Professional Development

In the 'General' Category...

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.

Carol at the International Medieval Congress

Sunday, May 11, 2014 7:47 pm

Thanks to a fortunate alignment of events, I got to go on an all-expenses-paid (by me) trip to the International Medieval Congress in Kalamazoo, MI at Western Michigan University.

Most sessions were 1½ hours long and included three presentations around a common theme. I attended the following sessions (WFU faculty who presented are listed in parentheses):

  • In Honor of Dolores Warwick Frese I: Medieval Mothers and the Mother Tongue
  • New Research in Old High German Literature and Linguistics (Tina Boyer, German & Russian)
  • Gothic Language and Linguistics
  • In a Word, Philology: Etymology, Lexicography, Semantics and More in Germanic (Heiko Wiggers, German & Russian)
  • Crusades
  • Hanse Realm: Trade, Culture, and Exchange
  • Late Antiquity II: Late Antique Italy
  • Rethinking Reform II: Councils as Context, Catalyst, and Communicator of Reform
  • Philosophical Texts and Traditions (Michael Sloan, Classical Languages)

Since several of the papers were about the history of translating certain texts, I managed to touch on all five of my liaison areas in a single conference. Gale Sigal (English, co-chair of the WFU Medieval Studies program) invited me to attend dinner with her and four WFU students who were there. Lunches were in the school cafeteria. Mealtime conversations with WFU faculty led to five discrete requests from three different WFU faculty for me to buy a book, check up on a standing order possibility, etc. At one lunch, Michael and Tina discussed how they’ve used my instruction services, and they each pledged to use them more often. I almost never get PRS’s unless I’ve visited the class, so I mentioned the possibility of a 10-minute class drop-in, which is mainly a commercial for the PRS service and the relevant Research Guide. (Fortunately I give Classical Languages and German fairly even attention – if I didn’t I would’ve been busted!)

A few observations on this type of conference in comparison to librarian conferences:

The exhibit hall. My stereotype…

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There was only one booth like this. This booth was more typical…

One of many booths selling individual books to attendees

One of many booths selling individual books to attendees

There was basically no vendor swag. The vendors were more focused on selling a single book today as opposed to selling $50K worth of product six months from now. This conference also featured sellers of “medieval sundries.”

Drinking Horns for Sale

Drinking Horns for Sale

They didn’t say, but I’m assuming these drinking horns are not dishwasher safe.

During the presentations, PowerPoints were relatively uncommon, and Tina was the only presenter I saw using Prezi. Much more typical was a paper handout. Usually the handout had a few paragraphs of medieval text that the presenter was going to analyze. In one case, the speaker handed out his entire paper! It was also not uncommon for a presenter to read a paper verbatim – something I almost never see at a library conference.

The sheer number of sessions was overwhelming. There were 565 sessions total, including as many as 54 in the same time slot!

The attendees seemed to be much more international (or at least European) than the crowd at library conferences. I either saw a presentation by or ate a meal with someone from South Africa, Germany, Italy, Finland, Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, Canada and the UK. Since church history is a significant aspect of medieval culture, there were several monks, nuns and priests in the crowd and among the presenters.

One similarity with the Charleston Conference that I attend annually: This conference is held in the same place every year, and a significant number of attendees go year after year. This situation leads to social groups forming and re-forming each year, as well as certain annual rituals like visiting the same restaurants.

Come talk to me if you’d like to hear more details about all the presentations I saw. Be forewarned: I might go on and on about two Old Norse words for “word” if you do.

The Winter Institute for Intercultural Communication

Tuesday, April 8, 2014 9:10 am

Thanks to a scholarship from the University I was able to spend March 12- 15 in Charlotte attending the Inaugural Winter Institute for Cultural Communication sponsored by the Institute and the Wake Forest Office of Diversity & Inclusion. It was a great gathering of about 80 attendees; thirty of which were from WFU. The Institute offered a choice of four different three day classes. During breaks and meals together, it was obvious that folks were all engaging in some pretty lively discussions. My class choice entitled Emotional Intelligence and Diversity: Building the Personal Infrastructure for Interpersonal and Organizational Effectiveness was taught by Lee Gardenswartz and was one of the best I’ve had on this particular topic.

Like me, you may be wondering how these two concepts Emotional Intelligence and Diversity work together within the workplace. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to understand and manage our emotions and those around us. Emotions are at the heart of our energy and motivations. Emotions drive behavior. They are fundamental in how we react to the differences we see in others. Gaining understanding and mastery over our emotions leads to greater success as an employee, manager or leader. Emotions are the source of energy for doing the right and the smart thing. Each day’s class featured role playing, self-exploration and tons of spirited conversation. Class discussions focused around these four key elements:

Affirmative Introspection addresses why we behave and react the way we do. The more we know about ourselves and how life experiences have shaped who we are and how we respond to any given situation, the more we can manage our emotions. The more we understand and manage our emotional responses, the more comfortable we are in working relationships, the more effective we are in our daily interactions and the more we are at peace within our own skin.

Self-governance enables one to gain mastery over the feelings that arise when facing uncertainty, change and difficult people. This aspect of Emotional Intelligence involves dealing with the ambiguity that diverse environments bring. Management of our own mental self-talk is seen as crucial. Bringing logic, accuracy and reason to the forefront aids in mastering self-talk aids and in governing our emotions.

Intercultural Literacy involves understanding others cultural rules, norms and values, while being able to empathize with them and walk in their shoes. Resist the temptation to judge as inferior, styles, customs and values that are different from your own. Each culture has its’ own set of norms. Rules for “polite behavior” differ from culture to culture, family to family and even from person to person. Empathizing demonstrates caring and understanding. What do we as an organization do to learn about the cultures of those we serve and interact with daily?

Social Architecting is an intentional and conscious decision to build productive relationships by serving as a cultural interpreter. The Interpreter helps others understand the different cultural perspectives involved in situations. Serving as a cultural interpreter involves these “mindful” steps: being aware of our first reaction to and interpretation of an event, suspending our judgment of it, identifying alternative ways of understanding it and finally having a repertoire of choices in responding to the situation in order to increase our effectiveness with others.

I have a workbook on each of the elements. This is really good stuff. I would love to continue conversations around this topic and/or share the material with anyone who’s interested.

NCBIG Camp 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013 4:59 pm

On Friday, May 31st, Joy Gambill, Kyle Denlinger, and I attended the NCBIG Camp 2013 at UNCG’s Jackson Library. The North Carolina Bibliographic Instruction Group (NCBIG) is an NCLA discussion group, and this “unconference” was designed to be a participant-driven event, with facilitators for each of the twelve session (three breakout sessions with four facilitated discussions in each session). Joy, Kyle and I all agreed to facilitate a session. I attended a discussion on “Assessing Student Learning Outcomes“, where I got some great ideas for embedding some assessment tools in my LibGuides and learned about an excellent LibGuide on assessment from Portland State University on “Assessing Library Instruction“. Next, I attended Kyle’s session on “Technology for Teaching and Learning“, where we discussed a variety of useful tools including Infogr.am (yes, it is spelled that way!) “Mozilla Thimble” just to name a couple. After lunch, I facilitated a discussion on “Outreach to Students“. I was glad I had prepared a structure for the discussion, developing an icebreaker and bring flip chart paper and pens for participants to use to list their successful outreach programs and their challenges.

After everyone wrote their ideas on the flip charts, we discussed the results and found interesting differences and similarities between the K-12 and public libraries and the academic libraries. There was some interest in Humans v. Zombies and it looks like I made a connection that will get us a contingency from Winston Salem State University for the next event in October! All in all, we agreed it was a very productive day with some new and interesting ideas and some great networking with other librarians! Thanks to Joy and Kyle for a great day!

Capture the Flag@ZSR, Take Four!

Monday, February 13, 2012 12:39 pm

On Friday, February 10th, the ZSR Library hosted its fourthCapture the Flag event! 50 students arrived at 9pm for two hours of two games of Capture the Flag and all the pizza and sodas they could consume! While smaller than our September event, this event was well attended by a great group of enthusiastic students! We made a few changes based on what we have learned from previous events. We used actual flags rather than pieces of fabric and learned the students really like waving their opponents flag after successfully stealing it! We also continued the tradition of one game with “Human Flags”. Flags that can run make for an interesting game! We also have some prizes for the winning team, boxes of girl scout cookies that proved very popular with the members of the winning team. Susan Smith took some excellent photos of the event, and Mary Beth Lock came helped us by devising and implementing a strategy for storing the player’s personal items as all the lockers were already in use by students! I also need to thank Chris Burris for his continued support of these events! Meghan Haenn, from Campus Life, joined us as well. Campus Life supported the event by purchasing pizzas a dozen pizzas for the event! Mary Scanlon dropped by to support the event and check out how it’s done as well! All in all it was a fun way to spend a Friday night and many of our students thanked us on their way out of ZSR at 11pm! Stay tuned for Humans V. Zombies on Friday, March 2nd!

SerialsSolutions Summon and HathiTrust full-text indexing

Monday, April 25, 2011 1:08 pm

“Just as GoogleBook search brought book search to the open web, this advancement brings full text book search and integrated content discovery to serious researchers. . .”

Today Mary Beth, Susan, Derrik, Lauren C, Tim, Audra, Craig, Cristina, Steve, Leslie, Lynn, Kaeley, Erik, Barry and Giz attended a webinar about the recent launch of the full text indexing of HathiTrust records in the SerialsSolutions Sumon service. David Lankes started the session with his view of how services like the HathiTrust compare with other cooperative projects and what motivates information seekers when they approach systems with an information need. David focused on a few themes, notably the concept that collaborative collections create opportunities for new communities to form around.

John wilkin gave an overview of the state of the hathitrust. Some interesting numbers included a current ~31% overlap with ARL libraries and near 50% overlap with Oberlin group libraries. The HathiTrust currenlty has around 8.2 Million titles with approximately 26% of them (2.1M) in the public domain. Wilkin indicated that with current contribution levels they are seeing about a 1% growth in overlap for every 200K submitted titles.

John Law finished up the webinar indicating that the Summon service would offer the full text index of HathiTrust records as an include-able option with other resources. The key idea appeared to be that full text indexing would be included in Summon with various options for content delivery (e.g. direct link for public domain resources, catalog link for owned resources, ILLfulfillmentlink for others). Interstingly, John Law indicated that these links will not always be based on OpenURL but will be ‘pre-calculated.’ SerialsSolutions is planning on offering some advanced content inclusion options (e.g. public domain only or fully indexed collection) using specific fulfillment options for each type of resource/licensing restriction.

As expected the questions from the audience focused on timeline (mid year), technical details (to be determined in the client center), and requests for a demo (forthcoming). A few questions centered around matching and merging of titles/records to provide a streamlined record discovery and presentation service for patrons. In response John Law said that SerialsSolutions is planning on finding ways to merge catalog records from the subscribing library with full text indexing from HathiTrust to provide both single-point access and enhanced bibliographic/full text access. There was a question about what the user experience would look like for items not in the public domain. It appears that Summon will attempt to make a ‘best-guess’ about resources but will provide multiple links (ILL, content link when possible). There was some interest about how resrouces outside of the puGiven the attendance from ZSR this is clearly an interesting area and I expect there will be more questions in the months to come!

Indiana Online Users Group

Thursday, November 18, 2010 1:26 pm

Indianapolis skyline:

On November 5th I had the chance to present at IOLUG as part of their fall symposium on Cloud computing. I spoke on both the ZSR experience in moving to the cloud and in how cloud computing impacts IT and libraries in general. If you are interested in what I said, you can see the slides right here:

The rest of the day included some very interesting presentations ranging from uses of Google Docs to analysis of cloud-based discovery services. I have included a few notes below:

Noah Brubaker and Serri Parker gave an interesting comparative analysis of discovery service providers (Summons, Primo, Aquabrowser, Ebsco discovery, Innovative Encore). In addition to using a thematically appropriate racing theme they differentiated the systems based on specific features (e.g. item availability service, harvesting/indexing process, interface, faceting). Their evaluation themes included User needs, Librarian expectations, service models (Web Service, API, local indexing).

Ultimately the consortium they discussed selected Primo, citing catalog and library service (link resolution, holds, requests) integration, FRBRization, and Find a Database integration, ability to influence relevance ranking, database facets. The WFU experience with previous federated search products was not always positive so it was interesting to see the developments of these systems and find out more about how these issues are viewed in a selection process.

The afternoon began with “Storage as a service: Library digital collections in the cloud” by Chip Dye at IUPUI. His system hosts 1TB of data and 15TB of digital objects. He gave an overview of the DuraCloud platform which includes replication, retrieval, transformation ,streaming and bit integrity checking services.

Chip also covered Dspace 1.7 feature – Arichival Information Packages which works with the Duracloud syncronization service which pushes the AIP contents to the cloud. DuraCloud also includes a restore tool to download content. He observed that storage is competitive, that bandwidth is costly, internet latency is high. Michael Will speculated about whether or not Dspace would support direct-to-cloud storage (which is a really neat idea)!

Following Lunch we heard form Bill Helling, Kathryn Mills and Emily Griffin on Google apps and how it can be used to foster collaboration. They talked about how they used Google Docs in a systematic way to collaborate, schedule and document work. They provided an interesting overview of features and limitations and demonstrated pitfalls (Issues with pptx files, gaps in editing and presentation mode). While we have some experience working with Google Docs here it was really interesting to see what a significant impact incidental use of Google Docs can have on our workflows and approach to data collection.

Unfortunately I had to head out early to catch a plane back to NC so I missed a presentation by Andrew Pace on Web-Scale Management Services, a new approach to library information systems. I did have the chance to attend a session a week later in Durham, NC (which is also a post in the pd blog!). Many thanks go out to Richard Bernier, Michael Witt and the entire IOLUG community for being such great hosts. The day was a really interesting event and I look forward to seeing what they have planned for the spring!

What the Best College Teachers Do

Monday, March 22, 2010 8:37 am

On March 19, I attended an inspirational presentation by Ken Bain who is the author of What the Best College Teachers Do. The program was co-sponsored by the Wake Forest University Schools of Business and the Teaching and Learning Center. Bain observed that students take three approaches to their learning: surface (trying to remember stuff); strategic (trying to make good grades) or a deep approach (trying to make meaning). It is the last approach where instructors can work to create an environment where deep learning can occur.

In the afternoon session, Bain focused on this question: “Can a change in the syllabus stimulate deeper and more enthusiastic student learning?” In his research, Bain discovered that highly successful teachers “usually produce a certain kind of syllabus.” He broke us up into small groups and asked us to think about the syllabus for one of our courses and to invent one “that makes promises rather than demands.” After a brainstorming session with a partner, he asked the audience to share ideas. One person suggested developing a course around Hurricane Katrina. In her brief presentation, she included a story and questions that could be used in a syllabus to stimulate interest in the course. The session also focused on what students will do to achieve the promise and how students will assess their own learning.

During the session, Dr. Bain exhibited many of the characteristics of what makes a teacher great. His enthusiasm, knowledge of the subject, and sense of humor kept me engaged throughout the session.

Carpenter Library visit

Wednesday, March 25, 2009 11:07 am

Cristina Yu made arrangements for Ellen Makaravage, Patty Strickland, and me to visit the Carpenter Library on Monday, March 23. The three of us had never been to Carpenter, so the purpose of the visit was to see the library and learn more about how they operate.

We entered the hospital at the door closest to the public parking garage, then began the long walk to the far corner of the hospital. When we finally made it there, we saw that the front door has been set up for card access-staff and students only. The public is allowed access, but only by prior appointment or by buzzing the front desk via intercom. We learned later that the library has had some problems with a few people essentially setting up camp in the library, so they instituted the security not to limit access to library materials, but to help with crowd control.

We started with a tour of the library’s public areas. Carpenter has a computer lab, open to all patrons (students and public alike). They have several study rooms, color-coded (so you can use the “blue study room” or the “yellow study room”). We saw the History of Medicine room, and got a peek at the 5 levels of stacks, mostly bound journals. Carpenter is also in the process of combining their reference and circulation desks into a single service point.

After touring the public areas, we went through the keypadded door into the staff offices. Then we (well, Cristina and Ellen mostly) had a conversation with Hilary Doane about Carpenter’s ILL operation. Carpenter is a net lender, and they often provide resources to community medical providers. For interlibrary borrowing, they charge their patrons a set fee (though I forget the amount). They also provide document delivery, including (for a fee) to outside users-community clinics, lawyers, businesses.

When we were finished, Patty impressed us all with her sense of direction as she led the way, without any hesitation, back to the parking lot!

Mary Beth at ACRL

Friday, March 13, 2009 1:09 am

Roz, Susan and I started out the day with the “Chocolate, Wine and Waterfalls” tour. The tour was populated with two buses full of librarians, so I guess there were plenty interested here at the conference. (The tour of area glass blowing facilities, didn’t make it, however.) It was a fun and engaging tour of the region. I’ve been here to Seattle several times since both of my sisters live here, but hadn’t ever done a real organized tour combining these three fabulous things.

Roz and Susan sat together on the bus with me on the seat behind them so I had an opportunity to meet a librarian who sat down next to me. His name was Nigel, originally from Belfast, who used to work at Notre Dame, and now works as the Univesity Librarian at Franklin College in …wait for it…Switzerland! He was very easy to talk to, but somehow we never got around to sharing stories of challenges in libraries, aside from the economic situation, which is truly worldwide. Over lunch, we discovered he had worked with Caroline Numbers, and wrote her a letter of recommendation before she came to Wake Forest. Small world.

I think that Susan’s pics will tell more of the day than my words will, but aside from the fact that the tour was very rushed, (they planned too much, but needed to get back to the Conference Center in time for the Keynote speaker), it was well done. Expect some chocolate on our return!

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the keynote speaker, Rushworth Kidder. He was filling in for Naomi Klein, author of No Logos, and I had been looking forward to hearing her speak. We all agreed after Kidder’s speech that he did a good job. He clearly defined the problems of our time as attributable to a lack of ethics more than the result of economics or politics. He galvanized us to continue to cling to our ethical roots, and honored the profession of librarianship several times in his speech.

From there, we went to the Exhibits floor where I met up with several former colleagues from Wayne State. We had dinner at the hors d’oeuvres table. Tomorrow the conference begins in earnest.


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