also felt as I, as there were very few questions put forward. Nonetheless, there was good information shared.

Sunday started bright and early with the ACRL Scholarly Communication Committee meeting, which is a marathon 4-hour meeting. Fortunately, we’re a fun group, and our meeting not only ran ahead of schedule, but was punctuated with lots of laughter. It was also an incredibly productive, encouraging meeting, with good news on a number of fronts: work that’s happening on the intersection of scholarly communication and information literacy (ZSR’s LIB 100 program is primed for this!!!); the future of the Road Show program I’m part of and the success of our expanded preconference test drive; updates from ARL, SPARC, and SCOAP3; and discussion around the future direction of the committee. You may have heard that the ACRL Board is looking to restructure and realign committees to better fit the new Plan for Excellence, and under the current proposal (to be voted on by the Board on Monday), the Scholarly Communication Committee will have a slightly revised charge and new name, the Research and Scholarly Environment Committee. This was my first meeting as a committee member, and I am excited to see where we go!

My Midwinter wrapped up Sunday afternoon with the ACRL Scholarly Communication Discussion Group, which featured two of the panelists from Saturday’s SPARC/ACRL Forum: Lisa Macklin and David Prosser. Both Lisa and David recapped what they shared at the Forum (GSU copyright case and UK copyright & Research Works Act, respectively), then opened the floor for questions. Fewer people attend this session, so the group was able to truly have a discussion, which touched on numerous topics: the GSU case; data management and ownership; the benefits and drawbacks of using CC licenses with noncommercial restrictions; and implementation strategies for OA policies. I heard two things at this session that concern me, though. First, the Copyright Clearance Center, which is not a plaintiff but is paying for the GSU copyright trial, is soliciting faculty to join focus groups, with the presumed ulterior motive of sussing out infringing activities. And second, Harvard faculty have received direct, targeted email from publishers spreading FUD about the various OA policies adopted by Harvard faculties (there’s more than one, oddly). Both of these moves are stealthy and known only through happenstance, and deeply concern me.

While my final official Midwinter session did not end on as positive a note as I might wish, this has been an insightful conference and I’m heading back to ZSR with lots of food for thought!

Dallas Day 1: Preconference, y’all!

Saturday, January 21, 2012 12:05 am

ALA Midwinter 2012 has kicked off in Dallas, Texas, home of the Cowboys, the Stars, the Rangers, and – for the weekend – a whole lot of far less athletic (sorry Susan!) but enthusiastic librarians. I arrived yesterday late afternoon, as I needed to be ready to hit the ground running early this morning, as I was co-presenting a preconference for ACRL.

Our preconference, “Scholarly Communications: From Understanding to Engagement,” is an expansion of the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 Road Show program I helped launch in 2009. Originally a 3 hour workshop at an ACRL national conference, the SC 101 program developed into a 4 hour “road show” workshop that we would present in partnership with local hosts, who in past years were required to provide another 2-3 hours of programming to round out the day. Based on lots of feedback from multiple sites, and our own frustrations with feeling rushed, we held a planning retreat at ALA Annual last June to assess the program, from which came the idea of expanding to a full day. We were also asked to think about how we might offer this programming in conjunction with an ALA conference to enable interested librarians who haven’t participated in a Road Show the opportunity to engage. A preconference at Midwinter seemed like the perfect fit: we had a broader audience to draw from, and we got to test drive the expanded day before taking it out on the road again later this year.

Fortunately, the expanded format works and our preconference was a great success! I was co-presenting with Sarah Shreeves, with whom I presented a Road Show in Minneapolis last May, and another member of our presenter group (there are six of us total), Joy Kirchner, was on hand to assess our new formatting. We had 39 engaged, motivated, talkative attendees, representing institutions from around the US and Canada, with only two repeats from previous Road Shows. The group raised excellent points and asked tough questions, and as should always happen, even though I was the “expert” at the front of the room, I also learned today. And while there are a few kinks to work out in the new full-day format, I am quite confident that we have made the right decision to expand the Road Show, and I’m thankful we had such a great trial run at Midwinter!

Berlin 9 Open Access Conference

Wednesday, December 21, 2011 6:12 pm

In early November, I attended the Berlin 9 Open Access Conference in Washington, DC. Convened annually since the first Berlin conference in 2003 (in Berlin, Germany, hence the name, and where the Berlin Declaration was crafted), this was the first time the conference had been held in North America, and only the second time it had been held outside of Europe (it was in Beijing last year). In was an incredible experience, bringing together policy makers, administrators, researchers, librarians, funders, and publishers for two and a half days of presentations and discussions on the status of open access worldwide.

My conference started actually not with official B9 events, but rather a half-day tag-along meeting of the Coalition of Open Access Policy Institutions (COAPI). Founded in summer 2011, COAPI is a group of North American institutions that have faculty-adopted open access policies (institutional or departmental), or are actively working toward adoption. Thanks to the policy adopted by the ZSR Library Librarians’ Assembly, Wake Forest was one of the 22 founding member institutions, and I represented us at the COAPI’s first face-to-face meeting in DC at the National Academies of Science. Our conversation focused on three key topics: implementation; institutional repositories and open access policies; and, publisher responses to institutional policies. It was energizing having 30+ people in the room discussing strategy, logistics, challenges, opportunities, successes, and set-backs. I am eager to see how COAPI develops and look forward to our next group gathering, tentatively scheduled for March.

From my morning at the National Academies, I moved over to a building at Johns Hopkins University for two afternoon preconferences: the first on Open Access Publishing and the second on Open Access Policy Development. The most interesting facts I learned in the preconferences were from Peter Binfield, publisher of PLoS ONE and the Community journals:

  • in 2011, PLoS will publish 17,000 (of 35,000 submitted), 14,500+ of those in PLoS ONE; this will account for approx. 1.6% of articles indexed in PubMed this year
  • PLoS ONE is not only steadily gaining traction among authors, as evidenced by rising submission rates, but is also gaining stead competition from other publishers not wanting to be left behind: SAGE, BMJ, Nature, and others have launched “clones” in the past 18 months

The next day, the conference moved to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute campus in Bethesda, which is an absolutely breathtaking facility. I had expected a fairly sterile research facility composed of large, drag buildings, but was pleasantly surprised to find myself on a campus of deep red brick buildings with well-landscaped grounds and very comfortable furnishings (see below for a photo of the courtyard where I lunched the first day). Unlike the conferences I’m used to attending, there was only one session to attend at a time, so I never felt torn in deciding where to go. And since we were a smallish group (approx. 250 attendees) at a secure facility, we all felt comfortable staking our seats for the day and leaving our stuff behind while taking advantage of the ample conversation/networking time build-in between sessions.

The conference organizers did a great job of lining up panelists (each session was a panel, only 4 (long) sessions each day) that covered the broad spectrum of open access: from policy to business applications to humanities research opportunities to open education to research funders and the patients they serve. I am still, 6 weeks out, trying to process and synthesize everything, and think through how the work we are doing at Wake Forest can be expanded to better maximize the potential of open access. The biggest take away was the unofficial theme that emerged over the course of the two full days: the open access movement seems to be moving from content is king to context is key. This is a very important shift, as it indicates that our understanding and application of open access in publishing, archiving, and policy making is becoming more nuanced and unforeseen opportunities unfolding. A prime example that I learned of at B9 is that the World Bank is currently in the process of opening all of their data and publishing all reports openly, free for any and all to use, as they have come to understand that their mission is better accomplished by lifting artificial access barriers. Never thought I’d say this, but Go World Bank!

I am extremely grateful I had the opportunity to attend the Berlin 9 conference, not least because I returned to campus armed with great information to take before the Faculty Senate the following week, where I had been invited to speak regarding Wake Forest becoming an institutional signatory to the Berlin Declaration. As was reported at the most recent Librarian’s Assembly, the Faculty Senate was unanimously supportive of Mark Welker signing the Declaration on behalf of the University, and he did so in late November (although we’re still waiting to be officially listed). As amazing as this conference was, I’m keeping my fingers (and toes) crossed I get to go to Berlin 10 next year…in South Africa!!

Open Access Week 2011 Wrap-up

Friday, November 4, 2011 2:53 pm

In recognition of Open Access Week 2011 (Oct. 24-28), I participated in three presentations over 4 weeks: 2 local, 1 online. To unofficially kick things off, I spoke on Oct. 6, along with Bill Kane, at the Thursdays at Byrum Center series on supporting scholarship. I spoke generally about why I do what I do, and specifically about what it is I do. Bill then shared about what it is that he is doing, which if you were at our Sept. staff meeting, you know (hint, hint it involves ISBNs).

My online presentation was on Monday afternoon during the official Open Access Week. I was one of three speakers (John Wilbanks and Heather Piwowar presented before me) giving a webinar for the Special Libraries Association on New Directions in Scholarly Communication, what STM librarians and other information professionals need to know about changes in the nature of scholarly publishing. John, former VP at Creative Commons, spoke about broad changes to scholarship, from creation to discovery. Heather, a postdoc with NESCent through the DataONE cyberinfrastructure project, spoke about the increasing importance of data management and discovery. I wrapped things up by offering a librarian’s perspective on the changes, and how they are impacting our ability to support scholarship creation at our institutions. (My slides are linked from the page above.)

To conclude Open Access Week celebrations, I gave a talk this past Wednesday, Nov. 2, on current copyright conflicts in academe. There was a small but lively crowd on hand to hear the latest on three different lawsuits (Georgia State copyright trial, AIME vs. UCLA, Author’s Guild vs. HathiTrust) and proposed legislation currently before Congress (PRTECT IP/SOPA/ePARASITES…really, I’m not making that last one up!). Great questions and heated debate ensued, illustrating just how complex the issues are surrounding these cases/legislation, and how profoundly they impact higher education.

All in all, I had a great time honoring the spirit of openness during these various Open Access Week activities, and am energized to continue advocating for change in scholarly communication!

Mentoring Program Coordinator Council

Friday, November 4, 2011 2:07 pm

On Thursday, November 3, Bobbie, Giz, Craig, and Molly attended the third campus-wide Mentoring Program Coordinator Council. Organized once each semester by Allison McWilliams, Director of the Mentoring Resource Center, the Council brings together the coordinators of various formal mentoring programs at Wake Forest. Programs include those involving peer-to-peer mentoring among undergraduates, professional mentoring matches with MA and MBA graduate students in the Schools of Business, and faculty to student mentoring through the Chaplain’s Office, as well as our own Librarian’s Assembly program.

The Council began with a discussion led by Evelyn Williams, who came to Wake Forest in August and holds multiple appointments across the Schools of Business, School of Medicine, and Office of Personal & Career Development, where she is Associate Vice President, Leadership Development. She spoke about the importance of harvesting emotional intelligence in mentoring relationships. The old adage that “nice guys finish last” is now being supplanted by data that backs up the claim that “nice does matter.” Being aware of how others perceive you, and how your actions impact others, is crucial to success, including in mentoring relationships. Effective mentoring relationships are ones where mentees are encouraged to develop their self-awareness and self-management skills, and where mentors and mentees interact across the continuum of behaviors from sounding board to feedback. Evelyn explained the IMPACT-feedback model, where impact stands for the manner in which feedback is given:

T=timed appropriately

Just as with any relationship, time is needed to build trust in mentoring relationships. It is important for mentors to understand that they cannot and should not solve their mentees’ problems by launching the relationship in feedback-giving mode; rather, they need to seek the mentees’ permission to give feedback, as the mentee needs to feel comfortable enough with the relationship to be receptive. One way for mentors to help build comfort and trust with their mentees is to use stories and examples from their own personal experiences. Mentors should also think through the launch of the relationship, and find a balance between inquiry (really trying to understand) versus advocacy (problem-solving) based on cues from their mentees. After explaining how emotional intelligence and the IMPACT-feedback model work in mentoring, Evelyn then opened discussion to the group for assessment on how our various mentoring models can more effectively incorporate these strategies.

The second half of the Council included a period of updates from Allison on campus plans for National Mentoring Month (January 2012), new assistance measures for students studying abroad, lessons learned from the recent University of New Mexico Mentoring Institute, and upcoming development opportunities.

I believe I can speak for my fellow Mentoring Committee members when I say that I have found the two Councils we’ve been invited to attend to be quite beneficial, both in giving ideas for our own mentoring program and in making us aware off all the mentoring opportunities taking place around campus. We are quite fortunate to have Allison here at Wake Forest to serve as a resource and expert on mentoring, and all our programs are stronger as a result!

Molly “Emerged” at ALA

Friday, July 1, 2011 5:05 pm

Much of my ALA experience in New Orleans can be summarized in a list of “firsts”:
- first time at an ALA Annual conference (Midwinter was my first ALA anything!);
- first time presenting at a poster presentation (which I did twice!);
- first time attending a full ACRL Scholarly Communications Committee meeting (long (4 hours) but fascinating);
- first time the ACRL Scholarly Communication 101 Road Show program presenters met in person (for a very productive day-long curriculum planning retreat);
- first time touching an alligator (just a baby one…);
- first time eating a beignet (YUM);
- first time in NOLA (amazing).
As I continue to be involved with ALA and ACRL, I know that many of these firsts will be followed by seconds, thirds and so on, but happily they all combined this year for an overwhelmingly positive conference experience!

The most important reason I attended this ALA (and no, it wasn’t food-related, Facebook photos notwithstanding) was to complete my participation in the Emerging Leaders (EL) program. On Friday, our EL class had a morning leadership training and assessment session, followed by a lunch and “graduation” ceremony, then concluded the program with our afternoon poster session. The posters were outcomes of our six months’ project work, and I thought that all 16 teams did a great job designing interesting, engaging posters. As you might expect, there were a lot of QR codes around (our team used one), as well as Mardi Gras beads, buttons and other goodies to entice people to visit teams’ posters and learn more about our projects.

My EL project team (Team L) was tasked this past winter and spring with completing a webinar series feasibility study for the ALA Learning Round Table (LearnRT) board, which is launching a new Webinar Learning Series later this year. We began our research by identifying many webinar and e-learning series currently and previously in place, and then selecting 16 to assess on a number of criteria that included cost, timing, theme, platform, and promotion. After analyzing the collected data, we contacted organizers of 10 webinar series asking them to complete a detailed webinar assessment survey. The aim of the survey was to gain insight into elements of webinar series production that are less easily quantified or not publicly available (e.g., best practices, planning timelines, number of registrants or attendees, etc.). From the data we gathered and from that provided by the survey respondents (50% response rate), we drafted a report for the LearnRT board that outlines best practices, issues and implications for success, and recommendations for the new webinar series. We submitted our report to the LearnRT board prior to ALA, and several board members came to our poster session to thank us in person for doing a great job. If interested, you can read our report at our team’s ALA Connect page (and certainly ask me questions!).

As mentioned above, the EL poster session was just one of two I co-presented at ALA, but both involved our EL project poster. On Sunday afternoon, we rolled out our poster again at the annual LearnRT training showcase. Although we had lots of traffic and interest at Friday’s EL poster session, including Lauren P. and Steve, the folks we chatted with on Sunday were a more targeted audience, asking in-depth questions about our research and findings. I was very glad that LearnRT invited us to participate in the showcase, and look forward to the launch of the Webinar Learning Series as an outgrowth of our EL work.

Much of the rest of my ALA was spent at various scholarly communication-related presentations and meetings. The Road Show planning retreat was held on Thursday, the day before the conference started, so by the time Saturday morning rolled around, I’d already had two full days of activities. I did not slow much over the weekend, but fortunately didn’t have to dash between the convention center and hotels too often. I attended sessions covering library-university press partnerships, the Berlin Declaration on Open Access and the Berlin9 conference (to be held in the US for the first time this fall), and two on how best to advance scholarly communication and open access conversations on campuses. I was *thrilled* to attend one session on these issues sponsored by someone other than SPARC, the ACRL SC Committee, or the ALCTS SC Interest Group: on Monday morning, the ACRL Women and Gender Studies Section organized a panel addressing “21st Century Scholarly Communication: Conversation for Change.” I was very impressed by one panelist who unabashedly owned the failure of an open access journal she launched as a graduate student, as I believe that success and failure must be acknowledged, as both provide learning opportunities.

I’ve returned from ALA where I “emerged” officially, ate too much phenomenal food and became smitten with NOLA, but most importantly with lots of interesting ideas bouncing around my brain, not the least of which are some programming ideas for Open Access Week in October. Stay tuned!

At the Table at ACRL

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 10:16 am

As you’ve now realized, there was quite a ZSR contingent at the ACRL 2011 National Conference in Philadelphia last week. I was happily among them, enjoying my third ACRL conference and first real trip to Philly (airport connections don’t count). I arrived last Tuesday afternoon, and without a doubt, my overarching personal theme for this conference was “at the table”…and this is beyond all the great food I enjoyed!

My ACRL started Wednesday with a day-long curriculum planning retreat for the ARL-ACRL Institute on Scholarly Communication faculty. Although I am not an ISC faculty presenter, I was invited to attend the planning retreat as one of the ACRL SC 101 Road Show presenters. Being at the table with 13 others who are doing work similar to mine at various-sized institutions across North America was enlightening and energizing, and I’m still somewhat awed that I was asked to be at that table. After the retreat, I headed to the opening keynote address by filmmaker Tiffany Shlain. Although I cringed when she said that she now only looks online for archival footage for her documentaries, as I know there’s wonderful clips hidden away in archives worldwide, her perspective on accessibility and sharing were interesting. I also liked how she incorporated both video and still images into her slides. I completed my first day by meeting up with ZSR colleagues around three different tables in three different locations to share good food and great laughs.

Thursday found me at the table with several different vendors. My day started early with a SerialsSolutions vendor breakfast where I was introduced to Summon, a very cool search product that Roz discussed in her vendor post. I remember the early days of federated searching while in grad school, and while I could see the promise, the system I tried was clunky, ultimately proving frustrating for its inability to deliver the promise that was so clear. I was encouraged to see that Summon seems to solve those early problems. Feeling positive about vendors post-breakfast, I headed to the exhibit hall for a meeting with a BioMed Central representative to learn more about BMC institutional memberships and Springer’s open access initiatives – promising, but I’ll believe some of it only when I see it. After a disappointing morning session on virtues of “next gen” librarians – all of which I think should be virtues of any professional, regardless of age – and Roz’s fun Cyber Zed Shed session on QR codes, Mary Beth and I headed to an ebrary vendor luncheon to discuss ebooks. Conversation was honest, and driven primarily by suggestions from the librarians in attendance, although if ebrary plans to act on the desires expressed, they have a somewhat tall order ahead! My afternoon found me surveying tables in the Reading Market Terminal as I strolled through after lunch, catching up with a fellow Emerging Leader at a table at the back of the exhibit hall, and sitting on the floor behind a table at a maxed-out session on the Google Books Settlement. I did not hear anything new at the GBS discussion, but was encouraged by how many folks are actively engaged with digital access issues for in-copyright and orphaned books and picked up the Library Copyright Alliance’s updated GBS March Madness chart. My last official conference activity of the day was Raj Patel‘s awesome keynote, where I was thrilled to hear him acknowledging and championing the under-documented and uncompensated roles that women and girls play in our food economy. The evening’s events once again found me in the fun company of our ZSR colleagues, enjoying great food, Da Vinci’s brilliance, and fun music, sometimes on steps and sometimes around tables.

My Friday at ACRL was scholarly communication-intensive, with multiple sessions and conversations that touched upon the varied issues that fall under the broad SC umbrella. I was quite encouraged by the size of the crowd at an 8:30 session on why SC issues are important to non-ARL libraries. I had a very productive meeting around a tiny table at Old City Coffee with my co-presenter and one of our hosts for an upcoming Road Show in Minneapolis, after which Sarah (my co-presenter) and I headed to a three paper presentation on copyright lies retractions in biomedical publications, and the results of an SC survey. I nodded in agreement with many of the points raised by the authors of the paper on biomedical retractions, as they are a small but concerning problem. (Incidentally, this issue, especially how news media doesn’t always cover the retractions with nearly as much fanfare, is a great conversation starter for LIB 100 classes!) I also want to learn more about the copyright survey distributed to faculty and library staff at the University of Minnesota, as I’d be curious to see if a similar survey at WFU highlighted the same lies. My lunch was delayed in order to join a roundtable discussion on “Fostering a Culture of Sharing on Campus” that pulled together SC, copyright and institutional repository librarians for a fascinating conversation about engaging our faculty and students on SC issues. This roundtable led to an instructive spill-over conversation on the merits of copyright registration for ETDs, and the role of fair use and uncopyrightability of works reproduced within ETDs. Recharged after a late lunch and reflection break, I ended my SC-themed day at an invited paper, “Animating Archives: New Modes of Humanities Scholarship,” that had been commended by one of the ISC faculty at our retreat on Wednesday. Tara McPherson’s work is pushing the boundaries of what journals and books are and can be in digital forms, and I would love to see some of our WFU humanists involved in similar projects in the future. Following an ULS social, which was conveniently in a sports bar so I could easily keep tabs on the Opening Day baseball games (my beloved Red Sox have not started well, sigh), I ended Friday at the All Conference Reception at the National Constitution Center, where I eschewed both the museum exhibit and the table conversation in favor of twirling around the dance floor for a couple of hours!

Saturday’s tables all involved meals with ZSR colleagues as we wrapped up our ACRL experience and trekked home down I-95. Before leaving Philly, I managed one final trip to Reading Terminal Market for breakfast, a session on archiving considerations of born-digital materials, an intense monitoring of conference tweets (whereby I frustratingly realized that despite the interesting content of my session, I wish I’d been at the opposite end of the convention center in a different session…), and the closing keynote by Clinton Kelly, who was quite engaging…perhaps I should watch his show so I’ll be less out of the pop-culture loop?!

All in all, my ACRL experience was energizing, sending me home with new perspectives and ideas. Interestingly, there were fewer blatantly overarching SC sessions, which leads me to speculate – and hope! – that SC issues, which range from publishing to archiving to digital exploration to copyright law to innovation, are assimilating as fundamental issues around which enough interest has been built to require more targeted, specific sessions on the myriad aspects. If so, that would certainly echo and reinforce much of the conversation at the table where my ACRL began.

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