NASIG is soon!

And you won’t be getting much from me about the content. I think I’ll be able to take notes on the Vision speaker sessions, but for the rest of the conference, I’ll be wearing my Program Planning Committee vice-chair hat, which means not much time for actually getting to hear the program itself.

This will be a different experience for me, and I’m surprisingly more excited about it than I thought I would be. I’ve been attending NASIG since I was a babybrarian, and I’m thrilled to have this role in bringing excellent speakers and content to the membership (and non-member attendees) this year.

Hope to see you next week in Fort Worth!

NASIG and ER&L

NASIG 2011
creative serialists at the 2011 conference

I’ve been an active NASIG member since 2002, and our conference participation (as well as over-all membership) has been declining every year. I think a big part of it has to do with our identity and the shift of serials librarians to eresource librarians. I believe NASIG still has relevance, particularly as a forum for conversations between librarians and the commercial side of the continuing resources industry. However, I think our conference and membership can sometimes get mired down in 25+ years of traditions and personalities.

ER&L seems to be avoiding that so far, so I spent a good bit of time thinking about why their model is working so well for drawing new and repeat attendees. There certainly was no lack of commercial side participation, both as presenters and in session attendance. Some of that may be due to an early adoption of sponsorships and a lack of a negative knee-jerk reaction to branding by the sponsors. There is also a more prominent placement of the vendor exhibits, situated in the middle of the conference schedule, and including free food and drinks to draw in participants.

The other big thing that stood out to me is the length of the sessions. Each concurrent session was no longer than 50 min, and the last 10 min was reserved for questions. We’re experimenting with shorter sessions at NASIG this year, in part due to Program Planning Committee member suggestions based on experiences with other conferences. I am hopeful that this will result in fewer instances of time-fillers such as lengthy introductions with info about home institutions that are rarely relevant and literature reviews that would be better presented as handouts than from a podium. Sad to say, but my generation and younger are not going to want to attend your dry, academic presentation. Give me some content and context that I can’t get from reading your paper in the proceedings, or else I have no reason to listen to you.

I’m not saying that I want NASIG to become a mirror image of ER&L, but rather we need to be more brash about our relevance to the community. Let us be an “and also,” not an “either or.” I derive tremendous benefits from attending both conferences and participating in both communities, and I’m very thankful that my home institution supports this. I wish everyone else had that benefit, too.

one less totebag this year

The North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) is meeting at Rancho Las Palmas in Palm Springs (CA) this year, and rather than having a bunch of new totebags made for carrying around conference swag, they’re holding a contest that asks participants to bring bags from past conferences. Any bag will do, whether it be from a NASIG conference or not, and there are four categories to compete in: oldest NASIG bag, oldest conference bag in general, bag from a conference furthest from Palm Springs, and ugliest bag.

I don’t have any that could compete well in this contest, so I won’t be participating other than bringing the plain old NASIG-branded canvas tote bag I bought last year. It’s easier to get the netbook and other swag in and out of that between sessions than it is to use my backpack.

ERMS implementation woes

Ever since vendors started selling electronic resource management systems (ERMS), there has been a session or a round table at NASIG that discussed various libraries’ implementations of their ERMS. A few more hands were raised this year when the room was asked to indicate if they feel like they’ve finished implementing their ERMS, but it’s still a very small minority of librarians. When I did my conference report for NASIG 2009 yesterday (we have a bit of a backlog on monthly conference report meetings since there are so many conferences held in the spring and early summer), I created this using ProjectCartoon to illustrate some of the reasons why ERMS have been so difficult and time-consuming to implement:

ERMS woes

DILO: electronic resources librarian

9:00am Arrive at work. Despite getting to bed early, I still overslept. Great way to start a Monday, I tell you.

9:00-9:20am I was out of the office for most of last week, so I spent some time catching up with my assistant. This also gave my computer plenty of time to boot up.

9:20-9:30am Logged into the network, and then went to get some iced tea from the library coffee shop. It takes several minutes for all of the start-up programs to load, so that’s a perfect time to acquire my first dose of work-time caffeine.

9:30-9:35am Start this post.

9:35-10:20am Sifting through the 100+ new messages in my mailbox from the time while I was gone. I followed-up on the ones that looked urgent while I was out, but the rest were left for today. In the end, three messages went into the to-do category and a few more into the use statistics category. The rest were read and deleted.

10:20-10:45am Filled out an order form for a new database. PDF form is printable only, so this required the use of a typewriter (my handwriting is marginally legible). I also discovered in the middle of the process that I did not have all of the necessary information, which required further investigation and calculations.

10:45-11:05am Sent email reminders to the students LIB 101 class that I will be teaching on Friday. Created a class roster for all four sections I’m teaching this spring.

11:05-11:15am Mental break. Read Twitter and left a birthday greeting for a friend in Facebook.

11:15-11:20am Added use stats login info for a new resource to our ERM and the shared spreadsheet of admin logins that we have been using since before the ERM (still implementing ERM, so it’s best to put it in both places).

11:20-11:25am Processed incoming email.

11:25am-12:40pm Was going to run some errands over my lunch hour, but instead was snagged by some colleagues who were going out to my favorite Mexican restaurant.

12:40-1:00pm Sorting through the email that came in while I was gone. Answered a call from a publisher sales person.

1:00-3:00pm Main Service Desk shift, covering the reference side of it. During the slow times, I accessed my work station PC via remote desktop and worked on the scanned license naming standardization project I started last week. In the process, I’m also breaking apart multiple contracts that were accidentally scanned together. As usual, the busy times involved a sudden influx of in-person, email, and IM questions, most often at the same time.

3:00-3:15pm Got a refill of ice tea from the coffee shop, processed email, and read through the Twitter feed.

3:15-4:00pm Organized recently scanned license agreements and created labels for the folders. Filed the licenses in the file drawer next to my cubicle.

4:00-4:20pm Checked in with co-workers and revised my to-do list.

4:20-5:15pm Responded to email and followed-up on action items related to the recent NASIG executive board meeting.

And that, my friends, is my rather unusual day in the life of an electronic resources librarian. Most of the time, I bounce between actual ER work, meetings, and email.

Read more DILOs like this one.

compassion

There is something to be said about self-censorship. Sometimes it can be the difference between having a constructive conversation and simply pissing off the person you are trying to communicate with.

I’m a little behind on the liblog reading, as usual, so I only just came across K.G. Schneider’s redacted rant about having to write up her talk for NASIG. I happen to know a bit about the behind-the-scenes circumstances that lead to her post, and I should note that there’s a lot more to it than what her readers may think. However, that’s not the point I am going to make here.

Reading her original post, such as I could find in some serious Google archive searching, reminded me that NASIG is not always a well-oiled machine. Annual membership fees are $75 (raised from $25 two years ago — the first such increase in over a decade) and they cover things like the website hosting and listservs; we have no paid staff. Everything is done by volunteers who have full-time jobs and families and all that. So, it’s not uncommon for something to slip through the cracks, or for assumptions to be made, as in the case of Schneider’s write-up for the Proceedings.

The Proceedings editors do what they can to ensure that presenters are aware of what is expected of them, from the contract language to reminder emails to a speaker’s breakfast at the conference where it’s all reiterated. They do what they can, but sometimes it’s not enough.

How different is this from any other large organization? Even organizations with paid staff sometimes make mistakes, miscommunicate, or seem to have poorly chosen policies. I’ve been known to rant a time or two about them. However, I’m starting to step back a little and think about how it feels to be the target of a rant. I’m pretty sure that Schneider didn’t have me in mind when she wrote what she did, but as a Member-At-Large of the NASIG Executive Board, her words stung no less than if I was personally named.

Criticism is not necessarily a bad thing, but in order to be positively effective, it needs to be done in a way that doesn’t put the other in a defensive position. The anonymous commenter on Schneider’s post expressed much of what I was feeling, and I don’t blame them for choosing anonymity after such a pointed attack on their professional organization. In my not so humble opinion, Schneider could have gotten her point across about deadlines, contracts, and expectations much more effectively had she chosen to be less angry and abrasive about it.

And maybe I could do the same with my own occasional rant. There is something to be said about self-censorship. Sometimes it can be the difference between having a constructive conversation and simply pissing off the person you are trying to communicate with. The latter may win you some kudos from the angry-ranty crowd, but in the end it doesn’t help the situation.

my fellow country-men and women…

I’ve been elected to the executive board of NASIG, which is both thrilling and terrifying. NASIG has rocked my professional world from early on, and I’m very excited about being able to continue to contribute to the organization through the leadership structure. I will admit to also being slightly worried about the volume of work that this might entail. In the past year, I’ve managed to push myself rather close to the edge of burnout, but for now I think I can keep from going over that edge.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me. If you’ll be in Louisville for the conference, be sure to say hello. I’ll be the woman wearing this. Well, at least for one day. I’ll probably be wearing this on one of the other days, and I’d like to point out that as a regular QC reader, I knew about it before it became popular with all the cool kids.

updates

General update about blog stuff and things happening in my life.

My recently read/reading list is gone for a little while. I tried upgrading the plugin last week, and it broke. The author says he’ll have a fix for it sometime this week. I’m heading out to NASIG on Wednesday, so it will probably be sometime next week before I can get it up and running again, if all goes well.

Speaking of NASIG, the hotel this year has free wifi in public areas and some meeting rooms. The conference organizers have a blog available for attendees to post and comment on. If you aren’t able to attend the conference and you have an interest in all things serials, then do keep tabs on the blog. I’ll be attempting to some live blogging both here and there.

As you may know, I write reviews for a website called Blogcritics.org. I’m trying to catch up on the backlog of review items in my house, which is why that’s about all I’ve been posting lately. Hopefully things will get back to normal once I get caught up. You can keep tabs with what’s pending, if you’re interested. I’m really behind on the books. Arg.

Beer Node

Jeff sent me some copies of pictures he took of the group of us at NASIG in June, and I finally got some scanned in and uploaded to my website. Here’s another shot of a bunch of us with the “Beer Node” sign. Ahh… good times. I should (or perhaps shouldn’t?) note that the new President of NASIG is one of the women in the “Beer Node” line-up…

Continue reading “Beer Node”