I did a thing yesterday

I spoke at the VIVA User Group meeting on some of the workflow and tools I use to gather information about our faculty’s scholarly output for an annual reception co-hosted by the Libraries and the Provost’s office. If you were there and want the slides/details of what I said, they’re now up on Slideshare with speaker’s notes. If you weren’t there and are curious, I hope you find it interesting/useful.

#libday8 day 3 — never-ending powerpoint!

"PowerPoint effects" from Noise To Signal by Rob Cottingham

I had just enough time to log on and clear out the email inbox before the first team of vendor reps arrived to demonstrate their discovery service, and then it was off to the auditorium where I would spend most of the rest of the day.

These presentations are the latest iteration of our years long internal debate over whether or not the current crop of “web-scale discovery services” can fulfill an unmet need for our students (and faculty). We’ve considered several in the past, but could not get sufficient buy-in from the research & instruction librarians to request the funds to pay for them. After a cooling period, and many discussions with key individuals, we sent out an RFI to some targeted companies, and now we’re providing the opportunity for them to give live demonstrations/pitches.

It’s an unusually warm day here in Richmond, and the library’s HVAC — like most large buildings with sections of various ages and walls that didn’t exist when the building was originally designed — isn’t keeping up with the change. So, after a much-needed lunch break, I came back to the warm auditorium for rounds two and three.

I wish I could share my thoughts about the day’s presentations, but I can’t. Ultimately, there were many examples of things done well and things done not so well, both in the products and in the presentations. We know where the bar has been set, so now it’s a matter of matching our expectations to what can be delivered. There is one more presentation to go, and these have been quite valuable for clarifying what is important to us in a discovery service.

After one last pass through the email inbox, bumping most action items to tomorrow, library day in the life round eight day three has ended.

i am not an expert (and neither are you)

I’m sitting on an airplane, headed off on a vacation that I have been looking forward to for months followed by Internet Librarian (IL). The past few days have been a whir of travel preparations and finalizing my presentation.

The process of creating this presentation has been an interesting one for me. I’m a consummate procrastinator, working best under the pressure of a deadline, but with two co-presenters, I felt a sense of guilt over not finishing up sooner. But, it’s done now, and except for a few tweaks based on recommendations from people I respect, all I have left to do is deliver it next Wednesday.

What am I going to be talking about, you ask? Workflow tips and tricks for electronic resources in a small library. Sounds impressive, right?

I must admit, it seemed like a much better idea back when we proposed it six months ago. Not many people have been talking about this at IL/CIL in recent years, so I thought we could bring a fresher topic than ebooks and mobile reference services. And, maybe it will give the non-ER librarians at Internet Librarian an glimpse at what we do, much like the reference and instruction related sessions that I’ve attended in the past have given me a better understanding of that aspect of librarianship.

I have a tendency to learn a new process or workflow and then incorporate it so fully that I forget others may not be familiar with it. It seems so obvious to me now that breaking it out and highlighting the things that create efficiencies is a challenge. I went through several versions of notes and outlines before finally settling on a few broad strokes and listing out some of the successes and failures I’ve had in creating efficiencies within them.

In the process of creating this presentation, I also managed to squash the bug of “but I’m not an expert!” that plagues me every time I think about presenting to my colleagues at the more electronic resources focused conferences like ER&L and NASIG. It made me see that we’re all swimming through this together and learning from each other as we go. Some process that I’ve taken and modified might trigger a colleague to take it and tweak it even more. If I didn’t share that with them, they may never have even realized it was possible.

So, it’s not that I or anyone else who presents or writes on a topic are the “experts” so much as we’re just the ones willing to step out there and share what we know. Honestly, I’m hoping that the feedback or questions I get from the presentation will help generate the projects I’ll be taking on in the next few years.