Professional Development

In the 'Charleston Conference' Category...

Charleston Conference 2015

Monday, November 16, 2015 11:28 am

At the Charleston Conference I generally seek out sessions that focus on liaison- or user-related issues, but a dominant topic of recent years–user preferences for print or electronic books—seemed to have loosened its grip on the Conference, and I had the opportunity to explore a diverse range of topics. So, pleasantly enough, my notes are not filled with frantically scribbled statistics and formulae that dissolve haplessly into broad generalizations along the lines of “If E then P, but also If P then E, maybe.”

In “Collections as a Service,” Daniel Dollar, Director of Collection Development at Yale University Library and self-styled grief counselor (see below), argued that collections are not an end in themselves, and that one may move away from acquiring books in certain areas when there is no near term anticipation of use. He makes data-informed decisions, guided by a collection development philosophy of collecting materials that align themselves with research and teaching needs as well as with strategic developments. He outlined five data “stories:”

  1. Approval titles consist largely of print YBP titles for English language, plus European plans. They found that Harrassowitz circulation statistics were decreasing for approval titles (circulation rate goes up to about 15% compared to YBP’s 60% after a few years), and so adjustments guided by the circulation data were made, transitioning some money away from the European plans to e-books. In addition they expanded shelf-ready services since English language titles are used so heavily.
  2. Borrow Direct is an “Ivy Plus” service (the Ivy League schools plus Stanford, MIT, and Duke) used mostly by graduate students requesting materials, so to accommodate this need the libraries may have second and third copies of titles.
  3. Print books, always singled out as important for immersive reading, reveal declining use statistics: undergraduate circulations decreased 47% from 2006-2015, and graduate circulation decreased 51% from 2011-2015.
  4. Ebrary Academic Complete has been in place since 2003, including a “deep dive” in Religion, Philosophy, and Psychology. 42% of Ebrary is available in print at Yale, but there is diversity of use: for 45-50% of the titles both print and electronic were used, 10% electronic only, 25-30% print only, and 25% were not used. So he believes that there is a role for the “good enough” concept (e-books in lieu of print), even in areas of the humanities.
  5. E-resource usage (with print circulation flat) shows e-books and e-journals going up. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library predictably distorts the numbers somewhat, with significant expenditures and use in humanities-related primary source materials, which continue to grow. But if one takes out the Beinecke, e-resources show 70% use, monographs 18%.

So where is this leading? There is an inexorable movement towards digital and e-resources, accounting for most of the resource collections expenditures. But there are clear differences among the various subject libraries: for example, 90% electronic use for the medical library, compared 10% for the art library. Collection development and management are part of multiple networks, in Yale’s case Ivy Plus, HathiTrust, and CRL. He acknowledges that he plays in part the role of grief counselor because there is some sense of loss and concern for the scholarly record. He singled out the need to work closely in particular with graduate students, for help in understanding emerging areas of scholarship, or very narrow areas of inquiry in which they pursue their research.

The panel discussion on “Size, Perception, and Power in Library/Vendor Relations,” included librarians from a range of large and small institutions: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (the largest public university library system in the country, and second in size to Harvard), Appalachian State, UNC Asheville, and Caltech. The discussions focused largely on the question of how smaller schools with less name recognition and smaller budgets fare in the stratified arena of sales and acquisitions. Librarians from smaller libraries, both on the panel and in the audience, spoke to the challenges at times of even obtaining responses from vendors: the Caltech librarian had previously worked at a small school with “ZERO” name recognition, and both institutions were approximately the same size, but now at Caltech she finds that there is no problem with vendors getting back with requested information. The assumption appears to be that the smaller school library could not afford products, but ironically her previous institution had a substantial endowment. Moreover, smaller schools, she pointed out, often do not have the luxury of waiting a year to see if statistics improve. Vendors were not universally deplored, however; it was noted that they may contribute to improved use of a new resource by providing turn-away numbers or pointing out if a resource was omitted from a LibGuide. By contrast, the UIUC librarian, from a Tier 1 Research Library, enjoys all the expected major name recognition. She pointed out that with size comes a multiplicity of relationships, and it is important to open up vendor visits to the larger community. Clearly the impact of a product is larger, with a corresponding amount of potential feedback compared to smaller institutions, although in smaller libraries, librarians may wear multiple hats and therefore can give feedback from multiple perspectives. The speakers also addressed ethical issues inherent in the tension between larger institutions’ priorities and wishes, vs those of smaller ones: UIUC will get what it wants, and it will not necessarily be what is best for smaller libraries. Consortial efforts exist to counter the relative powerlessness of small institutions. But smaller libraries have less of a voice regarding their interests and price issues; if such an institution drops a subscription, how much will it matter? The UIUC librarian pointed out that if a large school buys a product, it is not necessarily an endorsement and the product may not be relevant to smaller schools’ priorities and needs. One should not assume that a larger library made the better decision; it made the best decision for what it needs. A show of hands at the beginning revealed a commendable number of vendors in the audience, but I was not aware of any of them participating in the give and take regarding the issues raised in the presentation and discussion!

Who knows how many conference attendees were lured by the alliterative title of Doug Way’s “Saying Sayonara to the STL: Strategy, Scale and Systematic Abandonment in the Ebook Marketplace”—but I was also drawn by his place of employment, since he is AUL for Collections and Research Services at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I earned my library degree and worked for many years at the beginning of my library career. He began by asserting that he likes DDA; what he dislikes is the notion that one size fits all. Scale is an important consideration, and UW-Madison is a Research 1 institution, with 43,000 students, of whom 12,000 are graduate students. The local environment is significant: what kind of users there are and how many, the mission of the library, attitudes and dispositions, and level of faculty engagement. He noted that librarians expressed disbelief when confronted with the actual amount of of e-book usage and surprise at the fact that the highest EBL use was in the social sciences, not the STEM fields. Librarians may express dissatisfaction from a lack of clarity (why they are doing what they are doing) and from workflow problems (which often are homegrown–we did it to ourselves). So they decided to reboot the e-book program. The strategy was not a collection development policy and not a values statement, but an internal document with a short to medium term frame, guiding areas of focus and emphasis. There was an emphasis on efficiency of access and price, flexibility, and choice. Preference was given to providers who allow resource sharing, offer content without DRM, allow simultaneous users, ensure access by way of perpetual licenses, and preservation options such as Portico. A task force reviewed the DDA program with a familiar EBL $250 price cap, $50 cap STL, and purchase after 3 STLs, for a collection of 23,000 titles.

The program was taken down due to a long list of challenges and problems: workflow inefficiencies (albeit locally created ones), scale (a limited budget and the limited size of the candidate pool of 23,000 titles–vs 900,000 print titles), the limited ability to increase access to content, price increases for the STL cap, publishers pulling out including top publishers (CUP, OUP, PUP), and the opportunity to effect “systematic abandonment.” He cautioned against a reluctance to abandon dying or declining services when declining services neglect or stunt the growth of new and growing services– the trap of sunk costs. He turned to Academic Complete for a 3-year contract, with its top use titles, multiple users, purchasing options for long term access if titles will be going away. (In response to a question about the missing front list in Academic Complete, he responded that AC is but one part of the entire strategy.) They have also started a pilot with Project Muse with evidence-based access, selecting individual titles for long term access, ILL rights, and DRM free e-books in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The revised e-book program goals include increasing the number of e-books available to users (now 250,000 at lower annual cost), saving money over the existing DDA program, and experimenting with EBA acquisition models. There is continuing increased e-book use. He said that they may return to STL, perhaps as a supplemental program. With announcements of the death of STL, publishers have the hatchet, as he phrased it. They can raise the price of STLs, but he for one does not have more money hidden around the office. If publishers raise the price and pull e-books, then he will not buy the books. It was rather stunning to hear that the UW-M library system has had a flat budget since 2000; a library probably does not recover from that kind of extended deficit and resulting lacunae in its collections. He stated that he needs books that get used; in addition, he noted that the school is both a top ILL lender and borrower. He acknowledges that everyone prefers print but given a choice between waiting for ILL, requesting from offsite, many users choose immediate access—another nod to the “good enough” notion.

Charleston Conference 2015 (Carol)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 4:39 pm

James O’Donnell Arizona State: Within a Star-Wars-themed keynote (complete with light saber), he remarked that if you buy a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag you expect it to fall apart. If you get a pirated PDF from an offshore website, you get better access and fewer hurdles.

Michael Levine-Clark at U. Denver did three local surveys in 2005, 2010, and 2015 regarding attitudes towards e-books and print books. Reasons to use e-books: “For searching” was at the top, but “easier than going to library” and “no print version available” were also cited. “Taking notes” was listed both as a reason to prefer print AND as a reason to prefer electronic. His slides go into more detail regarding user types (faculty/grad student/undergrad and different discipline areas). The upshot: Attitudes vary, so for right now a library would need to buy both print and electronic books to meet all user needs.

“Optimizing E-Resources Management” Athena Hoeppner (UCF) went through a litany of problem types. Fortunately (as I will soon be thrust back onto the front lines of solving more of these problems), I’ve heard them all before. Suggestions for improvement included Standards (NISO etc.). In the same presentation, Roën Janyk from Okanagan College mentioned that so far 92% of activity in their discovery system is from desktop computers (which must include laptops). Not very much mobile. Later she said that mobile device use of discovery is increasing.

“Shared Print in the Orbis Cascade Alliance and Colorado Alliance” had presenters from Oregon and (you guessed it) Colorado. One of the Colorado folks, in reference to their shared print program, noted that a library could designate a copy as “last copy” even when it’s not the last copy… yet. This enables weeding by others in the consortium. Overall, their experience sounded like what we’re considering with Scholars Trust.

The award for Best Alliteration in a Program Title goes to “Saying Sayonara to the STL: Strategy, Scale and Systematic Abandonment in the Ebook Marketplace.” Doug Way from UW-Madison spoke of his library’s experiment with the DDA/STL acquisition model – a model that they are now walking away from. Mr. Way structured his talk around the one-size-fits-all metaphor and emphasized that what works for his institution may not work for ours. Two key differences between them and us: larger (and more research intensive) user base + no budget increase for them in 15 years. While I will not be copying their decisions anytime soon, he did give me a framework that I can use to think about the future of STL/DDA.

John Vickery from NCSU presented on “Summon, EBSCO Discovery Service, and Google Scholar: Comparing Search Performance Using User Queries.” Human judges took a random sample of actual queries that users had input into NCSU’s discovery service. They put the queries into the three competing services. For known-item queries, the standard of excellence was having the correct result appear in the first three hits. For topical searches, they judged how many of the top 10 results were relevant. The results: for known-item queries, all three services tied. For topical searches, Google Scholar did slightly better than the other two (which were tied with each other). Vickery concluded that – based on the current status of the products – search performance does not need to be the deciding factor in choosing which discovery service to buy.

Erika Johnson from U. San Francisco and Rice Majors from Santa Clara U. – both medium-size Jesuit Universities in the Bay Area – co-presented. They examined usage/non-usage of locally purchased print books vs. usage of their unmediated regional consortium for book delivery (no exact ZSR parallel but more like NC Cardinal – the requests are done from a union catalog). One of the two libraries noted they have collection gaps in “food and culture” and transgender studies, inter alia. “Food and culture” in particular is a topic that falls between the cracks of their subject liaison structure (part anthropology, part agriculture…). Future plans include bringing a third library into their analysis (so they can better know what is normative) and examining the results of their shifted collection priorities – was it really helpful or was this process more like whack-a-mole or, rather, buying last year’s hot Christmas toy?

Charleston Conference 2015 (Lauren)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015 4:03 pm

Contents: Alma from Ex Libris, take care in using downloads as a measure part 2, EPUB 3, NISO ODI (do we need to tweak Summon?), DPLA working on e-books, the Charlotte Initiative, Overdrive, ORCID, and the rising cost of e-book short-term loans with a DDA program part 2

My focus was networking to hear nitty gritty details from the field and to follow-up on items from last year! Charleston is a very good conference for informative chats in hallways. I learned about a number of retirements!

Alma – was the library service platform that I heard mentioned frequently again, but often in the context of post-migration this year. I asked anyone I met using Alma to tell me about their headaches. Members of the Orbis-Cascade consortium – early adopters of Alma – who spoke of undeveloped or underdeveloped aspects of the system. I would expect that in the case of early adopters. Other librarians who have come on board more recently spoke of issues of the type that can come with any system change and at least one reported that things are better now compared to the experiences of early adopters. Thank goodness for those who go before us! I also heard that Alma has had some downtime, something we know that OCLC’s WMS experienced to the point that CEO Skip Pritchard recently blast-emailed an apology. I’m beginning to wonder if that is a problem with these newer library service platforms. I sure hope that by the time we’re seriously looking at a new system, downtime is a thing of the past!

Carol Tenopir – Slides are online now from last year’s “To Boldly Go Beyond Downloads” (or download the text version from here). Last year Tenopir reported from research with focus groups and interviews that downloads were on the decline and “be careful about using it as a measure.” The interesting follow-up this year (and I had to sit on the floor in an over-full room) was that as faculty responded in the survey or interviews, they realized that sharing PDFs might be illegal, but they are focused on the goal of furthering their research, so they will do it anyway and they think of themselves as just “little fish.” Sharing the article instead of downloading at the source reduces the download count statistics, adding to why the publishers and librarians cannot totally rely upon these measures.

EPUB 3 is citable, is good for helping those with visual challenges, and could be pervasive if people would embrace it. I found a webpage that seems to cover much of what was said: The speakers in this session recommended training first year students to know how to download EPUB instead of PDF and to help faculty see the advantages. I’m mindful of the Betamax vs. VHS situation and how differently HD DVD vs. Blu-ray played out more recently, so the crystal ball seems a bit murky on this one.

I heard IEEE, Sage, and Gale report on participation in NISO Open Discovery Initiative (ODI). I was thunderstruck when I heard the speaker for IEEE say that the process helped them realize that 3000 of 6000 standards had not been submitted for indexing and that they’ve been able to rectify that. Gale’s speaker said that the internal audit helped them to think about what is next. An action item for libraries is to ask publishers if they have conformance statements. These publishers also learned that the configuration that a library implements in a discovery service can inhibit discovery and Gale is developing widgets for optimization. Guides should be posted to the NISO website in 2016.

Who knew DPLA is working on e-books? I didn’t! October Ivins, working with the Charlotte Initiative, was excited to learn about this. Our very own NC Home Grown eBooks (Bill Kane and I talked with Tim Rogers as he was shaping that project) was covered at this session by Jill Morris, formerly of NC LIVE (now at Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.).

Overdrive has long focused on e-books for public libraries. The model is based on check-outs, meaning one user at a time, unless you buy multiple copies. Now Overdrive is moving into the academic market and they have developed some classroom set discounts and offer simultaneous use.

I heard a librarian from Texas talking about Elsevier’s Pure to manage the institution’s research and she said they realized they needed a campuswide implementation of ORCID, which provides numerical unique identification of researchers.

While there was talk about the death of the short-term loan (STL), there was also talk about changes to the pricing model for it. I’m sure other attendees from ZSR will mention e-book short term loans since many of us were at one session dedicated to the topic. For background on the problem, I’ll refer you again to my post from last year.






Bits and Bytes – DSU in Charleston

Monday, November 17, 2014 9:44 am

[Really, our title should be Bits and Bytes (and Bites!), but y’all know we were in the culinary wonderland that is Charleston, so the bites are a given.]

Chelcie and Molly attended the inaugural Charleston Seminar, a new two-day intensive workshop preceding the Charleston Conference. This year’s topic was Introduction to Data Curation, taught by two guys from UNC: Cal Lee, faculty at the School of Information and Library Science, and Jonathan Crabtree, Associate Director at the Odum Institute. We were two of approximately 30 librarians, faculty, administrators, and vendors from across the U.S. and Canada who attended. Wake Forest was in the middle in terms of institutional research focus represented.

The seminar was a mix of lecture and hands-on activities—Molly used a hex editor for the first time!—and addressed the sociocultural concerns of data curation, as well as the how-to aspects. We were reassured to realize that the paths we have been pursuing are on target for an institution of our size and research context.

Key takeaways:

  • keep data lifecycle stages simple; move complexity into functions
  • not about data ownership, but data stewardship
  • digital curation not the end, but the means to the end of better research
  • if we really love this data, need to acknowledge that we (aka, libraries) may not be the best place for it; is it a library conversation, or a campus conversation?
  • metadata tells you how to sift through data
  • must acknowledge the “Hermeneutic Gap” of archived data: context is often not captured, and is never the same
  • ask researchers what terms they would type into Google to find this data; often their terms will be pretty good, and can be used in descriptive metadata

We came back with definite steps to pursue to further the data curation conversations at Wake Forest, but also with the reassurance that libraries’ roles with data need to be ones of advocacy and coordination, not sole responsibility.

The Charleston Conference 2014, via Ellen D.

Friday, November 14, 2014 3:55 pm

I attended the 34th annual Charleston Conference November 5-8, where the theme, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” inspired myriad presentation titles, including the opening address, “Being Earnest in the New Normal.” Presented by Anthea Stratigos of Outsell, Inc., a firm which offers strategic marketing for libraries, the talk was rife with market-based jargon rather than the libraryland lingo that tends to lace most presentations. She urged libraries to get better at delivering our branded experience via strategic marketing (there was a passing reference to “brand halo”), and limned the current landscape of the information industry: vendors struggling with growth, talent gaps for sales and analytics, changing cost structures, and, since vendors need to bring growth to stakeholders, mergers designed to create such growth. She listed the elements that constitute the strategic marketing that libraries need to develop: have a strategy and mission (only 50% of libraries have this); build a target market map (administration, key user groups, services and offerings); complete a needs assessment (understand what users want); weed and feed a portfolio of services; and brand and market internally, delivering “wow.” Finally, she urged libraries to do the things that matter to our marketplace, establishing a portfolio that spells out what to drop or add, moneys to request, and for which targets. She urged moving one’s institution from a passive posture to a more active stance, while not getting too far ahead: the balancing act involves avoiding an innovation curve that might disenfranchise stakeholders, who have their own points of view.

Several sessions broached the issue of students’ responses to e-books, and I attended a number of these.

“How Users’ Perceptions of E-Books Have Changed – Or Not: Comparing Parallel Survey Responses” was presented by librarians from the University of Florida: Steve Carrico, Tara Cataldo, Trey Shelton, and Cecilia Botero. The group discussed surveys taken in 2009 and 2014 at the University of Florida. The surveys took the form of pop-ups on library computers, urging users to “Help us make better decisions: take our survey.” During those five years, there were slight declines in the percentages of users who had ever used e-books (77% to 76%) and those who had used e-books from the university library (66% to 56%). The caveat may be that users may not know that something is an e-book, or that it is from the library; they also had trouble distinguishing between book chapters and journal articles. Significantly, they often prefer to wait for print books via ILL for a week, rather than use e-books. Students noted problems with ease of use, reading, and the pleasure of reading. Aspects of e-books singled out as grounds for disapproval and dislike include eye strain, access problems, annotation problems, love of print (the feel of print books), dearth of titles, navigation issues (e.g. inability to flip through pages), lack of graphics, portability, DRM, poor quality, and reliance on technology. In addition, they complained of finding it hard to locate or to remember where a portion of text is situated: all e-books look and “feel” alike. Unsurprisingly, a greater amount of experience affects awareness of issues. Among the notable comments was the familiar observation, that students feel that they do not read as carefully in e-books (distractions seem to abound in that environment), and they do not focus as well. Of those not using e-books, 32% were undergraduates; so ironically, library users among whom many are digital natives do not really like e-books. As one user succinctly proclaimed, “No paper, no soul.”

“Are We There Yet? A Longitudinal Study of the Student E-Book Experience,” by Kendall Hobbs and Diane Klare of Wesleyan University, reflected the fourth year of data-gathering in what has become an annual presentation of an ongoing ethnographic study by the CTW Library Consortium (Connecticut College, Trinity College, and Wesleyan University). They found that although more students have encountered e-books, this has not translated into a preference for e-books or greater sophistication in use. However, their strong preference for print diminishes somewhat after participation in library sessions guiding them in the use of e-books. Initial interviews asked them how they use e-books, what e-books are, then to find and use an e-book, and additionally included surveys of preference for print or electronic, devices used, and gauged familiarity with searching, downloading, highlighting, annotating, and copying/pasting material. The studies found that over the years, the number of e-books used has increased, but not the degree of sophistication in using e-books and their advanced features, despite the fact that e-journals have become well integrated into students’ research strategies. 70% had used library e-books, but half of them only 1-2 times per semester. 86% prefer print for both academic and pleasure reading, and they use print and e-books in different ways: e-books for discovery (searching and skimming the text), but they prefer to have print when careful, close reading is needed for serious study. They like the physicality of print (the very thickness of books), being able to flip through the pages, and even the ability to use post-it notes (some students rank books according to the number of sticky-notes posted in them; those books with the most notes are obviously deemed the most useful). They also like to hand-write notes or outlines, feeling that this makes them more engaged with the text; it gets into their brains better than is the case with mechanically copying and pasting. They want everything at hand when writing their papers; they do not want technology to get in the way, requiring them to navigate through multiple platforms. They cited problems with finding functionality since icons are not always comprehensible. Finally, students have two goals: they want their own print copies, and they want easy access with more intuitive interfaces.

I myself find such findings to be consistent with my own experiences in BI and PRS sessions. I always go over the use of e-books, and when I ask how many students prefer e-books, at most 1-2 students raise their hands. I acknowledge the ambivalence surrounding e-books, but then emphasize that despite a generally shared preference for print, the library’s e-book program offers a troika of advantages: immediate, simultaneous access to a larger number of books than we could afford to purchase in print. I also show them how to print out selected content, including how to determine in advance (under the Details tab) how many pages the book’s publisher permits for printing or copying. It is difficult to gauge response to this information in classes, but in one-on-one encounters in PRS sessions or at the reference desk, the relief is apparent.




Charleston Conference 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014 3:09 pm

Contents: 1. short tidbits (e.g. Alma from Ex Libris, “screen reading” effects, take care in using downloads as a measure, shared print storage) and 2. the rising cost of e-book short-term loans with a DDA program

1. the short bits

Alma – was the commercial ILS that I heard mentioned repeatedly, often in the context of migrations. At a poster session, I spoke with a librarian from the University of Tennessee Libraries about their migrating order records to Alma (from Aleph) and the next day I spoke with a librarian from another state about migration to Alma. I came away with the impression that both were satisfied so far. I heard other librarians mention Alma as the ILS of interest or having recently selected it.

Steve Shadle – “How Libraries Use Publisher Metadata” Steve worked with Springer on metadata and realized other publishers could use the same kind of understanding. Publishers at the presentation were engaged and asking questions. (I say, “hooray!”)

Carol Tenopir – “To Boldly Go Beyond Downloads” reported from research with focus groups and interviews that downloads are on the decline and “be careful about using it as a measure.” The survey just went out, so keep an eye out for later reports from that part of the research.

David Durant (ECU) and Tony Horava (University of Ottawa) - “Future of Reading and Academic Library” The presenters referenced Jakob Neilson’s F shaped pattern (of eye tracking) and explained linear and tabular reading and how they affect learning. Their research includes the differences between “screen reading” and reading from print. Look for their article in the January 2015 issue of Portal.

Emory and Georgia Tech’s shared print repository, Emtech, was helped along by support from the presidents at both universities and the prior establishment of a 501-3c to support other initiatives. (I asked because I had wondered how a private/public partnership for something long-term like this could work.) They determined that they had only 17% overlap in collections and each library is putting 1 million volumes into the shared facility — serials from Tech and monographs from Emory. They are storing microforms there; with the Atlanta climate, a cooler will have to be used when pulling those from facility, so that they gradually warm up from the 50 degrees without moisture forming on them. It will be one unified collection and they are contemplating whether they will need a separate OCLC holding symbol. This will be Harvard style — with static, not mobile, shelving.

Jeff already reported on plenaries and one session that he and I both attended,plus DDA with Kanopy streaming video, and included some lovely photos.


2. increasing cost of short-term loans (STLs):

Summary: All parties, publishers, librarians and aggregators are adopting a “let’s work together” attitude and showing understanding that workable pricing models are yet to be figured out with e-books because monographs are different from journals; everyone is inclined towards keeping DDA rather than eliminating it. The consortia named below who facilitated a lively lunch all pulled DDA records from their catalogs but I learned in a sidebar conversation that a large consortium removed only the EBL DDA records for the same titles in ebrary Academic Complete (generally considered to be primarily a backlist) and made no other changes. We’re implementing this change, literally as I’m writing this, since we just got the subscription product through NC LIVE. (See also Carol’s report.)

Details on STLS: Following up on this summer’s announcement that a number of publishers were raising the prices of STLs, I asked Derrik to do some analysis of our own experience prior to the conference. The bottom line on his analysis is that the rise in cost is affecting our bottom line noticeably. I managed to get to a lively lunch session with a mix of publishers, librarians, and aggregators in the audience. Facilitators included a representative from: Connecticut-Trinity-Wesleyan (CTW Consortium); Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium; Tri-College Consortium (Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Haverford); The Five Colleges Consortium (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst) The lively lunch facilitators asked specific questions and my take-aways were:

  • reaffirmation that sales of books (whatever format) are dropping and the volume of STLs isn’t rising to meet the cost of publishing them (not from conference, but see this explanation of the cost of publishing an e-book)
  • inconclusive discussion on setting an optimal dollar amount or percentage of list price (I went to the mic and commented that setting a percentage was a questionable strategy with some publishers now raising the list price for electronic to be more than print; note that the e-book was not always, but often, close to hardcover price until recently)
  • in general an embargo was undesirable from all perspectives
  • differentiated pricing on frontlist versus backlist could be considered (I wonder if this wouldn’t add undesirable complexity and there might be a better solution)

Also on the STL crisis topic, Carol and I both were at a session titled, Sustainability not Profitability: the Future of Scholarly Monographs and STL.” Carol’s coverage, also linked above, differs slightly from mine (and is brief).

  • Barbara Kawecki from YBP gave the landscape of library activity to start the session: from 1998 to now there has been a dramatic decline in print purchasing. A loss of 50,000 units to a publisher is significant. YBP has seen a dramatic increase in records sent for DDA but only tiny amount is purchased and a large percentage of spending is on STL.
  • Rebecca Seger of Oxford University Press then gave an overview of the cost of monograph publishing and stated that the real problem is shrinking monograph budget (which I heard multiple times at the conference). She explained that with journals publishers can estimate revenue because of subscriptions, but publishers have used the print approval plans of libraries historically to estimate revenue for monographs. Each title might sell 400-700 “units” for the lifetime. Publishers can’t sell that amount now and can’t estimate revenue based on approval plans anymore because of all the changes libraries are making relative to DDA/STL. It costs about $10,000 to publish a monograph and printing is only about a third of that cost (or more for a smaller publisher).
  • Lisa Nachtigall from Wiley also described the impact of DDA/STL:

2009 to now: 92% print to 77% print
3rd party sales of e big increase: now 7%
32% less revenue from top 100 titles from 2009 to now; 28% less if take out the top 5 performers
70% of all etransactions from DDA/STL
Only 32% of DDA records went to transaction and 82% of that are STLs
86% less revenue on the e

Lisa is in the editorial part of Wiley and says that because of all of this Wiley is exiting Physics altogether, getting out of higher level research areas and will focus on textbooks. She noted that faculty will not able to disseminate their research in the same ways.

  • Michael Levine-Clark (a frequent speaker on e-books and Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Collections Services at the University of Denver) counseled the audience for librarians and publishers to work together on this problem, which was also the attitude at the lively lunch I described above. He said he was willing to pay more for the titles that get used. Various pricing models are needed together right now. He is concerned about the level of risk — future access to the titles not purchased — but he noted that the budget doesn’t allow him to buy all of those titles now anyway. He had a lot of analytical graphs in his presentation, which may be found near the end of the entire presentation. He wondered about having a fee for DDA service to publishers and YBP as part of the solution (but several audience members noted that all libraries already pay a small fee to YBP for the service of managing the bibliographic records). He concluded that we need to pony up to keep all books available for long term. During Q&A with the audience, it came up that if part of the change to using STL includes charges for browses, then it may not work. There was agreement from the audience that we have to work with publishers to keep DDA. The concept of an annual fee, “pay to play,” was raised again.

This was a particularly good conference in terms of content and consistently nice weather.

Charleston 2014 According to Carol: Kanopy and E-Books

Thursday, November 13, 2014 4:56 pm

Illinois State University spoke about their experience with Kanopy. Two key observations about impact:

  • After starting DDA, they saw an increased number of requests to license non-DDA Kanopy titles – suggesting that some percentage of faculty users treat Kanopy as a standalone database.
  • ISU had previously bought streaming rights to some individual titles, which they hosted locally. When these titles were duplicated in the Kanopy DDA set, the Kanopy version generally had more use. This implies that the Kanopy versions are either more useful or more easily discoverable.

At Wake Forest, two Kanopy DDA films have already been used enough to trigger a purchase, and this is before loading the MARC records or doing any promotion beyond a single ZSReads article.

Two librarians from Wesleyan University did both qualitative (anthropology-style + usability) and quantitative (survey) studies of student attitudes and behaviors regarding e-books. Their observations:

  • Having personal control over a copy was most important, e.g. printing or making a PDF.
  • E-books work best for discovery. Print is better for deep reading.
  • Students read just what they need to write the paper. This holds true for print books and e-books.
  • Students are not interested in pirating per se, but they prioritize easy over legitimate.
  • Indexes to e-books are still exact reproductions of the paper format. The index terms are not hyperlinked; therefore, the index does not get used.

I saw two presentations on e-books featuring the always interesting Michael Levine-Clark from Denver. In the first presentation, he was on a panel that included reps from Wiley, OUP and YBP. They focused on the rapidly increasing costs of short-term loans, i.e. the one-day rental fees paid for the DDA books. Rebecca Seger from OUP presented on the economics of publishing a book. In a nutshell, OUP could predict the revenue streams for print but not for DDA. However, Levine-Clark pointed out that in the aggregate Denver spends the same amount on book content regardless of the existence of DDA. It’s just spread around differently. (At WFU, ZSR is actually spending more on monographs since the advent of DDA.) Any total reduction in monographs spending (at Denver or nationally) is due to journal inflation, which both Oxford and Wiley engage in. Since Denver is facing a flat budget, if current trends continue, their monograph spending (print or e) will be $0 by 2020. The panel did not offer any concrete suggestions on resolving the crisis beyond general statements about publishers and librarians working together.

The second presentation explored e-book usage in the Humanities. Levine-Clark had a national data set, and he compared usage in Humanities vs. Social Sciences vs. STEM. Then he compared the disciplines within Humanities to each other. I quickly realized that – based on usage patterns – Linguistics & Communication act more like the Social Sciences than Humanities. One interesting thing that he noted: The number of use sessions per 100 books available is lower in the Humanities than in Social Sciences or STEM. He did not speculate on a reason, but personally, I wonder if this reflects an oversupply of Humanities research compared to the demand for consuming Humanities research – especially since Humanities faculty are often specifically evaluated by whether they have published a book.

Imagine for a moment that ZSR cancelled its DDA plan: What might take its place? The two main alternative purchasing models are subscriptions (e.g. ebrary) and the Big Deal. I attended two sessions that probed different aspects of the Big Deal model. For e-books, Big Deal purchases are usually brokered directly by publishers (instead of by aggregators like EBL and ebrary). They generally do not have any DRM, and the books can be used by unlimited users. After UNC-Charlotte serendipitously discovered that they had 30 course adoption books within their Big Deal packages, they began deliberately promoting this idea with the faculty. They ultimately paid $14K for 117 additional titles. (They purchased some books one-by-one in addition to the Big Deals.) The bookstore was a good partner. A faculty member who used this program for his Film Studies course talked about how this program positively impacted his teaching.


  • He did not feel morally obligated to use every single chapter in the textbook, since the students were not required to pay out-of-pocket for it.
  • A corollary: he felt free to use single chapters from various books.
  • He likes a tech-free classroom, yet he still found ways to use the text within the class session.

Sidebar: This generally works for “course adoption” books. Rebecca Seger had helpfully explained the distinction between a “course adoption” book and a textbook. A textbook is something like Intro to Statistics, 18th edition. A “course adoption” book is something like The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: adaptation to closed frontiers and war, which was not expressly designed as a textbook, but was indeed adopted for course use by a faculty member at WFU. Publishers do not know in advance which general monographs will become course adoption books. Generally, publishers do not sell multi-user textbooks to libraries, since that harms their lucrative (extortionate?) textbook revenue stream.

The last presentation I attended painted a less rosy picture of the Big Deal. Miami University thoroughly analyzed 2.5 years of usage statistics for Big Deal e-books purchased in 2012. Only 19% of titles had a use. Just three books (by their titles, clearly textbooks) accounted for 17% of downloads. Miami’s FTE is roughly 15K, or twice that of WFU. Therefore, I speculate that WFU would see only 10% usage if ZSR were to purchase this kind of package. Every time I have investigated the pricing of one of these packages, I have noted that the discount for buying in bulk does not even come close to accounting for the nearly inevitable low usage rates. While packages differ as to subject coverage, the ones that cover everything published by Publisher X in a given year are the worst deal, as there is no price break for the large swaths of content (e.g. agriculture) that would see virtually no use at a school like WFU.

While the Big Deal for journals is frequently (and sometimes with justice) maligned among librarians, the extra you pay for the journals without any previous subscription (i.e. likely low-use journals) rarely exceeds more than 10% of prior spend. I would not advocate for pursuing the Big Deal model for monographs unless publishers begin offering much steeper discounts.

The Ellers Visit the In-Laws; Charleston 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 12:00 pm

Eleven-day-old daughter and sleep-deprived wife in tow, I attended the 2014 Charleston Conference flying arguably in the face of reason. I had the advantage of a free place to stay: my parents-in-law live out on James Island, a 15-minute drive to the Francis Marion Hotel where the conference is held. Given this fact and the conference’s unique focus on acquisitions, it makes sense for this meeting to become an annual excursion for me.

The opening speaker, Anthea Stratigos (apparently her real last name) from Outsell, Inc. talked about the importance of strategy, marketing, and branding the experience your library provides. She emphasized that in tough budgetary times it is all the more important to know your target users and to deliver the services, products, and environment they are looking for rather than mindlessly trying to keep up with the Joneses and do everything all at once. “Know your portfolio,” advised Ms. Stratigos. I would say that we at ZSR do a good job of this.

At “Metadata Challenges in Discovery Systems,” speakers from Ex Libris, SAGE, Queens University, and the University of Waterloo discussed the functionality gap that exists in library discovery systems. While tools like Summon have great potential and deliver generally good results, they are reliant on good metadata to function. In an environment in which records come from numerous sources, the task of normalizing data is a challenge for library, vendor, and system provider alike. Consistent and rational metadata practices, both across the industry and within a given library, are essential. To the extent that it is possible, a good discovery system ought to be able to smooth out issues with inconsistent/bad metadata; but the onus is largely on catalogers. I for one am glad that we are on top of authority control. I am also glad that at the time of implementation I was safely 800 miles away in Louisiana.

In a highly entertaining staged debate over the premise that “Wherever possible, library collections should be shaped by patrons instead of librarians,” Rick Anderson from Utah and David Magier from Princeton contested the question of how large a role PDA/DDA should play in collection development in an academic context. Arguing pro-DDA, Mr. Anderson claimed that we’ve confused the ends with the means in providing content: the selection process by librarians ought properly to be seen simply as a method for identifying needed content, and if another more automated process (DDA) can accomplish the same purpose (and perhaps do it better), then it ought to be embraced. Arguing the other side, Mr. Magier emphasized DDA’s limitations, eloquently comparing over-reliance on it to eating mashed potatoes with a screwdriver just because a screwdriver is a useful tool. He pointed out that even in the absence of DDA, librarians have always worked closely and directly with patrons to answer their collection needs. In truth, both debaters would have agreed that a balance of DDA and traditional selection by librarians is the ideal model.

One interesting program discussed the inadequacy of downloads as proxy for usage given the amount of resource-sharing that occurs post-download. At another, librarians from UMass-Amherst and Simmons College presented results of their Kanopy streaming video DDA (PDA to them) program, similar to the one we’ll be rolling out later this month; they found that promotion to faculty was essential in generating views. On Saturday morning, librarians from Utah State talked about the importance of interlibrary loan as a supplement to acquisitions budgets and collection development policies in a regional consortium context. On this point, they try to include in all e-resource license agreements a clause specifying that ILL shall be allowed “utilizing the prevailing technology of the day” – an attempt at guaranteeing that they will remain able to loan their e-materials regardless of format, platform changes, or any other new technological developments.

Also on Saturday Charlie Remy of UT-Chattanooga and Paul Moss from OCLC discussed adoption of OCLC’s Knowledge Base and Cooperative Management Initiative. This was of particular interest as we in Resource Services plan on exploring use of the Knowledge Base early next year. Mr. Remy shared some of the positives and negatives he has experienced: among the former, the main one would be the crowdsourcing of e-resource metadata maintenance in a cooperative environment; among the negatives were slow updating of the knowledge base, especially with record sets from new vendors, along with the usual problem of bad vendor-provided metadata. The final session I attended was about link resolvers and the crucial role that delivery plays in our mission. As speakers pointed out, we’ve spent the past few years focusing on discover, discovery, discovery. Now might be a good time to look again at how well the content our users find is being delivered.

2013 Charleston according to Carol

Wednesday, November 20, 2013 10:12 am

Here are the highlights of the most important sessions I attended at Charleston:

Derrik has already covered the first session on discovery services. I won’t repeat what he said, except to link to the slides. I’ll also point out that we were one of the 149 libraries that gave approval to be studied (slide 10), but I don’t know if we were ultimately selected. In a related presentation on Friday, Bruce Heterick from JSTOR discussed efforts in getting their content to show appropriately in discovery services. JSTOR found that usage plummeted after certain schools implemented certain discovery layers. (My opinion: Students will frequently use JSTOR on name recognition alone – even when it’s not the optimal source for their topic. If the discovery service delivers more appropriate up-to-date content, so much the better.) Heterick said that many discovery services depend heavily on subject metadata for relevancy ranking. JSTOR does not include that metadata, and it would be expensive to produce. (Just a thought – many JSTOR articles are indexed with subject metadata in A&I places like MLA, which are sometimes included in the discovery service as well. How can that be harvested appropriately?)

Librarians from Ferris State reported on how they processed titles that they committed to retain within their Michigan consortium. They used a 912 field in the MARC record to indicate reasons for retention. Missing books and those in poor condition took extra time to process since they needed to find another consortium member who would take responsibility for keeping the title.

Kristin Calvert from Western Carolina reported on a project to move all their usage stats to EBSCO Usage Consolidation (hence: EUC). Before implementing this project, it took them four full working days each year to collect e-journal stats. I know Derrik would identify with some of the frustrations that Calvert expressed. After the decision to use EUC, it took…

  • 2-3 weeks to set up (I’m not sure if non-stop work is implied here.)
  • 8 hours for initial cleanup
  • 4-6 hours for quarterly loads (could do this annually to save time)
  • <1 hour/month for cleanup

The product includes an “Exceptions” list of journals that had some kind of mismatch in the system. WCU staff had to reconcile the exceptions, but once they did, EUC remembered the fix so the same exception wouldn’t pop up again. The screenshot that Calvert showed had zero exceptions. Calvert concluded that she found this project worthwhile given the efficiencies gained at the end.

On Saturday, two librarians from Bucknell discussed how they dropped their approval plan and went with print DDA for everything. They use WorldCat/WorldShare for their catalog and discovery layer, so they could accomplish this without any loading (or deactivation) of records in their system. Patrons click on a ‘Get It’ button (powered by GIST), and a librarian decides whether to fulfill the request by purchase or by ILL. In the end, they ordered 1/3 fewer titles, spent 50% less, and ILL decreased. Bucknell took this path because their approval books circulate at a low rate. They also weed aggressively (12K new books/year and 6K deletions/year), so their collection was a revolving door. They pointed out that their library focuses on undergraduate curriculum, not research, so WFU may not want to pursue this idea. One point that resonates with me though: they reminded us that ‘efficient’ does not necessarily mean ‘effective.’ Approval plan ordering is the most efficient way to get books, and e-book DDA is even more efficient at delivery. However, are they as effective in getting users to the content they need in the format they want?

Charleston Conference 2013 (Ellen D.)

Monday, November 18, 2013 10:41 am

Charleston Conference 2013
Nov. 6-9 “Too Much is Not Enough!”
With the looming confluence of two dire developments, de-selection AND e-books, these rather fraught issues were the inevitable themes of several sessions I chose to attend at this year’s Charleston Conference, held November 6-9.
“Not So Fast:” Researcher Preferences for Print or E-Books,” presented by two librarians from McMaster University, Janice Adlington (Collections & Information Resources Librarian) and Wade Wyckoff (Association University Librarian, Collections) offered an interesting counterpoint to some aspects of e-books issues as we manage them. The library has no approval plan, but librarians do firm ordering for both print and e-books on a title-by-title basis. They purchase front list titles from Oxford, Harvard, IEEE-Wiley, Springer, with some consortial arrangements, and add more e-books than print per year, with a total now of 4000 unowned EBL titles. Unlike ZSR’s compassionate policies, they do not provide intentional duplication of print and electronic, and there is no ILL for print if the e-book is owned (with few exceptions). ILL is unmediated, and 25% of requests are rejected. Predictably, there has been faculty and graduate student pushback, providing anecdotal evidence as well as lengthy, detailed, and persistent complaints regarding a specific e-book package. The librarians felt that they needed more structured input in order to develop more nuanced collecting strategies and to better support those most likely to engage deeply with texts (and to discern more than the squeaky wheels). So they devised a 7-point survey (using Survey Monkey) covering demographics, general preferences, and usage, plus an open-ended content box-and garnered strong opposing viewpoints. The survey went out to faculty, graduate and undergraduate students alike. Many individuals use both formats, and all levels of response preferred print books, particularly among the undergraduates. The Humanities and Social Sciences were over-represented, reflecting the importance of monographs to their scholarship, and they strongly prefer print. The Sciences change to a greater acceptance of electronic. The open question box pulled in a wide range of comments. Some saw benefits to both formats. The EBL and Ebsco platforms provoked negative comments. Even among the scientists, print was seen as offering a richer learning experience, easier to browse and assess for relevance; as one person put it, one can’t put one’s finger in the page to refer back. By contrast, e-books are fine for reference and scanning. There were frequent remarks on the use of the printing option and downloading to tablets, in order to have easier access to sections they needed. Humanities showed the highest use of printing and downloading to tablet or reader, but not as many downloaded to laptops as in Science/Engineering. One science professor confessed to buying print to avoid reading e-books. The comments included reflections that with e-books one reads less intently, and one doesn’t absorb enough information; one can’t double back; one MINES e-texts but READS print books; there is greater difficulty reading closely and retaining information; one is more likely to read a print books in its entirety.
As a result of the survey, the librarians changed their approaches. They stopped buying the front list from a problematic publisher. They will continue print for the Humanities, with the traditional scholarly academic monographs. They will also re-think their ILL policies and revisit acquisitions policy, addressing the question of buying print if they already own the e-book title. They plan to exercise caution in weeding print based on e-book availability for their legacy print collection. Interestingly, they remove the short term loan availability for e-books if they buy print. They wondered if e-book records encourage print circulation, a question to address perhaps in the future. They had expected greater enthusiasm for e-books. They were hit by the EBL textbook policy, and fear that as a consequence faculty are re-considering e-books and do not trust them now (even more than before?). Afterwards, in the discussion, one person stood up and pointedly asked, “Why are we doing this?” if there are so many user problems. Are we just solving our problems but not our users’ problems? Someone else pointed out that there are moral problems if users have to pay to print out texts when they cannot read print. And finally, one attendee from Germany gave an international twist to the survey’s findings: in Germany the preferences for print fall along similar lines.


Perhaps not too many collection management projects involve comparing one’s library holdings with those of the State Library of Norway. This unique relationship emerged from the session, “Janus-Faced Collection Ecology: De-Selection and Preservation at St. Olaf College Libraries,” presented by Mary Barbosa-Jerez , Head of Collection Development (and clearly not of Nordic origins, she acknowledged). “Janus,” with its allusion to facing the past as well as the future, suggests being mindful of unique cultural heritage holdings as well as future space needs for books and collaborative areas. In addition to supporting the St. Olaf College curriculum, the Rolvaag Library serves as the primary book repository for the Norwegian-American immigrant community, with formal ties to the Norwegian American Historical Association. The St. Olaf libraries had never been subjected to comprehensive collection assessment or to systematic weeding, and with pressing space issues, a weeding project was devised that included identifying, segregating, and protecting (as well as enhancing discoverability of) culturally important materials (the library was “off the charts” in terms of unique holdings associated with the Nordic communities). The speaker emphasized the cultural heritage not only in terms of library holdings, but also in terms of culturally based attitudes. As a self-isolated culture of frugal savers, every gift had been regarded as important. High pride in the work of forbearers meant that each item should be saved by the sub-culture; other holdings included items that had been selected carefully by well-loved faculty members. These attitudes, she noted, were at odds with the reality of physical space and the library’s mission. A vault valuation project for the Nordic-American collection reflected the value of Nordic-American Imprints and began by segregating heritage materials for protection. This process was based on identification of heritage criteria and involved coding in OCLC. She achieved stake-holder buy-in by means of a library faculty committee educated in the issues involved, and the conversation regarding de-selection always included a preservation element. She held multiple meetings of all concerned parties, reported on progress, gathered feedback, and got recommendations for the next step. Billing the undertaking as a pilot de-selection project meant that it was a low stress but high impact test. She insisted that de-selection decisions would be restricted to decisions and actions of the library staff; there had been so many preliminary conversations that additional reiterations would be redundant. In the end, a separate space was identified for heritage collection items, and genuinely deselection-worthy items could be identified as well and disposed of accordingly. She emphasized the importance of awareness of one’s unique holdings, as well as the future paradigm of one-in-one-out for the library’s collection management.


“Transforming a Print Collection” was a (heavily) statistically-driven presentation by two librarians at Temple University faced with the wondrous prospect of a new library on the horizon: Fred Rowland (Reference Librarian) and Brian Schooler (Head, Acquisitions and Collection). Naturally, the structure was not to be a 50 million warehouse for print ; the library already has an offsite storage and retrieval facility (1.1 million volumes in the library and 4 million offsite). As a preliminary planning step, they wanted to achieve a sense of the importance of print among various disciplines and developed two independent but complementary projects to track patterns of print use. They looked at recent circulation in the past 2.5 years and grouped them into publication dates with call numbers. They found that 21% of the N and M classes had circulated within that time span, 15% of history, and Humanities overall 14.9, compared to 10.4% in the STM fields, underscoring the relative importance of monographs. A broader overview of the circulation history revealed that 33.3% of the collection had circulated since 2010, then 30% dating from the 2000s, 17.9% from the 1990s, 11.1% from the 1980s, and 6.6 from the 1970s. Pre-1980s publications were stable at the low level of 3-6%. Tracking the linear curve of this, the Humanities showed a steeper jump from the 1970s to the 1980s, more so for history and yet more so for the Arts. Then there was some leveling off in the 2000s and in more recent years. Specific classes have different patterns from the broader categories, but the multiple lines of color for various LC sub-classes became rather messy slides, by their own admission. The Humanities showed more heavily used older materials; so those disciplines benefit from a larger amount of older materials in open stacks. Overall, they saw strong circulation of new books within 10 years of publication date. For the past 10 years, 55.2% of the collection had circulated, with 1.6 average circulations per book. 10% of the books account for 48% of total circulation, and 25% of books account for 76% of total checkouts. Humanities make up 51% of all the books, and 52% of Humanities titles have circulated. 53% of total checkouts are Humanities while English books circulated at around 59%. The peak of checkouts occurred in 2008/2009 after which they have been decreasing, perhaps attributable to buying fewer print books and more e-books. The session ended rather abruptly when time ran out and we all resigned ourselves to the respite from the relentless rain of statistics.
Lynn was one of the panel members in “If the University is in the Computer, Where Does That Leave the Library? MOOCs Discovered” and made a compelling presentation on our contributions to what she defined as MOOCs’ role in contributing to the social imperative in global institutions’ quest for high quality education, and highlighted ZSR’s-and Kyle’s-roles in meeting those needs. The first speaker, Meredith Schwartz of Rittenhouse Book Distributors wittily outlined the life cycle of many innovative efforts: Technological trigger > Peak of inflated expectations > Trough of disillusionment > Slope of enlightenment > Plateau of productivity. Perhaps we are avoiding the trough of disillusionment by having had reasonable expectations as ZSR embarked on its own version of a Pilgrim MOOC’s Progress.


Rich in both content and relevance, Charleston is a conference I look forward to attending again in future years. In the meantime, the conference theme (“Too Much is Not Enough!”) emblazoned on the sturdy conference bag seems very suitable for re-purposing as a shopping bag.

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