Category Archives: Conference Reports

Internet Librarian 2012, Day 0

One of the things I’ve been wrestling with at IL & CiL lately is that I’m too advanced for a lot of the beginning sessions (heck, I’ve been presenting on them for years) and not specialized or advanced enough for many of the rest. I was sitting in the gap, and for a little while I tried to help create programming to fill that gap, but that didn’t work out so well.

For IL this year, I decided to try the other route: pushing myself further along to meet those higher-level sessions where they are. I’m currently sitting in a Web Developer’s Boot Camp, learning about PHP, JavaScript, JQuery, and more. Jason Clark & Amanda Hollister are doing their darnedest to push several weeks’ worth of programming fundamentals into our brains at 9am on a Sunday. Hoo boy…

[fast forward 3 hours]

And wow, my brain hurts. Vital to my understanding this workshop was the O’Reilly book Learning PHP, MySQL, JavaScript, & CSS by Robin Nixon (2nd ed.). It taught me in about 6 hours enough to go from “This workshop is in Klingon” to “OH! That’s what that stuff looks like in the real world!” Attending the workshop was perfect right after plowing through about 100 pages of Nixon’s book.

It’s time for lunch, but I wanted to get blogging this conference off to a strong start. More to come…

MLA2011: Day 3 – Future of Libraries

Sadly, I came back from lunch late, so I missed a chunk of this session.

Future of Libraries, or What the Heck Are You Thinking?!?!: A series of questions addressed to a panel that included Keith Fiels of ALA, Maureen Sullivan (ALA Presidential Candidate whom I know from years of local consulting), Scot Colford of the BPL, Sarah Saggogian of MLS, and the ever-excellent Jessamyn West. The topics and statements are flying so fast and furious I literally can’t keep up, but the short form is that there’s some great thinking going on and we as local professionals need to step up and help implement this fabulous thinking when we hear it.

Thought: As the amount of data and information in our lives increases epically, having librarians who understand and can show you how to organize and systematize the stuff in your lives is amazingly helpful. Just something as simple as “here’s a way you can organize the files on your computer and the photos you’ve got running around.”

MLA2011: Day 3 – What Has Dewey Done for You Lately?

I’m only attending two sessions today, so you’ll get a little more detail.

What Has Dewey Done For You Lately?: Three different libraries (Darien CT, Wilmington MA, ) talk about their experiences shifting from a straight Dewey organization system for nonfiction to a subject oriented layout. Darien’s Glades, Wilmington’s Neighborhoods, and . Major takeaways: you need to utilize volunteers to make this go smoothly, and they’ll help with word of mouth after you’re done. You need to touch every item. Really. Wilmington discovered that once they pulled out their cooking books and made it standalone, circulation increased 300% in the first two months. Make your popular sections even more popular with this process.

Darien: Identify popular books and create specific areas for them, make inviting collections (good collection practices), change service model (ditch ready reference, interfile reference bks), optimize for browsability, merging books & technology. Combine BISAC + Dewey to retain Dewey address with the browsability of a bookstore. Aggressive weeding (cut heavily in areas of low community interest), revise collection development policy. No change to MARC, change call # to include glade info, clean up catalog. They touched every book and considered it. After opening: listen to patrons, empathize & respond quickly. They moved everything again after a year once they figured out what worked and switched to color coding. “Make Glades part of the greater User Experience,” “Aging Gracefully & Bad Romance (divorce bks)”

Wilmington: Unlike Darien, weren’t moving to a new building, so did slowly over a year and a half. Step 1: Identify categories for the collection you have now, but keep in mind what future categories might come to be important. Step 2: Gather supplies. Step 3: Assign tasks (a few hours a week). Step 4: Touch every book. (This was after they weeded 30% of their collection). Step 5: Add Neighborhood sticker & change call # in database. They left items in Dewey order until The Big Switch. Step 6: Inventory – really good time to clean up physical & database inventory. Step 7: When all prep is done, rearrange. Have a logical flow from one category to the next. Don’t let categories wrap (except history). Weed to make it work – limiting the physical space means you must weed. Lots of faceout books, lots of continuous weeding. 19% increase in circulation overall, items pulled out of stacks had substantial increase, inside the stacks = inconclusive. “Cataloging is good for librarians looking for a book fast, but isn’t suited to a popular collection intended more for browsing than research.”

Groveland: They went to BISAC (Book Industry Standard and Communications) and lost Dewey entirely. Stuck completely with what’s out there. They were renovating and decided to make the switch. Used lots of volunteer brains and brawn to help with the redesign and the construction. “We had two 80-year-old guys who had nothing to do and knew a lot about construction. They cut down our 8′ shelving to open things up.” Again, circulation goes up when you weed, when you make things browsable, when you have attractive collections. They cut 50% of their collections, and nonfiction circ went up 62% over all, with 133% right after the conversion. Train your staff to watch patron traffic flow and keep track of this. You have to be willing to change, responding to requests and patron use. Homemade signs are better than no signs. Move the related magazines to the appropriate categories.

Question from audience: Have you heard of anyone doing this with very large collections? Yes. Topeka & Shawnee County. For instance, spend a year pulling all the books needed for subject displays per month and do each section at that time.

MLA2011: Day 2

On so, we’re on to Day 2 here at the Massachusetts Library Association. I spent the morning updating here and thoroughly enjoying Lobbycon. Now, it’s on to the afternoon. Remember, follow along on Twitter: #mlajoinforces

“State of the Library Nation”: Keith Fiels, Executive Director of ALA, is talking about the major issues, trends and myths currently affecting libraries around the country. He pulled a lot of scary statistics from the ALA report State of America’s Libraries (PDF) and countered a number of myths about libraries with those same stats. “No one will give you money because you want it or had it & would like it back. Vision drives funding.” “The closest I’ve seen to a library without walls is a politician giving a community a library without money.”

Digital Public Library of America: Maura Marx of the Open Knowledge Commons at Harvard’s Berkman Center outlined the push towards a single, umbrella-like national portal and repository, tentatively called the Digital Public Library of America. A good history lesson and an update on what’s going on now, and it sounds like this is an initiative that might just have enough big guns backing it to get somewhere. “Just because we didn’t succeed 15 years ago doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try again now. There was violent agreement.”

Highlighted links:

That’s all the major stuff from today. Tonight is trivia, complete with superhero costumes to complement our “Join Forces” theme. Reports on that in the morning!

MLA2011: Day 1

Since I’m not the amazing documentarian the Librarian in Black is, I’m going to opt for summary-style conference reporting. Also, check out what’s trending on Twitter at #mlajoinforces.

I’m at the Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference: Join Forces. Day 0 was the preconference, a choice between the Digital Commonwealth annual conference and the Youth Services Section Teen Summit. This, by the way, is a great idea and lets folks make a better use of limited conference time and budgets.

Morning Keynote: Steve Puglia of the Library of Congress gave an excellent primer on the technology involved in digital imaging. Lots of math, lots of charts, and very necessary for me, who’s been throwing around terms like dpi, ppi, and histogram for a long time without this much detail in *how* they work. He also included recommendations and links to guidelines for optimized resolutions and specs. Brilliant, and when he sends me his slides I’ll quote some highlights.

Born Digital: WGBH Karen Cariani and Alison Bassett (Compliance Manager!) from WGBH talked about taking in and managing terabytes of born-digital multimedia objects, coming from a variety of producers and in all sorts of formats. Most importantly for me, they talked briefly about how to get compliance and understanding from the creators on starting the metadata creation and organization in-camera and onsite.

Lunch Keynote: Franziska Frey of RIT continued Steve’s theme of digital images, going into exquisite detail on best practices and guidelines for creating and optimizing digital image objects for the most user-useful end products. “When you’re developing standards for quality, bring in your users & ask them what they want, how they’ll use the images.” “The end product of a digital collection should be of a kind and quality that is important to end users, not the tech specs.” “Users used to zooming in, spoiled by games, maps, online shopping. Gives them something to zoom in on in online collections.”

Choosing a Digital Software Solution: Eprints, DSpace, Drupal, Omeka: Joe Fisher from UMass Lowell did a careful, point-by-point comparison of the four management tools. Short form: Eprints is good for document collections for specialized subject collections; DSpace is good for out of the box preservation support, needs real geeks to configure it; Drupal is excellent for content of all sorts (including websites in general) and can be run by not-so-geeky, but needs lots of fiddling; Omeka is new and seems to be a great all-in-one solution for preservation, collection and exhibition, very GUI and WYSIWYG friendly. All of them have pluses and minuses, so look at what works best for you and go from there (as ever).

Link highlights:

Today, skipping morning sessions in favor of Lobbycon and blog updating. More after lunch.