Professional Development

Lauren at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando

Friday, July 8, 2016 5:32 pm

Productivity with vendors (book and ILS), committee obligations, and future of cataloging were the three main themes for me in Orlando. Meetings by chance also played a key role in making this an above average conference for me.

I caught up with our Casalini sales rep on how to implement a more Gobi-like version of their fresh interface which will help me and Linda, along with a few others here at ZSR. I met our Eastview sales rep, who had helped us with one of our year-end purchases and I finally broke a logjam around finalizing a license agreement with Springer. For about a year I’ve been talking with colleague and Springer employee Robert Boissy about overcoming discovery discovery problems (with linked data), so he mentioned an interesting new vendor, Yewno. The shortest way I can explain is that it is like a discovery service (e.g. Summon, EDS) but uses artificial intelligence and visualization. They ingest content after they have agreements in place, but I was told at the Yewno booth that it isn’t pre-indexing like the discovery services we know right now. It definitely bears watching as they grow. Maybe the Google of academic content? It reminds me of an internet search engine I used over a decade ago, KartOO, which has been completely closed down, but maybe it was just ahead of its time.

(captured from the Yewno website for illustration)

(captured from the Yewno website)

I continued work on two division-level committees: the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee and the ALCTS Advocacy and Policy Committee. Now that the conference is over, I’m officially the chair of latter. The group will be working on ALA’s Advocacy Implementation Plan. I saw WSSU colleagues Wanda Brown and Cindy Levine at the Opening Session. I commented to them that I felt like I had been to church after hearing the speaker, Michael Eric Dyson. (I believe he said he was a minister earlier in his life. His inflection surely seemed indicative of it!) Cindy may be joining the Advocacy Committee as a result of that chance meeting. I also attended the Closing Session where Jamie Lee Curtis captivated me with the way she revealed her forthcoming book and perspective on belonging and immigration, at a level that kids get. The title is This Is Me: The Story of Who We Are and Where we Came From — the library edition will not have the pop-up, because Curtis understands how that is a problem for libraries. Both speakers were highly complimentary of libraries and librarians, and far more dynamic and poignant on their topics than I can illustrate. You simply had to be there. I had the good fortune to get in line for the Closing Session with the exiting President of ALCTS, Norm Madeiros, and we conversed about the state of ALCTS membership (declining, like others) and the wonderful value we get from our association. Norm is sincerely worried and he has raised my level of concern, which I think will nicely feed into my work with ALCTS Advocacy. (See also Thomas’ post re: ALA Divisions and membership decline. Norm was at the same “free” lunch with Thomas.) Incidental meetings like this at ALA are just as important as the unexpected exchanges we have with colleagues in crossing the building here at ZSR in our daily work.

At Norm’s President’s Program, Dr. Michael R. Nelson, spoke about “Enabling Innovation in the Era of the Cloud–A Syllabus.” He had a great long list of books as “recommended reading.” In random order from my rough notes, here are just a few sample titles and my memory jogs about them: Drive by Daniel Pink (bonuses are bad unless done in way everyone thinks is fair); Words That Work by Frank Luntz (get complicated ideas into simple bumper stickers and add two good factoids); Beyond the Gig Economy (today’s kids will have about 20 jobs in their career); Future Perfect: The Case For Progress In A Networked Age by Steven Johnson (or watch this); Art of the Long View by Peter Schwartz (or his short essay in Wired in 2009, “Your Future in 5 Easy Steps” and see also the “app.”)

Regarding the future of cataloging: I attended a number of sessions where I heard updates about BIBFRAME and linked data and a little about library migrations from an integrated library system (ILS) to a library service platform (LSP). Come see me if you want more details. Carolyn’s , Jeff’s and Steve’s posts also offer some insights and they can also tell you more than they wrote. I heard details from them when we gathered with members of Special Collections earlier this week to share what we learned. Also Steve recently sent email about a series of webinars from ALCTS that many of us will watch. To my mind, the future of cataloging is a heavy consideration as we investigate next generation systems. I stopped by the booths of multiple vendors of LSPs and will share some observations at an upcoming meeting of the ILS Task Force.

 

 

Carolyn at ALA Annual 2016 in Orlando

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 9:24 pm

At this year’s Annual conference, most of my time was spent attending various committee meetings and fulfilling my duties as Secretary of the Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) of ACRL by taking minutes at said meetings. After serving on the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee for the past five years in some capacity (e.g. member, Co-Chair, Chair), I chaired my last meeting of the ANSS Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee. Additionally, I attended the Anthropology Librarians’ Discussion Group where Dr. Richard Freeman, who is a librarian at the University of Florida at Gainesville, presented on the topic of visual anthropology in which he provided historical background on the topic and shared information about his own personal work in this area.

I was able to attend a few cataloging programs. At the Copy Cataloging Interest Group (CCIG), I heard Philip Schreur discuss Stanford University’s involvement with Linked Data for Production (LD4P), a project funded for 2 years by the Mellon Foundation that involves 5 other institutions (Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Library of Congress, and Princeton). Schreur reported the goals of LD4P are to redefine technical services workflows (acquisition to discovery) to ones based in Linked Open Data (LOD), produce metadata as LOD communally, enhance BIBFRAME (BF) to encompass multiple formats, and engage the broader academic community. Stanford has looked at their vendor supplied records from Casalini and have utilized tracer bullets in redefining their workflows. Stanford is working with Backstage so that they will become familiar in receiving BF records, and they’re also working with OCLC to be able to send them BF records instead of MARC. Also at CCIG, Dianne Hillman spoke on the benefits using Open Metadata Registry (OMR) to develop specialized vocabulary for specialized collection needs. Inclusion in OMR can help prevent the abandonment of good vocabulary. Catherine Oliver spoke about the issues she’s faced in cataloging Holocaust denial literature at Northern Michigan University. Having these works included in a library’s collection is challenging. They promote hate and often appear scholarly which in turn makes it difficult to know what to do with it. Ms. Oliver pointed out that the Library Bill of Rights provides guidance on avoiding prejudicial labeling of materials. Library of Congress does separate out Holocaust denial literature with 2 subject headings (Holocaust denial and Holocaust denial literature). Determining which of the 2 headings to apply can at times be tricky. She decided to examine cataloging records in OCLC of every English expression of 6 specific Holocaust denial titles, looking specifically at the records call numbers and subject headings. When cataloging Holocaust denial works, she made the decision to not include other subject headings (e.g. Anne Frank, Auschwitz) in the records because she did not want these titles collocated together. She does include additional access points for Holocaust denial literature presses so that people can search for works by a publisher’s name.

“It’s not a question of IF, but WHEN: Migrating to a Next Generation ILS” was the title of the program hosted by the Catalog Management Interest Group that I attended. Library staff from the University of Minnesota Libraries and University Miami Libraries both spoke about their individual experiences transitioning from Aleph and III’s Millennium respectively to Ex Libris Alma, and a librarian from Rutgers University Law Library spoke about her institution’s experience going from Millennium to Koha’s open-source system.

Steve Kelly and I both attended a program on open editorial and peer review that we heard about at the Technical Services Quarterly editorial board meeting/dinner. Cesar Berrios-Otero, Outreach Director for Faculty of 1000 (F1000), spoke about fixing scientific publishing’s archaic model and speeding up discovery. Per Mr. Berrios-Otero, the anonymity of peer review have caused journal retractions to skyrocket. At F1000, the publishing process has been flipped. Once a author submits their paper and open data, a cursory review takes place, and within 7 days or less, the paper is then published. Peer reviews by invited reviewers, which lends transparency to the publishing process, commences. Authors can resubmit revised versions of their paper after addressing reviewers’ comments. Referees and their affiliations are named, and their reports and comments are visible to anyone. The benefits of this new model include:

  • Publishing process has sped up.
  • There is visible discussion between referees, authors, and editors which aids in putting the paper in context.
  • Authors can demonstrate that their papers were reviewed by top people in their field.
  • Reviewers can take credit for their hard work as well as their experience as a reviewer.

Matthew Gold, Associate Professor of English and Digital Humanities at CUNY, Graduate Center, wants to see a hybrid publishing model utilized (i.e. a peer review stage with community feedback that then moves to a more traditional editorial mediated process with substantive comments). He outlined the benefits and dangers of a completely open peer review model tied to open access.

Benefits include:

  • Building a community around a text before it it’s published as well as an audience.
  • Enlarging the diversity and the number of perspectives brought to bear upon a text under review.
  • Connecting scholarship with public at an earlier stage of publishing process.

Dangers include:

  • Superficial comments rather than comprehensive, structural feedback or lack of feedback.
  • Reluctance to offer strong critique in public venue.
  • Opening up authors to abuse and mistreatment. Moderation must be considered.
  • Open review exhaustion. It takes time to build a community of reviewers.

Karen Estlund, Associate Dean for Digital Strategies and Technology at Penn State University Libraries, discussed the open peer reviewed journal with which she is involved publishing, Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology. The journal’s origins came out of a conference and began publication in 2012 by Fembot and the University of Oregon. Experts in the field were recruited to set the journal’s standards. Experts in the field review submissions and provide authors 1-2 page reviews with suggestions on how to make their paper publishable elsewhere or suggestions for resubmission. Interactive works that the journal publishes also go through an open peer review process as well. Pizza and soda are served at the journal’s peer review editing parties.

 

 

 

TANSTAAFL: Thomas @ ALA

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 4:27 pm

ALA Annual marked the end of my year as president of LITA, which was a rewarding experience, even if it did lead to a number of Thomas @ ALA posts that were almost entirely about process and policy.

And this is another of them (lucky you!).

TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Free Lunch (or breakfast or dinner). You’d better believe it: I had one of each this trip. ALA for me started a day earlier than normal because the presidents and vice presidents of ALA and the separate divisions held a Thursday night meeting (free dinner!) to discuss ALA’s divisional structure, potential restructuring as membership numbers continue to shrink, and what the future holds for all professional membership organizations (it isn’t just us, it isn’t just a trend – it’s the new normal. ALA reported a May-to-May bump in members, but that’s largely from a one-time influx of library donors). A very informal group was given permission to think completely outside the box, stir up hornets’ nests, and rip off 25-year old bandaids to consider how ALA might be structured in the future to maintain and strengthen its place in the information world’s landscape. There’s interesting potential there, so we’ll see what happens.

My free lunch on Saturday was with my cohort – all the presidents in the same year as me. This was partly a debriefing on our presidential years, partly a strategy discussion, partly a check in on the first year of ALA’s “Libraries Transform” initiative.

And Sunday was the divisional presidents breakfast (at 7:30). Don’t be fooled by the name – at least five people from every division attend along with core ALA staff. All told, it’s about a 55-person meeting that, again, focused on strategy and making membership more attractive and useful to a generation of librarians that are increasingly being pulled elsewhere.

Those non-free meals aside, I spent my time chairing two LITA Governing Board meetings, largely focused on our own early work on a new strategic plan; meeting with LITA committee chairs and with the LITA 50th Anniversary Task Force, and waving the presidential flag at a few other LITA events.

My one actual “Why we go to conference in the first place” moment was hosting the LITA awards ceremony and president’s program. I had the pleasure to introduce Safiya Noble, who gave an illuminating and quite moving talk about the subjective aspects of search engine algorithms and how they disenfranchise and delegitimize at-risk communities. Dr. Noble referenced her own work from 2013, noting that a Google search for “Black girls” returned almost entirely pornography; more recent examples included a search for “Unprofessional hair” that returned images of African-American women; and an example from just last month on the stark differences between searching “three black teenagers” and “three white teenagers”. It’s worth noting that Google tends to tweak their algorithms to improve search results when incidents like these go public, but that might just prove that it’s a fixable (and ultimately preventable) problem. While Google and other search engines apply algorithms to raw web content, this meshes very closely with the growing awareness among librarians that the naming and description of things that are intrinsic to cataloging are not objective and neutral.

So that was my conference. And can I just say, this is the only Orlando I want to see again for a long, long time.

Tony Orlando and Dawn

Tanya and the Archives Leadership Institute (Berea College), 2016

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 2:22 pm

I recently attended our second funded round of the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI), now based at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. Funded by the National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC), the goal for the Institute is to “bring to tomorrow’s leaders the insights and understanding necessary for increasing public use and appreciation of archives.” I am a member of the Steering Committee: (Rachel Vagts, ALI Director) is now at Berea College as well as representatives from New York (Geof Huth), Massachusetts (Beth Myers), Ohio (Dan Noonan), Oregon (Terry Baxter), Texas (Brenda Gunn), and of course, North Carolina (Tanya).

View from Berea College, Kentucky

View from Berea College, Kentucky

For our first year at Berea, we worked with the faculty to revise the schedule and again reviewed applications (there were nearly 100 submissions for 25 slots). The Committee conducted daily evaluations of the curriculum, and monitored the overall process by serving as facilitators for small groups in the cohort.

My ALI Small Group

My ALI Small Group

We also had a new curriculum coordinator, Mark Nigro of Berea College’s Brushy Fork Institute. We started our week with Christopher Barth, from West Point, who spoke on Strategic Visioning and Team Development. Chris also incorporated a small group ethics discussion, focusing on an incredibly thought-provoking case study authored by our ZSR Dean Tim Pyatt. The CoHort held many opinions about various aspects of the case and there was lively discussion.

Sharon Leon (Director of Public Projects, Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and Media, George Mason) who oversees OMEKA and Scripto, focused on project management for day two; our Coordinator, Mark Nigro presented on StrengthsFinder for Day 3; Barbara Teague (Library of Virginia) presented on Advocacy (Day 4); and we concluded with Dr. David Gracy (retired from the archives faculty at UT-Austin) Skyping in to have a discussion with us and answer questions. In between, there were team puzzles, energizers involving rubber chickens and creativity, broom making, diversity presentations, and lots of candy. One of the week’s highlights was visiting the bell hooks Institute, and listening to bell speak and answer questions.

bell hooks

bell hooks

Susan’s ALA Annual 2016 – Orlando Report

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 4:53 pm

The Orange County Convention Center welcomes ALA to Orlando

If it’s late June, it must be time to jump on a plane and travel to some uncomfortably warm location to attend ALA Annual. This year the conference was held in Orlando and prior to the start of the conference the national news was filled with multiple terrible events occurring there. So, it was a unsettling time to travel to Orlando. ALA responded with recognition and programming. There was a memorial service for the Pulse shooting victims (video 1, video 2) and a blood drive. I was fortunate to attend a scheduled session that featured Congressman John Lewis along with his co-authors of the graphic novel March. Because he had just been in the news the same week in the Congressional sit-in, his appearance and talk brought the audience to their feet in support of his efforts. It was an inspiring program.

John Lewis arrives to a standing ovation

Most of my conference was spent in LITA (Library Information and Technology Association) meetings and programs due to my role as LITA Director-at-Large. One of its signature events, Top Tech Trends, had 5 panelists this time around and a bit of a format change. After each panelist briefly proclaimed their “trend” (concepts, collecting real time data, virtual reality, balance of security against access, super easy application development), a half hour was spent asking for panelist responses about information security questions that were posed. This was followed by a discussion of maker space trends and examples. My favorite exchange were the questions “what may be the most useless trend?” [Answers: YikYak, IOT (Internet of Things)] and “What tech things are you sick of hearing about?” [Answers: 3D printers, smart watches, maker spaces].

It seems I went with the “top trends” theme this time in my limited program attendance between meetings. I heard one of the expert panel members (Lindley Shedd, U of Alabama) from the NMC Horizon Report – 2015 Library Edition. She talked a bit about the process for paring down a huge list of possible topics to 18 ( a focus on emerging technologies in libraries – six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments). You might enjoy looking at the project’s workspace wiki to more about how the project is implemented. It was interesting that she compared this report with the recently published 2016 Top Trends in Academic Libraries to see what correlated between the two.

My next “top trends” was a LLAMA-BES panel session on Top Building Trends 2016. The panel contained both architects and library directors. Some gems from the session:

  • (Looking for relevance in today’s environment?) Nothing transmits irrelevance like leaking roofs, old paint and furniture, outdated infrastructure.
  • Lost arts – a place for community to come together. Not so much maker spaces as most know them. These range from garden to cooking to candlemaking).
  • How can we make the collections (you know, those pesky books in stacks) attractive and focused part of the experience? Check out the book mountain in a Netherlands library. Maybe more useful in our library, consider lowing the stacks.
  • Restrooms are a top trend. The call for gender neutral has architects looking for new ways to design them.
  • Flexibility in a building means fewer permanent walls are being built.
  • A move toward pop-up instruction/event space.
  • Outdoor space is becoming more important – green space, outdoor movie screens, outdoor programming.
  • Look to other industries for trends that could be valuable. Example cited: the hospitality industry focuses on transforming people from one point to another (the first 25 feet sets the experience).

My final comment has to do with how much walking one does at a typical ALA conference. In Orlando, the West Convention Center was connected to hotels, North/South OCCC halls and heaven knows what else. I had no trouble exceeding my 10,000 steps per day goal!

Get Your Steps In

 

Meghan @ LOEX 2016: Learning from the Past, Building for the Future

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 10:17 am

This was my first LOEX experience, but I am certain it won’t be my last. Overall, I was very impressed with the amount of practical implementations that I took away from each session and the level of creativity, innovation and collegial support at this conference!

There was strong representation from first time attendees at LOEX (which once stood for ‘Library Orientation Exchange’, but is now a stand-alone title since library instruction has moved well-beyond the basic ‘orientation’ phase), and at the Thursday evening orientation session, I learned that every year approximately 20% of LOEX conference participants are first-time attendees.

What follows is a brief summary of the sessions I attended and some of my take-away thoughts.

Friday, May 6th

ReModeling the Library Tour: Active Learning through Active Spaces
(Matthew Pickens, Missour University of Science & Technoloy)
Inspired by the tableau set-up frequently used in haunted house attractions, the Curtis Laws Wilson Library (Missouri University of Science and Technology) re-designed their library tour to include short presentations that engage a variety of learning styles and integrate physical activity between each station. The re-design allowed them to incorporate kinesthetic elements to their tour and highlight some of the more entertaining aspects of library services, spaces, and collections. Using this tableau-style for tours and orientations seems to be a creative and fun way to engage students in a more holistic introduction to the library as space, resources and services. Something I hope to incorporate in future tours/orientations that I lead at ZSR!

Engaging Diverse Learners: Creating Accessible IL Instruction with Universal Design for Instruction
(Emilie Vrbancic, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs)

Universal design (coined by architect and designer Ronald L. Mace) describes the concept of “designing all products and the built environment to be aesthetic and usable to the greatest extent possible by everyone, regardless of their age, ability, or status in life”. During this session, Emilie Vrbancic demonstrated how integrating universal design into information literacy instruction anticipates the needs of diverse learners. What does instruction with universal design elements look like? Content and lesson plans that integrate equitable use (accessible, vocalized actions, use of sans-serif font), flexibility of use (varied instruction methods, appeal to variety of learning styles), simplistic and intuitive instruction (no jargon, draw of previous knowledge/use student-centered topics for demos), perceptible information (present info in multiple formats, shorten task instructions, use icons/images), tolerance for error (allocate time for individual work, encourage students to seek help), etc.

Engaging Students through IL Based Service Learning Assignments for Community Benefits and Academic Success
(Leah Galka, SUNY Buffalo State and Theresa McDevitt, Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
I was very excited to attend this session and learn about integrating service projects into IL based instruction– especially given the pro humanitate spirit here at Wake. Leah and Theresa shared their experiences with using service learning projects– “a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs, together with structured opportunities for reflection designed to achieve desired learning outcomes”– in their IL instruction. Overall, the program offered benefits to students (real world problem solving, personal growth, deeper understanding of complexity of social issues), librarians/instructors (engage and motivate students, demonstrate that IL skills are essential to complimentary real world tasks), and the university at large (experiential = high impact learning, opportunity to give back and improve community). Leah and Theresa acknowledged that working with the community partner to direct a clear understanding of what will be accomplished is key.

Recycling the First-Year One Shot Workshop: Using Interactive Technology to Flip the Classroom
(Crystal Goldman and Tamara Rhodes, UC San Diego)
Using technology to facilitate, library instructors developed online tutorials and activities for students to complete outside of the class in advance of library instruction session. This model worked well for the providing a in-depth one-shot instruction with limited resources. In addition to the online tutorial, the one shot workshop also included a research workshop and drop-in research consultation component to further develop research assignments and familiarize students with library services and resources.

Rework, Reuse, Reflect on Your Research: Writing Center and Library Collaborations
(Holly Jackson, and Jill Tussing, Wright State University)
This session focused on collaborative instruction and joint service offerings from librarians and tutors with the Writing Center at Wright State University. Both teams utilized the peer-to-peer model and trained student assistants to respond to initial drop-in appointments– student research assistants were embedded at the Writing Center to assist with research-specific inquiries, which helped greatly to bridge the physical space between both service points (Writing Center located in different building than library’s information desk). Location, timing and individuals involved were important factors in the strategies that were employed for this collaborative effort.

Saturday, May 7th

Everything We Do Is Pedagogy: Critical Pedagogy, the Framework and Library Practice
(Jeremy McGinniss, Summit University)
I really enjoyed Jeremy McGinniss’ application of critical pedagogy to our work in libraries — his discussion was refreshing and demonstrated incredible depth. Jeremy introduced the concept of critical pedagogy using a definition from Giroux’s On Critical Pedagogy: “Critical pedagogy . . . affords students the opportunity to read, write and learn from a position of agency- to engage in a culture of questions . . . imagining literacy as a mode of intervention, a way of learning about the word as a basis for intervening in the world.” I absolutely loved his conversation around the recognition of library space and library staff (specifically student labor) as pedagogical opportunities. The stories he shared of his engagement with student assistants in his work (meeting at the beginning and end of each semester, setting goals, encouraging students to self-identify with [and even challenge] staff processes) was inspiring. A powerful session that demonstrated how in libraries, critical pedagogy can be dug up, unpacked and provide a place for flourishing, justice and modes of opportunity.

Jeremy McGinniss reflects upon how the library, as a whole, engages in pedagogy.

Into the Gauntlet: Letting Students Teach One Another
(Jessica Crossfield and Amy Parsons, Otterbein University)
Building on the idea that nothing clarifies ideas better than explaining them to others, Jessica and Amy presented on efforts to integrate peer to peer instruction in their IL sessions. They set up a structured process that divided the classes into groups of 3 (in case you didn’t know, more than 3 is a party), led small groups to Google Doc assignment linked from online guide and gave them time to complete assignment before reporting back to the whole class. The think-pair-share model of cooperative learning strategies was primarily used, but other attendees recommended incorporating competitive elements (judging or multi-evaluative) could also work as both assessment measures and peer learning tools in the classroom.

A Sample Is a Tactic: Hip Hop Pedagogy in the Library Classroom
(Craig Arthur and Alyssa Archer, Radford University)
This was one of my favorite sessions at LOEX. Craig Arthur and Alyssa Archer demonstrated how integrating hip hop pedagogy in library instruction can help students grasp concepts related to the academic research process and the ACRL Framework- such as research as inquiry, scholarship as conversation, information has value. Craig spun samples from Beyonce’s Lemonade, “Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza” by Mac Miller, “Work” by Rihanna (ft. Drake) to point out how sampling was handled by each artist and how this process of borrowing and re-use in MC/DJing conventions can be used as a comparison to academic and scholarly conventions. The session also touched on issues related to cultural appropriation, the differences between copyright in music vs print formats, and how personal interests are worthy of academic study. I thought this was an exceptionally creative way to instruct IL frames and share concepts related to academic research that are unfamiliar to most students.

Interactive lessons with turntable and mixer allow librarians at Radford University to demonstrate how creating a hip hop song can mirror the academic research process.

Interactive lessons with turntable and mixer allow librarians at Radford University to demonstrate how creating a hip hop song can mirror the academic research process.

Amanda, Joy and I were able to squeeze in visits to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens and the Andy Warhol Museum. If you’re ever in Pittsburgh, I would recommend visiting both attractions! Do yourself a favor and make sure to stop by the Archives Dept. at the Andy Warhol Museum to see the “time capsule” collection. Incredible!

Kathy at #ALAAC16

Friday, July 1, 2016 1:27 pm

This was my first ALA Annual in 6 years, my first as a ZSR librarian, and my first with a subject specialty, so I tried to focus my sessions this year on building my knowledge and network around two of my main subject areas, History and Psychology, as well as larger issues related to teaching and reference.

My conference started on Saturday morning with a Connection breakfast hosted by the RUSA History Section, which was intended to connect new history librarians with experienced ones. This 90-minute breakfast turned out to be one of the best events of the entire conference for me, as it genuinely did connect me with new and experienced academic librarians doing the same work and asking the same questions that I am. I had some great conversations during our informal meet and greet, and those continued when we moved into our committee meetings. I am on the RUSA-HS Instruction and Research Services Committee, and this group is definitely active! I learned about their past projects (such as updating their Primary Sources on the Web page) and their priorities for the coming year, and I’m really excited to be a part of that work. I later attended the History Librarians Discussion Group, where I saw many of the same people, as well as new ones, and was able to discuss issues surrounding transnationalism in digital sources, creating context for digital sources, the Google News Archive (and why its search function is so terrible), and PDA/DDA models. I’m really grateful to RUSA-HS for enhancing the conference experience for me – I already feel like I have a great network of history librarians to call upon!

I didn’t neglect Psychology – I attended an intro session (along with Roz) on the new APA Style Central on Sunday and asked LOTS of questions about this new platform, and I also attended an APA Lunch and Learn on Monday, where I heard about updates to the PsycINFO interface (mostly to better support health sciences researchers), PsycINFO platform differences across vendors, and about how the cited references feature actually works. APA also recently translated its PsycINFO Topic Guides into 8 additional languages.

Later on Saturday, I attended the EBSS/IS panel, “Authority is Constructed and Contextual: A Critical View.” This was a panel session with 6 librarians, who were each able to give their perspective on this particular frame and respond to questions submitted via email and Twitter. The panel included such people as Nicole Pagowsky, Kevin Seeber, and James Elmborg, all of whom brought a different perspective on how this frame has impacted their practice. Some are pro-Framework, some were not, but all found something in this frame they could use in some way. I’m still wrapping my brain around everything that they said, but a few takeaways:

  • We as librarians often make library work look invisible and easy, but we aren’t just facilitators. The work we do requires expertise and authority, and we need to be able to assert that to our faculty and our larger community.
  • We need to remove the binary, oppositional language from our discussions of scholarly (i.e. good) and “other” (i.e. bad) sources. Start using “and” instead of “versus” when talking about these sources. Focus on contextuality and emphasize the connections/conversations between different kinds of sources and what contribution each source makes.
  • Libraries and librarians have a certain measure of authority, but we must also acknowledge that we are flawed and that our systems are flawed so that we can make steps toward fixing them (even when that may actually require an act of Congress to do).

This was a really engaging panel, and I hope they’ll make a recording or transcript available for everyone to watch/read. This session was followed by the ACRL/SPARC Forum (described here by one of the speakers, Emily Drabinski) and the ACRL-IS Current Issue Discussion Group, which was on creating a first year experience for graduate students.

On Sunday, I attended the Readex breakfast, where I heard Dr. Mark Summers from the University of Kentucky give a fantastic talk entitled “Politics is just war without bayonets: Dirty politics in the Genteel Age: 1868-1892″ (very appropriate given our current political climate). If you think politics are dirtier now than ever, just watch his talk. (He is also a very lively presenter who had a tendency to jump on and off the stage.)

Later that morning I went to the RUSA-RSS Reference Research Forum, which featured three presentations. Laura Hibbler from Brandeis discussed what she discovered about the research process of first year students after conducting 15 in-depth interviews with them throughout the course of a semester. Tara Cotaldo from Florida presented the early stages of an IMLS grant-funded project in which they are exploring how STEM students evaluate sources. Their methodology for this is really unique, because they are studying 180 students ranging from 4th grade all the way up to graduate students, and they’re gathering this data through creating a Google search simulation contained in a module (in order to control variables). More on this project is available on their libguide. Finally, Amanda Folk from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg shared what she found regarding the mindsets (based on Carol Dweck’s research) of students who schedule PRS. I was really interested in this topic because, right before I left HPU, they had chosen Growth Mindset as the topic of their next QEP, and not much research has been done on growth mindset in the academic setting (most has come out of K-12). If you’re interested, Amanda has shared more about how mindsets and librarians intersect in a recent C&RL article.

My last session on Sunday was the LITA President’s Program, which was presided over by our very own Thomas Dowling. However, no offense to Thomas, I attended this program because Dr. Safiya Noble was the featured speaker, and she was just as amazing as I expected. Dr. Noble’s work around race, gender, and media reinforces that search engines and algorithms aren’t neutral, because they are ultimately created by biased people. Her talk (which I’m hoping will be up on her website at some point) was titled “Toward an Ethic of Social Justice on the Web.” She shared some powerful examples of the ways that bias reveals itself in web searches and how the purchase of keywords affects search results. (If you’re interested, she’s detailed some of these examples in her previous publications.) She brought up issues around how the internet and Google, specifically, can impact elections, citing a study by Epstein and Robertson (described in this Politico article), as well as work by Nicole Cohen on the ways journalists are pressured to change stories in real-time based on metrics and Matthew Hindman’s book, The Myth of Digital Democracy. Although most of her work is centered around Google, she urged librarians to consider how our systems and practices impact those who are searching for meaning on the web. In particular, how do we help people create context? 1.2 seconds isn’t enough time to answer really complicated questions, particularly those we’ve struggled with for centuries, yet many people expect to have a quick and authoritative answer from a single Google search or two. I’m still thinking through how this impacts my own practice, especially in LIB210, and I’m really looking forward to reading the essays in Dr. Noble’s upcoming edited book, The Intersectional Internet: Race, Sex, Class, and Culture Online. Thanks to Thomas and to LITA for bringing her to ALA!

These were my highlights from this year’s conference, and I’m happy to talk more with anyone about any of the sessions/topics that I mentioned above. It was well worth braving the 100+ degree heat to be in Orlando for this experience…and yes, I also went to Harry Potter World (as did, I think, every librarian at the conference, based on the conversations I overheard).

Steve at ALA Annual 2016

Thursday, June 30, 2016 5:20 pm

The ALA Annual Conference in Orlando was an unusual one for me, in that it marked the end of my four-year stint on two committees, CC:DA (Cataloging Committee: Description and Access) and the Continuing Resources Cataloging Committee. For eight conferences over these past four years, the meetings for those two committees have dominated my ALA experience (especially CC:DA which always involves a 4.5 hour meeting on Saturday and a 3 hour meeting on Monday). It’ll be interesting to see what Midwinter in Atlanta is like without those two committees eating up the bulk of my time.

But that’s in the future. As for ALA in Orlando, CC:DA continued to be on of my major obligations. This committee develops ALA’s position on RDA and entails reading and voting on proposals to revise RDA. This past year has been very quiet on the proposal-front, especially since Midwinter. Now, the fact that we had relatively few proposals compared to years past (particularly my first year) could mean that RDA is just about finished and doesn’t need much further tinkering, but I doubt it. I think it’s probably due to the fact that the draft of FRBR-LRM (Library Reference Model) was made public in March. The FRBR model provides most of the conceptual underpinnings of RDA, and FRBR-LRM is a big enough change to the model (it adds new entities such as place and timespan) that it will have ripple effects that will change RDA. I think the cataloging community is holding their breath until FRBR-LRM is finally officially adopted by the RDA Steering Committee (RSC), before trying to figure out what it means for the future of RDA.

And, according to a presentation by Gordon Dunsire, the Chair of the RSC, FRBR-LRM will likely be revised, but it will remain substantially unchanged from the draft model. Dunsire also talked about the development of RDA application profiles, which can be set locally and which provide guidance to catalogers using RDA in original cataloging. In addition, Dunsire touched on an interesting problem related to the attempt to adopt gender-neutral language in RDA, because English is the primary language of RDA, and it is then translated into other languages. Gender-neutral uses of terms in English do not make sense in languages where nouns are gendered (for example, “actor” can be used for men or women in English, but in French, “acteur” is for men and “actrice” is for women,” and it sounds bizarre in French to call a woman an “acteur”). This problem will have to be ironed out by the translation teams.

In addition to this RDA business, I also heard a fair amount about BIBFRAME. At the Cataloging Norms Interest Group meeting, I heard about LC’s BIBFRAME pilot project, which started in October, 2015. This involved having LC catalogers create original catalog records in both MARC and in BIBFRAME, using the BIBFRAME Editor software. The project was difficult, because searching BIBFRAME (or BF) data was problematic, they couldn’t create authority records in BF, and they couldn’t import BF. BF 1.0 has been replaced by BF 2.0, so hopefully some of these problems have been resolved. During the pilot project, one of the lessons learned was realizing that catalogers are too used to thinking about cataloging in terms of filling specific MARC fields rather than the more conceptual ideas of RDA. Furthermore, the mismatch between RDA terminology and BF terminology caused problems (for example, BF has a work record, which combines the RDA/FRBR concepts of work and expression). Additionally, catalogers still continue to think in terms of ISBD, which is no longer a constraint in a post-MARC world.

The problems involved in using BF were also touched on at the Continuing Resources Cataloging Forum, in a presentation by Kevin Balster of UCLA. He pointed out that BF 2.0 and the BF Editor are out of synch, and that BF has many unspecified and/or unconstrained domains and ranges, and that it is not yet ready to handle recording serial holdings. So, BIBFRAME still has a ways to go.

Getting back home from Orlando was far more of an adventure than I would have preferred. I was already scheduled for a fairly late flight that left me hanging out at the airport in Orlando for about 5 hours before taking off, and when I landed in Atlanta, I found out that my 11:20 pm flight to Greensboro had been delayed until 6:45 am the following morning. I asked for a flight to either Charlotte or Raleigh, figuring I would rent a car and have to go pick up my bag in Greensboro the next day. But, as luck would have it, I was given a seat on a flight to Raleigh, just one row in front of Chelcie. She lives in Greensboro, so she kindly offered to drive me to drop me off at the airport in Greensboro, where I could pick up my car and drive home (I had Delta deliver my suitcase to my house the next day). That’s cooperation, and the power of Z!

Mary Beth @ ALA16-Orlando

Thursday, June 30, 2016 4:59 pm

My ALA conference was focused on two primary objectives: begin work related to the Sustainability Round Table, (SustainRT, to which I was just elected Member-at-Large) and get as much information on diversity and inclusion through ALA’s diversity programming as I could squeeze into my schedule. The work of the SustainRT board started early as I was representing SustainRT to the Round Table Coordinator Assembly on Friday morning. Since no other member of SustainRT arrived in Orlando early enough to attend, I was invited to represent the group. This group was made up of all of the chairs or coordinators of the round tables in ALA. The agenda was mostly about issues related to round tables’ functions within ALA, (like how to archive the born digital meeting minutes, and how libraries are using the ALA “Libraries Transform” media campaign.) I was rather surprised at how many Round Tables ALA has. (Disappointedly, we actually sat at rectangular tables.)

I am also SustainRT’s representative to The Office of Diversity, Literacy and Outreach Services in ALA. This office supports libraries in their efforts to expand Equity, Access and Diversity. I participated in a SustainRT panel discussion called “Planting the Seeds: Libraries and Librarians as Change Agents for Sustainability in Their Communities,” which happily also got a mention in the American Libraries Magazine blog. I discussed ZSR’s efforts to reduce waste generated during our semester’s end Wake the Library events.

It was quite serendipitous that John Lewis, fresh from his sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington DC, was scheduled to speak about his graphic novel series called “March”.

ALA president Sari Feldman introduced John Lewis, his co-author, and his illustrator to a very full ballroom. His words were moving, heartfelt and inspiring. My favorite quote when talking about the influence public libraries have over youth was when he said “Encourage kids to get into trouble, necessary trouble, continue to do just that!” He and his co-authors earned several standing ovations. Earlier that morning, I also attended a memorial service for the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting. John Lewis also made a brief appearance there and offered words of support. The memorial had speakers Sari Feldman along with members of the GLBT Round Table and Social Responsibilities Round Table. There wasn’t a dry eye anywhere around me.

The most helpful Diversity and Inclusion session I attended was one entitled “No Room at the Library: the Ethics of Diversity” in which the programmers offered, through skit form, four different situations related to marginalized people and had us react to the question “how would you handle that situation?” The members of the audience then got up and gave their reactions, based on library policy, or sometimes just on what they thought was right. One situation discussed how to handle a request for a community room for a group who wanted to have a meeting that excludes white people so they can have a frank discussion about racial inequality in their community. Another was about whether it is important to intercede in a conversation between a youth and his mother when his mother is committing a microagression to a staff member wearing a hijab. The reactions to these important questions were fascinating as we frankly discussed options. Everybody’s position was “right” even if they were very different. Such is the nature of ethical dilemmas.

ALA Annual in Orlando will go down as one of the best, and certainly one of the hottest ALA’s I’ve attended. (The humidity even made it feel as though it were hotter than Vegas to me.)

Also, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a Member-At-Large of SustainRT if I didn’t encourage you to join the round table. The cost is just $10 per year and you can add it to your ALA membership at any time!

Jeff at ALA Annual 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 4:01 pm

Assuming you are six years old, Orlando is a dream destination. If, like me, you’re 37, you need some compelling reason to go. Enter ALA Annual 2016.

On Saturday I attended the program “Linked Data: Globally Connecting Libraries, Archives, and Museums.” Reinhold Heuvelmann of the German National Library described his library’s system of metadata creation, in which they use their own standard, called Pica, and are able to export in numerous formats, including MARC, Dublin Core, and BIBFRAME, among others. This kind of cross-walking will be essential in the future as we move into linked data, it would seem. Mr. Heuvelmann pointed out that with linked data, library users per se are not the intended audience; general web searchers are. I’d never exactly thought of it this way before, but it’s worth doing so, if only as an exercise in humility. Our library catalogs aren’t the be-all and end-all.

Later that morning, because I am an incompetent convention center navigator and sometimes you’ve walked too far to turn back, I ended up watching Canadian author Margaret Atwood talk about her forthcoming contribution to the Hogarth Shakespeare series, of which I was already aware. Her contribution is a prose retelling of The Tempest. Ms. Atwood’s sense of humor was a delight, and it made me happy to scan the packed house and be reminded that, however our jobs and our profession might change, we are still in the end essentially a bunch of book lovers.

That afternoon I met with my ALCTS AS Organization and Management Committee, which I will be chairing as of 7/1. We brainstormed ideas for a program for next year’s annual conference in Chicago; something about sourcing difficult-to-get materials, maybe; or the oft-inadequate amount of personnel committed to e-resources. Or something else; I’m working on it. I spent that evening waiting for over two hours to eat mediocre-at-best “Louisiana” food, as did several of my colleagues. No one was having much fun, except the keyboardist, and Chelcie, who, as it turns out, loves jaunty synth solos every bit as much as Steve hates them.

But in my heart of hearts, all this was mere precursor to the talk I gave on Sunday morning at the ALCTS-sponsored program “Re-Tooling Acquisitions for Lean Times.” My co-presenter was John Ballestro from Texas A&M. I titled my presentation “What if Help Isn’t on the Way?” and talked about 1) our experience as a tech services department that has realigned to maximize efficiency and 2) some simple time-savers that can be embraced without any significant infusion of cash or personnel (hence the title). It went well. After our talk, hands shot up, and the questions didn’t stop until the fifteen minutes we’d allowed for Q&A were gone. We’d either confused them or sparked their interest. Either way, it was over.

Later that afternoon I met with my ALCTS Planning Committee. Our primary responsibility these days is to review committee reports and assess the degree to which ALCTS committees are advancing the Strategic Plan that we wrote the previous year. On Sunday afternoon Erica Findley of Multnomah County Library talked about their local Library.Link project, in which ten public libraries in Oregon have gotten together to publish linked data to the web in cooperation with Zepheira. They are currently assessing results using Google Analytics; so far most referrals have come from the libraries’ websites, but a good amount came from the open web as well, and the hope is that the latter will only increase. Participating in this endeavor has meant no change to the libraries’ cataloging process, as Zepheira does the web publishing for them, using data extracted from their catalogs. I look forward to hearing an update on this project in the future.


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