Thursday, November 20, 2008

Library Instruction 2.0 Conference Teaser

Here is just a small teaser from the Library Instruction 2.0 Conference on November 17 & 18 in Chapel Hill, NC. It is the powerpoint for the presentation Amy and Lynda gave. More information will be coming soon!

Friday, November 14, 2008

OLAC-MOUG Conference Highlights

The OLAC-MOUG Joint Conference took place in Cleveland, Ohio, September 26-28, 2008. The OnLine Audiovisual Catalogers (OLAC) association meets biennially in various cities. Because of the overlap between the two groups’ areas of focus, the Music OCLC Users Group (MOUG) meets jointly with OLAC every six to eight years or so. This year’s event was well worth the trip, both personally and professionally. I had the privilege of staying with old friends who provided meals, chauffeur service, and good company as well as a bed.

And I enjoyed making new professional contacts, renewing old ones, and attending informative presentations in the beautiful, historic Renaissance Cleveland hotel.

from hotel’s website

Lynne Howarth’s opening keynote speech, Rocking the Metaverse, set the tone for the following discussions of exciting cataloging trends. The fields of audiovisual, music, and online resource cataloging, built on the hoary traditions of the card catalog, are rushing headlong into the digital future. I’ll spare you non-catalogers the details of fixed fields, delimiters, and so on – if you’re interested, you can find handouts for all the workshops and presentations at I attended workshops titled Integrating Resources Cataloging, Metadata for Audiovisual Materials and its Role in Digital Projects, Electronic Resources Cataloging, and Advanced Sound Recordings. All of these workshops were excellent, informative and thorough. Although I learned plenty, I was also reassured to find that our practices for these types of resources are mostly up-to-date. Poster session topics included digital project metadata workflows, the use of Macro Express, cataloging for video game collections, RFID implementation, Web 2.0 tools for catalogers, and more. A particularly hot topic was FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records) and its incorporation in the elusive RDA (Resource Description and Access), which is the controversial successor to AACR2 cataloging rules and which may (or may not) be coming soon to a library near you. A large group session on the final day offered two speakers with contrasting views on RDA. Glenn Patton, a 25-year veteran of OCLC and liaison to ALA’s ALCTS Committee on Cataloging: Description and Access, shared an insider’s official perspective. He confidently described the history and current status of RDA’s creation along with the timetable for its testing and implementation. Patton was followed by Heidi Hoerman of the School of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. Hoerman, who claims to have “no horse in this race,” explained why she believes RDA is actually destined for a slow death.

Friday night, the conference held a reception at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

I missed the actual reception because I was happy to wander the museum, absorbing the beauty of the works in its collection.

I also missed the tour of the Ingalls Library and Archives, which support and document the museum's current and future collections, research, exhibitions, publications, lectures, programs and activities. Ingalls Library participates with Case Western Reserve University in a joint art history program and maintains collections that include over 100,000 volumes and 500,000 art slides.

I’ll end with an image of my friend Ruth’s gorgeous garden. A few more photos from the trip are available for your viewing pleasure on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

UNCG Safe Zone Training 2008

On Friday, November 7, 2008, Carolyn Shankle and Stacey Krim attended UNCG Safe Zone Training 2008 offered through the Wellness Center by Jeanne Irwin-Olson. The goal of Safe Zone training is to create a network of allies for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning persons.

After a couple of “ice breakers” – an exercise playing on stereotypes as well as one of connecting a word to the correct definition – the program got underway. The first presentation was Issues Facing GLBT Youth given by Karen Favereau and Amanda Gerson. Both presenters are graduate students in the Department of Counseling and Educational Development. One of the mind-opening exercises they had the attendees complete is the Heterosexual Questionnaire. For those who are in the heterosexual, or dominant culture, this questionnaire works as a way to make one more sensitive to the obstacles faced on a daily basis by those in the GLBTQ community.

Jeanne Irwin-Olson led the next presentation, What It Means To Be An Ally. She offered examples of policy activism at UNCG, such as the inclusion of sexual orientation in our Policy on Discriminatory Conduct. As of this writing, sexual orientation is not protected under state or federal guidelines.

During lunch – yes there was a lunch presentation! – Rebecca Mann of Equality NC led a discussion on Equality NC’s legislative efforts on behalf of the GLBTQ community in NC and how federal legislation as well as legislation in other states affects their progress. [Proposition 8 in California, anyone?] She encouraged us to contact our legislators either by telephone, self-composed emails, hand-written correspondence, or in person to support pertinent legislation. You know those email petitions that get forwarded? Turns out they do little good since the legislator receiving such a petition does not know if the names are legitimate or even of actual constituents.

UNCG’s Dean of Students, Dr. Jen Day Shaw, gave a presentation titled Hate Crimes – UNCG’s Response. What is difficult is to distinguish between a “hate incident” and a “hate crime”. She provided many examples – some drawn from events at UNCG and others from educational institutions around the nation.

The last presentation of the day was Transgender 101 given by Stephen Wiseman and Rachel Wertheimer of UNC’s School of Social Work. This presentation marks the first time transgender was a presentation topic for Safe Zone at UNCG. Wertheimer provided a background on transgender issues and stages to put Wiseman’s story in a larger context. Wiseman shared his story of transgender discovery and the process. His courage was evident in his opening his life story to an unknown audience for questions.

All participants received their UNCG Safe Zone Training 2008 certificates, a Safe Zone UNCG pin, as well as permission to use the Safe Zone UNCG logo to identify themselves. The Safe Zone Information Manual is now published on CD to allow for hyperlinked documents.

I found this program to be well-planned and valuable to those who wish to be publicly demonstrative in their ally status. Having also participated in the UNCG Cares presentation, given by the Dean of Students, on an earlier occasion, Safe Zone was a continuation of becoming more sensitive and aware to issues facing not only our student population but the population at large.

You will find more information about the Safe Zone program on this website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Internet Librarian 2008

-- Chad Therrien

In late October, I went to Monterey, CA for the Internet Librarian 2008 conference which focussed this year on Web 2.0 technologies and implementation ideas. The goals of the conference were to expose a wide variety of technologies from a diverse array of speakers and also to provide concrete implementation ideas through XML/HTML and code snippets in JavaScript and PHP.

The Saturday and Sunday sessions were four hour presentations for those with a developer interest. On Saturday, we looked at various ways to use XML (Ajax) to build rich interactive web sites similar to Google Maps, Flickr and NetVibes. The use of XML (Ajax) allows Web 2.0 concepts like mashups and customization possible so that we can bring next-generation library applications to our patrons. On Sunday, we looked closer at the various Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and examined how to bring library-relevant content from various sites together onto one page. Scripts using JavaScript and PHP were implemented during the course of the presentation to demonstrate the ease and power of using API's to bring research materials to our patrons.

After spending an intense four hours examining code and API implementations, we were a hungry group of library professionals! The conference center provided a lunch for the attendees which also gave us chance to meet and share our backgrounds while enjoying some local specialities.

Some of the major points I observed over the two pre-conference sessions were:

  • Design sites that are still fully functional without JavaScript enabled. This may seem fairly obvious, but the important part here is that a higher reliance on XML and JavaScript (or PHP) for content makes it more difficult to develop non-scripted content.

  • The goal is to bring desktop functionality to the Web. Using technologies like XML, JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) and cloud computing, web applications can leverage many technologies to quickly deploy responsive and interactive web elements.

  • There are already many web services and script libraries that provide library-relevant content. The standard for most of these services is to provide API's so that pieces from multiple services can be pulled together to build a single, homogeneous and locally-branded application.

The main conference keynote speaker was Howard Rheingold who presented his unique perspective on social computing and libraries. Having been credited with creating the term 'virtual communities', Howard shared how the internet and ubiquitous computing are evolving and are defining the ways that information is shared and retrieved. Large domains of data are disseminated throughout the web and people who are looking for this data are want more convenient ways to not only find but also view this data. Ideas like tag clouds and micro-blogging ( provide information seekers with a more personalized and interactive search environment with previously unavailable accessibility through mobile computing devices like iPods and web-enabled cell phones.

The keynote speaker on Tuesday, Danny Sullivan (not spin-and-win Danny Sullivan), talked about how search engines are evolving and how became and remains the most popular search engine. Elizabeth Lawley was the final keynote speaker on Wednesday and closed the conference with a look at the cutting edge of social and interactive computing. She talked about devices such as the 'Ambient Orb' which displays different colors when a certain condition is met (i.e. glows blue when the weather is cold and red when it is hot), the 'Nazbaztag' wifi-enabled desktop rabbit (yes, a rabbit) that displays light patterns and moves it ears when a friend comes on line or an important email is received and the 'Home Joule' that provides a real-time way to see at a glance how much power a household is using.

Between the keynote speakers, the conference held between four and six sessions on three different tracks each day which provided a very wide range of topics. The sessions that I attended were primarily focussed on web design, Web/Library 2.0 technologies and web navigation and analysis. Some of the interesting statistics that I picked up which demonstrate the importance of being proactive rather than reactive are:

  • 61.8% of typical library patrons own computers (so 38.2% don't!). At our Library, this number is probably lower than for a public library but the underlying point is that not all patrons have their own computer. Our Library public access stations and collaboratories have great value and we should always bring awareness to these services.

  • Of the 'top rated' library web sites, more than half have already adopted Web 2.0 services.

  • About 1/3 of library web sites currently have blogs.

As we move into the next generation of web applications and web site designs, it is important that we present our Library web site in the ways that patrons want and expect. They want to access our catalog and services in new ways and they have a higher expectation for the information they get. Patrons want to visit our site with remote devices, they want interactive content and a library 'experience' when they visit our web site.

Our patrons are a community and they bring a lot to our Library. If we provide a library web site experience that makes research enjoyable, we make our patrons both more effective and also more likely to recommend UNCG to their friends and family.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Slow Fires Film Screening

by Beth Ann Koelsch

On Tuesday, October 28, the Staff Development Committee sponsored a screening of the film Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record. The film is about how library and archival materials such as books, other paper-based materials, photographs, film, and sound recordings deteriorate due to the composition of the materials and environmental factors.

Information about the film can be found from The American Film Foundation website.

Afterwards, manuscripts curator Jennifer Motszko led a discussion about environmental and storage policy best practices.

25 staff and faculty attended the screening and enjoyed classic movie candy!

(photo by Dean Rhodes)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Assessing Library Instruction - CE from MAC conference Morgantown WV

Last week Hannah Winkler and I attended the 2008 Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Medical Library Association meeting in Morgantown WV. My geeky but laudable goals for the meeting were to present our poster on chat services, to attend a promising CE course, to catch up on trends and projects in health/medical librarianship, and to seek out hotel amenities, local landmarks and restaurants. Missions accomplished :)

The CE was the first event of the conference for me and it'll be the subject of this post.

ASSESSMENT OF INFORMATION LITERACY: IMPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES, Jennifer Nutefall and and Deborah Gaspar, George Washington University

During the introduction, the instructors emphasized the importance of deciding what to assess (student learning vs. instruction technique) and advised that it's best to measure one OR the other (not both) in a one-shot library instruction session. Jennifer and Deborah demonstrated techniques for both types of assessment plus they covered programmatic assessment. Once or twice the discussion was dominated by librarians concerned about the challenges of library instruction or the challenges of librarianship at their particular institutions. Otherwise this was a very useful course, with several take-away ideas for assessing one-shot library instruction and applying that assessment.

Advice/reminders of most immediate use to me:

  • Learning outcomes - Be sure to clearly define learning outcomes for each lesson with active, Bloom's taxonomy type language. This gives the instructor something to assess.
  • Observation assessment – During library instruction, note student reactions, behavior, and questions. I like this technique b/c it taps into a tried and true part of my usual instruction approach.
  • Muddiest point – After exercise, preceding break or at end of session, ask students to write “what is unclear/what do you want to know more about?” I've tried this before but not in mid-stream during a session.
    Read/study assessment techniques - This book was described as a good place to start - Angelo, T. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Several of these techniques are described in Avril Cunningham's article Using “Ready-to-Go”Assessment Tools to Create a Year Long Assessment Portfolio and Improve Instruction, College & Undergraduate Libraries, Vol. 13(2) 2006.
Compelling possibilities:

  • Instruction librarian peer assessment - The GWU librarians have a nice framework. Their approach seems likely to promote useful feedback while preserving working relationships.
  • Start a pedagogy review group - Like a journal club, each librarian reads an article about a teaching strategy and discusses how it could be applied
  • Research Readiness Self-Assessment (RRSA) - Assessment tool mentioned by a participant
  • Audience response systems/clickers - Several participants gave kudos to this fun, on the fly approach to assessing instruction
  • Create an assessment portfolio - At GWU the instruction coordinator created a binder with tabs for various types of assessment then encourages instruction librarians to submit examples and results of their LI assessments
  • Apply assessment to university mission - What kinds of assessment are being conducted? How can this work be used to "paint a picture" of library contributions towards the university mission?
Also mentioned during the conference - online CE courses free to SE/A member libraries (that includes us!!). Next session is All About MeSH, Weds 11/19 noon-1.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Real American Government Information, in Northern VA of All Places!

Last week I was able to attend the biannual Federal Depository Library Conference in Arlington, VA. In addition to spending time with some old friends and meeting new ones (hey Audrey - knitters!), I was nearly overwhelmed by the great choices of sessions being offered. These conferences coincide with the Federal Depository Library Council meetings, but I felt safe in skipping most of the Council working sessions as they are documented in exquisite (some would say excruciating) detail in GPO's Administrative Notes, so I was free to choose from the three other concurrent tracks during most of my time, and even squeezed in some promotional events offered by Lexis-Nexis and Marcive.

Some of the presentations were put on by various agency personnel, and highlighted that agency's online offerings and other services. Most of the presentations have already been posted to the conference website, and I encourage anyone who's interested to check them out! I attended those dealing with:

Other sessions that also dealt primarily with online content included the following:

Some of the more thought-provoking sessions dealt with meeting the users' needs through the appropriate combination of collections and services, a topic that drives our own library.

I also indulged in some of the geekier offerings, targeted specifically at those whose work revolves around the minutiae of SuDoc classifications, shipping lists, claims, corrections, and shelflists, and described the tools available to make our lives easier. I won't bore you with the details, but yes, I enjoyed them immensely...

Finally, the plenary sessions at this conference reinforced my takeaway experience of the FDLP Interagency Seminar in August; although the GPO and the FDLP are bureaucracies, and prone to the same issues that affect any bureaucracy, these organizations have taken to heart their missions of providing Government Information to the people of this country, and have adapted to a changing environment with the intention of improving their contributions to the library community. They understand that the lines have blurred between collections, services, communication, access, and stewardship, and they are committed to capitalizing on this situation, to the ultimate benefit of users everywhere. I feel lucky to have been able to attend this conference, network with my colleagues from all over the country, and soak up some of the energy that is infusing the depository community these days!

If any of you are interested in hearing more about the sessions I've described, or anything having to do with Government Information or the FDLP, please get in touch with me -- I'm happy to share what I know!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Is Element K OK?

From Jason Alston

Update (July 21, 2009): Element K has been discontinued due to the budget crisis.

As someone who is not a big fan of online classes and online instruction, I’m probably not the best person to offer up an opinion on Element K, a service that UNC-Greensboro offers to its faculty and staff for professional development purposes. But being that I’m possibly the only Jackson Library employee who is making use of Element K, I thought it may be helpful to my colleagues if I shared my thoughts about the service. Other Jackson employees who seek sensible (read: free) professional development opportunities need to know - at the very least - that this option is available to them.

First, some background. According to its Web site, Element K offers “learning solutions” to its clients, and these learning solutions, “provide clients with a holistic approach that addresses their business needs.” Element K boasts offering 2,800 e-Learning courses total, and it appears that a significant amount of these e-Learning courses are available to those using UNCG’s “Element K online learning” resources.

UNCG’s Element K catalog features courses in 14 broad subject areas: Business Skills & Soft Skills, Cisco, Communications Technologies, Databases, Design & Media, E-Business, Home Computing, IBM/Lotus Collaboration Technologies, IT Security, Microsoft IT Professional, Office Productivity, Programming & Web Management, Project Management, and finally, “Hardware, Networks & Operating Systems.” There are narrower concentrations within each of the 14 subject areas, and online course offerings within each of the concentrations. The online courses are basically self-paced tutorials that allow users to complete the coursework at their convenience and at a rate they are comfortable with.

The self-paced courses will vary in length. An HTML 4.01 course that I recently completed was made up of only six lessons. A more involved introduction to Dreamweaver 3 course, however, consists of 21 individual lessons, and I have only completed about a third of this course. The tutorial slides in these courses contain written explanatory information for those who learn best by reading; additionally, the words on these slides are spoken aloud verbatim by a pre-recorded voice for those who learn best by hearing the information.

Some interactive learning is also included, as users will be instructed to perform small tasks during their lessons and will not be allowed to move on to the next tutorial slide until the task is performed. For example, in one of the Dreamweaver lessons, the user is guided through the process of replacing a line break in imported text with a paragraph break. This is likely designed to facilitate learning for users who best learn through interaction or by performing a task. Once the user has taken all the lessons within a course, they may take a quiz in order to officially complete that course.

So just how effective and worthwhile is Element K?

Honestly, I’ve found this service to be useful in “laying the groundwork” for competency in the software applications I’ve taken coursework in, and not much else. A user should not undertake a software course on Element K with the expectation that they will be proficient in using the software application once they complete the course. If anything, the user will – upon completion of the course – understand the basics of why features in a software program behave as they do, and will have a decent understand of what the program is capable of. Element K could also be a sufficient refresher resource for those who haven’t used a software application in a while and need to re-familiarize themselves with the program.

But the buck seems to basically stop there. Don’t count on Element K to help you reach proficiency with a software application significantly faster than a cold turkey, trial and error approach to the program would. Also, while you may be tempted to breeze through the individual lessons in a course like Dreamweaver 3, which contains 21 lessons and has 20-25 slides per lesson, I’d advise you to take only one lesson in a sitting and take at least a five-minute break after each lesson if you want to take lessons back to back. If you attempt to cram with Element K, you will quickly find the presentation of the slides to be repetitive, making each individual slide more difficult to focus on and pay attention to. Cramming will also cause most users to zone out after hearing too much of the monotone lecture of the narrator. Many users will consider the progression of the courses to be more “snail-pace” than “self-pace.”

Element K classes do have a limited usefulness and my recommendation would be that Jackson employees at least browse the lengthy catalog and see if there is coursework related to a topic that they wish to know more about (I wanted to learn more about web design, so I chose to take courses in that discipline first). Taking a course certainly shouldn’t be harmful (unless, of course, one takes an Element K course as an excuse to get out of a meeting or reference desk duty). Also, bear in mind that I’ve only attempted two of the allegedly over 2,000 courses on Element K, and both these courses were in the “Web Design” discipline. Other courses in other subject areas may or may not be more effective to their users, and different users will have differing opinions on how effective ANY Element K course is!

To try your hand at some Element K action on campus, go to the Element K web portal and use your current Novell log-in information (note that your password for Element K won’t change, even when your Novell password is updated). I don’t know if Element K is accessible off-campus; if you find out that it is, please leave a comment and I’ll update the blog.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

ARL National Diversity in Libraries conference

From Rachel Stinehelfer:

I attended the ARL National Diversity in Libraries conference in Louisville, KY along with Jason Alston, Rosann Bazirjian, Anthony Chow, Gerald Holmes and Mary Krautter. UNCG was well represented! I enjoyed lots of the sessions at the conference and enjoyed even more getting to spend time with former and current colleagues and meeting new colleagues from all over.
While I think we can do lots more than what we are doing in the way of Diversity programming, I walked away from the conference feeling pretty confident about our organization and the efforts we have made with our Residency program, the Diversity Committee and the recent invited speakers.

My favorite, and most challenging session was by Tracie Hall who is the Assistant Dean at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University. Ms. Hall held a two hour dialogue called "Invited But Not Included: Library Workforce Diversity in Conflict (or What To Do When Diversity at Work Isn't Working)". It was a very thoughtful and engaging conversation that boiled down to building relationships with your colleagues will better your understanding of them and will improve the organization as a whole.

Jose Aponte gave the opening remarks at the conference and used his Puerto Rican background to connect with what is important in the workplace. He used many Spanish words to relate to the concepts of a successful work environment. The ones that stood out to me were RESPECT and FAMILY. Some people do not like to use the word family when relating to work, but I find it helpful to think about the whole organization as a family. Some people you are very close to, others not as much, and some with whom you have conflict, however we are all working toward a greater goal of library service.

I will step down from the soapbox now! Attending the Diversity in Libraries conference was a wonderful experience and I hope to incorporate many of lessons I learned to our work world.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Another Society of American Archivists Conference Report

I attended the Society of American Archivist Conference in San Francisco from August 26-31st, 2008. I attended sessions about developing collection development policies, working with university instructors to integrate archival materials into undergraduate courses, and digitizing and digital access issues for archival collections. I also attended the Manuscript Repositories and Oral History section meetings and toured an “alternative” repository.

You can learn more about the conference here:

One of the personal highlights was meeting Beth Carmicheal, who was my predecessor as the Curator of the Women Veterans Historical Collection! Beth Ann (that's me) is on the left and Beth Carmichael is on the right.

So that my report doesn't overlap with other reports (Like Michelle's!), I will report on only 2 of the sessions I attended as well as reporting on the section meetings and repository tour.

Brief Session Hightlights:


Pam Hackbart-Dean from the Special Collections Research Center, Southern Illinois University Carbondale discussed the necessity of having a Collection Development Policy in place.

Policies are necessary to:

· reduce personal bias in collecting;

· improve the consistency of collecting efforts;

· identify gaps in the collection,

· establish systematic collecting efforts and planning;

· help collectors prioritize what to collect;

· aid in continuity of collecting efforts;

· help with public relations (i.e. potential donors will understand what will and what will not be collected);

· streamline/focus cataloguing;

· help with planning for storage and preservation issues/decisions;

· hold collector accountable for collecting decisions; and

· focus a commitment to collecting goals.

Nanci Young from Smith College Archives discussed strategies on how to refuse materials, which is an important issue for any archives.

She elaborated on how and why telling donors “no” is difficult for archivists to do. For example, if materials in question are being donated by the creator’s children they can especially feel that the materials have great value. As archivists we cannot essentially determine “value”, but we can decide whether or not it fits /adds to our collection.

Nanci Young's Strategies to “Getting to No”:

· Have a clear mission statement;

· Make collection principles known to donors;

· Keep a printed copy of mission statement and collection policies at your desk so that you can refer to them quickly when talking to donors;

· Have a list of referrals that you can give to potential donors. This shows that we do not think their materials are worthless, but that they might just be more appropriate elsewhere;

· Stall: don’t make quick decisions. Take the time to “court” donors so that they understand not only the rationale behind your decisions but also your good will;

· Give the donor a list of guidelines.

· Redirect: Explain that out-of-scope or redundant materials could be placed elsewhere and have a list of referrals;

· Offer preservation information to the donor; and

· Give donors emotional validation- they have an emotional attachment to materials. Listen to their stories and ACKNOWLEDGE THEM WITH APPRECIATION that they thought of the archives.


Liz Losh from the University of California Irvine, Kerry Scott from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Bill Landis from Yale University presented at this session.


• Archivists need to impress upon instructors that “undergraduates need to have substantive research experiences”.

• Students want e-copies of all materials used.

• For classes, create a simple class webpage and class blog.

• Put materials on hold for students but also provide information about where materials are stored in the collections.

• Give students a standard set of questions they all will answer. Have them do a short in-class assignment.

• Insist that instructor is present during the class(es).

• Encourage faculty to “partner” by interacting with you during class.

• Try to tie the materials into current events so that they
are “relevant/interesting” to students.


This meeting was focused on discussing the use of Web 2.0 tools to publicize archives.

Stephen Fletcher, the photographic archivist at UNC-Chapel Hill discussed the award-winning “View to Hugh” wordpress blog (Hugh Morton)

The purpose of creating the blog was to foster discussion about and interest in collection, share information about this collection and show how archivists work.

His recommendations for publicizing blogs:

· send information to listservs and other blogs

· get the library staff involved (e.g. send info to alumni)

· must do self promotion

· clean and simple design

· friendly, conversational (non-jargon/non-academic tone) to encourage user participation and comments

· regular postings

· respond to user comments

· tie in to anniversaries and events to postings

· get media interested

· get other people involved ( to info on other sites) have users/grad students do postings. Ask users to i.d. photos (e.g. “What basketball game is this?”).


There were presentations about two oral history projects:

1) Joe Lampert: founder of the Center for Digital Storytelling

Check out this documentary – Native American WWII army nurse veteran Marcella LeBeau called “Never Forget”

2) Howard Levin, the Director of Digital Tools that Enhance the Learning Process at the Urban School of San Francisco, discussed the high school course “Telling their Stories: An Approach to the Use of Oral Histories”. At this school, high school students spend all year preparing for and conducting oral histories with survivors and liberators of concentration camps.

Tour of the Prelinger Library

The Prelinger Library is a private library financed by the Prelinger film archives. A couple combined their book collection and operates it as a personal project (it is not incorporated as a non-profit). The repository holds approximately 50,000 items – including books, serials, government documents and ephemera. Their material is arranged by subject and not separated by materials or chronology (e.g. no cataloguing system; government documents are shelved with monographs and bound journals). Their taxonomy encourages browsing. The collection specializes in local and regional materials (including maps and natural history), landscape and land use, industry and urban infrastructure, architectural design, graphic design, sales, telecommunications, film and television, gender and civil rights issues, among other topics. The curator told me that the collection is used by a variety of patrons, including art students who use the imagery in the materials for inspiration. They will scan and copy materials free of charge for patrons. They have digitized many of their books.

Their mission statement: “To foster discovery and serendipity in a browser-friendly, experience-based environment; to demonstrate that new and unforeseen benefits arise from the synthesis between analog and digital cultures; to experiment with new and expanded forms of access to information; and to convey community around a collection where history is made a visible and usable part of today."

There was a big all-conference reception at the San Francisco Public Library, which was very, very modern. Only trained archvists should be allowed to eat and drink in the library stacks.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Faculty/Staff Mentoring Program

UNCG has recently placed tremendous emphasis on the importance of mentoring. The University Libraries has one of the more established mentoring programs, but there are several other university-wide efforts. One program, the New Faculty mentoring program, brings together new untenured faculty with tenured faculty who have won teaching or research excellence awards. I am participating in the pilot program this year and will blog on that periodically. I would encourage our untenured faculty to consider applying for next year’s round.

In addition, the Office of Multicultural Affairs in partnership with the Provost’s office and the Division of Student Affairs, started a pilot mentoring program last spring. This program focuses on mentoring undergraduates, primarily first generation college students. Although they had a large amount of interest from faculty and staff, students haven’t been as quick in joining the program. After a couple of years of successful mentoring relationships, however, I hope that more students will see the importance of this program.

I was lucky and was paired up with a, then, second-semester freshman named Audrianna. She is an aspiring nurse, a first generation college student, and the loving mother of two really cute dogs! While I may not be able to answer all of her questions, I have enjoyed getting to know her and am excited about working with her through her college career. I think she sees the benefits too of being able to check in regularly with someone who cares about her success. The Office of Multicultural Affairs also provides support to the mentors in assisting their mentees (or proteges).

If you are interested in getting involved either now or in the future, please contact Alta Thornton or Audrey Lucas at the Office of Multicultural Affairs. While they may not have a student at the moment, they would welcome offers of assistance and eager participation.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Society of American Archivists Annual Meeting

By Michelle Belden, Technical Services Archivist

From August 23 to 31 I was in San Francisco for the annual conference of the Society of American Archivists, entitled "Archives 2008: Archival R/Evolution & Identities." The conference was hosted at the Hilton in downtown San Francisco, but I stayed with friends in the Noe Valley/Mission area -- next time, I'm staying at the hotel and forgoing reliance on public transportation to get me to the best sessions in time to grab a seat. Several sessions were SRO, with crowds bubbling out of smaller conference rooms five archivists deep.

I landed at SFO Saturday night and was up bright and early Sunday for a one-day workshop entitled "Applying DACS to Single Item Manuscript Cataloging," taught by two experienced archivists from Yale. DACS - Describing Archives, a Content Standard -- is the current bible of archival cataloging, and this workshop was very useful in its methodical examination of applicable rules and the regular use of in-class exercises to drive home important points. I will definitely use the knowledge gained (and the handy booklet handout) when cataloging our single item collections here in SCUA.

Monday and Tuesday brought a two-day workshop, "Copyright: The Archivist and the Law," taught by William Maher (not the politically incorrect one, the one who is University Archivist at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, former president of SAA and author of several articles I was required to read for graduate school.) Maher furthered the flashback to grad school by requiring a pile of pre-workshop reading as well as periodic quizzes during the days and a group project over Monday night; however, I learned an incredible amount, and the reference materials he distributed should prove invaluable in the future.

The third workshop I attended, "Preserving your Audio and Video Assets," lasted only a half-day, and was taught by the CEO of a professional preservation company rather than a practicing archivist. Though it did not provide the emotional satisfaction of spending time with accomplished role models in the archival field , the presentation did include a detailed checklist for A/V triage accompanied by helpful photographs for identifying different A/V formats and the common problems associated with each.

The latter part of the week was spent in sessions, the best of which was Jill Katte's presentation of her paper "Why Can’t I Click on This? Levels of Description, Variable Access, and User Experience" as part of the session entitled Finding Aids 2.0: Meeting Users Where They Are by Rethinking Finding Aid Presentation. Jill is the Digital Collections Program Coordinator at Duke, and I knew her slightly from my time interning there -- she fixed the file folder structure for an extensive EAD conversion process that had been torturing me for weeks, so I already knew she was awesome, and her paper confirmed this. I covet Duke's new XSLT stylesheet, which allows for a Windows Explorer-type drop-down menu for navigating finding aids (this would be especially appropriate for the new Hansen Performing Arts Collection finding aid, with its 19000 individually-coded lines.)

Another highlight of the week was John Dean's opening plenary, a celebration of the work archivists do to keep government honest and accountable, and an indictment of the current administration's devotion to governmental opacity.

The closing address, given by outgoing SAA president Mark Greene (of More Product, Less Process fame to those of us in the archival groove of things), was nearly overshadowed by the hilariously roast-like introduction by his amigo Dennis Meissner. Greene's delivery was not nearly as entertaining, but the meat of his talk, The Power of Archives: Archivists’ Values and Value in the Post-Modern Age was as significant and inspiring as one would expect from one of the biggest names in archives today. An excerpt from his introduction:

...Of course we must do good work, but we have to actively seek resources and recognition, and that is done by exercising the tools of professional power—at whatever hierarchical level one happens to reside... This is, of course, part of an overall goal of replacing the image of the lab-coated, dust-coated, withdrawn and quiet archivist preciousizing over “old stuff” in dead storage with an image (and self-image) of a confident, articulate, savvy professional.

According to Greene, archival power must stem from archival values, and we as a profession should codify those values much as our colleagues in ALA have done. He proposed 10 core values for for discussion amongst us all: Professionalism; Collectivity; Activism; Selection; Preservation; Democracy; Service; Diversity; Use and Access; and History. I encourage any archivists who missed the speech to read the full text online (link above).

Of course, an important benefit of attending professional conferences is the opportunity to network. I was able to catch up with former classmates from library school -- including one who has been working on implementing the Archivists Toolkit for the past year and will be serving as a resource for me as I begin implementation this semester; and a former mentor from my grad school days who always provides valuable perspective on career development within the archival profession.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Library Assessment Conference (LAC)

Library Assessment Conference (LAC), August 4-6, 2008, Seattle, Washington, Sponsored by Association of Research Libraries, the University of Washington Libraries and the University of Virginia Library.

Mike Crumpton and I (Kathy Crowe) attended this conference and also presented “Using Evidence for Space Planning” which discussed the in-house survey, observational studies and focus group research that we’ve been doing for the past year. It was an excellent conference both in content and organization. They also provided great parties and good food, too! I encourage you to visit the web site which has the power point presentations.This is the 2nd LAC; the first was held at the University of Virginia in 2006. The proceedings for that conference are in our collection and also available as an e-book. The organizers included Jim Self and Steve Hiller who visited us last fall. Our wonderful colleague at Wake Forest, Wanda Brown, has done a fine job of summarizing the plenary sessions on the WF blog and it’s been posted on the Library Assessment blog as well. So there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Mike & I attended different concurrent sessions except for a couple so I’ll summarize the ones I went to and he can do the same. I will also mention there were good poster sessions as well and the abstracts for those on the conference web site.

Information Literacy

iSkills at Cal State and U of Central Florida

iSkills is the info lit test developed by ETS. They’ve used it at UCF and the entire Cal State system. I was particularly interested in the fact that at UCF they used information literacy for the SACs Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). I’d love to do that here. At Cal State San Marcos they used iSkills with their Gen Ed assessment.

Qualitative Research

Personas and a User-centered Visioning Process / Cornell

They used anthropological methods for their web re-design. Personas were composite sketches of their target users groups. They did 36 interviews and developed 10 personas to assess research patterns of users.

Patterns of Culture: Re-aligning Library Culture to Meet user Needs

With support from a Mellon Foundation grant they used ethnographic methods to interview faculty and students and did also observational studies to learn how they obtain information, do research and prepare for teaching. They also asked students to do photographic diaries of their study habits. The research helped them develop a plan to align library resources and services more closely to user needs. They also produced a research model for other libraries to use.

Mixing Methods, Bridging Gaps : An Ethnographic Approach to Understanding Students

The presenter is an anthropologist. His study examined how doctoral students do research and use libraries. He found they like tried and true resources (e.g. WOS). They are not expert researchers. They’re unaware of many software programs such as EndNote. They don’t use librarians much unless they’re embedded.

Data into Outcomes

What if we Don’t Provide the Computers? Assessment for Reduction

At the undergrad library they received funding to develop a pilot to reduce the number of PCs and create an area for laptops. They did an in-house survey and focus groups. They asked students to put what they’d want in a laptop room on a post-it and put them on a wall. They also gave them blank floor plans to fill in. They learned that environment was very important and so were peripherals (mice, keyboards). They reduced the number of PCs from 100 to 30 and designed a much more attractive area. I think it’s just starting this fall so don’t know how successful it will be.


Using the READ Scale (Reference Effort Assessment Data): Qualitative Statistics for Meaningful Reference Assessment

Librarians from several institutions that have used READ reported on their methods and applications. READ is a 6- point scale tool. Librarians assign a number based on the level of a question. 1 is directional and 6 would be a very in-depth consultation. The scale has been tested at several institutions and more will be invited to use it. I think it looks like a fairly easy way to assess the level of questions to help determine staffing patterns. There’s more info at this web site and in the Ref Assessment ARL Spec Kit # 268I have not yet looked at either of these documents. SUNY Albany has used it with DeskTracker.

Systematic Quantitative and Qualitative Reference Transaction Assessment:An Approach for Service Improvements/ Cornell

The presenters described a reference transaction tracking system they developed at Cornell. They collaborated with Computer Science students to create the Reference Statistics Reporting System. In the first year the dataset included 70,000 transactions from 24 service points which were analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively. This system sounded rather complex to me.

Information Competence Assessment Using First Year and Upper-Division Writing Samples/ Cal State Channel Islands (it IS in California not England!)

They tested ISkills along with the rest of Cal State (see above) and didn’t feel it worked for them. It did not really show the value of the library in the system. Cal State gives Info Lit grants (wouldn’t that be wonderful?) so they developed rubrics to assess information skills along with the Composition Program. They applied the rubrics to research projects which they felt placed value on the student output.

Library Instruction Made Easy: Practical Tips to Get you Started with Little Training, Money or Time./ U of Nebraska Omaha

They worked with faculty to develop pre and post library instruction instruments which they administered via Blackboard. Sounds a lot like what Amy & Lynda have done! I’m thinking we might be able to tie this into WEAVE as well.

Assessment Plans

Mike & I both attended this session since we want to develop a plan here. Four institutions presented on how they developed their plans. Their plans are on this web site.

The above summary is from Monday through Wednesday. On Thursday I attended two half-day workshops. The first was Getting Started with Learning Outcomes Assessment: Purposes, Practical Options and Impact with Megan Oakleaf of the Syracuse Library School. Megan covered several different methods and possibilities of assessing information literacy including standardized tests (SAILS, iSkills, ILT), pre and post-tests, and using rubrics from an assignment such as a worksheet or paper. I could tell she was pushing the last method primarily. I got a lot of good handouts that I need to read more thoroughly. This workshop was a bit rushed. Fortunately, I’ve been accepted to Info Lit Assessment Immersion in December and Megan will be a faculty member there so I’m looking forward to hearing more from her.

Mike & I both attended a 2nd half-day on Successfully Implementing the Balanced Scorecard presented by Jim Self and Donna Tolson from UVA. The BSC comes from Business and emphasizes developing measurable goals or metrics from three perspectives: finance, customer services and process. Indicators are then identified for each goal along with methods and targets. An example of this process would be:

Goal in the User perspective: Develop high quality collections that reflect the needs of the Library’s users and support the Universitys’ mission.

Metric: Circulation of new monographs

Target 1:60% of all newly cataloged print monographs should circulate within two years.

Target 2:50 % should circulate within two years.

Method: A program will extract data from the SIRSI records documenting circulation of print monographs over a 2-year cycle.Only items circulated to users (not binding, etc.) will be counted.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Got data?!

From August 11-15, I attended an intensive workshop hosted by the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research on providing social science data library services. Beyond being incredibly helpful and thought-provoking, it was also a wonderful place for meeting data librarians from around the world (one Brit and two Canadians were in attendance). Considering the number of data librarians is pretty small (about 300 members in our international organization), it is rare that we get to meet up very often.
Data boot camp, as it is sometimes lovingly referred to, is much like Immersion for instruction librarians (Amy will write about that soon!). In addition to learning specific skills and techniques for finding and using statistics and data, we discussed the types of services we provide and our roles in the library. We also worked with large data sets and practiced subsetting data for pretend patrons. All of these trainings and discussions built up to planning for our service now and in the future. I will be launching our web presence this fall and have much more information to share about data services at UNCG's University Libraries.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

MLA 3rd Annual Information Literacy Conference, Charlotte NC

Who hosted this event? Not the Medical Library Association...not the Music Library was the other MLA - the Metrolina Library Association. This day-long meeting (June 19th, 2008) had enough variety in topics and speakers to make the trip worthwhile. Below are highlights of two sessions.

Keynote speech "Learning Centered Approaches to Instruction"

Presented by ACRL Information Literacy Immersion instructors Susan Whyte, Library Director, Linfield College and Beth Woodard, Central Information Services Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, from 9-noon.

Whyte and Woodard did a good job of engaging the audience. They used instructional approaches recommended in books by Mary Ellen Wiemer in order to get the audience thinking about effective library instruction. Such as

  • Each person was given crayons and asked to draw his/her idea of the best and worst student. Group discussion followed. I've seen this activity before but still enjoyed it. Any chance to play with crayons!
  • The audience was divided into small groups and given a list of brief quotes on learning and instruction. Each participant was to summarize a different quote and react to it within the group, then W&W led a discussion among the entire audience. This is where the presenters really shone. It was a flawless example of exciting, productive group exercise. W&W emphasized that the key to group success is in making sure that each member has a responsibility. Remembering a few experiences leading or participating in group exercises, I'd add: give clear instructions and make the individual tasks BRIEF with plenty of time for group interaction.

Some of the points made during the morning were

  • Planning LI - "Understanding by design" ask yourself what it will take for students to learn x, y, and z
  • During the session - Give up control, allow the unexpected to happen. Don't use canned searches, instead explore a live search with your students.
  • Content - more is not better. Students only remember 20% of material that they hear, so present less content but encourage students to work with it and allow time for them to reflect on it. Woodard and Whyte went beyond the standard "brief lecture then practice" recommendation into some truly fruity examples. Very commendable but I can't see myself pulling off their suggestions with the hard-bitten, practical, "just give me the bottom line" health professionals who have a big presence in my liaison areas.
  • Follow-up - if the instructor is amenable, give students a follow-up assignment. Either a practice of skills from LI session or an email to you briefly reporting 1) what s/he learned and 2) what s/he still wants to know
  • Assessment - Contact the instructor afterwards or go for coffee to talk about how the session went and whether it was helpful. Track consults after the LI session.
There was more, but I can already see eyeballs rolling so I'll cut it short. I'll want to take a look at some of Weimer's works. The LI Immersion would be an awesome way to get in touch with my inner teacher-ness, but that isn't practical for me in the near future. Mebbe I can get the gist of it from Amy or other attendees?

Breakout session 3B "Librarians: Teaching Partners Across the Curriculum"


  • Steve Cramer, Business Librarian, University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Integrating IL into core management and marketing courses
  • Susan Keely, Reference and Bibliographic Instruction Librarian, North Carolina School of the Arts: A multi-part instruction program for international students
  • Lea Leininger, Health Sciences Librarian, University of North Carolina at Greensboro: Opportunities for LI in the health sciences curriculum
  • Susan McClintock, Head of Reference, Meredith College Library: Challenges and successes of an IL program integrated into General Education
Steve and I were, of course, brilliant. We did a great job of capturing the attention of an end-of-conference day audience.

McClintock's presentation was especially inspiring. She'd spent about 20 years building relationships with faculty. Then, when the Gen Ed program was revised, she participated in the planning. At first she pushed for a required, semester-long info literacy class. That stalled the planning, so she came back with another proposal, which was adopted. Meredith College now has library-coordinated information literacy being delivered by librarians or by other faculty across the curriculum. Each student participates in library instruction at three times during his/her career, as part of Gen Ed. I'm happy to contact Susan for more info.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Reference Renaissance in the Mile High City

I just attended the 1st Reference Renaissance conference in Denver, CO -organizers plan to add Power Point presentations and other materials. I served on the Planning Group for the conference and also on the Program Committee. While RUSA was a co-sponsor, this success of the event was largely due to the work of Brenda Baily-Hainer, President of BCR, who did a fantastic job organizing the event. Attendance was even better than the Planning Committee hoped – we initially guessed that we’d have between 250-300 and actual attendance was around 500, so I’m anticipating that this conference will be held again. Attendees and presenters were a mix of public and academic librarians. Among the most pervasive themes of this conference was looking at ways to extend and improve the services we offer –and I heard lots of conversation on reevaluating services to decide what we give up in order to offer new services that better fit the current environment. David Lewis, Dean of the University Library at Indiana Univ. Purdue University Indianapolis, delivered the keynote address focusing on changes in library services brought about by various technologies - he discussed innovation and creativity as key to staying relevant.

One of the sessions I attended that gathered lots of attention was a comparison between traditional and hipster librarians with discussion of traditional, system centered librarianship and the move to user centered library systems with the future holding another shift to knowledge centered librarianship. Staffing models for reference desks with declining numbers of questions were discussed – a couple of studies were mentioned showing that most ref. desks have about 15-20% of questions that are true reference questions and presenters shared different plans of changing staffing models. I saw three sessions talking about gathering and using reference statistics, including some home grown statistics gathering programs. And I guess you have to travel to find out what is going on locally – there was a panel presentation including librarians (and one software developer with his own company) from Duke, UNC and NC State who talked about an open-source web chat system that they have developed and may soon offer to other libraries – it’s called Libraryh3lp and sounds like it has a lot of potential. I also attended interesting sessions on in house training for librarians. Very difficult to pick and choose here because so many of the sessions sounded so interesting : some of those that I wanted to see but missed included one from Yale University on a new text reference service, and another on Custom Search Engines which enhance traditional static guides. Proceedings will be published by Neal Schumann, but probably will take about a year.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

TNT’s High Tech / Low Cost Solutions for Libraries

On August 4, Amy Harris and I co-presented at a NCLA workshop for the Technology & Trends Roundtable. We presented with Lauren Pressley and Giz Womack of Wake Forest University and Ed Hirst of Rowan Public Library. The session was held at the gorgeous Koury Center on the Elon University campus.

The purpose of the workshop was to help newer Web 2.0 users get up-to-date on the current offerings and how they could be used in their libraries. Giz started the session with a great interactive quiz (using clickers!) to gauge the knowledge levels of the participants. We then covered the basics of Web 2.0, social networking, google docs, blogs and wikis, social bookmarking with Delicious, Library Thing, and Drupal. At the end, we divided everyone up into interest groups and held mini hands-on workshops.

We had 35 participants and they seemed to enjoy the session quite a bit. Many mentioned that getting ideas on using these tools in real life situations was very helpful. Amy and I also enjoyed hearing the perspectives of librarians from other campuses.

Welcome to the professional development blog!

OK, so we may be borrowing (stealing) a bit from Wake Forest here. But when someone hits on a good idea, why not go with it? The professional development blog is a forum for open discussion about the work-related conferences, workshops, and other professional development activities attended by staff of UNCG's University Libraries. We hope for this to be a forum for sharing ideas and encouraging innovation. Amy Harris and Lynda Kellam can post for you or make you part of the posting community. Come get web 2.0!