Archive for the 'News' Category

Libraries and IT: together forever?

This week I’ve been working with colleagues on an MLA presentation proposal about libraries’ alternative management techniques. While doing preliminary research I stumbled across today’s (January 18, 2008) Chronicle of Higher Education. One of the front page stories, “Strains and joys color mergers between libraries and tech units” caught my attention.

I work in a small liberal arts college with no library director but a “management team”. We are fortunate to have a non-librarian as part of our team who oversees our Educational Technology department. She offers insight that the librarians tend to overlook especially from a technological perspective. While reading the article I was surprised to learn that some libraries struggle with the concept of “blended” environments particularly when we use the term so often.

The article mentions a half dozen various colleges and universities, both private and public, and the trials, tribulations, and triumphs each experienced. Each institute had its own reasons for combining the library with information technology services. These blended “learning commons” or “information commons” allow for stream-lined accessibility for our users. David Dodd, CIO at Xavier University in Cincinnati, says that “colleges ‘have to be better than Google'” and I believe that to be true.

It’s time libraries shed the dusty, quiet book repository image and started to become (or continued to be, whichever the case may be) the information mecca for the institute complete with appropriate technology and support that today’s students expect.

-dana pawloski


Meeting notes from the MALC Executive Committee

The MALC Executive Committee met Friday, December 7th, 2007. Following are highlights from the meeting:

 Follow up and feedback on the MALC fall meeting. That meeting’s minutes can also be found on this blog.
 The Special Collection (print and digital) Task Force will have more information available at the spring meeting.
 Details for the MALC spring meeting were discussed. The meeting will be held April 4, 2008 and hosted by Saginaw Valley State University.
 Interest in offsite storage was shared by only six institutions. Since this does not appear to be a priority issue for the membership, the Executive Committee has completed its work. Any documents pertaining to this topic will appear in the Reports section of the MALC site. The six institutions that were interested will be forwarded to MLC for possible collaboration.
 Items tabled to January’s meeting:
o the website (
o gathering and linking various topics of interest to academic libraries such as job descriptions, Teach Act, Patriot Act, collection development policies, copyright statements
 Membership invoices will be sent out in February 2008

Questions regarding proposed MLA restructure

Josie Parker led an informative presentation at the Nov. 30 MALC (Michigan Academic Library Council) membership meeting. The MALC secretary is passing on some questions that have been raised by the membership regarding the proposed MLA reorganization. You may already be aware of these issues. Thanks in advance for listening to the MALC academic library deans / directors and trying to provide us with clarity during this time of transition.

1. What percentage of the MLA membership is comprised of academic librarians?
2. Based on current MLA academic librarian memberships, how many of their respective university/college libraries are also institutional members of MLA?
3. How many MALC members (academic library deans/directors) hold membership in MLA?
4. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed new MLA structure for academic libraries and librarians?
5. How will the new MLA dues fee structure be determined? What is the anticipated impact on academic librarians and libraries?
6. What opportunities will there be for academic librarians to fulfill tenure requirements i.e. publishing, conference/workshop presentations, elected to leadership positions?
7. Communities of Practice (COP’s)

• How will COP’s be structured, organized and funded?
• In the event that an independent organization decides to become a COP will it be required to join MLA?
• If the independent organization has an established institutional membership fee structure, by-laws and website, what happens to these in a COP?
• Can membership be restricted to a particular group within a COP?

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).

MALC Exec Committee Meeting SNAPSHOT

We are a lucky bunch! Margaret Auer agree to serve as MALC Executive Committee Chair until next year.

COLD, DIAL-M and MCCL have endoresed the Academic Library Case Statement. Please send any member comments/suggestions to Margaret and she will forward them on to the task chair (Linda Farynk). The final report will go to Gretchen Couraud (MLA President I hope you know).

The Statewide Initiative Task Force Report was accepted by the MALC Exec Committee. It was suggested that MALC could offer some funding support for a future statewide initiatives meeting (as was discussed at MALC spring conference). The Report’s five themes may play a role in helping formulate tangible statewide initiatives.

Very lukewarm interest (not to mention limited need) for an Off site Storage Task Force report. Little enthusiasm at the Executive committee meeting for spending money on a consultant or expensive survey – however, Richard Cochran will draft a 5 question snapshot survey for the membership to validate the level of interest and need.

Finally, the membership will be polled regarding the location, format and programming for the fall MALC meeting. Draft questions about this are being formulated before being sent to the Executive Committee first.

Music Listened to While Typing This: Holst’s The Planets!

MALC Spring Conference News Recap

Opening remarks
Margaret Auer, MALC Executive Committee Chair, began the conference by noting that MALC is gradually becoming recognized as the voice for Michigan’s academic libraries. She reported that the MALC Academic Library Case Statement is being used by MLA as part of its overall library advocacy strategy. Likewise, MLC has invited the MALC Executive Committee to start a discussion with the academic library community. Members are using the MALC listserv to share information and the MALC website continues to grow.

To support this progress (and ongoing MALC organizational costs), all Michigan academic libraries will be receiving a MALC membership invoice (at least twenty of the larger academic libraries have already committed $200 per institution).

The MALC website (at continues to evolve as a one-stop information portal that can be used to educate the public about the contributions and accomplishments of academic libraries. Links to library associations have recently been added and the annual report section now includes friends groups and automation systems. The website features a library employee award information as well.

The website is hosted at UOD Mercy but remains the responsibility of ALL 87 MALC members (15 COLD, 43 DIAL-M, 29 MCCL). Members are urged to contribute content and update information! It is especially important that the membership section on the website is kept up-to-date.

The MALC Wiki is Up

You can visit the MALC wiki at  Hopefully the wiki will prove useful and not be forgotten about.

All Taskforce Reports are here:


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