Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Sickness and In Health...

Posted by Kelly Spring, Assistant Curator of Manuscripts

Last week I attended the Spring Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC) in Charleston, West Virginia. Unfortunately I came down with a nasty stomach virus during my stay. However, I was able to coax my body into cooperating enough to sit in on a couple of sessions.

Report from the Archives Leadership Institute (ALI):

Last summer, a few MARAC members were selected to participate in the first ALI. Each was on hand in WV to give a brief overview of the Institute and discuss leadership needs of archivists focusing on influencing policy and positive change within the profession.

We talked about shared values, the public sector, assessing our strengths and weaknesses, communication, and creative problem solving. I learned that the ALI is interested in promoting collaborations using vision for direction while ensuring mutual credit. Since changes are inevitable, the ALI addresses two flavors: incremental and crisis. During our session, we discussed the roles of leaders during change and how leaders can give hope, inspiration, and effect staff’s capacity for adaptation.

Finally, we touched on organizational missions, trust in leadership, candor, and brainstormed a list of values useful for leaders.

Wiki Session:

Speakers presented their experience with wikis as a management tool, a collaborative tool, and as a knowledge base system. While the session wasn’t a “how-to,” per say, I still came away with useful tips such as how to attach any formatted document to any page, and how to easily link between pages. I also learned that, if I see an interesting effect in one of the pages, I can click on Edit Text to view the commands and then leave the page without modifying it.

The speakers’ work provided me with a greater understanding of how to contribute to the library's education and research mission through this user friendly Web-based program. I realized that creating a wiki actually takes a certain amount of courage since, in most cases, anyone can edit anything on a wiki. I think I’ll make sure I have plenty of computer savvy friends checking in on my page!


The conference in WV provided wonderful opportunities to meet fellow archivists and gain insight from peers. I met with several Baltimore-area professionals and was subsequently introduced to archivists from other universities and institutions. Had I felt better, I would have loved to join attendees for the luncheon and reception. As it was, everyone understood… and, I bet, was glad to have and to hold good health, from that day forward until gastroenteritis do they temporarily part.

Friday, April 10, 2009

ACRL Seattle 2009

I had an amazing time at my first ACRL conference! Below are some highlights:

Roundtable: Measuring Libraries Return on Investment (ROI)

Based on a White paper- Phase 1 study at Univ Illinois “For every x dollars spent on the library the university received x dollars in return.” Articulate the value of the library in terms of institutional objectives (measurable effects, replicable, meaningful & compelling)

o Phase 2: ROI in grants to 8 countries, in process now
o Phase 3: How can we put a value on what an academic library is? Extend definition on ROI, now it’s mainly just grants

· How/What else can we assess?
  • Cost per use journals
  • Higher graduation rate=successful library
  • Higher GPA if in contact with the library
  • Need to break down into small pieces ex: this particular effort has this return (does not have to be in terms of $$).
  • Look at thesis bibliographies to see if use collection- what percentage from our library? Correlate with GPA?
  • Time spent: Cost spent to get on own, but also time spent. Show a student at a remote location-calculate miles away from place, etc.
  • Balanced scorecard: get goals and benchmarks and measure yourself against there- inputs/outputs
  • Have interviews/stories/case studies qualitative data to back up. Perhaps focus groups of alumni about their experiences.
  • Track how many times alumni call and complain that they no longer have access to library resources.
  • Exit interviews at the college level with library question or two.
  • Get a library question on a state level survey?
  • Be careful about tying ROI to only collections- also tie to instruction, service, and reference.
  • Interviewed presidents and chancellors- what do you value the most about the library? Then quantify and try to demonstrate this.
  • Faculty publications in the collection- check acknowledgements to see if thanks library or if used library resources.

Do the Outcomes Justify the Buzz? An Assessment of Lib Guides at Cornell and Princeton

· Survey to see if LibGuides are effective/worth it
· Results:
  • Faculty: 100% thought it was valuable for their classes
  • 85% perceived improved student assignments
  • 67% are interested in creating/co-creating guides with librarians
  • Students: 90% would like for more courses
  • 90% perceived that it helped with assignments

* The buzz is justified! Next research steps: Are the web 2.0 features being utilized?

CyberShed Zed: Learning Information Literacy Online (LILO)- University of Hawaii (Cybed Shed Zed)

· www.hawaii.edu/lilo (definitely worth checking out!)
  • Great interactive tutorials on their website- includes research journal, videos, links to interactive elements
  • Assessment 72 questions in tutorial- made rubrics to assess based on institutional standards and ACRL standards
  • Embed and link interactive materials from various sources, instead of re-inventing the wheel (youtube, database vendor tutorials, etc.) Most librarians use screenshots and then have to constantly change and update these when interfaces change. This uses real time searching with instructions on the side so it never needs to change!
  • Students automatically have accounts in the tutorial.
  • My LILO Journal- students record research projects and can email the journal to the librarian to see if they are on the right track with researching a topic.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign visit

As part of my research fellowship with the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), I visited UIUC from March 10-12. During this visit, I also presented "The Perfect Storm" for the GSLIS Spring Windsor Lecture and inaugural talk of the e-Research Roundtable. The video, audio, and slides from this lecture are available at the GSLIS guest lecture archives.

During the visit, I had the opportunity to meet with several individuals throughout UIUC including NCSA. While UIUC is a very different environment in many ways, I was struck by the commonality of interests and concerns. In particular, our respective libraries share the challenge of building a cohesive, user-centered web presence. The proliferation of content from multiple, distributed sources is particularly challenging especially when compared to the simple interface of Google. Of course, searching open web pages as compared to licensed resource is comparing apples to oranges, but we can either keep pointing this out without much impact or embrace that we have to compete with Google's simplicity.

Ask yourself this: is Google moving faster in the direction of "acquiring" more scholarly content or are libraries moving faster in the direction of providing simple, easy to use interfaces to scholarly content?

There also appears to be a common set of concerns regarding the need for exponential growth in digital infrastructure at the same time that print-based infrastructure remains important. The current economic climate will almost certainly force difficult decisions regarding these (sometimes) competing priorities, but how such decisions ought to made remains a challenge.

Several of my meetings focused on our upcoming NSF DataNet award "The Data Conservancy." It's clear that our colleagues at UIUC agree that data curation represents a new, fundamental priority for research intensive institutions. GSLIS is aligning many of its new programs with a focus on data curation with the specific goal of building capacity for both existing and future library and information science professionals. My meeting at NCSA focused on ways in which we might collaborate on data curation, not only within the context of the Data Conservancy. It's interesting that this particular topic is bringing together individuals and entities that might not normally discuss collaboration. I would imagine these new dialogues are taking place because of opportunities but also because of challenges from our current economic climate. While such dialogues are exciting, they also reinforce the idea that libraries will need to make difficult decisions more effectively as user expectations continue to rise and resource constraints start to bind even more.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

ACRL (SEA '09)

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

ACRL was refreshing. Yes, refreshing. For starters, I'm fond of Seattle. More relevant in terms of work, the conference allowed me to step back and place our operations into context.

What are our peer institutions doing for users? Where are we – JHU Libraries – up to snuff? Where do we improve? How might our users compare and contrast to those of other academic libraries, especially in my microcosm, DC Regional on-campus and distance ed populations?
Beyond networking with colleagues and viewing the latest vendor offerings and technology, this reflection on our current state of affairs is a top-notch reason to hit the conference circuit with some regularity.

Among the many high points of ACRL 2009 in Seattle…
  • Sherman Alexie reminding the masses that contradictions are a rich part of life: an amusing, aggravating, humanizing, and confusing part of life.
  • The Cyber Zed ShedMy favorite. 20 short minutes to present and respond to Q & A on technology in academic libraries. (Kudos to Liz U. and Robin for a fine presentation on LibGuides development!) LibGuides and associated widgets (Sprout, etc.) dominated the sessions I attended. Retooling e-resources and access points for compatibility with mobile devices were also often discussed. Use of social networking tools (namely Facebook and Twitter) were mentioned, along with other no cost apps like Google Docs and Google Analytics.
  • Vendor contacts, including: SpringerLink enhancements and e-book prospects, ARTstor’s addition of Magnum photos, and RefWorks. RefWorks recently became RefWorks COS, adding COS Funding Ops and Scholar Universe (which was apparently developed in part at JHU) to their suite of products. Upcoming RW enhancements include: mobile Web compatability and Ref Grab It. RW has also been improving upon functionality for non-English and multi-language bibliographies.

As always, there was much to see and do. A fine conference all-around in coffee town.