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Susan at the Library Assessment Conference

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 5:30 pm


The University of Washington campus with Mt. Rainier in the distance

The Library Assessment Conference is held biennially and is the largest conference of its kind (with over 600 registrants). This year it is being held in Seattle at the University of Washington. This is my first time attending this particular conference and although I know that Assessment (with a capital A) is an enormous trend in academic libraries these days, it still was surprising to me to find that you could fill a three day conference with 27 “sessions” – each with 3 or more presentations, totalling over 100! And all about assessment! The sessions are divided into tracks (papers, panels and lightning talks) and each of these is themed (collections, methods, collaboration, space, teaching/learning, etc.). The Monday afternoon poster session contained 45 posters in 4 tracks. So it’s been a challenge to pick and choose what would be most valuable to bring back to ZSR (especially when the weather is unseasonably warm and some of the meeting rooms are not air conditioned). I have found the lightning rounds to be particularly useful since those have been typically case studies which give practical how-to’s on their projects. It didn’t take long to settle into the jargon: impact, value, metrics, data visualization, response rate, methodology, analytics, evidence-based decision making… well, you get the idea.

Rather than give a blow by blow, I’d like to highlight some things that caught my attention, link to some tools and articles that might be useful and show a few images from my tour of the library spaces (Research Commons and the newly renovated Odergaard Undergraduate Library). So many things were put out over the three days that I’ll need time to wrap my head around some of them, and this will help me! I have pages of notes so am glad to dig in more deeply if any of the concepts catch your fancy!

Keynote speeches were themed “Change” and here are a few excerpts (Three keynoters – Margie Jantti, Debra Gilcrist, and David Kay)

Jantti

  • Be an indispensable partner: demonstrable benefit to the university’s current and aspirational state.
  • What data is missing? What don’t we know, even with what data is put before us?
  • Active listening is key. We are guilty of pushing forward what WE think is important.
  • Students are the lifeblood of university budgets. We need data to better understand library’s impact on student risk and success.

Gilcrist

  • Creating a culture of inquiry is a philosophical viewpoint.
  • Contextualize everything we do within institutional priorities.

Kay

  • Do we use data to get to things that are self-evident?
  • Why is data king? Attitude, technology and necessity
  • Breakthrough areas: student success (learning analytics/student retention) and research metrics (altmetrics) have seized the moment -their communities have been eloquent in spinning their vision
  • Library analytics have remained fuelled by library and library community data, focused on processes (such as collection management) and constrained by application silos (such as ILS or the gate system)
  • Question: should we: 1. get whatever data we can and let it tell its story even if we don’t know what that might yet be or 2. collect only data specific to areas of interest or known to be useful?
  • Where will external data come from and how can it be woven with library data to tell the story?
  • Predicitve analytics will be part of the future of higher ed and libraries need to be involved in the design

Students

One theme I keep hearing about concerns involving students in assessment activities. Several schools have student advisory boards who are active, while other employ student assistants to carry out assessment projects. One example is Virginia Tech which has peer roving assistants who take photos (to document space use), conduct peer interviews, and do weekly seat counts. As one speaker said “If you really want to know how to fix it, talk to the people who are using it.” Peers can be useful for this (our Library Ambassadors?)

Nuggets from various sessions:

  • Information literacy takes place outside the library; this means collaboration is required.
  • Assessment can be part of daily work, can be integrated, but staff need to feel that additional data collection has meaning and purpose
  • Learn to use the same data source to answer short, mid and long term questions
  • Don’t wait for perfect data
  • Special Collections have metrics mayhem: a lack of standardization of definitions (what constitutes a use (item level, folder level, visit)?
  • Everyone presenting on space reports that students rate the biggest need (beyond more outlets) as more quiet study (and at one school, they wanted more tables)
  • Move away from assessing things and towards making decisions about things

Tours

Odegaard Undergraduate Library | 2012-2013 Renovation


Main Floor of the Odegaard Library


Active Learning Classroom (Check out the Setu chairs, just like ours)


Collaborative Writing Center/Research Center (saw 16,000 students in first year!)


Railing Detail (now this is a word cloud)

Research Commons


UW Research Commons


Dawg Prints


Snacks but No Deliveries

My favorite sighting during the tour of the Research Commons was how they handled the need for more outlets when they were unable to drill the floors (Special Collections is housed on the floor below):

Tools mentioned by presenters

Interesting Concepts/Links/Readings

I can’t sign off without mentioning the whole issue of recycling, which Seattle has taken to a new level (It was referred to by the Dean of Libraries as the “Land of Obsessive Recycling”). I actually had to study the charts to figure out how to dispose of my lunch leavings. And I wonder who is the poor soul who has to police the choices uninformed visitors make?

ARL New Assessment Professionals Seminar

Monday, March 24, 2014 8:54 pm

“Report Out” from the Space Group

I’ve worn many hats during my years at ZSR, but I was handed a new one this academic year – assessment. Yes, of course I’ve done some assessment in my day, I think we all have done it in some fashion or another. But until this year, I was never given the responsibility for an overall assessment strategy; my experience with it was more on an ad hoc basis, project by project and done formally only when required. So when I was appointed (not elected) as chair of the ZSR Library Assessment Committee last July, I knew the first order of business was to get myself up to speed. If you stay on top of your professional reading, you’ll know that “Assessment” has become one of the Big Topics in recent years as academic (and other) libraries are pressed to demonstrate their value in the changing information landscape.

For some time, ARL has been a leader in the assessment arena, so when I saw they had developed a brand new seminar, “Leading a Strategic Assessment Program in a Research Library: An ARL Seminar for Recently Appointed Assessment Professionals,” I didn’t hesitate to sign up. This was a good move because they capped the in-person seminar at 30 and already have a second one in November filled and a waiting list for future ones….. The seminar was an intensive two day program which was preceded by 3 preparatory assignments and a pre-session webinar. The assignments helped acquaint the seminar faculty (Martha Kyrillidou, Steve Hiller and Raynna Bowlby) with each participant’s current assessment level and with our key assessment issues. By the time we arrived in Washington, DC, they were ready to group the participants by themes that had emerged from everyone’s key issues. Not surprisingly, I was assigned to the “Space” group. The other groups were Collections, Engagement with Faculty Research, Strategic Data and Student Learning. The design of this arrangement allowed each group to discuss frame the various assessment topic around the issues most important to each of us.

They got things off to a good start with a “fireside chat” by three senior administrators (Liz Mengel, Johns Hopkins; Anne Moore, SIU; Gary White, U of Md). They each gave their perspectives on what they considered important to understand when discussing assessment. My takeaways from this include:

  • Assessment needs to be aligned with strategic plans/priorities of the institution
  • Assessment can’t be accomplished by a single person (our committee models spreads the support structure nicely!)
  • Data gathering is not assessment (which requires analysis and evaluation)
  • Organizational culture drives everything

Over the course of the first day, we reviewed basics ranging from sources of traditional library data (think IPEDS, NCES, ASERL), tools (LibPas is an example and is used by ASERL), to different associations and higher ed data collection efforts. Just when I was getting a bit overwhelmed we were told about useful assumptions:

  • your problem/issue is not as unique as you think
  • you have more data/information than you think
  • you need less data/information than you think
  • there are useful methods that are much more simple than you think

Being a fan of qualitative over quantitative, I was glad to hear that there is a move in assessment from inputs (focus on how big/how much) and outputs (focus on use) to outcomes (impact and value). It’s about time to move away from the idea of size as an indicator of excellence or usage statistics (of things like collections, facilities) as a meaningful measure. These don’t tell the story of what people did with them. They don’t tell you the “why.”

Another concept I want to think about is the idea of the preferability of using trend data over a snapshot because data over time has more of an impact in telling the real story of what’s going on.

We spent a great deal of time discussing methods and the importance of asking the right questions before you select an assessment method. A big question is asking what do you want to know? That will inform the method. For assessing space, some methods that are effective are observation, heat mapping, ethnographic, interviews and focus groups.

One of the things they recommended tackling early-on that we actually have started to do is to do a data inventory to find out what data is being collected and whether it is being used. That is a first step before you can talk about using data to drive decision-making.

There was so much more covered during the two days than I can cover here but if you are an assessment aficionado, let me know and I’ll buy you a Starbucks and fill you in on all the details. (Added 3/24: There are some interesting articles in a special issue of Library Quarterly by the keynote speakers at the 2010 Assessment Conference that give a great overview of some of the big topics)

At the end of the seminar we were given a final assignment – to develop a plan to strengthen library assessment in our organization. You may be hearing from me in the next few weeks as I work to accomplish this!

I’ll leave you with my favorite image from my DC visit (you have to know I would take an evening photo walk to the Mall to capture the sights!)

Vietnam Wall
Evening Reflections on the Vietnam Wall

Surveys in Libraries: ACRL-ULS Webinar

Tuesday, December 3, 2013 11:24 am

Yesterday a group of us (Lauren C., Lauren S., Thomas, Roz, Mary Beth and Susan) participated in the Surveys in Libraries webinar presented by the ACRL-ULS Evidence Based Practices Discussion Group. One of the goals for this year’s Assessment Committee is to take advantage of any educational opportunities that might help guide our assessment efforts to be more effective.

This webinar focused on using surveys to learn about patron perceptions about whether their needs are being met by services. Well-designed surveys can be useful to gather this type of information. Poorly designed surveys are a waste of everyone’s time.

Here are a few helpful insights I gained from the session:

  • Actionable surveys are those that ask the right questions, are focused and are designed to gather data that can lead to action to improve processes.
  • An Action Gap Survey might be a useful tool for us. In this type of survey you might select 10 services that we offer. Then you ask the participants to choose the 3 services they think we do well, the 3 that they think need to be improved and finally, ask which 3 are the most important. This can show if what we do well is important to them, and whether our efforts need to be directed at improvement if the service in question isn’t important.
  • Surveys should be simple and focused. There was no *real* ideal number of questions, but the speakers agreed that less is better.
  • Longer surveys tend to have a higher drop rate (think the long version of LibQual+). People get frustrated and/or bored when there are too many questions.
  • There was agreement that when using the Likert scale (is that pronounced Like-ert or Lik-ert?, look it up in OED), the ideal number of values is 5 (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, strongly disagree).

One speaker addressed the use of commercial survey products (Counting Opinions and LibQual), another talked about adding library questions into campus-wide surveys (which we have had a little success with to date). My take away on commercial versus home grown surveys is that they both have a place in our assessment efforts. The commercial ones allow us to compare our services against other academic library peers/aspirationals, while locally developed surveys can help us dig down to the actionable level.

If you are interested in viewing the webinar, it is available here.

Susan’s NCLA Conference Experience

Sunday, October 20, 2013 7:47 pm
Wanda Brown Opens the NCLA Biennial Conference

Wanda Brown Opens the NCLA Biennial Conference

The return of the NCLA Biennial Conference to Winston-Salem provided the perfect chance to become reacquainted with the organization and all the dedicated library professionals from across the state that work hard to plan and put on the conference. As we are all aware, Associate Dean Wanda Brown has been the NCLA President for the past two years. Working in the ZSR Administrative offices some 20 feet from Wanda guaranteed that I would be encouraged to participate in some fashion! I was delighted when Wanda asked me serve as the conference photographer. Armed with a photo schedule covering Tuesday’s pre-conferences through the closing session on Friday, I was off and running. Between the photo assignment, the two concurrent session presentations I gave and a stint on the local information booth, by Friday afternoon, I had a full immersion conference experience.

Lessons Learned: Through a Librarian's Lens from Susan Smith

What ZSR Library Does to Build Value/Sage Value Research from Susan Smith

Networking is always a highlight of conferences and I enjoyed reconnecting with many colleagues from around the state (and many locals who I don’t get to catch up with as often as I would like). It was gratifying to see the large number of young librarians who attended and overall the quantity of people who came (over 900).

Here is the slideshow of my photos that played during the first part of the closing session on Friday:

Designing Libraries II Conference

Thursday, October 10, 2013 6:59 am

View Toward the Rain Garden Reading Room
View Toward the Rain Garden Reading Room, Hunt Library

I joined Lynn at the Designing Libraries II for the main conference on Monday and Tuesday. It was my first chance to see Hunt Library and all the buzz I’ve been hearing for months was not exaggerated. As Lynn said, it wouldn’t be right for our campus and our students, but it is one impressive space! They have so much interest in the building and so many tour requests that they have a visitor experience librarian! She gave us a fantastic, in-depth tour of all the spaces and services and both Lynn and I have mental lists (probably different ones) of the things we would love to try out here someday.

The conference was excellent. It lasted for a full (read 12 hours) day and a half and we listened to speakers talk on topics ranging from vision to planning to assessment to design to building to operation. We heard from deans/vice provosts, architects, designers, facilities, and faculty. It was very invigorating particularly because we are ready to embark on the capital campaign and have big plans for transforming ZSR Library. The timing was perfect because we are returning with much food for thought and big wish lists! I took plenty of notes and just am going to touch on a few things in this post but would love to share more to those who are interested more details.

The tone of the conference was set by Susan Nutter, Vice Provost and Director of NCSU Libraries. Since she first arrived at NCSU 25 years ago, she had planned for a new library, and developed a grand vision. Now she has results that are wildly successful. Some of the big points I took away from her talk:

  • They have a “just do it” environment rather than one where things are studied for years. Staff are encouraged to take initiative and do things. She referred to operating in “student time” meaning a quick turnaround time on implementation.
  • Staff was key and this was done by changing the kinds of people they hired – position by position. They sought people who brought skills from other advanced degrees instead of library degrees. They looked for digital library skills, sci-tech backgrounds and people interested in management and leadership. They hired an in-house architect and interior designer.
  • Their fellows program helped recruit and became a game changer.
  • Their faculty and students own the library.
  • They used a design contest to select their architectural firm.
  • They reached for the stars on their technology plan.

Hunt Library Game Lab
The Game Lab at Hunt Library

Joan Lippincott from CNI (Coalition for Networked Information) provided some challenges and opportunities for planning new learning spaces.

Challenges:

  • It’s not just about the spaces. You have to bring together spaces, technologies, services and content.
  • Many staff need new skills to provide services in learning spaces
  • Staff need to break out of silos and work in teams
  • Outreach and promotion is important

Opportunities

  • You will be creating something that will engage students in deeper learning and preparing them for the work of research, business, public service and the arts
  • You will be celebrating the innovation and creativity of your academic community
  • You will realize the potential of collaborations and partnerships

She also recommended actions to take when planning

  • Involve newly tenured faculty in the planning process. They are closer to today’s academic environment and have the pressure of tenure track behind them.
  • Develop use cases for specific areas of the facility
  • Think about how new library spaces can enable curricular change

I was introduced to the Learning Space Toolkit and want to explore it more thoroughly to see how we might use it as we move forward.

I’ll end back on one of the big themes of the conference and that is the importance of vision in the process. It should be bold, it should be formulated early in the process and the leadership needs to believe it, explain it, defend it and get it right! We have been working on developing a vision for ZSR Library over the past two years. The WFU community will see our vision shortly as it is unveiled in the next few weeks. What we have at this very early stage is this core concept that we believe is right for our community’s future needs from a 21st century library. This conference was timed perfectly as we launch into the process to turn this vision into reality. It’s an exciting time!

Lynn and Susan Trying out the Furniture

Lynn and Susan at Hunt Library (photo by Lauren Pressley!)

 

Report from Susan’s Favorite ALA Annual Conference Site

Monday, July 1, 2013 7:27 am

ALA Annual Conference at McCormick Place

ALA Annual Conference 2013 @ McCormick Place, Chicago

I always prided myself (not sure why, but that’s probably just another of my issues) on staying on top of daily conference posts on this professional development blog. I find that I am better able to relay information in short spurts (hmm, maybe it’s my newspaper background in play?). And, I will admit to all of you who know me well, that I experienced some small sense of failure when I saw Hu’s Saturday conference post and read Lynn’s comment “you win the prize for the first ALA post”! I think I have fallen victim to the pervasiveness of social media that makes it so simple to snap a photo while sitting in a session or visiting the exhibit hall and then posting it immediately to Facebook with a very short explanation. I have been much more active on Facebook this weekend in capturing what I’ve been up to.

As you know from Hu’s and Thomas’ posts, we jumped right into action Friday afternoon by attending the LITA 101 program. Even though I’ve been active in LITA for many years, this was my first time at this session which is designed to introduce people to LITA. Usually, my plane doesn’t arrive in time to attend, but we had an early direct flight on Friday so were able to be there. It was very well attended and lots of good information was provided to new attendees.

If I had to pick my “themes” for this conference, they would be renovating spaces and assessment. I focused on these types of programs because we are trying to hone in on how to make our 5 year building plan a reality. Part of this has to do with learning as much as possible about how our spaces might be imagined. Another important component of enhancing the probability of making progress on this plan comes with assessment. We need to figure out what data will best support our plan and then how to use that data the most effective way. Since I will be on the ZSR Assessment Committee this coming year, it was useful to sit in on sessions that dealt with that.

Renovating Spaces: I attended an session with the interesting title “The Culture House.” This is a term used to describe the expansion of libraries beyond their original purpose: “in response to a world that is increasingly interconnected, and at the same time, limited in its resources, libraries are being combined with complementary, or even seemingly disparate, functions.” The speakers talked about their particular projects/libraries. My favorite project was the Bozeman Pubic Library and Scupture Garden that was a superfund site because the building renovated was an old asbestos filled train depot. It was the first LEED building in Montana and it was designed to be very integrated with the community through its exterior space that includes a sculpture garden and an outdoor plaza that is used for community events. They also have an active art collection that has 112 museum quality pieces that rotate. Their website has a great interactive map that shows their artwork locations. Another interesting project came from the Pike’s Peak Library System that is located in a 100,000 square foot building. The library only needed 30,000 SF so they found innovative ways to fill the space including creation labs (maker spaces), performance spaces and business incubation spaces.

I attended two LLAMA/BES sessions: the first was a panel discuss by previous winners of the biennial ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award that recognizes projects that “demonstrate excellence in aesthetics, design, creativity, function, and satisfaction of the client’s objective.” The libraries in this program were Fleet Library at RISD (the 2008 winner for historical renovation; Office dA, Inc.),the Robert Woodruff Library at Atlanta University Center (2012 winner of single space, here a learning commons; Shepley Bulfinch) and the Anacostia Public Library (Public Libraries under 30,000 sf). This project was done by Freelon, the architectural group that is working with us on our new atrium floor.

The second session was about planning digital collaborative spaces. I particularly liked Jeff Vredevoogd’s (Director, Herman Miller Education) presentation. He talked about an interesting term that is used by Herman Miller – hub zones. These are what they call collaborative spaces and they do research to determine what makes a space “hubbable.” In research to determine what types of learning, working and socializing needs are driving the need for hub zones, they found this breakdown:

  • 72% collaboration group work
  • 36% individual work
  • 36% interactions /socializing
  • 33% computer/technology access
  • 26% meeting space

They also do an annual student video contest and last year’s question for the contest was “where’s your hub?” This year’s question is a really interesting one: “What makes a great learning space? You have 5 minutes with the president. What would you tell him?” (No comment on the fact the speaker used “he” when referencing the president…). He closed by offering the audience his insights on planning for collaborative spaces:

  • One size does not fit all
  • Focus on the user
  • Test small, think big
  • Right mix of technology and furniture
  • Learn from others
  • Next big thing may not be for you.
  • Blurring lines with corporate spaces
  • Think differently about specialty spaces
  • When you can…future proof.

Assessment: I am already way beyond my self imposed posting length limit, so I am going to skip discussing my assessment theme. I’ll save all that information (which would make some eyes glaze over anyway) and share it with this year’s Assessment Committee. I got several good ideas for approaches we might want to take. OK I’ll just mention one, which was a methodology that was new to me: VOC (Voice of the Customer). A group at Emory used this method to ‘deep dive’, in other words to get in-depth information more than you might get from some other methods. They also found that these individual interviews were easier to schedule than trying to form a focus group.

Finally, as usual, I also carved out a bit of time to check out the exhibit hall (which continues to inhibit me with its very vastness).

Riding the Escalators at McCormick Place

Conference attendees at McCormick Place with Exhibit Hall in the background

 

Susan: ACRL 2013 Wrapup

Saturday, April 13, 2013 3:39 pm

SustainRT Group Walk Around Indianapolis

SustainRT Indianapolis Canal Walk Tour

Both Friday and this morning were filled with still more session opportunities than you could shake a stick at! Yesterday morning I decided to think about things digital, so started out at a session conducted by staff of Columbia University Libraries entitled “Building the future: Leveraging Building Projects as Platforms for Organizational Change.” Back in 2005-2006 they envisioned 3 different Digital Centers (Humanities, Social Science and Science) that would be aligned with research and graduate study. To that end they made it part of the strategic plan and funding was found (best quote was attributed to James Neal: “If you want to see a library’s strategic plan, look at their budget.”). The centers have been implemented and the presentation covered planning/assessment, understanding user needs, changes in staff roles, training, culture changes for IT, etc..One report they recommended is “Re-skilling for Research” (2012) that looks at the roles and skills of subject and liaison librarians needed to support the evolving research needs of researchers.

Next up was a panel discussion on data curation that brought together 3 organizations at different stages of providing data management services. The session was “Wading into the data pool without drowning: implementing new library data services” using the swim metaphor to talk about one program at James Madison that in its infancy (testing the water), one that is plunging in (Penn State), and one that is the most advanced (Cal Poly) and thus is in the water and “Learning to Swim.” All took a case study approach and shared the steps they are taking to support faculty. The overall message was is that providing these services is not a sink or swim proposition. Just consider where you are and where you’d like to be to build a program at the level and pace that works for your institution.

In the afternoon, I switched gears to the assessment track. I’ll let Mary Beth report on the update given on the ACRL Value Project which we hope to participate in during year two. After that session, I ended the day by attending a session on qualitative research methods (I love qualitative research, btw): “Inspiring Initiatives in Qualitative Inquiry.” I heard about 3 different qualitative research projects – a focus group study (OCLC), an ethnographic study using photo study and immersive observation (at UNCC by their anthropologist who works at the library but is not a librarian. The library is her fieldwork), and one that used the critical incident technique (Rutgers). This last methodology was one with which I was unfamiliar but it sounds like a most interesting approach. It is used to study effective and ineffective behavior and focuses on most memorable event/experience of participants. You ask just two questions: “What did you liked best about (fill in the blank) and can you tell me exactly why?” and then, “What did you like least about (fill in the blank) and and can you tell me exactly why?” (OK, maybe that is four questions if you don’t compound them…..).

After a full day of sessions, it seemed like a no-brainer to join in on Beth Filar Williams’ SustainRT walking tour of downtown Indianapolis. She organized it and arranged for a local public librarian to be our tour guide. I got a chance to see a few sights, take a few photos, and make some new friends, in spite of freezing in the brutally windy 40-some degree weather with no coat or gloves! The picture at the top of this post is the hardy group of librarians who braved the cold to see the sights!

Today, I closed out my conference by attending two future -looking sessions. The first, “Think like a startup: creating a culture of innovation, inspiration, and entrepreneurialism,” was a panel discussion that offered case studies and “best practices” that included “fail faster” (don’t waste time on things that don’t work)! I heard a new term in this presentation: The T-Shaped Employee. The image showed uses a man’s figure standing in a T to illustrate breadth vs. depth of expertise. It also was the first time I’ve heard about the California Digital Library project, DataUp, where Microsoft developed an Excel addin/web-based way to help researchers manage their data. In the final session of the day, 3 more contributed papers were presented (and I’ll let you read them for yourselves!): Transformation Begins When Renovation is Done: Reconfiguring Staff and Services to Meet 21st Century Research Needs, Reorganizing the Distributed Library, and What Will Libraries Be When They Grow Up?: Responding to the Innovations of Technology and Imagining the Future.

I’ll also let another of our group tell you about the final keynote by NPR’s Maria Hinojosa because I’m sure they can do it more justice. But, as with the other keynotes from this conference, it was very powerful and thought-provoking. The gist of her message came (for me) in her question to us: Can you see yourself in me, and I in you?

 

Susan: Day Two at ACRL, Indianapolis

Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:26 pm

The original Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture

Original LOVE Sculpture by Robert Indiana, at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

It is very refreshing to be at an excellent national conference with no obligations other than trying to decide which sessions to attend all day. There might be some small chance that this could be a bit stressful, simply because there were at least a dozen to choose from each time slot! The size of the conference is much nicer than at ALA (I heard the number of attendees is about 3500). They’ve done a good job of right sizing the rooms for each presentation, plenty of seating has been available and the only technology issues I’ve heard about are the slowness of the wireless. The weather has been rainy which has limited my usual new city exploration but really enhanced my focus on all the offerings of the educational sessions.

I began the day at a Serials Solution breakfast where ProQuest introduced a new web-scaled management solution, Intota. It “supports the entire resource lifecycle including selection, acquisition, cataloging, discovery, and fulfillment regardless of resource type.” Its goal is to replace the ILS.

My first session of the day was one of the contributed paper sessions. In these hour-long sessions, three people present papers they have submitted and had accepted for the conference. This first group was focused on three research projects that used different methods to assess the use of library spaces by students. The first was done at Georgetown University’s Lauinger Library, built in the brutalist architectural style (read: ugly). They conducted a photo study to discover how their library spaces were being used with a goal to gather evidence to make small scale changes. The paper, Beer Cans in the Stacks? Using a Photo Study to Reveal How Students Use Library Spaces provides the details of the methodology and results. The count data gathered was analyzed and presented using Tableau, a visualization tool. The second presentation described a study at Clark University that used a seating sweep methodology for finding the same sort data on space use. The final presentation, The Location-less Library: Examining the Value of the Library Building, examined how the loss of a library building (closed down for 2 years during renovations) affected user activities.

The second session had a panel (of 3 people from 2 institutions) that described initiatives they had going involving library publishing and undergraduates. In the first, at Illinois Wesleyan University, the library (Stephanie Kavis-Kahl) collaborated with an economics professor (Michael Seeborg)on the publication of a student peer-reviewed economics journal, Undergraduate Economic Review. The online open access journal solicits student submissions worldwide and is student managed including peer review and editorial decision-making. The library role includes advising, educating, and liaising. At Pacific University, Isaac Gilman, Scholarly Communications and Research Services Librarian, described an intensive 2 week scholarly journal publishing course that he teaches. The course objectives are: to understand and articulate the publication process, from initial manuscript submission to final publication, identify the process/resources necessary to establish a new publication, distinguish between and describe the relative benefits of different publishing models and to understand legal relationships.

In the afternoon I attended a session on Visual Literacy in Action. The presenters gave concrete examples of ways a library might incorporate the standards spelled out in the ACRL Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education.

I was introduced to the Erial Project in the next session. This was a two year long ethnographical study of the student research process. Take a look at their website for details of the project. The findings have been published in the book College Libraries and Student Culture: What We Now Know.

I finished out the day by attending the second keynote session where Henry Rollins spoke and then by going to an evening reception to learn about ArtStor’s newest product, SharedShelf (which was held at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, thus the photo of the LOVE sculpture above!). As you can tell by the brief documentation of the second half of my day, it’s been a long one and it’s time to wrap up so I can rest up for another full day tomorrow! Good night……

Susan: Day One at ACRL 2013, Indianapolis

Thursday, April 11, 2013 2:16 pm

Indianapolis Skyline

Indianapolis Skyline

ACRL is always a great conference with 3 days of educational sessions focused on academic library issues and trends. We arrived in time yesterday for the opening keynote address by educator Geoffrey Canada, CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone. His speech was one of the most dynamic and thought provoking ones I heard in quite awhile. He was critical of our national social policy (which he called a national disaster) that ensures a cycle of failure that keeps children from becoming prepared to be productive citizens. One example he mentioned was the refusal to invest an extra annual $5000 at the front end of each child’s education yet a willingness to continue to build prison space at an annual cost of $45,000 per inmate for those who have failed to succeed at learning to be productive members of society. He called it a failed investment strategy. Another disturbing example he discussed was a report by retired military leaders, Ready, Willing and Unable to Serve. In the report it reports that 75% of high school graduates cannot qualify to join the military. The primary reasons are: failure to graduate from high school (25%), failure of high school graduates to pass the entrance exam (30%), felony records (10%), and physical fitness problems, including obesity (27%). The report is calling for action from policy makers to ensure the “most proven investment for kids who need help graduating from high school starts early: high-quality early education. It also helps kids stay away from crime and succeed in life.” In his opinion, there is no strategy to educate the nations children. He lambasted the US education business model where the customer can fail and it doesn’t matter and nothing has changed in 55 years to correct the situation. If you would like to hear him speak, look for this joint PBS/Ted Talk program on the high school dropout crisis that will be broadcast on April 16.

Keynote Speaker Geoffrey Canada

Geoffrey Canada’s keynote address at ACRL

 

Susan at ALFMO

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 10:06 pm

What in the world is ALFMO you ask? As did I when I first saw the call for presentations for its inaugural conference. What the acronym stands for is the “Association of Library Financial Management Officers.” As it turns out, this new association is being formed by Bob Kieserman, a professor of Business Administration at Arcadia University and a librarian. He has a business that includes forming “niche” library associations that are not necessarily covered by the big players like ALA and SLA. Along with this new association, he’s formed ones for communication and outreach, and human resource managers.

The conference was small in numbers but big in interest and enthusiasm. It was held at Kieserman’s institution, Arcadia University, outside of Philadalphia.

Grey Tower Castle

Grey Tower Castle on the campus of Arcadia University

To a person, all the attendees (who traveled great distances and were from both academic and public libraries) said that they were attracted by the opportunity to interact with other professionals who shared their passion for financial management in the library world. They looked forward to talking about their areas of expertise without having people’s eyes glaze over!

I became involved when contacted by our old friend and colleague, Mary Horton, who is Assistant Director of Administrative Services at Cooper Library, University of South Carolina. She thought people might be interested in how financial management varies between a public and private university. Her idea was accepted and so we gave one of the concurrent sessions at the conference:

Similarities & Differences in Financial Management Between a Small Private and A Large Public University from Susan Smith

Since I have only been working with the ZSR budget and finances for a bit over the year, I found the conference to be very helpful. Sessions covered forecasting, hidden costs in renovation, the connection between strategic planning and budgeting, cash handling (on a large scale), and managing the budget creation process through relationships. Because of its small size, there was ample opportunity to network with new colleagues and explore side areas of financial interests!


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