Professional Development

Kevin at The Collective 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015 9:07 am

At the end of last week, I attended The Collective 2015 – a new conference drawing on the ‘un-conference’ model – held in Knoxville, TN. Chelcie and I were part of a panel session on digital humanities in libraries: we talked about our plans for build.ZSR, a service for scholarly digital projects at WFU; folks from the Scholars’ Lab at UVa Library talked about their work with experimental humanities; and a librarian from USC-Lancaster shared how she is applying core LIS competencies to digital humanities work.

Other sessions included discussions and applications of:

  • ephemeral leadership and the competency trap
  • methods for parsing messy data
  • project management and the work breakdown structure
  • data curation and digital humanities
  • similarities and differences in the roles of instructional technologist and librarian

Beyond these topics, I had many discussions both in and out of the sessions with other interdisciplinary librarians. It was an excellent conference.

The Social Media Marketing Conference: More than A “Like”

Friday, February 20, 2015 6:16 pm

Last Thursday, I accompanied Meghan and Rebecca to the Social Media Marketing Conference in Charlotte. It was an interesting conference for two reasons: it was non-library in nature and it featured participants from a wide range of experiences— novice to “maven”. (“Maven” is the preferred term for those well-versed in social media because of the changing nature.) I was mildly skeptical of the conference when it began because, as Meghan said in her report, the conference was strongly rooted in a corporate perspective. However, there were certainly takeaways from the conference that were relevant to everyone in attendance.

The concept of marketing was clear from the beginning of the day. Being able to tell the story of how and why an organization fulfills its mission statement is a concern that isn’t limited to libraries and higher education. Communicating the goals, values and overall story of an organization with current and potential customers/patrons is a common matter that social media can help to address. Social media falls into three broad categories: networking (Facebook), promoting (Flickr) and sharing (Yelp). From there, data from analyzing social media platforms through listening tools (Google Alerts and socialmention) as well as metrics (such as Quantcast) can used to assess effectiveness, tailor messages, and develop an ongoing strategy for establishing vital and growing connections on the platforms.

Social media does have added value for being interesting. Here are a few items that caught my attention, both old and new:

Indeed, social media is here to stay and it will evolve as rapidly as its users. As we remain flexible to these possibilities, it’s important to note who those users are and how they can be reached.

Like, Follow, Tweet, Share, Comment: Traversing the Social Media Landscape at the Social Media Marketing Conference

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 8:34 pm

Last Thursday, February 12th, I attended the Social Media Marketing Conference (SkillPath Seminars) in Charlotte, NC with fellow Communications Committee members Chris Burris & Rebecca Petersen. This conference was billed as “a real-world guide to understanding social media” and offered lessons for how to use social media to connect with your audience, expand your market reach, drive website traffic, and grow your brand.

What follows is a summary of some lessons learned and considerations for how to implement them into our current social media practice.

Getting off to a good start
There are many social media platforms (check out Brian Solis’ Conversation Prism), and many ways to use (and misuse) social media. 3 important questions we should ask when managing our social media platform(s):

  1. Why is this social marketing campaign being launched, and what are our goals and objectives?
  2. Who is target demographic? How are these audiences best engaged?
  3. How should patron relationships change as a result of this social media application? How will the success of the campaign be measured?

Knowing what you hope to achieve before you begin is key, and committing to an ongoing cycle of planning –> implementation –> measure/evaluate –> adjust will help keep social media strategies focused and effective.

Establishing goals and developing targeted social media strategies are practices that I would like to see us use in our communication efforts. Especially since we serve a diverse audience with multiple social media platforms and frequently have opportunities to share upcoming events, services and resources with our community.

The art of writing for a social audience
(A few quick tips)

Writing for a social audience encourages concise, engaging commentary. You want to make your point quickly, but with an entertaining emphasis. Here are a few quick tips:

  • Do your research– know what type of content your readers/audience want and expect. Have an audience (or audiences) in mind when you are writing a blog, tweet, post, status update, etc.
  • Write a “grabber” headline– lead with a compelling opener. Everyone appreciates as well-crafted hook.
  • Make your writing conversational– conversational writing lends itself to a more welcoming and engaging style.
  • Be a resource for your reader– provide links to other information sources, share resources that will enhance your reader’s understanding.
  • Use bulleted lists– make your content easily scannable.

Using Social Media Metrics to measure your efforts
One way to evaluate the performances of our social media platforms is to use measurements from available platform metrics and track our progress across these measurements. Social Media metrics can provide information about conversion rates, leads generated, increased site traffic/number of new followers, or brand awareness/perception. Establishing a consistent review of these metrics could help us determine what areas of our social media practices are working, and what areas could be further developed.

For example, a breakdown of our current fan base on facebook (people who ‘like’ us within the past 28 days) indicates that approximately 45% of our fan base are women & men between the ages of 18-24.

Breakdown of people who like our Facebook page.

Breakdown of people who like our Facebook page.

However, if you take a look at our “engagement” metrics, you will notice some interesting shifts in the levels of engagement across our fan base . . .

The people who have liked, commented on, shared our posts or engaged with our page in the past 28 days.

The people who have liked, commented on, shared our posts or engaged with our page in the past 28 days.

 

Reviewing our metrics regularly, and defining and monitoring key performance indicators to help evaluate our social media practices is a worthwhile endeavor and something we should establish for future strategic communication efforts.

Overall, I found the Charlotte Social Media Marketing Conference to be a valuable experience and I will use the lessons learned to help develop social media strategies and campaigns with the Communications Committee to enhance and complement the work that we do here at ZSR.

Meghan, Chris & Rebecca pose for selfie.

Obligatory Social Media Conference selfie!

 

Wanda’s ALA Mid-Winterland

Thursday, February 12, 2015 2:28 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Sarah at ALA Midwinter 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015 1:09 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hu and the First-Year Experience Conference 2015 in Dallas

Wednesday, February 11, 2015 6:57 pm

The annual FYE conference isn’t a typical conference for a librarian. Dean Sutton first made me aware of FYE a few years ago and this is my second conference. There were 2000 attendees from 17 countries. Many were from Offices of Orientation, Advising, and First-Year Experience, but more and more divisions of the university are represented each year, including libraries! This is a friendly conference where we are not bound by our institutional role but rather by our desire for first-year student success. Like many library conferences, discussions spontaneously occur everywhere at FYE. Each session has an interactive segment where participants engage with the material and each other. The conference was held in the Dallas Omni, which meant most attendees were able to stay in this hotel and all the sessions were in the hotel. This size and structure encourages great discussions!

Here is a selection of sessions and speakers I attended while at FYE:

Opening session, featuring Adrianna Kezar, from the University of Southern California.

Kezar is the author of 14 books and over 100 articles. She examined and discussed the national trend of decreasing tenured faculty. Many aspiring academics are looking for work in a tight labor market and taking adjunct positions. She encouraged us to each find out the numbers of tenured and non-tenured faculty at our own institutions! (So I did just that!) She also encouraged us to look at how we support adjuncts across campus. Do the serve on committees? Do they have access to resources from the Teaching and Learning Center? Do they have time to use these resources? You can find more info on this issue and on how to support adjuncts at: The Delphi Project on Changing Faculty and Student Success

Orientation 101: The Basics of Orientation
Scott LeBlanc, Education and Program Director, NODA
Andy Cinoman, Director New Student Programs, Florida Gulf Coast University

I was unaware of NODA prior to this session. NODA is the “Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education.” They have resources for schools to evaluate their orientation programs. We also discussed the recently published the CAS Guiding Principles for Orientation. It is always good to hear about best practices and to learn other schools share similar issues when conducting orientation for new students. The take away here was that there is not just one correct way to do orientation.

Enhancing an Established Common Reading Program
Tiffany Shoop, Associate Director for Special Programs, Virginia Tech
Megan O’Neill, Associate Director for First-Year Experiences, Virginia Tech

Common Reading Programs and Peer Mentoring Programs were two common themes at this conference. Virginia Tech has an excellent common reading program that gave me some ideas for our program at WFU. One key point here, students want to read books about an individual’s journey, not books that tell them what they should do. (We learned that lesson here last year with P.M. Forni’s “Choosing Civility.” It was not well-received!) There also needs to be more transparency in the selection process, something we are already doing here at WFU, taking suggestions from faculty, staff, and students for this summer’s common reading program. I attended several sessions on common reading programs, but this one was by far the most informative and relevant to WFU.

The Conference Awards Luncheon

Each of the eight winners present to receive the “Outstanding First-Year Student Advocate Award” gave a 2-3 minute talk on someone who was an advocate for them when they were a student. This prompt for the winners, provided by FYE, made this a much more meaningful event. The most touching stories came from two recipients in particular who described how they were first generation college students who came from households where English was the second language. They didn’t find an advocate during their first-year, so they focused their careers to become the advocate they didn’t have. It was worth waiting in line to get a seat!

Supporting a Diverse Student Population: The First-Year Residential Experience
Lauren Ramsay, Faculty Director Leeds Residential Academic Program, University of Colorado, Boulder
Mazhar Ali, First-Year Student, University of Colorado, Boulder

Boulder has an interesting program where students can join a residential academic program (think living-learn communities) that focuses on a particular discipline (in this case, business) The best part of this session was breaking up into small groups and discussing issues of reaching underserved populations from the application process to graduation.

Librarians at FYE

On Sunday night, I tweeted out to the Librarians at FYE and we met for drinks and discussion in the lobby bar! It was great to find other librarians at the conference and to exchange our ideas for engaging first-year students. (Twitter is such a great conference tool!)

Connecting the Common Read with Information Literacy and Student Success
Lisa Kerr, Interim Associate Provost, Enrollment Management, Auburn University at Montegomery
Lisa Farrow, Director Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, AUM

Bloom’s Taxonomy and Harvey Daniel’s Literature Circles were featured in this session. I learned some great tools to help student unpack a reading assignment individually and in groups. Like all the sessions I attended, we had to participate and try out the tools in a small group! This was so much better than a traditional conference presentation, but it also made it hard for me to check email and work on my blog post! (ohh, maybe that was the point!)

Crucial Conversations: Empowering Peer Educators to Facilitate Dialogue
Lauren Bosselait, Assistant Director First Year Experience and Learning Communities
Susie Mahoney, Assistant Director, Leadership Initiatives, University of Cincinnati

This session was packed! As I mentioned earlier, Peer Mentoring was a major theme at this conference. As an academic adviser, I appreciated the scenarios we examined in this session. Scenarios are a great way to practice these difficult discussions around social justice issues. It reminded me of the moderator training WFU has for the deliberative dialogues!

Meaningful Academic Collaborations Through Information Literacy for First-Year Students
Leah Tobin, Assistant Director of Student Engagement, Gemstone Program
Rachel Gammons, Teaching and Learning Librarian, University of Maryland

The Gemstone program does an amazing job of connecting the common reading program to information literacy, but we reach a larger percentage of our students for a longer time with our numerous sections of LIB100. Between our LIB100/200 sections and our “one-shot” research instruction sessions to First-Year Seminars we reach a number of students that other schools envied! That was nice to hear. Still, this session had me thinking how we could reach even more students. Leah and Rachel are rock star presenters! Rachel has a great description of why “libraries are weird” If you want a toothbrush on Amazon, you search “toothbrush” and click “Buy.” If it were set up like a library database, you would need to call the toothbrush a “dental hygiene device” in your search, and you would be taken to a site the a description but not the actual item. Also, there would be an embargo for one year or you would need to borrow the toothbrush from another place. The room cracked up at this. (We all asked for blanket permission to steal her description and use it ourselves!)

I appreciated this opportunity to branch out from traditional library conferences. There was much content that I’ll be able to leverage as an Outreach and Instruction Librarian! I hope I’ll be able to attend FYE again in a few years!

Carolyn at ALA Midwinter 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 11:18 am

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

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

Other sessions/events attended included:

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

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

Derrik at ALA Midwinter 2015

Monday, February 9, 2015 11:49 am

Vendor highlights

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

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

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

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

Sessions

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

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

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

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

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

Steve at 2015 ALA Midwinter

Friday, February 6, 2015 4:23 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

MBL at ALA-MW

Friday, February 6, 2015 2:42 pm

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

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

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

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

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


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