Archive for November, 2007

Another valuable MLC workshop

At MLC Headquarters in Lansing, Ruth Dukelow (left) recently provided an excellent presentation on Licensing Electronic Resources. She reviews the basic concepts of contract law (licenses as contracts) and details the components of a standard licensing agreement.

Library staff should be encouraged to attend the workshop even if licensing is outside their realm of responsibility–if only to advance a participatory culture within the library.




Your humble correspondent attempting to negotiate hard copy at the workshop (center).

Images taken by MLC & linked from Flickr.




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Data Curation: A New Frontier in Faculty-Librarian Collaboration

That is the title of a presentation I’m giving next spring for the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, & Letters. Why? Because data curation has tremendous potential to reshape academic librarianship. In particular (I’ll refer to my abstract):

Librarians with data curation skills retain the ability to help researchers better describe, manage, and share their research datasets. By introducing sound data management practices into faculty research, they also promise to facilitate the discovery, access, and dissemination of said research. Such practices include maintaining data quality (digital preservation), adding value (metadata creation), and providing for reuse (data validation). Librarians willing to provide such services invariably allow faculty greater time to focus upon research. And success in this regard will undoubtedly promote faculty-librarian collaboration beyond what is currently conceived.

A very general introduction to be sure (consistent with speech format) but exciting nonetheless. And librarians will be hearing much more about the field. Just last summer, the University of Illinois at Urbana announced data curation as a concentration for their LIS degree. Within the last 2 years, Purdue has created a successful Digital Data Curation Center (D2C2) staffed with librarians to help faculty organize their research (purposely located outside the library). And don’t forget the current impact data librarianship has had upon GIS, the social sciences (UofM’s ICPSR), and bioinformatics.

These developments have tremendous potential to influence how librarianship is perceived among faculty. Institutional respository (IR) managers should also take note– because data curation will likely encourage a desire for data repositories separate from the traditional IR (Andrew Treloar et al. makes the case in this D-lib magazine article).

An impressive MLA conference

Yesterday’s MLA conference offered many interesting seminars. Early on I attended the MLA unconference with Dan Lohrmann from the Michigan Department of Information Technology (a video interview with him) about IT security. An open discussion circle about library–IT issues followed (ie how Google is ‘flattening’ the value of institutional collections).

Next I attended “Using Blogs and Wikis for Staff Communication in the Reference Department”, informative and very well presented (though some of which was necessarily review).

The Lansing Center lunch featured Lee Van Orsdel, Dean of GVSU Libraries, speaking about scholarly communication issues (“Sense-Making in the Universe of Scholarly Communications”). Without reservation, this was the best powerpoint presentation I believe I have ever seen– issues were framed in a concise and helpful manner, graphics effectively used to present pro and con. In her words, the presentation sought to

“weave together some of the causes and effects that have created the present reality, and connect the issues to strategies that may give us the best chance to shape a more open and effective scholarly communications system”.

I’m hoping she will be able to email me a copy of this presentation soon (she has a very similar powerpoint presentation that you can view as well).

Next came Catalog 2.0, a look at how EMU, CMU, MSU and the Clinton-Macomb library are revising their online catalogs to become more user-friendly and interactive (ie tags, reviews, comments, rss, etc).
Some highlights:

-An open source ILS model that EMU reviewed was based upon VUFind (Villanova University’s catalog). Rationale for interface design discussed as well– seecatalog and note the Table of Contents links, Place Hold link, book cover jpeg, and location link to map

-The MSU speaker showed the impressive features found on Encore (now a feature on their catalog). Note jpegs, relevancy rankings, book summary, your results sidebar, and table of contents as features

-Since The CMU catalog had not been changed in 9 years, faculty and students formed a focus group to provide direction about selected features (still in the works(?)). Expected features shown include comments, book summary, and advanced search as main interface (minus keyword search if I remember correctly)

-The Clinton-Macomb Public Library is very user-friendly with many features too. Try a search to see what I mean (here)

Just recently, I gave a presentation about the need for new OPAC features–and now I find such changes have been occuring in my backyard all along

Next, I went to a very entertaining presentation by blogger Jessamym West (slides here). Her own blog posting about the event can be found here.

Last but not least came the momentous MLA board meeting where it was learned… MLA’s ARLD (ACRL division) will no longer exist. Nor will any other functional groups exist beyond what is deemed Communities of Practice (still to be defined organizationally). Instead, the organization is changing from a constituency model (which abounded in unrelated activities, separate groups) to a strategic model focused on mission, planning. Only 4 standing committees in this new model exist: membership, legislative, communications & marketing, and professional development. The transition, if changes approved in January, will occur from Feb to May.

I hate to see the old MLA disappear but realize that change is necessary. Its a bit disorienting actually– and I wonder how it will all play out. The presentation made clear that many hard choices and careful decisions were made by the recommendation task force. And what effect will these changes have upon the MLC and MALC? (the former still very much focused on functional workshops, the latter configured to serve those who self-define themselves as academic librarians).