Posts filed under ‘SIRLS’
Glorious day! Registration has opened up for the UA Library’s Living the Future conference. The theme this year is Transforming Libraries through Collaboration, which I think is very timely and appropriate. Successful collaborations play an essential role in libraries these days, and the sessions for this conference all focus around how collaborations are helping move libraries forward. I’m a member of the planning committee & am coordinating the programming for this event, along with some fantastic and dedicated other members of the library staff and SIRLS. I have never been involved in the planning of a national conference before so it’s pretty exciting, as stressful as it all is.
We have some wonderful speakers lined up, including keynote speaker Peter Senge who we’re very excited to have join us. Also Arizona State Librarian Gladys Ann Wells, Emory University’s Richard Luce, and Brigham Young University’s Ernie Nielsen. Some more are pending, but you can see all the speakers we have so far here.
It’s certainly not over yet for the programming group, though. We’re diligently working to confirm our final speakers and get them registered. After ALA Midwinter we’re going to start working on invitations for the poster session, and placing speakers in the appropriate slots. We’re also working with Blended Librarian co-founder John Shank on what will be a web-based virtual session, which is something we’ve never done before. But I was involved somewhat in the virtual session at the Symposium last year (we had a student presenting from Oman!), and using Adobe Connect (formerly Macromedia Breeze) to faciliate this. I’ve used that software enough that I would feel comfortable using it for this purpose, but there’s also Elluminate which might be what we end up going with since it seems to cause less problems. (See article here).
With registration opening it does feel like an important milestone has been passed. Conference planning can be one of the most hectic & stressful experiences and it requires a whole lot of work, but it’s also a lot of fun. Collaborating with the planning group, which consists of staff members across the library & faculty from SIRLS, is great fun; and learning all about the process of putting together a program has been very rewarding so far. Hopefully it will be smooth sailing over the next few months as we continue putting this event together. And we will certainly be celebrating once this is all over, and once it’s a huge success
I graduated earlier this month from SIRLS and I think it’s finally hitting me that after 18 and a half years of nearly non-stop schoolwork I am finally done. At least for now. I actually had a dream last night that I went back to get my PhD which made me realize that it was indeed time to take a break.
What does this mean? More time for other endeavors.
Actively seeking a professional position is number one, and the possibilities for this & not really knowing what’s ahead is actually exciting to me. Spending Christmas in Phoenix with my family I realized that there’s a good chance I won’t be driving in from Tucson again next year.
Finally becoming a paying member of ACRL, I have now volunteered to be on a number of ACRL committees, so we’ll see how that goes. Instruction, advocacy, conference planning, info literacy – there were many that appealed to me but it’s hard to say what I’m really qualified for. I’ll just have to wait and see. Either way I am excited of the prospect of collaborating with other librarians around the country.
In day to day life, no longer will my lunch hours consist of sitting at my desk doing homework assignments and readings. While I thought I would spend my time sitting outside with a Palahniuk novel enjoying the peacefulness, now I find myself still sitting at my computer, this time browsing my favorite blogs (such as tame the web & information wants to be free) and discussion boards (such as LearningTimes) for library trends & the latest library gossip. What I nerd I am sometimes. I think it’s just a transition period. But continuing education becomes much easier when there’s time to actually spend doing it, and enjoying it.
I have mixed feelings of anticipation and anxiety. The next couple of months could definitely be interesting. An adventure into the unknown.
This past Saturday was the 3rd Annual SIRLS Graduate Student Symposium. After months of planning, organizing, and waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it, it all came together. And I think it went fantastically. We had one presenter cancel at the last minute due to illness, but other than that everything went smoothly. The technology worked, the presentations were great, and we stayed on schedule. I saw a presentation on searching behavior of avatars in Second Life, Learner-Centered vs. Teacher-Centered Instruction, and Learning Styles in Library Instruction. They were all wonderful and I was very impressed with the quality of content presented by these students. I delivered my own presentation on Access to Information in the Czech Republic and received positive feedback, although unforunately it ran a little long leaving little time for discussion. I probably should have gone for the 50-minute slot, after all. You can see more details on the day’s presentations online here.
We had 5 posters at the poster session and there were some great discussions surrounding virtual searching, library environments, and the library needs of young children. The only real negative feedback we got for the event was that the room we held this in was too small. It doesn’t surprise me, since I found it to be crowded myself, so lesson learned for next time. I was very excited to have a poster session for the first time; we had attempted this last year but to no avail.
Chris Dodge delivered the keynote presentation and discussed inconsistencies between ALA’s core values and the practice of librarians, including equal access, diversity, and intellectual freedom. I found it quite fascinating.
Unfortunately people seemed to dwindle a little bit near the end. While we had approximately 60 attendees at the Symposium overall, there were only 42 at the closing keynote and probably 20 people at the reception that followed. It is always a hard thing to judge. Overall, though, I was very happy with the turnout and it was the largest that we’ve seen at the annual Symposium. So that’s a very good sign.
A number of faculty from SIRLS were in attendance, including director Jana Bradley; also attending was Nancy Ledeboer, director of the Pima County Public Library. Three university librarians came as well as a number of library staff and student workers. I heard a lot of positive feedback on the organization of the event and the program. The three student presenters that flew in from Maryland also said they were impressed with the event, which was great to hear.
It’s finally over so that I can stop worrying about what may or may not happen. I do believe that all the hard work was worth it. The students got a lot out of it, and it increases the visibility of the SIRLS program & its students within the library community.
Just for fun, here are a few quotes from attendees:
“The Symposium was a spectacular success!” – Jana Bradley, SIRLS Director
“This conference was way better than any ALA program I have ever attended. The subject matter was rich and the participants were enthusiastic.” – Mary Evangeliste, University of Arizona Librarian (you can see her whole blog post on the event here).
“This is an event that will stay in my memory for the rest of my career, and I’m pleased and proud to have been part of it.” – Liz Danforth, SIRLS Student and Symposium Presenter
“Kudos to the committee and the presenters for the wonderful job they did on the SIRLS Graduate Symposium which happened this Saturday. I think the presentations I attended were great and had the largest audiences I have seen at the Symposiums!!!” – Carrie Larson, UA Library Information Associate
This past Thursday the wonderful and inspiring UA Librarians Mary Evangeliste and Leslie Sult visited SIRLS, facilitating a session on “Producing Successful Presentations.” There was a small student audience, and the session began with introductions followed by a facilitated discussion. We shared our own experiences, talking about what it is we have seen that’s made an impressive and memorable presentation, what it is that terrifies us the most about giving one of our own, and what we can each do personally to make our own experiences a little bit better. A number of things were suggested by the librarians and by the audience, and we walked away with notes on some important tricks of the trade, summarized here:
- If you’re in control of the topic of your presentation, be sure to pick something you are truly interested in. Talking about something you’re passionate about will create a much more engaging and meaningful presentation.
- Know your material. This is an easy one, and all it requires is time. But prepare, and really know your material. Know it inside and out so you can jump around, improvise, and respond to questions easily. You can also go off topic and change gears depending on reactions from the audience. Knowing your material will allow you to be more flexible, and flexibility can be a great advantage.
- Anticipate questions the audience might ask, especially if a topic is controversial. If you can’t answer a certain question that’s ok, just be honest that you don’t have the information at this time to answer it and move on.
- Feel good about sharing your knowledge and realize that you are doing the audience a favor. The audience wants to like you. Relax.
- When possible, begin to practice your talk at least 48 hours before you are going to give it. This allows you to get comfortable with your thought process and gives you enough time for the content to process and sink in. It will help you reach the whole “knowing your material” thing.
- Don’t just memorize. And don’t read from your paper or read from your PowerPoint. Speak like you’re a real person. You can be “professional” while still being genuine. Ideally, you should just have a brief outline to refer to if needed.
- Keep things interesting and have fun with it. Heck, bring candy or other goodies to throw to people in the audience. Ask them questions at unexpected times. It can be surprisingly effective and will help create enthusiasm among your audience.
- Do things that make you comfortable to help get rid of the nerves. You can talk to people in the audience before you begin your presentation; get to know them on a basic level as real people and it might make you less nervous. When you are able to, position yourself the way you feel the most comfortable – figure out if you prefer standing up behind a podium, walking around the audience, speaking from the back of the room, sitting down, etc. Find out what feels best to you and make your own style.
- If you are using a PowerPoint, use it mostly for visual clues. Don’t just put your outline up on your PowerPoint, and you should really only use one if it actually enhances your presentation.
- Know why you’re presenting in the first place. Think about why what you are talking about is important, and what you want the the audience to walk away with. Don’t try to squeeze in too much information. Present no more than 5 key points. You can always use handouts to give the audience further resources.
- Feel good about presenting. You are sharing your knowledge with others, and this is a very powerful thing.
The session is now up on YouTube so be sure to check it out. I want to say a big THANK YOU to Mary and Leslie for taking the time to share your wisdom, you are both fabulous
I am co-chairing the planning committee for the 3rd Annual Graduate Student Symposium to be held in November, and this year we decided to reach out beyond our local Library & Information Science (LIS) program for presenters. The symposium in the past has consisted of only current students in our local SIRLS program. A few months back, the planning committee thought hey, why not invite graduate students from other departments, and LIS students from other schools entirely? So we did. Collaboration and working with one another is such an important element in the professional world today so this seemed appropriate. We anticipated maybe getting a couple students from outside departments to submit their abstracts but thought there was little chance of getting a response from other schools. At least, if nothing else, we thought this would make other programs aware of what we are doing, and maybe set a foundation for future symposiums becoming national events.
Our deadline for receiving submissions is tomorrow. We have yet to receive one from another graduate department, unfortunately. We were hoping some students in law, journalism, english, or sociology would participate; library issues are so cross-disciplinary and we though someone outside LIS might be interested in discussing information policy & law, freedom of information, preservation of the written word, or the digital divide. While the non-response from around campus was a bit of a disappointment, we have actually received two submissions from students outside of our school, from LIS students in Maryland! One presentation and one poster session submission. If accepted, this means several students will be flying out to the desert from the east coast to share their research with us Tucsonans. We are thrilled at the possibility.
Why am I sharing all this? I think it illustrates that there are opportunities for graduate students across the country to connect and learn from one another, and it’s a fantastic feeling to know you are helping facilitate this connection. I wish there were more opportunities like this. While travel money can be an issue for students, there are plenty of scholarships and travel grants available out there; graduate student councils often offer these to make such opportunities possible. I think there should be better communication between ALA Student Chapters so that we can create more opportunities to come together and learn from one another. If you are in a graduate LIS program and planning a professional development event that other students might want to be involved in, communicate with your peer institutions to open the door to that possibility! Maybe all us students could come together to plan a national event where just students are presenting their research? ALA’s New Members Round Table (NMRT) might be interested in helping coordinate this. It can be difficult for students to get experience presenting in a professional setting prior to graduation, and what a great thing to make these opportunities available. It’s also a great way to allow students to network, collaborate and learn from one another.
P.S. There is still a day to submit your abstract to present at the symposium, please submit online here!
Technology can certainly make our lives easier. It can improve libraries for the librarians, and can also improve libraries for the patrons. Looking ahead, what technologies will most improve libraries?
For the Librarians
Integrated Library Systems (ILS) have been around for many years, but their ever increasing capabilities are continuing to make librarians’ work much more efficient. Keeping track of inventory, processing of acquisitions, maintenance of patron records, OPAC design and upkeep are just a few of the things the ILS does. In actuality, nearly every single internal function of the library becomes easier thanks to these systems. Millennium, the UA Library’s ILS, comes out with an updated product annually, and enhancements are based on customer feedback. This means every year, the ILS has more capabilities requested by those that use it most often. The ILS has evolved greatly since its inception, and will continue to make functional work easier and less time consuming for library workers. As the system can do more it will free up time for librarians to focus on other activities, including things such as outreach, instruction, collaboration and grant-writing, building of online tutorials, environmental scanning, and implementation of new services.
For the Patrons
OpenURL is perhaps the technology that most greatly improves libraries for the patron. A library’s central role remains as connecting users to information; and when a patron is interested in using a library’s resources, the primary task they have is searching for those resources. By interconnecting virtual information, OpenURL makes searching library resources a much more pleasant experience, reducing the chance of a patron dreading their library search and simply going to an online search engine instead. As technology improves, so does the functionality and usability of OpenURL resolvers. This is an extremely important technology for libraries, and may just be what keeps libraries as important, practical, and celebrated institutions in today’s world of Amazon and Google.
This technology is all about connecting resources. For example, instead of first searching a library database to find a citation, then opening a new screen and searching the OPAC to see if the library owns it, OpenURL technology allows the searcher to simply click on a link from the citation to get to the library’s holdings. In its databases, the UA Library uses this technology with “Article Linker;” while most library staff would agree it can have its difficulties, when it works well it is a great help to customers in navigating where they need to go next. OpenURL can serve many other functions; at the UA Library a user can search in WorldCat for an item then simply click a link to request it through Interlibrary Loan; the fields on the online form will be populated automatically with the item’s information. Connecting information in such a way makes searching through library resources and performing other sorts of tasks a heck of a lot easier.
As OpenURL becomes more mainstream, it certainly has its share of effects on social behavior, particularly information seeking behavior. As mentioned in my previous post, the public are now expecting things to be as convenient and easy to use as possible. OpenURL is a tool to help make searching library OPACs and databases much easier and less frustrating for the user. Searchers’ information seeking behavior is evolving as searchers are becoming used to streamlined information access. Further, as it makes things easier OpenURL has the potential to improve overall access to information; the hope is that searchers will have greater success in finding what they are looking for. And like many other technologies, OpenURL can encourage disintermediation, since it is less likely a library user will have to speak with a library staff member in order to do their research. Again, making things easier means the user should have greater success in their searches, therefore not having to ask for help.
We’ve all heard of these. Web filters are applications that limit access to certain content on the web, possibly because it is harmful, not appropriate, or not secure. Different filters will regulate different types of content. Many businesses use filters to prevent employees from doing non-work-related things on their computers. School and public libraries apply these filters to their public access computers due to the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) passed by Clinton in 2000; these filters are aimed to protect children from harmful content.
The primary concern with such filters is that they often do not do their job, blocking content that should not be blocked but allowing content that should be. While in some cases the software company arguably does these things intentionally (see the AOL example), most other times the software simply is not intelligent enough to actually know what sites are against CIPA regulation and what sites are not.
Certainly, these filters have social repercussions. On the one hand, they can be beneficial in that they can prevent children from viewing websites that may be violent, pornographic, or otherwise harmful (NOTE: not everyone will agree that this is beneficial; some argue this should be determined by the parent, not the government or local library or some filter vendor). On the other hand, they can limit a person from viewing legitimate information on the web, information they should be allowed to access based on First Amendment rights. As such, they actually have the ability to limit free and open access to information.
Integrated Library Systems (ILS)
These are the computer programs that upload the library’s collection and patron information, and nowadays they facilitate nearly all maintenance, inventory, and automated functions of a library. They are what make electronic searching of library collections possible, what allow streamlined check-out and check-in, and what are used for general upkeep of all library records. Naturally, they are also what run the Online Public Access Catalog, or OPAC. ILS is the foundational technology, first emerging in the 1960s and 70s, that today make librarians’ and library users’ experiences much easier and more efficient. SirsiDynix and Integrated Interfaces, Inc. (III) are two popular ILS.
The UA Libraries use III’s Millennium. I use its circulation functions daily for everything from checking in/out or renewing items to viewing bulk fines data to interpreting patron account information to rapidly updating records to create and exporting lists. And this is just the circulation module; there are TEN additional modules, including cataloging, web OPAC, and electronic resources management all included as part of the Millennium system. It is truly the “brains” of the library and is what keeps the library running.
Since ILS are the internal mechanism that make so many other things possible, they have big social effects. ILS allow features such as “My Account” so patrons can renew their own books, pay fines online, and update their information. They also are what make self check-out and check-in machines work. These features encourage disintermediation by allowing users to be self-sufficient. With this comes a minimization of time spent interacting with actual library staff and less face-to-face interaction generally. Additionally, fewer and fewer tasks require users actually travel into the library’s physical space. These sorts of impacts are felt in all sorts of industries due to evolving electronic systems; as customers are becoming used to self-sufficiency, they continuously want things faster, easier, more convenient and more efficient.
No one can deny that technologies greatly impact libraries, the services they provide, and their evolving role in the information age. I am taking a course on information technology, and the assignment for this unit is to discuss four technologies, their description, how they’re used in libraries, and their expected social impact. I will start with an obvious one.
Blogs, short for “web logs,” can be described as online journals in which users write regular posts, usually on some consistent topic. They are essentially just a type of website, but what is interesting about them is that they allow comments for the postings, facilitating conversation between different users. Blogs are very easy to use and create, taking advantage of software such as this, WordPress. Blogs are used for a variety of reasons, but libraries have recently taken advantage of them as a tool to communicate new content to their users. Since blogs are frequently updated, they go well with RSS Feeds so that users can subscribe to them. Libraries are using blogs to share news about the library, such as new services, as well as upcoming events, fundraisers, etc. Interestingly, the Ann Arbor District Library‘s whole website is actually a blog. Some libraries have blogs intended for specific user groups, such as young adults. An example of this is the Framingham Public Library Young Adult Blog.
As a web tool, blogs are possibly the best at enhancing the ability for individuals to self-publish. It is very easy for someone with an internet connection to create one or several blogs, for any purpose that they wish. This theoretically makes it much easier to let your voice be heard. It promotes free speech and democracy. It also allows for greater communication across boundaries; you can communicate with people on the other side of the world through blog posts and comments. As a fast-growing internet tool, blogs have the ability to spread ideas faster and further than in the past and unite people for a common cause. They can be used as a mechanism for Computer-Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW), allowing multiple users to post and communicate their ideas. An example of this is the former Library Student Organization (LSO) blog which had approximately 35 contributors. While they are still in their youth, I think it’s clear that over time blogs have the potential to bring with them some significant social changes.