Things to Tell My Newbie Self

I’m a noob. by simplebitsdan, on Flickr

 

Depending on the day of the week, I don’t really know what I am. Am I a librarian, who has a strong interest in tech? Or am I a techie who happens to work in the Library field? What I have come to realize is that it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is that I am, I enjoy it, so I should focus on that.

Now, it took me about 5 years to come to that realization. But when I did, I immediately thought “I wish I could go back in time and tell myself about this!”

This got me to thinking: “What other things would I want to tell myself throughout my early career in libraries and library technology?” Shortly after asking myself this, an old friend of mine, who is a budding future librarian, asked me something along similar lines. So, here it is: the top 4 things that I would tell my younger self given the opportunity.

  1. The vast majority of your job will not be anything you learned in grad school (and that’s okay!)
    I remember my first quarter at UCLA, walking into the largest lecture hall I’d ever been in (it wasn’t really that big, I had just gone to a small college for my undergraduate studies) and being shocked with how “high level” the lectures were, wrestling with such existential questions as “What is documentation?” (it’s antelopes, by the way). I instantly thought back to all of the librarians I had come to know throughout my life and was suddenly much, much more impressed with them, assuming that all of these philosophical thoughts about information and documentation were constantly swirling around their heads too.

    Flash forward to today, and students at my university were seeing “reached maximum virtual host limit” as they tried to access the library databases. “Thanks a lot, SAGE,” I muttered to myself while bumping up the MaxVirtualHost limit yet again. “The things they don’t tell you about in school,” I thought to myself.

    I know, I know. It’s a pretty common refrain among practicing librarians that most of what they do on a day-to-day basis is informed more so by experience than by education. I certainly don’t see this as a problem though. It’s never a bad thing to know more about something than less. Sure, you may never catalog a single item in your life post-grad school, but because you took that course you probably have a ton of respect for people who live for cataloging. And who knows, the little bit of knowledge you happened to have held on to may prove useful to you or someone else coming up through the ranks.

  2. Keep in touch with your classmates — then keep building your network
    This is one I certainly could have done a better job on. I got to know some of my classmates during my degree program, but I was commuting from about 80 miles away, so I missed out on a lot of social gatherings. That being said, I owe an incredible amount of gratitude to those I did manage to keep up with, as they have proven to be constant sources of support, advice, and (perhaps most importantly) job leads.

    Building your network may require you to take a closer look at social media if that’s something you’ve been avoiding. You don’t have to let it take over your life, by any means, but I would recommend at least having a LinkedIn account (especially if you’re on the job hunt). If you’re in a tech role, roll the die with Twitter for a little while. I never really “got” Twitter at first, but the way in which the tech industry seems to have pretty much adopted it as a primary means to share knowledge has totally changed the way I look at it. There’s another hugely important way to build your network as well:

  3. Go to conferences (and do not skip the dine-arounds)
    I couldn’t decide whether or not to include this one, simply because many people don’t have much of a choice as to whether they can attend conferences or not ($). I would recommend to do whatever it takes to get to one — and try to find one that’s more along the lines of the area of librarianship you’re interested in. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed the ALA Annual Conferences I’ve attended, and while they are certainly high on the “amount of free books” scale, the programs tend to be directed toward a broader audience than I would prefer. So, if you can only make it to one, get the biggest bang for your buck! If you’re interested in library technology, you have quite a few options (ER&L, Code4Lib, Internet Librarian, Computers in Libraries, and of course LITA Forum, among others).

    Also, go to the dine-arounds. I’m totally guilty of ignoring those for my first three years of conference going. The thought of meeting up with people I didn’t know, to go to a restaurant I’d never heard of, to talk about who-knows-what and then awkwardly split a bill pretty much sounded like my nightmare. What you’ll find out, though, is that even though you don’t know the people you’re dining with, you know them. They are you. You are them. It’s almost magical. You will have found “your people”. Go!

  4. Impostor syndrome is real and everyone has it (so stop worrying)
    Impostor syndrome, for those who may not be familiar with the term, basically means you’re constantly afraid of being found out as a fraud. David Walsh wrote a blog post that looks at this from a coder’s perspective and it pretty much hits the nail on the head for me. Having self-taught myself almost all of my tech skills, I always felt like my skills weren’t real. Real developers don’t have to Google things. Real programmers are fluent in JavaScript, C#, Ruby, and Python. For me, this stretched into librarianship as well. Real librarians publish in peer-reviewed journals and speak at conferences. Real librarians are featured in American Libraries and appear on trading cards. All of these were ideas I put into my own head.

    I was talking to a software developer friend of mine recently, and he was asking me what I was interested in learning over the next year. I told him I wanted to get better at JavaScript, learn Node.js, get comfortable with MVC frameworks, learn Ruby (on Rails), start using GitHub, get better at responsive web design, and, if I have time, learn about ASP.NET Single Page Applications and AngularJS. He said I was crazy. It still exists in my head, though: “if I want to be a real “whatever the heck I am”, I should know these things”. Obviously, this isn’t true. Ambition is a good thing, but left unchecked it can wreak havoc on your psyche. Just remember, no matter what, you are real. True, you may never know everything about everything, but neither will anyone else. Enjoy your own journey, and remember to have fun.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’d love to hear what other bits of advice other practicing librarians have for their younger selves!

Quid Pro Quo: Librarians and Vendors

I joked with a colleague recently that I need to get over my issue with vendors giving me sales pitches during phone calls and meetings. We had a good laugh since a major responsibility of my job as Assistant Director is to meet with vendors and learn about products that will enhance the patron experience at my library. As the point of contact I’m going to be the person the vendor calls and I’m going to be the person to whom the vendor pitches stuff.

The point was that sometimes it would be nice to have a quiet day so you could get back to the other vendors who have contacted you or maybe actually implement some of the tech you acquired from a vendor—he says as he looks wistfully at a pile of equipment in his office that should out in the public’s hands.

Just last month my fellow blogger Bill Dueber talked about the importance of negotiating with vendors in his post “There’s a Reason There’s a Specialized Degree.” Because I work hand in hand with vendors on an almost daily basis there’s a number of things I try to do to hold up my end of the bargain. There’s an article from 2010 on LIS Careers that talks about the Librarian/Vendor relationship. While not everything is relevant, it does have some good information in it (some of which I’ve pulled into this post).

  • Pay bills on time
  • Reply to calls/emails in a timely manner
  • Be clear about timelines
  • Say no if the answer’s no
  • Be congenial

I find it helps if I think of the vendors as my patrons. How would I treat a member of the public? Would I wait weeks before answering a reference question that came in via email? We’re all busy so not responding the same day to a vendor is probably ok but going more than a day or two is not a good idea. If I don’t want the vendor emailing me every other day I need to communicate. And if things are really busy or something’s come up I need to be clear with the vendor that I won’t be able to look at a new product until next week or second quarter, whichever the case may be.

I can’t speak for other libraries, but our board approves bills so we basically do a big swath of payments once a month. The more time it takes me to sign off on a bill and hand it over to finance, the longer it’ll take for that bill to get processed. Trust me, the last thing you want is for your computer reservation license to expire so you end up scrambling fifteen minutes before you open the doors trying to get a new license installed.

If I’m doing my part, then there are some things I expect in return from vendors (this list will look similar):

  • Send bills in a timely manner
  • Don’t send email/call every other day
  • Take no for an answer
  • Don’t trash competitors

It’s very frustrating to me when a vendor keeps pushing a product after I’ve said no. I know the vendor’s job is to find customers but sometimes it can be beneficial to lay off the sales pitch and save it for another visit. Only once have I actually had to interrupt a vendor several times during a phone call to tell them that I no longer will be doing business with them and do not want them to call me any more.

It’s one thing to say that your product does something no one else’s does or to claim that your product works better than a competitor. That’s business. But I’ve sat in vendor demos where the person spent so much time trashing another company that I had no idea what their product did. Also, sometimes I use similar products from different companies because they’re different and I can reach more patrons with a wider variety of services. This is particularly true with technology. We provide desktops, laptops, and WiFi for our customers because different people like to use different types of computers. It’s not always economically feasible to provide such a variety for every service, but we try to do it when we can.

I also have a number of things I’ll put on a wish list for vendors.

  • Look over meeting agendas and minutes
  • Check our website for services we’re offering
  • Provide a demo that you can leave behind
  • Try to not show up unannounced; at least call first

It shocks me when vendors ask what our budget is on a project, especially something for which we’ve done an RFP. This might pertain more to public libraries, but everything we do is public record. You can find the budget meetings on the city website and see exactly how much was approved. That attention to detail goes a long way towards showing me how you’ll handle our relationship.

Maybe we use iPads in our programming. Maybe we just replaced our selfchecks. Perhaps we already have a 3D printer. Maybe the head of our children’s department took part in an iLead program with the focus on helping parents pick early literacy apps for their children. Our website is, for all intents and purposes, an ever-changing document. As such, we make every effort to keep our services up to date and tout what our staff is doing. This can help you frame your sales pitch to us. You might not want to downplay iPads when we’ve been having success with them.

Where technology’s concerned, being able to leave a demo device with me is huge. It’s not always possible, but any amount of time I get where I can see how it would fit into our workflow helps us say yes or no. Sometimes I have a question that only comes up because I’ve spent some time using a device.

If you’re seeing a customer in Milwaukee, my library is not that far away and it makes sense that you can drop in and see how things are going. Totally fine. If you can, call first. The number of times I’ve missed a vendor because I didn’t know they were coming are more numerous than I’d like. But I can’t be available if I don’t know I should.

I get it. Companies are getting bigger through acquisitions, people’s sales areas are changing, the volume of customers goes up and up, and there’s still the same number of hours in the day. But there are vendors who do the things I mention above, and they’ll get my attention first.

What are some of the things you would like to see vendors do?

Call for Proposals, LITA education webinars and web courses

What library technology topic are you passionate about?
Have something to teach?

The Library Information Technology Association (LITA) Education Committee invites you to share your expertise with a national audience! For years, LITA has offered online learning programs on technology-related topics of interest to LITA Members and wider American Library Association audience.

We deliberately seek and strongly encourage submissions from underrepresented groups, such as women, people of color, and the LGBT community

Submit a proposal by February 29th to teach a webinar, webinar series, or online course for Summer/Fall 2016.

All topics related to the intersection of technology and libraries are welcomed. Possible topics include:

  • helpkeyboardResearch Data ManagementCC by www.gotcredit.com
  • Supporting Digital Scholarship
  • Technology and Kids or Teens
  • Managing Technical Projects
  • Creating/Supporting Library Makerspaces, or other Creative/Production Spaces
  • Data-Informed Librarianship
  • Diversity and Technology
  • Accessibility Issues and Library Technology
  • Technology in Special Libraries
  • Ethics of Library Technology (e.g., Privacy Concerns, Social Justice Implications)
  • Library/Learning Management System Integrations
  • Technocentric Library Spaces
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Intro to… GitHub, Productivity Tools, Visualization/Data Analysis, etc.

Instructors receive a $500 honorarium for an online course or $100-150 for webinars, split among instructors. For more information, access the online submission form. Check out our list of current and past course offerings to see what topics have been covered recently. We’re looking forward to a slate of compelling and useful online education programs this year!

LITA Education Committee.

Questions or Comments?

For questions or comments related to teaching for LITA, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, mbeatty@ala.org

Self-Publishing, Authorpreneurs & Libraries

“Self-publishing represents the future of literature.  Its willingness to experiment, it’s greater speed to market, it’s quicker communication with the audience, its greater rewards and creative control for creators, its increasing popularity all augur for the continued expansion of self-publishing and its place as the likely wellspring for our best new works” (LaRue, 2014, para. 13).

The self-publishing movement is alive and well in public libraries across the nation, especially within the fiction genre. In a recent American Libraries magazine article, “Solving the Self-Published Puzzle,” Langraf lists several public libraries acquiring self-published books to develop their collections with local authors and with works of regional interest.

I think of how this movement will grow among other types of library communities, and most importantly, how self-publishing technology has made it possible for all of us to publish and access high-quality digital and print resources. Will academic librarians assist teaching faculty to publish their own digital textbooks? Will creative writing classes add an eBook publishing component into their curriculum?  Will special library collections, archives, or museums use these online platforms to create wonderful monographs or documents of archived material that will reach a greater audience?  The possibilities are endless.

What was most interesting to me while reading the American Libraries piece is that libraries are including independent publishing advice and guidance workshops in their makerspace areas.  The freedom of becoming a self-published author comes with a to-do-list: cover illustrations, ebook format conversion (EPUB, MOBI, etc.), online editing, metadata, price and royalties, contracts, and creation of website and social media outlets for marketing purposes.  These are a few of the many things to think about.  Much needs to be learned and librarians can become proficient in these areas in order to create their own creative projects or assist patrons in self-publishing.  It is refreshing to see that an author can trespass the gatekeepers of publishing to get their project published and that our profession can make this phenomenon more accessible to our communities.

We can convert writers into authorpreneurs, a term I recently discovered (McCartney, 2015).  The speed of publishing is awesome – no waiting.  A project can appeal to a particular audience not accessible through traditional routes of publishing. If the author is interested, indie writers have platforms to get picked up by renowned publishing houses and agents.  Traditional authors may also make a plunge into self-publishing.  The attraction for librarians is that the published books can be distributed through platforms like Overdrive currently being used by libraries.  In addition, eBook publishing sites make it possible for users to view their item on several mobile devices through apps or eReaders.  The file type conversions to become readable in all devices are done by many of the organizations listed below.

I have recently become fascinated by the self-publishing movement and plan to write more about the ongoing developments.  I have yet to read my first self-published book and plan to do so soon.  For now, I leave you with some resources that may help you begin thinking about how to use self-publishing to serve your communities and create innovative ways to expand your library services.

Resources

bookworks
BookWorks
The Self Publishers Association
https://www.bookworks.com/


52novels
52 Novels: 
https://www.52novels.com/

Amazon Resources:
createspace
CreateSpace:

https://www.createspace.com/
Tools and services that help you complete your book and make it available to millions of potential readers

kdp
Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

https://kdp.amazon.com/

kdpdselect
KDP EDU: https://kdp.amazon.com/edu
Textbook publishing

KDP Kids: https://kdp.amazon.com/kids
Children Books

and many more genres…

ibooks
Apple iBookstore

http://www.apple.com/ibooks/

applepages
Apple Pages

http://www.apple.com/mac/pages/

nookpress
Barnes & Nobles Nook Press

https://www.nookpress.com/

BookBaby-logo1BookBaby: https://www.bookbaby.com/

bookdesigner
The Book Designer: 
http://www.thebookdesigner.com/

bowker
Bowker: http://www.bowker.com/

calibre
Calibre: 
http://calibre-ebook.com/

ebookarchitects
EBook Architects: 
http://ebookarchitects.com/

inscribe_digital
Inscribe Digital: 
http://www.inscribedigital.com

jutoh
Jutoh: 
http://www.jutoh.com/

kobo_writinglife
Kobo Writing Life: 
https://www.kobo.com/writinglife

ingramspark
Ingram Spark: 
https://www.ingramspark.com/

leanpub
Leanpub: 
https://leanpub.com/

lulu
Lulu: 
https://www.lulu.com/

pressbooks
PressBooks: 
http://pressbooks.com/

gutenbergpress
Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press: 
http://self.gutenberg.org/

iconscribd
Scribd: 
https://www.scribd.com

scrivener
Scrivner: 
https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php

sigil
Sigil: 
https://code.google.com/p/sigil/

smashwords
Smashwords: 
https://www.smashwords.com/

wattpad
Wattpad: 
https://www.wattpad.com/

Indie Title Reviews
Libraries struggle with indie market collection development.  It is not readily available in the usual book review sources heavily used for mainstream titles– so the librarian is left to search within blogs and other social media outlets to learn of new worthy titles for purchase.  Please find a list of self-publishing collection development resources for libraries/readers below.biblioboard
Biblioboard: 
https://www.biblioboard.com/

ebooksareforever
eBooksAreForever: 
http://ebooksareforever.com/

goodreads
GoodReads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/

indie
Indie Reader: 
http://indiereader.com/

pwselect
PW Select: 
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/authors/pw-select/

Selfe
Self-e: http://self-e.libraryjournal.com/

spr
SelfPublishing Review: 
http://www.selfpublishingreview.com/

References

Friedman, J. (2015). Helping indie authors succeed: What inde authors need to know about the library market. Publishers Weekly, 262(39), 52.

Gross, A. (2015). Digital winners in the bay area. Publishers Weekly, 262(24), 18-20.

Landgraf, G. (October 30, 2015). Solving the self-published puzzle. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from http://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2015/10/30/solving-the-self-published-puzzle/

LaRue, J. (2015). From maker to mission. Library Journal, 140(16), 41.

LaRue, J. (2014). The next wave of tech change. Library Journal, 139(16), 47.

McCartney, J. (2015). A look ahead to self-publishing in 2015. Publishers Weekly, 262(3), 36-38.

Peltier-Davis, C. A. (2015). The cybrarian’s web 2: An a-z guide to free social media tools, apps, and other resources. Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Palmer, A. (2014). What every Indie author needs to know about e-books. Publishers Weekly, 261(7), 52-54.

Quint, B. (2015). So you want to be published. Information Today, 32(2), 17.

Scardilli, B. (2015). Public libraries embrace self-publishing services. Information Today, 32(5), 1-26.

Staley, L. (2015). Leading self-publishing efforts in communities. American Libraries, 46(1/2), 18-19.

Intro to Youth Coding Programs, a LITA webinar

ScratchcatAttend this informative and fast paced new LITA webinar:

How Your Public Library Can Inspire the Next Tech Billionaire: an Intro to Youth Coding Programs

Thursday March 3, 2016
noon – 1:00 pm Central Time
Register Online, page arranged by session date
(login required)

Kids, tweens, teens and their parents are increasingly interested in computer programming education, and they are looking to public and school libraries as a host for the informal learning process that is most effective for learning to code. This webinar will share lessons learned through youth coding programs at libraries all over the U.S. We will discuss tools and technologies, strategies for promoting and running the program, and recommendations for additional resources. An excellent webinar for youth and teen services librarians, staff, volunteers and general public with an interest in tween/teen/adult services.

Takeaways

  • Inspire attendees about kids and coding, and convince them that the library is key to the effort.
  • Provide the tools, resources and information necessary for attendees to launch a computer coding program at their library.
  • Cultivate a community of coding program facilitators that can share ideas and experiences in order to improve over time.

Presenters:

Kelly Smith spent hundreds of hours volunteering at the local public library before realizing that kids beyond Mesa, Arizona could benefit from an intro to computer programming. With a fellow volunteer, he founded Prenda – a learning technology company with the vision of millions of kids learning to code at libraries all over the country. By day, he designs products for a California technology company. Kelly has been hooked on computer programming since his days as a graduate student at MIT.

Crystle Martin is a postdoctoral research scholar at the Digital Media and Learning Research Hub at the University of California, Irvine. She explores youth and connected learning in online and library settings and is currently researching implementation of Scratch in underserved community libraries, to explore new pathways to STEM interests for youth. Her 2014 book, titled “Voyage Across a Constellation of Information: Information Literacy in Interest-Driven Learning Communities,” reveals new models for understanding information literacy in the 21st century through a study of information practices among dedicated players of World of Warcraft. Crystle holds a PhD in Curriculum & Instruction specializing in Digital Media, with a minor in Library and Information Studies from the University of Wisconsin–Madison; serves on the Board of Directors for the Young Adult Library Services Association; and holds an MLIS from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.

Justin Hoenke is a human being who has worked in youth services all over the United States and is currently the Executive Director of the Benson Memorial Library in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Before that, he was Coordinator of Teen Services at the Chattanooga Public Library in Chattanooga, TN where Justin created The 2nd Floor, a 14,000 square foot space for ages 0-18 into a destination that brings together learning, fun, the act of creating and making, and library service. Justin is a member of the 2010 American Library Association Emerging Leaders class and was named a Library Journal Mover and Shaker in 2013. His professional interests include public libraries as community centers, working with kids, tweens, and teens, library management, video games, and creative spaces. Follow Justin on Twitter at @justinlibrarian and read his blog at http://www.justinthelibrarian.com.

kellysmithheadshotMartin_Headshothoenkeheadshot

Register for the Webinar

Full details
Can’t make the date but still want to join in? Registered participants will have access to the recorded webinar.

Cost:

  • LITA Member: $45
  • Non-Member: $105
  • Group: $196

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
OR
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
OR
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
OR
email registration@ala.org

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,mbeatty@ala.org

There’s a Reason There’s a Specialized Degree

I think it can be easy to look around a library — especially a smooth-running one — and forget that the work that gets done there ranges from the merely difficult to the incredibly complex. This isn’t the sort of stuff just anyone can do, no matter how well-meaning and interested they might be, which is why there are specialized degree programs designed to turn out inventive and effective experts.

I’m talking, of course, about the accountants. And computer programmers. And instructional designers. And usability experts.

And, oh, yeah, the librarians.

A double standard?

There’s a temptation among librarians (and programmers too, of course, and an awful lot of professors) to think that the world consists of two types of work:

  1. Stuff only we can do, and
  2. Everything else

If I were to head off to a library school for a semester and take a single course on cataloging, my colleagues would be understandably worried about dropping me next to the ILS with a stack of new books. A single group project looking broadly at research methodologies doesn’t qualify me for … well, for anything, inside the library or not.

But I often see librarians with only half a semester of programming, or a survey course on usability testing (never mind actual UX), or experience in a group project where they got stuck with the title Project Manager take on (or, often, be thrust into) actual professional roles to do those things.

The unspoken, de facto standard seems to be, “We can teach a librarian to do anything, but we can’t or won’t teach anyone else to do Real Librarian work.”

Subject-matter expertise is not overall expertise

I’m lucky enough to work in a ginormous academic library, where we’re not afraid to hire specialists when warranted. And yet, even here, there persists the curious belief that librarians can and often should do just about everything.

This leads me to what I believe is a Truth That Must Be Spoken:

A committee of four interested and well-meaning librarians is not equivalent to a trained expert with actual education and experience.

There’s a reason most disciplines separate out the “subject-matter expert” (SME) from the other work. Instructional Designers are trained to do analysis, study users and measure outcomes, and work with a SME to incorporate their knowledge into a useful instructional product. The world at large differentiates between web design, content management, and quality assurance. And the first time you work with a real project manager, you’ll come to the stark realization that you’ve never before worked with a real project manager, because the experience is transformative.

Knowing the content and culture makes you a necessary part of a complete intervention. It doesn’t make you the only necessary part.

A question of value

“But Bill,” you’re saying after doing a quick check to see what my name is, “we don’t have the money to hire experts in everything, and besides, we’re dedicated to growing those sorts of expertise within the library profession.”

I’m not against that — who could be against that? But I do worry that it exemplifies an attitude that the value the library really offers is essentially embodied in the sorts of things librarians have been doing for a century or more — things that only librarians can do — and everything else that happens in a library adds notable but ultimately marginal value to the patrons.

That’s not true. The website, the instructional and outreach activities, increasingly complicated management, and (the big one these days) contract negotiation with vendors are all hugely important to the library, and arguably have a much bigger impact on the patrons as a group than, say, face-to-face reference work, or original cataloging. I know our digital environment is used orders of magnitude more than our physical plant, up to and including the actual librarians. Not all users are (or should be) valued equally, but when the zeros start stacking up like that, you should at least take a hard look at where your resources are being spent compared to where your patrons are deriving most of the value.

It’s great if you can get a librarian with the skills needed to excel at these “other” things. But when you put a near-novice in charge of something, you’re implicitly saying two things:

  1. This isn’t all that important to do well or quickly, which you can tell because we put you, a novice, in charge of it, and
  2. The work you were doing before isn’t that important, because we’re willing to pay you to try to learn all this stuff on-the-job instead of whatever you were doing before.

If there’s an eyes-wide-open assessment of the needs of the institution and they decide in favor of internal training, then that’s great. What I’m railing against is starting a project/program/whatever with the implicit attitude that the “library part” is specialized and hard, and that we don’t really care if everything else is done well, agilely, and quickly, because it’s essentially window dressing.

What to do?

Unfortunately, librarianship is, as a discipline, constantly under attack by people looking for a simple way to cut costs. I worry this has the unfortunate side effect of causing librarians as a culture to close ranks. One way this manifests itself is by many institutions requiring an MLS for just about any job in the library. I don’t think that’s in anyone’s interest.

Are you better off hiring another librarian, or a programmer? Should you move someone off their duties to do system administration (almost certainly badly), or should you cut something else and outsource it? Do you have any idea at all if your instructional interventions have lasting impact? If not, maybe it’s time to hire someone to help you find out.

The days when the quality of a library’s services depended almost exclusively on the librarians and the collection are behind us. It takes a complex, heterogenous set of knowledge and expertise to provide the best service you can for as many patrons as you can. And maybe, just maybe, the best way to gather those skills is to hire some non-librarians and take advantage of what they know.

Librarians deserve to be valued for their expertise, education, and experience. So does everyone else.

Which Test for Which Data, a new LITA web course

wtwdgraphic2Here’s the first web course in the LITA spring 2016 offerings:
Which Test for Which Data: Statistics at the Reference Desk

Instructor: Rachel Williams, PhD student in the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison

Offered: February 29 – March 31, 2016
A Moodle based web course with asynchronous weekly content lessons, tutorials, assignments, and group discussion.

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

This web course is designed to help librarians faced with statistical questions at the reference desk. Whether assisting a student reading through papers or guiding them when they brightly ask “Can I run a t-test on this?”, librarians will feel more confident facing statistical questions. This course will be ideal for library professionals who are looking to expand their knowledge of statistical methods in order to provide assistance to students who may use basic statistics in their courses or research. Students taking the course should have a general understanding of mean, median, and mode.

Takeaways:

  • Develop knowledge related to statistical concepts, including basic information on what the goals of statistical tests are and which kinds of data scales are associated with each, with a focus on t-tests, correlations, and chi-square tests.
  • Explore different kinds of statistical tests and increase ability to discern between the utility of different types of statistical tests and why one may be more appropriate than another.
  • Increase literacy in evaluating and describing statistical research that uses t-tests, correlations, and chi-square tests.
  • Improve confidence in answering questions about statistical tests in a reference setting, including explaining tests and results and assisting users in determining which statistical tests are appropriate for a dataset. Helping others analyze graphical representations of statistics.

Here’s the Course Page

RachelWilliamsRachel Williams is a PhD student in the School of Library and Information Studies at UW-Madison. Rachel has several years of experience in public and academic libraries and is passionate about research design and methods. She has also taught courses at SLIS on database design, metadata, and social media in information agencies. Rachel’s research explores the constraints and collaborations public libraries operate within to facilitate access to health information and services for the homeless.

Dates:

February 29 – March 31, 2016

Costs:

  • LITA Member: $135
  • ALA Member: $195
  • Non-member: $260

Technical Requirements:

Moodle login info will be sent to registrants the week prior to the start date. The Moodle-developed course site will include weekly new content lessons and is composed of self-paced modules with facilitated interaction led by the instructor. Students regularly use the forum and chat room functions to facilitate their class participation. The course web site will be open for 1 week prior to the start date for students to have access to Moodle instructions and set their browser correctly. The course site will remain open for 90 days after the end date for students to refer back to course material.

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
OR
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
OR
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
OR
email registration@ala.org

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, mbeatty@ala.org

6 Design Resources for Librarians

handjiveThere’s one little bullet point at the end of my job description that reads: Participate in curation of digital displays, and use social media tools and outlets for promotion of library resources, collections, and services. I love graphic design and take every opportunity to flex my Photoshop muscles, but I know that not everyone shares my enthusiasm. Whether it’s in your job description or not, at some point you’ll find yourself designing a research poster, slide deck, workshop flyer, social media banner, or book display. When the time comes, here’s a list of resources that are guaranteed to help conquer design anxiety.

COLOR
Creating a color palette is not my strong suit, so I rely on the web to find inspiration. My favorite site right now is the Swiss Style Color Picker. It’s quality over quantity, so you won’t find a ton of options, but the presentation is flawless and interactive too. Click on your color of choice and it automatically copies the hexadecimal code to your clipboard.Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.37.10 PMICONS
Icons are the new clipart! The Noun Project is a massive collection of graphics that you can use for free if you properly attribute the designer. You can download an image file or vector graphic; which means you can scale it up or down without losing quality.Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.41.54 PM

INSPIRATION
Do I need to say it? Pinterest is perfect for this kind of thing. Whenever I start a project, the first thing I do is create a Pinterest board to find a general direction for my design. If you simply browse through the Graphic Design category, you’re sure to find plenty of inspiration.Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 5.42.15 PMFONTS
There are plenty of places to find free fonts online, but I’m partial to DaFont. It’s easy to browse their categories (sans serif, calligraphy, typewriter, etc.) and you can enter your own custom text to preview multiple typefaces at once. Biko and Angelface are my current favorites.Screen Shot 2016-01-19 at 7.37.46 PMSHAPES
Designing with simple shapes can be very effective. Philographics: Big Ideas in Simple Shapes by Genis Carreras is a perfect example of what’s possible when you pair up, duplicate, and overlap shapes. The result can be stronger than an image and easier to manipulate.downloadIMAGES
Just in case you missed all the commotion, the New York Public Library just released a whole heap of public domain images on their Digital Collections site. If you’ve ever tried to play by the rules when using images you find online, you know it’s an uphill battle. Not to worry, there’s plenty of gems here. And just when you think it can’t get any sweeter; they’ve even curated a collection with designers in mind.cropped

And sometimes I use all of these resources in tandem. Case in point, the collage I used to kick off this post was created using “Clark, Madeline” from the NYPL Digital Collections, “MERS#3, Seoul Metropolitan Library” from Flickr user Tai-Jan Huang, and “Book” by David Marioni from the Noun Project.

Where do you find design inspiration?