Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Inspiration, Innovation, Celebration Conference (June3-4, 2009)

University of North Carolina-Greensboro

This was the first year for the conference. It was organized under the leadership of Rosann Bazirjuan, Dean of University Libraries UNCG. Approximately 75-100 participants attended for the day and a half conference with 20 sessions.
It focused on how and why libraries are moving more toward becoming entrepreneurial in some way for sustainability. The workshops covered ways to be collaborative both internally and externally (i.e. consortia, partnerships, etc.) integrating the library into the overall university and not functioning in isolation. There were discussions on creating activities, processes, products and services for sustainability and some profitability, tying back into the mission and vision of your institution.
This link will provide an overview of the conference’s presentations.

Anita Norton

Thursday, July 23, 2009

ALA Annual Conference, Chicago, IL 7/10-13/09

I focused on Sociology and Reference at this conference, attending the Anthropology and Sociology Section's Sociology Discussion Group, the ANSS Membership Committee meeting (I'm joining this committee), and RUSA's 15th Annual New Reference Research Forum. Picture to the left is Loyola University's Information Commons (see more below).

The Sociology Discussion Group featured a presentation with Q&A by Ross Housewright, a research analyst from Ithaka (a non-profit that includes JSTOR and Portico). Ross's presentation focused on a 2006 study that Ithaka had done of faculty and librarian attitudes and preferences for research. The survey was sent to 4-year colleges with 4100 responses from faculty and 350 responses from collection development librarians. The data is in ICPSR and available as a white paper on Ithaka's site. The survey discusses much of what has been discussed across the Sheridan Libraries lately, in discipline groups and the Collection Management Council about how faculty prefer to access library resources and in what format. Ithaka's study shows patterns by discipline with results that are familiar to us--Humanities still big users of print and the library building, with Sciences at the other end of the spectrum, online, off-campus access. Social Sciences falls in the middle with Sociology in the dead center. Ross showed us findings that indicate that Economics is trending like the sciences with pre-prints and online access very important. The study asked faculty and librarians what aspect of the relationship between faculty and librarians was most important--gateway, archive, or buyer. Faculty rate the buyer aspect as most important while not surprisingly, librarians see the gateway role as most important. The study also asked faculty to rate the reasons why they publish where they do. Highest rating went to "current issues circulated widely and well read by scholars in the field." Least important was "freely available." We have a long way to go to sell faculty on open access. We had a lively discussion about the study and how the results compared to our own experiences with faculty, so much so that Ross couldn't finish the presentation, but I look forward to reading the white paper.

Regarding the ANSS Membership Committee meeting, I'll simply report that it was co-chaired by Jen Darragh, who is joining us in August as Data Services Librarian, and she did an excellent job! She'll be a real asset to the library.

RUSA's 15th Annual New Reference Research Forum had three presentations. The first was from the recipients of the Reference Research Grant, Julie Gedeon and Carolyn Radcliff, from Kent State, who administer WOREP (Wisconsin Ohio Reference Evaluation Program). We used the WOREP survey in the RCO last fall and received a call from Carolyn as a follow-up for the grant. WOREP has been used since the 1980s and the administrators used the grant to study what makes reference service successful and what are the trends, focusing on data collected from 2000-2008, where 72.9% of the transactions were deemed successful. Factors that contribute to success are: enough help, enough time, clear explanations, knowledgeable librarians, courtesy, and professionalism. WOREP administrators saw that over time, more instruction and explanation were incorporated in the reference transaction, more active collaboration, the librarians weren't as busy (a trend), and more time was spent. Factors associated with lack of success are: too much information, more in-depth information needed, information couldn't be found, information not relevant, different point of view needed. From this study, administrators recommend reference librarians play to their strengths--attention to patrons and professionalism, enough time spent and follow up offered. The second presentation came from an academic librarian and a public librarian in Kansas on the effectiveness of online tutorials. They looked at straight HTML tutorials versus streaming media and performed studies that deemed the streaming media was more effective, using verbal and visual cues, and participants reporting more confidence (and more correct answers) using the video tutorial. The final presentation came from reference librarians at a North Carolina academic library and focused on Teachable Instants in Instant Messaging. They posited a set of theories about librarian behavior that should take place in chats--reinforce positive behavior, make thoughts transparent, show, don't tell, provide active learning, be the welcome wagon, make introductions, and share secret knowledge--and went through dozens (or hundreds!) of IM transcripts to see if these stragegies were used. 62% of them used at least one strategy and they noted lots of missed opportunities. Conclusions were that reference transactions are instructional opportunities; many librarians take a pass on the opportunity to teach; and librarians require training in instructional strategies. Presenters are publishing this as a chapter.

Visit to Loyola University's Information Commons. On Sunday, July 12, Liz Uzelac and I went north to Loyola University in Rogers Park, and toured their Information Commons (invitation extended by the Info Commons Director, Leslie Haas, on a listserv and seconded by our own Jeannette Pierce). Liz and I were able to talk to library director Bob Seal, who told us the Info Commons was built in 18 months (!). It's Silver LEED certified and was absolutely stunning (it would be hard not to be when you walk in and see Lake Michigan before you). It's connected to the Cudahy Library and in fact, it was decided to close the Cudahy entrance and have a single entrance through the Info Commons (I'm blanking on the reason; Liz may remember). Jeannette has transplanted the Info Desk/RCO model to the IC but they lack the proximity to each other that we have in MSEL (and need to keep in the BLC). Plans were in place before she joined Loyola. The Info Desk is on the second floor and the RCO is several yards away from it and not in its sightline. Jeannette told me that sometimes librarians sit at the Info Desk with the student worker and tech support and use the RCO for appointments. Building use has jumped and it sounds much like MSEL in terms of busy-ness. Group studies can be reserved online and there's a mix of Macs and PCs (20% Macs, 80% PCs). In their instruction classroom, instruction sessions can be taped (although not viewed simultaneously).

McCormick Place is incredibly inconvenient for exhibits (too far from everything else and shuttles take a while). ALA exhibits seem to focus more on public libraries than academic ones. I asked a few technical questions at the EBSCO booth but they were really more set up for sales and took my card and said they'd get back to me :)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10th Sakai Conference

John Dunn, Susan Hollar, Steve Smail and Gaurav Bhatnagar presented a session on integration of library resources into the next generation of Sakai (Sakai 3). Since Sakai 3 is still very much under construction, the format was more of a conversation among librarians and developers about choosing directions for further work. As the funding from the Mellon Foundation supporting the current library integrations has now ended, a new structure will need to be created to carry on this work. While no solution was achieved at the conference, a broader set of institutions than currently involved expressed interest in moving this project forward; a list of contacts was established, and phone conferences are planned. As for the scope and direction of further work, projects will probably be proposed by institutions with the most pressing need for a service, and resources contributed by them and others. A user-centered design process is being adopted. A first step in determining what these services might be is to survey library users; it would be nice if we could contribute, in some form, results of the recent extensive faculty surveys done here. Slides from this presentation are available at Of special interest are slides of mock-ups of possible future integrations.

Another interesting session was on the addition of a Z39.50 connector for the existing Citations List helper for the Sakai Resources tool, presented by Mame Awa Diop and Jean-Yves Côté from HEC Montréal. There are many libraries who do not have metasearch capabilities, and this connector allows them to use the Citations List functionality with catalogs and other services which support the Z39.50 protocol. The development team at HEC will contribute this code back to the community.

Two other library sessions were offered; one was a pre-conference workshop on library integration focused on small schools, conducted by Jezmynne Dene, Cheryl Cramer, Mike Osterman and Michael Spalti. Another panel session brought library professionals from four different institutions to discuss details of library integration with Sakai at their respective schools. Susan Hollar, Jezmynne Dene, Kalee Sprague and John Dunn presented this panel.

I offered a session on multi-repository integration with Sakai, focusing on local needs we anticipate having with repository integration in the near future, and how changes in the architecture of the next generation of Sakai will require the use of different methods from the current version. Strategies and technical information about current work from a couple of new projects in this area were discussed, with an eye toward how these technologies might be used to present a single standard repository interface to several disparate data sources. Slides are available at

These were just the library-related talks. There were many other interesting sessions related to pedagogy etc. which were of great interest. If you are would like to check out more presentations, have a look at slides from some of the presentations at - search for the tag Sakai09.

Monday, July 6, 2009

SLA’s 100th Annual Conference
Washington D.C., June 13-17, 2009
Notes from Jim Gillispie

As you might guess, my activities at the SLA Conference focused on the programs of the Social Sciences Division, Legal Division, and Government Information Division. By far the best program this year was “Census 2010: Not your Grandmother’s Census. “ The 2010 census is a significant milestone for academic folks as it marks the replacement of census long form data with the American Community Survey (ACS). For many years the census long form has been used to by government agencies and academics to measure the health and well being of communities by benchmarking their social economic characteristics. Aggregated data from the long form included statistics on education, occupation, commuting, income, and housing structures. The down side of the census long form is:
- Data is only collected every 10 years
- The long form questionnaire is time consuming for citizens to complete and expensive for the Census Bureau to follow-up on when individual forms are not returned.
An ongoing solution to the decennial census long form is the American Community Survey (ACS). In 1996 testing for the ACS illustrated that a continuous survey could provide data that was once only captured every ten years. The ACS has been timed to first release small geography data at roughly the same time as the 2010 decennial census – now with just a short form incouding questions on age, race, Hispanic origin and household relationships. A positive aspect of ACS is that data will be available for small geographies (i.e. census tracts and block groups) for every year after 2010. The annual information will represent information that is more like a three year average then data from a single point in time. This will be a new concept for readers to understand and see how it applies to their specific research.

The 2010 census and ACS represents an exciting time for the availability of new information for library readers. I’m looking forward to sharing this information, and teaching reader how to use the data.