July 16, 2007

ALA... a few good sessions

Well, I'm a little behind on my posts for ALA, but I've been trying to catch up after conference and then the 4th of July. While I'm all into the Web 2.0 applications, I don't really have the opportunity to do much of anything with it. So, while a lot of folks had a lot to choose from, honestly, I struggled to find a couple of sessions that apply to what I do... electronic resources and collection development, heavy on the collection development.

I did find two really good sessions, though. The first session I attended was "We have the data, now what? Putting your collection assessment to work." It was a panel disscussion sponsored by RUSA. Since I had just finished evaluating the effectiveness of our collection development efforts for the previous fiscal year, I was interested to see what this session would offer up. The first speaker was Shirley Baker, Director of Washington University (St. Louis) Library. The really interesting thing I took from her session was the use of what is being digitized by the Google Nine (it was Five when she did it) to help weed your collection, either for permanent removal or removal to off-site storage. Like everyone else, I keep hearing about who's joined the Google digitization effort, but here's a library actually putting that product to their use. These are public domain titles prior to 1923. With the increase in copyright to 75 years, it will be harder and harder to do this, but pre-1923 can be a pretty big chunk for a lot of libraries. Naturally, they used WorldCat Collection Analysis for their comparisons. Now, I don't really care for WCCA (see previous postings), but his was a pretty cool use of a pre-defined group in WCCA.

The second presenter was Karen Neurohr, Assessment Librarian at Oklahoma State University. She did a measurement space study, then actively used what was available electronically in JSTOR to determine what journals could be moved off-site. The third presenter was Betty Gailbraith of Washington State University. They are using journal statistics to make collection development decisions. It sounds basic, but they are incorporating using statistics not generally used - titles cited by faculty and titles that faculty publish in, how did faculty use the title (online or in the library), and is it a core title. Having something in numerical format also helps faculty understand decisions.

Now, in retrospect, the second and third presenters didn't really come up with anything new, but in my previous position, it wasn't something I thought of when determining a game plan for our weeding project. Admittedly, I was working with monographs, but now I wonder what criteria was being used for journals. We moved a set of journals off-site thinking they would never be used only to find out that the Theatre Arts department used the ads in back issues to help with costumes. We wound up bring them back to the library.

The second session I attended was Technical Services 2.0 (guess I did get a 2.0 session in). It was presented by the ALCTS Technology Committee and was also a panel presentation. Matt Barnes pretty much gave an general overview of Web 2.0. Beth P. Camden spoke about Penn Taggs, which is a social bookmarking system for University of Pennsylvania library resources. In addition to uses for the students, library staff have used it to train new staff members. I'm completely fascinated by the use of social bookmarking in the academic setting, so I particularly enjoyed seeing a model in action. Elizabeth Winters spoke about Georgia Tech's use of Web 2.0 technology within the department. They use Wikis's for sharing processes and managing serials, Google applications (spreadsheets) for sharing documents, and instant messaging (IM) for internal communication. In my previous job, we had no share drive. After hearing about their use of Google apps, I had a "duh" moment and wondered why I didn't think about it. I'm a total believer that IM is not only good for reference but for internal communication as well - cut down on some of those e-mails. I first learned to use IM not for personal reason, but in a job setting. I worked for a software company doing in-depth customer support as part of a larger team. None of us where in the same office; in fact we ranged from East to West Coast, literally. We used IM to communicate with other members of the team; we all had "specializations" and it was generally more efficient to pop off a quick IM than to talk on the phone. Later the company purchased an IM system and went company wide with it.

All in all, I enjoyed both sessions and came away with something new.

I was a little disappointed in the vendor fair. It didn't seem to be as alive as it was in New Orleans. Some of the vendors evened seemed like they would rather have been somewhere else. Having said that, I did speak with those I wanted to and got to do a little exploring.