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“Lascivious librarian story time” : nightlife fun in Chicago with librarians

“Lascivious librarian story time” : nightlife fun in Chicago with librarians

My Sunday morning began with a presentation in the ALA job placement center. The state of academic library jobs : what you need to know to be competitive in the current job market by Penny Beile from the University of Central Florida talked about the academic librarian job market and the breakdown of job postings and their statistics. She addressed the infamous study that we all know about as librarians, that claimed LIS master’s was the worst degree. Her concluding advice was to gain as much experience pre-degree as well as during the program and to set yourself apart and impress people so that you can set yourself up for being hired. I attended this talk in order to hear what kind of advice is being given to current graduate students. As is expected, it was well attended.

Then I headed over immediately to the BibFrame session. Library of Congress BibFrame update forum did not fit everyone in the room even though we were seated in a large auditorium. The session itself was recorded and will be posted on the LC website fairly soon. Roberta Schafer from LC described their overall vision and plan for the future, which also included BibFrame as a connector for all of their initiatives and future consolidation of services and reading rooms. Her portion showed the possibilities and potentials that such a framework for metadata could provide. Next Eric Miller of Zepheria covered what BibFrame community profiles, how they work, and the broader implications not only within the library community but within the Internet itself. The two next speakers highlighted their BibFrame projects. Jeremy Nelson from Colorado College gave a technical yet approachable explanation of the BibFrame Redis data store that he works on at his library. The files are on GitHub if you are interested in looking at the code. Vinod Chachra from VTLS showed how BibFrame can make metadata and the next generation catalog a visualization within a browser. This is such a cool idea to me and that makes a lot of sense especially as touchscreens and smart phone tablet devices are taking over Internet usage. Chachra argued for using ISAD over FRBR as well, since it is more flexible and malleable. The KCPL will unveil a Civil War collection using the website navigator technology from VTLS so watch for that in the late summer. Finally Jean Godby from OCLC finished the session by discussing OCLC’s projects with schema.org and BibFrame. The work is in its beginning phases but it sounds very promising and OCLC is trying to incorporate the library terminology and needs within the vocabulary and goals of schema.org so that we can truly have metadata that is of the Internet instead of being on it. I enjoy hearing about the progress that is being made, especially the early experimental projects that are trying to figure out the best ways to use and apply and incorporate BibFrame and library metadata in the wider Internet community.

An area of librarianship that is still fairly new but developing really rapidly is Digital Humanities and in particular Digital History. Digital History : new methodologies facilitated by new technologies covered both the practical and theoretical aspects of this topic. This session was also recorded but it wasn’t mentioned when or where it would be posted. The first two speakers enumerated the various tools and online resources useful for Digital History collections and projects. Anne Flannery and Adam Strohm, The Newberry Library, segmented their talk into different areas: access, content creation, identifying narratives, interaction with materials, and new modes of authorship. Michael J. Kramer and Josh Hohn, Northwestern, discussed the importance of Digital History and showcased their work with the Berkeley folk music festival collection. Kramer conducts research within the online collection for himself as well as creating and teaching a course with Hohn as a means to engage and convey new ways to analyze history by the students. Not knowing much about this topic of librarianship, I found this session very fascinating and useful.

As with most ALA conferences, there are various social events throughout the entire time there and it can be hard to choose what to go to in the evenings. Steve snagged an invite to the Thompson Reuters reception, getting a +1 for me. Light appetizers and drinks along with the outdoor patio made for a great start to the evening. We chatted with his rep and a couple of others ones, carrying on conversations about travel that they do, places worth going especially for food, and other fun topics. As Steve likes to say, vendors are people too–a joke I like since I work for ProQuest!

After the reception, we hopped onto a city bus with a librarian friend to go see a librarian-themed burlesque show at The Backroom, which usually has live bands but also puts on private events. Before we arrived, we didn’t realize that it was themed! How fun though. A new librarian friend, met at this ALA, told us about it the day prior and met us there. The place was packed, with librarians, so someone spread the word about the theme. They even provided ALA flags for name tags at the front desk! The show included lots of glasses, hair pulled back in buns or swept up, skirts and blouses, the Reading Rainbow theme song, the use of a scanner as a prop, a sexy male puppet show, book props, along with a librarian lemonade drink. Good drinks and food in a room full of fun librarians made for an awesome night. The show had lots of humor tailored to the crowd (i.e. book humor, etc.) and was tasteful. If this is what Chicago offers, I can only imagine what someone will put together for Annual in Las Vegas next year!

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Annual 2013 : it’s not just librarians doing the spotting!

Before heading to the conference center this morning, we stopped at a local coffee shop and while ordering, the baristas asked if we were librarians. Yes, we all were. He said he’s been playing “spot the librarian” downtown yesterday. Clearly librarians aren’t the only ones who play it! They loved talking to us and one said that the world needs more libraries, so make sure you go stop by the Overflow coffee bar if you’re near State and 16th and say hi to these wonderful guys and gals, and grab an awesome cup of coffee.

Like all days at ALA, today was jam packed. Since it’s always hard to pick and choose what exactly to attend, I began my morning a bit later so that I could attend more sessions this afternoon. My day began with the 10:30 Cataloging Norms Interest Group that I co-vice chaired this year. Despite the room being in an odd location in the conference center, but then again what’s not, we had an awesome turn out for our session. The speakers covered a range of topics all centered around metadata and cataloging, and how to help users best find exactly what they’re looking for as well as how to be successful with their use of information and images. One speaker talked specifically about defining accuracy and completeness of cataloging records, which can be expanded to metadata in general and so the topics made for a cohesive and interesting panel this morning.

Next, I headed over to Library Code Year IG at the Hilton Chicago, a fairly short bus right away but with so many people waiting in the line for it, I wasn’t sure that I’d make the first bus. Thankfully I did. This group had put on the Python preconference all day session that I wasn’t able to make yet I heard that the people who did attend really enjoyed it. At the interest group session, a lot was discussed as this is still a new group being formed and deciding how exactly to provide useful opportunities for attendees in the future, the goal is to facilitate librarians learning how to code. I will be co-chairing this group over the next year so watch for various announcements on listservs to find out more about it. It is a joint LITA/ALCTS interest group which encourages interested librarians from both areas of ALA.

The final session of my day was Multiple identities: managing authorities in repositories and digital collections. A librarian From Hong Kong University spoke about cleaning up name authorities and creating a research and researchers digital repository that was useful for the entire university. The second talk was given by three librarians from the University of Notre Dame who are working with the Gates foundation to create a database for malaria research to help with the eradication of it. Although they are both bigger institutions and the grand scale truly makes the efforts worthwhile, it was still good to hear about the process and what kind of software they are using and the things that they had to consider when going about these projects. Once again this topic ties back to accuracy and completeness of information, from my first morning session today, while also begging the question of what information best serves users. For example, at Notre Dame, various people use their database for the research and so they have included more indexing than might normally be done since they want to ensure that people doing searches will find what they intend to look for even if the term searched isn’t exactly the MeSH heading.

Throughout the day, I ventured into the exhibit hall a few times. It’s always a jungle in there, it seems!

I kept this evening a little quieter, going out to dinner with a few friends and then heading back to my place to write these blog posts to keep track of what I’ve done the past couple of days here. Although it can be difficult sometimes to make time to get these posts up on the same day, as seen with my Friday post that showed up earlier this evening, they give me the chance to reflect on the sessions that I attended today and make connections between them, my prior knowledge, and generate ideas and thoughts for the future. I find that the best part of ALA is the inspiration and food-for-thought that the sessions, conference interactions, and networking provide me.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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#ala2013 : hash tags and socials

#ala2013 : hash tags and socials

The first day of ALA Annual in Chicago and already the conference is busy and in full swing! Even before it began this year, hash tags on Twitter were flying by with excitement, though not always the “official” ones. It’s always humorous to see the variations on Twitter but we do want consistent use so that everyone can find all the relent Tweets–a priority of mine anyway as a cataloger! Lets agree on metadata, especially for hash tags. Maybe next time ALA can add them to the session info in the book, scheduler, and placard for the rooms…and make the conference one a part of the logo!

Even though it was Friday, the conference had many regular sessions, in addition to the majority of all-day pre-conference events. I was surprised to see the conference center was full and buzzing that morning already.

First up was the Annual Unconference, which was completely packed and standing room only by the time I showed up. Clearly the room was too small and more people showed up than they had expected but the discussion was really fruitful: user expectations versus reality for content, access, and search result; check out history and recommendation systems versus user privacy; circulation and count of items, especially print material; and the role of the library, what it is and should or can be. That’s as much as I caught before heading to the Networking Uncommons to look at the schedule again for the rest of the weekend.

Despite the size of the conference, I always run into friends, co-workers, and librarians that I met at other Annuals and Midwinters. Lunches, dinners, coffee breaks, hallway chats are one of the highlights of these conferences. But then there are the times when I cannot seem to connect with someone due to different schedules. You can’t see everyone, even when you plan to sometimes!

Competencies and education for a career in cataloging IG turned out to be exactly what I tried to find out at MidWinter: how LC conducted their training program internally for RDA. Melanie Polutta works at LC and was an internal trainer, and even an early tester when RDA first came out. She discussed how LC conducted training at the various stages of testing and adoption within LC, the challenges, and some of her lessons learned in hopes that the attending librarians could take away something to help them with training at their own institutions. Most of her advice revolved around understanding the standards and concepts inside and out. That includes terminology, the structure and content of the documentation itself, the theory and purpose, how to apply the standards versus when to use cataloger’s judgment, and deciding what cataloger’s judgment means for local policies. Time and practice are also the obvious other take aways. That and to divorce RDA from MARC when learning and talking about it with others; use publication information instead of referring to the 264 (previously 260) field. Her recommendation was for everyone to learn RDA, and FRBR, at least somewhat since whether you catalog in it or not, there will be hybrid records from here onward along with RDA elements in some AACR2 records.

For the final official ALA event of the day, I attended the Emerging Leaders poster session. One of my friends was a part of this great program this year and so it was exciting to go and hear about her project but also see what everyone else was doing this past year. People are split into various groups surrounding topics of interest and they conduct research and then present their findings at poster sessions. It’s a great way to hone project management skills and develop professional rapport within ALA. The topics vary and this year they included assessing the value of the Emerging Leaders program, assessing the retention rate of first year ALA members, and looking into the funding of the ALCTS journal.

And then came the most fun part of the day, hitting various receptions and happy hours around the city. UMich SI put on a get together for alums. I caught up with many fellow classmates from grad school that I haven’t seen for a few years and met many people who had graduated before me. It is always fun to hear about what people are doing now and the cool projects that they’re working on. Next we met up with other friends at an Irish pub, although we got caught in a bit of rain just as we were almost there. That meant waiting it out and drying off a bit, which we were happy about just staying put and hanging out. To wrap up the evening, we headed to the President’s Reception on the terrace of the Hilton Chicago overlooking Millennium Park. Midnight on a balcony with champagne networking with librarians as the red-orange moon glowed over the lit up city–not much could be better. Walking back to our place, a fat rat scurried by us as if to remind us all that we were in fact in an urban setting; the guys on the sidewalk joked that it must be New York not Chicago.

Also, the AirBnB that I’m staying at with my husband and our friend is a great walkable location and perfect for the conference. There’s even another librarian here too!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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