Report on Interlibrary Loan Improvements

I recently revised CV to include the following line:

Manage interlibrary loan systems; increased the local fulfillment rate from 59% to 80% while decreasing average turnaround time

I thought it would be good to provide a little additional context for this claim by supplying some data, look at visualizing that improvement, talk about how we accomplished this change here at North Park, as well as what I learned from looking at the data. Continue reading “Report on Interlibrary Loan Improvements”

Roadmap to Library Publishing

First, I’ve determined that there is no one “roadmap” that will lead my library into digital publishing. So, instead of creating a map, I’m going to do the best I can to sketch out the terrain ahead and think about questions that can guide our path.

Broader Context

This section tries to address two main questions: What is happening in the world of scholarly publishing that is relevant to North Park? What is happening within the North Park setting that is relevant to a library published endeavor? Quick thoughts:

  • Continued movement toward Open Access. There is still work to be done in our local context but that is the clear movement. The Covenant Quarterly and Journal of Hip Hop Studies indicate this trend is taking root on campus.
  • Institutional branding. There is a renewed focus in institutional branding and online presence. There could be powerful connections to make here.
  • Publishing and the North Park mission. My sense is that North Park values diverse contributions to the academic community more than creating a specialized repository
  • Chicago. There might be some opportunities to promote North Park within the regional context through research and student projects.


We need to define the scope of this project. There are many different efforts that fall under the broad category of “digital publishing”, including:

  • Institutional Repositories
  • Digital Humanities
  • Data Repository
  • Open Educational Resources
  • Campus multimedia (lectures, performances, etc.)

Of these options, I think the most appropriate level and scope would be an institutional repository that contains simple/static documents such as PDFs. A next step would be to curate multimedia from across campus.

Even within this scope, the library will need to make editorial and collection development decisions to make sure that (1) we have a critical mass of content and (2) that there is some editorial scope. I think we should prioritize the following content areas and focus on building relationships with relevant parties.

Student Research

  • Honor’s Projects and Papers
  • Student Research
  • Master’s Thesis
  • NPPress Student Research
  • Covenant History Papers
  • Partnerships with different courses/programs.

Faculty/Staff Scholarship

  • Journal Articles
  • Faculty/Staff Presentations and other “gray” literature
  • Papers from campus symposiums
  • Offer hosting/support for existing campus projects

Political Realities/Soft Skills

We would need some strong support from across campus to take on this project and lead the campus here. Given the proposed scope of this project, here are the people I think it would be important to connect with:

  • The President
  • Provost
  • Campus Deans
  • The University Marketing and Communication Office
  • Honors Program
  • Seminary Faculty
  • Faculty/Tenure Committee
  • NPPRESS Leadership
  • Student Research Committee

Some of these needed connections blend into the next set of questions that seeks to define the scope of this project and effort. I think if we have 5 strong allies (willing to contribute the content they are responsible for) that would make a strong starting point.


Do we have the technical and social workflows to produce, distribute and preserve this content? There are many overlapping questions here, but here is an attempt to list the important ones:

  • Do we have the rights/permissions to publish these materials? Who will work with each group to determine these permissions and who will maintain the paperwork?
  • Do we have the staff expertise, staff time, and faculty/staff connections to successfully manage this projects?
  • What is the ongoing cost of this project in terms of hosting costs, incentives and open access fees, etc.?
  • Where does this rank compared to other library/institutional priorities?
  • What are peer institutions doing? What can we learn from them?

Northfield Historical Society (behind the scenes) updates!

I just finished some “behind the scenes” updated to the Northfield Historical Society site and wanted to document that process here. It was definitely a bit messy at times and quite labor intensive, but I think it was the best way to deal with the situation I faced.


Starting last year, I got about 260 images from the old Northfield Historical Society site (archived here: These images varied greatly in quality; there were a few large, high quality TIFF images but most files were small JPEGs the size of thumbnails. In order to get intellectual control over these files, I renamed them and manually formatted metadata (using Dublin Core) to create an Omeka site. This was part of my “Web Design for Organizations” class I took through GSLIS.

However, the low quality images didn’t look great online. In fact, they looked pretty bad. So I inquired if higher quality versions of the files existed somewhere else. After some searching, they were able to get higher quality images from another source. Success!

This new batch of files was a treasure trove…but also had a few problems:

  1. Very different file naming conventions.
  2. Included many additional photos not found in the initial ingest.
  3. Did not include all the files from the initial ingest.
  4. Included both TIFF and JPEG images.

So I needed to match the new files with the older set of images (keeping the highest quality image in each case) and then incorporate the new files into the file naming convention I established earlier.I used two tools that were particularly helpful in this process. One was a Batch Rename tool and the other was a Image Duplication tool. Both were extremely helpful.


Here are two screenshots of the same “item” with two very different image files.







The improvement is hard to miss!new-image


Review: “Library-as-Publisher: Capacity Building for the Library Publishing Subfield”

I’ve been tasked with creating a “Roadmap to Digital Publishing” for the Brandel Library. I’ll post the draft of the “roadmap” I develop later on, but right now I’m in the research phase of the project and wanted to document the sources I’m reading. I could include this as a bibliography in the other post, but this is happening chronologically first and I thought it would be pretty interesting to document. So here is goes!

Library-as-Publisher: Capacity Building for the Library Publishing Subfield

Katherine Skinner, Sarah Lippincott, Julie Speer, Tyler Walters
Volume 17, Issue 2: Education and Training for 21st Century Publishers, Spring 2014 DOI:

Although this article focused more on the professional developement needs of library staff to take on publishing activities, it also provided a very good overview and definition of the library publishing efforts and section on “Core Knowledge and Skills for 21st Century Publishers” could provide a helpful guide.


This article borrows the following definition from the “Library Publishing Coalition” ( that defines library publishing as:

the set of activities led by college and university libraries to support the creation, dissemination, and curation of scholarly, creative, and/or educational works.

This relatively basic definition seems like a good shared starting point and distinguishing library publishing form other forms of digital humanities work.

Knowledge and Skills

The list of core knowledge and skills identified in this article proved to be very helpful as well. Here is a summary of that section – with my summarizing comments in the form of questions:

  1. Scholarly Publishing Context – what is happening in the world of academic publishing?
  2. Academic Context – why is the role of the library within the larger institution? to publish something unique? enhance the institutional brand?
  3. Soft Skills – who do you need to build relationships with? What political connections need to be forged?
  4. Business Planning and Management – what is your business plan? who is your audience?
  5. Technology and Workflows for Production, Distribution, and Preservation – do you have the technology and workflow to publish (and care for) everything you want to publish? For text, audiovisual, datasets, interactive things, etc.
  6. Editorial and Acquisitions – can you get and edit the stuff you want to publish?

Overall, this was a very helpful article. The two sections I’ve highlighted were particularly relevant – even as I read the article from an “institutional roadmap” when the original article was written in terms of professional skills and development. The Notes section as provided to be quick valuable in highlighting other relevant sources and authorities.

A Pietist vision for libraries and librarians?

Now that I’m officially graduated from GSLIS, I am ready to take up a new project to keep me thinking and developing as a professional. One topic that I’ve been interested in exploring is how Pietism relates to the practice of libraries and librarians.

  • What would it mean to call myself a “Pietist Librarian” in the same vein as others identify themselves as “Pietist Schoolman” (like Chris Gehrz).
  • Do libraries associated with Pietist universities have distinctive collections? Do they offer different services? Is their outlook and role on campus different that Evangelical schools?
  • How have libraries evolved/developed alongside the educational institutions associated with Spener and Francke? Borrowing categories from Gehrz, this could explore the intersection of Pietism and Libraries within the movement itself (as opposed to the ethos that, quite frankly, I’m more interested in!).
  • What lines can be traced within my own context – North Park University – between people like Nyvall, Olsson, Hawkinson, Anderson, Weborg, Clifton-Soderstrom? What (if anything!) does this have to do with libraries and library services?

Personal Motivation

Those are the broad questions that I’m grappling with and want to address somehow. When I think about starting this – I feel a strange mix of fear and pride. I think I am afraid because the topic seems looming and largely unexplored. But I also feel pride and excitement – perhaps for a number of different reasons. Doing some soul-searching, here are some reasons for excitement:

  • In the broader theological landscape, I think Pietism adds a unique and distinctive flavor that serves as a corrective or encouragement for Christianity in general. Therefore, it would not be surprising if a Pietism librarian could offer correction or encouragement within the realm of theological libraries.
  • If libraries have a role in forming “Whole and Holy Persons” (borrowing the subtitle of Chris Gehrz’s book) certainly that is my story. So I think any exploration of libraries and Pietism would be deeply personal and enriching.

Next Steps

I like to chart out next steps in public for accountability and transparency. Here’s my plan:

  • Continue reading the book “The Pietist Vision of Higher Education” and related podcast.
  • Read more about theological librarianship generally – especially the stuff produced by the ATLA.
  • Start thinking about a particular focus or perspective to motive and guide this work.

Copyright and Faculty Guidance

My library just fielded a question from the Nursing department who, after reading this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education, wanted to know our policy for posting articles and chapters into our Learning Management System (LMS).

While I was drafting a response in private, I thought it would be good to summarize that article and then post my response here for future updating and public re-use.


The article is commentary on the Georgia State University lawsuit where three publishers – Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, and Sage Publications – challenged the Georgia State University’s policy that allowed faculty members to upload excerpts from books into their LMS. Thankfully, the court has decided that the vast majority (70/75) of these uses were “Fair Use” and therefore legal under the law.

But, as the article points out, the issue at stake is not just the Georgia State University uses but to clarify (perhaps define?) the legal limits of copyright and fair use as it related to academic libraries. So the case is not limited to those three published and that one university, the results are much more far-reaching.

The publishers’ request for a very broad injunction is not really a surprise. The plaintiffs always intended for the GSU case to establish a precedent that publishers could use to persuade colleges to pay for digital licenses from a company they work with, the Copyright Clearance Center.

So, like the author of this commentary from the Chronicle of Higher Education and likely most academic librarians, I am rooting for GSU in this case and hope that it established precedent that ensures a broad definition of fair use and does not impose time consuming record keeping to track the fair use of copyrighted material.

So, given my thoughts, how should I respond to the faculty inquiry about our policy regarding fair use. I think it’s an opportunity to both establish the broad playing field, underscore the ramifications of this decision, and invite further conversation.

Response to Faculty Inquiry

Thanks for reaching out with a question about copyright and fair use as it relates to articles and book chapters in an academic setting. This is clearly an important and heavily contested issue – one that really precludes a simple policy or rule – so I’m happy to provide some background and some safe best practices and then invite further conversation.

Best Practices for Licensed Content

In general, if you are using electronic resources licensed by the Brandel Library, we encourage you to provide permalinks to the library’s subscription into Moodle. Two main reasons for this policy:

  1. This is almost always a permitted use within our license agreements. Some database license agreements allow articles to be uploaded directly into a LMS but other licenses expressly forbid this. This prevents this level of confusion and creates a better experience for students and faculty.
  2. Linking back to the publisher provides the library with vital statistics. Linking this way ensures that we can make collection development decisions that reflect accurate usage – posting a PDF in Moodle prevents the library from tracking usage and impairs our ability to use data to make collection development decisions.

Fair Uses for Non-Licensed Content

This gets slightly more thorny with non-licensed content such as print book chapters, articles from print journals, or articles not available through the library’s online resources. Assuming that such materials are under copyright – which is a safe assumption unless it was published before 1923 or published with a Creative Commons license of some kind – the only legal option to consider is Fair Use.

The US legal code (Section 107 of the Copyright Act) defines four factors to consider with fair use:

  1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
  2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
  3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
  4. the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

Given that we are a university, the purpose and character of the use is educational and therefore the first factor will almost always support fair use. However, all educational uses are not permitted – copying an entire book and distributing it to a class would not be a fair use – and therefore all four factors should be considered.

The Georgia State University ruling seems to indicate that the courts view that using a single chapter from a book as fair use but that multiple chapters from a single book is problematic. However, posting a PDF of a scholarly article in Moodle would be problematic and would likely not quality as a fair use of that material. We are working on building up our electronic reserve capabilities here in the library and should be able to provide more robust services in this area soon.

The Future

I will conclude by underscoring a few things:

One issue at stake in the GSU case is how extensive our institutional record keeping needs to be in this area. The publishers want to require extensive recording keeping that GSU (and most schools) would view as very burdensome and a hindrance to fair use.

The proposed injunction would also require university personnel to confirm that every excerpt uploaded to course websites met the fair-use criteria and to keep track of information about the book, which parts were used, the number of total pages, the sources that were consulted to determine whether digital permissions were available, the date of the investigation, the number of students enrolled in the course, and the name of the professor. The university would have to maintain those records for three years.

North Park does not currently require any record keeping and entrusts faculty members to make informed decisions about fair use. The library will continue to follow this case and inform the campus if our record keeping policies need to change.

Second, one reason that fair use is so fuzzy and unclear is that there have not been many cases that have tested the limits of fair use as it related to academic institutions. As an academic library, we want to rigorous defend the rights of authors and content creators by respecting fair use and honoring our licensing agreements with the publishers we work with. On the other hand, we also want to claim the full expression of fair use afforded to us in the law.

Graduation and Commencement

After four semesters and countless hours of work, I’m slated to graduate from Library School this weekend. I’m actually not able to attend the graduating ceremony but I thought I would take some time to consider what this means for me on a personal level.

I recently toured a special exhibition in the Art Institute of Chicago that features Van Gogh’s bedroom paintings. It was a fabulous exhibition that provided a lot of information the paintings and the painter. But one line from the exhibit stands out to me as particularly relevant to this time of my life. A panel describing Van Gogh’s decision to become an artists borrows Van Gogh’s own language – through a letter to his brother Theo – which provided language for my current season.

In 1880 Van Gogh decided that art was his true calling. Describing his decision to his brother Theo, he used the language not of professional choice but of belonging: “I often feel homesick for the country of paintings.”

-page 17, Groom, Gloria Lynn, and Allison Perelman. Van Gogh’s Bedrooms. 2016.

Borrowing this language – without comparing myself to this master painter! -I want to explore libraries and librarianship not as a professional choice but as a sense of belonging. In focusing on this sense of belonging, I do not want to downplay the professionalism of librarians nor the important decisions that I’ve made that have brought me to this place. I feel strongly, however, that the appropriate way to understand these identifiers is from a place of “belonging”

This is plainly true in one sense of the word: I belong to group of professionals bound by professional practice and ethics. I belong to a group of co-workers here at North Park focused on student success. The Dean of GSLIS was also quick to point out that I belong to the group of GSLIS alumni – over 10,000 strong! – with the implication that I should also belong to the subset of alumni that support the school through financial gifts. I also belong to the American Library Association, and, recently, the Chicago Area Archivists association.

These ways of “belonging” are important but – as I hear in Van Gogh’s letter – I mean something a bit more direct. I belong to libraries.

I belong to the Grand Rapids Public Library – especially the West Leonard branch – where I remember visiting frequently growing up and revisiting over holiday breaks when I needed peace and quiet to study.

I belong to the libraries in my middle school and high school where I found marvelous books and a shelter from the storms of adolescence.

I belong to the D’Angelo Law Library at the University of Chicago where I found I could flourish in libraries.

I belong to the Chicago Public library where I found practical resources – a quiet place to study and apply for jobs – and deeper joy and inspiration.

But mostly, I belong to my beloved Brandel Library at North Park University. Perhaps more than any other place in my life, this place testifies to my personal and professional transformations. I dare not try to offer a complete chronicle; only to say that these transformations have been profound. The library has been been, at times, a neutral place that has been witness to these developments and, at other times, a charged catalyst that has fostered and created this sense of belonging.

Belonging and Membership

In thinking about this post and reflecting on graduating using Van Gogh’s words, I’ve started thinking a lot about the term “membership” and thinking about whether “belonging” or “membership” is a more appropriate framing device for these graduating and commencement reflections.

When I think about the term “membership, my definition draws heavily from St. Paul and Wendell Berry. St. Paul writes:

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:12

And Wendell Berry, drawing on language from St. Paul, writes about the fictional community of Port Williams:

The way we are, we are members of each other. All of us. Everything. The difference ain’t in who is a member and who is not, but in who knows it and who don’t.

That Distant Land, 356

Even though I like the direct, emotive language of belonging, I think that membership language reflects the reciprocal relationships that are created through belonging – relationships between person and place and relationships between individuals – and the mutual obligations that we are called to respect.

I have a tendency to keep things like this in draft forever – so I’m going to publish this post with the understanding that these ideas are still in flux and that I’m likely to revisit this post in the future.

Promises for Personal Digital Archiving

I’ve been working on curating my personal digital archives for my Digital Preservation class. I thought it would be interesting and fun to articulate some promises that I would make to myself to help that process in the future. Here they go!

Promises for Personal Digital Archiving and Computer Usage

  1. I will delete everything from my downloads folder, desktop, and recycle bin at least once a month.
  2. I will create a space for “first drafts” and “works in progress” and keep working on them.
  3. I will back up the things that need to be backed up and sync the things that need to be synced.
  4. I will curate my photographs before loading them to my computer.
  5. I will not re-use the same password for every website.
  6. I will maintain and update all the tools I use. I will master the tools I use and “sharpen the ax” before trying to cut down the tree. *
  7. I will not delete system files unless I’m positive I know what they do.
  8. I will give files meaningful file names.
  9. I will make clear distinctions between working copies and final products. I will delete working copies and keep final products.

I’ll keep the 10th spot open for a future revision or addition. But I think this is a good start!

* This is from the quote “Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend four hours sharpening the axe” which is falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln. The attribution might be false – but I think the call to preparation is true!