Professional Development

Charleston Conference 2014

Friday, November 14, 2014 3:09 pm

Contents: 1. short tidbits (e.g. Alma from Ex Libris, “screen reading” effects, take care in using downloads as a measure, shared print storage) and 2. the rising cost of e-book short-term loans with a DDA program

1. the short bits

Alma – was the commercial ILS that I heard mentioned repeatedly, often in the context of migrations. At a poster session, I spoke with a librarian from the University of Tennessee Libraries about their migrating order records to Alma (from Aleph) and the next day I spoke with a librarian from another state about migration to Alma. I came away with the impression that both were satisfied so far. I heard other librarians mention Alma as the ILS of interest or having recently selected it.

Steve Shadle – “How Libraries Use Publisher Metadata” Steve worked with Springer on metadata and realized other publishers could use the same kind of understanding. Publishers at the presentation were engaged and asking questions. (I say, “hooray!”)

Carol Tenopir – “To Boldly Go Beyond Downloads” reported from research with focus groups and interviews that downloads are on the decline and “be careful about using it as a measure.” The survey just went out, so keep an eye out for later reports from that part of the research.

David Durant (ECU) and Tony Horava (University of Ottawa) - “Future of Reading and Academic Library” The presenters referenced Jakob Neilson’s F shaped pattern (of eye tracking) and explained linear and tabular reading and how they affect learning. Their research includes the differences between “screen reading” and reading from print. Look for their article in the January 2015 issue of Portal.

Emory and Georgia Tech’s shared print repository, Emtech, was helped along by support from the presidents at both universities and the prior establishment of a 501-3c to support other initiatives. (I asked because I had wondered how a private/public partnership for something long-term like this could work.) They determined that they had only 17% overlap in collections and each library is putting 1 million volumes into the shared facility — serials from Tech and monographs from Emory. They are storing microforms there; with the Atlanta climate, a cooler will have to be used when pulling those from facility, so that they gradually warm up from the 50 degrees without moisture forming on them. It will be one unified collection and they are contemplating whether they will need a separate OCLC holding symbol. This will be Harvard style — with static, not mobile, shelving.

Jeff already reported on plenaries and one session that he and I both attended,plus DDA with Kanopy streaming video, and included some lovely photos.

 

2. increasing cost of short-term loans (STLs):

Summary: All parties, publishers, librarians and aggregators are adopting a “let’s work together” attitude and showing understanding that workable pricing models are yet to be figured out with e-books because monographs are different from journals; everyone is inclined towards keeping DDA rather than eliminating it. The consortia named below who facilitated a lively lunch all pulled DDA records from their catalogs but I learned in a sidebar conversation that a large consortium removed only the EBL DDA records for the same titles in ebrary Academic Complete (generally considered to be primarily a backlist) and made no other changes. We’re implementing this change, literally as I’m writing this, since we just got the subscription product through NC LIVE. (See also Carol’s report.)

Details on STLS: Following up on this summer’s announcement that a number of publishers were raising the prices of STLs, I asked Derrik to do some analysis of our own experience prior to the conference. The bottom line on his analysis is that the rise in cost is affecting our bottom line noticeably. I managed to get to a lively lunch session with a mix of publishers, librarians, and aggregators in the audience. Facilitators included a representative from: Connecticut-Trinity-Wesleyan (CTW Consortium); Colby-Bates-Bowdoin Consortium; Tri-College Consortium (Bryn Mawr, Swarthmore, Haverford); The Five Colleges Consortium (Amherst College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst) The lively lunch facilitators asked specific questions and my take-aways were:

  • reaffirmation that sales of books (whatever format) are dropping and the volume of STLs isn’t rising to meet the cost of publishing them (not from conference, but see this explanation of the cost of publishing an e-book)
  • inconclusive discussion on setting an optimal dollar amount or percentage of list price (I went to the mic and commented that setting a percentage was a questionable strategy with some publishers now raising the list price for electronic to be more than print; note that the e-book was not always, but often, close to hardcover price until recently)
  • in general an embargo was undesirable from all perspectives
  • differentiated pricing on frontlist versus backlist could be considered (I wonder if this wouldn’t add undesirable complexity and there might be a better solution)

Also on the STL crisis topic, Carol and I both were at a session titled, Sustainability not Profitability: the Future of Scholarly Monographs and STL.” Carol’s coverage, also linked above, differs slightly from mine (and is brief).

  • Barbara Kawecki from YBP gave the landscape of library activity to start the session: from 1998 to now there has been a dramatic decline in print purchasing. A loss of 50,000 units to a publisher is significant. YBP has seen a dramatic increase in records sent for DDA but only tiny amount is purchased and a large percentage of spending is on STL.
  • Rebecca Seger of Oxford University Press then gave an overview of the cost of monograph publishing and stated that the real problem is shrinking monograph budget (which I heard multiple times at the conference). She explained that with journals publishers can estimate revenue because of subscriptions, but publishers have used the print approval plans of libraries historically to estimate revenue for monographs. Each title might sell 400-700 “units” for the lifetime. Publishers can’t sell that amount now and can’t estimate revenue based on approval plans anymore because of all the changes libraries are making relative to DDA/STL. It costs about $10,000 to publish a monograph and printing is only about a third of that cost (or more for a smaller publisher).
  • Lisa Nachtigall from Wiley also described the impact of DDA/STL:

2009 to now: 92% print to 77% print
3rd party sales of e big increase: now 7%
32% less revenue from top 100 titles from 2009 to now; 28% less if take out the top 5 performers
70% of all etransactions from DDA/STL
Only 32% of DDA records went to transaction and 82% of that are STLs
86% less revenue on the e

Lisa is in the editorial part of Wiley and says that because of all of this Wiley is exiting Physics altogether, getting out of higher level research areas and will focus on textbooks. She noted that faculty will not able to disseminate their research in the same ways.

  • Michael Levine-Clark (a frequent speaker on e-books and Associate Dean for Scholarly Communication and Collections Services at the University of Denver) counseled the audience for librarians and publishers to work together on this problem, which was also the attitude at the lively lunch I described above. He said he was willing to pay more for the titles that get used. Various pricing models are needed together right now. He is concerned about the level of risk — future access to the titles not purchased — but he noted that the budget doesn’t allow him to buy all of those titles now anyway. He had a lot of analytical graphs in his presentation, which may be found near the end of the entire presentation. He wondered about having a fee for DDA service to publishers and YBP as part of the solution (but several audience members noted that all libraries already pay a small fee to YBP for the service of managing the bibliographic records). He concluded that we need to pony up to keep all books available for long term. During Q&A with the audience, it came up that if part of the change to using STL includes charges for browses, then it may not work. There was agreement from the audience that we have to work with publishers to keep DDA. The concept of an annual fee, “pay to play,” was raised again.

This was a particularly good conference in terms of content and consistently nice weather.

Charleston 2014 According to Carol: Kanopy and E-Books

Thursday, November 13, 2014 4:56 pm

Illinois State University spoke about their experience with Kanopy. Two key observations about impact:

  • After starting DDA, they saw an increased number of requests to license non-DDA Kanopy titles – suggesting that some percentage of faculty users treat Kanopy as a standalone database.
  • ISU had previously bought streaming rights to some individual titles, which they hosted locally. When these titles were duplicated in the Kanopy DDA set, the Kanopy version generally had more use. This implies that the Kanopy versions are either more useful or more easily discoverable.

At Wake Forest, two Kanopy DDA films have already been used enough to trigger a purchase, and this is before loading the MARC records or doing any promotion beyond a single ZSReads article.

Two librarians from Wesleyan University did both qualitative (anthropology-style + usability) and quantitative (survey) studies of student attitudes and behaviors regarding e-books. Their observations:

  • Having personal control over a copy was most important, e.g. printing or making a PDF.
  • E-books work best for discovery. Print is better for deep reading.
  • Students read just what they need to write the paper. This holds true for print books and e-books.
  • Students are not interested in pirating per se, but they prioritize easy over legitimate.
  • Indexes to e-books are still exact reproductions of the paper format. The index terms are not hyperlinked; therefore, the index does not get used.

I saw two presentations on e-books featuring the always interesting Michael Levine-Clark from Denver. In the first presentation, he was on a panel that included reps from Wiley, OUP and YBP. They focused on the rapidly increasing costs of short-term loans, i.e. the one-day rental fees paid for the DDA books. Rebecca Seger from OUP presented on the economics of publishing a book. In a nutshell, OUP could predict the revenue streams for print but not for DDA. However, Levine-Clark pointed out that in the aggregate Denver spends the same amount on book content regardless of the existence of DDA. It’s just spread around differently. (At WFU, ZSR is actually spending more on monographs since the advent of DDA.) Any total reduction in monographs spending (at Denver or nationally) is due to journal inflation, which both Oxford and Wiley engage in. Since Denver is facing a flat budget, if current trends continue, their monograph spending (print or e) will be $0 by 2020. The panel did not offer any concrete suggestions on resolving the crisis beyond general statements about publishers and librarians working together.

The second presentation explored e-book usage in the Humanities. Levine-Clark had a national data set, and he compared usage in Humanities vs. Social Sciences vs. STEM. Then he compared the disciplines within Humanities to each other. I quickly realized that – based on usage patterns – Linguistics & Communication act more like the Social Sciences than Humanities. One interesting thing that he noted: The number of use sessions per 100 books available is lower in the Humanities than in Social Sciences or STEM. He did not speculate on a reason, but personally, I wonder if this reflects an oversupply of Humanities research compared to the demand for consuming Humanities research – especially since Humanities faculty are often specifically evaluated by whether they have published a book.

Imagine for a moment that ZSR cancelled its DDA plan: What might take its place? The two main alternative purchasing models are subscriptions (e.g. ebrary) and the Big Deal. I attended two sessions that probed different aspects of the Big Deal model. For e-books, Big Deal purchases are usually brokered directly by publishers (instead of by aggregators like EBL and ebrary). They generally do not have any DRM, and the books can be used by unlimited users. After UNC-Charlotte serendipitously discovered that they had 30 course adoption books within their Big Deal packages, they began deliberately promoting this idea with the faculty. They ultimately paid $14K for 117 additional titles. (They purchased some books one-by-one in addition to the Big Deals.) The bookstore was a good partner. A faculty member who used this program for his Film Studies course talked about how this program positively impacted his teaching.

Examples:

  • He did not feel morally obligated to use every single chapter in the textbook, since the students were not required to pay out-of-pocket for it.
  • A corollary: he felt free to use single chapters from various books.
  • He likes a tech-free classroom, yet he still found ways to use the text within the class session.

Sidebar: This generally works for “course adoption” books. Rebecca Seger had helpfully explained the distinction between a “course adoption” book and a textbook. A textbook is something like Intro to Statistics, 18th edition. A “course adoption” book is something like The Kirghiz and Wakhi of Afghanistan: adaptation to closed frontiers and war, which was not expressly designed as a textbook, but was indeed adopted for course use by a faculty member at WFU. Publishers do not know in advance which general monographs will become course adoption books. Generally, publishers do not sell multi-user textbooks to libraries, since that harms their lucrative (extortionate?) textbook revenue stream.

The last presentation I attended painted a less rosy picture of the Big Deal. Miami University thoroughly analyzed 2.5 years of usage statistics for Big Deal e-books purchased in 2012. Only 19% of titles had a use. Just three books (by their titles, clearly textbooks) accounted for 17% of downloads. Miami’s FTE is roughly 15K, or twice that of WFU. Therefore, I speculate that WFU would see only 10% usage if ZSR were to purchase this kind of package. Every time I have investigated the pricing of one of these packages, I have noted that the discount for buying in bulk does not even come close to accounting for the nearly inevitable low usage rates. While packages differ as to subject coverage, the ones that cover everything published by Publisher X in a given year are the worst deal, as there is no price break for the large swaths of content (e.g. agriculture) that would see virtually no use at a school like WFU.

While the Big Deal for journals is frequently (and sometimes with justice) maligned among librarians, the extra you pay for the journals without any previous subscription (i.e. likely low-use journals) rarely exceeds more than 10% of prior spend. I would not advocate for pursuing the Big Deal model for monographs unless publishers begin offering much steeper discounts.

The Ellers Visit the In-Laws; Charleston 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 12:00 pm

Eleven-day-old daughter and sleep-deprived wife in tow, I attended the 2014 Charleston Conference flying arguably in the face of reason. I had the advantage of a free place to stay: my parents-in-law live out on James Island, a 15-minute drive to the Francis Marion Hotel where the conference is held. Given this fact and the conference’s unique focus on acquisitions, it makes sense for this meeting to become an annual excursion for me.

The opening speaker, Anthea Stratigos (apparently her real last name) from Outsell, Inc. talked about the importance of strategy, marketing, and branding the experience your library provides. She emphasized that in tough budgetary times it is all the more important to know your target users and to deliver the services, products, and environment they are looking for rather than mindlessly trying to keep up with the Joneses and do everything all at once. “Know your portfolio,” advised Ms. Stratigos. I would say that we at ZSR do a good job of this.

At “Metadata Challenges in Discovery Systems,” speakers from Ex Libris, SAGE, Queens University, and the University of Waterloo discussed the functionality gap that exists in library discovery systems. While tools like Summon have great potential and deliver generally good results, they are reliant on good metadata to function. In an environment in which records come from numerous sources, the task of normalizing data is a challenge for library, vendor, and system provider alike. Consistent and rational metadata practices, both across the industry and within a given library, are essential. To the extent that it is possible, a good discovery system ought to be able to smooth out issues with inconsistent/bad metadata; but the onus is largely on catalogers. I for one am glad that we are on top of authority control. I am also glad that at the time of implementation I was safely 800 miles away in Louisiana.

In a highly entertaining staged debate over the premise that “Wherever possible, library collections should be shaped by patrons instead of librarians,” Rick Anderson from Utah and David Magier from Princeton contested the question of how large a role PDA/DDA should play in collection development in an academic context. Arguing pro-DDA, Mr. Anderson claimed that we’ve confused the ends with the means in providing content: the selection process by librarians ought properly to be seen simply as a method for identifying needed content, and if another more automated process (DDA) can accomplish the same purpose (and perhaps do it better), then it ought to be embraced. Arguing the other side, Mr. Magier emphasized DDA’s limitations, eloquently comparing over-reliance on it to eating mashed potatoes with a screwdriver just because a screwdriver is a useful tool. He pointed out that even in the absence of DDA, librarians have always worked closely and directly with patrons to answer their collection needs. In truth, both debaters would have agreed that a balance of DDA and traditional selection by librarians is the ideal model.

One interesting program discussed the inadequacy of downloads as proxy for usage given the amount of resource-sharing that occurs post-download. At another, librarians from UMass-Amherst and Simmons College presented results of their Kanopy streaming video DDA (PDA to them) program, similar to the one we’ll be rolling out later this month; they found that promotion to faculty was essential in generating views. On Saturday morning, librarians from Utah State talked about the importance of interlibrary loan as a supplement to acquisitions budgets and collection development policies in a regional consortium context. On this point, they try to include in all e-resource license agreements a clause specifying that ILL shall be allowed “utilizing the prevailing technology of the day” – an attempt at guaranteeing that they will remain able to loan their e-materials regardless of format, platform changes, or any other new technological developments.

Also on Saturday Charlie Remy of UT-Chattanooga and Paul Moss from OCLC discussed adoption of OCLC’s Knowledge Base and Cooperative Management Initiative. This was of particular interest as we in Resource Services plan on exploring use of the Knowledge Base early next year. Mr. Remy shared some of the positives and negatives he has experienced: among the former, the main one would be the crowdsourcing of e-resource metadata maintenance in a cooperative environment; among the negatives were slow updating of the knowledge base, especially with record sets from new vendors, along with the usual problem of bad vendor-provided metadata. The final session I attended was about link resolvers and the crucial role that delivery plays in our mission. As speakers pointed out, we’ve spent the past few years focusing on discover, discovery, discovery. Now might be a good time to look again at how well the content our users find is being delivered.

SELA/COMO

Monday, October 13, 2014 11:35 am

I currently serve as the North Carolina Library Association’s state representative to the Southeastern Library Association (SELA). SELA currently has about 250 members and generally partners with southeastern Library State Association Conferences to hold their annual meetings. The last time it met jointly with North Carolina was back in 2004 in Charlotte. I was approached at this conference and asked concerning the possibility of North Carolina hosting SELA during our 2017 conference which is to be held here in Winston Salem.

SELA’s 2014 conference met jointly with the Georgia Library Association (GLA) and the Georgia Association for Instructional Technology, Inc. (GAIT) collectively referred to as the Council of Media Organizations (COMO) in Augusta, Georgia during October 1 – 3. The conference theme was “Transforming our Libraries: Master the Possibilities in Augusta.”

NCLA was well represented at the SELA conference. Kathy Bradshaw (UNCG) and I teamed up to present “Leading from the Middle: Are You Ready?” Middle managers are often in a difficult position; not always the ones to have a hand in developing the strategies and subsequent decisions, but generally the one tasked with seeing that they are implemented. We shared with the audience details surrounding the values middle managers bring to an organization, discussed some of the common challenges they face, outlined the most desirable managerial traits and also offered suggestions on how they might be best prepared for the job. As a leader, when your staff think of the following traits, will they think of you? Are you competent, honest, trustworthy, fair, consistent, passionate, empathetic and approachable? In conclusion we offered practical solutions to a few of the audience participants’ real life quandaries.

Michael Crumpton, also of UNCG, shared insight on “Meeting the Challenge of Community College Librarianship: Trends Ahead and Competencies needed.” Community Colleges serve about 50% of all undergraduates in the United States. Most have the least amount of staff, many lack the range of critical resources all of this while serving the most diverse student populations. Changes within the high school curricula such as the creation of early and middle college programs are among the many trends which continue to have huge implications to the work of Community College librarians. I found this statistical data, as it relates to community colleges, most interesting.

  • Over 1200 Nationwide
  • Over 12.4 million enrolled
  • Average age = 28
  • 15% age 40 plus
  • 42% first generation
  • 58% women
  • 45% minorities
  • Large % employed

Crumpton’s second presentation ran concurrently with the session I presented in, so I was unable to attend. He spoke, upon my request, to our statewide planning efforts in the creation of the NCLA Leadership Institute. His presentation may well serve as a resource for my upcoming conversation with SELA board members around the possibility of conducting a regional leadership institute.

The “Virtue of Value-Based Leadership” session leader reminded attendees that librarians have a long history of upholding intellectual freedom, equal access to information for all, privacy and other social values. However, when library leaders design programs, services and other offerings do those values remain at the heart of the libraries and librarians? Do we empower our staff to make values based decisions? Are the values of the University interwoven within the library mission statement? Does your library clearly state and share its values with the public? I was eager to say that our library does!

Trevor Dawes, ACRL President, was the closing keynoter. He shared more on his campaign for libraries to partner with campus financial aid and student services offices in the fight for financial literacy. Of student debt, roughly 26% of it comes from cost associated with the purchasing of textbooks. Are libraries willing to take the fight for open educational resources? Washington University partnered with a local bank conducting an informational session around financial literacy. Attendees indicated that they found the program worthwhile. Topics suggested for future conversations centered on loans, budgets and investment strategies. Also RUSA was recently awarded an IMLS grant to create a best practices document on this topic.

Ellen M. at OCLC Member Forum

Thursday, October 9, 2014 5:14 pm

Along with Monesha, I attended the first regional OCLC Member Forum at UNCG on Tuesday, October 9. The forum is a new idea for OCLC and this was only their 3rd in the country. At this time they hope to hold these forums annually.

The forum began with a short history lesson on OCLC (16,857 member institutions and 72,035 library collections with 321 million records) and an update on WorldCat Discovery and the “sunset” of FirstSearch (December 2015).

Next there were Breakout Sessions. The sessions were divided into groups discussing resource sharing, discovery and cataloging. I attended the session on resource sharing with Alisa Whitt, an OCLC Product & Services Consultant. She said her job is to sell iLLiad to libraries so she was familiar with the inter-workings of iLLiad and WorldCat. Several people in my session use OCLC’s WorldShare ILL to process their interlibrary loans so it was helpful for her to be familiar with both. While most of the enhancements that were discussed were in WorldShare ILL, she also introduced a British Library add-on that will be available in iLLiad to make those requests easier. My session had approximately 10 people so we were able to share our ideas/concerns/gripes and it certainly seemed as though the OCLC representatives there were taking notes and considering the comments made. In the past, most of my contact with OCLC has been on the receiving end of a sales pitch so it was a good change of perspective. One enhancement that was mentioned often was OCLC’s Knowledge Base which, among other things, would enable library e-journal holdings to be displayed when another library is requesting an article (thereby cutting down on time spent on cancelled requests).

I’d recommend a future Member Forum to anyone in the library who uses an OCLC product who would like to network with fellow users and have the opportunity to meet with a specialized OCLC representative.

OCLC Member Forum – UNCG

Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:55 am

I recently attended the first regional OCLC member forum held at UNCG. The meeting focused on the many changes happening with OCLC products and a better understanding of how the products work together. I went to the break out session pertaining to Cataloging and Metadata. Within this session, members were able to give feedback on issues that we have been having particularly with Connexion and make request for features that don’t exist. OCLC has a web page dedicated to the forums which include pictures, questions and feedback from the attendees. Feel free to explore at the following link https://oclc.org/en-US/events/member-forums/after-party.html

Leslie at SEMLA 2014

Monday, October 6, 2014 5:07 pm

This year’s meeting of the Southeast Music Library Association was hosted by Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge. It was one of those enjoyable meetings where one can just sit back and absorb a lot of new information on a novel topic — this year’s theme was electronic and experimental music. LSU has a large program in this field, and boasts a Laptop Orchestra and a Mobile Device Orchestra. But it’s an area that many of the rest of us don’t have much occasion to deal with.

Some challenges in preserving and distributing born-digital musical works:

  • How do you define a musical instrument these days? Especially when the “instrument” is a piece of software or a smartphone? Or is part of a multi-media work?
  • How do you distribute such instruments, so that others are able to perform your work?
  • How do you notate this kind of music?
  • Obsolescence of software and hardware.

Attempted solutions have included:

  • Distributing the software for building instruments via websites, and by developing universal encoding standards.
  • Archives and repositories for software and media.
  • Rapid prototyping of instruments, for instance by producing stand-alone units (containing sensors, circuit boards, etc.) for specific projects.

Other presenters tackled the issues involved in cataloging experimental music. A colleague from Florida State identified lacunae in Library of Congress subject headings: often, the scope is either too broad (“Computer music,” “Electronic music”) or too narrow (flash-in-the-pan trends). There’s a paucity of headings for non-traditional methods of sound production, and extended techniques on instruments (we have “Prepared piano” dating from the 1960s generation, but not for current techniques like fluteboxing.) Another problem: genre and form have traditionally been the primary organizing principle when classifying music, but with much new music it’s the process of creating or performing the work (often on a random or extra-musical basis, as when sensors are placed or mapped so as to produce musical tones when people pass through a public place, or interact with a website) that is the principle aspect. A possible solution to all this: tagging, a.k.a. folksonomies. Some tags assigned by users of Last.fm, for instance, show potential to be incorporated into library catalogs, and into the LCSH hierarchy. A colleage from Chapel Hill also opened fascinating vistas for exploiting linked data in cataloging Hip Hop music: Hip Hop uses sampling from many other genres, so metadata that links to the source recordings would be of inestimable value for academic study, and for the DJs and artists who are currently involved in the identification and preservation of the source material (like Ninth Wonder, who recently guest-lectured at WFU).

On the IL front, presenters from Loyola described how, in response to an accreditation report that revealed deficiencies in the Music School’s efforts to equip its majors with technology skills, they developed a “Tech for Music” course, required for all music students. The course includes sessions on recording techniques, working with images (Photoshop etc.), software for music notation, and web presence for composers and performers, as well as good old library research skills.

All told, interesting sessions and perfect fall weather — couldn’t be better!

Tanya at the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Annual Meeting, 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014 11:12 am

I recently returned from the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Washington, D.C.—it set a record for attendance, so was a bit crowded (I could barely find Craig’s poster display). It was a very busy week! I am in the middle of my second year of service as an SAA Council member, and was also recently elected to serve on the Executive Committee (as a Council representative meeting with the SAA Executive Director and the elected Treasurer, Vice President and President). I attended my first meeting of the SAA Foundation as part of my new role. Needless to say, much of my time was spent with governance issues during the week. However, not to worry—there is a special deal where I can purchase all of the sessions for $29.95:

http://saa.archivists.org/store/archives-records-ensuring-access-conference-recordings-on-mp3/3945/?

SAA Council met early in the week and approved a Code of Conduct, Best Practices for Volunteers and an issue brief on HIPAA (Health Information and Portability Act), among other items:

http://www2.archivists.org/news/2014/council-adopts-best-practices-for-volunteers-in-archives-revised-terms-of-participation-fo?

I also serve as the liaison for the Committee on Advocacy and Public Policy and the Diversity Committee. Both are very busy groups, and some of their upcoming projects include issue briefs on funding for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and other advocacy issues, and the creation of an SAA Diversity Toolkit (based on the one developed by RBMS (ALA). I attended a session on Kickstarter as well as an interesting forum on Diversifying the Archival Record which featured authors from the recently published SAA Diversity Reader. I have a copy of this new book, if anyone is interested in taking a look. Finally, I was able to hear several interesting presentations from the Native American Archives and Latin America and Caribbean Cultural Heritage Archives Roundtables.

I was very excited to attend our reception, held at the Library of Congress. They have an entire stack area dedicated to their card catalog, it was amazing!

 

I also was able to get out one evening for a tour of some of the memorials, including the Lincoln Memorial.

 

It was unseasonably cool in DC for this time of year, for which I was very thankful. I ended my week with the Archives Leadership Institute dinner (Saturday) and morning workshop (Sunday)—as always, this group immediately energized me, and some new ideas and connections have already come out of it.

After a successful trip, I was very happy to arrive home late Sunday night and again, would like to say how much I appreciate those direct flights out of the Piedmont Triad Airport!

2014 Archives-Records: Ensuring Access COSA-NAGARA-SAA Joint Meeting

Thursday, August 21, 2014 2:08 pm

MLK Memorial
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial

I attended the joint SAA conference in Washington, DC last week. The weather was great and so was the conference. In the opening plenary, Miriam Nisbet and David Cuillier discussed the “State of Access.” Nisbet, Director of NARA’s Office of Government Information Services, has worked with the Freedom of Information Act and openness during her entire career. She believes openness means a transparent and collaborative organization. Nisbet is involved with the Open Government Partnership, which tries to achieve transparency, including access to government information, passing laws and implementing them. She emphasized three ideas:

1. Records Management- This is a push in federal government to reform how records are maintained, including a push to make them electronic. She would like to build in access from the beginning of this process.

2. Open data- This is a push to pay attention to and promote information as a strategic asset and get this information out. Archivists and librarians are critically important in this push.

3. Freedom of information Act- This act provides an opportunity for the public to speak up.

David Cuillier, from the School of Journalism at the University of Arizona, made the point that one third of news stories rely on government data. Ciullier believes these stories make the world better, so it is important to get this information out. He believes this information can lead to greater public engagement. Cullier stated that Public Information officers in agencies are trying to control their message, and become very political which keeps some information from the public. Ciullier said that the Freedom of Information Act still does not work very well. Redacting is used by lawyers and others to prevent information from being available. This keeps many journalists from even using it.

people on the path
In DC, there are lots of people taking lots of photos. Usually, one politely pauses as they snap the image, before continuing down the sidewalk. I like to politely stop and also snap a photo-it makes them laugh!

Preventive Conservation in the Archives-Broad Approaches for a Big Impact

The recent idea of the “more product, less process” paradigm doesn’t usually include conservation. This session discussed using this idea in the preservation/conservation realm.

Fletcher Durant, New York University, believes risk management is at the heart of this issue. Different collections have different vulnerabilities, and every repository has its own risk portfolio. Durant analyzes risk and takes actions to manage risks and available resources. He advised getting a monitor and collecting environmental data. This helps you plan for the future. Durant also advised getting to know your facilities staff to set up a line of communication about your HVAC and any issues. He strongly advised setting an example with your food policy.

Priscilla Anderson, Harvard University Preservation, develops stakeholders across the institution to help with the difficult process of making policy and guidelines. The highest cause of damage to collections is caused by handling. So, for example, Harvard has a policy where they open rolled items only to the part you need to see. Additional strategies are removing only one folder at a time and keeping camera cords and straps away from collections. Anderson said to prepare for your next emergency by training staff.

Sarah Stauderman, Smithsonian Institution, uses surveys to plan and improve conditions. Benchmarking can be used to compare repositories, and make recommendations about care or training to try to improve the preservation IQ.

Laura McCann, New York University, believes hands-on work can be used to protect the object. At the Repository level- changing air filters, cleaning, and removing food can help. At the Collection level, avoid inappropriate housing or oversized containers. McCann built internal dividers and containers out of blue board for their collections for Item level protection (custom containers and supports using internal storage in standard archival boxes).

Persian book exhibit
Persian Book Exhibit at Library of Congress

I attended the Preservation Section Committee meeting, where we discussed trends in the preservation of AV materials. The speakers were Robert Horton, Associate Deputy Director for Library Services,IMLS; Karen Cariani, Director of the Media Library at WGBH in Boston; and Carl Fleischhauer, the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress.

I presented a poster on the Dolmen Press Collection at the conference, demonstrating the various ways we have used it at ZSR Library (LIB100, printing, research). I was really pleased with the response to the poster and met many people who knew of this collection and had great ideas to further promote its use.

SNCA-SAA-Dolmen-poster

Documenting the Epidemic:Preserving and making accessible HIV/AIDS History

A wonderful panel of experts presented on their attempts to document and preserve the history of the AIDS epidemic. Somehow, during the difficult times of the 1980′s, these individuals managed to realize that someone should try to preserve the history of the epidemic. Victoria Harden, National Institutes of Health, was very concerned that documentation may be lost about the epidemic, treatment and developing drugs to treat aids. Harden helped hold a conference and published a book on the proceedings called Aids and the Historian in 1989. She also helped with instituting an oral history archive on the AIDS epidemic called NIH SIDS Oral Histories.

Pauline Oliveira, University of California, San Francisco, discussed the Aids History Project at her library. They document news, activists and papers from clinicians and researchers because UCSF Hospital had Ward 86, which became the first AIDS clinic in the US.

Ginny Roth, National Library of Medicine described collecting four decades of material including posters, comics, books, pins and postcards.

Michael Oliveira, University of Southern California Libraries, discussed One National Gay and Lesbian archives and the good work they are doing to preserve the AIDS history. They collect periodicals, theatrical and art works, Act Up materials and newsletters.

This was an important and moving presentation.

Protecting Our Heritage: Holdings Protection Training for Your Institution

This presentation by staff from the National Archives at College Park, was great and covered strategies for preventing loss in your collections reading room. They covered how to approach suspicious individuals and tell them professionally you’ll be there if they need help. this lets them know you are watching them. If things seem very suspicious, you can perform a quality control audit to make sure nothing is missing. Bags, laptops, i-Pad covers, etc. are checked and a complete check is made to insure no original documents are missing. A fun and useful part of this presentation was an exercise where we got the chance to approach one of the presenters and question them.

The All conference reception at the Library of Congress in the Great Hall was spectacular!

Library of Congress dome

Susan at the Library Assessment Conference

Wednesday, August 6, 2014 5:30 pm


The University of Washington campus with Mt. Rainier in the distance

The Library Assessment Conference is held biennially and is the largest conference of its kind (with over 600 registrants). This year it is being held in Seattle at the University of Washington. This is my first time attending this particular conference and although I know that Assessment (with a capital A) is an enormous trend in academic libraries these days, it still was surprising to me to find that you could fill a three day conference with 27 “sessions” – each with 3 or more presentations, totalling over 100! And all about assessment! The sessions are divided into tracks (papers, panels and lightning talks) and each of these is themed (collections, methods, collaboration, space, teaching/learning, etc.). The Monday afternoon poster session contained 45 posters in 4 tracks. So it’s been a challenge to pick and choose what would be most valuable to bring back to ZSR (especially when the weather is unseasonably warm and some of the meeting rooms are not air conditioned). I have found the lightning rounds to be particularly useful since those have been typically case studies which give practical how-to’s on their projects. It didn’t take long to settle into the jargon: impact, value, metrics, data visualization, response rate, methodology, analytics, evidence-based decision making… well, you get the idea.

Rather than give a blow by blow, I’d like to highlight some things that caught my attention, link to some tools and articles that might be useful and show a few images from my tour of the library spaces (Research Commons and the newly renovated Odergaard Undergraduate Library). So many things were put out over the three days that I’ll need time to wrap my head around some of them, and this will help me! I have pages of notes so am glad to dig in more deeply if any of the concepts catch your fancy!

Keynote speeches were themed “Change” and here are a few excerpts (Three keynoters – Margie Jantti, Debra Gilcrist, and David Kay)

Jantti

  • Be an indispensable partner: demonstrable benefit to the university’s current and aspirational state.
  • What data is missing? What don’t we know, even with what data is put before us?
  • Active listening is key. We are guilty of pushing forward what WE think is important.
  • Students are the lifeblood of university budgets. We need data to better understand library’s impact on student risk and success.

Gilcrist

  • Creating a culture of inquiry is a philosophical viewpoint.
  • Contextualize everything we do within institutional priorities.

Kay

  • Do we use data to get to things that are self-evident?
  • Why is data king? Attitude, technology and necessity
  • Breakthrough areas: student success (learning analytics/student retention) and research metrics (altmetrics) have seized the moment -their communities have been eloquent in spinning their vision
  • Library analytics have remained fuelled by library and library community data, focused on processes (such as collection management) and constrained by application silos (such as ILS or the gate system)
  • Question: should we: 1. get whatever data we can and let it tell its story even if we don’t know what that might yet be or 2. collect only data specific to areas of interest or known to be useful?
  • Where will external data come from and how can it be woven with library data to tell the story?
  • Predicitve analytics will be part of the future of higher ed and libraries need to be involved in the design

Students

One theme I keep hearing about concerns involving students in assessment activities. Several schools have student advisory boards who are active, while other employ student assistants to carry out assessment projects. One example is Virginia Tech which has peer roving assistants who take photos (to document space use), conduct peer interviews, and do weekly seat counts. As one speaker said “If you really want to know how to fix it, talk to the people who are using it.” Peers can be useful for this (our Library Ambassadors?)

Nuggets from various sessions:

  • Information literacy takes place outside the library; this means collaboration is required.
  • Assessment can be part of daily work, can be integrated, but staff need to feel that additional data collection has meaning and purpose
  • Learn to use the same data source to answer short, mid and long term questions
  • Don’t wait for perfect data
  • Special Collections have metrics mayhem: a lack of standardization of definitions (what constitutes a use (item level, folder level, visit)?
  • Everyone presenting on space reports that students rate the biggest need (beyond more outlets) as more quiet study (and at one school, they wanted more tables)
  • Move away from assessing things and towards making decisions about things

Tours

Odegaard Undergraduate Library | 2012-2013 Renovation


Main Floor of the Odegaard Library


Active Learning Classroom (Check out the Setu chairs, just like ours)


Collaborative Writing Center/Research Center (saw 16,000 students in first year!)


Railing Detail (now this is a word cloud)

Research Commons


UW Research Commons


Dawg Prints


Snacks but No Deliveries

My favorite sighting during the tour of the Research Commons was how they handled the need for more outlets when they were unable to drill the floors (Special Collections is housed on the floor below):

Tools mentioned by presenters

Interesting Concepts/Links/Readings

I can’t sign off without mentioning the whole issue of recycling, which Seattle has taken to a new level (It was referred to by the Dean of Libraries as the “Land of Obsessive Recycling”). I actually had to study the charts to figure out how to dispose of my lunch leavings. And I wonder who is the poor soul who has to police the choices uninformed visitors make?


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