Professional Development

In the 'NASIG' Category...

Chris at NASIG 2016

Friday, July 8, 2016 6:12 pm

The 2016 NASIG Annual Conference was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early June, and it was my first conference serving as a Member-At-Large on the Executive Committee. It was a good experience, particularly to have (then) Past President Steve Kelley also representing ZSR on the national scene. I served as the Board Liaison to the Communications and Marketing Committee for the past year, which is one of the most active committees for NASIG since it handles matters related to the organization’s website, e-mails, and social media. It was a busy assignment, but the organization’s needs were met on more than one occasion thanks to the work of all of the volunteers that made it all happen.

The rest of the conference was represented by what NASIG does best: programming and vision sessions. Here are a few highlights.

Vision Sessions. This year, the speakers for the Vision Sessions had a diverse- and at times, contrasting- viewpoints on the topics of open access and entrepreneurial librarianship. T. Scott Plutchak spoke on the “Dialectic on the Aims of Institutional Repositories” with an emphasis on the role of open access in the process of research expansion, and Heather Joseph who focused on “The Power of Open” as open access, open educational resources, and open data are beginning to realize the mission of the Budapest Open Access Initiative in 2001. Not to be outdone, James J. O’Donnell asked “How Many Libraries Do We Need?” and suggested that libraries acquaint themselves with Ted Levitt’s “Marketing Myopia” article from the Harvard Business Review as reminder about their business should be in the 21st century.

What’s Next. Concurrent sessions addressed topics and technologies that are on their way for some libraries, but have already arrived for others. For instance, a session on text mining demonstrated how some providers have recognized the importance of this field as the next wave of tools for scholars. Another session relayed how the Canadian Linked Data Initiative (CLDI) was started to leverage the efforts of the largest libraries in Canada to develop a path of adoption for linked data for all libraries in that country. Other sessions of interest included streaming media, evidence-based acquisitions, and the use of institutional master agreements as alternatives with licensing to vendors/publishers.

In all, this year’s conference was a successful one. Next year’s conference will be in Indianapolis, and I will be serving as the Board Liaison for the NASIG Newsletter in addition to being the Profiles Editor for the publication. Albuquerque wasn’t without its sights, however, and I managed to get several pictures from around the city as well as the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum and Isotopes Park.

(I created a Flickr page for those photos here.)

Steve at NASIG 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015 5:35 pm

Okay, so by now you know what’s coming: I apologize for being so darn late in writing this blog post. I lost my notebook! The dog ate my homework! I had to see a guy about a thing! I know there’s no good excuse for writing about a conference almost two months after it happened, but I promise I’ll not get that far behind again.

Anyway, the 2015 NASIG Conference in Washington, DC (well, technically Crystal City, Virginia, but close enough) was a very special one for me, because I served as president at this conference. Also, it was our 30th anniversary (there was a nice party to celebrate) and NASIG did its first joint program with another organization (the Society for Scholarly Publishing, or SSP) since 1992. Presiding over the conference was a fun if slightly nerve-wracking experience, as it entailed far more public speaking than I am comfortable with (for the record, I am comfortable with approximately zero public speaking, so, more than that).

Chris and Derrik have both written about the conference proper, so I think I’ll delve into the joint program with SSP a bit. Now, full disclosure, I was on the planning group that organized this event, so I might be a little biased in my reporting. The joint program was called “Evolving Information Policies and Their Implications: A Conversation for Librarians and Publishers,” and it consisted of three keynote addresses, one each by a publisher (Jayne Marks of Wolters Kluwer), a librarian (T. Scott Plutchak of the University of Alabama, Birmingham), and a vendor (Caitlin Trasande, formerly of Digital Science), a panel of two intellectual property lawyers (Peter Jaszi, Professor of Law at American University, and Michael Remington of the firm Drinker Biddle & Reath), and a closing panel with all five previous speakers.

Although each of them brought up interesting points, (especially Jayne Marks conversation about how publishers are experimenting with new models and tools for their customers, but it is difficult to fully develop them because every customer wants their products customized and personalized to such an extent that the publishers are constantly stuck in development), I will focus on Scott Plutchak’s keynote, which addressed the problems related to preserving and providing access to research data sets. Plutchak emphasized how current and trendy this issue is with the memorable phrase, “Data is the new bacon.” However, research data sets are also enormously difficult to manage. Plutchak said that managing research data sets is a “wicked problem.” This is not just a snappy way to refer to the problem, but an actual term from social planning. Wicked problems are problems that have edges that are hard to define, that require a multi-disciplinary approach, and that is probably not solvable in one permanent way, but that can be mitigated and managed (an example might be urban planning). According to Plutchak, when it comes to preserving and providing access to material, “Publications are easy, data is a beast.” One of the complicating factors is that now, not only are funding agencies often demanding data set deposits, so too are publishers, which means researchers are getting hit from both sides. Plutchak argues that managing data sets is an institutional issue, not just a library issue, and the problem can’t be handled like we do with institutional repositories for publications (which are easy, but data is a beast). To manage data sets, not only will libraries need to be involved, but also academic research offices, information technology departments, faculty, etc. If researchers are going to be successful with grants, we will need to have infrastructure, policies, and resources in place to manage their data sets.

Plutchak’s keynote address was probably the most interesting and share-worthy of the conference content I was able to attend and focus on without having to do presidenting. Between welcoming folks to the joint program, opening and closing the conference, doing a drawing at the first-timer’s reception, introducing a keynote speaker, conducting the all-conference business meeting, installing my successor as NASIG President (the intrepid Carol Ann Borchert of the University of South Florida), speaking at the 30th anniversary celebration, and conducting the NASIG Executive Board meeting (which I actually enjoyed), I was kept quite busy. But I have to say, it was very cool to be comped the hotel’s presidential suite. All in all, it was an exhausting, but extremely satisfying experierience.

Chris at NASIG 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015 12:37 pm

2015 is a significant milestone for NASIG in two distinct areas: the organization celebrates its thirtieth anniversary, and the name of the organization changes from “North American Serials Interest Group” to simply “NASIG”. Both events were commemorated at this year’s conference that was held outside of Washington, D.C. with ZSR’s own Steve Kelley serving as president. On a personal level, this conference expanded my understanding of the internal workings of the organization while still challenging my own growth in the changing nature of continuing resources.


This year’s conference was one of the best in recent years in terms of programing. In addition to sessions about e-books and RDA, one of the strongest concepts represented was preservation. As electronic resources have become more commonplace, questions about their permanence have become even more of a concern. The questions regarding access remain at the center of this discussion, and digital repositories have begun to enter this dialogue as another option to house a growing array materials associated with faculty research.

Beyond that, however, are the questions of accessing those materials not just a century from now but ten years from now. Linked data represents the next generation in terms of cataloging resources, particularly those that aren’t considered traditional library materials, and it’s definitely on the way. Presentations by NASIG’s excellent vision speakers challenged their audiences to consider the larger picture around the issues that face everyone working in and beside libraries. Concepts presented were equally provocative in terms of privacy, open access and the power of collective action.


This year, I volunteered for the first time to serve as a mentor to a new attendee of the conference. After speaking by telephone and through several e-mails and text messages, we connected during a reception on the first day of the conference. She is a new librarian in the continuing resources area, who is getting started with the management of journal packages such as ScienceDirect.

I checked in with my mentee several times during the conference, and she said that she was enjoying each session and getting good notes to take back to her institution. When we met again toward the end of the conference, she was still enthusiastic about the experience as well as everything she had learned. She even expressed her desire to attend the next conference; in any case, we will remain in touch during the following year and especially during autumn’s renewal period. Overall, this was a rewarding opportunity!


This past spring, I was elected to NASIG’s Executive Board as a member at large. I’m joining the board with two other incoming members at large as well as a new president, vice president/president elect, and secretary. Three members at large left the board at the conclusion of the conference, and Steve Kelley will stay on for one more year as the immediate past president.

My term as member at large began at the end of this year’s conference and will end at the conclusion of the 2017 conference in Indianapolis. During this time, I’ll serve as the board’s liaison to NASIG’s Communications and Marketing Committee which manages the organization’s website and listservs while disseminating information to the membership and coordinating with other committees when necessary. I’m looking forward to the next two years and serving the organization in this way.

As always, no NASIG would be complete for me without a round of sightseeing. I was able to get into Washington with a colleague following the board meeting on Sunday morning, and we spent the next six hours around the National Mall near the U.S. Capitol before I had to catch my flight home. You can see the pictures from that excursion here.

Steve at UKSG 2015

Thursday, June 18, 2015 5:27 pm

Sorry for being so late with this. April and May just ate my life. I know it’s no excuse, but it’s what I’ve got. Now, on to the post.

Late last March, NASIG sent me to the UKSG Conference in Glasgow, Scotland as the president and official representative of NASIG. UKSG is the older sister organization in the United Kingdom on which NASIG was based at its founding, and much like the governments of the US and UK, NASIG and UKSG have a “special relationship.” Since I will be doing a lunch and learn presentation with Mary Beth and Mary S. in July on the experience of traveling abroad for a conference, I will save the more fun stories of traveling for that event. With this post, I’ll stick more to the content of the conference, by talking about a few of the sessions that interested me.

I sang for my supper at the opening session of the conference, bringing greetings from NASIG to the attendees of UKSG (about 1,000 librarians, publishers and vendors). Just after the opening session, we heard a fascinating talk by Geoffrey Bilder of CrossRef, called “The Four Strawmen of the Scholarpocalypse.” Bilder talked about how the scholarly system incentivizes lots of publishing by scholars, not necessarily increased quality. The number of citations a publication receives has become more important than how good it actually is. The pressure to publish more has led to an explosion in the amount of material published in each discipline, which leads to scholars doing more shallow reading in their research. Bilder argued that the current tenure system is counter-productive, because putting people under pressure doesn’t make them work smarter, it makes them try to figure out how to get by in the system. Bilder argued that distorted incentives and rewards in the scholarly publishing system causes “smart people to do dumb things for smart reasons” (which may be my single favorite quotation from a conference presentation ever).

Another really interesting session I attended was “Two of Us: Library/Press Collaboration” by Andrew Barker and Anthony Cond, both of University of Liverpool, Barker from the library and Cond from the University of Liverpool Press. The two speakers received a grant to explore making open access electronic text books available to students. The first step was Barker and Cond had to recruit academics at Liverpool who were willing to write the text books. They had to strenuously court and also pay a professor from the School of Management to write an “Essentials of Financial Management” text book, but they were able to talk a history professor into creating a guide for using primary sources just out of the goodness of his heart. In both cases, they tried to take advantage of the fact that the books were electronic resources, by making them interactive with videos and links. After the books were written, the UP did the editing and preparation of the publication files. The Library will handle the technical end of mounting the files and making them available, as well as handling their maintenance. The material should be available late this year. Overall, it sounded like a fascinating collaboration between a university library and a university press.

The conversations I had with British colleagues were also extremely interesting and gave me a better picture of the differences between our systems of higher education. The UK is way way farther ahead of the US on matters of Open Access, but they have government mandates (instituted by a Conservative government of all things!) that place many stringent OA requirements on scholars. Also, private institutions of higher learning are extremely rare in the UK, unlike here in the US. Another interesting fact was that there are relatively few library-related conferences in the UK (unlike the US where new library conferences seem to spring up like topsy), and there is no equivalent of ALA, so what conferences there are tend to have pretty high attendance. And the model of librarians as faculty does not exist in the UK, so our experiences in the faculty system sound very foreign to them.

In closing, I’ll say that Glasgow is a fantastic city, and that the UKSG folks were wonderful hosts. Plus, the experience of attending a conference in a foreign country was pretty amazing and I would highly recommend it, if you get the chance.

NASIG 2015

Friday, June 5, 2015 4:50 pm

Last week I attended the 30th annual NASIG conference, presided over by our own Steve Kelley, who looked more and more carefree as the conference progressed and he got closer to handing over the presidential gavel. Well, at NASIG the outgoing president actually receives a gavel; the new one usually gets a hat. This was also the first conference under the newly-official name “NASIG” (no longer the “North American Serials Interest Group”).

The presentations at this year’s NASIG conference (or at least, the presentations I attended) seemed to steer away from “how we done it good” and focused instead on “here’s what we learned from looking at the data.” The following synopses are taken primarily from my notes, so I apologize for any misrepresentation.

  • Marlene van Ballegooie, from the University of Toronto, spoke about the OCLC Knowledgebase (OCLC KB), which is designed to reduce the time librarians spend managing e-resource holdings. Rather than the library having to communicate to the KB provider which journals they subscribe to from which publishers, the publisher sends a holdings file directly to the knowledgebase. Van Ballegooie attempted to assess the effectiveness of the service by comparing each load against information she obtained directly from the publishers. Results of course varied by publisher, but common problems were irregular data loads, and a time lag between a title’s availability at the publisher site and its activation in the KB. Also, any local changes get overwritten in the next data load. But the presenter concluded that the method does have potential for saving time, especially with custom packages or aggregator platforms where manual selection is necessary (such as e-book providers).
  • Gabrielle Wiersma and Esta Tovstiadi, from Univ. of Colorado at Boulder, presented an analysis of approximately 100 randomly-selected e-books published in 2014 across multiple platforms. Using a rubric based on a tool developed by the Center for Research Libraries, they assessed 16 aspects of the user experience, such as metadata, linking, pagination, etc. Some examples from their findings:
    Metadata – some platforms include subtitles, others do not; “date” may refer to date published, copyright date, or date posted online; editors are sometimes named as authors; etc. In none of the cases they examined did the platform-generated “MLA citation” actually match MLA format.
    Searching – different platforms may return search results at the word, page, or chapter level. Most (61%) were chapter-level, which is probably the least useful for searchers.
    Pagination – system page numbers often don’t match the page number displayed on the PDF (probably due to how front matter is counted); in EPUB format, page numbers are often missing altogether.
    The presenters showed examples of how search results may vary wildly from one platform to the next. This can be caused by search functionality, such as auto-stemming, or how the platform treats hyphenation, or whether it defaults to AND or OR searches. They also found problems caused by OCR spacing errors — e.g. “Japa nese” or “infl uential”, or words joinedtogether withouta space.
    See their slides on SlideShare for side-by-side examples.
  • Michael Matos of American University shared his analysis comparing library journal holdings to works referenced in faculty publications. The goal was to use the data to demonstrate the extent to which faculty rely on the library for their research. I confess that his complex methodology lost me. Next steps include looking more closely at the materials referenced which are not held by the library, then compare that to ILL data (thus demonstrating that the researcher also used the library for those materials).
  • In “Strategies for Expanding eJournal Preservation,” Shannon Regan, from Columbia University, described a Mellon Foundation Grant-funded project to identify e-journals that are not currently being preserved by a trusted 3rd-party repository, learn why they are not being preserved, and explore ways to get them preserved. I was kind of surprised, and kind of not-so-much, at the amount of content—even from major publishers—not being preserved. As for reasons why, I came away with the impression that the most prevalent reason is a question of rights/permissions. In some cases, a publisher may not have secured rights from the authors; in other cases, publishers (typically smaller ones) have no understanding of the need or the process for preserving content, or may fear a loss of control over the content (thinking, for example, that permitting an archiving agency to preserve the content would be equivalent to making the journal open access). Other times, the step of preservation may just slip through the cracks. Regan recommended that librarians should make preservation a part of the conversation with publishers, vendors, consortia, faculty, and other stakeholders.
  • In a fun presentation, Kristen Garlock of JSTOR and Eric Johnson of the Folger Shakespeare Library described some projects/products developed as an outgrowth of usage data. The first was JSTOR Classroom Readings (, a free tool intended to give educators a list of articles for core courses. Developers had originally wanted to gather college syllabi and curate a list of articles from those, but there were too many obstacles. So instead they looked at usage data for signs of “teaching use” (short bursts of use at a single institution). Though not perfect, and not yet considered final, Garlock seemed pleased with the methodology and the resulting product. Johnson talked about (among other projects) a JSTOR tool called Understanding Shakespeare ( The user can select a play, then choose a line in that play and get a list of articles in JSTOR that quote that line. Again, not complete (only includes 12 plays so far), but a pretty nifty tool.

In other sessions, I learned a few new Excel functions to try out, plus a couple of things to try with CORAL. I was also pleased to hear EBSCO Chief Strategist Oliver Pesch say very plainly and repeatedly that EBSCO supports customer choice and is actively seeking ways to optimize customer choice. I felt encouraged when he said that “no one vendor can offer libraries all the resources” they need, and that if you want to use an EBSCO product for one part of your workflow and a competitor’s product for another part, the workflow should not only work, it “should be optimized.”

Finally, my favorite quotes from the conference:

Scott Vieira, Rice Univ., referring to typical functionality in e-resource management systems: “Forcing the acquisition of e-resources into a linear workflow is like trying to train tortoises to walk in a straight line.”

Marcella Lesher, St. Mary’s Univ., about a journal weeding project (I’m probably paraphrasing): “We’re talking here about the care and feeding of print resources … although at this point we’re probably starving them to death.”

Steve at NASIG 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014 11:06 am

Since Chris and Derrik have already written their accounts of the 2014 NASIG Conference, I figure I better get on the ball. This was an unusual conference experience for me. As Vice President of NASIG, I was very involved with the planning of this conference, as well as having to do a lot of organizational business. That organizational business included planning for next year’s conference, which will not only have a special celebration for our 30th anniversary, but will also have NASIG’s first ever joint programming with another organization, the Society for Scholarly Publishing. With all the meeting and talking I had to do, I’ll confess that I didn’t attend as many conference sessions as I normally do, but those I did attend were very interesting.

Chris and Derrik have given nice descriptions of the three vision sessions, which were all quite good. I think the most interesting break-out session I attended was “Acquisitions and Management of Digital Collections at the Library of Congress,” given by Ted Westervelt from LC. I’ve known Ted for years, but didn’t know how truly impressive and cool his job is. He manages the eDeposit program at LC, which acquires e-resources for the Library of Congress’s permanent collection. The Copyright Deposit section at LC is charged with preserving material for the life of the Republic, which is quite a long-term commitment. Since 2009, the Copyright Deposit section has required publishers to present two copies of every source deposited, but an exception was made for electronic material. The exemption was eventually dropped and now electronic journals and electronic books have to be given to LC for the Copyright Deposit program. In addition to deposited material, the eDeposit section acquires material through purchase and gifts. They currently have 116 million unique files in inventory with 2.74 petabytes of content. They are also providing web archiving for 8.6 billion files. The digital material acquired includes historical newspapers, web sites, reference works, e-serials, e-books, GIS data, and more than 60 other flows. The section’s operating philosophy is that preservation=access, or, as Ted said, you can’t serve what isn’t preserved. To that end, LC has developed a set of format specifications for electronic materials to be preserved through the eDeposit program (LC has not officially released these specifications yet, but Ted gave us a sneak peak). LC uses a wide range of digital tools to store and manage their digital content. He said that the repository is being built in stages, and that it is important to think of repositories as a suite of tools and services. That is, a repository isn’t a single thing where you stick e-resources and then they’re preserved forever, a repository is a process that relies on a number of tools. Ted also emphasized that you need to think of the entire lifecycle of a resources in a repository, which I think is very important. He pointed out that LC has a system in place for taking in materials, but that they need to scale it. They need to develop more digital collection breadth and depth. LC is currently demanding 230 e-serials via eDeposit, but they will quadruple the number in the next few months. They need more capacity, both for storage and for processing of materials, and they need more standard and automated workflows. They also need to develop their collection development, preservation, metadata and access policies. Even though that work still needs to be done, I find the scale and ambition of this project to be truly amazing and I look forward to hearing more about this work in the future (I’ll certainly be grilling Ted about his work when I see him again).

I also attended an interesting session by Rachel Erb of Colorado State University, who talked about how her library’s Technical Services department used NASIG’s recently published list of Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians as a guide for reorganizing their department. Essentially they found that they had too few people working on electronic resources and that there were needed skills that the department was lacking. Using the Core Competencies as a guide, they were able to justify changing job descriptions (a hard task at their school) and to craft a justification for a new position to bring in the skills they needed. And I saw Richard Wallis from OCLC discuss linked data. The main thrust of his presentation was that libraries need to expose their data to the wider world, which is where linked data comes in. He used the pithy phrase, people want “things not strings.” That is they don’t just want entries, they want entities, entire data sets about a topic.

In addition to the sessions, I did a lot of great networking, and had good conversations about developments in the world of cataloging, serials management, and the future of NASIG. Speaking of the future of NASIG, we’ve got some exciting projects in the works that I can’t quite talk about yet, but I’ll share when I can. Oh, and at this conference I was inaugurated as president of NASIG, and I confirmed the fact that, despite my tendency to be a chatterbox in private conversation, I am the world’s worst public speaker. Ah well, they didn’t elect me to give speeches.

Derrik’s takeaways from NASIG 2014

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 4:45 pm

The 2014 conference of the North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) was a good one, from my point of view. A wide variety of topics and some very good keynote addresses gave me lots to chew on.

Since I started attending NASIG conferences 12 years ago, one of my favorite aspects has been the vendor involvement. NASIG is not just a librarians’ organization; subscription vendors and publishers are also encouraged to join, serve on committees, and be otherwise involved in the organization. Each conference usually includes sessions in which a vendor/publisher perspective is offered. I attended four such sessions this year, including “Vendor Lightning Talks,” a new conference feature in which six different content providers each took 5-7 minutes to tell what’s new with their products. I heard a panel of publishers (Nature, American Chemical Society, and IEEE) describe what they are doing in the Open Access arena, and a subscription vendor and a library consortium officer described their negotiation processes. My favorite vendor-related session was one in which a vendor sales rep, a consortium officer (the same from the previous presentation), and a librarian sat together on the stage and discussed a set of ethical questions (e.g., “Is it fair for a library to write an RFP so narrow that it is obviously customized to a specific vendor?” or “Is it fair for a vendor to go over the head of an acquisitions librarian if he/she says no?”). The probing into gray areas was a good exercise in seeing the other side’s point of view.

In other practical areas, I heard presentations about

  • results of an availability/usability study, in which students were able to successfully locate full text only 41% of the time, sometimes due to system errors, but in many cases, the students simply did not click on the right link, or missed key information that was presented on the screen;
  • survey results regarding methods of tracking perpetual access to online journals, which reminded me of the need to distinguish between post-cancellation access (usually on the publisher’s website) and archival access, meaning access when the publisher no longer provides it (often via Portico or LOCKSS)
  • updates on some emerging NISO standards – PESC, a communication standard for transmitting serial content; KBART, related to vendor knowledge bases; PIE-J, which has to do with how e-journals, especially title changes, are presented on vendor websites; ODI, for sharing metadata for discovery systems; and OAMI, a new metadata standard for open-access content, which includes the wonderful (IMO) feature of not referring to an item as “open access” but rather as “free-to-read” (yes/no).

What really made this year’s conference stand out for me was the amazing slate of “Vision session” (i.e. keynote) speakers. Katherine Skinner’s opening address on “Chance, Choice, & Change” made two particular impressions on me: (1) “Frontier” depends on your viewpoint-you may see empty space ready for development, but “empty” space is never truly empty, and there will often be people who see your pioneering as encroaching on their territory; (2) The cultural processes of production, distribution, and reception “always, always, always” depend on networks of people, not the lone genius.

Chris described Herbert Van de Sompel’s thought-provoking address very well. This address got me wondering to get the broader scholarly communication world to see the problem of “reference rot.”

In the closing keynote address, Jenica Rogers talked about how often she hears people say “I could never do what you did” (i.e. cancel the library’s ACS package), but she said she believes what they really mean is they would like to, but … (“but our faculty would riot”; “but I don’t want to rock the boat”; etc.). So Rogers presented a list of actions/habits that would help prepare us to make life’s tough decisions. Here is the list as I captured it:

  • Know thyself – know why you do the things you do
  • Claim and demonstrate your expertise & authority – know your reputation and how to leverage it
  • Gather data – evidence can shout when you can only whisper
  • Make friends
  • Start now, immediately
  • Find common ground – insisting that everybody else thinks X is important will only frustrate & annoy the people who don’t
  • Communicate effectively
  • Embrace serendipity
  • Evolve, even when it’s uncomfortable
  • Release fear – “Fear doesn’t make smart decisions, fear makes safe decisions.”



Chris at NASIG 2014

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 3:49 pm

The 29th annual NASIG Conference was held this year from May 1-4, and it was one of the most exciting and thought-provoking conferences I’ve attended in several years. There was a great sense of enthusiasm from members of the group during sessions as well as social events, whether they were first time attendees or more seasoned attendees. This was also my first conference as a committee member. I’ve served for the last few months on the Communications and Marketing Committee (formerly the Electronic Communications Committee), and it has been a privilege to serve the greater organization while increasing my own knowledge. In addition, this has been an opportunity to see the inner workings of one level of the organization, and it has been a pleasure to work with professionals who aren’t afraid to take a newbie like me under their wing.

The vision sessions featured three leading professionals both in and outside the field, who spoke about the Big Idea while keeping their thoughts grounded in an approachable reality. On Friday, Dr. Katherine Skinner (Executive Director, Educopia Institute) spoke about “Critical Moments: Chance, Choice and Change in Scholarly Publishing”. Dr. Skinner took a sociological-cultural approach to the history of scholarly publishing as it has moved from the pioneer settlements of the print environment to the infrastructure of a megalopolis in the 21st century for online connectivity. Dr. Herbert Van de Sompel (Prototyping Team Leader, Research Library of the Los Alamos National Laboratory) gave a talk on Saturday morning on the topic “From a System of Journals to a Web of Objects”. Dr. Van de Sompel’s talk contained both words of warning as well as a call to action about the disappearance of scholarly articles and resources from the digital realm. Alarmingly, this includes “reference rot” and content drift, which are items that cannot be countered by current web crawling technology and sites like the Internet Archive aren’t scoped to capture. Finally, Jenica Rogers (Director of Libraries, State University of New York at Potsdam) presented on “Reaching New Horizons: Gathering the Resources Librarians Need to Make Hard Decisions” on Sunday. Ms. Rogers, notable for pulling her library out of the American Chemical Society’s journal package almost two years ago, shared her thoughts and experiences about the difficult decisions that can be made in the profession and the undergirding that should be done before taking the first few steps. One observation she made about building resources stuck with me: “There’s no such thing as too early, but too late is real”.

I also had three takeaways from the conference that had great possibilities:

  • Licensing, licensing, licensing. This was a particular area of interest to me, as the skillset for licensing becomes even more important for continuing resources. I attended two valuable sessions about the licensing lifecycle and license negotiation, and as one new-to-the-craft it was helpful for me to learn not only about the pitfalls of licenses but also the successes that libraries have registered. All of this has energized me in my day to day work, and I look forward to the next challenge.
  • The ORCID identifier. ORCID is an emerging community: a registry to link researchers and their work with a unique identification number that can be linked to publications, presentations, and other scholarly output. Molly touched on it from her blog from Midwinter 2014, and it’s interesting that several institutions have jumped on board with the concept, assigning IDs to faculty, grad students and other researchers as a method to receive credit for their work, especially in circumstances when a variant of an author’s name is used on a particular work.
  • Memento for Chrome. During his talk, Dr. Van de Sompel mentioned a new extension for Google Chrome called Memento that his team at Los Alamos had been working on along with developers from other institutions. When installed, Memento allows one to go back into the history of a webpage via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine with a right click. You can learn more about Memento and download it here.

Finally, this year’s conference hotel, the Hilton Fort Worth, occupies an important place in American history. In November 1963, this hotel was known as the Hotel Texas, and President John F. Kennedy stayed there for two days before he took his fateful flight to Dallas. A small memorial, the JFK Tribute, is adjacent to the hotel with an eight foot statue of President Kennedy at its center.

Chris at NASIG 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013 8:03 pm

Several weeks ago, I attended the NASIG annual conference in Buffalo, New York. This year, I took a special interest in sessions that dealt with licensing, such as using templates and “model” licenses as well as how to effectively negotiate licenses without an extensive legal background. The care and feeding of electronic resources was also a highlight, giving me a chance to brush up on concepts such as TERMS (Techniques for Electronic Resource Management) which I learned about while attending the virtual ER&L Conference earlier in the spring.

I did find three additional takeaways from this year’s conference, all of which I found interesting in their own way. If you have any questions about them, please let me know.

Vision sessions. NASIG has always had thought-provoking vision sessions, but this year there were two sessions centered on a similar idea but operating as counterpoints. The first session was facilitated by Bryan Alexander who spoke on “Libraries and Mobile Technologies in the Age of the Visible College”. Mr. Alexander explained how mobile technology has changed the world of higher education in recent years, starting with smartphones and extending into touchscreen interfaces, clickers, smart pens, and even marker-based augmented reality (such as QR codes). Mr. Alexander also highlighted four possible futures for technology on college campuses- phantom learning, open world, silo world, and alternate residential. Although each concept has merit there is an uncertainty about which one would be the actual direction to be followed.

Conversely, the title of the other session was “Googlization and the Challenge of Big Data, or Knowledge and Integrity in the Era of Big Data”, presented by Siva Vaidhyanathan. With the knowledge of Edward Snowden and his connection to the NSA entering the national dialogue, as well as the revelations of Google, Verizon and other corporations turning consumer data over to government agencies, Mr. Vaidhyanathan discussed the downside to big data. He proposed that the silos around the management of data, particularly those since the abuses of the 1970s, have eroded steadily over the decades since. In Mr. Vaidhyanathan’s words, we live in a cryptopticon, a stage beyond Bentham’s Panopticon where we’re being monitored for a variety of commercial purposes, such as grocery store discount cards that are linked to our buying habits. Digital literacy instruction, he suggested, was the next frontier for information literacy itself. For further explanation, he suggested the films Minority Report, The Lives of Others, and a double feature of The Conversation and Enemy of the State.

E-Resources Acquisition Checklist. This was one of the most productive sessions of its kind I’ve attended. Based on the TERMS guidelines, it focused on the e-resource lifecycle that I could remember as largely nebulous only a few years ago. Now, the basic steps have been captured so that anyone who works with electronic resources can see the entire landscape.

These procedures also incorporate the process of re-evaluating an e-resource, a definite departure from the standards of print materials. By doing so, it incorporates a measure of flexibility for resources that may have a shorter span of value to an institution and a set of guidelines for either their removal or replacement. With the growing number of similar databases on the market, this process can have added value in the years to come.

Showcase. This was a new feature, which went far beyond the poster sessions of previous conferences. In addition to posters which highlighted what a particular library was doing well in terms of technical services, this was a chance for libraries to feature what they were doing well as an organization. This was a “show and tell”, and the Showcase featured a broad mixture of ideas. There were two that caught my eye:

  • A demonstration of 3-D printing, which students are using to build constructs for classwork and special projects.
  • A description of how one library used relaxation techniques for stressed-out students during exams, including pet therapy. The idea of puppies in the library was a popular one!

Another memorable event of note from Buffalo was this year’s all-conference reception. It was held at the Pierce Arrow Museum, which featured the cars from the popular luxury car manufacturers of the early twentieth century. This was a unique site for the reception because of the conversation pieces (cars) that held everyone’s interest. I had my first taste of sponge candy (pure heaven) and saw the construction of a gas station that was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright but was never built. This glimpse of architectural history was remarkable. If you’d like to see all of my photos from Buffalo, follow this link.

Chris at NASIG 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011 3:18 pm

This year, the 26th Annual NASIG Conference was held in St Louis, Missouri. Sessions were devoted to several trends that have emerged for serials and other continuing resources, such as e-books, RDA, and the “Big Deal” for journal packages. Also, there were many sessions that highlighted a specific workflow that a library was doing well in terms of serials management. So, without further ado…

Vision Session 1: Science Re-Imagined. Adam Bly of Seed Media Group spoke in favor of a new set of policies that needed to be created to address the growth of new areas of research. Because scientific advancements have been made across the world, a culture shift has begun to look beyond the West for innovation and discovery. He postulated that today’s model of “open access” would become the norm in society within a few years: it would happen as the public become more scientifically literate. This would help science become more widely understood both as a tool and a lens for understanding.

Vision Session 2: Books in Chains. This presentation was given by Paul Duguid of the UC Berkeley School of Information about the supply chain between the authors of various works and their respective readers. Even in today’s world of Apple’s iTunes and the smartphone apps, this is a paradigm that has continued to endure since the early days of the printed word. Along with the supply chain, knowledge certification has remained dominant as people must understand how specific items such as format changes and compatibility would make a difference as they interact with media. The actual replacement of tools has been a rare circumstance; rather, they evolve into new products (example: blogs leading to Twitter, yet both currently exist). To sum up, the chain endures but the links that create it will inevitably change.

Strategy Session: Continuing Resources and the RDA Test. Since Steve covered this topic in his report, I won’t rehash what he has already said. It’s worth noting that RDA has not yet been a settled format for the three primary libraries in the United States and that there will still be a measure of time before it is fully adopted on a wide scale.

Strategy Session: Leaving the Big Deal. Presenters Jonathan Nabe (Southern Illinois University Carbondale) and David Fowler (University of Oregon) described how their respective institutions decided to pull out of the “Big Deal” for journal packages. Because of the economic downturn, both libraries faced shortfalls in their budgets due to a lack of state funding, and they were forced to make the decision of leaving specific packages. To compensate for the loss of several titles, they introduced several options such as pay-per-view for articles along with a heavy push of ILL. The result was little resistance from either students or faculty, as the results were mostly invisible to their users. One school, however, did have trouble with the initial refusal by one publisher to adhere to their LOCKSS contract.

Strategy Session: Polishing the Crystal Ball – Using Historical Data to Project Serials Trends and Pricing. The authors of the annual serials pricing article in Library Journal- Steve Bosch (University of Arizona); Kittie Henderson and Heather Klusendorf (both of EBSCO Information Services)- described the resources they used to write it. By comparing the Library Journal Periodical Price Survey and the U.S. Periodical Price Index, the authors were able to draw on a standing price list, which has been composed of print journals with pricing data from EBSCO. Both resources used different approaches to deliver their data, but they came to similar conclusions: they showed that journals inflated between six percent and nine percent each year. The authors emphasized that libraries would have to determine which resource would be needed in conjunction with their own budget planning.

Tactics Session: Managing E-book Acquisition: The Coordination of “P” and “E” Publication Dates. Gabrielle Wiersma of the University of Colorado at Boulder gave a presentation on her experiences with establishing e-book services at her library. She established an approval plan for e-books with their primary vendor Coutts (represented by Sarah Forzetting) with the goal of addressing the problem with delays in e-book publishing patterns. On the front of public service, additional notes were used in their catalog to inform patrons of the availability of an e-book. In technical services, Ms. Wiersma added a condition to their e-book approval plan to ship a print version of a specific book if its electronic counterpart were not available after a specific number of days. The approval profile was also adjusted at the request of each academic department for the number of e-books they wanted to receive. Additionally, invoices that were paid in acquisitions were passed to catalogers to assist with MARC overlays. Interestingly, Boulder uses a demand-driven acquisition model that is similar to what is used at ZSR.

Tactics Session: On Beyond E-Journals – Integrating E-books, Streaming Video, and Digital Collections at the HELIN Library Consortium. Martha Rice Sanders of the HELIN Consortium and Bob McQuillan of Innovative Interfaces, Inc. reported on the trend among contemporary collection development librarians to determine whether to acquire materials as single purchases or to acquire in groups/bundles. The outgrowth of this has been to determine how users will find these resources by way of the library’s discovery layers. The HELIN Consortium introduced features such as allowing users to tag records in their respective catalogs. Additionally, records for streaming media resources as well as traditional media resources are listed in their catalog, identified using additional MARC tags in their bibliographic records. Records also had links to licensing information, stored externally. Finally, the catalog was modified to include reviews for books and audio-visual materials. HELIN was clearly finding the limits of their catalog to deliver more tools to their patrons.

Tactics Session: One Academic Library – One Year of Web Scale Discovery. Tonia Graves of Old Dominion University described the experiences of her library following an article by Marshall Breeding about library discovery tools. In the article, Mr. Breeding encouraged libraries to evaluate all of their discovery tools and focus their efforts on improving those services that would have the greatest appeal to users. Ms. Graves explained that after a review by several committees, the decision was made to leave their ILS in place (they are running Innovative’s Millennium), but efforts were made on a redesign of the library website, the development of a mobile app for the library, and incorporating WorldCat Local into their array of discovery tools. All of these efforts were favorably received by library users.

Tactics Session: Preparing for New Degree Plans – Finding the Essential Titles in an Interdisciplinary World. Following a directive by their incoming president, the University of Texas at Dallas dramatically expanded its focus on an interdisciplinary curriculum for its students. Ellen Safley explained the process that was taken at the library: the library director gives permission to begin collecting in these new areas of research, multiple resources (similar programs at other institutions, indexes, etc.) are searched for journals information, and incoming faculty are consulted about the journals that should also be included. Journals are re-evaluated between the first three and five years of the introduction of a new program in order to determine their continued relevance and their impact on the overall budget. Other factors that tied into the evaluation included database coverage, ILL usage, the demand for articles versus complete journals, and the question of purchasing back issues /backfiles.

Tactics Session: Using Drupal to Track Licenses and Organize Database Information. Drupal is an open source content management system and Amanda Yesilbas of the Florida Center for Library Automation demonstrated how she had adapted it into a de facto ERM. It became a depository for licenses, contact information for vendors, login-password information, and so forth. They were also able to use Drupal as a shared resource with other members of their consortium by modifying user permissions for each potential user. Although it was not a perfect replacement for an actual ERM, it was able to perform as one for this institution.

One other sidebar about technology: last year, I saw one iPad at the conference. This year, they were all over the place! They easily outnumbered laptops by 3-1.

Once again, the NASIG conference left me with several things to consider about serials management. This was my second visit to St. Louis (the first was in December 1990) so I made sure to capture the occasion. I have a gallery of photos from this trip on Flickr, and here’s a photo that says it all!

Phone Pics #142

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