dance research – now an article and a presentation!

I’ll be wrapping up my research on the information needs of dance faculty this year! I first wrote about it when I transcribed the interviews and developed a resource list – organizations, journals, websites, and tools that were mentioned by at least one dance faculty.

The article has been accepted for publication in College & Research Libraries, an open access, peer-reviewed publication. A pre-print of the article is available on the site.

I’ll also be presenting my research and recommendations at ALA Annual in Orlando. It looks like the ACRL Arts session will be Saturday, June 25 at 10:30am, but not confirmed. Stay tuned for more!

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

emerging roles for academic librarians

I finally had a moment to listen to the archive of ACRL Art’s Virtual Midwinter Meeting. I was particularly interested in Joe Clark’s presentation about the Emerging Roles for Academic Librarians. He mentioned that we are moving away from collection-center service to an engagement-centered one. As this happens, the role of subject specialists and reference librarians is changing. This correlates with the recent publication from ARL New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries.

One of the virtual places he pointed us toward is the University of Illinois’ Subject Specialist Task Force Report. At first glance, these tasks seem obvious for a subject liaison. However, there are responsibilities creeping in to the role: such as creating exhibitions, “serve as a resource for scholarly communications, copyright, open access, and the institutional repository” (that’s a hefty load), involvement in fundraising, and outreach to the local community. There is also a whole section just on digital initiatives.

These roles are similar to the ones in the works at Kent State. Joe focused on four:

Programming & Event Planning

Kent State’s libraries host events – over 20 in a year. At the Performing Arts Library, Joe has many recurring events. Open Mic Lunch happens once a month; students and community members can perform. The Director Speaks series usually happens twice a semester. Performing arts directors talk about their approach to their work, usually the week before the theatre production opens. The Colloquium Series covers all of the performing arts and allows faculty, students, and others to present their research or ideas.

Outreach, Engagement, & Promotion

Programming ties in well to outreach and promotion. An event can bring new users to the library. The Performing Arts Library has an annual open house with live performances. There is a Welcome Week that attracts students who haven’t yet discovered the Performing Arts Library space. Student Appreciation Day is simply hot drinks and cookies. We all know cookies will bring a crowd!

Joe reminds us to be patient – attendance may not be large the first few times and some events may be complete duds, never to be tried again. Events take time and energy but the rewards are well worth it!


This isn’t about going out and getting donations. But we can help to identify donors and encourage development officers to bring donors to library events. So programming leads to outreach which leads to fundraising.

User Assessment

Assess user needs through surveys, focus groups, or even informal means. By continually assessing we can continually improve our services and spaces.


transforming liaison roles in research libraries

I attended the ARL webinar Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries. The discussion stemmed from a recent publication, New Roles for New Times: Transforming Liaison Roles in Research Libraries by Janice M. Jaguszewski and Karen Williams.

During the webinar Jaguszewski and Williams highlighted the findings of their research about the new responsibilities and skill sets expected of liaisons. They reported on six trends:

Develop user-centered library skills

  • new approaches to collection development – methods include approval plans, patron-driven acquisitions, and consortial collaboration
  • merged service points for reference and circulation – patrons shouldn’t have to know how library staffing is organized in order to get help; a singular service point would also free up liaisons for more skilled work (who would still be available through a referral system)
  • library instruction – moving away from the one-shot session toward e-learning and working with faculty to develop better assignments that will address life-long information literacy
  • staff supervision – let others supervise library staff and manage daily operations (again, freeing liaisons for specialist work)

A hybrid model of liaison and functional specialist is emerging

Jaguszewski and Williams refer to “superliaisons” who aren’t linked to academic departments but rather work with the entire campus (and the subject liaisons). The functional specialist areas of expertise mentioned include copyright, GIS, media production, and data management.

This trend was most troubling to me as a newer librarian. My library school classes still referred to the seemingly outdated model of liaison duties as reference, instruction, and collection development. These duties are also still core responsibilities of my current position. I will need to be learning these other skill sets on my own and on the job. I wonder how many liaisons are both subject specialists and functional specialists.

Organizational flexibility must meet changing user needs

  • new roles in research services – focus on interdisciplinary research assistance, creating faculty profiles, and other workshops or consultations to assist faculty with research management
  • digital humanities
  • expanding roles in support of teaching and learning – goes back to e-learning opportunities mentioned in user-centered library skills (more scalable than one-shot); as more content becomes digitally accessible, teaching online makes sense
  • support for digital scholarship
  • user experience – new types of librarian positions focused on UX
  • copyright, intellectual property, and scholarly communication

No liaison is an island

I was happy to read about “renovated and repurposed spaces” which was reiterated during the webinar. New roles mean new use of space. We can’t support digital scholarship, media production, collaboration, and other methods of scholarly communication in environments designed for print access and individual study spaces. This is particularly important if libraries are to support interdisciplinary research practices.

Collaboration is key (enough said!)

Create and sustain a flexible workforce

Even with so much talk about emerging technologies and supporting digital scholarship, soft skills are still in demand. Mentioned in the paper is also a trend toward “non-permanent hires.” Given the current conversation in higher education about adjunct faculty, this is somewhat unsettling.

At first glance the findings seem redundant to what we already know and experience in academic libraries. However, I wonder how quickly libraries, particularly smaller ones at institutions still embracing more traditional learning practices, are enacting changes and transforming roles. There seems to be a widening gap between how library staff and academic administration view 21st century research and scholarship practices. Perhaps this is why much of the webinar discussion revolved around bettering library marketing and outreach.

ala 2013 notes from one-shot instruction sessions

Lessons for the Librarian: 10 Tips for Teaching the One-Shot Instruction Session was held on Sunday, June 30th. There were eight speakers: Beth Woodard, Staff Development and Training Librarian, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Debra Gilchrist, Vice President for Learning and Student Success, Pierce College; Jennifer Corbin, Head, Center for Library User Education, Tulane University; Megan Oakleaf, Associate Professor, Syracuse University; Michelle Millet, Library Director, John Carroll University; Patricia Iannuzzi, Dean of Libraries, University of Nevada – Las Vegas; Randy Hensley, Head of Information Services, Baruch College – CUNY; and Steven Hoover, Senior Assistant Librarian, Syracuse University.

You can view the slides from the presentation and read the article from which the presentation was based. Here are some key tips and references:

~ Some must reads: Understanding By Design by Wiggins and McTighe (2005, 2nd edition) and “Writing Information Literacy Assessment Plans” by Megan Oakleaf in Communications in Information Literacy (2009)

~ You can cover about three concepts well in a one shot. Remember, some students learn like you but most don’t – the Kolb Learning Cycle helps explain this.

~ Consider what activities will help the students learn and, at the same time, give you some assessment data. Assessment happens during teaching, not after! Go with evidence, not your gut: by assessing prior knowledge you demonstrate respect for students and their previous experience.

~ Some ideas to try: the one minute paper (have the students write what they want to learn in class today); “think, pair, share;” brainstorm session (will mean wait time); worksheets; teach using case studies.

~ “Enthusiasm is contagious. Not having enthusiasm is also contagious.” But, be authentic about it. It can be quiet enthusiasm.

~ Don’t be afraid to team teach. Faculty do have good intentions. Ask the faculty about the personality of their classroom. Working with faculty means you should be an asset, be a colleague, and don’t judge. Make the instruction integrated into their course, not a separate “library session.”

~ Document your impact and value and own your role as an educator!

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.

ala 2013 notes from reference research forum

The 19th Annual Reference Research Forum was held Saturday, June 29th.

Research Guides Usability Study by Andrew Walsh, Information Literacy Fellow and Angela Pashia, Instructional Services Outreach Librarian, both at the University of West Georgia

Walsh and Pashia studied usability of their research LibGuides with focused testing and other user feedback methods. Common issues they discovered were:
~ students using the LibGuides search box to find articles (they’ve removed it);
~ confusion about the role of the guides in research process; and
~ ability to navigate to a specific guide from the LibGuides homepage.

Students commented on some aspects of the guides they did like, including:
~ the drop-down options on tabbed menu;
~ embedded search boxes (the catalog or specific databases); and
~ Virginia Commonwealth University’s subject guide home page (which they will now use as a model for their own).

Two Birds, One Stone: Using a Mixed Methods Approach to Measure Service Process and Identify Usability Pain Points in Virtual Reference by Christine Tobias, User Experience and Reference Librarian at the Michigan State University Libraries

Tobias examined virtual reference using an evidence-based model with both quantitative and qualitative assessment tools. She wanted to know what type of questions are asked during virtual reference and if it is a valid service point. Using the transcript for each reference question, Tobias applied up to three general codes about user need/confusion such as library resources, library services, tech help, local resources, etc. She found a dominance in questions asking about library resources. The top questions were in her assigned categories of research question, article known citation, and e-resources.

Tobias used transcripts to find common users’ pain points. She ran the transcript through Dedoose for text analysis. Her prominent findings were that users had issues with the library website’s presentation of access to resources and services and that navigation of the website is difficult. She can now work on fixing these non-reference problems and reduce user confusion.