Professional Development

Author Archive

Lauren P. at ALA Midwinter

Thursday, January 31, 2013 4:32 pm

I love ALA and governance work. I love LITA and my colleagues in that organization. I love conferences. And I love Seattle (more than any other city). I spent last Thursday through this Tuesday at the conference, getting only the smallest amount of time to see anything beyond the ALA campus, and still it was the best conference experience I can remember.

It takes a while to get used to ALA Council. I’m in my last year of my term, and I’m just now feeling like I really get it. I also just now understand my role in the group. It’s largely to talk to people behind the scenes and try to work with people individually to get to a productive place-not unlike some of my work in my day-to-day job! I do speak up at the mic, but largely when the issue is something about members that seems to disenfranchise library school students or non-ALA members. Otherwise, I am spending my time physically sitting in the meetingtweeting about the events of the body.

This time we took up a few issues of interest. Most notably:

  • Discussion of a dues increase. This isn’t to say that dues will increase. It’s just a proposal to put forth to membership for a vote. After a lot of discussion and debate, the final version is to recommend tying dues increases to the CPI for the next five years, and then to evaluate next steps at that point. ALA has only increased dues twice in the last sixteen years, and I can say from my perspective it’s absolutely amazing that they can do what they do with the limited funds they have. I’m glad the measure will be up for a vote, and I will be voting as a personal member for it.
  • We also passed a resolution affirming the first sale doctrine. The field depends on this so much that, as you might guess, there was no debate and only support voiced by council.
  • Finally, we passed a number of memorials. I want to particularly draw attention to one that I felt moved enough by to become a signatory on, recognizing the work of Aaron Swartz.
  • If you want more detail, you can find it written up from AL’s Inside Scoop: Council I, Council II, and Council III

LITA Board was very good as well. We heard from the presidential and treasurer candidates, reports from various offices that are dealing with issues relevant to libraries and technology, and reports from all of the LITA committees. Our incoming president always hosts a Town Hall meeting to inform their presidential year, and it would have felt fairly familiar to most ZSR employees: it was based in appreciative inquiry! In my role with the board I’m also liaising to the Web Coordinating Committee, the mentor for the new LITA Emerging Leader project, will soon be liaising to half the Interest Groups, and am a member of the Executive Committee for the Board. As you might guess: all very time intensive, but also very exciting work.

I haven’t talked about it here, but the final responsibility that took me to Midwinter was to participate in incoming President Barbara Stripling’s advisory committee. That group is amazing, and I’m humbled to be part of it. We discussed more about the theme of year presidential year and what initiatives she would like to make sure to do. I’m very excited to work with her, the committee, and to see the good work that she’ll do as president!

Finally, conferences are also about the people. As we live in a profession where we have colleagues around the country doing similar work and where we might connect with them through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, or some other network, it’s always reenergizing to reconnect in person. As much fun as I had at my meetings (and I am not joking at all-I really like governance work!) the lunch and dinners with colleagues and friends, drinks with friends and mentors, and a very late night talking with my roommate are what really made the conference for me. I’m sorry I won’t be part of the ZSR traveling crew at ACRL or Annual, but I look forward to connecting with those of you who make it to those and adding you to the list of people that I try to track down at each of these events.

Now: to finish those last few projects!

Lauren P. at Fall ALA Joint Boards Meeting

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 11:35 am

Not unlike many of us, I spent two days last week in meetings. The difference? That these were 8 hours meetings held over Friday and Saturday. And they were in Chicago.

Last Annual conference the LITA Board of Directors voted to add me to the executive committee (ExCo) of LITA. The executive committee meets two additional times per year, once virtually, and once physically, beyond the Annual and Midwinter meetings. This was the physical meeting.

All the ALA Divisions used this opportunity to coordinate their physical October meetings. I learned that most divisions have ExCos, though a small minority (notably PLA) bring in their entire board. It was a nice chance to see colleagues from ACRL and “big” ALA. It was also nice to meet people involved in divisions in which I haven’t been active. (Lauren C.–I met several of your ALCTS colleagues!)

President-Elects came up the day before for an orientation and introduction to their role. Then, on Friday, bright and early, we had a joint breakfast and then went to our respective board meetings. We met in our small groups for the morning session, had a group lunch, then a joint meeting of all boards in the afternoon. The next day we met in our small groups again.

The small group meetings, where I participated in LITA ExCo, were really informative. I often feel like I have a pretty good understanding of ALA, all things considered. Between my involvement in two divisions, Emerging Leaders, and Council, I have a sense of divisions and of “big” ALA and how they work together. This was the first time I’d had the view of ALA as comprised of all the divisions, and it was a helpful framework.

LITA ExCo not only functions as the executive committee, but also as the Forum Steering Committee (in which I was proud to be a colleague of Susan’s and Hu’s!) and the Budget Review Committee. All of the discussions around these three roles was really interesting to me, but I will spare you details. (If you like governance as much as I do, or you are interested in LITA, let me know and I’m happy to chat!) Notably, I found it easier to get active involvement from everyone in such a small group. It was also easy to see how leadership transitions between presidents as LITA’s ExCo consists of the outgoing, current, and vice presidents, the LITA Councilor, the at-large member (me), and the executive director.

The Joint meeting of the boards was particularly familiar as it was an exercise in Appreciative Inquiry! It definitely had been an adapted version from what we did, but it was a really interesting exercise in creating a list of what ALA does really well and can build on.

As always, if you have particular interest in ALA or LITA, I’m always happy to chat about it!

A Triangle Road Trip

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 3:23 pm

Last Friday, Joy, Kyle, and Lauren took a trip to the Triangle to visit with instruction librarians at NCSU, Duke, and UNC-Ch. It was a great day for us, and we really enjoyed getting to know our colleagues doing similar work from across the state.
DH Hill Library Duke Chapel House Undergrad Library at UNC-CH

Perhaps the most striking thing about the visits is the diversity of approaches each institution took, rooted in their own community culture and needs. NCSU is doing amazing, cutting edge work with active learning and technology enhanced teaching. Duke has clearly integrated itself into the larger institutional mission of giving all undergraduate students experience doing research with faculty. UNC-CH is redefining what it means to work with first year students and with instructors as they plan their assignments.

We’re all facing scalability issues, and issues of how to balance increased teaching loads with all the other things librarians are asked to do. And we’re all happy to share the things we’re doing to try to help others benefit from our work.

It really was an excellent day and we found a lot of information that will help us in our own strategic planning refresh. If you have interest in chatting about it, stop by the instruction cave! And if you want to see what these other libraries are up to, check out the slideshow!

Lauren at Elon’s Teaching & Learning Conference

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 7:42 pm

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Elon University Teaching and Learning Conference. I have gotten to go to this several times and always take away something useful from it. Last year it was threshold concepts. This year it was the power of slowing down and reflecting.

Not that I had to be taught, per se, to be reflective. According to my Strengthsfinder results, that’s pretty core to how I work. Just in the past few years I’ve fallen out of the practice of carving out time for it and the exact same time that I’ve gotten busier at work due to meetings and at home because of other (adorable) obligations.

And at this point reflection resonated with me because it really aligned with other things I’ve been thinking about lately. For example, I’m reading a great book on introversion:

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop TalkingQuiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

As some reviewers have noted, this book is a bit judgmental towards extroverted folks, but still contains a lot of interesting and useful points about introverts and the importance of time alone to be creative and innovative.

Okay, so with that as the background:

The keynote of this conference was given by Ashley Finley, Senior Director of Assessment and Research – Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU). This was particularly exciting to me as those of us involved in instruction have been discussing the AACU Value Rubrics a lot over the past year. If you’re interested in her talk, you can watch it for yourself! She spoke on the importance of authentic assessment of the learning process rather than focusing only on the learning outcome. It was a level of nuanced discussion that can only be had once an institution has gotten used to assessing learning outcomes, so I was especially glad that we have been talking about that for the past year. Much of my personal take away from the talk was the importance of metacognition and reflection in the learning process.

Following that keynote, I attended Catherine Ross and Peter Felten’s (of Elon’s Elon’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning) session on evaluating teaching. This seemed particularly relevant to me as that’s one of the instruction projects on tap for this semester, and was useful in particular as I was reminded of the importance of using several types of evaluation in considering your own teaching. Student evaluations provide useful information, but it’s only useful in context. Catherine pointed out that further context can be provided by (very structured) peer evaluation and personal reflection on one’s own teaching. Reflection–again!

My next session was on thinking out loud in the process of teaching. It was a workshop given by philosophy professors and more than anything made me wish I could go back and get an advanced degree in my favorite discipline. The premise of the workshop was that reading is approached differently in different disciplines and the best way to approach this is to have the students read (and think) out loud with support from the instructor. The instructor should also do that as demonstration to the students. The facilitators pointed out that math, as a discipline, has been doing this for some time by asking students to write out their work. I couldn’t help but think that we do that in libraries, too. Anytime we do an unplanned search in a class, and explain what we’re looking at and how we’re interpreting it, the students are getting a chance to see what we’re thinking. If any of us have done the exercise where students print out a list of results and notate it with what they think about each source, that’s a chance to see student thinking. I am going to want to look for more opportunities to do this as a result of this session, so that was a clear outcome of the day for me.

My final presentation was on first generation students. It was a good session, packed with facts from Davidson. My main takeaway from this session was not necessarily what was planned by the instructor. I kept thinking about Universal Design and Universal Design for Learning. In those approaches you design something for one group, but it has benefits for another. In Universal Design you might build a building with a ramp for wheelchairs, but then it also benefits those with strollers or rolling luggage. Win-win-win! In UDL you might design a learning object, like a video, to have subtitles for those who have trouble hearing. However, those subtitles also benefit those who learn best from reading or those who are using the video in a crowded place on a muted computer. In this session the presenter kept talking about the needs specific to a majority of first generation students, such as a hard time participating in group discussions due to language challenges, and I kept thinking of how if you designed a class that didn’t rely on group discussions then shy students would also be able to succeed. Likewise, if you don’t require very expensive textbooks, then no one would be faced with purchasing them. If you designed a class keeping in mind that it would be hard for students working jobs in the evening (many first generation students are in this situation) it would also benefit students who are returning while keeping their jobs or are parenting when they’re not in class. Universal design is good in all contexts.

So, for me, it was a really good day. Lots to reflect on in light of what I’m thinking about these days and several tangible things I can implement back at ZSR. It was a good use of the day!

Lauren P at ALA2012

Monday, July 2, 2012 4:32 pm

photo 3.JPGThis was my second ALA in Anaheim. The main thing I remembered about the last conference that was held there was that I had a very hard time making it to events on time. The blocks in Anaheim are longer than they appear on a map, and hotels are very spread out. Luckily, this time, my meetings were all in the convention center or the headquarter hotels. Unfortunately, even the buildings take longer to navigate than you would expect, and I still found myself running late for things on the first day and a half. Lesson learned: you can never overestimate how long it will take you to walk in a city designed for cars! Once I had that under control, things were much more smooth sailing.

I was lucky to get to room with Molly from work again, which is always fun and another example ofphoto 4.JPG how sometimes it seems like it takes traveling across the country to catch up with local colleagues. I managed to get a meal with Hu, Carolyn, and Erik, and catch up with colleagues from UNCG at several events. Very fun times in the middle of a very busy conference!

ALA is increasingly becoming more and more about meetings for me, which is actually fine by me as I care a lot about the future of the organization and the meetings I’m in tend to at least have the potential to impact that. In an effort to make some sense of the seeming randomness of my calendar, I’m summarizing by type of meeting here:

American Library Association: Council

# of official meetings: 7
# of hours in official meetings: 14

I’m now over halfway through my term on council. I really enjoy this work, and plan to run for election again. This is the body that makes policy recommendations for the organization. When there are controversial issues, Council considers them. Council is responsible for (and considers updates to) the backbone documents of our profession such as the Code of Ethics and the Library Bill of Rights.

This time most of the resolutions were from the Social Responsibilities Round Table and focused on several issues that are particularly important to that round table of the association, including Wikileaks issues and the treatment of homeless library users.

It was at this conference, perhaps in a change of culture, or perhaps because I’m getting my feet under me in this role, when it became very clear that there is a growing demand from members to focus instead on issues that are clearly library related rather than general issues that have a less obvious connection to libraries (such as Wikileaks). I suspect this is because many libraries are dealing with very real threats in their day-to-day operations whether it’s funding, access to materials that patrons want (*cough* *cough* ebooks *cough*), or the massive cuts some school districts are seeing in their libraries. When facing such fundamental issues, the feedback we get is that some intellectual freedom issues seem like a luxury and misplaced energy by the governing body of the organization.

At the same time that I’m noticing this, council is going through a self-assessment, of which we spend an hour of working on while at the conference. It’s clear that councilors understand that the really big important library issues of the day come to council and get turned into taskforces or committees, and the minor ones don’t. Those minor ones don’t necessitate the creation of a group, so the council hashes them out, leading to the feeling that the council spends time on fringe issues.

Small insight, perhaps, but a really useful one for me, and will help me better move forward issues in Council in the future.

Library and Information Technology Association: Board of Directors

# of official meetings and programs: 9
# of hours in official meetings: 20

I’m a Director at Large for LITA, and am as far into that term as I am the Council term. However, the organization could not feel more different. The big news, for me, for my LITA experience at this conference was that I was elected as the Director-at-Large to the executive committee for LITA. The executive committee is empowered to act for the board of directors between regular meetings (their decisions and actions are subject to review by the board at its next regular meeting).

LITA is going through growing pains and is evaluating how to be more transparent in a way that makes sense across the Board (literally) so these meetings feel like there’s actually potential to see some change go through. I’m excited about contributing in a larger way to this association which was my first real home within ALA and gave me leadership opportunities when I was still just in library school.

LITA also hosts several programs that are notable at annual conferences, and I attended the Sunday afternoon sweep of sessions including Top Tech Trends (Where it was good to see another instructional technologists on stage. One of her two trends was “this will be the year librarians learn instructional design!”) and the President’s Program (The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Research, Digital Scholarship and Implications for Libraries featuring Tony Hey, Microsoft Research; Clifford Lynch, Coalition for Networked Information). Both were fascinating sessions, despite their disruption due to a fire alarm in the convention center!


# of non-business related programs: 2
# of hours in these programs: 4

photo 1.JPGI never count on getting to see sessions that are not part of another obligation that I have, but this time I got to see two! On Friday I heard William Kamkwamba, or, the boy who harnessed the wind, at the Movers and Shakers lunch. If ever there was a more cognitively dissonant ALA experience, I’m not sure what it would be. We were at a very nice restaurant, eating fancy meals, while hearing about the poverty of Kamkwamba’s village and the extraordinary efforts he went to in order to find ways to bring water and electricity to his community. If you haven’t heard his TED talk, you really should.

photo 2.JPGI also got to hear a favorite author of mine, David Weinberger. His books tend to be interesting reads dealing with the rapidly changing information environment. His most recent was one of the books our group read here in the library, Too Big To Know.

His talk focused on his most recent book, and the subtitle of the book says it all: “rethinking knowledge now that the facts aren’t the facts, experts are everywhere, and the smartest person in the room is the room.”

In his talk he talked about how rapidly information moves today, about the bubbles we all live in in our online interactions, how it’s increasingly challenging to get access to other perspectives, and even a bit of postmodernism. Good times, as far as I’m concerned!

Connections, Friends, and Mentoring

But perhaps the best part of any conference is connecting with friends and mentors and finding out what’s going on in their lives, getting perspectives on your own, and finding connections between interests, projects, and passions of others in the field. This is one of the rare opportunities we have to get together with library folks from all different types of libraries, types of jobs, and ranks of position within their own organization, and that broad picture is one of the best takeaways of the conference for me.


photo 5.JPGI wrapped up my time in California with a bit of consulting for a company that is looking at their training, which was great fun. It was a totally different experience from working with librarians, but fun in entirely different ways. That meant several opportunities to get together with people from the organization, a day-long workshop, as well as a chance to get some of the work done for them that I had promised to do (as you can see here).

A red-eye back, an afternoon catch up with Leif, and a mountain of laundry later, I’m about to get started on my to do list that grew by miles while I was at ALA. Luckily, the conference was rejuvenating enough that I have the energy to tackle it!

Lauren P. at Reynolda House

Sunday, April 22, 2012 3:06 pm

I love getting the chance to speak with non-library audiences about what libraries do, and was fortunate to have the opportunity to do just that a little over a week ago. I was invited to speak on a panel for a National Advisory Council meeting of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art about how libraries are responding to the online world.

I was able to go a little bit early and learn about the outstanding cataloging project that they’ve been working on, and I can’t wait until that is available online to browse. I also learned about the vision for the Reynolda House website, and I’m really excited about it. It’s a really forward-thinking approach, and I am certain there will be people from all over who will use the website regularly even if they never make it to the physical museum.

The panel was moderated by Reynolda House’s Sarah Smith and included (telephoned in) Deborah Howes, the Director of Digital Learning from MOMA and (physically there)Tim Songer, the President of Interactive Knowledge.

My section was entitled “This Library Is Not a Place” and focused on how libraries have been thinking for some time about how we should define ourselves as e-resources become more common and as people turn to other places (in addition to libraries!) for information. My argument was that libraries are about more than just where they’re located: it’s the services, the varied information containers, the collaboration that make us what we are and that it is possible to use the web to do a lot of that work. I also tried to be clear that all of our online services don’t replaces the physical experience, but they can enhance it and in the best cases make it even better. Here are my slides:

This Library is Not a Place
View more PowerPoint from Lauren Pressley

I also really, really enjoyed the opportunity to hear my fellow panelists. I took a lot of notes, but will mostly focus on a few projects that were highlighted here.

Deborah Howes

Tim Songer
  • Interactive Knowledge started out creating digital learning tools for libraries but has since shifted to focus on not for profit organizations and filmmakers that are informal educators
  • The company is not trying to sell products, but rather trying to solve problems. They’re trying to create sites that completely immerse the user in the content.
  • American Sabor is a parallel website to a traveling physical exhibit about Latino music. The website changed the physical exhibit to take advantage of some of the work they did online.
  • Flight and Rescue provides a cinematic way of telling the story of WWII Jewish refugees that fled to Asia for a temporary exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. This website allows people to continue to have access to the information from the exhibit,supported with a database that includes objects and oral history

Thanks to Emily Santillo and Sarah Smith for inviting me, I had a great time! (And particularly enjoyed being referred to as “the librarian” during the Q&A!)

The Future of Education: The Horizon Project Retreat

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 5:29 pm

Immediately following ALA, I was extremely lucky to be able to attend The Future of Education: The Horizon Project’s Tenth Year Retreat.

Since I first learned of the Horizon Project, I have been impressed with it. It’s an annual report, with editions for higher education, k-12 education, and museums, about the technologies that are on the horizon. Each report focuses on six technologies over three time horizons as well as naming some contextual themes that are applicable across the board.

Several years after first learning of the Horizon Project, I saw some discussion on library blogs about how libraries weren’t represented, so I decided to throw my name in the ring to see if I could be involved. I was fortunate to be included and the first report I contributed to was the Higher Education edition for 2011. I also contributed to the 2012 Higher Education report. The process of creating the reports, itself, is an amazingly efficient and productive modification of an onlineDelphi study, and I’d be happy to blog or chat about it if you’re interested.

Horizon name badge

The retreat, itself, was for anyone who had served on any of the advisory boards over the past 10 years. It was organized by Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC, and Dr. Lev Gonick, VP and CIO at Case Western Reserve University and Board Chair Emeritus of the NMC. It was held in Austin, Texas at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort. The location was ideal. It wasn’t in the city, so we weren’t tempted away the way we might have been otherwise in the evenings. This meant that for the entire retreat we were all in one space, thinking about the same thing.

The event was comprised of group discussions, nine speakers featured on the NMC’s YouTube channel under 6 minutes with, and the amazing facilitation of David Sibbet, which is hard to understand unless you take a look at his visual representation of the event. Sibbet is a master at visualizing ideas, and I think every one of us probably wished for an ounce of his ability in that area.

At the Horizon Retreat

As you can see, this event incorporated various communication technologies as you’d hope it would. iPads outnumbered all other computers as best I could tell. (I felt a little old-fashioned with my MacBook Air!) They brought in speakers via videoconferencing technologies. Tagging was used extensively.

The pace of the event was quick, as we’d get a little bit of introduction, hear a speaker, have structured small group discussions, bring back the big ideas to the group, and watch as Sibbet illustrated the discussion we were having. The structured group work was built around specific points they wanted us to come to conclusions on–which took a bit of getting used to for me but I ended up really liking it. It reminded me of some of my teaching exercises, trying to make sure we don’t always do the same group work and mixing up the types of interactions.

The main ideas from the retreat are captured in a Communiqué. The ideas in this document are “megatrends” that are impacting all educational institutions (libraries included) around much of the internet-connected world. The executive summary, if you don’t want to pop over there, is:
At the Horizon Retreat

  1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative.
  2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to.
  3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network – and already is at its edges.
  4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media.
  5. Openness – concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information – is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world.
  6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society.
  7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success.
  8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy.
  9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training.
  10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.

There was brief discussion of including a library-related topic as one of the ten, but there weren’t enough library folks at the retreat to get the votes necessary to include it. If you read the communiqué, you’ll note that libraries are mentioned under many of these 10 megatrends. In fact, there was brief discussion of if there should be a libraries Horizon Report as their is a Museum one. I’d lean towards keeping libraries integrated within the existing documents, while increasing librarian participation. I think I can contribute more about libraries to a higher education discussion, and I’d rather librarians be at that table. Likewise, a school librarian could really contribute to the k-12 report. I’d like to see public libraries represented somewhere, though.

And, since we have a library focus here, I thought I’d include Marsha Semmel’s (Director of Strategic Partnerships at Institute of Museum and Library Services) talk.This talk was given to an audience with only about 5/100 librarians, so she was definitely introducing people to standards of the field as well as pushing on some boundaries.

The Horizon Retreat was an amazing opportunity, and I–frankly–was frequently surprised to find myself included at the table in these discussions. I look forward to seeing what else comes of our work over that week. If you’re interested in following along, you can on the (surprise!) wiki!

Lauren P. at Midwinter: LITA

Monday, February 20, 2012 1:23 pm

In Dallas for ALAMW12January/February has been an unusually busy conference season for me, leading much of my work time to be focused on catching up in the office. I’m just now getting a chance to process some of my experiences and blog them. Look for posts this week about LITA, Horizon, and Lilly South!

I’m going in chronological order, so this is an ALA post on the LITA Board meetings and midwinter thoughts in general. I posted on Council a few weeks ago.

Library and Information Technology Association Board

As for LITA, we had a few board meetings, held the traditional Midwinter Town Hall in which the general membership can contribute to strategic planning, and I attended the Web Coordinating Committee meeting as the liaison to the board.

We talked about various issues, and sent some issues to ALAConnect, and planned this year to start having monthly meetings to make sure we’re making progress on the goals and issues between conferences. I’m very excited about this. I think ALA Connect has been an ideal place to do ALA work between conferences, but it’s hard to check in when faced with the day-to-day duties and face-to-face meetings of our regular jobs. Having a monthly check-in meeting will give LITA tasks deadlines and a way to be held accountable. In fact, our first one is this Friday via WebEx!

Many of our conversations focused around issues of how to increase membership, if we should start focusing on advancement for the organization (and how), and the budget for the association. Exciting stuff, if you’re interested in the technology association of ALA. ;)

Midwinter Meeting

This Midwinter, as I’ve found in the past, was as much about connecting to others in the field as it was about learning or contributing to the association’s business. I love having a big-picture understanding of the field, and talking with librarians in all types of positions, and in all types of libraries, helps me keep a better understanding of the field-as-a-whole than I would otherwise be able to do. It’s good to to know what other academic librarians are doing as well to have a good sense of how we’re doing in relation to other libraries.

Many of my connections with others were in impromptu meetings, where we talked about everything from faculty vs. staff status and what it looks like at a variety of institutions, the situation at Harvard, conversations about motivations for the work we do, discussions about what ALA Council should be doing, how to get things done within the large association, and some scholarship that I was unfamiliar with that might be useful for some of the research I enjoy doing.

This Midwinter was the smallest I remember. We didn’t actually break 10,000 participants as we have every year in recent memory. The people who were there were enthusiastic and making the most of it, but overall you couldn’t help but question the future of the second ALA conference each year if numbers are so small. Here’s hoping we’re able to come up with some answers in Council and on division boards!


Lauren P’s Midwinter: ALA Council

Monday, January 30, 2012 5:58 pm

I’m going to break up my ALA report into two posts centered around my two main responsibilities at Midwinter: ALA Council and LITA Board of Directors. This is the Council post. I’d only been to Dallas to visit with family before, so this was my first significant visit to downtown Dallas. The thing that surprised me most (but really shouldn’t have) was how it wasn’t particularly walkable. This hotel was just across the street from the convention center, but once I left the building, it was still a 20 minute walk to get there!

In Dallas for ALAMW12

But on to Council: this was a quiet meeting. When you’re on council you have three main meetings (one of which is scheduled for 4 hours), two evening meetings that are optional but highly recommended, and a number of other events that are a good idea to attend though not expected (such as the candidate’s forum for the upcoming ALA Presidential election). I was struck at this meeting that the three scheduled meetings went more quickly than I would have expected. Some of this is because significant discussion took place in other venues (the evening optional forums), but some of it was because people were focused on getting through the agenda. Several conversations seemed like they could have gone on a bit, but instead the conversation died out and then there was a vote. Here are the major items of news from ALA Midwinter 2012 Council meetings:

  • We had a brief discussion about whether it makes sense to continue having ALA-APA anymore. This is a significant issues, so discussion will continue through Annual.
  • There is a petition at to “Ensure thatevery child in America has access to an effective school library program.”Please consider signing it! They’re only looking for about 2000 more signatures! You do need to register with the site first, but it is really quick!
  • There is a new digital content working group that is looking into econtent issues. They just convened at Midwinter for the first time.
  • We voted in support of the programmatic priorities for the coming year. They are: diversity; equitable access to information and library services; education and lifelong learning; intellectual freedom; advocacy for libraries and the profession; literacy; organizational excellence; and transforming libraries.
  • We voted on honorary memberships–the highest honor ALA bestows. We also elected new Executive Board members.
  • We got an in-depth report from the ALA Treasurer on the Neal-Schuman acquisition. This was funded out of publishing rather than dues.
  • Membership is down, but is close to 60,000. We can also expect 1000 members or so a year to shift into continuing membership rather than active dues payers. To get this benefit one has to have been an ALA member for 25 years and be retired.
  • ALA is working on a planned giving campaign.
  • The Intellectual Freedom Committee proposed a resolution condemning the removal of educational materials in connectionwith the elimination of Mexican American Studies classes in the Tucson (AZ) Unified School District. This was one of the issues discussed at length in one of the evening meetings. After surprisingly little discussion on the floor, it passed:

RESOLVED, That the American Library Association:
1. Condemns the suppression of open inquiry and free expression caused by closure of ethnic and cultural studies programs on the basis of partisan or doctrinal disapproval.
2. Condemns the confiscation and restriction of access to educational materials associated with ethnic and cultural studies programs.
3. Urges the Arizona legislature to pass HB 2654, “An Act Repealing Sections 15- 111 and 15-112, Arizona Revised Statutes; Relating to School Curriculum.”

  • The ALA Committee on Legislation proposed a resolution opposing the Research Works Act and reaffirming support for the NIH public-access policy and it’s expansion to other federal agencies and departments. They also proposed a resolution on PIPA and SOPA and one on loss of government information. (Molly & Roz & anyone else who might be interested, I have the whereas statements if you’re interested.) All passed:

RESOLVED, That the American Library Association:

1. Urge the US Congress to reject the Research Works Act, H. R. 3699, because it not only threatens future public access to federally funded research, but also nullifies the public access already provided to NIH peer-reviewed journal manuscripts.
2. Reaffirm its support for the expansion of the NIH public-access policy to other federal agencies and departments.

RESOLVED, That the American Library Association:

1. Urge Congress to reject both the S. 968, PIPA bill int eh US Senate and HR 3261, SOPA bill in the US House of Representatives because they compromise such fundamental rights as free speech, intellectual freedom, and privacy in an attempt to target foreign websites and combat online infringement overseas.
2. Oppose any legislation that compromises ALA’s core principles and stifles the dynamic, innovative potential of the global Internet.

RESOLVED, That the American Library Association:

1. Urge US Congress to restore funding to ensure permanent no-fee public access to aggregated sources of government information.
2. Urge the establishment of a mandated process with adequate notification to include the opportunity for public notice and comment with consultation by librarians, researchers, small businesses and other appropriate stockholders before decisions are made to discontinue access to current or historical information resources when the federal government intimates, significantly modifies, or terminates information products.
3. Urge Congress to require that agencies discontinuing access to current or historical information resources transfer the content and related functionality to the US Government Printing Office or the republic institutions that can ensure continued no-fee digital access to this information.
4. Urge Congress to improve the federal government’s policies and capabilities for making government information available to the public in an open, timely, participatory, and transparent manner.

  • Councilors brought forth a Resolution on Publishers and Practices Which Discriminate Against Library Users. It also passed. I would like to list the resolved clauses, but there was a lot of discussion around the wording and it was changed a bit, and I am unable to find a passed version at this point in time. There was a fair bit of discussion around “discriminate” as well as if we want to oppose “the discriminatory policies” or “any discriminatory policies.” It’s not a perfect resolution, but I voted for it because I do not believe we can just sit by as we have for so long. A good thing that also came of this is: I’m hoping it will spur a colleague into writing a history of the discussion that would be very helpful to us all.

I forget between conferences how much I like serving on Council. It’s tedious, but it’s the big-picture work of the field. It requires keeping tabs on the general work of the profession, but also having detailed knowledge of current issues. I like the process and procedure for getting to decisions and the civilness of the discourse. If anyone has questions about running, let me know!

That’s all for now. More to come tomorrow on LITA Board!


NC-LITe comes to ZSR

Monday, January 9, 2012 12:43 am

On Friday we were fortunate to have the pleasure to host the semi-annual NC-LITe event. NC-Library Instruction TEchnology is a group that has been steadily growing and evolving since it’s beginnings in March 2008, when Steve Cramer reached out to us so that UNCG and WFU could share the interesting work we were doing with instructional technology.

Each time we meet we add a few more people and institutions, and the event gets a little more formalized. You can read the detailed information about this winter’s event on the wiki.

We started the day with a general mix and mingle in Starbucks and moved to 204 once it was time to get started. In 204 Lynn gave the group a warm welcome (and I think the first from someone outside of an instructional unit with a library, so a big thank you for that!), and we proceeded with updates from each institution there. As you might guess, with a diverse group of schools (App, Duke, ECU, Greensboro, High Point, NCSU, Salem, UNC-G, and WFU), there were very different reports. However, in general it seems like most of us are thinking about transitioning to online, accreditation, teaching more classes with less librarians, and learning objects.

Next up NCSU gave a presentation about a scavenger hunt that sounds absolutely engaging, and educational in a number of ways. Students use iPods to take pictures and get text answers along a scavenger hunt, sending answers back to a librarian team in a classroom, as they complete the challenges on the scavenger hunt they learn about the library, learn that librarians are friendly, and also learn how to use cloud computing tools to record information. Great project, and one I’d love to experiment with here.

Next up was a WFU panel, organized by Giz, on Embedded Librarianship. Sarah, Bobbie, Roz, Susan, and Giz all gave examples of embedded experiences, showing that embeddedness can take on many forms and explained what it looked like on the librarian end of the project. This was well received and there were many questions from the audience.

After the panel we broke up in small discussion groups to discuss online learning, face-to-face learning, and teaching and technology project workflows, and then returned back to the group to discuss our overall themes. We concluded with a lunch at Deacon Tower where the conversation continued.

A big thanks to Giz who really did as much of the planning as I did, Lynn for her introduction, Kaeley for posting signs, Roz, Bobbie, Susan, Sarah, and Giz for their panel, and Roz for giving folks who wanted a tour an understanding of our space. I’ve heard from several people that they really got a lot out of the event and that folks are already looking forward to the next one. Let’s hope we find the next host soon! :)

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