Professional Development

Susan @ the Charleston Conference: Talking About Providing Value

Friday, November 16, 2012 9:13 am

Earlier this year ZSR Library participated in a research study. The six month study was commissioned by SAGE and conducted by LISU, a national research and information center based in the Department of Information Science at Loughborough University. It sought to study how libraries show evidence of value to research and teaching staff and we were one of 8 case studies from the US, UK and Scandinavia. A final report with findings and recommendations was published last summer.

I was invited by SAGE to come to the Charleston Conference to co-present on the results of this study. My co-presenter was our old friend and colleague, Elisabeth Leonard, who now works for SAGE. Elisabeth reported on the results of the study and my job was to show the practical side of how we demonstrate value at ZSR Library. (My part of the presentation starts on slide 29)

Working Together, Evolving Value for Academic Libraries/Examples from One Library from Susan Smith

 

I was disappointed that home-front obligations on either side of our presentation schedule meant that I didn’t get to the conference until late Friday and so missed most of it. I’ve heard about The Charleston Conference for years, but since it isn’t in my area of responsibilities, I’ve never attended. I still didn’t get to attend any concurrent sessions, but I got the opportunity to see the energy of the conference and enjoy the final general session, a debate on the proposition that “the traditional research library is dead.” Arguing “yes” was Rick Anderson, Interim Dean, Marriott Library, Univ. of Utah against Derek Law, Professor Emeritus, University of Strathclyde, who emphasized his “no” position by wearing a traditional kilt! It was a spirited debate sprinkled with good-natured humor. My favorite line was delivered by Rick (note to all my cataloger friends, don’t shoot me!): He referenced the growing view that cataloging is dead by disagreeing. Instead, he said, catalogers are the “walking undead.” (laugh here). Twenty-first century polling was included as part of the session. Before the start of the debate, attendees were invited to text their yes or no position on the issue. At the end of the debate, a second poll was conducted to see if the debaters had changed peoples’ view. The end result was that the majority of attendees agree that “the traditional research library is dead.” The Conference Blog has a detailed report of what Anderson and Law had to say to support their positions and how the vote went. It was a fun session and makes me want to figure out a way to justify coming back next year.

I did manage to get in a little photography time (it was CHARLESTON after all), so I dragged myself out before dawn Saturday morning so I could watch the sunrise. My morning photo efforts are available on my flickr site.
Sunrise 6

Susan’s ACRL Day Two With a Little Day One Spillover

Saturday, April 2, 2011 9:20 am

Philadelphia Conference Center

Day Two offered another full day of sessions and since everyone here from ZSR seems to have embraced Roz’s theme approach to reporting, I’ll roll in my unreported day one stuff into this post. One of my themes has been distance education because our workgroup is putting together a plan to ready us for when DE arrives at Wake. It is a topic that surfaced in many sessions, even ones where it wasn’t the main topic. I attended two panel discussions on DE: Fostering Library as Place for Distance Students and Going the Distance: A Closer Look at Uniting with Remote Users. One of my big take aways from both of these is that UNCG’s Beth Filar-Williams was on both panels, alerting me to the fact that we have a great resource person right in our back yard! You can see from the presentation slides (linked to the session titles) that she is a very pro-active DE coordinator for UNCG which has a very hybrid model with varied populations of distance students. They have 950 purely distance students but plenty of others who do some classes online. An interesting fact is that all new instructors to UNCG are told they will be teaching online at some level.

Lynn reported on data curation, which is another hot topic these days. In fact, I had suggested it as a topic for a future special issue of JWL (Journal of Web Librarianship) and Erik and I are going to do a summer project to look at existing data sources. So I jumped on the opportunity to go to the panel session Roles for Librarians in Research Data Curation. Different institutions are taking different approaches and it was reflected in the titles of the various speakers: Data Research Scientist, Research Data Project Librarian, Digital Repository Librarian, and Research Data and Environment Sciences Librarian. After reviewing the literature, they distilled the roles for librarians in this field down to behavioral scientist (one who understands the needs of the researcher), advocate (one who articulates the value proposition, does best practice training, develops standards, markets services to users), broker (a concierge who works with other units to provide services), and the more traditional library focus of collection builder (maintains awareness of research on campus to get researchers to deposit data and provide long term custodial preservation and access).

Another of my conference themes has been about the impact and value of academic libraries to the larger institution. So the session that was to present a new ACRL report on the environmental scan that is done every two years was a pull for me. Unfortunately, it was also a big pull for too many other people, so the room was packed and I ended up perched on a corner shelf for the duration. The convener was surprised so many people came and had only prepared 25 copies of the report draft, which wasn’t quite final even though the purpose of the session was to present the final findings. But they promise it will be out in the next couple of weeks. Instead, faculty from the Drexel ischool made some remarks about themes they found in the report’s draft:

  • transforming librarians as well as the library. Traditionally we have been seen as those that serve. It’s time to think about ourselves as leaders in the academy, among those that make things happen
  • Higher education is a business so what can we do to contribute to the student experience to help them choose to come to our school and to stay there? (right on my theme of impact and value!)
  • Assessment and accountability, coupled with outcome based approaches
  • Partnerships. Libraries are the places for building communities. We should think of ourselves as mentors/coaches and reach out as being the place where there is cross-disciplinary intersection in a Switzerland-like (neutral) environment.
  • Simplify. It’s time to work seriously on how we can make it easier for our users to get what they need.
  • Building the profession and looking to the future. There are major demographic changes in higher education and we need to reflect that diversity. We also need to figure out how to compete with other professions to attract the best and the brightest.

I will continue to anticipate the actual report so that I can see how they tied in these themes for myself!

The rain finally let up a bit in the late afternoon, so I grabbed my camera and headed out for some fresh air and photo opportunities. My main destination was Love Park, which is named after the replica LOVE statue that is there.
LOVE Sculpture

From there, I spotted the Philadelphia Museum of Art “just down the street” so hiked there (it was a bit further than I thought!) to run up the stairs that were made famous in the Rocky movies!

Philadelphia Museum of Art

I had to double-time it back to the hotel to meet up with my fellow ZSR conference colleagues for the ULS social, followed by the ACRL All Conference Reception, which was held at the Constitution Museum. I’ll end with one final picture and challenge you to find two of our colleagues in it!
 at the ACRL All Conference Reception

Library value, directions and impact

Thursday, January 6, 2011 1:10 pm

My first two days in San Diego were spent at the ALISE conference. ALISE focuses on librarianship, education, and research. The opening session focused on the changing needs of the profession and the impact on LIS education. In fact this seems to be an ongoing theme, how librarians continue to prepare themselves for new challenges and opportunities.

I had the chance to connect with some of my friend from UNC (go heels!) and USC (go cocks!) during poster sessions and conference breaks. One of the most interesting sessions I attended was on ARL research on the value of academic libraries. The presenters asked some vey compelling questions including how libraries get to assessing value from the perspective of students and patrons as opposed to measuring activities and attendance.

The discussion around this got to a key issue about the lack of research data or methods to libraries get to value or impact focused assessments. It was suggested that the lack of this type of data is an impediment to the ongoing centrality of the library to the academic experience. This topic really connected with my experience at the Peabody leadership institute a few years ago that focused on the role and value of libraries in the academic world.

Interested? The report is at the ARL site http://Acrl.ala.org/value.

More to come this afternoon and Friday morning and then it is back downtown to go to ALA Midwinter


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