Professional Development

In the '2009 ACRL Seattle' Category...

Mary Beth’s last ACRL post

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 12:49 pm

I apologize for the length of this post, but it is encompassing both Saturday and Sunday, and both were extremely valuable days at the conference.

Saturday, March 14’s first session was called Weaving a new net: Hauling multiple services into a New Learning Commons at Seattle University. They discussed the trials and rewards of bringing together 4 discrete operations into a single “help area”. The 4 operations were not overseen or common to the library, but would be collocated there once their renovation was complete.They began planning in 2005 and envisioned a collaborative, stimulating interactive space that would assist users in multiple needs. This was all very exciting, but hard to envision. The Provost selected from a number of proposed operations to be moved initially into the space.The Research Assistance desk, Speaking Center, Writing Center and Learning Assistance departments were included. Left out of the initial mix, but under consideration were the Teaching and Learning Center, Circulation Services, Math Lab, Student Advising, and the Disability Services. Each of the four that were to be moved into the Learning Commons were from different buildings, different cultures, different operations, with differing levels of staffing and staff, and cultures. They each answered to different budget lines and different bosses as well and all had different levels of financial support. From this very awkward beginning, they started conversations in early 2006, and were glad that they had the benefit of time to figure it all out. It is to open in September, 2010. Some members of the panel expressed a discomfort with feeling like a “guest” to the library. They didn’t know at the outset what each other’s missions or best practices were. Others were still trying to figure out what the best practices were to be. There was a clash of cultures, (hierarchical vs. collaborative). They will continue to have separate budgets and reporting lines but said that with a common mission and vision, (they also expressed a little difficulty figuring out the difference between mission and vision) and lots of open communication, they were confident that it would all be a beneficial experience for the students but still had a little defining work to do. Questions from the audience were asking about whether there were plans to include media/technology support in the future or if it had been considered. The panelists agreed that there would be benefits to this, but the decision of what to include in the Learning Commons was entirely the Provosts, and it was not included at the outset.

Second session was with Veronica Bielatt and Judith Arnold, former colleagues from WSU who spoke on Creating Instruction Objects “to go”. They discussed the need for portable, large scale, point of need instruction to support three large classes of business/finance students, about 600 students in all.They moved to these little 1-2 minute teaching objects, developed in 3 “chunks” and portable across many formats, and provided for other people who may or may not have “pre knowledge”. The 2 minute micro lectures include demonstration of the skill and then user demonstrating the skill. They utilized online collaborative mind mapping, Mind Meister. Then compared Trailfire or Brain Honey for the teaching and Hot Potatoes for the self-test.

After lunch in a little café, (where we had to walk a bit because every restaurant near the convention center was packed with librarians), we did a tour of the Seattle Public Library, then back for the afternoon sessions..

I stayed a few minutes with Lauren’s “Charting the path to the Mountaintop” where we were supposed to describe in a catch phrase what our own personal path had been thus far. I decided the catch phrase for my path was “Taking advantage of surprise.”

Halfway through I left to catch the second half of the Reference Renovation project that was offered by former colleagues from Wayne State. The reference area renovation that they described was a two year project that began before I left there, so it was very interesting to me how it all turned out.In order to have the space work, they opened up vast areas of the first floor of Purdy Library, downsized their reference collection by 81% and put the reference desk in the center of the area that had previously been only rows and rows of computer terminals.They utilized a 3D modeling software to plan the changes and found it very beneficial both for identifying potential problems with their design, and using it as a valuable tool for showcasing the project for potential funders. They finally finished the project with the installation of the new work areas and reference desk in December/January of this year after having to make a few “seat of the pants” changes to configuration because the original “pinwheel” design didn’t work aesthetically and was not stable enough actually hold up the computers. But the end result is really a great renovation of what had been a really sad space.

The evening events have already been described by others, but I will say that the dinner was the best I’d had in Seattle, and the EMP and Sci Fi museum was really fun.

Sunday in Seattle dawned snowy.

After saying goodbye to Roz and Susan, I ran over to the conference center to see Robin Chase, the invited “green speaker.” ACRL made a commitment to have a “green” conference this year and 80% of the participants took the pledge. (I admit that I must have missed that part of the website, because I didn’t take the pledge, but did participate in the initiatives.) Some ways that that manifested itself are:

1. Sessions had no powerpoint handouts.

2. Each attendee was given a bag made of 10% recycled content. (I think they could have done better there.)

3. Each attendee was given a “shower timer” so that we could try to keep our showers down to only 4 minutes. (I used it and it worked and managed to get my showers to the shortest ever. One little tip, open the shampoo bottle before you turn on the water. Saves precious seconds.)

4. There were recepticles for recycling the program and the badge holders after the conference.

Robin Chase is the founder and CEO of ZipCar the worlds largest car sharing company, and also GoLoco, a ride sharing community. She discussed the importance of reevaluating how we all operate if we want to continue to have the same level of cultural wealth that we enjoy today. We should all recognize our unrealized capacity in everything and try to exploit it, efficiently using our resources, instead of continuing to deplete them. Examples she gave are the ZipCar program she started, which is essentially a time share program for automobiles. Also mentioned the “CouchSurfing” program, run through a website, where individuals needing low cost accommodations can sign up to sleep on the couch of a willing and available couch owner in the same town. (I have a couch that is available, but not utilized all night. You have the need for a couch to sleep on. That is the essence of recognizing an unrealized potential and utilizing it.) She was a very entertaining speaker and recognized the synergy between what she does and what libraries have always done…shared resources among many for the good of everyone. (She said something like, “You have know idea how much fabulocity is in this room!”) One of the questions that was posed to her at the end of the session was regarding how to begin to move the seemingly immovable like vendors who write restrictive license agreements that won’t allow for easy sharing of resources. Her answer, interestingly enough is to find the value of the service you want to provide to the seller, and sell them on it. It might mean that you give a different story to everyone you meet. She said that if she just told everyone in this room that we should all sell our cars and sign up for this timeshare that will be managed through the web and lessen the ‘available-ness’ of cars to you, no one would be willing to do that. But, when she says to city planners, you can, by promoting this, eliminate some of the road construction and maintenance that is projected, they respond to taht. When she says to individuals that you can save money on both autos, and insurance AND reduce air pollution, as well as building up your social network, they respond to that. And she says to schools and doctors that she can demonstrate an impact on the numbers of students with asthma, THEN people start to listen and recognize the value of this lifestyle. She challenged all of us to begin by just announcing to everyone when you are going anywhere in your car, and see if someone in earshot might like to share a ride. Get in the habit of recognizing unrealized capacity and utilizing it. Scarcity breeds a desire for ownership, but social sharing breeds a feeling of wealth and abundance.

Second session of the day was Improving on Excellence: Looking Beyond Information Literacy to the 21st Century Educational Paradigms and Virtual Worlds. This session was on gaming and how gaming can be used to teach the core fluencies that all 21st century users should have. The panelists were all from Ontario, Canada, and two of them were from McMaster University one from Earlham College. Shawn McCann, (another former colleague from WSU) is the Nextgen and Gaming Librarian (I kid you not!) at McMaster. He took us into the “World of Warcraft” game , and demonstrated all of the core fluencies, and how they are involved in the game. The fluencies expected of a 21st century learner include: information; media; numeracy; business and economic, scientific, multicultural, and geospatial. It was a fascinating look at gaming, and I now have new found respect!

The final event, the closing keynote by Ira Glass, long awaited by yours truly, (big fan of This American Life did not disappoint. His story telling technique is epic. Others have described the lecture already…how he started the lecture speaking to us in the dark, just to illustrate the power of just listening. One lesson that resonated with me is when he demonstrated how he reels in the listener. At one point, to make his point, he stopped the narrative of one of his stories long enough to show all of us just what happens when we hear the beginning of a story, even a rather mundane story. It was driving me crazy not knowing how it would end, as he dangled that ending out in front of us like a carrot. It was like hearing a great set up to a joke, but not knowing the punchline! As he put it, “when the story starts to build, nobody turns off the radio just then.” One statement he made, (this may not be verbatim but it is the essence) is “the more idealistic the position you are trying to sell, the more cunning you need to be about encasing it in something people will want to hear or know about.” It made me think about our library services that we are so certain that faculty and students need to know about, but we have a difficult time sending that message out. We need to recognize that everyone else sees us differently than we see ourselves. Identify that which is universal and tell a story about what is at stake. His funniest moment was, as Lauren said, when he blamed the creation of the topic sentence for the current situation with the dearth of storytelling. Giving away all of the good stuff at the beginning takes all the fun and interest out of the story. He was a great ending keynoter for a very enriching conference.

Saturday a ACRL – Roz’s Final Post

Monday, March 16, 2009 3:57 pm

I started my Saturday at a small Focus Group breakfast put on by ProQuest. I had asked a few questions at the ProQuest booth on Friday and was invited to this breakfast which was to talk to librarians about upcoming interface changes in ProQuest. A lot of what I saw I can’t talk about (nondisclosure and all that) but a few things stuck with me from the experience. First, ProQuest is talking to librarians at the VERY early stages of the process and plans to continue to talk to us throughout the process of designing the new interface. Second, they REALLY seemed to want honest feedback and weren’t in the least bit defensive or protective of their product. They came off seeming as if they really want to create the most usable and useful interface they can. Finally, it got me really excited about the direction they are going with their products. I’m hoping to have ZSR among the test groups they will have going this summer and will pass along more information about that if it arises. I had never been part of this kind of focus group and it was a really great experience for me to see databases from the design and usability angle.

Next it was on to the discussion of two paper presentations. The first was of a paper written by San Diego State University about a survey they did of their student assistants trying to gage how important both the academic and non-academic purposes of the library were in how integrated the students felt to the school. It was an interesting study that came of the intersection of the retention, success and persistence literature in higher education. It was rewarding to see what an important role the library does seem to play in the success of our students not just because we provide them with academic tools to conduct their research but also because we provide them with jobs, understanding and a place to come and feel safe. The second of the two paper presentations was done by UNC and USC (South Carolina) and looked at the academic library workforce. It was a workforce study (one of the only ones that have been done on librarians, apparently) and surveyed thousands of librarians that had graduated from the library programs in North Carolina (I vaguely remember filling out the survey – I’m sure some of you did, too). It confirmed some of what we know (lots of librarians will reach retirement age in the next 10 years) and also some things that were new, about how people find librarianship and why they leave.

Then after a lovely lunch, Susan, Mary Beth and I walked up to the Seattle Public Library. As a huge lover of architecture, I found the building fascinating. As a lover of libraries, I found it less than appealing as a place I personally would want to hang out in for very long. As a lover of logical design, I found it a nightmare. Truly a place where you need a map and an outstanding visual and perceptual sense to find your way around in. But it was full of people in the coffee shop, checking out things, waiting for tax help, working on computers and more.

Then it was back to the Convention Center to sit in on the beginning of Lauren’s panel presentation and then to hop over to see Lynn present her paper. I had missed her dry run at ZSR so it was great to see. I have a sneaking suspicion that if this study was done now with our renovations and our Starbucks that our students would be even more on the side of library as place.

Next was my own Cyber Zed Shed presentation on Google Docs. Most in the audience had used them, some had not. I hope my presentation gave them some new ideas for their use and the confidence to try it if they hadn’t. The response seemed positive, despite a bit of technical difficulties. I’ve done many presentations where the loss of an Internet connection would have been non-consequential but when your presentation topic is Google Docs, I would have had to do some interpretive dance to make it a success. As it turns out, I didn’t have to dance at all (to everyone’s great relief).

The day ended with a wonderful dinner at Wild Ginger and then the all-conference reception at the Expeience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. Another architectural treasure, desined by Frank O. Gehry – it marked my first visit to one of his buildings. It totally worked for the purposes of these two collections and it was a nice evening all around.

Closing Sunday at ACRL (Lynn)

Monday, March 16, 2009 12:52 am

On Sunday, we woke up to HUGE snowflakes coming down, which turned an hour later into a cold rain. Seattle weather may be worse than Detroit’s. I dutifully trudged down to the convention center for the closing sessions.

“Buzz Off! Tossing Traditional Collection Development Practices for Patron Initiated Purchasing,” Sue Polanka, Wright State University, Alice Crosetto, University of Toledo, Kari Paulson, EBL

The presenters asked the same questions I have asked myself from time to time, what if we just stopped guessing which books to buy and let the patrons select them. Actually, I presented a paper on this at ACRL in Charlotte when Wayne State had a grant from the Ford Motor Company to buy netLibrary ebooks. [As an aside, the speakers used Turning Point clickers for the first 50 people in the audience , which was fun.] Kari Paulson from EBL explained the concept. Patrons make selections by accessing the ebook online, either on the first or second click. The advantage is that you get 100% usage, unlike the traditional method of guessing what books patrons will actually use. At Wright State, they did a study of approval plan books, which showed a 50% usage rate (like the classic Pittsburgh study from years ago). Some models even offer a short-term lease. You could think of it in terms of the ultimate 2.0 experience. You can set controls by setting price and subject or other parameters if you feel compelled. The speaker who chose the “con” side emphasized the professional responsibility of the librarian to see the collection as a balanced whole and that no one else is better equipped than librarians to make those judgments with limited funds. She saw it as a control issue, which is not very noble imho.

Closing Keynote, Ira Glass, This American Life,

Ira Glass tried to explain his (rather unusual) approach to broadcast journalism, combining humor with drop-dead-serious topics. They have a staff of 8 researchers who develop the stories surrounding compelling personalities. Topics like Guantanamo, Afghanistan, the mortgage crisis, post traumatic stress disorder, or race in the 2008 elections take on a real-life dimension when digging into the humorous, fearful, tragic or heroic sides to ordinary people. They maintain a storytelling structure (anecdote, comment, anecdote, comment) to their show meant to keep the audience engaged (and tuned in) which seems a lot less like manipulation if you just go with it, besides which it is the same structure that is used by clergy of every religion. He tried branching out to TV, which turned out to be a bigger difference than any of them thought. The “John Smith” clip he showed was amazingly moving for its length. He closed with the story of Scheherazade, who saved her life by telling stories in the Arabian Nights. Ira Glass, master storyteller. This might have been the best keynote I have ever heard. The last standing ovation I saw at a library conference was Barack Obama!

Sunday afternoon and evening, I met with our University Libraries Group cohort. I can’t really share the details, as the stories were of the director-to-director-to-stay-in-the-room-only type. Suffice it to say that every campus is having the same economic difficulties, that political battles happen all the time, either centralizing or decentralizing can take away staff on a moment’s notice, and we will all be glad when the stock market returns to normal.

I am now sitting in the airport waiting for the red-eye connection to Atlanta and then on to Greensboro tomorrow morning. Wanda had terrible luck and missed her connection in Atlanta, so she left the hotel at 8:30 this morning and will get back to Greensboro at 8:30 tomorrow morning, ironically on my same connecting flight. I hope the rest of the gang make it back OK.

It may be too early to offer reflections on the ACRL experience, but I basically have nothing else to do for the next hour an one half. So here are some random observations:

Academic librarians, much like undergraduates, are getting younger all the time. I definitely looked and felt like a senior citizen compared to the hipsters of the ALA crowd.

I was reminded that ACRL is basically a public service type conference. It was a little heavy on the reference/information literacy kinds of topics, which is great if that is your thing but not so much if you are not, if you follow me.

ACRL would do well to push back the submission dates for contributed papers, since the ideas are now a full year old.

The major message I am bringing back is the don’t-waste-a-good-crisis philosophy, which I will play out in various nefarious ways.

And finally, I hope everyone realizes that we take these conferences seriously and work darn hard, day and night, nights and weekends, all to bring back fresh ideas to ZSR. This was a good one.

See you tomorrow, a bit rumpled.

Lauren’s Weekend at ACRL

Sunday, March 15, 2009 3:58 pm

Saturday and Sunday were busy enough that I’m just now getting down to posting about them!

Officially, here are the notes posts:

That doesn’t look like a whole lot, though so here’s the story :) :

Saturday started bright and early with a Roundtable that I co-facilitated with Lauren Ray of the University of Washington. The topic was Learning Objects, how they save time and can allow us to provide better service, and how collaboration between institutions and within them can help in their adoption. I felt like we had the internal collaboration down in the RITS group, and had good tips to share based on our experiences. Hopefully, those of us at the roundtable will collaborate ourselves… we came up with a few big-picture ideas that sound fun and useful.

Next up I participated in an ACRL Focus group for people under 35. It was a good session, focused on the changes that we’re expecting and are comfortable with, as well as things that could help improve the association and conference experience. Important questions when really useful, informal, and free professional networks are popping up online!

After that I heard a paper about assessment to innovation for interdiciplinary collaboration and knowledge sharing. Important stuff, and though the program was informative, I got in a minute late and knew from the beginning I want to read the paper to get the full story.

My panel was coming up, so I went to sit and prepare a bit when I ran into Molly Keener! We chatted for a while, which was fun. It’s always amazing to me how often you only chat with some of your local colleagues at conferences across the country. We’re going to have to get coffee in Winston-Salem sometime!

My panel was “Mapping Your Path to the Mountaintop.” Steven Bell organized the session, and he, John Shank, Brian Mathews, and I were on the panel. The session was about strategic career planning, but early on Steven was wise to begin discussion about how to make the session more interactive and interesting to the people who would attend. We had an audience of about 300 people, talked for short pieces, showed videos of other librarians who spoke for short bits, and made space for audience contributions. Afterward, people said very positive things. There is a very kind write up on The Sheck Spot. Somethings for me to keep in mind in the future, as so many of my professional talks are much less participatory.

Roz’s Google Docs talk was next on my agenda, so I went to hear hers. It was a very good introduction, with ideas for both people who had never heard of Google Docs to those who have already been using it for a while. She also got a laugh when “shushing” the audience. :)

Roz, Susan, Mary Beth, and I were navigating our way through the convention center when we ran into Jim Galbraith. It was good to catch up and see what he’s up to. I was sad to miss the WFU dinner, but was happy to be able to catch up with a friend from high school (and a Wake grad). And we all finished the day back at the Experience the Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum.

This morning I missed a session on information literacy assessment tools (so I’ll be listening to it on the virtual conference site) so that I could go to a session on User Experiences. Two of my co-panelists were on this panel. It was a great talk. Informative, interesting, and it made great use of slides.
funnest slides ever

After that, we had the great fortune to see Ira Glass speak. But before, the organizers had set up a slideshow of pictures, tweets, blogs, etc, all tagged with the official acrl2009 tag. It was great fun! I saw a bunch of my friends on the big screen and my Flickr ACRL album page was up there for a few seconds!

But the real show was Ira Glass. He gave a beautiful talk. He discussed the research process for his show, how to use narrative to make a point, and he declared war on the Topic Sentence format of writing. He’s good at telling stories (as This American Life listeners/viewers know), and he’s good at it on stage. He started with the lights down, just talking. He used that to make a point about intimacy and attention, but then broguth up the lights. He talked about using suspense and drawing in your audience. He had me rethinking how I give presentations and try to make points. Great stuff all the way around.

Now, I have some work type stuff to do, and some friends from past lives to meet. I’m supposed to write up the first time experience for ACRL, so I’ll try to finish that. The flight leaves in nine and a half hours, so I’ll most likely see you all on Tuesday.

ACRL has been a great conference for me. It’s amazing to be at a conference without any meetings, where the entire focus is on learning and meeting people. I’m looking forward to trying out some of what I’ve learned, and getting in touch with some of the people I’ve met. Good times!

Saturday in Seattle: Susan’s Final Day

Sunday, March 15, 2009 2:40 pm

Poster Sessions

Saturday’s ACRL was chock-full of opportunities for learning and networking. I don’t think any of us have mentioned that the “gate count” for the conference was 2841 face-to-face attendees and a minimum of 332 virtual attendees for a new record. So, the Convention Center was bustling all day long. As Lynn intimated in her post, Saturday seemed to have the most concurrent sessions of contributed papers, panel sessions, wrokshops, and Cyber Zed Shed presentations going from 8 am until the close at 5 pm. With round table discussions and poster session nestled in between, so that there was always something to attend! It was hard to decide which to choose.

I was very impressed with how they handled the poster sessions for this conference. At many conferences, they seem to stick poster sessions in a back corner (I remember one ALA were people were stationed right next to the restrooms). But as you can see from the picture above, ACRL 2009 poster sessions had the most beautiful space in the conference. And the space was adjacent to the exhibit area. They held 2 rounds of poster sessions on Friday and 3 on Saturday. These were scheduled to be competition free, meaning that everyone came in to visit vendor booths, talk to poster presenters and have their conference-provided morning/afternoon snacks. It worked out very well and gave a good level of energy to the activities taking place. Some of the poster topics that caught my attention were: Library Secrets: Packaging Tips and Tricks into Bite Size Pieces for the Hard to Pin-Down Student, LEAP to New Heights,-How your Organization can Inspire your Employees to take the Next Jump in their Careers, Rewarding Scholarship through the Library Research Reward for Undergraduates, and Exploring Effective Typography: Extending our Outreach Through Successful Signage.

I attended an interesting session first thing yesterday morning on “Using READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data): Capturing Qualitative Statistics for meaningful Reference Assessment.” READ is a 6 point scale tool developed to provide more meaningful reference transaction statistical information. With this tool, every question asked is not a simple hash mark on the tally page. Instead, questions are weighted on a scale from 1 to 6 so that the emphasis is placed on recording the skills, knowledge, techniques and tools utilized by the librarian during a reference transaction. “Where is the restroom?” may be a 1, where an hour spent helping a student discover primary resources to support a research paper might be a 5. Fourteen institutions participated in a study to research the viability of the tool and 3 of the participants reported on their experiences. All were very positive about the usefulness of the tool for a variety of reasons – helping with staffing, providing statistics for advocacy reasons, and providing a much more realistic picture of what is really happening with reference transactions these days – there may be less of them from walk up patrons, but they are becoming more in-depth in the form of individual research sessions that more often come in via virtual methods. It was an interesting concept that I’d like to see us explore.

Learning objects are a hot topic (Lauren’s Toolkit project is a prime example), so I enjoyed a presentation by former colleagues of Mary Beth’s from Wayne State. They instructed the audience on what learning objects are: an online resource or set of resources that has been developed to achieve a specific learning outcome and that has been developed in such a way that it is portable and can be reused in other learning environments. It needs to be topically focused and narrow in scope, it need to stand alone out of any contextual framework (like a specific vendor interface) and should include a “check for understanding.” They did a very capable job of introducing the audience to the value of these in supporting point of need instruction.

After a quick visit to the Seattle Public Library at lunchtime, my afternoon was filled with attending ZSR presentations. I wanted to attend everyone’s, and it was really wonderful to see how well all three presentations by Lauren P., Lynn and Roz were received by their audiences. I was the self appointed photographer (see below and my Flickr site.)




We finished up the day with a nice dinner out and an all-conference reception at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum. The exhibits were very cool (remember Invasion of the Body Snatchers? How about the Attack of the 50 Foot Woman?). But, the real attraction can be seen in the picture below, where you can see us taking advantage of the huge assortment of desserts offered to all of the guests!


Overall, I thought this particular conference was very valuable with plenty of content that will provide us with much to think about. Too bad that today is the let-down day. I’m writing this sitting at the airport waiting for my flight that hopefully will get me back to Greensboro by 11:30 tonight. This is when I wish some of the stuff in the Science Fiction Museum was real: a transportation machine that would zip me back to W-S in the snap of a finger!

Saturday in Seattle (Lynn)

Sunday, March 15, 2009 12:59 pm

We woke up Saturday to a cold rain, which must be the reason why the rest of America doesn’t all move to Seattle because it’s pretty nice otherwise. The title of my first Saturday session is the underlying theme of the conference, in my book.

“Thriving in an Economic Downturn: Don’t Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste”

Betsy Wilson of the University of Washington put the session into context by saying that only 5 states in the U.S. do not have a revenue shortfall for the current year, endowments are plunging, and no one knows when it will end. In the past, however, libraries have typically used a crisis to increase collaboration. For example, the Association of Research Libraries was created during the Great Depression.

Steve Hiller, University of Washington, observed that data collection is by definition a backward looking activity, but use of the data is action driven toward the future. It is imperative to understand how faculty and students work and how we can position ourselves to serve them.

Similar to the presentation that Rosann Bazirjian and I will give later, Hiller said that our libraries are pretty much undergraduate spaces. They also provide work space for graduate students.We need to pay attention to match our hours of opening with student lifestyles, reduce physical collection footprint, and close branch libraries with low traffic,

Camila Alire, is known as the “Master of Disaster” for having led two different libraries through two devastating floods and one fire. She talked about the supreme importance of communicating with staff during a crisis. It was recently revealed that many employees of the firms making headlines in today’s recession said they heard nothing from their management about what was happening.They heard it on TV, but heard nothing internally.Camila said you can’t emphasize enough: communicate, communicate, communicate.In one of her disasters, she was told by her university counsel and the insurance company what she could and could not say for liability purposes.So if you are ever on the receiving end of an unsatisfactory communication, be aware that there are all kinds of factors involved.She held open forums for the staff and said what she could say and promised to have another one when she could say more. Integrity must prevail, you must be straightforward and honest.Her motto is to underpromise and overdeliver.Be honest if you have to set a timeframe back.Avoid promises that you may not be able to keep. Share the data that you do have so people will see your reasoning.

Tom Leonard, University of California, Berkeley

Seven ways forward in these uncertain times:

1)Dig through files to find collaborations from the past that are sound, but largely forgotten. Inter-institutional cooperation can really help now.

2)Step up to find short-term gain with partners. They formed a research library fellows cohort with some of their peers.

3)Train up existing people in skills you need.

4)Keep an eye out for barriers falling away with changes in university leadership.

5)Don’t leave money on the table and don’t stop progress because of fear of sustainability.

6)Sometimes we can fail in fruitful ways. Portals were thought to be the answer, they weren’t, libraries lost that battle to Google, but resources were ready to be harvested as a result.

7)Mass digitization is the only way forward. It wouldn’t have happened without Google, no one else has those resources. So stop apologizing and keep going.

“The Academic Library as Publishing Agent:Showcasing Student, Faculty and Campus Scholarship and Publications,” Marilyn Billings, UMass Amherst, Teresa Fishel, Macalester College, Allegra Gonzalez, Claremont University Consortium

[This is one of those presentations where the content was good, but what was extremely valuable was the ideas it generated for me on how to follow up back home.I came away with a whole slew of ideas (some good and some probably not so good) that I will share with the Scholarly Communications Committee when I get back. I think this is an area where ZSR can take a leadership role on campus.]

At the Digital Commons at Macalaster (BE Press group), their focus was on student honors projects, which is something we talked about for Wake if we can’t get faculty cooperation. They put up the online Macalaster Journal of Philosophy, and Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity and Classics, sponsored by faculty in the institution. These journals are indexed and discoverable in Google Scholar.They set up an editorial board of faculty to provide peer review and scrutiny.

The Claremont Colleges Digital Library (Content DM) published a formerly unpublished math textbook, which thrilled the author, and also Interface Journal (student work from Harvey Mudd). They established partnerships with the University Press, and faculty roles involving journals, conferences and workshops.They found unexpected champions in the emeritus faculty (who often had unpublished manuscripts that they were thrilled to see published.

Saturday at 1:30 must have been the most popular time slot in the conference, as my paper with Rosann Bajirjian (Replication of the OCLC Perceptions Study: The Experience of Two Academic Libraries) was then, as well as Lauren’s panel (Mapping your Path to the Mountaintop: Planning Where You Want to be in your Career) and a presentation by former colleagues at Wayne State! Rosann and I found our presentation well received, with lots of questions and interest from the audience.The practice presentation we did last week at ZSR helped a lot. We were afraid it was an old topic already, but many people came up and thanked us for doing it. That concludes two years of data collection, analysis and writing, almost like doing a dissertation!

After de-briefing at the poster sessions,all ZSR folks went to hear Roz talk about Google Docs at the Cyber Zed Shed (I am not making that up). She was fabulously cool, calm and collected, even when she lost her Internet connection and had to wing it for a while until she could borrow access from another computer!

I went back to the last presentation of the day, “Putting your money where your mouth is – $$ Speak Louder than Words,” Kim Armstrong, CIC, Jay Starratt, Washington State, where they examined the Top Ten Assumptions for the Future of Academic Libraries and Librarians, published by ACRL in 2007.The takeaway for me was when they looked at national norms in academic library statistics over a multi-year time span. For example:

Reference down 35% 2002 to 2007 (ACRL)

Circulation down 10% 2002 to 2007 (ACRL)

Gate count up 14% 2000-2006 (NCES)

Wanda was at the same session and we agreed it would be valuable to look at ZSR statistics for the same categories in the same time periods.We have been concerned over the drop in reference statistics but putting it in the context of the national norms will help to put it in perspective.

On our last night in Seattle, Wanda, Susan, Mary Beth and Roz had a great dinner at Wild Ginger and then met Lauren at the All Conference Reception at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. We all agreed that Chris Burris absolutely needed to be there.Star Trek and Jimi Hendrix:what could be better?! Whew, long day.

Wanda’s ACRL – Saturday

Sunday, March 15, 2009 12:58 pm
Ok so Saturday was looking like the Seattle we hear about, all wet, dreary and a bit cooler, but nonetheless a great conference day. One I began by attending “Reaching the Summit: Are we Creating Work Environments for People to Thrive? This program shared results of an exploratory study on the degree to which Library leaders in the U.S. and Canada are implementing new methods of engaging others in their work. Gail M. Staines of St. Louis University asked survey respondents about where they hold their meetings? 44 % said some place comfortable while the other 56% indicated their meeting place needed renovations. Statistics indicate that meetings held in beautiful, bright and open spaces inspire, energize and result in more productivity. Other questions asked particulars regarding the meeting dynamics and which organizational development style was currently in place. Findings on how to effectively engage employees listed first and foremost communication as the number one key, then professional development plans for each, available professional development opportunities, the opportunity to learn new skills, have special projects and stretchable goals, recognition for a job well done and positive reinforcement.

This session, as were several during the conference, was paired up with similarly tracked themes, though I have to wonder how the previous session such a positive and encouraging one, was paired with the session entitled, “Bullying or Mobbing: Is It Happening in Your Library? The presenter identified bullying as repeated mistreatment especially snide sarcastic remarks. Mobbing is a specific type of bullying where a majority of people emotionally abuse and bully an individual. Advice to the audience included the need to document, stand up for yourself and avoid HR. The overtone here was more negative than I personally wanted to experience.

It was easy to move on to the next session on undergraduate student assistants and how they perceived their work experiences in the academic library as contributing to their social and academic integration in college.

Student use in libraries can be tallied up as about 50% academic and 50% social. How then can libraries use the statistical data obtained from observations of student patterns and behaviors to plan and strategize for facility design and services. This may be an untapped resource.

Recruiting and Retaining the Library workforce of tomorrow was a sharing of results on a joint research project conducted by North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of LIS, Barbara Moran and South Carolina’s Paul Solomon. Together they surveyed LIS graduates from 1964 to 2005 and provided information beneficial to both recruiting and retaining librarians in academic libraries. All of the graduates were from North Carolina LIS programs The study sought to find out why they came and then if they left, then why. A web survey was administered to some 7,566 former students. Thirty five percent responded. NC graduates are currently working in all 50 fifty states and in 14 foreign countries. For the question why did you choose this as your profession?, the following answers came:

Good fit with my interest – 93% —-Wanted to make a difference – 66%

Like working with people – 68% —-Flexible career options – 56%

Worked in a library – 55%

The question, why did you leave? produced this list of varying reasons:

More opportunities for growth —Challenging projects

Salary —-Moved —-Working environment

Benefits —-Management issues —Technology

Working hours

In summary it appears that even in a working career, “variety is the spice of life.”

Facilitator for the luncheon roundtable discussion I chose to attend, Michael Pasqualoni sought to re-envision efficiency and outcomes during the Academic librarian search process. Topics covered addressed the need for library search committees to accept their role in selling the library to the applicant, how to gain enough information relative to the applicants skills, experiences and visions and how to write job descriptions that match the Library’s mission yet broad enough to not box the applicant in to one tiny area.

The afternoon featured several of our ZSR librarians in the spotlight. I tried to catch them all. Lauren P. spoke on career planning, knowing where you want to be in your career and then mapping your path there. Lynn shared details on the “Replication of the OCLC Perceptions Study” that WFU and UNC-G conducted together. Roz talked about the wonders of Google Docs. Each topic was well received, attracting great attendance and curious responders filled with lots of questions. I was mighty proud!

But there was time for one more final session. For this paper the authors choose to examine statistical data collected from NCES and ARL to see if budgeting trends matched some of the ACRL top ten assumptions. ACRL assumptions compared were #1, Libraries will become increasingly more digital; #2 more non MLS professionals; #3 more dollars will be spent on purchasing digital content and #7 libraries will see a shift from traditional services. Among their findings were numbers indicating that reference transactions are down by 35 %, circulation numbers declining by 10% and gate counts up by 14 %. Presenters sparked my interest and I can hardly wait to do more comparative analysis on the data ZSR has collected. I have more notes on all and am happy to share.

Wanda is at ACRL too…

Saturday, March 14, 2009 10:01 am

Arriving in Seattle after a very early departure from Greensboro and a long, long flight my first day was totally exhausting. Before calling it a day, I managed to hear and enjoy the opening keynoter Rush Kidder and agree with him when he states, a lot of what’s wrong with America could be fixed with an ethical bailout. A very nice dinner with John Reynolds of Serial Solutions and a few of their other customers followed and went on well into the evening despite the fact that my biological clock was stuck on eastern.

Friday morning I was all refreshed and ready to hear about ACRL trends. The session titled “Brother Can You Spare a Dime? featured a four member panel presentation with each offering insights on the “ACRL 2009 Strategic Thinking Guide for Academic Librarians in the New Economy.” You can find that document here: The three main drivers of this document are the economy and higher education, changing student demographics and advances in information technology. One of the panelist Debra Gilchrist, Dean of Libraries and Institutional Effectiveness, Pierce College advised Librarians to totally rethink what we do so we become prepared to face transformation rather than just muddling thru, switching from service to engagement and looking at our role in overall student success.”Playing on “Practice Fields”: Creating a Research and Development Culture in Academic Libraries, featured Craig Gibson of George Mason University who listed the following as reasons to investigate research and development practices; it identifies models for innovation, positions academic librarians for opportunities to collaborate and allows them to invest in their futures. He ask the audience, how many libraries have a department dedicated to following the users every move and relating them to desired outcomes. Gibson advised libraries to conduct research as an organizational strategic focus and to partner with the university’s institutional assessment team.

Cara Bradley’s discussion entitled, “Beyond Campus Disconnect: Academic Libraries and the Information Needs, Skills and Behaviors of Non-teaching Staff,” shared results of a University of Regina survey administered to their non-teaching staff. The survey had specific focus areas; information needs, library knowledge and use demographics. Results supported higher levels of need but a reluctance to get it from the library. Campus administration and staff need the work of libraries because the knowledge they gain ensures better decision making, provides time saving techniques and reduces stress. Libraries on the other hand need them because they become some of our best advocates.

After attending our own current survey administrator (Counting Opinion’s) users’ group meeting, I came away just like I did last year feeling like the world of assessment was right at my fingertips, ready available, fully customizable and easily manipulated. I just hope this time what I experience working with the survey and the administrators will support my excitement. InformUs, one their newest features promises to track, manage and route customer .feedback within categories to the appropriately designated contacts.

One of my last discussions of the day was appropriately named “Telling Our Story – or Not: Assessment Results on Academic Library websites.” Here, Meg Scharf of the University of Central Florida ask if we prove to our users that we are listening to them. Is our performance information located on our website?

Is it easy to find? Does it show old outdated data. A survey of 250 randomly selected library websites were reviewed and graded on the above listed criteria. The results were somewhat troubling as only 5% received grade A meaning they had data linked to objectives, 16% had a B grade meaning they had somewhat of a clear path, 16% a grad of C meaning they had some data but it was mostly outdated and a whopping 73% received an F grade meaning they couldn’t find any data present on their website. Scharf encouraged Librarian in the audience to tell their story because it is so important. Our users can be our best advocates.

MB’s Friday at ACRL

Saturday, March 14, 2009 3:02 am

A busy day today started with

The Proquest Breakfast . Roz and I attended the presentation that was meant to showcase the new Summon Unified Discovery Service.In order to frame the issue, first Alison Head spoke about, “Project information literacy:Through the lens of the Student Experience

She shared a YouTube video ( that summed up the results, and discovered 7 out of 10 students start with Wikipedia first, to get “presearch”.They do not cite, (because they have been told not to use it), but do use.The second speaker, Jane Burke, began by taking a position that if more than half of the academic library’s money is spent on electronic in academic libraries, then the collections have become electronic.They did anthropological research:they went where the students are conducting research…in their dorm, library, coffee shop.Solicited student participation through facebook, asked if they would let Proquest watch while they did research…for money.In the course of discussion, they discovered that students believe that libraries provide superior sources for quality… Web research gives a lot of junk, therefore the library is the most efficient place for research.HOWEVER, the use of Google and GoogleScholar is on the rise.How to explain the dichotomy?When time is tight they go to Google…and they aren’t procrastinating, they are busy!

Conclusions:Why is the library not the first place people go?Libraries provide no clear and compelling starting place.”It is difficult to discern what is the appropriate resource for me”. ” I’m short on time, don’t have wherewithal to start “investigating” where to begin.”She quoted“How do you know that?An investigation of student research practices in the digital age.” , another study, shows the library is seen as intimidating and inconvenient…especially in its primary purpose…helping with research.

Then she introduced “Summon:single search unified access tool”.Not a federated search, but a precoordinated metadata delivery service.Single search, preloaded with content (like Google’s web crawler) that provides the full breadth of digital and physical content available in the library, and to the libraries users.It brings together print, electronic, courseware, databases, institutional repository, conference proceeding, dissertations, your digital library, and all given equal presentation, equal weight.And only provides that which is available to your users…respecting copyright, respecting licenses.This is in beta at Darmouth and Oklahoma State and about to go into University of Liverpool and University of Sydney.

From there I headed to the Cyber Zed Shed and a session that discussed optimizing web pages for mobile use.The presenter told how they condensed the content of web pages and distilled the whole website down to 5 pages.The best take away for me…using Twitter to update the pages when things like “hours of operation” or “changes to a library event” require quickly pushing content out to the web.

Post literacy:Michael Ridley, CIO and Chief Librarian, University of Guelph-Ontario

Fascinating presentation on post literacy, Michael envisions an age when we move beyond literacy to an era of human communication that exceeds and replaces written language.Since we can think so much faster than we can write, literacy is inefficient and slow.Post literacy will provide an opportunity for greater and faster collaboration, utilizing technologies that allow for greater sharing of thought.Like the BORG in Star Trek, we will give up the “I” for the benefit of “we”.His most provocative statement:Literacy is over.Post literacy is an advance:Difficult transition to post literacy, but it is coming.Once we are in a post literacy society, libraries will be unnecessary.(He did say, however, that everyone in the room could relax…our jobs are not immediately threatened.)


Campus disconnect: Cara Bradley, Distance Ed and Outreach Librarian at the University of Regina-Saskatchewan

Cara surveyed campus staff who are not on the teaching faculty and found that the majority of staff have information needs, but do not turn to the library for assistance.To the users in this study, when ranking what is most important, first is accuracy, currency, and convenience.She asked “if you don’t use the library, why not.”An astonishing 14% said they forgot about the library.This response was given in a free text box.She hadn’t included it as a choice on the survey.It never occurred to her that this could be true.The staff indicated that they would be more apt to use the libray if they had a designated contact person, someone to build a rapport with.Library isn’t important to respondents in this survey, but more than half would like to see the library play a larger role when they are looking for information.Recognized benefits:stress reduction; opportunity to learn and reuse new strategies.They would feel more authoritative, credible, and efficient.

Others have already commented on other presentations and I won’t duplicate them here. Lunch provided by Gale, (with Roz) showed off many new and expanded full text databases. They highlighted GREENR, the new database that brings together content for environmental studies and sustainability was particularly interesting.

Friday at ACRL for Susan

Saturday, March 14, 2009 1:26 am

Today was a busy one, full of educational sessions, vendor meetings, and poster sessions. My day started with a breakfast session about “Leveraging the Institutional Repository to support the institution’s strategic mission.” An interesting resource that was mentioned during the presentation was ROAR: Registry of Open Asccess Repositories that monitors the growth of eprint archives (current total is 1295). Some have languished, some have thrived. The presentation content was not new, but reinforced the things we have learned thus far about how to improve the chances for a successful IR. The presenter was Richard Clement, Dean of Libraries, from Utah State. He talked about the importance for the mandate for an IR to come from the top down. If the Provost deems it to be a priority, it is much more likely that the deans will agree. It is helpful to bring in an outside expert to help make your case.

I met with my ALA Editions editor to talk about the “next generation” of my web-based instruction book. So much has changed since the last edition, it is time for a major update and perhaps time for other organizational changes, including placing some of the content on an accompanying web site. One thing for sure, it will be a busy summer since I’ve committed to getting the draft done by September.

Wanda and I attended a Counting Opinions users meeting over lunch. We’ve been beta testers for the a good part of the past year (have you seen the survey that is available from our main site home page?). The company has the product ready to offer to other institutions and wanted last minute feedback from the beta testing libraries.

I attended the afternoon round of poster sessions. It was a lively area, with lots of people attending. Topics were wide ranging: from writing grants, to information literacy, library partnerships, research commons and “exploring effective typography” (Mary Beth and Craig, I was thinking of you all during this one!).

The last session I made it to was a debate: “Resolved: the Master’s Degree in library science is Not Relevant to the Future of Academic Libraries. Arnold Hirshon took the affirmative (they are NOT relevant) and made 10 minutes of good point at a rapid clip. His reasons included that library school curriculum is devoid of content unique to libraries, that they lack good predictive admittance criteria and they are teaching the wrong things . The negative side was addressed by Liz Bishoff, and to be honest, her points were less than compelling. I almost felt sorry for her because she sounded like she didn’t really believe what she was saying……It seemed to be a slam-dunk for the Affirmative side.

After that, I let Roz talk me into supporting the Deacs by watching the WFU-Maryland game for the ACC tournament. She had done her research and we found a nearby sports bar with enough big screens that they let us turn on the game. Too bad the outcome of this activity was as disappointing as the library education debate :-)

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