Professional Development

Susan’s ALA Annual 2016 – Orlando Report

Tuesday, July 5, 2016 4:53 pm

The Orange County Convention Center welcomes ALA to Orlando

If it’s late June, it must be time to jump on a plane and travel to some uncomfortably warm location to attend ALA Annual. This year the conference was held in Orlando and prior to the start of the conference the national news was filled with multiple terrible events occurring there. So, it was a unsettling time to travel to Orlando. ALA responded with recognition and programming. There was a memorial service for the Pulse shooting victims (video 1, video 2) and a blood drive. I was fortunate to attend a scheduled session that featured Congressman John Lewis along with his co-authors of the graphic novel March. Because he had just been in the news the same week in the Congressional sit-in, his appearance and talk brought the audience to their feet in support of his efforts. It was an inspiring program.

John Lewis arrives to a standing ovation

Most of my conference was spent in LITA (Library Information and Technology Association) meetings and programs due to my role as LITA Director-at-Large. One of its signature events, Top Tech Trends, had 5 panelists this time around and a bit of a format change. After each panelist briefly proclaimed their “trend” (concepts, collecting real time data, virtual reality, balance of security against access, super easy application development), a half hour was spent asking for panelist responses about information security questions that were posed. This was followed by a discussion of maker space trends and examples. My favorite exchange were the questions “what may be the most useless trend?” [Answers: YikYak, IOT (Internet of Things)] and “What tech things are you sick of hearing about?” [Answers: 3D printers, smart watches, maker spaces].

It seems I went with the “top trends” theme this time in my limited program attendance between meetings. I heard one of the expert panel members (Lindley Shedd, U of Alabama) from the NMC Horizon Report – 2015 Library Edition. She talked a bit about the process for paring down a huge list of possible topics to 18 ( a focus on emerging technologies in libraries – six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments). You might enjoy looking at the project’s workspace wiki to more about how the project is implemented. It was interesting that she compared this report with the recently published 2016 Top Trends in Academic Libraries to see what correlated between the two.

My next “top trends” was a LLAMA-BES panel session on Top Building Trends 2016. The panel contained both architects and library directors. Some gems from the session:

  • (Looking for relevance in today’s environment?) Nothing transmits irrelevance like leaking roofs, old paint and furniture, outdated infrastructure.
  • Lost arts – a place for community to come together. Not so much maker spaces as most know them. These range from garden to cooking to candlemaking).
  • How can we make the collections (you know, those pesky books in stacks) attractive and focused part of the experience? Check out the book mountain in a Netherlands library. Maybe more useful in our library, consider lowing the stacks.
  • Restrooms are a top trend. The call for gender neutral has architects looking for new ways to design them.
  • Flexibility in a building means fewer permanent walls are being built.
  • A move toward pop-up instruction/event space.
  • Outdoor space is becoming more important – green space, outdoor movie screens, outdoor programming.
  • Look to other industries for trends that could be valuable. Example cited: the hospitality industry focuses on transforming people from one point to another (the first 25 feet sets the experience).

My final comment has to do with how much walking one does at a typical ALA conference. In Orlando, the West Convention Center was connected to hotels, North/South OCCC halls and heaven knows what else. I had no trouble exceeding my 10,000 steps per day goal!

Get Your Steps In

 

Thomas – Hither and Yon

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 3:40 pm
Geographically, the weighted average location of Midwinter is a field northwest of Springfield, Missouri.

Histogram of TPD’s attendance at Midwinter. Geographically, the weighted average location of my Midwinter is a field northwest of Springfield, Missouri.

 

I’ve done so much travel recently, I must be just about as developed as Charles Atlas, but only professionally developed, which looks a little different on the outside. I’ll summarize, as each of these meetings had one or two “price of admission” moments.

I’ve also had oddly charmed weather karma, as noted below.

LITA Forum, November in Minneapolis

Light jacket weather.

LITA had one of its best forums in years, and it was great to see good attendance for such good programs. [The 2016 Forum will be great also and you should all come! Its secret location will be revealed Real Soon Now.]

There were two sessions in particular I wanted to highlight. One of the keynotes was from Mark Matienzo, Director of Technology at the Digital Public Library of America. No one quite knew what was coming, but his talk, To Hell With Good Intentions: Linked Data, Community, and the Power to Name was a surprising and eye-opening look at social just aspects of metadata. I’d rather not even try to summarize—the session was recorded and will be posted within a week or two—but just to describe the major theme: The act of naming something has a power dynamic which, through maliciousness, ignorance, or indifference, can have a harmful effect on the people being named. This includes naming conventions like call numbers, controlled vocabularies, and authority files. I really invite you to watch this one when the LITA office can get it posted (they’re incredibly busy people).

The hands-down funniest session I can remember at any meeting was Does Anyone Even Click on That? by Bill Dueber from the University of Michigan. Aside from being outrageous and a little in-your-face—and energizing—it talked about some important points. Our capacity to do software development, web design, and UX studies (and bug fixes) is always a bottleneck in developing library services. Bill talked about assessment-based analysis of development priorities so that you can eventually say, “We’re going to fix problems A, B, and C, but problem D would take up more resources than it’s worth, so we’re just not going to fix it.” It’s an eye-opening response to a problem that otherwise just piles more and more to-do items on top of overworked tech staff.

CNI, Washington in December

Shirtsleeves and lunch outside.

This meeting has just plain outgrown its schedule, and there’s no way to see everything you’d like in the 26 hours from start to finish. Tim P. has posted about it. I’ll just say that he wanted to take in as much as he could about space planning and I wanted to hit the sessions on public and collaborative tech. We kept sitting together because there was a distinct theme of “space planning for public collaboration spaces.”

Aside from that, the winner for me was a session titles How Much Does $17 Billion Buy? Four presenters from UCLA tackled this question: journal publishers ask us to pay for published versions of an article even when open access pre-prints are freely available. Ostensibly, we should do this because the journal’s professional publishing staff add value to the final version in the form of proofreading, graphics, citation checking, etc, and this value is worth the subscription cost. So, does that hold true?

No.

This early report on research compared over a million articles by University of California authors that appear in both the OA physics repository arXiv.org and in commercial journals. Many details on how to do the harvesting, matching, and text comparison (fun for coding geeks). The big takeaway is that there is very little difference between the OA and published version of most of these articles.

However, there’s some sample bias here, that the researcher acknowledge and are working to correct. 96% of the articles they could retrieve from commercial publishers came from just one (Elsevier), and a disproportionate number of those came from one journal, Physics Letters B. This journal’s purpose is rapid turnaround of current research reports, so they emphasize speed over meticulous proof reading.

But still. If you’re paying a gazillion dollars for journals (or $17B for the University of California system), having essentially identical versions available for free might make you think about alternatives.

ALA Midwinter, Boston in January

One day of heavy rain and wind, but mostly unseasonably mild.

A little rummaging around in the twin disorders of my memory and ALA’s web site turns up this fact: this was my 25th Midwinter. From sea to shining sea, from the sun of San Antonio and San Diego to the day-long twilight of winter in Seattle, to some really impressive blizzards, and the fun of re-routing around earthquake damaged buildings and highways in L.A.

As with the last couple of ALA meetings, I got to attend very little in the way of programming, with the exception of Top Tech Trends, which others have covered. Just remember, even though the conference published the hash tag [https://twitter.com/hashtag/alattt]#alattt, this event comes from the good people of LITA.

Other than that…meetings. Eight hours on information policy, two hours on running effective meetings, a committee of committee chairs, and a committee of divisional presidents. And the five and a half hours of LITA Board meetings I presided over. And yet it all seemed like a very productive conference (okay, maybe the information policy meeting didn’t need the whole eight hours).

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!

Lauren at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 5:13 pm

It probably seemed like everyone was talking about linked data because that was the focus of most of the sessions I attended.

One of the more interesting ones was the Library of Congress BIBFRAME Update Forum, because in addition to Sally McCallum and Beacher Wiggins of LC, they had speakers from Ex Libris, Innovative Interfaces, SirsiDynix, Atlas (think ILLIAD and ARES), OCLC, and Zepheira. At this stage, I think they were all trying to reassure clients that they will keep up with change. I took more notes on Ex Libris than the others since we’re a current customer: After some prologue on revolution vs evolution, Ido Peled, VP, Solutions and Marketing, said, that moving to a native linked data catalog is more revolutionary and Ex Libris is more comfortable with evolution. But I thought he gave more concrete evidence of readiness for linked data than the others because he said ALMA was built to support MARC and Dublin Core already and that Primo Central is already in RDF format, using JSON-LD. He also emphasized the multi-tenant environment and said, “Technology isn’t the focus. The focus is outcomes.” Because linked data includes relying on the data of others and interlinking with your own data, the “multi-tenant” environment concept made sense suddenly and helped me understand why I keep hearing about groups moving to ALMA, like Orbis-Cascade. I’ve also heard from individuals that it hasn’t been easy, but when is a system migration ever easy?

I also attended “Getting Started with Linked Open Data: Lessons from UNLV and NCSU.” They each worked on their own linked data projects, figuring out tools to use (like OpenRefine) and work flows. Then they tested on each other’s data to help them refine the tools for use with different future projects and for sharing them broadly in the library community. They both said they learned a lot and made adjustments to the tools they used. I got a much better sense of what might be involved in taking on a linked data project. Successes and issues they covered reminded me of our work on authority control and RDA enhancement: matches and near matches through an automated process, hits and non-hits against VIAF, cleaning up and normalizing data for extra spaces, punctuation, etc. In fact this session built well on “Data Clean-Up: Let’s Not Sweep it Under the Rug,” which was sponsored by the committee I’m on with Erik Mitchell, the ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee. I got a good foundation regarding use of MARCedit and OpenRefine for normalizing data to eliminate spaces and punctuation. While I knew regular expressions were powerful, I finally learned what they can do. In one example, punctuation stemming from an ampersand in an organization name caused data to become parsed incorrectly, breaking apart the name of the organization every time for the thousands of times it appeared. A regular expression can overcome this problem in an automated way — there’s no need to fix each instance one by one. (Think in terms of how macros save work.)

The ALCTS President’s Program: Three Short Stories about Deep Reading in the Digital Age featured Maryanne Wolf, Director, Center for Reading and Language Research and John DiBaggio Professor of Citizenship and Public Service, Tufts University. It was interesting to learn from her that brains weren’t designed for reading — think about cave men and their primary goals, which didn’t include reading. She gave a great overview of the development of language and reading and incidentally showed that those who operate in CJK languages have different parts of the brain lighting up than those of us who operate in other languages. This was all foundation leading up to how the brain operates and the effects of reading on the screen. The way we read on a screen results in the loss of certain abilities like reflection and creating connections. She measured that it takes time to regain those abilities too. She isn’t by any means anti-electronic though — she’s doing interesting work in Ethiopia with kids learning by using tablets. We’ll have to get her forthcoming book when it is finished!

I also attended committee meetings, met with vendors, networked, and got to catch up with former colleagues Erik Mitchell and Lauren Pressley over a dinner that Susan organized. (Thanks, Susan!) I especially enjoyed catching up with former colleagues Charles Hillen and Ed Summers, both dating back to my days at ODU in Norfolk, Virginia. Charles now works for YBP as Director of Library Technical Services and Ed just received the Kilgour Award from LITA/OCLC. Thanks to Ed, I got to meet Eric Hellman, president of the company that runs Unglue.it. And thanks to WFU Romance Languages faculty member Alan Jose, who mentioned the idea, I went Monday afternoon with Derrik and Carolyn to visit the Internet Archive offices, where we met Brewster Kahle. The volume the organization handles is mind-blowing! Kahle says they only collect about 40 TV channels right now and it is not enough. They have designed the book digitization equipment they are using (and selling it at a reasonable price too). They have people digitizing reels of films, VHS, and audio, but Kahle says they’ve got to come up with a better method than equipment using magnetic heads that are hard to find. Someone is working on improving search right now too. Some major advice offered was to learn Python!

 

Susan at ALA 2015 in San Francisco

Thursday, July 2, 2015 10:58 am

Moscone Center

Moscone Center, site of ALA Annual 2015

This year’s ALA Annual conference took place in a popular destination location, on the weekend following the historic decision from the Supreme Court on the right for same-sex marriage. Add to this that it was the annual Pride parade weekend and there were close to 20,000 librarians in town and you can imagine how high the energy level was in San Francisco! I felt so fortunate that I was able to witness the thousands who came out to celebrate “Love is Love” at Sunday’s parade.

San Francisco Pride Parade

“Love Won” newspaper headline from the San Francisco Chronicle during the Pride Parade

The parade was a highlight, but the conference itself provided plenty of interesting moments as well. This past spring I was elected to a 3-year term as a Director-at-Large for LITA (Library Information and Technology Association). Although I’ve been involved with LITA for many years in a variety of roles, I will be serving on the Board for the next 3 years. So my LITA education began at this conference. I attended the board meetings as a guest and took part in an orientation session to help us new board members get up to speed. I discovered there is quite a bit of background reading to help me learn about the organization, including a manual and the bylaws. I attended LITA’s main program day on Sunday that includes the popular Top Tech Trends panel discussion and the President’s Program, which featured a conversation with Lou Rosenfeld,co-author of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web.

The top trends highlighted by the panel included

  • scalable internal connectivity (think about all those mobile devices connecting simultaneously)
  • interesting applications for RFID (example – Art Library in Switzerland that uses it for a daily inventory)
  • open source software
  • free, ubiquitous internet access in cities
  • cross-sector collaboration with purpose to improve services
  • ILS bloat
  • renaissance of podcasting
  • innovation communities founded around the library

Rosenfeld discussed his work with UX (user experience) and one of the interesting concepts that I learned about was the “short head.” We all know about the “long tail” but not so much about the short head attached to it! This term refers to the figure that is shown on the Zipf curve pictured below (comes from Zipf’s Law). The figure shows the most frequently searched terms on the left, and these make up the “short head.” Rosenfeld uses this curve to demonstrate how to use the law when tuning your website.

Zipf Curve from Louis Rosenfeld

Zipf Curve from Louis Rosenfeld

With my increased committee involvement, I didn’t have as much time to attend a variety of program sessions, but I managed to select at least one from most of my main areas of responsibility:

Digital Scholarship IG Discussion. I’m certain that Chelcie will give a more granular report for this session, but it was a good program that featured Joan Lippincott from CNI who presented Trends in digital scholarship centers: a view from CNI. She described findings from CNI’s work on trends in digital scholarship centers and her own observations from interviews and on-site visits. One of the main sources of data came from a workshop CNI conducted in April 2014 that involved 35 participants from 24 institutions and resulted in a report published in December. Also presenting were two people from NYU’s Digital Scholarship Services, which has some resemblance to what we are doing at ZSR. They don’t have a specific physical space and pull people in as needed to provide their services.

Creating Impactful Assessment Reports. This program, sponsored by LLAMA, was a panel discussion. The new dean for UNCC, Anne Cooper Moore, was joined by two librarians from Florida State University (Julia Zimmerman, Dean and University Librarian and Kirsten Kinsley, Assessment Librarian). The format of the session was for the panel to field questions relating to leveraging assessment reports to be effective tools to present to stakeholders. Julia noted that most stakeholders are busy people and long reports don’t get read, so she recommended executive summaries as key. Here are some other recommendations:

  • Use both qualitative and quantitative data to tell the narrative.
  • Individual quotes from people have impact.
  • There is a tie between assessment and marketing.
  • Data visualizations should be clear, colorful and should stand apart from the text.

An interesting discussion took place about what sort of assessment personnel different libraries have. Many have a single assessment librarian but who that person reports to is all over the map. There was an opinion from the panel that the most effective reporting line is to the library dean. There was also a consensus that having a committee in place either as a stand alone (if there isn’t a designated assessment position) or to supplement the assessment librarian is a good idea. It helps to have more eyes on the data and to get different perspectives.

Library of the Future: the Learning Optimized Library. This presentation was given by Steelcase. The speaker, Mark Walters, gave an overview on the company’s research on human behavior in libraries and provided examples of how to design for the tensions that have emerged between learning activities and space design (of course, using their furniture as the examples of solutions! Two new products that caught my interest are the Brody and the Thread). Mark is with the Education division at Steelcase, which launched in 2008. More than once he referenced an article by Scott Bennett on the changing roles of libraries that was published in 2009 (Muse title, restricted to subscribers). He described the methodology of their observational study which included time spent at 20 libraries. They have a living lab at Grand Valley State and this video shows what they’ve done there. The main thrust of their recommendations is to plan in zones with realistic adjacencies that take into account the concept of “alone together” and spanning from private to public:

Informal Learning Matrix

Informal Learning Matrix

Findings include:

  • Learning is social, but it takes many forms
  • Deep thinking requires blocking out distractions (both visual and sound)
  • Technology is ubiquitous so there are issues of infrastructure (the whole outlet thing) and ergonomics
  • Spaces have different rhythms of behavior

If any of these short narratives have caught your interest, I have more detailed notes I’ll be glad to share. As usual, I’ll close with a link to all the photos I took while I was out and about in San Francisco.

Heading to Coit Tower

View of Bay Near Coit Tower

Lauren at ALA Midwinter 2015 (aka Chicago’s 4th Biggest Blizzard)

Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:59 pm

My notes on: IPEDS, ebook STLs and video, our vendors, linked data, BIBFRAME, OCLC and Schema.org, ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee, advocacy

At the ARL Assessment Forum, there was much complaining over the contradiction in instructions with IPEDs collection counts and circulation. Susan and I had the luck of chatting in the hallway with Bob Dugan from UWF, who turned out to be the main official communicator from libraryland with the person for the library section of IPEDs. Bob is also the author of a LibGuide with clarification info from the IPEDs help desk. Bob seems hopeful that changes in definitions for gathering the info (but not the numbers/form) could happen in time for the next cycle. My main specific takeaways from the various speakers:

  • the only figures that that will be checked between the current IPEDs survey and the previous survey is total library expenditures (not just collection);
  • in spite of the language, the physical circulation part of the survey seems to focus on lending, not borrowing, and may duplicate the ILL info section;
  • some libraries are thinking to use COUNTER BR1 and BR2 reports for ebook circulation and footnote which vendors use which type (BR1 or BR2).

ALCTS Technical Services Managers in Academic Libraries Interest Group discussed a wide range of current issues and it was both reassuring and annoying that no matter the library size, public or private, right now everyone has the same problems and no great answers: high cost ebook STLs, difficulties with video, etc. I inferred that our tactic of explaining prices and the options to faculty (e.g. explaining a mediation message about an EBL ebook or that the producer of a desired video is requiring libraries to pay significantly more than the individual pricing advertised) produces greater customer satisfaction than setting broad restrictive rules to stay within budget.

Jeff, Derrik, and I had a good meeting with a domestic vendor regarding ebooks and I discussed some specific needs with a foreign vendor. All felt like we made progress.

Linked data in libraries is for real (and will eventually affect cataloging). I attended several relevant sessions and here is my distillation: LD4L and Vivo, as a part of LD4L, are the best proof-of-concept work I’ve heard about. When starting to learn about linked data, there is no simple explanation; you have to explore it and then try to wrap your brain around it. Try reading the LD4L Use Cases webpages to get an understanding of what can be achieved and try looking at slide #34 in this LD4L slideshow for a visual explanation of how this can help researchers find each other. Here’s a somewhat simple explanation of Vivo from a company that helped start it and now is the “first official DuraSpace Registered Service Provider for VIVO.” OCLC is doing a lot of groundwork for linked data, using Schema.org, and that effort plays into the work being done by LD4L. While OCLC has been using Schema.org, Library of Congress has invested in developing BIBFRAME. I’m looking forward to reading the white paper about compatibility of both models, released just before the conference. The joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee (which replaced MARBI) is naturally interested in this topic and it was discussed at the Committee meeting. The Committee also gathered input from various groups on high level guidelines (or best practices) for metadata that Erik Mitchell, a committee member, originally drafted.

I also attended the meeting of the ALCTS Advocacy Committee, which has a liaison to the ALA Advocacy Coordinating Group. I understand that advocacy will be emphasized in ALA’s forthcoming strategic plan. If you’re not familiar with the Coordinating Group, it has a broader membership than just ALA division representation, but does include ACRL, LITA, and APALA in addition to ALCTS. I believe ZSR is well-represented in these groups and thus has some clear channels for advocacy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Susan @ ALAMW 2015, or ‘A Little Blizzard, So What?’

Tuesday, February 3, 2015 4:58 pm

ALA Welcome Banner in the Snow
Chicago has always been one of my favorite conference destinations, but this was my first wintertime visit to the Windy City. My introduction to Chicago in the winter turned out to be an epic one. Declared one of the top 5 Chicago storms since records have been kept, Linus provided all of us with a primer on how the midwest handles a weather emergency. And it was fairly impressive! The whole city kept on going even as snow was blowing sideways and piling up to 19″. The conference shuttle buses ran throughout, sessions were held as planned and spirits were upbeat (although I think southerners developed a few worry lines along the way). If I would fault one thing it would be the absence of any communication from ALA proper to the conference attendees. It was word of mouth as to whether to expect the buses to continue, and whether sessions would or wouldn’t be held. I know they are a big organization, but they manage to give our emails out to every vendor so we receive a barrage of communication hawking products. Would it have been too hard to use those email lists to let conference-goers know what to expect in a major storm? Enough about the weather, although it did offer good competition to the Super Bowl as a major non-library topic for conference attendees…..

Friday afternoon, I joined in at an ARL assessment coordinators meeting. Wanda, Lauren Corbett and Mary Beth all attended at least part of this afternoon-long program. Wanda and Lauren were interested in hearing about the new IPEDS data collection, which has caused confusion to most. I went because I was interested in the session on learning space data and assessment. ARL has added a facilities inventory to its survey list and there was discussion about the parameters for doing it correctly. I got the most out of the presentation by Joan Lippincott (CNI) who showed some tools that can be helpful in assessment of learning spaces. FlexSpace is an open access repository populated with examples of learning spaces.It contains high resolution images and related information that describes detailed attributes learning spaces from from 336 institutions with data in the system. I applied for a free account and look forward to exploring further. The Educause Space Rating System provides a set of measurable criteria to assess how well the design of classrooms support and enable active learning activities. It works best with formal learning spaces but there is interest in developing profiles for informal spaces that might be more aligned with the types of spaces a library offers. The Learning Space Toolkit is meant to help design and sustain technology-rich informal learning spaces. Our colleagues at NCSU Libraries are involved in this project. The session was worthwhile just for introducing me to these potential tools, although I did feel like a bit of an interloper sitting in with the Big Dog ARL Assessment groups!

Most of my weekend was focused on LITA activities. I’ve been asked to run for LITA Board Director (again) and so my time was spent going to a Joint Chairs meeting, Top Tech Trends and working with LITA leadership (Thomas was at this table) to learn my charge as next year’s Chair of the Financial Advisory Committee. Along the way I did some networking with LITA members who I want to get to know better and caught up with some old colleagues as well. Even though the weather put a damper on my after-hours networking (Sorry to have missed the LITA Happy Hour, but the blizzard was in full force by then), I was glad for some day-time chances to strengthen relationships with LITA folks.

The ZSR group that had booked the direct afternoon United flight to Greensboro on Monday may have been the luckiest librarians in the whole conference. We all managed to get to the airport, fly out only an hour late, and get home in time for dinner! It was a good ALA adventure this weekend, but I think we all were happy to touch down in non-snowy North Carolina!

The Day After Along Michigan Avenue

The Day After Along Michigan Avenue

 

Thomas Takes Left Turn at Albuquerque, Ends Up in DC

Tuesday, December 23, 2014 4:00 pm

TPD at LITA Forum and CNI

Last month (where does the time go?), I was in Albuquerque for the LITA National Forum. I can’t say strongly enough what a good, small conference this is for topics on applying technology to library projects (the 2015 Forum will be in Minneapolis, which will simplify travel – I expect to see ZSR faces there!). It packs an awful lot into 48 hours.

Keynotes:

AnnMarie Thomas, University of St. Thomas. AnnMarie is an engineering professor who specializes in playing and making. She spoke about setting up maker spaces that are something more than just a 3D printer. One of her specialties is Squishy Circuits, an innovative way to electrical circuit design using circuits made of play dough. Fun stuff (which is the point), and a good way to foster interest in STEM topics.

Lorcan Dempsey, Thinker of Deep Thoughts, OCLC. Lorcan’s talk, “Thinking About Technology…Differently” touched on a wide range of topics: how the relationship between information and knowledge mirrors the relationship between “stuff on the web” and “linked data on the web”; the growing use [by Google et al.] of embedded metadata in web pages, and the work to boost the quality and granularity of metadata for bibliographic items; the link from the reality that Google is where people are to the need to make our content more discoverable and to mesh our workflows for things like IR submission to the workflows of our authors – not the other way around.

Kortney Ryan Ziegler, founder of Trans*h4ck. Trans*h4ck is a hackathon and tech-oriented get-together for the trans a gender non-conforming community. An interesting and eye-opening talk, including the sad fact that in many libraries, trans patrons can’t even search the word transgender in library databases because filtering software automatically flags it as pornography. Another sad part of day-to-day life is the simple act of finding a public restroom where people won’t hassle you for which door you go in; one of Trans*h4ck’s first accomplishments was YoRestrooms, a mobile web site that uses Google Maps to locate gender-safe public restrooms.

Highlights of Breakout Sessions:

Forum usually packs in about 30 breakout sessions. Of the ones I could get to, highlights included further details on OCLC’s work to expand the vocabulary for embedding bibliographic data in web pages without giving Google the whole shebang of MARC fields. Also, a great session on improving libraries’ presence on social media by A) actually participating in Twitter and Facebook rather than using them as post-only media; and B) employing SMO (Social Media Optimization). As a parallel to SEO (search engine optimization), SMO helps explain a page to Facebook or Twitter in order to improve what people see when you Like that page.

Not long after returning from Albuquerque, I was on my way to Washington, DC, for the CNI Fall Meeting. If LITA Forum packs a lot into 48 hours, CNI packs at least as much into 26 hours (though with breakout sessions running in 9 concurrent streams, the percentage of content you can get to has gone down).

The opening plenary was a discussion featuring Tom Cramer, Chief Technology Strategist at Stanford; James Hilton, Dean of Libraries and Vice Provost for Educational Initiatives, University of Michigan, and Michele Kimpton, CEO of Duraspace (the organization that coordinates development on DSpace and Fedora). Interesting stuff on the role of educational institutions in creating the software we want to use; sustainable software development; and the difference between simply open source software and software that is the product of open communities.

There was a good session on interoperating with Wikipedia. There’s no denying that students’ research often follows a path of Google?Wikipedia?References, so we can at least work in the Wikipedia community to improve the visibility of relevant library holdings, and in particular digital objects in our repositories. One of the presenters is the head of the Wikipedia Library Program, which among other things is working on a program of Wikipedia Visiting Scholars. Often, prolific Wikipedia editors need the kind of database and full text access we take for granted, but don’t have access to a good academic library. As visiting scholars, they can get remote access to high quality sources, and improve Wikipedia for everyone’s benefit. Rutgers and George Mason were noted as universities that have supported Wikipedia visiting scholars.

Another good session on OCLC’s efforts to articulate bibliographic information through embedded metadata.

Several sessions on patron privacy, including some sobering examples of exactly how much private information “leaks” out of web sites. Takeaways from this session are being rolled into the forthcoming ZSR privacy audit.

“What Have You Learned, Dorothy?”

New Mexico has an Official State Question: “Red or Green?” I usually answer Green. Also, green chile cheeseburgers ftw.

One-seventh of the way through the 21st century, conference hotels still routinely fail at providing adequate wi-fi. Routinely.

Embedded metadata is happening, often in subterranean ways, but it is definitely a thing. Getting books, articles, and other library goodies in on the action is going to be important.

I didn’t mention it above, but Kuali OLE is also a thing, if only just barely. The Open Library Environment is inching forward, and two schools (Lehigh and Chicago) are successfully using its first modules in production. We track this project as having the potential to provide a community developed, open source, academically oriented ILS in the (near?) future.

ALA Annual 2014 Las Vegas – Lauren

Thursday, July 3, 2014 4:08 pm

Three segments to my post: 1) Linked Data and Semantic Web, 2) Introverts at Work, and 3) Vendors and Books and Video — read just the part that interests you!

1. Linked Data and Semantic Web (or, Advances in Search and Discovery)

Steve Kelley sparked my interest in the Semantic Web and Linked Data with reports after conferences over the past few years. Now that I’ve been appointed to the joint ALCTS/LITA Metadata Standards Committee and attended a meeting at this conference, I’ve learned more:

Google Hummingbird is a recent update to how Google searching functions, utilizing all the words in the query to provide more meaningful results instead of just word matches.

Catalogers and Tech Team take note! Work is really happening now with Linked Data. In Jason Clark’s presentation,”Schema.org in Libraries,” see the slide with links to work being done at NCSU and Duke (p. 28 of the posted PDF version).

I’m looking forward to working with Erik Mitchell and other Metadata Standards Committee members in the coming year.

2. Introverts at Work!

The current culture of working in meetings (such as brainstorming) and reaching quick decisions in groups or teams is geared towards extroverts while about 50% of the population are introverts. Introverts can be most productive and provide great solutions when given adequate time for reflection. (Extrovert and introvert were defined in the Jung and MBTI sense of energy gain/drain.) So says Jennifer Kahnweiler, the speaker for the ALCTS President’s Program and author of Quiet Influence. Another book discussing the same topic is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. Many ZSRians attended this session!

3.Vendors and Books and Video

I spent a lot of time talking with vendors. Most notable was the meeting that Derrik, Jeff, and I attended with some of the publishers that are raising DDA short term loan prices. This will affect our budget, but our plan is to watch it for a bit, to develop our knowledge and determine appropriate action. It was helpful to learn more from the publishers. Some publishers are able to switch to print on demand, while others cannot because traditional print runs are cheaper than print on demand and their customers still want print. Print-driven publishers have to come up with a sustainable model to cover all of the costs, so they are experimenting with DDA pricing. DDA overall is still an experiment for publishers, while librarians already have come to think of it as being a stable and welcome method of providing resources.

Derrik and I also started conversing with Proquest about how we will manage our existing DDA program in regards to the addition of ebrary Academic Complete to NC LIVE.

“The combined bookshops of Aux Amateurs de Livres and Touzot Librarie Internationale will be called Amalivre effective July 1, 2014.”

Regarding video, Mary Beth, Jeff, Derrik and I attended a presentation by two Australian librarians from different large universities (QUT and La Trobe, with FTE in tens of thousands). They reported on their shift to streaming video with Kanopy and here are a few bullets:

  • Among drivers for change were the flipped classroom and mobile use
  • 60% of the DVD collection had less than 5 views while streaming video titles licensed through Kanopy averaged over 50 views
  • 23% and 15% (two universities) of DVDs have never been viewed once
  • 1.7 and 1.8 (two universities) times is the true cost of DVD ownership
  • They have a keyboard accessibility arrangement for the visually impaired
  • Usage is growing for PDA and non-PDA titles in Kanopy [reminds us of our experience with e-books]
  • Discovery of the streaming videos came largely through faculty embedding videos in the CMS
  • Other discovery is not good for video, so they had Proquest add a radio button option for video to Summon to help promote discovery [can we do this?]
  • They concluded that because of greater use,online video is the greater value for the money spent

 

LITA Nationa Forum 2012, Concurrent Sessions

Sunday, October 7, 2012 9:48 am

Members of the LITA Forum Planning Committee also serve as moderators for the concurrent sessions. I chose to moderate the sessions that had not been claimed by other members of the planning committee, rather than choosing based on topic. This has served me well as I’ve found myself in some great sessions I probably would not have chosen on my own! I’ve described my top three sessions below:

Persona Most Grata: Invoking the User from Data to Design; Alexa Pearce, Nadaleen Tempelman-Kluit

This presentation focused on the use of personas, an idea I’ve heard about at several conferences, but what made this presentation different was the extensive use of data to create those personas. In most examples I’ve seen, the personas represented faculty, staff, student and graduate student users, but these librarians gather data from chat transcripts and looked at users across variable such as intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and research or process oriented and graphed the data along an x and y axis, then made a persona around the results of each quadrant. These personas became shorthand at the library for various types of users. The advantage being that there was data behind these personas that backed up that perspective.

Digital screenmedia: Merging technologies, unifying content, May Chang, Michael Blake

This was the surprise presentation for me. It dealt with how to manage digital information screens in your library. ECU was doing the same thing we do now, updating a Powerpoint presentation, but now they use XIBO for digital signage. It allows for a web interface, has the ability for items to expire and leave the presentation automatically, and is open source! May Chang also discussed the best practices for these types of signs, telling the group that any screen within reach of the user needs to be a touch screen and any screen that is not a touch screen needs to be up high so user are not tempted to touch. Additional suggestions included minimizing the amount of text on a screen, showing slides for only ten seconds at a time and including other informative content besides events to avoid over-commercialization.

Data-driven design decisions for discovery interfaces, Erin White

Erin is always a crowd favorite, and even though her panel of three became a presentation of one, she rose to the occasion and gave a great program on using data (such as tracking “hotspots” on the screen) to make major design decision regarding discovery systems. One side discussion that came up was release dates. They released a new interface in December, much to the horror of their users. This was due to setbacks that caused a summer release to get pushed forward multiple times. Something that occasionally unavoidable.

LITA 2012 was a very productive conference for me. In addition to serving on the planning committee, I had the opportunity to moderate and hear many great sessions and facilitate three networking dinners! All in all, a successful trip! I owe Susan Smith a big thanks for letting me serve on her planning committee! Thanks, Susan!

 


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