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ALAO Celebrates 40 Years of Conferences

A 40th anniversary is quite a feat and this year’s ALAO was no exception, complete with a cake with raspberry filling to represent the ruby milestone for the four decades. Congrats, and here’s to 40 more!

ALAO is the Ohio Chapter of ALA’s ACRL (American Library Association’s Association of College and Research Libraries division). Though the unifier is higher education libraries, the various topics of sessions show the range of interests and needs of academic libraries.

Courtney Young, current ALA President, opened the conference as the keynote speaker with her address focused on diversity and our ability as librarians to further diversity not only in our professor and materials in our libraries but also on-campus and even in the wider communities. Outreach is one of the means that can manifest in many different ways including, as she pointed out, working with campus study abroad programs.

For my first session, Ellizabeth Bucciarelli (Eastern Michigan University) in her talk Creating Tangible Connections Using the Intangible Library, walked through the entire process of setting up a new program collection. With such a unique opportunity, she reached out to administrators, faculty, relevant associations, and others touched by this new department program in order to create a strong, open-communication foundation to ensure future success and funding. Among the concerns discussed, inflation for eResources was an important one so that everyone involved knew how library vendors and publishers function so that the new digital collection could remain robust for years to come.

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Elizabeth Bucciarelli’s slide exemplifies the culture of librarians working with people outside of the library, especially concerning resources.

With Twitter still a vital tool for librarians, Diane Schrecker (Ashland University) and Kaylin Tristano (Brown Mackie College)’s session titled Engaging Tweets: Twitter as Personal Learning Network covered the basics as well as enumerated the different ways in which to participate on Twitter and useful tools. New to me were Twubs and Tweetchat, additional resources that make use of Twitter content but allow for more customization and monitoring of particular hashtags.

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All conferences have swag, but the session on Twitter even had their own: buttons!

After lunch were a brief round of table discussions for half an hour. Empowering Communities through Collaborative Innovation: Doctoral Student Perspectives on Knowledge Navigation in the Academic Library caught my attention. Three Kent State University doctoral students presented their research and fielded a few questions, although more time would have been nice since they all had interesting topics. Shelley Blundell researches remedial undergraduates and there is not much about their information seeking needs and behaviors. Much more than motivation, hopelessness tends to be a main hurdle that remedial students face and most do not overcome. Omer Farooq discussed integrating scholarly communication in to information literacy instruction, which includes not only students but faculty as well. Heather Flynn wrapped up the round table with her research about serving the international students in academic libraries and considering ways to “internationalizing” the library.

Next up: poster talks and cake. What a great combination in the same room, to socialize and hear about all of the wonderful initiatives throughout Ohio and tips/tricks for working effectively.

Joshua Neds-Fox and Michael Priehs (Wayne State University)’s Informing Authors: Outreach Strategies for Engaging Faculty in Scholarly Communications Issues session articulated their efforts to engage faculty about scholarly communication and their institutional repository (IR), make it easy for the faculty to post their work into the IR, help develop an open access (OA) policy for campus, and provide opportunities of OA journals both for faculty and students. WSU is lucky to have a department dedicated to this issues.

As a final session, Tina Franks (OSU)’s Trusted Advisor: Borrowing Ideas from Corporate America to Build Professional Success shared her experience of building stronger relationships with her library users to serve their needs and add value for them. Her inspiration was drawn from a business book of the same title, which focused on earning trust, giving advice, building relationships, engaging new constituents, and changing from transactional to relationship service.

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Kalahari Convention Center lion statue stands steadfast, despite the snow flurries outside.

Thankfully, while the weather was cold and snowy, the Kalahari Convention Center was filled with the warmth of ALAO.

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Snowy Sandusky: ALA-O Pre-Conference Ignites Conversation and Ideas

Despite the Kalahari Convention Center’s African safari theme, the Ohio weather decided not to coordinate for ALA-O. However, the active and engaged librarians keep the conversation hot and the session abuzz.

Char Booth, Director of Research, Teaching, & Learning Services at the Claremont Colleges Library, lead the ALA-O pre-conference event about library advocacy and outreach, covering the theoretical as well as practical, making it a fruitful session. Having seen Char speak before, she has a vibrant presence and fun yet wise presentation style that draws people to her talks; this was certainly part of the reason for some attending the pre-conference. Her slides are available on SlideShare.

To start off, Char defined advocacy as simply “making people care” and outreach as “making people aware”. These concise yet broad definitions allow for bigger discussions and ideas about what is possible. With libraries, what comes to mind first is promoting resources and services to users but there is so much more to consider and people to keep in mind. As part of the workshop, Char provided a worksheet to generate reflection and table discussions to learn from each other. To make it personal, the first activity was a mini SWOT analysis for a particular advocacy issue or idea. SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It is such a great idea because reasoning and logic guide the idea to help articulate not only the benefits but also consider any counters against it and prepare for them. This allows for strong and direct advocacy in any situation. As an alternative, some might prefer the quicker WIIFT method (What’s In It For Them?) in order to make the sell matter for the audience.

Part of advocacy includes data and assessment to show the value of your library and what it does. This might be driven by on-campus data collection and analysis. However, Char enumerated several great online sources for library data to replace or supplement your own data:
Ithaka S+R US library survey
NMC Horizon Report: Higher Ed Edition
EDUCAUSE ECAR (Student and Faculty Technology Research Studies)
Project Information Literacy

Outreach, then, makes use of the advocacy and Char certainly interrogated it from many angles and offered numerous possibilities. Two main approaches are DIY (Do It Yourself) and LSEDIFY (Let Someone Else Do It For You). For the benefits and concerns for each style, check out Char’s awesome slides at the link provided earlier in the post. Part of her comparison included the feel for particular audiences that each brings to the table, which is important to consider to ensure that the outreach resonates and is effective, such as a professional annual report. Whether fun or formal, non-scripted or instructional, on-the-fly or well-funded, there are great ideas going on at libraries no matter what the context. With its relaxed spirit and perfect weather, Claremont Colleges Libraries puts their mobile library cart and button maker through their paces constantly to go to their users and engage them. What fun, in the sun!

If that isn’t enough, Char offered more resources and reading for those who want to learn more and steep further in inquiry and ideas, check out the ACRL Value of Academic Libraries: A Comprehensive Research Review and Report by Megan Oakleaf. Also, at the end of her slides, Char lists a few books of interest too.

As a first-timer at ALA-O, I can’t wait to see what tomorrow holds! Follow the conference action virtually on Twitter with #ALAO2014 and the numerous session hash tags.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Ohio IR Day: Librarians Fostering Digital Scholarship

The active librarian community in Ohio shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but it still does when I discover yet another local group or event dedicated to a niche aspect of libraries. Ohio IR Day on Friday, October 24, 2014 exemplified the communal desires of Ohio librarians. Even though this was the first time, there were over 30 participants for this all-day event, most from academic libraries with one from the Ohio History Connection (previously the Historical Society) and even a Kentucky librarian.

As a part of Open Access week, Ohio IR Day focused on institutional repositories (IRs), online collections of digital material which could include anything from text to photos to videos. To begin the day, Ann Connolly from Bepress enumerated the needs and the possible work of students and faculty that can be met and housed in an IR. For example, while everyone agrees that big data is important, smaller data also requires organization and preservation to remain useful. Connolly then showcased numerous creative, novel ways in which Ohio uses IRs to display and disseminate even non-published items. I will highlight my favorites, though they all were amazing. The University of Dayton’s IR has photos and videos of mineral samples so that students can view them online in addition to lab setting, offering more flexibility. Cedarville University posts student photography portfolios and exhibitions, a perfect way to extend the reach of beautiful and though-provoking images. Finally, the College of Wooster captures oral history of local farmers, recorded by students to bring the community and local history into the education process. Current uses of IRs demonstrate that librarians as well as scholars have a broader consideration for what is beneficial as digital material in an online collection.

The 10 lightning round speakers covered everything from set-up and servers to soliciting and scanning content. Again, I am only going to touch on a few speakers for this post. Lois Hamill from Northern Kentucky University discussed her process of gradually transitioning the University Photographer photo collection from single-computer access to a network to a website and now to an IR in order to better serve their users. It was interesting to hear about the different steps and the time it took to transition, since it is easy to take for granted online collections rather than consider how long and what it took to achieve the online presence. Elizabeth Shook from Wright State University discussed their innovative use of prepending EZProxy to their OpenURLs in the IR to allow for seamless use of material outside of it; the session even lasts beyond the first click so that users can easily traverse the IR and other resources without needing to login repeatedly. Marsha Miles from Cleveland State University shared her streamlining and automating their IR process, creating marcos and scripts and making use of Google Drive to help with batch processing and revision. The range of conceptual to technical talks provided a complex and overall complete survey of the various topics and aspects of IR. It was a great mix of speakers for such a day.

The day ended with birds of a feather, the small group discussion, of particular topics surrounding IRs. In the content recruitment group, we had a couple of people who were just starting IRs along with many who have worked with IRs for a while so there was a lot of information sharing and cross discussion. One fact that a few confirmed is that adding ETDs to IRs drives views and downloads, as they have a wider reach in content and for others’ research than local collections. All of the small groups seemed just as chatty, filling the room with a hearty buzz despite it being mid-afternoon. Everyone’s passion for IRs, their content, and users was apparent and made the day that much more fun.

As for takeaways from Ohio IR Day, the first that comes to mind is that the attendees of the event are wonderful resources themselves and willing to share what they know. The second is creativity abounds with infinite possibilities that IRs provide for sharing content and ideas, with many great examples shown throughout the day.

This fabulous event was put on by Jane Wildermuth, with help from Elizabeth Shook and Andrew Harris from Wright State University and held at the State Library of Ohio. Many thanks goes to them for planning such a great day for librarians to share their experiences with IRs. Everyone in attendance agreed that this should be a regular meeting, with volunteers willing to help. Again, active Ohio librarians unite! I certainly look forward to the next Ohio IR Day.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Magic Monday: ALA Annual Las Vegas

The morning started off with a well-attended 8:30 a.m. WGGS Program about digital humanities, librarianship, and feminism. Four presenters focused on the idea of how digital humanities could create change, be used for activism, and help equalize people and underrepresented issues.

With the conference wrapping up, the exhibition hall closes up early so I spent some time at various booths, trying not to collect too much swag. Having heard about it at other sessions, I dropped by EFF and learned that this was their first time at ALA. Electronic Frontier Foundation prides itself in “defending your rights in the digital world” (www.eff.org). Their swag was a set of safe stickers to cover laptop cameras to protect hackers from spying on you. Also, the NISO booth had copies of a recent bibliographic summary report. Sometimes swag is more professional than fun, though one advanced reader copy (arc), a frisbee, and a water bottle are coming home with me. That’s it, thankfully. Some friends sent boxes, yes multiple, of free books home after spending lots of time on the floor; ALA has its own post office to facilitate this for librarians.

Las Vegas has been a great location for ALA, though I still prefer others better, and the conference itself had wonderful sessions. The sheer amount of meetings, sessions, and presentations always amazes me and so does the number of librarians that turn out for ALA. However, here more than anywhere, it’s been magical.
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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Sultry Sunday: ALA Annual Las Vegas

Stamina can be an issue for ALA conferences not only due to the vast cavernous conference centers and treks to off-site meetings but also the all-day stream of back-to-back sessions and exhibit hall events, booths, and demos. There’s always something to do from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the least, with a few 6/7 a.m. meetings if you’re one of those lucky ones. Then some meetings occur anywhere from 5 to 9 p.m., not to mention the evening social events. In addition, there’s always something that you’ll miss–trades offs need to be made since many sessions are at the same time block. Co-workers, classmates, or library spouses can help tag team topics and sessions, but even then there’s something cool going on too that you will want to be at.

So how do you tackle ALA? This is still a mystery. Up until today, I was doing well at pacing myself but here I am at a 3 to 4 p.m. session that’s about to start, and it’s my ___ today. Yup, I’m feeling it. This is my last today…I swear. There was just so much to learn and hear about that pacing went out the window. But Sunday is always the most packed day, it seems. Good thing that Vegas is a city that sleeps early and doesn’t have a vibrant nightlife. Riiiiight. I’m actually loving Vegas more than I thought I would and have adjusted to the weather–evenings by the rooftop pool are amazing. But enough about that, let’s get on with my full day of awesome sessions…once this presentation ends.

Today began with the 8:30 a.m. Digital Preservation IG on which the presenters discussed their libraries’ current practices or plan for preserving digital content, especially research data. Part of the conversation grappled with how other campus stakeholders including IT fit into the equation.

The Continuing Resource Standards IG was a NISO update, with the focus on linking to journal content with OpenURLs. The speakers spoke about IOTA and KBART. Also, there are recent best practice recommendations and white paper available on NISO.org

Over the lunch hour at the ALA Job Placement Center, Open Cover Letters Revealed had a panel of four recently hired librarians providing advice and the inside scoop on the hiring process and search committees. Check out the event hash tag #alaocl on Twitter.

The CAMMS Forum’s large room filled up and many, including myself, pulled up a seat on the floor in order to hear about linked data, BibFrame, and the semantic web. Presentations varied from conceptual to practical. The Library of Congress’ MARC to BibFrame online convertor was live demoed successfully and excited the room.

My day rounded out with the Collection Development and Electronic Resources IG that discussed usage statistics, both why they are useful and how to obtain them. Although not all statistics, tools, and reports are equal, so there is no one right way or answer.

Good thing Monday is lighter on sessions!

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Steamy Saturday: ALA Annual Las Vegas

The heat increased today and so did the number of conference sessions. With so many available and of interest, it can be difficult to choose. However, chairing committees means that part of my day was planned for me.

Before heading off to my first session, a quick trip through the exhibit hall proved successful. Dropping by LC’s booth, I found out that the BibFrame convertor would be discussed and likely demo it during the two talks today. But my schedule was booked so I didn’t make it back. However, a quick stop at ProQuest as well paid off as I had a personal demo of the new beta eBook reader for their ebrary and EBL books. It looks great, easy to use, and has many capabilities. The roll out in August for opt-ins will really prove how well it works in more library settings and it will be interesting to hear about.

The morning began with Cataloging Norms Interest Group session. We had two excellent presentations. For the first, Liz Woolcott and Clint Pumphrey from Utah State University gave a talk entitled “Responsive workflow design: creating collaborative cross-departmental teams for cataloging, digitization, and archives”. The second presenter, Yuji Tosaka from the College of New Jersey spoke on “RDA training, continuing education, and implementation”.

Next, I had lunch with COAPI (Coalition of Open Access Publishing Institutions) to discuss open access and find out how everyone and their libraries were doing.

As my final chair responsibilities of Annual, I helped run Library Code Year Interest Group’s Tech Speed Dating event during our session this afternoon. Six experts covered a variety of topics to give attendees a taste of each and answer any questions about: MakerBot – Emily Thompson from SUNY-Oswego, MongoDB – Emily Morton-Owens from Seattle Public Library, WordPress and library websites – Chad Haefele from UNC Davis, Drupal and Islandora – Cary Gordon, President of Cherry Hill Company, Python script – Harrison Dekker from UC Berkeley, and hardware and libraries – Jeff Branson from SparkFun. Group discussion followed about code literacy.

As an audience member for the first time all day, the Preservation Metadata Interest Group had three presentations about BitCurator and its capabilities and comparability with other applications. While it’s mainly for archives and digital forensics, it was great to hear about the important considerations, needs, and tools available for preserving born-digital content and its underlying metadata.

The serendipity of conferences especially ALA is always the best part. Suddenly, a UM School of information alum meet-up occurred naturally as I caught up with fellow classmates and other alums walked by and joined us. Back at the hotel, I ran into one of my co-chairs and had dinner with her and her colleague. Sometimes it is good not to have too many plans, since you never know what might work out.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Flashy Friday: ALA Annual Las Vegas

First time in Las Vegas and there’s much more to it than I expected. Okay, the airport had slots machines right at the gate as we arrived and many more in baggage claim, along with billboards for various shows and acts in Vegas. Flashy indeed! However, the desert local makes for an interesting juxtaposition of unmanned land, ritzy city, and Spanish mission homes of the Vegas locals. Plus, The Strip is only one portion and truly itself only at night when lit up with all kinds of visitors permeating the hotels, sidewalks, and streets. There’s also the old-school downtown area, fun areas off The Strip, and even a Chinatown, without even mentioning the surrounding nature and Hoover Dam nearby. The Convention Center, however, is like most and doesn’t boast the Vegas feel, which might be a good thing to help keep us all focused on the reason that we are all here: ALA Annual!

To kick off the conference, I attended the unconference session Friday morning from 9-noon. For someone who hasn’t been to one before, the event is casual and led by the attendees: there’s a call for and vote on topics for discussion then people sit at the table with the topic that interests them. “How to talk about eBooks” was the one for me, which should surprise no one. The best part about our table was the fact there were public, school, and academic librarians all sharing their perspectives and insights based on their environments. eBook complexities have even more complications depending on the type of library as well as the user group. And apparently middle schoolers still prefer print over electronic–go figure! Another aspect of unconferences is each topic reporting out on their main points and pithy moments, so look for #alaunconf (or some Tweets might be #alauncon; always search the other possible versions like a good librarian). Other topics ranged from promoting digital collections to managing library staff to work burnout to middle schoolers and library social media.

Anyone who is keeping up with #alaac14 on Twitter knows the basics about Annual in Vegas this year: glitz and glam, booze and gambling, starstruck and sunstroke. Yes, it’s sunny and hot–beautiful weather. However, it is hotter than you think. More than any other ALA location, drinking water is crucial and in higher quantities than you typically do. The lack of humidity is drying out my hands and my hotel doesn’t provide hand lotion but I remembered Chapstick thankfully.

Pro tip: take the shuttles to and from the Convention Center. Walking even a short distance in this hot weather is too much, trust me. Locals even carry umbrellas for shade but even then take the shuttles or a cab. Plus many hotels have their own shuttles to The Strip or other Las Vegas areas if they are owned by the same property. Springhill suites shuttle driver told me that Caesar’s (Bally’s, Harrah’s) has shuttles that go to the Rio.

Also, if you have the time, get out to Red Rock for the 13 mile drive through nature’s desert beauty. Hiking might not be possible since it’s even hotter than Thursday when I went but the drive, though, is worth it and there’s a visitor center.

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Posted by on June 28, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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