Bringing Archival Reference into the 21st Century: Meeting the Needs of a New Generation of Patrons

17 Oct

In honor of passing my comps four years ago I give you, my comps paper.      

 

October 16, 2012

 

Popular culture helped to create and broadcast the stereotype of the Dusty Archivist for many years (Cox, 2006). When the word archivist is mentioned most imagine a spectacled old lady with her greyed hair in a bun to come and assist in riffling through musty mothball eaten boxes in a dimly lit basement room. However Archivists are breaking free of these stereotypes by bringing the archives into the 21st century. They are discovering new and inventive ways to meet the needs of the Digital Generation.

        The reference archivist has the rousing task of identifying the patron’s reference needs while incorporating or adapting existing technologies to help meet and ideally exceed the user’s needs. These tasks include creating new ways of accessing materials, maintaining preservation standards, and searching for novel ways to market the archive to a wider audience. These tasks become more challenging as patrons increasingly expect the archive to be available in complete digital format and available online.

Students who are just now entering college have never known a world without the internet, have always had a way to download music for free online, and have no memory of a time when Facebook and Myspace didn’t exist (Beloit College, 2012). They have the mentality that if it doesn’t exist online then it just doesn’t exist. Patrons are demanding interactive and searchable content they can access at any time of the day from any location they choose and they want to be able to collect and manage all of this information in a clean, meaningful, and intelligible format. Creating such a space while maintaining provenance and privacy is well within the scope and abilities of current reference archivists.

The issue of access is not a new one, reference archivists have always tried to seek out methods that would allow archival patrons substantial freedom and greater accuracy in finding and retrieving materials. Card catalogs, finding aids, prepared guides, indexes, and inventories are all tools that have been developed to assist patrons in finding what they are looking for (Chalon, 1982, p. 260). But the drawback to these aids, paper or digital, is that they are generally nothing more than static lists. They are not searchable or interactive, and in some cases patrons have reported that they are not very useful in finding specific materials either but “that such records can only communicate that relevant materials exists, not its quantity or quality” (Cohen, 1997, p. 15).

        The most prevalent complaint observed from reference archivists in the literature was their opposition to having to use outdated finding aids (Perry, 2011, p.320; McCausland, 2011, p. 314). Many of the finding aids were compiled years prior and due to various reasons have since been labeled inadequate. However, the finding aids are either begrudgingly used or abandoned altogether but still they manage to remain as the most effective tool for accessing records for serious research.

It was previously thought that patrons were satisfied with the discovery of one worthy source among stacks of discarded manuscripts no matter how time consuming the search may have been. Yet recent literature suggests otherwise stating that, “archives are underutilized by scholars because of the time consuming nature of the research” (Beattie, 1997, p. 86). This implies that if finding aids and guides were more accessible and logically organized then the archives would garner more researchers as well as equip reference archivists with better tools they could use to answer reference inquiries.

        There is no simple answer that would solve the access conundrum, but if patrons are demanding online access, search capabilities, and functionality then as Librarians we should give it to them. The reference archivist’s first step in increasing access and satisfying patron needs should be to consider creating a dedicated website or webpage for the archive. As Pugh (2005) noted, “[t]he archival system is no longer predicated on interaction between the user and archivist. Researchers can directly access finding aids and increasingly locate documents online” (p. 3).

Many patrons have converted to researching primarily online and are becoming more comfortable interacting with search engines and webpages than they are with people. Being able to compare and contrast globally available resources while sitting at the computer has become commonplace. “Computing is not about computing anymore it is about living… [computers have moved] into our laps and pockets” (Ruller, 1997, p. 196) so instead of fighting the inevitable change and lamenting that patrons no longer have the patience or research skills to come to the archive for materials, reference archivists should embrace new technologies and find ways to make it work for them. In fact, Pugh (2005) references that it is more important now than ever to seek out and try to understand the archive’s primary users and begin to acknowledge and adapt to their information needs as well as observe their research habits, because archivists should prepare to evolve in order to retain the attention and interests of a new breed of patron (p. 4). Conversely, Laura Cohen (1997) advises against trying to predict what future patrons will want or need, saying that “trying to do so and creating services geared to them takes time and resources away from other functions” (p. 12).

        Websites and social media are tools most patrons are familiar with using in their personal or professional life. Incorporating both into the archive has the aforementioned potential to better meet the diverse needs of current patrons while simultaneously acquiring new users. Content management systems such as Joomla! and Drupal are popular choices for libraries looking to create a website for several reasons: they are open source, allow for a great deal of customization, and are as easy to understand and operate as Microsoft Word. These platforms allow the reference archivist to create a website where they can import finding aids, use diverse metadata, as well as host a discussion forum or blog. The forum would give patrons a place in which they could interact with the reference archivist as well as other patrons. They would be able to ask and answer questions in addition to looking up frequently asked information, and it has the potential to decrease the time reference archivists spend on ready reference queries thereby leaving more time to spend on the more time intensive research questions.

For instance the San Francisco Public History Center in conjunction with the San Francisco Public Library Book Arts and Special Collections Department created a blog where they write and post images taken from items in their collection. Images include historical driver’s licenses, pages from rare books, vintage postcards, and a number of other artifacts they collect which would interest their audience. In their blog post titled, “Happy Birthday, Mr. Tuer,” the author details a book that was published in 1884 by Andrew W. Tuer which is held in their collection (Special Collections Librarian, 2009). The content of the blog post is eye catching and engaging as it incorporates some of the humor and images from the book being discussed, however the real interest is in the comments section. The second comment was posted by Andrew M. Tuer who wrote, “My name is also Andrew Tuer, I wonder if I am related to him.” (Tuer, 2010). The Special Collections Librarian replied to this comment and offered several resources that the commenter could use to start his genealogical search including biographical information, obituaries, and books on conducting personal genealogical research. The Librarian also wrote that the “San Francisco Public Library owns these and many other books to help you with genealogical research. Ask your librarian for help” (Special Collections Librarian, 2010). This example demonstrates how creating an open forum in which patrons can search and discover material at their leisure could lead to additional patrons even if they are “hobbyists”.

While blogs and discussion forums are appropriate for patrons looking to network or who have questions in the ready reference purview, a website provides the reference archivist with a trusted and professional presence on the web. A website can incorporate the positive aspects of finding aids with the simplicity of keyword searching and the benefits of hyperlinking content to supplementary information (Piché, 1998, p.108). Simplifying access to information across institutions can help create invaluable networks for not only the patron but for the reference archivist as well.  

With the increasing simplification of accessing archival content, privacy and security become concerns. Most institutions have at least one collection that has restrictions placed on it which limits access to patrons. Collections that carry restrictions should still have a presence on the website although in order to uphold the privacy request of the donor the reference archivist should notate in the collection’s description that there are restrictions in addition to notating how an interested patron can request access for research. For example, the collection description for the University of Central Florida’s Harrison “Buzz” Price Papers contains the statement that “[s]ome materials are restricted per the donor’s wishes but researchers may petition the donor’s family for access” (Harrison “Buzz” Price papers, 2011, para. 1). It would certainly behoove the reference archivists to incorporate any and all collection restrictions on the collection’s webpage in order to alleviate potential confusion or acrimonious feelings between the reference archivists and the patrons. Another annotation that would benefit the patron and archivist alike would be to include the collection’s processing progress which would inform the patron that there are sections of the collection that are unprocessed or are currently unavailable.

By creating a website for an archive that incorporates collection metadata, key words, hyperlinks, and crucial information regarding the collection, the reference archivist is meeting and very possibly exceeding the patron’s needs.  Although the creation and implementation of a new website is initially time consuming, the maintenance and subsequent collection additions should be quicker and more content rich. By providing access to a majority of the collections in a digital format, the time required to look up a reference question should decrease thus allowing more time to explore more pressing or intensive reference questions.

Another feature that the reference archivists could implement on their website is a secure login feature. When using content management systems like Joomla! and Drupal enabling a secure login feature on the website is straight forward and easy enough that it can be done with little to no experience. Creating a secure login is as simple as installing free Joomla! plugins or choosing the correct Drupal settings, and if in doubt both products offer free access to assistance through downloadable content, wiki pages, and forums (Drupal, 2004; Joomla!, 2012). Enabling this security feature would allow patrons to choose if they would like to register with the website. Opting to be a registered user would give the patron a profile page where they would be able to do such things as creating a personal reference collection through bookmarks, participate in private forums, receive the Archives’ newsletter, vote on themes for upcoming exhibits, or any number of things: the options are practically limitless. An interactive website like what is detailed above would potentially attract a greater number of users as well as creating a solid foundation for present and future reference archivists to build upon and strengthen as patron needs continue to change.

A prime example of how a website and a discussion forum can come together to create a unique and rewarding user experience is the Polar Bear Expedition website  from the archives at the University of Michigan (Yakel, Shaw, & Reynolds, 2007, p. 1). The archival group at this institution was aiming to “move beyond simply searching and browsing online finding aids and experiment with shared authority and collaboration” (Yakel, Shaw, & Reynolds, 2007, p. 2). And they did by creating a digital space where patrons would be able to readily access materials from one of the institutions most popular collections. They also created findings aids are have the option to annotate digitally on which helps maintain a visual cue on what information others found important (Yakel, Shaw, & Reynolds, 2007, p. 5). The group collaborated on a discussion forum as well where patrons and librarians could interact with each other at their leisure in addition to allowing the patrons to freely discuss the collection in a moderated atmosphere in hopes that it would “encourage…more user-to-user interaction in the future” (Yakel, Shaw, & Reynolds, 2007, p. 6).

She found that most patrons enjoyed registering for an account on the website and maintaining a ‘private’ collection bookmarked pages and digital materials. She was able to transfer the finding aids that were created by one of her predecessors to the website while still maintaining the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) data. She and her team then moved on to updating the new digital finding aids, creating better metadata tags, and organizing the website contents to best maintain the original provenance. Although this project was time and labor intensive, it was appreciated by the patrons who were now able to remotely access a good portion of the collection. The reference archivist still receives questions pertaining to the collection but they are generally the more difficult questions that patrons are not able to uncover using the website alone. The Polar Bear Expedition website set a commendable precedent for reference archivists. The archivist observed an area that could be improved upon to better meet her patron’s needs and she created a solution that satisfied her users and in return made the collection more successful and accessible.

Creating a remotely accessible digital collection for patrons will not make reference archivists obsolete. On the contrary, the reference archivist will have the same role they have always had but will be better equipped to answer the challenging reference queries in a timely fashion. The archivist, if asked a simple or ready reference style question, will be able to steer the patron to a forum or webpage where their question was answered previously elaborating further if needed.

As briefly mentioned above, patrons tend to ask the same or similar reference questions year after year, and instead of creating more prepared guides (Chalon, 1982, p.260) as has been done previously the reference archivist could instead implement a frequently asked questions or FAQ page on the website. This way when the patron searches the website for a simple question their query will return appropriate results thus answering their question.

There is at least one service that digital media have yet to conquer, the personal reference interview which is considered by McCausland the “cornerstone of archival reference work” (2011, p. 312). Archival Reference and Library Reference interviews differ in that typically “archival reference questions can be time intensive” (Perry, 2011, p. 319). A large backlog in the archive department has become a common vexation for many institutions. Effectuated by time intensive reference questions, budget cuts, and inadequate staffing, some archive directors are allocating reference archivists a mere 60 minutes to research and answer each remote reference question (Duff & Fox, 2006, p. 145). This imposed “solution” to the backlog issue does not help the reference archivist fulfill the patron’s needs; rather it creates and fosters feelings of animosity towards the reference archivists and the archives as a whole.

To create further contention, when patrons submit requests to use collections for research they have certain expectations of what the experience will be like. Some expect to receive the answers to ‘who, what, where, when, why, and how’ were the records created and arranged. Some expect the archivist to be an expert in every topic at hand, and are therefore sorely disappointed when they learn that reference archivists are not but they should be utilized nonetheless. For instance, if the patron is in need of a fresh perspective on the subject, or when attempting to consult finding aids and collection guides. For patrons these misunderstandings can directly affect not only their attitude towards archives but it can also have a negative effect on their research. Reference archivists should make it known at the outset that although they are not experts on the content of the collection that they are in fact career researchers who can assist them with figuring out not only which questions should be asked but how to ask them.

        To alleviate some stress, archivists such as Chalon (1982) suggest taking the time to conduct a thorough reference interview (p. 259) which will not only save time in the long run, but helps to prevent frustration if records are offered that do not meet the researchers needs. To decipher what the patron is looking for the reference archivist must ask leading questions to determine the scope and/or depth of a given topic in addition to giving suggestions where warranted (Chalon, 1982, p. 259). In order to best meet the patron’s needs the reference archivist should be comfortable with methods used to obtain information as well as have a good working knowledge of the collections that are housed in their institution as their patrons generally, and erroneously, assume the reference archivist is an expert in the content of the collections (Chalon, 1982, p. 260; Duff & Fox, 2006, p.143). However would be a fair assumption that the reference archivist is capable of assisting the patron in locating materials within the collection that are relevant to their query.

        As stated earlier, there were patrons who felt that their reference queries ranked as less important overall than the preservation of the archival records to reference archivists. Even though preservation of materials is the archivist’s initial concern it “means only that they must come before, not that they are more important than [emphasis added], the secondary duties to make them available” (Eastwood, 1997, p. 29; Trace & Ovalle, 2011, p. 77). Essentially, access and reference services are equally important as preserving collected material as one cannot exist without the other. Even though the documentation and preservation of past events is essential to the archivist’s primary role, Pugh (2005) reminds us that “[a]rchives that see their main task in preserving the past for the future become invisible in the present, when support for creating an own memory is needed” (p. 105). However problems may arise when patrons need to access materials which are exceedingly fragile or valuable. Generally a digital copy of the material will satisfy the patron, however there are some cases where only the use of the original material will suffice. Frequent use of fragile materials is detrimental to the integrity of the item; in this case it may be digitized and safely stored for future reference or labeled as limited use. In cases of limited use the reference archivist with the help of the archivist must determine if the original material is in fact needed for research or if the patron is just curious to see an old artifact.

        Reference archivists have quite a road ahead of them. Technology is already working on greatly changing the archive. We digitize content to make available in mass quantities, we code key terms into our data so that future archivists can access the content, and we are more social than we have ever been before. The future will reveal what tools we hang on to and which ones we abandoned. It will be exciting and interesting to incorporate tools such as social media, selling archival themed mementoes, and teaching courses from within the archive.

 

References

Beloit College. (2012). The mindset list for the class of 2016. Retrieved from http://www.beloit.edu/mindset/2016/

Chalon, G. (1982). Reference. In M. F. Daniels & T. Walch (Eds.), A modern archives reader. (255-278). Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Service, U.S. General Services Administration.

Cox, R. (2006, November 26). What should the fictional archivist look like? [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://readingarchives.blogspot.com/2006/11/what-should-fictional-archivist-look.html

Drupal. (2004, November 20). Retrieved October 14, 2012, from http://drupal.org/node/13231

Duff, W. & Fox, A. (2006). ‘You’re a guide rather than an expert’: Archival reference from an archivist’s point of view. Journal of the Society of Archivists, 27(2), 129-153. Doi: 10.1080/00379810601075943

Eastwood, T. (1997). Public Services Education for Archivists. The Reference Librarian, 26(56), 27-38.

Harrison “Buzz” Price papers. (2011, December 6). Retrieved October 15, 2012, from http://library.ucf.edu/SpecialCollections/Collections/ManuscriptsPrice.php

Joomla!. (2012, May 19). Protect logged in user [Web forum]. Retrieved from http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/access-a-security/site-security/login-protection

McCausland, S. (2011). A future without mediation? Online access, archivists, and the future of archival research. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 42(4), 309-319.

Perry, M. (2011). A reference librarian in special collections: Making the most of a learning opportunity. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(4), 319-321.

Piché, J. (1998). Doing what’s possible with what we’ve got: Using the world wide web to integrate archival functions. The American Archivist, 61(1), 106-122.

Pugh, M. J. (2005). Providing reference services for archives and manuscripts. Chicago, IL: Society of American Archivists.

Special Collections Librarian. (2009, December 24). Happy birthday, Mr. Tuer. [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://sfhcbasc.blogspot.com/2009/12/happy-birthday-mr-tuer.html

Special Collections Librarian. (2010, March 5). Re: Dear Andrew M. Tuer: You can start your research to find out if there is a family connection with Andrew W. Tuer [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://sfhcbasc.blogspot.com/2009/12/happy-birthday-mr-tuer.html

Tuer, A. M. (2010, February 25). Re: My name is also Andrew Tuer [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://sfhcbasc.blogspot.com/2009/12/happy-birthday-mr-tuer.html

Trace, C. B. & Ovalle, C. J. (2011). Archival reference and access: Syllabi and a snapshot of the archival canon. The Reference Librarian, 53, 76-94. doi: 10.1080/02763877.2011.596364

Yakel, E., Shaw, S., & Reynods, P. (2007). Creating the next generation of archival finding aids. D-Lib Magazine, 13(5/6)1-8.

 

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How my mom fueled my love of libraries

24 Jan

As I get closer to my due date (34 days left! Holy cow!) I have been reflecting on how the library has influenced me throughout my life and how my mom is probably solely responsible for this love of reading. From how having access to a public library shaped me, to how I was treated by librarians versus other teaching staff, to not being censored from material I wanted to read, libraries and my mom have been key.

Expect a lot of tangents in this post. Sorry.

I have received several children’s books from friends and family members and which everyone coming to visit the nursery/library (they are currently the same room lol) I have been asked a couple of questions that I thought were interesting. Such as “are you really going to allow your son to read THAT book?!” (They pointed out my collection of Grimm Fairy Tales/Harry Potter/etc.)

This question threw me off guard because I had never thought about censoring my child’s, or any child’s, reading. I was never censored in my reading which, if you knew my parents you would be kind of surprised. My mother was very religious and wouldn’t let me watch certain TV shows because she felt that they were not appropriate. For example: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Beetlejuice, Salute Your Shorts, etc. Which wasn’t too much of a problem for me because I would rather have been reading anyway. (Although my husband loves to tease her about this! I am sure it drives her crazy!)

She would take me to the Public Library every weekend and let me pick out as many books as I could hold and I remember being so excited when I got my own library card with MY name on it! It was bright lemon yellow and the Librarian was so excited for me! I remember her face and her smile. It was one of the best days ever! But I digress.

My mom would walk me to the children’s section and sit in the tiny chairs with her textbooks and study Biochem or whatever she was taking at the time, while I sat and touched every book, pulled them out and looked over them, and gently placed them back. They were magic to me! I could learn anything and hear stories from people whom I had never met, go places I had never been, and make friends with the protagonist. As I was a painfully shy child this last point was very important.

After about two hours or so I would have a stack of books I could barely lift by myself and be ready to go. We would check out and I would spend the remainder of the day in the back yard or in a sheet fort reading. I learned about fairy tales, monsters, historical events, drawing, and so much more. I loved reading.

In the 3rd grade I was reading at an 8th grade reading level. This sounds amazing, but presents a problem. As a 3rd grader reading at a much higher reading level, what do you read? Nothing is technically “age appropriate” at that point. My school librarian realized this and would go out of her way to always have a book recommendation for me. I can’t tell you how special this made me feel. She knew me by name and knew what I liked to read. Even though there were hundreds of other students under her care she cared enough to help me.

Eventually it got to the point where I had read all the age appropriate books in my school, and I was bored and sad about it. So what did the Librarian do? She sent me home with a note to my mom explaining that I had practically read everything a 3rd grader could read and would it be ok if she started lending me books above my age. And then she wrote that she would like to recommend the book The Giver. My mother wrote back to her giving her permission to lend any book that she thought I would like whether or not it was appropriate for my age.

There was a caveat however. My mom sat me down and told me basically this: “I have given permission to the librarian to lend you any book you want. This is a big responsibility for you though, so you have to be careful. You have to choose what kind of information you put into your brain, whether it is good or bad is up to you. If you are reading something and don’t understand it or it makes you feel bad or sad or upset in anyway I want you to come to me. We can talk about it. If there is a situation that doesn’t make sense, come to me and we will discuss it. But you are now in charge of what you read, make sure you pick wisely.”

That talk empowered me. It also made me realize how powerful books were. The information that is in them has the power to change minds and influence people! If that isn’t a superpower I don’t know what is.

So I talked to the Librarian, and she told me about The Giver and how she thought I would like it, and that at one point in time it had been banned from the school. I had no idea a book could be banned! And that started a whole new obsession: reading banned books, which is a post all of it’s own!

Now that I am an adult, I still get excited when a librarian remembers me and recommends books and I get even more excited when I recommend stuff to others. This is probably why I started my own local book club.

But as I get closer to motherhood I can’t help but wonder how I will react when my son wants to read my favorite books, or wants to read something that I hated, or how I will react if he hates reading all together. I like to think that I will have the same approach as my mom: hands free. Give him free reign of the library and my own book shelves and let him make up his own mind. At least, I will try… Although I have been slowly purchasing all my favorites from my youth to stock the shelves in my personal library. 😉 I can’t help it.

I will finish with this thought. I was mature for my age (at least I heard a lot of adults tell me this) and it always made me feel like a real person when the librarian or my mom would talk to me like a person, like an adult, like an equal. My teachers typically didn’t do this, but my mom and my librarians did, and it made me want to impress them, to live up to the expectations they had of me, to be better than what I was.

So, to all you children’s librarians, know how important your presence is in each child’s life you encounter. That library card you give to them is gold in their eyes and you are a super hero! Treat them like people instead of children because they will respect you for that! And moms (and dads!) know your children and understand where they are at! Kids are way smarter than we tend to give them credit for. Think back to your childhood and how adults made you feel and be the adult that you think young you needed!

That is the end of my “mini” lecture 🙂

Librarians, THANK YOU! And I am so proud to be one of you now!

Infographics!! WooHoo!

10 Oct

WHAT?! A new post!?

No I am not dead, just really, really, really, really tired! I have had a lot of changes going on recently in my little corner of the universe. For starters, I applied for and got a second job at Valencia College as a Reference Assistant. So I have been doing that on top of my full-time job at UCF (yay for 60 hour weeks!!!)

Then, because that wasn’t keeping me busy enough, my husband and I also decided to start adding to our little family. So I would like to formally announce (on the blog at least) that we are expecting a baby boy at the end of February! I don’t really recommend working 60 hours and being pregnant, I am starting to think I may be insane (my husband will gleefully confirm this for you!).

So that is why I have been mostly absent from my duties here. I have a bit too much on my plate!

BUT! Let’s get down to business! (Did you sing the Mulan song to yourself here? Yes? 10 points to you. No? For shame, go watch it on Youtube after reading this article.)

So working at the Reference desk at Valencia has been an interesting experience. I have learned that I am best at technology based questions,  formatting questions, and being really really patient while explaining the same idea to one student about 5161618 times (in a different way each time) before they finally understand it. This has given me more respect for instructors at all levels, you all are amazing.

I have also learned that I need to brush up on my reference interview skills as I tend to not ask some obvious questions. But I have been getting better and the ladies at the desk have been great at mentoring me and giving me advice when needed, so I have learned a lot.

One of my “it’s really slow today what should I do with my time” projects has been to play with infographics, which has been both fun and frustrating. But I have made three for the Facebook and Pinterest Pages at Valencia.

USING LIBRARY DATABASES

The first one:

Using Library Databases

This was my first go. Not my favorite thing I have ever made but it works. At last check it had a few hundred views so maybe it is helping someone! I wish there was a way to get some feedback or document the benefits some how. Oh well.

APA CITATIONS 

The second one:

APA Citations

This one I like a bit better. Aesthetically it is lacking a bit, but I am working on that. This infographic taught me several things:

1.) No matter how many times you proofread there will almost always be an error in the final product (see if you can spot mine).

2.) Plan out what you want to do BEFORE you start making the graphic. This will make putting it together that much easier and it won’t look thrown together and blocky like what you see above.

3.) These take a while to put together and you need patience to make one that is eye catching and informational.

MLA CITATIONS

The third one:

MLA Citations

So far this one is my favorite. Not only is it pretty (look at those colors!!) but it looks more cohesive to the viewer. I am still working on figuring out the best way to explain this information through graphics and am having a bit fun with it, but I really would like to see if it helps the students. The information can be as pretty as it wants but if it doesn’t help anyone then why am I doing it?

Anyway, that is all I really have for you all right now. But please feel free to give me feedback in the comments and let me know if I should adjust what I am doing or give me tips/advice/thumbs up……

Cross-training Opportunities for Library Students and Staff

17 Jun

MLIS Cross-training Experiences

This past May was the Florida Library Association Conference, where I was fortunate to be able to show a poster presentation along with two colleagues and friends of mine, Ariana Santiago and Natasha White.

The three of us have had various experiences in cross-training while working in an academic library, and thought that our experiences may be similar to those of other MLIS students and recent graduates. We developed a survey to gather information and opinions regarding library cross-training, and received survey responses from ten staff members at the UCF Libraries who are either currently enrolled in an MLIS program or have graduated within the past year.

Poster Presentation at FLA Conference 2013

Prior to the FLA Conference, we also presented at our region’s FLVC Library Services User Meeting, sharing information gathered from our research. This presentation focused on the benefits of cross-training to both the individual and the library or institution. Here is a link to the Prezi from this presentation.

We got a lot of positive feedback and thoroughly enjoyed both both experiences. Hopefully we will expand on this in the future by refining our survey and distributing it more broadly. Here are a few selected articles for further reading on library cross-training, for those interested:

  • Carr, A. F. and Kawakami, A. K. (2002). A successful cross-training experience of reference service at UCLA. Medical Reference Services Quarterly, 21(2), 15-19. doi: 10.1300/J115v21n02_02
  • Fain, M., Brown, M., and Faix, A. (2004). Cross-training reference librarians to catalog. Technical Services Quarterly, 22(1), 41-53. 10.1300/J124v22n01_05
  • Gossen, E., Reynolds, F., Ricker, K., and Smirensky H. (1990). Forging new communication links in an academic library: A cross-training experiment. Journal Of Academic Librarianship16(1), 18-21.

 

Note: The numbering system is a touch off as we originally created it to jump from one question to another based on your answer. For ease of access we took out all of that and allowed you to see the blank survey in its entirety.

4th Annual UCF Book Festival

13 Apr

Wow! It has been a pretty awesome day! I was fortunate enough to be asked to moderate a panel of Authors for this year’s UCF Book Festival.

This year there were 55 authors conducting 20 panels. Topics ranged from children’s books to pop-lit to horror and more.

So this is how it went down.

  • I got an email on Monday from a coworker in a panic because she wasn’t able to moderate the panel. She was looking for help. I volunteered because it looked AWESOME!
  • The 4 children’s books were dropped off to me on Wednesday.
  • I read all 4 in a mad dash over 2 days.
  • Laughed my butt off (Which was appropriate as the panel was titled “ROTFL= Roll on the Floor Laughing”)
  • Met up with the authors the night before at the Festival Reception (I felt fancy. They served things like whipped sweet potatoes with BBQed Pulled Pork with an orchid as a garnish AND served in a martini glass… yeah, like I said, fancy…)
  • Learned that I need to write a book so I can attend more fancy receptions and galas.
  • Chatted and joked with various authors and big names like UCF President Hitt and Lou Frey.
  • Ate more food.
  • Collected business cards.
  • Enjoyed the UCF Jazz band. (They are really good!)
  • Went home.
  • Woke up too early and got to the Festival super early.
  • Hung out with my authors some more.
  • Panel (We kicked butt, made lots of people laugh).

That should have been the end of my involvement but I decided to help out some more. As my authors were not familiar with the UCF arena I decided to stalk out the rest of their schedule to help them find where they needed to be. So I did this while they were stuck signing books. 🙂 I also got my books signed (Well resigned. They were already personalized to the previous moderator so they ‘fixed’ them, which makes them even more awesome (as if that were possible)). {You like my parentheseption?}

Where was I? I like to go off on tangents, a lot, ask my friends.

Right! I helped them get where they needed to go and even got to have a nice lunch with them (with the most amazing dessert bar, called a Congo bar. SO GOOD! Make some, then pile the good stuff on top for maximum awesome.)

Tangents.

Jeez, I haven’t even told you the names of the authors yet! I’m hopeless.

  1. Todd Hasak-Lowy wrote “33 Minutes Until Morgan Sturtz Kicks my Butt”. It was a great book about getting into a fight in middle school, fire drills, food fights, and the idea of losing your best friend. Great read!
  2. Ellis Weiner wrote “The Templeton Twins Have and Idea”. I am super excited that this will be a series! Yay! A set of brilliant  twins have to outwit their kidnappers to get back to their dad. There are zany inventions, a recipe for meatloaf, and a Ridiculous Dog. Loved it!
  3. Alan Katz wrote “Ricky Vargas: The Funniest Kid in the World”. Broken up into 3 short sections of hilariousness. It holds a special place on my book shelf.

Well, all of them have a special place on my book shelf…

I will have to upload a few pictures for you from the event later this week. Have you ever been to a Book Festival or Book event in general? Where? and What did you think about it? Comment!

Book Binding

10 Apr

Wow! We are four months into the year! Where is time going? Any way, a post is long overdue and I am sorry for the lapse in writing. I have been busy catching up on some fun reading (26 books since January 1st).

However on to the show. I am sure most of you are aware that I have a deep love of books: reading them, buying them, touching them, making them, restoring them… So I am sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that I would choose to write about them.

I came across this video HERE and loved it. It inspired me to try to write, print, and bind my own book: something which I hope to do over the span of this year. The catch is, I want to do it in miniature. With that in mind I recently purchased this:

When I opened the package they all fell out. So I had the pleasure of spending a week making it look pretty again.

When I opened the package they all fell out. So I had the pleasure of spending a week making it look pretty again.

Sorry for the picture quality, the lighting in my apartment is lacking. But you can see just how tiny each letter is. Now imagine what the commas and periods look like...

Sorry for the picture quality (and please forgive the peeling nail polish), the lighting in my apartment is lacking. But you can see just how tiny each letter is. Now imagine what the commas and periods look like…

It is 8pt. Which means it is SUPER TINY! You don’t really get a good feeling for how small a font is until you have it sitting in your hand.

So now that I have the typeface, I am working on the story. I am thinking children’s book or fairy tale as I have many friends who are currently pregnant or have small children so it would be fun to make something personal that I coul gift to them. How awesome would it be to give that as a gift? Or maybe a star book type thing… I don’t know. I am still brainstorming! Leave some ideas in the comments if you’d like.

Thankfully I have Whitney to help me! She has lovingly agreed to help me in my endeavors 🙂 Check out her website, she is a pretty amazing print maker! And I am looking into taking some credit courses toward bookbinding.

I guess for today that is all I have for you. Hopefully I will get back into the habit of posting on a regular schedule! Until next time!

2012 in review

2 Jan

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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