Monday, December 05, 2016

NYLA2016 : Wrap-up and Session on Recruiting School Library Students

SU alumna Hannah Ralston
SU Alumna Hannah Ralston
It has been a month since the New York Library Association (NYLA) Annual Conference and time has flown.  Time - finally - for me to write a wrap-up blog post.

At the Business Meeting, it was announced that the NYLA membership now exceeds 5000 people for the first time ever. This is an important milestone for this statewide organization.  It was also mentioned that the 2015 Annual Conference had 1,243 participants (library staff, trustees and supporters).  The final total for 2016 has not been announced, but is over 1000 people.  NYLA is oldest state library association with the distinction of holding the largest state library association conference held on the U.S. East Coast.

Future NYLA Annual Conferences will be held at: 
  • 2017: Saratoga Springs, November 8-11
  • 2018: Rochester, November 7-10
  • 2019: Saratoga Springs, November 13-16
  • 2020: Saratoga Springs, November 4-7
SU faculty and MSLIS students
There are seven library and information science programs in NYS and many hold receptions during the NYLA Conference.  The SU iSchool had 64 alumni, current students (13 total), and friends at it reception. While the number of people packed into the reception is impressive, more impressive is that alumni employers were able to talk with students and other alumni about their current job openings.  When employers can network with potential job seekers, that is powerful.  [Thanks to Smote for the photo to the right.]

Melissa Jacobs, Barbara Stripling and I led a session entitled "Recruit, Retain, Repeat", which focused on recruiting school media (school library) students. Sponsored by the NYLA Section of School Librarians  and the School Library System Association, the session was described as:
School librarians are creative, innovative, and brilliant trailblazers. They are also in danger of extinction. Enrollment in graduate programs has substantially declined over the last decade, but school library vacancies are abundant throughout NYS.  Join your peers for an active conversation to brainstorm how we can recruit and retain for the next generation. Learn about education opportunities, scholarships, and partnerships offered by the New York City School Library System and Syracuse University iSchool and share your success stories of recruiting and training highly effective school librarians. The goal of this interactive session is for all participants to have an engaging conversation on the future of school librarianship and reverse the risk of extinction.
We began by reviewing statewide statistics of the number of school media students and data collected by NYLA on the number of school media specialists currently working in schools.  We then reviewed information on the pathways to certification for a school media specialist.  Finally, we had those present brainstorm ideas that would help all of us recruit more people into this valuable and important area of librarianship.

Our session time went by quickly. While the notes from the brainstorming have been typed up, I haven't yet communicated then back out - as I said upfront, time flies.  However, a few of the ideas were:
  • Creating an easier pathway for teachers who want to become school librarians.
  • Providing library orientation for student teachers, which teaches them about career opportunities while also showing them resources available.
  • Exhibiting/presenting at teacher conferences e.g., NYSCATE).
  • Pushing back on legislation which is making it harder to recruit school librarians.
Barb, Melissa and I are planning to submit a proposal to do a follow-up session at NYLA next fall.  

Finally, NYLA remains one of my favorite conferences!  It is large enough to host a variety of sessions, yet small enough to not be overwhelming.  I find it a real plus that it returns regularly to Saratoga Springs.  Saratoga is easy for people to get to from all areas of NYS.  It is also a beautiful location with tons of good food and gems like an independent bookstore (Northshire).  NYLA attracts all types of librarians, including special librarians.  So if you're in NYS, please consider adding NYLA to your conference list.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

NYLA2016 : I STILL Don't Want to Talk About It

Woman with hand over her mouthOne of my favorite NYLA sessions continued to be "I STILL Don't Want to Talk About it".  This year the expert panel included Gerald Nichols, Lisa Rosenblum, and Mary Jean Jakubowski. Prior to the session, the panelists solicit problems from public libraries, which are then anonymized and used during the session.  They specifically seek out problems related to staff and patrons.  During the session, they used those problems to talk about solutions which often include advice on needed library policies.  It is always a fascinating and educational setting.  

While the problems used during the session are anonymized, they are also specific. And no notes would actually capture all of the information and nuances. So rather than publishing my notes, let me say these things:
  • Every library needs to have written policies which govern staff and patron activities and expectations.  
  • In the case of a public library, the library's board of trustees should be involved in creating those policies and assuring that they are implemented.
  • A public library should not just adopt the policies of its municipality.  Rather the policies should be specific to the library.
  • In some instances, a library director may also need to rely on legal counsel.  Every library should have legal counsel that it can contact/use.
  • Staff should understand the policies.  They should also know who to refer policy questions to.
  • Library directors need to be willing to enforce expectations and policies.

NYLA2016 : Marissa Richardson - I Got the Job! Now What?

PoppiesMarissa Richardson provided information on the decisions one needs to make after accepting a job offer and before starting that position, as well as a few for those first few months in the position.  She noted that 6.9 million people move for work each year, so you are not alone in this activity.
Some of the questions one needs to ask, should actually be asked before accepting the position:
  • Are the salary and benefits appropriate and will that salary work for you?  Use to look up salaries and see what you should be paid. Consider if you are willing to negotiate.
  • What is the cost of living for the place you're going to move to?  Use a cost of living calculator.  There is one at and there are others.  Be honest about what you can "live with" and what you can "live without."  What is truly important to you?  What are the things that support your lifestyle?
  • Do you need to account for a partner or family?  How will that impact the offer and the move?
  • Does your new employer offer a moving allowance?  If not, how will you get yourself and your stuff there?
  • Is the political climate in your prospective new home amenable to you? 
If you get to your new job and location, and are having a hard time adjusting, consider seeking support.  Check the National Alliance on Mental Illness web site for resources,

Overall Richardson asked us to consider our options and be open to new experiences.   She advocate for self-care along the way. Finally, she noted that if the new position is not what you expected, you should consider your options.  Rather than staying in a position that is not suited to you, you should consider it a stop on your journey and move on.

NYLA2016 : Elaine Lasda - Get Fancy With Your Library Data

Data Collection Scenario A
Data Collection Scenario A
Elaine Lasda, @ElaineLibrarian, Her slides will be available at

Some stakeholders respond better to data. In fact, many of our stakeholders respond well to data.   Data can tell us about our impact.  Anecdotes can play very well, too, with some people.

What is data?  Lots of things are and format can affect what you can do with it.

Elaine Lasda focused on quantitative data during the session, but wanted people to realize that data isn't always numbers.

What are the limitations to data?  
  • People can argue over the interpretation of the data.
  • It doesn't account for a person's gut (feelings).
Data can provide actionable insights.  (This is what we want.)

Data Collection is where it starts.
  • Remember garbage in, garbage out.
  • Was the data collected correctly?
  • Does the data fit the purpose?
Data collection scenario "A" (see image)
  • Need a clear definition of what you're looking for.
  • What is the best way of collecting the data?
  • Make sure that the data is collected accurately.
  • As much as possible, eliminate the possibility of errors in the data.
Data Cleaning: (See tools list below.)
  • Data cleaning can take up to 80% of your time.  While it is critically important, it is not "sexy."
  • This is putting the data into the format that you need and doing any normalizing.  
Data Cleaning Resources
Data Cleaning Resources
Data Analysis:
  • Going from data to information to knowledge to wisdom

Data Collection Scenario B
Data Collection Scenario B

Remember that correlation does not mean causation.

How do you get data from non-library users?  One person paired public library staff with board members who then went to different places on a Saturday to interview people.

Data Presentation:  With the chart and graphs, make sure the scale does not lead people astray in interpreting the information.

Top10 Worst Graphs in Science (web page)

Elaine suggests that people use free and low cost data tools.  She said that you don't always need  expensive tools.

Her library has use data analysis to improve workflow.


NYLA2016 : Dr. Daniel M. Russell - In the library of the future

Photo from NIH Library of Dr. Daniel Russell
Photo from NIH Library
Dr. Daniel Russell works for Google.  He is a Senior Research Scientist focused on Search Quality and User Happiness.  He describes himself as a cyber-tribal-techno-cognitive-anthropologist.  He is both a research scientist and a software engineer.  His web site is   His presentation is available here.  His presentation went quickly, so the notes below are incomplete, but may provide information that you might not glean from the slides themselves.  .

He said that we adapt the technology we're using for whatever we're trying to find at the time.  That technology changes the way we think and how we interact with information.

Learning to use the tools, for example:
  • Using google translate in a novel setting
  • Finding help on academic assignments 
What do we need to know about finding information in the Internet age?

Students use google to answer simple questions.  More difficult questions go to the reference desk.

The card catalogue was a static index.  Indexes now are more flexible because  they are digital.

Knowing cultural convention genres/media helps you define the questions.  

We need to be able to find tools that help us define the question, e.g., Metadata EXIF viewers.

He noted that people need executive skills which will keep them on task, and not get distracted.

As searchers, we need to know what is possible.

Google has public data for use at

  • The literacy of information
  • Knowing what the information is...
  • How to use and interact with the information 
  • Knowing how to use information in "hand to hand" combat

Finding text on a page is fundamental online reading skill.
  • Survey of 2225 US-English Internet users, 90.5% do not onion how to "find" on a page.
  • 51.1% of 545 US-English Internet using teachers do not know how to "find" on page.

Spoof sites, e.g., Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus.  Sadly students don't have enough life information to help them spot spoof sites.

We live in a time when extraordinary videos need extraordinary evidence.  We need to know if a video could be true.

Emoticons and abbreviations can get in the way of understanding the question or understanding the answer.

Google image search will allow you to upload an image and search using it.

We live in a world where content change, and can radically change quickly.

YouTube - every minute 200+ hours of video are uploaded.  3 billion videos are watched each day.  70% of the traffic is international.

1.8 papers are published in ~28,000 journals.  What percentage are vampire journals?

Where are you supposed to learn these literacy skills?

The underlying information space is growing. More answers are available.

The creation of time lapse videos made by taking many photos of the same location,   The photos are sorted by time before the video is made. Assembling the collocation on content.

Question everything and be curious.  Do one more search!  Many things are trivial to look them up, so do look them up!

We need to learning how to ask questions.  It has always been a skills.  Now it's a critical skill. 

Dig into who owns a web site. Check the address.  Who else uses that address?

There is a web site that allows you to clone an article and then alter the article.

We have vastly more content, but what is its quality?

Basic skills include:
  • Learn how to ask the right questions.
  • Know what tools are available.
  • Understand space of information available
  • Can search effectively
  • Can understand how to interpret the results
How to become informate:
  • Take a class...continue to learn more
  • Become more aware
  • Subscribe to 
  • Understand
  • Play a serious game 
  • Teach a class
He has an a class online, Power Searching with Google.  Check his web site for other resources.   The site also contains a link to his blog.

Dr. Russell's contact info