Tag Archives: conferences

Research Data Managment Implemenation Workshop, March 2013

A Research Data Management Implementation Workshop was held on March 13-14, 2013, with Alison Darrow (SRO) and Wendy Shook (LIS) attending selected webcasts.

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Take away points:

  • There is a lot of energy behind data management, and many good standards and tools being developed, but the field is in a constant state of flux.
  • Despite that energy, there is significant frustration.  Funding agencies are providing objective outcomes, but not implementation guidance.  They are waiting to see what consensus comes from the field, while users and providers are looking for some kind of direction or expectation from funding agencies to get them started. (I’d like to point out that this is a tremendous opportunity for the data management community to contribute to standards and best practices!)
  • There is emphasis on big data, in part due to volumes produced and dollars consumed, but that emphasis leaves smaller implementations feeling isolated, even though small data are valuable assets that require as much attention as big data do.
  • A variety of data management models were discussed, each with staunch proponents, but I expect the reality to be custom approaches taking the most useful element of each model.

An excellent collection of position papers are available at https://rdmi.uchicago.edu/page/submitted-experience-and-position-papers


Oberlin Group of 17 Digital Library Unconference

The Oberlin Group of 17 Digital Library Unconference was held on May 21, 2013, at Mt. Holyoke College.  With over 30 participants from 14 of the OG17 schools, there was lively discussion on topics including digital library planning and scope, organization and staffing, platforms and tools, data management and preservation policy, digital scholarship/digital humanities, outreach, and archiving born-digital records.

The format of the meeting eschewed the traditional speaker followed by a few questions in favour of a lightning round describing current projects at representated colleges, then brainstorming topics to be further discussed in a series of “break-out” sessions. The format felt more collaborative and productive than simply presenting information.   Discussions were deemed successful enough to warrant follow-up meetings.

Attendees from Middlebury: Wendy Shook, Rebekah Irwin, Bryan Carson.

ACRL Digital Curation Webinar: Creation of an In-House DMP Tool

ACRL Digital Curation Interest Group Webinar: Creation of an In-House DMP Tool at the University of Houston Libraries, April 18, 2013

Michele Reilly and Anita Dryden from the University of Houston discussed their approach to providing data management planning assistance to their research faculty.  Data management is not part of their mission; they focus on providing both general and UH resource specific information via their library web pages and by the creation of a data management planning (DMP) Tool.  This tool, created using drupal webforms, is similar to the California Digital Library’s DMPTool and the Digital Curation Centre’s DMPOnline. Although offering fewer features, the UH tool pre-dates the online tools mentioned, has been easy to maintain and customize, and has been sufficient to fulfill the needs of their researchers.

Dartmouth October Conference 2012

Dartmouth October Conference 2012
“Outside the Box: Innovation in the Library”
Notes from Wendy Shook and Carrie Macfarlane

Our top 4 take-aways:

  1. For innovation to be accepted, all users, suppliers, and contributors have to buy into the idea.  When planning, look for the weakest link and always ask: Why would this user/supplier/contributor want to change?
  2. “Minute Movies.”  This could be a theme to consider for video tutorials: short scenario-based video tutorials that start with a “why” (eg, I was told I needed 3 peer-reviewed journals articles), then teach a skill to meet the need.
  3. The “Awesome” box. Students returning materials can drop them in the regular return box or in the “Awesome” box, the contents of which are then posted on the library site as student picks.
  4. The Harvard Library catalog (HOLLIS) has a text-a-call number feature. Does III or Summon offer anything like that? We’ve seen some students take a photo of a call number.

Keynote Address: A Wide Lens Perspective on Innovation
Roy Adner – Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College

  1. There is a difference between innovation and successful innovation.  Innovation is seeing and filling the gap between what the user needs and what the user wants (or what you can convince the user he wants).  Successful innovation is innovation that  considers not only the user’s point of view, but whether or not that innovation can work in an existing framework, and the co-innovations required to make it a desirable solution.
  2. For innovation to be accepted, all users, suppliers, and contributors have to buy into the idea, and this means assessing changes in relationships.  “Managing adoption chains” means assessing and balancing the benefits and drawbacks for each contributor and user group (a chain is only as strong as the weakest link); the user might get an improved rather than superlative product if compromise is necessary to get all partners to cooperate. When planning, always ask: why would this user/supplier/contributor want to change?
  3. value proposition vs. scale of deployment
    • The most common pattern is prototype to pilot to full rollout
    • An alternative could be (as Apple tends to do):  rollout prototype with full scale deployment to minimize conflicting partners (conflict is avoided because the partners are buying in rather than participating in co-development) This requires assessing and applying the “minimal viable ecosystem”.
    • A by-product of the “minimal viable ecosystem” technique is the establishment of de facto leadership rather than being a collaborator.

Transforming Concepts into Actionable Project through Project Management
Shanti Freundlich – Liaison Librarian: Health Sciences, Nursing, & Social Work, Beatley Library, Simmons College
Vivienne Piroli – Deputy Library Director, Beatley Library, Simmons College

  • The principle discussion seemed to centre on “getting stuff done”; mission and vision driven projects achieved through cross-function teams and non-hierarchical leadership opportunities.

“What’s My Motivation?”: Adding Story and Context to Screen Shot Tutorials
Kari Mofford – Undergraduate and User Services Librarian, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

  • LIS can employ dramatised “minute movies” to add interest to video tutorials and to make them more memorable (even if still slightly embarrassing).
  • The awkward/embarrassment factor can be mitigated by inviting students to be part of the creative development (the overall storyboard /content developed by LIS), filming, and editing.  This might be an interesting way to reach out to students, and use their insight into making useful, memorable tutorials that have more impact.
  • It’s a good idea to start a video with the “Why,” then teach a skill to meet the need that’s been identified. Starting with the “why” can help with voice, giving the narrator a sense of purpose and conviction.

Using a Participatory Design Workshop to Renovate a Library Teaching Space         Laura Farwell Blake – Head, Services for Academic Programs, Harvard College Library
Reed Lowrie – Science Reference and Cartographic Librarian
Cabot Library, Interim Manager of Reference Services, Widener, Lamont, Cabot and Tozzer Libraries, Harvard College Library

  • This was a description of how a single, popular classroom/workspace was renovated using the input from both teaching staff and students.
  • The approach to focus groups was interesting, but inviting a lot of input can backfire when not all of the suggestions are applied and conversely, too much change can alienate traditionalists.
  • On a personal note: This was a bit of a walk down memory lane for Carrie, who used to manage this classroom and still knows several of the folks who facilitated its renovation! :)

Changing Their World, 4 Strings At a Time: Ukuleles in the Library!
Lisa Lavoie – Director of Library Services, Tunxis Community College

  • Entertaining attempt to generate interest in the library using a quirky gimmick. Their ukuleles have been borrowed hundreds of times.
  • A useful take-away, however, is the visceral reaction a tangible resource other than books can generate.

Honoring Student Assistants:  The Student Library Service Bookplate Program at Dartmouth College
Laura Braunstein – English Language and Literature Librarian, Dartmouth College

  • Bookplates are being used as a way to mark long service from student employees.
  • Students suggest the title of a book that is meaningful to them, into which the book plate is affixed.  On the positive side, book selection can make the student feel more connected to their library experience, and the thought was also put forth that this was the kind of positive reinforcement that could generate future support for the library.  the sometimes quirky, often random selections, however, did not necessarily reflect the library’s mission, and can potentially take up valuable shelf space. They have not gathered use statistics, but some copies have gone missing.
  • On a side note, the HOLLIS Catalog at Harvard now has virtual bookplates. Would we want to investigate these for this purpose?

There’s an App for That…Ask Your Librarian! 
Judy M. Spak – Curriculum Support Librarian, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale School of Medicine
Jan Glover – Education Services Librarian, Cushing/Whitney Medical Library, Yale School of Medicine

  • The discussion was largely based on the consistent use of specific apps across a cohort, and the management/development of those apps.  What stood out was that the apps and development discussed depended largely on every student, and by extension every librarian, having the same platform to work with/on.  Students are given iPads, but it is unreasonable to expect that no one will customize, or that subsequent cohorts will have the same version.
  • One surprising finding is that students and faculty both appreciated the lack of multitasking functionality on an iPad. This seems particularly relevant for faculty who are reluctant to allow the use of laptops in the classroom because of fear of distraction.
  • An interesting side note was the mention of the “personal librarian programme”, which sounded a bit like the 1-on-1 consultations we try to advertise to students.

Staffing the Information Commons in a Melded IT and Library Organization
Jill Parchuck – Co-Director Yale Center for Science and Social Science Information, Yale University Library
Themba Flowers – Co-Director Yale Center for Science and Social Science Information, Yale ITS, Academic IT Solutions, Yale University Library

  • The experiment was limited to one division of the library, and campus-wide and LIS IT seemed disconnected.
  • The thought occurs that even small steps in innovation may be difficult to adopt in institutions that have long and entrenched traditions.

Exploring the Future of Libraries: A Quick Walk Through the Work Taking Place in the Harvard Library Innovation Lab
Jeff Goldenson – Designer, Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory
Matt Phillips – Developer, Harvard Library Innovation Laboratory

  • An entertaining discussion by software developers (who weirdly apologized for not being librarians).  http://librarylab.law.harvard.edu/projects.html  Ideas included:
    • the “awesome” box: students returning materials could drop them in the regular return or in the “awesome” box, the contents of which would then be posted on the library site as student picks.  Neat idea, but problematic if the books selected as awesome reflect questionably on the institution – perhaps needs a disclaimer.
    • shelf view (will suffer a name change due to copyright infringement): a tool to generate a visual representation of a reading list as a section of bookshelf, with the metadata used to create visual approximations of spines.  It is debatable how much more useful than a list of titles this is, except that perhaps you could generate a simulated view of a section of shelf in the library and be able to navigate visually.
    • shelf.io: an app for users to generate an electronic, visual bookshelf to share (like sharing playlists, but more literary)
    • Introduction of the “library test kitchen” as an exercise in story driven design and entrepreneurship in context.  The presenters  described  becoming co-conspirators with the students and challenging the librarian-student power dynamic.  The result was unusual projects like the “white noise study table” to improve study focus,  and “coldspots” that were free from the distractions of being connected.
    • Would the Center for Social Entrepreneurship be interested in working with the library to imagine new services and tools?



  • The Harvard Library catalog (HOLLIS) has a text-a-call number feature. Does III or Summon offer anything like that? We’ve seen some students take a photo of a call number too.

Archives on a Shoestring: Using social networking & web tools to share Vermont archives (conference report)

On Monday, I spoke at a small conference of about 45 archivists, librarians, and museum types at the Vermont Historical Society. The topic was Archives on a Shoestring: Using Social Networking and Web Tools to Share Vermont Archives.

“Shoestring” was intended as a metaphor not only for the cash-strapped but also for intrepid and plucky ideas:

I talked about Middlebury History Online, our archive of the College’s early history using WordPress.

Selene Colburn (UVM) talked about their popular “Ask” campaign to promote library research services. They use bookmarks, posters, the web, Flickr, and Facebook. Students clamor to be featured in the campaign.

Amber Billey (UVM) demo-ed Omeka, an open source, WordPress-like platform for hosting web exhibitions. Smith College, to name just one example, uses Omeka for its Girl Zines collection.

There was considerable drooling over Collective Access, a cataloguing tool and web application for museums, archives, and digital collections. Collective Access sees itself as David in the battle against Goliath. Goliath is being played by CONTENTdm. (Yes, that’s the very software we use to power Digital Collections at Middlebury). Champlain College will be launching a collection in Collective Access soon.

A few other highlights:

Broadcastr, a location-based mobile app that delivers content based on where you are (Foursquare meets podcasting?)

HistoryPin, a Google partnership with a UK-based non-profit group to share historic, archival photos on Google Maps and Streetviews.

Dipity: Interactive social-network-y timelines.


Conference report: “Adventures in Copyright: Navigating Your Way Through Intellectual Property”

I recently traveled to Baltimore to spend three days among “my people” at the Center for Intellectual Property symposium. My people, of course, are those who spend a lot of their professional lives thinking about copyright. Just a few weeks before the conference began, the long-awaited Georgia State e-reserves opinion was handed down. Perfect timing for this crowd. It was the talk of the conference, as was the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries, which was released earlier this year. I’d previously taken several online courses through the CIP and was thrilled to see these engaging teachers, thinkers, and defenders of Fair Use in person. Plus my hotel room had a view of Camden Yard and I got to enjoy the National Aquarium on my way out of town. And I might have had a few crab cakes. Many of the talks were recorded and video is available online. My brief summaries of the talks are below. Continue reading

Workshop Report– “Spaces That Inspire: Gathering the Data and Acting on What our Students Tell Us About the Library as Place”

Workshop Report–  “Spaces That Inspire: Gathering the Data and Acting on What our Students Tell Us About the Library as Place”  by NERCOMP.  Description and schedule with names of presenters can be viewed here.  http://nercomp.org/index.php?section=events&evtid=141

This day long workshop turned out to be quite useful and I was impressed by how well organized it was.  I’d be happy to share more details with anyone who might be interested.

1st session: “Post-its, Pencils, and Placement: A Simple Technique for Getting Student Involvement in the Planning Process “ was sort of a repeat for me personally because the inspiration for it came from a Dartmouth Conference presentation by our own Carrie Macfarlane, to whom for which credit was duly given.  I’d seen Carrie’s presentation and also seen the technique in use here at Middlebury.   A large board is installed in a public place asking a single question.  Post-it pads are provided and students write answers on the notes and post them on the board.  This encourages a lot of interactive comments as people build off the ideas of others.  Themes surface and expand.  It’s quick and inexpensive.  They used it to gather information for a renovation project and they shared the results of the renovation that is opening next month.   Here’s  a link to the PowerPoint.  http://nercomp.org/corecode/uploads/event/uploaded_pdfs/Post-its,%20Pencils,%20and%20Placement%20-%20University%20of%20RI%20-%20Amanda%20Izenstark%20and%20Mary%20MacDonald_138.pdf

2nd session:  “Worth a Thousand Words. Letting Pictures Speak”  A very interesting and useful session.  The idea is to get a group of students in a room and provide each of them with large pieces of paper and various markers/pens/pencils, then ask them to draw their ideal classroom, study space, lounge, whatever.  Emphasizing  that there’s no right answer and that they’re designing their own personal ideal.   Allow them time to brainstorm visually on their own, then go around the room and ask them to describe their drawing. This exercise brings out common themes as well as unique ideas.  Notes are taken and a list of desired elements compiled.  We each drew our ideal classroom and then went around the room and looked at everyone else’s drawing.   I can imagine actually trying this here at Middlebury LIS.

3rd session: “Getting the Most out of Your Data: Methods for Collection, Coding and Use for Implementing Change in Student Learning Spaces” The most useful session of the day for me.  Basically they shared how they made use of the great quantity of data that is to be found within the comments fields of surveys.  Using a list of “codes” they categorize various comments and then use a spreadsheet to organize them by code.  The organized lists can then be shared with appropriate staff,(for instance those who oversee printing, reference services, the café, etc.)  for further evaluation.   I emailed the presenters and they willingly shared their list of 100 codes.  Key take away- they hired student assistants to go through all the comments and code them because they, just like us, don’t have the time to do it themselves.   Here’s the PowerPoint.


4th session: “Resurrecting Elihu Burritt Library: The Challenges and Opportunities of Rehabbing Library Space” The presenters gave an overview of a recent renovation project and talked about future plans.  Not particularly applicable to me or Middlebury.

5th session: “Space Project Plans Writ Small”  We used a retro style game from a diner place mat (literally, the kind of thing that kids would get to fill out in a restaurant in the 60s and 70s) as a tool to get user input into the kind of space they’d like.   It’s the kind of thing you have to see to understand and an example of it can be seen in the ppt from the 3rd session.   I’m not sure what to think of this tool, but if we had an artist who could draw something similar, it might be interesting to give something like it a try with a group of student assistants.

The day ended with the very capable facilitator Susanna Cowan, Undergraduate Education Team Leader at Univ. of Conn., leading us in a review of the day.  Thanks to Hans Raum for pointing this workshop out to me!

Innovative Users Group (IUG) meeting – Chicago 2012

Arabella Holzapfel, Shawn O’Neil & I (Barbara Merz) were at the 20th IUG in Chicago – beautiful city – love the lake, parks etc. etc. The meeting was quite interesting too. We’ll give brief highlights of the sessions we found to be useful, and we’ll download the associated materials, which in most cases will include PowerPoint presentations, to the folder \orgs\LIS\LISstaff\ILS III Millennium User Materials\IUG 2012 materials for your enjoyment & edification.  An observation I (Shawn) had after attending these workshops is that Middlebury College is ahead of the curve to many other Institutes in technology. Our network infrastructure seems to be superior to others.

  • “Running a User Experience Group in the absence of a Sys Admin.” (BM). Bentley University. Without a Sys Librarian, III duties fall to a group of 7: 2 tech support, 2 reference, 1 circ, 1 tech services, 1 special collections. 8 staff can access the III helpdesk. Very interesting model.
  • “Sierra Roadmap & Update” (BM) III’s pitch for the wonderful new world of Sierra. Sierra will have 100% of Millennium functionality.
  • “Learning Library-Specific Context to Mobilize Library Catalog” (BM) At University of Miami concern for the usefulness of the OPAC on mobile devices, even though searching starts with Summon, led to the adoption of Bob Duncan’s mobile stylesheet, with modifications to take care of their OPAC customizations. Definitely worth follow-up.
  • Load Profile Forum (BM & AH). Useful review of resources available to load profilers. Wiki available but underutilized! Time for Middlebury to review RDA implications.
  • “Automation: Boost your Productivity a Thousand Times.” (BM) Good tech geek presentation. Use of Expect in various flavors, AutoIt plus Java to automate repetitive tasks e.g creating review lists from record numbers, barcodes etc.
  • Systems Managers Forum (BM) Mostly controlled by III staff member talking about transition to Sierra + how things would work in Sierra. Take away message – III’s efforts will be largely directed to Sierra development from now on, even though they insist that Millennium development is continuing. My conclusion – Middlebury should consider the future of our ILS with all due haste!
  • “When your item types just don’t work anymore” (AH) was a discussion about how and why a library totally revamped their item types (going from around 10 to 101) to help them better identify various formats of material, which in turn aided greatly in tracking statistics of all kinds for all reasons. Most of it is useful ‘inside baseball’ stuff, but one intriguing thing that came out is that they (a public library in Oklahoma) loan out bike locks.
  • Two useful sessions focused on using Millennium (and, in one session, additional assistance from an outside vendor) to aid in weeding (AH). (One library had 100,000 volumes in off-site storage to weed.) Interesting factoids: Jefferson County Public Libraries in Colorado (my home state!), with 10 branches, serving 548,000, orders 100-120 copies of bestsellers. They run their weeding list weekly and withdraw about 120,000 items each year.
  • Four useful sessions dealt with various aspects of batch record loads, particularly those for e-books. (AH) One session was presented by staff from San Jose State University, where they provide e-books from 17 different providers/platforms, and have patron-driven acquisitions programs from three different vendors. They use a combination of tools, including Excel and WinBatch scripts, to de-dupe and perform other necessary functions on batch records.
  • “Using circulation data to validate an approval plan” (AH) described one library’s journey towards refining their approval plan profile (for print books) to match or surpass the circulation rates for firm orders.
  • “Getting the most out of Print Templates” (SO) –creating and using print templates for everything from spine labels to hold slips.
  • “Centralized Weeding: using create list and icodes to streamline the weeding process” and “Millennium Makeover magic: weeding in an INN-Reach consortium”- (SO) The 1st presentation dealt with both public and Academic libraries and the later was an academic library that was involved with  INN-Reach. In both, faculty  was given a say over the weeding. There seems to be no standard method for choosing what is to be weeded.
  • “Creating lists for Beginners – Why created the wheel again” (SO)  In other words, use others’ lists (with permission).
  • “Confounding by Copyright?” (SO) It seems guidelines change all the time and you can “buy protection” for copyright privileges.