Thursday, June 23, 2016

SLA2016: Wrap-up

Conference ribbonsIt has been over a week since the 2016 SLA Annual Conference came to a close.  Now with the conference in my rear view mirror, let me talk about a few more sessions and other things of note.

Creating a Big Tent

Attendance at the SLA Annual Conference has shifted over the years, in terms of how many people and what type of libraries/organizations they are from.  It has always been a "big tent", meaning that many people could look at SLA and see it as a conference they needed to attend.  SLA is continuing to work to ensure that it remains a big tent.

To ensure a big tent, SLA has decided to move its 2018 conference from North Carolina (NC) to someplace else, because of the HB2 legislation.  HB2 makes NC unwelcoming for transgender individuals.  Libraries are considered safe spaces and librarians are frequently people who act with a social conscience.  In moving the 2018 conference, SLA is acting with a social conscience.  Not every SLA member agrees with moving the conference, but it seems like the vast majority do, myself included.  I want SLA to be a safe place for everyone, no matter the person's religion, ethnicity, or gender identity.

Now, NC could repeal HB2 before SLA moves the conference. That's a possibility.  It is also a possibility that the 2018 conference will be scheduled for someplace else and then NC will change the law.  In that second scenario, our voices will have been added to many others to get that change made and that would be a good thing.  And while the 2018 conference would be someplace else, it also means the way would be paved for us to schedule a future conference there. 

Knowing What You Learned

When I first began attending the SLA Annual Conference in the 1990s, I would go to as many sessions as humanly possible.  I would soak in a dizzying array of information, frequently focused on what related to my corporate librarian position.  My goal was to hear and be able to apply it. My goal is still the same, although I go to fewer sessions now.  I balance sessions, conversations, and exhibitors knowing that sometimes the most worthwhile activity is talking to someone and gaining from their knowledge.  Now as then, what is important after the conference is knowing what I have learned.

At one point in her keynote, Erika Andersen said, (paraphrasing) "...if you're going to remember anything from this talk remember this...."  While she was willing to point something out, we all need to get in the habit - or maintain the habit - of pointing out those key learnings for ourselves.

If you were there, what did you learn?  If you were following the conference through social media and blogs, what did you learn that you want to remember or implement?  And is there something you want to pass along to someone else?  From my posts, I hope you can tell what I learned!

Digital Copyright: What You Need to Know as Information Professionals

Philadelphia #sla2016
Hurst-Wahl, Kenneally, and Lanza
I want to note two sessions that I was involved in.

The Government Information Division held its annual business meeting on Sunday, which then led to a panel discussion on " Digital Copyright: What You Need to Know as Information Professionals."  Christopher Kenneally (Copyright Clearance Center's Beyond the Book),  Emily Lanza (U.S. Copyright Office) and I spent over an hour talking about copyright and fielding questions. 

While it was impossible to talk and take notes at the same time, I do want to point out one thing.  The Copyright Office is seeking input on Section 108.  They have put out this notice, Section 108: Draft Revision of the Library and Archives Exceptions in U.S. Copyright Law.  This is a very readable document and so I encourage you to dig into it.  If you would like to meet with the Copyright Office in order to provide input, you need to contact the Office by July 7, 2016 in order to get that meeting scheduled.  Meetings will be held throughout the month of July.

Thanks to Wolter Kluwer for sponsoring this session. 

Helping the Help Desk

Dorothea Salo arranged a session entitled "Helping the Help Desk" for the IT DivisionKendra Levine and I volunteered to help Dorothea with the session. When Dorothea's flight was cancelled, Kendra and I took over.  We worked with the participants to brainstorm IT topics where they wanted help, and then we worked through the topics (all in one hour) to try to find resolutions.  This was a lively, worthwhile session!  We're librarians and we like helping people - especially other LIS professionals - which helped this session be a success.

By the way, my suspicion is that the IT Division newsletter might have a wrap-up of this session in the near future.

Thanks to Reprints Desk for sponsoring this session.

My Posts From the Conference
Number 25

View towards Pike Place Market from Convention Center
View from Seattle Convention Ctr.
This was my 25th consecutive SLA Annual Conference. There was a time when I could list the conference locations in order. While I can't do that anymore, I can tell you all of the places they've been held since 1992: Philadelphia (3 times), Seattle (2 times), Boston (2 times), Montreal, Toronto, New York City, Baltimore, Washington DC, Atlanta, Cincinnati, New Orleans, Nashville, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Chicago, San Antonio, Denver, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Vancouver. You'll notice a few repeats in that list and perhaps some overall patterns. First, while SLA is an international association, most members historically have been in North America and more east of the Mississippi than elsewhere. (Although perhaps that is changing.) Thus in 25 years, we've had only six conferences on the west coast. The only non-U.S. country to hold an annual conference has been Canada (3 times).

Since 1992, the Association has held conferences in "smaller" cities - e.g., Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Minneapolis - with I believe mixed results. If you are attracted to a conference both by its content and its location, some cities may not be as attractive, especially if you perceive that traveling there will be a hassle. However, I can tell you that even a smaller city has things to do and food to eat! For me, being able to tour the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was a plus!

What I've found over 25 years is that no matter the location, the conference is worthwhile.  And if you're looking to vacation for a few days before/after, every location has something to see or do.  There are historic places, museums, etc. to attract your attention.  If you are willing to rent a car, there is even more!  I encourage you to not eliminate a conference because of its location.  Yes, really.

And After the Conference...

Top of the NiMo BuildingOnce back in Syracuse, I had the pleasure of hosting Paul Signorelli, as west coast colleague, who was in NYS for the New Media Consortium Summer Conference.  What I learned from Paul is that there is an augmented virtual reality game called Ingress, which uses real-life/physical cities, buildings and public art as its battlefield.  While this may not sound interesting to you, I'll tell you what stood out to me.  There are people walking around our cities and campus who are playing this game.  The game is leading them on adventures, which means they are seeing our surroundings from a different point of view (e.g., noticing details that we walk by) and doing to maybe at odd hours.  Paul and I walked around downtown Syracuse Friday night to "tag" buildings in the game, because you have to be pretty close to the actual structure to tag it (or capture it or defend it).

If people are walking around your city or neighborhood as they play Ingress, what are they noticing?  What is your neighborhood "saying" to them in terms of architecture, signage, etc.?  Is your library building "speaking" things that will encourage the person to come back when it is open?

Oh, and if you think the game is played only in well-kept areas, you would be wrong.  Someone may have mapped out an interesting adventure someplace that is a little down-and-out but still has buildings, architecture or art worth being a part of the game.

Finally...

Let me note that the SLA 2017 conference will be Phoenix, AZ.  I've been told that the lack of humidity will make the temperature more bearable.  You up for it?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

SLA2016 : I Reserve the Right to Change

Revolving globe in Heroy HallJosh Shear and Kelvin Ringold have started a new podcast series to muse on "better humanhood and dominating your world."  As I listened to episode 1 - entitled "I Reserve the Right to Change" (36 min.) - I thought of SLA and the changes that have occurred over the last several years with the association and those changes which are continuing.  We all tend to say that change is constant.  We might even say - in some situations - that change is necessary.  We frequently acknowledge that change is difficult.  However, do we give each other permission to make those necessary, difficult changes?

In the podcast, Josh talks about the changes that have occurred in his life as a musician and poet.  He acknowledges that those changes affected who he hung out with.  For example, when he no longer performed poetry, there were people whom he no longer saw.  He had given himself permission to change and was willing to live with the consequences.

As an SLA member since 1990 and a former member of the SLA Board of Directors (2011-2013), I had given SLA permission to change. Why was change needed?  The a difficult financial situation for the Association, coupled with the recession, and an inability for the Association to meet member needs provided the backdrop.  In 2010, I wrote that SLA has a staff of 20 and approximately 9,700 Association members. However a trend had started where more people discontinued their SLA membership than became new members.  Minutes of the December 2015 Board meeting report 6,586 members.  Minutes in early 2016 noted that membership had continued to decrease.  Fewer members and fewer people attending the Annual Conference meant less income which translated into having fewer people on staff and fewer services provided.

Now positive changes have occurred and occurred rapidly.  This year (2016), we have hired as association management company (AMC) named MCI USA. We did this because now the Association pays for the services needed/used, which is more efficient and financially prudent.  With MCI, we hired a new executive director (Amy Lestition Burke, MA, CAE). We also sold our building, which had become a weight rather than a real asset.  Selling the building has given the Association funds that can be put in a reserve and puts the Association financially back in the black.

The changes over the last several years have been difficult on everyone and especially on those who had not yet given SLA permission to change. My hope is that now that SLA has a better financial outlook, new staff focused on improving how SLA services its members, and a successful 2016 Annual Conference - new exhibitors/vendors/partners and a good group of first time attendees - that everyone who has called SLA home (or family) will give it permission to change.  Allows SLA to change and recognize that change is necessary and - yes - painful. Without change, growth cannot occur and, yes, SLA is now poised to grow again. What a positive change that will be!

Finally, at the conference, we were reminded that we are many chapters, divisions and caucuses within ONE association. One SLA.  One healthy SLA.  Let's give the Association the right to continue to change and to become THE association for innovative information professionals - information professionals and special librarians - and our strategic partners.  Let's each contribute our talents to ensure that SLA provides the professional development, networking and advocacy that helps all of us.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

SLA2016 : SLA Annual Business Meeting

Independence Hall
On stage were:
  • Tom Rink, president 
  • Jill Strand, past president
  • Dee Magnoni, president elect
  • James King, secretary
  • Nick Collison, treasurer
  • Amy Burke, executive director
Rink notes that this meeting is not about looking back, but rather looking forward.  He mentioned several of the changes that have occurred, which are propelling us forward.

Nick Collison and Amy Burke - the annual financial report

  • Nick thanked staff and John DiGilio, our former treasurer, and his team for the groundwork they did.
  • We are "one SLA."
  • Total 2015 assets, $7.2 million
  • Total 2015 liabilities, $2.2 million
  • Total 2015 net assets, $4.9 million
James King - SLA Connect
  • All SLA members have been added to this global community.
  • This replaces our email lists and our wiki. 
  • This is a collaborative community with more functionality.
  • The SLA email lists will conclude on July 1, 2016.
  • Wiki will conclude on August 1, 2016.
  • There are some cleanup activities that need to occur before that happens.
  • We now have a single sign-on!
  • You can customize your profile and jump into the discussions.
  • This will make it easier to talk and share across the association.
  • King notes a long list of future ideas for SLA Connect including mentor match, enhanced archive functionality, event registration and membership histories.
Dee Magnoni and Amy Burke - Mapping the Future 

Key priority areas: 
  • Engagement
  • Knowledge
  • Partnerships 
  • Success
Goal - infrastructure and operations
  • SLA manages all finance, accounting and budgeting functions according to the highest professional standards
  • SLA has in place appropriate information technology to support association fictions
  • SLA employs clear and consistent communication practices.
Goal - organizational structure - include 
  • Divisions reflect industry standards trends
  • Chapters where feasible provide networking and professional development
Goal - learning tools and resources
  • Updated competencies adopted in April 2016
  • Learning context created throughout the organization
  • Stakeholders and constituents work collaboratively to address the range of learning objectives
Q&A/Comments:
  • Do a webinar with the same information.  This session is being recorded!
  • How many people were at the conference? How many paid attendees?  Could a preliminary number be given at the start of the conference?  ~2500 total with ~600 who were exhibitors (industry partners)
  • There was a question about liabilities and how they calculate on financials given.
  • There was a public note of thanks and a feeling of positiveness.
  • Recommendation - ask functional descriptions to the staff directory.  Burke notes that the web site is going to enhanced with more information on the staff and the Board.  
  • Recommendation - do a better job of being hospitable to the exhibitors.  Let me know what they schedule is.  Burke noted that she and others recognize how important our industry partners are, and they will be working to provide more information to them going forward.
  • Will working with vendor partners change for chapters and divisions?  No decisions have been made in that regard.
  • Yes, revenue exceeded expenses.
  • The building sold for ~$4 million.  ~$3 million net (after paying some of our debts).  A new investment has been hired and a new investment policy will be created, including how to access those reserves.  The intent is to use the money to enhance SLA.
  • Yes, the financial information will be shared on the SLA web site after the numbers are final fro mother auditors.
  • There was a lot of energy in the conference this year.
  • Are we benchmarking against other organizations?  Can we learn from other organizations?  MCI manages 25 associations in the U.S. and many others worldwide.  We benefit from what MCI is doing with other clients.  Other association conferences are growing.  We should grow too.
  • Will unit content be openly shared across units?  Would that weaken the units? Each unit automatically has two communities - one for the board and one for members. In terms of sharing,    there is more thinking to be done.
  • What controls and constraints will be put in place so we don't occur that type of debt again?  We need to run like a business.  We need to create and follow our budgets.  We need to report bad news quickly and make adjustments.  We need to be good financials stewards.
  • What alternative revenue streams might we create?  A past board looked into that.  Burke said that she is stil reading past documents.
  • There is a pooled resources initiative.  
  • How can industry partners engage with us, if they are not members and are not on SLA Connect?
  • Comment about the room rate in Phoenix being higher than the per diem rate.
  • Scholarships for MSLIS students have not been given out for a number of years.  Will we be re-implementing that again in the future?  Something that we could look into.
  • Engage MSLIS programs to use the SLA competencies.
  • More positives about out association management company.


Updated: 06/17/2016

SLA2016 : Marilyn Johnson, keynote, and comments from the 2017 conference chair

Tom Rink asked that we consider SLA our sandbox, where we can learn and experiment.

Marilyn Johnson is the author of several books including This Book is Overdue!
  • Since 2006, she has been talking to, learning from, and writing about librarians and libraries.
  • What led her to write about librarians was speaking at library conferences about her book on obituary writers.
  • Librarians have greatly influenced how she works and the tools she uses.
  • What makes us  great are those things we do naturally.  Most people aren't like this. Some people think that what we so is magic.
  • Librarians are examples of organization and access to those in the world around them.
  • Librarians have proved tips and tools for her over the years.
  • Even though she has two degrees, she often doesn't know how to ask what she needs to know.
  • Librarians lead by identifying needy populations and services them.
  • Johnson provided examples of librarians who have worked specifically with writers.
Brandy King, the 2017 conference chair, provided a peek into the Phoenix conference.
  • We're a stronger association.
  • The standards are being raised for next year's conference.
  • A general session each day.
  • Several conference steams with 5-8 programs at different levels.
  • Conference sessions will be mapped to the SLA competencies.
  • Lower hotel costs in Phoenix.
  • Lots of direct flights.
  • She thanked the staff for making the job of the program planners easier.


Updated: 06/17/2016

SLA2016 : Ethnographic Research Methods

Lighted Building in Philly
Michael Khoo:
Ethnography in the Academy
  • Ethnography as a method, which can be used to answer questions in different disciplines.
  • Methods
    • Qualitative / quantitative
    • Setting
    • Length/type of observation - multiple observations
    • Resource limitations
    • Theoretical approach
  • His method is an interpretative approach based on Clifford Geertz
    • You can't understand what people do until you see them do it in context
    • Lots of data gathering methods
      • Surveys
      • Interviews
      • Focus groups
      • Observation
      • Field notes
      • Audio/video recording
      • Material artifacts
      • ...and more...
    • Action research approach to generate both practical and theoretical outcomes
  • The researcher is an instrument. The research absorbs data by being there and can begin to analyze it.
  • Distinction between emic and etic perspectives
    • The subject's perspective versus the researcher's perspective 
    • Inside versus outside perspective
  • Case study
    • He is doing a project with the Drexel Library
    • Doing data gathering
      • Seating instrument 
      • Annotated map - asked students to mark where they like to sit and why
      • Surveys
      • Using this data they created heat maps
    • Interesting that "full" might be that seats at a table might be 50% occupied.  Students aren't going to sit at a table that they perceive as being full.
Carolyn Marconi:
Ethnographic Research as a Tool for Marketers
  • May not be as academically rigorous 
  • What is ethnology?
    • To the social scientist - the systemic study of people and culture
    • To a market researcher - A type of qualitative research conducted "in the field"
  • Examples of qualitative research methods
    • Interviewer led
      • Focus groups
      • In depth interviews
      • Telephone interviews
      • Online bulletin boards
    • Respondent led
      • "Ethnographies" 
        • Typically conducted one on one or tribes
        • Observational, but usually combines with questions/probes
        • Usually includes photos and/or video
  • Marketers want to talk to consumers in their native habitat
  • The use of ethnographic research is on the rise in corporations, enabled by technology
    • Self-ethnography
    • New York Times article "What do consumers want? Look at their selfies" - the app is "pay as your selfie" where you take a selfie doing specific tasks and you get paid.
  • Why do ethnographies?
    • What do people say they do?
    • What do people actually do? We sometimes don't know what we do.
    • Why do people do what they do?  What are the drivers?
  • Case studies
    • Diabetes
      • People who are using an insulin pump
      • Understand the impact of using an insulin pump among people with diabetes
        • 30 interviews
        • 2 hours each
        • 3 cities
        • Videotapes
        • Photos
        • A team of people/researchers
      • Understand the lived experience
      • Allow people to talk about delicate topics
      • Unexpected learnings 
    • Lip balm
      • Explore unmet consumer needs in the lip balm category
        • 30 female lip balm "heavy users"
        • Three day bulletin board focus groups 
        • Conducted online
        • Respondents made a short video shine which lip balm products they currently have on hand and where they store them (using a smart phone)
      • Many women said they were addicted to lip balm 
    • Breakfast
      • Uncover drivers of purchasing and serving frozen waffles among households with children
      • An immersion experience for members of the client marketing team as part of a two day brainstorming session
      • Method
        • In-home interviews among six families
        • Two consecutive mornings
        • Conducted in the home
        • 60-90 minutes each day
        • Videotaped
        • Photos taken by the moderator
      • How was breakfast organized?
      • Who made the breakfast?
  • It is one tool.  Not the only tool. 
Robert Harington
Ethnology: A Scientist Discovers the Value of the Social Sciences 
  • American Mathematical Society
  • Research on the the product MathSciNet
  • Methods
    • Interviews students, instructors, faculty
    • Across universities
    • Audio recorded
      • Transcribed, created excerpts, coded
      • Used web software called dedoose, dedoose.com
  • Findings - preliminary
    • Current awareness
      • Increased volume of literature over time
      • Mathematicians use online resources to set their work in a broader context
      • Monitoring of activity of other researchers in their field
      • Uncertainty about how to stay current
      • ArXiv is an essential awareness tool
      • Google and Google Scholar also common starting points
      • If you know about MathiSciNet, then it is a common starting point
    • Searching for a specific paper 
      • Theme of integrated resources came up
      • Networking - the erosnal touch remained important
    • Searching in an unfamiliar area
      • Google's ability to gather diverse materials useful for a broad search
      • Mathematicians are keeping relevant pages in Wikipeida up to date.  A useful resource.
      • MathSciNet is good for narrower and deeper searches 
    • General online searching and strategies
    • General observations
    • Make be making search to difficult
    • Need more integration
    • MathSciNet is not indexed by Google.



Updated: 06/17/2016