social justice librarianship

Barbara Fister’s latest Library Babel Fish essay is on point for me in so many ways.

It’s not easy to write this well, to combine edge-of-your-seat narrative momentum with scholarly rigor. Not only is it not easy, but we’re schooled to write in an inaccessible style, as if our ideas are somehow better if written in a hard-to-decipher script that only the elite can decode because if people who haven’t been schooled that way can understand it, it’s somehow base and common, not valuable enough.

Yes. So much this. I think it’s possibly one of the reasons why librar* blogs burned so brightly and fiercely before other social media sites took on that space. It gave us a platform to share our thoughts and work in ways that were not stifling like the journals that normally published librar* scholarship. Bloggers who could write eloquently and pointedly about the issues of the day and what they thought of them gained quite a bit of attention (and still do, for those that have continued to write in this type of forum). I certainly read them more consistently and thoroughly than any professional publication filled with strict form and complex sentence structures.

…it’s immoral to study poor people and publish the results of that study in journal run by a for-profit company that charges more for your article than what the household you studied has to buy food this week. I cannot think of any valid excuse for publishing social research this way.

Many of the economic arguments for open access have grown stale, but this one is fresh and new to me, and it hits hard. Much like when those of us in library acquisitions roles submit articles to closed publications, we are choosing the expectations of our peers for tenure requirements over our professional ethics. If we want the contents of scholarly journals to be accessible to all who need them, then we need to make sure our own house is in order before we go out and ask faculty to do the same.

You can reserve the right to share your work, and we’re finding sustainable ways to fund public knowledge. Will it take a little more of your time? Yeah, it’s a cultural shift, which is obviously complex, and you’re so busy.

But if you actually think your research matters, if you think research could make people’s lives better, if you use the phrase “social justice” when you describe your work, you should take that time. It’s unethical not to.

new platforms! eek!

snapchatWhat does it say about library systems and tools that the initial response to trying a new thing is a general groan about having to teach a new platform? Our students are used to hopping on a new social media platform with minimal to no “instruction” every 6-8 months. Our systems and tools should be that intuitive. We shouldn’t need to “teach” them. They should be discovered and used without our active intervention.

ER&L 2016: Access Denied!

outlier
“outliers” by Robert S. Donovan

Speakers: Julie Linden, Angela Sidman, and Sarah Tudesco, Yale University

Vendors often use the data from COUNTER turn away reports as marketing tools to convince a library to purchase new content.

How are users being turned away from the content? How are they finding it in the first place? Google/Google Scholar, PUBMED, and publisher platforms that don’t allow for limiting to your content only are generally the sources.

Look for patterns in the turnaway data. Does it match the patterns in your use data and the academic year? Corroborate with examples from access issue reports. This can lead to a purchase decision. Or not.

Look for outliers in the turnaway data. What could have caused this? Platform changes, site outages (particularly for content you do license but appears on the turnaway report), reported security breaches, etc. You can ask for more granular data from the vendor such as turnaways by day or week, as well as IP address. You can ask the vendor for contextual information such as platform changes/issues, and more pointedly, do they think the turnaways are coming from real users.

Combine the data from the turnaway reports with ILL requests. Do they match up? This might mean that those titles are really in demand. However, bear in mind that many users will just give up and look for something else that’s just as good but available right now.

Analysis checklist:
IF you see a steady pattern:

  • Check holdings for access to the content
  • Consider the access model (MU/SU)

IF you see outliers:

  • Consider outside events

ASK the vendor for more information

  • Can you provide more granular data?
  • Can you provide contextual information?
  • Do you think this represents real users?

Audience Q&A:

Journal turnaways can include archival years for current subscriptions that aren’t included.

One very aggressive vendor used the library’s purchase request form to flood them with requests from users that don’t exist.

How are the outliers documented? Hard to do. Vendors certainly hang on to them, even when they acknowledge they know this isn’t legit.

ER&L 2016: Using the Scrum Project Management Methodology to Create a Comprehensive Collection Assessment Framework

Scrum
“Scrum” by Curtis Pennell

Speaker: Galadriel Chilton, University of Connecticut

Used SCRUM for assessment project for their electronic resources collection. They wanted to make sure that all library staff in collection development would be able to manage annual reviews of eresources.

SCRUM: A breathtakingly brief and agile introduction by Chris Sims & Hillary Louise Johnson

First you put together a team, then you create the stories you want to build from the deliverables. Once you have your story, you have a sprint planning meeting for the following 2 week period, and this will take about 4 hours. This planning takes the deliverables and the story, and then develops the tasks needed to accomplish this. You’ll also need to factor in available time because the daily work still needs to be done. Each task will get an estimated time (determined by consensus). Tasks are assigned based on availability and skill set.

The sprint story board is a physical item. You document the story, then three columns of not started, in progress, and done. Each day of the sprint you have a check-in to report on the previous day’s work, problems, and the work that will be done that day.

One of the down sides is that they are a small team, and by the second or third sprint, they were getting exhausted by it. They had other jobs that needed to be done during this as well.

It worked really well for balancing the work against the other tasks of each person, and avoid burnout or a sense of imbalance.

Q: What other projects would be useful for this method?
A: Moving proxy services; mass communication with vendors to update mailing address and contacts; tracking time and deliverables for annual reporting; projects you don’t know what you have to do ahead of time.

Tracking time: Chrome plugin, post-it notes; spreadsheet of a time managed by a time-tracker

Q: minimum number of people? 4

ER&L 2016: Hard Data for Tough Choices: eBooks and pBooks in Academic Libraries

ebooks
“ebooks” by Randy Rodgers

Speakers: Katherine Leach and Matthew Connor Sullivan, Harvard

eBooks have not supplanted pBooks. Providing access to both formats is not possible…even for Harvard.

Users really do want and use both. There is a need for a better understanding of user behavior for both formats.

In 2014, they purchased the complete Project Muse collection, which included a significant and intentional overlap with their print collection. This allowed for a deep comparison and analysis.

You cannot compare them directly in a meaningful way. There are many ways of counting eBooks and pBooks are notoriously undercounted in their use. They looked at whether or not a book was used, and if it was used in only one format or multiple, and then how that compared to the average use across the collection.

26% of titles were used in both formats over the time period, only .5% on a monthly basis. It’s sometimes suggested that eBooks are used for discovery, but even at the monthly level this is not reflected in the data. The pattern of use of each format is generally about the same over the semester, but eBook use tends to be a little behind the pBook use. But, again, it’s difficult to get precise patterns of eBook use with monthly reports. There was no significant differences in format use by subject classification or imprint year or publisher, particularly when factoring the number of titles in each category.

They looked at the average decrease of a pBook over a four year period. They found a 35% decrease in circulation for each imprint year over that time, and this is without any impact of eBook. This is not always factored into these kinds of studies. They found that the decrease increases to 54% when eBooks are added to the mix. There’s also the issue of print use decreasing generally, with monographs losing out to eresources in student and faculty citation studies.

HSS at Harvard has been very clear that they want to continue the print collection at the level it has been, but they also want electronic access. How do we work with publishers to advocate for electronic access without having to purchase the book twice?

Audience Q&A:
What about providing short term loan access for the first 3-4 years? Harvard doesn’t like to purchase eBooks they don’t have perpetual access to.

P&E has been available for journals, why not books? Some publishers have worked with them to give deep discounts on print with an eBook package.

What has been the impact of electronic reserves on use? Haven’t looked at it.

How do you know if someone looked at the eBook and determined they didn’t want/need and that is why the pBook wasn’t used? Hard to determine. They don’t use eBook usage to drive the print acquisition — usually they already have the pBook.

Considering the lifecycle and the decrease in use over a short period of time from imprint year, does that cause you to question the purchase of eBook backfiles? eBook use over that time didn’t seem to decrease as significantly as the pBook.