Professional Development

In the 'ALA Midwinter' Category...

ALA Midwinter with Wanda

Tuesday, February 4, 2014 11:59 am

Continuing in my quest to get more involved with the Library Leadership and Management Section (LLAMA), I attended my first meeting as Member at Large for the Human Resources Section. I had a dual role during the meeting as I also reported for the Leadership Skills Committee, of which I am also a member. In late fall I was asked to run for Chair-Elect of the Human Resources Section. To be honest I wasn’t sure how all this aligned with my current service as Member at Large. I kept trying to get the LLAMA organization visually in my head. I found this LLAMA organization chart from 2012 and it does help some to make all this clearer. I thought you might also like to see the other areas of emphasis.

I enjoy the work of Human Resources, so I can’t believe that I will not for a second be fully engaged in this work. As we outlined a program proposal on leading virtual teams, I knew this area was a good fit for me. What are some of the best practices around leading teams of which the lead has no real authoritative power? What are some of the tools available for hosting virtual meetings? How do you keep members motivated and on task? One committee member suggested we partner with LITA on this program. Of course one hurdle is getting board approval to host at this annual and not annual 2015. Discovering at this meeting that our timeline was off, we immediately began discussing ideas for our program at annual of 2015. Our next program will look at ways to identify unconscious biases and understand how they impact your everyday beliefs and interactions. The program will also offer strategies for overcoming unconscious biases.

During the ACRL Personnel Administrators & Staff Development Officers Discussion Group meeting, I heard Karen Calhoun share details on the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System Leadership Development Program. This is an internal to Pittsburgh program open to any library worker. Both Librarian and library worker may elect to self nominate or may be nominated by the Dean or supervisor. With an annual budget of $25,000, Karen manages a 9 month program that seeks to make strong people even stronger. Attendees learn to identify and acknowledge their own individual strengths and then how to make best use of them to benefit the library. Other session topics include time management, organizational change, effective meetings, project management, managing your professional image, team-building, crucial conversations and communication planning. Change within our libraries has to occur quickly, so a lot of emphasis is placed on leading from right where you are. From the audience came concerns on the benefits of having open and free flowing conversations and how this might be dampened with attendees all coming from the same organization.

We also heard from UNC-Charlotte’s University Librarian, Stanley Wilder who gave a review of Library demographics within ARL Libraries. Though he spoke primarily on ARL trends, I found much of what he said to be right on the mark for ZSR Library as well. We have been hearing for years now about the graying of the profession and the big retirement trending. Around 2009/10 we were right in the middle of it. With the economic downturn during this same time some elected to push retiring back a few more years. Those retirements however made way for libraries to evolve and meet the current needs of their users. Look back a few years and you’ll see we were able also to do the same. Positions such as Scholarly Communications, Access Archivist, and Instructional Design were made possible from staff retirements. Wilder stated that libraries are paying more for in many cases fewer positions. Student assistant hiring is down 25% and down in expenditures 3%; support staff though down 20%, expenditures are up 25%; professionals up 10.5% and up 57.5% in expenditures. Also the focus on IT skills has impacted the gender swing in libraries.

Of course I spent considerable amounts of time with my BCALA family and did my usual tour of the exhibits. It was here that I took my one conference photo. It’s not a great photo, but I am always amazed at bravery in any form. And you must admit that one has to be pretty brave to wear this outfit when there’s snow outside all around. STimaging paid tribute to breast cancer awareness with a bright pink scanner and of course a salesperson willing to be on the spot!

Sarah at the 2014 ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia

Monday, February 3, 2014 4:56 pm

Throughout last fall, I participated in monthly virtual Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Executive Board meetings, and it was great to see the planned events come to fruition at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia. I spent Friday afternoon at the Asian Arts Initiative, where I heard talks on the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA) by Samip Mallick and about Philadelphia’s Asian American community by Amanda Bergson-Shilcock of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and Mary Yee of Asian Americans United. We had a great turnout and enjoyed a catered lunch from Philadelphia Chutney Company.

On Friday evening, I attended the APALA Executive Board meeting at the convention center, where I provided the APALA Mentoring Committee Report. Early Saturday morning, I participated in the ACRL Science & Technology Section (STS) Continuing Education Committee meeting. I am responsible for maintaining the Guide to Professional Development Resources for Science & Technology Librarians. On Saturday afternoon, I attended the APALA All Committees meeting and discussed plans of the Local Arrangements Task Force for the upcoming ALA Annual Conference.

On Saturday evening, I went to Karma Restaurant for the APALA Midwinter Dinner and listened to an excellent talk by authors Ellen Oh (The Prophecy Series, originally The Dragon King Chronicles), Soman Chainani (New York Times bestseller The School for Good and Evil) and publisher Phoebe Yeh of Crown Books for Young Readers.

Although my ALA Midwinter was busy with APALA and ACRL STS meetings, it was great to catch up with colleagues and meet new people, as well.

Mary Beth at ALAMW in Philadelphia

Monday, February 3, 2014 12:37 pm

My ALA Mid-Winter meeting this year was different from any other midwinter I’ve attended before. The Sustainability Round Table (SustainRT) for ALA was just approved to become a Roundtable a year ago and as such there’s still some organizing and introductions going on to get started on some of the initiatives we’d like to pursue. As a result of my early involvement in SustainRT I was given the appointment to represent the round table to the Planning and Budget Assembly of ALA. (PBA). As a result of this appointment I had a number of meetings I had to attend to learn as much as I could about how planning and budgeting works for ALA. In conjunction with this appointment was the obligation to attend meetings that were held by the Budget Analysis and Review Committee (BARC) as well as PBA itself. The Budget Analysis and Review Committee meeting provided an opportunity for those on that body to get an update and ask questions about the state of ALA’s budget.
Here are a few things of interest I learned during the course of attending these meetings:
· Publishing has been a significant drain on ALA’s finances in the last year.
· Some of that drain has been due to the acquisition of Neal Schuman by ALA
· There is a great deal of confusion about how “good will” is translated to a balance sheet. (My graduate classes in Business came in handy here.)
· The Annual Conference is “pulling its weight” as far as generating revenue for ALA. Midwinter Conference continually loses money for the organization.
· The number of attendees to ALA Mid-Winter is actually rising over the last few conferences. Dallas was the low, with ~ 4200 attendees. Seattle saw a rebound to over 5000. Philadelphia had over 7000 attendees to Midwinter this year. Costs still outpace attendance, however.
· BARC makes available videos on their website called the ALA Financial Learning Series. Those produced thus far include:
- Organizational structure and decision making
- Budget Cycle and Process
- The Long Term Investment Fund
- Round Tables Financial Orientation
In addition to all of these budget meetings, I also had time to actually attend the Sustainability Round Table meeting on Monday morning before flying back to Winston-Salem. The attendance was spare, (only 6 people, 4 of them there just to find out what the round table was about.) We discussed plans for the Round Table including an initiative taking shape to encourage ALA to divest itself from any fossil fuel interests. There was some discussion about whether we would devote our efforts to helping libraries become more sustainable, or whether we were going to focus on encouraging ALA itself to become more sustainable. Since the measure of the sustainability of any effort is determined by the nexus of people, planet and profit, it was suggested that SustainRT might also begin an initiative to eliminate Mid-Winter and just have an annual conference. The group, though small, was very engaged and I look forward to working with them in the coming conferences, and through online channels.

Kyle at ALA Midwinter 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014 4:40 pm

I was really hoping for two things to happen during my trip to Philadelphia for the 2014 ALA Midwinter conference: 1) to eat a cheesesteak on the Rocky steps with Boyz II Men, and 2) to become more involved in LITA as a 2014 Emerging Leader. The former never materialized (they never returned my phone calls, and cheesesteaks are overrated anyway), but the latter happened in a very big way. Let me tell you about it.

Emerging Leaders

Daniel, Mari, Kyle, and Annie

My EL Team: Daniel, Mari, Kyle, and Annie

I started my conference bright and early on Friday, spending all day in a session with the rest of this year’s class of ALA Emerging Leaders. This was essentially a crash course on ALA structure, leadership development, and project management. For those unfamiliar with the Emerging Leaders program, each year anywhere from 50 to 100 individuals are selected to participate, many of whom are sponsored by an ALA division, round table, or chapter. The goal is for ELs to learn more about the organization so they might seek out positions of leadership down the road. To help this along, participants are assigned to a team that spends the next six months tackling a project from a division or round table. My team has been tasked by ALCTS to evaluate their social media presence and come up with a set of recommendations for using social media to attract new members. We’ll then present our work at ALA Annual in Vegas. My team is wonderful–I’m so lucky to get to work with them.

As part of our session, we had the great opportunity to hear from current and past ALA leadership, including the entire lineup of active ALA presidents. My team couldn’t pass up this photo op:

Kyle, Barbara Stripling, Annie, Daniel, Courtney Young, Mari, and Maureen Sullivan

Kyle, Barbara Stripling, Annie, Daniel, Courtney Young, Mari, and Maureen Sullivan

LITA

I’m very fortunate to be one of the two Emerging Leaders sponsored by LITA, which I now consider my home within ALA. Some of the “other duties as assigned” that come with being a sponsored EL involve helping with those weird things that don’t really fall under any one particular committee. Among other things, I helped organize the #becauseLITA social media campaign, I monitored backchannels for questions during a LITA Board Meeting, and I helped design and run the activities for the LITA Town Meeting, all of which were a lot of fun and allowed me to see the organization from a different perspective. On top of all of that, I also got to know much of the current LITA leadership (LITAship?) and talk to them about how I might get more involved. If you want a #becauseLITA badge ribbon (for whatever reason), let me know–I still have a small handful.

Programs

I’ve never been very good at picking programs, but I did pretty well this time by sticking with the big crowds. I opted not to go to many programs that aligned closely to my work (e.g., there was a session on MOOCs that was geared toward beginners–not a bad session, just not particularly useful to me). Some highlights included #libtechgender, a LITA-sponsored panel that sparked some incredibly lively discussion around the topic of intersectionality (a new word to me) in tech-related library work, an update from Dan Cohen at the DPLA, including the results of the hackathon that bred @historicalcats, and LITA Top Tech Trends, which explored Open Educational Resources and wearable technology.

Your narrator, testing out Google Glass

Your narrator, testing out Google Glass

While the weather could have been better, and I didn’t eat any sandwiches with a Philly-based R&B group, Midwinter was full of meaningful connections and exciting discussions. I can’t wait for Annual in Vegas!

 

Molly at Midwinter 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014 10:46 am

My 2014 Midwinter conference started Friday afternoon with the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshow presenters meeting. We had a smaller than usual group, but productive conversation nonetheless. Although I won’t be going out on the road to present any in 2014 – I have lots of fun ZSR and local commitments this year taking priority! – I’m glad to still be part of the team revising the content.

Saturday kicked off early with a fascinating ALA Washington, D.C. office update session that featured Spencer Ackerman, National Security Editor for Guardian US, the journalist who broke the Edward Snowden NSA surveillance leak story. Ackerman made several great points during his talk and the Q&A that followed. Highlights:

  • Amount of secrecy surrounding government surveillance has increased over last several decades, in part because the ways in which laws are interpreted are becoming more secretive.
  • NSA claims no surveillance occurs until data is analyzed, not at point of collection. (Ackerman demonstrated the fallibility of this claim by asking the woman who introduced him for her wallet, then proceeded to take her credit card, make a rubbing of the numbers, then return it to her, while making the point that, ideally, he would’ve done this without her realizing. He then asked if she had something taken when collected, or not until used.)
  • In the last 8 months, we’ve learned more about the NSA than we’ve learned in the last 60 years; NSA and the government never believed such illumination would happen.

I followed this heady start to the day with the ACRL Copyright Discussion Group, in a room that was packed out. Most questions/discussion centered around streaming media rights, successful faculty outreach efforts, copyright websites, and MOOCs. None of the questions or, more importantly, answers were surprising or off the mark from what we are doing/thinking about at ZSR, which is reassuring.

Lunch was courtesy of Gale, which featured an excellent presentation on the history of the Associated Press, whose archive is a new collection available from Gale this year. (Reference colleagues: I have the new catalog for you!) My afternoon was all data, all the time. The ALCTS Scholarly Communication Interest Group featured librarians from UC San Diego and U.Va. sharing their respective libraries’ new data services. The SPARC Forum featured an editor from PLoS, a librarian from Purdue, and a researcher from UNC discussing various approaches to connecting articles and the data behind them. The Forum was moderated by Clifford Lynch, of CNI, who opened the session by making the great point that the fundamental nature of journal articles has not changed, only the delivery format; but, he posited it will in the near future, to facilitate articles linking up to data. A few points were raised that I will be reflecting upon as we continue our data conversations at Wake:

  • After a certain amount of time, datasets should be treated like any other library collection, subject to either preservation or weeding, as warranted; institutions cannot commit to keeping all datasets forever.
  • There is a long tail of “orphaned data” for which appropriate discipline repositories do not, and cannot, exist, hence the need for generalized data repositories.
  • Understanding impact of openly shared datasets, evaluating quality of datasets, determining academic credit for sharing data are some of the challenges to the broad update of data citation by scholars.

My Saturday ended at a lovely reception, courtesy Thomson Reuters, at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where Carolyn and I got to meet some of Mary Beth’s and Lynn’s former Wayne State colleagues.

Sunday kicked off at 8:30 with a three-hour meeting of the ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee. One thing I love about this committee is that, in addition to discussing our own business for ACRL, we also receive updates from the field, bringing in representatives of associated groups, including ARL, SPARC, SCOAP3, COAPI, and the OA Working Group. The need to address data management as a part of scholarly communication was discussed at multiple points throughout the morning, which mirrors discussions we’ve been having locally. Two field updates of note: ARL will be offering a preconference on assessing scholarly communication programs at the assessment conference in Seattle in August (Susan, Roz, and MB are planning to attend this conference, I believe), and SPARC will be launching new program areas of advocacy and education on OER and data.

Sunday afternoon found me attending programs/discussion groups on Google Books and copyright reform, ORCID, and researcher profile systems. Fred von Lohmann, formerly with EFF and now with Google, gave an overview of the Google Books ruling that was issued in November, and speculated on how the case might impact Congressional movement on revising copyright. Laura Quilter and Lisa Macklin were also part of this session, giving updates on the HathiTrust and Georgia State cases, respectively. Two key takeaways from this session:

  • Copyright laws don’t get revised when copyright is controversial; hopefully copyright will get more boring in the next 5 years, as the recent cases work their ways through the courts, which will open doors to reform.
  • Work on the 1976 Copyright Act began in 1955, so copyright reform takes a LONG TIME; must keep that perspective.

The ORCID discussion featured three librarians whose institutions are ORCID members, and therefore able to assign ORCIDs to researchers. One interesting idea that arose was to assign ORCIDs to graduate students when they submit their ETDs. The researcher profiles session featured two librarians and a faculty member sharing how their institutions are using various profile systems – including VIVO, Symplectic Elements, and SciVal Experts – to highlight faculty scholarship. These are all more powerful systems similar to Digital Measures, and made me long for a more robust system at Wake that also integrates with SHERPA/RoMEO and WakeSpace to assist in deposit decisions. A librarian can dream, right?!

Sunday night found Mary Beth, Carolyn, Steve, and I at a ProQuest dinner at the National Constitution Center, again with folks from Wayne State joining our table, and later a ZSR reunion party with Lauren Pressley on the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel, overlooking the skyline of Philadelphia all lit up at night. Monday I wrapped up Midwinter with a final walk through the Exhibits, a trip to Reading Terminal Market for an obligatory cheesesteak and Termini Bros. cannoli, and some quality time in the Philly airport as Derrik, Wanda, and I, along with several UNCG and FCPL librarians, awaited our long-delayed pilot to arrive to fly us home. It was a whirlwind, but productive, Midwinter.

Chelcie at ALA Midwinter 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 4:26 pm

This was my first ALA conference as a librarian rather than a student and my first ALA as an interest group chair. Since I was back in Philly, where I lived between college and library school, I also had the chance to catch up with one of my mentors, Elizabeth Fuller, librarian at the Rosenbach Museum & Library.

ALCTS Photo Scavenger Hunt

This year ALCTS sponsored a photo scavenger hunt on Flickr. I snapped photos of designated ALCTS programs, events, and people and Philadelphia landmarks in order to compete for great prizes such as ALA Store vouchers and ALCTS continuing education credit. The winners haven’t been announced yet, but my fingers are crossed! Below are some of my entries in the scavenger hunt.

At the ALCTS Member Reception

At the ALCTS Member Reception.

With 2013-2014 ALCTS President Genevieve Owens

With 2013-2014 ALCTS President Genevieve Owens.

Where ALCTS Executive Director, Charles Wilt, used to work in Philadelphia - The Franklin Institute

The final item on the photo scavenger hunt was where ALCTS Executive Director, Charles Wilt, used to work in Philadelphia (hint: it was featured in National Treasure). An ALCTS staff member tipped me off that the solution to the puzzle was the Franklin Institute, so luggage in hand, I trekked over to snap a photo before I caught the train back to the airport.

ALCTS PARS Preservation Metadata Interest Group

My co-chair Sarah Potvin and I developed a call for proposals that focused on involving content creators in preservation metadata. We aimed for our program to feature case studies and practical examples of how libraries are working with content creators to contribute metadata that supports long-term preservation of materials, e.g.:

  • Promoting the use of tools such as DataUp or building tools, processes, and/or policies to enable content creators to describe their content in a way that better supports preservation and re-use
  • Working with data creators to produce legible “Read Me” documentation
  • Encouraging creators to embed metadata in born-digital documents or photographs before deposit
  • Using crowd-sourcing to solicit, evaluate, and/or store additional preservation metadata
  • Developing apps or tools for users that collect preservation metadata

Our presenters were Lorraine Richards and Adam Townes (Assistant Professor and PhD candidate respectively at Drexel’s College of Computing and Informatics), part of a research team that is working directly with scientists, engineers and program managers at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) William J. Hughes Technical Center (WJHTC) in order to understand metadata requirements for facilitating re-use of data sets. In this case study of the FAA, there are preservation metadata implications for intervening early in the lifecycle.

Our other proud accomplishment was successfully moving the ALCTS PARS Executive Board to change the name of our interest group from the unwieldy and out-of-date “Intellectual Access to Preservation Metadata” (a vestige of a time when the conversation around preservation metadata centered on particular MARC fields) to simply “Preservation Metadata.” Sometimes the simplest accomplishments are the most satisfying!

In the Exhibit Hall

I also really enjoyed meeting representatives from vendors of digitization equipment that we use—the Crowley Company, which sells Zeutschel overhead scanners, as well as Atiz, which sells the BookDrive. I brought some specific questions about workflow snafus we have encountered in the digitization lab here at ZSR, and my questions were answered.

Facility tour of George Blood Audio and Video

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 12:53 pm

On Friday, the day I arrived in Philly for the 2014 ALA Midwinter Meeting, I attended a facility tour of George Blood Audio and Video, an A/V digitization vendor. At their studio, we saw a range of playback machines for audio, video and film material; squeezed into their climate controlled vault; and learned a little bit about their workflows.

One of the most memorable comments that George made during our tour is that the point of quality assessment is not to correct errors, but rather to identify the source of errors upstream in order to eliminate errors and improve processes for the long term. Because of their rigorous item-level QA, as the volume of their production has dramatically increased, their error rate has actually decreased.

The staff of George Blood Audio and Video have varied backgrounds – some with an MLIS, others with audio engineering degrees, many of whom had never heard of A/V preservation & reformatting. Either way, in making hiring decisions, George says that he looks for people who recognize the artifactual value of content captured on obsolete media.

George Blood showcases the quad format

The man himself, George Blood, showcases the quad format. It was surprisingly heavy!

Quad playback equipment

Quad playback equipment. George is constantly on the hunt for playback equipment from old studios that he can purchase and incorporate into digitization workflows.

National Be Kind to Video Tape Technicians Week

National Be Kind to Video Tape Technicians Week.

Physical storage (Ampex 196 1" Master Video Tapes)

Physical storage (Ampex 196 1″ Master Video Tapes).

Head cleaners often rarer than playback equipment

Head cleaners are often rarer than playback equipment.

Quadruple styluses! (styli?)

Quadruple styluses! (Styli?) There are analog considerations when it comes to digitizing grooved disks. How well the stylus fits into the groove can impact the digital capture, so audio engineers at George Blood Audio and Video hacked a device that places four styluses on the disk at once. Then, within their software environment, they can switch between the channels associated with each stylus in order to decide which channel to digitize.

George Blood pretzels

George Blood pretzels.

TPD @ ALA MW 13 in SEA

Wednesday, February 13, 2013 2:01 pm

By funny coincidence, since I’ve been at ZSR I have attended meetings in my previous home town (LITA Forum in Columbus) and the home town before that (Midwinter in Seattle). ALA Annual in Chicago this summer will make the trifecta. Do let me know if there are good meetings coming up in Ann Arbor or Madison.

At 47°37′ N lattitude, Seattle is farther north than Duluth, Minnesota: in January, if there’s any sunlight at all, it’s noticeable from about 8:30am to 4:30pm. But there usually isn’t any sunlight: clouds, rain, highs in the mid 40s, lows in the low 40s. Typical January in Seattle. They take seasonal affective disorder seriously there.

Highlights (unless you really want to know about the LITA publication committee, LITA’s committee of committee chairs, and the ALA committee of publication committee chairs… Oh, except that one of the newest LITA Guides to hit the stands is Cloud-Based Services for Your Library: A LITA Guide by Erik Mitchell, coming soon to library stacks near you.)

Big Data For Big Brother

If I’m a little slow writing up my Midwinter experience, it’s because I’ve been cowering in paranoid fear in my office since the first meeting I attended, OCLC’s member meeting – okay, not a harrowing experience – and keynote by Alistair Croll on “The implications and opportunities of Big Data.” The session benignly defined Big Data as datasets that are too large for traditional hardware and software tools to analyze. The term plays off the growth of Big Science: $10 billion to build a Large Hadron Collider, and then eleventy bajillion teraflops to analyze its output. Croll defines Big Data as the problem of analyzing data with a lot of Volume (a ton of data), Variety (many kinds of data), and Velocity (torrents of data).

Big Data has potential for good: medical data – including Google searches for symptoms – can predict disease outbreaks. Analyzing which farmers in developing countries benefit most from microloans helps target future loans where they will do the most good. Analyzing traffic data allows taxi services to have cars ready where people will want them. Likewise, when we’re driving, every one of our GPS-enabled phones or tablets contributes to real-time maps of traffic data so we can route around delays.

The darker side of Big Data becomes apparent when you realize the biggest dataset out there is our own increasingly trackable behavior both on- and offline. I won’t rehash too many of Croll’s points (I strongly recommend you watch it when you have some free time – link below), but some of the highlights:

  • Big Data gets used a lot to say “People in Group A tend to like Topic B and products like Item C, so we’ll put ads for C on pages about B.” We smile knowingly when Group A is Librarians, or people with Zip codes beginning 271xx. (Mac users may remember that Orbitz shows them ads for more expensive hotels than Windows users, the assumed connection being that if you have a Mac you’re either more affluent than most Windows users or more willing to shell out for a quality experience.) Things can get ethically and legally tricky when that group is defined by things like gender or race, and the product is, for example, low rate mortages.
  • There is so much data out there that we usually do not have the tools (or access to the data) to evaluate it, and we often accept that all competing explanations for something are equally well supported.
  • And humans aren’t very good at evaluating data anyway. We keep demonstrating that we will believe what seems right even when it’s demonstrably wrong. (Several long examples that can be summed up here and here.)

Croll concluded with the idea of Good Data: to Volume, Variety, and Velocity, he adds Veracity and Value: data that is true (and that can be checked), and data that has a useful context. A telling line from the conclusion: “Google can find more articles than any librarian, but any librarian can find better articles than Google.” There is a continuing need for human insight that can apply all of the data as something more than an algorithm.

Watch the presentation here:
http://player.multicastmedia.com/player.php?p=xz2atn08&utm_source=WhatCountsEmail&utm_medium=z%20-%20ARCSymposium_CollectiveInsight_Feb2013&utm_campaign=OCLC%20Member%20Update

Other meetings of note: I nearly missed LITA Happy Hour because I actually sat down with a colleague and discussed a reasearch project for a couple of hours. It’s the sort of thing that makes it worthwhile to schlep cross country and attend a conference in person. I heard both a former Ohio colleague and a current WFU colleague (Roz) present on the experience of bringing Summon up at their libraries (we were a lot more laid back about it). And at the LITA Town Meeting, a few of us graybeards determined that the key to LITA’s future is piratically taking over RUSA, ALCTS, and LLAMA – because, hey, where would they be without technology? – and creating a unified Library Services Division (LSD). Having come up with the idea, we leave it to the youngsters to make it actually happen.

Then, with nothing to do until the 11pm red-eye home, I spent the afternoon in the Seattle Public Library:

Seattle Public Library, top floor reading room

Kyle at ALAMW13

Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:36 pm

Some weeks ago–never mind how long precisely–having few or no committee appointments, and nothing particular to obligate me professionally, I thought I would fly about a little to see the librarian-y side of the world.

This was my first time to Seattle and my *very first* ALA conference experience, so I had no idea what to expect. I’d made my schedule early, double-, triple-, and even quintuple-booking myself for many time slots, certain that I’d get to see everything I wanted to see, connect with every committee I’d ever dreamed of connecting with, introduce myself to all of my personal library heroes, and come out of it refreshed, inspired, and ready to take on the world.

And then I caught a cold. (Although, thankfully, Delta didn’t charge me extra for it.)

So what follows is my account of ALAMW13, which is bound to be influenced by our sponsors: Dayquil, Kleenex, and Zicam. Turn on your bias checkers.

My primary interests are getting involved with LITA and the Distance Learning Section of ACRL. I was happy that everyone seemed OK with me crashing their committee meetings, and no one seemed to be creeped out when I told them that I’d been following them online since I was but a wee student assistant. I sat in on the LITA instructional technologies committee meeting, where we talked about, among other things, the various ways we’re supporting both distance and traditional learners. Here I heard from some librarians at the University of Arizona what they’re doing with their open-source Guide on the Side project, which looks like an amazing way to produce authentic, interactive, tool-specific tutorials that work with the actual, live, tools, not screenshots or video screencasts that become outdated. (The GOTS project was recently recognized for being awesome, and rightly so.) We also talked about the concept of digital badges and gamification in library instruction, a chorus that seemed to echo in various discussions I had throughout the conference. Essentially, digital badges are a way of keeping track of a student’s competency in various domains or skills, just like merit badges kept track of a boy scout’s mastery of things like “fire building” and “orienteering.” A digital badge system used in a library instruction context might keep track of a student’s mastery of information literacy competencies, and they could earn badges like “website evaluation,” “reference management,” etc. This model of skills tracking would help libraries embed IL learning outcomes across the curriculum.

The DLS instruction committee is working on–and I volunteered to help with–creating a “toolkit” of instructional technologies for others to use when selecting a tool that will meet their individual needs. I haven’t seen many notes on the project yet, but it sounds like we’re going to test drive a bunch of technologies and put them into a searchable database or wiki, describing what it is each tool does, how easy they are to implement and use, where they fall on the free-and-open/expensive-and-closed spectrum, etc. It sounds like it will be really useful for folks who might not have a lot of time to figure out which technology will work for them. Other discussions with DLS folks revealed that many are struggling with similar things as we are here: streaming video is one big thing many are currently trying to get a handle on, as well as embedding things like course reserves and library chat in the LMS.

I don’t know if you want to call this a theme (maybe a motif?), but I heard two speakers specifically discuss the miasma theory, both in the context of challenging the faulty ideas that are entrenched in a culture. Steven Bell and authorSteven Johnson (who’s a dead-ringer for Matthew Crawley, don’t you think?) each related the story of 18th and 19th century medicine to the modern story of higher education and libraries. Bell challenged the notion that higher education will exist forever (or even for another five years) in its current form, and that a failure to innovate and retool ourselves for the new higher ed paradigms will secure libraries’ spot in the dustbin of history. Johnson told the story of 19th century physicians disproving the miasma theory as an example what he calls a “slow hunch,” that, rather than arriving fully-formed in a “eureka moment,” some ideas take time, data, persistence, and cooperation to formulate. Libraries, he says, are wonderful cultivators of slow hunches. Very interesting ideas, all, and they got me thinking: is there a “miasma theory” here on campus? Are there any faulty ideas about the nature of how education is done at Wake Forest that might be potentially destructive, and, if so, what part can the library play in cultivating the slow hunch to clear out those faulty ideas?

Molly at ALA Midwinter

Friday, February 8, 2013 2:43 pm

My 2013 Midwinter conference happenings started earlier than they did for most of our ZSR colleagues, as the presenter group for the ACRL Scholarly Communication Roadshows gathered for a planning retreat Friday afternoon. We started these retreats at ALA Annual in NOLA in 2011, and they’ve become a valuable time for us to assess our program and identify new areas of growth. In 2012, we overhauled the original program to better address changes in scholcomm, and to take the program from a half-day to full-day workshop. After 6 iterations of the new program last year, we realized that further restructuring was warranted, and this year we are organizing our workshop around four new themes: Emerging Opportunities, Access, Intellectual Property, and Engagement. We also welcomed two new presenters to our group, one of whom was able to join us in Seattle, giving us new perspective and energy!

Saturday was chock full of scholcomm sessions, and I’m still digesting my pages and pages of notes. I fueled up for my busy day at the ProQuest Serials Solutions breakfast, along with several ZSR colleagues, where incoming ACRL president Steven Bell spoke on the “unbundled, unbooted, disrupted” higher ed environment. Although his ideas were not new to me (I follow his LJ blog), Steven is a compelling speaker and is always worth hearing. First session after breakfast was the ALA Washington Office Update breakout session, where a panel of librarians spoke on the Kirtsaeng v. Wiley case before the Supreme Court. This case hinges upon the first sale doctrine, and whether lawfully obtained, foreign-made works are subject to the right of first sale, which is what allows us to buy and lend, resell, gift, destroy, etc. objects such as books, DVDs, CDs, clothes, furniture, cars, phones, computers, and on and on and on, both as libraries and individuals. Libraries are understandably nervous about the outcome of the case: if the lower courts’ rulings are upheld at the strictest interpretation, no book (or anything else we own) that was published and purchased internationally without a US distributor, or possibly even merely manufactured overseas, could be lent from our collections. But this also means that garage sales, consignment stores, eBay, Etsy, Redbox, used car lots, used book stores, and a host of other businesses would be severely impacted (at the Supreme Court hearings, this was called the “parade of horribles”). Because of the far-reaching implications of the strictest interpretation of first sale, which would apply to goods manufactured only in the US, the consensus is that neither Kirtsaeng nor Wiley will get an outright “win,” with it likely that legislative action might be needed to clarify the first sale doctrine in light of the ruling. Again, I didn’t hear anything new here, but it was sobering nonetheless. Fortunately, the rest of my Saturday was much more positive, as I heard updates on SCOAP3 at the ALCTS Scholarly Communications Discussion Group, and learned about new developments in alt-metrics – the phrase used to describe multiple attempts to liberate faculty from the clutches of the “sainted” Impact Factor using article-level and social impact measurements – at the 10th annual SPARC/ACRL Forum.

Sunday found me in the Westin Hotel all day, barring quick lunch and doughnut breaks! My morning kicked off early with a 3+ hour meeting of the ACRL Research & Scholarly Environment Committee (known as ReSEC; formerly the Scholarly Communications Committee). We heard updates from the field, discussed ACRL projects/events we support, and brainstormed how we might serve as a nexus to connect the different groups – committees, subcommittees, discussion groups, interest groups – working throughout ALA and its divisions on scholcomm issues. I feel good about my participation on this committee, and hope to be reappointed for another two year term. Sunday afternoon I branched out a bit into scholcomm-related group meetings: the ACRL Digital Curation Interest Group and the Digital Humanities Discussion Group. My reasons for attending these two were three-fold: 1) to enhance my knowledge of these issues; 2) to gain perspective on how these issues might be tackled by the Digital Initiatives Librarian we will be hiring, with whom I’ll be working closely; and, 3) to identify groups that ReSEC might want to connect with. I didn’t learn quite as much as I’d hoped, but made a few connections with folks and jotted down some projects happening at other libraries that sound intriguing. I also attended the ACRL Scholarly Communications Discussion Group, which continued the conversation from the Forum about alt-metrics.

I caught a break Monday morning when my ACRL 2013 conference planning committee meeting was canceled, so I made one more pass through the vendor floor to talk to a couple of publisher reps (McGraw-Hill being the main target), and pick up a few (ahem) last books. Because I thought I had committee obligations through Monday, I didn’t leave until early Tuesday morning, which was lucky, as I was able to travel home with several ZSR colleagues; it’s nice to have friends to pass airport hours with! My Midwinter was a worthwhile conference, with good information, good meetings, and good networking all around.


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