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.