ER&L 2013: Internal and External Clients — Why Do We Treat One Better Than the Other?

Speakers: Dawn McKinnon & Amy Buckland, McGill University - Since it's difficult to infer tone in an email, you should assume all mine are sarcastic or bitchy.

We have pretty good outward-facing communication and support, but internally, we’re not so polite or explanatory.

Always reply to an email if a reply is needed, even if it is to say you can’t do it right now (or ever). Use the same pleasantries you would with an external client.

One solution is to make everyone give a job talk, which helps everyone understand a little about what each other is doing. Another solution is to provide topical workshops and general updates to help everyone understand workflow and impact on other departments.

Committees that combine staff from different departments/areas can help make sure that all the bases are covered.

Communicate! You cannot communicate too much, especially if it is important. Email lists, blogs, weekly meetings with management, regular open office hours, bimonthly recorded talk with the Dean, etc.

Pitfalls to watch out for: spreading negative misinformation, public shaming, and shoveling crap (i.e. typical librarian passive-aggressiveness, or passing the buck).

Libraries are about community. Service levels should be the same for students, donors, colleagues… anyone who is part of the community!

Moving Up to the Cloud, a panel lecture hosted by the VCU Libraries

“Sky symphony” by Kevin Dooley

“Educational Utility Computing: Perspectives on .edu and the Cloud”
Mark Ryland, Chief Solutions Architect at Amazon Web Services

AWS has been a part of revolutionizing the start-up industries (i.e. Instagram, Pinterest) because they don’t have the cost of building server infrastructures in-house. Cloud computing in the AWS sense is utility computing — pay for what you use, easy to scale up and down, and local control of how your products work. In the traditional world, you have to pay for the capacity to meet your peak demand, but in the cloud computing world, you can level up and down based on what is needed at that moment.

Economies, efficiencies of scale in many ways. Some obvious: storage, computing, and networking equipment supply change; internet connectivity and electric power; and data center sitting, redundancy, etc. Less obvious: security and compliance best practices; datacenter internal innovations in networking, power, etc.

AWS and .EDU: EdX, Coursera, Texas Digital Library, Berkeley AMP Lab, Harvard Medical, University of Phoenix, and an increasing number of university/school public-facing websites.

Expects that we are heading toward cloud computing utilities to function much like the electric grid — just plug in and use it.

“Libraries in Transition”
Marshall Breeding, library systems expert

We’ve already seen the shift of print to electronic in academic journals, and we’re heading that way with books. Our users are changing in the way they expect interactions with libraries to be, and the library as space is evolving to meet that, along with library systems.

Web-based computing is better than client/server computing. We expect social computing to be integrated into the core infrastructure of a service, rather than add-ons and afterthoughts. Systems need to be flexible for all kinds of devices, not just particular types of desktops. Metadata needs to evolve from record-by-record creation to bulk management wherever possible. MARC is going to die, and die soon.

How are we going to help our researchers manage data? We need the infrastructure to help us with that as well. Semantic web — what systems will support it?

Cooperation and consolidation of library consortia; state-wide implementations of SaaS library systems. Our current legacy ILS are holding libraries back from being able to move forward and provide the services our users want and need.

A true cloud computing system comes with web-based interfaces, externally hosted, subscription OR utility pricing, highly abstracted computing model, provisioned on demand, scaled according to variable needs, elastic.

“Moving Up to the Cloud”
Mark Triest, President of Ex Libris North America

Currently, libraries are working with several different systems (ILS, ERMS, DRs, etc.), duplicating data and workflows, and not always very accurately or efficiently, but it was the only solution for handling different kinds of data and needs. Ex Libris started in 2007 to change this, beginning with conversations with librarians. Their solution is a single system with unified data and workflows.

They are working to lower the total cost of ownership by reducing IT needs, minimize administration time, and add new services to increase productivity. Right now there are 120+ institutions world-wide who are in the process of or have gone live with Alma.

Automated workflows allow staff to focus on the exceptions and reduce the steps involved.

Descriptive analytics are built into the system, with plans for predictive analytics to be incorporated in the future.

Future: collaborative collection development tools, like joint licensing and consortial ebook programs; infrastructure for ad-hoc collaboration

“Cloud Computing and Academic Libraries: Promise and Risk”
John Ulmschneider, Dean of Libraries at VCU

When they first looked at Alma, they had two motivations and two concerns. They were not planning or thinking about it until they were approached to join the early adopters. All academic libraries today are seeking to discover and exploit new efficiencies. The growth of cloud-resident systems and data requires academic libraries to reinvigorate their focus on core mission. Cloud-resident systems are creating massive change throughout out institutions. Managing and exploiting pervasive change is a serious challenge. Also, we need to deal with security and durability of data.

Cloud solutions shift resources from supporting infrastructure to supporting innovation.

Efficiencies are not just nice things, they are absolutely necessary for academic libraries. We are obligated to upend long-held practice, if in doing so we gain assets for practice essential to our mission. We must focus recovered assets on the core library mission.

Agility is the new stability.

Libraries must push technology forward in areas that advance their core mission. Infuse technology evolution for libraries with the values needs of libraries. Libraries must invest assets as developers, development partners, and early adopters. Insist on discovery and management tools that are agnostic regarding data sources.

Managing the change process is daunting.. but we’re already well down the road. It’s not entirely new, but it does involve a change in culture to create a pervasive institutional agility for all staff.

Charleston 2012: EWWW!: Electronic Resources in the 21st Century (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Catalog and Love the MARC Records Service)

15/52 : Titanic by Eric Constantineau
“15/52 : Titanic” by Eric Constantineau

Speakers: Ladd Brown, Andi Ogier, and Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech

Libraries are not about the collections anymore, they’re about space. The library is a place to connect to the university community. We are aggressively de-selecting, buying digital backfiles in the humanities to clear out the print collections.

Guess what? We still have our legacy workflows. They were built for processing physical items. Then eresources came along, and there were two parallel processes. Ebooks have the potential of becoming a third process.

Along with the legacy workflows, they have a new Dean, who is forward thinking. The Dean says it’s time to rip off the bandaid. (Titanic = old workflow; iceberg = eresources; people in life boats = technical resources team) Strategic plans are living documents kept on top of the desk and not in the drawer.

With all of this in mind, acquisitions leaders began meeting daily in a group called Eresources Workflow Weekly Work, planning the changes they needed to make. They did process mapping with sharpies, post-its, and incorporated everyone in the library that had anything to do with eresources. After lots of meetings, position descriptions began to emerge.

Electronic Resource Supervisor is the title of the former book and serials acquisitions heads. The rest — wasn’t clear from the description.

They had a MARC record service for ejournals, but after this reorganization process, they realized they needed the same for ebooks, and could be handled by the same folks.

Two person teams were formed based on who did what in the former parallel processes, and they reconfigured their workspace to make this more functional. The team cubes are together, and they have open collaboration spaces for other groupings.

They shifted focus from maintaining MARC records in their ILS to maintaining accurate title lists and data in their ERMS. They’re letting the data from the ERMS populate the ILS with appropriate MARC records.

They use some Python scripts to help move data from system to system, and more staff are being trained to support it. They’re also using the Google Apps portal for collaborative projects.

They wanted to take risks, make mistakes, fail quickly, but also see successes come quickly. They needed someplace to start, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, so they borrowed heavily from the work done by colleagues at James Madison University. They also hired Carl Grant as a consultant to ask questions and facilitate cross-departmental work.

Big thing to keep in mind: Administration needs to be prepared to allow staff to spend time learning new processes and not keeping up with everything they used to do at the same time. And, as they let go of the work they used to do, please tell them it was important or they won’t adopt the new work.

ALA Virtual 2011: Currents of Change and Innovation

Moderator: Ann Coder, Library Services Manager, Brookhaven College

Speaker: Linda McCann, Director of Library Services, Bucks County Community College

Probably had something interesting to say, but her phone connection was so awful I tuned it out. Plus, I hate the “let me tell you useless stats about my institution” portion that for some reason people think is important to include in every presentation about something they did at their library.

In summary, they got rid of formats and collections that are no longer needed and converted the space into a popular (and apparently award winning) learning commons.


Speaker: Denise Repman, Dean of Library Services, Delgado Community College

Oy. Sound not much better on this one. Maybe it’s ALA’s connection? In summary: something something something new library buildings.


Speaker:  Theresa C. Stanley, Library Director, Pima Community College

Still crappy sound. In summary: they had to reduce their collection by 30%, so they removed duplicates and content no longer relevant to their current programs. Kept notes in a wiki and used a shared calendar to schedule the project, which is probably a good idea.

graduate assistantships available

The James E. Brooks Library faculty announce a graduate assistantship program for individuals who already have an MLS, or equivalent, and who desire a second subject master degree.

Graduate Assistantships Available
The James E. Brooks Library
Central Washington University

The James E. Brooks Library faculty announce a graduate assistantship program for individuals who already have an MLS, or equivalent, and who desire a second subject master degree. This unique two-year program allows an individual to study in any of eighteen graduate programs while gaining valuable professional experience in an academic library. Ideal for new or experienced tenure-seeking librarians, candidates must apply to the graduate school and be accepted into a program prior to being accepted as a paid library graduate assistant.

The assistantship is really two programs; an opportunity to gain valuable professional experience under the tutelage of professional librarians while getting that second, often necessary, advanced degree required at many academic libraries. For experienced librarians this assistantship is also two programs; a chance to advance by studying for an advanced degree while renewing and recharging one’s self during an extended leave of absence. Total benefits include a stipend of $7,120, plus paid tuition, medical insurance and health center fees equaling approximately $13,888 per academic year. Summer study and employment opportunities may also be available.

Opportunities are available for candidates to gain professional experience in reference, instruction, library technology and systems, technical services, outreach, archives and record management, government publications, maps, assessment and research.

Application and queries may be initiated by contacting Dr. Thomas M. Peischl, Dean of Library Services at, or by telephone at (509) 963-1901, or by mail at The James E. Brooks Library, 400 East University Way, Ellensburg, WA 98926.

Central Washington University
The James E. Brooks Library
The Office of Graduate Studies and Research