Professional Development

Midwinter 2016: A False Memoir?

Thursday, January 14, 2016 10:03 am

This year’s Midwinter was a bit unusual for me in that I didn’t find as many programs of obvious interest as I usually do, which led to my attending some sessions that I normally wouldn’t have. About this I have no complaints. It was fun, as was this outdoor section of the Brattle Book Shop (est. 1825):

The Role of the Professional in Technical Services Interest Group put on a program about the changing landscape of tech services (in our case Resource Services) departments as silos surrounding different functional areas continue to break down and collaboration and outsourcing of work to vendors become more common. Sally Gibson from Illinois State talked about “solution creators” as a distinct role within TS departments; these individuals excel at recognizing patterns and redundancies and at thinking creatively about workflows. Her emphasis on attitudes and behaviors (as opposed to technical skill sets) as essential traits is something we’re hearing more about lately in ALCTS-land.

After the meeting of my ALCTS-AS Organization and Management Committee got out early, having bravely crossed a windswept bridge leading away from the sea, I wandered into YALSA’s 2016 Best Fiction for Young Adults Committee’s annual review of YA fiction. This was not my usual scene. A lengthy procession of super-earnest Boston-area youths (some in middle and some in high school, I gathered) took the podium to provide one- to three-minute reviews of new works of YA fiction, recommending whether they ought to make YALSA’s final list of recommended books. What kind of kid wants to go present at a conference for librarians? The answer: good kids. Their enthusiasm and sincerity were infectious; I found myself remembering that protocol-obsessed adolescents were my favorite patrons in my early days working at the circ desk of a public library. I will always miss that.

On Sunday I learned a bit about the rise of the online scientific megajournal, a phenomenon about which I previously knew little. Two representatives from publishers of such journals (Springer Nature and Elsevier) as well as one from AIP led a very participatory discussion of the value of these online journals, which publish several thousand articles per year and have been accused of causing a proliferation of lower-quality scientific publishing. From the perspective of authors, the journals sometimes function as a backup plan to publication in the more prestigious traditional journals. Audience members expressed concern about the extent to which megajournals depend for their profits on Article Processing Charges (ACPs) paid by authors. This would seem a valid concern. The publishers make the case that their journals provide an important service by bringing more scientific findings out of the gray literature and into the main scientific corpus. “This can only be a good thing,” said one. My sense is that some commentators would disagree.

I enjoyed a presentation by two librarians from the coolest combination of colleges possible – Nurhak Tuncer from the City College of Chicago’s Malcolm X College and Reed David from the University of Alaska Anchorage – in which the challenge of cataloging self-published ebooks was discussed. This is something Carolyn has worked on here, cataloging the ebooks published by Bill Kane’s in-house Library Partners Press. The main emphasis of the presentation was on decisions the cataloger must make about Publisher, Place of publication, etc. In the same session, Karen Snow from Dominican University talked about ethical decisions involved in cataloging and/or re-cataloging “false memoirs” – books presented as fact but later shown to be largely fictional (think A Million Little Pieces, The Education of Little Tree). Some libraries choose to re-class and move these books to fiction; others leave them where they are with the addition of notes. Practices vary, and the right decision for an academic library might not be right for a public one. Ms. Snow encouraged establishing a consistent policy. I think I disagree: to me these need to be treated on a case-by-case basis.

We are nearing the end. At my ALCTS Planning Committee meeting, we discussed strategies for requiring more accountability from various ALCTS committees with regards to the alignment of their activities to the Strategic Plan we adopted last year. Expect a new reporting form, people! Finally, on Monday morning, Nancy Lorimer, Head of Metadata Services at Stanford, presented on her library’s participation in the Linked Data for Production project, in which attempts are being made at coming up with real-world workflows that incorporate linked data, for instance, the insertion of URIs into legacy MARC bib records and authority records. As entities (a somewhat far-ranging concept) become more important in a linked data environment, authority control becomes a central concern. The fact that we’re on top of this at ZSR is good to know. Thanks, Steve.

And now, the aforementioned earnest young adults:

Susan @ ALA Midwinter in Boston

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 8:10 am

ALA Midwinter

This ALA Midwinter conference was my first since I became a Director-at-Large on the LITA Board. This meant that the majority of my conference activities were meetings and the events sponsored by LITA. On the business side of things, the board holds two separate 3 hour meetings on Saturday and Monday afternoons. I used them to become more aware of the types of issues that are addressed at these and to get a feel of how my fellow board members function at the meetings. It was a pleasure to watch LITA president (and our own) Thomas Dowling lead both meetings. He kept everyone on track and on time. I understand it was one of the first times that all agenda items were addressed by the end of the two meetings. Way to go, Thomas!

At each ALA, LITA sponsors its signature event, Top Technology Trends. It is always a full house and the TTT Committee works hard to put together a diverse group of tech experts (which is no easy task). One thing I’ve learned about LITA members is that they are not shy on Twitter and as the program was in progress, people were invited to use the hashtag #alattt to make comments. What came across immediately was a voiced concern on the diversity (really the lack of diversity) of the panel. Of course, people don’t know the back story on what efforts were made to secure diversity. This time, one of the diverse panelists had a last minute emergency and couldn’t attend and 18 other females/persons of color/etc. declined to participate for various reasons. However, that didn’t stop one person from writing a long blog post about The Problems with the LITA Top Tech Panels. But what I think is great about LITA (and its new Executive Director, Jenny Levine) is that it embraces this sort of feedback and looks for ways to improve. At Monday’s Town Hall Meeting (a meeting with the best hot breakfast ever served at an ALA event), President-elect Aimee Fifarek invited participants to brainstorm about three major areas of opportunity for LITA – remote membership, information policy, and diversity and inclusion.

I ended the weekend having a new appreciation of my fellow board members and the work they have been doing and that I will now help them do!

Midwinter doesn’t give a board member much chance to attend non-division events, but I did take the opportunity to attend the President’s Program where New Jersey Senator Cory Booker spoke. He is a most inspiring speaker and you can read a summary of his main themes on the American Libraries Magazine website.

Cory @ Ala Midwinter

It was good to visit Boston in the winter when it doesn’t have snow, but there was a wide range of weather from winter rain to bitter cold/high winds. I did manage to eke out an hour or so to capture some of the sights of the city. And special thanks need to go to Chelcie who graciously let me share her room when my original plans to share fell through. It wouldn’t have been a good time of year to be homeless in Boston!

BIBFRAME, BIBFRAME, BIBFRAME

Friday, February 6, 2015 10:45 am

It was good to visit my home state of Illinois for ALA Midwinter 2015 in Chicago. I was able to get together with a few cousins with whom I was close growing up in Decatur, three hours south. And who doesn’t like 18 inches of snow? Somehow the weather didn’t actually interfere too much with the conference. If anything it brought attendees closer, I daresay.

At the meeting of the ALCTS Copy Cataloging Interest Group, Angela Kinney from the Library of Congress talked about restructuring at LC, specifically reductions in acquisitions and cataloging staff; this is a theme at many libraries, unfortunately. Roman Panchyshyn from Kent State (whom I’ve also seen present on an RDA-enrichment project similar to the one we’ve just undergone with Backstage) then talked about the considerable proliferation of e-resource bulk record loads in recent years and the need to build copy catalogers’ skills in this area (at their library this work has traditionally been done by professional catalogers and systems staff). Necessary skills include PC file management, FTP/data exchange, basic knowledge of RDA, comfortability with secondary applications such as MarcEdit, and the ability to follow instructions and documentation. Here at ZSR, our copy catalogers, I must say, have these skills in spades, and I do not take for granted the fact that they are so sophisticated; nor should any of us. Not only are they able to follow workflows and documentation, but they create their own. Every record load is a little bit different, and these operations require attentiveness, diligence, and accuracy.

I also attended a session by the ALCTS MARC Formats Transitions Interest Group. The central topic was BIBFRAME, the new encoding format being developed by LC in collaboration with several libraries that eventually is meant to replace MARC as a more linked data/web-friendly format. Nancy Fallgren from the National Library of Medicine talked about the need for BIBFRAME (I think I’m going to get sick of typing that word before the end of this paragraph) to be flexible enough to work with the different descriptive languages of various sectors of the cultural heritage community – libraries, archives, museums, etc. She emphasized that BIBFRAME is not a descriptive vocabulary in and of itself and is built to accommodate RDA, not compete with it; it is a communication method, not the communication itself. Perhaps most importantly, this new format has to be extensible beyond library catalogs, as BIBFRAME-encoded data must go bravely off into the web to seek its fate, alone. Xiaoli Li from UC-Davis described her university’s two-year pilot project, BIBFLOW (BIBframe + workFLOW), in which they are actively experimenting with technical services workflows using the new format. She concluded that “Linked data means an evolutionary leap for libraries, not a simple migration.” This seems fair to say.

In July 2014 I started on two committees, and Midwinter was my first official meeting with both. On the ALCTS Acquisitions Section Organization and Management Committee, or, less conveniently, ALCTSASOAMC, we are planning a preconference for Annual in San Francisco entitled “Streaming Media, Gaming, and More: Emerging Issues in Acquisitions Management and Licensing.” The gaming component of this, in particular, is interesting to me, because I know absolutely nothing about it. I have high hopes for the program, which will be comprised of librarian presentations, a vendor panel, and guided group discussions. I am also on the ALCTS Planning Committee, which has been working on a fairly exhaustive inventory of all ALCTS committees’ and interest groups’ activities with an eye to how they support ALA’s initiatives of Advocacy, Information Policy, and Professional and Leadership Development. It’s been an interesting exercise; one gets a broad sense of the many and diverse efforts being made to support librarians and to advance the profession. In the end we will draft a new three-year strategic plan.

What exactly someone who decided to drive back to Winston-Salem from Chicago can really contribute to strategic planning is a question for another day. I’ll close with the dreary view from inside the hotel room I shared with Steve Kelley, who at the time seemed to be dying. Fortunately blue skies (see above) emerged.

Saturday at ALA Midwinter 2013 in Seattle

Saturday, January 26, 2013 5:22 pm

Victor Steinbrueck Park
Victor Steinbrueck Park

It is wonderful to be back in Seattle, my third trip to this vibrant city. It brings back memories and not only because my first trip here was to attend my first ALA Midwinter in 2007. But what was also special about that first trip was that it was the inauguration of the ZSR Library Professional Development Blog. So, this week, we are celebrating 6 years of sharing our educational and professional activities with each other and the wider library world!

After a somewhat challenging trip west for group, Roz and I arrived early afternoon, before our rooms were ready. We checked in at the conference and then took advantage of the unexpected sunny skies and hiked to Pike Market Place. After 7 hours on a plane, it was a good way to stretch our legs and our brains so we were ready to dive into the conference!

Because we were delayed, my first event was the LITA Happy Hour which is a wonderful networking opportunity. I got to see old friends and colleagues and it sets an energetic tone for the other LITA events over the weekend.

Roz has already done a thorough report of our first presentation by Steven Bell this morning. So i’ll just point to some interesting resources that he mentioned during his talk:

This morning was my committee meeting (I’m on the 2013 LITA National Forum Planning Committee as past-chair). I attended the EBSCO luncheon where they once again focused on why EDS is far superior to ProQuest’s Summon. Since there is no official programming at midwinter, discussion groups are plentiful and I plan to attend a few of them this afternoon and tomorrow. One that is just wrapping up is considering the issue of how mid-size academic libraries decide about “Giving up the old to provide new services: Rethinking what you are currently doing to provide new services.” It’s been a most interesting sharing of approaches including withdrawing from the federal depository program, ceasing electronic reserves and discontinuing the digitization of little used archival materials. Very interesting!

More tomorrow!

 

Susan’s Straight Shootin’ Report #1

Saturday, January 21, 2012 5:41 pm
MB Heading to an afternoon session in the Convention Center

MB Heading to an afternoon session in the Convention Center

For me, ALA Midwinter has become mostly about committee work. I am on two LITA committees currently – Top Tech Trends (the committee is responsible for putting together the Top Tech Trends program that is held at each ALA conference) and LITA National Forum Planning Committee (I am chair of this committee this year). This means I have two business meetings this weekend and will help at the TTT program tomorrow morning. I also have become more appreciative of the great networking opportunity that the Friday evening LITA Happy Hour provides. It is a first chance to renew face-to-face connections with people you have been working with virtually the previous 6 months, and meet new faces who are interested in becoming more involved in LITA.

As Lynn reported, I also manage to rustle up (when in Texas, use Texas cliches) some sort of athletic activity. This year, ALA brought back the 5K Fun Run that I had loved years ago, but that had been on a 8-year hiatus. Lynn and Mary Beth were good sports and joined me on a 6 am shuttle bus to the race site which was held in Reverchon Park. I am sure that MB and Lynn were glad it was dark when a sprint coach led the racers in warm-up exercises because it was too dark for me to snap pictures of us as we did stretches on the cold ground! The group was small but enthusiastic and the course was a nice flat one that included a long staircase at the beginning and end (that was a first in my racing experience).

My morning meeting today was the Top Tech Trends Committee Business Meeting. There were a few members who were unable to attend Midwinter, so I had scheduled a WebEx meeting so they could be there virtually. ZSR now has a traveling WebEx kit that contains a camera, speakers and a mic and this was the first chance to test it out. Giz got it all configured earlier this week and volunteered to attend the meeting and handle the technology and facilitate the participation of the virtual attendees. It all turned out very well and I appreciate his willingness to take this on. It freed me up to take minutes for the meeting (we didn’t choose to record the meeting). We will be replicating this for our Forum Planning meeting on Monday morning.

Following an EBSCO luncheon where many ZSR colleagues showed up (and the sales speeches lasted a full hour!), Mary Beth and I headed to the Exhibit Hall to meet with Crowley, the company that sold us the Zeutchel scanners. She wanted to discuss the long promised Illiad-friendly driver and I wanted to see if they might have an appropriate book scanner for Special Collections. Then she headed off for an afternoon session (as pictured at the beginning of this post). As I write this, sipping on a Starbucks, I am building up the energy to head back in the Exhibit Hall to ferret out other scanner vendors so I can bring home some comparative products.

I’m sure I’ll have more to report tomorrow!

 

ALA Midwinter Wrap-up

Thursday, January 20, 2011 2:50 pm

Today Giz, Lynn, Ellen D., Lauren C. and Kaeley attended an ALA Midwinter conference wrap-up. It was an interesting session to see what some of the big sessions that people attended were. Lots of content on mobile and social focused technology.

One element that got a lot of attention was the work of Jim Hahn at Illinois on his research of mobile information seeking using the iPad. This research was in sync with another trend mentioned by Emily at Duke. Emily, in commenting on a session on technology said that one key contribution of libraries was on the user experience. I thought that this was a curious focus (certainly in sync with our mission!) but definitely different from the ‘curator of resources’ focus that libraries also tend to focus on.

Emily also reported on a comment made by Monique Sendze about the hyper-personalization of our patron’s IT environment. This message really resonated with the audience and there was a follow-up discussion about the utility of committing IT resources for top-tier IT services as well as base level services.

Storage interest group at ala

Sunday, January 9, 2011 3:47 pm

After the lita top tech trends panel I decided to head over to the off site storage interest group to find out how other institutions are approaching storage.

I had the pleasure of running into Emily Stanbaugh who worked at WFU back in 2005. She is currently the shared print manager at California Digital Library. She gave a presentation about the WEST archive which is taking a slightly different approach to copy of record archiving by updating holdings in OCLC. The WEST archive is positioned to involve 80 libraries using a distributed storage model. Emily recounted the approach to archiving that the west consortium is looking towards which appears to be based on factors such as existing digital access and need for preservation.

She also discussed the cloudsourcing project funded in part by OCLC. The project investigated whether or not a collection of print and digitally stored holdings support a library that was not primarily affiliated. There are some interesting reports that I will post the links to. In general the report indicated that a small number of print repositories can provision most print resources at research libraries. Emily suggested that there are opportunities to expand the role of storage facilities In this sort of environment.

Sarah at ALA Midwinter

Tuesday, January 27, 2009 1:29 pm

I arrived in Denver, CO on Friday afternoon.After I unloaded my luggage at the hotel, I had dinner with Susan, Lauren C., and a couple of our Elsevier reps.On my way to dinner, I was happy to find a Starbucks near my hotel. :)

On Saturday morning, I went to the ACRL-Science and Technology Section All-Committees meeting.I am a member of the Membership and Recruitment Committee, and we discussed plans to create an ACRL-STS New Members wiki page, which would provide helpful information for those who are interested in joining a committee or becoming a chair of a committee.We also discussed plans to organize the New Members Breakfast, which is held every year at the ALA Annual Conference.

On Saturday afternoon, I attended the ACRL-STS Hot Topics Discussion Group.We discussed Assessment in the context of instruction.This topic has been on my mind lately, as I am planning to teach my second semester of LIB220.I shared my experience teaching LIB220 with my colleagues, and we had a lively discussion about various assessment techniques. I’m happy to share if anyone is interested in hearing more about what we discussed.

Next, I attended a discussion group on Embedded Librarians sponsored by the ACRL Heads of Public Services Discussion Group. One of my colleagues made a good point that Embedded Librarianship can inform our collection management decisions. They also provided a selected bibliography of publications about Embedded Librarians, and I will be happy to share this bibliography with others if anyone is interested.

On Sunday, I went to the Exhibits before my second committee meeting.This year, I am serving as Chair of the Scholarship Committee of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA).Every year, the Scholarship Committee selects a librarian to be sponsored by APALA in the ALA Emerging Leaders Program and awards a $1,000 scholarship to a graduate student in library school.More information on the APALA Scholarship is available at http://www.apalaweb.org/awards/scholarship.htm. I have served on the APALA Scholarship Committee since 2005, and I have really enjoyed working with my colleagues on this committee.

I stayed at the Curtis Hotel, which was a unique, fun hotel.It was great rooming with Lauren P. at the conference, and we were able to grab dinner a couple of nights.On Saturday night, I had dinner with Steve and Lauren P., and we also ran into Debbie Nolan after dinner. It was also nice seeing snow again this winter in Denver.Overall, it was an enjoyable, productive conference.


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