Category Archives: General information

Conference notes, ALA goings-on, and other miscellaneous items of interest to LITA members

Midwinter Workshop Highlight: Meet the UX Presenters!

We asked our LITA Midwinter Workshop Presenters to tell us a little more about themselves and what to expect from their workshops in January. This week, we’re hearing from Kate Lawrence, Deirdre Costello, and Robert Newell, who will be presenting the workshop:

From Lost to Found: How User Testing Can Improve the User Experience of Your Library Website
(For registration details, please see the bottom of this blog post)

LITA: We’ve seen your formal bios but can you tell us a little more about you?

Kate: If I didn’t work as a user researcher, I would be a professional backgammon player or cake decorator (I am a magician with fondant!). Or both.

Deirdre: I’m horse crazy!

Robert: In a past life I was a professional actor. If you pay really really close attention (like, don’t blink), you might spot me in a few episodes of Friday Night Lights or Prison Break.

LITA: User Testing is a big area. Who is your target audience for this workshop?

Presenters: This is a perfect workshop for people who want to learn user testing in a supportive environment. We will teach people how to test their websites in the real world – we understand that time and other resources are limited. This is for anyone who wants to know what it’s like for patrons to try accessing their library’s resources through their website.

LITA: How much experience with UX do attendees need to succeed in the workshop?

Presenters: Experience isn’t required, but an understanding of the general UX field and goals is useful. Attendees are encouraged to come with a potential usability study topic in mind. From Robert: “You just need to be able to put your social scientist hat on and look at user testing as an informal (and fun!) psychology experiment.”

LITA: If your workshop was a character from the Marvel or Harry Potter universe, which would it be, and why?

Kate: Having just read the Harry Potter series with my two kids, I can say that our workshop will inspire like Dumbledore, give you a chuckle like those naughty Weasley twins, teach you like the astute Minerva McGonagle would, and leave you smiling with satisfaction just like the brilliant Hermione Grainger.

Deirdre: Either Hermione or Jean Grey (pre-Phoenix, obviously). In either case, someone others turn to for advice and guidance, but who truly guide rather than doing it for you.

Robert: I’m gonna say Mystique. Mystique can literally put herself in someone else’s shoes (human or Mutant). When we conduct usability testing, we’re directly observing what it’s like to be in the user’s shoes and we’re seeing things from their perspective.

LITA: Name one concrete thing your attendees will be able to take back to their libraries after participating in your workshop.

Kate: The knowledge about how to conduct a user test on their library site, a coupon for a free test from usertesting.com, and support and encouragement from a team of experienced researchers.

Deirdre: The skills to plan, recruit for and execute small-sample usability tests. The ability to communicate the findings for those tests in a way that will advocate for their users.

Robert: The ability to validate your ideas about your website with direct, reliable user feedback. Whenever you think, “This might work, but would it make sense to our users?” You’ll have the skills and tools to go find out.

LITA: What kind of gadgets/software do your attendees need to bring?

Presenters: Whatever note taking method you prefer; a laptop or mobile device to follow along is recommending but isn’t required. Kate recommends “A laptop. A pen and paper. A positive, can-do attitude!”

LITA: Respond to this scenario: You’re stuck on a desert island. A box washes ashore. As you pry off the lid and peer inside, you begin to dance and sing, totally euphoric. What’s in the box?

Kate: I’m assuming my family is on the island with me, and in that case – I want that box to contain Hershey’s hugs, the white chocolate kisses with milk chocolate swirls. I’m obsessed!

Deirdre: Hostess Orange Cupcakes.

Robert: A gallon of Coppertone Oil Free Faces SPF 50+ Sunscreen. I’m sorry but I’m fair skinned with a ton of freckles and a desert island scenario just screams melanoma to me.

Thank you to Kate, Deirdre, and Robert for giving us this interview! We’re looking forward to their UX Workshop at Midwinter in Chicago. We’ll hear from our other workshop presenters in the coming weeks!

More information about Midwinter Workshops. 

Registration Information:
LITA members get one third off the cost of Mid-Winter workshops. Use the discount promotional code:  LITA2015 during online registration to automatically receive your member discount.  Start the process at the ALA web sites:
Conference web site:
Registration start page:
LITA Workshops registration descriptions:
When you start the registration process and BEFORE you choose the workshop, you will encounter the Personal Information page.  On that page there is a field to enter the discount promotional code:  LITA2015
As in the example below.  If you do so, then when you get to the workshops choosing page the discount prices, of $235, are automatically displayed and entered.  The discounted total will be reflected in the Balance Due line on the payment page.
preconference
Please contact the LITA Office if you have any registration questions.

Shifting & Merging

McKenzie Pass, Ore. Courtesy of Ryan Shattuck. Task Easy Blog 2013.
McKenzie Pass, Ore. Courtesy of Ryan Shattuck. Task Easy Blog 2013.

It has been exactly seven weeks since I moved to Bloomington, Indiana, yet I finally feel like I have arrived. Let me rewind, quick, and tell you a little about my background. During my last two years of undergrad at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), I spent my time working on as many Digital Humanities (DH) projects and jobs as I possibly could in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities.

[DH is a difficult concept to define because everyone does it through various means, for various reasons. To me, it means using computational tools to analyze or build humanities projects. This way, we can find patterns we wouldn't see through the naked eye, or display physical objects digitally for greater access.]

By day, I studied English and Computer Science, and by night, my fingers scurried over my keyboard encoding poems, letters, and aphorisms. I worked at the Walt Whitman Archive, on an image analysis project with two brilliant professors, on text analysis and digital archives projects with leading professors in the fields, and on my own little project analyzing a historical newspaper. My classmates and I, both undergraduate and graduate, constantly talked about DH, what it is, who does it, how it is done, the technologies we use do it and how that differs from others.

Discovering an existing group of people already doing the same work you do is like merging onto a packed interstate where everyone is travelling at 80 miles per hour in the same direction. The thrill, the overwhelming “I know I am in the right place” feeling.

I chose Indiana University (IU) for my Library and Information Science degrees because I knew it was a hub for DH projects. I have an unparalleled opportunity working with Dr. John Walsh and Dr. Noriko Hara, both prominent DH and Information Science scholars.

However, I am impatient. After travelling on the DH interstate, I expected every classmate I met at IU to wear a button proclaiming, “I heart DH, let’s collaborate.” I half expected my courses to start from where I left off in my previous education. The beginning of the semester forced me to take a step back, to realize that I was shifting to a new discipline, and that I needed the basics first. My classes are satisfying my library love, but I was still missing that extra-curricular technology aspect, outside of my work for Dr. Walsh.

Then, one random, serendipitous meeting in the library and I was “zero to eighty” instantly. I met those DH students and learned about projects, initiatives, and IU networking. They reaffirmed that the community for which I was searching existed.

Since then, I have found others in the community and continue those same DH who, what, how, why conversations. While individual research is important, we can reach a higher potential through collaboration, especially in the digital disciplines. I am continuing to learn the importance of reaching out and learning from others, which I don’t believe will cease once I graduate. (Will it?)

I assure you that my future posts will be more closely related to library technology and digital humanities tools, but frankly, I’m new here. While I could talk about the library and information theory I’m learning, I will spare you those library school memories, and keep you updated on new technologies as I learn them.

In the meantime, I’ll ask you to reflect and share your experience transitioning to library school or into a library career. How were you first introduced to library technology or digital humanities? Any nuggets of advice for us beginners?

A Tested* Approach to Leveling Up

*Unscientifically, by a person from the internet.

If you’re a LITA member, then you’re probably very skilled in a few technical areas, and know just enough to be dangerous in several other areas. The later can be a liability if you’ve just been volunteered to implement the Great New Tech Thing at your library. Do it right, and you just might be recognized for your ingenuity and hard work (finally!). Do it wrong, and you’ll end up in the pillory (again!).

pilloryMaybe the Great New Tech Thing requires you to learn a new programming or markup language. Perhaps you’re looking to expand on your skills–and resume–by adding a language. For many years, the library associations and schools have emphasized tech skills as an essential component of librarianship. The reasons are plentiful, and the means are easier that you might think. With a library card, a few free, open source software tools, and some time, you can level up your tech skills by learning a new language.

I humbly suggest the following approach to leveling up, which has worked for me.

What you’ll need

A computer. A Windows, OS X, or Linux laptop or desktop computer will suffice.

Resources. Online programming “schools”, such as Codeacademy and Code School are a great concept and work for some people, but I’ve personally found them to provide an incomplete education. The UI demands brevity, and therefore many of the explanations and instructions require a certain level of knowledge about coding in general that most beginners lack. I have found good ol’ fashioned books to be a better resource. Find titles that have exercises, and you’ll learn by doing. Actually building something practical makes the process enjoyable. The Visual Quickstart Guide series by Peachpit Press and the Head First series by O’Reilly usually teach through practical examples.

Books are a great source of knowledge, but so are your fellow coders. Most languages have a community with an online presence, and it would be a good idea to find those forums and bookmark them. But if you were to bookmark only one forum, it should be the Stack Overflow forum for the language you’re learning.

Some languages also have official documentation online, for example, php.net and python.org.

Time. Carve out time wherever you can. If you take public transportation to work, use that time (if you can find a seat). Learn during your lunch break. Give up a season of your favorite TV show (you can always catch up later in a weekend binge-watch when the DVDs hit your library shelves).

Where to start

Here and now. Maybe you’re reading this because you’ve just been tapped to implement the Great New Tech Thing at your library. Or maybe you’re considering adding a skill to your resume. Whatever the reason, there’s no time like the present.

Leveling up for professional development affords you greater flexibility. Start with a language your friends know–they will be an invaluable resource if you get stuck along the way. Also, consider starting with a simple language that you can build upon. If you already know HTML, then PHP and JavaScript are natural progressions, and they open the door to object-oriented languages like C++, Java, or Python. Finally, make sure there’s a viable–if not growing–community around the language you want to learn. Not only does this give a sense of the language’s future and staying-power, the community can also provide support through online forums, conferences and meetups, etc.

If you’re new to programming languages, I hope this approach helps. If you’re a veteran coder, please share your learning approach in the comments.

The Password Dilemma

366px-Elizabeth_Montgomery_Allen_Ludden_Password_1971
Elizabeth Montgomery on the game show Password, 1971

One-on-one technology help is one of the greatest services offered by the modern public library. Our ability to provide free assistance without an underlying agenda to sell a product puts us in a unique and valuable position in our communities. While one-on-one sessions are one of my favorite job duties, I must admit that they can also be the most frustrating, primarily because of passwords. It is rare that I assist a patron and we don’t encounter a forgotten password, if not several. Trying to guess the password or resetting it usually eats up most of our time. I wish that I were writing this post as an authority on how to conquer the war on passwords, but I fear that we’re losing the battle. One day we’ll look back and laugh at the time we wasted trying to guess our passwords; resetting them again and again, but it’s been 10 years since Bill Gates predicted the death of the password, so I’m not holding my breath.

The latest answer to this dilemma is password managers like Dashlane and Last Pass. These are viable solutions for some, but the majority of the patrons I work with have little experience with technology and a password manager is simply too overwhelming.

I’ve been thinking a lot about passwords lately; I’ve read countless articles about how to manage passwords, and I don’t think there’s an easy answer. That said, I think that the best thing librarians can do is change our attitude about passwords in general. Instead of considering them to be annoyances we should view them as tools. Passwords should empower us, not annoy us. Passwords are our first line of defense against hackers. If we want to protect the content we create, it’s our responsibility to create and manage strong passwords. This is exactly the perspective we should share with our patrons. Instead of griping about patrons who don’t know their email passwords, we should take this opportunity to educate our patrons. We should view this encounter as a chance to stop patrons from using one password across all of their accounts or God forbid, using 123456 as their password.

If a patron walks away from a one-on-one help session with nothing more than a stronger account password and a slightly better understanding of online security, then that is a victory for the librarian.

What’s your take on the password dilemma? Do you have any suggestions for working with patrons in one-on-one situations? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

An Interview with LITA Emerging Leader Annie Gaines

Annie Gaines1. Tell us about your library job.  What do you love most about it?

I am the Scholarly Communications Librarian at the University of Idaho. This is a brand new position within the library and also my first ‘real’ librarian job, so it’s been a constant learning experience. I work along with the Digital Initiatives Librarian on the various digital projects happening at the library, including building an institutional repository, creating digital collections, redesigning the library website, creating and managing open access journals, and working on VIVO (a semantic-web application we are using as a front-end to our IR). I also do some education and advocacy around copyright, author’s rights, open access, etc.

The thing I love most about this job (aside from being able to design websites in crayon – image attached) is taking an idea and bringing it into fruition. Whether it’s a digital collection of postcards with custom navigation or a new journal or database, being able to make an idea a functional, beautiful reality is really rewarding. Also I’m just really excited about increasing access to information, and designing new ways to make that information accessible to a broader audience.

2. Where do you see yourself going from here?

Having just started this career, I’m not completely sure what’s next for me. I’m very happy in my current position, and I love all of the people I work with at the University of Idaho. I think my next step will probably be to start pursing another degree to help expand my knowledge in this field, or to fulfil my dream to become a professional comic artist/graphic novelist on the side.

3. Why did you apply to be an Emerging Leader?  What are your big takeaways from the ALA-level activities so far?

I was encouraged by my mentor, a previous Emerging Leader, to apply. I am actually the fourth Emerging Leader in a row to be selected from the University of Idaho Library, so there is a lot of administrative support and encouragement for this kind of activity. The big thing I’ve learned through working with ALA is that although the organization and the sub-organizations have a massive population, it is a handful of active participants who make nearly everything happen. My goal is to become one of those change-agents at the ALA level, eventually.

4. What have you learned about LITA governance and activities so far?

I’ve learned that LITA is inclusive and active with its membership. This is a very fun organization, and I’m impressed with the discussion and activities that come out of LITA and its membership.

5. What’s your favorite LITA moment?  What would you like to do next in the organization?

My favorite LITA moment was working with Rachel Vacek and Kyle Denlinger on the Town Meeting activities at Midwinter. My favorite kind of brainstorming involves large sheets of paper and crayons (see above) and being able to do that with other LITA members was really fun.

An Interview with LITA Emerging Leader Kyle Denlinger

Kyle Denlinger1. Tell us about your library job.  What do you love most about it?

My job as eLearning Librarian is equal parts project manager, instructional designer, information literacy teacher, and instructional technologist, with some multimedia producer and reference librarian thrown in to keep things interesting. My main initiative right now is the continuing development of ZSRx, my library’s series of open online courses for Wake Forest alumni and parents. What I love most about my job is that I’m empowered to act on big ideas, I get to do a bunch of creative work, and I get to do it all alongside some of the best coworkers and faculty colleagues you could find anywhere.

2. Where do you see yourself going from here?

I would *love* to eventually head up a team that serves as a resource for faculty who want to better integrate technology and library resources into their teaching in effective and creative ways. This team would handle everything from software training to multimedia production to instructional design for online, blended, and face-to-face courses.

3. Why did you apply to be an Emerging Leader?  What are your big takeaways from the ALA-level activities so far?

I applied to the EL program because so many of the people I look up to in libraries went through the program at some point in their career, and their experiences seem to have served them well. I can see why–I’ve already made some excellent ALA buddies through EL and have had a few doors open to me since being accepted to the program. My biggest takeaway so far is that decisions are made by those that show up. Big as they are, ALA, and LITA in particular, are really accessible organizations for those that wish to get involved at any level–you just have to show up and be willing to do the work.

4. What have you learned about LITA governance and activities so far?

It was great to be able to sit in on a LITA board meeting and to help plan the #becauseLITA stuff surrounding the Town Meeting at Midwinter. LITA’s emphasis on openness and camaraderie, and the fun-by-default nature of most LITA activities makes me happy that it’s my professional home. I can’t say I’m an expert on LITA governance (yet), but I do know that I’m able to be involved at even the highest levels if I so choose.

5. What’s your favorite LITA moment?  What would you like to do next in the organization?

My favorite LITA moment comes from my least-favorite LITA moment (or, rather, a LITA non-moment). At the Top Tech Trends panel at Annual in Chicago, Char Booth gave me and a project I’d been working on a very prominent shout-out in front of a full room. This was great, but it would have been even better if I’d, you know, ATTENDED THE PANEL. I’d decided to skip it to get an early dinner with a friend. I found out through a small flood of excited texts from friends who were there, and at the LITA Happy Hour that evening, almost everyone I knew was super excited for me. I think someone bought me a beer. Such is LITA.

The thing I’m excited about is getting involved in next is the shiny new User Experience IG, which everyone should join. Shameless plug: http://connect.ala.org/node/222849

LITA Members: take the LITA Education Survey

LITA members, please participate in the LITA Education Survey. The survey was first sent out 2 weeks ago to all current LITA members.  Another reminder will appear in LITA members email boxes soon, or you can click the links in this posting. The survey should take no more than 10 minutes of your time and will help your LITA colleagues developing continuing education programs to meet your needs.

LITA Education Survey 2014

In our continuing efforts to make LITA education offerings meet the needs and wishes of our membership, we ask that you, the LITA members, take a few minutes to fill out the linked survey. We are looking for information on education offerings you have participated in recently and would like to know what topics, methods and calendar times work best for you.

The more responses we get the better chances we have to create education offerings that provide excellent value to you the LITA membership. We appreciate you taking 10 minutes of your time to complete the LITA Education Survey 2014.

Thank you for your time and input.

LITA Education Committee

LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Nominations Sought

Nominations are being accepted for the 2015 LITA/Library Hi Tech Award, which is given each year to an individual or institution for outstanding achievement in educating the profession about cutting edge technology through communication in continuing education within the field of library and information technology. Sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and Library Hi Tech, the award includes a citation of merit and a $1,000 stipend provided by Emerald Group Publishing Limited, publishers of Library Hi Tech. The deadline for nominations is December 1, 2014.

The award, given to either a living individual or an institution, may recognize a single seminal work or a body of work created during or continuing into the five years immediately preceding the award year. The body of work need not be limited to published texts, but can include course plans or actual courses and/or non-print publications such as visual media. Awards are intended to recognize living persons rather than to honor the deceased; therefore, awards are not made posthumously. More information and a list of previous winners can be found at http://www.ala.org/lita/awards/hitech in the Awards and Scholarships section.

Currently serving officers and elected officials of LITA, members of the LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Committee, and employees and their immediate family of Emerald Group Publishing are ineligible.

Nominations must include the name(s) of the recipient(s), basis for nomination, and references to the body of work.  Electronic submissions are preferred, but print submissions may also be sent to the LITA/Library Hi Tech Award Committee chair:

Holly Yu
University Library
California State University, Los Angeles
5151 State University Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90032-4226.
hyu3@calstatela.edu

The award will be presented at the LITA President’s Program during the 2015 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in San Francisco.

About Emerald

Emerald is a global publisher linking research and practice to the benefit of society. The company manages a portfolio of more than 290 journals and over 2,350 books and book series volumes. It also provides an extensive range of value-added products, resources and services to support its customers’ needs. Emerald is a partner of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) and works with Portico and the LOCKSS initiative for digital archive preservation. It also works in close collaboration with a number of organizations and associations worldwide.  www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com

About LITA

Established in 1966, LITA is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership of almost 3,000 system librarians, library administrators, library schools, vendors and many others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. For more information, visit www.lita.org , or contact the LITA office at 800-545-2433, ext. 4268; or e-mail: lita@ala.org.

For further information, contact Mary Taylor at LITA, 312-280-4267.

Nominations Sought for Prestigious Kilgour Research Award

Nominations are invited for the 2015 Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology, sponsored by OCLC, Inc. and the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The deadline for nominations is December 31, 2014.

The Kilgour Research Award recognizes research relevant to the development of information technologies, in particular research showing promise of having a positive and substantive impact on any aspect of the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information or how information and data are manipulated and managed. The Kilgour award consists of $2,000 cash, an award citation and an expense paid trip (airfare and two nights lodging) to the ALA Annual Conference.

Nominations will be accepted from any member of the American Library Association. Nominating letters must address how the research is relevant to libraries; is creative in its design or methodology; builds on existing research or enhances potential for future exploration; and/or solves an important current problem in the delivery of information resources. A curriculum vita and a copy of several seminal publications by the nominee must be included. Preference will be given to completed research over work in progress. More information and a list of previous winners can be found at

http://www.ala.org/lita/awards/kilgour

Currently-serving officers and elected officials of LITA, members of the Kilgour Award Committee and OCLC employees and their immediate family members are ineligible.

Send nominations by December 31, 2014, to the Award jury chair:

Tao Zhang
Purdue University Libraries
504 W State St
West Lafayette, IN 47907-4221
or zhan1022@purdue.edu

The Kilgour Research Award will be presented at the LITA President’s Program on June 29th during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

About OCLC

Founded in 1967, OCLC is a nonprofit, membership, computer library service and research organization dedicated to the public purposes of furthering access to the world’s information and reducing library costs. More than 72,000 libraries in 170 countries have used OCLC services to locate, acquire, catalog, lend, preserve and manage library materials. Researchers, students, faculty, scholars, professional librarians and other information seekers use OCLC services to obtain bibliographic, abstract and full-text information when and where they need it. For more information, visit www.oclc.org.

About LITA

LITA is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership including systems librarians, library administrators, library schools, vendors and many others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. For more information, visit www.lita.org, or contact the LITA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4268; or e-mail: lita@ala.org

For further information, contact Mary Taylor at LITA, 312-280-4267.

LITA/Ex Libris Seeking LIS Student Authors

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), is pleased to offer an award for the best unpublished manuscript submitted by a student or students enrolled in an ALA-accredited graduate program. Sponsored by LITA and Ex Libris, the award consists of $1,000, publication in LITA’s refereed journal, Information Technology and Libraries (ITAL), and a certificate. The deadline for submission of the manuscript is February 28, 2015.

The purpose of the award is to recognize superior student writing and to enhance the professional development of students. The manuscript can be written on any aspect of libraries and information technology. Examples include digital libraries, metadata, authorization and authentication, electronic journals and electronic publishing, telecommunications, distributed systems and networks, computer security, intellectual property rights, technical standards, desktop applications, online catalogs and bibliographic systems, universal access to technology, library consortia and others.

At the time the unpublished manuscript is submitted, the applicant must be enrolled in an ALA-accredited program in library and information studies at the masters or PhD level.

To be eligible, applicants must follow the detailed guidelines and fill out the application form at:

http://www.ala.org/lita/sites/ala.org.lita/files/content/involve/committees/exlibris/ExLibrisAwardApplication.pdf

Send the signed, completed forms by February 27, 2015 to the Award Committee Chair,

Sandra Barclay
Kennesaw State University
1200 Chastain Rd NW MD# 0009
Kennesaw, GA 30144-5827.

Submit the manuscript to Sandra electronically at

sbarclay@kennesaw.edu

by February 28, 2015.

The award will be presented at the LITA President’s Program during the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco.

About Ex Libris??

Ex Libris is a leading provider of automation solutions for academic libraries. Offering the only comprehensive product suite for electronic, digital, and print materials, Ex Libris provides efficient, user-friendly products that serve the needs of libraries today and will facilitate their transition into the future. Ex Libris maintains an impressive customer base consisting of thousands of sites in more than 80 countries on six continents. For more information about Ex Libris Group visit www.exlibrisgroup.com.

About LITA

Established in 1966, LITA is the leading organization reaching out across types of libraries to provide education and services for a broad membership including systems librarians, library administrators, library schools, vendors and many others interested in leading edge technology and applications for librarians and information providers. For more information, visit www.lita.org, or contact the LITA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4268; or e-mail: lita@ala.org

For further information, please contact Mary Taylor at LITA, 312-280-4267.