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?

ER&L 2012: Knockdown/Dragout Webscale Discovery Service vs. Niche Databases — Data-Driven Evaluation Methods

tug-of-war
photo by TheGiantVermin

Speaker: Anne Prestamo

You will not hear the magic rational that will allow you to cancel all your A&I databases. The last three years of analysis at her institution has resulted in only two cancelations.

Background: she was a science librarian before becoming an administrator, and has a great appreciation for A&I searching.

Scenario: a subject-specific database with low use had been accessed on a per-search basis, but going forward it would be sole-sourced and subscription based. Given that, their cost per search was going to increase significantly. They wanted to know if Summon would provide a significant enough overlap to replace the database.

Arguments: it’s key to the discipline, specialized search functionality, unique indexing, etc… but there’s no data to support how these unique features are being used. Subject searches in the catalog were only 5% of what was being done, and most of them came from staff computers. So, are our users actually using the controlled vocabularies of these specialized databases. Finally, librarians think they just need to promote these more, but sadly, that ship’s already sailed.

Beyond usage data, you can also look at overlap with your discovery service, and also identify unique titles. For those, you’ll need to consider local holdings, ILL data, impact factors, language, format, and publication history.

Once they did all of that, they found that 92% of the titles were indexed in their discovery service. The depth of the backfile may be an issue, depending on the subject area. Also, you may need to look at the level of indexing (cover to cover vs. selective). In the end, they found that 8% of the titles not included, they owned most of them in print and they were rather old. 15% of the 8% had impact factors, which may or may not be relevant, but it is something to consider. And, most of the titles were non-English. They also found that there were no ILL requests for the non-owned unique titles, and less than half were scholarly and currently being published.

Delicious is still tasty to me

I can’t help feeling disappointed in how quickly folks jumped ship and stayed on the raft even when it became clear that it was just a leaky faucet and not a hole in the hull.

I’ve been seeing many of my friends and peers jump ship and move their social/online bookmarks to other services (both free and paid) since the Yahoo leak about Delicious being in the sun-setting category of products. Given the volume of outcry over this, I was pretty confident that either Yahoo would change their minds or someone would buy Delicious or someone would replicate Delicious. So, I didn’t worry. I didn’t freak out. I haven’t even made a backup of my bookmarks, although I plan to do that soon just because it’s good to have backups of data.

Now the word is that Delicious will be sold, which is probably for the best. Yahoo certainly didn’t do much with it after they acquired it some years ago. But, honestly, I’m pretty happy with the features Delicious has now, so really don’t care that it hasn’t changed much. However, I do want it to go to someone who will take care of it and continue to provide it to users, whether it remains free or becomes a paid service.

I looked at the other bookmark services out there, and in particular those recommended by Lifehacker. Frankly, I was unimpressed. I’m not going to pay for a service that isn’t as good as Delicious, and I’m not going to use a bookmarking service that isn’t integrated into my browser. I didn’t have much use for Delicious until the Firefox extension, and now it’s so easy to bookmark and tag things on the fly that I use it quite frequently as a universal capture tool for websites and gift/diy ideas.

The technorati are a fickle bunch. I get that. But I can’t help feeling disappointed in how quickly they jumped ship and stayed on the raft even when it became clear that it was just a leaky faucet and not a hole in the hull.