Library Wide IT Proficiency Preconference

Library-Wide IT Proficiency Preconference

Presented by Brenda Chawner and Grace Sines

This session was very informative. The preconference covered technology competency frameworks, understanding proficiency issues, discussion on what makes a good IT staff and IT fundamentals. One major point made was that in order to be successful in this process each of need to know our end users needs.

Competency Frameworks:

The first thing that is needed is a list of competencies. Most of the time you need minimum levels that everyone will need to know and then a second tier or level that is based more on specialist’s or higher level competencies. Some lists are broken down by department or even job type and job level. Most competencies need to be task based so that it is easier to demonstrate and measure.

When developing these competencies involve a range of staff so that all aspects are included. Consulting existing lists can also help you develop one that is relevant to your organization or library. Also, putting an angle of gaining something by attaining additional competencies make people work harder to achieve those goals. Defining IT competencies will also require the need for assessments. Competencies need to be tied to the evaluations but not without warning. Never refer to specific operating systems or products in the competencies because it is an ever-changing.


Some challenges that present themselves are the fact that many that are unfamiliar with technology are afraid of breaking it. In order for this to work however you have to empower and enable staff with certain IT proficiencies. Communication is a key factor because staff and faculty have to know what is expected out of them. Always remember that when someone calls panicking, that their problem is an emergency to them. Be sensitive.

The first part of this preconference was a lot of group discussion to get input and ideas on how we perceived a competency program working and what collective and specific needs would most likely need to be addressed.

End users need to have confidence in themselves and trust their judgment, it is a culture change. They also do not need to be fearful of change or of breaking things. Also, be aware of global affects and know how things are affecting everything else. If all else fails, Make it FUN.

Liaison Programs:

Many discussed their individual liaison programs and how they are setup and the responsibilities. One of the criteria should be a desire to learn. Many that attended said they allow the supervisors of the areas/branches to determine who the representative in their area. Expectations of this group were also discussed.

The Good, Bad, & Ugly Meetings:

The best way to have a successful IT group is to LISTEN, LISTEN, LISTEN. One example was to have meetings with the different areas or the entire library and ask them; What do you not like, what do you like, what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, etc. Do not respond to any comment made at the meetings just take it all down. Take all comments back for review and then comment back.

A Primer:

Another good idea that was presented was having a primer for new employees. This would give new folks an understanding of what the IT department does as well as the structure and responsibilities of that group.


Training can come in many fashions. Technology changes so rapidly that it is easy to get left behind. Some examples of training possibilities are listed: Free or low cost, online, expert knowledge of co-workers, mentoring programs, etc. Or you could go with fee based training like subscriptions, online classes, webinars, and onsite training.

This preconference was very helpful. It not only allowed us to share information and knowledge on how we perceive proficiencies, liaisons, and training but it also allowed us to find out that we are all in the same boat. Many of the needs were similar across the many represented libraries. A number of handouts were given as well as a few examples of forms that these ladies use. The presenters also issued a cd to participants that included all PowerPoint slides, examples of IT proficiencies, and a primer.

Library 2023: A Provoked Discussion on the Future of Libraries

Why 2023, you ask? Because that’s when Gregg A. Silvis will probably retire.

The first question Silvis posed to the participants was, What if there were 100,000,000 books available for free in full text?

First the group critiqued NetLibrary’s business model, then brainstormed about a “killer app” that would make ebooks enjoyable to read. Some folks seemed more comfortable than others with the idea of a device that could be directly implanted into the optic nerve. This blogger was quite comfortable using her institution’s new tablet PC to read magazine articles on the airplane on the way to the conference, and just might download an ebook for the trip home.

Whatever happens with ebooks, everyone agreed that maintaining equity of access will continue to be an important and central concern for libraries, and that our role as a place for people to connect will continue to be one of our mainstays.

Next, Silvis asked, What if copyright legislation were rewritten to more reasonably reflect real world practices?

We know we’re supposed to come to a complete stop at a stop sign, to obey the speed limit, and thinking back on the prohibition era, to abstain completely from alcohol unless given a written prescription by a doctor (nice graphic, Gregg), but, well, you know how it is. One attendee made the important point that copyright law was originally intended as a contract between authors/creators and our governing body, to insure that one’s intellectual property could be disseminated in such a way as to serve the public good, while still providing incentive for the individual to create (forgive me—and comment on this post, attendee—if I didn’t quite get that paraphrase right).

The conversation then turned to scholarly publishing, peer review, and one of my favorite topics, open access. There seemed to be a shared sense of optimism in the room about the future of scholarly publishing; specifically it was said that open access journals are developing a strong peer review infrastructure. That’s good news for those of us who won’t be up for tenure for a few years yet and who’d like to see all publicly funded research and scholarship be made freely available to everyone.

Then, What if Star Trek style reference became the reality?

Um, I don’t really remember Star Trek, especially those black and white episodes, but I’m all about Web 2.0, so I beamed myself back to my hotel room, went to Memory Alpha, the Star Trek wiki, and found this: Can we design computers that we can teach to answer the kinds of questions humans ask? Or will we have to train humans to communicate in ways our computers will understand? It was suggested that the semantic web is only about five years off, and it will be interesting to see how that plays out. One thing that Star Trek-style computers, the semantic web, reference robots, etc., etc., may not be able to do anytime soon is conduct a reference interview. Until, that is, technology is developed that will allow us to network directly into our patrons’ brains. Won’t that be cool.

The last few minutes were spent talking about What will happen when nanotechnology and quantum computing become reality?

For one thing, books will be really, really small, so we’re going to need better glasses. Also, we could find ourselves suffering from information overload like never before—imagine being able to search the full text of the entire contents of the Library of Congress (not just the records, everything). Sound scary? Fortunately, humans are highly adaptable creatures, as evidenced by recent studies highlighting real differences in the brains of children who’ve spent their young lives plugged in. Plus, we’re talking 2023 here, and at least a few of us will be retired.

E-books: an account of the student experience

Presenters: Bonnie Tijerina, Julie Griffin, and Heather Jeffcoat King, Georgia Institute of Technology’s Library & Information Center

Summary: As e-book platforms change, so does the experience for readers of scholarship in electronic format. Georgia Tech Library’s web usability working group undertook an e-book study in early Spring 2007 in order to gain insight into user expectations and perceptions of this increasingly popular research tool. Presenters will discuss the variety of e-book platforms, the techniques used in the Library’s usability study undertaken at Tech, and the effect of the study’s outcomes on e-books as licensed electronic resources in our library. Continue reading E-books: an account of the student experience

Enhancing the OPAC

Enhancing the OPAC: Tagging the Catalog and Keyword-in-Heading Searching

Shawn Carraway, Midlands Technical College

Michael Bowden, Harrisburg Area Community College

Michael Bowden and Shawn Carraway presented on two major customizations they made to their OPACs

Both presenters work with SirsiDynix Unicorn but regardless of vendor any system should be able to, and want to impliment these ideas.

Michael presented first on “Keyword in Heading” which he defines as a cross between a keyword search and browse authority search, and which allows the user to do a keyword search on the headings fields. The reason he set this up is because he feels students are not familiar with LCSH searching.

The search page is located at:

Michael pulls out heading from Sirsi into a separate MySQL database every night after the subject headings are compiled.

The search interface then uses a keyword in browse field from which a php search retrieves a subject heading list that the user can then choose from. Works the same for titles, authors, and series.

Shawn Carraway

Catalog is at:

Set up a system in the catalog to allow students to tag records via for several reasons:

  • Felt it provided a better way for students to find materials.
  • Wanted to involve users, let them actively participate in the Library
  • Allows them to organize the information in the way that makes sense to them.
  • It also allows them to help each other.
  • Make tag clouds
  • Changes as language changes
  • Good way to make quick lists – especially professors
  • Compliments, not replaces MARC

How does it work?

Students have to log in with their regular username and password – not anonymous. Then they click to tag a record and the tag is saved in a separate database that connects via a key to the item record.

Possible Problems?

Foul language? Not really, she personally monitors the tags

Misspellings and typos? Not really, she personally monitors the tags

Confusion – i.e. gum, soda, etc. – she leaves it.

Despite popularity among students, some Librarians are still opposed. “Guys in Ties” are very supportive but will draw the line if it is misused.

There was then a discussion on privacy questions, which basically concluded that there is no issue with the materials and students although Shawn still is divided on the privacy issue.

A participant asked why they did not use LibraryThing. Shawn felt the tag clouds, and tagging works too differently, the database does not have enough academic books and would not allow the students to tag, and would therefore defeat the primary purpose of engaging students, which really is the primary purpose of the innovation.

LITA Forum Blogging Update

As you may have noticed if you are attending LITA Forum 2007 in Denver, the hotel wifi that LITA so graciously provided to us does not extend into the conference rooms.

If you are signed up to blog for the Forum, please find me and I will see what I can do to make the process of live blogging slightly easier for you. I am currently in the opening keynote in the back of the room capturing audio for podcast, if you are in attendance there, or email me at

LITA Forum 2007

Just a quick note for all of the LITA members currently converging on Denver, CO for LITA Forum 2007, as well as those following us from afar.

For those attending, if you are taking photos at Forum, uploading videos, blogging on your personal site, etc, please tag your content with:


That way those at home can follow along if they wish. As photos hit Flickr and other sites, we’ll try and keep a running list of content we are alerted to here on LITABlog.

As well, if you Twitter and want to contribute to the LITA Forum Twitter stream, head on over to http:/ and add LITAForum as a friend. If you want to follow along the Twittering stream:


This RSS feed 

To follow along with those of us who might be Twittering along in Denver.

We will also, of course, have our crack team of bloggers covering as much of Forum as we can possibly cover, barring the limitations of space and time. Keep your browsers tuned to LITABlog for all the informational goodness.

Five Minute Madness at the LITA Forum

Are you working on a cool new project that you didn’t even know about when the Call for Papers came out? Would you like an opportunity to share your work with colleagues in an informal setting?

If you’ve read the LITA Forum schedule, you may have noticed the Saturday morning Session titled: 5 Minute Madness. This year, LITA is trying something new and setting aside a session for informal presentations of projects and ideas that weren’t really gelled when the Call for Papers closed back in the winter. The Forum Planning Committee knows that nine months is a looong time in IT, and we want to be able to offer a conference experience that includes new ideas in addition to the more formal presentations that go through the peer-reviewed proposal process. We’re borrowing this idea from the Access conference which has used this impromptu, less formal approach for a few years.

The idea is simple: presenters get five minutes to talk about their project or idea. Then there are a couple minutes for questions while the next person gets ready, and then you’re done – or you get the hook!

Interested? There will be a sign-up sheet at the Registration table area starting on Friday, and we’ll have time for a maximum of 9 talks. To help keep things moving, you should count on not having Internet access, and bring whatever AV materials you need on a thumb drive. Or just talk! Your presentation materials will be posted after the conference.

Informal Discussion: e-Resources Management at LITA Forum

ER&L (Electronic Resources & Libraries) and LITA ERM IG are hosting an informal discussion during the LITA Forum about the state of e-resource management.

The meeting will be Saturday, October 6th from 8-9am in the Molly Brown Room. Grab some breakfast and come in for a discussion.

Join us as we continue our discussions (started at ER&L, ACRL and NASIG) on the future of e-resources management. We’ve been exploring ideas of how to create a community, a collaborative work space, an understanding, and a vocabulary about how we need to manage and make accessible our electronic content. These conversations spurred this blog and ideas for other collaborative spaces, like the projects wiki.

Bonnie Tijerina will touch on some of the highlights of the discussions held so far and possible future projects. This is very informal, allowing for time to talk about what’s happening in your libraries and your ideas for ways to improve.

ER&L Forum:

Official Call for Volunteer Bloggers at Forum 07

LITA members will soon be celebrating “Ten Years of the National Forum” in beautiful Denver, Colorado. The LITA Blog will, of course, again be there to report on what is happening — sharing as much of the fun and learning it can with those who cannot attend this year.

But, as always, we need your help!

Do you like to write? Looking for new ways to get involved? Take this opportunity to become a LITA Blogger!

The blog schedule for Forum has been posted and will be updated as we receive more volunteers.

We have over 50 sessions to be covered, so your help is needed more than ever.

If you are interested, please email Tiffany Smith and let her know what sessions you would like to cover and if you are new to LITA Blog.

We will be taking volunteers up to and during the conference.

LITA Forum 2007

The Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) is pleased to offer our annual National Forum–
Technology with Altitude: Ten Years of the National Forum
October 4-7, 2007
Denver Marriott City Center

Register now to save $75 off the regular registration rate; this offer ends on August 15th!

Two full day preconferences on gaming and library-wide IT proficiencies provide opportunities for hand-on experiences and in-depth discussions:

Keynote sessions enrich each day’s programming:

Local topic with Jeffrey Kiehl, National Center for Atmospheric Research, CO
The Scientific and Social Challenges of Global Warming

David King, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, KS
The Future is not out of Reach: Change, Library 2.0, and Emerging Trends

Jeremy Frumkin, Gray Chair for Innovative Library Services, OR
In Our Cages With Golden Bars

The LITA National Forum provides a wealth of opportunities for growth and development. In addition to the above programs, there are 34 concurrent sessions and 11 poster sessions planned where you’re sure to find practical advice, new ideas, and tested solutions to technological issues you encounter every day. Networking opportunities throughout the Forum will provide ample opportunity for interaction with colleagues.

All Forum events will take place in the Denver Marriott City Center hotel at a discount rate of $139 per night.

Register now to get the best rate!