Don’t make it into a spreadsheet when creating model licences. Think creatively. Check lists, ERM records, HTML pages, etc. Does it need to be shared? Will you be copying from it to send to licencors for negotiation? Also, find out if there is standard language for IT that your institution uses. Review model licenses from the field.
Things are changing, though, and we’re licensing new things that we don’t yet know how to handle them. Data, images, streaming collections, etc. When exceptions become the rule, what do we do?
If you have all of this figured out, put it out there in a discoverable way so the rest of us don’t spin our wheels reinventing your brilliance. Community! Communication! Collaboration!
Do we need to have new standard licensing language for….? Autorenewal — replace it with language about mutual written agreement. Alumni might have access three months post graduation because of the way IT is set up, which might be a license violation. New vendors might not be familiar with libraries and who our authorized users might be. New uses/rights: repository, text mining, use on website/promotional materials, rip & stream on secure server, cloud hosting/distribution of CD-ROMs.
Where do we go from here? How do we as a community keep our resources up to date? Should we have more of a shared collection of exceptions? What can we do to help each other?
Updates from Serials Solutions – mostly Resource Manager (Ashley Bass):
Keep up to date with ongoing enhancements for management tools (quarterly releases) by following answer #422 in the Support Center, and via training/overview webinars.
Populating and maintaining the ERM can be challenging, so they focused a lot of work this year on that process: license template library, license upload tool, data population service, SUSHI, offline date and status editor enhancements (new data elements for sort & filter, new logic, new selection elements, notes), and expanded and additional fields.
Workflow, communication, and decision support enhancements: in context help linking, contact tool filters, navigation, new Counter reports, more information about vendors, Counter summary page, etc. Her most favorite new feature is “deep linking” functionality (aka persistent links to records in SerSol). [I didn’t realize that wasn’t there before — been doing this for my own purposes for a while.]
Next up (in two weeks, 4th quarter release): new alerts, resource renewals feature (reports! and checklist!, will inherit from Admin data), Client Center navigation improvements (i.e. keyword searching for databases, system performance optimization), new license fields (images, public performance rights, training materials rights) & a few more, Counter updates, SUSHI updates (making customizations to deal with vendors who aren’t strictly following the standard), gathering stats for Springer (YTD won’t be available after Nov 30 — up to Sept avail now), and online DRS form enhancements.
In the future: license API (could allow libraries to create a different user interface), contact tools improvements, interoperability documentation, new BI tools and reporting functionality, and improving the Client Center.
Also, building a new KB (2014 release) and a web-scale management solution (Intota, also coming 2014). They are looking to have more internal efficiencies by rebuilding the KB, and it will include information from Ulrich’s, new content types metadata (e.g. A/V), metadata standardization, industry data, etc.
Summon Updates (Andrew Nagy):
I know very little about Summon functionality, so just listened to this one and didn’t take notes. Take-away: if you haven’t looked at Summon in a while, it would be worth giving it another go.
Goal #1: Allow users to easily link to full-text resources. Solution: Go beyond the out-of-the box 360 Link display.
Goal #2: Allow users to report problems or contact library staff at the point of failure. Solution: eresources problem report form
They created the eresources problem report form using Drupal. The fields include contact information, description of the resource, description of the problem, and the ability to attach a screenshot.
Some enhancements included: making the links for full-text (article & journal) butttons, hiding additional help information and giving some hover-over information, parsing the citation into the problem report page, and moving the citation below the links to full-text. For journal citations with no full-text, they made the links to the catalog search large buttons with more text detail in them.
Some of the challenges of implementing these changes is the lack of a test environment because of the limited preview capablities in 360 Link. Any changes actually made required an overnight refresh and they would be live, opening the risk of 24 hour windows of broken resource links. So, they created their own test environment by modifying test scenarios into static HTML files and wrapping them in their own custom PHP to mimic the live pages without having to work with the live pages.
[At this point, it got really techy and lost me. Contact the presenters for details if you’re interested. They’re looking to go live with this as soon as they figure out a low-use time that will have minimal impact on their users.]
Customizing 360 Link menu with jQuery (Laura Wrubel, George Washington University)
They wanted to give better visual clues for users, emphasize the full-text, have more local control over linkns, and visual integration with other library tools so it’s more seamless for users.
They started with Reidsma’s code, then then forked off from it. They added a problem link to a Google form, fixed ebook chapter links and citation formatting, created conditional links to the catalog, and linked to their other library’s link resolver.
They hope to continue to tweak the language on the page, particularly for ILL suggestion. The coverage date is currently hidden behind the details link, which is fine most of the time, but sometimes that needs to be displayed. They also plan to load the print holdings coverage dates to eliminate confusion about what the library actually has.
In the future, they would rather use the API and blend the link resolver functionality with catalog tools.
Custom document delivery services using 360 Link API (Kathy Kilduff, WRLC)
License information for course reserves for faculty (Shanyun Zhang, Catholic University)
Included course reserve in the license information, but then it became an issue to convey that information to the faculty who were used to negotiating it with publishers directly. Most faculty prefer to use Blackboard for course readings, and handle it themselves. But, they need to figure out how to incorporate the library in the workflow. Looking for suggestions from the group.
Advanced Usage Tracking in Summon with Google Anaytics (Kun Lin, Catholic University)
Use of ERM/KB for collection analysis (Mitzi Cole, NASA Goddard Library)
Used the overlap analysis to compare print holdings with electronic and downloaded the report. The partial overlap can actually be a full overlap if the coverage dates aren’t formatted the same, but otherwise it’s a decent report. She incorporated license data from Resource Manager and print collection usage pulled from her ILS. This allowed her to create a decision tool (spreadsheet), and denoted the print usage in 5 year increments, eliminating previous 5 years use with each increment (this showed a drop in use over time for titles of concern).
Discussion of KnowledgeWorks Management/Metadata (Ben Johnson, Lead Metadata Librarian, SerialsSolutions)
After they get the data from the provider or it is made available to them, they have a system to automatically process the data so it fits their specifications, and then it is integrated into the KB.
They deal with a lot of bad data. 90% of databases change every month. Publishers have their own editorial policies that display the data in certain ways (e.g., title lists) and deliver inconsistent, and often erroneous, metadata. The KB team tries to catch everything, but some things still slip through. Throught the data ingestion process, they apply rules based on past experience with the data source. After that, the data is normalized so that various title/ISSN/ISBN combinations can be associated with the authority record. Finally, the data is incorporated into the KB.
Authority rules are used to correct errors and inconsistencies. Rule automatically and consistently correct holdings, and they are often used to correct vendor reporting problems. Rules are condified for provider and database, with 76,000+ applied to thousands of databases, and 200+ new rules are added each month.
Why does it take two months for KB data to be corrected when I report it? Usually it’s because they are working with the data providers, and some respond more quickly than others. They are hoping that being involved with various initiatives like KBART will help fix data from the provider so they don’t have to worry about correcting it for us, but also making it easier to make those corrections by using standards.
Client Center ISSN/ISBN doesn’t always work in 360 Links, which may have something to do with the authority record, but it’s unclear. It’s possible that there are some data in the Client Center that haven’t been normalized, and could cause this disconnect. And sometimes the provider doesn’t send both print and electronic ISSN/ISBN.
What is the source for authority records for ISSN/ISBN? LC, Bowker, ISSN.org, but he’s not clear. Clarification: Which field in the MARC record is the source for the ISBN? It could be the source of the normalization problem, according to the questioner. Johnson isn’t clear on where it comes from.
Why use WordPress as a CMS for a small website? It’s flexible enough to build all sorts of kinds of sites. It’s free as in beer and there is a huge support community. It has a beautiful admin (particularly compared to other CMS like Drupal) that clients like to use, which means it is more likely to succeed and make them happy repeat clients.
First things first. Set up a local development server (MAMP or XAMPP) or use a web host. This allows you to develop on a desktop machine as if it were a web server.
Next, download dummy content like posts and comments. There are plugins (WP Dummy Content, Demo Data Creator) or imports in XML form.
Start with a blank theme. You could start from scratch, but nobody needs to reinvent the wheel. Really good ones: Starkers (semantic, thorough, and functional), Naked (created for adding your own XHTML), Blank (now with HTML5), and more.
A blank theme will come with several php files for pages/components and a css file. To create a theme, you really only need an index.php, screenshot.png, and style.css files. Lanier begs you to name your theme (i.e. sign your work).
Now that you have a theme name, start with the header and navigation. Next, take advantage of WPs dynamic tags. Don’t use an absolute path to your style sheet, home page, or anywhere else on your site if possible.
Make things even more awesome with some if/then statements. You can do that in PHP. [I should probably dig out my PHP for Dummies reference type books and read up on this.] This allows you to code elements different depending on what type of page you use.
Once you have your header file, build your footer file, making sure to close any tags you have in your header. Code the copyright year to be dynamic.
It doesn’t have to be a blog!
If you’re going to create a static homepage, make sure you name the custom template. If you don’t do this, the WP admin can’t see it. Go into Reading Settings to select the page you created using the homepage template.
Now that you have all that, what goes into the custom template? Well, you have the header and footer already, so now you put THE LOOP in between a div wrapper. The loop is where WP magic happens. It will display the content depending on the template of the page type. It will limit the number of posts shown on a page, include/exclude categories, list posts by author/category/tag, offset posts, order posts, etc.
Once you have your home page, you’ll want to build the interior pages. There are several strategies. You could let page.php power them, but if you have different interior page designs, then you’ll want to create custom page templates for each. But, that can become inefficient, so Lanier recommends using if/then statements for things like custom sidebars. A technique of awesomeness is using dynamic body IDs, which allows you to target content to specific pages using the body_class tag depending on any number of variables. Or, once again you can use an if/then statement. Other options for body classes.
Finish off your theme with the power of plugins. Basics: Akismet, All-In-One SEO, Google XML Sitemaps, Fast Secure Contact Form (or other contact form plugin), WPtouch iPhone theme. For blogs, you’ll want plugins like Author Highlight, Comment Timeout, SEO Slugs (shortens the URL to SEO-friendly), Thank Me Later (first-timer comments will get an email thanking them and links to other content), and WordPress Related Posts. For a CMS, these are good: Custom Excerpts, Search Permalink, Search Unleashed (or Better Search, since the default search is bit lacking), WP-PageNavi (instead of older/newer it creates page numbering), and WP Super Cache (caches content pages as static HTML and reduces server load).
What about multi-user installations? She used Daren Hoyt’s Mimbo theme because it was primarily a magazine site.
At what point do you have too many conditional statements in a template? It’s a balancing act between which is more efficient: conditional statements or lots of PHP files.
How do you keep track of new plugins and the reliability of programmers? Daren Hoyt & Elliot J. Stock are two designers she follows and will check out their recommendations.
What is your opinions of premium themes? For most people, that’s all they need. She would rather spend her time developing niche things that can’t be handled by standard themes.
How do you know when plugins don’t mesh well with each other? Hard to keep up with this as patches are released and updates to WP code.
Where can you find out how to do what you want to do? The codex can be confusing. It’s often easier to find a theme that does the element you are wanting to do, and then figure out how they designed the loop to handle it.
Are parent templates still necessary? Lanier hasn’t really used them.
Leave WP auto-P on or off? She turns them off. Essentially, WP automatically wraps paragraphs with a p tag, which can mess with your theme.
Medicine 0.1: in dealing with the influenza outbreak of 1837, a physician administered leeches to the chest, James’s powder, and mucilaginous drinks, and it worked (much like take two aspirin and call in the morning). All of this was written up in a medical journal as a way to share information with peers. Journals have been the primary source of communicating scholarship, but what the journal is has become more abstract with the addition of non-text content and metadata. Add in indexes and other portals to access the information, and readers have changed the way they access and share information in journals. “Non-linear” access of information is increasing exponentially.
Even as technology made publishing easier and more widespread, it was still producers delivering content to consumers. But, with the advent of Web 2.0 tools, consumers now have tools that in many cases are more nimble and accessible than the communication tools that producers are using.
Web 1.0 was a destination. Documents simply moved to a new home, and “going online” was a process separate from anything else you did. However, as broadband access increases, the web becomes more pervasive and less a destination. The web becomes a platform that brings people, not documents, online to share information, consume information, and use it like any other tool.
Heterarchy: a system of organization replete with overlap, multiplicity, mixed ascendandacy and/or divergent but coextistent patterns of relation
Apomediation: mediation by agents not interposed between users and resources, who stand by to guide a consumer to high quality information without a role in the acquisition of the resources (i.e. Amazon product reviewers)
NEJM uses terms by users to add related searches to article search results. They also bump popular articles from searches up in the results as more people click on them. These tools improved their search results and reputation, all by using the people power of experts. In addition, they created a series of “results in” publications that highlight the popular articles.
It took a little over a year to get to a million Twitter authors, and about 600 years to get to the same number of book authors. And, these are literate, savvy users. Twitter & Facebook count for 1.45 million views of the New York Times (and this is a number from several years ago) — imagine what it can do for your scholarly publication. Oh, and NYT has a social media editor now.
Blogs are growing four times as fast as traditional media. The top ten media sites include blogs and the traditional media sources use blogs now as well. Blogs can be diverse or narrow, their coverage varies (and does not have to be immediate), they are verifiably accurate, and they are interactive. Blogs level that media playing field, in part by watching the watchdogs. Blogs tend to investigate more than the mainstream media.
It took AOL five times as long to get to twenty million users than it did for the iPhone. Consumers are increasingly adding “toys” to their collection of ways to get to digital/online content. When the NEJM went on the Kindle, more than just physicians subscribed. Getting content into easy to access places and on the “toys” that consumers use will increase your reach.
Print digests are struggling because they teeter on the brink of the daily divide. Why wait for the news to get stale, collected, and delivered a week/month/quarter/year later? People are transforming. Our audiences don’t think of information as analogue, delayed, isolated, tethered, etc. It has to evolve to something digital, immediate, integrated, and mobile.
From the Q&A session:
The article container will be here for a long time. Academics use the HTML version of the article, but the PDF (static) version is their security blanket and archival copy.
Where does the library as source of funds when the focus is more on the end users? Publishers are looking for other sources of income as library budgets are decreasing (i.e. Kindle, product differentiation, etc.). They are looking to other purchasing centers at institutions.
How do publishers establish the cost of these 2.0 products? It’s essentially what the market will bear, with some adjustments. Sustainability is a grim perspective. Flourishing is much more positive, and not necessarily any less realistic. Equity is not a concept that comes into pricing.
The people who bring the tremendous flow of information under control (i.e. offer filters) will be successful. One of our tasks is to make filters to help our users manage the flow of information.
Three options: do it yourself, gather and format to upload to a vendor’s collection database, or have the vendor gather the data and send a report (Harrassowitz e-Stats). Surprisingly, the second solution was actually more time-consuming than the first because the library’s data didn’t always match the vendor’s data. The third is the easiest because it’s coming from their subscription agent.
Evaluation: review cost data; set cut-off point ($50, $75, $100, ILL/DocDel costs, whatever); generate list of all resources that fall beyond that point; use that list to determine cancellations. For citation databases, they want to see upward trends in use, not necessarily cyclical spikes that average out year-to-year.
Future: Need more turnaway reports from publishers, specifically journal publishers. COUNTER JR5 will give more detail about article requests by year of publication. COUNTER JR1 & BR1 combined report – don’t care about format, just want download data. Need to have download information for full-text subscriptions, not just searches/sessions.
Speaker: Benjamin Heet, librarian
He is speaking about University of Notre Dame’s statistics philosophy. They collect JR1 full text downloads – they’re not into database statistics, mostly because fed search messes them up. Impact factor and Eigen factors are hard to evaluate. He asks, “can you make questionable numbers meaningful by adding even more questionable numbers?”
At first, he was downloading the spreadsheets monthly and making them available on the library website. He started looking for a better way, whether that was to pay someone else to build a tool or do it himself. He went with the DIY route because he wanted to make the numbers more meaningful.
Avoid junk in junk out: HTML vs. PDF downloads depends on the platform setup. Pay attention to outliers to watch for spikes that might indicate unusual use by an individual. The reports often have bad data or duplicate data on the same report.
CORAL Usage Statistics – local program gives them a central location to store user names & passwords. He downloads reports quarterly now, and the public interface allows other librarians to view the stats in readable reports.
Speaker: Justin Clarke, vendor
Harvesting reports takes a lot of time and requires some administrative costs. SUSHI is a vehicle for automating the transfer of statistics from one source to another. However, you still need to look at the data. Your subscription agent has a lot more data about the resources than just use, and can combine the two together to create a broader picture of the resource use.
Harrassowitz starts with acquisitions data and matches the use statistics to that. They also capture things like publisher changes and title changes. Cost per use is not as easy as simple division – packages confuse the matter.
High use could be the result of class assignments or hackers/hoarders. Low use might be for political purchases or new department support. You need a reference point of cost. Pricing from publishers seems to have no rhyme or reason, and your price is not necessarily the list price. Multi-year analysis and subject-based analysis look at local trends.
Rather than usage statistics, we need useful statistics.
He is interested in how social media is used to disseminate information. Shortly after CDC set up a Twitter account, many folks started following their updates with information. Many people and organizations created Google Maps mashups of incidents of H1N1. Alexander gathered examples of the variety of responses, and he doesn’t think that any institution in higher education is prepared to discuss or teach on this use of social media and how to critically respond to it.
Twitter has taken off among an unusual demographic for social media: adults with jobs. The news of the plane that landed in the Hudson was scooped by a Twitter user. It’s now one out of many news sources, and soon there will be better ways of aggregating news information that includes it. The number of individuals arrested for blogging (or microblogging like Twitter) has gone up dramatically in recent years. These tools are important.
LinkedIn: least sexy social media site on the net. However, they are making a profit! Regardless of how spiffy it could be, people are still using it.
Scott Sigler shout-out! Future Dark Overlord gets a mention for being the first podcast novelist to break the NYT bestseller list.
Before Web 2.0, you had to know HTML, have FTP access, and server space somewhere. The learning curve was high. With Web 2.0, it’s easy to create, publish, and share microcontent from a variety of free or open sources. The learning curve is much lower — barriers to access are torn down in favor of collaboration and information dissemination.
2.0 conversations are networked across many sites, not just in one or two locations like 1.0 or print. The implications for how we teach students is huge!
Mashups are great ways to take data or textual information and create visual representations of them that enhance the learning process. For example, Lewis & Clark University created a Google Maps mashup of the locations of the potters in their contemporary American pottery collection. This map shows groupings that the text or images of the pottery does not easily convey.
Alexander used the blog format to publish a version of Stoker’s Dracula, which was easily adaptable to the format. It took little time, since he had the text in a document file already (he was preparing an annotated version for print). This brought interested readers and scholars out of the woodwork, including many experts in the field of Dracula research, who left comments with additional information on the entries.
If you’re not using technology in teaching, you’re not Luddite — you’re Amish.
According to Google Labs’ Trends tool, “Web 2.0” is going down as a search term. That doesn’t mean it’s going away. Rather, it means that it’s becoming “normal” and no longer a new technology.
The icon for computing used to be the desktop, then it became the laptop. Now it has exploded. There are many devices all over the map, from pocket size to much larger. Wireless means nothing anymore — it’s defining something by what it is not, and there are a heck of a lot of things that are not “wired.”
Mobile computing is not a panacea — there are problems. The devices are too small to do serious editing of video or audio. The interfaces are difficult for many users to do much more than basic things with them.
Information on demand at one’s fingertips is challenging for pedagogy. Students can be looking up information during lectures and possibly challenging their teachers with what they have found. Backchannel conversations can either enhance or derail classroom conversations, depending on how they are managed by the presenters, but one main advantage is that it increases participation from those who are too shy to speak.
The pedagogical aspects of video games are finally making their way into higher education scholarship and practice. The gaming industry is currently more profitable than the movie or music industries. We need to be paying attention to how and what games are teaching our students.
In the end, you will install and play with several different content management systems until you find the right one for your needs. A good CMS will facilitate the division of labor, support the overall development of the site, and ensure best practices/standards. It’s not about the content, it’s about the cockpit. You need something that will make your staff happy so that it’s easy to build the right site for your users.
Joomla was the #1 in market share with good community support when Halifax went with it. Ultimately, it wasn’t working, so they switched to MODx. Joomla, unfortunately, gets in the way of creative coding.
ModX, unlike Joomla, has fine-grain user access. Templates are plain HTML, so no need to learn code specific to the CMS. The community was smaller, but more engaged.
One feature that Deschamps is excited about is the ability to create a snippet with pre-set options that can be inserted in a page and changed as needed. An example of how this would be used is if you want to put specific CC licenses on pages or have certain images displayed.
The future: "application framework" rather than "content management system"
Speaker: John Blyberg
Drupal has been named open source CMS of the year for the past two years in part due to the community participation. It scales well, so it can go from being a small website to a large and complex one relatively easily. However, it has a steep learning curve. Joomla is kind of like Photoshop Elements, and Drupal is more like the full Photoshop suite.
Everything you put into Drupal is a node, not a page. It associates bits of information with that node to flesh out a full page. Content types can be classified in different ways, with as much diversity as you want. The taxonomies can be used to create the structure of your website.
[Blyberg showed some examples of things that he likes about Drupal, but the detail and significance are beyond me, so I did not record them here. You can probably find out more when/if he posts his presentation.]
If a blog were an octopus, a rhino, or a hydra, which one would it be?
In the past, making a web page was like an old woman fighting a dog — no one wanted to do it and it wasn’t pretty. A lot of people see blogs as an animal that emits fiery excrement and not something you’d want to experience.
Blogging began as ‘cat journals,’ but over time they have evolved into other things. Blogs can be whatever you make them, from boring and static to an ever-changing undefinable thing. Sort of like an octopus that can get through anything that it can fit it’s beak through.
Before you start blogging, think about the voice you want to present. Should it be yours alone or with others? The content can influence that decision. The platform you choose can also influence that, since there are often levels of permissions available in popular blogging platforms, which allows for more flexibility in who can write/publish what.
If you are using a blog to push content to students, consider incorporating relevant RSS feeds to pull content into one location. Not just text feeds, but also multi-media like music and video.
Blog software can be used to create static web pages without having to know a lot of HTML or take the time to do the coding. Depending on the software you choose, there can be many options for templates that you can use to make it better than the out-of-the-box version.
One concern with using blogs in the classroom is the openness to the world. Blogs can be limited so that only certain authorized users can see them, much less comment or contribute to them. This might be good for encouraging open participation from students, but it also means that experts or other knowledgeable people can’t contribute to the conversation.
In the end, blogs are more like octopuses. The tentacles can pull in content from all over, and it can be flexible enough to fit your needs. Check out these examples for whatever kind of blog you might want to create.
Public blogs and podcasts that generate content of interest to those outside of the classroom are more rewarding for students and take it beyond simply replacing papers or discussions with some fancy 2.0 tool. The content generated by upperclassmen can be used in teaching freshmen and sophomores, which I think is a very cool idea.
What I wouldn’t give for a pre-conference workshop on XML or SQL or some programming language that I could apply to my daily work!
Recently, Dorothea Salo was bemoaning the lack of technology skills among librarians. I hear her, and I agree, but I don’t think that the library science programs have as much blame as she wants to assign to them.
Librarianship has created an immense Somebody Else’s Problem field around computers. Unlike reference work, unlike cataloguing, unlike management, systems is all too often not considered a librarian specialization. It is therefore not taught at a basic level in some library schools, not offered as a clear specialization track, and not recruited for as it needs to be. And it is not often addressed in a systematic fashion by continuing-education programs in librarianship.
I guess my program, eight years ago, was not one of those library schools that doesn’t teach basic computer technology. Considering that my program was not a highly ranked program, nor one known for being techie, I’m surprised to learn that we had a one-up on some other library science programs. Not only were there several library tech (and basic tech) courses available, everyone was required to take at least one computer course to learn hardware and software basics, as well as rudimentary HTML.
That being said, I suspect that the root of Salo’s ire is based in what librarians have done with the tech knowledge they were taught. In many cases, they have done nothing, letting those who are interested or have greater aptitude take over the role of tech guru in their libraries. Those of us who are interested in tech in general, and library tech in specific, have gone on to make use of what we were taught, and have added to our arsenal of skills.
My complaint, and one shared by Salo, is that we are not given very many options for learning more through professional continuing education venues that cover areas considered to be traditional librarian skills. What I wouldn’t give for a pre-conference workshop on XML or SQL or some programming language that I could apply to my daily work!
In the August 2006 issue of Library Journal, Roy Tennant writes about the gender gap in digital librarianship. It’s a concern that I have been pondering on a more personal level for quite some time. I totally geek out over the shiny toys being pumped out by the Library 2.0 geniuses, but when it comes … Continue reading “women in digital librarianship”
In the August 2006 issue of Library Journal, Roy Tennant writes about the gender gap in digital librarianship. It’s a concern that I have been pondering on a more personal level for quite some time. I totally geek out over the shiny toys being pumped out by the Library 2.0 geniuses, but when it comes to creating my own contributions, I falter. Even just writing about them makes me nervous. Who am I to pretend to know something about these things? I’m just the person who pays the bills.
This is not entirely an accurate picture of my work, but a great deal of it does involve managing budgets, as well as staff. Occasionally my Dean will discuss my scholarship direction and interest in library technology, and inevitably the phrase, “but I’m not an expert on that!” will come out of my mouth. He wants me to publish, and I find myself floundering around trying to find something – anything – that I might know more about than the average librarian. The problem is that I am the average librarian.
I’m not Michael Stephens and Jenny Levine, jetting off to here and there to bring the wonders of Library 2.0 to the commoners. I’m not Sarah Houghton with my hands buried up to my elbows in library technology. I’m just a normal person with some HTML skills and an interest in technology. I’ll never be a Mover and Shaker.
This is the mental block that gets thrown up every time I think about my role in digital librarianship. I’m always going to be on the second or third wave of folks implementing new technology in libraries.
What I need are the tools to become more technologically savvy. I’ve looked into some of the options offered at my university, but aside from seeming rather intimidating, I worry that they will be too broad for my needs. What I would really like to see are some training sessions like what Michael and Jenny have been doing, but at a higher level. For example, how about something for folks who already know about RSS feeds but don’t have the skills or tools to use them in more creative ways? That would be very useful. Or maybe a crash course in MySQL databases with PHP interfaces. I can think of a lot of uses for that just in my daily job.
Some of us are lucky enough to live relatively close to Library Science programs. If the iSchool at the University of Washington offered a day or two long continuing education course on MySQL and PHP in the library setting, I would attend.
Maybe that’s something that Tennant and his posse should consider. We can’t wait for a new generation of women to grow up encouraged to be interested in technology. We need to do something for the women who are currently in the profession, as well.