Thanks to our bloggers

LITA and BIGWIG would like to thank the volunteers that put forward such a phenomenal effort to capture LITA Forum 2007 for us. Without them, we couldn’t have covered the conference in the detail that we did, and I would like to give them a round of virtual applause for their efforts.


Thanks go out to:

If I missed anyone, please let me know and I’ll append my list.

Five Months with WorldCat Local

Speaker: Jennifer Ward, University of Washington Libraries

Jennifer started by showing a YouTube video, “Finding Time in the Penn State Libraries,” to illustrate the problems searchers have when looking for material through library catalogs. I was amused when I looked for the video that another librarian has posted a video response, “Finding Time Magazine at Humboldt State” that shows a simpler search process.

Jennifer is head of Web Services at the University of Washington Libraries, and she described her experiences as a participant in the OCLC WorldCat Local Beta project. She noted that she was not free to share everything, due to a non-disclosure agreement with OCLC. She largely walked the audience through the, which is available to all users although it may not behave as expected for users not in Washington state. The other Beta participant currently is the Peninsula Library System in California, with an implementation available at the San Mateo County Library.

Jennifer started by describing the environment in Washington. UW is a member of the Orbis Cascade Alliance and participates in the Summit consortial online catalog. Through WorldCat Local (WCLocal), UW has been able to combine three different delivery systems (local, Summit, and Illiad) and four article databases: PubMed, ERIC, GPO, ArticleFirst (collectively more than 30 million article citations), plus digital collections in CONTENTdm. She noted that it has not been possible to add all of their licensed database content into WorldCat Local due to varying license terms from publishers, but OCLC is working on increasing the amount of licensed content available.

When a user types in a query, WC Local returns items held by UW first, then items in the Summit catalog. When the user selects an item, he or she is presented with four options: “Get It,” “Save It,” “Add to It,” and “Share It,” the same options that are available in However, the “Get It” option in WCLocal allows the user to “Request Item,” where offers as options “Find in other WorldCat Libraries” and “Buy from” (UW opted to turn off the Amazon option). “Request Item” in WC Local sends the request either to the local ILS, if UW has the item, or to Illiad for ILL processing. If the item is an article, the request option looks first for electronic availability, using the libraries’ Open URL Resolver.

The effect of WorldCat Local on their borrowing and resource sharing practices has been significant. Since April 30th, when the system went live, they have seen a 50.28% increase in borrowing within their consortium, a 39.5% increase in ILL requests, and a 16.28% increase in ILLs processed, compared to the same period a year ago (the difference in ILLs requested and processed is due to borrowers mistakenly requesting materials available from a Summit library or a licensed database).

According to Jennifer, WCLocal is only an additional view on top of the local ILS; all cataloging and acquisitions are still done through the ILS, so the impact on staff in those areas has been minimal. The increase in resource sharing has resulted in additional burdens on staff, however. The focus of the trial has been on the impact of the catalog on end users, some of whom love the new system, while others have complained about the change. Jennifer could not share details of OCLC’s user testing, but she said that she was impressed with both their methodology and the quick turnaround; in some cases, the user testing has resulted in rapid changes to the interface. UW is scheduled to keep WCLocal as the default catalog view through Fall 2007, and OCLC is planning to do a second round of formal usability testing during the semester.

Poster Sessions

LITA 2007 offers ten poster sessions covering a wide variety of topics. I will try to give you a glimpse of each of the offerings present. While ten were listed not all were present.

Take your online services to the next level: audio, video and more! By Michelle Jeske (Denver Public Library) really showed how you could add visual and audio interest to your library’s virtual presence. Virtual storytime with a children’s librarian reading the book while the illustrations are shown was especially interesting, as was the ability to put audio instructions for using the web site in either English or Spanish.

SFX usability testing at ASU by Tammy Allgood and Jenna Amani (Arizona
State University) showed immediate applications to improving their pages. They observed users going through set tasks and began making changes immediately based on what they learned, cleaning up the pages and converting to more natural language.

Converting technophobes into technophiles: empowering reluctant library staff by Nina McHale (Auraria Library, Denver, Colorado)

Adventures in digitization: a new librarian shares five hard-earned tips to avoid project management pitfalls by Cory Lampert (University of Nevada Libraries, Las Vegas). This really was a good presentation for someone in their first position from library school. Points stressed include planning, collaboration, metadata, using the system you have, completing the project and marketing the final result. And this digitization project focused on the costumes for Las Vegas showgirls. They have already been used by fashion designers, even a follow up call from Paris.

Bright ideas or squeaky wheels: defining a model for R&D resource allocation by Jennifer S. Jutzik and Don Albrecht (Colorado State University Libraries) took a very proactive stance in showing their need for more resources. Being a land grant institution, they surveyed other land grant institutions regarding their IT support. Then they could show where they were in comparison.

Using the access grid videoconferencing system for collaboration and training: an experiment with distributed personal interface grids (PIGs) by Sharon Dennis (Midcontinental Region of the National Library of Networks of Medicine) is certainly an improvement over some clunky delivery methods where there are delays which slow the discussions. While eventually it is hoped to use this with instruction, right now they are using it primarily for conferencing and collaboration among sites at a distance from each other.

Managing library IT projects with agility and innovation by Janetta Waterhouse (University of Kansas) was one I really was interested in seeing, but unfortunately was not there.

MySpace or Facebook – the social networking faceoff: what’s right for your library by Beth Evans (Brooklyn College Library) and Shannon Kealey (New York University’s Bobst Library). And the battle begins, not really. There are good points for both and either social networking tool will get you more in touch with your younger users. One difference to note is that MySpace allows an institution entity whereas Facebook now only allows individual entities. However, in Facebook, if people join your group, you can do mass emails to them.

Advanced optical character regognitions using a cheap point & shoot digital camera by Dimitar Poposki (Department for Translation and Interpretation, Republic of Macedonia) also seemed to be not present.

Reaching students outside of traditional library instruction: creating online tutorials to reach a new generation of information users by Cindy Craig and Curt Friehs (Wichita State University Libraries) use tools like Camtasia, a tool I recommend, to improve online instruction. They have created tutorials for individual online databases to help show how to navigate through using them. Camtasia allows the viewer of the tutorial to see the screen and watch the action of the searching take place.

In Your Face(book): Social Networking Sites for Engaged Library Services

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it,” said Alan Kay, father of the laptop computer, the apple/mac graphical user interface, and object oriented programming. Ruminations upon this quote kicked off Gerry McKiernan’s presentation on the social networking site Facebook, during which McKiernan used the Swiss Army knife as metaphor for online social networking, and Facebook as one of the multi-use tools.

Why should librarians use Facebook? Because it’s a preferred medium of comunication among college-age and younger students as well as, increasingly, the rest of us. Studies indicate that tweens & teens use Facebook to discuss educational/homework topics; Facebook has the largest number of registered users among college-focused sites.

So why haven’t more college faculty bought into the concept? McKiernan thinks it’s because some of us (I’ve heard repeatedly over the past couple days that 35 is the cut-off for being “cool” but I don’t believe it) aren’t comfortable divulging our age, posting a picture etc. He pointed out that Facebook users have complete control over their profiles and privacy settings, and thus can choose what they want to share.

In addition to its use as a means of communication between individuals, McKiernan cited Facebook groups’ potential to augment/supplement learning management systems, and as community-building tools for distance education and learning communities. He discussed the power of Facebook apps to bring the library to people, and to blend 2.0 technologies.

Preconference II: Library-wide IT Proficiency

Melissa has already blogged the general outline so I’m just adding my comments.

There were 55 folks registered for this 6 hour preconference. Participants were from all types of libraries – academic, special, public, government, etc. Some support just IT proficiency for employees; others support employees and students.

In the discussion on how to get staff involved and interested they suggested sharing the weekly video by David Pogue. He’s with the New York Times and does a weekly tech tip.

Don’t reinvent the wheel – look for existing lists of proficiency topics, other teaching tips, etc. but do tailor what you find to your audience and your situation. You might want to consider doing a user assessment and tailoring needs to this but remember many staff that really need training don’t recognize it. Find fun and interesting ways to encourage people to show up or take part.

We discussed the need to link competency goals and then holding staff responsible for those in their annual evaluation. There needs to be some responsibility for the need to continue to learn. One attendee mentioned the difficulties posed by working with union employees.

So what kinds of things would folks consider in competencies – one level might be for everyone: basic toner in the printer, saving a file, making sure everything is plugged in. Additional levels of competencies can be set based on areas of responsibility – are they public service? Technical service? Or even a manager – one place has a set of competencies for the branch managers.

Staff need to not just attend training but be allowed (and encouraged) to “play” with what they learn – give a task to practice on, maybe a task that relates to a service they are responsible for providing. Some staff are afraid of “breaking” something, getting past that attitude takes some work.

Frequently teaching appropriate vocabulary to non-IT staff is necessary. Having a complete description of the problem makes it easier to know what the problem is or where to start. Instead of “it doesn’t work” someone reporting that they are unable to open the application X.

There was quite a lively discussion on whether it is the younger vs. older librarians or curious vs. afraid of technology librarians. Considering the majority of people sitting in that room were not 20 something, the consensus was it is more a curiosity or willingness to play and learn – not age. BTW – this part made me feel old – I do remember Crosstalk and when we only had one computer in the library.

The suggestion of going out to the users and asking the “good, bad, and ugly” was something that intrigued me. Seeing users concerns, frustrations, etc for improved communications from IT is an area I want to tackle. As well as talking with new employees about IT issues that would relate to them – email space, passwords, etc.

Another lively discussion was held regarding when organizational IT decides to do maintenance. Several attendees mentioned issues with Sunday night maintenances times – right when students decide “oops tomorrow is Monday and I have work”. There was recognition that many times the organizational IT has no consideration of users needs.

Wiki from preconference –

Letting the Cat Out of the Box?

Presenter: Edward M. Corrado, Systems Librarian, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Library
October 6, 2007, LITA National Forum

Edward Corrado has presented on social software, Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 on numerous occasions and is interested in the use of open source software and Web 2.0 applications in libraries. He is the author of an upcoming chapter in a book from Libraries Unlimited. He has a Masters of Library Service from Rutgers University and is on the Code4Lib Journal editorial committee, an e-journal designed for programmers in libraries.

Where are our users, and how can we meet them on their turf?

The library web site is not necessarily the first place students go, e.g., a student in the library near the reference desk was looking at B&N to find books and then wondering if the library had it.

Next Gen catalogs have generated lots of discussion and some implementations andprojects, e.g., Endeca, Aqua Browser, XC (eXtensible catalog), WorldCat Local (University of Washington), Koha Zoom (Athens County Public Library, Ohio), VU Find(Villanova University open source), Primo by ExLibris (University of Iowa just went live) to try to make the catalog better.

Other services try to engage users with the library website to modernize and take advantage of Web 2.0 ideas, social software, getting users involved in creating content, e.g., New Books at D.H. Hill Library at North Carolina State University, Penn Tags.

Continue reading Letting the Cat Out of the Box?

From Plone to Plinkit to Public Libraries: A Tale of Four States

Darci Hanning, Oregon State Library, Sharon Morris, Colorado State Library, Kristi Lindsey, Penrose Community Library District, Beverly J. Obert, Rolling Prairie Library District, Tine Walczyk, Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Plinkit is a program for developing database-driven web sites for libraries, that uses open-source software, and is free to the libraries who use them. Individual library projects are created with training and support by librarians from statewide/regional library organizations, using statewide funding. They work together to bring this resource into existence for the benefit of small towns, particularly in rural areas. The presenters all find it gratifying to help small libraries develop web sites with the Plinkit project.

Each of the presenters gave a description of Plinkit from a different perspective. We heard viewpoints of trainers, administrators, and a librarian from a small town; all who are involved in using the Plinkit in different ways.
Continue reading From Plone to Plinkit to Public Libraries: A Tale of Four States

Start-Up Process Management for Library Media Production Services

Presenter: Sean Cordes, Coordinator of Instruction Services, Malpass Library, Western Illinois University Libraries
October 6, 2007, LITA National Forum

Sean Cordes was previously Instructional Technology Library at Parks Library, Iowa State University of Science and Technology. He holds masters degrees in educational technology, and in library and information science from the University of Missouri. His responsibilities at Western Illinois include academic web designer, technology librarian and instruction coordinator.

This presentation describes the rationale and practical considerations that went into creating the Iowa State library’s Media Production Services (MPS), a video editing studio that allows students to digitize, manipulate and create media, DVDs, slide shows, etc., over a one to one and a quarter year time period, including how the library and IT came together as a group to define roles and policies. The slides include visuals and photographs of the area, equipment, and signage.

Why provide media production services for students? Why is it important?

  • We talk about Web 2.0 – this is the frontier for students to build it.
  • Students need skills for the job market: collaborative skills, applied technology skills, problem solving in general, ability to work in groups.
  • It is important for students to not only access library materials but also to actually create materials: “Learn – create – participate”.
  • Studies such as ECAR’s annual Students and Information Technology Survey (available on the Educause website) and Jill Casner-Lotto in her 2006 “Are they really ready to work?” indicate that students know the content of their fields but not how to apply it in work situations using collaborative skills, problem solving, etc.
  • Student familiarity with tools is miles wide but not very deep.

Continue reading Start-Up Process Management for Library Media Production Services