Editorial Response to “Is Technology Bringing in More Skillful Male Librarians?”

Hi LITA members (and beyond):

My name is Brianna Marshall and I am the editor of the LITA blog. Last week, the post “Is Technology Bringing in More Skillful Male Librarians?” by Jorge Perez was published on the blog. The post has understandably sparked considerable discussion on Twitter. Jorge has indicated an interest in writing a follow up post to clarify his viewpoints vs. the viewpoints expressed by the authors he cited, so I won’t speak for him beyond saying that I believe his intentions were to highlight issues around the stereotyping of male librarians. In his communications with me, he indicated that the provocative title and brevity was intended to spark a conversation with blog readers, not to be flippant about the issues. Again, I will let him provide clarification on the content of the post itself.

As I looked at the conversation on Twitter, I noticed a number of comments that implied that the viewpoints, quality, and tone of this post was endorsed by LITA as an organization. There have also been comments questioning who would allow something like the post to be published. As blog editor, I want provide greater transparency on how the blog has worked under my direction. I wholeheartedly welcome ideas to improve this process.

The LITA blog has a revolving team of regular writers who volunteer to contribute a new post once every 1-1.5 months, depending on how full the schedule is and how many regular writers we have at a given time. I provide a blog content and style guide to reference, as well as encouragement to ask for opinions and feedback from the team through our shared listserv. (I’ve added a link to the content and style guide to the LITA blog about page, if it is of interest.) While I work directly with guest writers who publish on the blog, it is not manageable for me to review or oversee all posts by regular writers. Peer feedback prior to publication is solicited at the author’s discretion; it is encouraged but not required or enforced. Ultimately, as a blog that tries to produce and publish new content multiple times per week, additional oversight has not been sustainable. A level of trust and knowledge that a post may go through that elicits negative reactions is, in my opinion, just part of the trade-off. However, the conversation around this post has sparked a renewed discussion among the LITA blog writers about our review processes and whether there are additional measures to help support each other in producing high-quality writing. As blog editor my critique of the post is not the content but rather that the author’s ideas are not fully developed, leading to a rushed post that at first read seems like Jorge is putting forth ideas that he is, I believe, instead critiquing.

It would deeply sadden me to have the efforts of a really incredible group of writers in the LITA community overshadowed by negative reactions to this blog post. I know I am often impressed by the writers’ thoughtful posts on a diverse array of topics. While as the blog editor I regret that the topic that brought about this conversation is an unclear post about a controversial issue, it’s great to be part of an engaged library tech community and I welcome any feedback to help us make improvements. In particular, I invite you to apply to be a blog writer during the next call for writers, and in the meantime to propose a guest post. We would love to feature your ideas!

Lastly, I appreciate Galen Charlton for his thoughtful response, everyone who has contributed to the LITA listserv thread, and for the tweets that sparked this conversation.

Brianna, LITA Blog Editor

Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know – 2, a LITA webinar

Attend this informative and fast paced new LITA webinar:

Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know – 2

Varnum300pebMonday November 2, 2015
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Central Time
Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

We’re all awash in technological innovation. It can be a challenge to know what new tools are likely to have staying power ­­and what that might mean for libraries. The 2014 LITA Guide, Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know, highlights a selected set of technologies that are just starting to emerge and describes how libraries might adapt them in the next few years. In this 60 minute webinar, join the authors of three chapters from the book as they talk about their technologies and what they mean for libraries. Those chapters covered will be:

Impetus to Innovate: Convergence and Library Trends
Presenter: A.J. Million
This presentation does not try and predict the future, but it does provide a framework to understand trends that relate to digital media.

The Future of Cloud-Based Library Systems
Presenters: Elliot Polak & Steven Bowers
The “cloud” has come to mean a shared hardware environment with an optional software component. In libraries, cloud computing technology can reduce the costs and human capital associated with maintaining a 24/7 Integrated Library System while facilitating an up­time that is costly to attain in­ house.

Library Discovery: From Ponds to Streams
Presenter: Ken Varnum
Libraries, and libraries’ perceptions of the patrons’ needs, have led to the creation and acquisition of “web­scale” discovery services. These new services seek to amalgamate all the online content a library might provide into one bucket.

Review of The 2014 LITA Guide, Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know
”Contains excellent advice about defining the library’s context, goals, needs, and abilities as a means of discerning which technologies to adopt … introduces a panoply of emergent technologies in libraries by providing a fascinating snapshot of where we are now and of where we might be in three to five years.” — Technical Services Quarterly


Steven Bowers is the director of the Detroit Area Library Network (DALNET), at Wayne State University. He also co-teaches a course on Integrated Library Systems for the Wayne State University School of Library and Information Science, with his colleague Elliot Polak. Bowers was featured in the 2008 edition of the Library Journal’s Movers & Shakers.

A.J. Million is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies (SISLT) at the University of Missouri, where he teaches digital media and Web development to librarians and educators. He has written journal articles that appeared in Cataloging and Classification Quarterly, the Journal of Library Administration, and OCLC Systems and Services. His dissertation examines website infrastructure in state government agencies.

Elliot Polak is the Assistant Library Director for Discovery and Innovation at Wayne State University. Prior to joining Wayne State Elliot spent three years at Norwich University serving as the Head of Library Technology responsible for evaluating, maintaining, and implementing systems at Kreitzberg Library.

Ken Varnum is the Web Systems Manager at the University of Michigan Library. Ken’s research and professional interests include discovery systems, content management, and user-generated content. He wrote “Drupal in Libraries” (2012) and edited “The Top Technologies Every Librarian Needs to Know” (2014).


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.


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

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
email [email protected]

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, [email protected]

Is Technology Bringing in More Skillful Male Librarians?

Yes the title of this blog post is sensational.  After reading Chapter 7 from Hicks’ 2014 book titled Technology and Professional Identity of Librarians, I was appalled to read that the few male librarians in our profession are negatively stereotyped into being unable to handle a real career and the male dominated technology field infers that more skillful males will join the profession in the future.  There is a proven concept that the competitive environment of technology is male dominated.  If this is true, then will more males join librarianship since it is becoming more tech-based?  There are a lot of things that are terrible about all this – males have tough stereotypes to overcome and there is a misconception that technology is the omen that will bring in more capable male librarians to the field.  I am going home early to sit at home, cry, read a scholarly book, and drink my tea with my pinkie sticking out – thank you very much.

What do male and female librarians think about technology and gender in our profession?  Comments please…

Male Librarian Stereotypes

All information on this post comes from Chapter 7 Technology, Gender, and Professional Identity:
Hicks, D. (2014). Technology and professional identity of librarians: The making of the cybrarian. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Further Reading on the topic of gender and librarianship visit – Chapter 4 That’s Women’s Work: Pink Collar Professions, Gender, and the Librarian Stereotype:
Pagowsky, N., & Rigby, M. E. (2014). The librarian stereotype: Deconstructing perceptions and presentations of information work. Chicago, IL: American Library Association.

Interacting with Patrons Through Their Mobile Devices :: NFC Tags

Wireless — this term evokes an array of feelings in technologists today. Even though the definition of the term is relatively simple, there are numerous protocols, standards, and methods that have been developed to perform wireless interactions. For example, by now, many of you have heard of the mobile applications, such as Apple Pay or Google Wallet, similarly, you might have a transit pass or badge for your gym or work. With a wave of your device or pass a scanner processes a “contactless transactions”. The tap-and-go experience of these technologies often utilize Near Field Communication, or NFC.

NFC is a set of standards that allows devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into close proximity, an effective distance of 4 cm.  A direct transmissions of specific information, separate from the openi-nfc-1-paiement[1] ended Wi-Fi access and seemingly limitless information resources it provides.

NFC tags are used to send a resource, or a specific set of data, directly to a patron’s mobile device to improve their information seeking experience. By utilizing this technology, Libraries have the ability to perform data exchanges with patron mobile devices without scanning a QR-code, or pairing devices (as required by Bluetooth) providing a less complex experience.

There are many useful tasks you can program these tags to perform. One example would be to set a tag to update a patron’s mobile calendar with an event your library is having. These tags have the ability to be programmed with date, time, location, and an alarm information to remind the patron of the event, which is substantially more effective than a QR codes ability to connect a patron with a destination. Another useful method of using this technology would be to program a set of NFC keychains for the library staff to have on hand programmed to allow Wi-Fi access, no more password requests or questions about access, just a simple tap of the NFC keychain. The ability to execute preset instructions, beyond just a URL for the mobile device, differentiates NFC tags from QR codes. Many NFC tag users also find them more appealing visually, because they can be placed into posters or other advertisement materials without visually altering the design.

The use of this technology has been anticipated in libraries for several years now. However, there is a one minor issue with implementing NFC tags, Apple only supports the use of this technology for Apple Pay. Apple devices do not currently support the use of NFC for any other transaction, even though the technology is available on their devices. Hopefully, in the future Apple will make NFC unrestrained on their devices, and this technology and it will become more widely utilized. 

Brave New Workplace: Start with a Survey

Brave New Workplace is an ongoing exploration of tech applications that can help new employees acculturate. While this series is aimed at empowering recent hires, managers could modify some of these suggestions in order to speed the acclimation process as well. In today’s first installment, I’ll discuss developing and administering a workplace survey as a tool for developing relationships and assessing needs.

Plan: Survey Your New Workplace

Tool: Google Forms

Next Steps: Text Mining and CRM creation

Starting a new job can be a daunting proposition, and in the first few weeks on the job information gathering is often priority number one. Learning about your workplace and your coworkers is the key to making a successful start.

Developing a survey can speed your workplace acclimation. All the benefits of surveys generally- a standard set of questions, a functionally sized test group- translate well to developing workplace relationships and getting to know the systems in place.

A few disclaimers here: I am in no way suggest sending out a mass email to new coworkers on your first day asking them to fill out a survey. Such an approach may appear alienating, and disrupts the natural social process of starting your new job. When I speak of survey as a method here, I mean rather that insuring that you consistently ask a set group of questions in the standard language. Your delivery method should be appropriate to your workplace.

For my own use and organization, I created a simple Google Form. Rather than distributing the form via email, I simply asked the questions at the natural points in my orientation/get-to-know you meetings with members of my department and other department contacts. Before I began this process, I reached out to my supervisor to discuss my methodology, rationale, and proposed questions. With her feedback, I refined my questions, and incorporated them into my conversations with my new coworkers.

My basic set of 5 questions was as follows:

  • How do you prefer to communicate about work
    1. Meeting/In-Person
      1. informal
      2. formal
    2. Email
    3. Phone
    4. LYNC Chat
    5. Other
  • Do you have any electronic resources you would love to get?

**Follow – up : What is it, and why don’t we have it?

  • Describe your average work day.
  • How would you describe the culture and workplace environment?
  • How can I assist you?

My pretty form looks like this:

CORC Front

While in my introductory meetings I would go with the natural flow of conversation, I would also insure that these questions got answered, usually just interspersing them at the right time. As a result, I wound up with a book full of notes that looked like this.

hand written notes

And then I took the answers and put them into my Google Form, which created a nicely organized spreadsheet that looks like this.

Names disguised.

Much more manageable. This spreadsheet served as the basis of my text mining plan for assessing opportunities and needs.

I’ll talk you through it and show you the ropes in the next installment of Brave New Workplace, coming November 25th!

Gimme a B! Gimme an A! Gimme a D! Gimme a G! Gimme an E! Gimme an S! What’s That Spell? Learning!

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released an entire report on credentialing. The Educause Learning Initiative has published several articles on the subject. Similarly, ACRL held a forum in September to discuss its role in a growing national conversation about badges and credentials.

So what are they and how can you begin the conversation at your own institution? Credentials refer to a general body of certifications that are typically awarded outside of traditional degree programs. They include continuing education credits, certificates of achievements, and more recently, digital badges.

More specifically, badges are digital tokens that appear as icons or logos on a web page or other online venue. Awarded by institutions, organizations, groups, or even individuals, badges signify accomplishments such as completion of a project, mastery of a skill, or marks of experience. Learners fulfill the issuer-specific criteria to earn the badge by attending classes, passing a quiz or exam, or completing other appropriate activities. The grantor then verifies that the criteria for completion or mastery have been met and awards the badge.

But there are several issues that need to be taken into consideration when thinking about a credentialing program:

1. What is the institutional context for the badges-is there one?

If no one other than the library has interest in awarding badges, that might prove problematic as students might not see the value in having a library badge, nor would it have much transferability. If on the other hand several units on campus work together to create a broader credentialing program, that might prove to incentivize the institution to lend support behind the program and offer some type of endorsement which increases the credentials’ validity.

You would then be able to collaborate with the other areas on campus to create a systematic and holistic program that would clearly delineate what competencies and skills are included, how they will be assessed and validated, how the badges will be awarded and how they would be displayed.

2. How are these credentials recognized beyond the institution?

This is a difficult question because as the literature listed above mentions, there is no widely accepted standard for how badges are administered, valued, and synthesized into the academic record of a student. That problem becomes compounded when these certifications make their way to employers who are trying to discern their validity and accuracy. Is a badge from one institution for the same skill set just as good as from another? The answer will depend on the outcomes and methods used in determining whether or not someone has achieved mastery of the skills in question.

3. Does badging really engage students in the learning process?

This too, varies by student. Some thrive on the intrinsic motivation badges provide as a way to gain increasing knowledge and skills and try to increase their chances of achieving either added academic or professional success, others simply want to earn the badge if it involves receiving a prize, or added points in a course. It will be important for any institution thinking of offering these credentials to balance these two elements and make sure that both are well represented within the program.

In the end, credentialing and badges are still new territory in higher education. Some institutions have fully embraced this model and have created both the infrastructure as well as the conceptual framework for supporting this type of learning. Others are still grappling with some of the issues discussed above. No matter at what stage of credentialing your institution finds itself, starting the conversation is the first step in taking the plunge into credentialing and digital badges.

Digital Privacy Toolkit for Librarians, a LITA webinar

Attend this important new LITA webinar:

Toolkit_Icon_MediumDigital Privacy Toolkit for Librarians

Tuesday October 20, 2015
1:30 pm – 3:00 pm Central Time
Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)

This 90 minute webinar will include a discussion and demonstration of practical tools for online privacy that can be implemented in library PC environments or taught to patrons in classes/one-on-one tech sessions, including browsers for privacy and anonymity, tools for secure deletion of cookies, cache, and internet history, tools to prevent online tracking, and encryption for online communications.

Attendees will:

Alison’s work for the Library Freedom Project and classes for patrons including tips on teaching patron privacy classes can be found at:https://libraryfreedomproject.org/resources/onlineprivacybasics/

Alison Macrina

alisonmacrinaIs a librarian, privacy rights activist, and the founder and director of the Library Freedom Project, an initiative which aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries by teaching librarians and their local communities about surveillance threats, privacy rights and law, and privacy-protecting technology tools to help safeguard digital freedoms. Alison is passionate about connecting surveillance issues to larger global struggles for justice, demystifying privacy and security technologies for ordinary users, and resisting an internet controlled by a handful of intelligence agencies and giant multinational corporations. When she’s not doing any of that, she’s reading.

Register for the Webinar

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


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

Registration Information:

Register Online, page arranged by session date (login required)
Mail or fax form to ALA Registration
call 1-800-545-2433 and press 5
email [email protected]

Questions or Comments?

For all other questions or comments related to the course, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, [email protected]

Agile Development: Sprint Retrospective


In my last two posts I’ve discussed how to carry out sprint review and sprint planning meetings. This month we’ll look at the final component of the sprint boundary process, the sprint retrospective, which is where the team analyzes its inner workings.


The sprint retrospective is an opportunity for the development team to review their performance over the previous sprint, identify strengths and weaknesses, and modify processes to increase productivity and well-being.


The retrospective should take place near the end of the iteration. It usually follows the sprint review, and can be held immediately following, but some sort of boundary should be established (take a short break, change the room, etc.) to make it clear that these are two very different meetings with very different purposes. The length of the meeting will change from sprint to sprint; budget as much time as you think you will need to fully explore team performance. If there isn’t much of substance to discuss, you can always end the meeting early and gain hero status within the team.


This is the most intimate gathering of the three we have looked at so far. No one other than the core iteration team should be present. Select stakeholders (Product Owner, department managers) may be included for some part of the meeting in order to gather feedback on specific issues, but at its core the retrospective should be limited to the people who performed the work during the iteration. Peripheral stakeholders and authority figures can dampen the effectiveness of this meeting.

Meeting Agenda

The “traditional” retrospective agenda consists of a quantitative review of team iteration metrics, followed by each team member answering the following 3 three questions to encourage dialogue:

  • What went right?
  • What went wrong?
  • What can be improved?

That’s as good a place to start as any, but your retrospective’s format should adapt to your team. Such a tightly-formatted agenda may cause some teams to fall into rote, uninspired contribution (“here, let me give you one of each and be done”), while more free-flowing conversations can fail to surface critical issues or avenues for improvement. You will want to provide enough structure to provoke meaningful exchanges, but not so much that it suppresses them. You know your team better than anyone else, so it’s up to you to identify the format that fits best.

The point of the meeting is to get your team into a comfortable critique space where everyone is comfortable sharing their thoughts on how to make the development process as efficient and effective as possible. Team members should avoid playing the blame game, but shouldn’t be afraid to point out behavior that detracts from team performance.

Of the three sprint boundary meetings, the retrospective is the hardest one to facilitate: it has the largest qualitative component, and it explores sensitive subjects like team dynamics and team member feelings. This is the meeting that will test a scrum master’s interpersonal and leadership skills the most, but it is also the one that will have the biggest impact on the development environment. When the user stories are flying fast and furious and time is at a premium, it’s easy to think of the retrospective as a luxury that the team may not be able to afford; however, it is crucial for every development team to set aside enough time to thoroughly analyze their own performance and identify the best potential avenues for meaningful and lasting change.

If you want to learn more about sprint retrospective meetings, you can check out the following resources:

I’ll be back next month to discuss how to build an agile organizational culture.

What strategies do you use to make your retrospectives fruitful? How do you encourage team members to be both forthright in their evaluations and open to criticism? How do you keep retrospectives from becoming exercises in finger-pointing and face-saving?

BIS-Sprint-Final-24-06-13-05” image By Birkenkrahe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

Great Library UX Ideas published at Weave

weavelogoAnnounced today by Matthew Reidsma of Grand Valley State University and Editor-in-Chief of Weave, the Journal Of Library User Experience, the publication of the submissions of the winner and first two runners-up for the 2015 Great Library UX Ideas Under $100.

In June 2015, the LITA’s President, Rachel Vacek, Program Planning Team partnered with Weave to hold a contest for great, affordable UX ideas for libraries. The winner won some fabulous prizes, but the committee had trouble choosing just one of the entries they received for recognition. Therefore they choose a winner and first two runners-up for the 2015 Great Library UX Ideas Under $100.

Congratualations to all the winners:

  • Conny Liegl, Designer for Web, Graphics and UX Robert E. Kennedy Library at California Polytechnic State University
  • Rebecca Blakiston, User Experience Librarian, University of Arizona Libraries
  • Shoshana Mayden, Content Strategist, University of Arizona Libraries
  • Nattawan Wood, Administrative Associate, University of Arizona Libraries
  • Aungelique Rodriguez, Library Communications Student Assistant, University of Arizona Libraries
  • Beau Smith, Usability Testing Student Assistant, University of Arizona Libraries
  • Tao Zhang, Digital User Experience Specialist, Purdue University Libraries
  • Marlen Promann, Graduate Research Assistant, Purdue University Libraries

Weave’s primary purpose is to provide a forum where practitioners of UX in libraries (wherever they are, whatever their job title is) can have discussions that increase and extend our understanding of UX principles and research. This is our primary aim: to improve the practice of UX in libraries, and in the process, to help libraries be better, more relevant, more useful, more accessible places.

For questions or comments related to LITA programs and activities, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty, [email protected]

Managing iPads – The Volume Purchase Program

Photo (c) John Klima
Photo (c) John Klima

This is part 2 in a series of managing iPads in the library. Part 1 (about the physical process of maintaining devices) was posted back in August. Part 3 (how to manage the software aspect of your devices) will come out next month.

If you’re going to offer iPad services to your patrons—either as a part of programming/instruction or as items they can check out and take home—you’re going to want some way to get apps in bulk. If you’re only looking at free apps then you’ll want to wait for the next post where I talk about how to get apps onto devices. But if you’re going to use pay apps (which is really what you want to do, right?) then read on.

You could set up each iPad individually and add a credit card/gift card to each one and buy apps as you needed them. That might not be too onerous if you’re managing a handful of devices. What if you have more than 20? What if you have hundreds? Then you’ll want a different solution.

Thankfully Apple has a solution called the Volume Purchase Program (VPP). You’ll notice there are two links on that page: one for Education and one for Business. If you’re an academic or school library you can probably use the Education link (you might need to work with some in your finance department to get things set up). If you’re at a public library, like I am, you’ll have to use the Business link. If you’re not sure which you should use Apple defines institutions eligible for the Education program as:

Any K-12 institution or district or any accredited, degree-granting higher institution in the U.S. may apply to participate.

If you qualify for the Education VPP you’ll get discounts on app purchases (typically in volumes of 20 or more) and you’ll also be able to purchase books for classrooms through the iBooks store. Apple has a wonderful guide on how the VPP program works for education. A Business VPP account doesn’t get the discounts that an Education account does but it can still be used to buy apps in bulk and buy books from the iBooks store.

The process of creating the account is roughly the same for either the Education or Business VPP. First, you need to verify that you are authorized to enroll your institution in a VPP account. In my case this involved using a verified email address and then accepting terms and conditions on behalf of my library. It’s more complicated for an Education VPP account and you can read the details on the link above. The Business VPP account has a fairly comprehensive faq for any questions not covered in this post.

After that you create a special Apple id that works as an administrator of the VPP account. This id will only be used to purchase apps/books through the VPP. You can have as many administrators as you want, but I find having only one or two works best so that can better manage how the VPP account is used. I find having too many people working on the same thing ends up with people inadvertently working against each other.

Quick note: if you are a Business VPP user, you cannot set yourself up as tax exempt (assuming you are a tax-exempt institution). All is not lost, however. You can submit your email receipts to Apple to be reimbursed for taxes after you send them your paperwork showing that you are a tax-exempt institution. The process, despite being an extra step, works pretty well. I email my claims to Apple and we get a check for the taxes within a few weeks.

The whole process of creating a VPP account is pretty straightforward*. It makes the whole process of managing multiple iPads/iPhones a lot easier so it’s worth doing. All that’s left at this point is getting your purchased apps onto the devices.

When you buy apps in bulk you’re given a list of redemption codes to download. I use Apple’s Configurator to deploy apps and manage devices. With the release of iOS9 Apple is rolling out Mobile Device Management and I’ll address both of those in the next post. Honestly the VPP is one of the easier pieces of managing multiple iPads but it’s a step you need to take.

Jump in the comments if you have follow-up questions!

* If you run into any problems, contact Apple support. They are super helpful and will get you the answers you need.