Professional Development

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My Last ALA

Thursday, July 3, 2014 10:11 pm

I attended my first ALA in 1977 in Detroit, where I got my heel stuck in the escalator at the Renaissance Center. My last ALA turned out to be Las Vegas this past week, and there has been a large slice of Americana in between. For the first time in many years, I had no committee meetings and no required appearances so I had the luxury of going to the programs I wanted to attend. As others have mentioned, because of the extreme heat and long distances to walk, it sometimes made sense to conserve energy and stay in one location – most often the Convention Center.

I arrived on Friday afternoon and intended to go to UNLV for a tour of their library but it took an hour to check into the hotel and an hour to go through the pre-registration line, so I only had time to make dinner with our former colleague Lauren Pressley. She is very happy and it was a pleasure to talk to her! Highlights from the weekend include [I will spare you the duds]:

I have been exercising with Jane Fonda since the 80′s, so I couldn’t miss her talk. She showed some real insights on adolescent behavior in her newest book. The highlight was when someone in the audience asked her to consider writing a book for pre-teens and after pausing a moment, she said, “alright, I will!”

Another talk was “Libraries in the Publishing Game,” a topic that I follow with personal interest. Speakers from Columbia and the California Digital Library described big-library programs that are not very realistic for us. However, Cyril Oberlander from SUNY Geneseo has shown a great deal of creativity in a library smaller than ours. I like that.

The EBSCO luncheon featured some fascinating observations from a qualitative study of student behavior. Here are some pearls about millennials that I tweeted:

Google is their mother. Google is their oxygen.

Skimming and scanning as forms of speed reading. We are no longer linear readers. [Including me]

Students say: It’s about me. Not you. Me. [Sound familiar, ZSR?]

I was happy to attend the program by our friends at Forsyth County Public Library on “People Experiencing Homelessness.” Elizabeth Skinner of FCPL and Raye Oldham from the State Library spoke.They demonstrated that reading is of critical importance to people experiencing homelessness and that libraries can make a difference. It is such a noble program and made me proud of Winston-Salem. We might want to invite Elizabeth to a future staff meeting to talk about it.

One of the best programs was one on diversity residencies at Penn State, Tennessee, and UNC-Greensboro. One of my biggest regrets at ZSR was not being able to establish a diversity residency. Some of their observations are that a cohort of 2 or 3 is better than a single person and that two years is better than one. Collaborative relationships and strong mentoring are key.

I also met up with former colleagues and friends from around the country. In an amazing coincidence, two of them chose the same restaurant for dinner on consecutive nights. There must be a thousand restaurants in Vegas and I had dinner at the same place Saturday and Sunday nights! View on the walk home:

And thus ends my ALA career!

 

University Libraries Group, Spring 2014

Thursday, May 8, 2014 9:55 pm

Last week I attended the Spring meeting of the University Libraries Group, a consortium of twenty or so medium-sized academic libraries with strong undergraduate teaching as well as graduate and professional programs, whose directors get together to compare notes and talk about best practices.This year, the meeting was held at the University of Denver where the Dean of Libraries, Nancy Allen, is a good friend of mine from the 80′s at Wayne State when she was Associate Dean and I was Director of the Science and Engineering Library. She has a beautiful new library, the Anderson Academic Commons, and much of the first day was spent touring the facilities. Nancy told us how she had been trying to convince the university to invest in a complete renovation of the library for nearly ten years but it wasn’t until pipes burst all over with asbestos in them that they took her seriously and started the plans. The new library opened a year ago and is very inviting. It gave me many good ideas on furniture, services, and collaboration with university partners. Below is a picture of the most stunning library classroom I have ever seen. You can’t see it from this angle, but it hangs out over the main library space like a loft.

They operated the library for two years in temporary quarters and then only brought back about 40% of the collection. Collection development guru Michael Levine-Clark talked about how they decided what to bring back for the onsite collection. If I get access to the PowerPoint, I will share it with the MUVZ group, as it is the inverse of the process we are going through in trying to decide what to send to storage.

The rest of the meeting (two half-days) was spent in talking about various issues in a round-robin style, including topics like space planning, assessment, shared storage, library as publisher, and many other subjects. The detailed notes should be ready soon and I will share them on lib-l. The next meeting will be held at Loyola University-Chicago the day before ALA Midwinter in January 2015.

Spring 2014 ASERL Meeting

Sunday, April 27, 2014 10:52 pm

The Spring meeting of ASERL (Association of Southeastern Research Libraries) was in Tampa, FL on April 23-24. After the long, hard winter, we were all glad to get to the warm weather in Tampa, even if it was on the river, not the ocean. This was my last meeting as President, so I presided over the Board meeting on Wednesday morning, and then we had a business meeting and programs Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning.

 

We heard presentations on federal open access and data sharing requirements, a study from the Greater Western Library Alliance on student learning outcomes, and a roundtable discussion on Resource Centered Management that was conducted al fresco. Two presentations I thought extremely useful I will detail here. The first was on the “Collective Collection,” a term from OCLC to describe the aggregate collection of materials held across collections of a group of institutions. It takes a look “above the institution” at networks of collaboration and coordination. It can apply to a consortium, state, region, mega-region, nation or globe. It uses WorldCat as a tool, which is a good reminder of the value OCLC can bring on behalf of individual libraries. General principles that have evolved from the data include:

  • Scarcity is relative
  • Scale adds scope and depth
  • Coverage requires cooperation

As stewardship models for print change to a more specialized, distributed approach, there is increased dependence on conscious coordination as a strategy. ASERL is a good example of that with our ScholarsTrust print repository of journals and the Centers of Excellence model for government documents.

The other program that drew my special interest was from Marshall Breeding, technology consultant, on webscale or next-generation integrated library systems. Marshall clearly laid out the difference between legacy systems, such as our own Voyager, and new systems like Ex Libris Alma, Innovative Interface’s Sierra, and OCLC Worldshare. He made the point that we need flexible platforms that can manage multiple types of library materials with multiple metadata formats in an appropriate workflow. As he succinctly put it, “libraries have changed, but our systems haven’t.” He predicts that we are at the beginning of the next ten year cycle of transition, leaving legacy products behind and going to new platforms that substantially change the way libraries manage resources, finally flipping the effort from the disproportionate time we spend on print resources to the digital resources that will be our future. Kuali OLE is the system that many people (including us) have been waiting for and they have two libraries (University of Chicago and Lehigh) going into beta this summer. We will all need to pay attention to these developments over the next few years.

Lynn’s version of CNI in St. Louis

Sunday, April 13, 2014 8:24 pm

Chelcie has already reported on her experience at the Coalition for Networked Information in St. Louis, so I will add my version. One of my goals for this series of biannual meetings is to introduce the talents of our librarians to the national community of library and IT people. Last year it was Kyle and ZSRx. This year it was Chelcie and her work with the Digital Public Library of America. She did a splendid job, I can attest. She and her co-presenter had communicated beforehand and coordinated their presentations. People were lined up afterward to talk to both of them, including DPLA founder, Dan Cohen.

The CNI meeting itself started with a conversation between CNI Executive Director Cliff Lynch and his guest, Bryan Alexander, Senior Fellow National Institute for Technology in Liberal Education. They first started talking about MOOCs, always of interest to me, and Alexander said while there are still plenty of challenges, he sees them in the Gartner hype cycle as coming out of the trough of disillusionment and starting up the slope of enlightenment. He also saw a place for them in the world of libraries and museums (yay for ZSRx!), saying they had good content to offer and it would give them good publicity.

I went to a program on “Fostering a graduate research community with digital scholarship programs and services,” because I am always looking for ways to strengthen our support for graduate research. The University of Oregon invented an interdisciplinary New Media and Culture certificate program that counts as a transcripted credential but adds no more to the time of degree completion. Ingenious.

“Four Questions You Should Never Ask in Evaluation/Assessment in Libraries and IT, and a Number of Questions that You Should!” was a fun talk on assessment (or as fun as assessment can be). We were cautioned against ambiguous questions, double-barreled questions, substituting usage for quality, over-emphasis on statistical significance, and both overpowering and underpowering a test.

Another useful session on assessment was “Assessment of e-book strategies.” Claremont College did a study of ebook usage for texts that were on reserve. They found that high usage while on reserve justified their purchase for their entire shelf life (might we try e-book format for our own Textbook Collection??). University of Richmond found that usage was highest in the social sciences. Long-form reading is discouraging in the humanities and law. Their DDA usage led to a drop in firm orders, which would probably happen here if we did not actively seek to prevent it. Lafayette College had policies and practices similar to ours and found that DDA costs were less than print costs.

The one program I wanted to attend but did not was “Transforming Community with Strategic Social Media.” I noticed it because the speakers were from Montana State University, where our own WFU alum Nilam Patel found a job this fall as a social media strategist. I went and introduced myself after their talk and then found their slides on the outstanding Twitter feed that Chelcie mentioned. We should study their success and learn from them.

During my stay, I also toured Washington University St. Louis where my long-time friend and colleague Jeff Trzciak is the University Librarian. It is a beautiful library on a beautiful campus. On Monday night, Chelcie and I attended a dinner for Wake Forest parents and alumni, arranged by one of the regional officers in Advancement. It was a good group and we made several contacts that we will pursue. So, all things considered, it was a very good trip!

 

 

 

 

Fall meeting of Coalition for Networked Information

Sunday, January 5, 2014 9:01 pm

In December, Thomas and I attended the fall meeting of CNI (Coalition for Networked Information) in Washington, DC. The organization meets twice a year, in spring and fall, and is heavily attended by Library Deans and CIOs of research institutions across the nation. I go to stay up to date on innovations in digital information technology. The December meeting is often plagued by bad weather and that was again the case this year. My flight was delayed so I missed the opening keynote and the first set of concurrent sessions. Here is the video of the keynote and here are the presentation materials from the breakout sessions. I will highlight the sessions that I thought notable.

I tried to attend all the sessions I could on digital humanities, since we are trying to increase our level of support for these kinds of projects at ZSR. A team from Columbia talked about two projects: jazz and music information retrieval and a digital resource on women in silent film. Both operate out of the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship, housed in the library with a staff of 15 (FIFTEEN)! The film project was really interesting as the web developer told how he had to “kill his darlings” more than once in the course of the work. In the discussion, someone observed that the purpose of digital scholarship centers is to promote partnerships between content experts, technology experts, and library experts. That is what we are trying to do at ZSR as well, with much more modest resources.

Joan Lippincott, Associate Executive DIrector at CNI, presented a study of trends in digital scholarship centers. A dozen or so exist in the US, mostly in large research libraries such as UVA, UCLA, Brown, Nebraska, Oregon, North Carolina State, Miami, Kansas, Richmond and a few in Canada. They tend to be run out of libraries, unlike digital humanities centers run by faculty, and are open to everyone in the university. They try to bring together technologies and expertise from across campus, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Common services are workshops, courses and one-on-one consultation. Harriet Hammasi from Brown and Vivian Lewis from McMaster gave presentations on their own digital scholarship centers.

I went to a session on the Digital Public Library of America, which has had a very successful launch and I believe will be a strong contributor to cultural memory in the future. Dan Cohen, the Executive Director, described DPLA as a social project, as much as a technology project. It is three things at once: a portal for discovery of all kinds of cultural heritage items, a platform to build on, and a strong public option. It launched with 2.4 million items and stands at 5.4 million only seven months later. A system of content hubs and regional service hubs distributes traffic across the system. (See Chelcie’s previous post on how ZSR can contribute content to DPLA)

Cliff Lynch, Executive Director of CNI, gave a summary of the E-book Roundtable that preceded the conference proper. You might think that e-books are old news in the library world, but there is still high interest in maximizing e-book content and little agreement on how to do so. E-journals are now routine, but the e-book industry is less well settled. Patrons don’t understand why it is not as easy as loading academic content on their Kindles, as they do for leisure reading. The Roundtable concluded that it will still take a little while to shake out all the issues involved with e-book acquisition, cataloging and incorporation into the curriculum.

I had to leave before the closing plenary to catch my flight. I came in during an ice storm and left during a snow storm. The government shut down, but luckily my flight did not! The next CNI meeting is in St. Louis in April. I can’t wait!

 

 

 

 

 

ASERL Fall Meeting, Charlotte NC

Wednesday, November 27, 2013 11:42 am

Thanks to all of you for your good wishes as I chaired my first meeting as ASERL President on Nov. 19-20. It went really well. I arrived last Monday night as the city of Charlotte was getting ready for its first Monday Night Football in many years. The hotel was two blocks from the stadium and it was really crazy! The Panthers even managed to beat my boy Brady and the Patriots, so there was lots of excitement for the librarians gathering there.

Tuesday morning was an early Board meeting so we could get out in time to tour the UNC-Charlotte library. In nine years of living in North Carolina, I have never managed to get down there. They have lots of creative ideas for new spaces, same as we do, so it will bear watching. The meeting proper began with a discussion of Strategic Planning and Budget considerations, all of which were livened up by Hu Womack’s expert use of clickers. Thank you, Hu! The first program segment was a live webcast of the “Analysis of Oral Arguments in GSU e-Reserves Appeal,” which Molly’s sources say did not go so well for the good guys. We will see.

The panel I organized for the afternoon was “Financial Outlook for Higher Education and Impact for Research Libraries.” Invited speakers were Matthew Pellish from the Education Advisory Board (of which WFU is a member) and Jim Dunn, Wake’s Chief Investment Officer. They spoke about the industry’s negative outlook on financial stability for the higher education sector, both its causes and what might be done about it, followed by a very lively and thoughtful Q&A session. The member reception in the evening was a the Levine Museum of the New South, which was a real treat.

On Wednesday morning, the main program was a rather unusual topic planned by Executive Director John Burger, “The Impacts of New Retail Technologies and Services on Library Users.” Laura Van Tine, Global Business Advisor at IBM, and Brian Matthews, Associate Dean at Virginia Tech spoke about the similarities that the library and retail industries face. The dilemma of digital vs bricks & mortar presence, privacy vs personalization, co-creation, analytics, showrooming, and responsive design are all issues faced by both groups.

We got lots of good feedback for the meeting and programs, so onward to the Spring meeting in Tampa, April 23-24!

Charleston Conference with Lynn

Monday, November 11, 2013 10:32 am

I went to the Charleston Conference last week for the first time in several years. It started as a small conference for “Issues in Book and Serial Acquisition,” but its scope has broadened over the years and now almost 2,000 participants enjoy the talks by both librarians and vendors in the lovely city of Charleston.

Bill and I were both speakers this year so we arrived Tuesday evening in time for a barbecue sponsored by Mitchell Davis of BiblioLabs. ZSR is one of the newest library contributors to BiblioLabs (thank you, Chelcie) so they were glad to see us. On Wednesday morning, Bill spoke on a panel in the Self-Pub pre-conference, along with a number of former colleagues, including Mark Sandler from the CIC and Bob Holley from Wayne State.

Self publishing is moving away from its former stigma as vanity press and toward an image of efficient DIY technology. While an estimated 43% of books published today are self-published, they are largely invisible to libraries since libraries typically rely on aggregators for acquisition and there are few aggregators for self-published works. Once a library does find material it wants to add to its collection, issues of metadata, acquisition and preservation are not easy, as our team of ZSR experts can attest when it came time to add material from our own Digital Publishing platform at WFU. The panelists agreed that we all need to figure this out since the phenomenon will keep growing rapidly.

On Thursday, I gave my presentation “A MOOC of our Own” in the plenary session called “If the University is in the Computer, Where does that Leave the Library? MOOCs Discovered.” The session was organized by Meg White of Rittenhouse, who turns out to be a Wake Forest alum! Meredith Schwartz, senior editor of Library Journal, started out by giving a history/overview of the MOOC movement. Then I gave our ZSRx example of “MOOCs in action” and Rick Anderson of University of Utah concluded by giving observations on the future of MOOCs in higher education. I was excited to learn that Library Journal will publish a written version of my presentation in the December issue.

A mooc of our own from suttonls

I went to a number of the million or so sessions that took place during the conference. Carol and Ellen were also there, so they will no doubt write up the sessions they attended. A few stood out for me including a very informative panel on streaming video in libraries. We are struggling with this problem ourselves, so it was instructive to see how other libraries are coping. Most had invested in commercial solutions, I was not happy to hear. The Library Publishing Coalition offered a panel of deans saying why they thought it important to invest in library publishing activities. Some focused on journals, others on both monographs and journals. It made me feel like we are doing the right thing with our own digital publishing efforts. A panel of Provosts offered interesting perspectives on their view of libraries. I thought the Provost from Stetson was particularly insightful on how libraries can be leaders and change agents on campus. ASERL sponsored a reception Thursday night just before the all-conference party at the Aquarium, so it was good to touch base with those peeps. All in all, a very enjoyable and productive conference.

ZSR at NCLA

Thursday, October 17, 2013 5:47 pm

On Wednesday, I spent the day at the NCLA Biennial Conference at Benton Convention Center. Today, I stayed in the office so everyone else could go. What made the biggest impression on me was the ZSR presence. Since it is being held in our home town, it makes sense that lots of people would be involved and they are!

Wanda is NCLA President and she did a great job at the Opening Session. Susan is the official photographer, so she was everywhere.

Presenters include: Roz, Hu, Kyle, Susan, Megan, Mary Beth, Molly, Sarah, Mary Scanlon, Derrik and Chris

Conference Committee members include: Wanda, Mary Scanlon, Carol, Steve

If I have forgotten anyone, please forgive and correct me in the comments. Thanks to all ZSRites for making it the best NCLA conference yet!

Designing Libraries: Technology Preconference

Sunday, October 6, 2013 10:23 pm

The Designing Libraries for the 21st Century conference begins in full tomorrow at the Hunt Library of NC State University in Raleigh. Today, I attended the day-long technology pre-conference, where I had the pleasure of catching up with former colleague, Lauren Pressley, as we were both assigned to the “blue group” set of breakout sessions. First of all, the visualization technology is spectacular. It is Las Vegas-style size and quality – more and bigger screens and monitors than you have ever seen in your life. Together with the bleeding edge furnishings, I would describe it as a “shock and awe” experience, i.e. a deliberate overstatement to make the point that this an entirely different kind of library.

Perhaps even more impressive than the technology itself, was the planning process that brought it about. They knew they wanted to do something that had never been done before. They blew right through traditional percentages allocated to media and infrastructure. They received no additional funding for staffing of this 220,000 sq ft building. Yet they let none of that stop them as they cajoled, persuaded, inspired, partnered, and used every creative funding technique heretofore known, and then some, to realize their dream. And realize it, they did.

I was most impressed by how well they know their patrons. Engineering and the other disciplines for which NC State is known are all about technology. They wanted to create a library that goes beyond “learning spaces” and create a building that is a research tool itself. Rather than traditional libraries that collect the products of scholarship, they wanted to be involved in the research process right from the beginning so they created spaces where faculty and graduate students could experience what they were trying to create, as they created it. That is good stuff.

I was struck by the clarity of their overall mission, to position the library as a competitive advantage to the university. That is as clear and unifying to them as our “helping our students, faculty and staff succeed” is to ZSR. And yet, I’m still trying to decide how much of this would be transferrable to WFU and ZSR. We are such a different institution. If the Hunt Library were brought to Wake Forest, it would look like a space ship had landed. That is neither good nor bad, just profoundly different.

 

Lynn at ASERL Spring 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013 9:14 pm

I have been overdue on this post for a while, so here it is!

On April 23-24, I attended the Spring meeting of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries. I normally attend all ASERL meetings, but I had two special reasons to attend this one: I was giving a presentation on ZSRx, and at the close of the meeting, I would assume Presidency of the Association.

First, the presentation. Kyle gave the definitive presentation of ZSRx at CNI in April, which we have already described. For this version, I called it ZSRx: The back story, since it was to my peer deans and directors and I could afford to be honest with them. Many of the slides will look familiar, as I “re-used” them, with Kyle’s permission, of course. I received many comments and questions afterward, as most people were stunned by the idea that a library could offer a MOOC, instead of just supporting it. Sarah Michalak from UNC-CH reported that they were considering offering a course on Metadata on Coursera later this year.

ZSRx: The Back Story from suttonls

I was part of a panel on Research Libraries and MOOCs (massive, open, online courses). Carrie Cooper of the College of William and Mary did a great job in introducing the topic and providing basic information as well as asking pertinent questions. Catherine Murray-Rust from Georgia Tech spoke about the way they support MOOCs given by their faculty members. She also presented material from Duke, as both of them are active in Coursera. Some people predict that MOOCs are the latest fad that will soon fade, but I think too many of the biggest names in higher education have invested too much money in them to let them go away very soon. They will change and adapt to whichever way the demand pulls them, but I think they will be with us for a while.

Here are the other programs at the meeting:

ASERL’s new Visiting Program Officer in Scholarly Communication is Christine Fruin from the University of Florida. She gave a remote presentation, flawlessly executed, on the recent big copyright cases: Georgia State and e-reserves, Kirtsaeng and right of first sale, ReDigi (first sale for music); as well as FASTR(legislation introduced in Congress to mandate open access), the White House directive on public access, and fair use issues on materials used with MOOCs.

In another session, there was discussion around the sustainability of the annual ASERL statistics, to which WFU contributes every year. Virginia Commonwealth has coordinated it for many years but feels the need to hand it off to others. It was recommended to contract with Counting Opinions, who is already the vendor for ACRL stats. ASERL libraries would have to pay $199 a year, but would also gain access to ARL data for that price.

Roger Schonfeld from Ithaka S+R presented the results of their latest Faculty Survey. This had been premiered at CNI earlier in April. Faculty from all institutions offering bachelor’s degrees were surveyed. Highlights of faculty opinion include:

Discovery and access: libraries do well with known item searching and scholarly databases; 78% use library resources; 65% use free material online.

Who is your primary audience? Faculty said (in order): my sub-discipline, my discipline, professionals outside academia, undergraduates (last).

What is the role of the library? Buyer, gateway, repository, teaching facilitator, research supporter. Humanists assigned the greatest value to the library, then social scientists, and scientists last.

Format transitioning: 66-75% still use scholarly monographs, preferably in print, with only searching and exploring references being features that are better in ebooks. Still, 16% say within five years there won’t be a need for print books.

Natasha Jankowski from the National Institute of Learning Outcomes Assessment, co-located at the Universities of Illinois and Indiana, gave an overview of NILOA’s programs. She was not that familiar with library efforts with outcomes assessment (though she did mention RAILS, ACRL’s Assessment Immersion, and the Library Assessment Conference; she had nothing good to say about LibQUAL) so there was a good deal of learning on both sides. The purpose of learning assessment is to inform students of their learning and where they are in the path to their goals. She cited St. Olaf College and Miami-Dade as examples of best practices.

A presentation on CHARM, the Consortium for the History of Agricultural and Rural Mississippi, led to a call for a broader program on agriculture in the South, perhaps as the next digital collection following the Civil War portal. This will be taken up in the coming year.

There were updates on ASERL’s Gov Docs and Journal Retention projects. We, at ZSR, are much more invested in the journal project. ASERL has signed a collaborative agreement with a similar regional program in the Washington DC area, with combined holdings that make it even bigger than the well-known WEST program. Carol is our representative to this group, and I have served as the Chair, although I will need to step down in the coming year.

The grand finale of the meeting was to officially launch the ASERL Guide to Southern Barbecue! Lauren Corbett was one of the prime movers of this initiative. Enjoy!

 

 


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