Professional Development

Carol’s View of ACRL

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 12:02 pm

A building at Portland State University

 

As a collections person, I found this conference rather thin on relevant programming, especially since I knew that Roz/Kyle/Kaeley would cover all the instruction angles. That said, the program committee did a good job of spreading the collections-focused sessions among the time slots so I had at least one relevant choice almost every time. I also took advantage of the chance to attend the occasional session outside of my niche, e.g., one on “Complexity and Contradiction in Green Architecture.”

Two presentations were respectively a denunciation and an apologia for DDA. Maybe when the virtual conference comes out I’ll watch them back-to-back and think of them as a debate. I tended to side with the DDA apologist. This fits my natural inclination, but she also used a CC-licensed photo from the ZSR Library Flickr photostream! Her point when showing this picture was that DDA would make libraries’ general collections more alike. Therefore, libraries will distinguish themselves by their special collections.

Miscellaneous Gleanings

On IPEDS statistical craziness: Mount Holyoke has over 600K e-books per ACRL’s definition and only 86 per IPEDS. (For painful detail, see this LibGuide and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, follow the link to “Questions and Answers from IPEDS.”)

On Collection Development policies: A speaker expressed – with evident dismay – that 44% of ARLs don’t have a collection development policy.

DPLA can virtually reunite physically split collections. They cited a penmanship collection that is physically split between NYPL and the U. of Scranton.

The architecture speaker had learned in school that an optimal design moves water away from the building as quickly as possible. In the emerging green architecture ethos, you want the water to trickle down slowly and get filtered by plants along the way.

Bob Holley on self-published books. He named several categories where the library may want to acquire these works. For instance, local history, fringe perspectives (he cited anti-vaxxers as one example) and personal memoirs that are effectively primary sources.

The rest of this is about e-books

I attended a roundtable discussion on e-books. Nothing too groundbreaking, more like a group therapy session. It’s valuable to know that the challenges we face are also faced by others. NASIG got a name-check as an advocacy group for more library- and user-friendly e-books.

One speaker noted that 6 out of 7 students in a qualitative usability study had a stated preference for print. The speaker said that today’s college students got their early training and developed study habits in a print-centered environment. The preferences of college students may eventually change if K-12 education moves more toward e-books.

Sometimes students use print and e-formats of the same book in tandem. For instance, they may start with the e-book and move over to print for deep reading. Another university found that students used e-books for dip in, dip out reading to support writing papers. (At another conference, the researchers found the dip in, dip out behavior in print books as well.)

Images in e-books are sometimes missing due to permissions issues, so print is a more strongly preferred format for disciplines such as Art History, Theater and Architecture.

Over time, students got more selective about how much they print from e-books. For usability interviews, being guided around e-books made the participants more receptive of the format.

Look at usage of e-book titles that are deleted from the subscription and DDA programs. If there’s anything high use, we may want to buy a copy some other way. I already plan to apply this idea, although I’ll need to keep opportunity costs in mind. (This project may take a lot of time and yield just a few purchases, especially if the deletes are superseded editions.) These presenters found that deleted books had less use, on average, than the overall pool.

 

Lynn attends Online Learning Summit

Sunday, April 12, 2015 8:45 pm

Last week, I was lucky enough to attend an invitation-only summit on online learning, sponsored by Harvard, MIT, Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley. Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard, and L. Rafael Reif, President of MIT, opened the symposium in person by speaking on a panel addressing how online learning is shaping the future of higher education on and off campus. This level of commitment to online learning in the most elite institutions of higher education is striking to me. The scope of the summit was broad – “challenges and opportunities higher education is facing in educating its residential students and a global community of learners” – so topics included MOOCs, blended learning, and “traditional” online courses and degree programs.

Harvard, MIT and Berkeley are founding members of edX and Stanford is a leading member of Coursera, so much of the conversation was around lessons learned with MOOCs. The popular press has largely left MOOCs behind but these leaders of higher ed continue to invest millions of dollars into the modality. Last year at our Future of Higher Education Symposium, I said that of the schools ranked above Wake Forest, only four had not joined the MOOC movement. I checked again, and it is now down to three: Washington University, St. Louis, UCLA and USC. Of course, as readers of this blog know, ZSRx is Wake Forest’s foray into the world of MOOCs and because our universe is so small, we are more like Harvard’s SPOCs (small, private, online courses) than MOOCs (massive, open, online courses). Only Kyle’s current RootsMOOC course with 3500 participants, might be considered a true MOOC. I found myself describing ZSRx to conference participants such as the Executive Director of HarvardX and the Vice Chancellor for Education at Oxford and they thought we were being strategic and savvy. It is our hope that the ZSRx course to come out in Spring 2016 on the history of Wake Forest will be a unifying learning experience for all Wake Foresters and heretofore skeptics will see the value of everyone learning together online.

But back to the Summit. Wednesday’s program was held at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences outside of Boston. I had never been in an auditorium where the seating was in couches!

In the opening panel with Faust, Reif, and US Under-Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell, moderator John Hockenberry asked whether MOOCs extend or dilute higher education. The answer was unanimously extend, with Faust speaking poignantly on the great hunger for learning across the globe and how it is incumbent on leading US universities to extend their reach to meet that need. In the process of doing so with MOOCs, much has been learned about teaching and learning and that knowledge is already enriching the residential experience on home campuses as well. Mitchell remarked that elite schools aside, market forces are already beginning to act on the business of higher education with a retreat in funding by the states and older students needing a more flexible and cost-effective model. Hockenberry asked the old bugaboo question about completion rates and Faust answered (correctly, in my opinion) that they are not troubling to her at all because they are completely different in intent and purpose from tuition-driven courses.

In the first plenary session, two dissimilar schools that pride themselves on engaged learning (Bryn Mawr and University of Michigan) took opposite directions with online learning. Neither chose wholly online degrees; Bryn Mawr chose blended learning and had the benefit of a Gates Foundation grant, and Michigan chose a $25 million engaged learning initiative that included an on-campus MOOC bringing together all segments on campus as well as many other programs that enhanced teaching with technology (and others that included no technology at all). Notably, the President of Bryn Mawr said the best thing she did was to tell faculty that she didn’t care if they tried the blended approach or not. This made it instantly popular! The plenary panelists agreed that what was really needed was a way to share digital materials. [Note: this was one of the ideas behind Unizin.]

A number of the breakout sessions were about blended learning. More than one person pointed out that technology was just the latest way to institute active learning in the classroom and the concept is not really new. Others said they are dropping high stakes testing (midterms and finals) and doing “chunk and test” instead, because students tend to rely on passive methods like lecture when studying for high stakes tests.

In a session about “spaces and places,” libraries were mentioned as space on campus that needed to be re-imagined (it is always amusing to hear people talk about libraries in this way, like we don’t already know this about ourselves). There was also talk of design of learning spaces, makerspaces, and the importance of spaces to encourage social learning from passive to active to productive to interactive.

In sessions about building community and improving engagement, I was happy to see talk of these topics in MOOCs as well as other forms of online learning. The desire for humans to be in the same space while learning was evidenced by the nearly spontaneous “meet up” phenomenon that has taken off in some MOOCs. Course organizers put up a Meet Up button without any further instruction, and people started self-organizing in major cities around the globe to get together while taking the same MOOC. This was seen as analogous to meeting up on the quad in residential environments.

I was very happy to attend this symposium and hope to go again next year. It will help us in our own online learning efforts at Wake Forest to keep current with these developments.

 

ACRL 2015 Portland – Susan’s Report

Thursday, April 2, 2015 12:24 pm

Waterfront Park View of the Convention Center

View of the twin spires of the Oregon Convention Center
from Waterfront Park, across the Williamette River

Selecting Portland as the site for ACRL 2015 seems to have been a wise choice. There was a record attendance (registrations) of nearly 3400. I think it was a combination of Portland attracting first-time visitors (like me) and the rich programming offered (over 330 sessions). For me, Portland was a perfect conference city. It has a unique personality coupled with excellent public transportation, good food AND it is most bicycle friendly! I arrived in town in time to jump on the light rail at the airport, and jump off (suitcase in hand) at the conference center in time for the opening keynote and exhibit hall opening reception. The keynote speaker was G. Willow Wilson, creator of the Ms. Marvel comic series starring a Muslim superhero named Kamala Khan. Having been raised in a household where comic books were not allowed (a story for another day), I am not a comic book aficionado and was not familiar with her work. So I really enjoyed hearing how the series came about and how it is now so well received that the character is going to be an Avenger! She also spoke about her multicultural background and the importance of listening to the narratives of native populations that are not the ones most of us learned in school.

I attended the Thursday vendor-sponsored breakfast where Bill Badke spoke (See Roz’s report for more information). Most of his talk was a self-proclaimed rant with these three themes – 1. Too much data, not enough metadata (the Web is anarchy under the control of a cheap dog, the search engine), 2. Epistemology – Students lack understanding about where information comes from, and 3. Students are challenged to articulate their information need. His recommendation for librarians – don’t fade away, seize the day!

People often think of ACRL as more useful for those librarians involved with instruction and reference. However, I was able to find a broad range of topics so I was able to attend concurrent sessions on data sharing/stewardship, well-being, instruction collaboration between research & instruction and special collections, and weeding (our own Carol Cramer). I particularly enjoyed a presentation by our former colleague Elisabeth Leonard (Executive Market Research Manager, SAGE) about research she conducted on students and their use of videos in higher education. Her white paper provides the details of the research findings. As you might imagine, there were too many choices during each time-slot, but one nice side benefit of attending is that registrants can access the ACRL Virtual Conference content and every contributed paper, invited paper, panel session, and TechConnect presentation offered at ACRL 2015 (which were recorded) for the next year.

This year was the 75th anniversary of ACRL and this was celebrated in a number of ways. Most impressive were the scores (it seemed) of cakes that placed throughout the exhibit hall on Thursday afternoon. On a more serious note, I attended an invited panel session by the authors of the ACRL 75th anniversary publication New Roles for the Road Ahead. Stephen Bell, Lorcan Demsey and Barbara Fister each led a discussion on their particular assignments in the report (Bell -higher ed, Dempsey – technology, Fister – information literacy).

Often the closing keynote is underwhelming because people start to leave to catch flights home and sometimes this results in a waning level of energy for the speaker. I was curious if this would be the case for no other reason than the choices for getting home were to leave first thing Saturday morning or late Saturday evening on the red eye. However, ACRL offered up Lawrence Lessig as the closing speaker, so it became a no-brainer for me to book the red eye home! And that seemed to be the consensus of most of the conference attendees because the room was full. He discussed three projects that he said are really one idea – the value of equality. His current project is Corruption in America. He described what is happening in America’s elections is Tweedism (Boss Tweed was a politician who said “I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating.”). Lessig explained how the funding bias present in the US primary selection results in a lack of democratic process. (TED Talk by Lessig). The second project he discussed was net neutrality and how recent rulings as the Internet as a utility will preserve equality. The third project was Open Access. He talked movingly about Aaron Swartz (developed RSS and Creative Commons and committed suicide at age 26 after he was prosecuted for downloading JSTOR articles and making them freely accessible). Swartz’s viewpoint on copyright was that current use of it doesn’t serve its purpose. It restricts access to knowledge elites, and the rest of the world is not included. He wanted equal access to knowledge. Withholding that knowledge makes it impossible for most to build on that knowledge to create new knowledge.

One last tidbit about Portland and the conference. I discovered that in Portland, food trucks are a big deal, there are over 500 of them scattered throughout the city. So the main lunch venue provided to all the ACRL attendees was a parking lot lined with food trucks. You all know how librarians are at meal time, and the picture below shows the long lines where everyone patiently queued to wait for their favorite cuisine.

Crowded at the Lunch Trucks

ACRL Librarians at Food Truck City

Roz @ ACRL 2015 in Portland

Wednesday, April 1, 2015 10:53 am

First of all, Portland is AWESOME. Great food, drinks (read local beers) and Powell’s City of Books where I literally could have spent a week and never been bored – my to-read list doubled. I love ACRL as a conference – it is such a great break from ALAs where I am bogged down in committee/section work and where the sessions are so extensive that they are overwhelming. This conference is always full of people to get great ideas from and a high percentage of relevant sessions to attend.

I will try to summarize my ACRL in Portland by hitting the main takeaways I got. If anyone wants more information on any of these sessions I have copious notes. I do like to do themes and at this ACRL I really took away ideas around two themes:

  • Listening to users
  • Going beyond the library

Listening to Our Users

Mary Beth and I started our conference even before the conference started with a Wednesday pre-conference talk by IThaka S+R about their faculty survey of research practices. They do this survey of faculty across the world every three years and are about to launch their next one in fall 2015. But any institution that wants to do a local version of their faculty can do that (for a fee, of course) and get back their results and benchmarks against the national survey results. The survey consists of the Core National Questionnaire which includes questions on:

  • Discovery and access
  • Scholarly communications
  • Research practices including data curation
  • Student research skills
  • Role of the library

Then schools can add additional optional modules – up to three

  • Digital research activities
  • Undergraduate instruction
  • Graduate instruction
  • Online learning and MOOCs
  • Library space planning
  • Library market research
  • Servicing clinicians & health scientists

MB and I found this idea very appealing as it could provide us much needed data on what our faculty do in their research and how they use our resources. We and will be discussing with the Assessment committee.

Known item searching in Summon, Google, Google Scholar (contributed paper)

Known item searching is still a problem with discovery tools – so many unexpected results frustrate users who are just trying to find that one thing. This study used Summon search logs for a semester – 35% of the searches were for known items — looked at 278 searches that they then re-executed the searches in all three search tools – Summon, Google and Google Scholar.

  • Google won over Google Scholar and Summon
  • Summon had 76% relevant results while 24% were partially relevant or not relevant
  • Worst performing searches in Summon
    • Partial citation searching – title & author for example
    • Only 6% used quotes but those who did returned relevant results
    • Formatted citation searches were also bad where they just pasted a whole citation in the search box
  • Need to teach them to be better searchers – explaining the why
  • Stop complaining about lazy search habits – empathize and instruct
  • Take away: The search logs in Summon can give excellent insights into how our users area actually using the service and can inform how we teach students to use it

How Students Really Search (Contributed paper)

This study recorded one hour research sessions of actual students (11) doing actual research for a paper. They used software to record what the students did. Here’s what they learned:

  • Students have different definitions of the ‘one search’ box (discovery search box on library home page)
  • Students don’t know what to do with keywords even when they have been taught
  • Only using limits in the search results to do language and full-text limiting
  • Don’t use quotes appropriately
  • Don’t understand the link resolver ‘get it at….’ (ours is WFU Full Text Options) –They think they have to come into library.
  • When something (a link resolver link, or a database link) breaks one time they think it breaks all the time. They give up.
  • Would not pursue an article even if it sounds good – they don’t have time
  • “Shocking secrets of the student researcher” – presentation to faculty – showed them the videos – that finally made the faculty understand that they need to teach this more
  • changed text of the link “get it online or in print” – will see how that works
  • Abstract without article they think of as bait and switch – have to explain how for faculty that is good information
  • Take away: Students (and I suspect faculty, too) are busy and unforgiving – we need things to work right a high percentage of the time if we hope to keep them using our resources. Teaching them quick easy ways to be better searchers can help with that.

 

How Do Students Use Video in Higher Education

So this was actually a vendor presentation given by former ZSR librarian Elisabeth Leonard who is now head of market research for Sage/CQ Press. She has been traveling around the last year talking to students and faculty about how they use video in their teaching and their research in an effort to help Sage as they start to produce video-based products. She has written two white papers, one on student use of video and one on faculty use of video. This presentation was on the student side of things. I will link to it below but the big takeaways from her presentation were

  • Students tend to use video in small chunks (3-10 minutes at a time)
  • Students are often looking for videos that help them understand concepts in a better/different way.
  • Students really appreciate engaging speakers and data visualizations.
  • Students don’t necessarily think of the library as a source of video content unless the faculty point them to our resources.

http://www.uk.sagepub.com/aboutus/press/2015/mar/16.htm

Going Beyond the Library

Bill Badke Talk

One of the breakfast sessions I attended was to hear Bill Badke speak. Those who have been around Information literacy discussion know Bill’s name – he’s been around for a long time and is the author of Research Strategies – one of the primary textbooks on doing research, now in it’s 5th edition. His talk was full of great insights like “the web is anarchy being watched by a poorly-schooled sheepdog called the database” and “we need to make sure that students understand that expertise and experience mean something when looking at authority – loud voices are not necessarily accurate ones.” He talked a lot about how a new kind of dark age is coming – not because of the dearth of information but due to an overabundance of information and we don’t know what to do with it. He noted that the belief that technology will solve the information literacy gaps in students is unfounded. And he challenged us to work more with faculty to increase students’ research skills. We can up the game of librarians and of faculty – our major focus needs to be on working with students to develop them as researchers.

  • Build more support relationships with faculty – alerts, citations, copyright
  • Offer to do workshops with faculty on how they can help students do better research
  • Make the library prominent with students in the CMS
  • Talk to your faculty about what their goals are for student research. “what does an ideal student paper look like?”
  • A professors good lies in their ‘expertise’ – working with wisdom through a problem
  • Have to enable faculty to guide their own students – move info lit into the academy – right into the foundations of the institution

We’ve Only Just Begun: Determining the value of information literacy in the first year. This was a series of papers from groups that had all been a part of the Assessment in Action first cohort. They all looked at assessing info lit instruction in first-year programs. They papers were all of different scenarios so I’ll just list some of the big take-aways across them all.

  • Librarians need to help train faculty to talk about information literacy with their students.
  • If students are made aware that these skills are being taught – they attend to them
  • Most IL learning happens in classes that had multiple meetings with the library but a one-shot is better than none at all – it is not necessary to be in every class meeting – there is a point after which you don’t necessarily get a better return on investment with librarian involvement
  • Students doing research generally are looking for quotes to plug into already composed papers
  • Students are uncertain about the best time to ask a librarian for help
  • ILI models that are recursive show increase in student learning
  • How can we assess and measure what we consider most valuable – lifelong learning, an informed citizenry, social responsibility?

 

Lawyers, and librarians, and copyright! Oh, my! – Or, Molly at the UIPO symposium

Thursday, March 26, 2015 4:37 pm

I don’t doubt that many of you would be riffing Dorothy, too, if you had been with me in Chapel Hill on March 16 and 17 for the annual University Intellectual Property Officers (UIPO) symposium. For two days, approximately 30 lawyer-librarians, lawyers, and librarians gathered in beautiful Wilson Library on UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus to discuss all things copyright and higher ed. While I was in copyright nerd heaven (in Blue Heaven, no less!), had you gone, you may have been a bit lost, as we were a lawyer-heavy group: if you think librarian lingo can be hard to follow, I promise that legal lingo and logic–from lawyer-librarians, no less–is harder. Nevertheless, we are a jovial bunch, and had two days of stimulating, engaging conversation around fair use for orphan works, working with university counsel, accessibility issues, digitization and digital collections, film and media archives, open access, open education, and legal updates from the U.S. and international fronts.

As one of my colleagues noted at our meeting, in many respects, the UIPO group is essentially Copyright Fight Club (the first rule of Fight Club…[you know]). Our discussions, both at the symposium and online, are confidential. We are not an official designation of any organization or association (although we grew out of ARL), we do not have officers or committees (yet), and our symposiums are not overly formal. This was my first year attending, but it will not be my last. In fact, this will likely be my future primary meeting of the year. I cannot overstate how valuable it is to attend a small, copyright-focused meeting with friends and colleagues who do exactly what I do, who face many of the same inquiries and challenges that I face, and who are more than willing to disagree, debate, and dissect current issues. I realize that many of you have experienced this type of synergistic immersion before, but I had not–at least, not to the same degree. And I loved it!

I have visited some of you to discuss ideas and insights gleaned from this meeting. If anyone has specific questions about the topics I noted, I’ll be happy to chat with you.

 

Sarah at the ANCHASL Spring Meeting

Wednesday, March 25, 2015 2:39 pm

On March 20th, I attended the Association of N.C. Health & Science Libraries (ANCHASL) Spring Meeting at UNCG. Carrie Iwema, Ph.D., MLS, AHIP from the University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences Library taught a 4-hour continuing education course sponsored by the Medical Library Association on personal genomics. Personal genomics involves sequencing and analyzing an individual genome. However, genetic tests from different companies can yield different test results. There have been some issues with direct-to-consumer genetic tests including potential insurance discrimination, privacy issues, accuracy, and ownership of data. The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act was passed in 2008 to prohibit genetic discrimination in health insurance and employment. Since I am the Bioethics Liaison, it was great to discuss the bioethical issues of genetic testing and gene patenting. I learned about the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Genome Statute and Legislation Database and other resources to add to my research guides. It was also great to catch up with my former intern who is now a librarian at Duke Medical Library.

Leslie at MLA 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015 8:26 pm

Lots of good presentations at this year’s meeting of the Music Library Association in Denver. As at ALA, winter weather prevented a number of colleagues from attending, but we were able to Skype presenters in most cases, and for the first time, selected sessions were live-streamed. The latter will be posted on the MLA website.

DIGITAL HUMANITIES

In a session on “digital musicology,” several exciting projects were described:

Contemporary Composers Web Archive (CCWA). A Northeastern consortium project in progress. They’re crawling and cataloging composers’ websites, and contributing the records to OCLC and the Internet Archive. The funding is temporary, so here’s hoping they find a way to continue this critical work preserving the music and music culture of our times.

RISM OPAC. The Repertoire international des sources musicales is the oldest internationally-organized music index (of manuscripts and early printed editions), but only a small portion has so far been made available online. The new online search interface they’re developing retrieves digital scores available on the websites of libraries, archives, composers, and others worldwide. They expect to have 2 million entries when national inventories are completed.

Music Treasures Consortium (MTC). A similar project hosted by the Library of Congress, it links to digitized manuscripts and early printed editions in conservatories, libraries, and archives in the US, UK, and Germany. It’s modeled on an earlier project, the Sheet Music Consortium (hosted by UCLA).

Blue Mountain Project. Named after a Kandinsky painting representing creativity, this Princeton project, funded by a NEH grant, aims to provide coverage of Modernism and the Avant-Garde in arts periodicals 1848-1923. References to music in these sources are often fleeting, so there is a need for enhanced “music discovery.” The presenter discussed the challenges of digitizing magazines: the mix of text, images, and ads; multiple languages of periodicals in this project; variations in the transcription/spelling of names (they plan to cross-index to VIAF, the international authority file).

In the Q & A period, discussion centered on the global importance of projects such as these, and the concomitant need for best-practices standards (including a requirement to link to VIAF) and multi-language capabilities in metadata schema.

INFORMATION LITERACY

Now that the ACRL Framework has replaced learning objectives with “threshold concepts,” music librarians have begun taking first stabs at interpreting these for their discipline:

Scholarship as a conversation = performance as a conversation. Most music students enter college as performers, so this can serve as a base for scaffolding. One notable difference: performance lacks a tradition of formal citation — might some way be found to codify the teacher/student oral tradition by which the performing arts are transmitted?

Authority as constructed and contextual = performers as authorities (Performer X as a leading interpreter of Composer Y’s works); also, the changing of performance practices over time; learning to listen with a critical evaluative ear.

Information creation as process: understanding the editing process for scores, and also of recordings and video (vs. live performance).

Research as inquiry: every performing-arts student who spends long hours in practice and rehearsal is familiar with the concept of an iterative process — an excellent jumping-off point for understanding research as an iterative process.

Searching as strategic exploration: this has been related to musicians’ vexed relationship with library discovery interfaces that don’t work well for music retrieval! Resourcefulness and persistence is needed to meet performers’ information needs regarding specialized details such as instrumentation, key, range, etc.

Information has value = creative output has value. Understanding how the artist fits into the marketplace; the complexities of copyright as it applied to the arts.

COPYRIGHT

The music library community has long been frustrated by issues surrounding music recordings released online but governed by EULAs (end-user license agreements) that prohibit institutional purchase. MLA and the University of Washington have recently received a IMLS grant to develop strategies for addressing these issues, “culminating in a summit with stakeholders and industry representatives.” On the agenda: EULA reform (developing a standard language); preservation (given the industry’s apalling track record, perhaps the library community can create dark archives?); and public relations. Strategies being considered: developing a MLA best practices document; creating a text case; approaching either the smaller labels (who are generally more open to negotiation) or going directly for the big three (Sony, Warner, and Universal) on the theory that if they agree, others will follow.

Another session on recordings and fair use discussed the best practices movement. Noting that the courts, when confronted by new questions, have begun referring to community practice, many disciplines and professions are drafting best-practices documents. Unlike guidelines, whose specificity make them prone to obsolescence, best-practices statements “reflect the fundamental values of a community” — which not only helps them better stand the test of time, but also results in more commonalities between communities, so that they reinforce each other, lending them more weight in the face of legal challenges. The NRPB (National Recordings Preservation Board) recently completed a study that recommended such a document, and the ARSC (Association of Recorded Sound Collections) has a handbook forthcoming.

USAGE PATTERNS

At a poster session, I learned about two surveys done at Kent State that queried the preferences of music and other performing-arts students re the materials they use. One survey noted the significant number of print resources that still occupied top places in a ranking of preferred materials: print scores were much preferred to e-scores (68% to 28%); ditto for books (80% print to 27% electronic); CDs were still used regularly. E-journals, however, were preferred to print (64% to 32%). The survey’s conclusion found a “strong sentiment” in favor of a mix of print and electronic.

The other survey debated the relevance of audio reserves. It confirmed widespread use of extra-library resources by students for their listening assignments: YouTube, streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora, MP3s they had purchased themselves. Reasons given for preferring these sources: ability to listen on a smartphone or tablet (a preference also noted by commercial database vendors, who have begun developing mobile-device capabilities); personal comfort, and convenience. On the other hand, two encouraging reasons students give for using the library’s CD collection: the superior sound quality, and the availability of library staff for help.

CATALOGING

I attended a half-day workshop on genre and medium terms for music. Historically, the Library of Congress subject headings have combined, in long pre-coordinated strings, many disparate aspects of the materials we catalog: topic (Buddhism), genre (drama, folk music), form (symphonies), medium (painting, piano), physical format (scores), publication type (textbooks, catalogs), intended audience (children’s books, textbooks for foreign speakers). Since these can be more effectively machine-manipulated as discrete data than in strings, there’s a project afoot to parse them into separate vocabularies, to be used in new RDA fields, for more precise search-and-sort capabilities in our discovery interfaces.

Three vocabularies are being developed:

  • Genre/form (LCGFT) — e.g., drama, folk music
  • Demographic groups (LCDGT) — author’s nationality, gender, etc.; intended audience
  • Medium of performance (LCMPT) — for music: instruments/voices

Given the many thousands of existing subject terms, this is clearly a challenging task, and I acquired a new appreciation for its complexities as I listened to the LC folks describe their struggles wrestling music terminology (as just one disciplinary example) to the ground. Problems debated included: types of music that musicians have long regarded as genres in their own right (think string quartets) but are really just defined by their instrumentation or number of players; ditto for music set to certain texts (Magnificats, Te Deums); bringing out the distinctions between art music, folk music, and popular music (an attempt to remedy the original classical-centrism of the LC terminology); terms like “world music” that seem to have been invented mainly for marketing purposes; music for specific events or functions; stuff like master classes, concert tours, etc.; ethnomusicological (area studies) terms, which proved too numerous, and too inconsistently defined in reference sources, to be dealt with in the project’s initial phase; and tension between the need to build a logical hierarchy and recognizing the more fluid conventions practiced by user communities. While the new vocabularies are still under construction, we learned about the major changes, and how to encode the terms in RDA records.

In a session on Bibframe (a new encoding format designed to replace the aging MARC format), we heard about LD4L, a project conducted by Standford, Cornell, Harvard, and LC to develop an open-source extensible ontology to aid in conversion of MARC to Bibframe; and another project at UC-Davis to develop a roadmap for Bibframe workflows, from acquisitions operations to cataloging and conversion, and even a prototype discovery layer.

SIDELIGHTS

A Friday-night treat was the screening of a silent film (The General, starring Buster Keaton) accompanied by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra (a 6-piece strings-and-winds band). The score was one they had compiled from music used by theater orchestras of the period, now archived in the University of Colorado’s American Music Research Center.

Jeff at LAUNC-CH 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015 11:07 am

On March 13, 2015 I traveled with Steve Kelley to the annual LAUNC-CH Conference in Chapel Hill. Unlike Leslie, Ellen, and Kaeley, I did so without the stress of a presentation engagement. What followed was a fairly relaxing day of programming. (Not wanting to add to anyone’s jitters, I opted not to watch my colleagues’ presentation; but I heard rave reviews.)

The keynote speaker, Dr. Jeffrey A. Greene, a professor at UNC, refuted the belief that modern students are truly “digital natives.” Oftentimes it is assumed that, having grown up with the internet, smart phones, etc., today’s students have a natural knack for digital literacy. Mr. Greene argued that this is not nearly so true as is commonly believed. For one thing, it is a false assumption that all students grow up with computers. Some do not. Nor has the human brain done a lot of evolving in the short space of time the internet has been around. Students still need help. And given that professors often don’t have time to teach kids how to learn, librarians fill an essential role in helping them navigate the complex information landscape.

Marc Bess and Somaly Kim Wu from UNC-Charlotte presented on their beta “49er Alerts” system whereby library patrons who opt in by downloading and activating a particular app receive (via Bluetooth or Apple’s iBeacon) helpful information as they move throughout the library. Such “proximity marketing” technology allows for the automatic sending of messages about circulation desk hours, new e-resources relevant to a particular subject range in the stacks, or library events, based on the physical location of the user’s device. It sounds like a cool program. They hope to share the code, which is being developed by one of their grad students, by the end of the year.

Will Cross and Greg Raschke from NC State talked about the brokenness of the current textbook market and students’ captivity to preposterously inflated book costs. NCSU’s Alt-Textbook project is a grant-funding program in which the Libraries provide money and support to instructors who are interested in exploring alternative teaching resources. Their goals are to improve instruction by tailoring course materials to individual instructors, to decrease cost for students, and to provide instructional support in the form of library experts in copyright, digitization, and online instruction. (Here I thought about our own library experts at ZSR, and how lucky we are to have them.) Mr. Cross, a lawyer, made the interesting point that cost-saving measures such as these ought to look pretty good to budget-conscious state legislators concerned with the cost of higher education.

Magnanimous, no? To close, I’ll skip to the lightning talks that ended the day. NC State’s Hunt Library has a nifty program of showing films digitized by A/V Geeks on a weekly basis alongside commentary from speakers in various disciplines. I was glad to learn that Skip from A/V Geeks is out there. Jaci Paige Wilkinson, a SILS student at UNC, then presented the interesting notion that hip-hop music provides a compelling case study for thinking about linked data given its heavy use of musical samples that relate to various works and creators in different ways (RDA relator codes, anyone?). It was a thought-provoking way to end the afternoon.

LAUNC-CH 2015 (Ellen)

Monday, March 23, 2015 11:00 am

Leslie has just covered the LAUNC-CH keynote address, so I will turn to concurrent sessions I attended.

“The Library Stories Project: Capturing and Promoting Everyday Innovation at the NCSU Libraries” was presented by Kim Duckett, Anne Burke, and Jason Evans Groth. This project, which has been going on for about a year, has been an attempt to capture and to share stories of innovation and collaboration across a range of activities in the university’s libraries: learning, teaching, and research. The impetus was the awareness that much of what librarians do happens—and then the evidence disappears. The Stories Project is staff-driven, and library staff serve as the on-the-ground reporters, capturing and promoting stories that highlight collaborations among various user groups. Staff created a process to capture and to promote stories, and the result has been a library-wide effort focusing on non-routine, after-the-fact, media-rich accounts, written for all. Stories vary in length, use of media, library departments represented, user communities represented, and types of engagement. For example, one such story has been a project by graduate students to interpret the State of History at NC State. It is a graduate level history class to build a digital history project using images from the libraries’ collections.

The lessons from this project? People want to share stories; one cannot meet every need; editorial role and workflow are important; and good visuals make the story.

Another afternoon session, “Does Forcing Students to Ask for Help Work? Assessing the Effect of Requiring Term Paper Consultations,” presented by Stephanie Brown and Lynne Jones of UNC-Chapel Hill, was a useful session that addressed a common problem in public services departments. The focus was a Journalism course on media management and policy, and the challenge was the typical problem of how to get students to come to librarians for assistance with their research projects. Extra credit? Cajoling? The course professor and librarians decided to require students to come, which made all the difference: 76-83% came for research assistance. After going through IRB, librarians assessed students and the initiative. Students said that they had found the consultations helpful for finding relevant articles, clarifying their topics, and for writing their papers. 100% said that they were likely or very likely to meet with a librarian in the future. The desired effect!

Leslie at LAUNC-CH 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015 10:21 am

I don’t often get to attend this annual conference, hosted by the Librarians Assembly of UNC-Chapel Hill, but always enjoy it when I do.

KEYNOTE

This year, we had an exceptionally engaging keynote speaker, Jeffrey A. Greene of the Learning Sciences and Psychological Studies program at Chapel Hill. He began by busting some common myths about learning:

  • Digital natives: Greene questions claims of physiological changes in young people’s brains; technology is just one of the life experiences of all sorts (whether you grew up on a farm or in suburbia, etc.) that informs thinking patterns. What is real, Greene says, is the digital divide — we can’t assume every student had a computer a home, is familiar with internet navigation, etc.
  • Multi-tasking: Greene contrasts the task of driving a car, which uses the automatic brain functions, with juggling “cognitively conscious” tasks — we just can’t do the latter effectively.
  • Learning styles: the style one uses at any given time depends on the content (try conveying the locations of the US states without resorting to any visual means).

Greene’s formula for self-regulated learning:

  • Understand the task.
  • Make a plan (a step many students skip).
  • Enact good strategies (many bright students who coasted through high school arrive in college with a very small toolbox of learning strategies).
  • Monitor progress (for anyone making their first attempt to master new material, it’s hard to add on this additional layer — students need our encouragement and guidance).
  • Evaluate and adapt (resisting the brain’s natural tendency to re-use automatic responses — to it, that’s more efficient than thinking, and re-thinking, about what you’re doing).

Greene’s presentation is posted on the LAUNC-CH website: http://launcch.web.unc.edu/events/conference/

LIB250

Another highlight was the presentation given by Ellen Daugman, Kaeley McMahan, and myself on LIB250 (our Humanities course). This was essentially an update on an article we published in 2012. We reviewed our initial development of the course, and described lessons we learned during the five years we’ve taught it, and how we adapted and improved it. We had a large and engaged audience, who offered thoughtful questions and an enthusiastic overall response. Discussions continued over lunch. A very gratifying outcome!

Our slides

Our article

 

 


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