ER&L 2015 – All Thing Distributed: Collaborations Beyond Infrastructure

photo by Chris Lott

Speaker: Robert McDonald, Indiana University

Never use a fad term for your talk because it will make you look bad ten years later.

We’re not so tied up into having to build hardware stacks anymore. Now, that infrastructure is available through other services.

[insert trip down memory lane of the social media and mobile phones of 2005-2006]

We need to rethink how we procure IT in the library. We need better ways of thinking this out before committing to something that you may not be able to get out of it. Market shifts happen.

Server interfaces are much more user friendly now, particularly when you’re using something like AWS. However, bandwidth is still a big cost. Similar infrastructures, though, can mean better sharing of tools and services across institutions.

How much does your library invest in IT? How much of your percentage of your overall budget is that? How do you count that number? How much do we invest on open source or collaborative ventures that involve IT?

Groups have a negativity bias, which can have an impact on meetings. The outcomes need to be positive in order to move an organization forward.

Villanova opted to spend their funds on a locally developed discovery layer (VUFind), rather than dropping that and more on a commercial product. The broader community has benefitted from it as well.

Kuali OLE has received funding and support from a lot of institutions. GOKb is a sister project to develop a better knowledgebase to manage electronic resources, partnering with NCSU and their expertise on building an ERMS.

[Some stuff about HathiTrust, which is a members-only club my institution is not a part of, so I kind of tuned out.]

Something something Hydra and Avalon media system and Sufia.

Forking of open projects means that no one else can really use it, and that the local institution is on its own for maintaining it.

In summary, consider if you can spend money on investing in these kinds of projects rather than buying existing vendor products.

NASIG 2013: Getting to the Core of the Matter — Competencies for New E-Resources Librarians

“Canyon do Buracão” by Joao Vicente

Speakers: Roën Janyk (Okanagan College) & Emma Lawson (Langara College)

Two new-ish librarians talk about applying their LIS training to the real world, and using the Core Competencies as a framework for identifying the gaps they encountered. They wanted to determine if the problem is training or if eresources/serials management is just really complicated.

Collection development, cataloging (both MARC and Dublin Core), records management, and digital management were covered in their classes. Needed more on institutional repository management.

They did not cover licensing at all, so all they learned was on the job, comparing different documents. They also learned that the things librarians look for in contracts is not what the college administrators are concerned about. In addition, the details of information about budgeting and where that information should be stored was fuzzy, and it took some time to gather that in their jobs. And, as with many positions, if institutional memory (and logins) is not passed on, a lot of time will be spent on recreating it. For LIS programs, they wish they had more information about the details of use statistics and their application, as well as resource format types and the quirks that come with them.

They had classes about information technology design and broader picture things, but not enough about relationships between the library and IT or the kinds of information technology in libraries now. There were some courses that focused on less relevant technology and history of technology, and the higher level courses required too high of a learning curve to attract LIS students.

For the core competency on research analysis and application, we need to be able to gather appropriate data and present the analysis to colleagues and superiors in a way that they can understand it. In applying this, they ran into questions about comparing eresources to print, deciding when to keep a low-use resource, and other common criteria for comparing collections besides cost/use. In addition, there needs to be more taught about managing a budget, determining when to make cancelation or format change decisions, alternatives to subscriptions, and communicating all of this outside of the library.

Effective communication touches on everything that we do. It requires that you frame situations from someone else’s viewpoint. You need to document everything and be able to clearly describe the situation in order to trouble-shoot with vendors. Be sympathetic to the frustrations of users encountering the problems.

Staff supervision may range from teams with no managerial authority to staff who report to you. ER librarians have to be flexible and work within a variety of deparmental/project frameworks, and even if they do have management authority, they will likely have to manage projects that involve staff from other departments/divisions/teams. They did not find that the library management course was very applicable. Project management class was much more useful. One main challenge is staff who have worked in the library for a long time, and change management or leadership training would be very valuable, as well as conversations about working with unionized staff.

In the real world being aware of trends in the profession involves attending conferences, participating in webinars/online training, and keeping up with the literature. They didn’t actually see an ERMS while in school, nor did they work with any proprietary ILS. Most of us learn new things by talking to our colleagues at other institutions. MLS faculty need to keep up with the trends as well, and incorporate that into classes — this stuff changes rapidly.

They recommend that ILS and ERMS vendors collaborate with MLS programs so that students have some real-world applications they can take with them to their jobs. Keep courses current (what is actually being used in libraries) and constantly be evaluating the curriculum, which is beyond what ALA requires for accreditation. More case studies and real-world experiences in applied courses. Collection development course was too focused on print collection analysis and did not cover electronic resources.

As a profession, we need more sessions at larger, general conferences that focus on electronic resources so that we’re not just in our bubble. More cross-training in the workplaces. MLS programs need to promote eresources as a career path, instead of just the traditional reference/cataloger/YA divides.

If we are learning it all on the job, then why are we required to get the degrees?


I have added a link to Powell’s books on the left. They have a good selection, and if you purchase anything through that link, I get a commission that will go towards paying off my school debt. Alternatively, there is always Save Anna.

Kentucky is attempting to narrow the information technology gap by mandating that all new housing units funded more than 50% by the Kentucky Housing Corporation have to be wired for broadband Internet access. In this day and age, it is virtually a necessity for education that kids have access to the Internet at home. Now, even low-income kids in Kentucky have the potential to succeed as well as their peers from wealthier families.

More censorship from the warmongers. Two activists in New York were arrested and held in jail for several hours after hanging flyers with pictures of ordinary Iraqi citizens around the city.

My sister sent me a link to a website that has cute and artsy flash films about muffins. I liked “Feed Me” best of all the ones I watched.