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.

sorry diigo, i’m leaving you

I never thought I’d do this, but I’m leaving Diigo. I haven’t deactivated my account just yet, but I’ve weaned myself from this 20th century social bookmarking site because I’ve discovered a 21st century one – Scoop.It!. Dr. Steve Matthews’ post Personalized Professional Development? Scoop.It! led me to explore the service.

I have been using Diigo as an art librarian in two ways: to bookmark resources of interest to my professional research (creativity in information science) and to bookmark resources of interest to the faculty and students in the visual and performing arts. It’s this second use that made me unhappy with Diigo.

Now that I am using LibGuides, I wanted a more visual and engaging list of web links for my subject guides. Diigo lets you create a linkroll to embed into your guide, but it’s just words and very static on the page.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.37.47 PM

With Scoop.It!, I have a window of images with resource summations plus activity – the Scoop.It! linkroll shifts to a new link every 5 seconds. I hope these new visuals and movement on the page will be more engaging to the users of my guides.

Screen Shot 2013-02-19 at 4.38.58 PM

What makes Scoop.It! the 21st century bookmarking site is it’s seamless integration with social media. I have two Scoop.It! accounts – one for work to bookmark for the arts and one for personal/professional to bookmark for arts librarianship. Though I have yet to transfer all my resources from Diigo to my new Scoop.It! accounts, I’m already finding like-minded folks and can follow their bookmarks – and they are following mine. I can easily share my discoveries with other artists and librarians, creating a community and having a conversation.

my favorite bookmarking site is now even better

Perhaps this is digital hoarding, but when I’m online and discover an interesting article, image, or video I have to save it, tag it, and put it in a list. Diigo feeds my craving for web organizing. An abbreviation for Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other Stuff, Diigo is a free curation tool that provides digital annotation options and shared learning spaces. The site has won numerous awards including Best Websites for Teaching and Learning.

The Diigo toolbar installs on your browser. You can highlight and add “Sticky Note” comments right on the web page. The bookmark features allow you to save the web page as private or to be read later (very helpful for research reading that piles up). You can then can add a description of the online resource and add tags. Resources may also be added to user-generated lists or shared with a group to which the user subscribes. The toolbar also provide sharing through email, RSS feeds, or social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

So how did this awesome social bookmarking site become the awesomest ever? As Richard Bryne reports you can now take screenshots and save them, annotated, to your Diigo account. Once you select the area of the screen to capture, Diigo lets you save it as a stand-alone bookmark or attached to the webpage link.

Diigo's new screenshot option
Diigo’s new screenshot option

It also recognizes images. For example, as I’m browsing Boing Boing and see the still images of the giant squid (omg, people, omg), I get the little blue b in the right hand corner asking if I’d like to save the image. I can still save it as a stand-alone item or it will automatically upload to Diigo with the URL.

Diigo's new image capture
Diigo’s new image capture

Check out my personal Diigo at librarianshannon and the one I’ve created as the Fine Arts Liaison Librarian, DensionFineArts. Thanks Diigo!

as we may think (and controlled vocabulary)

Reading Dr. Bush’s article from 1945 is an interesting way to reflect on the development of technology and how it assists people. His description of a “memex” allows us to truly consider how much online catalogs, databases, and the Internet do for us (6). Gladly, in his attention on the future of mechanization, he differentiates between “creative thought and essentially repetitive thought” and focuses on aids that will eliminate the latter (3). But can we separate the two processes? Are they intrinsically linked, working simultaneously? If we mechanize the one, what happens to the other?

the memex
the memex

It seems often there is a fine line between rote and deep understanding. Bush is quick to note “that publication has been extended far beyond our present ability to make real use of the record (1).” In essence, this has not changed. As Mann points out, we, in our research, often barely skim the surface of what is available on a particular subject matter. Bush is concerned with technological ways to access this material, in an effort to eliminate restrictions (“associative indexing (7)”), while Mann expresses the need for us to re-learn information seeking in more appropriate ways. Mann wants us to realize the full potential of the traditional library science model; to discover the successful foundations of the classification system, catalog, and published bibliographies and indexes.

We often physically browse the shelves: once we find a title or subject heading in the catalog, we leave the computer terminal and head for the stacks without using the controlled vocabulary available in the catalog. We are happy with the sources found next to one another on the shelf because our expectations for our search are so elemental (42). However, the controlled vocabulary available with the record for each book is so effective that it makes “virtually every entry in the catalog a source of cross-references to other, related entries (39).” Mann notes that we have been poorly taught our research skills and this is why we stick to the stacks and literally scanning row by row for what we want. But is a lifetime of bad library skills lessons to blame for our simplicity?

Bush assures us that “the world has arrived at an age of cheap complex devices of great reliability; and something is bound to come of it (1).” Notice he doesn’t write something good is bound to come of it. Just something. And so, I wonder often about that question, perhaps unanswerable: how much information is too much information? Are we able to digest all the resources available to us? Would knowing all that has been written on a subject encourage us to find the best sources among that grouping or cause us to shut down with the worries about lack of time and intellectual inabilities? Will we take pride in our efforts or be mentally drained and perhaps even confused? Knowing that the specific answer to your specific question is out “there” is great news. To find it, we likely need to rely on Bush’s “new profession of trail blazers” which means there will be work for all of us new librarians, right (8)? But I tend to believe that most wisdom is received when you are lost on your way to somewhere important.

Dr. Bush makes reference to two types of selection: simple selection, where one looks at the larger picture and then refocuses given a set of characteristics that he/she defines, and one more complex, like dialing a certain telephone number to reach a certain person. I truly see the value in the ability, aided by technology, to find “just one of a million possible stations (5).” I suppose I worry that its ease and quickness will encourage us to look for ways to eliminate simple selection, those processes of berry picking and browsing. The library has a difficult task: it should make suitable resource location and selection simple enough for the average user (with as few steps as possible) while allowing for the non-linear creative practices that can occur when a subject keyword search brings up unrelated results. Perhaps the fact that most of the dictionary was written by a madman should suggest we cannot always rely on the rationale of words to move forward.

Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. Atlantic Monthly, 176, 101-108.

Mann, T. (1993). Library Research Models: A Guide to Classification, Cataloging, and Computers (pp.25-56). New York: Oxford University Press.