alao’s collection management workshop

This month I attend the Academic Library Association of Ohio Collection Management Interest Group’s day-long workshop in Columbus. I was impressed with the variety of presentations; all were useful and engaging.

Screen Shot 2015-05-26 at 1.10.13 PMI was introduced to Weeding Helper, created by reference librarian Ken Irwin at Wittenberg University. This is a web-based tool that can help with collection management including weeding and assessment. You create an item list and upload this to Weeding Helper. The program creates an editable spreadsheet which includes the usual suspects like title, subject heading, and call number, but it also includes the number of copies in OhioLink (most helpful for us Ohio librarians!) and fields like “best book” (a don’t-discard-regardless-of-circ) and condition. The final column is the “fate” of the item – keep or no. Weeding Helper also analyzes your collection. It can show you the age of a collection, usage by title, and recency of circulation.

Kristin Cole at Muskingum University has been using Weeding Helper for many years. Tasked with reducing their overall collection by tens of thousands of items, she found the program to help her make quick decisions and share collections with faculty for input on an item’s “fate.” She is now using it to help her assess a large donation so she can determine which items to accept.

Librarians at the University of Toledo shared an incredible rubric they developed for assessing electronic resources. By using a rubric “qualitative assessments become quantitative scores” and evaluation is less subjective. Electronic resources are scored 1-3 on relevance, authority, uniqueness, user experience, usage, and value. For example, for authority a low score includes “publisher has poor reputation” and “few or no cited references” while a high score includes “publisher is a leader in the field” and “appears on core disciplinary lists.” Scores are assigned based on the extend to which it matches characteristics of a score, not that it matches all characteristics. This rubric not only helps them make decisions about keeping a resource or negotiating its price, but also helps in talking with faculty about why a resource may not be purchased or renewed.

Finally, Hannah Levy from Case Western Reserve University and Jessica Hagman from Ohio University shared ideas for promoting library resources and services. One great idea is an end-of-semester survival guide for students. This can be an online resource that’s promoted through email and flyers. The guide has information like exam hours, quiet spaces in the library for studying, and any events sponsored by the library. Another idea is an e-newsletter, one for students and one for faculty, on “5 Things You Should Know.” This is something that can easily be updated each semester or year. Hannah shared Case Western’s annual report, which is incredible (she’s also their Marketing and Communications Officer with a background in design, so that helps). Jessica has students help her maintain active Facebook and Twitter accounts.

It was a day well-spent with old friends and new. I came away with a lot of great ideas.

resource list from dance faculty interviews

For the past year I have been working on a research project to understand the information needs of dance faculty in higher education, thanks in part to a research grant from the ALAO Research and Publications Committee and the support of two librarians, Alan Green at The Ohio State University and Sara MacDonald at The University of the Arts.

The academic discipline of dance has a relatively short history. Dance was first accepted in higher education through an association with physical education. Eventually the discipline became aligned with the arts, particularly music and theatre. Given the brief history of dance as an academic endeavor, there is a corresponding lack of information about dancers and their research needs. In the past thirty years, dance departments have moved away from being tangential to developing into independent, research-based programs. Academic libraries must support the performance, research, and pedagogy of these programs.

Dance is a multidisciplinary and multicultural practice. I interviewed twelve dance faculty members from three universities. While not able to be generalized, interview data from this diverse group of practitioners will provide a glimpse into the research behaviors of dance scholars in higher education. Their information needs and library use are not widely known, particularly in regard to issues of access to historical materials and new technology preferences.

The only formal study into the information needs of dancers is a 1996 master’s thesis by Kent State University student Dawn M. Grattino. She surveyed 70 dance professionals living in Ohio about their information-seeking habits and library use. Providing an updated data set on dancers’ use of the Internet and other technology will be paramount to my investigation. Additionally, there are few research projects about the information needs of performing artists in general. Joe Clark, head of the Performing Arts Library at Kent State University, recently investigated the format preferences (print vs. electronic) of performing arts students. His research provides a foundation for my own analysis of dance faculty information needs.

I hope this research will be of value to librarians as they determine collection development practices and user services for their particular dance and performing arts programs. Because many librarians charged with liaison responsibilities to dance departments do not have backgrounds in dance (like myself), the results of the research will enable them to keep current on dancers’ information needs and desired services.

At this point, I have finished the interview transcriptions and I wanted to share a resource list. These are sources – organizations, journals, websites, and tools – that were mentioned by at least one dance faculty. It’s a preliminary glimpse into the research practices of this diverse group and a quick way for other dance librarians to check their collections and knowledge-base.

Clark, Joe C. “Format Preferences of Performing Arts Students.” The Journal of Academic Librarianship 39 (2013): 297-307.

Grattino, Dawn M. A Survey of the Information-Seeking Practices of Dance Professionals in Ohio. MLS thesis. Kent State University, 1996.



American Dance Festival

particularly Dancing in the Light

Congress on Research in Dance

publishes Dance Research Journal

Danspace Project

International Council of Kinetography Laban

Jacob’s Pillow Dance Interactive

Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies

and the work of Irmgard Bartenieff

Movement Research

publishes Performance Journal

National Association of Schools of Dance

National Dance Education Organization

publishes two journals: Journal of Dance Education and  Dance Education in Practice (new this spring)

New York Live Arts and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association

 publishes The Journal of Popular Culture and The Journal of American Culture

side note: This is the best conference I’ve ever attended!

Society of Dance History Scholars

publishes Conversations Across the Field of Dance Studies and a monograph series Studies in Dance History

Society for Dance Research

publishes Dance Research 


other journals and publications/productions

Are We Here Yet? Damaged Goods, Meg Stuart


Contact Quarterly


journal from the Body-Mind Centering Association and the work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen

Dance Chronicle

Dance on Its Own Terms: Histories and Methodologies 

Dancing Lives: Five Female Dancers from the Ballet d’Action to Merce Cunningham

Dancing Times

Exploring Body-Mind Centering: An Anthology of Experience and Method

Eye on Dance and the Arts Video Catalog

particularly The VideoDance Project

International Journal of Screendance

Journal of Dance and Somatic Practices

Journal of Movement Arts Literacy

Theatre Survey

The New Yorker

The Drama Review

You might be wondering why Dance Magazine isn’t on this list. One artist mentioned it and I believe she made explicit other faculty members’ thoughts when she said, “if I could get it for free, I would probably look at it when I’m in the bathroom.” (I plan on working this quote into my final publication.)


subscription databases

Gender Studies Database 

International Bibliography of Theatre and Dance


Faculty that use this (contemporary/postmodern) love it, though wish there were more performances. They aren’t clear on two things: that ontheboards is continuing to grow (it started in 2010) and that it is subscription.

ProQuest Historial Newspapers


I asked specifically about Alexander Street Press’ Dance in Video. Some faculty use it, but no one really likes it.


libraries, archives, and museums

Dance Heritage Coalition

International Ballet Scenery and Costume Designs, 1941-1951

Library of Congress

Merce Cunningham Trust

The New York Public Library

Rambert Archives

Sokolow Dance Foundation and the work of Anna Sokolow

Stravinsky Foundation

V&A Museum – Theatre and Performance


websites and tools

Accelerated Motion: Towards a New Direction in Dance Literacy


Dance in Israel


empyre listserv

Finale music notation software


KineScribe app

Great Performances

The Guardian website

Motion Bank

The New York Times website

NPR Podcasts

Synchronous Objects

Ubuweb and Ubuweb Dance

side note on video: Everyone uses YouTube and Vimeo for video. YouTube first, for almost all participants, though impermanence and copyright were often called into question about the service. Netflix was also mentioned for video access.

side note on music: For music, iTunes and Spotify rule. Those needing music for performances will edit using GarageBand, though working with composers and having live music is mostly preferred.

side note on networking: Facebook is used much more heavily than I would have imagined (I’m in the group of 30-somethings moving away from the social network) and Skype is preferred to phone calls, when possible.


people, places, and other dance companies

Pina Bausch

Chocolate Factory Theater

Faye Driscoll

William Forsythe

Martha Graham

Joyce Theater

Deborah Hay

La Pocha Nostra and Guillermo Gómez-Peña

Ralph Lemon

Liz Lerman

Barak Marshall

Meredith Monk


Moira Shearer

Show Box LA

Doug Varone

Wire Monkey

digital humanities as quilting

Last week, Dean Rehberger, Director of MATRIX at Michigan State University was on campus to talk about digital humanities. Though I’m a librarian interested in new technology, I hadn’t yet jumped on the digital humanities bandwagon.

This is mostly because there is a lack of definition for digital humanities (sometimes broadened to digital scholarship or digital pedagogy) or how it’s fundamentally different from humanities (is it new because now we have computers?).

As an artist, I didn’t see a place for me within the trend. I don’t relate to historians or religion scholars. I don’t get excited about text mining. But, in his lunchtime lecture, Rehberger provided an analogy that is making me think twice about digital humanities.

He said the digital humanities is a lot like quilt making. The only art practice closer to my heart than quilt making is weaving, so he had my attention. Digital humanities and quilt making both:

~ require many hands (the quilting bee is similar to the MATRIX collaborative model)

~ foster making & building (small pieces joined together to create a whole)

~ are devalued (quilting is women’s work and still isn’t appreciated as art; technology in the humanities seems to confront traditional scholarship)

~ can be remixed (in quilting, recycling old clothing and linens is common; technology remixes history)

~ are both an art and a science (if my math skills were better, I’d be a better quilter; the humanities are an art, but the lens of technology to examine the humanities requires a scientific eye)

~ are public, transformative projects (if quilting wasn’t devalued, the social history would be well-known as transformative)

This was the first time digital humanities had been presented to me without talk of metadata or software or scanning archival papers. Comparing digital humanities to one of the fiber arts that grounded my art graduate practice was the exact entrance I needed into the DH scholarship. I may just find a second home there.

science & art at denison

Last Friday I co-presented Embracing the STEM to STEAM Initiative: The Library as Bridge Between Science and Art. This was the second time the Natural Sciences Librarian, Moriana Garcia, and I presented about science and art. Part of the presentation centers on what we are doing at Denison University to encourage and support cross-disciplinary conversation.

The STEM acronym has been around since the 1990s and stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Government bodies like the National Science Foundation and educational institutions believe that these disciplines hold the answers to many of our global issues. STEM careers are promising for students growing up in a troubled economy.

However, as K-12 and higher education started pushing STEM learning, many people were concerned about the disregard for the arts and the humanities. STEAM developed from this backlash, adding Arts (and design) to STEM. The Rhode Island School of Design is a strong proponent of the STEM to STEAM movement. One of the primary objectives of the STEAM movement is to “influence employers to hire artists and designers to drive innovation.”

The emphasis in that quote is mine. STEAM recognizes that arts education teaches creativity and critical thinking, key components of innovation. The government is taking notice. The National Science Foundation has supported workshops on STEM to STEAM. There is also a Congressional STEAM caucus that “aims to change the vocabulary of education to recognize the benefits of both the arts and sciences and how these intersections will benefit our country’s future generations.”

So, what are we doing at Denison to support STEAM? As librarians, we are excellently positioned to foster cross-disciplinary dialogue. While we work independently as subject specialists in the sciences and the arts, we come together as librarians. The library is a neutral space – outside the studio and the lab – for scientists and artists to gather.

We’ve started small. Before I arrived at Denison, Moriana began creating library displays about science in the arts and vice versa. And, for science displays she’s always included works of art that echo the theme (i.e. a sculpture of a lizard for a display on reptiles). It’s simple and subtle, but it’s a start. Moriana has been on the committee that creates displays for many years. I have just joined…so who knows what’s to come!

Purchasing books and media that have an interdisciplinary approach is also easy. There are beautiful books on art and science; a few recent additions:

Bio Design: Nature, Science, Creativity (William Myers, 2012)
Artists in Labs: Networking in the Margins (editor, Jill Scott, 2010)
Imagining Science: Art, Science, and Social Change (editors Sean Caulfield & Timothy Caulfield, 2008)
Laboratorium (editors, Hans Ulrich Obrist & Barbara Vanderlinden)

And for those librarians wondering, Science and Art is a subject heading! Moriana is purchasing image-heavy science books. Moriana also started a Science@Dension blog and Visualization Gallery.

Like all good librarians, we created a subject guide on science and art. It’s geared toward faculty and provides resources on STEM to STEAM and the latest collaborations between scientists and artists. As part of this guide, I have a! page on Science and Art.

Last winter we initiated a Science and Art Interest Group at Denison. The group is made up of any faculty interested in the relationship and collaborative possibilities between the two disciplines. Our initial meeting had about 30 people. We have decided to take the group in two directions. There is a reading group for faculty who are interested in STEAM pedagogy and methods of teaching creativity. We hope to start an immersion group this year – where we hold hands-on workshops in studios and labs, learning how artists and scientists work in their spaces.

Our current project is an artwork proposal for the Green Revolution exhibition to be hosted at the Denison Museum in the spring. Green Revolution is a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition that provides “education and inspiration for protecting our planet through sustainable living.” Six of us from the Science and Art group proposed (and had accepted!) and “eco-zibit” about fracking in Ohio. Stay tuned for more on that ambitious project.

Overall it’s been an interesting experience to work collaboratively with another librarian on fostering interdisciplinary conversation. The process is slow but the connections I’ve made with faculty have been wonderful. We are planning a November meeting with the Science and Art group to discuss 3D printing, a topic that is trending in science, art, and libraries!

forecasting next generation libraries – scenario planning

I’m participating in the online course-ference Forecasting Next Generation Libraries. We are already in week four but I wanted to back up and share what I learned in week one during a lecture by Joshua Morrill. He talked about the Four Futures Framework and how it can be applied to scenario planning for libraries. Here are my notes from his presentation.

“The library is a disrupted organization inside an institution – the university – that is being reconfigured.” ~ Jim Michalko, OCLC Research

~ why our attempts to predict the future often fail
systems are complex
we are bad at predicting the long-range future because we get fixated on one specific element or goal and miss the bigger picture

~what is scenario planning
“The task is not so much to see what no one has yet seen, but to think about what nobody has yet thought about that which everyone sees.” ~ Schopenhauer

Scenario planning is a tool for strategy, building stories and ideas around a framework to prompt an ongoing conversation. It’s about what could happen, not what will happen. There are two building blocks for scenario planning: funding climate and adaptability.

~scenarios for library future
This is about growth and reinvention. Funding is favorable and the environment (staff) is agile and innovative. Partnerships keep this library moving forward. The risk is that chasing after new technologies and partnerships do not always pan out.

great expectations
This scenario is about missed opportunities. Morrill described it as “swirling discontent.” The library is doing well financially but is slow to change because of inflexibility, whether internally or externally. Because of this, the campus community support may be starting to erode. The library may be receiving favorable reviews from the community but there has been a decrease in use of services. Lack of innovation may be caused by a lack of leadership or historically focusing on policy and staff preferences over the users’ needs. Complaints about not meeting student or faculty needs go largely ignored. While there is a good change this library can get out of its rut and become more utopian, it does risk having the bottom drop out as perceived value decreases.

origin of species
This is about innovation under stress. Financially, this library may be experiencing cuts or flat budgets but adaptability and promise are strong. There is vision, resolve and creativity within the library staff. The library is beginning to seek valuable partners on campus to help move them forward and maintain the campus perception that it’s a valuable resource. The staff are willing to change they way they have thought about work flow, space, and policies.

To me, Origin of Species is similar to Great Expectations but chooses a more positive perspective. I can see an Origin of Species library that doesn’t make changes quickly enough becoming a Great Expectations. If change is slow, the adaptability of staff will weaken.

Inferno is about stagnation and decline. Morrill calls it a “self feeding firestorm.” Fortunately, most libraries have enough of either finances or adaptability to keep them in less troublesome waters.

Weeks two and three of the course-ference were robust panel discussions about changes in student culture and higher education. Week four moved away from the university to look specifically at the future of libraries. In the coming weeks we’ll be discussing changes in technology and the future of publishing.

ala 2013 notes from the myth and reality of the evolving patron

The Myth and the Reality of the Evolving Patron: The RUSA President’s Program with Lee Rainie was held on Saturday, June 29th. Rainie is the Director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

The twitter hashtag is #rusapres13 and video of the presentation is now available from RUSA. You can also view the slides from the program (totally worth it!). Here are some facts that caught my attention:

The tech revolution changed patron experience through evolutions driven by: purpose of engagement and need; life stage; life stressors (time demands, urgency); demographics; and library innovation.

More education means more library use but minorities and poor are more likely to ask librarians for help.

Youth are most likely to use the library space as a hangout space.

Borrowing print books still the dominant use of the public library.

one of the many great cat themed slides from Rainie's presentation!
one of the many great cat themed slides from Rainie’s presentation!

68% of Americans have Broadband at home. Because of this, video viewing has become an important way to view content.

With the democratization of the media sphere, there are actually more arguments happening in our culture. Libraries are now functioning as commons or referees for these arguments.

91% of Americans have cell phones and 56% of these are smartphones. “Smartphones are for snacking,” Rainie said.

Libraries are now dealing with attention zone change – now at “continuous partial attention.” This means more desire for just -in-time searches.

61% of all adults are involved in some form of online social networking. Facebook is still the dominant social media site. However, the composition and character of people’s social networks have changed. They are now channels of learning, trust, and influence. People are using social networks as “The Daily Me” (news) and, in a sense, have created personalized information databases and act as the gatekeepers. Also, now everyone has an audience.

People like self-directed information seeking but they hate the noise and distractions that come with being your own gatekeeper.

“New scarcity is not information, it’s time,” said Rainie.

Rainie noted that because people’s needs change, libraries have the opportunity to be newly relevant to a new group of people.

last bit of notes from arlis pasadena

The final day of ARLIS Pasadena was full of great sessions. In the morning, I attended Doing Data Together: Engaging End-Users in Building Richer Resources, More Efficiently. Here are my notes:

BWR: Collaborating to Document the World’s Built Environment  by Carole Ann Fabian, Director, Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University
Built Works Registry – architects and designers; building or structure that has been built (even if no longer present) and is habitable at the human scale
– for artworks and architectural structures, there is no equivalent to ISBN or ISSN…had to create a unique identifier system
– core data is a disaster and needs to be limited and corrected…even not consistent across singular database
– three major work efforts: policies (founders and contributor agreements); tools and infrastructure (ARTstor; data – contribution environment, repositories, sharing); content (name, location, unique ID required for Core)
– content development: curate, aggregate, disambiguate, normalize, enhance
– enhancing data: geo-coding strategy (issues with buildings outside traditional locations like named streets or issues with anonymity so they created a hierarchal data block to deal with levels of generality/specificity)
– How will Built Works Registry gain scale? institutional contributory model and expert crowdsourcing experiment

Your Paintings: The UK’s Entire Public Oil Paintings Collection Goes Online For The World To See  by Andrew Ellis, Director, The Public Catalogue Foundation
– opening up UK’s public art collections for enjoyment, learning and research
– engaging the collections: creating your paintings; 80% of paintings in UK are in storage…
– publicly owned – over 210,000 paintings in oil, tempera, acrylic, and mixed media
– 50% of collections have fewer than 10 paintings!
– London team doing data processing, image management, editing and copyright clearance (2,700 cataloging contracts, 30 freelance photographers, 50 regional researchers, over 6 mil pounds over 10 years)
– 300,000 unique users per month
Galaxy Zoo as inspiration for cataloging; free text workflows and fixed list workflows; over 9,000 registered taggers
– Tweet about this painting and it automatically links your tweet back to painting!
– technology + goodwill + verification = useful resource

The Creator as Cataloger: Shared Shelf and Faculty Collections by Vickie O’Riordan, University of California San Diego Library
– using social media can bridge the gap between expert and non-expert
– digitizing audiovisual materials from department of music…using shared shelf allows the faculty member to do the metadata
– Zambian Storytellers project has over 1,300 stories to be documented (over 20 years of field work) – committed to share his work as freely as possible and can sure it with the University of Zambia!!!
-inSite: public projects

Then I switched directions and listened to Sue Maberry (Director of Library and Instructional Technology), Debra Ballard (English faculty and Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences), and Parme Giuntini (Art Historian and Director of Art History) from Otis College of Art and Design talk about teaching and assessing information literacy across the curriculum. Some notes from the session:
– first efforts: one shot library visits; required 1 unit research class (didn’t work; not sustainable) – lack of transference of research skills in these efforts
– embedded in curriculum. how? move from faculty and librarian working together to faculty and librarian involved in curriculum and course design
– TILT Texas Information Literacy Tutorial for students (3 hour tutorial) – didn’t really work; seemed like an add-on and the faculty didn’t even have the skills!
– We began to think that librarians were more than people who help us find things to people who make us think about information.
– mentor to student researchers; instructional partner to faculty
– “must be nice to have a PhD; your students don’t”
– step by step pathfinders @ OTIS
– create an evaluation form for student annotated bibliographies asking them to do a citation, evaluate, and tell where the source was found – it’s on web
– embedded video tutorials in online syllabi
– embedded instruction: scavenger hunts, show and tell, chronology lesson using Oxford Art Online
– curriculum mapping: proficiencies identified by librarian and instruction, assignments, & assessments
– redesigned first year core to include readings on the role of information in society, intellectual property & copyright, and social media
– aligned information literacy and critical thinking (getting the faculty to know that they are very similar and require each other)
– mandatory guided research module into course assignment – turned into training faculty to assist with guided research and this gave librarians the opportunity to talk with faculty about how the students are researching
– iSearch: paper about how they did their research
– library assessment has moved from data stats (circ, gate counts) to instruction
– VALUE rubric…
– started learning portfolio on learning management system to have students track their research and discoveries over their 4 years
– baby steps mean you don’t fail too much and it’s easy to pick yourself up!
– sell your services to one faculty member in the department and let them do the internal outreach for you

the future of libraries

The other day I sat in on the webinar The Future of Libraries hosted by the Metropolitan New York Library Council. It was a talk by Eli Neiburger, Associate Director for IT and Production for the Ann Arbor District Library system. You might be familiar with his 2010 Libraries Are Screwed with a focus on ebooks.

This talk also had a “Libraries Are Screwed” sentiment but with some valuable ideas for transformation. A few things Eli said:

We have all of our marketing value in one format.We are still library as place and that place as a repository for books. Even as we offer other services, our look and brand echoes the book. Eli also mentioned what we like to forget – that reading is not a pastime for the majority.

Librarians have positioned themselves in a service role but we are now in a situation of self-service. Instead of panicking that we must provide access service and reference service, what about becoming content producers? This is the “valued added” element that can sustain libraries. He made the analogy of librarians becoming the next journalists. I understand that point, but also wonder what that might mean. We don’t have journalists anymore because of citizen journalism. We want our users to be content creators. How then do we define our value?

A librarian’s role is knowing what content is valuable. The addresses the wave in library school of turning information professionals into coders. Eli says we don’t need to be IT specialists or web designers. Let the experts do that. What librarians can do is tell IT and web designers what content is good and where to find that content.

Librarians should be super users. Just because our speciality isn’t in coding or design doesn’t mean we shouldn’t know what’s out there and what technologies are coming up next.