Distance Learning IG at Midwinter

You are invited to the LITA Distance Learning Interest Group discussion!

Saturday, January 12, 10:30-12:00pm, Courtyard Downtown, Salon III
#3 on the map (PDF).

The LITA Distance Learning Interest Group will meet at the 2008 ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia to discuss current issues in distance learning and some of the exciting things the interest group has planned. Here are a few of the things we’d like to discuss:

  • Our program, If we don’t call it distance learning, does it exist?, for Annual 2008.
  • A possible LITA webinar on distance learning issues.
  • A possible online course.
  • Uses for our blog at http://dlig.wordpress.com/ .
  • General issues in distance learning such as integrating library resources with course management systems.

Are there other topics you’d like to discuss? Please feel free to leave them in the comments or email Karen Wetzel or Lauren Pressley and we’ll add them to our list.

All are invited! Please bring your experiences and ideas to share in an informal setting. We hope that you will join us for a lively and useful discussion.

Distance Learning Interest Group

The DLIG has had a few challenges leading up to our meeting this time. First, we weren’t assigned a room. Then, we were assigned a room, but it was too late to be printed in the program. Today, when we found it, someone else was meeting there and we were listed on the sign for a different day than we had arranged. So, by the time we were able to find a room, we were down to three people.

Nevertheless, we had a lovely discussion and brainstormed ideas for what the interest group could do leading up to midwinter. We discussed how there is often only one distance learning librarian at an institution and the challenges associated with that when a new distance learning librarian is hired. We talked about how a designated DL librarian position can sometimes lead staff to assume all things DL are being taken care of, and maybe back-off in areas of their jobs that overlap. This becomes a problem as we discussed our next topic: what’s a distance learner anyway? Today, our students are accessing materials online and using the library website whether they’re studying in another country or in the building next door to the library. When everyone is using online resources, does it matter where the student does (or doesn’t) live?

DLIG has started a blog, where we hope to provide a space for community discussion and a place where people can share success stories or tips. We decided that some good topics to begin with include copyright law and licensing, case studies, screen casts of things that work, and materials that distance learning librarians can share among themselves.

We discussed programming opportunities around these ideas and talked about trying to put together an online distance learning interest group meeting so that we can get together the 25-30 people who typically would come to our discussion group. We figure, if anyone is well suited for an online meeting, it’s the Distance Learning IG!!

LITA Town Meeting

Today, I attended my first LITA Town Meeting. It was great, and I hope to attend many more. I liked that it was a good blend of meeting other LITA members, learning about our users, and brainstorming about the future.

The Town Meeting started with a breakfast and introduction to the LITA leadership. We were shown the LITA Wiki, the LITA committee volunteer form, and were told that there is still time to apply to be on a committee. Appointments will be made over the next three months.

Then, even though it was a large meeting, everyone introduced themselves and revealed how long they had been LITA members. Reception was warm for new members, and the crowd was impressed with folks who had longer memberships.

Then, Mark Beatty, vice-president/president-elect, gave a presentation on his presidential theme. He gave an overview of the OCLC Perceptions report, the Pew report on Social Networking Sites, and talked about the value of ALA membership and 3rd places. He’s focusing his presidential theme on an updated environmental scan and improving on the values that LITA delivers to its membership. He used the town meeting as a way to learn about what people consider to be valuable about their LITA membership, as well as what they would like their LITA membership to provide.

Then, everyone in the room participated in a brainstorming process focusing on what people want from LITA. The ideas included (from most frequently cited to least frequently):

Continue reading LITA Town Meeting

LITA President’s Program: We are Here. Where are our Users?

Cathy De Rosa, OCLC
John Horrigan PhD, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Cathy De Rosa, OCLC

  • She started by asking, "What do we see going on with our users?"
  • Users start their search on the internet. It is dominant. 84 % start there.
  • Only 1% start on a library website
  • Nothing's changed!
    • In 1947-1950 there was a public library inquiry: "Where would you go to get information on nutrition?"
    • Still, only 1% said library!
  • OCLC thinks & does research on internet behavior based on marketing theory.
  • 280ish questions in perceptions survey
    • Included a list of 16 technologies. It didn't matter what it was, they were using it. Put it out there, they'll come, they'll use it.
  • Technologies are really about behavior. Technologies let people do something.
  • Total reference at ARL institutions are plummeting.
  • The behavior is: I want to self-serve!
  • What resources are they using in libraries:
    • They are heavy use of traditional resources, 55% are borrowing print books.
  • Behaviors of college students
    • What do you do less because of the internet?
    • TV is the biggest loser due to internet.
    • This indicates they don't want to do passive things
  • What do you think of libraries?
    • Books (by a lot), information, building, research, materials, reference, entertainment (last 6 choices were much smaller)
    • Library directors say: "they said books, but they mean information," but that's not true.
  • How to decide which resource to use?
    • From this (alpha-ordered) list: credible/trustworthy, easy to use, free, fast, recommendations, worthwhile
    • answer: provides worthwhile information
    • second: provides free info
    • maybe this means they assume fast & free, but it probably means they're learning how to discern worthwhile information
  • How do you judge if electronic information is trustworthy?
    • based on personal knowledge/common sense
    • based on reputation
    • replicated information in other places
  • Summary:
    • In a 5 year period, the behavior is that they feel good & confident.
    • We're starting to see as a move from search to self-publishing, self-serving, social, sharing.
    • These are huge behavior changes!
  • Economics
    • She really recommends: We are the Web by Kevin Kelly (of Scan This Book)
    • Most of the content on the web is being contributed by users themselves.
    • Forget "if we build it they will come." They're building it.
    • Contributory economics: economics will take care of themselves, but in a different way.

    John Horrigan PhD, Pew Internet & American Life Project
    The difference the internet makes to users...and what that means for libraries

    • Digital information helps by reducing uncertainty in people's lives
    • People who get health & medical information online get support from others and ask better question of health care providers.
    • Those who go to government web sites take advantage of efficiency benefits & are more likely to contact the government.
    • Resources found on the internet help people make decisions--often by connecting with content, often with experts or "amateur" advice-givers.
  • Digital information is empowering.
    • Some evidence that those who choose to get info and news about politics online are more likely to vote.
    • People who get news about politics online are better informed about both sides of political and policy issues than those who don't.
  • Digital information and creativity
    • 48 million Americans have created or posted some sort of content for the internet.
    • 18% internet users have taken some online content and "remixed" or "mashed up."
  • Different online roles as social networkers, citizens, and friends, family, or caregivers.
  • Internet as swiss army knife
    • Particularly for young users, the internet attracts them to media, supplants traditional media, sets in motion.
    • The "long tail"
    • Does the long tail thicken the leading edge?
  • Acceleration of information transactions
  • More changes around the corner
    • Nearing inflection point of greater impact of internet on society
    • Internet increasingly embedded in things (RFID)
    • Network speed and broadband uptake will grow
  • Attention will increasingly become scarce commodity in digital world
  • Libraries ahead of the game
    • The new demands are the traditional roles of libraries
    • Essence of service is to help customer allocate attention
    • Information wants to be free, but it doesn't always want to be organized
  • Libraries are already a trusted institution and are already a networked institution.
  • Look to strengths as libraries adapt to change.
  • Karen G. Schneider points out that this "was basically hearing a mashup of the last four big OCLC reports" and I totally agree. There was a remix of Pew Internet and American Life reports as well.

    Top Tech Trends: The Trends

    Sunday, January 22, 8am-10am, Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 3/4
    (This runs a bit long, so it’s been broken into two parts: the business meeting dealing with the TTT events and the Top Technology Trends discussion.)

    With a little bit of time left after the business meeting, the discussion moved to the juicer topic: Top Technology Trends. Here’s a quick overview of what was discussed:

    1. It’s nice to experiment with high tech, but low tech can be good, too. Simple answers are good. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. (Okay, that really came from the discussion of the event, but it played into some of the TTT discussion as well.)

    2. Is the promise of FRBR going to flesh out? Are we going to start seeing it for our libraries soon? The discussion pointed out that FRBR assumes that records have been prepared for FRBR. OCLC does have an algorithm that approximates that for the database, but cataloging would still need to be done differently to take advantage of FRBR. The Trendsters discussed how librarians often make things complex that are simple. For example, we were using expensive chat software when all we needed was IM.

    Andrew Pace said that one of his maxims is, “never change data to fix what’s a display problem.” He suggested using an algorithm to fix the display problem; there’s no need to change the data. Tom Wilson said that his proverb is, “sometimes you don’t have the time to wait until there’s consensus for how to do things and a product comes along.” One of the problems is that we always assume that the library community needs to invent items for the library community. But really, there are other industries that create some things that do what we’re looking for in the library catalog. If we look into these other options we can save limited resources. He used Endeca as an example of that. It’s not a library technology; it’s technology that is being used for library purposes.

    3. How can we make it easier to get materials to users? People are looking for simplest way to do things, why should we fight that reality? The discussion around this topic centered on InterLibrary Loan. Why not shorten the trajectory? Maybe we could set up ILL for users straight from WorldCat. ILL costs are going up right now, some express concern that this step would make it more expensive. The group discussed the trend to buy less and borrow more, but some asked why not have ILL act more like circulation? Collection management from different libraries could work together to develop collections across campuses or systems to facilitate ILL and save costs of cataloging, shelf space, etc. However, it was also pointed out that some studies have compared costs of ILL to running down the street to buy extra copies of the latest best seller and found that ILL might not always save money. A few libraries have started a direct to buy program. If someone wants something on ILL, and it meets a certain number of criteria, they just buy the book and lend it out.

    4. It’s not a trend so much, but there was a discussion of taking the user’s cost into consideration as well. The user pays in time. We force them to wait for ILL or to learn library lingo. How come we don’t just ask them what they need and when and we figure out how to get it to them in the most cost-effective way? The user shouldn’t need to know there’s an ILL department, just that they can get books. They shouldn’t need to know the vendor of a database; they should just be able to get useful articles. People start with Google and find things that are already paid for by their library. How can we fit into how people work? Another strand of this is that we won’t get everyone into the library for library instruction when their cultural context tells them to go online; we need to make finding information online easier.

    5. Other ideas were mentioned in brief:

    • considering using web services for micropayments
    • building more services on top of the existing digital collections
    • xml web services
    • mentioned in both halves of the meeting: the trend of users in the participatory web and how blogs, chat, etc. are good for that

    Top Tech Trends: The Business End

    Sunday, January 22, 8am-10am, Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 3/4
    (This runs a bit long, so it’s been broken into two parts: the business meeting dealing with the TTT events and the Top Technology Trends discussion.)

    The agenda for the Top Tech Trends meeting this midwinter was “more of a traditional business meeting than a discussion of trends.” The Top Tech Trends committee members and experts (or “Trendsters” as they came to be called) discussed the exciting increase in participation in the TTT events over the last few years, and evaluated how to make sure these events don’t lose due to their size.

    Karen Schneider posted some of her take-away points from the meeting, and I’m doing the same here.

    Top Technology Trends events (for those, like me, who haven’t been able to make them) have centered around experts who identify some trends to examine, discuss, and then they open the floor for audience questions. The audience has grown significantly over the last few years. This growth has led to a loss of “discussion” and now sometimes comes across with a talking-heads feel. The Trendsters talk more, the audience less. The group agreed that it would be better to have a more interactive environment and brainstormed how to work on this.

    Everyone agreed that there is a need for a strong moderator who could enforce a time limit and synthesize discussion. This super-facilitator would be able to facilitate discussion with the panel as well as the audience.

    Seating was also discussed. People really liked the idea of the panel sitting in either a circle with concentric circles for audience members or in a semi-circle to encourage more discussion. The hope is that this would allow for more discussion among members, but also bring back some of the participatory feel for the audience.

    Everyone agreed that the audience questions are an important part of TTT, but that they take a lot of time. One proposal was for the audience members to write comments down on a provided card, give them to designated people, and the questions could be combined if similar and chosen to fit the flow of the program. The moderator could then read the questions to the panel.

    Karen Schneider recommended another option: a backchannel method that she’s at other conferences. A projected screen could show chat that audience &/or panel members could participate in. This way people could ask questions as they’re most appropriate or add to the discussion of they want. Participation could even occur from people outside the room. Of course, if this method is used, the panel couldn’t be expected to watch it all the time, as they’ll be busy following their fellow Trendster discussion. Discussion of this method revolved around first trying it out at next midwinter to see if it would work for TTT purposes.

    The blog was discussed as a way to continue the discussion. Trendsters could post to the blog ahead of time and that would give the moderator content from which to pull questions. If members were reading the blog, they would have context for the discussion ahead of time. The blog is also nice because people can post comments and become part of the conversation. It was recommended that there be an informal poll to see how many audience members are also members of LITA and who checks the blog. This would give the committeee more input for how to use the blog in future TTT discussions (and at the very least, raise awareness of it).

    The last part of the TTT event that was discussed was the tenure for being an expert. Wouldn’t it be cool to see “guest” experts, or experts who cycle in once every few years? It’d be good for members to see that they, too, could be a Trendster. It’s also good for the expert/Trendster to know that there are people working on the issues, even when they’re not there. The guest Trendster might be someone outside the library community, too. Maybe even someone from the industry dealing with youth and mobile technology.