Professional Development

In the '2009' Category...


Monday, December 7, 2009 10:45 am

On November 13 I traveled to Cleveland, OH to attend a seminar on a batch marc editing tool called Marceditor. This was a unique and rare opportunity for me, as the creator of the software was coming to discuss the software. Upon arriving in Cleveland, I walked in to a packed room where they were setting up more tables as people walked in as it was so well attended. The first speaker was Roman Panchyshyn, cataloging librarian associate professor from Kent State University. He discussed different snatch and grab tools for uploading batch records in order to meet the needs of our patrons faster.

The main reason when I went was to be able to hear the creator of Marceditor, Terry Reese from Oregon State University to discuss the best practices to use his software. There was also a large portion of time devoted to questions which I had quite a few before even leaving Winston-Salem. Upon arriving and getting into the training the first thing I found out was that Terry Reese was ready to release a new version of Marceditor. He then went through all the new features of the upgrade and many of my questions and frustrations were addressed with the new version. They also announced a new listserv community for support and help from those who use the program. We were then given some hands on exercises so if we ran into problems we had the expert there to help us. We were given about an hour for questions.

If you would like the handouts or more information please let me know I would be happy to pass them along.

Lauren Corbett at ALA Annual 2009, Chicago

Tuesday, July 14, 2009 4:01 pm

Redesigning Technical Services Workflows, Saturday morning, July 11, 2009:

Here are some brief highlights — please feel free to chat with me if you want to know more. Please note that these speakers are both from much larger libraries than ZSR.

Arlene Klair, Adaptive Cataloging & Database Mgmt Group Leader, University of Maryland Libraries

  • Original catalogers now primarily work on high value gifts and special collections since implementing shelf ready with the main domestic book vendor.
  • A product called OCLC Classify helps copy catalogers do “nasty cuttering” that was previously done by original catalogers. The product hyperlinks to other library catalogs that hold to the title to be able to see how they cuttered and then you can link to your own catalog to see how it fits your collection.
  • They use Connexion for batch loading, using save files on a shared drive.
  • They use a commercial service called Bibliographic Notification to upgrade bibs (especially CIP); an internal study conducted some time ago showed that the lag for the upgrades with this service was only about 3 months and Arlene suspects that now the lag might only be 2 months.

Rick Anderson, Associate Director for Scholarly Resources and Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Rick indicated immediately that he was repeating much of his earlier talks in other venues, but I thought it was worth hearing again because he’s making good points for consideration. You’ll notice that he frequently repeated a couple of themes:

There are 4 areas where “Technical Services needs retooling.”

  1. Books
  2. Serials
  3. Cataloging
  4. Collection Development
  • Consolidation — put staff together for serials and monographs into one organizational unit [ZSR is already there in the sense he meant it.]
  • Simplification [of processes] — use shelf-ready, don’t examine every book, duplicate call numbers don’t cause the patron to fail in retrieving the right book
  • Simplification — drop check-in, binding, and claiming for print journals and focus on doing things that get the patron access when the patron needs it
  • Outsourcing routine items and redirecting in-house catalogers to special items — Marriott Library has all monographic purchases shipped to OCLC first to be cataloged and to make them shelf-ready; catalogers at the library now spend time on the library’s own digital and special collections.
  • Simplification — completeness and accuracy of the records in the OPAC is not the point; connection of the patron to the item is the point. The OPAC is now mainly the means of retrieving items instead of discovery. Look at your catalog logs and see if known item searches are the most frequent type of search
  • Use patron-driven selection. “Patrons know; librarians guess.” We now have tools and ability to supply the patron needs quickly instead of having to guess ahead of time. Pay the $20 for overnight Fed Ex of the $18 book in Amazon that was requested by a patron instead of spending the money on things that will never circulate. Circulation rate is down 53% and reshelving is down 73% since 1997, at U. of Utah. 50% of librarian-selected titles never circulated. (This was calculated with student enrollment factored in.) Purchase ILL requests instead of borrowing the items. Buy on-demand (as with e-books). Marriott Library purchased an Espresso Book Machine to do print on demand (through Baker & Taylor’s Lightning Source) and patrons have the option to buy a print-on-demand item to keep or the library will add it to the collection.

ALCTS Governance

The majority of my conference was confined to ALCTS governance.

I participated in my last ALCTS Budget & Finance (B&F) meetings and related Continuing Resource Section Executive Committee meeting. I was required to resign from this early since I won the election for Chair of Acquisitions Section. It looks like ALCTS is on track to end the Fiscal Year in the black. Some good decisions to steer towards webinars and online continuing education courses (such as the Fundamentals of Acquisitions and the Fundamentals of Electronic Resource Acquisitions) are paying off. Final figures will be late due to ALA Annual Conference being later than usual, which leaves some degree of uncertainty, but at least the budget is on track at this point. B&F discussed how to determine pricing for the electronic version of Library Resources and Technical Services (aka LRTS, the research journal of ALCTS) – discussion to be continued with expertise from the LRTS board and the Continuing Resources Section.

At the request of the current leaders of Acquisitions Section (AS), I stepped in ahead of my assumption of duties as Vice Chair/Chair Elect of AS and helped run the All Committee meeting on Saturday afternoon. I learned that the section doesn’t have many long-timers who know the ropes right now and that many people need to be helped with understanding their roles within the section. I started talking with section members who aren’t currently involved, hoping to get a head start on the appointment process. Starting in the fall and continuing through March, I’ll be learning where committee vacancies are and making appointments.

Big changes are happening in the Association of Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) Division of ALA. ALCTS is introducing a New Members Interest Group for those who have been members 5 years or less to have an opportunity to learn more about participation in ALCTS. ALCTS will be doing strategic planning in synch with ALA and internally is interested in reorganizing to fit today’s needs. For example, there will now be a Continuing Education Committee (to instigate design of more courses like the Fundamentals of… mentioned above). These agenda items will impact the work in the individual sections in the coming year. For example, each section has an Education Committee that needs to realign it’s work to fit with having a Division-level Continuing Education Committee comprised of members-at-large instead of the chairs of the section committees. There was quite a bit of discussion about continuing to have a Midwinter Conference or not and the impacts if there were not a meeting in January.

Looks like I’m embarking on an interesting 3 year odyssey in the leadership of Acquisitions Section.

IIC Conference-UNCG June 3-4

Friday, June 5, 2009 3:08 pm

I thought I’d jump in and do my post before all of the “good” sessions got reported on by others. BUt in truth, they were ALL good.

In the keynote by Joyce Ogburn, she talked about some of the entrepreneurial initiatives that they’d done at her institution, the Marriott Library at the University of Utah. The coolest was the Western Sound Scape where they are capturing and cataloging western sounds from nature. We could to that! Couldn’t we? The “Eastern Sound Scape.” I’ll go out to the mountains of Western North Carolina with a backpack and a microphone any day…well maybe not TODAY, but any sunny day!

My first session on Wednesday was with Gillian McCombs and Rob Walker from Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a presentation entitled “Carpe Digital, or Reinventing a 1980s AV Center as an Entrepreneurial Digital Services Center.” The two presenters discussed how they took a center that had been entrenched in classroom support, (delivering materials to campus classrooms, providing overhead projectors, DVD players, and slide projectors), and being the videographers, filming campus events for their archive, to a center located in the library that provides digitization assistance and a video and film production lab to users. Getting there was a hard road and took lots of convincing as at the outset, they had no interest from the faculty or students for such a center in 2001. But, with vision and determination, and a great deal of hutzpah from the two presenters, they looked forward 7 years to what will be needed, and worked to make it happen. They got very little additional funding, but creatively worked through all of the obstacles a little at a time.

The second session on Wednesday was the one that I presented on the WTL 5K. It was sparsely attended, with just a handful of people I didn’t know in the audience. (Mary S., Patty, Ellen, Heather, Lynn and Bill were there and they were, literally, half the audience.) It was fun to relive the good times. At the end of the presentation I was approached by the rep from EBSCO who suggested that he might be able to get a donation for our 5k this fall, and that at the very least he will run in it. He lives in Charlotte. I also got a high five from the director of High Point Public Library who said he might be interested in running an event like this. I said I’d be happy to help, just so long as he picks a different weekend than ours.

The final presentation of Wednesday was given by Camilla Baker and Michelle DeLoach at Augusta State University who gave a presentation on “Study Space for Students with Young Children.” They took an innovative approach to providing services to students who had no choice but to bring their children along when they needed to study, and created a study room for them. The school is a commuter school that has a large population of students who have small children and they were worried about retention of these students if they didn’t find some way to meet the need. They retrofited two small computer labs that had a connecting door and turned one into the study lounge, and one into the play area. They fitted the study lounge up with traditional furnishings, (desk, table, chairs, whiteboard, 3 computers) and put in bean bags, a book shelf with kids materials, a DVD player and DVDs and an assortment of games for the kids in the adjoining room. The parents need to sign in at the circulation desk to get the passcode to enter. They’ve had good response from some parents who admit that but for this study room they would have had to drop out of school.

The afterhours reception that was held at the Weatherspoon Art Gallery on UNCG was quite the elegant affair. We took great pains to have just the right food and drink and kept the galleries open to allow for quiet contemplation and viewing by all of the conference attendees. Unfortunately, the thunder and lightning and rain stole our thunder. Ask Lynn about her harrowing trip down Spring Garden and the floating trash can that almost took her out. This will be known as the Conference that survived the great Greensboro Flood of ’09.

Thursday morning’s presentation I attended “Meeting an Unmet Need: Extending the Learning Commons Concept Through On-Campus Partnerships and Branding”. La Loria Konata, from Georgia State University discussed all of the ways that they have marketed the library, and the Learning Commons to campus. She discussed the training that was provided to staff; the creation of new programs called “Write Right” (a writing center) and “Cite it Right” (Zotero and End Note training). “Reference-to-go” is a program that they created to put librarians in the Student Center the week before exams to make them more available for consultation. She also said that when they started to make study rooms bookable, they contemplated calling it “Get a Room!” but decided against it since it’s a little too salacious. They’ve also undergone a big change to their website and embedded some home cooked video meant to get the word out about different services. They call their finals study break “Chillax” , serve pizza and show “Family Guy” episodes on a smart board in their computer lab. They had so much going on to engage the students and get them excited about library services, and the students are responding.

The final session I attended was called “Horses and Hoops: New Approaches to Oral History in a Digital Environment.” Doug Boyd from the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky gave a great talk about how he leveraged opportunity to expand the size, endowment and presence of their oral history project on campus. The most exciting part of the presentation was his demonstration of the OHMS (I think it stands for Oral History Metadata Software) software which is being developed by them that allows for people to search for key words or phrases within the text of a transcribed document, read that portion of the document and then, with a click listen to the chunk of the digital recording. He demonstrated the methodology to us. It was really well done. When I asked him when we might get our hands on this software, he grinned and said something about patents and testing, etc. So I’m thinking this won’t be an open source product.

It was a really good conference. A great deal of variety, and a good number of ideas that can be brought back to each institution for ultimate implementation.

NCICU Library Purchasing Committee

Friday, May 15, 2009 10:20 am

On Wed. May 13th and Thurs. May 14th, I was a “virtual” attendee at the meeting of the N.C. Independent Colleges & Universities (NCICU) Library Purchasing Committee.The meeting was held at N.C. Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount, and they used Elluminate web conferencing software so that people who couldn’t travel could participate online.Maybe I’m biased because of my experience as an online student, but I had fun being an online participant.The software was easy to use, it included audio and video feed, and the moderator kept a running commentary (e.g. transcribing comments/questions that were out of range of the microphone).

The first session was an update on Lyrasis (formerly SOLINET/PALINET).Nothing earth-shattering, but it was good for me (in the arena of consortial deals) to get an overview.The second session was an excellent presentation by Lisa Norberg (of UNC-CH) on strengthening the library’s website.I’m sure I’ll talk more about it with the Web Team.Her main idea was to focus not simply on usability, but on “Persuasive Design,” which is difficult to summarize here, but I think of it as the website being a part of the total “library” package.

Next was a group discussion on making library resources more accessible to users.The room was divided into 4 small groups; the online participants became group 5.Some of my favorite ideas presented were (1) making services more accessible by providing clear links and using natural-language terminology; (2) making books more accessible by explaining the classification system & subject browsing; and (3) making articles more accessible through document delivery and also by providing help with search terms (thesaurus-but call it something different).

Thursday’s presentations included updates from two book vendors, a discussion about streaming video of educational films, and an update on NC Live.The NC Live update, by Tim Rogers, was another good one for me, to help me understand more clearly how that arrangement works with regard to the online resources we get through them.He talked about some of the new resources they’re working on, as well as software they are working to develop (e.g. usage statistics, authentication).

Overall, I thought it was a good conference, and the online participation worked surprisingly well.

ARLIS/NA 2009 Day 1

Saturday, April 18, 2009 10:52 pm

After the opening convocation and reception at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, the Art Librarians Association of North America Conference got into full swing on Saturday morning.

The first session was the opening plenary, with remarks by James Neal of Columbia University Libraries, entitled, Progressive Change: Challenges and Opportunities in the 21st Century Art Library, with responses by four librarians representing different aspects of art librarianship: art and design schools, academic, visual resources, and museum. Neal listed 15 key contextual trends for libraries as we move into the future:

  • ubiquitous computing
  • customization and personalization
  • web2.0, social networking and collective intelligence
  • massively distributed collaboration
  • constant partial attention
  • permanent state of beta development
  • radical restructuring
  • authorship and writing revolutions
  • self-service/ATM expectations
  • openness and collaboration
  • digital preservation, integrity and sustainablity
  • repository movement and version control
  • new majority learner
  • accountability and assessment
  • entrepreneurial imperative and resource attraction

He emphasized the importance of libraries and librarians being proactive and supporting open access and institutional repository initiatives, as well as being advocates for the “information policy agenda,” including issues of intellectual freedom and orphan works. He ended with the reminder to focus on “human” goals and outcomes of our work, what our faculty and students feel are successful outcomes.

The vendor exhibit opening was next, and I used most of that time to track down the easel for my poster presentation and find my table in the exhibits area. Before the poster session I attended the Academic Libraries Division Meeting. Besides discussing what programs the division would sponsor for next years conference in Boston, we discussed how different libraries deal with book covers. Depending on the type of library and their patron needs, there were different uses for the covers: some libraries sent their covers to the studio art departments, some kept if the image wasn’t in the book or if there was important series information on the cover, some threw them away, some used them for displays, and some considered them part of the book as an object and kept all covers.

The poster sessions were during the middle session of the afternoon, and were located amongst the vendor tables. The poster that Sharon, Leslie, Ellen and I prepared about our LIB250 course was one of four presented. I counted about 30 people who stopped by to look at the poster and most chatted for about 10 minutes, asking questions about our information literacy program in general and specifics about our course. Most were impressed by our program and one of the frequently asked questions was, “so how did you get this approved in the first place?” There was also a lot of interest in the mindmaps that Leslie created!

The last session for the day was entitled, If You Sit There, Will They Come?: The Changing Reference Landscape. Four panelists offered their experiences of how reference services are changing in different art library environments. The staffing of the reference desk seemed to be a hot topic no matter what type of library was involved. Using or not using professional, paraprofessional and student staff, in what ratio, and for what tasks were questions most of the panelists touched on, and was a topic of discussion among attendees as well. A few other points that were mentioned:

  • tech savvy doesn’t mean information savvy
  • marketing, marketing, marketing
  • assume that everyone needs help (even if they don’t know what they need help with!)

Saturday night is my only night without an activity, so I took advantage of the location of the hotel and walked around downtown Indianapolis. There are lots of interesting historic buildings, restaurants, shops and sports arenas within walking distance and the weather was perfect for walking. It’s supposed to rain Sunday and Monday, so I’m glad I had the chance tonight.

REFolution Day 2

Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:47 am

Moving Beyond the Reference Desk

This first session of the day was two presentations on how two different libraries have shifted the focus of their customer service away from the reference desk and the reference department and are meeting their patrons where they are.

Have Laptop Will Travel- Pat Dawson (Rider University)

Dawson is the science librarian at Rider, and in order to interact more with students taking science courses, she decided to have set hours in the science student study lounge in the science building. In order to not conflict with possible BI sessions (ie, the professor woudn’t schedule a session if they thought she would be providing this service), she set up times later in the semester, around Thanksgiving. Dawson posted signs in the study lounge letting students know when she would be having office hours there, and she emailed faculty members so they could announce in their classes.

Dawson ended up having some student contact during her sessions, but also felt that the faculty contact she had was just as valuable. She was able to meet with several new faculty members and set up library sessions for the following spring semester. She felt that the timing around Thanksgiving wasn’t right for the students, so she is planning on having the sessions several weeks before Thanksgiving in Fall 2009.

How We Stopped Manning the Fort and Became Virtual- Kate McGivern (Bergen Community College)

McGivern discussed several ways in which they have modified their reference area and services to be more accessible to their student population. During larger library renovations, they replaced their “fortress” desk with a low, dumbell, shaped desk. This made the desk more approachable and gave them more work stations where they could consult with students. They also added butterfly monitors so that students could see the searches more easily. (This is similar to what we have done over the last few years with our desk.) They also sent their entire reference collection to the stacks, and over the summer will make them circulating titles.

The reference librarians have also started doing “roaming” and “embedded” librarianship. Their usual staffing schedule is to have two librarians at the desk during a shift. One of those librarians is supposed to roam the library to see if there are patrons that need help. They wear nametags but don’t carry any sort of communication or handheld device. McGivern indicated (I think!) that their layout was such that they could see the service points from anywhere in the building (two floors) and that there were workstations on both floors that they could take patrons to if they needed extensive help (beyond deciphering LC and locating a book in the stacks). The embedded librarians were participants in courses via Blackboard. They created a “Librarian on Board” icon for those courses and the librarian had full access to the Blackboard course.

Both speakers highlighted their use of the book, The Desk and Beyond: Next Generation Reference Service by Sarah K. Steiner and M. Leslie Madden (Z675 U5 D425 2008, Reference Office).

Sending Out an SMS: Exploring Reference Via Text Messaging with Mobile Devices- Joe Murphy (Yale University)

Murphy discussed the implementation of texting services at the six Yale science libraries, and the evolution of text services in general. He strongly stressed the importance of text and mobile services to our student populations, several times saying that that was the main way that he got information. Our students are very comfortable with these methods of communication, but sometimes we are not. If libraries plan on implementing text services, we need to make sure that we manage staffing, cost and student expectations. We need to make sure we are answering questions as effieciently as possible, especially for those students who don’t have unlimited texting (ie, don’t answer the question as if it was an email, don’t assume that all students have unlimited texting). He also sees texting moving beyond reference services into other library services, such as catalog searching and overdue notices.

During the lunch break, there were two vendor presenations (AltaRama and Reference Universe) and time to look at vendor displays. I picked up information from Reference Universe, Credo Reference, LexisNexis and AltaRama.

AltaRama- Arthur Brady

AltaRama is another product that was designed by librarians, and the name is an aboriginal word for “the act of finding.” They have several different components and you can purchase them as a package or only the particular components that you need. The different components are: DeskStats, RefChatter (uses Library H3lp), RefTracker, RefScheduler, SMSReference and VRLPlus. He emphasized that they are all very customizible to each library.

Reference Universe- LuAnn Harrison

The Reference Universe product from Paratext has taken the indexes and articles from the major reference publishers (Gale, ABC-CLIO, etc…) and created an online database so that their contents are now searchable. Additionally, they have included the current online content from these publishers, making over 20 million citations searchable at the same time.

OK, This is Just too Weird- Elizabeth Edwards (George Washington University)

The last presentation of the conference was an interesting one discussing the Gelman Libraries study of Facebook use on their campus, and specifically, how students percieved the use of Facebook by the library and librarians. They worked with a graduate student in the anthropology department to do an ethnographic study of the student population. He did surveys and informal interviews with students who responded to a Facebook ad, a library webpage ad, or a Facebook group email. Most of the students felt that Facebook was a purely social space, the only academically related activity they used it for was to set up study group meetings. This made it difficult for students to understand why “authority” figures such as professors, librarians, or even family members, would be in that space, and it made them uncomfortable, but they weren’t sure why. When they looked at librarian facebook profiles, they liked the profiles that already matched what they thought librarians were like, i.e., included book recommendations, research tips, but not when they included personal information (though, interestingly, they felt like they were invading the librarians’ personal space). She recommended considering student perceptions of the library, taking the time to ask them how they felt about the library and Facebook as a social space, as this survey was specific to the George Washington student population, and other campuses could be very differerent.

Again, if anyone has questions or would like more information about any of the presentations, let me know! Lyrasis is supposed to post the powerpoints and other documents soon, so I can forward that to anyone who is interested.

Harrisburg Airport fun fact: In addition to a much-appreciated Starbucks and a lovely, non-desiel-fume- smelling waiting area, the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant is located at the end of the runway! Somehow I missed it when I arrived!

REFolution Day 1

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 8:58 pm

On Monday and Tuesday, April 6-7, I attended the REFolution: Reference Service in a Constantly Changing World conference in Hershey, PA. It was a busy two days with lots of content and not as much chocolate as you might expect!

Foreshadowing Reference Futures: Far Out or Forthcoming?- Mary Radford (Rutgers University)

After an early flight out of Greensboro, I arrived in time to check into my room and head to the ballroom for lunch and the keynote address. Mary Radford is a professor at Rutgers University and was a very engaging and energetic speaker. She began her talk by discussing all of the continuous change that we deal with, both in our jobs and at home, because of advances in technology. She shared the results of research she has done on how Millennials (born 1978-1994), and more specifically Screenagers (born 1988-1994), get their information. This research showed that Screenagers want instant access and use their phones for texting and IM rather than talking. Interestingly, they prefer to text rather than to call because there are no awkward silences with texting, and they can carry on multiple conversations at one time.

When discussing their responses to virtual reference specifically, Screenagers used the service because it was recommended to them, it was convenient and it was efficient. They didn’t use VR because they perceived that they got unhelpful answers when they did use it, and that those answers did not go beyond what they had already found via Google. They were also interested in interacting with subject specialists who could get them beyond the basics they had already located.

In terms of marketing reference, Radford suggested promoting our full range of options because our users want to know all of the ways they can contact us. To illustrate how we could promote the convenience and efficiency of using reference services, she shared a tag line from Harvard, “spend two hours doing research or 5 minutes with a Harvard librarian.”

Looking into the future, she sees continued growth in the following areas: distance education, technology innovation, the use of portable wireless services, ebook digitization, assessment, collaboration through consortial involvement and different models of staffing. She closed with, “we are change managers, don’t get in the way of change.”

READ Scale: Using Qualitative Data to Record Levels of Effort and Expertise in Answering Reference Questions- Lynn Berard (Carnegie Mellon University), Bella Karr Gerlich (Dominican University)

The traditional method of keeping statistics at public service desks is to just keep tick marks for each question or patron interaction. Obviously, a single tick mark does not reflect the variations in the time it takes to answer a question or the level of subject expertise needed. The READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data) is one method that can be used to reflect these aspects of our reference interactions. Each interaction is given a rating from one to six, one being directional and six being in-depth, labor intensive research assistance. Berard and Gerlich discussed their national study that focused on the implementation of this scale in academic libraries of various sizes around the country. They started by surveying the libraries involved to make sure that they all agreed on how different types of questions would be ranked. This is an important aspect to keep in mind, because it is crucial that each participant is using the same criteria to rank their interactions as everyone else. Beyond the time involved in answering the question, other criteria used to rank interactions included the number and types of sources consulted.

Most of the libraries in the study felt that the system was easy to use and easy to incorporate into their workflow at the reference desk. The libraries used the statistics they gathered to make staffing changes (maybe a student can handle the times when there are mostly one and two level questions) and to have on-going staff training and development (staff discussed how they might have answered the question differently, veteran reference librarians showed newer librarians different resources and vice versa).

Google Gems for Reference Librarians- Russell Palmer (Lyrasis)

This was a pretty interactive session, with lots of demonstrations and examples from attendees on how they use Google everyday in their workflow and at the reference desk. I was familiar with quite a few of the resources mentioned, but it is always good to have a refresher on all of the things you can do with Google. A few I liked were:

  • Google sets: fill in two or more words in a series, and Google will give you other related terms (enter hook and line, Google adds reel, lure, float, sinker, bait). It was suggested that this would be good for students to use when they need to think of additional search terms.
  • using the “:”: examples given were: define: , stocks: , allintitle: , and filetype: . The example for filetype was to search filetype:pdf coca-cola to locate annual reports and other company information that isn’t on the website but is located in pdf files.
  • Google news archive: useful for geneology searching and has a helpful timeline feature that allows you to see when in time the majority of references to your search topic appeared.

Scaling up IM Reference: Using Library H3lp- Rebekah Kilzer (Drexel University)

Rebekah Kilzer discussed the implementation of Library H3lp in the reference department of Hagerty Library at Drexel University, starting with the evolution of their virtual reference services. In 2006, they used AIM and Yahoo with an average of 30 chats per month. In 2007 they added gmail and MSN, and in 2008, meebo. Their IM traffic jumped from 100 chats per month in Winter 2008 to 600 chats per month in Fall of 2008. Their email traffic also rose during this time, partly because their IM requests were routed to email when the chat service was unavailable. The increase in chats and emails required a change in desk staffing, and they now have two librarians at the desk each hour and one in their office monitoring the chat service.

Library H3lp is an open source program, though there is a minimal fee based upon FTE (this wasn’t discussed in detail). The program was designed specifically for libraries and features queues, customizable widgets, the ability to transfer chats to another librarian, stat tracking and call logging. Other aspects that I found interesting were: patrons can email the transcript to themselves when they are done, it can convert text to chat, any previous IM clients can be forwarded to it, and the widget can be set to forward questions to email when there isn’t anyone staffing the desk.

Kilzer stressed the importance of staff training before the new system was active. They did a lot beforehand to make sure that they kept the good aspects of the previous system for both librarians and patrons. They also did a lot of practicing, with small groups of librarians sending and answering questions amongst themselves, so that they would be comfortable with the interface and features. They found that after they implemented Library H3lp, of the over 200 questions they answered, almost all were through the Library H3lp interface, with 2 from AIM and 2 from Google Talk.

Of these sessions, I really liked the presentations on the READ Scale and Library H3lp. I think there are aspects of each that we could implement and benefit from, even if we didn’t decide to adopt the entire system.

MB @LAUNC-CH March 2009

Wednesday, March 18, 2009 11:20 am

Erik Mitchell, Kevin Gilbertson, Cristina Yu, Mary Scanlon, Ellen Daugman, Steve Kelley and I all attended the LAUNC-CH conference at Chapel Hill on March 9, 2009.
I attended the Next Generation Library Systems session from 12:45 to 2:15. That presentation, not surprisingly, focused on the
OLE Project, (Jean Ferguson and John Little were presenters) and had a presentation about Endeca, with Derek Rodriguez.

John Little, From Duke, began to discuss OLE (which stands for Open Library Environment) by asking the conference attendees the following questions to frame the logic for the development of OLE, and to wake us up since his presentation was right after lunch:

Do you believe that business processes at libraries are more similar than they are different?

Do you agree that in 10 years anything that is not digital will be invisible?

Do you agree that in 5 years your consortial arrangements will be just as important as work at your home institution?

Do you believe that any backlog longer than 6 months is irrelevant?

Do you believe that in 5 years all library work will be done on the network?

Among the attendees, the first question was resoundingly agreed to. The second, third and fourth questions much less so. The last question was pretty much 50/50 with many people responding to the “I don’t know” third option. He challenged librarians who believed his questions were false. One challenge to the “backlog” question came from a librarian who worked in special collections who maintained that when handling rare and special collections, no backlog is irrelevant. Another librarian maintained that “to the serious researcher, whether or not something is digitized is not important, so nothing is invisible” and John conceded that point.

He then moved onto an overview of the OLE project and described how the SOA (Service Oriented Architecture) would define the project’s development.The first part of the project is to be completed by July, per the terms of the grant from the Mellon Foundation.The second phase of the project, the “writing” the software phase, will then presumably be funded, and completed over the next few years.

The next speaker was Derek Rodriguez from TRLN, Triangle Research Library Network whose job is to assess metadata fitness for next generation library systems.He spoke about and then demonstrated Endeca.Endeca is a discovery and request layer that works with an ILS to allow a user to search and request from several library systems at one time.The request, if not being fulfilled through the user’s home library automatically creates an ILL request.It allows for easy sharing of materials among all of the libraries of the TRLN which includes UNC, Duke, NC State, and NCCU.

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.

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.

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