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.
Began in 2008 after a new director and consultant group came in and recommended a reorganization. They had some trouble deciding which larger group electronic resource management should be a part of, and ended up on Information Delivery Services, which includes Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Access Services. The ERM unit used to include acquisitions, cataloging, and a service point. By moving the cataloging functions out (and closing the service point), the group could then focus on access and discovery systems (eresource management, licensing). During the same time, they also moved a huge chunk of bound journal volumes to storage to create student spaces.
Focused on moving away from redundancy across different systems, and moving towards cloud-based unified knowledgebases that populated all user interfaces.
Most serials are now electronic, and they are increasingly being tasked to acquire new forms of eresources. Needed to change some workflow models to incorporate ebook acquisitions and management, for example. They are now starting to work more with Acquisitions and Cataloging for those workflows. Large data sets will be the next challenge.
Focusing more on discovery access and assessment, which had been on the back burner. This requires shifting more of the workflow out of the unit.
Training and skill building in ERM techniques include: ERM “class” to orient to role in the library, trouble-shooting access issues, e-resource forums for other tech services staff taught by members of the ERM unit, vendor training sessions, cross-training within the unit, annual evaluation of responsibilities to determine what could be delegated to a specialist (make sure they are interested in it and it is appropriate for them to do), project prioritization, and relevant committee service.
Cataloging has been overwhelmed with legacy print projects, so incorporating ERM work has been challenging. Acquisitions staffing has been disproportionately weighted towards print, so moving more of the ebook process in is a solution and a challenge. Training circ/service point staff to handle basic questions about eresource access issues.
They are using CORAL resources module for tracking ebook workflows.
[Would really like to have a session like this focus on examples more than challenges and things they still need to do. I want to know job descriptions/responsibilities and examples of workflows for different resources.]
Speaker: Christine Korytnyk Dulaney, American University
Staff didn’t talk to each other about work, so they had to make some changes in communication and give them a broader view of the workflow (i.e. how each thing impacted another). They used some project management techniques to begin this process, and it helped them finish the project where they have a history of not doing so. The fundamental concepts of PM can be scaled down to any kind of project. [The presenter goes into this, but you probably have lots of books in your library that covers it.] One advantage of PM is that it focuses on the work and diffuses the emotion that can come from making changes.
Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing a horde of zombies.
There are three things you need to do to engage staff with crowdsourcing: give them a goal, let them choose their own weapons (technology and methods used to accomplish the goal; group organizational structure), and celebrate both their successes and failures.
The easiest way to get staff engaged is to involve them in the process, and listen/respond to the input they provide.
Keep in mind that this only works if your organization is not so wedded to hierarchy that they can’t set that aside to get the work done. A way to handle that kind of work environment is to have a moderator to keep those staff involved, or remove from the group the managers that cause the problem.
Speaker: Lisa Hardy
About four years ago, they put together a team of eight to plan for leadership development, board engagement & strategic planning, and staff engagement. One of the keys to the group’s success was that it had closure — it was not an ongoing committee, but rather a task force with a specific goal and timeframe.
One of the outcomes was a “Future Action Think Tank,” which was not mandatory for all staff, unlike other events of that nature. The staff had to submit an application/essay explaining why they wanted to attend, and almost all attended. If they didn’t submit an expression of interest, they were turned away.
They started the day with a futurist faire, where staff talked about the things they were doing in a poster session style setting. The biggest part of the day was the field trip. They had several different location options around the city, and each of the places visited talked about their particular challenges and what they were doing to meet them (university digital library, zoo, science center, immigrant serving agencies, youth serving agencies, volunteer agencies, etc.).
There were other events that happened after it, and the second one actually came directly from administration. They had staff come and pitch their ideas to the administrators, and one was given funding to go ahead. Kind of like an entrepreneur TV show in Canada.
20% of staff are always open to change, and are willing to follow/lead anywhere; 20% of staff will stand in the way of change; and 60% will go either way. Where will you focus your energies?
Audience member suggested using Belbin for assessing potential roles when forming a group, and this may help avoid some of the issues of organizational hierarchy impeding staff involvement.
Two and a half days is just not enough time spent with my tribe. I could have gone all week. I’m not ready to go back to the real world.
This was my third Electronic Resources & Libraries conference, and I’ve been lucky to get to know a few more ER librarians every year. This year was particularly notable, as I was able to spend quite a bit of time talking with peers that I highly respect and look to as inspirations for my own work (Jamene Brooks-Kieffer and Marie Kennedy, just to name two). I did my best to keep it cool and not go fangirl all over them.
Most of the sessions I attended were solid, informative, and often inspiring in their own right. I’m still working through the project list generated last year, and now I have more to add or enhance what’s already there.
I plan to look into:
JTac software for acquisitions workflow
CORAL for ER workflow, but maybe not for ERMS, if that’s possible
MISO software for ingesting SUSHI (since my ERMS is only just starting to look at developing SUSHI ingestion)
Documenting ER workflows and procedures — I have been intimidated by this, since I’ll be starting from scratch and don’t know where to begin. I realized this week that I could use TERMS as a jumping off point.
Include a feedback form for each trial we do, rather than just relying on free-form email messages
Seeing about modifying the workflow for eDDA titles so that liaisons can move them to firm orders before the records are loaded in the catalog
Also, investigating options for pDDA for slip orders
Joining a relevant NISO working group, if anything comes up (Marie suggested we do this, and I’ve been interested for a while)
Being a leader in my library without being higher up in management or at least not beyond where I’m comfortable
There were a few sessions that left me wanting. For one, I keep trying to glean some insight into better ways of managing ER workflows, but our staff is so small and the people who tend to present on the topic come from libraries so large that it’s hard to see where the connections or benefits may be. I am still thinking about how to set up something that would trigger notifications of next steps, even if most of them would end up coming to me. My paper checklist form is okay, but it only works if I remember to do it and to check up on it.
Another session I attended was supposed to be all about a tech services department reorganization with an eye towards eresource trends. However, it seems that the presenter expected more results by now than what he was able to talk about, so most of the session beyond the introduction was about what should be happening rather than what has been happening. I think that it’s difficult to know six months in advance if your new project will be at a place worth sharing, but maybe conferences need to shift more of those kinds of topics to short sessions like the lightening talks, rather than risk the session being a dud because there aren’t enough relevant outcomes to share.
ER&L 2013 will be in Austin again next year, and shortly following the SXSWi conference. They hope to have some connections between the two, so if you’ve been on the fence about attending, that may be the year to take the plunge.
Users were unhappy with eresource management, due in part to their ad hoc approach, and they relied on users to notify them when there were access issues. A heavy reliance on email and memory means things slip through the cracks. They were not a train wreck waiting to happen, they were train wreck that had already occurred.
Needed to develop a deeper understanding of their workflows and processes to identify areas for improvement. The reason that earlier attempts have failed was due to not having all the right people at the table. Each stage of the lifecycle needs to be there.
Oliver Pesch’s 2009 presentation on “ERMS and the E-Resources Lifecycle” provided the framework they used. They created a staff responsibility matrix to determine exactly what they did, and then did interviews to get at how they did it. The narrative was translated to a workflow diagram for each kind of resource (ebooks, ejournals, etc.).
Even though some of the subject librarians were good about checking for dups before requesting things, acquisitions still had to repeat the process because they don’t know if it was done. This is just one example of a duplication of effort that they discovered in their workflow review.
For the ebook package process, they found it was so unclear they couldn’t even diagram it. It’s very linear, and it could have a number of processes happening in parallel.
Lots of words on screen with great ideas of things to do for quality control and user interface improvements. Presenter does not highlight any. Will have to look at it later.
One thing they mentioned is identifying essential tasks that are done by only one staff. They then did cross-training to make sure that if the one is out for the day, someone else can do it.
Surprisingly, they were not using EDI for firm orders, nor had they implemented tools like PromptCat.
Applications that make things work for them:
JTacq — using this for the acquisition/collections workflow. I’ve never heard of it, but will investigate.
ImageNow — not an ERM — a document management tool. Enterprise content management, and being used by many university departments but not many libraries.
They used SharePoint at a meeting space for the teams.