Professional Development

In the 'ALA Midwinter' Category...

Wanda’s ALA Mid-Winterland

Thursday, February 12, 2015 2:28 pm

I absolutely love calling North Carolina home. This captured my sentiments perfectly as my plane landed to the NC bright blue sky and awesome sunshine. I guess that is to be expected after experiencing winter in Chicago. None-the-less, the conference as a whole was filled with lots of great engaging conversation. During the BCALA retreat on Thursday we began the work of strategic planning. Tracie Hall, Deputy Commissioner: City of Chicago-Dept of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, led the group through an exercise using the Kaizen model. Kaizen combines Kai which means change with Zen which mean good or for the better. As an action plan, Kaizen focuses on improving specific areas within the organization. These strategies bring together and involve teams across the organization with a strong emphasis on linking managerial practice with and to direct services. As a philosophy, Kaizen is about building a culture where all stakeholders are actively engaged in suggesting and implementing improvements to the organization. The strategic planning process documents feedback from peer collaborating organizations, non-members, members, current and past leadership. I volunteered to work with the group of current and past leaders.

My LLAMA (Library Leadership & Management Association) obligation as chair elect of the Human Resources section was still way fuzzy. It wasn’t until my all sections committees gathering that I learned of an executive committee meeting was scheduled for later that very morning. As it turned out, the chair forgot to include me on the email invitation. At the executive committee meeting I heard program planning details for the 2016 Orlando conference. The Human Resources section has the following committees of which I get to appoint a chair by May 1st.

As a past participant in the Association of Research Libraries Leadership Development Program, I was asked to partake in a focus group. We discussed our perceptions of value or lack of around leadership development programs for people from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups. Our feedback will be used to inform the design of future programs.

Also of particular interest was the ACRL Personnel Administrators and Staff Development Officers Discussion Group conversations around employee engagement surveys. The question was asked, given everything that has happened specifically with regards to budget cuts in North Carolina over the last several years, is this a good time to conduct a climate survey? The answer was really isn’t a good time. ClimateQUAL was the most widely used tool, serving as a measurer for both diversity and employee engagement. Conducting a survey like this implies leadership’s commitment to doing something. It is most important to recognize the responsibility of department chairs and their role in improving the climate. It was stressed that leaders need to be deliberate about looking for the balanced picture both within strengths and weaknesses revealed in the survey data.

There were a few in attendance who had participated in the Chronicle of Higher Ed’s “Great Colleges to Work For” survey. Attendees believed that this survey conveys a good picture of where the library stands in relation to the campus. We continued conversations around the “checking references” aspect of recruiting. Many chimed in that they had abandoned the written reference for the more personal phone conversation. The University of Delaware has started using the “Predictive Index” tool as part of the search process for non-exempt and IT positions. The focus of which is on work style preferences and behaviors. Not sure that I agree to using this as a deciding factor in the search process. I think anyone could manage to fake the attributes of a decent manager. Do you think applicants would answer honestly or would they base answers on what they think the employer wants to hear?

Some very interesting data surfaced from one of the ALA’s Diversity and Research grant projects that was showcased at midwinter. If my memory serves me correctly, it was one of the UC Berkley campuses that conducted the study. They surveyed Asian college students concerning their orientation to college life in America. How long was it before they felt comfortable on campus? What search engine did you turn to first? What did you find most difficult to navigate within college life? Just so I won’t misquote any of the numbers, I promise to post more on the survey results once I get my hands on the actual data.

 

 

Sarah at ALA Midwinter 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015 1:09 pm

The last time I went to Chicago during the winter, I came back with my first case of bronchitis. ALA Midwinter was the second time I experienced a Chicago winter, and I’m proud that I carried out my duties as Secretary of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) despite getting sick the day before the conference. I took an early Friday morning flight and attended the ACRL International Perspectives on Academic & Research Libraries Discussion Group Friday afternoon. There were three presentations:

  • “As a librarian at Salem State University, Zach Newell worked with a group of faculty to successfully write a grant to bring a group of Iraqi Fulbright Scholars to study at the University in the summer of 2014. Working with the group, he identified effective teaching strategies related to diversity, multiculturalism and social justice.
  • Thanks to special grant funding made available to campus units through University of Cincinnati’s five-year diversity plan, UC Libraries started special library programming for international students.
  • Laurie Kutner ran an ALA sponsored trip to Costa Rica in the summer of 2014. The 13 librarians from all over the U.S. worked on 3 different library projects in the Monteverde area of Costa Rica and contributed a total of 200 hours to these projects.”

The convener’s notes and presenters’ PowerPoint slides are posted here at ALA Connect.

I started my term as Secretary of APALA after the last ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, and I have been meeting with the Executive Board virtually on a monthly basis. It was great to see the other Executive Board members at an in-person meeting on Friday evening, and I also met a couple of ALA Presidential candidates.

On Saturday morning, I participated as a member of the ACRL Science & Technology Section (STS) Continuing Education Committee meeting. It was great to catch up with other science librarians and plan the science librarians’ breakfast for ALA Annual in San Francisco. I am also serving as Co-Chair of the APALA Archives and Handbook Task Force, and I led the APALA Committees Working meeting on Saturday afternoon. The revision of the APALA Handbook is one of the President’s priorities this year.

On Sunday morning, I attended an informative program sponsored by the ALCTS Linked Library Data Interest Group thanks to Lauren Corbett. The first part of the program focused on VIVO, which is an open source semantic web application that enables discovery of research and scholarship across disciplines in an institution. Seven institutions originally participated in VIVO in 2009, and Brown, Cornell, and Duke are also current participants in VIVO, which aims to build a large web of data, greater than any one effort. If you’re interested to learn more about VIVO, go to vivosearch.org and Indiana University’s VIVO site.

Carolyn at ALA Midwinter 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 11:18 am

The first session I attended at ALA Midwinter 2015 was the ERT (Exhibits Round Table)/Booklist Author Forum which was a panel discussion featuring graphic novel artists, Cece Bell (author of El Deafo, a 2015 Newbery Honor Book), Jeff Smith (creator of the BONE comic book series), Gene Luen Yang (author of American Born Chinese), and Francoise Mouly who is the art director at The New Yorker as well as the publisher and editorial director of TOON Books. All discussed the important role comics played in their lives growing up. Today’s comics and graphic novel artists are willing to tell stories that we as a society may be uncomfortable discussing, and this in turn can contribute to kids’ understanding of diversity. Some comics are now being read in middle school classrooms where teachers are able to lead thoughtful discussions on issues such as stereotypes.

Francoise Mouly, who was born in Paris, shared her thoughts on the terrorist attack which killed 11 individuals and injured 11 others at the offices of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015. Are we going to skirt the issues because we’re afraid of reactions? The world’s reaction to this event demonstrates the recommitment of faith in the power of cartoons. With cartoons being a part of society’s visual culture, cartoonists have to go to the essence of things (e.g. stereotypes) in their art so as to visually communicate ideas, but cartoonists also have the ability to deconstruct these ideas as well. Cartoonists have the ability and a duty to bring to the table things/issues that are difficult to understand. They must be concise in words and back up whatever they draw on a page to communicate their thoughts.

Other sessions/events attended included:

  • Cataloging Management Interest Group – Two universities shared their experiences on having Backstage Library Works (BSLW) enrich their cataloging records’ data with RDA 33x fields. (Note: RDA enrichment of ZSR’s catalog data was performed by BSLW over the 2014 winter holiday.)
  • ACRL’s Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) social held at MingHin Cuisine.
  • MARC Formats Transition Interest Group – Librarians from the University of California at Davis and the National Library of Medicine discussed their library’s experiments with BIBFRAME, a new data encoding format that is supposed to replace the MARC record. Development of modular core vocabulary, mapping and conversion of legacy data to core vocabulary, and technical services workflow were issues touched upon by the presenters.
  • Cataloging Research Interest Group – Presenters discussed their individual cataloging research projects with which they are involved. Two Library of Congress (LC) librarians discussed LC’s Cataloging in Publication (CIP) E-books program. A Binghamton University librarian discussed cataloging of original screenplays using RDA and the challenges she faced such as lack of guidelines or examples, differences in librarian interpretation as to what is considered published and non-published which in turn affects the coding of a catalog record, and consistency in descriptive information.
  • OCLC’s WorldShare Metadata Users Group – McGill University librarians discussed their use of OCLC’s WorldShare Collection Manager and Knowledge Base to manage their library’s collections. Per an OCLC representative, Connexion (software in which catalog records are created and retrieved) will be replaced by WorldShare Record Manager, but no date has been officially given.

Additionally, I got a chance to catch up with my friend and former ZSR colleague Erik Mitchell; have breakfast with members of the editorial board of Technical Services Quarterly (Steve Kelley and I recently got appointed as co-editors of their book review column); speak with publishing representatives about receiving review copies of library monographs; and last but not least, enjoy watching the last half of the Super Bowl in my hotel’s Irish pub, Kitty O’Sheas, with Susan Smith.

Derrik at ALA Midwinter 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015 11:49 am

Vendor highlights

Lauren and I had a really good dinner discussion with a VP of a database vendor, talking about what is and isn’t important for researchers and libraries. That VP and our regular sales rep have already scheduled a campus visit to continue the conversation.

I had a conversation with a publishing company’s VP of Sales regarding demand-driven acquisition (DDA). I described the DDA usage and spending patterns we have seen here, and we talked about the difficulties of finding a sustainable balance for publishers and libraries. We also talked about “evidence-based acquisition” (EBA), where the customer pays first for access, then at the end of the access period can select content for perpetual access, up to the amount paid. I told the VP that the entry cost for EBA is typically too high. He immediately understood—the up-front price that a large library could afford would be cost-prohibitive for smaller libraries. He seemed to like my suggestion that they base the entry cost on the customer’s historic spend.

I had a good meeting getting to know our e-book vendor’s new rep, and his supervisor sat in on part of our meeting so I was able to bend her ear too, mainly about DDA. I learned that there is talk of developing a variation on the short-term-loan DDA model, though nothing concrete yet as far as I know. I don’t want to divulge any secrets here, but I am cautiously optimistic about what they told me.

There were lots of other productive conversations; in all I spoke with at least 17 vendors (that I kept track of). It feels weird to keep this section of my report so brief, but I fear the rest of the vendor stories would get tedious.

Sessions

A speaker from a large university library described how they collect and analyze data about e-resource outages. Staff enter and track e-resource problem reports in a commercial incident-tracking system. They record the cause (e.g. metadata error, simultaneous-user limit, user error, etc.), the time it took to resolve, and other data. Tracking outages allows them to become aware of trends. One benefit is that they can present a record of incidents to vendors, with actual numbers instead of “your site goes down a lot.” In the first year of collecting data, proxy problems accounted for a small fraction of the total errors. 25% of errors were because the target content was missing from the vendor’s site (i.e. an article or issue missing from a database).

In another session, a representative from a large university press spoke about how usage-based acquisition is affecting the Press. She acknowledged that DDA is scary because they know that not every book will get used, but the only way to know which books will get used is to publish them. She said it will take a while for them to evaluate DDA because they don’t know yet when the revenue for a book will come in and it is difficult to assess which marketing efforts are working. She also expressed a concern that was a new idea to me—she wondered whether access to a large pool of DDA titles might actually obscure the fact that libraries are underfunded.

I attended a presentation by Len Vlahos, Executive Director of the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). Vlahos said wholesale book revenue has remained fairly flat over the past five or six years. The rate of growth of e-book sales has slowed (i.e. still growing, but the curve has flattened); hardcover revenue dipped in 2010 but has regained overall. Sales of print textbooks are declining, but that trend is publisher-driven, unlike the consumer-driven trade market. Publishers are developing online interactive learning systems as a replacement for printed textbooks, since textbooks that are simply digitized versions of the print are not well received. Vlahos predicted that the next big disruption in the book industry will be a business model (like retail discounting in the 1970s or e-commerce in the 1990s) rather than technological (like the printing press or the Kindle). He noted the growth of a subscription economy, in which consumers are being trained that it’s ok not to own content (Netflix, Spotify, Pandora, etc.), and even beyond content (ZipCar, bikeshare), and suggested that publishers expect the subscription model to have a positive effect on revenue within the next 5 years.

The Continuing Resources Standards Forum included an overview of the NISO Recommended Practice for Demand-Driven Acquisition of Monographs. The standard was published last June and to me it already felt a little out of date because it doesn’t address some of the more recent tensions in the DDA market. The Forum also included a review of the very new (published last month) NISO Recommended Practice on Access and License Indicators. This is a simple standard for encoding at the article level whether or not that article is “free to read,” plus a link to the article’s license information.

In an excellent overview of linked data, the presenter described the evolution of the Web from a web of static documents to a web of data. In the web of data, instead of describing an entity with a record (i.e. a surrogate for the entity), an entity has its own unique identifier, and that’s where you go for information about that entity. Note that BIBFRAME is about identifying bibliographic entities. The presenter said that libraries have been very involved in the web of documents, but cautioned about the danger of a “library-shaped black hole” in the web of data. Library projects have tended to use library vocabulary instead of the vocabulary of the larger web, so it is difficult for web searches to find and link to them. The presenter said that the reason libraries should share linked data on the web is the same as the historical reason for cataloging – “So people can find our stuff.”

Steve at 2015 ALA Midwinter

Friday, February 6, 2015 4:23 pm

In honor of last Sunday’s Super Bowl, I considered beginning and ending this post with, “I’m only writing this blogpost so I won’t get fined,” but I might have a bit more to share. But only a bit, unfortunately, because this will be a shorter than usual conference post from me, because I spent much of my time in Chicago sick as a dog.

I flew into town on Friday, January 30th, with a cold and an ear infection, and feared I might have ruptured my right eardrum, but by Saturday morning, my hearing had returned, and I felt somewhat better and ready to tackle the day. First up, I went to the meeting of one of my two committees, the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee. We were planning for our committee forum on Monday, which got thrown into turmoil because our primary speaker had to cancel. We brainstormed ideas for questions and topics in an open forum, and had a lively discussion.

Luckily, my next big committee obligation, CC:DA (Catalog Committee: Description and Access) had a four-hour meeting scheduled in the same hotel, so I could just stay there. CC:DA, as I’ve mentioned before, develops ALA’s position on RDA. That means that we read and discuss proposed changes to RDA that come in from all sorts of constituencies. While it’s really interesting to see how the process works, it’s probably pretty boring to recount in too much detail here. I would like to briefly discuss one of the proposals we looked at, which was a proposal by the Task Force Machine-Actionable Data Elements to create a measurements element in RDA. The Task Force’s purpose is to develop data elements that are more easily understood and manipulated by computers. This measurements element sounds simple, but would actually represent a pretty radical re-thinking of how RDA works. The measurement element would have six sub-elements that would clearly define what was being measured and how. The six sub-elements are Measurement Type (thing like height, playing time, number of units, etc.), Measurement Unit (minutes, cm, cubic feet, etc.), Measurement Quantity (number of minutes, cm, etc.), Part Measured (when necessary), Measurement Qualifier (when necessary, especially for approximate measures), and Unstructured Measurement (a textual description of what is measured, if it can’t quite fit into the previous categories). This proposal is still in the early stages and has a long way to go before it will show up in actual changes to the RDA instructions, but it’s kind of interesting to know that this kind of thinking is going on. Or at least, it’s interesting to me.

After that meeting, I managed to scoot back to my hotel, where I was able to join a meeting of the Editorial Board of Serials Review (I’m a member) that was already in progress. I then went to an ALCTS reception, but started to feel very tired and bailed early. That night I felt my absolute worst of the trip, with chills and nausea. Jeff mentioned that he thought I was going to die. In truth, I asked him if he’d do me a favor and kill me.

After that night, the next day started very rough. I started to feel somewhat better by late Sunday morning and managed to do a little business in my role as president of NASIG. I went to a meeting with the rep from the publisher of the NASIG proceedings to talk about NASIG’s contract with them, as well as talking to some vendors on the exhibits floor to see if they’d be interested in exhibiting at the NASIG Conference in May.
On Monday morning, I went to the second, three-hour meeting of CC:DA. During the meeting, Mimi texted me to let me know that my 6 pm flight that day had been cancelled. I arranged to get on a 2:05 pm flight on standby, but had to leave the meeting a half-hour early to have any chance of making it. Luckily, I did, because I don’t know if I could have handled being stuck in Chicago another night.

Oddly enough, this actually wasn’t my worst-ever conference going experience. So at least there’s that.

MBL at ALA-MW

Friday, February 6, 2015 2:42 pm

The start of my ALA Mid Winter experience was spent attending two days of pre-conference meetings for the participants in ACRL’s “Assessment in Action” (AiA) project. This is the second year of the grant funded project meant to build capacity for doing assessment projects in academic libraries, allowing libraries to better tell their stories and demonstrate their worth to the academy. ZSR’s project involves investigating how students define success in their own lives, and identifying ways that the library can assist in helping them reach success. Since ZSR’s mission, as we all know, is ‘to help students, faculty and staff succeed,’ it is going to be very interesting to discern how the students define success, and then to develop programming and spaces that will help in that effort. ZSR’s team includes: Meghan Webb, Le’Ron Byrd, Ryan Shirey (Writing Center), Glenda Boyles (the Bridge) and John Champlin (PDC). The first of the two days was spent getting each participant caught up on where all of the other participating libraries are in our cohort, (there are over 70 libraries participating this year,) and identifying ways to either help them through difficulties or learn from their successes. On the second day we learned of techniques and methodology for analyzing and reaching conclusions about our data. We now know what we need to do, and what elements we’ll need to include in our follow up reports to ACRL. We all need to have completed some form of our assessment by ALA Annual in June as we will all be expected to present a poster session there.

After the two Assessment in Action days, I also attended the ARL Space Assessment session with Susan reported on so ably. Since our Assessment in Action investigation also will have a component related to space use in the library, it was a helpful session. One of the presenters described a focus group study wherein students were shown photos of different types of study spaces, (high soaring ceilings and heavy wooden tables, comfy couches, individual study carrels) and asked which kind of space they would prefer for different activities and what words would best describe those spaces. They used this information to inform future furniture purchases and renovations. I thought this was a powerful exercise and we might pursue that here as well.

I also attended the Sustainability Round Table discussion group. SustainRT is a very new group in ALA, just established last mid-winter meeting and it’s just now finding its legs. Primary among the topics discussed was promoting a Sustainable Libraries Resolution similar to the one just approved by the New York Library Association. This resolution will be modified in the ensuing months, and then be presented to Council at ALA Annual. One big success of the SustainRT group was the inclusion of places to recycle ALA badges at the end of conference. If you saw one of those “recycle your badge” containers in the Conference Center, you can thank the members of SustainRT.

The great Chicago Blizzard of 2015 interrupted the conference and both of the sessions I had intended to go to on Sunday, (as well as the SustainRT ice skating social) were cancelled. But I did manage to make it to the vendor floor and visit McFarland, Atlas Systems, and Agati my favorite library furniture company before the big storm hit. I expected to visit others too, but the number of attendees to the conference, and the number of vendors on the floor seemed to me to be way down. Which brings me to another point raised by the SustainRT group…will MW continue to be necessary much longer? Indications are that many of the sections do their planning for Annual by email and conference calls before they even come to midwinter.

And now for the obligatory snowmagedden photos: both taken from the hotel window. The first just as the snow started to fall Saturday night, the second mid-day on Sunday when nearly white out conditions were present. It was an impressive snowstorm!

BIBFRAME, BIBFRAME, BIBFRAME

Friday, February 6, 2015 10:45 am

It was good to visit my home state of Illinois for ALA Midwinter 2015 in Chicago. I was able to get together with a few cousins with whom I was close growing up in Decatur, three hours south. And who doesn’t like 18 inches of snow? Somehow the weather didn’t actually interfere too much with the conference. If anything it brought attendees closer, I daresay.

At the meeting of the ALCTS Copy Cataloging Interest Group, Angela Kinney from the Library of Congress talked about restructuring at LC, specifically reductions in acquisitions and cataloging staff; this is a theme at many libraries, unfortunately. Roman Panchyshyn from Kent State (whom I’ve also seen present on an RDA-enrichment project similar to the one we’ve just undergone with Backstage) then talked about the considerable proliferation of e-resource bulk record loads in recent years and the need to build copy catalogers’ skills in this area (at their library this work has traditionally been done by professional catalogers and systems staff). Necessary skills include PC file management, FTP/data exchange, basic knowledge of RDA, comfortability with secondary applications such as MarcEdit, and the ability to follow instructions and documentation. Here at ZSR, our copy catalogers, I must say, have these skills in spades, and I do not take for granted the fact that they are so sophisticated; nor should any of us. Not only are they able to follow workflows and documentation, but they create their own. Every record load is a little bit different, and these operations require attentiveness, diligence, and accuracy.

I also attended a session by the ALCTS MARC Formats Transitions Interest Group. The central topic was BIBFRAME, the new encoding format being developed by LC in collaboration with several libraries that eventually is meant to replace MARC as a more linked data/web-friendly format. Nancy Fallgren from the National Library of Medicine talked about the need for BIBFRAME (I think I’m going to get sick of typing that word before the end of this paragraph) to be flexible enough to work with the different descriptive languages of various sectors of the cultural heritage community – libraries, archives, museums, etc. She emphasized that BIBFRAME is not a descriptive vocabulary in and of itself and is built to accommodate RDA, not compete with it; it is a communication method, not the communication itself. Perhaps most importantly, this new format has to be extensible beyond library catalogs, as BIBFRAME-encoded data must go bravely off into the web to seek its fate, alone. Xiaoli Li from UC-Davis described her university’s two-year pilot project, BIBFLOW (BIBframe + workFLOW), in which they are actively experimenting with technical services workflows using the new format. She concluded that “Linked data means an evolutionary leap for libraries, not a simple migration.” This seems fair to say.

In July 2014 I started on two committees, and Midwinter was my first official meeting with both. On the ALCTS Acquisitions Section Organization and Management Committee, or, less conveniently, ALCTSASOAMC, we are planning a preconference for Annual in San Francisco entitled “Streaming Media, Gaming, and More: Emerging Issues in Acquisitions Management and Licensing.” The gaming component of this, in particular, is interesting to me, because I know absolutely nothing about it. I have high hopes for the program, which will be comprised of librarian presentations, a vendor panel, and guided group discussions. I am also on the ALCTS Planning Committee, which has been working on a fairly exhaustive inventory of all ALCTS committees’ and interest groups’ activities with an eye to how they support ALA’s initiatives of Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development. It’s been an interesting exercise; one gets a broad sense of the many and diverse efforts being made to support librarians and to advance the profession. In the end we will draft a new three-year strategic plan.

What exactly someone who decided to drive back to Winston-Salem from Chicago can really contribute to strategic planning is a question for another day. I’ll close with the dreary view from inside the hotel room I shared with Steve Kelley, who at the time seemed to be dying. Fortunately blue skies (see above) emerged.

Lauren at ALA Midwinter 2015 (aka Chicago’s 4th Biggest Blizzard)

Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:59 pm

My notes on: IPEDS, ebook STLs and video, our vendors, linked data, BIBFRAME, OCLC and Schema.org, ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee, advocacy

At the ARL Assessment Forum, there was much complaining over the contradiction in instructions with IPEDs collection counts and circulation. Susan and I had the luck of chatting in the hallway with Bob Dugan from UWF, who turned out to be the main official communicator from libraryland with the person for the library section of IPEDs. Bob is also the author of a LibGuide with clarification info from the IPEDs help desk. Bob seems hopeful that changes in definitions for gathering the info (but not the numbers/form) could happen in time for the next cycle. My main specific takeaways from the various speakers:

  • the only figures that that will be checked between the current IPEDs survey and the previous survey is total library expenditures (not just collection);
  • in spite of the language, the physical circulation part of the survey seems to focus on lending, not borrowing, and may duplicate the ILL info section;
  • some libraries are thinking to use COUNTER BR1 and BR2 reports for ebook circulation and footnote which vendors use which type (BR1 or BR2).

ALCTS Technical Services Managers in Academic Libraries Interest Group discussed a wide range of current issues and it was both reassuring and annoying that no matter the library size, public or private, right now everyone has the same problems and no great answers: high cost ebook STLs, difficulties with video, etc. I inferred that our tactic of explaining prices and the options to faculty (e.g. explaining a mediation message about an EBL ebook or that the producer of a desired video is requiring libraries to pay significantly more than the individual pricing advertised) produces greater customer satisfaction than setting broad restrictive rules to stay within budget.

Jeff, Derrik, and I had a good meeting with a domestic vendor regarding ebooks and I discussed some specific needs with a foreign vendor. All felt like we made progress.

Linked data in libraries is for real (and will eventually affect cataloging). I attended several relevant sessions and here is my distillation: LD4L and Vivo, as a part of LD4L, are the best proof-of-concept work I’ve heard about. When starting to learn about linked data, there is no simple explanation; you have to explore it and then try to wrap your brain around it. Try reading the LD4L Use Cases webpages to get an understanding of what can be achieved and try looking at slide #34 in this LD4L slideshow for a visual explanation of how this can help researchers find each other. Here’s a somewhat simple explanation of Vivo from a company that helped start it and now is the “first official DuraSpace Registered Service Provider for VIVO.” OCLC is doing a lot of groundwork for linked data, using Schema.org, and that effort plays into the work being done by LD4L. While OCLC has been using Schema.org, Library of Congress has invested in developing BIBFRAME. I’m looking forward to reading the white paper about compatibility of both models, released just before the conference. The joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee (which replaced MARBI) is naturally interested in this topic and it was discussed at the Committee meeting. The Committee also gathered input from various groups on high level guidelines (or best practices) for metadata that Erik Mitchell, a committee member, originally drafted.

I also attended the meeting of the ALCTS Advocacy Committee, which has a liaison to the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group. I understand that advocacy will be emphasized in ALA’s forthcoming strategic plan. If you’re not familiar with the Coordinating Group, it has a broader membership than just ALA division representation, but does include ACRL, LITA, and APALA in addition to ALCTS. I believe ZSR is well-represented in these groups and thus has some clear channels for advocacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan @ ALAMW 2015, or ‘A Little Blizzard, So What?’

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 4:58 pm

ALA Welcome Banner in the Snow
Chicago has always been one of my favorite conference destinations, but this was my first wintertime visit to the Windy City. My introduction to Chicago in the winter turned out to be an epic one. Declared one of the top 5 Chicago storms since records have been kept, Linus provided all of us with a primer on how the midwest handles a weather emergency. And it was fairly impressive! The whole city kept on going even as snow was blowing sideways and piling up to 19″. The conference shuttle buses ran throughout, sessions were held as planned and spirits were upbeat (although I think southerners developed a few worry lines along the way). If I would fault one thing it would be the absence of any communication from ALA proper to the conference attendees. It was word of mouth as to whether to expect the buses to continue, and whether sessions would or wouldn’t be held. I know they are a big organization, but they manage to give our emails out to every vendor so we receive a barrage of communication hawking products. Would it have been too hard to use those email lists to let conference-goers know what to expect in a major storm? Enough about the weather, although it did offer good competition to the Super Bowl as a major non-library topic for conference attendees…..

Friday afternoon, I joined in at an ARL assessment coordinators meeting. Wanda, Lauren Corbett and Mary Beth all attended at least part of this afternoon-long program. Wanda and Lauren were interested in hearing about the new IPEDS data collection, which has caused confusion to most. I went because I was interested in the session on learning space data and assessment. ARL has added a facilities inventory to its survey list and there was discussion about the parameters for doing it correctly. I got the most out of the presentation by Joan Lippincott (CNI) who showed some tools that can be helpful in assessment of learning spaces. FlexSpace is an open access repository populated with examples of learning spaces.It contains high resolution images and related information that describes detailed attributes learning spaces from from 336 institutions with data in the system. I applied for a free account and look forward to exploring further. The Educause Space Rating System provides a set of measurable criteria to assess how well the design of classrooms support and enable active learning activities. It works best with formal learning spaces but there is interest in developing profiles for informal spaces that might be more aligned with the types of spaces a library offers. The Learning Space Toolkit is meant to help design and sustain technology-rich informal learning spaces. Our colleagues at NCSU Libraries are involved in this project. The session was worthwhile just for introducing me to these potential tools, although I did feel like a bit of an interloper sitting in with the Big Dog ARL Assessment groups!

Most of my weekend was focused on LITA activities. I’ve been asked to run for LITA Board Director (again) and so my time was spent going to a Joint Chairs meeting, Top Tech Trends and working with LITA leadership (Thomas was at this table) to learn my charge as next year’s Chair of the Financial Advisory Committee. Along the way I did some networking with LITA members who I want to get to know better and caught up with some old colleagues as well. Even though the weather put a damper on my after-hours networking (Sorry to have missed the LITA Happy Hour, but the blizzard was in full force by then), I was glad for some day-time chances to strengthen relationships with LITA folks.

The ZSR group that had booked the direct afternoon United flight to Greensboro on Monday may have been the luckiest librarians in the whole conference. We all managed to get to the airport, fly out only an hour late, and get home in time for dinner! It was a good ALA adventure this weekend, but I think we all were happy to touch down in non-snowy North Carolina!

The Day After Along Michigan Avenue

The Day After Along Michigan Avenue

 

TPD @ ALA Midwinter

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 10:59 am

For the record, ALA Midwinter can slog on through one of Chicago’s top five all-time snow storms. But there should be an honor roll of people who made it to LITA Happy Hour on Sunday night. With the confluence of Linus and Left Shark, it was a strange evening.

This is the beginning of a period that will be very heavy on organization business for me. By my count, I totalled over 16 hours in board meetings, board development, Deep Thinking about budgets and membership numbers, and all-around LITA and ALA strategery. Any of which I’ll be happy to share offline, but which doesn’t make for fun reading. Important takeaways: we’re looking at a generational change in the number of librarians coming into the profession and their level of participation in professional associations.

I did manage to get to LITA’s showcase for the leading edge, Top Tech Trends. For me, the eye opener was a discussion about Bluetooth Beacons. Like many new technologies, the potential here is both cool and creepy. Beacons can locate your mobile device to within inches and deliver very specifically target content. The first commercial application is to deliver promotional material to shoppers in a store, about the products they’re actually standing next to (so you get soup coupons in the soup aisle, dog food coupons in the dog food aisle, etc.). Museums are already working on content for self-guided tours. There’s an open question about how libraries can make use of this technology, though it’s easy to foresee wayfinders that take you to the right book stack, a “what’s scheduled for this room?” function, or “how do I work these projectors and lights?”, all delivered to your mobile device.

The good news is that Beacons are an opt-in technology, but they’re new enough that we probably haven’t seen the first wave of bugs, security holes, or hacks that game the system to hand over some very private data to persons unknown. So, there’s that.

And let me point out that [someone at] ALA decided to scan the conference IDs of everyone attending Top Tech Trends; the people tactually doing the scanning were employees of some external contractor who were given no information about what information was actually being stored, or who it was being shared with, and they weren’t told what to do when an attendee declined to be scanned. C’mon, ALA, we need better than that.

Monday morning, I led the LITA Town Meeting. This is our divisional bacon fest, community get-together, and discussion forum. We had a very good session with questions designed to generate ideas about possible changes to LITA’s membership and benefits and our annual National Forum. I’ll be typing those responses up for the LITA Board and a handful of committee chairs.

Now for the Blue Line back to O’Hare and back home.


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