Friday, March 27, 2009

ACRL Seattle

Two really good sessions!

Opening Keynote: Rushworth Kidder

Rush Kidder's opening keynote called upon the audience to build a culture of integrity to address our current ethics recession, purporting that our current economic situation is not so much a financial recession as an ethics recession. As a society, we need to address our ethical fitness. Kidder's research to date suggests that humans share a core set of values:

Our ethical dilemmas are driven not so much by identifying right from wrong as by searching for the "higher right" between two right choices. Drivers of dilemmas are:
truth vs loyalty
individual vs community
short term vs long term
justice vs mercy

Kidder argues that this is the time to exhibit moral courage; we have to act or we might as well have no values at all. He defines moral courage as the "willing endurance of significant danger for principles." To emerge from the ethical crisis we must move from a people of integrity to a culture of ethics. (Relating this to the current economic crisis he notes that you can't separate capitalism from the moral basis of society.) Ethics is defined as obedience to the unenforceable. When ethics drains out of a culture, law takes over and you have a situation of self-regulation v. imposed regulation. And that's where he left us!


Impact of digital technology - Kidder: need moral futurists; don't get blindsided by technology. Example: the human genome project devoted 5% of funding to ethical considerations so when technology was ready a core of people had already thought about and could articulate ethical implications and guidelines

Lobbying in DC - Kidder: public outrage; Crisis invites introspection

Panel: Subject Librarian 2.0: Emerging Trends and Future Challenges for the Liaison Librarian
Jim Neal, VP for Information Services and University Librarian, Columbia Univ
Karen Wiliams, University of Minnesota
Kara Whatley, Coles Science Center, NYU

This panel presented three perspectives: an academic library administrator, an AUL for academic services and a life sciences liaison. All agreed that the expectations of users are changing and required skill sets of liaisons must evolve.

Jim Neal talked about core responsibilities in support of teaching, learning and research and also the poverty of abuncance, i.e. the inability of researchers to use the array of resources available to them. His list of expectations of users includes:
social networking
collective intelligence
permanent beta
authorship revolution
software as a service/not a product
AI/expert systems
Library as participation/not information
Neal believes the next "radical collaboration" will be liaisons working across institutions to deliver services to their constituents.

Williams described the Univ of Minnesota's work on a position description framework for liaisons. Their process is 2 1/2 years old and already under revision as e-science is "huge" and not reflected in the existing new framework:
scholarly communication
teaching and learning
digital tools
collection development and management
fund raising/identifying and cultivating donors
Her advise on engaging in a review process:
respect the past
involve staff
recognize there are multiple right ways
celebrate success and failures

Whatley referenced new twists on old skills, beginning with the holy trinity of reference, collection development and instruction. Liasion roles are expanding to include embedded librarianship, technologist, grant writing, knowledge creation and communication/politician. She see liaisons as:
mediators - librarians as middleware
organizers of information - including tagging and metadata
preservationists - including data and new media
event planners/programmers
Acknowledging that something has to give, she suggested multi-desk reference service and firm ordering as we know it. She suggested that liaisons form stronger partnerships with IT, share common needs across libraries, and go mobile for greater efficiency.

Lots of food for thought!

National Archives Preservation Confference 2009

The title and focus of this year's Preservation Conference was "Digitizing for Preservation and Access". Unlike the larger conferences sponsored by professional organizations, attendees follow one program throughout the day. This year's program included a keynote address on Digitization, Preservation, and the Idea of the Archive by Dr. Paul Conway, Associate Professor at the School of Information at the University of Michigan.

Since my current focus is on digitizing the general collections of the Eisenhower Library, I listened for information which was applicable to both archival and library collections.
  • The National Archives holds over 9 billion pages of documents. 5 million are on line. It is impossible to every digitize it all. On-line descriptions allow exposure to the existence of each series in their holdings. Digitization is use driven and may be done using partnerships with private industry.
  • The Federal Agency Digitization Initiative - Still Image Working Group has developed the Digital Image Conformance Evaluation (DICE) System. They have developed a device target which determines the performance parameters of digitization equipment and an object target which allows the determination of the quality of a digitized image. Their project website is:
  • The National Archives conservation staff reviews all series/collections to determine suitability for digitization and to assess what stabilization needs to proceed digitization; what special handling may be required; what type(s) of equipment would/would not be suitable for the series/collection given its physical characteristics and whether it is a candidate for scanning by a commercial partner or must be digitized in-house.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WebWise 2009

Posted by Andy Young, Distance Education Librarian, DC Regional Library Resource Centers.

"All of this not about technology, but people." -- a favorite quote from WebWise

I recently attended the IMLS-sponsored WebWise conference in DC. The conference is free, features delicious cuisine, and tackles emerging issues in museums and libraries with a focus on technology.

Among the many conference take-aways, is advice from Georgetown U's Michael Nelson re: success as we, libraries and museums, quickly approach the third phase of the Internet - Internet data and applications living as "cloud" - off-site and hosted by third parties.


Don’t build it when it can be borrowed.

Go where your audience is.

The more you give, the more you get.

Let a thousand voices speak; remix.

Serve a global audience.

Build local linkages online.

Rethink your organization.

To conclude, a few links and a couple of article citations of interest...

ACRL Poster on Hopkins Libraries' User Needs Analysis

While at ACRL, I gave a poster session summarizing the research and analysis work that led us to develop personas based on patterns of behavior and experience found in our users' discovery processes. These personas were developed as a result of a User Needs Analysis study originating from the Public Interface Group, meant to inform the Post-Horizon Working Group.

The poster is below; you may wish to expand the viewer to fullscreen or zoom in to see detail. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Creating Data-Driven Personas to Aid Selection and Implementation of a Next-Generation Discovery Interface

The Research Team was: Sue Woodson (principal investigator), Ashley Conaway, Ursula McLean, Sharon Morris, Leigh Anne Palmer, Christina Pikas, Lori Rosman, Steve Sears, and Elizabeth Uzelac. The personas were prepared by: Ashley Conaway, Leigh Anne Palmer, and Elizabeth Uzelac.

Cyber Zed Shed Presentation from ACRL

Robin Sinn and I gave a presentation at ACRL in an interesting set of practical technology-related sessions called the Cyber Zed Shed. In our presentation we walked through how the Sheridan Libraries are using MetaLib, the MetaLib X-Server, Xerxes, our Horizon catalog, and LibGuides together to achieve interactivity in our online library guides, streamline some workflows when it comes to electronic resources organization and display, and leverage the ability to embed library search tools in a online environments.

The development work of Jonathan Rochkind and David Walker on Xerxes, and Sean Hannan in building a catalog search tool generator, makes much of what we walked through possible.

Our presentation is below; we also did a live demonstration of building a basic guide in under five minutes not captured in the slides. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

ACRL redux

Two ACRL experiences to document:

1. I co-facilitated a roundtable called "PhDs in the Academic Library: The Role of the Scholar-Librarian," with four other current and former CLIR Fellows, Patricia Hswe, Heather Waldroup, Amanda Watson and Christa Williford.

A week or so before the conference, we chose some readings and questions to facilitate the conversation. The readings, accessible through the ACRL website, included:

  • Andrew Dillon, “Accelerating Learning and Discovery: Refining the Role of Academic Librarians,” in No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2008, pp. 51-57.
  • Thea Lindquist and Todd Gilman, “Academic/Research Librarians with Subject Doctorates: Data Trends 1965-2006,” portal: Libraries and the Academy, 8:1 (2008), pp. 31-52.
  • James Neal, “Raised By Wolves: Integrating the New Generation of Feral Professionals into the Academic Library,” Library Journal, February 15, 2006.
  • Daphnee Rentfrow, “Groundskeepers, Gatekeepers, and Guides: How to Change Faculty Perceptions of Librarians and Ensure the Future of the Research Library,” in No Brief Candle: Reconceiving Research Libraries for the 21st Century. Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2008, pp. 58-65.

(GoogleDocs won't let me upload these, so if anyone wants to read them, let me know and I'll send you the pdf files.) The general questions we focused on were these:

  • How does the very specific knowledge gained during Ph.D. research apply in an academic library setting?
  • What roles do Ph.D.-holders play in the future of academic librarianship?
  • How are Ph.D-holders particularly poised to mentor student research?
The session drew about 14 other participants--the tables were meant to seat about 9, so it was a crowded and convivial hour! The other participants included humanities PhDs who are long-term librarians, recent humanities PhDs like myself, current PhD students in LIS programs, several librarians who have finished Master's level work in a subject area and are trying to decide between continuing in a subject-area PhD program or a LIS PhD program, and one person with an EdD degree. This variety of participants meant that the conversation covered a lot of issues--and resulted in a very interesting discussion. Because there were so many attendees, a representative of ACRL invited the co-discussants to host a Web version of the roundtable in April.

2. I also participated in a workshop on teaching with primary resources. This was a really interesting, informative 3-hour session led by several current and former librarians at UC Irvine. We gained some hands-on experience and learned about different ways to use primary resources in research instruction, different modes of instruction, and different groups of students who might benefit. The organizers have been kind enough to share their hand-outs, powerpoint slides and bibliography.

Gabrielle Dean
Special Collections

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Women in the Archives," Conference, Brown University, March 2009

This is my first posting here, and I think my submissions might be a bit different than others, as the conferences I attend tend to deal specifically with rare books and humanistic research. Still, here it goes:

I attended a fascinating conference hosted by the Sarah Doyle Women's Center at Brown University earlier this month, the 20th annual meeting of the "Women Writers Project," which focuses on the study and digitization of manuscripts relating to women authors from the Middle Ages to the Modern era. This year's theme was "Women in the Archives," exploring the use of archival materials in the study of women's writing, and the construction of disciplinary practices in archival research and pedagogy. Papers and panels addressed a range of themes:

*pedagogy and interdisciplinary pedagogies
*the construction of archival spaces
*material modes of textuality across disciplines
*technologies of research and teaching, and the impact of digital media on the archive
*new directions in archival research
*editing archival materials

I participated in the conference, both as an attendee, and as a speaker, sitting on a panel to discuss the "Materiality of the Archive," where we explored different themes governing the larger ambit of archival research. I spoke specifically about the "absence" of the female voice in much of the printed literature of the period I study, the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, and the need, oftentimes, to "reconstruct" and "reconstitute" that voice through a range of unconventional manuscript forms. For the earlier periods, that often comes/survives through official records of disorder and hostile witness (i.e., official church and legal documents recording illicit activities such as failure to attend church, harboring banned priests, reading/printing/smuggling illicit books), such as in my own lecture, given the following day at the conference, on religious minorities--in my case, Catholic women in Elizabethan England--and the potential within specific classes of archival materials of the period that can allow us to re-evaluate female activity/participation in persecuted literary cultures.

My own talk focused on Elizabethan Catholic women in three different contexts: (1) through evidence of a Catholic underground book smuggling ring that was run out of one of London's many prisons (where priests were concentrated, and where members of the Catholic laity could pay to have access to them), largely managed by a single woman of the gentry class; (2) through an inventory of a Catholic library maintained by two women in the English countryside in the 1580s, which was discovered in a raid by the Protestant authorities; and (3) through evidence of a small coterie of aristocratic and gentry Catholic women who, in the absence of access to print, patronized a Catholic scribe to copy out in manuscript entire Catholic books, and who also composed other illicit texts of his own, which were then circulated to his circle of readers/patrons.

Larger themes emerged over the course of the conference, in particular: (1) about the preponderance of biographical narratives of the period about women having been almost entirely written/interpreted by male authors and hagiographers, and the implications of that for issues of "authenticity" and the limitations of archival materials; and (2) the gendering of print as a male voice for the "public sphere" and of unpublished manuscripts as a degraded female voice that was only heard within the "private sphere" of the household and family. While I was the only male there (alas, women's studies is still almost entirely still a discipline governed by female contributors), I was fascinated by the discourse and the questions raised, in particular about how/what/why we select from our collections to digitize and make accessible--a field still dominated by print material at the expense of unique and invaluable manuscript source material (a process of selection that is also governed by issues of cost, degrees of specialization, differences in metadata, &c.). Conferences that bring humanists, archivists, curators and librarians such as this really are doing the hard work of breaking down discursive and professional barriers, and I highly recommend next year's session to anyone who finds these sorts of issues, personally and/or professionally meaningful and important.

All best,

Earle Havens
Curator of Rare Books
Department of Special Collections
Sheridan Libraries

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Day 3-5 ARL Service Academy

We finished with quantitative analysis methods on day 3 by learning about statistical reliability and validity. The reliability coefficient basically tells you if your scores measure something. Validity will tell you if they measure the correct thing.

We then spent about an hour with everyone in the group discussing the various types of assessment that is going on in their universities. One common theme was that LEADERSHIP is the most important success indicator of an assessment program.

After that we moved on to two and a half days of qualitative analysis including an intensive day and a half on the amazing software program Atlas.ti. Atlas.ti takes textual data (such as comments from a survey or focus group notes) and allows you to code them and then analyze the data based on your coding. For me one of the most amazing things Atlas.ti can do is allow you to create visual representations of your codes and concepts in what they call NETWORKS. Then you can create and name the linkages. It allows you to put a very structured overlay on unstructured data. It was amazing and a little overwhelming at the same time.

Overall the Service Quality Academy was exhausting but well worth the time if you are interested in how to measure the impact of your service on your user population.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

ACRL 2009 Highpoints

Below are notes from the three sessions at ACRL 2009 I enjoyed most. Robin Sinn

Michael Ridley, University of Guelph
Beyond Literacy: Are Reading & Writing Doomed?
Basic idea: literacy replaced oral culture, changing our brains and behaviors. Literacy will eventually be replaced by something. What will that be? Can the literate mind really think about that?
Possibilities include:
pharmacology, genetics, technology, telepathy,
Transition will be long and difficult.
post literacy not a decline from literacy – it will be desirable
Suggested reading: Ray Kurzweil Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology QP376.K85 2005
Illich & Sanders ABC:The Alphabetization of the Popular Mind P106 .I43 1989

Aaron Shrimplin & Andrew Revelle, Miami University
Conflict & Consensus: Clusters of Opinion on E-Books
Used surveys and Q methodology to try to figure out how people feel about e-books. Came up with 4 factors: book lovers, technophiles, researchers (search text and read parts), problems with screen reading.
use OhioLINK ebook software; it is intuitive and moved some people out of factor 4.
Next: large survey to determine what % of Miami students have each viewpoint.

Lynn Silipigni Connaway, OCLC
“I would sort of appreciate a little more understanding”: Engaging Net Gen Students in Virtual Reference
Summary of findings of online survey of users and non-users of virtual reference services (VRS). Results divided between Net Gen and ‘adult’. (ugh)
Net Gen characteristics:
Tension between how they are taught not to chat with people they don’t know and chat reference.
They worry that the librarian is multi-tasking instead of focusing only on their question!
They trust themselves, don’t think of phones, value friendly and polite, and worry about bothering the librarian no matter what communication mode they use.
Other notables from questions about critical incidents:
libraries associated with books
they want extended hours
they use electronic resources but don’t know they’re from the library
they like friendly librarians and don’t like librarians that point (stop helping)
they like to have a relationship with the librarian
what to do?
use creative marketing
emphasize safety of chatting with librarians
offer a range of options
emphasize confidentiality
create positive relationships
In general, the success or failure – from the patron’s pov – in any reference interaction through any format was the friendliness and helpfulness of the librarian. Being brusque, cold, distant, made it a failure in their eyes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

RDA was a hot topic at several ALA midwinter conference meetings I attended. RDA will be revolutionize TS workflows/staffing as well as public discovery. The vendor as well as open source communities do not yet have plans for revamping their discovery as well as back modules to accommodate RDA/FRBR (which will impact circ modules, cataloging as well as acquisitions/serials). By the ALA annual conference we will know more.

Here're next immediate steps the profession is taking to implement RDA/FRBR:

* LC, NAL, NLM developing a testing plan (plan finalized 7/09; actual testing to commence Oct - Dec 09)

* vendor community will be involved in testing as ILS, other vendor discovery tools will need to accommodate RDA approach to automated creation of catalog records and FRBR presentation of works/expressions/manifestations

* testing will also include the archivist and metadata communities

* first Q 2010: national libraries as well as vendor community feedback on testing and have a recommendation for implementation --- which will determine individual library's ability to implement RDA (no longer use AACR2)/ FRBR catalogs

* ALA annual will include an RDA preconference (Tillett, Patton, Delsey speakers, moderated by Shawne Miksea). Also will be a half day program during ALA Annual as well.

* ALCTS is developing a clearinghouse of RDA training materials that will include all formats (e.g., web, podcasts, train the trainer events, roadshows, etc.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Day 2 ARL Service Academy

Tuesday, March 17, 2009 Happy St. Patrick's Day from NOLA. Continuing to learn the joys of statistics including the four classes of stats and how you can use them to tell your story. Learned all about Location/Central Tendencies, Dispersion or Spreadoutness (such as Variance, Range, Sum of Squares, and the granddaddy of them all - Standard Deviation), Shape (such as symmetry and the coefficient of Kurtosis), and Relationship Statistics (such as Pearson's r or Spearman's rho). Spent time discussing how these relate to Library Services. Finally spent time working with the graphing capabilities of SPSS to create some very impressive graphs. Good stuff.

Monday, March 16, 2009

ARL Service Quality Academy New Orleans

Monday, March 16, 2009 Who would have thought statistics could be so fun?!?! Today we spent most of the morning going over some basic statistical theory and how that was applied to SPSS software. It is amazing that you can take a mound of data and run it through SPSS and have all that statisitical crunching done for you. Another day and a half of quantitatitve analysis techniques then we are moving on to qualitatitive analysis.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

ALA Midwinter Denver

I attended my first ALA Midwinter meeting in Denver January 22-27/2009. So here are the three or four important things I came back with from that meeting.

One of the more interesting sessions I attended was Planning for Budget Reductions. One of the presentations challenged you to think of the following scenario - if you could add 5 new positions what would they be and if you had to eliminate 5 positions what would they be. It is an interesting exercises to consider.

From the Chief Collections Officers discussion group I learned that Stanford and UCBerkeley are starting extensive discussions to identify ways to be more collaborative in building their collections. They are really interested in making their borrow direct work between the two libraries in hopes of achieving an overall collections savings for each library. This might be an interesting topic for a Baltimore-wide group of collections librarians to consider?

I attended a LibQUAL session where Colleen Cook from Texas A&M shared some of their 10 years of longitudinal data. I definitely have massive data envy. They discussed the mechanics of the survey and validity of the survey. People in the session who have participated in LibQUAL pointed out that the work is not done when the survey closes. When the survey closes the real work begins, that is when you get to work diving into the data. Also, most libraries agree that no matter how good your collection maybe to you, that section in the survey on the collection - especially the need for more electronic journals - seems to be where patrons always want more.

Finally, I learned about Daily Lit which allows you to read books online via a daily RSS feed. Only takes 5 minutes of your day. How cool is that?! BTW, Denver was a great location for a conference. We had some warm weather, some snow, but a lot of sunshine.