One of my pet peeves with Excel is how it will reformat (or try to reformat) data in cells based on what it thinks it should be. For example, if you save a file as csv with a date in the format of mmm-yy, the next time you open it the dates will become d-mmm, where the year was transposed to the day of the month. Drives me crazy, because the only way I’ve found to prevent it is to make sure that the dates are mmm-yyyy before I save the file again, which means a lot of repetitive editing when I’m normalizing a large number of reports.
I haven’t been working much with COUNTER book reports for assessment of ebook use until recently, when it seems we’ve started to tip towards increasing ebook use (and purchasing) at my library, so now I’m looking at them and ingesting them into my use assessment tool.
ISBN is too long
I tended to avoid the COUNTER book reports before because if I needed to edit the file, it was a hassle to get it to open in Excel without converting the ISBNs to display (and subsequently save) as 978E+12 if they didn’t contain dashes or something else to indicate to Excel that it should be treated as text and not a long integer. (Don’t get me started on the publishers who remove the dash in the ISSN, screwing up all the numbers that begin with 0 when opened in Excel.)
One way to deal with this is to select the column and choose Text to Columns in the Data tab. Click on through the menu until you get to the end where you can select the format as text. Miraculously, the full numbers display in the column (regardless of column size) and won’t save as 978E+12 if you hadn’t done that.
Alternatively, I’ve started opening the files in a text editor first, then finding and replacing all “978″ with “978-”. This forces Excel to automatically treat the data as text instead of a long integer, and doesn’t need to be corrected every subsequent time the file is opened and edited.
How do you handle this?
“The law of two feet” by Deb Schultz
This is going to be long and not my usual style of conference notetaking. Because this was an unconference, there really wasn’t much in the way of prepared presentations, except for the lightening talks in the morning. What follows below the jump is what I captured from the conversations, often simply questions posed that were left open for anyone to answer, or at least consider.
Some of the good aspects of the unconference style was the free-form nature of the discussions. We generally stayed on topic, but even when we didn’t, it was about a relevant or important thing that lead to the tangents, so there were still plenty of things to take away. However, this format also requires someone present who is prepared to seed the conversation if it lulls or dies and no one steps in to start a new topic.
Also, if a session is designed to be a conversation around a topic, it will fall flat if it becomes all about one person or the quirks of their own institution. I had to work pretty hard on that one during the session I led, particularly when it seemed that the problem I was hoping to discuss wasn’t an issue for several of the folks present because of how they handle the workflow.
Some of the best conversations I had were during the gathering/breakfast time as well as lunch, lending even more to the unconference ethos of learning from each other as peers.
Anyway, here are my notes.
Continue reading #ERcamp13 at George Washington University
my favorite sign in the library
Not long after I started working at the University of Richmond, a coworker told me that most people stay at the University for five years or forever. At the time, five years seemed like a really long time to be anywhere, and I wasn’t sure if I’d ever stay in one place for the rest of my career.
I’d had two professional, post-graduate jobs at that point, neither of which lasted more than three years, for various reasons. I took this one because I liked what I saw when I interviewed, and because it was in the part of the country where I wanted to live. And, as much as I enjoyed the work environment and collegiality (particularly compared to the previous job), I was not going to commit to anything more than my three years.
The first year is the honeymoon. The second is when things get real. The third is when I decide if I want to keep going or try something new.
The path to what has now been five and a half years was… interesting, to say the least. And not without a good helping of uncertainty. Just as I would be getting comfortable with the organizational structure and my job expectations, someone would come by and upset the book truck, so to speak.
I’ve just completed a long period of uncertainty, and while things are not yet entirely settled, it’s finally dawned on me that I have the power to determine, or at least guide, the outcome of this uncertainty, which I’ve never been in (or realized I was in) the position to do before. It also helps that there are some clear dates for when change will have to happen. I always function better with a schedule.
As I enter into the second half of my sixth year here, I don’t want to go anywhere else, and that’s a good feeling to have. Sure, there are still unknowns that could change things. Something could happen to my boss and his replacement could be horrible. My coworkers could leave and be replaced with difficult people. I might fall in love with someone on the other side of the world and decide to move there. It’s all possible, albeit unlikely.
It’s not the best job in the world, or the most perfect library, and I certainly could do with less humidity in the summer, but it’s better (for me) than any place I’ve ever been, and better than most of the horror stories I hear from colleagues elsewhere. Sometimes, when you know how bad bad can be, good enough is good enough. Sometimes good enough is all you need to make it awesome.
“soccer practice” by woodleywonderworks
Speaker: Daryl Yang
Despite how popular Apple products are today, they almost went bankrupt in the 90s. Experts believe that despite their innovation, their lack of collaboration led to this near-downfall. iTunes, iPod, iPad — these all require working with many developers, and is a big part of why they came back.
Microsoft started off as very open to collaboration and innovation from outside of the company, but that is not the case now. In order to get back into the groove, they have partnered with Nokia to enter the mobile phone market.
Collaboration can create commercial success, innovation, synergies, and efficiencies.
The amount of information generated now is vastly more than has ever been collected in the past. It is beyond our imagination.
How has library work changed? We still manage collections and access to information, but the way we do so has evolved with the ways information is delivered. We have had to increase our negotiation skills as every transaction is uniquely based on our customer profile. We have also needed to reorganize our structures and workflows to meet changing needs of our institutions and the information environment.
Deloitte identified ten key challenges faced by higher education: funding (public, endowment, and tuition), rivalry (competing globally for the best students), setting priorities (appropriate use of resources), technology (infrastructure & training), infrastructure (classroom design, offices), links to outcomes (graduation to employment), attracting talent (and retaining them), sustainability (practicing what we preach), widening access (MOOC, open access), and regulation (under increasing pressure to show how public funding is being used, but also maintaining student data privacy).
Libraries say they have too much stuff on shelves, more of it is available electronically, and it keeps coming. Do we really need to keep both print and digital when there is a growing pressure on space for users?
The British Library Document Supply Centre plays an essential role in delivering physical content on demand, but the demand is falling as more information is available online. And, their IT infrastructure needs modernization.
These concerns sparked conversations that created UK Research Reserve, and the evaluation of print journal usage. Users prefer print for in-depth reading, and HSS still have a high usage of print materials compared to the sciences. At least, that was the case 5-6 years ago when UKRR was created.
Ithaka S+R, JISC, and RLUK sent out a survey to faculty about print journal use, and they found that this is still fairly true. They also discovered that even those who are comfortable with electronic journal collections, they would not be happy to see print collections discarded. There was clearly a demand that some library, if not their own, maintain a collection of hard copies of journals. Libraries don’t have to keep them, but SOMEONE has to.
It is hard to predict research needs in the future, so it is important to preserve content for that future demand, and make sure that you still own it.
UKRR’s initial objectives were to de-duplicate low-use journals and allow their members to release space and realize savings/efficiency, and to preserve research material and provide access for researchers. They also want to achieve cultural change — librarians/academics don’t like to throw away things.
So far, they have examined 60,700 holdings, and of that, only 16% has been retained. They intend to keep at least 3 copies among the membership, so there was a significant amount of overlap in holdings across all of the schools.
“Big Data” by JD Hancock
Speaker: Siva Vaidhyanathan
Don’t try to write a book about fast moving subjects.
He was trying to capture the nature of our relationship to Google. It provides us with a services that are easy to use, fairly dependable, and well designed. However, that level of success can breed hubris. He was interested in how this drives the company to its audacious goals.
It strikes him that what Google claims to be doing is what librarians have been doing for hundreds of years already. He found himself turning to the core practices of librarians as a guideline for assessing Google.
Why is Google interested in so much stuff? What is the payoff to organizing the world’s information and making it accessible?
Big data is not a phrase that they use much, but the notion is there. More and faster equals better. Google is in the prediction/advertising business. The Google books project is their attempt to reverse engineer the sentence. Knowing how sentences work, they can simulate how to interpret and create sentences, which would be a simulation of artificial intelligence.
The NSA’s deals that give them a backdoor to our data services creates data insecurity, because if they can get in, so can the bad guys. Google keeps data about us (and has to turn it over when asked) because it benefits their business model, unlike libraries who don’t keep patron records in order to protect their privacy.
Big data means more than a lot of data. It means that we have so many instruments to gather data, cheap/ubiquitous cameras and microphones, GPS devices that we carry with us, credit card records, and more. All of these ways of creating feed into huge servers that can store the data with powerful algorithms that can analyze it. Despite all of this, there is no policy surrounding this, nor conversations about best ways to manage this in light of the impact on personal privacy. There is no incentive to curb big data activities.
Scientists are generally trained to understand that correlation is not causation. We seem to be happy enough to draw pictures with correlation and move on to the next one. With big data, it is far too easy to stop at correlation. This is a potentially dangerous way of understanding human phenomenon. We are autonomous people.
The panopticon was supposed to keep prisoners from misbehaving because they assumed they were always being watched. Foucault described the modern state in the 1970s as the panopticon. However, at this point, it doesn’t quite match. We have a cryptopticon, because we aren’t allowed to know when we are being watched. It wants us to be on our worst behavior. How can we inject transparency and objectivism into this cryptopticon?
Those who can manipulate the system will, but those who don’t know how or that it is happening will be negatively impacted. If bad credit can get you on the no-fly list, what else may be happening to people who make poor choices in one aspect of their lives that they don’t know will impact other aspects? There is no longer anonymity in our stupidity. Everything we do, or nearly so, is online. Mistakes of teenagers will have an impact on their adult lives in ways we’ve never experienced before. Our inability to forget renders us incapable of looking at things in context.
Mo Data, Mo Problems