Professional Development

In the '2010 ALA Midwinter' Category...

Wanda’a ALA days 1-3

Monday, January 10, 2011 3:11 am

On Friday afternoon after my BCALA filled morning, I attended the OCLC symposium entitled “Transformational Literacy: preparing user’s for life’s transitions.” Keynoter Dr. Mimi Ito, discussed principles for libraries to consider that help create environments that encourage lifelong learning as well as the critical role librarians play in this. The future is already here, it is just not so evenly distributed. It is up to us to make sure the positive benefits are available to as broad an audience as possible. To succeed now, we have to continually refresh our stock of knowledge. We must welcome contributions from all regardless of age and institutional status. We need to make sure that our resources are open, remixable and transparent. Panelist defined the four stages of life as student, householder, retired and forest dweller. The student is receiving, the householder is embedding, retired is sharing with others and forest dweller is transcending.

On Saturday I attended the ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers discussion group. One agenda item addressed library assessment assignments. Some libraries had staff devoted exclusively to assessment while others share the responsibility amongst several. Some libraries have added assessment language within position descriptions of all vacancies. Language such as familiarity with assessment efforts, commitment to assessment efforts or ability to assess resources and services were offered as vocabulary examples. The University of Florida discussed the results of an academic recruitment study. The study collected data from about 24 libraries on where they advertised, how many applications received, actual interviews and then finally how many jobs were offered. Of the positions filled, one went to a Black, one to an Asian and then 18 were filled by Whites. I can get the same data, I think, from our WFU Openhire system. It would be good to see university wide results. We could also feed our library results to the Florida study.

The LLAMA Human Resources Emerging Trends discussion group focused on the topic of recruitment. Of the institutions still able to fill vacant positions the song was the same. Lots of applications for entry level positions and then very small pools for the middle management and senior level positions. Fear of not being able to sell there homes, to fear of their spouses not being able to find work were some of the reasons offered. Changes in work ethic, ability to integrate work life balance and a feeling by many that young and energetic don’t necessarily have to be tied together all the time.

The ACRL Metrics discussion was quite promising. The ability to see ASERL and NCES data submitted by our library in a form that is easily retrievable and available for comparison to peer institutions was most impressive. According to the demo, for example, I could retrieve ILL stats from all NC libraries in an user friendly easy to navigate system and export to an excel spreadsheet. That same list could be narrowed to only my peer institutions if I wanted. This is a joint Counting Opinions and ACRL project.

This morning I was asked to participate in an OCLC focus group. I was relieved when the other 5 guest arrived and they also didn’t know the proposed topic. As it turned out OCLC wanted to know how we felt about them and their ability to communicate effectively with their users. They also wanted us to identify the sources we turn to for emerging trends as well as experts. When asked concerning the decoupling from our regional experts, I attempted to explain how difficult it is to think of OCLC without thinking of SOLINET now Lyrasis.

The Evidence Based Management for Libraries session was an overview of LibPAS a library performance assessment system managed by Counting Opinions. Cornell University Library worked with them in this academic case study. Prior to this they used excel spreadsheets to complie 60 -80 page statistical reports annually. Running reports from the data was complicated. LibPAS provided them with a centralized database. With this they could open statisical reporting to staff across the library. Cornell staff believe that data compilation is easier and more readily available for decision makers to extract the data they need.

Rutgers University is using LibSat (Customer satisfaction management module) & LibPAS to improve customer satisfaction and library performance. Counting Opinions representatives acknowledged that they had learned a lot by trial and error but above all had been willing to listen to their customers. They admitted that the patience of their customers coupled with advice and guidance have paved the way for product improvement.

The LLAMA afternoon session featured panelists who spoke on tragedies at Southern University and Colorado State Universities. “Providing Leadership Under Adverse Conditions was the selected topic. What makes people step-up in the time of crises? Comparing the two disasters showed that pre-disaster training may have helped in the Colorado case. The Southern University case that training had not occurred. Both panelist referenced value, trust and morale as key components in the recovery process.

Carolyn at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting in Boston

Sunday, January 24, 2010 8:25 pm

This was my first time attending ALA’s Midwinter Conference. I had a great time rooming and socializing with Susan and Roz. During the conference, I ran into some old colleagues (Elizabeth Novicki, Jim Galbraith & Debbie Nolan), made new contacts with other librarians, and heard some interesting talks which are subsequently described.

Friday night, I attended the Anthropology and Sociology Section’s (ANSS) social at the Lansdowne Pub which is in Boston’s Fenway Park neighborhood. Met and spoke with several librarians who work/liaise with their respective university’s anthropology department. Two individuals with whom I spoke knew Lauren C. from her employment at Old Dominion and Emory, and another individual whom I sat beside at dinner knew Lauren P. from ALA committee work. Truly, the library world is a small one.

Saturday morning, Alasdair Ball (British Library), Ruth Fischer (R2 Consulting) and Brian Schottlaender (UC San Diego) spoke on redesigning Technical Services workflow in regards to libraries’ costs and the value delivered to libraries and patrons. As the Head of Acquisition and Description, Mr. Ball reported that his department processed around 1 million items per year. He characterized the UK’s National Bibliographic framework as being one with high duplication of effort, having a fragmented network of stakeholders, using multiple standards and formats, having an increase in demand for shelf-ready materials and records, and slow to change. Within his organization, there is a focus on adding value to research and providing collaborative workspace and tools for researchers. Acquisition and Description is viewed as necessary, but a back office set of functions with a high cost. Some operational challenges he sees are contributing to the library’s expanding agenda with no increase in resources (human and monetary), the need to optimize balance between costs, quality, and speed of service, outsourcing of the CIP programme, redefining and streamlining workflows and process models, and where can the British Library add value. Ruth Fischer spoke on the Study of the North American MARC Records Marketplace which she and her partner were commissioned by the Library of Congress (LC) to research and write. They conducted two online surveys, 1 with libraries (972 participants from all types of libraries) and 1 with vendors (70 participants), to investigate the current MARC records marketplace.

Results from the libraries’ survey found:

  • Everyone prefers LC records
  • 80% of libraries edit records in OPAC, but only half upload edits to their bibliographic utility
  • 78% of libraries are unaware of restrictions on MARC record use and distribution
  • Backlogs exist everywhere and are increasing (Largest backlogs are videos and DVDs; second largest are English language monographs)

Ms. Fischer’s report estimated that there are 34,000 each of original catalogers with the MLS and copy catalogers, and if each MLS cataloger created 1 new record each workday (200 in a year), 6.8 million original records could be created per year. It appears libraries have capacity in regards to number of catalogers. The question then is why are there backlogs?

Two hundred organizations create, sell or distribute MARC records to North American libraries, with the largest number of vendors providing MARC records for e-books.
Ms. Fischer’s interpretation of her findings include:

  • There is confusion in the market about real cost and/or value of MARC records-Each year LC catalogs many titles that are not retained in its collections (i.e. CIP program). By law, LC is disallowed to recover cataloging costs. In essence LC subsidizes the market, which in turn causes the undervaluing of MARC records.
  • Market provides insufficient incentives to contribute original cataloging-New commercial entrants are screen scraping LC’s and other libraries’ websites, and are not hiring MLS catalogers.
  • Most libraries and catalogers must believe that they create more value by modifying existing records (e.g. including pagination, changing or removing subject headings, adjusting call numbers, etc.) than producing original records.

Questions raised from Fischer’s study:

  • How long will libraries rely on MARC as the primary format for bibliographic data? We are trapped by the ILS.
  • What would be required to correct the economic structure of the MARC record marketplace?
  • What would happen if MARC record creators and creators of other descriptive metadata insisted on recovering their costs?
  • Why have we (i.e. catalogers) deincentivized ourselves if we have capacity to create?

Fischer closed by saying catalogers need to determine what the concept of “good enough” means and start believing and incorporating it into workflows.

Brian Schottlaender spoke on the University of California’s next-generation of Technical Services initiative which has grown out of the last five years of community thinking. He stated that his library is freeing up resources in order to focus cataloging and other metadata description on unique resources. He believes administration must make a commitment to its employees, who are moving into new positions with new responsibilities, by providing them with education and training to ensure their success.

As a member of the Cataloging and Classification Section (CCS) Recruitment and Mentoring Committee, I attended my first ALA committee meeting ever. This is a newly formed committee and our charge is to recruit cataloging mentors and pair them with interested new and seasoned catalogers, as well as persons interested in cataloging. We will contact library schools to see if they have any students interested in becoming mentees, and are planning to send out send out a survey questionnaire to listservs to garner interest from potential mentors and mentees.

Saturday evening, I attended a screening of Alexander Street Press’ new product Ethnographic Video Online. This product is a partnership with Documentary Educational Resources (DER) whose founder John Marshall was an anthropologist/documentary filmmaker. John Marshall is renowned for his films on the !Kung San (Bushmen) peoples of the Kalahari Desert in Namibia. His first film The Hunters (1957) became an instant classic of ethnographic film. DER’s films will comprise over 60% of the films in Ethnographic Video Online, which launches next month with 200 films. Its collection will eventually be comprised of 1000 titles (750 hours of films). This products will allow users to create clips, make playlists and annotations, search for specific words in a film, is fully transcribed and has scrolling synchronous transcripts. Alexander Street Press is meeting with individual ethnographers/filmmakers who have unpublished footage to try and get their films into this database. I feel this product would be very useful to Wake’s Anthropology department and even perhaps the new Documentary Film program. I hope we will be able to get a trial of this product, and if possible, purchase it if deemed valuable by faculty from Anthropology and the Documentary Film program. Afterwards, I met Susan, Roz and Elizabeth Novicki for a wonderful dinner at Legal Seafood.

Bright and early Sunday morning, I went to an OCLC Update Breakfast and spoke with someone about the problems I was encountering with entering information into MARC cataloging records for Wake ETDs, specifically complex mathematical equations and subscripts/superscripts that aren’t numerical. I was told that some character sets are not supported, but there may be some workarounds with the subscript/superscript problem. The OCLC rep. asked me to email him some examples of my problems, and he would get back in touch. I also found out that in July 2010 OCLC will be releasing its Digital Collections Gateway product to any OAI compatible repository, of which D-Space is one, and will simplify the ETD cataloging process even more and allows for more visibility of these unique items. Hooray! I ran into Jim Galbraith, who is now working for OCLC, at the breakfast and also met a librarian from Brigham Young University who knows Derrik. Such a small world!

The rest of Sunday’s sessions included attending another session where Ruth Fischer spoke more in depth about R2’s report on MARC records, an Out Of Print (OOP) Discussion Group where the topic was digitization on demand (James Lee of Brandeis University spoke about the process and his school’s involvement with the Boston Library Consortium, a pioneer in the area of digitization on demand), and the Anthropology Librarians Discussion group.

Before leaving for home on a snowy Monday, I attended two more sessions at the convention center. The first was the Publisher-Vendor-Library-Relations Forum. Beth Bernhardt (UNCG) started off by saying that the NC legislature has mandated that by 2014 UNCG’s enrollment will be at 24,000 students. UNCG’s library is utilizing patron-driven acquisitions in building their e-book collection. Changes in user expectations, librarians’ roles, and researchers’ needs are some of the factors behind this new model of collection development. In April ’09, the library began this new model with MyiLibrary and chose computer science as the subject area. 1144 e-books that matched the library’s profile were loaded into the OPAC. 70 e-books were ordered at a cost of $7010. They are expanding their profile to include physics, chemistry, nursing and business. Plans are to compare what professors and students purchase. The first access to a title, no cost is incurred; the second look triggers a purchase. With the Life Sciences Library e-collection, they pre-selected a set of 23 books, but loaded all 750 titles’ MARC cataloging records into catalog. These books are very pricy due to the subject areas (i.e. nursing, anatomy, anesthesiology, and nutrition). Some important things to take into consideration when allowing patron-driven acquisitions include budget, deposit accounts, price limits, real-time invoicing, and cut off access/visibility.

Lindsey Schell (U of TX-Austin) spoke about their experience with EBL. Currently their patrons have access to 70,000+ titles, but have purchased 4,000. They too dumped all of EBL’s MARC records for their titles into their catalog, but this year began removing records for those titles never viewed in the initial 12 months to reduce cost exposure. Her university also incorporates patron-driven print approval acquisitions. The library downloads MARC records for publishers and subjects on a refined approval plan to the OPAC and allows patrons and subject specialists to decide which titles are actually purchased. Books are expressed shipped and are shelf-ready.

Next steps for this model of acquisitions involves analyzing patron purchasing and usage by LC call number and publisher to target specific areas for e-book and print delivery.

Due to patron-driven acquisitions, adjustments in the Technical Services department have occurred and include:

  • Automate wherever possible
  • Eliminate creating work elsewhere
  • Free up staff to work on library’s priorities that can’t be automated or outsourced (i.e. e-resource management, digital content, unique collections)
  • Eliminating serials check-in-Some people are freaking out about this
  • Move monographic series standing orders to approval vendor
  • Discontinue label production for periodicals-People can read titles unless it’s not in Roman alphabet
  • Eliminate approval review shelves
  • Reduce the number of gifts received
  • Discontinue paper book plates for non-endowment donations
  • Cut binding quotas-Redirect funds toward digitization

Judy Luther talked about developing a common platform for university press e-book distribution. The Mellon Foundation has awarded a grant to four university presses (NYU, Rutgers, Temple and Penn), and these presses are working with consultants to help develop a business model suitable to a university press consortium. They are looking to establish a “university press” brand and achieve economies of scale through collaboration on technical, financial, and practical challenges. Twenty-nine librarians were interviewed and core markets were identified (ARL, other Ph.D./masters programs, Oberlin Group). These were exploratory conversations designed to frame library practices, expectations, concerns and trends. Key issues included pricing functionality, digital rights management (DRM), and ability to select print and e-book purchases. An online survey of 1000 librarians (30% response rate) was conducted to test conclusions gathered from interviews. Purchase models must be evaluated. Vendors’ platforms need assessment. How should a university press consortium operate? The challenge, according to Ms. Luther, is serving our users well. Libraries want content for their users, as well as presses then getting out of their way. Right now platforms are not conducive; one can only print 10 pages at a time. The consultants’ report is due next month, and the presses will determine if they want to move forward. If so, further planning will be required.

My last session was on bibliographic mash-ups and once again the concept of redundancy in our data and workflow was mentioned by opening speaker Renee Register of OCLC. For libraries, most of the production work is performed at the end of the publication cycle with the receipt of a published item. On the publishers end, bibliographic data evolves over time beginning months before publication and sometimes ending years later with people contributing data. Inefficiencies and redundancy are common in metadata exchange, and different standards make it even harder to share. OCLC is currently creating authority control and mapping between BISAC subject terms (seen in Amazon) and Dewey Decimal Classification. We need to have ways in our systems that will allow metadata to grow overtime. Metadata records are living things from the information supplied by publishers to end user applied headings.

OCLC’s Karen Coyle spoke about the Open Library whose goal is to create one web page for every book ever published. It is not a library’s catalog and includes all e-books in the Internet Archive (Open Content Alliance, Google, public domain). The head of the project is the founder of Flickr. This database does not have records; it uses semantic web concepts called types (e.g. author name, birth date). All are equally important. Each type has properties; one can add properties without disruption and nothing is required and everything is repeatable. The database is based on wiki principles. All edits are saved and viewable and anyone can edit and add types and new properties. Sources of data come from LC, Amazon, Onix (publisher data), numerous libraries, and individual users (people can add their own books such as vanity press published books). There are some data problems as this is an experiment of non-librarians taking library data and using it. Examples of problems are:

  • Names-no inversion, no birth or death dates
  • Inclusion of initial articles in titles (e.g. The Hobbit)-Alphabetical order is not important here
  • Needs normalization of series
  • Differences in publication product dimensions-LxWxH vs. height in cm. used by libraries

There are page views for books and authors (similar to WorldCat identities). LC subject headings are not used; segment of LCSH are broken apart (i.e. no “dash dash”). Each subject heading has its own page. This project is currently in beta but is coming out in February 2010.

Kurt Groetsch of Google closed the session by speaking on the challenges Google Books has encountered with metadata reuse and matching, and the challenges of working with multivolume works. I got a little sleepy during his segment so I don’t have many notes for this part of the program.

I then met up with Susan and Roz. We took the Gale sponsored shuttle (very nice service) to the airport, got an early flight to Newark, and then waited for several hours in the magical place that is the Newark airport before we caught our flight home to Greensboro. All in all, my experience at ALA’s Midwinter Conference was a good one.

Steve at ALA Midwinter

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 7:03 pm

Last Wednesday I flew up to Boston for ALA Midwinter and a meeting of the NASIG Executive Board, which I attended as Member-at-Large. Although NASIG is an independent organization, we piggyback our board meeting on the front-end of the conference. So Thursday, I attended our all-day meeting to discuss the on-going business of NASIG in a conference room at MIT’s main library, followed by dinner with my fellow board members, and a late-evening drink with Jim Galbraith, who was in town for the conference as an OCLC rep.

On Friday, the highlight of my conference day was the ALCTS FRBR Interest Group. Jennifer Bowen of the University of Rochester discussed their library’s project to build the eXtensible Catalog, a faceted, FRBR-compliant, customizable, open-source catalog. The catalog is still in development, but they have completed a metadata services toolkit, which allows libraries to automate the processing of batches of metadata, and the creation of FRBR-compliant records.

As you’ve probably heard before, FRBR is a conceptual framework for describing bibliographic information at various levels (work, expression, manifestation, item). The clearest way to explain what FRBR is may be to explain the process that Bowen and her team are using on catalog records. The bibliographic records that we are used to seeing are essentially manifestation level records. For example a bib record for “Tom Sawyer” will describe one particular edition of the book, printed in a given year, with a certain number of pages. This is a manifestation of the book, to use FRBR terminology. Above the manifestation level is the expression level, which is more abstract and would be “Tom Sawyer” in English. All editions of “Tom Sawyer” in English would be related to this one expression of the book. Above the expression level is the work level, which is an even more abstract concept. This would be the novel “Tom Sawyer” in any language (Spanish, French, German, etc.), in any edition, published in any year. Bowen and her team are taking catalog records and other metadata and running batches of this data through their toolkit to turn the records into MARC-XML. These MARC-XML records are then run through the tool kit and parsed into records at the Work, Expression, and Manifestation levels. Each Manifestation level has an 004 field with a number that links it to an Expression level record above it. And each Expression level record has an 004 field that link it to a Work level record. The tool kit includes an aggregation service that aggregates records that represent the same manifestation and prevents duplication of records. Because of their fairly thorough development of FRBR-compliance, Bowen would like to see the University of Rochester become a test bed for the implementation of RDA, the new cataloging and access code, which encourages the use of FRBR principles.

Several questions occurred to me after the session. Namely, will all libraries have to go through this process of creating Expression and Work level records? Would Expression and Work level records be added to OCLC? If they are, who would create these records, or would they be generated automatically? Would Expression and Work level records function as a new type of authority record? These are issues to consider as RDA moves forward.

On Saturday, I attended the Technical Services Manager in Academic Libraries Interest Group. The meeting actually was based around table discussions, and I joined the table discussing the topic “Re-tooling technical services staff to meet evolving needs.” The conversation was interesting and lively, although I have to confess I didn’t pick up many new suggestions. I did share some of the stuff we’ve been doing in Resource Services, and it seemed pretty well received. It made me feel like Lauren’s got us ahead of the curve.

Later that morning I attended the CCS Copy Cataloging Interest Group Meeting, where there was discussion of the recent Library of Congress report on the MARC record marketplace. This report, if you haven’t read it, argues that there are plenty of catalogers available, but not enough catalog records are being created, that libraries are relying on vendor-produced records, which are not freely available and sharable, and that there are not sufficient incentives in the current system to encourage original cataloging. The discussion prompted a sharp retort from an audience-member that the same consulting company that wrote this report for LC had advised their institution some years ago to use vendor records, wait for other libraries to catalog titles, and to generally do less original cataloging, in order save money. I found this to be an interesting illustration of one of the risks of using consultants, namely that they will tell a client what is in the client’s best interest, rather than looking at the field as a whole. What is best for the individual library is not necessarily what’s best for the library field as a whole and vice versa.

At this session, I met up with Jennifer Roper and we had lunch together and caught up. Her daughter Maddie is nearly three years old already. Time flies!

That afternoon, Jennifer and I attended a session that shall remain nameless, and saw a presentation by a cataloger and systems librarian from a university that shall remain nameless. They described the remarkably convoluted and, frankly, wrong-headed process that they use to batch-load records for electronic monographs (they use a single record for both the print and electronic versions of monographs, which is a technical nightmare). It made me enormously grateful that we use the process we developed here.

That evening, I had dinner with one of my old college roommates and his wife, who live up in Boston, and made an early night of it. I had to get up at 3 am to make my 5:45 am flight early Sunday morning. Although it was fairly rough, I was able to get home before noon, which was nice.

Lauren P. at ALA Midwinter

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 4:56 pm

Cross posted to my blog.

I typically take lots of conference photos.... it turns out that I didnt do that so much this time!

This was a fun ALA for me, though I didn’t get (or stay) out as much as I typically do. Little boy Borwick is already making his presence known in the form of hijacking my schedule for resting. :) I tried to pick activities wisely, and I still wanted to see as many folks as I could, since I’ll miss this Annual. Midwinter was my ALA fix for the year!!

I had a lovely time rooming with former colleague Elizabeth Novicki. She’s been in her new job for a semester now so it was nice to hear how she was doing, what life is like in her new job, and to generally catch up.

Boston is one of my favorite cities (my favorite on the East Coast), so it was nice to have an excuse to get up there for a little bit. I’d typically fill every spare second with exploring the city, but I tried to take it a bit easier on this trip… hence the one photo (on the left) that I took on my iphone the entire time. That was at Tealuxe, one of my favorite hangouts in the city.

But really, Midwinter is about the meetings, and that is why I was there and what I spent a majority of my time with, so here’s the wrap-up:


Emerging Leaders Meeting

I was part of the second EL class, and from that experience I knew the program is a valuable one, but also one that could use improvement. Luckily, this year I was asked to co-mentor Group P, meaning I’ll be able to directly work with five emerging leaders and–hopefully–help make their experience a good one.

So, on Friday, I met with the group over a long lunch, along with my co-mentor. We were able to share why LITA was interested in sponsoring this project, what work had already been done in this area, and learn what plans they were already making. In addition to being available to the group, I hope to be able to help them connect with LITA leaders, get them access to groups and resources that will help them with their project, and help them understand LITA as an organization and how it fits into the larger ALA. It’ll be a fun six months!

LITA Happy Hour

One of the first events for LITA members at most conferences is LITA Happy Hour. This is a chance to catch up with folks, see what others are up to, and plan for some of the meetings that will be going on over the next few days. It was especially good to see some folks that I had been working with virtually for the past six months.


Committee and Interest Group Chairs Meeting

I have really enjoyed going to the LITA Comm and IG Chair meetings for the past few years. It’s nice to be in the room with the LITA leadership and understand what the year is shaping up to be the big issues for the organization. However, this was my last one (at least for a while). I have been chairing the Distance Learning Interest Group for LITA, but passed off the torch to Chad Haefele. He and Lauren Ray will do a terrific job of shepherding the group through its next years. And since I won’t be chair, I won’t be at this meeting.

The topics of this chairs’ meetings focused on Forum, programming, and communication throughout the organization. Not coincidentally, this is the very issue that the folks in Emerging Leader Group P are working on, so hopefully we’ll see some major progress in this area over the next year.

Distance Learning Interest Group

And, just as with the last meeting, this was one of passing the torch. Chad really lead the meeting and I was mostly there to take minutes and help as needed. It was nice to see Susan Sharpless Smith and former colleague Debbie Nolan in the crowd!

It was a good discussion group with over 30 people in the room. We covered a lot of topics, which I’ll report in greater detail over in the group’s ALA Connect space in the next day or two.

When I first got started with this group, some of the conversation was distance learning specific: issues of licensing, outreach, library instruction, etc. Then, it became more about instructional technology. Distance learning seemed to be mostly applicable to everyone as local students seem to want to have the same access and services as distance ones. We even had programming around if distance learning was even worth separating out at this point. Now, the pendulum might be headed back in the same direction. Many participants came to the group saying their institutions were just getting started with distance learning and they were coming to learn what it was they should be playing attention to within that specific aspect of librarianship.

Though I’m officially not the chair anymore, but I anticipate continuing to play a role with it as the chairs as they get used to their new role. And I suspect I’ll continue to learn things that will be relevant to WFU as well.


LibraryThing, an excellent social catalog, hosted a happy hour on Saturday evening. Some of the crowd overlapped with LITA, but I also met several people I’ve followed for years online but hadn’t yet met in person. LibraryThing, by the way, is totally awesome. There is even a way to pull the social information into library catalogs, adding many of the things that people are coming to expect. It’s a good company, too. Full disclosure: I have a lifetime membership for my personal collection. :)


Top Tech Trends

Susan blogged it for our work blog, there’s a pretty thorough accounting of it on the LITA Blog, and I’ve written up my topic, so I’ll talk about my experience as a panelist in this space.

I was completely honored and surprised to be included in this group. Top Tech Trends, or TTT, is (I think) the only program that I have attended at every ALA I’ve been to. I’m always impressed with who they have on the panel and what they have to say. It never occurred to me that I might be on the slate at some point. So, it was especially meaningful for me. I had a good time on it and enjoyed the conversation… though I think that we probably could have filled the time with any one of the topics we addressed.

When planning the session, we each gave the committee a slate of possible topics and they selected one for each of us to focus on. We drew numbers to see what order we’d go in, and luckily I was fourth. (I like being towards the middle in things like this.) The panel was structured so that each person presented their topic for 4-5 minutes, then we had 4-5 minutes of discussion from the other panelists. After we each presented a trend, we all talked about various aspects of ebooks. My topic was Augmented Reality, and as you might guess, I approached it from an educational perspective. As mentioned above, I have a post on this over on my blog.

There were really great comments and kind remarks in Twitter, so I feel good about my participation. And I am especially glad to have had this opportunity, especially with this panel of folks.

Web Coordinating Committee

Following Top Tech Trends, I had a Web Coordinating Committee meeting for LITA. This committee is the one that works on LITA’s website. A new LITA site is in the works, based on the ALA design. My role with the committee is to co-mentor the Emerging Leaders group. And my involvement in this meeting, again as you might guess, was to advocate the inclusion of multimedia/video.


The next meeting on tap was BIGWIG. This is the experimental arm of LITA. They were the first ones to play with blogs and wikis in LITA (hence the name: Blogs, Interactive Groupware, and Wikis Interest Group). However, this type of social software has emerged and is no longer experimental. The group made a formal recommendation to the Board to transition these tools to either the Web Coordinating Committee or the Publications one. With this, the group also discussed changing the name so that it would no longer be an acronym.

The new business was to talk about how to do online conference in parallel with real life ones. ACRL and other groups do a stellar job with this, so we talked about what LITA could bring to the table and how we might be able to provide something similar but with a LITA twist.

OCLC Blog Salon

I really enjoy the OCLC Blog Salon. This year it was officially a Twitter salon as well. They had fun badges; instead of “My name is” the nametags said “My blog is…” and “My twitter username is…” :) I remember a few years ago I was totally intimidated to show up to this, but after just a few short years of involvement, I felt like it was another reunion. It’s really fun to get to see the faces behind the blogs and Twitter usernames that I see every day, and good to catch up with some of the people I hadn’t yet seen at this Midwinter.


LITA Town Hall

My conference concluded with the LITA Town Hall meeting. They always have good food, and for as long as I have been there they have used this time to actively seek out member perspectives for organizational planning purposes. This year was about the strategic plan, which was especially nice for me as I had only heard about it in the abstract up until that point. The plan was broken up into topics, and each table addressed a different one. Even though that was the case, there were clear themes that crossed each table. Hopefully the board will be able to do some good work with the plan based on the feedback!

So that was my ALA. Throw in some lovely dinners with people I only see at ALA conferences, a pot of tea at Tealuxe with a friend, and one outing to do a little bit of exploration, and it was a busy but really good time! I’m sad to miss seeing everyone/participating in things at Annual, but I plan to be active online a bunch between now and then, and hopefully I’ll be able to continue with some of this work next year! Thanks to everyone I saw that made it such a great time!

Susan’s Final Morning at ALA Midwinter 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:31 am

I had two sessions on my itinerary this morning, both at the Convention Center. So my roommates and I checked out bright and early and hopped the shuttle down to the BCEC one last time. It was a snowy ride, as the wet weather W-S experienced yesterday made its way to New England and turned wintry.

I attended the LITA Town Hall Meeting for the first time. It is a discussion gathering where members get to provide input on what they would like to see from their organization in the next year. What I didn’t realize is that it is a breakfast meeting (with real,hot good food) so I wasted $11 buying a fast food meal from the convention hall vendor. Oh well, it wasn’t too hard managing two breakfasts :-)

It turns out that LITA is in a strategic planning process and used this meeting to ask the members to look at what has been created so far and provide input. Each table was assigned a “theme” area (ours was “innovation”) and we reviewed the goals and suggested others. It was an interesting process as most of us were coming in fairly uninformed as to the history of the planning process and how it is anticipated this will fit in with the larger ALA organization. Still, it was a lively discussion and I believe several good ideas were generated by the various groups.

My final session was one that Lynn recommended. It was titled “From Ideas to Reality: Trends to Embrace in 2010″ and was led by Arnold Hirshon, LYRASIS’s Chief Strategist & Executive Consultant. He cautioned that every topic discussed in the session would not necessarily become a trend but all bear watching.

Three broad areas that drive library trends were discussed: technology, content and people. The presentation was engaging but the content didn’t surprise me as many of these ideas are ones that we have have under discussion or for which we actually have existing projects.

The summary of the technology trends he discussed were:
*computing is migrating to the cloud
*Open source software market is moving to maturity
*devices portability is diversifying
*social networking is experiencing growing pains
*bandwidth demand is insatiable

In the area of content, the economics of information is shifting. There will be a shift from free web content as ad revenue models are failing. Providers will be looking to augment ad revenue with other approaches, for instance, raising the cost of mobile applications. Currently free content may not continue to be free. Another content-related trend concerns the devolution of crowdsourcing. The decrease in Wikipedia content authors may be a bellwether of things to come. It might be that many topics are already covered, the rules discouraging participation have turned people away, or boredom has set in as the newness of participatory authorship fades. The biggest content trend concerns e-books. Roz has discussed this issue at length, but I’ll just add that Hirshon believes that e-books are at the tipping point and predicts they will continue to see rapid deployment, innovation and adoption.

People are numbered among library directors’ biggest problems (along with the economy and speed of change). However, some assumptions about staff are not borne out.

Studies on age-related traits find that when comparing under-30 and over-50 year old staff:
*over 50’s are more cooperative, contributing, and risk-taking.
*Under 30’s are slightly more more competitive.
*both groups are looking for flexible work arrangements and opportunities to give back to society.
*the best teams are ones that include both age groups.

Another staff trait that is important to understand is that achieving results and receiving support in that endeavor is the top motivator for most staff (over recognition or incentives).

Hirshon concluded by cautioning that it is hard to innovate and transform by embedding change within your existing operation. It is best to create a separate group to get an initiative started and then move it into normal operations after it is established. Finally, he encouraged us to stop believing that everything must be perfectly prepared and analyzed before you take action.The final advice he had for the room filled with library directors was: Act!

Some Musings on eBooks from Roz at ALA

Monday, January 18, 2010 12:42 pm

Rather than detail other sessions I have gone to here at ALA Midwinter, I thought I’d follow a thread that has gone throughout them and try and give some perspectives and ideas that have come to me. Ebooks, not surprisingly, have been a hot topic – everyone wants to know if we have hit the tipping point with them thanks to the Kindle, Nook, ebook vendors for libraries, etc. I find it all a bit curious, since ebooks have been the ‘next big thing’ in libraries for most of my 15 years at ZSR. That, combined with my love of the physical book keeps me skeptical about this being the decade of the ebook – but a few things at this conference got me thinking.

First, in the Top Technology Trends session that Susan has already blogged about, David Walker mentioned two different concepts in relation to ebooks that got my brain going. First, in the discussion about augmented reality, David ( I think it was him, if not, it was Jason Griffey) talked about an idea for an app that could tell where you were in the stacks and pop up for you related ebooks that the library had access to. This got me thinking about the difficulties of being sure students had access to all the information about a topic when some are physical books and some are ebooks – we certainly won’t go around putting dummy blocks in the stacks where ebooks would be if they were in print, but how do we help students who may be wandering the stacks understand that in this discipline we have gone to ebooks so the most recent titles may not be on the shelves. Conversely, how do we indicate to ebook users that there are other relevant titles in the stacks.

But more intriguing, however, was David’s discussion of how ebooks may level the playing field between books and journals. He discussed his experience in college was that books were easier to use than print journals so he gravitated to them. Students today find journals easier to use (as long as they are online) so they gravitate to them, even when what they really need is a good overview not the super-specific look journal articles often give you. But when both types of information, the journal and the monograph, are equally accessible and equally easy to use, perhaps the ultimate result will be that students get much more balanced sources of information because they will go to the one that is best, not the one that is easiest.

The ebook conversation continued in the GOBI user group meeting where they discussed the new ability to include ebooks as part of approval plans. But what they made clear was that it would go easier if you could make broad statements (ebook preferred across the board, ebooks from all vendors, etc) rather than the super specific ‘we want ebooks only from EBL and only in these very narrow call number ranges.’ Additionally, however, they indicated the problem we have discussed as well which is that vendors often don’t make ebooks available at the same time as the print – this means that libraries have often already gotten the print by the time ebook is available. I can’t tell and don’t know enough to decide whether this is a deliberate move on the part of publishers because they want everyone to buy the print (cynical view) or if it really takes that much longer to get the e-version of a book out when the native format is print. Perhaps it will take a rethinking of the monograph publishing process where books are born digital in formats that take advantage of the power of linking, etc. and the print book only comes later.

Finally, the ideas of letting your patrons decide what books to buy electronically via patron-driven ebook collection development was discussed in both the GOBI User Group Meeting and a session on innovation by necessity which I am sure Carolyn McCallum will blog in more detail. I’ll just say that the patron-driven ebook purchasing seems to be a promising development that will take careful consideration in terms of budgeting and other aspects but the research that was discussed indicates that patrons do as good a job deciding what libraries need as librarian liaisons/bibliographers do in most areas. It’s an idea I find intriguing and will follow at the schools that are implementing it.

I talked to lots of vendors (LOTS of vendors) and will be sharing various information with folks in the weeks to come – but one interesting thing is that three independent vendors have new slavery/anti-slavery primary source collections – perhaps its something in the water. Now we are off to the airport in hopes that our flight is not delayed! Fingers crossed we’ll see you tomorrow (Tuesday)!!

Saving the World and Some $$ – Roz at ALA

Monday, January 18, 2010 12:19 pm

My Saturday afternoon at ALA Midwinter went from the sublime to the sublime. First I got to hear Al Gore speak about his new book Our Choice: A Plan to Save The Earth – he was inspiring as always (if you find him inspiring as I do). He made some interesting points about the information and misinformation that has influenced the debate on climate change and the our responses to it. I won’t bore you with too many details, but one funny thing he said came in his discussions of the technologies that will bring about real solutions to the crisis. He went through the usual suspects: wind, solar, biomass, nuclear and then he said ‘there’s one other technology we need and that is one that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and converts it into something usable – and the good news is we have that technolgy now – it’s called a tree.’ And he went on to discuss reforestation.

The second half of my afternoon Saturday was spent in a focus group with Alexander Street Press. If you know their product, you know they are top quality and usually top dollar as well. I was asked to participate in a focus group on a new product called America History in Video. I had seen a preview of the product at ALA Annual in Chicago last summer and was eager to see more about it. About 12 librarians from a variety of instiutions were a part of the focus group. Some had trialed the product, one had already purchased the product and others, like me, wanted more information. The editor of the product discussed its purpose, development and content. She also showed us some of the amazing features: transcripts of all the spoken and subtitled words in the films, the ability to create playlists that include clips from any ASP product as well as links to other web content, and more. The development team had lots of questions for us about the kinds of content that might be appropriate to add to the product – unedited interviews, for example, that were later edited and included in PBS documentaries, for example. We were also asked for our opinions as to how they might move forward for a world history in video product. There were lots of interesting perspectives in the group and it was great to work with a company that was so knowledgeable about their products and eager to hear from us. The best news of all, however, is that I won us a year subscription to the product!! It has such far ranging interests that I think faculty from History, Political Science, Communication, Anthropology, American Ethnic Studies and other departments will find it extremely exciting and I look forward to what they do with the content!

Sunday @ ALA Midwinter According to Susan

Sunday, January 17, 2010 10:10 pm

Welcome Trendsters!

Today I had the pleasure of watching as the LITA “Top Technology Trends” torch was passed to a new group of “trendsters” that included our very own Lauren Pressley. Top Technology Trends is a highly regarded semi-annual event at ALA where the top names in the library technology field predict next year’s top trends.

The panel this year was made up of all new names:

Amanda Etches-Johnson, User Experience Librarian at McMaster University
Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology at University of Tennessee, Chattanooga
Joe Murphy, Science Librarian, Yale University
Lauren Pressley, Instructional Design Librarian, Wake Forest University
David Walker, Web Services Librarian, California State University System

Each introduced one trend and then the panel posed questions and offered opinions on the trend. I thought they offered an interesting mix of ideas. David Walker thinks Discovery Systems are a major trend. He feels they will help facilitate and mature other trends, such as RSS. Amanda’s trend prediction involved the user experience in regard to interface interaction design. She focused on the mobile interface and the fact that, by necessity, they are designed to get the user what they need faster. One of the related trends she discussed is user analytics and where that might be heading. Joe discussed the effect that saturation of mobile technology is having on library services; everything from facilities (ie outlets) to pressure on staff. His concern was that every new thing we take on is a loss of something else, but we don’t want to compromise the soul of libraries. Lauren talked about augmented reality and cited the 2010 Horizon Report which predicts it will have widespread impact in the next 2-3 years. Finally, Jason talked about the tremendous trend that has taken off in the past year with the proliferation of mobile applications. Apple opened the App Store in July 2008 and there are now over 3 billion apps that have been developed. However, he predicts the death of the mobile app, maintaining that they will be replaced with the HTML 5 / CSS 3 standards.

The last part of the session was spent discussing another trendy topic: ebooks. Jason talked about 2 new products he learned about at last week’s CES Conference: Copia and Blio. Copia is a software platform that is attempting to produce a social experience but one where the reader interacts with the text of the book. Blio, which is not yet available, is a ebook reader that will try to enrich the reading experience where readers can “fully enjoy the subtlety of design originally intended by the publisher.” It was developed in partnership with Baker and Taylor.

A very interesting viewpoint was offered by David Walker who thinks that students have moved their research toward journals simply because they are readily available electronically. In his undergraduate days, it used to be easier to get a book than an article, so that’s what students used. Often in their research, undergraduates might be better served by a book because it provides a broader base. He believes that delving more deeply into ebooks could bring back parity. He thinks libraries have been overbuying into journals because they are available online. I don’t know that I had ever thought about the issue in this light, but it makes sense to those of us who have watched the research habits of students who routinely bypass print materials for whatever is available electronically. I’d be interested in hearing others’ thoughts on this!

My second big goal today was to find the book scanner vendor Atiz, which manufactures a book scanner that might work for us PLUS it is in our budget. Roz and I were given a demonstration and I think it could do what we need. After talking with several vendors whose scanners were double and triple our available funding, it was encouraging to discover a potential solution!

My favorite “networking” encounter came about this morning when Roz and I ran into Teresa Faust and Tina Kussey. They are doing great and it was wonderful to catch up with both of them since it has been years since I’ve seen them (although I am a facebook friend with Tina!). Tina and Teresa say “Hey” to all their old colleagues at ZSR. Teresa is happy to report that Vermont McDonald’s now serve sweet tea.

The weather report is calling for a wintery mix overnight in Boston, so please cross your fingers for the temperature to stay above freezing so we can have a non-stressful trip back to NC.

Susan at ALA Midwinter in Boston

Saturday, January 16, 2010 11:17 pm

Exhibit Hall

My first full day at ALA Midwinter 2010 was chock full of meetings, discussions, exhibits and renewing acquaintances. Our hotel is close to Boston Common, not far from Beacon Hill. The Boston Convention & Exhibition Center is farther than a walk away, so the first order of business was to familiarize myself with the conference shuttle system. Roz and I headed down to the center to check in, eat and get access to the Internet to get prepared for the day (Our hotel’s Internet access is sketchy at best).

I headed to the Exhibit Hall as soon as it opened since I have a real mission there this time. I wanted to talk with book scanner vendors to find out if there is any chance of a scanner within our price range (doesn’t look good…..). I always take a spin by the Alibris booth to say Hi to Bill. This year I had heard a rumor that Alibris was raffling a Kindle. Turned out it was just a rumor, but I was glad to give Bill a good laugh!

Lauren P. has been involved with the LITA Distance Learning Discussion group for many years and since the subject is one that I am hearing more often around WFU, I thought it would be interesting to attend. I ran into Debbie Nolan on the way and she came to this session also. There was a good exchange of talk about different tools people are using to provide virtual learning experiences, including facebook, twitter, LibGuides and Sakai. One of the most interesting topics, in my opinion, was about the level of text reference. Most in the room are offering this service, some using libraryh3lp (as we do) or text-a-librarian. But, uniformly, everyone reported that they do not see high use figures for text messaging. Everyone agreed that it is early in the game so things might change. On a side note, I enjoyed sharing our South Trip facebook story with the group and I think they found it interesting.

Debbie joined Roz and me for the Ebsco luncheon. Roz reported on what we learned there so I won’t be repetitious. I ducked out early (but not before dessert) to catch the shuttle to attend a session titled “New Campus Partnership Roles for Librarians.” The session was facilitated by Barbara Jenkins at the University of Oregon. She is the Director of Instruction and Campus Partnerships. When selecting her title, they made a conscious decision not to use the term “outreach.” “Outreach” has a one way sound to it, where “partnership” evokes a two way relationship. This set the tone for the session where participants discussed the importance of going beyond successful one-on-one relationship-building to building relationships that connect into the campus infrastructure. The main premise was that only through effective on-going partnerships do librarians become part of the “living/learning” experience in the university. It was a very interesting exchange of ideas.

Over the course of the afternoon while heading from here to there, I connected with Elisabeth Leonard, Beth Barnhardt, Jim Galbraith, and Eleanor Cooke. I also had a brief Steve Kelley sighting….

My final meeting of the day was my “real” purpose for being here. I am on the LITA National Forum Planning Committee for the 2010 conference that will take place in Atlanta this coming fall. We spent the meeting discussing all of the details for securing keynote speakers, and preconference/concurrent session presenters. It’s fairly amazing the amount of details that are required in putting on a first class conference (almost as many as putting on a first class 5K race!).

This evening Carolyn, Roz, Elizabeth Novicki and I ventured out to a fabulous restaurant, Legal Seafood, where I had the best non-Maryland crabcakes ever (and that is saying a lot). Now we are back at the hotel and ready to turn in. Tomorrow is another full day of conference activities.

EBSCO News – Roz at ALA

Saturday, January 16, 2010 2:21 pm

Spent the morning in a committee meeting and then had lunch on EBSCO for their Academic Librarian’s Lunch. They usually make interesting announcements at these things (in Chicago this past summer they announced their Discovery Service) so I was curious as to what was coming. Two items of interest came out. First EBSCO is tweaking their relevancy ranking and in the summer they will make it the universal default sort for all non-medical subscribers. We already have relevancy set as our default sort in EBSCO but the new rankings (they say) will be even better. They are going to rank first on subject headings then on keywords in title, abstracts and authors. Other things taken into account will be length of article, non reviews, date and other options. I look forward to seeing the results – the new relevancy sorting will be active February 1st.

The second and perhaps more important announcement had to do with popular magazine titles. According to EBSCO publishers of these titles told aggregators in the fall they were going to go with a single source and put out the request for RFPs. EBSCO won the RFP with all publishers. This means to going forward they will be the ONLY aggregator providing access to titles like Time, Sports Ilustrated, US News & World Report, People, History Today, Fortune, Forbes, Money, Science, Discover, Scientific American, National Review, New Republic and a whole host of other titles. For some, like Time, they will also be the only historical repository for back issues. Kinda makes you wonder if we need any other multi-subject database outside of Academic Search Premiere?

I am now waiting for Al Gore to begin and will blog that if he reveals anything of significance! The room is filling up fast!

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