Professional Development

2016 Administrative Professionals Conference

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 9:59 am

Last Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the 2016 Administrative Professionals Conference at WinMock in Bermuda Run, NC. WinMock is a beautiful old barn that has been renovated to hold conferences, weddings, etc. Our audience was made up of Administrative Professionals from WFU, WF-Health Sciences, Novant, UNC School of the Arts and Forsyth Technical Community College. We had 181 attendees.

I have been on the Administrative Professionals Committee, which plans the conference, for 13 years. This year, each attendee at the conference was able to win a door prize!

We had 3 awesome speakers!

Speaker 1 was Nicole Greer

Topic: S.H.I.N.E. Live an Illuminated Life

A VIBRANT LIFE is pulsating with energy and purpose. SHINE is a master plan for goal setting through harnessing strategies, systems, and smarts. This program aims to release your talent like a light to illuminate the dark places where your brilliance is desperately needed in your organization. You will experience a fresh approach to Self-Assessment, take a hard look at your Habits, explore what it means to be in Integrity, articulate Next Right Steps, and take an Energy audit. This proven methodology for coaching creates movement…significant movement.

You lead at work, at home and in the community. You need a structure to support your life as you support your organization’s future. Integrated with stories Nicole provides proven, time-tested, and smart actionable strategies. Nicole speaks directly to the audience in a group-coaching format utilizing tools like the ‘Art of Dialogue’, a technique you can tuck away in your own tool kit.

  • Understand “YOU 101.”
  • Learn about your elemental communication style, see your strengths and challenges, and name them.
  • Get a grip on your unconscious tendencies or habits.
  • Take a deep dice into what it means to be a man or woman of integrity, whole and contributing in a powerful way.
  • Formulate next right steps.
  • Look at energy in a four-fold model that if taken seriously can change everything about your life, your organization, and your future.
  • SHINE is for professionals who know they can do more but feel limited by the organizations challenges with regard to time, money and energy. If you have a dream to contribute your talents, gifts and life to your family, your organization and the greater community in a powerful way, you will be inspired to do more with the untapped potential that lies dormant within. SHINE identifies the obstacles that hold you back and gives you the strategies, systems and smarts to overcome those obstacles.

Speaker 2 was Shayla Herndon-Edmunds

Topic: Stop Telling Me to Breathe!

Have you ever had some severely happy or ironically anxious person tell you “just breathe?” Who has time for that, right?!!! Today, we are bombarded with messages about balance and wellbeing. From gurus and coaches to products and programs, there is no shortage of people telling us how important these things “should” be to us. Some believe that balance and wellbeing are critical to our emotional, spiritual, and physical health, while others believe they don’t exist.

As incredibly busy working professionals who wear multiple hats, while completing multiple tasks, for multiple people, using multiple tools and devices, the idea of focusing our own wellbeing often feels like “another thing to do.” And if you’re like many of us, the very thought of self-care can be overwhelming. While balance and wellbeing may be important, they can only be achieved when we make them for us and about us by recognizing that our needs are specific to us.

Together we will:

  • assess our own needs and priorities,
  • evaluate how well we meet them,
  • created a personal definition of balance and wellbeing; and
  • receive tools for living a more balanced and mindful existence.

We all deserve to live the life we deserve and desire. In reality, most of us have all the tools that we need in order to do so but we use them to help others and very rarely, ourselves. As an administrative professional, I’ve been Guilty of helping others to live their best life while barely attending to my own. And now as a coach, entrepreneur, and a mentor, I’ve committed to helping others discover and define their own sense of balance, which in my case began with two words “me too.”

Speaker 3 was Laura Hamilton

Topic: Time Wasters: They Steal our Lives

Ever finished a day at work and wondered where the time went? Ever tried to finish up “one more thing” and actually completed nothing? Ever wanted to spend a quiet night at home but your youngest child remembers a science project is due tomorrow? Ever noticed you complete things faster the closer to a deadline? Ever wished you could gain control of your world? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you need help eliminating the Time Wasters in your Life! Time Wasters steal any extra bits of time to add more chaos in your day. Topics include:

  1. Eliminating self-distractions and interruptions
  2. Managing text messages and emails
  3. Cleaning up the clutter
  4. Developing a “no” script
  5. Utilizing a list of things to do
  6. Realizing technology does not manage time
  7. Discovering “reflective” time
  8. Developing good time management habits

Chris at the 2016 North Carolina Serials Conference

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 6:10 pm

Several weeks ago, I attended the 2016 North Carolina Serials Conference in Chapel Hill with Steve Kelley. This year is also the conference’s 25th anniversary, and it was celebrated in with a formal program during the lunchtime banquet. Several individuals were recognized for their work that established the conference as well as for their leadership that allowed the conference to grow and expand during that time. This year, nearly 150 attendees from across the state and region attended sessions ranging from visualizing collections data to techniques in cleaning up the metadata for collections.

The keynote speaker was Dorothea Solo, whom I had seen at NASIG’s conference last year, and she was just as provocative today. In her presentation “What If the Internet Had It All?” she again raised the problems related to the curation and preservation of digital objects, adding that this was only getting worse with the passing of each day. However, Ms. Solo postulated that solving the problems of old data should not be left to the younger generations of librarians to solve. Rather, we have to be able to “jumpstart” the change now, establishing the principles that will help the next generation with the challenges that have yet to emerge.

The closing speaker was Rob Ross of NC-LIVE who spoke about “Discovery from the Outside In”. Mr. Ross spoke about the management of libraries from a customer service perspective, with library patrons serving as consumers. He challenged the audience to consider libraries in the broader service economy, knowing that there are some things that libraries excel at on their own while others would require partnerships with outside actors to either create or manage effectively. For this example, he used a recent story in the New York Times about the discovery of gravitational waves to demonstrate how dynamically mixed web content compared with the static, flat content offered on many aggregators. The contrast was striking, and it illustrated how access is a relevant a question to the quality of the content that is being accessed. As the expectations of our consumers continue to rise, so must our own.

Congratulations to the North Carolina Serials Conference, and here’s to twenty-five more years of asking those larger questions.

Susan @ CNI Spring Membership Meeting

Thursday, April 14, 2016 3:11 pm


I was excited for the opportunity to attend my first CNI meeting recently. The fact that it was held in San Antonio was a bonus! The meeting venue was a hotel right along the Riverwalk and the spring weather combined to make for a lovely 3 days.

Since I had never attended CNI before, I took advantage of the new attendee session to get the lay of the land. I learned that CNI has 200 member organization and it is funded entirely out of membership dues. It was founded in 1990 as a joint initiative between ARL and EDUCAUSE (maybe it was EDUCOM in those days?). It has moved past its original goal around mainstreaming the Internet and now addresses a broad range of of issues surrounding the use of those technologies in the more nuanced scholarly/teaching/learning landscape today. Its goals fall into 4 main categories – policy and advocacy; organization, preservation and management of content; the learning spaces needed and used by organizations and institutions; and technical issues (standards, infrastructure, bet practices). The framework of the semi-annual meetings is 2 plenary sessions with a full day of project briefings (presentations by members).

The first project briefing I attended was a presentation by Roger Schonfeld and Christine Wolff from Ithaka S+R. This is the group we will be working with to deploy a faculty survey this fall. They were reporting the results of their most recent (2015) national faculty survey. These results are what we will use to compare against our local results. The 2015 report had just been released that morning so the audience was very engaged in discussing the results. Key findings were:

  • Discovery starting points remain in flux
  • Interest in supporting students and their competencies and learning outcomes show signs of surging
  • Faculty members prefer to be self-reliant in their data management and preservation processes
  • There is no observable trend towards a format transition for monographs
  • Traditional scholarly incentives continue to motivate behaviors around research and its dissemination

A session on the textbook revolution (Alison Armstrong, Ohio State; Steven Bell, Temple University; Kevin Stranack, Simon Fraser University) discussed the odd role that libraries have traditionally had in regard to textbooks on campuses but focused on how libraries can play a part in the issue of textbook affordability through campus partnerships. Check out the abstract and the presentation slides for more details.

Tuesday I focused on sessions that revolved around space. I got to hear about learning environments developed at Clemson Libraries – a learning commons opened in 2010, Brown Room (2013) and their Adobe Digital Studio. Their use of corporate partnerships was interesting to consider. I was very intrigued with their GIS augmented reality sandbox. Danianne Mizzy and Aiya Williams gave a presentation on Be a Maker @ UNC. Be a Maker is “a campus-wide network that nurtures making at UNC-Chapel Hill in support of teaching, learning, research, and innovation by providing educational initiatives that engage and blend diverse communities, including first generation college students, in experiential learning through design thinking and design processes.” I enjoyed learning the pedagogical goal – that learning happens best when learners construct their understanding through a process of constructing things to share with others. I was introduced to authorship learning. This framework helped me better understand the academic potential for makerspaces. The final space related session was a presentation by Alison Armstrong from Ohio State about their research commons that just opened at the beginning of 2016. The target users of this commons are advanced researchers. Since this is similar to ideas that we have been developing, I am hopeful we can find some valuable aspects to explore.

As you can see from some of my links, abstracts and presentations are available from the CNI site, so I plan to browse through them to see the gist of sessions I couldn’t attend. There was no shortage of good solid content and I was glad I had the chance to go.


Sarah at the Empirical Librarians Conference

Thursday, April 14, 2016 1:29 pm

I recently attended the Empirical Librarians Conference at N.C. A&T State University Library. Among the many concurrent sessions that I attended, I will highlight the most relevant topics that I can apply to my future work.

“Teaching Mendeley in the Sciences”

Since faculty have asked me to teach Mendeley to graduate students, I’m participating in the Mendeley Librarian Certification Program this year. Emma Oxford is a Science Librarian who incorporates Mendeley into library instruction sessions for students at Rollins College. It was great to network and discuss some of the issues that can come up when teaching Mendeley.

“Altmetrics Context Analysis: Numbers are Not Everything”

I’ve been interested in the evolving areas of bibliometrics and altmetrics, took a continuing education course on research metrics, and co-presented with Molly Keener a few years ago. Shenmeng Xu is a doctoral student at UNC-SILS, and her presentation on altmetrics was especially informative. She recommended the following resources, some of which were new to me:

Overall, it was a great one-day local conference, and I hope to attend again in the future.

ILLiad Conference 2016 Virginia Beach

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 11:57 am

March 17th. Where I attended the 2016 ILLiad Conference on Virginia Beach, VA. from Tuesday, March 15, through Thursday there were over 335 attendees at the conference. This was my second experience at the ILLiad conference, and I wanted to share a few things, including updated information about the ILLiad software.

Mary Sauer-Games, Vice President, Product Management, OCLC presented on Wednesday morning about “Interlibrary Loan in the Life of Your Users”. She talked about millennials and generation X. How millennials (Born 1977- present) spend more time on mobile/ electronic devices, how these users are requesting more materials electronic then the actual physical hard copy. Where the generation X (born 1965 – 1976) prefers the hard copy, paper copy of materials.

In addition to attending several sessions, the most memorable were presented by Kurt Munson, Northwestern University “Half the Work: Circulating Lending and Borrowing Request from ILLiad in Alma Using NCIP. He explains how they checkout and update all their materials in one system where we now have to update in ILLiad and check out in voyager. Kurt explains how circulation interchange protocol z allows for the exchange of an ILLiad supports for NCIP message to create a brief record, then it allows you update both records. This also applies to the borrowing check in.
Another relevant session Stan Huzarewicz, University of Connecticut “Stop saying “No”: Improving Fill rates and Reducing Lending Denials in Interlibrary Loan. He talked about how his library conditional there requests instead of saying “no”. How after carefully verifying request if unable to fill they will conditional the request to the requesting library, This request is not showing unfilled by his Library.

I also enjoyed networking and meeting new people and hearing about their workflow and how they daily operation is at their university.

Social Justice and Disability Workshop

Monday, April 4, 2016 9:46 pm

On Thursday, March 31, the Learning Assistance Center/Disability Services office sponsored a day long workshop entitled “Reframing Disability and Creating Inclusive Environments”. The meeting included interested parties from all across campus, from facilities, to athletics, to student services, and many representatives from the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Amanda Krause, a faculty member from the University of Arizona and an advocate of the disabled, was the dynamic speaker who kept us engaged and challenged our perceptions, expectations, and beliefs throughout the day.

Through lecture, discussion and small group work, we uncovered much of the bias that has existed that kept disabled individuals as “special” cases. Using historical images and images from media, she discussed how people who are blind, deaf, wheelchair users, etc have always been made to seem “less than” and pitied, requiring extra help and service. Even charitable works like telethons and penny drives, while well-intentioned, still had, as a consequence, perpetuated that notion that those people are “separate” and “special”. The real problem she identified is that environments are not built to be inclusive enough to all people. In fact the implementation of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 resulted in a cultural shift whereby those responsible for the built environment sought out just what is the least that needed to be done to be compliant, undermining the spirit of the law entirely. In actuality, using the principles of Universal Design, no disabled individuals need accommodation. If everything is designed to account for the challenges of those that are in a wheelchair, blind, hearing impaired, or otherwise disabled, then no special accommodations would need to be made. Accommodations are made for individuals to fit into a poorly designed system. It is expensive and requires many special inputs to make these fixes. Creating environments that are inclusive will repair existing limitations and provide equality for everyone. (The attendees from Disability Services mentioned that they are constantly working to put themselves out of a job!) If you are interested in the topic, I encourage you to review her powerpoint, and I’ll be happy to discuss it further with you. It was an enlightening day.



Steve at North Carolina Serials Conference 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016 12:35 pm

On March 21st, Chris and I got up really early (can’t say “bright and early” because it was before sunrise) and went to Chapel Hill for the 25th North Carolina Serials Conference. While there were a number of interesting sessions (including one on using the free tool OpenRefine to manipulate metadata), I’m going to focus on just one session, which I think might be of the most general interest to everyone in the library, because it doesn’t just focus on serials or metadata. The session, presented by Megan Kilb and Matt Jansen of UNC-Chapel Hill, was called “Visualizing Collections Data: Why Pie Charts Aren’t Always the Answer,” and it offered tips and advice on how to present data.

The presentation grew out of their need to evaluate the TRLN consortial deal on Springer e-resources. They found that pie charts aren’t always (actually are almost never) the best way to present data, which matches research that has shown pie charts to be sub-optimal for human comprehension. Pie charts get confusing if they have more than 4 or 5 categories, they treat everything as a proportion, they make readers have to compare areas/angles, and the values are only available via labels.

Research into the accuracy of human interpretation of graphical data is on a continuum. The most intelligible graphical data from most accurate to least accurate is:

  1. Position
  2. Length
  3. Angle/Slope
  4. Area
  5. Volume
  6. Color/Density

With this info in mind, alternatives to the pie chart might be the bar chart (because length is easier to perceive), or a simple table (if you have only a few values to consider). Regarding other graphical representations of data, if you have a graph, be aware that backgrounds, particularly lines, can be distracting. Lines and other detail can make it hard to read values of dots on the lines. Stacked charts (charts with multiple jagged lines, each representing different values) can also be problematic, because there may be confusion over what the overall height of columns mean. They require the user to do visual math, which is difficult. Alternatives to this might be to make lines next to each other (rather than on top of each other), or represent each line as a slope, which emphasizes different rates of change.

In addition to attending the conference, I also represented NASIG (as Past President) at our sponsor table, giving out literature and talking up the organization.

Steve, Jeff, and Amanda at LAUNC-CH

Thursday, March 31, 2016 12:27 pm

On Friday, March 18th, Amanda, Jeff, and Steve visited Chapel Hill to attend the LAUNC-CH Conference. This is an annual conference put on by the librarians at UNC-Chapel Hill and features breakout sessions on a variety of topics related to all aspects of academic librarianship.

Keynote Address: Makerspaces in Libraries (Amanda)

The Keynote Address was delivered by Peter Wardrip, a learning scientist from the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum, who spoke to us about makerspaces. Wardrip led an upcoming project to create a framework for supporting learning in makerspaces, and he gave us a sneak peak of that framework:

  • Purpose – refers to determining makerspace goals. Who is the audience? What does success look like? In terms of success, Wardrip emphasized quality of experience over number of people served.
  • People – Wardrip argued that makerspaces need to be more than just putting a tool on a table to be successful. He highlighted the need to have dedicated people in the makerspace, preferably people with pedagogical experience. Even though people are expensive, the value in a makerspace comes from the teaching/mentorship.
  • Pieces and Parts – refer to being intentional about tools and materials. Wardrip argued that too many people rush out and buy a 3D printer when it doesn’t fit in with their program’s goals.

Wardrip also gave examples of how different makerspaces are measuring learning/value. An example of this being done well is the Tinkering Studio, which measures on five different dimensions of learning, which can be observed/reported on in the makerspace.

Map-a-thons, Edit-a-thons, and Transcribe-a-thons at UNC (Amanda)

Many of us are likely familiar with Wikipedia edit-a-thons, but GIS map-a-thons and special collections transcribe-a-thons were completely new to me. All of these initiatives work to get students and other library patrons involved in open knowledge creation. The map-a-thon used OpenSteetMaps to create openly available maps of parts of the world where no accurate maps currently exist. The transcribe-a-thon transcribing hand-written documents from the special collections for accessibility. Both of these projects were creative and unique. Personally, I was very excited to hear about UNC’s experience putting on an edit-a-thon through Wikipedia. I’m planning to have my students edit Wikipedia later this semester, so it was great to meet the librarians involved afterwards to get some first-hand accounts of their experiences.

Book + Art = Snowball (Jeff)

This is a topic I knew absolutely nothing about, i.e. the best kind of topic. Artists’ books are works of art that take the form of books. Josh Hockensmith from UNC-Chapel Hill talked about his library and Duke’s joint 2010 effort to stage exhibitions of artists’ books from their collections in a series called “Book + Art.” The benefits of partnership on a project like this range from expanded audience to shared cost/labor to greater diversity of expertise. An unplanned outcome of the events was the organic development of a local community centered around common interest the book arts, which eventually came to be known as Triangle Book Arts (TBA). This group in turn increased awareness of the artists’ books held by both UNC and Duke’s Special Collections departments: a win on all sides. And yes, we have some fascinating artists’ books of our own, right here at ZSR.

Archiving for Artists: Outreach and Empowerment (Jeff)

Elizabeth Grab, a graduate student from UNC-Chapel hill, presented on a day-long workshop called Archiving for Artists, which gathered area artists in an effort to empower them to develop best practices for archiving the products of their studio activities. Attendees were instructed in the fundamentals of digitization, organization, storage, etc. The hope of the organizers was that the workshop might serve as a model for similar workshops to be held around the country in a larger effort to encourage artists to document their work and their careers.

Libraries Unbounded: Partnering With Carolina ADMIRES to Expose High School Students to Scientific Research in a Library Setting (Steve)

UNC-Chapel Hill’s Amy Oldenburg and Therese Triumph, a physics professor and a science librarian, respectively, discussed their involvement in a grant funded program to get 8th and 9th grade students involved in the STEM disciplines, particularly encouraging gender and racial diversity. The program began last year with 20 students, who participated in two hour sessions twice a month for a semester. The students were put into pairs and matched with a mentor from the science departments or medical school at UNC. Each mentor was trained in working with high school age kids. About half the time of the sessions was spent in the lab, which had to be set up to be safe for high school age children. The students developed a research project, ending with a capstone research presentation. The students had to be taught the fundamentals of information literacy, because their initial impulse was to rely on Google and Wikipedia for their research, and they didn’t evaluate the credibility of their sources. One important lesson learned by the programmers was that some of the students did not have access to home computers and had to rely on their smart phones for research and staying in email contact with their mentors. The programming for the second year is taking this into account.

Programming on The Edge (Amanda)

This session informed us about the many new outreach activities taking place at Duke’s recently re-designed space called “The Edge.” No, not that Edge. This Edge. Most interesting to me was the Long Night Against Procrastination — an outreach event that has been successfully done at several other academic libraries. The LNAP takes place during finals week, late at night, much like our Wake the Library event. Library staff were there to provide snacks, games, and other activities related to campus wellness. Duke’s unique take on this was to partner with other academic support staff, like the tutors from the writing center. Writing consultations with three different tutors were booked solid for the four hours they were offered. This sounded like an excellent collaboration and perhaps an opportunity for us to explore in the future.

Researching Reynolda: Teaming up with a Campus Institution to Teach Students Research (Jeff)

Our own Amanda Foster presented on her experience with a project in which she instructed her students to choose some aspect of Reynolda House to research for her LIB100 class, using the house and museum, essentially, as their primary sources. Unforeseen difficulties arose when students chose the very worthy topic of the lives of African-American domestic workers at Reynolda House. The archival record, and Reynolda House’s public persona (can a house have a persona?), were disappointingly quiet on the topic. In the end Amanda was able to use this as a teaching moment; both for herself and for her students. I’ll limit my praise here, but Amanda really gave one of the more interesting conference presentations I’ve seen in awhile, making great use of visuals from Reynolda House’s rich history and a compelling narrative structure. And for the record, she went out of her way to praise Reynolda House and its excellent staff. She did ZSR and Wake Forest proud.

Maintaining the Vision: Managing Digitization Projects

Tuesday, March 29, 2016 10:01 am

Although successful digitization projects are developed collaboratively, Leigh Grinstead says that the project manager is the main person responsible for maintaining the vision of the project. This was my key takeaway after last week’s webinar, “Project Management and Workflow for Digitization Projects.”

“It’s that project manager that holds on to the vision, and uses it as the ultimate motivator,” she said. “You need to act as the project’s advocate. You will also need to consider everyone’s expectations.”

This was my second Lyrasis webinar hosted by Grinstead. The 2-hour webinar focused on the project manager’s responsibility in making sure a digitization project’s vision comes to fruition. This includes meeting the expectations of supervisors, staff and stakeholders.

What also stood out to me is that most of the webinar participants did not have a digitization mission statement at their organization. Grinstead said that this is common. Some stated that they were currently in the process of creating one. Several examples of a digitization mission statement from various university libraries across the U.S. were presented in the webinar. Some were short and concise. Others were more extensive in detail.


Those new to project management or management positions in general were introduced to the idea of “doing” versus “managing.” Grinstead said that this is one of the hardest transitions a first-time manager undertakes, in addition to determining what their management style should be.

Figuring out your management style, she said, will depend on the institutional culture and the personality of the staff. For example, a manager with only volunteer staff may have a more flexible management style than they would with paid staff–or in my case, student assistants. Also, thinking about past supervisors regarding what you liked most and/or least about their management style is a great way to determine your management style, she said.


Of course, having the proper hardware and software for digitization projects is important. Grinstead said that she visited many institutions that do not have digital image collection management software in place, such as DSpace. These institutions are in the beginning stages of their digitization program, and some even outsource their projects to vendors.

I liked the concept of performing a pilot project for exceptionally large digitization projects that are to be completed in-house. This was explained by digitizing just one-fourth of the project in order to examine all elements of the project and overall budget costs, and to see if it is worth going forward with completing the entire project.

Budgeting typically includes staff, which in many cases is the largest part of the budget. But Grinstead said that most cultural heritage institutions frequently have difficulty considering overall staffing expenses in their overall costs.

“Things will happen”

As with all things dealing with technology Grinstead said “things will happen.” Most of us are aware of typical setbacks regarding hardware and software malfunction. She also reminded us to have plans in place for the unforeseen, such as bad weather storms and even staff departures.


Much of what was covered in the workflow portion of the webinar was discussed in her previous webinar. So this part of the webinar was more so a refresher. But it was interesting how she raised the idea of incorporating a pilot project within the workflow.

For instance, incorporating a pilot project can help estimate the time it will take within key workflow steps such as adding metadata, performing quality control, digitization, editing, and creating derivatives (access files, thumbnails, etc.). Knowing this will provide an ever better estimate of how long the entire project will take.

Currently we use Trello to keep track of our projects’ workflow. Webinar participants listed other software that they use including Microsoft Project, ProcessMaker, Smartsheet and even Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

“Having something, anything to organize and begin that process is important,” Grinstead said.

Leslie at MLA 2016

Monday, March 14, 2016 8:08 pm

This year’s meeting of the Music Library Association was held in Cincinnati, where, during breaks and receptions, we enjoyed 1920s tunes performed by members of the Cincinnati Opera, and by MLA’s own big band, in the Netherland Plaza Hotel’s beautifully-restored 1930 Art Deco ballroom.


It has long been recognized that America’s conservatories and orchestras remain overwhelmingly white (less than 5% of students in music schools are non-Asian minorities). While administrators of these institutions are currently struggling to rectify the situation, libraries (it was noted at the MLA meeting) have a chance to be an exemplar. In a joint project with ARL called the Diversity & Inclusion Initiative, MLA has supported internships and fellowships for MLIS students with music backgrounds to work in music libraries. The diversity aimed for includes not just race/ethnicity, but also gender, marital status, disabilities, etc. In the opening plenary session, we heard from some of the former fellows. Benefits that were particularly appreciated included the visibility and recognition acquired while a student, which subsequently opened doors to professional opportunities; peer mentors (previous fellows) who provided ongoing support with entry into the profession, and after; and help with the hidden costs of college (additional fees, textbooks, etc.) for which first-generation students are often unprepared. Difficulties encountered included locating sources of help – one fellow reported “cold calling” random MLA members before discovering the DII program. This prompted a discussion, during the Q&A, on how the program could be better publicized.

On a similar outreach note, MLA (whose membership encompasses North America – U.S. and Canada) plans to invite Latin American colleagues to next year’s meeting in Orlando, billing it a Pan-American conference.


MLA’s initiatives in this field:

  • Two new thesauri have been published in the past year — for medium-of-performance terms (LCMGT), and for music genre/form terms (LCGFT) – along with best-practices documents for both.
  • Involvement in LD4L (Linked Data for Libraries), a collaborative project of Cornell, Harvard, and Stanford.
  • The NACO Music Project, working on authority data.
  • A Bibframe Task Force, which is undertaking various projects to enhance the new encoding schema to meet music users’ needs.

We heard about other projects that member libraries have done to enhance discoverability of special collections:

The Linked Jazz Project, best known for its visualizations, is based on data extracted from oral-history transcripts in numerous jazz archives. The data is then converted to RDF triples reflecting relationships between jazz artists (x talks about y; y knows of x). The data is enhanced via crowdsourcing. The developers hope others will use the LJ data to build additional linked-data sets: mashing LJ data with performances at Carnegie Hall is one such project; another is unearthing female jazz artists (neglected in traditional jazz histories) by enriching LJ data with other sources such as DBpedia, MusicBrainz, and VIAF (the international authority file).

Colleagues at Michigan State used Discogs (a crowdsourced, expert-community-reviewed database of metadata on pop music recordings) to process a gift collection of 1200 LPs of Romani music, which also included pop music containing Gypsy stereotypes. They hope to use this collection as a pilot to develop a process for a much larger corporate gift of 800,000 pop recordings and videos. They were able to extract data directly from the Discogs website using Discogs’ API (which outputs in JSON – they used Python to convert the JSON to XML and then MARCXML). Cataloging challenges included: dealing with usage differences between Discogs’ “release” and RDA’s “manifestation”; similarly, between Discogs’ “roles” for artists and RDA’s “relationship designators”; and mapping Discogs’ genres and subgenres to LC’s genre/form terms and medium-of-performance terms, supplementing with LC subject headings as needed. Discogs’ strengths: expertise in languages (from its international contributor community) and in obsolete formats; and the ability to link to the Discogs entry from the library catalog. Our presenters plan to propose to the Discogs community indexing the UPC (universal product code, the barcodes on CDs); a similar resource, MusicBrainz, does this.

A third project, at Cornell, was ultimately unsuccessful, but also illustrates the variety of data resources and tools that people are trying to link up. For a collection of hip-hop flyers, they constructed RDF triples using data from MusicBrainz, ArtStor, and Cornell’s existing metadata on the related events etc. They chose Bibframe for their encoding schema, and compiled an ontology from Getty’s AAT vocabulary, various music and event ontologies, and Reconciliation of names from all these sources was done using the open-source analytics tool OpenRefine. The problems developed as they came to feel that Bibframe did not meet their test for describing flyers; they decided to abandon it in favor of LD4L. Reconciliation of names also proved more problematic than expected.


In a session on music discovery requirements, colleagues noted two things that current ILSs and discovery layers are not good at: showing hierarchies (for instance, making available additional search terms in thesauri, ontologies, etc.); and mapping multiple physical formats to one title (for multi-media items, such as a book issued with a disc, or a score with a recording, or a CD with a DVD – in most interfaces, the content of the second piece will not be retrieved under a format-facet search).

A presenter from Stanford proposed facet displays that include drop-down menus showing a relevant thesaurus, allowing users to further narrow to a subgenre, for instance. For music, the newly-developed medium-of-performance thesaurus, if displayed with multiple search instances, could enable musicians to enter all the instruments in their ensemble, and retrieve music for that specific combination of instruments. Also discussed were domain-specific search interfaces, such as the ones done by UVA for music and videos. Needless to say, there are potential applications for other disciplines.

Colleagues at East Carolina have made use of Blacklight to map multiple physical formats to the same title.

2008 North Carolina Serials Conference
2008 ONIX for Serials Webinar
2008 Open Access Day
2008 SPARC Digital Repositories
2008 Tri-IT Meeting
2009 Big Read
2009 code4lib
2009 Educause
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