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In the '2010 ATLA' Category...

ATLA2010-Day Three

Friday, June 25, 2010 5:00 pm

Day Three of the ATLA Annual Conference was a short one. After checking out of the hotel, I got on a shuttle to Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Another unique thing about the ATLA conference is that they have a day on the host campuses, which among other things, gives attendees a chance to poke around their libraries :). This year, half the day was at LPTS and the other half was at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Since I took the shuttle to the airport from LPTS, I didn’t get to experience the other campus.

Our time at LPTS started with a chapel service, which included memorials to previous members, and then continued with a great brunch and the opportunity to view the campus and tour the library. I had a chance to note a few books they had in their reference department that I didn’t recognize.

The first floor of their reference area was all “B” call numbers, with all the other call numbers being on the level above.

The only session for the day was another panel, “Great Underappreciated and Much Needed Works of Theological Reference.” The panelists presented several lists of reference works, or sections of larger works, that are not usually considered while doing reference for religious studies, such as Guide to the Sources of Medieval History (historical outlines, papal edicts) or International Encyclopedia of the Social and Behavioral Sciences. Again, there was a long bibliography for this presentation, so I have some catalog searching to do! The moderator for this session was David Mayo, from Union-PSCE in Charlotte, who I had been wanting to meet with at some point during the conference. David is heading up the planning committee for the 2013 conference in Charlotte, and I am hoping to be involved with their committee.

Overall, I really enjoyed being back at the ATLA conference. I made some good connections, got some good ideas from the presentations, and some good catalogs and titles to order! Hopefully I’ll be back next year in Chicago!

ATLA2010-Day Two

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:33 pm

Friday at the ATLA Annual Conference began with the second plenary speaker, Dr. Susan Garrett, Professor of New Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. She discussed, “Biblical Studies and Real World Hermeneutics,” which advocated a shift from “integral hermeneutics” to “differential hermeneutics.” Hermeneutics, in biblical studies, is the field of interpretation of biblical and extra-biblical texts. Garrett encourages teaching students to understand the variety of possible interpretations and approaches to a given text, rather than teaching them that there is one correct interpretation. This idea of a single, “authorized” meaning leads to division, because there is an implied right and wrong interpretation. Rather, by teaching our students that there are multiple possibilities, we prepare them for interactions in congregations and the “real world” where they will be leading or encountering a variety of viewpoints. She discussed several assignments that she uses with students to help them think through an interpretation and its implications, and emphasized that the goal isn’t to change student’s minds, but get them to be aware of the multiple choices they make as they do interpretation. I thought her talk was fascinating, and she used some really good examples to illustrate her points. Let me know if you are interested in more specifics!

“Online Bibles: Trustworthy, Sectarian and Odd Bibles” by Michael Kuykendall, Professor of New Testament Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, was a very useful overview of the variety of online bibles that are available for study or historical research. He included a 20 page annotated handout with his show-and-tell presentation, which will help me add to my LibGuide for the Divinity School! This presentation was a great reminder of the variety of translations that are available (literal, paraphrases, functional, dynamic), and how they can be useful for research (tracing mistakes, publication/publisher histories, religious conflicts).

After a lunch presentation from EBSCO, I headed to a presentation by Anthony Elia from JKM Library at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, “Reading as Wandering, Wandering as Theology: Textual Landscapes, Flaneury and the Social History of Contemporary Reading.” This was a dense paper filled with some great quotations and statistics on reading and how it has been perceived over the last two hundred years. Specifically, Elia discussed the long history of the idea of the “death of reading” and how morality and concepts of laziness and leisure are bound up in our discussions of reading and why we do it. One question he posed had the audience reflecting: How long can you go without reading? One week? One day? One hour? How does thinking about reading in this way broaden what we consider to be reading?

A panel discussion from the Teaching and Learning Interest Group, “Pray, Work, Study, Log On: Can Libraries be a Common Ground in Online Theological Education?” focused on online education and creating community through the course design. While each of the panelists had led a different type of online course, all five presenters emphasized that online courses are not less work than a face-to-face class, and to have a good experience for both teacher and students, the course should not enroll more than 15-20 students. In designing an online course, or an online component for a “regular” course, it is important to not just transfer your regular content to the online environment, ie, don’t tape your lecture and post it. A variety of organized assignments, discussion questions, collaboration and social media spaces, etc… need to be incorporated into the online course.

After a short break, I headed a few blocks from the hotel for a tour of the History Center for the Archdiocese of Louisville and the Cathedral of the Assumption. The Diocese of Louisville was created in 1808 (along with Boston, New York and Philadelphia) and was the diocese for “The West,” encompassing all or part of Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. The history center had a variety of pictures, vestments and other artifacts from the first bishop, Bishop Flaget, through to the contemporary church.

ATLA2010-Day One

Thursday, June 24, 2010 2:54 pm

From Thursday, June 17-Saturday, June 19, I attended the 2010 American Theological Library Association Annual Conference, held in Louisville, KY. This was my first time attending this conference since 2003, and it was nice to be back in a place where terms like ontology, hermeneutics and exegesis were used with the same frequency as FRBR, OCLC and LibGuides!

After arriving and exploring Louisville on Wednesday afternoon, and attending the opening reception in the evening, the first conference event was held bright and early at 7:30 Thursday morning. One of the unique things about ATLA is that they include several opportunities to visit local churches and experience various worship styles during the conference. With a large number of members working for specific denominations, and being ordained ministers themselves (as our own Sharon Snow was), these are popular events. So Thursday morning we met at the Christ Church Cathedral, around the corner from the hotel, for the Episcopal service of Morning Prayer.

Upon returning to the hotel, the first plenary session, “Describing and Accessing Resources-Where are We Headed,” was led by Dr. Barbara Tillett of the Library of Congress. She gave an overview of the changes from AACR2 (“take what you see”) to FRBR (“see connections”), and what some of these changes would mean for our catalogs, and for theological studies in particular. Specific changes to the LCSH she mentioned were removing the “OT” and “NT” abbreviations for Old and New Testaments and using the full words, as well as listing individual biblical books, ie, “Bible. Genesis.” rather than “Bible. O.T. Genesis.”

Tillett’s presentation was very helpful in explaining some of these changes to a non-cataloger. I know it at least made sense while I was listening to her!

After visiting the exhibits opening, I attended “Where’s the Data? A Research Agenda for Next Generation Catalogs” by Lisa Gonzalez from Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. Her presentation was a lit review of recent research on surveys and improving online catalogs. She described the research and what was missing, as well as the type of usability testing they completed at CTU (where they are also a Voyager/vufind hybrid). Several hints and guidelines from her experience and research:

  • minimum of 5 students
  • use generic terminology, what students would understand
  • write up your questions along with your rationale, or what issue you are attempting to evaluate
  • make sure that you aren’t confusing qualitative (observation, interviews) with quantitative (surveys, transaction log analysis)
  • try card sorting! A lot of usability questions may be better answered by a card sorting exercise.

My afternoon sessions started with “Historiography for the Study of the New Testament” by Beth Sheppard of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She encouraged librarians to be trend spotters in our collection development practices. Rather than waiting for faculty members to make requests, librarians should pay attention to publications and presentations in our subject disciplines in order to notice new and developing fields of research. This will allow us to have a collection at the ready when faculty members want to incorporate a new perspective into their own teaching or research. She gave several things to watch for:

Internal (own school):

  • curriculum change-faculty may be looking for a change in their course and use it as a “lab” to try out new ideas
  • new hires-older faculty may want a new faculty member to bring in new, different ideas, to fill in generation gaps
  • ILL-faculty are more likely to recommend an item to students and colleagues after they have used it, so we should make an effort to purchase recently requested titles


  • new sections and consultations at conferences-at the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) conference, the “Jesus, John and History” test section is becoming a permanent section, indicating increased interest and research in that area
  • subject fatigue-when terminology becomes too prevalent in publications and conferences, faculty will start looking for other areas to research

One example: In 2003, a paper was presented at SBL on “Reading the Signs of the Times: The New Testament in the Historical Context of Rome,” which led to an increase in publications on the topic of “empire” in the following years. As everything has been focused on the political aspect of empire, and from one analytical perspective, other researchers will start looking at other topics, such as economics and empire (clothing styles, pottery types, trade routes, fishing) or from different perspectives (post-colonial, counter-factual).

This was a really interesting presentation and gave me several good ideas, as well as a good overview of the variety of historiographic approaches in biblical studies.

The last session for the day was “Kissing Your Handouts Goodbye: How LibGuides Can Revolutionize Your Instruction” by Michelle Spomer of Azusa Pacific University ( Spomer used her LibGuide as a presentation tool during her talk, briefly demonstrating the various features of the LibGuides software and how they look in practice. While most of the examples were things we already do here at ZSR, it was nice to see a different implementation. A few things I was inspired to work on this summer:

  • getting book covers into my LibGuides and experimenting with the book display
  • adding “star” rankings to my databases
  • adding a link to the WFU plagiarism/academic integrity pages on my citation page
  • embedding screenshots
  • experimenting with a preset google web search box (one example she gave was for “‘social work’ site:edu OR site:org”)

After I dropped off all of the catalogs and swag I picked up in the exhibits, I did a little more exploring in downtown Louisville and got a good nights sleep!

Louisville Slugger Museum

old city hall

More pictures at my flickr page!

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