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In the 'North Carolina Serial Conference 2014' Category...

Chris at the 2014 NC Serials Conference

Monday, April 7, 2014 5:13 pm

On March 14, I attended the twenty-third annual North Carolina Serials Conference. As in previous years, it was an excellent conference that brought together representatives from both libraries and library vendors to talk about current ideas and emerging technologies. In recent years, however, the broadening of the definition of what is a serial has grown dramatically, and in coming years the conference may have to be renamed to address these new types of resources. In any case, that is a topic for another time and place.

This was also one of the more heavily-attended gatherings for the Serials Conference, and it touched on a variety of topics in areas such as assessment, streaming video, ebooks, and altmetrics (where one speaker pointed out the notion of “one metric to rule them all” is archaic and ineffective in the contemporary environment). There were three points that I found particularly interesting from this conference, and all had a great deal of promise for future events.

It’s always important for libraries to tell their stories. Libraries have no difficulty explaining their individual mission and vision to the communities they serve, but libraries can find it difficult to explain to those outside of the library world how they accomplish those objectives. Assessment tools are some of the best measures for these goals, but the means to explain to those not versed in library jargon can be challenging. The University of Virginia Library, for instance, has devoted a section of its website to collect information from past and present surveys, but they used some of that information to communicate with student patrons in their “I Wish” campaign. Turning those data elements into actual engagement was one way that libraries can continuously reinvigorate and renew themselves and their missions.

As streaming media matures for libraries, the users are gaining more control. When new formats emerge in libraries, it takes time for libraries to “hammer out” the rough places they may have before the users can begin using them. Rarely are these resolved quickly; it may take either months or years before a product become bug-free, but it can vary widely. Streaming media is the latest technology introduced to libraries, and factors such as licensing, pricing, copyright and sharing have delayed their advent in many libraries. Collaboration between libraries and vendors has managed to address most of those larger issues, and now the ability to use streaming music and video is in the hands of users. Granted, there are still concerns around copyright, public performance rights and linking, but the technology is now in the hands of the end user who must determine how to make it work for their own needs.

Gems from a panel discussion regarding open access. There are moments during a panel discussion when profound truths can be brought to light, and this one was no exception. With three panelists representing the viewpoints of publishers, libraries and faculty, there were points made that were worth considering. In brief:

  • From publishers: like traditional journals, what constitutes results for data in open access titles is field-dependent, leading to false equivalencies.
  • From libraries: creating an open access library with all areas represented in its development and stewardship.
  • From faculty: open access is not the end of the academic world but a nascent one that requires education and attention if it is to be used to its highest potential.

The conference ended on a poignant note because it was announced during the closing remarks that it would be the last conference for Nancy Gibbs following her retirement from Duke University Libraries. Nancy has been one of the major players in the serials community for several decades, and the depth and breadth of her knowledge cannot be replicated so easily. Even though she said that she would still be around for the near future, it was impossible not to notice that a changing of the guard was taking place. Best wishes to Nancy on the next phase of her life, and may the conference continue to grow and prosper in the years ahead.

Two Thoughts from the NC Serials Conference

Monday, April 7, 2014 1:59 pm

I also attended the North Carolina Serials Conference last month. Since several other ZSR bloggers have already reported, I will focus on two ideas put forward during a late-morning plenary session, which featured David Crotty again.

Crotty remarked that the paper announcing the cure is not as important as the actual cure. We might make the paper available via Open Access while the cure itself (say, a drug) might be protected by patent law.

Crotty also asserted that, contrary to popular belief, Humanities often runs at a profit while Physical Science runs a deficit within a university budget. He claimed that’s because a lot of tuition money is paid by Humanities majors, which subsidizes expensive lab space in Physical Science. (I’m carefully noting that he didn’t say Life Sciences, which probably attracts the most grant money of all and is also a popular undergraduate major.) He cited a recent NPR story about Duke that focused on where all the money goes. I listened to that story today, but didn’t hear the same interdepartmental subsidy message that Crotty asserted. So, I don’t know if he cited some other evidence for his claim (that I didn’t write down) or what. Nevertheless, I would be very interested in whether this is true at Wake Forest or not. I have often thought about this issue on a smaller scale when we allocate the collections budget. Even if you just look within a broad discipline group like Humanities, it appears that larger, more popular majors subsidize smaller ones. I have two defenses to offer. The first is that Demand Driven Acquisition serves as a correction to this tendency. The second is that a certain amount of inter-departmental subsidizing is necessary. Students are attracted to Wake Forest because they like the idea that they have over 40 choices for their major. Once they actually get here, over half of the students cluster in a just a few majors. However, many students would not choose WFU at all if we only offered, say, ten majors. Crotty’s broader point, and the point of the NPR story, is to ask whether it’s a good idea for student tuition dollars to go towards research, especially when the tuition comes in the form of a loan that must be repaid with interest.

Jeff at 2014 NC Serials Conference

Monday, March 24, 2014 12:19 pm

On March 14, 2014 I attended the 23rd Annual North Carolina Serials Conference in Chapel Hill, having carpooled with Derrik, Chris, and Steve, and meeting Carol and Ellen there. In addition to these worthy colleagues I actually ran into someone whom I know from App State. This was my first un-orchestrated North Carolina librarian encounter. I admit it felt good.

David Crotty’s keynote address – “Altmetrics: Finding Meaningful Needles in the Data Haystack” – went into the inadequacy of Impact Factor as a measure of a scholarly work’s significance. Ellen has already described his talk well. Mr. Crotty observed that “Weird stuff draws attention.” This fact highlights just one of the manifold problems involved in attempting to capture data to reflect true scholarly importance as opposed (in this case) to mere novelty appeal. On this same point he referred his audience to a highly-ranked and oft-accessed article about certain clandestine activities that have been known to occur between two consenting fruit bats; which really is neither here nor there, yet which for some reason I feel compelled to mention before moving on. See? I’ve proved his point.

The main session I came to see was “Streaming Film: How to Serve Our Users,” as this subject will be important in my job going forward. Three employees at UNCG libraries talked about their organization’s choices of streaming video vendors, the decisions they’ve made on acquiring rights (they strongly favor perpetual access), their hosting strategy for in-house streaming video (using Google Drive), and their concerns about license-appropriate use by students and faculty. I was struck by the similarities in what different libraries seem to be experiencing right now: an increased demand for streaming video, a still-developing workflow, and an expectation of greater demand in the future. As I settle in at ZSR I’ll be seeking out information on how other organizations are handling this demand. It’s all very interesting, and it’s something that I look forward to getting into. The UNCG folks talked about the importance of gathering the right team of people to manage streaming video. I feel that we at ZSR have already taken some good steps in that direction.

Steve at 2014 North Carolina Serials Conference

Friday, March 21, 2014 4:51 pm

I attended the 2014 North Carolina Serials Conference last week, with quite a crew from ZSR. Ellen has already discussed the all-conference sessions, so I think I’ll write a bit about the break-out sessions I attended. The update session on RDA had some bits of news that might be of interest to folks outside of cataloging: namely that OCLC has announced that General Material Designators (or GMDs) will remain in legacy records (that is, records cataloged according to AACR2 rules) through March 2016. GMDs are those notes in square brackets next to titles in the catalog that say what kind of resource it is (for example, [computer resource]). OCLC is planning to add certain RDA-related fields to their legacy records, including 33X fields that indicate carrier information, over the next few years. In addition to these announcements, Kurt Blythe from UNC-Chapel Hill shared some RDA-related changes to serials cataloging. It was pretty inside-baseball stuff (info on how to code provider neutral online records in the 040 field, how to use indicators in 588 fields, the fact that parallel titles are considered core in CONSER cataloging, etc.), but it was interesting and useful to me. The other speaker at the session, Christee Pascale discussed NCSU’s RDA implementation. She said that most of the RDA training they gave to staff focused on how RDA is different from AACR2. A lot of it boiled down to if you do X in AACR2, then you do Y in RDA. Pascale argued that this actually sold the staff short, because they didn’t look enough at the conceptual underpinnings of RDA, especially the FRBR model. She argued that staff really need to have a solid grasp on the FRBR entities and the relationships between these entities, and that this will become a much more important issue when we begin to make the transition from MARC to BIBFRAME.

The other break-out session I attended was a presentation by Virginia Bacon and Ginny Boyer of ECU, who described how ECU merged the discovery services of their main library, medical library and (unofficial) music library. It was a long process, with a lot of discussion, a lot of persuasion and a lot of compromise. Eventually, they consolidated their web presence into a unified catalog, as well as a unified ILLiad presence, a unified Book Recall feature, a unified Ask a Librarian function, and a single WorldCat Local instance. The process has involved a number of roll-out stages, and constant marketing efforts to re-brand the separate main and medical libraries into a single ECU Libraries brand.

One last thing, in recent years, the NC Serials Conference has started having an expo, with tables for sponsoring companies and organizations to pass out literature and talk to conference attendees. NASIG is a regular sponsor of the conference, and, as the current Vice President of NASIG, I got to represent our organization. It was kind of fun to talk to folks about the joys of membership in NASIG.

NC Serials Conference 2014 (Ellen D.)

Thursday, March 20, 2014 11:31 am

I attended the 23rd annual North Carolina Serials conference in Chapel Hill on March 14, presented by the NCCU School of Library and Information Sciences. The keynote address, “Altmetrics: Finding Meaningful Needles in the Data Haystack,” was a fast-paced and informative presentation by David Crotty, Senior Editor at Oxford University Press. Arguing that we do a poor job of measuring the impact of a scholar’s work, he proposed moving beyond the conventional metric for measuring the impact of publications, the Impact Factor, in favor of alternative metrics, i.e. altmetrics. Advanced technologies now permit the tracking of individual published papers in order to assess the impact of a scholar’s research. He described the impact factor as “One metric to rule them all,” and argued that is slow, difficult to compare among different disciplines, favors review articles over primary literature, creates a ranking system influenced by a small number of highly cited articles, and gives a false implication of accuracy. In short, it is an archaic practice.

Altmetrics.com, Plum Analytics, and Impact Story are examples of altmetrics sites that track citations as well as social media captures and mentions. PLOS and Nature have incorporated this approach, making it possible to look at an individual paper rather than averaging it in with all its neighbors. However, he acknowledged the challenge of separating the signal from the noise in altmetrics, noting that popularity is not to be equated with quality, nor attention with impact. A grand finale of thought-provoking questions drew the session to a close. Does altmetrics favor researchers skilled at social networking (he noted that James Watson, of DNA fame, has no twitter account), with the result that sensationalism (e.g. the sex habits of fruit bats) and navel-gazing are encouraged in the resulting echo chamber? When does good faith effort in the legitimate dissemination of information becoming gaming the system (for instance, marketing one’s publications all over blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media)? Does social media count for impact when we spend an average of 15 seconds on a web page? Does marketing become a core activity, so that researchers must change their behaviors and self-marketing becomes unduly important? To what extent do altmetrics reward non-research efforts? Finally, he proposed that altmetrics do not measure quality as much as attention, and although this can be useful, the final challenge for human judgment remains to assess whether a paper is as good as the level at which a journal sits.

The break-out session I attended in the afternoon was an NC LIVE talk presented by Emily Guhde, Online Services Librarian, and Jill Morris, Assistant Director, entitled “Making Usage Data Meaningful: A Consortium’s Attempt to Better Understand eResource Usage.” They described a benchmarking project that NC LIVE commenced in April 2012, to study electronic resource use among member libraries within a variety of library peer groups. They noted two different perspectives: that of the consortium, using data to make decisions about NC LIVE services and to decrease cost per use, and the perspective of libraries, concerned with what kind of use should be seen at their own libraries, and what should be done to improve use of resources. The study had three objectives: to identify peer groupings of North Carolina libraries, to identify data points for measuring the use of databases (AcademicSearch, Masterfile and Wall Street Journal, Learning Express Library, and Simply Map), to develop a framework for creating usage benchmarks in each peer group, and to analyze and report the qualities of high use libraries. They considered access and authentication, content and collections, awareness and outreach, community characteristics, and library characteristics. In their analyses, they used cross tabs, difference of means tests, and multiple regression. They found, repeatedly, that no one library is at the top or the bottom for all resources, that database use varies widely even among peer institutions, and that flexible peer groups may be more useful than permanent peer groups. To single out four-year college and university libraries: in the top 1/3 of peer groups, 94% authenticate with a local proxy, 82% use direct links to NC LIVE resources, 53% have a high number of librarians per 1000 FTE, and 41% have NC LIVE Committee representatives (as opposed to linking to the NC LIVE website, using passwords to authenticate, and displaying the NC LIVE search box). All of this is relevant to planning for future NC LIVE services related to usage data and to resource selection that takes place every three years, which they are doing now for 2015-2017.

The closing session was presented by Donna Tolson, Library Strategist at the University of Virginia, and Peggy Myers, Director of Library Development at UNC-CH, and was entitled, “Telling Your Story: Effective Packaging of Assessment Data.” Tolson directs assessment staff, focusing operations on strategic priorities of the library and the university, and she pointed out that assessment is not just measurement: one has to make something of it, and quoted Lord Kelvin’s adage that “If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it.” At Alderman Library and the University of Virginia libraries system, internal management and library staff are the greatest creators and consumers of data, and she re-packages that information depending on whom she is talking to. For instance, as she put it, managers “speak library,” are interested in details, value the big picture, and assessment should stay in that language. The Dean translates library, is interested in implications, and values strategic data. The profession compares and contrasts, speaks library, regards consistency as paramount, values new approaches to shared issues, and agrees on definitions and talks about the same stuff, while vendors speak library, are interested in controlling data, and value our business. Thus, selection and packaging of data vary according to different audiences and purposes and is significant in the impact and usefulness of data.

The NC Serials Conference is outside of my usual peregrinations, but I found the sessions all interesting, thought-provoking, and the entire event enjoyable. ZSR Library was well represented with Carol, Chris, Derrik, Jeff, and Steve all in attendance.

 

 


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