Professional Development

Author Archive

Make it Matter: NCLA’s 61st Biennial Conference

Monday, January 11, 2016 3:05 pm

Many have covered NCLA’s keynote address so I won’t repeat their observations. Instead, I’ll focus on 3 stand-out BLINC (Business Librarianship in N. Carolina) presentations that few others are likely to have attended.

BLINC sponsored 4 presentations including the one Mary Beth, Mary Krautter and I presented on entrepreneurial culture in libraries. As Chair of BLINC I was pleased to support my BLINC colleagues by attending their presentation which were about liaison responsibilities and outreach to targeted patrons.

First, Nancy Tucker and Sharon Stack from the Mauney Memorial Public Library in Kings Mountain reported on their ground-breaking program serving Kings Mountain’s business community. Sharon, the library’s director, had an idea for a completely new model for providing reference services. She partnered with Main Street, an organization whose purpose is the historic preservation and economic development of downtown commercial districts in small towns along with the city’s planning and economic development department. Together, these organizations wrote a grant that funded a business librarian’s salary for 2 years and associated programs.

The majority of the target businesses are small family-owned operations with 5 or fewer employees. The 3 partners developed a program that graduated 5 business owners in its first class. The participants learned how to create Facebook profiles and websites for their businesses, to promote themselves on social media and develop marketing plans. Nancy provided substantial support for researching the marketing plans. This is a creative approach to supporting economic development in a community and Nancy’s direct outreach to businesses is a new model for business librarians.

The next presentation was by Betty Garrison and Teresa LePors from Elon Univ. Betty is Elon’s business librarian and a member of BLINC’s Executive Committee. In this talk, Betty and Teresa shared their top recommendations for a successful liaison program:
– Be visible
– Show interest
– Experiment
– Build relationships
– Respond promptly
– Support colleagues
They gave examples of how each of these had contributed to a growing and active liaison program.

Finally, I attended Nina Exner’s talk “Engaging with Faculty Over Research”. Nina is the Assistant Head of Reference and Library Instruction at North Carolina A&T State University and a member of the BLINC Executive Committee. Her talk about supporting faculty research was a revelation as she discussed aspects of liaison work that I’d never before considered. She walked the audience through the phases of the research cycle and discussed various ways librarians could support faculty at each one. She described the phases thusly and provided ideas on service we can provide for each one:
– Discovery
– Literature search
– Funding (grant search)
– Research
– Publication

At NC A&T, librarians provide support in a variety of formats directly or in partnership with the research assistance office including:
– Stand alone workshops
– Literature review searches
– Open/public access requirements and metadata support
– Cross referrals for consultations

Nina is available and willing to talk with librarians about this work and I think she’d make an excellent speaker for a future liaison meeting.

Arabian Gulf States Chapter of the Special Libraries Association

Monday, April 27, 2015 2:13 pm

Last summer I received an e-mail, which at first I thought must be a mistake. It was an invitation to present at the 21st annual conference of the Arabian Gulf Chapter of the Special Libraries Association in Abu Dhabi. The invitation was for Mary Beth, Mary Krautter of UNC-Greensboro and me. You may recall that in 2012 we had published The Entrepreneurial Librarian and we surmised it was our roles as editors that had earned us the invitation. We felt it was a rare opportunity and an honor to have been invited. We accepted promptly and began planning our presentation.

Mary Krautter, Mohamed Mubarak, Mary Beth Lock, Mary Scanlon
We were asked to present a four-hour pre-conference workshop and a 90-minute concurrent session, both of which were to be based on the topic of entrepreneurship in libraries. After many early morning meetings at Panera and several all-day Saturday work sessions, we were ready to present How to Create an Entrepreneurial Culture in Your Library and Entrepreneurship in Libraries.
The full title of the conference was: The Internet and the Positive Change to Librarians and Information Professionals: Enhancing the Digital Knowledge Society’s Information Needs. Three hundred librarians attended the conference and one hundred vendors exhibited their products and services. I met librarians from across the Gulf States of Oman, Qatar, the UAE (naturally) and Kuwait along with a number of expats working at UAE libraries who had come from Morocco and the US, including my fellow BLINC librarian Melanie Wood who’s currently working at Zayed University in Dubai. Melanie served as our moderator during the presentation.
The conference, which ran for 2.5 days, was preceded by a day of pre-conference workshops including ours. The workshops were held at the Petroleum Institute not far from the conference hotel. We were fortunate to have a small audience for it allowed us to engage with each of them in a very interactive manner. As Mary Beth noted, most of our attendees were associated with the tourism & hospitality industries in some capacity. These are important and growing industries in the UAE. We conducted the workshop in English without simultaneous translators which worked out well for the most part. The local SLA chapter used a professional event-planning company to organize the pre-conference workshops and the conference; their work was in evidence every day as the conference progressed.
The conference opened on Tuesday morning. Following a recitation from the Holy Koran and greetings from the conference organizers and local hosts, Dr. Eesa Mohammed Bastaki, President of the University of Dubai presented the keynote address, “Knowledge-based Societies”. He laid out a vision for the UAE as a knowledge-based ecosystem that would provide economic prosperity for all. The main components of a knowledge-based ecosystem consist of: education; research and business development (R&BD); and incubation and entrepreneurship. In the area of R&BD he asserted that the element that’s missing in the UAE is a culture of entrepreneurship. He presented such a compelling case for developing these traits in the Arab societies & economies that I wished we had offered our workshop after his talk. He presented the why and we presented the how for developing an entrepreneurial culture in an organization. His talk was an energetic call to action for entrepreneurship in the region.
We presented during the first set of concurrent sessions which began after lunch on the first day. We had a good-sized audience which engaged with the material, asked questions and stayed after the talk to get copies of our slides downloaded onto their thumb drives.
I attended a concurrent session on embedded applications by McGraw Medical. The company representative explained how a medical textbook evolved into a fully digital application with tons of embedded content that’s customized to a class or program. Its focus is on surgical education for students as well as clinicians with a focus on accuracy and ease of search.
The second day’s keynote session was delivered by Professor Sherif Kamel Shaheen, Professor of Library and Information Science at Cairo University. His talk, “How to Create Real Future impact? People Make the Difference” spoke to 4 issues facing our profession: innovation and entrepreneurship; social responsibility; code of ethics; strategic partnerships. His was another call to action, to take ideas and implement them, but not just for the sake of being different. As Mary Beth noted, the UAE is making a concerted effort to differentiate its economy beyond the petroleum industry and infusing the culture with a spirit of entrepreneurship is part of the plan, even though it doesn’t blend neatly with the current culture which is somewhat hierarchical. As you see, entrepreneurship was a thread that wove its way through the entire conference and we were part of the thread.

I also attended sessions on Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) which varies slightly from our DDA; a session on Technology in Libraries which focused on online education; and a vendor presentation on Plum Analytics, among others.
English was the primary language for the conference, although the program was printed in both English and Arabic. Most presentations were in English and the conference provided headsets and simultaneous translators for both English to Arabic and Arabic to English. I tended to skip the few sessions in which the presentation and the slides were both in Arabic.

I spent some time in the exhibit hall, too. The vendors seemed to fall into several categories: the database and e-book vendors, the furniture vendors, and the digital scanning equipment or services vendors. Among the database vendors I saw many familiar names, but the focus was all on STEM. Given the importance of petroleum engineering to the Gulf States this isn’t very surprising, but except for Euromonitor, there wasn’t a single business database in the hall.

As Mary Beth has already noted, the hospitality shown us was delightful. Conference organizers and attendees alike made us feel welcome. It was a great experience and I’m grateful to Mohamed Mubarak, Past President of the chapter for inviting us.


Empirical Librarians’ Conference

Monday, April 20, 2015 1:00 pm

Earlier this semester I had the pleasure of attending the inaugural Empirical Librarians’ Conference at the F.D. Bluford Library at the N. Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University. This new, one-day conference was envisioned by Nina Exner and focused on two aspects of empirical research: conducting it and supporting it.
The keynote lecture was presented by Dr. Diane Kelly from the U.N.C. School of Library Science. She described how empiricism is:
• One way to create knowledge
• About accumulating evidence: there are no fixed truths
• Is a human invention
• Is a practice, like librarianship
• Is limited by the tools & instruments that area available

She went on to say that empirical librarianship is NOT synonymous with evidence-based librarianship (EBL). EBL uses rather than generates research. She reviewed a number of empirical approaches, including surveys, interviews, field studies and others. In evaluating the worthiness of research, one should consider the following: truth-value (internal validity), applicability (external validity), consistence (replicability), and neutrality (objectivity).

How does one become an empirical librarian? First, research is a practice and experience helps a lot. Just start. Research doesn’t happen the way it’s described in textbooks, so be prepared for surprises. Research is constrained in many ways, such as personal, pragmatic and professional. We all work within limits or boundaries.

After the keynote speech, the conference split into two tracks: those who conduct empirical research and those who support others doing empirical research. The session that followed the keynote talk consisted of 15-minute presentations on a range of topics. I presented “Data Sets for Business Faculty Research” in which I compared and contrasted the types of data sets used by business and economics faculty, including the scope of their topics and the sources and costs of data. Other presenters shared their experiences supporting student research, promoting information literacy, providing research support to students in online education programs.

After lunch, I attended 2 concurrent sessions in the supporting research track. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend Chelcie Rowell’s talk, “A Research-Driven Approach to Providing Research Data Curation Services” during the last concurrent session because I had to teach a library instruction session in Accounting 782 back in Farrell Hall.

The two presentations that were most memorable were “Supporting the Patron Research Life Cycle” by Lynda Kellam and “Well Begun is Half Done: Developing Outcome Statements for Successful Assessment” by Kathy Crowe and Amy Harris Houk. Lynda Kellam talked about efforts to introduce library resources to UNC-Greensboro students earlier in their academic careers and how we can help students make a habit of using academic resources for their research. A question that has stayed with me is “How do outreach and information literacy instruction change throughout a student’s career?”

Kathy Crowe and Amy Harris Houk conducted a session on learning outcomes. After defining and describing them, they conducted several exercises in which the attendees wrote and then shared learning outcomes for a series of scenarios. The session was so helpful that we invited them to present the session at BLINC’s April workshop.

Congratulations to Nina Exner on a successful conference. It was a content-packed one-day conference that I look forward to attending in the future.

The Multi-Cultural Classroom

Monday, January 12, 2015 11:24 am

On Friday Jan 9th, the TLC offered a series of 5 workshops on how to create an inclusive classroom. Hu, Amanda and Mary attended most of them and we’ve created a joint blog post.

Session 1. Teaching Inclusively: a Pedagogical Exploration
The first session of the day was “Teaching Inclusively: a Pedagogical Exploration” which Hu and Mary attended. Led by Katherine Ross, the session began by watching video clips of two college classes followed by an extensive discussion comparing and contrasting the two styles of instruction. We developed a list of characteristics of the more effective of the two including: create a sense of community; verify learning throughout the semester; engage students through technology; know your students; make the material relevant; articulate explicitly the learning objectives; and go to the place they are. Bottom line: good curriculum design creates an inclusive classroom

Here are some course design questions to ask oneself:
Who are we teaching?
What their concerns and needs?
What do they need or want to learn?
What big, interesting questions are we answering?

Additional considerations:
Is the desired learning visible?
is there a metacognitive organizational structure to the course?
Are the assignments and assessments (quizzes, tests, etc.) clearly targeted at the learning objectives? Are they weighted appropriately to the objectives?

Some of this material overlapped with other classes I’ve taken at the TLC such as Deep Learning, How to Conduct the First Day of Class, and others.

Session 3. Exploring the Inclusive Syllabus: What, Why and How
The third session of the day, “Exploring the Inclusive Syllabus: What, Why, and How,” was attended by Mary and Amanda and facilitated by Katherine Ross and Niki McInteer, a visiting professor teaching German Masterworks in Translation. The class highlighted ways to use the syllabus as a place to “set the tone” for an inclusive classroom. Suggestions included:
Using inclusive language like “you” and “we,”
Utilizing a “create your own” style grading scheme where students can choose among assignments and drop lowest scores
Including a complete course schedule
Creating a visually pleasing syllabus to entice students to read it

The session also included a brief tutorial on using Microsoft Publisher to build a visually appealing syllabus.

Session 4. Facilitating Difficult Discussions in the Classroom
The fourth session of the day was led by Anthropology professor and cultural anthropologist, Sherri Lawson Clark. This session began with each participant responding to one of four questions as a means of introduction. The questions included:
How do you define Diversity?
How many times today have you thought about your Diversity?
What is your Privilege?
What is a difficult topic you discuss in your class?

This led to a discussion of vocabulary around topics of diversity and some tools for facilitating difficult discussions in the classroom. The primary method discussed centered around addressing “the elephant in the room” at the start of any discussion. We also discussed a method that came up in the morning session, “meeting the students where they are.” Professor Clark uses Turning Point clickers, like the kits we check out to faculty and students, to get anonymous responses from students in her class. She also used the clickers as part of the workshop to shed light on current issues around diversity and inclusion in the US today.

Session 5. Working with International, Multilingual Readers and Writers
Session 5 was taught by Zak Lancaster from the English Department. International students come to us with different backgrounds that can strongly influence their English language skills. He divided this cohort into 3 groups: those who went to English-language high schools, those who’ve been learning English in school since the first grade and those who attended high school in the US. The group that attended high school in the US may have excellent command of the spoken language including slang and pop culture vocabulary, but have a less well developed command of the written language, while the former groups may have excellent command of the rules of grammar for written language, but lack verbal skills and vocabulary of the latter group. We talked in small groups and as a whole about the broad spectrum of ways in which to address errors in written and spoken English in classroom assignments.

Metrolina Library Association’s 9th Annual Conference

Monday, June 16, 2014 1:25 pm

Last week, Kaeley and I attended the Metrolina conference in Charlotte. It was different from prior Metrolina conferences in that it was held on the campus of Central Piedmont Community College rather than at Johnson & Wales Univ. in downtown Charlotte. The conference center served as our venue and did so very well. The conference began with a keynote speech followed by 4 concurrent sessions that wrapped around a lunch and poster session. Kaeley and I have agreed to split our write-ups rather than submitting duplicate entries on the sessions we attended together.

During session 2, we attended New Frontiers: Rethinking Library Instruction in Online Learning Spaces. The speaker began by outlining the short-comings of one-shot library instruction sessions: there’s insufficient time to help students refine their topics, to encourage them to read and analyze sources, or connect different information sources in a meaningful way. He asserts that digital learning objects can overcome these short-comings.

A Digital Learning Object is an electronic resource with clear learning objectives that often has assessment tied to it. It can take many formats: lecture, tutorial, online game, interactive online exercise, or a video tutorial embedded in a research guide. It’s short and focused and the most effective ones contain interactive elements. Our toolkit videos were an early version of Digital Learning Objects.

The presenter’s advice for creating effective DLOs includes these design suggestions: start with clear objectives; use a combination of AV and text; break it into discrete sections so none is too long; include interactive elements. His process for producing an 8-module DLO on information literacy consisted of the following steps: define the objectives; assess the intended audience; write the script; design the visuals; record the audio; import captions; review, edit, finalize; distribute.

He used Adobe Captivate to create the modules, but there are many options for making DLOs. They can be embedded in research guides or in course management programs. Finally, he stressed that interactivity is the key to successful online learning.

For session 3, I attended Change Your Approach to Faculty Collaboration, the description for which read “This presentation will provide guidance on how to change approaches to faculty collaboration by playing a more integral role in academic writing and publishing teams” and she did exactly that. Ms. Sorrell provided suggestions for how librarians can move from supporting faculty research and writing to becoming co-authors with the faculty. This is especially possible when a faculty member is working on literature review.

Melanie Sorrell of UNC-Charlotte suggested librarians can play a more integral role in researching and writing lit reviews beyond searching for articles. First, she suggests, publicize your desire or intention to your faculty – let them know what you’d like to do. Publicize your own articles to your faculty so they understand you’re a published author. Approach younger, tenure-seeking faculty; they may be more open to working with you since their need to publish is great. Once you start working with a faculty member(s) negotiate with the primary author and make it clear you can do more than search for articles, such as identifying target journals or writing a section of the review. Establish author order. Once these items have been agreed upon, send an e-mail to the primary author documenting the conversation that includes you as co-author.

Once you’re established as a member of the research team, she recommends doing the following: establish a draft timeline and be sure to hit your deadlines; manage the citation management software; do some background reading on the topic; ask the lead author for a draft of the abstract; and establish a list of keywords, and share them with the author(s) to verify.

Ms. Sorrell recommends documenting your search strategy and including it in the methodology section of the article. Include keywords or subject headings, date range limitations, and any filters you applied. As the search evolves, document how you altered it, document synonyms, truncation or other changes you made. I had never thought of this before and it was a real ‘light bulb’ moment for me.

In the later stages, edit the 2nd draft, using the knowledge gained from the background reading to insure that the lit review reflects the articles’ content. Finally, help your co-authors understand the difference between subscription and open access journals as you decide where to submit it for publication.

Ms. Sorrell’s co-presenter spent the second portion describing open access and copyright issues for authors, but since Molly has covered these topics with us so thoroughly, I don’t feel it’s necessary to repeat that content here.

For session 4, I attended Crossing the Threshold: Threshold Concepts & IL by Kathy Shields and Jenny Dale in which they shared ACRL’s evolution from IL standards towards a set of threshold concepts. Threshold concepts are basic or foundational concepts without an understanding of which, a student cannot move forward or cross the threshold. Once one grasps a TC, one cannot unlearn it. Often TCs are so basic that they go unrecognized by those who understand them.

To qualify as a TC, an idea must be: transformative, integrative, irreversible, bounded and troublesome. They are often concepts that define a discipline and the way of thinking for professionals in that discipline.

Why switch from standards to threshold concepts? TCs are easier to explain to faculty in other disciplines, they offer a greater potential for collaboration, they help explain the ‘why’ behind particular practices and they’re more comprehensive – more than a matter of checking of boxes.

The threshold concepts being proposed by ACRL include: scholarship is a conversation; research is inquiry; format as process; authority is constructed and contextual; and searching is strategic. During the session, we broke into small groups and mapped the new TCs to the current standards. This made it easier to see the shift as an evolution rather than a sharp break with past practices.

Sessions 3 and 4 were the most interesting to me as the concepts are so relevant to my practice of librarianship. I’m already thinking about how I might integrate threshold concepts into my LIB230 and LIB235/ESE305 classes.

Mary at NCLA

Wednesday, October 19, 2011 1:40 pm

I attended NCLA’s 59th Biennial Conference on Wednesday; my teaching schedule on Tuesday and Thursday limited my time at the conference, but it was valuable none-the-less. I attended a terrific panel discussion about LibGuides in which librarians from 7 different libraries shared their implementation processes, policies, and uses of this very useful tool. Most of the implementations were thoughtful and well-planned, but several were staged – class guides first, topical guides next, and so forth; and one library described a ‘shotgun wedding’ approach to implementation that was successful despite its rapidity. Like ZSR, most identified a person or small committee to plan and roll out their use. The main motivation for moving to LibGuides was the ease and speed with which guides can be created or revised. Several practices caught my attention: NC Central Law Library uses the LibGuide landing page as the home page for all of its public library computers. UNCG discovered that students don’t see the tabs along the top so they now place links to each tab in each guide’s welcome box. NCA& T adds a box in each LibGuide with links to related topics.

In the afternoon, I presented “Using the Economic Census to Support Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners”. I’ve long been a fan of this data-rich resource for business and economic research, having first discovered it when I was a business analyst with an investment firm. In its report “Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development” the Urban Institute describes how libraries support regional economic development by providing specialized resources and research services to entrepreneurs and small business people. In the current budget environment free, reliable resources are even more valuable and the Economic Census is one such resource. The interface to the data is challenging and, therefore, the Census remains an underutilized resource among non-specialists. In my talk, I tried to de-mystify the Census and demonstrate how librarians can turn data into information for their business patrons. The audience actively engaged with the topic and we had a lively conversation about using this and other government sources. We also mourned the loss of “Statistical Abstract of the United States” another valuable source of data, which will print its last edition in 2013, after which budget cuts will cause the GPO to cease its publication.

BLINC, Business Librarians in North Carolina, was actively involved in the conference. Mine was one of 8 sessions presented in part or entirely by BLINC members; in addition, BLINC librarians led several poster sessions. Following the vendor reception, BLINC held its post-conference dinner, hosted by two of our vendors. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and each other’s company at Carrabba’s.

The conference represented the close of Steve Cramer’s tenure as Chair of BLINC and the beginning of my two-year term. During the conference I held my first cabinet meeting with Vice-Chair Leslie Farison of Appalachian State and Secretary/Treasurer Sara Thynne of Alamance Regional Public Library. We developed ideas for future workshop topics and I laid out several initiatives that I plan to pursue during my term.

It was a full and productive day in Hickory; while I wish I could have heard other programs on other days, I appreciated the time I was able to spend at the conference. Kudos to Sarah Jeong for the great job she did organizing the conference store which was the busiest spot in the exhibit hall and to Steve Kelley for his very well laid-out exhibit hall.

Handheld Librarian “Trends” in Twitter

Friday, July 31, 2009 11:48 am

Yesterday, a group of us attended the virtual conference Handheld Librarian.It was presented as a combination of PowerPoint presentations with live voice-overs.Attendees had to log into the conference site to watch and listen; attendees could submit questions and comments to the presenters and moderators in real time via IM.The topic of the conference was delivering library services via mobile or handheld devices.

The conference was so well attended that we were unable to log into the opening keynote session for about 30 minutes until they opened a second log-in site.Four hundred seventy-seven individuals or groups attended the morning sessions. Needless to say, the attendees were a self-selecting crowd of tech-loving librarians, many of whom Twittered the conference.Throughout the morning, #hhlib trended in Twitter which means it was among the top 10 topics mentioned.Every few moments, I’d get a refresh reminder telling me I had 75 new tweets on #hhlib.It added an interesting dimension to the conference to watch and hear the presenter while reading attendees reactions on Twitter at the same time.Many tweets lauded speakers comments, others posed questions to the audience, while a few complained about audio quality or disagreed with speaker comments.

Surprisingly, people have continued to Twitter about the conference `today.Presenters’ have been posting their slides on their blogs or web pages and the audio recordings are not available at

“Launching a Text-a-Librarian Service” from the Handheld Librarian

Thursday, July 30, 2009 5:12 pm

Today, a group of us attended the Handheld Librarian, an online conference about using mobile devices to deliver library services. I’m reporting on the session about Cornell’s experience launching their text reference service.

In August of 2008, Cornell University library launched their text-a-librarian service.Librarians there had recognized that approximately 90% of Americans carry mobile phones and when approached by Mosio, a supplier, and asked to beta test their program, Cornell agreed.The development phase lasted through spring break and included changes, both major and minor, such as revising the software to disassociate the cell phone number from the user to protect user privacy.The development period also included extensive training time for the reference desk staff.In the spring the library had a soft launch so they could work out any issues before driving a lot of traffic to the service.As part of this testing period, they asked members of one class to use the service; 26 texts were received over a 90-day period, most asking circulation and direction-type questions.The library has prepared its own promotional materials and plans a major roll-out this fall. The program that runs the service is from Mosio ( ; the interface looks simple and easy to use, but comes with an annual subscription price of $1,139 or their basic service. The Cornell librarians have been very happy with the service and expect to see a lot of activity on the new service this coming semester. The slides from this presentation will be available for 6 months if you’d like to view this or other presentations.

2009 LAUNC-CH Conference

Friday, March 13, 2009 4:15 pm

Rethink, Redefine, Reinvent: the Research Library in the Digital Age was the theme of this year’s Launch conference. Since so many of us attended this conference, each of will blog one presentation to avoid repetition.

In the afternoon I attended the break-out session “Changing Workforce” which I thought from the title would be about diversity in the workplace.Instead, I heard three presentations about changes in the types of work librarian perform.The first two presentations were about creating digital collections while the third was about evaluating and introducing new technology to the library.All three represented roles for librarians never contemplated by Melvil Dewey.

The first talk was jointly presented by two metadata librarians from the Duke Digital Collection.Rich Murray is the Spanish/Portuguese Cataloguer for whom metadata was added to his responsibilities.The other, Noah Huffman, joined Duke last year as Archivist for Metadata and Encoding with metadata management as a primary responsibility in his job description.They are part of a larger digital collections team that works on a distributed model; there is no digital collections department.

Together, they act in two ways: first, they establish the metadata format for a collection before the digitizing begins.They determine which elements to capture such as types of information to be catalogued and the metadata scheme to be used (Dublin Core, other). Then, they catalog the pieces by entering the appropriate information in the designated fields.

Their work differs from traditional cataloguing in that they establish a metadata template for each collection rather than following an established standard, such as AACR2.Next, they have several different digital metadata schemes on which to model their template, rather than one.Lastly, they apply tags to the images rather than the LC subject headings.Still, there are some similarities to print cataloguing: they use LC to standardize place names and they try to standardize the language in captions and tags. This process applies whether they’re beginning to digitize a new collection or migrating an existing digital collection to a new platform.

John Blyth also works to create digital collections, but he deals with the scanning, processing and saving of items born digital; these may include images, e-mails, documents or other items. He works with the Southern Historical Collection at the Wilson Library at UNC and has processed more than a hundred CDs worth of items.

Chad Haefele is the Reference Librarian for Emerging Technologies at UNC Davis Library; he evaluates new technologies to determine their appropriateness for use in the library.When he deems that they might be useful and are sufficiently well developed to be stable, he introduces them to the library staff through technology classes.In addition, he serves on a campus-wide committee that’s developed a suite of iPhone applications for Duke. One of the most interesting projects on which he has been working is to create a “my library” page for patrons.It resembles an iGoogle page with boxes that include RSS feeds for new books or films in certain subject areas, hours of operation and other items.He’s hoping to add a box that would show the patron’s account of checked out items.

These three presentations highlighted the role of technology in our work as librarians.Computer-based tools allow us to work in new ways, but at a conceptual level the work is remarkably similar to what it was in Dewey’s day.

Cultivating Collaboration Across Learning Communities

Tuesday, April 29, 2008 2:12 pm

LAUNC-CH Conference
Cultivating Collaboration Across Learning Communities

Ellen Daugman and Mary Scanlon attended the recent LAUNC-CH conference in Chapel Hill. Here’s our report:

Keynote speaker: Abby Blachly from LibraryThing
Ellen and I attended this year’s LAUNC-CH conference in Chapel Hill; the focus was on collaboration across learning communities and the sessions were designed to present examples of groups that have accomplished this. The keynote speaker was Abby Blachly from the social cataloging site Library Thing. She provided the audience with a brief history of the site, describing how it began as a Classicist’s desire to catalog the Loeb volumes in his personal library. He put it on the web, invited his friends to add their books to it and it took off from there. The site was strongly influenced by librarians and it gathers much of the traditional data that library catalogs do, but with a twist. In a very Web2.0 fashion, it allows users to add new items to the catalog, to modify records, and to add social data such as tags, reviews and even message board conversations to the site. Several times she illustrated the aptness and currency of user-generated content such as tags, which unlike LCSH, reflect the books’ content much more accurately (it took a while, for instance, for “chick lit” to attain the exalted status of subject heading). Tags can also convey the subjective experience of a book, perhaps none more so than “Boring,” or “Unread.” LibraryThing has so many contributors that tag clouds at this site provide a much richer experience than one would find on even In addition, LibraryThing serves as a social network, offering users a chance to connect with anything from favorite books and shared tags, to nearby libraries, bookstores, programs, and “friends.” Blachly emphasized the “unintentionality” of such Web 2.0 projects, where groups can form purely by happenstance, collaborate without meaning to, and organize without intent. These projects exist by tapping into the “uncredentialed masses” who are inspired to share their knowledge of obscure topics and to serve as ever-vigilant communities. LibraryThing now boasts more than 330,000 members, 800,000 book covers, and 32 million tags; it offers the opportunity to connect with other people based on the books one shares–other people who are, in short, book soulmates. Coincidentally, shortly after the conference, NPR aired a piece on these web sites that permit bibliophiles to indulge in virtual booksharing: in addition to LibraryThing, other options include Goodreads, Shelfari, aNobii and BookJetty.

Collaboration between UNC-CH SLS School and the surrounding county public libraries for teaching computer skills
The second session focused on an interesting collaboration, initiated in 2005, between the UNC School for Library Science and the surrounding county’s public library systems. SLS students are teaching classes in basic computer skills and information literacy in the public libraries. The public libraries identify their patrons’ learning needs and place requests with the Library School, which is then responsible for recruiting, training, and scheduling instructors. The PLs are responsible for promoting the classes and registering students, while the instructor/students prepare all instruction plans and materials. Since classes are offered during the libraries’ closed hours, the participants range from high school students, to senior citizens pressed for email skills to keep in touch with grandchildren–with a broad range of working citizenry in between. Interestingly, these classes are also being used for professional development purposes, to acquire computer skills; for example, the town of Chapel Hill has sent employees to attend relevant sessions. It has also enabled people to apply for jobs online and even to obtain W2s that Walmart and Costco employees could only obtain via the Internet. It’s a completely symbiotic relationship: the PLs are able to offer numerous classes that would otherwise be unavailable due to staffing demands and costs, and the SLS students get valuable teaching experience (not to mention subject matter for numerous MA theses). It works for the simplest of reasons: everyone benefits, and no budget is required. The program has received due recognition: in 2007, the ACRL Instruction Section gave its innovation award to the Community Workshop Program. Now it has targeted a new specific audience, promoting and marketing the classes to the Latino community.

Multi-librarian collaboration to create consumer health website
In this collaborative project, librarians and health educators came together and developed a website, NC Health Info, to provide consumers with health information. It is a local response to an era of truncated 12-minute long doctor visits and statistics indicating that approximately 50% of American adults have searched the Internet for health information. With a grant from the National Institutes of Health, they selected and approved web sites for each of a select group of illnesses and conditions. They also created a provider identification tool whereby consumers could choose a condition or disease and a city and receive a list of specialists that met the criteria. All content is approved by the committee before it’s put on the website. Broad categories include Diseases & Conditions, Mental Health, Treatments & Procedures, Medications, Healthy Living, and Health Care; in addition, there is a Reference section containing links to a handful of health-related websites. In the wake of the LibraryThing presentation, the website looked very rigid and old-fashioned, and the reference tools are a rather paltry lot. Vetting is done by sub-committees which make decisions and approve website content, design, and outreach efforts. There are no opportunities on this site for user-generated content or discussions.

UNC-CH – creating a mini-CH campus in Second Life
UNC-CH has created a miniature version of its campus in SecondLife, the virtual world, in an initiative to co-opt gaming for instructional purposes. It is a fascinating attempt to create an educational space in a virtual environment, and the session was a rapidly paced demonstration of the ongoing efforts to leverage the capabilities of SL in order to create educational surrogates. Inevitably, replicas of iconic structures like the well are there. After spending $800 to purchase an island, it took many, many hours to create the virtual campus. Its uses vary: there’s an exhibit of a digitized photo collection hanging in the virtual version of an original university building; there are virtual classrooms where online classes meet; and library students staff the virtual reference desk. However, since SecondLife is such a text-poor environment the reference librarians mostly answer questions about using SL. While the craftsmanship of the virtual campus was impressive, the efficacity of the virtual reference desk in the current SL environment seems dubious for now.

Role-play games as teaching tools; virtual environments as teaching spaces
The speakers reviewed the history of MMORGs – massively multi-player online role-playing games and their phenomenal growth; one example include World of Warcraft. The speaker discussed his research into the benefits of online games, including: learning in context, improving reading skills ( most of these games have backstories that drive the characters) problem-solving and developing teamwork.

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