Professional Development

Lauren P. at Midwinter: LITA

Monday, February 20, 2012 1:23 pm

In Dallas for ALAMW12January/February has been an unusually busy conference season for me, leading much of my work time to be focused on catching up in the office. I’m just now getting a chance to process some of my experiences and blog them. Look for posts this week about LITA, Horizon, and Lilly South!

I’m going in chronological order, so this is an ALA post on the LITA Board meetings and midwinter thoughts in general. I posted on Council a few weeks ago.

Library and Information Technology Association Board

As for LITA, we had a few board meetings, held the traditional Midwinter Town Hall in which the general membership can contribute to strategic planning, and I attended the Web Coordinating Committee meeting as the liaison to the board.

We talked about various issues, and sent some issues to ALAConnect, and planned this year to start having monthly meetings to make sure we’re making progress on the goals and issues between conferences. I’m very excited about this. I think ALA Connect has been an ideal place to do ALA work between conferences, but it’s hard to check in when faced with the day-to-day duties and face-to-face meetings of our regular jobs. Having a monthly check-in meeting will give LITA tasks deadlines and a way to be held accountable. In fact, our first one is this Friday via WebEx!

Many of our conversations focused around issues of how to increase membership, if we should start focusing on advancement for the organization (and how), and the budget for the association. Exciting stuff, if you’re interested in the technology association of ALA. ;)

Midwinter Meeting

This Midwinter, as I’ve found in the past, was as much about connecting to others in the field as it was about learning or contributing to the association’s business. I love having a big-picture understanding of the field, and talking with librarians in all types of positions, and in all types of libraries, helps me keep a better understanding of the field-as-a-whole than I would otherwise be able to do. It’s good to to know what other academic librarians are doing as well to have a good sense of how we’re doing in relation to other libraries.

Many of my connections with others were in impromptu meetings, where we talked about everything from faculty vs. staff status and what it looks like at a variety of institutions, the situation at Harvard, conversations about motivations for the work we do, discussions about what ALA Council should be doing, how to get things done within the large association, and some scholarship that I was unfamiliar with that might be useful for some of the research I enjoy doing.

This Midwinter was the smallest I remember. We didn’t actually break 10,000 participants as we have every year in recent memory. The people who were there were enthusiastic and making the most of it, but overall you couldn’t help but question the future of the second ALA conference each year if numbers are so small. Here’s hoping we’re able to come up with some answers in Council and on division boards!

 

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!

 

End of the Road

Friday, July 1, 2011 3:45 pm

My next session at ALA was titled, Making Information Literacy Instruction Meaningful through Creativity. A team of three speakers, Randy Hensley from Baruch College, City University of New York, Beth Woodard from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dane Ward from Illinois State University took turns introducing elements which they felt impacted learning and facilitated creativity. A couple of their suggestions were:

Wonder – Try to engage the listener’s imagination. Randy Hensley advised to “start in an unusual place.” He illustrated this point by beginning this segment with a song (he CAN sing).

Empathy – Listen closely to who the listener is. It was suggested that teaching research should start with a class on Google because that’s what students use and then enhance the knowledge they already have.

Monday morning I attended, Copyright and Digital Media in a Web 2.0 World, with Dr. Rebecca Butler from Northern Illinois University. This session was packed with people looking for copyright guidance. Some of us sat on the floor and others stood. Dr. Butler suggested that copyright is the “convergence between law and ethics.” Her favorite phrase in answering copyright questions is, “it depends.” She talked about the vagaries of copyright law but used flow charts which were VERY helpful in mapping the options available for different scenarios. Dr. Butler answered many questions. Her insight and patience made for an appreciative audience. Her book, Copyright for Teachers and Librarians, is in our reference collection.

Monday afternoon I headed out with Susan, Mary Beth, Molly and Carolyn on the bike tour of New Orleans. Despite the thunder, lightning and rain, it was a great tour! Later that afternoon, Mary Beth and I headed home and again had the cooperation of the weather and automobiles until we got to North Carolina where we were greeted by a downpour. All in all it was a great adventure and a great conference.

New Orleans ALA, cont’d.

Thursday, June 30, 2011 4:27 pm

On Saturday I dropped in to see Susan take on the challenge of the Academic Librarian Lightning Round. She did a great job sharing the details of our Wake the Library 5K.

LR

Next, I attended an Ares Users Group meeting put on by Atlas Systems. The speaker was Genie Powell, the Chief Customer Officer for Atlas Systems. She highlighted some of the upcoming changes in Ares. For those of you that aren’t familiar with Ares, it is our new Course Reserves system. It’s up and running the summer semesters. Mary Reeves and I are looking forward to this fall and really putting this system to the test. Ares 4.0 (Currently Ares 3.0) will be rewritten to be more similar to its sister programs, ILLiad (Interlibrary Loan) and Aeon (for managing special collections). This will allow upgrades and add-ons to be implemented across all their products in the same manner. Another change will be the option to view a patron’s record in the web interface through the staff client. This will allow the Course Reserves staff to know what the patron is seeing and we’ll be better able to talk them through any problems they may have. Also, we had asked Atlas Systems about needing a notification when a faculty member changes a loan period or takes a book off Course Reserves. The new release of Ares will have that notification. It’s good to know they listened!

That evening Mary Beth and I attended an Ares Customer Appreciation Dinner at the Bourbon House restaurant. We had an excellent dinner and got to meet fellow Ares users as well as the Atlas Systems staff.

Sunday morning we attended the Alexander Street Customer Appreciation Breakfast and were privileged to hear Stanley Nelson speak about his latest movie, Freedom Riders. Even the 10 minute clip that was shown moved me close to tears. It’s being added to our film collection and is an important movie to see. Mr. Nelson credited his mother, a librarian, as having a great influence on his career.

New Orleans or Bust!

Thursday, June 30, 2011 11:32 am

ZSR’s version of Thelma and Louise headed out last Thursday for the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans. The weather, the traffic, the car and the gas prices were all cooperative. Along the way we found interesting sights both large peachand small.turtle

We also stopped to dip Mary Beth’s toes in the Gulf of Mexico as they’d never been there before.

MB

We arrived just in time to attend the Opening General Session. (see Mary Beth‘s and Roz‘s posts for excellent coverage of this event)

We started the next day with beignets and coffee at Café Du Monde and then got down to business. I attended a session called ACRL 101 which provided tips for first time attendees to ALA as well as information for new members of ACRL. Suggestions for participation in ACRL were given in graduated order from those taking the least time to involvement that would require a greater commitment of time. They included reading the ACRLog, following ACRL on Twitter, attending an ACRL webcast, attending a workshop at ALA, and serving on a committee. During the session there was an ACRL representative seated at each table and later we were given the opportunity to introduce ourselves and ask questions. I was at a table with the president of ACRL, Lisa Hinchliffe, who had just recently visited ZSR to present the ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award. I found the session helpful and have a better understanding of the scope of ACRL.

Next, I attended a Copyright Discussion Group sponsored by the ACRL. The discussion was led by Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives at the Association of Research Libraries (ARL). The ARL is preparing a Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries. Mr. Butler reported that they will soon complete the first phase, interviewing librarians anonymously to determine, “how fair use comes into contact with practice.” He emphasized that the ARL does not seek publicity in this process and that the initial draft will not be made available for public scrutiny. The code will address fair use practices in areas such as ILL, electronic reserves, digital collections, and institutional repositories. Butler indicated that the Practices will be “affirmative”. The intent is to encourage librarians use their right to fair use and he stated that the Code’s “legal force comes from its use on the ground.” He said that there are some groups that want to “keep librarians in fear.” The ARL hopes to finish writing the Code of Best Practices by the end of 2011. It will be posted on the Center for Social Media website when it becomes available.

Evolution of an ALA Attendee

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 1:26 pm

My last ALA post was about programs and how I didn’t get to see too many, so this post is about the reason why and it’s the leadership post. (One more post to go!)

One of the neatest things about ALA is that it is a conference for anyone with any interest in libraries or information. There’s something there for everyone. You can go to learn, share, network, contribute to the work of the association, and/or participate in governance.

I started going to ALA because of an interest in the work of the association. I wanted to work on committees and productively contribute to what the organization does. And I really like that work. In fact, I wrapped up service on the LITA Web Coordinating Committee at this conference.

The Emerging Leader program, as well as conversations with people I think of as role models, helped me realize that I wanted to get more into the governance side of things, and that’s what most of this ALA was about for me. For example, first thing on Monday I was in a Council meeting until noon, then after a fast lunch, I was in a LITA Board meeting until 5:00. These are seriously long meetings. And at this conference I clocked about 11 hours of Council and 9 hours of LITA Board meetings in addition toauxiliaryCouncil and LITA activities. I can totally understand that’s not for everyone, but it really is something I enjoy and feel that is a good use of my energy. So here’s the rundown:

ALA Council

ala councilThis was my second conference as a Councilor-at-Large. This means that I do not represent a specific body on Council, but rather the people who voted for me. Since I campaigned on a platform about helping ALA adapt to future expectations, I feel I represent people especially concerned with keeping ALA relevant. This conference was ripe for discussion relevant to the constituency most interested in that platform. We discusses the Future Perfect Task Force, the Task Force on Equitable Access to Electronic Content report as well as a Council Effectiveness Task Force. Despite my shyness, this was my inaugural conference for saying something from the floor and I did it twice! My comments were along these lines:

People speaking against the Future Perfect report (notice the fun name… future perfect is “will have been”) seemed to be focused a lot about how we’ve done things in the past or how our current members might not like what it proposed. I suggested that though these comments might be true, this report might have ideas that would make us more appealing to those who have chosen not to join or those who in the future would not find the current model relevant to them.

My other comment was about communicating out. There was a suggestion in the Council Effectiveness report that suggested councilors communicate more with the membership about who they are and what they find important as well as find ways to listen to their constituency. Again, completely in line with the folks who voted for me based on my video or Twitter activities. Several people were saying they didn’t want to be so public or take the time to make videos and that people knew who they were and how to get in touch with them. I suggested that we hear from people who know how to find us but we don’t hear from the many that just think of ALA as a conference for programming with no idea about who is on council, why, or what we do. This doesn’t mean they don’t care about the issues. I suggested we follow the recommendations so that people can learn more about how council works and what issues we are discussing. Anything you want to know? :)

So my first foray into speaking on the floor was basically two comments on the same theme, but I was compelled to speak to the issue twice since we kept coming to the same place.

ALA Council covered a lot of other ground as well: a resolution supporting a UN Report, a resolution to share all council documents via ALA Connect (the Facebook/Acad1/wiki/discussion list/etc of ALA), and others. I was really disappointed that I had to leave early. My flight was cancelled and the only way to get out on Tuesday was to switch airlines and leave several hours early. On the upside, after this conference I feel much more confident of my role and how to function as a councilor.

LITA Board

My LITA Board terms actually begins today, so I just attended LITA Board meetings as a guest at this conference. The main distinction I picked up was that whereas ALA Council focuses on governance and policy, LITA Board appears to be more about strategy and planning. For example, there is a Treasurer of ALA and a Budget Review Committee, so anything financial that comes before Council has been thoroughly vetted and has little discussion. LITA doesn’t have these bodies, so the Board spent much of its time on topics related to budget and membership. LITA’s been working on a strategic plan since I’ve gotten involved, so in addition we’re seeing the implementation of that now.

I also learned about different roles I’ll have to take on as a board member. I’ll have to give up my seat on a committee (makes sense, it allows for broader participation), but will have to take on liaising to a committee to share information from the Board. I joined a subcommittee of the Board charged with dealing with a few issues specific to the budget as well as how to generate more revenue. So at this point I’m ready to dive in!

I think the LITA work will be a nice thing to have in parallel to Council. In LITA, we’ll see concrete results of actions–and fast–where sometimes the work of Council–though meaningful–doesn’t have the same obvious high-impact to the membership.

If you think you’d like doing any of this type of work, and don’t mind learning a few procedural/cultural ways of having conversations (we use Sturgis, for example), I’d love to talk to anyone who thinks they might want to run for office. ALA tends to propose slates of candidates, but any member can run if they get enough signatures. Those candidates are not distinguished on the ballot from slate candidates, and many times they win!

And it’s not all work. We know how to have fun, too!

ala councilors at work

(cross posted to laurenpressley.com with a few modifications)

Susan at ALA in the Big Easy: Just Getting Started

Sunday, June 26, 2011 1:23 am

It Gets Better Message

Dan Savage: Opening General Session Keynote Speaker

This is my fourth trip to New Orleans, and the first one in the past three where I didn’t arrive by bus! However, it is my first ALA here and that really makes for a different experience. The city is back to bustling, and you add in several thousand librarians loose in the Big Easy…..there’s no telling (What happens in New Orleans stays in New Orleans!)

Seriously, we hit the ground running once we arrived. Within ten minutes of unpacking our suitcases in our hotel, roommate Carolyn McCallum and I met up with Roz Tedford (who had been here vacationing for a few days already), and hopped the shuttle to the Convention Center to catch the opening keynote address by Dan Savage. We had to sit through an hour of intro activities (welcomes, awards, introductions) that included brief speeches by New Orleans mayor MItch Landrieu and Melinda Gates (virtually).

It was worth the wait when Dan finally got on stage. I was not familiar with him, but he talked about his “It Gets Better” project, a YouTube video campaign that solicited videos from GLBT adults so they can talk directly to teenage gays to tell them that things do get better. I have a feeling that you will be hearing more eloquently from Roz about this talk, but it was one of the most powerful ALA general session speeches I have ever heard.

The picture above shows Dan during his presentation, but I included the image for a second reason. I just happened to notice last week on ALA Direct that they were sponsoring an “ALA Photo Scavenger Hunt” throughout the conference. You might not be surprised that this caught my attention. By 8 am each day between last Thursday and next Tuesday, a list of items to be photographed is posted on ALA Connect. Each image is assigned a different point value, depending on how much ALA wants to showcase it. The items are a variety of places, people and events. Contestants post the images on their Flickr accounts and then add them to the ALA Annual 11 Flickr group. I’ve found they put many more items on the list than it would be feasible to find each day, and the assortment is varied. The benefit for ALA is that they increase their chances of getting images on their ALA Flickr group that highlight the events they want. The outcome for me (besides the fun of taking the shot) is that it has facilitated my exploration of areas of the conference which I would have never done under my own steam. I talked with comic book artists, the membership pavilion ALA staff, and vendors, as well as visited the cooking demo area, the copyright help desk and made a contribution to the Spectrum Scholar program! It is actually very energizing to expand my conference experience using a tool that I love. The picture of Dan was my entry for the item on Friday’s list: “Make your own “It Gets Better” message photo.”

Friday evenings are always the beginning of the networking portion of the conference. As usual, I attended the LITA Happy Hour. Now that I’m on two LITA committees, I enjoy getting the opportunity to touch base with all the people I’ve been working with virtually during the previous half year.

I finished the first day off over dinner with my ZSR Library colleagues (Roz, Mary Beth, Ellen, Steve, and Roz’s sister) at a very good restaurant (there are tons of excellent restaurants in NO), the Palace Cafe. I behaved myself, but several of our group gave in to temptation and had a New Orleans specialty, bananas foster.

Making Bananas Foster at the Palace Cafe

Data and Discovery: Roz at Midwinter

Monday, January 10, 2011 12:54 pm

So last Midwinter I wrote my post on the them of eBooks as that was the dominant thread that ran through my sessions. This year I thought I’d do another ‘theme’ issue rather than a regurgitation of the sessions I have attended. This year, for me at least, the theme has been data and discovery. Beginning with Carol Tenopir’s presentation and followed by presentations by Serials Solutions and EBSCO and then into the Top Tech Trends and other sessions, more people are talking about data. The conversation involves several issues.

First, the data we collect in our libraries and how that data could be leveraged to improve our services, promote ourselves and help people visualize our value. I had already been thinking about this value issue from the assessment angle after the ACRL paper on the value of academic libraries came out. There is a tension in libraries between protecting the privacy of our users and realizing that data mining has helped commercial vendors create and improve their services. So, for example, the highlights in a Kindle book are viewable to others who also have that book – so if we can determine the parts that readers find important, or even how far in a reader reads, what could that tell us about an author or publisher, etc. If we tracked trends in the books that were checked out from year to year might we be able to see what areas are growing in terms of book circulation, etc. If, for example, we knew that every book we had on cyber war was checked out every year for the past three than we could perhaps see that we need more books in that area. But that requires keeping more and deeper circulation data AND having people on staff who can mine that data.

Which brings me to the next data point (pun intended) which is that as we create and purchase more data, we need to create new positions in libraries. One is the data librarian (which many large libraries already have) who can help patrons navigate the datasets, research data and statistical sources that we are increasingly adding to our collections. That is one kind of data position. The other is someone who can mine and interpret the data that we have in libraries that help us to improve our services. Web site usage, circulation stats, and other data that goes far deeper than the more superficial statistics most libraries now keep and that our accreditation agencies and ACRL demand. Is ‘presentations to groups,’ my personal pet peeve in the statistical world, really indicative of how good our services are?? I don’t think so. But more qualitative data or more data-mining types of information might actually help us demonstrate long term value to our institution.

A third data point that has been circulating is how to ‘curate’ the data that is produced on our campus by our patrons. This is not my area of expertise but it is an interesting issue going forward as we think toward cloud storage, institutional repositories and the like.

SO then there is the ubiquitous ‘metadata’ discussions and that brings me to my second theme which is discovery. The abundance of information that confronts our faculty and students as they research is something we have long seen as an issue. It is not particularly efficient to have to go to multiple interfaces, using different search strategies just to get what you need. This is why Google is so popular. People feel like they are searching everything at once. Search ‘William Shakespeare’ in Google and you get pictures, videos, books, fan pages, everything. What is missing, of course, is the filtering for quality that we know library sources provide. So the search has been on for a while for that application that that ‘Googleize’ library content. Federated searching was the first attempt to do this – but it was slow and relied on connectors going out to various sources and searching AFTER you typed in your terms. The results were lowest common denominator searches and lots of time-out errors. The current set of these sources are being called ‘discovery services.’ Serials Solutions (owned by ProQuest) has one called Summon and EBSCO’s is called Ebsco Discovery Service. Of course the big drawback is that Summon doesn’t search your EBSCO content and EDS doesn’t search ProQuest content. That is a BIG drawback (so is the cost), but the demos I saw of both of these gives me hope that we may be nearing a new age in discovery where the searches are comprehensive, lightening fast and wickedly useful. The ruminations I have been doing on Carol Tenopir’s presentation about how we market ourselves in the faculty’s search process as time-savers has really stuck with me. If in seconds you can search our catalog, databases, journal subscriptions, Institutional repository, etc. and get back results that you can then use clear facets to make more relevant then we do our students and faculty a huge service. But it comes at a cost and there are no open source competitors on the horizon because the technology is based on having the metadata pre-indexed and that would require the big vendors to give you their metadata.

OK – that’s enough for now and it frankly pales in comparison to the news about our library award but I wanted to get it written before going off for usability testing for ERIC and a last run through the exhibits. Keep your fingers crossed for us getting home tomorrow and stay safe and warm!!

ALA, RDA and more

Saturday, January 8, 2011 3:09 pm

I have to admit that I have some conference fatigue. Back to back conferences can make it tough to focus so to combat fatigue I decided to pick and choose sessions on a whim on Saturday. I saw some interesting talks on book reading clubs that dovetailed nicely with an NPR piece I heard last week on the continuing tend of book clubs.

I was wandering down the hall to head to a ‘how Washington works’ session when I ran into Steve Kelley and got a very well informed explanation of the role of FRBR, RDA, FRAD, linked data, authority control and the state of MARC (thanks Steve). I had attended a session on the adoption of RDA at ALISE and have to admit that I left the session confused about what the right first steps are. After talking with Steve it seems that it might be worth taking our library data and trying out some of these models on it to see what transitioning our records to these new standards might mean for us.

The session on the current funding issues for public libraries enforced a discussion I had with Leo Cao at ALISE regarding the importance of framing library relevance in terms that make sense to your community. This means showing economic responsibility, reflecting the diverse makeup of your community and providing services that have real-world impact. In academic libraries I know that we often feel that our mission is focused on research and different populations but I found that the types of services that public libraries provide are highly relevant.

ALA Techsource Emerging Trends Webinar

Thursday, February 11, 2010 5:56 pm

Today Erik, Mary S., Barry, Sarah, Ellen D., Lauren P., Kaeley, Molly K., Leslie, JP, and Erik attended the ALA techsource webinar. Although the high point of the session was a ‘shout-out’ to our very own Lauren P’ there were alot of intersting trends discussed. Lots of folks focused on mobile/social apps, augmented reality apps and there was a fascinating discussion about foursquare. I think we should start rewarding students who spend lots of time in the library with extra free-prints (or perhaps just a broom to sweep up or something).

Among the many examples of iphone apps (one person used the phrase “all iphone all the time” – which sounds about right :) ) there was a demonstration of the integration of the RedLaser app with OCLC. Discussion of Ebooks was somewhat scarce but there was a presentation about a platform called blio


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Social Stratification in the Deep South 2009
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