Professional Development

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Steve at NASIG 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:35 pm

Okay, so by now you know what’s coming: I apologize for being so darn late in writing this blog post. I lost my notebook! The dog ate my homework! I had to see a guy about a thing! I know there’s no good excuse for writing about a conference almost two months after it happened, but I promise I’ll not get that far behind again.

Anyway, the 2015 NASIG Conference in Washington, DC (well, technically Crystal City, Virginia, but close enough) was a very special one for me, because I served as president at this conference. Also, it was our 30th anniversary (there was a nice party to celebrate) and NASIG did its first joint program with another organization (the Society for Scholarly Publishing, or SSP) since 1992. Presiding over the conference was a fun if slightly nerve-wracking experience, as it entailed far more public speaking than I am comfortable with (for the record, I am comfortable with approximately zero public speaking, so, more than that).

Chris and Derrik have both written about the conference proper, so I think I’ll delve into the joint program with SSP a bit. Now, full disclosure, I was on the planning group that organized this event, so I might be a little biased in my reporting. The joint program was called “Evolving Information Policies and Their Implications: A Conversation for Librarians and Publishers,” and it consisted of three keynote addresses, one each by a publisher (Jayne Marks of Wolters Kluwer), a librarian (T. Scott Plutchak of the University of Alabama, Birmingham), and a vendor (Caitlin Trasande, formerly of Digital Science), a panel of two intellectual property lawyers (Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law at American University, and Michael Remington of the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath), and a closing panel with all five previous speakers.

Although each of them brought up interesting points, (especially Jayne Marks conversation about how publishers are experimenting with new models and tools for their customers, but it is difficult to fully develop them because every customer wants their products customized and personalized to such an extent that the publishers are constantly stuck in development), I will focus on Scott Plutchak’s keynote, which addressed the problems related to preserving and providing access to research data sets. Plutchak emphasized how current and trendy this issue is with the memorable phrase, “Data is the new bacon.” However, research data sets are also enormously difficult to manage. Plutchak said that managing research data sets is a “wicked problem.” This is not just a snappy way to refer to the problem, but an actual term from social planning. Wicked problems are problems that have edges that are hard to define, that require a multi-disciplinary approach, and that is probably not solvable in one permanent way, but that can be mitigated and managed (an example might be urban planning). According to Plutchak, when it comes to preserving and providing access to material, “Publications are easy, data is a beast.” One of the complicating factors is that now, not only are funding agencies often demanding data set deposits, so too are publishers, which means researchers are getting hit from both sides. Plutchak argues that managing data sets is an institutional issue, not just a library issue, and the problem can’t be handled like we do with institutional repositories for publications (which are easy, but data is a beast). To manage data sets, not only will libraries need to be involved, but also academic research offices, information technology departments, faculty, etc. If researchers are going to be successful with grants, we will need to have infrastructure, policies, and resources in place to manage their data sets.

Plutchak’s keynote address was probably the most interesting and share-worthy of the conference content I was able to attend and focus on without having to do presidenting. Between welcoming folks to the joint program, opening and closing the conference, doing a drawing at the first-timer’s reception, introducing a keynote speaker, conducting the all-conference business meeting, installing my successor as NASIG President (the intrepid Carol Ann Borchert of the University of South Florida), speaking at the 30th anniversary celebration, and conducting the NASIG Executive Board meeting (which I actually enjoyed), I was kept quite busy. But I have to say, it was very cool to be comped the hotel’s presidential suite. All in all, it was an exhausting, but extremely satisfying experierience.

Steve at ALA Annual 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015 5:15 pm

This year’s ALA in San Francisco was, in some ways, an usual conference for me, while in other ways, it was the same thing as always. The unusual part was that I flew out with Mimi and Shane the Saturday before the conference started and had nearly a week of vacation before the conference began. The usual part was actually the conference itself, because once again, my conference activity was consumed with committee work and BIBFRAME and RDA stuff.

Like Lauren, I attended the BIBFRAME Update Forum, but I had some different takeaways, which I’ll share. The first speaker, Sally McCallum from Library of Congress, described how LC has their catalogers experimenting with inputting BIBFRAME descriptions, keeping the records in a triple store. They have found that it is not easy to transform MARC data into BIBFRAME data, and are looking to see if the BIBFRAME dichotomy between work and instance records is clear and useful for catalogers. At present, they are focusing on how catalogers can search the data. They are not looking at end user searching, they are not doing acquisitions processing, they are not managing holdings and circulation using BIBFRAME, and they are not even looking at how they’d go about distributing records. So, it’s very early days for them. They do have 19 million former MARC descriptions redone as BIBFRAME works and instances, which is an awful lot of data to work with. Despite the fact that LC still has so much work to do with BIBFRAME, Beecher Wiggins of LC said that their plan is to have data ready to be broadly distributed in five years. We’ll have to see. As Lauren mentioned, the forum also featured brief presentations by ILS companies to discuss how they are preparing for BIBFRAME. The main thing I got from each of them is that they are all working on training among their staff and they’re all listening to/asking questions of customers to see what kind of things they’d like to see in a BIBFRAME-based system.

During the conference I also attended a total of seven hours of meetings (split across two sessions) of CC:DA (Catalog Committee for Description and Access), the committee that develops ALA’s official position on RDA. Normally, these meetings are super inside-baseball and of no interest to anyone who isn’t really into RDA rule, but there were three pretty interesting things to share out. (Trust me there was plenty of super-inside baseball stuff at these meetings, like the seemingly never-ending discussion of a 154 page report on machine-actionable data.) This stuff may still be too inside-cataloging for most folks, but I’ll take a stab at describing it:

1. The Library of Congress Authority File is going to get a massive automated re-vamp thanks the wizardry of Gary Strawn at Northwestern University (who our own Kathy Martlock worked with on a project…brush with fame!). These changes will not involve changing the 1XX or heading fields, but will involve adding lots of good stuff to the attribute fields that enrich the descriptions of authorized headings. Over 3.5 million authority records will have ISNIs added to them, which I know will make Lauren quite happy. This project was described as a “heart transplant” for the LC authority file.

2. The Functional Requirements models, FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data), and FRSAD (Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data), are being consolidated and will have major revisions in the next couple of years. That means that the conceptual models that underlying RDA will be going through major revisions, which are pretty much guaranteed to have major impacts on RDA.

3. The governance structure for RDA is going to become more international and is going to be entirely revamped. Back when we had AACR2, pretty much whatever the US and the UK said was it. Which made sense, because AACR2 stood for “Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed.” But RDA is trying to be more international. So, the proposed plan is to have an RDA Board, which will consist of six representatives, one each from North America, Latin America & the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. We’ll have to see how this develops, but it could have a major change in how much input ALA has on RDA.

Okay, that’s probably enough conference stuff for now. On our last night in town, Jeff and I joined Thomas, who still had another night to go, taking in an A’s game in Oakland. Although the stadium is a concrete bunker with all the charm of a parking garage, it was quite fun. The stadium is also the home of the Oakland Raiders, and the huge Raiders banner at the front gate that read “A Commitment to Excellence” had Jeff and me wondering if this was meant as some sort of Northern California hipster irony. But the big Athletics sign across the seats was kinda cool.

Steve at UKSG 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015 5:27 pm

Sorry for being so late with this. April and May just ate my life. I know it’s no excuse, but it’s what I’ve got. Now, on to the post.

Late last March, NASIG sent me to the UKSG Conference in Glasgow, Scotland as the president and official representative of NASIG. UKSG is the older sister organization in the United Kingdom on which NASIG was based at its founding, and much like the governments of the US and UK, NASIG and UKSG have a “special relationship.” Since I will be doing a lunch and learn presentation with Mary Beth and Mary S. in July on the experience of traveling abroad for a conference, I will save the more fun stories of traveling for that event. With this post, I’ll stick more to the content of the conference, by talking about a few of the sessions that interested me.

I sang for my supper at the opening session of the conference, bringing greetings from NASIG to the attendees of UKSG (about 1,000 librarians, publishers and vendors). Just after the opening session, we heard a fascinating talk by Geoffrey Bilder of CrossRef, called “The Four Strawmen of the Scholarpocalypse.” Bilder talked about how the scholarly system incentivizes lots of publishing by scholars, not necessarily increased quality. The number of citations a publication receives has become more important than how good it actually is. The pressure to publish more has led to an explosion in the amount of material published in each discipline, which leads to scholars doing more shallow reading in their research. Bilder argued that the current tenure system is counter-productive, because putting people under pressure doesn’t make them work smarter, it makes them try to figure out how to get by in the system. Bilder argued that distorted incentives and rewards in the scholarly publishing system causes “smart people to do dumb things for smart reasons” (which may be my single favorite quotation from a conference presentation ever).

Another really interesting session I attended was “Two of Us: Library/Press Collaboration” by Andrew Barker and Anthony Cond, both of University of Liverpool, Barker from the library and Cond from the University of Liverpool Press. The two speakers received a grant to explore making open access electronic text books available to students. The first step was Barker and Cond had to recruit academics at Liverpool who were willing to write the text books. They had to strenuously court and also pay a professor from the School of Management to write an “Essentials of Financial Management” text book, but they were able to talk a history professor into creating a guide for using primary sources just out of the goodness of his heart. In both cases, they tried to take advantage of the fact that the books were electronic resources, by making them interactive with videos and links. After the books were written, the UP did the editing and preparation of the publication files. The Library will handle the technical end of mounting the files and making them available, as well as handling their maintenance. The material should be available late this year. Overall, it sounded like a fascinating collaboration between a university library and a university press.

The conversations I had with British colleagues were also extremely interesting and gave me a better picture of the differences between our systems of higher education. The UK is way way farther ahead of the US on matters of Open Access, but they have government mandates (instituted by a Conservative government of all things!) that place many stringent OA requirements on scholars. Also, private institutions of higher learning are extremely rare in the UK, unlike here in the US. Another interesting fact was that there are relatively few library-related conferences in the UK (unlike the US where new library conferences seem to spring up like topsy), and there is no equivalent of ALA, so what conferences there are tend to have pretty high attendance. And the model of librarians as faculty does not exist in the UK, so our experiences in the faculty system sound very foreign to them.

In closing, I’ll say that Glasgow is a fantastic city, and that the UKSG folks were wonderful hosts. Plus, the experience of attending a conference in a foreign country was pretty amazing and I would highly recommend it, if you get the chance.

Steve at 2015 LAUNC-CH Conference

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 5:51 pm

Once again, I have to apologize for being so late in posting about a conference that happened in March (the 13th, to be precise), but March and April really were the months that ate my life.

So, the 2015 LAUNC-CH Conference. I found the most interesting session was the opening keynote, “Fostering Digital Literacy in the 21st Century,” by Jeffrey Greene, a professor in the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at UNC-CH. Greene argued that Marc Prensky’s conception of the digital native is false. Why? Because the digital divide is still a very real thing and poor kids without access to computers are not digital natives, even if they’re part of the same generational cohort. Also, human brains don’t really work any differently in a digital environment, except in the most superficial ways. Plus, he argues that genuine multi-tasking is not possible, at least one activity suffers during multi-tasking. And finally, and perhaps most controversially, he argues that learning styles are bunk. Research has shown that there’s really nothing to learning styles. While it is true that the more ways we encounter information, the better able we are to master that information, no single style works best for one person. Greene went on to state that digital literacy, among other things, involves the knowledge and skills to understand tasks, make plans, and to navigate, critique, and integrate multiple sources. For Greene, a digitally literate person would be able to understand tasks, make plans, enact strategies, monitor their progress, evaluate and adapt, and essentially self-regulate their digital world. A more advanced type of digital literacy would involve thinking like a scholar, which leads to extensive, targeted searching, critical evaluation of sources, better integration of information, and deeper understanding of information. He wants students to become effective curators of digital information. (He also said one of my favorite sentences I’ve ever heard at a conference, “You can’t be intrinsically motivated about everything. That’s a crazy person.”)

I also saw Ellen, Kaeley and Leslie give a great presentation on their LIB 250 class, I did not know my colleagues were such fantastic presenters! There was also a very interesting, if somewhat underdeveloped, lightning session by a UNC-CH SILS student, Jaci Paige WIlkinson, called “Beats That Collected Dust: Hip Hop Sampling & Academic Metadata,” which discussed how because hip hop is often based on sampling, the music is effectively an inter-related text, with references to earlier recordings. She argued that we could use linked data to link derivative works and original works to show where samples came from. There seemed to be a lot of steps missing from her argument, but I think the short time frame really worked against her. I’d definitely be interested in seeing what her more developed research finds.

Steve at the 2015 NC Serials Conference

Sunday, April 19, 2015 8:10 pm

Sorry, I’m so late in writing about a conference that happened on March 6th, but the month of March and the first half of April pretty much ate my life. Anyway, Chris, Derrik and I drove to the conference, which started late due to a weather delay caused by a slight ice event (remember how crazy this winter was)? I was going to the conference to attend, but also to present and to staff an exhibits table on behalf of NASIG, so I was wearing three hats.

The most memorable session was the opening keynote given by Katherine Skinner of Educopia. If you’ve never heard Katherine speak, you really should if you get the chance, she’s always fascinating. She’ll be speaking at the E-Books Freakout on Friday, April 24th, so you should come. Her talk at the NC Serials Conference was called “Taking Action in a Critical Moment: From Innovation to Impact.” Skinner argued that innovation (as in an invention) would not solve the problems of scholarly communication. She said that we need a change to the system, not to look for left-field innovation to provide a magic bullet to solve our problems. She argued that innovations don’t typically come from the center, they come from unexpected locations, while system-wide changes require system-wide involvement. The problems associated with scholarly communication are system-wide, not merely incidental to a specific location. She pointed out that we in higher education (and really everywhere) are good at focusing on the problems in our own institution, rather than the system as a whole. She also made the very salient point that the problems of scholarly communications has essentially become the sole burden of librarians, even though they shouldn’t be. But, she argued that situation may be changing, as the problems in scholarly communications have started hitting scholars themselves, particularly in states that have seen massive cuts to higher education like Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. She argued forcefully that librarians need to work together with scholars and other parties involved in the scholarly communication process to to try to find systemic solutions to the problems we face in scholarly communication.

I also gave a presentation at the NC Serials Conference, although I’m not nearly as good a public speaker as Katherine Skinner. I was invited to speak about the changes going on in NASIG over the last year or so (basically the time since I became NASIG president). In late 2013, the NASIG Executive Board decided to appoint a task force to revise the vision and mission statements of the organization. The old ones were too focused on phrases like “the serials information chain” and didn’t reflect the fact that NASIG is also quite involved with electronic resource management and scholarly communications. I campaigned on the idea of revising these statements, so I was totally on board with this process. I recruited a task force, including our own Lauren Corbett, to update our vision and mission statements. The membership approved them in November, 2014. Related to that, the Board also discussed changing our official name from the North American Serial Interest Group to just NASIG. The old name made folks think we’re only interested in print serials, and “interest group” made us sound like we’re a smaller part of a larger group. We proposed the name change and the membership approved the change to simply NASIG on Feb. 2nd, 2015. Also, in the spring of 2014, the list moderators of the SERIALST listserv came to the NASIG Executive Board to ask us to consider NASIG taking on the management of the listserv. The founder and lead moderator of the listserv, Birdie McLennon, tragically passed away early in 2014 and her institution wasn’t interested in keeping the listserv. So NASIG took on the management of the listserv and its archives, using a commercial service. We also started a task force to develop a set of core competencies for scholarly communications librarians (to go along with NASIG’s sets of core competencies for electronic resource librarians and print serials librarians). We developed a formal code of conduct for our conference and other NASIG events. We became a strategic affiliate of the Library Publishing Coalition. We also looked at the possibility of hiring office staff for the first time in our history. And we’re doing all this while planning for our 30th anniversary conference in Washington, DC in May, which will not only include a 30th anniversary celebration, but also a joint program with the Society for Scholarly Publishing. Plus, we’re proud sponsors of the Wake the E-Books Festival coming up on April 23rd and 24th. We’ve been kinda busy.

Upcoming State and Regional Conferences and Workshops

Sunday, March 1, 2015 2:34 pm

As part of the Mentoring Team I am on with Tanya, Leslie, Rebecca and Ellen M., we discussed involvement in professional organizations, and how difficult it might be for paraprofessionals or folks who have one problem or another with travelling long distances to attend conferences. So, I was picked to come up with a list of upcoming conferences and workshops that are in the state or the general geographic region. I’m sure I’m missing a lot of things, so feel free to add more in the comments section.

North Carolina Serials Conference (Chapel Hill, NC) – March 6

Library Association of UNC-Chapel Hill (LAUNC-CH) Conference (Chapel Hill, NC) – March 13

Metrolina Library Association Tech Summit (Charlotte, NC) – March 13

Southeastern Library Association (SELA) Joint Conference with the Alabama Library Association (Point Clear, AL) – April 7-10

TALA Paraprofessional Conference (High Point, NC) – May 13

NASIG Conference (including joint programming with the Society for Scholarly Publishing) (Washington, DC) – May 27-30

Metrolina Library Association Conference (Charlotte, NC) – June 11

North Carolina Library Association (NCLA) Conference (Greensboro, NC) – October 20-23

Steve at 2015 ALA Midwinter

Friday, February 6, 2015 4:23 pm

In honor of last Sunday’s Super Bowl, I considered beginning and ending this post with, “I’m only writing this blogpost so I won’t get fined,” but I might have a bit more to share. But only a bit, unfortunately, because this will be a shorter than usual conference post from me, because I spent much of my time in Chicago sick as a dog.

I flew into town on Friday, January 30th, with a cold and an ear infection, and feared I might have ruptured my right eardrum, but by Saturday morning, my hearing had returned, and I felt somewhat better and ready to tackle the day. First up, I went to the meeting of one of my two committees, the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee. We were planning for our committee forum on Monday, which got thrown into turmoil because our primary speaker had to cancel. We brainstormed ideas for questions and topics in an open forum, and had a lively discussion.

Luckily, my next big committee obligation, CC:DA (Catalog Committee: Description and Access) had a four-hour meeting scheduled in the same hotel, so I could just stay there. CC:DA, as I’ve mentioned before, develops ALA’s position on RDA. That means that we read and discuss proposed changes to RDA that come in from all sorts of constituencies. While it’s really interesting to see how the process works, it’s probably pretty boring to recount in too much detail here. I would like to briefly discuss one of the proposals we looked at, which was a proposal by the Task Force Machine-Actionable Data Elements to create a measurements element in RDA. The Task Force’s purpose is to develop data elements that are more easily understood and manipulated by computers. This measurements element sounds simple, but would actually represent a pretty radical re-thinking of how RDA works. The measurement element would have six sub-elements that would clearly define what was being measured and how. The six sub-elements are Measurement Type (thing like height, playing time, number of units, etc.), Measurement Unit (minutes, cm, cubic feet, etc.), Measurement Quantity (number of minutes, cm, etc.), Part Measured (when necessary), Measurement Qualifier (when necessary, especially for approximate measures), and Unstructured Measurement (a textual description of what is measured, if it can’t quite fit into the previous categories). This proposal is still in the early stages and has a long way to go before it will show up in actual changes to the RDA instructions, but it’s kind of interesting to know that this kind of thinking is going on. Or at least, it’s interesting to me.

After that meeting, I managed to scoot back to my hotel, where I was able to join a meeting of the Editorial Board of Serials Review (I’m a member) that was already in progress. I then went to an ALCTS reception, but started to feel very tired and bailed early. That night I felt my absolute worst of the trip, with chills and nausea. Jeff mentioned that he thought I was going to die. In truth, I asked him if he’d do me a favor and kill me.

After that night, the next day started very rough. I started to feel somewhat better by late Sunday morning and managed to do a little business in my role as president of NASIG. I went to a meeting with the rep from the publisher of the NASIG proceedings to talk about NASIG’s contract with them, as well as talking to some vendors on the exhibits floor to see if they’d be interested in exhibiting at the NASIG Conference in May.
On Monday morning, I went to the second, three-hour meeting of CC:DA. During the meeting, Mimi texted me to let me know that my 6 pm flight that day had been cancelled. I arranged to get on a 2:05 pm flight on standby, but had to leave the meeting a half-hour early to have any chance of making it. Luckily, I did, because I don’t know if I could have handled being stuck in Chicago another night.

Oddly enough, this actually wasn’t my worst-ever conference going experience. So at least there’s that.

Steve at 2014 ALA Annual

Monday, July 7, 2014 1:32 pm

As with the past few conferences, my experience at the 2014 ALA Annual conference was dominated by work on ALCTS committees. As such, most of the stuff I did was pretty deep in the cataloging weeds, so I’ll try to pick out the items that might be of interest to a more general audience. Much of my time (4.5 hours one afternoon and a follow-up 3 hours one morning) was devoted to CC:DA (Cataloging Committee: Description and Access), which develops ALA’s position on RDA. Proposals approved by CC:DA are sent up to the JSC (Joint Steering Committee), the international body that is the final arbiter of the content of RDA. We passed a proposal from the Audio-Visual and Music communities that loosens the rules for recording statements of responsibility, which is particularly important for A/V and music catalogers. The current RDA instructions require catalogers to record composers as the primary party responsible for a music recording, which works fine for most classical music, but is terribly confusing for popular music (do you really want to have Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” to be primarily credited to Bob Dylan, or is Hendrix the important name?). We’re hoping that this proposal will be approved by the JSC. CC:DA also got a bit closer to resolving the problem playfully known as “the cascading vortex of horror,” which is a situation where RDA can be interpreted to mean that catalogers are required to record up to four production statements, depending on the information provided on a published item (if there is no publication info, you have to record that there is no publication info, then if there is no distribution info, you have to record that there is no distribution info, then you have to record whether or not there is manufacturing info, then you have to record copyright info). The proposal would say that you only record the info you have, you don’t have to say what you don’t have, other than the publication info. The proposal was not passed, as a new issue was brought up as to whether or not we should even say we don’t have publication info.

My other committee work was on the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee. We met to discuss the forum we had planned for later in the conference, as well as tossing around ideas for programming at Midwinter. We seem to be gravitating toward the idea of having something on Bibframe to both explain it in terms catalogers can understand and to relate Bibframe specifically to the concerns of continuing resources catalogers. The committee’s forum on Monday afternoon was the last business event I attended at the conference. It covered a lot of continuing resources/serials cataloging stuff that would be of no interest to anybody but me, but there was one bit of info that might be of general interest. Regina Reynolds from the Library of Congress said that the ISSN Center (the international agency that issues International Standard Serials Numbers to serial publications) is working to deal with publishers it deems to be predatory. By predatory they mean fly-by-night publishers who produce sub-standard material with titles and/or logos that are very similar to the titles and logos of highly respected publications, or titles that are otherwise deceptive and designed to cause confusion in the reader. If the ISSN Center deems a title to be predatory, they may revoke the title’s ISSN, making it much harder for the publisher to sell their publication.

Let’s see, what else? I attended a session on that confused the heck out of me. I fear that it’s something that I’ll need to have explained to me three of four times before I start to get it (like with FRBR), although I had a follow-up conversation with Lauren Corbett that helped clear some of my confusion. I also talked with a rep from OCLC about their new KnowledgeBase and their Notification service. I’m particularly excited about the Notification service, because if we sign up for it, if a record we have our holdings attached to gets edited in the OCLC database (like say, if the record is upgraded from AACR2 cataloging to RDA cataloging), we would get sent the newly edited version of the record. With the bib records in OCLC changing so quickly these days, this service would be very useful. And it doesn’t cost anything extra, the price is included in our subscription. Now, when I hear a big company say that something doesn’t cost extra, that’s usually when I check to make sure my wallet is still there, but I grilled the guy from OCLC and it seems like it’s for real. Which was certainly nice to hear.

Steve at NASIG 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014 11:06 am

Since Chris and Derrik have already written their accounts of the 2014 NASIG Conference, I figure I better get on the ball. This was an unusual conference experience for me. As Vice President of NASIG, I was very involved with the planning of this conference, as well as having to do a lot of organizational business. That organizational business included planning for next year’s conference, which will not only have a special celebration for our 30th anniversary, but will also have NASIG’s first ever joint programming with another organization, the Society for Scholarly Publishing. With all the meeting and talking I had to do, I’ll confess that I didn’t attend as many conference sessions as I normally do, but those I did attend were very interesting.

Chris and Derrik have given nice descriptions of the three vision sessions, which were all quite good. I think the most interesting break-out session I attended was “Acquisitions and Management of Digital Collections at the Library of Congress,” given by Ted Westervelt from LC. I’ve known Ted for years, but didn’t know how truly impressive and cool his job is. He manages the eDeposit program at LC, which acquires e-resources for the Library of Congress’s permanent collection. The Copyright Deposit section at LC is charged with preserving material for the life of the Republic, which is quite a long-term commitment. Since 2009, the Copyright Deposit section has required publishers to present two copies of every source deposited, but an exception was made for electronic material. The exemption was eventually dropped and now electronic journals and electronic books have to be given to LC for the Copyright Deposit program. In addition to deposited material, the eDeposit section acquires material through purchase and gifts. They currently have 116 million unique files in inventory with 2.74 petabytes of content. They are also providing web archiving for 8.6 billion files. The digital material acquired includes historical newspapers, web sites, reference works, e-serials, e-books, GIS data, and more than 60 other flows. The section’s operating philosophy is that preservation=access, or, as Ted said, you can’t serve what isn’t preserved. To that end, LC has developed a set of format specifications for electronic materials to be preserved through the eDeposit program (LC has not officially released these specifications yet, but Ted gave us a sneak peak). LC uses a wide range of digital tools to store and manage their digital content. He said that the repository is being built in stages, and that it is important to think of repositories as a suite of tools and services. That is, a repository isn’t a single thing where you stick e-resources and then they’re preserved forever, a repository is a process that relies on a number of tools. Ted also emphasized that you need to think of the entire lifecycle of a resources in a repository, which I think is very important. He pointed out that LC has a system in place for taking in materials, but that they need to scale it. They need to develop more digital collection breadth and depth. LC is currently demanding 230 e-serials via eDeposit, but they will quadruple the number in the next few months. They need more capacity, both for storage and for processing of materials, and they need more standard and automated workflows. They also need to develop their collection development, preservation, metadata and access policies. Even though that work still needs to be done, I find the scale and ambition of this project to be truly amazing and I look forward to hearing more about this work in the future (I’ll certainly be grilling Ted about his work when I see him again).

I also attended an interesting session by Rachel Erb of Colorado State University, who talked about how her library’s Technical Services department used NASIG’s recently published list of Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians as a guide for reorganizing their department. Essentially they found that they had too few people working on electronic resources and that there were needed skills that the department was lacking. Using the Core Competencies as a guide, they were able to justify changing job descriptions (a hard task at their school) and to craft a justification for a new position to bring in the skills they needed. And I saw Richard Wallis from OCLC discuss linked data. The main thrust of his presentation was that libraries need to expose their data to the wider world, which is where linked data comes in. He used the pithy phrase, people want “things not strings.” That is they don’t just want entries, they want entities, entire data sets about a topic.

In addition to the sessions, I did a lot of great networking, and had good conversations about developments in the world of cataloging, serials management, and the future of NASIG. Speaking of the future of NASIG, we’ve got some exciting projects in the works that I can’t quite talk about yet, but I’ll share when I can. Oh, and at this conference I was inaugurated as president of NASIG, and I confirmed the fact that, despite my tendency to be a chatterbox in private conversation, I am the world’s worst public speaker. Ah well, they didn’t elect me to give speeches.

Steve at 2014 North Carolina Serials Conference

Friday, March 21, 2014 4:51 pm

I attended the 2014 North Carolina Serials Conference last week, with quite a crew from ZSR. Ellen has already discussed the all-conference sessions, so I think I’ll write a bit about the break-out sessions I attended. The update session on RDA had some bits of news that might be of interest to folks outside of cataloging: namely that OCLC has announced that General Material Designators (or GMDs) will remain in legacy records (that is, records cataloged according to AACR2 rules) through March 2016. GMDs are those notes in square brackets next to titles in the catalog that say what kind of resource it is (for example, [computer resource]). OCLC is planning to add certain RDA-related fields to their legacy records, including 33X fields that indicate carrier information, over the next few years. In addition to these announcements, Kurt Blythe from UNC-Chapel Hill shared some RDA-related changes to serials cataloging. It was pretty inside-baseball stuff (info on how to code provider neutral online records in the 040 field, how to use indicators in 588 fields, the fact that parallel titles are considered core in CONSER cataloging, etc.), but it was interesting and useful to me. The other speaker at the session, Christee Pascale discussed NCSU’s RDA implementation. She said that most of the RDA training they gave to staff focused on how RDA is different from AACR2. A lot of it boiled down to if you do X in AACR2, then you do Y in RDA. Pascale argued that this actually sold the staff short, because they didn’t look enough at the conceptual underpinnings of RDA, especially the FRBR model. She argued that staff really need to have a solid grasp on the FRBR entities and the relationships between these entities, and that this will become a much more important issue when we begin to make the transition from MARC to BIBFRAME.

The other break-out session I attended was a presentation by Virginia Bacon and Ginny Boyer of ECU, who described how ECU merged the discovery services of their main library, medical library and (unofficial) music library. It was a long process, with a lot of discussion, a lot of persuasion and a lot of compromise. Eventually, they consolidated their web presence into a unified catalog, as well as a unified ILLiad presence, a unified Book Recall feature, a unified Ask a Librarian function, and a single WorldCat Local instance. The process has involved a number of roll-out stages, and constant marketing efforts to re-brand the separate main and medical libraries into a single ECU Libraries brand.

One last thing, in recent years, the NC Serials Conference has started having an expo, with tables for sponsoring companies and organizations to pass out literature and talk to conference attendees. NASIG is a regular sponsor of the conference, and, as the current Vice President of NASIG, I got to represent our organization. It was kind of fun to talk to folks about the joys of membership in NASIG.

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