Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Light bulb moment!

Light bulb moment = a moment at which an idea or concept all at once becomes clear or at which a new perspective on an existing idea or concept opens.

In the course of my course work I've taken a couple of research methods courses in the counseling and educational psychology curriculum at TAMU-CC. During one such course my classmates were telling me about how they arrived at their dissertation topics: they look at the 'areas for further research' sections of papers and presentations in their field. I thought this was an interesting idea (and felt a little dense for not having recognized the utility of this sections of a paper before) but really hadn't put it into practice until today as I was browsing around in my bibliographies searching for ideas to propose for my qualifying exam (which consists essentially of the literature review and methodology chapters of a dissertation) and/or dissertation.

In re-reading this section of a couple of the most intriguing papers I read last semester I realized something new about writing up research: for those of us who employ this method of idea selection, it is much better to be as specific as possible about the paths that follow-up research should/could take. For instance, it would be much more helpful to a reader if an author said, "Further research reviewing the impact of instant messaging presence indicators in co-located scientists and multimodal communication among remotely located scientists would provide insight into how instant messaging works in informal scholarly scientific communication" than to say something like someone should examine further the impact of instant messaging on scholarly communication.

Yet another way in which a writing should always consider the audience for whom they're writing.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Zotero is an opensource software for citation management. That is, like it's proprietary counterparts, EndNote, ProCite, and RefWorks, Zotero is basically a database in which you can collect citations to articles, books, websites, etc. Once you've developed a collection of citations, you can export them in a bibliography which is automatically formatted in (almost) any citation style you can think of. Also like other citation management software, Zotero has a plug-in for use with MS Word (as well as an opensource word processor called OpenOffice, which I haven't tried yet) that allows you to automatically place citations into a document and develop a bibliography/reference list at the end of the doc).

But Zotero has some really cool features that (in my experience) go beyond it's proprietary counterparts. For instance, you can attach notes to your citations (e.g. notes from reading the article) and you can attach tags to them which allows you to then go back and organize and/or search for all of the citations with a particular tag. You can also create stand-alone notes (e.g. not linked to a citation). You can store a "snapchot" of the item represented by your citation, or store it on your harddrive and link to it from the Zotero record, OR store a full copy in Zotero. And you can link any combination of documents, snapshots, citations, and/or notes. Which gives Zotero some of the function of a qualitative data analysis software.

AND its portable! There's a web-based version in beta test but at the moment I'm using the other method for making Zotero portable: I've got a version of Portable Firefox loaded on a flash drive to which I've downloaded the Zotero plug-in (Zotero is basically a browser plug-in that only works in Firefox). Then I simply copied the citations, notes, etc. that I'd collected in the version of Zotero that's on my laptop hard drive to the flash drive and VOILA! portable citations.

Zotero is a seriously cool product. It's being opensource only adds to the coolness IMHO. It's too bad that the developers are being sued by the EndNote folks! [FMI see http://www.courthousenews.com/2008/09/17/Reuters_Says_George_Mason_University_Is_Handing_Out_Its_Proprietary_Software.htm]

Monday, October 06, 2008

The randomness of literature reviews

Is doing a literature review as random for you as it seems to be for me? I'm doing an independent study course this fall that will result in a review of the literature related to informal scholarly communications and the changes that computer mediated communication will/may have. I did a round of searches from scratch and reading based on the results and am now chasing citations from that and conducting some more searches. I had hoped that by this time (six or seven weeks into the semester) that I'd feel more as if I was making some progress but I don't. I'm still finding new leads (and fearing that I've missed others) and reading what I can get my hands on. But here's where the randomness comes in: some of it I just plain can't get hold of, even interlibrary loan doesn't work. And so much of it seems to be 'grey literature', conference presentations, and other ephemeral type stuff. AND it's so interdisciplinary! I just found an article in a biology journal! Sigh. Maybe this is what I need to write up in my results?!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Research help

I need some help with some research I'm doing this semester. I'm trying to think of all of the possible forms of computer mediated communication there are. Computer mediated communication is exactly what it sounds like, any type of communication that can't occur without the use of a computer-based tool. Some that I've thought of are:

text messaging
doc sharing software (e.g. driveway.com)
combinations (e.g. Google Groups)
chat (text, voip, webcam)
web pages
listserves & discussion boards
social networks like Facebook

Can you think of any I've missed? Do you think that social bookmarking software/sites like delicious count as computer mediated communication?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Is this cool or what?

In re-reading an article for a new project I came across a description of a really cool open source, web 2.0-ish tool that some chemists have developed.

"Using Greasemonkey (4), a Firefox extension that allows anyone to write scripts that can change the way a web page looks, the Blue Obelisk group, a community of chemists who develop open source applications and data-bases in chemistry (5), has created several such scripts to enable chemistry-related features. One of these tools will insert links to blog stories about journal articles into the tables of contents of any ACS, RSC, Wiley, or NPG journal (6). This enhancement to a journal’s table of contents is completely independent of the journal publisher." (Martinsen, D. P. (2007). Scholarly communication 2.0: Evolution or design? ACE Chemical Biology, 2(6), 368-371. doi: 10.1021/cb700111w)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Holes or the Library Wellness Program

The shelves are finally back in place today and we started to shift them around from alphabetical by title order to call number order. As I was shifting (a fairly mindless pursuit as long and the books you're moving are in order to start with and you pay just a tad of attention to keeping that way) I was reminded of the movie Holes, you know, the one where they spend all day digging holes in the desert and filling them back in? We started the shift by creating "holes" in each range of shelving by consolidating all of the books at one end, Once we're done with that we'll start pulling them off the shelves in call number order starting with the A's (LC classification). BUT in order to make room for the items in call number order, we'll have to keep shifting into the holes we made today.

The next random thought I had was that this was pretty good exercise. We were bending and stretching and lifting and twisting up a storm...what a great workout! Who need's the University's Employee Wellness Program...we've got our own Library Wellness Program. Just put on your jeans and a t-shirt and come find me...I'll put you to work shifting too!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Still moving...

I went in to the library for a couple of hours this afternoon to see if the carpet layers had finished putting down the carpet in the Periodicals section. They had, well almost, the carpet is down but the borders aren't in yet. And they haven't put my shelves back in place. So I finished up the new shelf list that we'll use to re-shelve everything in call number order. I couldn't find a way to make our ILS, III's Millennium, output a list because we use two different location codes (well, actually three if you count newspapers which aren't interfiled with the rest of the periodicals) and it wasn't creating a trustworthy review file (it left out some titles for no apparent reason). So I did it by hand...dumped the holdings into a spreadsheet and sorted it into call number order mostly by hand by comparing it to a search in the patron view. Not very efficient but thorough so now that I'm done I'm fairly certain I've got all the titles included and in the correct order. The finishing touch was to annotate the list by identifying which titles included volumes that are at the bindery. It took about a week of my time, not something I'd care to repeat. I s'pose I should write an article about it so no one else has to repeat it either.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Moving ranges of books in libraries

Did you ever wonder how they move entire ranges of books in a library without having to unload all of the books and take the shelves apart? For instance when a library is redecorated and new carpet is installed? It's pretty cool. They have wheeled lifts that actually raise the shelves, stabilze them and make them mobile! We're installing new carpeting in my library and that's exactly what's happening. Here are some photos to give you a better idea...

The orange carpet is old, the blue is new.

The lift has arms that fit through the shelves about midway from bottom to top.

Of course sometimes things don't go as planned.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Crash course in LC classification

My staff and I got a crash course in LC classification of serials recently as we began a project to shift our periodicals collections in print and microform into LC call number order (from alphabetical order by title). We all new enough of LC classification to find materials in other parts of the library, of course, but now we're all much more expert in LC classification for serials! Avoiding duplicates and using Cutters to collocate titles that have undergone a title change were the biggest challenge. Now, of course, comes the real work: actually moving all the volumes into the right order. We'll be at it for weeks!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Well prepared to teach?

There's an interesting article in Inside Higher Ed this morning called "Confidence Gap for New Profs". It's interesting in a number of ways. First because I've been having similar feelings for the past year or so as I approach the completion of my PhD and contemplate a teaching career. I have lots of library experience but little teaching experience that would translate into the classroom for a semester long course. Because I see this as a something that's missing from my graduate school program, I've been working to correct it at least for myself by taking a couple of extra-curricular courses in teaching (particularly online pedagogy) and planning to apply for teaching assistantships during final year of my degree (while I'm working on my dissertation). I realize that this won't be possible in many gradate programs but I think that the responsibility lies not only with the IHE's who are (supposed to be) preparing the next generation of professors but also with the students.

The article goes on to talk about salaries which were another topic of the survey of new faculty upon which the article is based. What I question here is the connection between feeling "well prepared" for a teaching career in higher education and the level of one's salary. Makes me yearn to see the survey questions and the resulting data for myself.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

ALA Annual: LRRT Research Roundtable...part 2

Lynn Westbrook presented results of some ongoing research into the information needs of victims of domestic violence during this same session on Saturday morning. As usual, her passion for her topic was really overwhelming. I think that is part of what makes her a good qualitative researcher (and reporter of her research). She mentioned that she would put her power point slides from this presentation up on her website but I haven't found them there yet. However, her site does contain a description of her research agenda for this topic as well as some of the products (e.g. reports and articles) that she has published thus far. You can find this at

She brought up a concern that had never occurred to me during her presentation: that victims of domestic violence may put themselves at risk by seeking information about their problems, for instance if their abuser discovered that they were seeking information about how to extract themselves from the violent situation learned (for instance by viewing the history of web sites they visited). And yet Westbrook's research uncovered only a very small number of web sites that warned of this possibility (something on the order of 1 or 2%). That's a particularly important point for librarians who might be assisting a victim to find information.

It would also be interesting to think about how Westbrook's model for this type of information seeking might be applied to similar types of information seekers like victims of other types of crimes or an illness.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

ALA Annual: LRRT Research Roundtable

As usual, LRRT put on an excellent workshop in which three groups presented their research. Lynn Connaway (of OCLC), Marie Radford (of Rutgers), and Timothy Dickey (of OCLC)presented the preliminary results of a large study they are conducting on evaluations of virtual reference. They are focusing on both users and non-users of virtual reference in an academic undergraduate population. Typically (at least in my experience), the non-users exhibit library anxiety and, as a result, were reluctant to approach a librarian through VR services. What I thought was particularly interesting was their use of the term "screenagers" to describe the younger members of the Millennial generation (citing Rushkoff, D. (1996). Playing the future: What we can learn from digital kids. NY: Harper Collins). Also interesting was their finding that screenagers preferred seeking information from a familiar person which suggests to me a preference not only for face to face interaction in order to develop a personal relationship but a preference for interactions with persons with whom they already have an established trusting relationship (e.g. a parent or a friend).

You can find a copy of their proposal for this presentation at http://www.oclc.org/research/projects/synchronicity/resources/lrrt2008-proposal.pdf

[Note: I have yet to find where (if) ALA has posted presenter handouts, etc. from the conference. If anyone out there knows where they are, please drop me a comment!]

Friday, June 13, 2008

Next generation library automation (NASIG 2008)

Vision Session I: Next generation library automation – Marshall Breeding

Author of Library Technology Guides: http://www.librarytechnology.org

Includes a db of libraries including the technology they’re using as well as a bibliography of his own work and others’ work (writing) about library technology.

1. Tumoil/upheavals
- industry cosolodation: mergers and acquisitions (companies becoming larger and fewer) which he feels has resulted in a narrowing of choices of products for libraries
- abrupt termination of major library library automation products
- increased control by external financial investors (equity coming from venture capitalists)
- dmise of the traditional opac
- frustration with ils products and vendors
- open source alternatives becoming mainstream
trends (data) taken from a survey of libraries (his) with roughly 7k responses

product technology trends
- innovation below library expectations; “we need the tools in order to deliver out content and services in the best possible way…in order to stay relevant to our users”
- conventional ILS is becoming less capable of doing this
- which has resulted in a proliferation of products related to e-content delivery

web 2.0 / collaborative computing
- ad hoc implementation
- demand requires the ability of users to be collaborative
- 2.0 technologies aren’t being integrated, disjointed;
- Proliferation of silos with no integration orinteroperability with larger library web presents

2. OpenSource
- alternative to traditionally liscensed software
- software doesn’t hold data hostage: does the system have an api so that even if the vendor didn’t provide access to a particular bit of info can you write a script to obtain it from the system?
- open content
- open acces patforms for scholarly content
- IRs
- bibliographic services
- oepnurl / erm knowledge bases
This is a good thing in his opinion.

3. Open source software: an emerging trend in global ils arena
“this is a spike…there’s clearly an explosive interest” drivne by disillusionment with current vendors
- beginning to emerge as a practical option
- total cost of ownership still roughly equal to proprietary commercial model
- two years ago it was a risky enterprise requiring courage on the part of a library (e.g. Georgia state library)
- TNSTAFL: open source software is NOT cost free: time, support, upgrades
- Libraries are looking for another alternative to the traditional ils
He predicts that traditional licensed products will coexist with open source…it makes the industry more healthy (as would a larger number of vendor systems); it’s good to have both because their coestience will drive improvements in both types of products
- Opensource (ils) options
o Koha
o Evergreen
o Opals
o Interesting to me that all three have commercial support, financial I assume.
- Building a case (in the business sense, e.g. justifying a purchase decision to administration) for open sources ils: compare total cost of ownership, evaluate features and functionality, evaluate technology platform and conceptual models, ask are they truly next-generation systems or open sources versions of legacy models?
- “Making a business case for open source ils” Computers in libraries, March 2008, http://www.librarytechnology.org/tlg-dislpaytext.pl?RC=13134
- Observations on opensource ils:
o Lack serials and acquisitions modules
o Initial wave opensource ils commitments happened in public libraries
o Again, are they really a new model of automation or an open source version of what we already have?

3. implications
4. opportunities emerge out of the upheaval
5. rethinking the ils: a non-integrated library automation system is not sustainable;

List of current open source products: http://www.librarytechnology.org/discovery.pl

Comprehensive resource management

His job is to present us with his vision, our job is to ask (and answer) how is this going to affect my life as a member of the serials community? What would the ideal serials module be like? How would you do it again if you had a chance? Provide input based on the answers to these questions to both the ils vendors and the open source developers…it’s incumbent upon us to participate in the development.

How is this related to globalization of information?
- interoperability increasing & needing to increase (TWIF talks about interoperability being a “flattener”)
- delivery options needed to keep up with user demands for information delivery – how do they WANT to find, obtain, and use information? how are libraries interpreting and responding to these demands?

Breeding presented his expert, informed opinion on the future of the library ils/automation. Some of the trends he sees

When did e-books become serials? (NASIG 2008)

When did (E)books become serials?

Rick Lugg presented an overview of the issue including the differences and similarities between e-books and e-journals the gist of which was that the advent of E-journals has brought libraries and their users more content, increased usage, heavy print cancellations, archiving issues, larger share of the materials budget, need to be more selective as a result of recurring costs, more labor intensive.

Similarities between ebooks and ejournals
- both subscription based products
- online (sometimes predetermined) collections
- online “rental”

Differences between ebooks and ejournals
- more individual titles and decisions
- less granuar content and therefore less a&I infrastructure
- owned?
- Platform or maintenance fees
- Strong tradition of expert selection
- Traditional discovery tool is the opac
- Linking and aggregation is less developed
- Different acquisition models
o Platform fees
o Coordination with print
o Online or download
o Selectors and approval plans
o Acquisition on demand

Kim Armstrong (consortium perspective). Libraries have been discussion the same issues surrounding e-books since 1998 including such questions as
- What are the advantages and disadvanatages of ebooks over paper?
- What are the a/d of the current e-book publishing formats?
- What’s the best ebook and reader and should we invest in readers/
- When should we buy and ebook and when should we lease them
By a show of hands in the audience, libraries are still discussing them. Her point is that not a lot of progress has been achieved.

She talked about a deal between CIC (the consortium at which she is employed) with Ingram/Springer for the purchase of the entire Springer e-book output between 2005 and 2010. It provided them with a platform for hosting other publisher’s ebooks they might purchase during this period. Between January and May 2008 their usage showed a “thirst” among patrons for e-books in that their e-book usage was almost 50% of their e-journal usage during the first five months they were available even without the availability of catalog records. It will important to let go of our old models for dealing with books in order to provide our patrons with the e-books they thirst for.

Bob Nardini (e-book aggregator). “Books are back and we need to figure them out a second time.” Pointed out the need for interoperability between publishers, aggregators, and vendors in order to control e-books. Also pointed out the similarity between articles and books that was recently highlighted by the Harvard A&S faculty’s decision to archive their own works in an open repository where they are associated more with their author and the institution than with a group of other articles under the title, vol and issue of a journal.

Peter McCracken (e-journal management system vendor) focused his discussion on the management of e-books and e-journals. Similarities: delivery mechanism and licensing. Differences: e-books are not continually expanding and don’t compare with e-journals in terms of size. Conventional expectations include a need for more accurate information more quickly, bib records for e-books are far more descriptive than for serials and therefore more important for for e-journals, and greater expectations.

E-book management challenges
- title selection: too many records for libraries to manage by hand
- need a better way of transferring metadata from publisher to library thus all parties involved have to work together (more interoperability)
- proceedings: give libraries the opportunity to treat e-proceedings as either monographs or serials
- edition question: which ISSN or ISBN to use?
- different editions are the same, different formats (translations, film, Kindle, audio book, etc) are different which points out the ISBN question

He’s an engaging speaker because he’s so enthusiastic in a geeky sort of way!

Is what he’s really saying that we need a better system for identifying differences between e-books in an electronic environment? Perhaps a la Mike K’s “information shadows” from this morning?

One of the other things he’s saying is that often the relevance of the need for identifying different editions or formats is in the “eye of the beholder”…sometimes you may want to read Huck Finn and any edition will do but on the other hand sometimes you may want to ‘read’ a French translation via audio. That’s a really interesting point in the face of the arguments we’ve had in my library lately about multiple records for a single work ‘confusing’ the patron who just wants to read Huck Finn. Adolpho T. makes a good point that FRBR resolves this.

Great food for thought here: how could we treat e-books more like e-journals and would doing so be useful for our patrons and if it is more useful for them how will we know?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ubiquitous computing (NASIG 2008)

Information Shadows: How ubiquitous computing serializes everyday things. Mike Kuniavsky

A self-described user-experience designer. Author of Observing the User Experience. Now owner of a ubiquitous computing consumer products company.

Ubiquitous computing (UC) encompasses use of computers in everyday life (cell phones, talking refriderators, singing greeting cards, etc.) flattener # 10!! Resulted from commoditization of technology (i.e. the pental chip which cost $1500 in 1979 and 50 cents in 2008 with roughly the same power). His point is that “when something is cheap, you can have more than one of them.”

A “QR code” is an imprint that can be added to almost any physical thing and, when a handheld computer is pointed at it, will direct the computer to a url that contains information about the thing the imprint appears upon. For instance, food products point the user to nutrition information. The nutrition information is what Kuniavsky calls an “information shadow”. A “handle” is the term he uses for the imprint that allows one to make a connection to an object’s information shadow.

ThingM (a company that Kuniavsky is part of) makes it possible to access the information shadow of almost anything.

The distinction between an object, the digital representation of that object, and the object’s information shadow is becoming muddier through ubiquitous computing.

So, how does information shadows make everything a serial? His perspective of a serial is extremely accurate and interesting for someone with no library experience. He showed a drawing of a three dimensional box delineated by a dotted line. What he buys (with a subscription) is the possibility of an object rather than a specific object; it is an agreement between reader and publisher for ownership of the “rough outline” or the right to a class of things that changes with every instantiation. This enables us to take a whole new view of ownership and the potential to fundamentally change what it means to own anything. To take it a step further and give another example, why do I need to own a bicycle and my neighbor need to own a bicycle when we don’t typically use a bicycle at the same time? He broadened this example by describing existing a program in Germany called “Call a Bike” and is enabled by UC: you make a reservation for a bike. The bike has a computer chip and GPS signature which your phone allows you to unlock and use and then return. Your phone tracks and provides data that allow you to be billed for the time you used the bike. Thus everything becomes available by subscription!

This puts libraries and librarians at the forefront of this huge social shift because librarians have developed the means of “wrangling information shadows”. “The world of dotted line objects needs people who can organize information shadows.” That is do with information shadows of all kinds of objects what we already do with information shadows of books, etc.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Institutional Repositories (NASIG 2008)

The title of the session I attended this morning was "Institutional Repositories: Strategies for the Present and Future" and it included presentations by three people; one publisher and two librarians from academic libraries that have implemented institutional repositories. I was interested in this session for two reasons. First because TAMU-CC has joined the Texas Digital Library and second because I'm taking a course this summer in globalization and I think that institutional repositories are an example of the globalization of information.

Connie Foster, Western Kentucky University

The purpose of IRs is the organization and dissemination of scholarly work (Clifford Lynch); to make publically available the efforts and products of grant funded research; showcase the efforts of faculty (in the case of an IHE). Connie shared the statement of purpose for the IR at Western Kentucky University: “a digital repository, dedicated to scholarly research, creative activity, and other full-text learning resources that merit enduring and archival value and permanent access within a centralized database that supports, reflects, and showcases the intellectual life of the University through easy searching and retrieval, and universal access and indexing.”

She then presented some suggested practicalities and strategies for the implementation of an IR. She included a handout that WKU has created to market their IR: http://digitalcommons.wku.edu.

Jean-Gabriel Bankier, Berkeley Electronic Press

IRs struggle for content because faculty lack the incentive to deposit their creative work in IRs (the value of the content is for the reader rather than the faculty), because they focus more on policy and technology rather than on obtaining content, and because their content scope is too narrow. Successful IRs focus on providing services to scholars that provide them incentive to make deposits (e.g. publishing services, signals of quality, proof that their work will be accessed through the IR), on providing faculty with “one-on-one attention” (evangelism), and on widening the scope of the content in the IR (e.g. books, journals, newsletters, conference, dissertations, theses, undergraduate work, speeches, lectures, presentations, etc….I would add other formats like visual art, audio, and video as well as courses).

He feels that IRs might reform scholarly communication by stimulating innovation in scholarly work by providing an additional outlet for scholarly work, by driving intra and inter institutional / disciplinary collaboration, teaching students about academic research and journal publishing, collecting and disseminating dissertations, supporting the creation of new academic journals, offering a new publishing model.

Glen Wiley, Cornell University

Talked the IRs at Cornell University. His focus was similar to Connie’s and JG’s, it included focusing on providing faculty with incentive to deposit their works (through the name/appearance of the repository and structuring the content for the user), recruiting from a variety of sources for content (including other (less accessible) repositories, conferences, faculty work linked from course management systems, and multimedia possibilities), innovative ideas for selection of materials to include in the archive, assessment by number of hits on and downloads from their web site. He finished up by talking about sustainability (from the practical standpoint of available funding, staff time investment, etc.).

This session (all three presentations) was useful for thinking about my globalization course and for thinking about the TDL implementation. Wiley wrote an article about how they failed at first which you probably ought to look for.

What I’m getting from the presentations in this session is that the general purpose of IRs is not only to collect the results of intellectual activity but to make them easily and freely available to the world…to promote scholarly communication.

IRs as a means for an IHE to influence the system of scholarly communication (Bankier 2007)
- promoter of free dissemination of scholarly work
- platform for OA journals (Foster’s story about being approached by a faculty/student group about starting up a freely available journal that resulted in an OA journal hosted on their university’s IR)
- that would make interoperability really important, not only between the IR and the opac but also between the IR and search engines like Google
- what other ways could an IHE do that? WHY would IHEs want to do that?

The presenters focused on assessment via usage statistics (# of downloads, etc.) and as an indicator of institutional quality. Has anyone tried to measure the influence of IR’s on scholarly communication? Or what affect (if any) IRs have on P&T or scholar recognition? Might those criteria be additional measures of success (which the presenters today are focused on to a certain extent)?

Friday, April 18, 2008

TLA - Friday April 18, 2008

Today I attended an excellent presentation on Social Networking Among Digital Natives: Library Issues. An accurate, descriptive title for a well organized and thought provoking presentation. Although the presentation was aimed at school and public librarians who have contact with children and teens, these are future academic library users, thus what they know and how they use social networking tools is of tremendous interest to me as an academic librarian.

The issue: "teens are cruising the information highway without brakes while adults are struggling to get out of first gear".

The presenter gave the best definition of Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 I've ever heard. Web 1.0 is one directional information transfer from a website (source) to the user while Web 2.0 is bi-directional information transfer, participatory, and mobile.

The broad issue here is how does technology influence behavior?
- supports disinhibition: the perception of invisibility and lack of tangible feedback regarding consequences
- supports exploration of identity (remember, this presentation is focused on digital natives)
- a factor in the development of online social norms
- an avenue for social manipulation
- puts youth at risk; the higher the level of individual risk along a continuum from saavy to naive to vulnerable to high risk youth, the greater the probability that young person's vulnerability to danger

Tactics for increasing online safety that AREN'T working--
- fear based tactics (they're not based on fact and are dismissed by YA's who understand adults' lack of knowledge of technology and their (correct) understanding that most strangers are safe
- reliance on filters is not effective; "homework" question for the audience: which major filtering company has a close relationship with the American Family Association (an ultra conservative group)?
- sole reliance on adults: adults often don't know what to do and teens don't trust adults to know

What works is teaching children and teens to make good decisions on their own by creating simple rules for children that they can carry with them into teen-hood (and I would add young adult-hood).
- effective supervision and monitoring of social networking activities by adults
- CIPA compliance
- appropriate educational use of social networking
- use of technology resources to support safety
- allowing appropriate filter administration by front-line adults

The content was substantial and well supported by authoritative evidence. Nancy Willard, who gave the bulk of the presentation, is executive director of the Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, is a recognized authority on issues related to the safe and responsible use of the Internet. The website she has created to disseminate her work is at http://csriu.org/. On her site, in early summer she is planning to deliver an expanded version of her presentation in the form of a narrated power point presentation meant for use in educator training.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

TLA - Thursday April 17

This morning I visited the exhibits. They seem smaller and more geared towards school and public libraries each year and this year was no different. It took about an hour and half to walk the entire floor. That's not really surprising and probably is as it should be since so many school and public libraries cannot afford to fund their librarians' travel to national conferences.

Lunch was the Ebsco Academic Librarians luncheon and it was small too, but well worthwhile because we learned more about Ebsco's new search interface that is to be debuted in June. The session I attended this afternoon was an interesting contrast to the Ebsco lunch. It was advertised as a comparison of "big box" databases to "boutique" databases and two perspectives were presented: that of a boutique database vendor (HW Wilson) and a librarian (Gary Ives of Texas A&M University in College Station). Given the obvious bias of the presented from HW Wilson, the program might have been strengthened by the inclusion of the perspective of a "big box" database vendor. This part of the presentation included a number of poorly veiled jabs at the "big box" database vendors (like Ebsco) which were entirely unsupported. Gary Ives' presentation was a welcome relief in that it contained a great deal of quantitative support for clearly presented conclusions. Gary has submitted a paper on the same topic for publication in The Serials Librarian, a copy of which is available in Texas A&M University's institutional repository at http://txspace.tamu.edu/handle/1969.1/6339.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TLA - Wednesday, April 16

My library school class is attending the Texas Library Association Conference "together" as part of our course work so we met last night to talk about what sessions we wanted to attend and about a framework for reflecting on them. The class is research and issues so obviously one of the things we're thinking about is what issues are "hot" and what research is or might be done to illuminate them. One of our (ok, at least my) guiding questions is what should we (librarians) be studying?

So with that in mind I attended a session this morning on Digital Natives and Intellectual Property given by two librarians at Illinois State University. They've done and are doing a huge research project on the issue of illegal downloading of media on college campuses and have created an initiative called the Digital Citizen Project based on some of their preliminary results. I was surprised at the depth of their work and how well it was presented. They provided the audience with their purpose, goals, data collection and analysis methods, and preliminary conclusions clearly and concisely. It was very well done.

What I got out of it personally was, potentially, a new lens for looking at copyright as it applies to e-resources and e-journals. Their discussion of the complexities of implementing legal peer-to-peer network on their campus sounded a lot like the complexities that I face in implementing access to e-journals. It's something that I'd like to investigate further and so I eagerly await the publication of their research results.

We had lunch with a group of Texas A&M System library directors and e-resources librarians and hosted by Ebsco. This (somewhat to my surprise) was viewed with interest by my classmates and professor as an opportunity to discover the "real" issues that are being dealt with in Texas academic libraries (which makes sense, I just had never thought of it that way). As usual the discussion was lively and an excellent opportunity to learn about some of the things that Ebsco can do for us to help us resolve some of our issues. For instance, we talked about how many libraries have implemented a turn-key (proprietary) electronic resources management system but how very few of them are actually using them efficiently or effectively. There's an issue for you: we need a way of keeping track of and providing information about our electronic resources (for instance whether a license allows us to the materials in a resource to fill interlibrary loan requests or in e-reserves for our students). The only ones I know that are really being used to their fullest potential are the ones that have been developed in house by the big research libraries. There are open source solutions of course but even those are not cost-free (another issue!).

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Published!! ...in a scholarly journal

Woo hoo! I just received my very own author's copy of vol. 23, issue no. 2 (2007) of the Journal to Teaching Writing which contains an essay that a colleague of mine and I wrote. The title of the article is Open Access, Scholarly Communication, and the Millennials and it starts on page 55.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008

An article about me!

The profiles editor of the NASIG Newsletter asked me if she could do a profile of me this spring and I've been corresponding with her recently in support of her article. The article came out today and I thought you all would enjoy reading it. Find it at http://nasignews.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/231-200803-profiles-sarah-sutton/.

In the same issue is a profile of the NASIG committee that I chaired last year and have been a member of since 2004, the Awards & Recognition Committee. Find it at http://nasignews.wordpress.com/2008/02/20/231-200803-profiles-awards-recognition/.

P.S. NASIG stands for North American Serials Interest Group. They are a professional organization made up of librarians, publishers, vendors, and others with an interest or stake in the serials information chain.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New Professional web site

I'm very excited to announce that I've created a new professional web site. You can see it at http://falcon.tamucc.edu/~ssutton/index.html. Have a look and tell me what you think!

Friday, February 01, 2008


You may have noticed that I added a Meebo IM tool to NSL recently. I'd been talking to a faculty friend of mine about the expectations of students, specifically that they expect their instructors to be available to them 24/7. My friend was bemoaning the lack of "downtime" this creates. Which got me to thinking about the potential for holding "office hours" via IM. Many libraries do reference via IM (there's been a discussion recently on the LIBREF listserv about the advantages and disadvanteges of Meebo) but I haven't heard or read much about using IM for office hours. Has anyone out there? I like Meebo because it doesn't require me to download any software and because it "talks" to a variety of IM services like AIM, Yahoo!, ICQ, and Google. Anyhow, I thought I'd give it a try.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Research agendas in library science

One of my class assignments this semester is to conduct a small research project in an area of interest to me within LS that informs an issue. Having just finished writing an article for the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science on serials collection and management, I've been thinking about the importance of serials to librarians, particularly academic librarians, and how little I learned about them in my master's in librarianship program. My experience in NASIG leads me to believe that this is the case in general and I wonder why. So the issue I've tentatively settled on for the assignment is whether or not MLS programs should put more curricular emphasis on serials.

After discovering more about research agendas last week, I started to look for research agendas in LS, especially among professional organizations and grant funding agencies with a focus on serials. I looked at NASIG, ALCTS-CRS, UKSG, ALISE, OCLC, and IMLS. What I discovered is that most of them lack explicit research agendas but have missions, goals, areas of study, and/or themes in which a research agenda is implied. Some are more research oriented and some are more praxis oriented. For instance, it's evident from their web pages and their conference programs that both NASIG and UKSG are much more focused on the practitioners' side of librarianship.

ALISE and ALCTS-CRS also have implicit research agendas (as far as I tell, there is one place on ALISE's web site that mentions a research agenda but I couldn't find the agenda itself). Both organizations are clearly interested in and supportive of LIS research although the types of research differ between them. ALCTS-CRS's agenda is evident in it's committees and their charges. Their themes include education, research and publication, serials standards. ALISE's agenda is more related to education (for obvious reasons) and includes scholarship and research as well as pedagogy and curricula. Of these four organizations, ALISE is the only one that makes grants to fund research.

Both ALISE and OCLC give research grants (in fact, they give one together the results of which are presented at ALISE's annual conference) as does IMLS. In fact, based on my experience at ALISE's annual conference a couple of weeks ago, IMLS is one of the biggest grant funding agencies for librarianship. So it is interesting that they also do not have an explicit research agenda but instead have "goals":
  • To promote improvements in library services in all types of libraries in order to better serve the people of the United States.
  • To facilitate access to resources and in all types of libraries for the purpose of cultivating an educated and informed citizenry; and
  • To encourage resource sharing among all types of libraries for the purpose of achieving economical and efficient delivery of library services to the public. (still from the "about" page linked above).
So, there's a summary of my work and thinking so far. Next I'll tackle developing my own research agenda, at least a first draft of one. With so few really relevant examples I feel as if I'm flying by the seat of my pants. Perhaps I will take a little bit of time to look for scholars in LIS to see if any of them have their own research agendas published somewhere public.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thinking about research agendas

The syllabus for my Research & Issues course this semester says that for
"Saturday, Feb. 2. Each seminar participant should be prepared to report briefly on the research agenda of the professional associations and major grant agencies related to her area of interest. Each participant will bring multiple copies of a one-page statement of her own research agenda."

1. what IS a research agenda?
2. can a professional association HAVE a research agenda?
3. the syllabus says of the course "format (oncampus, distance, conference)
Hybrid in Concept (individualized research but in a common frame and communicated to all
specialists under the umbrella of LS)" does that mean that we will all frame our research using Friedson's model?

The first thing we did in class was to differentiate between a problem and an issue (the focus of this class) so I'm thinking that the place to start is by providing support for my claim that my issue is an issue using the definition we've adopted. In class, we talked about:
How does one know when there are issues? When people disagree about what should be done.
What are some signs of disagreement? Conflict, obviously; Policy Statements, by implication.
What are the sources of the issues relating to the doctoral program?
So, what kinds of research inform a resolution of the issue?
Once the research is done, how will the issue be resolved?
Once the issue is resolved, how will the resolution be implemented? New problems, new issues.

The issue I'm interested in addressing [researching?, resolving?] has to do with teaching more about serials and electronic resources in library school.

Sample research agendas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philippine_Institute_for_Development_Studies#Research_Agenda (this one is a paragraph or two)
http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/orkney_research_agenda_-_prelims.pdf (this one is 19 pages long, both include "themes", the longer one also contains sections that give the background and context, assessments of resources, techniques, and strategies)
http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/ewea_documents/documents/publications/reports/SRA_final.pdf (this one is 60 pages long!!! and is structured similarly to the first two)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Hedstrom (here's one about a woman in LS who has created a research agenda for digital preservation)
Another one I found broke the research project down into phases.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Institutes_of_Health_Research, "
CIHR consists of 13 "virtual" institutes, each headed by a Scientific Director and assisted by an Institute Advisory Board. They work together to shape a national health research agenda for Canada. The institutes bring together researchers, health professionals and policy-makers from voluntary health organizations, provincial government agencies, international research organizations and industry and patient groups from across the country with a shared interest in improving the health of Canadians." (makes it sound like a system for prioritizing a group of research projects)
http://www.springerlink.com/content/25710p8p87273216/ "The Special Libraries Association (SLA), an international professional association that represents 14,000 information resource experts, is a key influence in defining and meeting the research priorities of the special library community. In June 1986, SLA's Board of Directors formed the Special Committee on Research with the charge of determining if a research program was a necessity for SLA, and, if so, to establish a'comprehensive research strategy, in particular focusing on issues especially relevant to special librarianship and information management. In June 1988, The Board of Directors voted to establish an in-house research department and a standing Research Committee, which formulated a research agenda subsequently approved by the Board in June 1989. SLA's research agenda sets forth priorities and serves as the keystone to all research conducted by and for the Association. In June 1990, the SLA Board of Directors reaffirmed the Association's commitment to research by approving the Strategic Planning Committee's recommendation that research be one of the top priorities for the next five years. This article reviews SLA's research agenda, current research activities and future priorities, and comments on the importance of research to the special library community."
http://www.springerlink.com/content/d648126577w65123/ Abstract The author proposes a research agenda for libraries focusing on ten problem areas: rising costs, shrinking funding, electronic provision of services, deterioration of materials, use of document delivery services, changes in copyright and licensing, out-sourcing, staff training, organizational challenges, and redefining the library’s role.
ACRL Research Agenda for Library Instruction and Information Literacy: http://www.ala.org/ala/acrlbucket/is/iscommittees/webpages/research/researchagendalibrary.cfm
SLA's research agenda: http://www.springerlink.com/content/25710p8p87273216/

So I've got a better idea of what a research agenda is and I can see that it IS possible for a professional association to have or support a particluar research agenda. It seems to me that the pertinent associations for my issue are:
4. ?
...and, of course, the next question is which "major grant agencies" might be supportive of research on this issue?

Saturday, January 19, 2008

NASIG Board Member at Large - not this year

It was with some trepidation last fall that I accepted a nomination to run for member-at-large to the NASIG Executive Board again this year. I was nominated, ran, and lost the election last year. I lost to a couple of friends who I knew would do a good job so I was only a little disappointed. This year I was nominated again and was feeling a little more confident about it. But Thursday I received an email to tell me that of the 65 (!) nominations for member-at-large I had not been selected to run. And once again, I find myself a little disappointed but also a little relieved. It took a few days to shake the feeling that I now had a gap in my time for the next two years that needed to be filled immediately and embrace the feeling of relief; now I can concentrate on finishing my doctoral class work and have time at work to accomplish some of the goals my department set at the beginning of the fiscal year. And besides, if by chance the University (TAMUCC) accepts my proposal to adopt information literacy as our quality enhancement plan (QEP), I"m sure I'll be kept plenty busy!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

ALISE side effects

I returned home last night and arrived at work this morning in time to attend the beginning of semester faculty meeting (which librarians are 'strongly encouraged' to attend, even though we are not technically faculty) and an interesting thing happened: I felt like one of them! I always have to some extent (although there are always going to be some snobs) but this I really have to credit to spending four days at the ALISE conference visiting and getting to know library school faculty and other doctoral students. I was made to feel (at ALISE) very welcome and was treated like a peer (which I had hoped for based on my other small conference experiences but didn't quite dare expect based on some of my experiences with faculty at TAMUCC). I think that institutional and intradiscipline culture sometimes creates local norms for faculty - doctoral student interactions AND faculty - librarian interactions. There's something interesting to study!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

PAR, Future LIS Faculty, and, of course, Information Seeking

More good sessions today at the ALISE conference. This morning's guest speaker was Jean Schensul from The Institute for Community Research. She described some of the methods she and the staff at ICR use to conduct what she calls community based research but which is essentially participatory action research. Not surprising that she was the second key note speaker since the theme of the conference is fairly PAR oriented and no disrespect but PAR or CBR just isn't my thing. It's interesting from a methodological standpoint but just not really up my alley. 'Nuf said.

By far the best session I attended today was about recruiting and training the next generation of library and information school faculty (there's an emphasis here that there is a difference between the two). The first part of the presentation was a report on a program called Project Athena which is an IMLS funded project designed to identify, recruit, and prepare LIS faculty. The second part was a report on a program with a similar vision but no grant funding.

Project Athena is well staffed and funded and focuses on preparing teaching faculty by partnering with LIS programs at other institutions and giving their fellows the opportunity to teach. Results of research conducted on the program include recommendations that existing networks and campus resources as well as cross institutional collaboration be used to increase the pool of potential LIS faculty, that new networks and role models/mentors be used to increase the diversity of the pool, and that doctoral students whose intention it is to teach be better prepared to navigate the organizational culture of various institutions, balance teaching and service commitments, and disseminate their research post-dissertation.

Elizabeth Figa at the University of North Texas School of Library and Information Science has implemented a mentoring program for doctoral students in their interdisciplinary doctoral program that is unfunded (at least formally, she solicits funding as needed for particular students from her dean and provides some of it herself) and seems a bit less structured and more information than Project Athena but certainly no less ambitious.

I find it interesting that none of the four "example" graduate students from these programs who spoke about their experiences in the programs had backgrounds in academic librarianship so I asked about it during the q&a session at the end of the program. The UNT SLIS program was (and remains as far as I can tell) focused purposefully on students with backgrounds in public libraries and as school library media specialists as does Project Athena since neither school's masters level programs are focused on academic librarianship (and so, presumably, they are directing their recruiting efforts predominantly at students graduating from their programs).

Personally, I think that it may also have to do with the fact that many academic librarians have experience with promotion and tenure and the academic culture having already had to learn to navigate it as librarians.

I did find very interesting comments by both speakers about the "graying of the profession" leading not only to the need to recruit librarians but also to recruit library school faculty. One of them went so far as to point out that there are currently more faculty positions than PhDs to fill them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

ALISE conference 2008

This is a nice conference. I met lots of graduate students at the "works in progress" poster session last night.
And this morning I heard Yvonna Lincoln speak! I heard afterward that some were disappointed with her keynote address because they were looking forward to hearing her speak about research methods when what she really spoke about was "serving democratic needs for information & literacy". She talked about how libraries, specifically academic libraries could help to reduce the digital divide (a term she prefers to "haves and have nots") using their physical, digital, human and social resources. It was all based on a quote from Benjamin Franklin to the affect that the benefit of democracy is that power lies with the people and if the people lack the "enlightenment" to use their power responsibly the thing to do is educate them, not to take the power away from them.
I confess that I would have liked to hear her speak about research methods too but I got some really great ideas from her address for the TAMUCC Information LIteracy QEP proposal that I just wrote so I wasn't disappointed. The first idea is to involve students in service learning projects (possibly as a component of a class) that would take them out into the community to teach what they learn (information literacy). And the second was having librarians hold "office hours" in the academic departments to which they are liaisons.
She talked a little bit about assessment and outcomes, saying basically that the idea was to go out and ask people 'how has your life changed as a result of X' which seems really simple but is something that I'm not sure is heavily emphasized in the ARL information literacy standards.
I had lunch today with the Research Methods SIG which ended up being about seven people talking about teaching research methods courses in LS programs at the masters level. Very interesting. And this afternoon I've been listening to various people (doctoral students and faculty) talking about their research. In that respect, at least, it's been lots of fun.
Over all, everyone has been welcoming and pleasant. I was a little worried that it wouldn't compare well to the other small conference I always go to in the summer where everyone is particularly warm and welcoming. But I'm happy to say that everyone here has been nothing but warm and welcoming. I have ribbons on my name tag that identify me as both a student and a first time conference attendee and lots of people have stopped me to introduce themselves and to ask me about myself so I feel right at home.

I also feel right at home because all of these people are interested in the same types of things that I'm interested in: research in library science. I've already attended several workshops, meetings for people with like interests, and poster sessions. I've heard about historical research methods in library science (interestingly, women were the first librarians to conduct surveys of library users, not men even though men originally dominated the profession).

I also attended a session given by Bill Moen and Sherry Vellucci describing MERIC which stands for Metadata Education & Research Information Commons. Its a repository for and community for sharing ideas about course related materials (lecture notes, powerpoint slides, tests and quizes, etc.) for teaching cataloging and metadata courses. This is a very cool idea. What you'll find at their website is a prototype.

This afternoon I attended what amounted to a research showcase. Three presenters gave an overview of research in progress. Kate McDowel presented on "The Unspoken Influence of Women and Children's Services in Professional Librarianship 1882-1906" and for historical research it was very interesting. She credits women librarians with introducing survey research into library and information science as a way for female librarians to support and express their own opinions in a male dominated (at the time) profession.

Suellen Adams presented research that she and Mary Lynn Rice-Lively are conducting into the relationship between personality and LIS researchers' choice of methodology. In interviews, they've discovered that research questions tend to be socially or politically relevant, that researchers like to merge their various interests into one topic, and that, when asked to describe their research, subjects were far more focused on their research topics than on their research methods. The next step in this project is to look for correlations between research methods and the researchers' personality (via the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator protocol).

Finally, Heather Hill presented her investigation into the collection of a privately managed public library system. Also not even remotely something that I'd normally find an interest in but, again, presented so well that I found it fascinating (in that perfect world where I don't need to sleep this would be something I'd choose to read about).

If anything in this (far too long) post has captured your interest, you can find abstracts and contact information for the researchers at the ALISE web site at http://www.alise.org/mc/page.do?sitePageId=58439.

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