Category Archives: Librarianshp

ERMS prequel

Used to be (at FPOW) I would spend 20-25 hours a month manually gathering database usage data and manually updating this huge spreadsheet with all kinds of fancy cross-links to summary sheets which took me a good three years to build and which I continually tweaked.

Well, a job change a few years ago basically killed that beautiful spreadsheet (different databases, forgot what I did where to make it work right, no time to even glance toward database stats, and other huge little stuff) and I’d been wanting an easy way to skip most of the manual stuff.  Enter SUSHI & COUNTER standards.

After being asked for a recommendation on an ERMS a year (or more) ago those 20-25 hours a month seemed like waay too much hassle.  I explored a bunch of options, never wrote up the process, and in the end we went with Serialssolutions 360 Resource Manager and 360 Counter products as an ERMS and Assessment combination.  (long story short, it meshed well with the rest of our stable of SerialsSolutions products – we don’t do 360 MARC Records since we use the 360 Core A-Z list for all periodicals access)

Time passed, other priorities reared their ugly heads.  More on the story in the next post…

I encourage people to get a handle on their eResources however you may, I had a spreadsheet which did everything except sliced bread.  Now I have a hosted ERMS which I … well I’m getting ahead of myself.

/end backgrounder

EMA: ExLibris Mid-Atlantic Users Group meeting

The 2008 ExLibris Mid-Atlantic Users Group meeting will be held October 2&3, 2008 at Shippensburg University.  The location was finalized about a week ago, the program proposals request announcement is forthcoming (really soon, I hope), the hotel with discount is something like $60.

Here are some relevant links: (soon to be updated with EMA2008 info?)

ExLibris Mid-Atlantic Google Group (discussions and more info)

gMap of Shippensburg University (EMA location is the Ceddia Union Building [the CUB], at the corner of Lancaster Dr & Cumberland Dr – parking is available off Baseball Access Rd)

Library/BarCampOhio – My Morning discussions

Oy, I don’t think I kept up with the discussion at all… here’s the #BarCampOhio feed

We started out with “community generated content” and morphed through “using patron usage data for enhanced services” (and should it be “opt” in or “opt out”?) then into “enhanced records – do users want this & what enhancements do they want” on into various discovery tools – Solrpac is very nice (I wanna try a beta for MPOW – can I have an extra few days per week?)

That’s all I can come up with – no real take aways at the moment… post-prandial & post-sponsor speeches chaos ensues

CopyNight DC

1. The ALA Washington Office will host the DC CopyNight meetup on Tuesday, August 5, 2008. The event will run from 6:30pm – 8:30pm.  There will be food, refreshments, and free copyright sliders.

Discussion topics: Georgia State copyright lawsuit and other current copyright news and issues.

If you’re interested, please take a minute to RSVP so we know roughly how many people are coming. The ALA Washington Office is located at 1615 New Hampshire Ave NW, 2 blocks from Dupont Circle. Hope to see you there!

Cribbed from the District Dispatch Blog

Is it time to reverse the customer-service mentaility plaguing academe?

Does this sound like a description of incoming college students to you?

In “On Stupidity” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the author (Thomas H. Benton) says he “see[s] too many students who are:

·         Primarily focused on their own emotions — on the primacy of their “feelings” — rather than on analysis supported by evidence.
·         Uncertain what constitutes reliable evidence, thus tending to use the most easily found sources uncritically.
·         Convinced that no opinion is worth more than another: All views are equal.
·         Uncertain about academic honesty and what constitutes plagiarism. (I recently had a student defend herself by claiming that her paper was more than 50 percent original, so she should receive that much credit, at least.)
·         Unable to follow or make a sustained argument.
·         Uncertain about spelling and punctuation (and skeptical that such skills matter).
·         Hostile to anything that is not directly relevant to their career goals, which are vaguely understood.
·         Increasingly interested in the social and athletic above the academic, while “needing” to receive very high grades.
·         Not really embarrassed at their lack of knowledge and skills.
·         Certain that any academic failure is the fault of the professor rather than the student.”

While I certainly see some students in their own similar little nirvanas, many of them are also engaged and engaging, intellectually curious and grounded.  Neither Benton nor I are pessimistic about how today’s new students think, since every generation learns differently.

The missing piece in today’s academic meme of “student-centered services” is students are not brought face to face with the realization that we *all* think differently, we all need to be able to speak to other people both from our own frame of reference as well as from theirs.  Communication and communication modes are a two way street — sure, the professor needs to be able to communicate so the students can understand; but the students also need to learn to communicate so the professor understands the students’ understanding.

In the larger view, “student centered” doesn’t mean change everything for the student’s ease of understanding, it means take the time to learn to communicate with the student and teach the student to communicate with people who think/operate differently.

How can we take the extended arguments of the Enlightenment and make them accessible to today’s shorter attention span?

OCLC Symposium: The Mashed Up Library #ala2008

Finally deciphered my notes from the *one* “continuing education” session I was able to attend in my otherwise jam-packed ALA Committee(s) (over)work schedule at #ala2008.

The OCLC Symposium: “The Mashed Up Library” (teaser and write up at It’s All Good)

Great introduction with a mental-state-setting creative exercise:
1. What is your Greatest Resource?
2. What is your Greatest Challenge?
3. What if… (dangerous ideas)
*We stopped cataloging?
*We participated fully with the FBI? (Sienfeld’s Library Cop)
*We mashed up Connexion with WoW = WorldCat of Warcraft

Innovation =
conversion of novelty to value
(novelty to whom? & value for whom?)
means to an end
is not what innovators offer -> it’s what clients/customers/patrons adopt
(from creation of choice -becoming-> value from use)

Mashup =
Interoperability between datasets, between institutions, between library services

Ask users “What is the most innovative thing you think we do for you?”
(put on thick skin for the usual answer: “Library” does not equal innovative in users’ views)

What is (and/or what should be) the most important product of the library?
What institutional innovations and adaptations best get the library to the goal of the most important product of the library?

Competition, like innovation, is a means to an end
it’s about perceived value from choice

How do [users/user communities] brand the library as a competitor?
Who are the library’s competitors?

Learn from the “lead users”
Who are our lead users?

With whom do we want to collaborate to create value? & Why?
With whom *should* we collaborate? & Why?

We should market our “best” internal disagreements
Make the users part of the discussion, market and make all points of view available for further discussion

Establish a “librar-atory” that attracts talent and inspire hypotheses
Publicize our R&D efforts

Success will come from taking the path of maximum advantage.

That’s the extent of my notes, I haven’t taken time to reflect on the main message, but I did find a streaming video of the session via David Lee King’s writeup (*sigh* have to use IE from this page to get the video) — which I’ll review when I can get out of my hamster wheel — to help me draw some conclusions.

Mostly it’s a set of questions we, library staff, faculty, and users, should answer or at least discuss. I think the discussion is the more important activity; answers would be nice, but “answers” implies a static state which I don’t expect to see in libraries for a long time 🙂

PS I wrote this up for a quick presentation at the staff meeting this morning & asked folks to do the creative exercise questions on paper — I’ll combine everyone’s responses (and share the aggregate after I ask the library faculty to do the same in our 1st faculty meeting of Fall Semester)

Leadership and Change

It takes a leader to face the reality of change; especially to face it, embrace it, and look for fresh views from people who might have some insights on how things could or should be – instead of being focused on how things are and why they should stay the same.

A week or two ago, Jim Rettig — you know, the incoming ALA President — asked two sets of questions on NMRT-L.

Here’re the Questions:

Set 1:
What have your best, most rewarding experiences in ALA been?
What made them the best?
How can ALA offer opportunities for such experiences to all of its members?

Set 2:
If ALA didn’t exist today and we wanted to create a library association that would work on behalf of all types of libraries, all library users, and all library workers, what would it look like and how would it operate?

I responded once to set 1 and twice to set 2.
(I’d forgotten I’d responded to set 2 & got pumped up by some of the ideas expressed in the other responses)

Full Q&A after the fold…
See the pdf Q&A
Continue reading Leadership and Change

Civil War eResource: The Valley of the Shadow

From the description: The Valley Project details life in two American communities, one Northern and one Southern, from John Brown’s Raid through Reconstruction.  Conatins 1000s of original letters, diaries, newspapers, speeches, and census and church records from Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Augusta County, Virginia.  The Valley Project tells forgotten stories of life during the Civil War.

The text-based pieces in the collection have both images of the original and transcripts.  There are also maps, images, official records, battle maps, soldiers’ records, and reference materials.  Pretty handy compilation of primary and secondary source materials for two views on life during the Civil War.

Public Library Book Circ Stats since 1856

With a hat tip to Larry T. Nix on the ALA Library History Round Table [LHRT Membership Listserv].

Book Circulation Per U.S. Public Library User Since 1856
Douglas A. Galbi, Senior Economist Federal Communications Commission

Galbi neatly summarizes ~150 years of varying public library circulation statistics in 11 tables which cover overlapping years of slightly differently calculated statistics. The differing calculations include “circulations per user per year,” “percent of juvenile users,” “circulation per person served,” “library circulation per capita,” and “median book circulation per registered user.” While Galbi does provide some speculations on the “stability” of user borrowing, there are interesting trends or patterns in the data. Note that each table uses a different measurement algorithm, so the absolute numbers in the tables do not necessarily match exactly.

Table 1 data show that from 1908 through 1946 library (where “library” is large public libraries in various cities of >200K population) “circulation per user” swelled from ~15 in 1908 to a high of ~23 in the early and middle of the Great Depression and then declined to ~16 in 1946 (Table 1).

Table 2 data show that from 1939 to 1983 “circulation per person served” (where “person served” was calculated as a percent of the then total U.S. population) declined from 5.3 (33% of which was juvenile circulations) in 1939 to a low of ~3.4 in the late 1940s-early1950s (but with a swelling into the 40%s of juvenile circulation), rising back to ~5 through the early 1960s (with juvenile circulation reaching 50% in these years), “book circulations per user” continue to rise to almost 6 in 1967 and starts a slow slide to ~5.5 in the mid-1970s (as juvenile circulation plummets from 50% in 1967 to 34% in 1975), by 1983 “book circulation per user” slides to 4.8 (as juvenile circulations hold around 33% of total circulation). Another interesting data point is the “percent of U.S. Population served;” in 1939 ~60% of the U.S. population was served by a public library, swelling to ~75% in 1950, before declining to ~70% in 1956, and then steadily climbing to ~96% by 1983.

Table 3 highlights Colorado circulation per state population from 1920 to 2000 (mostly steady growth except small slide in the 70’s) ~2 in 1920 to ~9 in 2000.  You go, Colorado!
Table 4 highlights the median circulation per user in sets of U.S. cities growing from ~14 in 1890 to ~18 in 1920, then a decline to ~16 at the next data point in 1970.

Table 5 data and the related graph show no strong trend lines, according to Galbi; however, I see a very macro trend of declining library uses from 1856 through 2004.  Since the 1868 “high” point of ~19 books per user per year circulated, the trend line decreases with surges during the Great Depression and the late 60’s recession.  In 2004 the number of circulations per user per year is ~half (9) of the 1868 high (19). The trend may possibly have cyclical elements, inversely tracking a few years behind the perceived economic health of the U.S, but over all seems to be significantly lower over time.
The last 6 tables are used to explain certain assumptions and estimates made in the data of the above referenced tables, and the explanations make sense to me on my superficial gloss over them.
“But what does that mean?” says I. Here’s what I think is important to take away:

  • During “Major War Years” (WWI, WWII) library circulation (and, possibly, use?) declines
    • Possibly people ran out of time for the luxury of leisure reading?
  • During times of hardship (Depression, late 60’s – late 70’s recession) library circulation increases
    • Possibly people had much more free time for the luxury of leisure reading and possibly took advantage of the escapism provided by books?
  • The Baby Boomers seem to be a generation of heavy readers
    • Which they learned in childhood, checking out up to half of all books circulated at the time?
  • The late Boomers and children of Boomers do not seem to be such heavy readers
    • Did the Boomers not take their kids to the library?
  • The advent of television in the 50’s may have sucked away the adult reading population
    • The heavy juvenile percentages of this period may indicate this?
  • The advent of television targeting juveniles in the late 60’s / early 70’s may have sucked away the juvenile reading population
    • Rapid rate of decline of juvenile percentages of this period may indicate this?
  • Juvenile collections are very important to the future of public libraries
    • Habits and patterns learned in childhood often remain throughout life

I find Galbi’s study interesting, especially when juxtaposing it with the 2006 Public Libraries and the Internet study I mentioned in a few posts.

What do you think about the data and my conclusions from it?  Am I in the ballpark?  Have I wandered off into the swamps and jungles of conflation and bad logic?  What say you?