Professional Development

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ATLA2010-Day Three

Friday, June 25, 2010 5:00 pm

Day Three of the ATLA Annual Conference was a short one. After checking out of the hotel, I got on a shuttle to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Another unique thing about the ATLA conference is that they have a day on the host campuses, which among other things, gives attendees a chance to poke around their libraries :). This year, half the day was at LPTS and the other half was at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Since I took the shuttle to the airport from LPTS, I didn’t get to experience the other campus.

Our time at LPTS started with a chapel service, which included memorials to previous members, and then continued with a great brunch and the opportunity to view the campus and tour the library. I had a chance to note a few books they had in their reference department that I didn’t recognize.

The first floor of their reference area was all “B” call numbers, with all the other call numbers being on the level above.

The only session for the day was another panel, “Great Underappreciated and Much Needed Works of Theological Reference.” The panelists presented several lists of reference works, or sections of larger works, that are not usually considered while doing reference for religious studies, such as Guide to the Sources of Medieval History (historical outlines, papal edicts) or International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Again, there was a long bibliography for this presentation, so I have some catalog searching to do! The moderator for this session was David Mayo, from Union-PSCE in Charlotte, who I had been wanting to meet with at some point during the conference. David is heading up the planning committee for the 2013 conference in Charlotte, and I am hoping to be involved with their committee.

Overall, I really enjoyed being back at the ATLA conference. I made some good connections, got some good ideas from the presentations, and some good catalogs and titles to order! Hopefully I’ll be back next year in Chicago!

ATLA2010-Day Two

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:33 pm

Friday at the ATLA Annual Conference began with the second plenary speaker, Dr. Susan Garrett, Professor of New Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She discussed, “Biblical Studies and Real World Hermeneutics,” which advocated a shift from “integral hermeneutics” to “differential hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics, in biblical studies, is the field of interpretation of biblical and extra-biblical texts. Garrett encourages teaching students to understand the variety of possible interpretations and approaches to a given text, rather than teaching them that there is one correct interpretation. This idea of a single, “authorized” meaning leads to division, because there is an implied right and wrong interpretation. Rather, by teaching our students that there are multiple possibilities, we prepare them for interactions in congregations and the “real world” where they will be leading or encountering a variety of viewpoints. She discussed several assignments that she uses with students to help them think through an interpretation and its implications, and emphasized that the goal isn’t to change student’s minds, but get them to be aware of the multiple choices they make as they do interpretation. I thought her talk was fascinating, and she used some really good examples to illustrate her points. Let me know if you are interested in more specifics!

“Online Bibles: Trustworthy, Sectarian and Odd Bibles” by Michael Kuykendall, Professor of New Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, was a very useful overview of the variety of online bibles that are available for study or historical research. He included a 20 page annotated handout with his show-and-tell presentation, which will help me add to my LibGuide for the Divinity School! This presentation was a great reminder of the variety of translations that are available (literal, paraphrases, functional, dynamic), and how they can be useful for research (tracing mistakes, publication/publisher histories, religious conflicts).

After a lunch presentation from EBSCO, I headed to a presentation by Anthony Elia from JKM Library at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, “Reading as Wandering, Wandering as Theology: Textual Landscapes, Flaneury and the Social History of Contemporary Reading.” This was a dense paper filled with some great quotations and statistics on reading and how it has been perceived over the last two hundred years. Specifically, Elia discussed the long history of the idea of the “death of reading” and how morality and concepts of laziness and leisure are bound up in our discussions of reading and why we do it. One question he posed had the audience reflecting: How long can you go without reading? One week? One day? One hour? How does thinking about reading in this way broaden what we consider to be reading?

A panel discussion from the Teaching and Learning Interest Group, “Pray, Work, Study, Log On: Can Libraries be a Common Ground in Online Theological Education?” focused on online education and creating community through the course design. While each of the panelists had led a different type of online course, all five presenters emphasized that online courses are not less work than a face-to-face class, and to have a good experience for both teacher and students, the course should not enroll more than 15-20 students. In designing an online course, or an online component for a “regular” course, it is important to not just transfer your regular content to the online environment, ie, don’t tape your lecture and post it. A variety of organized assignments, discussion questions, collaboration and social media spaces, etc… need to be incorporated into the online course.

After a short break, I headed a few blocks from the hotel for a tour of the History Center for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Cathedral of the Assumption. The Diocese of Louisville was created in 1808 (along with Boston, New York and Philadelphia) and was the diocese for “The West,” encompassing all or part of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The history center had a variety of pictures, vestments and other artifacts from the first bishop, Bishop Flaget, through to the contemporary church.

ATLA2010-Day One

Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:54 pm

From Thursday, June 17-Saturday, June 19, I attended the 2010 American Theological Library Association Annual Conference, held in Louisville, KY. This was my first time attending this conference since 2003, and it was nice to be back in a place where terms like ontology, hermeneutics and exegesis were used with the same frequency as FRBR, OCLC and LibGuides!

After arriving and exploring Louisville on Wednesday afternoon, and attending the opening reception in the evening, the first conference event was held bright and early at 7:30 Thursday morning. One of the unique things about ATLA is that they include several opportunities to visit local churches and experience various worship styles during the conference. With a large number of members working for specific denominations, and being ordained ministers themselves (as our own Sharon Snow was), these are popular events. So Thursday morning we met at the Christ Church Cathedral, around the corner from the hotel, for the Episcopal service of Morning Prayer.

Upon returning to the hotel, the first plenary session, “Describing and Accessing Resources-Where are We Headed,” was led by Dr. Barbara Tillett of the Library of Congress. She gave an overview of the changes from AACR2 (“take what you see”) to FRBR (“see connections”), and what some of these changes would mean for our catalogs, and for theological studies in particular. Specific changes to the LCSH she mentioned were removing the “OT” and “NT” abbreviations for Old and New Testaments and using the full words, as well as listing individual biblical books, ie, “Bible. Genesis.” rather than “Bible. O.T. Genesis.”

Tillett’s presentation was very helpful in explaining some of these changes to a non-cataloger. I know it at least made sense while I was listening to her!

After visiting the exhibits opening, I attended “Where’s the Data? A Research Agenda for Next Generation Catalogs” by Lisa Gonzalez from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her presentation was a lit review of recent research on surveys and improving online catalogs. She described the research and what was missing, as well as the type of usability testing they completed at CTU (where they are also a Voyager/vufind hybrid). Several hints and guidelines from her experience and research:

  • minimum of 5 students
  • use generic terminology, what students would understand
  • write up your questions along with your rationale, or what issue you are attempting to evaluate
  • make sure that you aren’t confusing qualitative (observation, interviews) with quantitative (surveys, transaction log analysis)
  • try card sorting! A lot of usability questions may be better answered by a card sorting exercise.

My afternoon sessions started with “Historiography for the Study of the New Testament” by Beth Sheppard of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She encouraged librarians to be trend spotters in our collection development practices. Rather than waiting for faculty members to make requests, librarians should pay attention to publications and presentations in our subject disciplines in order to notice new and developing fields of research. This will allow us to have a collection at the ready when faculty members want to incorporate a new perspective into their own teaching or research. She gave several things to watch for:

Internal (own school):

  • curriculum change-faculty may be looking for a change in their course and use it as a “lab” to try out new ideas
  • new hires-older faculty may want a new faculty member to bring in new, different ideas, to fill in generation gaps
  • ILL-faculty are more likely to recommend an item to students and colleagues after they have used it, so we should make an effort to purchase recently requested titles


  • new sections and consultations at conferences-at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conference, the “Jesus, John and History” test section is becoming a permanent section, indicating increased interest and research in that area
  • subject fatigue-when terminology becomes too prevalent in publications and conferences, faculty will start looking for other areas to research

One example: In 2003, a paper was presented at SBL on “Reading the Signs of the Times: The New Testament in the Historical Context of Rome,” which led to an increase in publications on the topic of “empire” in the following years. As everything has been focused on the political aspect of empire, and from one analytical perspective, other researchers will start looking at other topics, such as economics and empire (clothing styles, pottery types, trade routes, fishing) or from different perspectives (post-colonial, counter-factual).

This was a really interesting presentation and gave me several good ideas, as well as a good overview of the variety of historiographic approaches in biblical studies.

The last session for the day was “Kissing Your Handouts Goodbye: How LibGuides Can Revolutionize Your Instruction” by Michelle Spomer of Azusa Pacific University ( Spomer used her LibGuide as a presentation tool during her talk, briefly demonstrating the various features of the LibGuides software and how they look in practice. While most of the examples were things we already do here at ZSR, it was nice to see a different implementation. A few things I was inspired to work on this summer:

  • getting book covers into my LibGuides and experimenting with the book display
  • adding “star” rankings to my databases
  • adding a link to the WFU plagiarism/academic integrity pages on my citation page
  • embedding screenshots
  • experimenting with a preset google web search box (one example she gave was for “‘social work’ site:edu OR site:org”)

After I dropped off all of the catalogs and swag I picked up in the exhibits, I did a little more exploring in downtown Louisville and got a good nights sleep!

Louisville Slugger Museum

old city hall

More pictures at my flickr page!

Kaeley at ALA Annual 2009-Day 4

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:34 am

I started Monday morning off with a session entitled, “Resuscitating the Catalog: Next-Generation Strategies for Keeping the Catalog Relevant.”Four panelists discussed OCLC initiatives, and the public and academic library experience with the catalog.Several of the most helpful comments came from Beth Jefferson of Bibliocommons in Ontario.She has studied both public and academic libraries in Ontario, and though she focused on public libraries in her comments, she demonstrated some great features in an online catalog based on user behaviors that could be incorporated into academic libraries.She indicated that in regards to searching, less is more.When information was scarce, casting a wide net was helpful.Now that we search so much more information on a regular basis, it is more helpful to have a focused set of results.A few other features she discussed were:

-putting metadata where patrons expect it-type ahead (if they are typing “cook” for cookbook, show them “use cookery” rather than an error)

-rather than call number searches, a link to “browse the shelf” with book cover images

-more browsability with dvds and audio (their most popular patron searches were “dvd,” “dvds,” “movie,” “films”)

-browsing recent new books, recently returned books, and indicating “available now” rather than “checked in”

David Flaxbart of University of Texas-Austin discussed their implementation of a new ILS.They had a helpful item record display that had item information like call number and location in a separate, colored box right below the title and author information that set it apart from any other information on the page.In talking about any future software implementations, he indicated they were working under the “perpetual beta” model, recognizing that they would always be a little behind the curve, that the current system is just a bridge to the next, and that though no one likes change, no change will be remembered more than a few months after it happens.

The last two sessions I attended were again sponsored by LITA: Social Software Showcase and The Ultimate Debate: Has Library 2.0 Fulfilled its Promise.Both sessions looked at current trends such as cloud computing, mashups and technology tools, focusing on how we can use them best to communicate and engage with our patrons

Kaeley at ALA Annual 2009-Day 3

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:30 am

Sunday morning started early at the Alexander Street Press breakfast, where they shared information about their upcoming releases.Breakfast was great and they had a very interesting speaker, Gary Giddens, a jazz critic and writer, who spoke about his career in journalism and his long connection with jazz music.After checking out the exhibits and Lauren P.’s booksigning, I headed to “Who Cares About Privacy: Boundaries, Millennials and the Myspace Mindset.”I missed most of the first speaker’s presentation, but got to hear all of Siva Vaidhyanathan’s discussion.The most memorable thing he said, to much applause, was that there is no such thing as a millennial, and that looking at issues through a generational lens creates huge inaccuracies.Regarding millennials, he mentioned three problems that a focus on generations creates (though I think this could be applied to a focus on any generation): it makes them exotic (different from us), it homogenizes them (the same as each other), and encourages pandering to their needs.He also discussed his strong views regarding privacy and the many ways that it is violated by commercial and state institutions without most of the public realizing it.

During the afternoon, I attended two LITA events, Top Technology Trends and the President’s Forum.The Top Technology Trends was a panel discussion looking at mobile and cloud computing and open access issues, as well as the top three trends of each panelist.A few things that stood out to me were:

-more exploration of the digital humanities

-reducing our carbon footprint

-people used to “go” online and now we “are” online

-changes in our expectations regarding access to information and broadband/wireless issues

The President’s Forum focused mostly on the Dutch Boys, their Shanachie Road Trip across the US, and what they are doing at their home library, DOK in Delft.They showed several video clips and images of their building and how they are using technology to connect their patrons with cultural and historical information.

Kaeley at ALA Annual 2009-Days 1 & 2

Friday, July 17, 2009 12:28 am

After arriving on Thursday afternoon and practicing our preconference presentation a few times, Lauren P. and I headed to our preconference on Friday.The preconference was held in the Fairmont Hotel, which was just around the corner from where we were staying, so we didn’t have far to travel!The session went really well and went by a lot faster than I thought it would.I feel like the participants learned a lot from our presentation and walked away with some great ideas from their time discussing their projects with their colleagues around the table.Kathryn Shields, who interned with the Reference Department last year, attended on behalf of Cognotes, the conference newsletter, and wrote an article on the preconference that appeared in the Sunday newsletter!After the preconference was over, we met Susan at the LITA Happy Hour and had a good time catching up on what she had done that day.

This was my first ALA, and I had filled my calendar with lots of great sessions to attend and places to visit.This was plan quickly modified after the first session I attended, ACRL 101.I connected with the ARTS section of ACRL and attended their section meeting and, after the EBSCOHost Academic Libraries lunch, the Dance group.It was really helpful to discuss what was going on at our different institutions, especially regarding visual resources departments and the situation with BHA, one of the most important arts databases, which may be shutting down due to funding issues.I was also able to connect with an arts librarian at University of Virginia, Lucie Stylianopoulos, who graduated from Wake Forest and has a focus on archaeology, and with Susan Wiesner from the Dance Heritage Coalition.Saturday nights’ social event was the Proquest Scholarship Bash at the Art Institute.I hadn’t been to the museum in over 10 years, so it was exciting to wander the halls with Susan, and remember all of the fabulous, significant pieces they have in their collection!”I didn’t know they had that!” was a common exclamation!

ARLIS/NA 2009 Day 1

Saturday, April 18, 2009 10:52 pm

After the opening convocation and reception at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Art Librarians Association of North America Conference got into full swing on Saturday morning.

The first session was the opening plenary, with remarks by James Neal of Columbia University Libraries, entitled, Progressive Change: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century Art Library, with responses by four librarians representing different aspects of art librarianship: art and design schools, academic, visual resources, and museum. Neal listed 15 key contextual trends for libraries as we move into the future:

  • ubiquitous computing
  • customization and personalization
  • web2.0, social networking and collective intelligence
  • massively distributed collaboration
  • constant partial attention
  • permanent state of beta development
  • radical restructuring
  • authorship and writing revolutions
  • self-service/ATM expectations
  • openness and collaboration
  • digital preservation, integrity and sustainablity
  • repository movement and version control
  • new majority learner
  • accountability and assessment
  • entrepreneurial imperative and resource attraction

He emphasized the importance of libraries and librarians being proactive and supporting open access and institutional repository initiatives, as well as being advocates for the “information policy agenda,” including issues of intellectual freedom and orphan works. He ended with the reminder to focus on “human” goals and outcomes of our work, what our faculty and students feel are successful outcomes.

The vendor exhibit opening was next, and I used most of that time to track down the easel for my poster presentation and find my table in the exhibits area. Before the poster session I attended the Academic Libraries Division Meeting. Besides discussing what programs the division would sponsor for next years conference in Boston, we discussed how different libraries deal with book covers. Depending on the type of library and their patron needs, there were different uses for the covers: some libraries sent their covers to the studio art departments, some kept if the image wasn’t in the book or if there was important series information on the cover, some threw them away, some used them for displays, and some considered them part of the book as an object and kept all covers.

The poster sessions were during the middle session of the afternoon, and were located amongst the vendor tables. The poster that Sharon, Leslie, Ellen and I prepared about our LIB250 course was one of four presented. I counted about 30 people who stopped by to look at the poster and most chatted for about 10 minutes, asking questions about our information literacy program in general and specifics about our course. Most were impressed by our program and one of the frequently asked questions was, “so how did you get this approved in the first place?” There was also a lot of interest in the mindmaps that Leslie created!

The last session for the day was entitled, If You Sit There, Will They Come?: The Changing Reference Landscape. Four panelists offered their experiences of how reference services are changing in different art library environments. The staffing of the reference desk seemed to be a hot topic no matter what type of library was involved. Using or not using professional, paraprofessional and student staff, in what ratio, and for what tasks were questions most of the panelists touched on, and was a topic of discussion among attendees as well. A few other points that were mentioned:

  • tech savvy doesn’t mean information savvy
  • marketing, marketing, marketing
  • assume that everyone needs help (even if they don’t know what they need help with!)

Saturday night is my only night without an activity, so I took advantage of the location of the hotel and walked around downtown Indianapolis. There are lots of interesting historic buildings, restaurants, shops and sports arenas within walking distance and the weather was perfect for walking. It’s supposed to rain Sunday and Monday, so I’m glad I had the chance tonight.

REFolution Day 2

Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:47 am

Moving Beyond the Reference Desk

This first session of the day was two presentations on how two different libraries have shifted the focus of their customer service away from the reference desk and the reference department and are meeting their patrons where they are.

Have Laptop Will Travel- Pat Dawson (Rider University)

Dawson is the science librarian at Rider, and in order to interact more with students taking science courses, she decided to have set hours in the science student study lounge in the science building. In order to not conflict with possible BI sessions (ie, the professor woudn’t schedule a session if they thought she would be providing this service), she set up times later in the semester, around Thanksgiving. Dawson posted signs in the study lounge letting students know when she would be having office hours there, and she emailed faculty members so they could announce in their classes.

Dawson ended up having some student contact during her sessions, but also felt that the faculty contact she had was just as valuable. She was able to meet with several new faculty members and set up library sessions for the following spring semester. She felt that the timing around Thanksgiving wasn’t right for the students, so she is planning on having the sessions several weeks before Thanksgiving in Fall 2009.

How We Stopped Manning the Fort and Became Virtual- Kate McGivern (Bergen Community College)

McGivern discussed several ways in which they have modified their reference area and services to be more accessible to their student population. During larger library renovations, they replaced their “fortress” desk with a low, dumbell, shaped desk. This made the desk more approachable and gave them more work stations where they could consult with students. They also added butterfly monitors so that students could see the searches more easily. (This is similar to what we have done over the last few years with our desk.) They also sent their entire reference collection to the stacks, and over the summer will make them circulating titles.

The reference librarians have also started doing “roaming” and “embedded” librarianship. Their usual staffing schedule is to have two librarians at the desk during a shift. One of those librarians is supposed to roam the library to see if there are patrons that need help. They wear nametags but don’t carry any sort of communication or handheld device. McGivern indicated (I think!) that their layout was such that they could see the service points from anywhere in the building (two floors) and that there were workstations on both floors that they could take patrons to if they needed extensive help (beyond deciphering LC and locating a book in the stacks). The embedded librarians were participants in courses via Blackboard. They created a “Librarian on Board” icon for those courses and the librarian had full access to the Blackboard course.

Both speakers highlighted their use of the book, The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Service by Sarah K. Steiner and M. Leslie Madden (Z675 U5 D425 2008, Reference Office).

Sending Out an SMS: Exploring Reference Via Text Messaging with Mobile Devices- Joe Murphy (Yale University)

Murphy discussed the implementation of texting services at the six Yale science libraries, and the evolution of text services in general. He strongly stressed the importance of text and mobile services to our student populations, several times saying that that was the main way that he got information. Our students are very comfortable with these methods of communication, but sometimes we are not. If libraries plan on implementing text services, we need to make sure that we manage staffing, cost and student expectations. We need to make sure we are answering questions as effieciently as possible, especially for those students who don’t have unlimited texting (ie, don’t answer the question as if it was an email, don’t assume that all students have unlimited texting). He also sees texting moving beyond reference services into other library services, such as catalog searching and overdue notices.

During the lunch break, there were two vendor presenations (AltaRama and Reference Universe) and time to look at vendor displays. I picked up information from Reference Universe, Credo Reference, LexisNexis and AltaRama.

AltaRama- Arthur Brady

AltaRama is another product that was designed by librarians, and the name is an aboriginal word for “the act of finding.” They have several different components and you can purchase them as a package or only the particular components that you need. The different components are: DeskStats, RefChatter (uses Library H3lp), RefTracker, RefScheduler, SMSReference and VRLPlus. He emphasized that they are all very customizible to each library.

Reference Universe- LuAnn Harrison

The Reference Universe product from Paratext has taken the indexes and articles from the major reference publishers (Gale, ABC-CLIO, etc…) and created an online database so that their contents are now searchable. Additionally, they have included the current online content from these publishers, making over 20 million citations searchable at the same time.

OK, This is Just too Weird- Elizabeth Edwards (George Washington University)

The last presentation of the conference was an interesting one discussing the Gelman Libraries study of Facebook use on their campus, and specifically, how students percieved the use of Facebook by the library and librarians. They worked with a graduate student in the anthropology department to do an ethnographic study of the student population. He did surveys and informal interviews with students who responded to a Facebook ad, a library webpage ad, or a Facebook group email. Most of the students felt that Facebook was a purely social space, the only academically related activity they used it for was to set up study group meetings. This made it difficult for students to understand why “authority” figures such as professors, librarians, or even family members, would be in that space, and it made them uncomfortable, but they weren’t sure why. When they looked at librarian facebook profiles, they liked the profiles that already matched what they thought librarians were like, i.e., included book recommendations, research tips, but not when they included personal information (though, interestingly, they felt like they were invading the librarians’ personal space). She recommended considering student perceptions of the library, taking the time to ask them how they felt about the library and Facebook as a social space, as this survey was specific to the George Washington student population, and other campuses could be very differerent.

Again, if anyone has questions or would like more information about any of the presentations, let me know! Lyrasis is supposed to post the powerpoints and other documents soon, so I can forward that to anyone who is interested.

Harrisburg Airport fun fact: In addition to a much-appreciated Starbucks and a lovely, non-desiel-fume- smelling waiting area, the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is located at the end of the runway! Somehow I missed it when I arrived!

REFolution Day 1

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:58 pm

On Monday and Tuesday, April 6-7, I attended the REFolution: Reference Service in a Constantly Changing World conference in Hershey, PA. It was a busy two days with lots of content and not as much chocolate as you might expect!

Foreshadowing Reference Futures: Far Out or Forthcoming?- Mary Radford (Rutgers University)

After an early flight out of Greensboro, I arrived in time to check into my room and head to the ballroom for lunch and the keynote address. Mary Radford is a professor at Rutgers University and was a very engaging and energetic speaker. She began her talk by discussing all of the continuous change that we deal with, both in our jobs and at home, because of advances in technology. She shared the results of research she has done on how Millennials (born 1978-1994), and more specifically Screenagers (born 1988-1994), get their information. This research showed that Screenagers want instant access and use their phones for texting and IM rather than talking. Interestingly, they prefer to text rather than to call because there are no awkward silences with texting, and they can carry on multiple conversations at one time.

When discussing their responses to virtual reference specifically, Screenagers used the service because it was recommended to them, it was convenient and it was efficient. They didn’t use VR because they perceived that they got unhelpful answers when they did use it, and that those answers did not go beyond what they had already found via Google. They were also interested in interacting with subject specialists who could get them beyond the basics they had already located.

In terms of marketing reference, Radford suggested promoting our full range of options because our users want to know all of the ways they can contact us. To illustrate how we could promote the convenience and efficiency of using reference services, she shared a tag line from Harvard, “spend two hours doing research or 5 minutes with a Harvard librarian.”

Looking into the future, she sees continued growth in the following areas: distance education, technology innovation, the use of portable wireless services, ebook digitization, assessment, collaboration through consortial involvement and different models of staffing. She closed with, “we are change managers, don’t get in the way of change.”

READ Scale: Using Qualitative Data to Record Levels of Effort and Expertise in Answering Reference Questions- Lynn Berard (Carnegie Mellon University), Bella Karr Gerlich (Dominican University)

The traditional method of keeping statistics at public service desks is to just keep tick marks for each question or patron interaction. Obviously, a single tick mark does not reflect the variations in the time it takes to answer a question or the level of subject expertise needed. The READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data) is one method that can be used to reflect these aspects of our reference interactions. Each interaction is given a rating from one to six, one being directional and six being in-depth, labor intensive research assistance. Berard and Gerlich discussed their national study that focused on the implementation of this scale in academic libraries of various sizes around the country. They started by surveying the libraries involved to make sure that they all agreed on how different types of questions would be ranked. This is an important aspect to keep in mind, because it is crucial that each participant is using the same criteria to rank their interactions as everyone else. Beyond the time involved in answering the question, other criteria used to rank interactions included the number and types of sources consulted.

Most of the libraries in the study felt that the system was easy to use and easy to incorporate into their workflow at the reference desk. The libraries used the statistics they gathered to make staffing changes (maybe a student can handle the times when there are mostly one and two level questions) and to have on-going staff training and development (staff discussed how they might have answered the question differently, veteran reference librarians showed newer librarians different resources and vice versa).

Google Gems for Reference Librarians- Russell Palmer (Lyrasis)

This was a pretty interactive session, with lots of demonstrations and examples from attendees on how they use Google everyday in their workflow and at the reference desk. I was familiar with quite a few of the resources mentioned, but it is always good to have a refresher on all of the things you can do with Google. A few I liked were:

  • Google sets: fill in two or more words in a series, and Google will give you other related terms (enter hook and line, Google adds reel, lure, float, sinker, bait). It was suggested that this would be good for students to use when they need to think of additional search terms.
  • using the “:”: examples given were: define: , stocks: , allintitle: , and filetype: . The example for filetype was to search filetype:pdf coca-cola to locate annual reports and other company information that isn’t on the website but is located in pdf files.
  • Google news archive: useful for geneology searching and has a helpful timeline feature that allows you to see when in time the majority of references to your search topic appeared.

Scaling up IM Reference: Using Library H3lp- Rebekah Kilzer (Drexel University)

Rebekah Kilzer discussed the implementation of Library H3lp in the reference department of Hagerty Library at Drexel University, starting with the evolution of their virtual reference services. In 2006, they used AIM and Yahoo with an average of 30 chats per month. In 2007 they added gmail and MSN, and in 2008, meebo. Their IM traffic jumped from 100 chats per month in Winter 2008 to 600 chats per month in Fall of 2008. Their email traffic also rose during this time, partly because their IM requests were routed to email when the chat service was unavailable. The increase in chats and emails required a change in desk staffing, and they now have two librarians at the desk each hour and one in their office monitoring the chat service.

Library H3lp is an open source program, though there is a minimal fee based upon FTE (this wasn’t discussed in detail). The program was designed specifically for libraries and features queues, customizable widgets, the ability to transfer chats to another librarian, stat tracking and call logging. Other aspects that I found interesting were: patrons can email the transcript to themselves when they are done, it can convert text to chat, any previous IM clients can be forwarded to it, and the widget can be set to forward questions to email when there isn’t anyone staffing the desk.

Kilzer stressed the importance of staff training before the new system was active. They did a lot beforehand to make sure that they kept the good aspects of the previous system for both librarians and patrons. They also did a lot of practicing, with small groups of librarians sending and answering questions amongst themselves, so that they would be comfortable with the interface and features. They found that after they implemented Library H3lp, of the over 200 questions they answered, almost all were through the Library H3lp interface, with 2 from AIM and 2 from Google Talk.

Of these sessions, I really liked the presentations on the READ Scale and Library H3lp. I think there are aspects of each that we could implement and benefit from, even if we didn’t decide to adopt the entire system.

ARLIS/NA in Atlanta

Friday, April 27, 2007 1:54 pm

Just a quick note during my workshop break. The drive to Atlanta was great, though there was a huge rainstorm just as I was entering the city. I have already learned a lot from the sessions that I have attended, “Communication and Collaboration : Working with Faculty for Information Fluency” and “Expanding Horizons: Developing and Accessing Diverse Collections.” Right now I am in a workshop for reference and instruction in Theatre Studies. I saw Rebecca Kranz Friedman this morning, and she says “hello” to everyone! More to come…


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