Professional Development

Author Archive

MB @ ALA midwinter

Sunday, January 22, 2012 12:36 am

Hi y’all, from the Lone Star State…and they are everywhere!

After a very smooth travel day yesterday, and having some time to enjoy a few sights of Dallas, today’s sprint started with a bang…literally. Well it was really an air horn, and it was really a 5K, but the day was a full run. My first session of the morning was the RUSA STARS ILL Discussion Group. There were two presenters followed by a q & a that was cut short due to time. The first presenter was Bethany Sewall from the University of Denver who gave a presentation called “100% Document Delivery: what to do when your collections are ALL off site.” She said that as the library was trying to determine how they might conduct an entire renovation they had two choices. Do 20% a year for 5 years, (which would fully impact two classes of students, the class of 2016 and the class of 2017, who would be suffering under conditions of a less than able library) OR they could close the library for 18 months and renovate the whole thing. They opted for the quick renovation. They’ve moved the entire collection off site and are housing the staff in various parts of the campus, the majority of the public services people are holed up in the Ballroom in their Student Commons. All materials were “ingested” into their off site storage, (high bay but not mobile), and they were originally expecting to return 80% to the library. Then changes were made to the original plan that was only to allow 20% to return. Ultimately, 50% of the collection will be allowed to return to the library. Faculty were up in arms over the decision and the administration mollified them by promising a 2 hour turn around time for physical materials or scanned articles. Three positions were created for their off site storage facility, and they employ upwards of 50 students a semester to meet those document delivery goals. The offsite facility is also open from 5am to midnight while the library is open all night in a 24/5 schedule like our own.

The second presenter was Tina Birsch from Indiana University-Purdue. She discussed the methods they go to to identify and fulfill items that have been requested from ILL but were found by the staff on the open web. The process was detailed from how she created custom rules and routing in ILLiad, to what her email replies said to patrons to encourage them to search the web in advance of submitting an ILL request. The conversation devolved into a philosophical one with one side feeling like the patron will always continue to send requests rather than check to see if the material is on the web, while the majority said, when you find the information, you should just provide it. The “work” is already done. She finished her presentation by suggesting that, with the increase of material on the web, ILL departments need not fear that their stats will falter. The importance of speed and convenience by most users will ensure that requests still come in, even if users could have found it on their own.

After the EBSCO lunch, shared with many ZSR folks, I attended the Digital Media Discussion Group. This was a group of both public, and academic libraries, and a handful of vendors like Swank and Alexander Street Press. Topics raised included the frustrations that libraries have with trying to remain current on all technologies when patrons come in with their latest e-book reader and want to learn how to download content on to it, to how to catalog electronic books, and streamed media that has been licensed. It was a far reaching and interesting discussion. The vendors came away with many ideas on how to make their products better match library needs.

My final session of the day was the LLAMA Interiors Discussion Group, where I found Roz, Giz. and Lauren Pressley already in attendance. This, like the last discussion group, was a session filled with public and academic librarians who were wrestling with how to ensure that whatever changes they implement through furniture and upfitting, would meet the needs of the patron groups for years to come, and design professionals, architects, and furniture representatives who were sharing their talents to assist with those choices. Among the most salient points, we heard the now common refrain that spaces should be flexible, comfortable, timeless, able to be converted. A few new ideas came to the fore though. One was the concept that during the “day” the library space might be many individuals studying silently side by side, whereas by night, the library becomes a space for collaboration. I think we find that in our library. Also, another idea is to “do a pilot” of an area, getting 6 or 8 chairs or chair/table combinations and see how students like it before purchasing more. Let them be involved in the decision, and have them “kick the tires” rather than redoing entire spaces every 15 or 20 years. Iterative change. Finding the right mix of collaborative space v. individual space is going to change from day to day, week to week, semester to semester, so flexibility is critical. Another thought that I hadn’t considered before was that we should be keeping human health in mind when purchasing chairs that students can be sitting in for upwards of 8 hours at a time! In even small renovations lighting, technology, furniture, space, color all come into play. And the greater impact might come from colorful furniture, rather than color on the walls. It was a very interesting session and will give Roz and I a chance to play with ideas related to the atrium renovation. (We also found that one of the attendees was a library designer who has a child who is a freshman at Wake! She gave Roz her card! Yay!)

This all was followed by a reception of the Distance Learning group mingling with others in the section. We met up with Erik there and had a good visit with him and decided to just eat dinner at the restaurant and then head back to the hotel for an early-ish night. Remind me to tell you all about Giz’s awesome ability to hail a cab. More tomorrow.



A Person of Interest webinar

Thursday, November 17, 2011 3:10 pm

Yesterday afternoon, Scott Adair, Anna Dulin and I spent an hour and a half thinking about the sorts of security situations one would rather not think about. The webinar, “A Person of Interest: Safety and Security in the Library” presented by LLAMA (the Library Leadership and Management Association) focused on getting library employees to prepare for security situations before they occur. The recording of the webinar is available here.

The webinar covered many circumstances, from nuisance patrons (ie chatty), challenging patrons (ie requesting unreasonable service or those that are odiferous), delusional or threatening patrons, etc and also covered medical emergencies and criminal situations. The first webinar leader, Nancy Relaford from UC San Diego explained that staff training for these events are critical because they are so likely to occur at some point, and that your training should include thinking through scenarios. Having a scenario to react to will give people the necessary practice to get it right, and will allow the participants to weave into their thought process any local practices that are unique to their building or situation. It will also allow them to get past the “startle response” and on to doing whatever is necessary to handle the situation in an actual emergency.

Two people from Queens Borough Public Library in NYC, Lambert Shell and Michael Daly discussed the policy and procedural training programs they’ve got in place to handle incidents, but also identified programs they have in place to minimize the incidents from happening. They have created social spaces to engage teens and tweens who might otherwise be a group prone to causing trouble. They have also engaged help from teachers, counselors, police, social workers and parents in the community keeping lines of communication open and utilizing all of the expertise in the area to help solve any problems.
Handouts are also available here. The webinar was interesting and sensitized me to the need to have some dialog about how we might handle such situations in ZSR. Living as we do in this beautiful academic setting, it’s easy to be lulled into complacency. This webinar along with the presentations offered by the CARE team will help us to begin the process of setting down guidelines that will be useful in such situations when the “persons of interest” come into our library.

Mary Beth at Access Services Conference

Saturday, November 12, 2011 7:53 pm

I spent Thursday and Friday at the Access Services Conference: Unlocking the 21st Century Library in Atlanta. While this is the first time I attended the conference, it was the third time the conference was held. I found it an interesting conference filled with 500 (not surprisingly) like minded individuals.

The keynote was delivered on Thursday morning by Julie Zimmerman who is Dean of Libraries at Florida State University. (Her bio says she also used to be here, at WFU, so perhaps some of you know her.) She set the tone for the conference talking about the challenges for Libraries and the changes we’ve witnessed from being the “big box” of information right in the center of campus, where people were lucky if they found stuff, to the struggle we face to be relevant as we compete with the internet as the primary source for today’s information. She said that in order to remain relevant, libraries need to align priorities with institutional goals (check!), test assumptions and talk to our users (check!), commit to service that goes beyond the traditional (check!). Her talk was interesting but mostly because I felt like she was telling me we were on the right track. She also discussed the need to refocus our services to meet user needs, (using the example of checking out equipment, which we also do) and liberalize loan policies, utilize delivery services and encourage patron driven acquisition. So, as I said, we are really doing all right here.

I attended several sessions that had similar themes including:

  • Cross training staff to be flexible and respond to needs.
  • Simplify the user experience
  • Combining service desks and the challenges and successes that come from that action
  • Aligning staff skills, job descriptions and performance reviews
  • Doing more with less (More service, less budget)

Marvin Tillman, from Duke’s Library Service Center, (their Offsite Storage) and I co-presented on a session on called “Shall we go offsite?” We discussed the reasons why libraries should consider this action including:

  • better use of library space
  • better service
  • better security of the collection
  • better preservation
  • cost less per volume to store in off site vs. storing in the library

We had our session at 2:30 in the afternoon, and it was well received. About half of the attendees had already implemented an offsite storage facility, and maybe another third was considering it. It was a lively discussion, and we didn’t get through all of our slides, but both Marvin and I were approached by about a dozen people asking questions afterward, and saw several people the rest of the evening and next day who had more questions! We seemed to find a touchstone.

On Friday morning I attended a session caled “Google Model Innovation” and was led by the Director of Access Services at Yale Law Library who talked about an experiment he had with using a Google Model to allow the staff to bring him any wild idea that they wanted to implement. Then, if he liked it, and it aligned with their job, he’d give them one day (20%) of their time to implement it. It has now devolved to 10% of their time, but they still have a half day a week to devote to innovations that they really want to see implemented. Two noteworthy things that they’ve implemented as a result of this is 1. Increased digitization of collections and 2. a green team who devote their time to implementing “green” ideas.

One especially interesting session discussed how the library at University of California at Santa Cruz managed to continue to provide service after library hours and staff were cut after a significant (1.9 million dollar) budget cut in 2009. The students reacted with sit ins, “study ins” and protests. Negotiating with the students, creating policies, instituting procedures to protect staff, collections and buildings, all resulted from a very connected leadership who were trying to manage through the difficult time.

I’m happy that I attended the conference. I had a chance to catch up with some colleagues from Michigan, and met with many new people from all across the nation. About 60% of the attendees were from outside of the south, so this really is gaining traction as a national conference.

Storage and Commons–ALA day 3 and 4

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 12:14 am

I attended two sessions on Storage facilities at ALA. One of them was entitled “Planning for the Worst, Disaster Preparedness for High Density Storage.” I hoped to be able to use what I learned there to help with the Emergency Plan that Craig is working on for the Offsite Storage Facility. The focus of the session was more directed to being sure that your high density storage facility has built in sufficient fire suppression to meet the needs of your facility, so in effect, we’d already done that. One takeaway though was about how other libraries are using High Density Storage to store their rare books. A common strategy is to put the rare material at between 3 and 10 feet off the floor so it is accessible by step stool or reaching for it from the floor. This would allow you to remove that material quickly without having to use the gruelingly slow fork lift to go up and down the aisles and up and down the 35 foot stacks to pull out the most valuable material that has been stored in the facility. We haven’t got plans to store any rare material at Offsite as yet, but I will keep this in mind as we go forward. (I had an opportunity to privately gently correct another library who said they were to about to install the “first high bay mobile shelving units used by a library”. They are, in fact, third, behind us and UVA.)

In the second Offsite Storage session, the LAMA Storage Discussion Group meeting, the first part of the session had Brenda Johnson and Carolyn Walters, both of Indiana University Libraries, talking about their plans for the CIC Shared Storage Repository. The CIC is the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, and they represent “the countries top-tier research institutions” including Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Michigan, Ohio State, Purdue, Univ. of Indiana, and others. Their planning for a shared repository mirrors our involvement in ASERLs similar movement. Their goals include

  • aggregate secure and preserve rich print resources
  • ensure CIC scholars have timely access to resources
  • realize economies of scale through collective action
  • help reclaim local resources: space, funds and staff time
  • integrate CIC libraries into emerging national network of collectively managed resources

They will do this by collecting, assembling, validating, preserving and securely storing journal runs that will serve the collective. The cost of the project will be shared among the participating libraries, $25,000 per library per year for 10 years, and then $2,500 per year thereafter. Collective savings is estimated to be about 13Million over the first five years and growing to more than $20million in subsequent years. I have handouts if anyone wants to see them.

The second part of this session was about the HathiTrust and was presented by Tom Teper of the University of Illinios-Urbana-Champaign. He shared slides on the program that were similar to slides I’d seen recently on a webinar on the subject. He discussed the overlap of the things that have been scanned into digital form and are available on the HathiTrust and asked, as has been asked before, “how many copies of these common titles do we need?” His closing thoughts: the HathiTrust gives us opportunities to rethink what is retained locally, what the missions are for different institutions, and allows us to manage local growth and costs that might otherwise be used to expand facilities. He argument was provocative and engendered much discussion, especially after he said that a library’s determination to hang onto print was “nostalgic”. He quickly backed away from that statement, but it was a lively discussion nonetheless.

On the Commons: Roz has already posted about the ALA RUSA session on libraries that have implemented commons. It was very interesting to see all of the different ways that libraries have interpreted what is meant by an Information Commons. There are libraries that “co-locate” desks so that people can be pointed to the direction of where they will receive the needed services. In other libraries, a single desk has been installed that tries to be all things to all people. In this second iteration, cross training becomes a big issue and can lead to service failure without constant attention and opportunity for feedback.

It occurred to me that its a question of determining “Do our users want our Information Commons to be more like a food court, or an emergency room with a triage desk? Which is less intimidating? Which will best meet their needs?” I also wonder how and if these libraries have done any assessment on whether they are doing better meeting patron needs before or after their transition. Maybe there is not only one answer. The library that had combined IS help with Reference help discussed at length how they had included a “memorandum of understanding” between all of the services before they joined into a single desk. Such a document should include expected levels of service, what will be funded by whom, how many hours of operation are going to be staffed by which department, etc. I think this is a great idea and will help to define as well as reassure all of the participants in this shared environment.

On Furniture. Here’s a little something from Agati Furniture. Gee Chair And there are many pictures from the exhibit floor on the library’s Flickr stream.

It was a busy few days at ALA. It was something for everyone, and especially for me. From the conference sessions, exhibit floor, Cafe du Monde and Bourbon Street, I really enjoyed this conference and this town. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

Mary Beth at ALA-Day 1 and 2

Saturday, June 25, 2011 7:54 pm

Dan Savage: Opening Keynote

Dan Savage gave an inspirational keynote speech in which he described the necessity and motivation behind his It Gets Better Project. After a rash of teen suicides last year that were the result of teens being bullied for their presumed sexual orientation, Dan and his partner, (“husband in Canada, boyfriend in the States”) Terry, decided that they needed to find a way to get directly to teens to let them know that they can find joy being a GLBT adult. Because they would never be allowed to get this message out to students through the schools, or through teen organizations who would consider such ideas indoctrination, they utilized YouTube to create a channel, and used Dan’s blog to promote it. They thought a channel that had 100 such messages would be successful and were overwhelmed with 650 in just a week. Now the YouTube videos, that bring hope and help to GLBT teens, number in the thousands. He drew a connection between the It Gets Better Project’s subversive nature, and the work that librarians do every day: bringing information to those who need it, even if the greater cultural zeitgeist considers it dangerous to do so. (This engendered the greatest applause of the speech.) His speech, funny for the most part, turned serious and even brought a tear to the eyes of Dan, (and me), while he described in a moving way how his work had certainly saved lives and given hope to many teens.

Day 2:

After a sunrise walk to CafĂ© DuMonde with Ellen, and beignets, coffee and juice, followed by the requisite weights in the fitness center (keeping my Zephyr’s points up, team), my first session of the day was the ACRL President’s Program to hear ZSR mentioned as the ACRL Excellence in Libraries Award recipient. Steve, Wanda, Susan and I all had an opportunity, along with the other award recipients, to enjoy another moment in the sun. The speaker that was engaged to address the group was Jason Young, a “people developer” who spent many years working with Southwest Airlines. His message was all about how creating a culture of care and accountability will enable any organization to have the freedom to innovate. Fear keeps us from innovating. A “memory of fear” is what develops policy and procedure that can limit your innovation. The culture of an organization directs its teamwork; the leadership drives culture. Free up fun, creative, innovative ways to meet customer needs, by treating each other with respect, concern and a caring attitude. Let people experiment. Make it part of your vision. He related a few stories about the “fun” culture that was prevalent in South West Airlines. I found many relevant things in what he said, it made me happy to see just how free we are to experiment in ZSR.

An afternoon spent in the exhibit area talking with vendors, (Atlas about ARES, Copyright Clearance Center, looking for scanner vendors that work well with ILLiad..I am beginning to love that exhibit floor) I attended an afternoon session entitled “Designing Specialty Commons” with representatives from Emory, NCSU, UC Berkley, UCLA, UofM and Agati Furniture. They each told the story about the development of their own Commons in their libraries, the way they developed their programs, the needs they were trying to address. Among the many little nuggets they related:

Don’t buy furniture to work with specific technology. Furniture will always outlast technology. Buy furniture that is flexible and can move. Provide outlets everywhere, through raised floors or overhead. Leverage programmatic support to get specific things funded. Pursue strategic forces. Phased in development of your commons is best and be ready to provide iterative change. Design for places for students to collaborate, play, allow for individual use. Students will experiment. Color is good. New technologies require support. Give them the opportunity to enclose big spaces into smaller chunks. Make help easily found. It was a very informative and very relevant session.

On to dinner with the ARES people followed by a few hours of catching up with old friends. This conference is huge, New Orleans is hot. Everything is living up to expectations.

CERT Training this week

Friday, May 27, 2011 12:00 pm

Craig, Wanda, Travis and I all spent mornings and afternoons out of the library becoming certified in CERT, the Community Emergency Response Team training. The training was extensive and exhausting. (Think CPR-First Aid-team building-survivor training and psychological distress all in one.) While the training was demanding, we did also have some fun.
Each module was taught by a different instructor from Forsyth County’s Emergency Response Team. We discussed the importance of being prepared for an emergency and utilizing the resources available on the website. With this being Hurricane Preparedness week in North Carolina, and following so closely on the heels of the tornadoes in the center of the country, we had plenty of relevant and timely discussion on how a community responds to and recovers from emergencies.

Our week included modules on:
*Search and Rescue
Travis helps with cribbing

*Emergency Response
Using cribbing to raise a heavy object off an injured individual

*Triage/Tagging and First Aid
CERT Training

*How to deal with psychological issues like survivors guilt, and providing solace to the grieving without getting too emotionally involved.

*How to respond to terrorist attacks

The number one job of any CERT member is to only enter into a rescue if your own personal safety is assured. The number two job is to save as many people as possible. So sometimes hard decisions are made in deciding how and when to treat individuals.
It was an engaging week, but it is difficult to spend so much time thinking about and reacting to such demanding and depressing topics. Part of me hopes that I’ll be able to put all of this new found knowledge to use, but another part of me truly hopes it is never necessary.


The Library now has 4 new members of Forsth County’s CERT program. Other units represented included members from Campus Police, Divinity, the Law School, Theater, and Biology.

MB’s ACRL wrapup

Wednesday, April 6, 2011 3:41 pm

I’ve held back my ACRL posting and am doing a single overview of the conference. I know that many people wait anxiously for the posts to start flooding in when several of us go away to a conference, but I didn’t post until now because I wanted to avoid redundancy, reflect on what I’d learned, and wrap it around existing knowledge. I also want to be as succinct as possible so I could share the nuggets and still retain your interest.

I attended several of the sessions on reorganizing and renovating spaces, creating “learning commons” etc, over the course of the conference and I found that:

  • no two libraries have done it the same (no two libraries even define “information commons” the same)
  • the libraries that are successful have responded to their own users needs
  • some of the ideas that were implemented successfully elsewhere wouldn’t work here
  • flexibility, technology and outlets are critical

Roz, Susan and I not only took a particular interest in this thread of sessions but we also spent much time after sessions figuring out how we might make use of our crazy space limitations in ZSR to maximize our service and provide a really great experience for our users. We will be looking at what was done at other institutions, (Emory, Georgia Tech, and University of Michigan) and coming back to our users with some questions on what THEY would like to see here. I particularly liked UofM’s approach of giving scenarios to their architects based on what their students said they’d like to see and how they’d like to use collaborative space and technology in the library. Using the scenarios, the architect rendered drawings to incorporate the ideas of the students that went beyond “comfy couches and lots of outlets.” Roz and I discussed the difficulties of getting our students into focus groups and thought that maybe some random Thursday evening we’d show up with 20 pizzas and use the PA to announce, “give us 15 minutes so we can ask some questions, share your thoughts about how you do, or how you’d like to, use the library. We have pizza.”

Surveys and focus groups were a second theme I saw at ACRL. The need to ask and have good information about what our users want is important, especially when the stakes are so high and the funding for renovation comes along so seldom. I volunteered to be a room monitor for a session of three contributed papers that highlighted the uncertainty that comes from acting on what we think we know. The first paper entitled Talkin’ bout my Generalization picked away at accepted generational differences, (ex: millennials are more able to adapt to change, boomers are more conservative, etc) and found that they did not bear out in their survey and that generational differences are not as dramatic as one would expect. The second, Millennial Librarians: Who they are and how they are different from the rest of us noted that millennial librarians (as with millennials in general) tend to have a great deal in common with the GI generation (ie: a great sense of civic duty), but that they also have very great expectations with regards to desiring instant gratification and little concern over privacy issues, and that is bearing out in the workforce as well. The third paper Scary, Exciting or Something In-Between published results of surveys of Ontario’s University and College librarians and their attitudes toward institutional change. Institutional change in the case of these libraries was brought about because of severe budget cuts so the attitudes of respondents tended to be cynical. The survey touched a nerve. The responses indicated that streamlined business models were favored over service and that there was a lack of transparency in the decisions being made. All of the surveys found some surprising results, which again bears out my belief that we should never determine a course of action to better service based on observation, or observation alone.

The third theme that I saw in the conference was one of an increasing digital divide. In fact, there isn’t really one digital divide, but several. We at ZSR are lucky enough to be working for an institution that values it’s libraries and funds them in staffing and technology appropriately. Talking with others at other institutions found this to be not universally true, and we are exceedingly lucky not to have to make do with cut backs others are finding routine. A second digital divide was seen in the struggles that libraries are undertaking to provide access to ebooks. Our users want them, the publishers will (sometimes reluctantly) provide licensing for them, librarians find it difficult to make the switch from owning content to licensing it. The switch from owning a physical copy to a digitally licensed one also assumes that users will always have a device on which to read it. Unsettling for some public libraries, less so for us, but still its’ there. ANOTHER digital divide that I saw in many ways was the reliance on smart phones for delivering and receiving content. QR codes, while understandable to anyone, are lost to anyone who has a cell phone that only calls or texts, (like yours truly.) Using Giz’ tether with his smart phone on the drive up to Philadelphia many times more productive than the ride back on Saturday. What we used to call “toys” are now recognizable as game changers, and not games at all.

And lastly, worthy of note is the fact that I learned as much from my colleagues at this conference as I did from the conference itself. Molly gave me a deeper understanding of her SC work and the Road Show. She also taught me the importance of packing just the right accessories for evening events. Giz showed the value of having the proper tools to maximize efficiency. (He had the right accessories, too.) Roz showed me how to work the vendor floor, and how to push back gently to make it clear when our needs are not met. Susan showed the value of a good head clearing walk, a collaborative lunch, a succinct blog post, and ending with a good photo.

or two.

ILLiad Conference Round up

Sunday, March 28, 2010 2:47 pm

The ILLiad International conference, held Thursday-Friday, March 25-26, 2010 in Virginia Beach, VA had many sessions whose common content all boiled down to this: collaboration is key; communication is critical; promotion is needed; and evaluation is necessary. There were a few other things that I learned, but those are the highest level takeaways from the day and a half. These are, I would guess, the same takeaways from previous ILLiad conferences, but the differences this year highlighted HOW we collaborate, communicate, promote and evaluate.

Chip Nilges of OCLC was the keynoter for the conference. His address was very interesting and among the most salient points he made were:

* Before cloud computing, institutions spent 70% of their time on infrastructure, allowing only 30% for innovation and creation. Cloud computing allows for that ratio to reverse.

* Collaboration is key to working at web scale. Aggregated data supports multiple users.

* When taken together, circulations and ILL requests in libraries nation-wide average 5,200 requests fulfilled every second. (That’s bigger than Amazon.)

* Patron expectations are changing, and OCLC’s mission is to meet user needs in the way they’ve become accustomed.

To identify areas for future development OCLC surveyed users asking “If libraries could mail you this book, providing a return address envelop for a small fee that covered shipping would you find this valuable?” 34% of respondents said it would be “valuable” or “extremely valuable”. And 65% of users said a “global library card” that would be valid everywhere is “valuable” or “extremely valuable.” Not surprisingly, the greatest percentage of users who rated the universal library card “extremely valuable” were University students.

The first session of the day I attended was “Text Messaging (BAM!) – A quick, low cost way to pump your customer service up a notch.” Presenters Dave Williams and Ken Kinslow from Notre Dame and Barbara Coopey, Joyce Harwell and Shane Burris from Penn State discussed how you can push notifications to users when materials arrive by adding, (or having them add) their cell phone number with the extension that corresponds to their provider into their ILLiad account field that contains their email address. The presenters discussed the value to the users, (who as we know prefer texting to email) because of the immediacy of the notification. They suggested shortening the notification message that is sent so that it is text friendly. Eliminating the title and the users’ name for instance, and shortening the contact information, the message can be whittled down to less than the goal of 150 characters. They discussed ways to promote the service, (I think it would require little promotion, just notification.) And they also showed some statistics that the length of time between notification and book pickup for users who had implemented the text messaging service dropped from just under 48 hours to about 6 hours! (Though the presenter did caution that they’d only started the service in January, and their participation rate is still very small.) Setting up this is a no-brainer, and we will begin to do this soon.

The next session I attended was a “Copyright Roundtable” where there were as many interpretations of copyright law and what was allowable under licensing agreements as there were attendees in the room. Not much new content to report but I am extremely glad that we have such a strong commitment to doing copyright right. It is an exceedingly frustrating law, but, especially after hearing the stories related here, I’m confident that we have adopted the best practices for ILL.

My first session of the afternoon was canceled because the presenter was ill. I ended up in a session called “Free for All: ILLiad and Open Access” given by Tina Baich of IUPUI. She gave a very good presentation unearthing sites she’d found that provide free OA content. This is important because, finding freely available information on the web cuts down on customer wait, and eliminates cost to the seeking library. She discussed the difficulty of getting, for instance, electronic theses and dissertations. All of her finding aids she conveniently put together in a delicious list tagged ILLiad10 .

The last session that I attended that day was a session led by Christian DuPont, of Atlas Systems. While I was a little fearful that it might turn out to be nothing more than a promotion for AEON, Atlas’ Special Collections Management software, other than a passing reference, Christian managed to do a good job of describing the tension that increases as libraries promote their unique and special collections on one hand, but are frequently reluctant to share them on the other hand. During the first half of his presentation he shared the experience of one library and what they did to try to create useful workflows between ILL and Special Collections staff. Then he opened the conversation up to those in the audience to share their experiences. Respondents discussed frustrations on both the lending and the borrowing of materials from Special Collections. Frustrations on lending: once an item in special collections is requested, ILL staff basically lose control of the request. They “cancel” or “conditionalize” it and have to pass it off to others who may not have the same desire to fill requests quickly. (ILL staff are all about filling requests quickly.) Frustrations on borrowing: One library experienced a long delay with a special collections office that needed to have a $7 pre-payment before they processed a request. But the borrowing library didn’t have a credit card, and the lending library didn’t utilize IFM (the Fee Management system that OCLC libraries utilize for easy payment.) The ILL and the Special Collections people had to try many avenues to arrange payment, while administrative costs mounted, just to fulfill this request. Christian Dupont and the rest of the participants came away with many ideas on how creating management workflows might ease the requests of items from Special Collections. It was a very enlightening session.

The Friday session was perhaps the most interesting of the sessions I attended. (And in this conference, that says a lot!) The session was called “GIST, The Getting It System Toolkit.” The development of the toolkit came out of the IDS Project.

The toolkit allows for ILL staff to, in a single view, determine for items requested by our borrowers whether it might make more sense to purchase the item than borrow it. From their website: “The Getting It System Toolkit (GIST) is a customizable set of ILLiad tools and workflows that will enhance interlibrary loan and just-in-time acquisitions services; purchase request processing; and cooperative collection development efforts… GIST provides users and the library practical and thoughtful resolution of disparate information sources with key data, such as: uniqueness (for cooperative collection development strategies); free online sources (to reduce cost and/or catalog eBooks just-in-time); reviews and rankings (to add value to the request process); and purchasing options and prices (to give users and libraries options and streamline library work). GIST is flexible, so you can pick or choose which features to use or adapt. ” The documentation on the project is available at The toolkit provides, in a single interface, information on the cost to purchase the item, how many others in your usual borrowing sites own it to lend, whether it is available full text in GoogleBooks or elsewhere. AND IT’S FREE! Cristina and I were both so interested in this tool. We talked about implementing it for much of our trip back to Winston Salem. We can’t wait to begin conversations with others in the library to put this, and many of the other ideas we learned over the 2.5 days, in place soon.

Birds, Seals and ILLiad reports

Wednesday, March 24, 2010 5:00 pm

Cristina and I have had a taste of the wild life in Virginia Beach in our first 24 hours at the ILLiad International Conference. When we arrived at our hotel on Tuesday, we were greeted by a bird that was camped right outside our door. While surprised, we managed to scare it away so we could get into the room. After we unpacked, then tried a few strategies to rescue the poor frightened bird. Throwing a towel over a skittish bird, while seemingly an easy thing, didn’t work very well. After we gave up, the housekeeping staff jumped into action and must have eventually saved it since it wasn’t in the hall when we went down to dinner. We had a lovely dinner of seafood and pasta at the recommended restaurant, then went for a walk on the boardwalk right outside the hotel. It was a lovely evening, though a little chilly.

This morning dawned bright and beautiful. This is the view from our balcony. We noticed a commotion on the beach and discovered that a seal had come up on the beach in the night and was enjoying some sun himself. After breakfast, (during which we met up with colleagues from Davidson and UNC-Charlotte), on our way to the conference hotel, we stopped over to say hello to the seal. (The picture might not be too clear, but it really is a seal!) Some staff from the aquarium up the street had come over to caution tape off the area so this is as close as we could get. The woman we talked with said that it’s unusual, but not rare for seals to come up onto Virginia Beach.

After that morning’s excitement, we had a four block walk over to the conference hotel.

My morning’s sessions were all about ILLiad reporting and how to get relevant data out. Stephanie Spires of Atlas gave a report on Basic ILLiad database tables and relationships. Then she discussed ILLiad webreports and how they are similar and different from the Resource Sharing reports from OCLC. We also learned how to export data from OCLC into Excel for data manipulation and finally, now to export from the ILLiad client into Excel.

Second presenter of the day was John Penn who shared info on OCLC Resource Sharing stats and gave tips on how to make them work better and easier for you. He also showed a really cool tool he used called Geocoding to pull data from ILLiad transactions into a map to visually show where your ILLiad Resource Sharing customers are. Very interesting stuff!

After lunch, Collette Mak gave a real hands on tutorial with how to use data pulled from real ILLiad transactions into Excel and discovered many tips and tricks onto how we can use all kinds of things about the data. Her tutorial allowed us to go beyond what is being requested, to who is requesting what (and when!). She showed us how we might pull transactions reports that target new faculty to see specifically what they are requesting. Her reports can have far reaching implications beyond collection development to discovering different staffing models that will help meet user needs faster, and identify more about those “what the heck is going on?” outliers that skew data.

The pre-conference sessions were so valuable. I can’t wait to try some of the tips I learned on our ILLiad and OCLC data at ZSR! Tonight we are having a reception at the Virginia Aquarium and I fully expect that our wild times, both inside and outside of the conference, will continue.

Who is right? Copyleft/Copyright Symposium

Friday, March 5, 2010 7:43 pm

On Friday, March 5, Leslie, Heather and I attended the first panel discussion entitled “Who is Right? Comparing and Contrasting the Interests of Artists/Broadcasters, Assignees, Academics, and the Public“.

The first panelist was Kimberliann Podlas, a Assistant Professor of Law and Media Ethics from UNCG. Kimberliann asserted that in the war on illegal downloading of music, (which the music industry asserts is “threatening the very nature of the industry), there are not just two camps in the battle but three. The music industry, the consumer, and the artist all have a stake in the outcome. The industry speaks as though it is aligning it’s interests with those of the artist, but artists may frequently WANT to push their music out for free. (Radiohead’sIn Rainbows experiment with putting its music out for free and allowing the user to pay whatever they want was used to describe this method.) While music business interests are: Sell lots of music, and don’t have anyone steal it, and the savvy consumer is a potential threat, the artists interests are not to malign the consumer because they just want to get lots of music out there. The I-tunes experiment has found that if music is legal enough/cheap enough/convenient enough, people will pay. This behavior has now become the norm. But while digital downloads have increased, I-tunes has also increased the price charged from .99 to $1.29 a song. The increase in price does NOT add any extra money into the artists pocket, it all goes to the business.

In digital distribution, the cost of creation and distribution go way down. CD Sales are dropping while in 2009 1.1 BILLION songs were downloaded. Individuals can now purchase only the songs they want (two tracks per album) instead of buying the whole thing for $20. There is now a coalition of artists who are trying to battle business interests to change the royalty contracts to provide for better balance. It reminded me of the conversation about open source publishing where faculty can retain more of their rights if they just say “no” to the first contract.

The second speaker was Professor Rothkopf who spoke on behalf of the artist. He is the interim Dean of Music at UNCSA. He stated that copyright law encourages the exchange of ideas, maintains artistic integrity and supports revenue streams. The majority of the 1.6 million artists in the USA support themselves by doing their art, teaching their art, and promoting their art. Not too many actually make a ton of money that allows them to be affected by the position of the recording industry or I-Tunes. An interesting point he made is that all of the musicians he knew had material that they’d created that they could never perform publicly because there were elements of the piece that could be considered copyright infringement. Musicians frequently will not, can not or do not seek permissions in these circumstances and so the music just never gets played Copyright can restrict free expression among the working artist if they can’t or won’t obtain permission. In the arena of copyright, where exchanges of ideas are battling artistic integrity, he hopes that there will be a safe space created that will allow for both.

The third and final panelist Roberth Monath, is an attorney an intellectual property lawyer at Monath Law Firm. (And if his life was ever made into a movie he would be played by Will Ferrell.) He discussed the myriad copyright licenses that are involved in production of a musical release. In response to Ms. Podlas’ assertion that the music industry takes too large a cut without sharing it appropriately with the artist, he related that it is frequently the case that studios invest $200,000 to $400,000 in the production of an artists work, assuming the risks that their “product” will sell. Now that people are not buying full length CDs anymore, (at $20 a pop) but is instead purchasing the content on I-Tunes $1.29 at a time, that business model that supported that up front cost is collapsing.

In order to simplify and further untangle the myriad of copyright issues in the music industry, he: a.) supported moving copyright under a single circuit court instead of having copyright cases heard in many different circuits. b.) realizes that net neutrality is a benefit of our society, but would like to find ways to cut down on the infringing uses, and enable enforcement of law. c.) wants international reciprocal enforcement of copyright law. and d.) would like a global copyright law to be agreed upon.

In the Q&A that followed, I asked if there was any guideline that exists to help us determine if faculty requests for music to be put on reserves is an infringement or allowable. Lolly Gasaway was invited to answer, though she was not a part of the panel. She said we have to wait to see what happens in the Georgia case. That there is no caselaw that defines what is allowable as yet. So we don’t know the answer because there isn’t one.

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