Create, Build, Code and Hack with a choice of 4 LITA preconferences

Register now for one of four exciting LITA pre conferences at 2015 ALA Annual in San Francisco.

On Friday, June 26, at the 2015 ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA) brings you a choice of 4 dynamic, useful and fun preconferences. These all-day preconferences, 8:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m., will teach you how to create, build, code and hack the newest trends in technology for libraries. Register through the 2015 ALA Annual Conference website. The price to register is: $235 for LITA members (use special code LITA2015); $350 for ALA members; and $380 for non-members.

AC15_logo_FINAL_150px_revCreate
Creating Better Tutorials Through User-Centered Instructional Design. Hands-on workshop with experts from the University of Arizona. Event Code: LIT1

Build
Build a Circuit & Learn to Program an Arduino in a Silicon Valley Hackerspace: Panel of Inventors & Librarians Working Together for a More Creative Tomorrow. This workshop will convene at Noisebridge, a maker space in San Francisco. Clearly, it will be hands on. Event Code: LIT3

Code
Learn to Teach Coding and Mentor Technology Newbies – in Your Library or Anywhere! Work with experts from the Black Girls CODE to become master technology teachers. Event Code: LIT2

Hack
Let’s Hack a Collaborative Library Website! This hands-on experience will consist of a morning in-depth introduction to the tools, followed by an afternoon building a single collaborative library website. Event Code: LIT4

Through hands on activities participants will learn to code, build, create and learn to teach others new initiatives such as video tutorials, collaborative website tools, programming languages and arduino boards. These events are intended for any librarian wanting to stretch themselves and meet their patrons in these new hands on technologies worlds.

Notable preconference presenters include: Yvonne Mery, Leslie Sult and Rebecca Blakiston from the University of Arizona Libraries; Mitch Altman of Noisebridge, Brandon (BK) Klevence of The Maker Jawn Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), Angi Chau off the Castilleja School (Palo Alto,CA), Tod Colegrove and Tara M Radniecki of the University of Nevada – Reno; Kimberly Bryant and Lake Raymond from Black Girls CODE; and Kate Bronstad, Heather J Klish of Tufts University; and Junior Tidal of the New York City College of Technology.

See the LITA conference web site for information about LITA events including details on the preconferences, the LITA Presidents program with Lou Rosenfeld, the Top Technology Trends panel, and social events.

For questions, contact Mark Beatty, LITA Programs and Marketing Specialist at [email protected] or (312) 280-4268.

Negotiate!

I’m going to say it: Librarians are rarely effective negotiators. Way too often we pay full prices for mediocre resources without demur. Why?

Negotiate
Credit: Flickr user changeorder

First of all, most librarians are introverts and/or peaceable sorts who dislike confrontation. Second, we are unlikely to get bonuses or promotions when we save our organizations money, so there goes most of the extrinsic motivation for driving a hard bargain with vendors. Third and most importantly, we go into the library business because libraries aren’t a business. Most of us deliver government-funded public services, so we have zero profit motive, and our non-business mentality is almost a professional value in itself. But this failure to negotiate weakens our value to the communities we serve.

Libraries pay providers over a billion dollars a year for digital services and resources, only to get overpriced subscriptions and comparatively shoddy products. When did you last meet a librarian who loved their ILS? Meanwhile, we lose whatever dignity remains to us when our national associations curry favor with “Library Champions” like Elsevier, soliciting these profiteers to give back a minuscule fraction of their profits squeezed from libraries. We forget that vendors exist because of us.

Recently I sat in a dealer’s office for ninety minutes, refusing to budge till I got a better deal on my new car. The initial offer was 7% APR. The final offer was 0.9% APR with new all-season floor mats thrown in. The experience awoke me to the realization that I, as the customer, always held the leverage in any business relationship. I was thrilled.

I applied that realization to my work managing electronic resources, renegotiating contracts, haggling reduced rates, and saving about 10% of my annual budget my first year while delivering equivalent levels of services. This money then could be shuffled to fund other e-resources and services, or saved so as to forestall forced budgets cuts and make the library look good to external administrators keen to cut costs.

The key to negotiation is not to fold at the first “no.” Initial price quotes and contracts are a starting point for negotiation, by no means the final offer. Trim unneeded services to obtain a price reduction. Renegotiate, don’t renew, contracts. Ask to renew existing subscriptions at the previous year’s price, dodging the 5% annual increase that most providers slap on products. And take nothing at face value! I once saved $4000 on a single bill because I phoned to ask for a definitive list of our product subscriptions only to discover that the provider had neglected to document one very active subscription. Sooo… we didn’t have to pay for it.

Don’t hesitate to call out bad service either. A company president once personally phoned me because I had rather vociferously objected to his firm’s abysmal customer service. Bear in mind, though, that most vendor reps are delightful people who care about libraries too. So when you’re negotiating, be firm and persistent but please don’t be a jerk.

Long-term solutions to vendor overpricing and second-rate products include consortiums, open access publishing, and open source software. But the simplest and quickest short-term solution for us individuals is to negotiate to get your money’s worth. Vendors want to keep your business, so to get a better deal, sometimes all you have to do is ask.

Michael Rodriguez is the E-Learning Librarian at Hodges University in Florida. He manages the library’s digital services and resources, including 130-plus databases, the library website, and the ILS. He also teaches and tutors students in the School of Liberal Studies and the School of Technology, runs social media for LITA, and does freelance professional training and consulting. He tweets @topshelver and blogs at Shelver’s Cove.

Volunteer to join the LITA AV Club

oldmovieprojectorYou know you always wanted to be part of the cool gang, well now is your big chance. Be a part of creating the LITA AV club. Help make videos of important LITA conference presentations like the Top Tech Trends panel and LITA Forum Keynotes. Create the recordings to share these exciting and informative presentations with your LITA colleagues who weren’t able to attend. Earn the undying gratitude of all LITA members.

Sound right up your alley? We’ll need a couple of chief wranglers plus a bunch of hands on folks. The group can organize via email now, and meet up in San Francisco say sometime Friday or early Saturday, June 26th and 27th. Details galore to be worked on by all. If you have enough fun you can always turn the Club into a LITA Interest Group and achieve immortality, fame and fortune, or more likely the admiration of your fellow LITAns.

To get started email Mark Beatty at: [email protected]
I’ll get gather names and contacts and create a “space” for you all to play.

Thanks. We can tell you are even cooler now than you were before you read this post.

Amazon Echo Update

I wrote about Amazon Echo a few months back. At the time, I did not have it, but was looking forward to using it. Now, that I have had Echo for a while I have a better idea of its strengths and weaknesses.

It doesn’t pick up every word I say, but its voice recognition is much better than I anticipated.  The app works nicely on my phone and iPad and I found it easy to link Pandora, my music, and to indicate what news channels I want to hear from. I enjoy getting the weather report, listening to a flash news briefing, adding items to my shopping list, listening to music, and being informed of the best route to work to avoid traffic.

My favorite feature is that it is hands-free.  I’m constantly running around my house juggling a lot of things.  Often I need an answer to a question, I need to add something to a shopping list as I’m cooking, or I want to hear a certain song as I’m elbow-deep in a project.  Having the ability to just “say the words” is wonderful.  Now if it just worked everything…

I hope updates will come soon though as I’d like to see increased functionality in its ability to answer questions and provide traffic information for different locations other than the one location I can program into the app. I also want to be able to make calls and send text messages using Echo.

In my first post about Amazon Echo, I stated I was really interested in the device as an information retrieval tool. Currently, Echo doesn’t work as well as I was expecting for retrieving information, but with software updates I still see it (and similar tools) having an impact on our research.

Overall, I see it as a device that has amazing potential, but it is still in its infancy.

Has anyone else used Echo? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the device.

Jobs in Information Technology: May 27, 2015

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Head of Technical Services, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR

Digital Content Specialist, The Morton Arboretum, Lisle, IL

Digital Humanities Specialist, Purdue University Libraries, West Lafayette, IN

 

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

Learn to Teach Coding – Webinar Recording

Tuesday May 26, 2015.

Today we had a lively half hour free webinar presentation by Kimberly Bryant and Lake Raymond from Black Girls CODE about their latest efforts and the exciting LITA preconference they will be giving at ALA Annual in San Francisco. Here’s the link to the recording from todays session:

LITA Learn to Teach Coding Free information webinar recording, May 26, 2015

For more information check out the previous LITA Blog entry:

Did you attend the webinar, or view the recording?  Give us your feedback by taking the Evaluation Survey.

Learn to Teach Coding and Mentor Technology Newbies – in Your Library or Anywhere!

Then register for and attend the LITA preconference at ALA Annual. This opportunity is following up on the 2014 LITA President’s Program at ALA Annual where then LITA President Cindi Trainor Blyberg welcomed Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code.

bgcblack

The Black Girl Code Vision is to increase the number of women of color in the digital space by empowering girls of color ages 7 to 17 to become innovators in STEM fields, leaders in their communities, and builders of their own futures through exposure to computer science and technology.

Navigating Conferences Like a Pro… When You’re a Rookie

I’ve recently attended some of my first conferences/meetings post-MLIS and I thought I’d pass on the information I learned from my experience navigating them for the first time.

Courtesy of Jatenipet. Pixabay 2014
Courtesy of Jatenipit. Pixabay 2014

Always be prepared to promote

This is the most dreaded aspect of networking. It essentially implies schmoozing and self-aggrandizement, but if you consider it as a socializing you’ll realize it’s an essential part of getting to know others in the profession and the roles they play in their organization. If you’re new to the information profession, it can be a great opportunity to ask other professionals about the path they took to enter the industry. More often than not when they find that you’re new to the profession, they’ll offer you advice. They’ll be curious to know what your career goals are and why you’re attending. This is a great opportunity to ask for their business card or contact information. If you find that you’ve built a good rapport and want to become more familiar with their work/organization, you should offer your business card (more on this later).

The thing about promotion

If you’re at a conference on behalf of an organization, then you’re on the company dollar. Therefore your mission is to network, learn and share. Since I plan on attending conferences to learn more about the profession and network, I couldn’t talk shop about procedures and management. If you are attending on behalf of an organization you’re expected to create professional networks and trace them back to your institution. It sounds intimidating, but if you allow yourself to soak-up as much information as possible, while being open about what works and doesn’t for your information environment, you’ll find others may want to emulate your framework and share theirs in return.

You have leverage too

Believe it or not the pros don’t know everything. Sometimes when you’re new to a profession you can become caught-up in what you don’t know and the list of skills you need to get to that ever distant “next level.” I was very surprised to find that many of the resources I was familiar with escaped the purview of individuals working in the digital records management and archives field. I introduced The Signal Digital Preservation and the Cancer Imaging Archive into a conversation and a few individuals took genuine interest in my explanation of their services. While earning your degree or working in different information environments, you are exposed to a variety of resources and ideas that others aren’t aware of. Don’t count yourself out, you have something to add to the conversation.

Think outside the box

There is no need to be intimidated about approaching new acquaintances during a professional conference. Most of the time you’re meeting with people who remember what it’s like to be at the forefront of a new career. It can be exciting and informative to strike-up a conversation with a presenter. There is nothing wrong with inquiring about lunch plans and meeting outside of the conference venue during scheduled breaks. The relaxed atmosphere of a restaurant is where funny stories of the trade can be passed along and you’ll get to know each other on a personal level. There are several factors that account for good networking and having an outgoing personality is one of them. While being personable is fine, doing so in a respectful manner is most apt.

Handy business cards

If you’re using a conference to network for future employment, then you need to have business cards. At larger conferences you can be one in hundreds of attendees. Business cards are a great way to establish that you’re prepared and professional. However, providing an acquaintance with your contact information is not enough. Perhaps you may want to ask for their card if you want to continue the conversation after the conference concludes. It’s likely that they’ll never take a look at your business card again, so it’s important to follow-up with an e-mail to remind them of the highlights of the conversation you had and how you’d like to collaborate with them going forward.

If you’re hoping to enter a new field post-graduation, at a minimum your business card should include: your name, degree(s) and university, your phone number and e-mail. You can also add a specialization to encompass your career trajectory such as Librarian, Electronic Resource Specialist or Certified Webmaster. For points of contact beyond your phone number and e-mail, providing your website, online portfolio or LinkedIn URL is a great way to showcase your web presence. If you can connect with another professional’s LinkedIn, you will not only increase their awareness of you, but you will be exposed to their extended network as well.

An added bonus

If you are networking for employment, one thing that you don’t want to do is outrightly ask about potential employment with another attendee’s organization. I’ve seen this happen before and it can be off-putting for the person being asked as well as anyone involved in the conversation. If you’re a new graduate or changing careers, the conversation will naturally flow into questions about your career plans. If the person you’re speaking with feels inclined to mention an upcoming opportunity, then it is an added bonus. Otherwise, enjoy yourself and take advantage of the learning opportunity. You’ll be in a room filled with like-minded professionals and everyone wants the most of their experience.

Are you planning on attending any conferences this year? What takeaways do you have from conferences you’ve attended in the past? Let me know in the comments section.

Should LITA oppose Elsevier’s new sharing policy?

It’s come to the LITA Board’s attention that the Confederation of Open Access Repositories is circulating a statement against Elsevier’s new sharing policy. (You can find that policy here.) COAR is concerned that the policy imposes long embargoes for open access content (up to 4 years); applies retroactively; and restricts author’s choice of Creative Commons license. Numerous individuals and library organizations, including ALA and ACRL, have signed on to this statement; the LITA Board is discussing doing likewise.

But we represent you, the members! So tell us what you think. Should LITA sign on?

Jobs in Information Technology: May 20, 2015

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week

Director of Information Technology, Douglas County Libraries, Castle Rock, CO

Associate Product Owner, The Library Corporation (TLC), Inwood, WV

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

Call for Writers

blogger meme
meme courtesy of Michael Rodriguez

The LITA blog is seeking regular contributors interested in writing easily digestible, thought-provoking blog posts that are fun to read (and hopefully to write!). The blog showcases innovative ideas and projects happening in the library technology world, so there is a lot of room for contributor creativity. Possible post formats could include interviews, how-tos, hacks, and beyond.

Any LITA member is welcome to apply. Library students and members of underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Contributors will be expected to write one post per month. Writers will also participate in peer editing and conversation with other writers – nothing too serious, just be ready to share your ideas and give feedback on others’ ideas. Writers should expect a time commitment of 1-3 hours per month.

Not ready to become a regular writer but you’d like to contribute at some point? Just indicate in your message to me that you’d like to be considered as a guest contributor instead.

To apply, send an email to briannahmarshall at gmail dot com by Friday, May 29. Please include the following information:

  • A brief bio
  • Your professional interests, including 2-3 example topics you would be interested in writing about
  • If possible, links to writing samples, professional or personal, to get a feel for your writing style

Send any and all questions my way!

Brianna Marshall, LITA blog editor