DLF Forum 2015

The DLF Forum conference was so much of a whirlwind that I didn’t quite keep up. But I did come away with an enormous reading and learning list. Here are some highlights as I ran between sessions over two days.

Seriously. These were the best (pre-conference and main) keynotes I’ve ever heard at any library conference. A few must-reads I caught from Safiya Noble’s talk are The Relevance of AlgorithmsDo Artifacts Have Politics? (pdf), Google is a Significant Threat to Democracy and Must be Regulated, and Shaping the Web: Why the Politics of Search Engines Matter (pdf).

I also ended up in an improv class (yes, really, thanks DLF!) where we used improv techniques to raise issues within digital scholarship. It was refreshing and enlightening, a wonderful way to have “a-ha” moments.

My Monday afternoon was a bit scattered as I prepared for the poster session. I presented on our digital project The Expanding Archive: Denison LGBTQ Past/Present/Future.


I had really nice support and folks were very impressed with the initiative and development of the project.

I did tune in and out of other sessions and learned about the Grateful Dead Archive Online that is using Omeka. I also discovered Cornell’s Hip Hop Flyer Collection and (mega OMG) Project Mirador working off IIIF (yet another acronym I learned).

A fantastic project from UNC is Multimodal Librarians, “librarians connecting technology to teaching and learning.” Subject liaisons like myself need this cross-training and support!

There is also some beautiful student work from Haverford including Permanent Spread from Ebony Magazine (a critical analysis of an article presented in Neatline) and Testimonies in Art and Action (in Omeka).

There is a tremendous project out of the University of Virginia called Take Back the Archive which preserves and contexualizes rape and sexual assault on campus. This project also introduced me to Feminism and the Future of Library Discovery. Another feminist-strong collection is College Women from the Seven Sisters schools.

Though I am not a digital librarian – I may work on digital projects but it is not what I am trained to do nor have ample support for – I learned so much from the collaborative and community-based projects shared at DLF.

DLF Forum 2015: Liberal Arts Preconference

Yesterday’s DLF Forum’s Liberal Arts Preconference was terrific, start to finish. There was food, community note-taking for sessions, and plenty of tweets to stay critically engaged throughout the day (despite the freezing temperatures in Salon A). Here’s my recap.

Interestingly the keynote was given by two folks not at liberal arts institutions, Chris Bourg, Ph.D. and Director of Libraries at MIT, and Cecily Walker, Assistant Manager for Community Digital Initiatives & eLearning at Vancouver Public Library. Their talk, Digital Library Matters, reminded us that the Digital in these initiatives we are are undertaking are actually about people – about communities and events and identities, individual and collective, that Matter. It was important to start a digital scholarship conference by immediately reflecting on the community, the community that the scholarship is about or for and the community that is doing the work to provide access to that scholarship. It set the tone for the rest of the day.

The first session I attended was The Professional is Personal: Reflections on Personal Digital Archiving Day in Four Liberal Arts Colleges. I hadn’t heard of this initiative that the Library of Congress so throughly documented for organizing your own Personal Archiving Day and was impressed with the success the speakers had at their own institutions. The speakers discussed workshops that were targeted to faculty and students. I really like the idea of working with student groups and in the classroom to educate students about how to curate and preserve their scholarship, regardless of format.

In the arts, more and more practitioners are wanting to both preserve their creative process (not just output) and more and more practitioners want access to other practitioners’ creative process. This may be a toolkit I could introduce to artists and designers. I am also interested in discussing these practices with students. Faculty may be given resources and support for preservation, but students frequently are not. This suggests we don’t value their work when often it’s some of the most innovative and transformational.

With students on my mind I next attended Beyond Grunt Work: Putting Students at the Center of Digital Scholarship. I think I’ve done ok with this for the digital project in which I’m involved and I wanted to hear what others were doing. I learned that some schools are going directly to the students. At Haverford, they have a digital fellowship program where students initiate, plan, and execute a digital project. An example is The Cope Evans Project. Sure, the projects are limited in scope and less ambitious, but perhaps this is more sustainable? And, in the long run, more valuable to both the students?

After lunch (where I met colleagues I’ll be seeing again at the Bucknell Digital Scholarship conference in a few weeks!), I listened to Barbara Rockenbach (and see tweet above) discuss the Studio@Butler in the libraries at Columbia. Rockenbach calls this space “a collaboratory for educators, scholars, and librarians.” No matter how many times autocorrect tried to change “collaboratory” I am completely smitten and will use it in conversation, regardless if relevant to the topic at hand. She also said, ahem, THIS IS NOT WORK FOR FACULTY, THIS IS WORK WITH FACULTY (screaming emphasis mine). I love that the Studio is about bringing people together, not technology. This echoes everything this conference has been about so far.


The next session had two presentations, Beyond a Cabinet of Digital Curiosities and Collaborating Liberally, Creating Critically. Both were about student digital projects in the classroom. Whitman College is using Omeka as a platform for students to engage with primary sources. At Smith College, students chose the appropriate platform to develop “tours” or guides to their scholarship question. The work the students did was phenomenal and critically engaging. As part of this conversation, Brendan O’Connell brought up Smith’s Design Thinking and the Liberal Arts framework that just melted my heart. This school is going to continue to be a leader in Liberal Arts DH!

Speaking of leaders, the day wrapped up with an interactive session, Lead, Follow, or Listen. A set of questions about when and how liberal arts colleges can (should) participate in DH were presented to both panelists and the audience. The comments were provocative, especially Kevin Butterfield who dubbed himself the “non cranky library director” on the panel.

It was great to end the day with renewed energy and motivation. Looking forward to the main conference today and tomorrow!


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

more student work in the library

For the last month of the semester, a ceramics class is displaying their wares in the library. They are all soup tureens with matching bowls and saucers. Students were inspired to create these objects from readings from

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed by Carl Honoré

Functional Pottery: Form and Aesthetic in Pots of Purpose

Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens at Wintherur

The faculty member says each student had to create a set of objects that would enhance a meal based on a family recipe or tradition.  She wanted the students to consider how eating habits have changed and how this could affect the objects associated with eating.

When the pieces were finished, the students and guests sat down to a dinner of soups and bread served on their masterpieces.

Child’s playset for acorn soup!
detail of the set for chicken soup
a colleague brought in this adorable book from her childhood collection
for one of my favorite meals, tomato soup and grilled cheese
to accompany matzo ball soup
vegetable soup


student art in the library

A theatre professor developed a very creative project for her Acting I class. Students select a character from a play and, through research and inventiveness, develop a full biography of the person. Usually students write the biography; the past few semesters the professor has allowed them to respond through artwork.

The professor used our artists’ books from Special Collections to inspire the students to think differently about writing and presenting a character bio. Here are some of the interpretations from last semester’s students.

Boy Gets Girl by Rebecca Gilman

According to the student’s statement, the play is about stalking. The main character is Edward, a magazine editor, who is divorced yet always thinking about his ex-wife. The student wrote letters from Edward to the ex, Claudia, that verge on stalking. However, as Edward grows, he realizes how is letters may be perceived. In the end we learn he never sent the letters.

Arcadia by Tom Stoppard
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard

The student of this project said, “Trying to describe the story of Septimus…through an essay seemed unjust and partial.” Instead, he created a mixed CD with 12 songs. Each song represents moments in Septimus’ life.

Brainpeople by Jose Rivera
Brainpeople by Jose Rivera

This work is based on the character Rosemary who has multiple personalities.

The Unwanted by Walter Wykes
The Unwanted by Walter Wykes

This is the psychiatric file of Dan. He’s trying to initiate a relationship but the suicide of his girlfriend weighs on his consciousness.

Ballad of Yachiyo by Philip Kan Gotanda
Ballad of Yachiyo by Philip Kan Gotanda

Based on real life events in Gotanda’s family, the play is about young Yachiyo falling in love with her older relative, Okusan. This artist book is the diary of Yachiyo.

The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman
The Laramie Project by Moisés Kaufman

Based on life and death of Matthew Shepard, a University of Wyoming student who was the victim of a homophobic hate crime in 1998. This collage is covered in a black veil to represent mourning.

Doubt by John Patrick Shanley
Doubt by John Patrick Shanley

Throughout the play, we are never sure if Father Flynn is guilty of pedophila. Here, the student created a hidden compartment in a book. In it, Flynn has kept mementos from a high school basketball team, children’s drawings, and more. Viewing the work, we are still left in doubt.

alao instruction interest group workshop, part 1

I attend ALAO’s Instruction Interest Group‘s annual workshop the other week. I attended last year and this year was also fantastic. The keynote speak was Michelle Millet, the Immersion Faculty & Director at John Carroll University Library. Michelle mentioned she is on the committee for the ACRL information literacy standards updates. She talked about her experience in Backwards Design for instruction.

Michelle mention an experiment where Teaching Assistants in History (or English, I don’t recall the subject) taught half the instruction sessions for the discipline while librarians taught the other half. At the end of the semester, assessment found that retention of the skills taught in the library sessions was better with the TAs than the librarians.

This was a reminder that information literacy is not a library issue and doesn’t always need to be taught by librarians.

Michelle said “embracing student learning means letting go of some of your teaching.” She talked about how we need to stop teaching one shots. She pointed out that there is no other learning happening on your campus that only happens once!

It’s a good point; agreeing to teach information literacy as “one and done” subtly suggests that we don’t value what we do. Of course, many of us feel we are left with no other option. There was a lot of conversation about negotiating with faculty and trying to get buy-in from library administrators.

We need to learn to say no to one-shots (especially first week of the semester and those babysitting jobs) and provide other ways of learning. How can you get faculty to something other than a one shot? Some ideas were holding shorter classes more often or giving homework assignments that you grade with feedback.

Backwards Design is meant for K-12 and is explained in Understanding By Design by Wiggins and McTighe. I first heard about this book at ALA in 2013 from Megan Oakleaf (mentioned by Michelle).

In Backwards Design, you start by asking “What do you want the student to be able to do? What is the understanding?” This is not “how” or “what tools” but simply “what.” What do students need from you, the librarian, versus what they need from the faculty member?

Of course, our “what” list will be longer than the time you have (since really, one-shots aren’t on the way out any time soon). So, you need to decide:

What is “worth being familiar with?” Those things, LET THEM GO.

What is “important to know and do?” Sure, cover in class, IF YOU HAVE TIME.

What will lead to “enduring understanding?” This is WHAT MUST THEY LEARN FROM YOU as opposed to the faculty member, on their own, etc. And honestly, this list is probably a lot smaller than you think it is.

Michelle also talked about assessment. If the student can do Skill A, what will you see? How will you know? You need to look for evidence in activity-based learning. Sometimes, the faculty member might see the evidence, after class. So think, how will you get that evidence from the faculty member? Again, negotiation is key.

Now that you’ve answered those questions, you can start designing your instruction (yup, we haven’t even started that yet):

What will you need to teach them in order to see what you just identified as the evidence?

1. Identify desired results.

~ established goals and big ideas that you want students to understand

~ essential questions that will stimulate inquiry

~ knowledge and skills that need to be acquired given the understanding and related content standards

2. Determine acceptable evidence.

~ keeping the goals in mind, what performance tasks should anchor and focus the unit

~ criteria that will be used to assess the work; will the assessment reveal and distinguish those who really understand versus those who only seem to understand?

3. Plan learning experience and instruction

Michelle refers to this as an AUTHENTIC assessment cycle . You plan, implement, assess, and then report and revise.

student art in the library

This spring, studio art professor Ron Abram (Tyler School of Art alumn and all-round cool dude) taught a course on portraits. For one project, he brought the class into the library to view the president’s portraits. Our President’s Room (which houses the scores), has a formal painting of each president. Ron asked students to choose a Denison president, research the person and the school during his/her term, and create a new portrait.

Students were able to view the president’s papers in our archives, which often included handwritten documents and photographs. Many students returned to the archives after the initial visit to spend more time examining the papers. As usual, when students get into an archive or special collection, they don’t want to leave!

Unfortunately, I was attending ARLIS/NA when this exhibit was installed and missed the reception. Luckily, the artwork will be staying in the President’s Room throughout the summer. I’m sure it will be a big attraction during Alumni Weekend in June!

Here are some of the works (some weird angles to account for horrible overhead lighting with the works under glass):

John Pratt

John Pratt (1831 – 1837) by Jason Gonzalez

Pratt was Denison’s first president. Jason writes that Pratt was a hard worker, helping his family on the farm at a very early age. But, because he loved to learn, Pratt stayed up late teaching himself math. In 1814 he was baptized and became very religious. At Denison he taught Greek and Latin as well as preached.


Samson Talbot (1863-1873) by Hollie Davis

Hollie says she chose “a president whose place in history perpetuated the disempowerment of people like me.” In her research, Hollie could not find evidence to place Talbot on one side or the other of the slavery issue. So, she portrays both free African Americans (on the left) and the colorless picking cotton with Talbot front and center.








Galusha Anderson (1887 – 1889) by Miaja St. Martin

Anderson served the shortest presidential term; he resigned after two years. Miaja says that “Anderson was against slavery and was passionate in his opinion that African Americans should be allowed an education in the north as free people.” According to Miaja, Denison University was a stop on the Underground Railroad and this is why she uses quilting in her portrait.


Emory Hunt (1901-1912) by Adam Rice

Adam notes that Hunt is credited with building Cleveland Hall, which is now Bryant Arts Center. He also “turned the school away from PhD programs towards the idea of an undergraduate liberal arts college.” Adam’s work notes the physical changes Hunt created on campus, but “the goal of the work is to drive curiosity” about the president.


Avery Shaw (1927-1940) by Kristie King

Henry Henson
Henry Henson
Isabelle Smock
Isabelle Smock

Kristie chose to research Shaw because he was president when her great-grandparents, Henry Henson (1929) and Isabelle Smock (1928) were students. Kristie actually found a photo of her great-grandfather in the archives! Kristie says the project allowed her to reflect on her personal legacy at Denison (she just graduated) and reconnect with her family’s history.


Good2Robert Good (1976-1983) by Janie Hall

During his term, Good was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He hid his illness until the cancer forced him to resign and he died soon after. Janie represents Good through white cloth that “encases the ragged, diseased plastic sewn underneath.” The whole piece (not seen here) is over six feet, the height of Good.


Michele Myers (1989-1998) by Melissa Weinsz

Myers has been Denison’s only female president and she is still highly admired on campus. Melissa says Myers had dual citizenship, the US and France, and was bilingual. Her presidency was about “the promotion of racial and ethnic diversity on campus.” There was some tension during her term, with students protesting both racial inequality on campus and questioning the tenure procedures. Myers focused on “cutting the discrimination and division” on campus and made greek life non-residential.


Dale Knobel (1998 – 2013) by Jasmine Hwang

Jasmine interviewed Knobel by phone. During the conversation, Knobel said he wanted the portrait to suggest “how he contributed to the diversity of the campus and the improvement of campus facilities.” In this sculpture, each piece has information about Knobel’s presidency. The pieces can be re-formed to create various architectural shapes.


Adam Weinberg (2013 – present) by Katie Smith

Because Weinberg is our current president, he doesn’t yet have a formal portrait in the President’s Room of the library. Katie spoke with Weinberg and he told her that “one of his most important goals for his presidency was to create a better sense of community and school spirit on Denison’s campus.” Because of this, Katie wanted his portrait to reflect the community. The mirrored part of the portrait is surrounded by chalk paint so viewers can add their own reflections to the work.