Professional Development

In the '2010' Category...

Web-Scale Management Services Seminar

Thursday, November 18, 2010 1:36 pm

Tuesday I attended a workshop on OCLC’s WebScale service. The workshop was a joint offering from OCLC and Lyrasis held at the Durham Public Library. DPL, OCLC and Lyrasis were excellent hosts as we had wifi, coffee, and lunch (I chose a basil, tomato, mozzarella sandwich).


We started the day with an exploratory talk by Tim Rodgers about the ‘cloud.’ Tim talked about a number of interesting topics and touched on some key reasons why libraries are interested in cloud computing (Expertise & $$ were key reasons). These are compelling reasons for any institution but I was struck with a statistic that Tim used – there is a county library system in NC that only has a budget of $7.50 per resident as compared to a national average of ~$20 per resident. Combined with the fact that this county is small and sparsely populated and the expertise and money arguments become very compelling.

We spent most of the rest of our day learning about OCLC’s service, talking with our fellow workshop attendees, and seeing OCLC’s services in action. There were lots of interesting features but perhaps the most compelling image that I saw came from one of the presentation slides that drove home two key ideas: First, a key focus of their presentation was the integration of work-flows with external data. They demonstrated an Amazon ordering plug-in that used web-services to exchange data between the two systems. Second, the discussion emphasized the idea that running services on a combined database and in a shared environment enables new data services (content aggregation, discovery, analytics, testing, sharing).

The demo portion included some interesting questions about specific features and when they would be available. I will not try to comment on specific development cycles and feature availability but suffice it to say that while there are lots of features now, some of the stuff you need is still coming. Generally speaking Circ seemed to be a bit more complete than Acq but they had a vision for how the system would evolve over the next year.

It was an interesting day. I got to speak with folks from Lyrasis about hosting & open source systems, with folks from Elizabeth City State University about libraries and their IT needs and got to learn a lot about OCLC & their Web Scale Management Service system. If you are curious there are lots of links, presentations and videos on the OCLC site http://www.oclc.org/webscale/default.htm.

There will be a webinar on December 2nd with OCLC that includes a live demo of functionality.

Kevin at LITA National Forum

Friday, October 8, 2010 9:46 am

Here are a few notes from my first LITA National Forum:

  • Subjective perceptions. From the opening keynote (an epistemological discussion of Wikipedia), a couple questions resonated with me – one in particular. How do we know how to resolve conflict when we don’t really agree on reality?
  • Legitimate peripheral participation. “Through peripheral activities, novices become acquainted with the tasks, vocabulary, and organizing principles of the community.” [1] Growth depends on access to experts, on observing their practices and, through time, understanding the broader context of effort and community.
  • Interface design. Small changes in user interface can equal big changes in user behavior.
  • Cloud computing. From Saturday’s General Session, Roy Tennant discussed how the cost of innovation is approaching zero, that the model “easy-come-easy-go” enables a greater flexibility and lower risk to experiment, and cited Erik and his Code4Lib article.
  • Scrum. An iterative, incremental methodology for project management and software development. You work in a timeboxed sprint with a focus on speed and flexibility as part of your development process.

Of course, Erik, Jean-Paul, and I presented on our move to the cloud. As others have said, it went very well. Erik gave an introduction and overview of the project and service models, JP talked about the opportunities and challenges of cloud computing, Erik discussed IT service management, and I finished with our migration and production process and lessons learned. There was an exciting amount of interest following the talk. Overall, a great conference – small in size, big in ideas.

Harvard Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians — Class of 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010 5:25 pm

“Qualities of great leadership are: focus, passion, wisdom, courage, and integrity.” Lee Bolman

The above quote might make you think this institute was just a series of sage tidbits, but it really was a highly personal and potentially transformational experience. The class was over 100 academic librarians in leadership positions mostly from the U.S., with some Canadians and a few other internationals, including several from South Africa.

For several months prior to the institute, I worked away at reading the 443 pages of the fourth edition of Reframing Organizations: Artistry, Choice, and Leadership (ISBN 9780787987992), which was packed with real life examples, and was enlightening even before I arrived in Cambridge, MA. (I will add the book to our collection.) We were fortunate to have Lee Bolman, one of the authors of this primary text, as an instructor during the week. The book teaches about viewing problems or challenges with 4 different perspectives, or frames, in mind when trying to make sound decisions: structural (e.g. the organizational chart, or organization as a whole), human resources (meeting the needs of individual people), political (inside and outside of your institution), and symbolic (overview of past, present, and future in story-like terms).

Copious additional readings each night with the brain-straining intensity of discussion each day made for a tiring week, but it was highly educational and satisfying. I learned what a case study really is and I did find it to be a useful tool for learning. I won’t describe the rest of the content and structure because it was 98% the same as Susan’s experience in 2008. Susan’s description of the frames is also the same as what I heard; I just gave one of the variations above. To read Susan’s posts (recommended!) scroll down on this page until you see the category “2008 Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians” (on the right) and click it.

I cannot even begin to come close to sharing all of the benefits of the institute in writing this post, so come chat if you want! Here are some thought-provoking nuggets (and I’m quoting and paraphrasing from various instructors):

  • People have different concepts of what leadership is, so any given leader is going to get mixed reviews in the effort to meet expectations.
  • Where are we likely to succeed or fail in our responsibilities, especially in the context of a changing environment?
  • When our world changes, we need to notice and adapt. Because we don’t want to go the route of the buggy whip or Lisa (from Apple). This is why these blog posts are so important — they help us to take note of what is changing outside of WFU so that we can think about what we need to do differently.
  • Often we have more power than we think we do. There was a whole segment on “leading from the middle” which I believe every single full-time employee in ZSR does. Bolman was the instructor and he also said, “Leading from the middle takes:
    • doing your homework;
    • working up and down [the org chart];
    • openness to learning and new possibilities;
    • courage.”
  • Why is change so difficult, even when we are genuinely committed to it? We went through an exercise designed to force one to dig down to the hidden reasons that are preventing behavioral changes. This short article explains it in plain language: Kegan, Robert and Lahey, Lisa. “The Real Reason People Won’t Change,” Harvard Business Review (November 2001): 84-92. Lahey was the instructor for this segment.
  • Change always looks like failure from the middle of the process.
  • How leaders go astray:

    • They see the wrong picture (through misreading or missing important clues or not knowing how to decode the clues, or through disrespecting other groups’ perspectives and cultures);
    • they lose key constituents;
    • they don’t recognize when the world has changed around them.

Again, there was ever so much more and I’d rather tell you in person instead of trying to include more here, so ask me!

Lauren C. At ALA Annual 2010: iPad, e-books, video experiments

Monday, July 5, 2010 1:49 pm

The iPad with 3G is an amazing productivity tool at a conference! Quick intros from Barry and JP were extremely helpful in getting me started — thanks, guys! The 3G was absolutely key, because wifi in the convention center was spotty and the added mobility created opportunities. For example, I showed info to a new committee member on the Gale shuttle bus, which I wouldn’t have done with my ThinkPad.

Most of my conference was spent in governance meetings, either with the ALCTS Acquisitions Section committees or with the transition to being on the ALCTS Board. Topics the Board will grapple with during my term as section chair: meeting at Midwinter (or not), shifting more ALCTS publications to electronic instead of print, developing more continuing education webinars, “reshaping” the ALCTS organizational structure, and possibly changing the meeting schedule so that a person could possibly attend all meetings organized by a given section.

I squeezed in a few other events around my Vice-Chair duties and here are three highlights:

  • JoVE (Journal of Visualized Experiments) is a brilliant concept. This peer-reviewed journal is the brain-child of a man with a PhD in stem cell biology, Moshe Pritsker, CEO, Editor-in-Chief and Co-founder of JoVE. As a grad student, Pritsker was unable to successfully replicate a published experiment by following complex written steps, so grant money had to be used to send him from the US to Edinburgh, UK to see the experiment performed. Because of this experience, Pritsker started a journal that not only publishes the steps but also has the video. According to Pritsker, JoVE had to be a journal, not videos on YouTube, to be successful: authors are motivated to publish in the framework that fits current tenure and recognition processes, and scientists turn to journals for their info. JoVe started as an open access journal but had to go to a subscription model to continue. It is the only video journal indexed in PubMed. Derrik, Carol and I are trying to figure out how we could get this innovative journal since several faculty have already expressed interest.
  • Interest in patron-driven acquisitions of e-books using EBL and eBrary seems to be on the rise. Nancy Gibbs, of Duke University, reported out on a test and someone from Rice University in the audience said they are testing right now too, but on a smaller scale than Duke. I also just found a conference report on a blog for a session I couldn’t attend: http://www.libraries.wright.edu/noshelfrequired/?p=1118
  • I spent some time at the Spacesaver booth working on storage planning jointly with Paul Rittelmeyer from University of Virgina (UVA) and the sales rep. UVA is replacing static shelving with the mobile shelving (Xtend) from Spacesaver; UVA’s project is running about 8 months behind ours, but there was utility in exchanging questions. For example, I learned that we need to communicate shelf “elevation” planning data to Spacesaver now — in other words we need to let the company know the heights of our books so they can hang the shelves to fit our collection size.

Kevin at ALA Annual 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010 6:58 am

In what was a quick two-day abbreviation of the ALA Annual conference (my first), the same observation kept recurring: there are a lot of librarians here. For every session I attended, there were more librarians than the chairs (and walls and floors) could accommodate. Erik’s Saturday morning cloud computing session was a case in point: chairs stolen from adjacent rooms, concerned librarians checking the fire code room capacity, other concerned librarians threading narrow fire escapes through the throng, and still other librarians spilling through the doors into the hallway.

Saturday afternoon and Sunday: different sessions, same story. After two full days of extended tech sessions, it was clear: there are a lot of librarians here and there are a lot of librarians here interested in technology.

Some of the sessions I attended discussed rich internet applications, emerging technologies, cloud computing, digital experience design, and top technology trends. More specifically, we discussed:

  • application screen design (e.g. Should I use a dashboard or a spreadsheet layout?)
  • usability heuristics (e.g. The system status must be visible.)
  • the disjunction between vision and beta (e.g. Your imagination exceeds my resources.)
  • the role of experience design (e.g. What kind of experience did you have with this website? What kind of experience do we want you to have?)

Overall, an important theme emerged: for all these considerations, there must be balance between the handcrafted and the industrial, between creativity and scale, between care and control.

Sunday morning was the LYRASIS awards breakfast. As one of three winners of the NextGen Librarian Award, I feel very honored and am very grateful. It is a good feeling to be recognized for one’s hard work. Thanks, Susan!

2010 NCICU Purchasing Committee

Monday, May 17, 2010 12:07 pm

2010 NC Independent Colleges and Universities (NCICU),

Purchasing Committee Meeting, May 13

by Lauren Corbett

Carol and I attended only 1 of the 2 days of the Purchasing Committee meeting at Meredith College in Raleigh. Georgia Williams of Chowan University was Chair for 2010. Georgia thoughtfully broke with the tradition of being the host and arranged for the central location in consideration of travel costs for participants.

  • INTEGRATED SEARCH SYSTEMS On the day that Carol and I were not present, the group looked at demonstrations of integrated search systems from Ex Libris (Primo), Serials Solutions (Summon), and EBSCO (Discovery). We heard comments about how expensive these systems are and it seems that most of the NCICU members are taking the same approach as we did — wait and see.
  • NC LIVE Jill Robinson Morris gave an NC Live update. Foci for the past year were: 1) content, 2) access and integration, 3) awareness. NC Live will be dealing with about an $85,000 cut in budget next year. As a sidebar to this presentation, Lauren learned that NC Live “governance” is 4 Committees of Interest (COIs): 1) NCICU, 2) state universities, 3) community colleges, and 4) public libraries through the State Library. K-12 is not represented because they don’t have a formal, single, centralized body to represent them. Kathy Winslow is the representative to the Resources Committee for NCICU.
  • SERIALS ASSESSMENT Carol enlivened her presentation on Serials Assessment, covering our cancellation project and weeding guidelines, by using humorous pictures to illustrate her points. She had the audience laughing about every 5 minutes. For example, her first slide was one of storm trooper action figures (Star Wars) killing Cheerios. (Serials cancellation is a killing action, n’est-ce pas?) Near the end of the day, Georgia used an index card process where each attendee recorded one great thing from the day and only items with unexpected benefits beyond the agenda were selected to be read aloud. Carol’s presentation was mentioned twice!
  • COPYRIGHT Kevin Smith, a lawyer and Scholarly Communications Officer at Duke University gave a presentation on copyright, most of which was very familiar since he spent quite a bit of time on the TEACH Act, but a particularly useful tidbit that was new to me and Carol was that while it is illegal for a French professor to circumvent DRM on DVDs to assemble a collection of film clips for a course, a new small exception allows a film studies professor to do this with films _from the Department’s collection_ (but not the library’s collection). Kevin concluded with a plug for librarians to play a role in getting professors to stop giving away their copyright.

Discussion in the business meeting at the end of the day concluded that the May meeting is the best opportunity for members to share questions and answers surrounding issues in libraries and that they wish to continue in this vein instead of limiting to the historical action agenda. Several members agreed that it is important to have a theme for the meeting so that each institution can send the appropriate representation for both learning and knowledge contribution. For example, if ILL is to be covered or reference desk services, Lauren would not be the most appropriate representative from WFU.

However, for May 2011, the plan is to have three e-book vendors present a proposal for consortial purchasing. David Brydon of High Point University is the Committee Chair for 2011 and will be hosting the meeting at his institution. Mary Roby of Gardner-Webb University was elected as Vice Chair/Chair Elect.

Code4Lib 2010 in Asheville

Tuesday, March 2, 2010 8:02 am

Asheville hosted a fantastic code4lib. Here are a few highlights:

  • Tuesday’s keynote. Cathy Marshall (Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research) discussed the nature of living digitally, where, for many, loss is an acceptable means of culling collections, where benign neglect is the de facto stewardship technique.
  • Galactic glitter glue with space debris. There was a proposal for the code4lib community to pursue cloud4lib, a cloud platform that would enable libraries to build and use a common infrastructure and service layer, the glue to hold everything together. Development enhances the entire platform, not just a single product or installation.
  • Public data. There are 3 cloud service models: infrastructure as service, platform as service, and software as service. Related to these service models is data in the cloud. One example is Google Fusion Tables, an experimental system for data management, collaboration, and visualization from Google Labs. For libraries, the cloud could include institutional data as a service.
  • Agile development. This one is all about IT project management and development cycles. When priorities and requirements change frequently (or are undefined) and others see IT as a black box, is it possible to build both software and trust? Sprint planning and iterative development make it possible to set priorities and to commit to certain functionality collaboratively.
  • Vampires vs. werewolves. How do you balance a stable production environment with a rapid upgrade cycle? How do you balance the needs of sysadmins and developers? You use puppet and nagios.
  • Thursday’s keynote. Paul Jones (Director of ibiblio.org and Associate Professor, UNC SILS) talked about Dunbar’s Number, attributed source (where liking and quality are functions of the communication source), and the changing nature of liabilities and assets on the social web (attention deficit is to multitasking as jargon is to slang as idiocentric humor is to internet memes).

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