Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Call for WAPL Conference Proposals

The WAPL board is planning for next year’s spring conference, which will be held at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells May 6-8, 2009. Please consider submitting a program proposal. We’re looking for a wide variety of programs! The deadline to submit a proposal is December 1st.

Conference proposal forms can be found on the 2009 WAPL Conference Site and should be sent to Mary Dunn (dunn@wvls.lib.wi.us).

Sunday, November 09, 2008

WLA 2008: 1st Annual Book Cart Drill Team Competition

Just blogging about this session wouldn't do it justice, so for your entertainment a vlog.

Thanks for all who competed for ending my (and many others) 2008 WLA conference on a fun note.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

WLA 2008: Roadmap to the Future of Wisconsin Libraries

On May 5-6, 2008 over 100 key library leaders and advocates from across the state came together to discuss the future of Wisconsin Libraries. From that visioning summit came the COLAND Beginnings Report on the Future of Wisconsin Libraries, 2008-2018. This session, presented by Kathy Pletcher (Associate Provost for Information Services at UW-Green Bay) and Rick Grobschmidt (Assistant State Superintendent, Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning, Department of Public Instruction), reviewed the outcomes from that summit and gave those in attendance an chance to react to the vision, values, strategic directions, and tactics for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries.

I encourage those who haven't read the Beginnings Report to do so because there is so much more detail in that report than I could provide this is blog report on the session. I will provide you with the basics and some of the reactions in the session.

Vision for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
Wisconsin libraries sustain educational development and economic prosperity by:
  • offering rich opportunities for individual development
  • teaching literacies to succeed in today's knowledge-based economy
  • serving as the "anchor store" for community development
  • preserving our cultural heritage
Values for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries - Wisconsin citizens value:
  • Access to educational, informational, health, economic and workforce development resources that strengthen families and communities as well as the "bottom line";
  • 21st century literacies and lifelong learning across all populations, cultural groups and economic strata;
  • Libraries of all types as information and problem solving centers of every community;
  • Universal and free access to information to help close the digital divide;
  • Librarians who are passionate and engaged deeply with their communities;
  • Partnerships in sharing resources and information across communities;
  • Librarians who are politically aware and involved - in touch with stakeholders and constituents, advocating to policy makers.
Strategic Directions for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
  • One card - any library
  • Robust Bandwidth
  • Libraries as "anchor store"
  • Universal literacies in all forms
  • Embedded librarians
Tactics for the Future of Wisconsin Libraries
  • Collaborations
  • Strategic communication
  • Funding
  • Professional Development
Reactions to all of this by audience was favorable. Much of the conversation revolved around the strategic directions. One person noted that fun had been left, that libraries are also the place that people turn to for entertainment. Another noted that it was also a place for culture and specifically a place where one can experience culture such as an art exhibit or poetry reading.

The One Card - any library direction was favorable received though there was a concern about smaller libraries not losing their identity if there was just one card design. There where a few other issues about implementation of this, but we were reminded that this is what we want to achieve in the future, that it is something to work towards, and it is understood that it won't happen over night. One participant likened it to having a Visa card for different banks, but accepted and processed worldwide.

The strategic direction regarding libraries as anchor stores was also talked about in some length, with one participant suggesting that it should be "the library is the heart of the community." Someone else suggested that anchor store can also mean that the library is a place where information is housed and not necessarily about selling things.

It was nice to see so many people, from different libraries and years of experience, giving their input and reaction. As one person noted she was renewed knowing so many cared about the future. Again, I encourage you to read the full report for yourself and to share any comments you may have on the COLAND Visioning Summit blog at http://blog.uwgb.edu/coland.

WLA 2008: The Role of Digitization in Enhancing Knowledge Discovery

Krystyna Matusiak from UW-Milwaukee Libraries presented a session on how the UWM libraries have gone about creating their digital collection. She provided the attendees with a number of tips, suggestions, and lessons learned.

The UW Libraries digital collection is comprised of 16 different collections, 35,000 objects that include photos (slides, prints, negatives), maps and text (yearbooks, monographs, manuscripts).

Strategies in Collection Building:
  • Single source collections
    • an entire collection is converted
    • works better with small collections
  • Selected by format
    • such as all maps or all photos
    • tip: if you are digitizing photos you might not to do everyone of them if there are photos that very similar
    • because this way makes sense it is often the chosen method
  • Hybrid projects
    • item are selected from several source collections
    • multiple formats integrated into one collection
    • this method is most popular with the user because it is based on a topic
Benefits of Digitization
  • Access
    • overcomes geographic and time boundaries
    • allows for access to rare collections
    • enables access to inaccessible formats such as film negatives
  • New ways of interaction with digital objects
    • full text searching
    • enhanced viewing
  • Preservation reformatting
    • reduction in handling of fragile or rare materials
    • preserving the content of deteriorating analog formats
Enhancing Knowledge Discovery
  • Provide an intellectual framework
    • theme
    • geographic location
    • time
  • Expand intellectual control
    • provide description of visual resources
    • assign subject terms
    • gather related images by categories
    • offer new pathways in resource discovery
  • Bring together disperse materials
  • Integrate multiple formats
Providing Contextual Information
  • provided a description of the item
  • point to related resources
Enhance traditional library roles
  • Is digitization just a conversion process?
  • Provide new sources for humanities scholarship
  • Bring together disperse materials
  • Expand intellectual control and enable findability
Create a New Model
  • Explore the potential of digital libraries
  • Address the information seeking behavior and learning styles of a digital generation
  • Create a new model for assisting and engaging users
  • Digital libraries tend to decontextualize information
  • Design of digital library systems
  • Balance between authority and user-oriented environment
  • Acceptance of users' active role and input
  • Collaboration with teachers, faculty, and subject experts
  • Resources

WLA 2008: Marketing as a Team Sport

One of the conference featured speakers, Peggy Barber, presented the session "Marketing as a Team Sport". This well attended session provided a great deal of information that every library could and should use.

Peggy was very kind to provide WLA with a PDF of her handout, so if you were unable to attend the session you can find a good deal of the information she presented to us online at: http://www.wla.lib.wi.us/conferences/2008/postconf/documents/BARBER_Marketing_TeamSport_11.6.08.pdf
I will just provide a few of the added tips that she gave to those in attendance.

One of the key items that was talked about in the session was the communication plan. This plan should be a couple of page long and should plan for no more than a year out. The plan should consist of the following:
  • Introduction
    • how does the communication plan relate to the strategic plan?
  • Goals
    • the dream, this can just be one big goal
  • Objectives
    • should measurable/doable. Again start with a one year plan so that you can achieve your goal.
  • Positioning statement
    • this is your unique selling proposition, for example "our library combine big city service with small town friendliness. This is the point where you can begin to develop your brand.
  • Key message
    • what is the most important thing you want people to know about your library?
  • Target audiences
    • who needs to hear the message?
    • make sure that entire staff can talk about the message
  • Communication strategies
    • How will you deliver the message to your audiences?
  • Evaluation
    • don't wait for the year to end, evaluate as you go.
    • the entire staff should participate in this step as well
Peggy ended with pointing out that marketing has to start in every library.

WLA 2008: Keeping it all Together: One Library's Strategy for Electronic Resource Management

Bill Doering from UW-La Crosse Murphy Library presented on the Access database that he created to manage the increasing number of licensed electronic resources. The database tracks everything from vendor contacts, passwords, journal subscriptions to database payment information and much more.

Bill started off reviewing what an ERMs (Electronic Resource Managment Systems) is and they can do for you:
  • Provide contact information when a product is down.
  • Help you keep track of what e-resources will be up for renewal.
  • Help you to forecast e-resources expenditures for the next year.
  • Provide you with cost over time for a product
Because commercial ERMs can cost tens of thousands he decided to build one for UW-La Crosse and has made it available to any library to download for free. It can be downloaded at http://murphylibrary.uwlax.edu/erm/. The web site includes a download for the current version and instructions. Bill only asks that you let him know that you will be using it so that he can send you monthly updates.

Access ERM will allow you to:
  • Retrieve information by
    • vendor /contacts
    • database /cost history
    • alternate access
    • problems with the database
  • Reports for
    • renewals for a date range
    • year to year price comparison
    • payments for the e-resource
    • payments
    • database uses for a fiscal year
The database is a great start for managing e-resources if you don't have lots of money to throw at a commercial product.

Wii? Wheee!

A fine time was had by all at the WLA Foundation fundraiser, Wee? Wii? Que??...Gaming! Participants had the chance to play Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Wii bowling, and something called DDR that made me tired just to look at it. I got to try Wii bowling and Guitar Hero for the first time (under the expert and patient tutelage of some of my younger colleagues) and had loads o' fun -- while still getting trounced.

Music was provided by the fabulous Mississippi Blue -- the talented David Polodna and Mike Obmascher playing great tunes of their own plus covers of some old favorites. I especially enjoyed hearing "Pocahontas," an old Neil Young song that no one remembers except me and Mississippi Blue.

Thanks to the Foundation, the sponsors of the event, and all the fun folks who played.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

WLA 2008: Discussing Leadership: An Open Forum with Library Directors

A panel discussion by Peter Gilbert (Director of Seeley G. Mudd Library), Carrie Kruse (Director of College Library, UW-Madison) and Lysianne Unruh (Director, Mount Horeb Public Library). Moderated by Anna Lewis (UW-Madison).

This, standing room only, session was a started off my the moderator Anna Lewis who asked the panel to share how participants ended up in the leadership roles they are in today and what the best piece of advice they were given. While their career paths are interesting, all English majors turned librarians, I won't take space here for that, but rather share the advice they were given.

Peter Gilbert:
  • Appear to be judicious regardless of how you feel.
  • Do a twice daily walk around the building.
  • Say "It will be ok."
  • Listen to staff more than you talk.
  • Lead by example.
Lysianne Unruh:
  • Believe in the good, that people are doing their very best.
  • Hire good people.
  • Learn to let go - Use the 80/20 rule. Do the 20% that you can't give up, delegate the rest.
  • Get involved in the community.
Carrie Kruse:
  • Be authentic and passionate about your work.
The panel and audience shared tips for helping staff deal with change:
  • Try to figure out what the root of the fear is and work on that.
  • Bring your enthusiasm to the issue and it will help others deal with the change.
  • Remind those at the opposite ends of change that they need to be understand of those at the other end. If someone is pushing for change they should be reminded that some people don't change at the same pace. If someone is fighting change remind them that there are some that have a desire to try something new and different.
  • Be clear and upfront about change.
  • Offer continuing education opportunities.
  • A function of leadership is to "sell" change.
Managing your boss tips:
  • Get involved in your community where you can work as a colleague of some of your board members. It takes time, but it build good will.
  • Find out what your supervisor is interested in and feed them research and information. Make yourself valuable.
  • Make sure that you are seeing the bigger picture.
  • Don't ever let them be surprised by something.
Qualities in Hires and Tips for Retaining Staff
  • Attitude and enthusiasm, skills can be taught.
  • Is this the job the person really wants to do or is it just a job?
  • With each opening look for ways to reorganize and change tasks for people. Tap their skills and strengths.
The best advice I took way from this session was that leadership takes a lot of listening and communicating. There was a lot of participation by the audience and I am sure that others took away something different so I invite those that attended to comment with what they took away from the session.

WLA 2008: The Cross Generational Workforce

My first session of the 2008 conference was The Cross Generational Workforce presented by Rachel Singer Gordon, author of The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide. Rachel started off her presentation telling a family story about how one day her husband was given an egg on a plate of pasta. Not sure why he was given egg he asked his mother "why an egg?" The response (not an explanation) was "Everybody likes an egg". Now while this story brought back memories of my Italian family and the many times I got an egg, the point was that we often do things without knowing why and that even when someone asks why respond with "Everybody Likes an Egg". This was the first of many things that hit home for me during this well paced and presented session.

The session was about how we can all work across generations. We need to start with the idea that while we have the generational boxes:
  • Veterans (1922-45)
  • Boomers (1946-64)
  • Generation X (1965-78)
  • Millennials (1979-2000)
we need to understand that none of us fit exactly into one of these boxes and that we should value that we grew up with different experiences.

Generational issues are touchy issues, but are important to talk about because they:
  • can lead to conflict
  • intersect our changing profession
  • affect succession planning
Much of what Rachel presented to us seemed like common sense and were things that we have been told since we were kids, but yet we need to hear them again. She reminded us that it is important to look at our own assumptions, to seek out colleagues at all levels (we can be clickish), and to be professional and consider how we treat each other.

Rachel pointed out that we have a changing profession and that we should make sure that we innovate or we are at risk of fading away. Relating the example of Polaroid, not changing when digital photography started to loom on the horizon leading to their downfall, Rachel suggested that we consider flattened management structures (participatory management) and that we should sit down with various levels of people in our organizations (especially newer people) to see what they think about how we could be doing things differently.

With our changing profession and the fact that 58% of librarians will turn 65 by 2019, we need to start thinking about succession planning. We don't know when this 58% will retire, but it will happen in a wave and we need to start planning. We need to think about it when we are hiring staff and we need to think about it in the retention of our current staff. Many comments that Rachel received in her survey was that NexGens were leaving their positions because they feel that their talents aren't valued and that their knowledge is discounted.

So how do you do it? How do you keep these talented people? Create a healthy workplace for ALL staff, encourage people to work together, and get input from multiple groups. One of the most basic answers is something that we have been taught as young child "Treat others as you want them to treat you." If you treat people well they are more likely to stay. Consider vertical teams for projects. If you create opportunities for people to work together then people are exposed to the strengths of each other and it creates opportunities for people to lead.

The session was concluded with the idea that each librarian, new or experiences, old or young, brings valuable experiences, perspectives and skills to the organization. Something that we should all remember.

Additional selected resources:

For Further Reading
  • Bennis, Warren G. and Robert J. Thomas. Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders. Boston: HBS, 2002.
  • Gordon, Rachel Singer. The Accidental Library Manager. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc. 2005.
  • ---. The NextGen Librarian's Survival Guide. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2006.
  • Young, Arthur, Peter Hernon, and Ronald Powell. "What Will Gen Next Need to Lead?" American Libraries May 2004: 32-5.
  • Young, Arthur and Steve Casburn. "Gen X Bites Back. American Libraries Sept. 2004: 43-5.

WLA 2008: Genealogy and Local History Resources at the Wisconsin Historical Society

A presentation by Rick Pifer, Director of Reference and Public Services, Library/Archives Division, Wisconsin Historical Society.

Richard Pifer said about genealogy info at WHS, "Start with the premise that yep, we have it."

Range of resources available at the WHS -- a paper trail of cradle to grave records created about people:
  • Births: registrations, baptismal records, announcement in newspapers
  • Childhood records: school records, attendance records from rural schoolhouses, school census
  • Marriage records: newspaper announcements
  • Property records - deeds (most are in the county Register of Deeds office)
  • Tax records - assessment rolls & tax rolls for 19th & 20th century
  • Census
  • Divorce records - through the Circuit Court case files (date range varies on the county which provides the records)
  • Prison records
  • Naturalization records - 19th century to 1980's
  • Death registration, church burial records, newspaper obituary, probate records, wills, probate case files
WHS has genealogy info on:
  • Wisconsin
  • U.S.
  • Canada
Local history records:
  • local histories
  • newspapers - huge collection, perhaps 2nd only to the Library of Congress; largest Native American newspaper collection in the country; largest African American newspaper collection in the country
  • personal papers
  • organization records
  • maps
  • photographs
The Peshtigo Fire
  • personal correspondence
  • birds-eye maps of before & after the fire
  • Harper's Weekly newspaper articles about the fire
  • photos (also available online)
Finding info and records:
  • genealogical information is geographically based
  • local history information is geographically based
  • combine place names with type of record
  • Use Madcat to search for surname + the word family as a way to search for info; a "sloppy" search like this will bring up lots of records, but Rick says "specificity is the enemy of finding what you want"
WHS web site:
  • Wisconsin Genealogy Index
  • links to Madcat and ARcat
Richard suggests this search strategy in Madcat:
Go to the guided search and start plugging in words; put in a placename (as a phrase) + type of record

ArCat (Archives Catalog)
Some finding aids or registers are available online; it's a volume-level listing of what's in a collection; tells you what's in a collection volume by volume and box by box

Research Portal

Finding newspapers = use Guided Search to enter placename + type of record
You can navigate through title changes, within the bibliographic record

Virtually everything found in ArCat can be transported closer to you or your patron at a local Area Research Center (ARC), except for photographs and maps

Map collection = paper-based card catalog is the only way to find out what's in the collection

Photo collection useful for local history, 45,000 images online, entire set of Wisconsin birds-eye photos

WHS is a partner with Google Books
  • the vast majority of WHS' family histories has been digitized
  • MadCat will eventually be linking to the Google Books digitized version of the book
  • copyright date affects whether the book is available full text, or snippet view
Interlibrary Loan is possible for works of local history that don't have genealogical content

WLA 2008: Constructing Questionnaires and Questions: It's Harder Than it Seems

This presentation by Thomas D. Walker (UW Milwaukee) covered the fundamentals of questionnaire construction.

Surveys are instruments to gather data for empirical analysis.

Some questionnaires can accidentally turn into "fishing expeditions", and ask too many questions.

There are three crucial tasks:
  • sampling the population
  • determining the medium - f2f 1 to 1, in groups, written form
  • designing the questionnaire
Advantages to written Questionnaires:
  • more cost effective than interviews, especially with large sample sizes or large regions
  • most cost effective medium for large numbers of questions
  • can be easier to analyze, depending on the construction of the questions; some aspects can be automated (#2 pencil)
  • are a familiar medium
  • can reduce bias associated with oral questionnaires
  • can be less instusive than oral surveys (more anonymous)
Disadvantages to written questionnaires:
  • lower response rates (equals lower confidence levels)
  • questions are usually very focused -- no elaborations are possible ("well yes, but ..." qualified answers aren't possible)
  • no visual cues (no body language observable by interviewer)
  • hard to know who's fillig it out
  • may not be suited to certain populations (jargon, reading level issues, language, etc.)
Developing a questionnaire:
  • Define:
  • what kind of info is required?
  • from whom do you need data?
  • Break down complex problems into very simple ones
  • should be introduced to let the respondent know what the purpose of the survey is, who will analyze it, and whether the results will be made public
  • should conclude by expressing appreciation
  • should be designed at a relatively early reading level
Good questions are...

Non-threatening questions...
  • seek truth on sensitive issues by using a clinical, anonymous distance
  • gain the confidence of the subject
  • do not lead in one direction or another
Seek one kind of info, not two or more:
"Are you satisfied with the hours and facilities of the library?"

If choices are provided, ensure they include all possibilities.
"Which of the following services do you use? -ILL - Reference -YA"

Offer mutually-exclusive choices; don't provide choices that overlap

Logical sequence
  • group questions logically
  • establish a logical flow within a group
  • possible characteristics: general to specific; positives versus negatives; time sequence
Rewording to validate
  • Some large-scale studies may benefit from the validation of data by means of question repetition
  • Most of the time, surveys we do aren't this large
Make no assumptions
"How satisfied are you with DPL's provision of access to large-scale bibliographic databases?"

Does not suggest an answer; doesn't lead the person to an answer

Avoid jargon and acronyms

Should not be tied to other questions; avoid especially in written questionnaires

Adhere to the Rule of 5
  • Likert scale 1 - 5
  • Rankings
Direct questions:
  • True / false
  • Multiple choice
  • Likert scale
  • Ranking
Advantages to direct/closed questions:
  • easy to answer
  • easy to code
  • responses are uniform
  • success of closed quesitons depends on the quality of the questions
  • Likert scale
  • spectrum between two poles
Open-ended questions
  • unstructured
  • sentence completion
  • word association
Advantages of open-ended questions:
  • more flexible
  • richer data (hard to analyze)
  • may lead to other variables (other questions you want to ask in a future questionnaire)
Disadvantages of open-ended questions:
  • hard to code/analyze
  • statements assuring confidentiality are desirable and may be required
  • inform respondents that thier responses are voluntary and their anonymity is assured
  • if children are involved in any way, extra precautions must be taken
Question order:
  • don't start with sensitive questions
  • lead logically and unthreateningly to sensitive questions
  • request demographic data at the end
Return rates from online surveys of distance education students are dismally low.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The sun always shines on the WLA Conference

It's a gorgeous day in Middleton as people start gathering for the WLA conference. I just sat in on the WLA Board meeting (I know -- glutton for punishment) and was impressed, as always, with the work of the board and the WLA staff. A tip: make sure you attend the WLA business meeting on Thursday afternoon so you can hear Phyllis' ALA Councilor's report.

Cheryl gave a good report of the attendance for the conference and some of the interesting things that will be going on. Conference committee members will be wearing green wristbands; keep an eye out for one if you have questions.