ER&L 2014 — Building the Eresources Team: the MIT Libraries Experience

“DC Hero Minifigs (most of them)” by Julian Fong

Speaker: Kim Maxwell

Goal is to be more of a dialogue than a monologue.

In 2011, they were a traditional acquisitions and cataloging department. They had 18.1 FTE in technical services, with 8 acquisitions people working on both print and electronic, and 5 in cataloging. It felt very fragmented.

They were getting more eresources but no new staff. Less print, but staff weren’t interchangeable. The hybrid positions weren’t working well, and print was still seen as a priority by some of the staff. They could see the backlogs and made it seem like they had to deal with them first.

They hired consultants and decided to create two format-based teams: tangible formats and electronic resources. They defined the new positions and asked staff for their preferences, and then assigned staff to one team or the other. The team leads are focused on cataloging side and acquisition side, rather than by format.

To implement this they: oriented and trained staff; created workflow teams for ejournals, ebooks, and databases; talked with staff extensively; tried to be as transparent as possible; and hired another librarian.

They increased the FTE working on eresources, and they could use more, but this is good enough for now.

Some of the challenges include: staff buy-in and morale; communicating who does what to all the points of contact; workflows for orders with dual formats; budget structure (monographs/serials, with some simplification where possible, but still not tangible/electronic); and documentation organization (documenting isn’t a problem — find it is).

The benefits are: staff focusing on a single format; bringing acquisitions and cataloging together (better communication between functions); easier cross-training opportunities; workflows streamlined easier; and ease in planning and priorities.

NASIG 2013: Collaboration in a Time of Change

CC BY 2.0 2013-06-10
“soccer practice” by woodleywonderworks

Speaker: Daryl Yang

Why collaborate?

Despite how popular Apple products are today, they almost went bankrupt in the 90s. Experts believe that despite their innovation, their lack of collaboration led to this near-downfall. iTunes, iPod, iPad — these all require working with many developers, and is a big part of why they came back.

Microsoft started off as very open to collaboration and innovation from outside of the company, but that is not the case now. In order to get back into the groove, they have partnered with Nokia to enter the mobile phone market.

Collaboration can create commercial success, innovation, synergies, and efficiencies.

What change?

The amount of information generated now is vastly more than has ever been collected in the past. It is beyond our imagination.

How has library work changed? We still manage collections and access to information, but the way we do so has evolved with the ways information is delivered. We have had to increase our negotiation skills as every transaction is uniquely based on our customer profile. We have also needed to reorganize our structures and workflows to meet changing needs of our institutions and the information environment.

Deloitte identified ten key challenges faced by higher education: funding (public, endowment, and tuition), rivalry (competing globally for the best students), setting priorities (appropriate use of resources), technology (infrastructure & training), infrastructure (classroom design, offices), links to outcomes (graduation to employment), attracting talent (and retaining them), sustainability (practicing what we preach), widening access (MOOC, open access), and regulation (under increasing pressure to show how public funding is being used, but also maintaining student data privacy).

Libraries say they have too much stuff on shelves, more of it is available electronically, and it keeps coming. Do we really need to keep both print and digital when there is a growing pressure on space for users?

The British Library Document Supply Centre plays an essential role in delivering physical content on demand, but the demand is falling as more information is available online. And, their IT infrastructure needs modernization.

These concerns sparked conversations that created UK Research Reserve, and the evaluation of print journal usage. Users prefer print for in-depth reading, and HSS still have a high usage of print materials compared to the sciences. At least, that was the case 5-6 years ago when UKRR was created.

Ithaka S+R, JISC, and RLUK sent out a survey to faculty about print journal use, and they found that this is still fairly true. They also discovered that even those who are comfortable with electronic journal collections, they would not be happy to see print collections discarded. There was clearly a demand that some library, if not their own, maintain a collection of hard copies of journals. Libraries don’t have to keep them, but SOMEONE has to.

It is hard to predict research needs in the future, so it is important to preserve content for that future demand, and make sure that you still own it.

UKRR’s initial objectives were to de-duplicate low-use journals and allow their members to release space and realize savings/efficiency, and to preserve research material and provide access for researchers. They also want to achieve cultural change — librarians/academics don’t like to throw away things.

So far, they have examined 60,700 holdings, and of that, only 16% has been retained. They intend to keep at least 3 copies among the membership, so there was a significant amount of overlap in holdings across all of the schools.

Charleston 2012: EWWW!: Electronic Resources in the 21st Century (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Catalog and Love the MARC Records Service)

15/52 : Titanic by Eric Constantineau
“15/52 : Titanic” by Eric Constantineau

Speakers: Ladd Brown, Andi Ogier, and Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech

Libraries are not about the collections anymore, they’re about space. The library is a place to connect to the university community. We are aggressively de-selecting, buying digital backfiles in the humanities to clear out the print collections.

Guess what? We still have our legacy workflows. They were built for processing physical items. Then eresources came along, and there were two parallel processes. Ebooks have the potential of becoming a third process.

Along with the legacy workflows, they have a new Dean, who is forward thinking. The Dean says it’s time to rip off the bandaid. (Titanic = old workflow; iceberg = eresources; people in life boats = technical resources team) Strategic plans are living documents kept on top of the desk and not in the drawer.

With all of this in mind, acquisitions leaders began meeting daily in a group called Eresources Workflow Weekly Work, planning the changes they needed to make. They did process mapping with sharpies, post-its, and incorporated everyone in the library that had anything to do with eresources. After lots of meetings, position descriptions began to emerge.

Electronic Resource Supervisor is the title of the former book and serials acquisitions heads. The rest — wasn’t clear from the description.

They had a MARC record service for ejournals, but after this reorganization process, they realized they needed the same for ebooks, and could be handled by the same folks.

Two person teams were formed based on who did what in the former parallel processes, and they reconfigured their workspace to make this more functional. The team cubes are together, and they have open collaboration spaces for other groupings.

They shifted focus from maintaining MARC records in their ILS to maintaining accurate title lists and data in their ERMS. They’re letting the data from the ERMS populate the ILS with appropriate MARC records.

They use some Python scripts to help move data from system to system, and more staff are being trained to support it. They’re also using the Google Apps portal for collaborative projects.

They wanted to take risks, make mistakes, fail quickly, but also see successes come quickly. They needed someplace to start, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, so they borrowed heavily from the work done by colleagues at James Madison University. They also hired Carl Grant as a consultant to ask questions and facilitate cross-departmental work.

Big thing to keep in mind: Administration needs to be prepared to allow staff to spend time learning new processes and not keeping up with everything they used to do at the same time. And, as they let go of the work they used to do, please tell them it was important or they won’t adopt the new work.

ER&L 2012: Leading From the Top, Bottom, & Middle — Owning Your Library Leadership

Can I get a hell yeah?
mmm-hmm!

Speakers: Bonnie Tijerina, Karen G. Schneider, & Char Booth
Facilitator: Jill Emery

There are many different kinds of leadership. Everyone here has the potential to be a leader. They asked for words that mean leadership for the attendees, and some highlights from the wordle are vision, communication, decisive, innovative, confident, and inspiring.

What is your word for leadership?

CB: Clarity is most important to me in this field and others.

BT: Integrity — it’s hard to go with your true beliefs when they go against other pressures.

KGS: Changed word after hearing other responses. Optimism, because if you don’t believe you’re going to succeed, who else would. Also, faith. Hope to be able to talk about case studies, because she has four from libraryland in mind.

BT: Visionary is interesting. Sometimes you have to be a leader by going in a direction and having faith that it’s going to work out, not by knowing that it will.

What are your reactions to the words we chose, and what stands out?

KGS: Patience and impatience are missing. You need a balance of both to lead.

CB: Impressed by how many words were in reference to other people, like inspiring and motivating.

BT: Most exciting are communication and listening.

CB: Curious if these were generated by example or anti-example?

Why do you do so much work outside of your day jobs?

BT: When I see a problem that needs a solution, I think all it needs is some work done to make it happen, which is how ER&L got started. Attended an ACRL session about ER librarians in 2005 and saw a need for bigger discussion.

CB: What libraries do is critical. We have a calling.

KGS: Most significant work was in the late 90s on internet filtering issues. It was a natural extension of my calling that didn’t end when I walked out the door of my library at the end of the day. It’s part of the fabric of who I am as a librarian and a person.

Where do you think leadership is needed in librarianship today?

KGS: Everywhere. Many people are leaders at levels that are not well recognized. They’re not the shiny bloggers or people getting gold stars for things. People are doing equally important things at the local level.

CB: No matter where you work or what you do, it’s critical to step up and do the things that need to be done. What are you going to do about it?

KGS: And cultivating leadership with the people you work with.

BT: I’ve seen some examples of informal meetups of groups at ER&L that needed to get together. I see leadership happening all over the place.

How do you motivate or inspire others?

CB: Make people not scared of their own enthusiasm. Let it feed what you do.

BT: I leave Char’s presentations feeling inspired, and I try to think about what it is that she does. Think about why we are librarians and what we’re doing? We have a calling. Get at the core of why we are here, and that motivates people. You can get caught up in the spreadsheets and the things that don’t work, but continue to be mindful of why you are here.

KGS: You constantly have to remind people of their own excellence and capabilities, and thank them for their work. Communication is key. It’s not enough to have good ideas if you can’t do that. EJ Josey is one library leader that comes to mind, and in the 1960s was crucial for the desegregation of the state library associations. Marvin Skilkin (unabashed librarian), as a young library director, found out that publishers were doing price fixing. His testimony at hearings lead to the steep discounts that libraries still receive for print publications.

BT: When I was working on ER&L, I was two years out of library school. Told two leaders at Georgia Tech about it, and one was excited and supportive. The second leader thought she was crazy for trying to do it. However, having been motivated by the two different types of leaders, she thinks the more critical person was more of a motivator. Maybe challenging people to think through ideas is a good reality check for a leader.

CB: Does anyone else have issues with the word leadership? There’s an arrogance in there. There’s a chance of the followers not acting because the leader will do it.

BT: Char & Karen were uncomfortable with being invited to speak on a leadership panel. We need to own that. We need to be comfortable as librarians to think of ourselves as leaders when we’re doing leadership.

KGS: You can’t be wishy-washy. You have to claim it?

BT: Does anyone in the audience have questions, or see a need for leaders in the field?

A: What would you call leadership if you didn’t call it leadership?

CB: I have this image of leadership as a paternalistic figurehead. What does it mean to you? Maybe we should just try to model it.

KGS: Leadership from behind and leadership from the front — we have to balance both.

BT: Adjust our definition of leadership.

KGS: I have a public persona that is not really me, and that makes me uncomfortable. The one behind the scenes is the one with the leadership qualities, not necessarily the one everyone sees.

A: Embrace your inner leadership. I see it as starting from the bottom. What is your favorite curse word?

BT: I can’t say that.

CB: Hell & damn.

KGS: I was in the air force — everything I have is not safe for work.

A: One thing I don’t see in all the words is popular.

KGS: Words related to inspire and inspiration lead to the popular thing.

A: Keep focused on the user. Don’t worry about the job title they give you. Don’t worry about faculty/non-faculty.

BT: Motivate by reminding our selves why we’re.

CB: In the day-to-day, people can get dragged down. We need to yank them up.

KGS: Optimism is a discipline.

CB: We learn these behaviors by modeling our influencers. Thanks, Mom.

BT: Leadership is intentional.

A: Be realistic about limits. Librarians have a tendency to take on too much.

BT: I’ve heard that.

KGS: Picking and choosing your battles is important. Aging has taught me my limits. We have to pace ourselves for the long haul. No is not the same as not now.

A: Why aren’t we seeing more of this in our profession? I’m in my 27th year of librarianship. I love the optimism, but I’m so tired. Is it something about our profession? I use the words mentor or supportive colleague more than leader.

A: The Library Society of the World on FriendFeed was having a discussion of why we don’t talk more about our failures.

KGS: I have failed, but I don’t like to.

[Stopped taking notes to get in line to respond that leadership and management should not always be the same thing — we need to restructure our decision making roles in libraries to recognize leadership outside of management roles.]

CIL 2011: New Alignments, Structures, & Services

Speakers: Janel White & Hannah Somers (NPR)

They started by playing some clips from NPR broadcasts in which librarians had a role in fact-checking or researching the content. The library is in the digital division, along with the folks who manage the website and API. It is innovating, but also aware that they need a lot of development.

They have begun showing up at divisional product status meetings in order to increase the visibility of their archival project. They have become embedded in other project as experts as a result of this visibility. This is an intentional shift from being viewed as only a service used when their clients needed them.

They used a pilot to both determine which product to use and to get buy-in from their stakeholders. They used Agile to develop the new website and have since adopted it across the board. The team meets daily to talk about what they did the day before and what they plan to do that day. This allows for flexibility and making sure that deadlines will be met. Agile is like baking a new recipe for the first time. You might burn a few, but you know what goes into it and can work to improve it for the next time.

The result is that they were able to redirect and focus their roles away from the ones that were slowly dying. The reference librarians are dispersed across the newsroom to be available at the source, and others are embedded into projects.

Speakers: Jodi Stiles & Greta Marlatt (Homeland Security Digital Library)

After 9-11, the Naval Postgraduate School was asked to come up with a homeland security program, and since then there have been a variety of distance/online masters and certificate options developed.

Five years ago, they had proprietary educational and research support systems that did not talk to each other and were often complicated or duplicative. They got to the point where their servers were crashing every 30 minutes, with each vendor pointing the finger at the others.

To get around the hassle of contracting services, they have adopted open source solutions. Drupal, Moodle, Solr, MediaWiki, and osTicket are their main solutions, and the folks that work with them actually understand what is going on. However, they found that they couldn’t build a whole out of open source parts. After trying to build connectors, they eventually wrote their own tools.

As a result, their stakeholders and the librarians get what they want. They understand how it works and can respond quickly to enhancement requests. However, they have found that they need to be careful about reinventing the wheel.