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” ( 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

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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Technology Speed Dating at ALA Annual in Las Vegas

Join us for Tech Speed Dating in Las Vegas! Learn about 7 different technology topics plus participate in a SparkFun demo at the Library Code Year IG session at ALA Annual.

Topics and experts

  • MakerBot — Emily Thompson, Learning Technologies Librarian, SUNY-Oswego
  • MongoDB — Emily Morton-Owens, Library Applications and Systems Manager, Seattle Public Library
  • GitHub — Coral Sheldon-Hess, Web Services Librarian, University of Alaska Anchorage
  • WordPress and library websites — Chad Haefele, Emerging Technologies Librarian, UNC Davis
  • Drupal and Islandora — Cary Gordon, President, Cherry Hill Company
  • Python script — Harrison Dekker, Head of Library Data Lab, UC Berkeley
  • Hardware and libraries — Jeff Branson, SparkFun Educational Outreach, and Nate Hill, Assistatnt Director, Chattanooga Public Library

Add it to your ALA Scheduler today: Saturday June 28th, 1:00-2:30 p.m. Convention Center N119 Don’t miss out on the speed dating fun in Vegas!

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Posted by on June 9, 2014 in Uncategorized


Innovative Users Group (IUG) 2014 Detroit, MI

As a first-time attendee, my expectations were non-existant for the Innovative Users Group (IUG) conference held last week, May 7-9th, 2014 in Detroit, MI. Having attended a variety of library conferences of all sizes, IUG is the most detailed, practical conference even though it had 1000+ attendees. My hunch is that since all of the libraries are on Innovative integrated library system (ILS), either Millennium or Sierra, this allows for much deeper and more instructive discussions and presentations. Also, the schedule’s format packs in a full day, too.

Wednesday, May 7th
Opening session, 9-11 a.m.: The day started off with a keynote by Amy Dickinson, writer/columnist/library supporter and literacy advocate. She shared her personal story about libraries and reading, how her mother’s love of learning inspired her, and described her literacy work and passion as a story-time reader at her hometown library. At the end of her talk, Innovative presented her with a donation towards the literacy charity that she works with. Innovative CEO, Kim Massana discussed the year in review and the future for Innovative. Rice Majors emceed and presented awards to 15 year Crystal Attendees of IUG, which was quite a crew this year. Also, the Beacon Award was given to Martha Rice Sanders.

RDA clean up, 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Marta Rice Sanders (HELIN Library Consortium) shared her tips and tricks for tracking down pesky RDA indexed headings in need of changes. Swetta Abeyta (Innovative) discussed how she helped Sanders when she had issues with the automatic authority control processing; which has now been resolved.

Shared data for shared projects, 3-4 p.m.: Tim Auger (Innovative) gave an overview of the company’s vision for the future and then presented various sharing initiatives planned for INN-Reach. Also, the open discussion and question time at the end generated great ideas and thoughtful aspects to consider.

Innovative professional service, 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Marina Keating (Innovative) presented on the variety of ways in which Innovative can provide libraries with support, training, consultation, and contracting. With the myInnoU portal due out in July, there will be self-paced e-learning opportunities and also new API services.

Thursday, May 8th
Cataloging and authorities forum, 7:30-8:30 a.m.: Swetta Abeyta (Innovative), Katie Enright (San Antonio Public Library), and Lisa Robinson (Michigan State University) reviewed the IUG enhancement ballot winners, with many dealing with rapid/global update. As with most things, the updates focus on Sierra.

Google Analytics part 1, 9-10 a.m.: Robert Sebek (Virginia Tech) showed how he set up Google Analytics for the catalog and walked through the different reports for statistics on how users access and search the library’s catalog. Based on the data collected, his library made changes to the catalog and provided better, clearer answers where needed.

Data bricolage, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Kristina Spurgin (UNC Chapel Hill) shared her scripting codes and workflows for wrangling metadata for cleaning and maintaining the catalog. She showed examples for a database URL location change, checking URL access for links, and dealing with payment data.

IUG seated lunch! Great time to catch up with my University of Michigan Law Library previous co-workers. Sine they were only coming from 30 minutes away in Ann Arbor, many of them made it to the conference.

WebPAC and JavaScript, 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Eric Still (The Boeing Company) described and walked through his use of JavaScript on the WebPAC to generate relevant emails to link to a title, display an information icon that explains phrases, and provided other ideas. Plus, he showed how to add tags with named id variables for grabbing desired content.

Ebooks access and management today and tomorrow, 3-4 p.m.: Swetta Abeyta (Innovative) and Sarah Hickman Auger (Innovative) presented on ebooks and the various ways in which they can be accessed and managed now and shared ideas for the future. During the open discussion and question time, they solicited other priorities, concerns, and ideas, which many people shared.

All about e-content, 4:30-5:30 p.m.: Lori Roholt, Julie Woodruff, and Kathy Setter (Indianhead Federated Library System) described how their public library system deals with e-books and e-media. For e-books, they walked through the loading record process and editing/clean up of metadata. Their library also provides access to Freegal music and videos.

Friday, May 9th
Sierra REST APIs, real world applications, 9-10 a.m.: Steve Schoen (Innovative) discussed the APIs available, some of which work with both Millennium and Sierra but new ones are only for Sierra. After strong feedback from IUG attendees, Innovative will revisit the fee-based model for the APIs and its sandbox. Also, a white paper is coming in a few weeks and then they will do case studies, so be in touch if interested. Ample discussion and question time addressed many topics and concerns and desires for the APIs.

More elusive errors, 10:30-11:30 a.m.: Lisa Robinson (Michigan State University) discussed various metadata clean up in the catalog, both prior to and after loading records. She covered global update commands, how to find certain diacritic problems, hunting down local fields and delimiter 5 issues from other libraries. During discussion, others in the room also suggested fixes to questions asked.

Google Analytics, part 2, 1:30-2:30 p.m.: Robert Sebek (Virginia Tech) continued his Google Analytics presentation, introducing segments, campaign tagging, and event tracking. Again, his slides were well-annotated and showed the various settings to provide the information and statistics that he sought.

IUG take-aways:
They were long days but had many breaks, the one hour session format was perfect, the booklet descriptions are useful since they usually provide details, presentations are very specific and usually walk through the process or code/script, breaks are 30 minutes and provide great time to talk further with other attendees, IUG is a hands-on conference with an active membership, Innovative staff are all-ears during the conference and love speaking with attendees, IUG is a palpable dialogue throughout the week with attendees sharing their trials and successes with each other as well as direct interactions with Innovative staff.

I truly enjoyed myself at IUG and learned so much! Even with its larger size, it felt like a smaller, cozy conference where everyone knew and conversed with each other. The atmosphere of a shared ILS system helps bring IUG members together in a unified cause to improve the system and use of it for everyone. What a great conference! I am not sure if I will go every year, since there are so many possible conferences to attend, but I would love to go again.

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Posted by on May 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


There’s a subject heading for that!?: crime and weather

First off, I’m very happy to share that I am now the Metadata and eResources Librarian for OhioLINK! My first day was today…although OSU cancelled classes and so the office, too, had a snow day, which got me thinking about weather and storm-related subject headings. It’s an area I’ve not looked into before and there are a lot of interesting findings in that nook of the LCSH.

A huge storm blew down from Canada into the States and while we did not get dumped on with snow in Columbus, below freezing temperatures and gusty winds kept many people home from work and school.

To no one’s surprise, LCSH has many ways to classify weather:

LC Authorities weather results  screenshot


Some of the narrower terms for weather are technical, such as cold waves (what are those–maybe for another blog post) and weather singularities, and others seem out of place, like crime and weather. Forget looking for snow storms, it’s time to investigate this sore-thumb of a mind-scratching subject heading:

LC Authorities crime and weather record screenshot

This is a basic authority record, without any additional information of interest that sometimes shows up. It’s always good to go into a record and related records, since that can truly help figure out where a tricky work should be placed and how to describe it best. We only get the broader term of weather, which lead us here, in the 550 field.

What about the works themselves? Many times they have other subject headings that can lead catalogers, librarians, and researchers into related territory. In the LC Catalog, using a subject keyword search, this is what comes up:

LC Catalog crime and weather results screenshot


Unfortunately, there aren’t many works with the subject heading crime and weather but there is a statistics subdivision, which begins to piece things together for me. It jogs my memory about hearing news reports that hot weather in New York City makes people commit more crimes…sweltering weather leads to hot tempers, I recall. The previous linked article and the following one do agree that it is in fact extreme temperatures that encourage more crime, although it can’t be too hot.

Let’s see those eight results. I want to know more; perhaps I watch too many crimes shows and movies.

LC Catalog crime and weather itemized results screenshot


Here are the full, MARC records for the two in English:

LC Catalog MARC record 1 screenshot


This first work concerns the legality of how weather affects and harms people as well as how to prevent and deal with the ramifications of weather and people’s actions cause by weather. If I were at the Law Library, I’d love to go grab this from the shelf and thumb through it!


LC Catalog MARC record 2 screenshot


In contrast to the other work, this one takes crime and weather into a much more specific realm concerning illegitimacy. It is crucial to note the order of the subject headings, which traditionally classify the work (i.e. give a call number/place on the shelf) under the first listed subject heading.

There is one more work record that we can look at, the item with the statistics subdivision:

LC Catalog crime and weather--statistics MARC record screenshot


The 440 series field (490/830 fields now) tell us that the work is a crime survey from the DoJ. Of course, as noted in the 300 description, subfield b, it contains graphs. Infographics, to use the hip term, about crime and weather–what’s not to love? Well, it’s interesting anyway. Otherwise, the weather subject heading has a lot more to offer and not just cold weather either. If snow and storms are getting you down, check out weather’s narrower term sultriness for a reprieve:

LC Authorities sultriness record screeenshot

As I wrap up, there is now word that OSU is closed Tuesday as well. Perhaps my book blog will get updated tomorrow! Stay warm and safe, no matter where you are, especially Minnesota and North Dakota where it is even worse and I have family.


Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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