Professional Development

Carolyn at ALA Annual 2015

Monday, July 13, 2015 7:51 am

When I first heard ALA Annual 2015 was going to be held in San Francisco, I knew this was one ALA I did not want to skip. Having been once before with my husband at one of his conferences, I was excited to return to this beautiful, historic, and exciting city. Those three adjectives could not have rung truer than on June 26, 2015, the day the SCOTUS declared marriage equality for all to be the law of the land! Such a beautiful day!

Moscone Convention Center


Annual 2015 began with me attending my first ever all-day preconference, which was sponsored by ALCTS (Association for Library Collections & Technical Services), OLAC (Online Audiovisual Catalogers), and the Video Round Table. Video Demystified: Cataloging with Best Practices Guides presented attendees with an overview on cataloging video recordings using RDA (Resource Description and Access), MARC21, and the recently published (January 2015) best practices cataloging guides for DVD/Blu-ray discs and streaming media. Because most of my work is DVD cataloging, I found the preconference especially worthwhile and informative as this was the first officially (i.e. ALA, OCLC, Library of Congress) sponsored face-to-face training I’ve received on RDA cataloging. Most of my DVD cataloging with RDA education has been through watching webinars (not the most useful), utilizing an online guide developed by Stanford University’s metadata department (very helpful) and the RDA Toolkit, and review of the ZSR RDA Workshop LibGuide created by Leslie McCall as well as consultation with her and Steve Kelley to clarify issues with RDA. Attendees participated in guided exercises and took home a workbook that contained all of the day’s presented PowerPoint slides.

While at ALA, I attended 4 ACRL Anthropology and Sociology Section (ANSS) sponsored meetings/sessions: the Subject and Bibliographic Access Committee (SBAC) of which I chair; the Executive Committee meeting; the Libraries behind Bars: Education and Outreach to Prisoners program that was co-sponsored with ACRL’s Law and Political Science Section (LPSS) and Literatures in English Section (LES); and the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. I was unable to attend the ANSS Social due to having to attend the editorial board dinner for Technical Services Quarterly (TSQ); Steve Kelley and I are the new co-editors of the journal’s book reviews column. We dined at the Stinking Rose: a Garlic Restaurant, where I got to try delicious garlic ice-cream (another first).

Social Justice Librarianship: Focus on Ferguson & Black Lives Matter was the topic discussed at the Anthropology Librarians Discussion Group. Librarians Makiba Foster (Washington University in St. Louis) and Niamh Wallace (University of Arizona) spoke about their roles as academic librarians in helping the Black Lives Matter movement.

Observing a lack of quality information and misinformation pertaining to the police shooting of Michael Brown and the events taking place in Ferguson, Missouri, Ms. Foster created the FaceBook page Resource List on Policing and Community Protest which contains specific categorized lists for a variety of topics (e.g. policing, grief & trauma, community protest & unrest, personal rights, and local community organizations). Two weeks after its posting, the university gave the green light to post it as a LibGuide. The digital repository Documenting Ferguson (DF) followed. The DF project team was comprised of members from several library units (e.g. special collections, copyright, reference, etc.) who wanted to assist in the preservation of their regional and national history. Ms. Foster’s role was to seek out community engagement for content. She partnered with an African American Women’s History professor whose sophomore seminar students (1/2 her class) developed interview questions and conducted oral histories of individuals living in Ferguson or the areas particularly affected by the protests and unrest, many of whom worked at the university. Specific community activists were interviewed also. Interviewees were selected based on their response to a faculty call out by the library, each signed a participant consent form. The oral histories captured in the digital repository include the interviewees’ names so that researchers would know that all persons interviewed actually lived in Ferguson. Ms. Foster admitted that content from the oral histories was one-sided as individuals with opposing views (i.e. supporters of Darren Wilson) were not interviewed for the project. She also stated that some people wanted no association with the DF project due to potential backlash, although they were proud to be working on the project. The digital repository for this particular project is semi-anonymous as some participant uploaded content is traceable only by an email address. Digital stations are being set up to capture images. There is a need to employ one person working solely on this large project, and grant funding is being investigated She closed by saying that the library will soon be preparing for 1 year memorials and commemorative events; a regional meeting is in the works to discuss collecting efforts; and marketing strategies to increase participation will be reassessed.

At Ms. Wallace’s institution, she also created a LibGuide to Ferguson resources for instructional purposes. Consent from the university’s IRB was unnecessary. Liaisons whose subject areas were relevant to the creation of this resource were asked to solicit feedback from their faculty. The LibGuide was used as a resource listing for a Black Life Matters Conference held on campus this past January. No negative feedback was received, and Ms. Wallace stated that she is not trying to capture opposing viewpoints in this research guide. More work is being done to update the guide with information about the recent June 17th church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina.

Other sessions I attended included

  • Maryanne Wolf’s Lessons from the Reading Brain: 3 Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age, which Lauren so aptly covered in her blog post
  • 2 sessions on linked data: Getting Started with Library Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU, on which Lauren again reported, and the Linked Library Data Interest Group. The interest group session was comprised of a panel of 2 speakers. Kristi Holmes (Northwestern Medicine) provided an overview on the Cornell-developed open source semantic web application, VIVO, was presented. VIVO harvests data from verified institution data sources, and allows institutions to showcase their researchers’ credentials, expertise, and skills. A VIVO institution’s library can provide its faculty product education, training, and adoption utilizing liaison outreach, ontology and controlled vocabulary expertise, negotiating with data providers, programming and technical expertise. Cornell’s Steven Folsom reported on the Linked Data 4 Libraries Mellon funded grant between Cornell, Stanford and Harvard. One can search for works by individuals and discover additional works of interest based on connections to other people. Utilization of URIs in MARC records that align with VIVO can enhance an academic library’s catalog. Cornell has rolled out an authority browse in their Blacklight catalog. Using 3xx field data in his authority file generates data and provides context about him and what what he does professionally. Theses advisors’ names appearing in a MARC 700 Personal Name field can now be enhanced with VIVO URIs. A post-processor to provide entity resolution of URIs is required for the evolving BIBFRAME. A limit of its ontology, this means that linked data within the BIBFRAME platform cannot have multiple URIs for an individual. BIBFRAME RDF still makes heavy use of strings which are a dead end for linked data.
  • Resource Discovery in the Age of Wikipedia: Jake Orbwitz and Alex Stinson, both of The Wikipedia Library, shared reasons why Wikipedia matters for librarians and various ways in which librarians can become involved in Wikipedia. In addition to adding information and citations from a library’s collections, librarians can teach “Wikipedia as a Starting Point” workshops, run an editathon, and donate images. Libraries can also sponsor a Wikipedia Visiting Scholar to create quality content for Wikipedia using their individual institution’s resources.

After my last Monday session at ALA, Lauren, Derrik and I took a bus to tour the Internet Archive (IA) founded by Brewster Kahle. Housed in a former Christian Science church, the IA’s mission and purpose is to provide free access to collections of digital materials. The Wayback Machine, a digital archive of the World Wide Web, was created by the IA. Such an impressive place and leader.

Brewster Kahle stands in front of the Internet Archive’s server, which is housed in the church sanctuary.

Touring the basement of the IA with Brewster. In the background, IA employees digitize video materials

Clock in IA basement.

Hanging in the IA's basement is an animation cel of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and their WABAC Machine, which was used to transport the two back in time to visit important, historic events.

Hanging in the IA’s basement is an animation cel of Mr. Peabody and Sherman and their WABAC Machine, which was used to transport the two back in time to visit important, historic events.

In closing, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wonderful dinner organized by Susan of past and present ZSR colleagues. It was great catching up with Lauren Pressley and Erik Mitchell, and Erik’s partner Jeff Loo. Also worth mentioning is the fabulous final dinner in San Francisco that Susan and I had at Burma Superstar. All in all this was a great ALA, and I hope I get another chance to visit San Francisco in the near future.







Steve at ALA Annual 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015 5:15 pm

This year’s ALA in San Francisco was, in some ways, an usual conference for me, while in other ways, it was the same thing as always. The unusual part was that I flew out with Mimi and Shane the Saturday before the conference started and had nearly a week of vacation before the conference began. The usual part was actually the conference itself, because once again, my conference activity was consumed with committee work and BIBFRAME and RDA stuff.

Like Lauren, I attended the BIBFRAME Update Forum, but I had some different takeaways, which I’ll share. The first speaker, Sally McCallum from Library of Congress, described how LC has their catalogers experimenting with inputting BIBFRAME descriptions, keeping the records in a triple store. They have found that it is not easy to transform MARC data into BIBFRAME data, and are looking to see if the BIBFRAME dichotomy between work and instance records is clear and useful for catalogers. At present, they are focusing on how catalogers can search the data. They are not looking at end user searching, they are not doing acquisitions processing, they are not managing holdings and circulation using BIBFRAME, and they are not even looking at how they’d go about distributing records. So, it’s very early days for them. They do have 19 million former MARC descriptions redone as BIBFRAME works and instances, which is an awful lot of data to work with. Despite the fact that LC still has so much work to do with BIBFRAME, Beecher Wiggins of LC said that their plan is to have data ready to be broadly distributed in five years. We’ll have to see. As Lauren mentioned, the forum also featured brief presentations by ILS companies to discuss how they are preparing for BIBFRAME. The main thing I got from each of them is that they are all working on training among their staff and they’re all listening to/asking questions of customers to see what kind of things they’d like to see in a BIBFRAME-based system.

During the conference I also attended a total of seven hours of meetings (split across two sessions) of CC:DA (Catalog Committee for Description and Access), the committee that develops ALA’s official position on RDA. Normally, these meetings are super inside-baseball and of no interest to anyone who isn’t really into RDA rule, but there were three pretty interesting things to share out. (Trust me there was plenty of super-inside baseball stuff at these meetings, like the seemingly never-ending discussion of a 154 page report on machine-actionable data.) This stuff may still be too inside-cataloging for most folks, but I’ll take a stab at describing it:

1. The Library of Congress Authority File is going to get a massive automated re-vamp thanks the wizardry of Gary Strawn at Northwestern University (who our own Kathy Martlock worked with on a project…brush with fame!). These changes will not involve changing the 1XX or heading fields, but will involve adding lots of good stuff to the attribute fields that enrich the descriptions of authorized headings. Over 3.5 million authority records will have ISNIs added to them, which I know will make Lauren quite happy. This project was described as a “heart transplant” for the LC authority file.

2. The Functional Requirements models, FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records), FRAD (Functional Requirements for Authority Data), and FRSAD (Functional Requirements for Subject Authority Data), are being consolidated and will have major revisions in the next couple of years. That means that the conceptual models that underlying RDA will be going through major revisions, which are pretty much guaranteed to have major impacts on RDA.

3. The governance structure for RDA is going to become more international and is going to be entirely revamped. Back when we had AACR2, pretty much whatever the US and the UK said was it. Which made sense, because AACR2 stood for “Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 2nd ed.” But RDA is trying to be more international. So, the proposed plan is to have an RDA Board, which will consist of six representatives, one each from North America, Latin America & the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. We’ll have to see how this develops, but it could have a major change in how much input ALA has on RDA.

Okay, that’s probably enough conference stuff for now. On our last night in town, Jeff and I joined Thomas, who still had another night to go, taking in an A’s game in Oakland. Although the stadium is a concrete bunker with all the charm of a parking garage, it was quite fun. The stadium is also the home of the Oakland Raiders, and the huge Raiders banner at the front gate that read “A Commitment to Excellence” had Jeff and me wondering if this was meant as some sort of Northern California hipster irony. But the big Athletics sign across the seats was kinda cool.

MBL at ALA15 in SF

Thursday, July 9, 2015 5:17 pm

This ALA Annual in San Francisco marked a high water mark in my ALA going experience. I was happy to present a poster session as the final assignment as chair of ZSR’s Assessment in Action team, and I did so along side of Meghan Webb, my fellow AiA team member. Assessment in Action is an ACRL grant funded program whose purpose is to build capacity in Academic Libraries to conduct high level assessment projects that will demonstrate the value of the library to the larger institution.

Our project focused on finding out how students define a successful year, and determining if the library was truly helping them to meet their goals. (Since our mission is to help students, faculty and staff succeed, this seemed a logical question to pursue.) The poster session was very busy. Many of the attendees, admittedly, were either past or future participants in the Assessment in Action project. (Assessment in Action is a three year project, and I applied for and was granted the opportunity to participate in the Year 2 cohort.) I heard positive feedback about our process, namely our decision to have students define success themselves, instead of using some academic definition like their position in class, or their GPA. We also heard positive comments of our use of graphics on our poster. Many of the year 3 Assessment in Action participants made note of the infographic we used to define our conclusions, and found it a powerful way to create meaning while minimizing text. Year 3 participants hoped to use such a method in their own poster a year from now. I appreciated having had the opportunity to chair such a vibrant and engaged team that included Meghan Webb, Le’Ron Byrd our former ZSR fellow, John Champlin of the Professional Development Center, Ryan Shirey of the Writing Center, and Glenda Boyles from the Bridge.

In attending sessions, my experience was better this year than previous years, either because I’m better and sussing out what will be the most helpful sessions to attend, or maybe sessions were just better overall. The sessions were quite varied, though, so “themes” are difficult to identify. I’ll give my biggest takeaways here.

Gems from Gloria Steinem’s opening keynote:

Gloria Steinem started her speech by reading a segment from her book My Life on the Road. She spent most of the time with the attendees answering questions that they posed. Among her best quotes:

–“The truth will set you free–but first it’s going to piss you off”

–“The single greatest stimulus to the economy our country could ever have is equal pay.”

–“The paradigm of ‘most violent societies’ is also the paradigm of strict heirarchy.”

–“The voting booth is the only place on earth where the richest people have no more power than the poorest people.”

–“Laughter is the only free emotion. So don’t go anywhere you can’t laugh. In fact, libraries should put up signs that say ‘No talking/but laughter is OK!'”

In responding to someone who said “I’m humbled to be in your presence,” she said “But I’m here to make you not humbled!”

She also recommended two books Sex and World Peace (which ZSR owns as an ebook) and The Mermaid and the Minataur (which ZSR owns in print.)


Whenever I am at ALA or ACRL I always seek out opportunities to sit in on any session that Lisa Hinchcliffe (form ACRL president, AiA team leader, Coordinator for Information Literacy Services and Instruction at the University of Illinois) is giving. This conference she presented as a part of a panel discussion entitled “All the Data: Privacy, Service Quality and Analytics.” Her co-presenter was Andrew Asher from Indiana University. They each had strong but different perspectives of the amount of data we keep about our users and what we should do about it. Lisa’s position was that we should be open and honest with users about what we keep and why, but not actively keep no data, since the recognizing patterns in the data allows us to improve services. Andrew was of the opinion that libraries should keep the absolute minimum data about users, even if it means we sacrifice the ability to improve services. Both interesting perspectives! The one point both agreed upon is that academic libraries, in order to ethically manage data and be responsible to our patrons, need to investigate and contractually agree upon exactly what data our vendors are keeping about our patrons every time they use information in one of their databases. “If you can’t control it, disclose it” became the mantra. Also, only track that information which you might care to analyze. If you won’t be analyzing data to improve services, don’t track it at all.

Merging public services desks:

Another very interesting session I went to was entitled “To Merge or not to Merge?” Three libraries gave their perspectives on the success/failure of a merging operations that had been in separate desks into a single service point. I’ve been to many of these sorts of sessions over the years hoping to gain some insight into what could be a very difficult transition in co-locating disparate services, even in such a friendly place as ZSR. This one was refreshing in its candor. Here are some of the takeaways from the different libraries’ presentations:

–Planning starts at least a year before the actual change with input from all sides about what exactly will take place at the desk, what will take place away from the desk, and how those operations will coordinate.

–When two groups of people are serving the same function at the same desk but are at two different pay grades, morale will decline.

–Communication is the key to making over the transition, and continues after the combining. It is an ongoing struggle to communicate enough.

–Deciding in advance that the new desk is not a merger of two different desks, but instead is a whole new service, might help ease the transition. Be clear and obvious about how and what you decide will happen at the desk.

–The most successful model (by that I mean, the desk with the happiest staff) moved reference librarians off of their desk, did training with the circulation staff to give them the ability to triage the easiest questions and provided methods to pass along the harder ones without judgement. Reference librarians used their former desk time to increase liaison contacts, do more teaching, embed in instruction, etc.

I don’t know what ultimately our flavor of “merger” will take, or how soon it may happen. There are as many options as there are libraries merging desks. Every time I attend a session on this topic I get more comfortable with the idea, and more aware of the responsibility to make sure we do it right because it is fraught with opportunities to do it wrong.

Finally, because it’s ALA at San Francisco, a few photos: Chinatown, Pride Parade, and a vendor visit with an awesome booth!



Kyle’s ALA 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015 5:10 pm
The Internet Archive: IRL

The Internet Archive: IRL

My ALA conference started with an unconference that presented the lens through which I was to view almost everything else that happened in San Francisco. This is going to be more of a thematic post than a play-by-play. Stay with me here.

#critlib: context and an unconference

One of the most interesting things I’ve been following for the past year or so has been the emerging community that’s calling itself #critlib, short for critical librarianship, which meets every other Tuesday on Twitter under that hashtag (more about the chats here and here). In these chats, participants wrestle with the concept of critical librarianship, which, for the purposes of this post, I’ll paraphrase as the application of critical theories to library practice: challenging racial, gender, socioeconomic, and other structural inequalities through the work we do as librarians (more about critical librarianship here, and check out the Zotero group if you want a deeper dive). The energy from this group is refreshing and relevant, especially in light of Ferguson and Charleston. (You might have heard of #charlestonsyllabus. You might not know that it was a few #critlib people who helped put it together.)

Anyhow, as a white male raised in a middle-class family, I have more to learn from this discussion than to add to it. When I heard that there was going to be a #critlib unconference on the Friday of ALA, I signed up immediately. About 100 of us gathered in the Gleeson Library on the beautiful hilly campus of the University of San Francisco for a full day of lively discussion. Being an unconference, there was no facilitator for any of the breakout sessions (the rule of the day was “there are no experts”). In the first round, I decided to make myself somewhat uncomfortable and attend a session called “Working in the patriarchal library/why are all my administrators dudes?” It’s really no secret that there is a disproportionate number of male administrators in this female-dominated profession, which I’ve always felt weird about. But since I might one day decide to pursue library administration, I wanted to learn about the things that I should pay close attention to in order to avoid being one of “those” male administrators. The key advice from the others in the room: listen more than you speak, and use your privilege to give voice to those being marginalized.

LITA, all-male panels, and responsibility

I was confronted almost immediately with what I’d learned at the unconference. As a member of LITA’s Program Planning Committee, I was asked to introduce a panel and do some general LITA hype work. I showed up to the panel, read my piece, and took a seat to hear what the panelists had to say. Then I looked at the panel. Five middle-aged white dudes talking about library technology, introduced by an (almost) middle-aged white dude representing a library technology association. The panel was great, but I couldn’t help but think of the message the makeup of the panel was sending.

Later that same day, I was set to present as part of my own panel–this one on library support for MOOCs. The organizer hadn’t provided me with a lot of detail ahead of time, so I showed up without any knowledge of who else would be on the panel. Sure enough, I was part of my very own all-male panel. It was like a punch to the gut.

Had these things happened just a week earlier–before my unconference experience–I wouldn’t have thought twice about them. I’ve presented on all-male panels before. I’ve attended plenty of them. The takeaway, for me, is that being aware that male voices are dominating certain conversations makes me responsible, inasmuch as I’m able, to use my privilege and my position on planning committees to ensure that a diversity of voices get to be heard. That means encouraging panel organizers to seek out additional voices. That means organizing diverse panels of my own. That means turning down invitations to speak if it’s clear that I’m just another dude voice in a sea of dude voices.

Plenty of awesome things


As personally challenging as much of my conference was, there were still plenty of awesome things to bring home:

  • Not surprisingly, lots of folks were talking about the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy. One particularly interesting panel introduced me to Champlain College’s stellar inquiry-based IL program. There are really too many good things to say about it here, but I was very impressed with the fact that they eschew teaching tools in favor of wrestling with “big picture” questions related to certain frames. And check out that curriculum map! I do love me a good curriculum map.
  • Flipping the one-shot was another motif I saw pop up a few times. Librarians at the University of Central Florida are having their students complete online tutorials before coming to their one-shot sessions, which they’re now using for more active learning.
  • I got to check out the Internet Archive (yes, their physical location!) They hosted a little open house with tours and demos. I took some photos. It was fun.
  • I got to meet Dan Russell, he of Power Searching with Google fame. The Power Searching course was the biggest inspiration for creating our first ZSRx course, and to see Dan in attendance at my panel was a little surreal. Very smart, very passionate guy.
  • San Francisco puts on awesome parades.

So that’s it! This turned out to be a much longer post than I’d anticipated, but if you’ve read this far, I hope you’re able to take something away from it.


ALA 2015

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 3:31 pm

In case I’d been longing for parades (turns out I had), a confluence of well-known events made the 2015 ALA Annual Conference the perfect place to be. How do New Orleans and San Francisco parades compare, you ask? San Francisco parades involve less alcohol; more illegal-smelling smoke; smaller floats; fewer thrown objects; and more daytime nudity (not pictured).

The first session I attended was put on by the Cataloging Norms Interest Group of ALCTS. Nancy Fallgren of the National Library of Medicine gave an update on NLM’s BIBFRAME pilot project, which has been underway for some time. BIBFRAME Lite is an experimental set of core elements meant to be used in the new encoding framework, and NLM is working on mapping from MARC, Dublin Core, and other non-MARC legacy formats to BF Lite. However, Ms. Fallgren emphasized that their primary focus is on creation of new metadata using BIBFRAME, not conversion. A print monograph BIBFRAME mockup is viewable here.

At the same session, Roman Panchyshyn from Kent State talked about the non-stop nature of change experienced by technical services staff in the 21st Century. Managing change has become a key function for managers in technical services departments. Traditional breakdowns between acquisitions, cataloging, serials, etc. are disappearing. This trend, I think, is reflected here in Resource Services at ZSR. Mr. Panchyschyn identified eight skills/competencies that all technical services staff need to possess in order to keep up. I won’t list all of them here (full list available upon request), but suffice it to say they are metadata-centric, linked data-oriented, and future-looking. Liberal use of hyphens, sadly, isn’t one of them.

Still at the same session, Diane Hillmann from Syracuse speculated as to whether libraries will retain their legacy metadata once conversion to BIBFRAME is complete. She concluded that this is advisable; storage is relatively cheap, and you never know when you might need the data again. “Park the MARC,” she advised, wisely I think. As to whether we are making the right choice in moving toward BIBFRAME, Ms. Hillmann said that this is a moot question: there is no one right choice, and in future we will need to be multiply conversant as metadata takes on new forms and different libraries and other cultural heritage communities decide to go in divergent directions. This is part of the promise of BIBFRAME: it is to be flexible, extensible, and adaptable.

Believe it or not, I did go to other sessions and meetings. Later on Saturday I met with my ALCTS Acquisitions Section Organization and Management Committee, and on Sunday I met with my division-level ALCTS Planning Committee, where we continued to work on a three-year ALCTS strategic plan, with new emphasis on how best to track progress on that plan once it is in place. My work on the Planning Committee has provided a broad view of ALCTS as a whole – its different divisions, its reporting structure and micro-cultures, and its direction. I’ve only completed one year of a three-year term, so I have more enlightenment to look forward to, as my power and influence grow daily.

Roy Tennant from OCLC gave a fun presentation titled “Ground Truthing MARC,” in which he made a worthy comparison between the geographical process of ground truthing and the value of analyzing the existing MARC record landscape before we move to convert it en masse. He has been performing some interesting automated analyses of the ridiculously huge universe of records present in OCLC’s database, and found some interesting (if not surprising) results. A relatively small number of tags (100, 245, etc.) make up the vast majority of instances of populated subfields in OCLC; whereas hundreds of tags are used only infrequently and, all told, constitute a very small percentage of the data in OCLC. This type of analysis, he believes, will be essential as we start to think about mapping OCLC’s data into a BIBFRAME environment.

In other presentations, Amber Billey from the University of Vermont made an interesting case that in requiring NACO-authorized catalogers to choose between “Male,” “Female,” and “Not known” when assigning gender to an authority (RDA Rule 9.7), LC is expressing a false and regressively binary conception of gender. She and others have submitted a fast-track proposal that “Transgender” be added as an additional option; this proposal would seem to have merit. Joseph Kiegel from the University of Washington and Beth Camden from Penn discussed their libraries’ experiences migrating to the Ex Libris Alma and Kuali Ole ILS’s, respectively. In such migrations technical support is essential, whether provided by the system vendor or (as in the case of an open-source system like Kuali Ole) a third-party company that contracts to provide support.

On the last day, Corynne McSherry from the Electronic Frontier Foundation discussed several important copyright-related legal cases from the last year, including Authors Guild v. Hathitrust, Authors Guild v. Google, and Cambridge University Press v. Patton. The EFF is seeking a Digital Millennium Copyright Act exception for circumventing access-restriction technology in no-longer-supported video games so that archivists can preserve them, as these games are an important part of our cultural heritage. This was an entirely new topic to me and caused me to think back fondly on the days when Halo was young and I was too, when video games weren’t things to preserve, but to play. I suppose that preservation is the next-best thing.

Molly at SHARE Community Meeting

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 3:15 pm

June 22nd & 23rd found me in blazing-hot Washington, D.C., for the SHARE Community Meeting, Summer 2015. SHARE is an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries and the Center for Open Science, and is:

“…a higher education initiative whose mission is to maximize research impact by making a comprehensive inventory of research widely accessible, discoverable, and reuseable. To fulfill this mission SHARE is creating an openly available data set about research activities across their lifecycle.”

The initial vision for SHARE came from discussions in response to the February 2013 White House Office of Science & Technology Policy memorandums that stipulate that all Federal agencies with $100+ million R&D annually must make funded research articles and data publicly available. SHARE Notify, a feed of research events, launched in public beta in April. Although I’ve been following SHARE from it’s beginning, this was my first direct involvement with SHARE, as I attended the meeting representing ACRL on behalf of Mary Ellen Davis, Executive Director of ACRL.

The two-day meeting primarily focused on assessing where SHARE is to date, and giving the four task groups time to meet, during which they each identified next steps. I joined the Manual Curation Task Group, which is focusing on the metadata that SHARE ingests from various sources: publishers, agencies, subject repositories, and institutional repositories (but not yet WakeSpace). It was fascinating to be in attendance, as I made great connections and learned much more about the aims for SHARE. I don’t know if I’ll continue to represent ACRL, or if this was a one-time gig, but it was worthwhile.

Kyle at NC-LITe at NCSU

Tuesday, July 7, 2015 11:52 am

On June 12, I traveled as the lone emissary from ZSR to NC-LITe, the twice-annual mini-conference loosely focused on instructional technology in libraries. We had it here in ZSR back in December, if you recall.

This time we gathered at the D.H. Hill Library at NC State, where they’ve recently undergone a few changes, the most notable of which is a brand-new makerspace. (We got a sneak preview the day before it opened!) This is a purpose-designed space to the left of their main circulation desk, and it is pretty fantastic.

David shows the group the new makerspace

David shows the group the new makerspace

Campus updates

As with most NC-LITes, we started with some campus sharing. Among the most notable updates:

  • NCSU’s Library Stories project is a great example of a library being ahead of the game in sharing ways they can help faculty and students enhance their teaching and learning.
  • NCSU continues to churn out their popular “Teach Yourself” tutorials. They’re really carrying a lot of weight for the entire library instruction field: we use the heck out of their videos, including in our online LIB100 course. They added a new one on source evaluation. There was much rejoicing.
  • A representative from Davidson College joined us for the first time! It was great to connect with her, as Davidson is the closest cousin to Wake in its emphasis on teaching. Davidson is also interesting in that they’ve been doing MOOCs with edX for a few years now. The library has recently been involved in developing a new course on Electronic Literature that starts in October (join me!)
  • UNC Chapel Hill just hired a new digital scholarship librarian, who will be teaching a series of digital humanities workshops out of the library.
  • Duke just opened a new commons for technology, research, and collaboration that they call The Edge (er.. sorry, this is the actual link).
  • Kim Duckett, formerly of NCSU, a founding participant of NC-LITe, and an all-around awesome person, recently took a new job at Duke as their Head of Research & Instructional Services.

Lightning talks

We also got a few in-depth looks at some recent projects. These had the greatest takeaways for me.

Katy Webb of ECU shared how their reference department went to and a shared Google Calendar for patron-driven scheduling all of their personal research sessions. presents users a calendar with available time slots, allowing them to select the time that fits their calendar, eliminates all the email back-and-forth, and pushes the “messy” end of scheduling to happen behind-the-scenes. They call the service “Book a Librarian” and it seems like a great enhancement to their user experience! Check it out.

Hannah Rozear of Duke talked about a collaboration she’s part of with their writing program, in which she’s integrating critical digital pedagogy to make her instruction more student-centered and inclusive of diverse voices, and to challenge students to think critically about the online sources they use.

Rebecca Hyman at the State Library of NC and I shared our experience with developing and running RootsMOOC. We were (and still are) a little exhausted from a year of running the project at full-steam, but the course evaluations are in and and I promise to give the project a proper write-up soon!

Ideas from breakout sessions

I didn’t take copious notes during our breakout sessions (they’re loose, informal discussions), but I did jot down some ideas I wanted to share.

I maintain that Open Educational Resources will be an increasingly important part of the higher educational landscape as the traditional textbook model breaks down. Several libraries are offering grants to faculty who are interested in OER–small ones for attending OER workshops, larger ones for developing their own OER or integrating OER into their classes. As an institution, I don’t think we’re quite there culturally, but I’m keeping my eye on this. See also UNCG, Emory

Lots of people shared frustration with boosting workshop attendance. (Can I get an amen?) I heard some great ideas:

  • co-develop workshops with other groups on campus (example: a “Designing effective research assignments” workshop through the TLC);
  • host webinars instead of f2f workshops (and record the content!);
  • send personal invites to known partners and influencers in the academic departments (even better if there’s a lunch or coffee)
  • rather than advertising the thing you’re going to teach (eg, Zotero), advertise the compelling use case (Hey, grad students, come learn how to do a lit review!)

Always lots of good ideas from NC-LITe. Looking forward to next time!


Roz @ ALA San Fran

Monday, July 6, 2015 3:56 pm

As has been my trend over the last few ALA conferences, most of my work was done in the Law and Political Science Section of ACRL. I am the incoming chair of the section (as of July 1) so there was lots to do. On Friday I attended the ACRL Leadership Council meeting where we get updates on what is happening at ACRL and provide input on various initiatives. This time we were asked to comment on what ACRL should be doing to continue/revise/refresh their strategic plan, the ACRL Plan for Excellence. It is entering it’s fifth year and now is the time to look at it and see what needs to be modified for the next five years. It was an interesting discussion.

Then on Saturday we had our LPSS Executive Committee meeting followed by our general membership meeting. Then in the afternoon we had our program that we put on jointly with the Anthropology and Sociology Section and the ASCLA Library Services to the Incarcerated and Detained interest group. It was a great panel – Libraries Behind Bars: Education and Outreach to Prisoners.

I followed up that panel with a trip to the exhibits which were, for the first time in my memory, split across two exhibit halls in adjoining buildings. I visited some furniture vendors including Agati who had the coolest new individual study pods ever (we want some to try out in ZSR), Swank who has a new academic package of films and a new model for access to them (feature films, not documentaries), our microfilm machine vendor to hear what’s new with the new models and software, and some of the usual suspects of publishers.

Sunday morning was the Alexander Street Press breakfast and the guest speaker was Cynthia Sandberg who owns Love Apple Farms and is the farmer from The Farmer and The Chef documentary. She spoke about Biodynamic farming - a system of farming that is more rigorous than organic and takes into account the entire ecosystem. It was not a term I was familiar with but resonates with much of what one of my heroes, Joel Saladin, does at Polyface Farm in Virginia.

I wrapped up my ALA by going to a Proquest focus group about SIPX – a company that ProQuest recently bought. ProQuest is trying to figure out how they might integrate the services SIPX offers into their discovery services. SIPX is in some ways a course pack builder program that faculty can use to build reading lists, etc. It has some potential and Mary Beth (who came to the focus group with me) and I will keep our eyes on it for how ProQuest incorporates it in the future.

It was, quite frankly, a bit hard to concentrate in San Francisco with the SCOTUS decision and the Pride Parade all happening while we were there – but all in all it was good conference in a beautiful city!! I suspect we will be thinking back fondly on the SF weather next June when we are stuck in Orlando’s heat and humidity.

Thomas @ ALA

Monday, July 6, 2015 3:40 pm

You remember that scene in L.A. Story where the Wacky Weekend Weather Guy is replaced by George Plimpton intoning, “Sunny. 72. Our next weather forecast will be in four days”? That’s me at ALA through next summer. Not exciting, and not much variation.

[Day 0: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 6:30am, deprived of sleep, food, and caffeine. Not really conference related, but I had to do it, so you have to hear about it.]

Day 1: Thomas meets with the LITA executive committee to discuss issues related to governance, budget, and membership; Thomas meets with the LITA financial advisory committee to discuss issues related to budget, membership, and governance; Thomas attends the LITA Open House, which touches on governance and membership; Thomas goes out to dinner with members of the LITA governing board to discuss issues related to seafood and beer; the current and incoming vice presidents entertain the table with anecdotes about their respective childhoods in south central Wisconsin and northern Wisconsin. Current LITA president reminds me that her term is up in three days.

Day 2: More of the same, only without the seafood and beer (the LITA committee of committee chairs, and the first of two LITA board meetings, where the current president reminds me her term is up in two days), punctuated by lunch with the other divisional presidents-elect and ALA president-elect Sari Feldman.

This was Sari’s chance to give us an informal sneak peek at the ALA publicity and visibility campaign now available at I think this is a very interesting campaign: it’s really ALA amping up the message that libraries are increasingly about services, and how valuable those services are. The web site has a cool video that’s worth a watch (about two minutes).

Day 3: Let’s just say I was up early enough that I had no trouble getting across the Pride Parade route. I attended the ALA Leadership breakfast, which focused on membership recruitment and retention. A couple of numbers that illustrate why this is such an issue. Since the 2008 economic implosion, the library profession has lost 60,000 positions; in the same period, enrollment in library schools has dropped by a quarter, from about 20,000 to 15,000. The median age of librarians continues to inch up, so: there are fewer current librarians; fewer future librarians; and more librarians edging toward retirement. Which is maybe why it will help to be more visible with the message that libraries provide transformative services (note to ourselves: we should also make sure that we actually provide transformative services).

Day 3.5. I did have a good meeting with an Ex Libris rep, and I did get to go to Top Tech Trends and the LITA President’s Program on Sunday afternoon, which Susan already covered. The speaker (or interviewee) at the President’s Program was Lou Rosenfeld, Information Architect. There aren’t that many people I can claim as acquaintances who literally wrote the book on the subject.

The current LITA president (who, all kidding aside, did a fantastic job this year, in trying circumstances) points out – from the stage – that her term is up in one day.

Day 4: A morning session to orient new board members and then an afternoon board meeting, at the end of which I was presented with a gavel and pronounced LITA president. I believe the now past-president’s comment was, “Bwahahaha!”

Highly productive dinner meeting with Steve Kelley and Jeff Eller at the Oakland Coliseum (A’s 7, Rockies 1).

Day 5: Up early in a coat and tie to be paraded through not one but two ceremonies, along with my cohort of new divisional presidents and many friends and well-wishers from LITA. I remind the new vice president that my term is up in 365 days and catch the red-eye home.

[Day 6: At Charlotte Douglas International Airport at 6:30am, deprived of sleep, food, and caffeine. Maybe it was all a dream! No, wait, here’s my gavel.]

Lauren at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:13 pm

It probably seemed like everyone was talking about linked data because that was the focus of most of the sessions I attended.

One of the more interesting ones was the Library of Congress BIBFRAME Update Forum, because in addition to Sally McCallum and Beacher Wiggins of LC, they had speakers from Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix, Atlas (think ILLIAD and ARES), OCLC, and Zepheira. At this stage, I think they were all trying to reassure clients that they will keep up with change. I took more notes on Ex Libris than the others since we’re a current customer: After some prologue on revolution vs evolution, Ido Peled, VP, Solutions and Marketing, said, that moving to a native linked data catalog is more revolutionary and Ex Libris is more comfortable with evolution. But I thought he gave more concrete evidence of readiness for linked data than the others because he said ALMA was built to support MARC and Dublin Core already and that Primo Central is already in RDF format, using JSON-LD. He also emphasized the multi-tenant environment and said, “Technology isn’t the focus. The focus is outcomes.” Because linked data includes relying on the data of others and interlinking with your own data, the “multi-tenant” environment concept made sense suddenly and helped me understand why I keep hearing about groups moving to ALMA, like Orbis-Cascade. I’ve also heard from individuals that it hasn’t been easy, but when is a system migration ever easy?

I also attended “Getting Started with Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU.” They each worked on their own linked data projects, figuring out tools to use (like OpenRefine) and work flows. Then they tested on each other’s data to help them refine the tools for use with different future projects and for sharing them broadly in the library community. They both said they learned a lot and made adjustments to the tools they used. I got a much better sense of what might be involved in taking on a linked data project. Successes and issues they covered reminded me of our work on authority control and RDA enhancement: matches and near matches through an automated process, hits and non-hits against VIAF, cleaning up and normalizing data for extra spaces, punctuation, etc. In fact this session built well on “Data Clean-Up: Let’s Not Sweep it Under the Rug,” which was sponsored by the committee I’m on with Erik Mitchell, the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee. I got a good foundation regarding use of MARCedit and OpenRefine for normalizing data to eliminate spaces and punctuation. While I knew regular expressions were powerful, I finally learned what they can do. In one example, punctuation stemming from an ampersand in an organization name caused data to become parsed incorrectly, breaking apart the name of the organization every time for the thousands of times it appeared. A regular expression can overcome this problem in an automated way — there’s no need to fix each instance one by one. (Think in terms of how macros save work.)

The ALCTS President’s Program: Three Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age featured Maryanne Wolf, Director, Center for Reading and Language Research and John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University. It was interesting to learn from her that brains weren’t designed for reading — think about cave men and their primary goals, which didn’t include reading. She gave a great overview of the development of language and reading and incidentally showed that those who operate in CJK languages have different parts of the brain lighting up than those of us who operate in other languages. This was all foundation leading up to how the brain operates and the effects of reading on the screen. The way we read on a screen results in the loss of certain abilities like reflection and creating connections. She measured that it takes time to regain those abilities too. She isn’t by any means anti-electronic though — she’s doing interesting work in Ethiopia with kids learning by using tablets. We’ll have to get her forthcoming book when it is finished!

I also attended committee meetings, met with vendors, networked, and got to catch up with former colleagues Erik Mitchell and Lauren Pressley over a dinner that Susan organized. (Thanks, Susan!) I especially enjoyed catching up with former colleagues Charles Hillen and Ed Summers, both dating back to my days at ODU in Norfolk, Virginia. Charles now works for YBP as Director of Library Technical Services and Ed just received the Kilgour Award from LITA/OCLC. Thanks to Ed, I got to meet Eric Hellman, president of the company that runs And thanks to WFU Romance Languages faculty member Alan Jose, who mentioned the idea, I went Monday afternoon with Derrik and Carolyn to visit the Internet Archive offices, where we met Brewster Kahle. The volume the organization handles is mind-blowing! Kahle says they only collect about 40 TV channels right now and it is not enough. They have designed the book digitization equipment they are using (and selling it at a reasonable price too). They have people digitizing reels of films, VHS, and audio, but Kahle says they’ve got to come up with a better method than equipment using magnetic heads that are hard to find. Someone is working on improving search right now too. Some major advice offered was to learn Python!


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