The return of the NCLA Biennial Conference to Winston-Salem provided the perfect chance to become reacquainted with the organization and all the dedicated library professionals from across the state that work hard to plan and put on the conference. As we are all aware, Associate Dean Wanda Brown has been the NCLA President for the past two years. Working in the ZSR Administrative offices some 20 feet from Wanda guaranteed that I would be encouraged to participate in some fashion! I was delighted when Wanda asked me serve as the conference photographer. Armed with a photo schedule covering Tuesday’s pre-conferences through the closing session on Friday, I was off and running. Between the photo assignment, the two concurrent session presentations I gave and a stint on the local information booth, by Friday afternoon, I had a full immersion conference experience.
Networking is always a highlight of conferences and I enjoyed reconnecting with many colleagues from around the state (and many locals who I don’t get to catch up with as often as I would like). It was gratifying to see the large number of young librarians who attended and overall the quantity of people who came (over 900).
Here is the slideshow of my photos that played during the first part of the closing session on Friday:
Both Friday and this morning were filled with still more session opportunities than you could shake a stick at! Yesterday morning I decided to think about things digital, so started out at a session conducted by staff of Columbia University Libraries entitled “Building the future: Leveraging Building Projects as Platforms for Organizational Change.” Back in 2005-2006 they envisioned 3 different Digital Centers (Humanities, Social Science and Science) that would be aligned with research and graduate study. To that end they made it part of the strategic plan and funding was found (best quote was attributed to James Neal: “If you want to see a library’s strategic plan, look at their budget.”). The centers have been implemented and the presentation covered planning/assessment, understanding user needs, changes in staff roles, training, culture changes for IT, etc..One report they recommended is “Re-skilling for Research” (2012) that looks at the roles and skills of subject and liaison librarians needed to support the evolving research needs of researchers.
Next up was a panel discussion on data curation that brought together 3 organizations at different stages of providing data management services. The session was “Wading into the data pool without drowning: implementing new library data services” using the swim metaphor to talk about one program at James Madison that in its infancy (testing the water), one that is plunging in (Penn State), and one that is the most advanced (Cal Poly) and thus is in the water and “Learning to Swim.” All took a case study approach and shared the steps they are taking to support faculty. The overall message was is that providing these services is not a sink or swim proposition. Just consider where you are and where you’d like to be to build a program at the level and pace that works for your institution.
In the afternoon, I switched gears to the assessment track. I’ll let Mary Beth report on the update given on the ACRL Value Project which we hope to participate in during year two. After that session, I ended the day by attending a session on qualitative research methods (I love qualitative research, btw): “Inspiring Initiatives in Qualitative Inquiry.” I heard about 3 different qualitative research projects – a focus group study (OCLC), an ethnographic study using photo study and immersive observation (at UNCC by their anthropologist who works at the library but is not a librarian. The library is her fieldwork), and one that used the critical incident technique (Rutgers). This last methodology was one with which I was unfamiliar but it sounds like a most interesting approach. It is used to study effective and ineffective behavior and focuses on most memorable event/experience of participants. You ask just two questions: “What did you liked best about (fill in the blank) and can you tell me exactly why?” and then, “What did you like least about (fill in the blank) and and can you tell me exactly why?” (OK, maybe that is four questions if you don’t compound them…..).
After a full day of sessions, it seemed like a no-brainer to join in on Beth Filar Williams’ SustainRT walking tour of downtown Indianapolis. She organized it and arranged for a local public librarian to be our tour guide. I got a chance to see a few sights, take a few photos, and make some new friends, in spite of freezing in the brutally windy 40-some degree weather with no coat or gloves! The picture at the top of this post is the hardy group of librarians who braved the cold to see the sights!
I’ll also let another of our group tell you about the final keynote by NPR’s Maria Hinojosa because I’m sure they can do it more justice. But, as with the other keynotes from this conference, it was very powerful and thought-provoking. The gist of her message came (for me) in her question to us: Can you see yourself in me, and I in you?
A keynote speaker used ‘gatekept’ as a past participle verb. The OED hasn’t caught on to that yet, but the Google Ngram shows a small but steady increase in the word since 1970.
In “The Changing World of eBooks,” Mike Shatzkin focused on the viewpoint of trade publishers. They’ve discovered that most readers just want to be alone with their books. They don’t care about enhanced content. (He pointed out that this applies to immersive reading for adults. It does not apply to children’s books, how-to, cookbooks and a few other categories.)
In “Ebook Availability Revisited” (the session I saw with Lauren C.), the authors advocated against buying (as opposed to renting) any e-books. They assume that the legal issues surrounding Hathi Trust and Google Books will resolve in a few years. Then we can just buy/lease from them. They promoted subscription over DDA, and came down strongly against doing e-book approvals when DDA is available.
Later that afternoon, I attended the “TRLN Oxford University Press Consortial E-Books Pilot” representatives from Duke, UNC-CH, NCSU, YBP and OUP described how they initiated a shared-cost model for the entire output of Oxford’s UPSO product. (BTW, the Charleston program copyeditors need to decide among ‘e-book,’ ‘eBook’ or ‘ebook.’) I’m skeptical about the ‘Big Deal’ model spreading to e-monographs, but I nonetheless heard this session with great interest. The schools shared costs based on what they thought fair, e.g. accounting for size of school, nature of school, etc. They also purchased one print copy of all non-STEM books. They placed the print in OSS. Records processing work was shared out, with one school processing all the print and another all the electronic. They didn’t go into this hoping to save money – their hope was to expand access for the same money. Access for alumni was also included. I wrote that down calmly in my notes, and then I got excited since that includes me! The speakers noted one significant challenge: OUP excludes some books from UPSO and releases others online after a delay. Therefore, if a selector sees an OUP book of interest, should they buy the print or not?
I ended the day by giving a “shotgun” presentation on the incentive program we ran last year. See my slides on slideshare.
On Friday, I attended “Overview of the Altmetrics Landscape.” The presenters outlined at least five alternatives to traditional journal-level metrics: Impact Story, Altmetric, Plum Analytics, Science Card and Mendeley. They also mentioned the attributes of an ideal altmetric system: free, API available, relevant, and immune to rigging/gaming. The next steps are to explore use cases, give context to numbers and continue to combat gaming.
My final Friday session was “Changing the DNA of Scholarly Publishing – The Impact of the Digital Leap.” Damon Zucca from OUP discussed how the Oxford Handbooks series changed when it became an online product. From the print world, they knew that authors who met the deadline didn’t want their chapters held hostage by those who didn’t meet deadline. They also learned that users often sought out specific essays. Therefore, the obvious decision was to make chapters available online as soon as possible and not worry as much about the container. Lisa Jones from Georgia Gwinnett College had the privilege of starting a brand-new collection when her college opened in 2006. She had an e-book subscription (i.e. the approach advocated by the Thursday presenter), but dropped it due to insufficient use. (I also heard a speaker in this session say ‘editors-in-chief.’ Google Ngrams reveals this is indeed the popular usage. Can you tell how much I love Google Ngrams?)
Finally on Saturday, various vendors hosted 30-minute sessions on new products. As Classics and Linguistics liaison, my obvious choice was a presentation on the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) and the Loeb Classical Library. Both online products are still in development, but I’ve signed up to beta-test DARE.
I attended NCLA’s 59th Biennial Conference on Wednesday; my teaching schedule on Tuesday and Thursday limited my time at the conference, but it was valuable none-the-less. I attended a terrific panel discussion about LibGuides in which librarians from 7 different libraries shared their implementation processes, policies, and uses of this very useful tool. Most of the implementations were thoughtful and well-planned, but several were staged – class guides first, topical guides next, and so forth; and one library described a ‘shotgun wedding’ approach to implementation that was successful despite its rapidity. Like ZSR, most identified a person or small committee to plan and roll out their use. The main motivation for moving to LibGuides was the ease and speed with which guides can be created or revised. Several practices caught my attention: NC Central Law Library uses the LibGuide landing page as the home page for all of its public library computers. UNCG discovered that students don’t see the tabs along the top so they now place links to each tab in each guide’s welcome box. NCA& T adds a box in each LibGuide with links to related topics.
In the afternoon, I presented “Using the Economic Census to Support Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners”. I’ve long been a fan of this data-rich resource for business and economic research, having first discovered it when I was a business analyst with an investment firm. In its report “Making Cities Stronger: Public Library Contributions to Local Economic Development” the Urban Institute describes how libraries support regional economic development by providing specialized resources and research services to entrepreneurs and small business people. In the current budget environment free, reliable resources are even more valuable and the Economic Census is one such resource. The interface to the data is challenging and, therefore, the Census remains an underutilized resource among non-specialists. In my talk, I tried to de-mystify the Census and demonstrate how librarians can turn data into information for their business patrons. The audience actively engaged with the topic and we had a lively conversation about using this and other government sources. We also mourned the loss of “Statistical Abstract of the United States” another valuable source of data, which will print its last edition in 2013, after which budget cuts will cause the GPO to cease its publication.
BLINC, Business Librarians in North Carolina, was actively involved in the conference. Mine was one of 8 sessions presented in part or entirely by BLINC members; in addition, BLINC librarians led several poster sessions. Following the vendor reception, BLINC held its post-conference dinner, hosted by two of our vendors. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and each other’s company at Carrabba’s.
The conference represented the close of Steve Cramer’s tenure as Chair of BLINC and the beginning of my two-year term. During the conference I held my first cabinet meeting with Vice-Chair Leslie Farison of Appalachian State and Secretary/Treasurer Sara Thynne of Alamance Regional Public Library. We developed ideas for future workshop topics and I laid out several initiatives that I plan to pursue during my term.
It was a full and productive day in Hickory; while I wish I could have heard other programs on other days, I appreciated the time I was able to spend at the conference. Kudos to Sarah Jeong for the great job she did organizing the conference store which was the busiest spot in the exhibit hall and to Steve Kelley for his very well laid-out exhibit hall.
As a chair of a LITA committee, I found (thanks to Lauren P.) that I should attend a joint committee/IG chair meeting first thing Saturday morning. Because LITA holds its National Forum Conference annually, I also needed to attend, in addition to my planning committee, the one for this year’s conference so I can get up to speed on what’s planned for this year.
View of the Crescent City Brewhouse Bar from Above
Much of the work for Top Technology Trends takes place throughout the year because it is a programming event that takes place at both Midwinter and Annual. Last year, we decided it would be a good idea to plan a social gathering with the committee and the “trendsters” so that they would be acquainted prior to coming to the podium the next day. My assignment was to find a restaurant to hold the “get acquainted” dinner and if you know me, you know I have “hostess anxiety.” This meant that I spend a long time finding a place that would be a good one: with New Orleans atmosphere but not priced in the stratosphere. I settled on the Crescent City Brewhouse which was reasonably priced, centrally located on the edge of the French Quarter and had a live jazz band! It turned out to be a nice networking evening. The actual event took place Sunday afternoon. We had a great venue this time with the session taking place in one of the main auditoriums. This time there were 5 trendsters, Lorcan Dempsey, OCLC; Clifford Lynch, CNI; Nina McHale, Univ of Colorado, Denver; Monique Sendze, Douglas Country (CO) Libraries; and Jennifer Wright, Free Library of Philadelphia. You might want to note that, for the first time, the female trendsters outnumbered the males. As Erik mentioned in his post, the trends included social reading, the death of the mouse, proximity marketing, “mashing down” print, and computational photography.
Top Technology Trends Panel at ALA Annual, New Orleans
This was the first time at ALA that I also had a presentation. I participated in the ULS/CLS Program with 9 other presenters. The format was a Pecha Kucha, a presentational framework where we had to do 20 slides for 15 (preprogrammed) seconds each for a total of a 5 minute talk. My topic was “From Department Director to Race Director.”
I have to admit that this was the most challenging presentation I have ever made. I am more of an ad-lib speaker. I like to make a broad outline and go from there, depending on what stories come to me in the moment and how the audience reacts. The Pecha Kucha format is very regimented. I had to know exactly what I wanted to say in the 15 seconds that each image projected. They even had a cow bell that they said they would ring if we went over. It was very intimidating, even for a seasoned pubic speaker. However, I survived and had positive feedback on my content.
I always enjoy attending the Alexander Street Press breakfast. This year, the speaker was Stanley Nelson, the award winning documentary filmmaker. HIs most recent film is Freedom Riders. After several minutes of audio technical snafus, he showed a ten-minute clip about the second wave of freedom riders. It was extremely moving. I was particularly drawn to the fact that he produced the documentary The Murder of Emmett Till. In both of my “south trip” experiences, the story of Emmett Till played a central part in starting to understand the complex issues of the black experience in the south.
Those of you who know me also know my belief in the importance of embracing the local culture of the places we go for conferences. This was not hard to do in a town like New Orleans. I’ve been there four times now, three of them post-Katrina. During our Monday French Quarter Neighborhood Bike Tour we learned that only 70% of the population from pre-Katrina is now there post-Katrina. The bike tour is an example of another belief I have about conferences. It is the perfect opportunity to make a different type of connection with your colleagues. Interacting with colleagues in a different setting is conducive to getting to know each other in a unique context. With 12 people attending ALA New Orleans from ZSR, there were plenty of chances to connect with each other in ways that resulted in higher understandings and appreciations of each other!
This year’s LITA National Forum is being held in Atlanta. There are 5 of us here from ZSR Library, probably the largest representation we’ve ever had at a single Forum. One big impact of this fact is that we were able to take advantage of the new library van to transport all of us down the road. There is nothing better than a road trip that starts in the back parking lot behind ZSR at 4:30 am!
I am on the conference planning committee again, so most of my weekend is involved with introducing speakers, helping with logistics and hosting a networking dinner tonight. Giz is attending his first Forum and Erik/Kevin/JP came to do a presentation on our cloud project.
We arrived in time to settle in and be ready for the opening keynote by Amy Bruckman, who talked about “How Wikipedia Works and What This Means for the Nature of Truth.” She talked about Wikipedia in terms of being a constructionist learning environment but said it has produced a epistemology crisis. With a source that is collectively created, how do we understand what to believe, what is objective or subjective? She believes it is through social agreement, or peer review. And this is what Wikipedia does through its framework of authors, editors and administrators. She offered several interesting perspectives in support of the value of Wikipedia and it was a great start to the weekend.
I was fortunate to be the one to introduce our cloud experts for their session (OK I admit I arranged to do it!). I’m sure each of them will give their perspectives, but the 70 minute talk was well received from a room that had standing room only. Often, the real test of the success of a presentation is how many questions are generated, and how many people hang after to talk to the speakers. Using those criteria, the talk was a resounding success with plenty of thoughtful questions posed (and good answers returned) and plenty of post-session conversations.
Today promises another full day with a keynote by Roy Tennant and concurrent sessions. So more to come!
The Vufind 2.0 conference day 1 started off with an opening chat by Joe Lucia about the relationship between open source software, open access policies and open data initiatives. He connected these rather current ideas to more traditional notions of libraries (resource stewardship and service for example) and touched on the idea that current trends including cloud-based systems and a trend towards network-based applications could prove to be challenging to our current model of open source software.
A discussion that focused on examples of systems and data that have been developed in either open or closed spaces showed the room tended to believe that that open source and library missions are close together. I thought that it was interesting to note that there was a view that the trend in implementing systems, data repositories and services in cloud environments was a step towards consolidation of vendors and a move away from the empowerment of smaller organizations. Interestingly there was a follow-up presentation by an ExLibris representative on a service that they are hosting on Amazon’s EC2 platform! For me the interesting idea that came out of the morning was that we are increasingly subscribing to data services rather than purchasing systems (SerialsSolutions for our openURL resolver, Syndetics content for our catalog) and that models for providing community driven, open data services (Hathi trust for example) are still evolving.
As JP’s post indicates there were many ‘good idea’ presentations and lively discussions on Wednesday. Demain Katz talked about the work he has been doing to turn Vufind into an OAI-PMH harvester and server (this would make it incredibly easy for us to harvest the items in Dspace and index them in Vufind), Greg Pendlebury talked about providing social software features at a network rather than individual library scale and there was an interesting discussion about using both Vufind and the XC metadata services toolkit to add authority data and authority management to Vufind (still pretty exploratory). JP and I also talked about the Voyager WebServices approach to providing book-based services in Vufind and brainstormed some options for indexing multiple databases in a single Vufind instance.
One of the overriding questions of the day was ‘where is vufind going and what role will it play in our organizations over the coming years?’ In afternoon breakout sessions there was a lively debate about indexing complex digital objects and metadata (EAD for example!) and what the best approaches were for handing non-marc data and services. Another group discussed linked data/authority records and a third group discussed network-scale issues in implementing Vufind.
Villanova has been a great host so far and both the facility we are at (The Villanova Conference Center) and the dinner last night were great. More to come after the Thursday session.
A hurt neck kept me from lugging my laptop around combined with a lack of reasonably priced internet anywhere near my hotel kept me off the “real” internet for much of the conference. This was the first ALA I have attended where there were days that I didn’t carry a computer, and it made for a slightly different experience. I engaged in Twitter on my phone a bunch more, and I interacted on Facebook, took notes on paper, but I didn’t have hardly any opportunities to blog. Very strange for me! But instead of pushing out information about the conference, I feel that I participated in many more conversations, and that’s something I’d like to be sure to do at future conferences.
To pick up where I left off, Saturday was a real LITA day for me. I attended the BIGWIG meeting physically for the first time. This is a group of LITA that formed around blogs, interactive groups, and wikis (hence the name), but now mostly experiments with emerging social technologies and acts as a test bed to pilot new tools. Many of us were new to the meeting group, but have been participatory online, so it was nice to put some faces with some names and connect with people I’ve been following. (…both literally and figuratively!)
Next up I had the LITA Web Coordinating Committee. I’m midway through my term in this group, and our charge is to work on the LITA website. As you might know, ALA recently went through a redesign, and LITA is following with a similar information architecture. It was especially interesting in light of the web group at ZSR, and gave me lots of food for thought.
After that, Kaeley and I met up with Susan at the Art Institute for the ProQuest VIP Reception and the Scholarship Bash. We ran into Debbie Nolan and were able to catch up a bit with her, we had some food, saw some art, and it was a good time. I was able to meet up with some of my online colleagues as well to hammer out a bit of business among the fun.
I didn’t go to my 7:30 breakfast on Sunday (trying to give my neck a little rest), and instead went to the exhibits at 9:00 to get a chance to see things before my signing. When I got to my booth I saw Sarah right away! Sarah, Carolyn, Lynn, Bill, Susan, Roz, and Kaeley were the ZSR crew that came by, and a few others, too. It was nice to get a chance to talk with Rory, my editor, now that the project is complete.
My next meeting was the Emerging Leaders Subcommittee. Assuming the HRDR committee chair decides to appoint me, I might have the opportunity to participate in this group to help make the Emerging Leaders program better. It was fascinating to hear the behind the scenes discussion, and I was pleased to hear the ’09 class had an improved experience over what much of the ’08 class remembers. I am hopeful that this program is one that improves each year.
I raced away from that meeting to meet Kaeley at the LITA President’s program. The program was about the Dutch Boys at DOK.
They’re a fascinating trio and I really recommend checking them out. They recently released a book on their USA library tour if you’re interested in more. The Twitter backchannel was particularly fun and lively throughout the session discussing (among other topics) can you train people to be innovative and how do you know if people you’re hiring will be innovative? Following the LITA session, Kaeley and I met up with Roz, her sister, Susan, Carolyn, and Sarah for a nice Italian ZSR Dinner.
Monday morning was my first day that wasn’t scheduled from start to finish. I was hoping for lots of serendipitous meetings and I wasn’t disappointed. My first session was to see Roz present her paper, but I got to the convention center pretty early. Luckily I ran into someone I know from the ’07 Emerging Leaders class who is also really involved in LITA. We swapped stories and found out more about what we both actually do and what our libraries are like. Our work is similar enough that I really hope that we’ll be able to collaborate on something sometime soon.
Roz’s paper was an interesting comparison of subject guide software. I found the ACRL geared presentation interesting in light of similar LITA discussions. The subject is the same, but the approach, perspective, and decision making is a little bit different. It was good stuff, and LibGuides is clearly a hot topic for a lot of libraries.
Susan, Roz, Kaeley, and I ended up at LITA’s Social Software Showcase next. This year was a bit different from years past. The program finally had a room big enough for the number of people interested in attending, but the furniture wasn’t set up particularly well for the interactive nature of the program. They rolled with it, and the overall responses were great. I was particularly glad to catch up with several online friends at the session, and we ended up having a surprise social software showcase of our own involving Google Voice, a “hackintosh,” and brainstorming about how the program could work.
Some of that group, Kaeley, and I found a little Italian/pizza place near the convention center, so we were able to grab something to eat and catch up before the Ultimate Debate program. This is the program that a few others have blogged about: David Lee King, Meredith Farkas, Michael Porter, and Cindi Trainor were on the panel and Roy Tennant moderated. It was a fun session and it’s always nice to get a chance to see everyone in real life and see folks actually interact.
One of my library/facebook friends was organizing a vegetarian dinner, so we had an adventure of a time finding a place and eventually ended up at the very yummy Chicago Diner. Of the six of us I hadn’t met any of of my fellow diners face to face before. One I interact with online (it was her birthday), two I knew of–and have been impressed with–from their online presence, and two were entirely new to me. It was great fun and really enjoyed the conversation. The day wrapped up with a great conversation on the walk back to the hotel and a bit of getting ready for the last day.
Sunday kicked off with my last meeting of the conference and my last meeting on the committee. I am finishing up my term on the Committee on the Status of Women in Librarianship with this conference. It’s been a wonderful committee to serve on and it’s hard to believe that it’s been four years. More than anything, I learned about how ALA actually functions from serving on this committee. We wrapped up some business, I helped out a little with the new ALA Connect, and with that my conference was over.
With this conference, my terms on COSWL and the Women’s Studies Section Instruction Committee both end. I had later appointments to a few LITA groups, so that’s carrying me forward to the next conference. Over the last four years I’ve learned a lot about ALA from COSWL and WSS, but I have also learned that you have to really focus on one or two aspects of ALA if you want your energy to make an impact. I am choosing to focus my energy on LITA. I really feel that there is potential to make positive change there that can provide real-world examples to ALA about some of the changes that might make the larger association more relevant in the 21st century. (That’s my soapbox, at least. :) ) I might focus on Emerging Leaders as a secondary area since positive work there will influence people who will potentially be in positions to make change within the larger organization.
This ALA had been a particularly good on for me. It was great fun to room with Kaeley and to see so much of the ZSR group along the way. The preconference went really well, my discussion group had great conversations, and the booksigning wasn’t even too stressful! But even more importantly, it’s been filled with great conversation and great people and I’m feeling more reenergized than I have been in some time.