I’m working on improving the interlibrary loan services at North Park as well as improving my skills in statistics and data visualization. I’ve combined these two interests to look at analyzing and visualizing our interlibrary loan data using Tableau. Continue reading “Interlibrary Loan Data Analysis and Visualization”
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”
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.
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.
- Honor’s Projects and Papers
- Student Research
- Master’s Thesis
- NPPress Student Research
- Covenant History Papers
- Partnerships with different courses/programs.
- 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
- 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?
A while back, I wondered about the Information Habits of Religious Leaders. Well, I was able to research this topic a bit and decided to post my analysis of one article here. Here is the article I read for the assignment
Wicks, Donald A. “The Information-Seeking Behavior of Pastoral Clergy: A Study of the Interaction of Their Work Worlds and Work Roles.” Library & Information Science Research 21, no. 2 (1999): 205–26. doi:10.1016/S0740-8188(99)00003-1.
I was very pleased to learn that there is a lot of scholarship on this topic and I look forward to reading more in the future!
For this assignment, I decided to explore the information habits of clergy and read the article “The Information-Seeking Behavior of Pastoral Clergy: A Study of the Interaction of Their Work Worlds and Work Roles” by Donald A. Wicks. This study used mailed surveys and structured interviews. The surveys were mailed to 989 participants spanning six denominational bodies in southern Ontario. These religious groups – Roman Catholic, United Church of Christ, Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist, and Pentecostal – were selected because they represent the largest denominations in the province and because they span the religious spectrum. The 38.2% response rate provided a confidence interval of 95% with a reliability of +/- 4%. Structured interviews with 20 of the potential respondents – selected randomly from the range of the groups represented – were conducted to “add depth and richness to the survey data.”
Within the general field of information studies, this study’s theoretical approach was to combine social network theories with the role theories and determine how the interaction of those fields influenced information behaviors. Social network theory was defined as “the boundaries that may influence information seeking” and this study identified three ‘pastoral worlds,’ namely: the theological world, the denominational world, and the congregational world. Various role theories assert that within a given populations, information behaviors vary based on task. In this study, Wicks identified three work roles – preaching, caregiving, and administrating – and indeed found that clergy information behaviors differed based on pastoral role.
This, in fact, was the study’s most general finding, that “pastoral clergy tended to use different types of sources in different roles and that certain combinations of pastoral worlds and roles influenced…information-seeking behaviors.” Wicks, however, continues by exploring how each social world – theological, denominational, congregational – intersected with each work role – preaching, caregiving, and administrating – and introduces language of ‘open’ and ‘closed’ to describe this relationship. If information-seeking for a given role was governed by the social world, Wicks described that relationship as ‘closed’ and if information-seeking behaviors were not restricted by the social world, Wicks described that as ‘open.’ For example, considering theological worlds and the preaching role, Wicks found that both liberal and conservative clergy tended to seeking information within a closed system whereas moderate clergy were more open to using resources from different theological worlds. In terms of the denominational world, Wicks demonstrated the denominational influences varied based on pastoral task, concluding that “denominational world does not influence information-seeking behavior when the minister is performing the preacher role” but that denominational world has a mixed influence when a pastor is in a caregiving role. Lastly, Wicks found that the congregational social world has relatively little influence on any of the pastoral roles; that the theological position of the pastor and the denominational world had a much stronger influence on all pastoral roles.
Overall, the theoretical approach of combining social network theories and role theory yielded a wealth of actionable information. In general, the findings of this study imply that information systems and services should designed with particular pastoral roles in mind. For example, information systems designed to support preaching should be different than systems designed to support caregiving and administration. Furthermore, these findings indicate that information systems and services should take a diverse approach by providing access to information objects through a range of means and modes. Additionally, because information systems and services do not exist outside of social networks but are often embedded within theological or denominational frameworks, these systems should be aware of the theological polarization Wicks discovered and how it affects their organizational mission. Wick’s overall conclusion, that “we must understand the context of the user, including the role being performed and the social network of the individual,” restates his main theoretical framework and provides a solid paradigm to explore additional questions about the information-seeking behaviors of clergy.
 Wicks, “The Information-Seeking Behavior of Pastoral Clergy,” 209.
 Ibid., 210.
 Ibid., 206.
 Ibid., 205.
 Ibid., 209.
 Ibid., 213.
I’ve volunteered to speak at the ALCTS Symposium on January 30th about North Park’s experience using demand driven acquisitions for ebooks. The topic of the day is “Collection Directions: The Evolution of Library Collections and Collecting” (website) and is based on the following article:
Dempsey, Lorcan, Constance Malpas, and Brian Lavoie. 2014. “Collection Directions: The Evolution of Library Collections and Collecting” portal: Libraries and the Academy 14,3 (July): 393-423. Links to full text here: http://oclc.org/research/news/2014/10-14.html
The instructions for the day invited us to create a short presentation that “should be practical in nature (what are you doing in your local and/or consortial environment that can serve as a model for other institutions) but also touch on what you think this means (if anything) for the future of collecting.” Because this is my first time ever speaking at such an event, I think I will stay as close to the prompt as possible.
My name is Andy Meyer and I am the Digital Information Specialist at North Park University here in Chicago. North Park University is a small, private liberal arts college with a FTE of less than 2,500. We have a print collection of about 250,000 books that is focused on supporting undergraduate research and graduate study in a few areas. We have a full time staff of nine people. So our context is quite different than some of my fellow panelist. I’m here to reflect on how changes in library collections and collecting are influencing small schools in unique ways.
This is also my first time speaking at such a large forum and – to be honest – I’m a little nervous. So I’m going to stay close to my notes and answer as directly as possible the invitation that I received in December. So be prepared for 15 minutes on the projects I’ve worked in for my institution that can serve as a model for other institutions while touching on what I think that means for the future of collecting.
In particular, I’m going to talk about two different PDA programs that I managed. First, I’m going to talk about a program I lead that helped my library’s reference collection transition from print to electronic. Second, I’m going to talk about the opportunities and challenges of managing a multivendor DDA program, particularly how we planned, implemented, and maintain that program. Lastly, I’ll touch on the next steps we have planned for North Park as well as some broader thoughts about the future of library collections and collecting.
DDA for our Reference Collection
I implemented North Park’s first demand driven program with the head of collection development as a way to help us move our reference collection from print to online. We wanted to provide a lot of eReference content to serve our undergraduate student population and we had to do so with relatively limited funds. This project was relatively straightforward and involved the following steps:
- Reviewed a title list supplied by the vendor and removed items that are clearly outside of the local scope of our collection (Dentistry, etc.).
- Batch loaded vendor supplied records into our catalog and created additional access points (that is, we added a vendor supplied widget).
- Marketed this new resource to the library and the rest of campus.
Here is my first bit of “practical advice”: become an expert on your DDA program. We focused on marketing this resource to outside audience (students) but I didn’t anticipate how much I would need to reach out to my co-workers. I learned that I needed to explain everything well and in multiple formats (email, meetings, informal conversation) so that everyone was on the same page. I would imagine this is true and every scale and it was certainly true in our context.
So that is a quick walk through of that process as well as a piece of practical advice. On a broader scale, I think this project raised interesting questions about the use of data in libraries and reduced transactional costs.
Data-Driven Decision Making
An interesting part of this program was a paradoxical lack of data in certain areas and an excess of data in others. Perhaps a better characterization was that we had usage data in a variety of formats that took effort to use and interpret. For example, although we wanted to leverage usage data about our print collection to inform and prioritize our digital purchases, items in our reference collection didn’t have circulation or browsing information. Instead, we had to rely on different sources of usage data – recollections, impressions, stories, etc.
This wealth of anecdotal information and lack of hard data is quite different from the information provided by the eReference platform. Obviously, all you get from them is hard data without any real sense of how they are using it. This data is wonderful but is much more complicated to interpret and evaluate. I’ll return to this point later on.
Transactional Costs and Infrastructure
I thought the easiest way to talk about transactional cost and infrastrucutre was to simply say acquiring thousands of eReference titles was fundamentally different than acquiring thousands of print reference books. This is especially true in terms of cataloging, processing, and physical infrastructure. Using the language of the article, some of this is the difference between print books and ebooks (no physical processing or shifting!). However, the more fundamental shift was not in print vs. electronic but in our reliance on the vendor’s digital network. We relied on their cataloging services. We spot checked a few records and ran reports to get an overall impression, but these process was not were near as complete as our cataloging procedures for print books. However, our evaluation process before loading and on on-going use have confirmed that these vendor supplied records are totally adequate for our use. I think many small schools fear the “flood” of vendor supplied records because it is viewed as an attack on “traditional cataloging” – I’m here to say that in my experience, these fears are largely unfounded: we’ve been pleased with the quality of these records. Furthermore, it would have been wildly impractical to maintain old practices – in fact I would argue that most DDA programs would require a change in processing and (for better or worst) an increased reliances on outside digital networks.
Multivendor DDA for General Use
Our major DDA program has a been a multivendor program done for general use ebooks. Our goal in this project was to create a “critical mass” of ebooks so that ebooks would become normal for our student community. We thought that a DDA program could quickly provide this “critical mass” of ebooks as well as be an interesting experiment for us. I want to focus on the word “experiment” because that was and is how I view this DDA program. I also think this language resonated across the library – as a way to demonstrate innovation cost saving to administrators and as a way to assuage certain fears.
- We set aside funding. We started with $3,000 – this amount was large enough to provide a sufficient data set without overwhelming our budget or fundamentally changing other programs. I say this “experiment” is on-going because we haven’t fully expended this fund yet. Our plan was to assess the results at the end of this process and evaluate whether we would want to continue this program.
- I had to take care of a lot of administrative work.
- Create a fund structure and lots of other ILS settings
- Determine what vendors and platforms you want to include
- With vendors, determine short term loan models, etc.
- Create “collection profile” that specifies what sort of titles we want included in our DDA pool. To make this profile, I pulled circulation information from our ILS as well as collection information. We based on profile for DDA on our print collection and print circulations – more on this later.
- With CARLI, our state-wide consortium, set up batch loading procedures.
- Then we tested to make sure all the parts fit together. I’ll say now that it was been wonderful to work with our our partners – our main book vendor and CARLI – though I’ll have more to say about how these groups intersect at the end of my time.
- Maintain the program
- Load new records each week.
- When licensing rights change, delete old records from the system.
- Monitor all short term loans and purchases.
Hopefully this overview of the process has implicitly conveyed a point – setting up a DDA program takes a far amount of work at the local level as well as lots of coordination with larger networks.
As a way to pivot from the practical to the philosophical, I want to share a success story from this project. After doing all this work, I was naturally very curious to see what our first DDA loan would be. Our first loan of this program was “Religious Ethics and Migration: Doing Justice to Undocumented Workers.” This was a tremendous success for a number of reasons:
- It seemed to fit our collection scope as a Christian University focused on social justice and
- The author is actually a North Park professor and
- The book was on reserve for a class.
So our first DDA loan was a perfect fit for our collection. These felt like great news (and a relief!) and showed how this new service could extend our collection to meet the needs of our community.
So our first loan was a tremendous success…but it was also a little unsettling and raised questions: “Why didn’t we order an electronic copy of this book (it’s a North Park author and a required text)? Do we want a print copy and an electronic copy? Also – I wasn’t aware that this record was even in our DDA pool. It just shows that the lines between the library, vendor, and our community were blurred. This “blurring” is particularly clear when I process the file of new records, delete the old records, and process the short term loans and purchases. It’s very apparent that we don’t have local control of this collection in the same way we control our print collection.
Implications/Questions for the Future
Overall, this project is 100% doable for small institutions with limited budgets and staff time. I’ve provided a brief overview or our experience so far – feel free to reach out to me directly with additional questions or concerns – I’m happy to share more. As I said, this program is still on-going and I’d like to conclude my time with two questions that I’ll be exploring when this experiment is over.
Data-Driven Decision Making
In both of these projects, we’ve assumed that print collection and circulation information would correspond to eReference and eBook usage. This assumption seems logically but also seems somewhat troubling. By looking at the data and talking to my community, I’d like to see how closely print usage matches electronic usage. While I anticipate general correspondence, I also wouldn’t be surprised to see striking differences – differences that perhaps to the changing patterns of research and learning mentioned in this article and elsewhere.
I’ve talked a bit about how success in our PDA programs relied heavily on partnerships between our institution and the different vendors. In particular, I’ve mentioned what is essentially outsourced cataloging, shared technical infrastructure, and the blurred lines between library collection and vendor service.
However, North Park also exists in a highly networked environment with our consortial network – CARLI – and we haven’t fully studying the impacts of our DDA programs on our consortial network. How do the various DDA programs of member institutions affect the consortium as a whole – especially in terms of a shared catalog and interlibrary loan? Essentially, I’m curious to know how
Overall, for a small liberal arts school, these experiments in DDA have been very positive. We’ve been able to provide a lot of content to our community at relatively little cost, we have learned a lot from this experiment, and we are thinking more critically about the future of collections and collection development.
Brian C. Gray presenting Analyzing and Selecting the Best Discovery Solution for Your Users and Organization(s). Library website: http://library.case.edu/ksl/.
How to make a decision? Gray worked with OHIOLink and started with a list of specifications as well as how all the user audiences would work with each service. Wanted the search to be comprehensive, not federated, able to be embedded in other library resources, and ease of maintenance. Gray worked with a small group of people and focused on making decisions quickly.
What are the challenges? All the products are very different. Very different. Librarians and average library user have very different expectations and viewpoints. Hard to answer the question – “what is this tool searching?” – because of the complexities in the index. Thinks about the diversity of users – can you provide customized tools for different communities? Discovery process changes rapidly – perhaps too fast for librarians to manage. How difficult is it to change and maintain our holdings? Have someone that works with all users, someone with cataloging/metadata expertise, IT and webmaster, financial agent.
Advice: Take advantage of trials. Make sure staffing is sufficient. Don’t take too long in making the decision. Do local inventories: processes, technology, expertise, time, and financial resources. Define your local goals! Gray’s goals included: drive usage to certain resources, increase resource usage, change user behaviors, help people brainstorm ideas, speed up research, challenge the “google mindset,” change library instruction, reduce the number of access points, provide a common tool, what’s your long term plan, what’s your level of commitment? Beyond goals, prioritize things. Things like: user needs, local customizations, addition costs, what level of control do you have, multilingual interface, user customization options, how does it work with backend management tools, usage statistics, facets customization, what level of support do you require, can you add local content?
Create a list of specifications; list them and then score them (yes/no or a numeric scale) and what are the “must have” features. Gray has a collection of great rubrics for evaluating discovery services.
Don’t take forever to implement – start in beta and make changes accordingly. You won’t be perfect, it will get better. Work with the vendors and take full advantage of their skills. Expect constant change.
Rob Hallis presenting on Behind the Point-and-Click Discovery Tool: Integrating Critical Thinking in Finding Resources
History of discovery: silos of databases to federated searching to “pushed suggestions”. Pulled data = what you “pull” from a system; Pushed data = what a system (like Amazon) “pushes” at you. Is critical thinking an “autonomous activity?” I don’t think so! Move from a bibliographic paradigm to a constructive process where there is uncertainty and confusion. He is using “Seeking Meaning: A process approach to Library and Information Science” by Kuhthau. (http://vufind.carli.illinois.edu/all/vf-npu/Record/2557683).
Questions/Thoughts unrelated to the main presentation:
- Do we really know enough about how students think/learn through online searching in any form (OPAC, database, discovery)?
- He uses this metaphor for searching for information resources: online shopping. You know what you want and where to look – but you don’t click the first thing. You shop around. Is this a good metaphor? What’s a better metaphor/image to use?
- These presentations are really demonstrating the huge range of what falls under library “instruction” – from simple multiple choice tutorials to walking through a very complicated search processes. I wonder if that’s even a meaningful term at some point. How involved in the thesis creation process are libraries/librarians? It seems like this presenter portrays libraries as very active in the thesis/research process from the very beginning…but is that the case at our institutions? That seems like the role of the classroom professor.
- Many presenters use the passive voice or at least speak passively when talking about Discovery Services. For example, “the resources that the discovery services provide” instead of “discovery services provide resources.” I wonder what this reflects – a mistrust of discovery? A lack of understanding of what discovery layers do or how they actually work? Or is this verbiage trying to focus on the actions of the user over the actions of the discovery service?
Krista Ramirez from Southeastern University (http://www.se.edu/library/) presented ways her library changed instruction based on discovery services.
Students did not understand that these boxes on the homepage are different – taking time away from discovery. She used the captivate software to create a “flipped classroom” to make sure students come to instruction with certain skills. These lessons were made of 5 different lessons: an overview and one per tab. There was a need to update to make sure that the objects are mobile compliant. Assessment is done via a trivia game that loads answers right into learning management system. “Users don’t understand the differences between the searches” – there is a fine line between instruction and blaming the user.
The library instruction is pretty deeply embedded in their learning management system (Blackboard) which provides immediate feedback to the user and the instructor. It seems like Captivate can integrate with Moodle. This presentation was fine…but was really focused on creating digital learning objects via Captivate than on discovery.
My Hopes/Plans for the Project
- Gain technical experience managing a digital collection for a historical society.
- Install and maintain Omeka on a webserver.
- Do periodic backups and upgrades to the technology as needed.
- At some point in the future, make customizations to the web interface.
- Make recommendations regarding item descriptions, metadata standards, and image quality that balance local needs and national standards.
- Re-create the existing collections and items on the new platform. Evaluate and re-scan material when needed.
- Create standards for metadata and description.
- When appropriate, add additional metadata (like location information)
- At some point in the future, work with the society on new projects (adding additional materials, creating new histories, timelines, etc.)
Examples of Sites
I just want to provide a sense of what I hope the final product will look like
- http://publications.newberry.org/frontiertoheartland/ – very optimistic here!
Timeline and Deadlines
I think the first stage of the project (creating a website and migrating all the existing content) shouldn’t take more than a few weeks and I think that could be done by the middle of November. Depending on the quality of the scans, rescanning and/or improving the metadata might take some additional time/effort.
At some point, I’d love to meet with some of Society to introduce myself and get feedback on the website. Scheduling that for early November would make the most sense for me.
I could either create this on site on my own webserver and then migrate the content to the Northfield Historical domain (http://www.northfieldhistoricalsociety.org/) or I could work directly on your domain. Either way, I’d need to be in contact with whoever is the administrator of the existing website to make this change.
Questions for you
- What are the primary goals of the website?
- Who is the primary audience of this website? Secondary audiences?
- What sections will this website include?
- What will I do with items in this website?
- How will items display?
- What do you like about the current website? What content would you like to add? Remove?
I’m planning on making all the design work I do available to other people for free. You (and everyone else) will have full access to everything and I’m planning on sharing administrative passwords for everything.
I can upload the materials (photographs, text, etc.) to the website but I want to encourage the society to keep additional copies of everything (original documents, scans, etc.). Digital Preservation is a big deal and I want to make sure that the society has copies of all their digital assets.
I watched this webinar as part of the I LEAD USA program sponsered by the Illinois State Library Association. Here is a quick review to document the experience and reflect a little bit.
Librarianship in the Great Age of Experimentation
The presentation addressed the question “How do we create a culture of experimentation?” and started with a thought experience involve a student interview set in the year 2018 that praises a program call “Library that learns you.” This program – sort of like an embedded librarian/google information/netflix recommendation engine is praised. And then the speaker asked two questions: “Is this a good idea” and “What do we need to learn/develop for this to work”
I think this exercise encouraged people to think creatively about long term goals. There was some limited discussion about the limits of library services (especially related to privacy and big data) and whether this “service” is an extension of traditional library services like embedded librarianship. People also talked about the need for cross-campus connection and the technology learning curve.
What is experimentation?
The presenter then asked simply “what is experimentation?” and gave some examples for science and engineering. In general, these examples stressed the need for trial and error and the combination of serendipity and hard work. He then offered these principles.
- Has to do with discovery. Starts with a question or quest.
- It makes things better. Improvement – easier, faster, more accessible.
- We should have an end goal that moves us forward into the future.
He then framed the rest of the presentation in three parts (I’ve used them as heading below)
There is an accelerated pace of innovation and experimentation in education
- Lots happening – but most of it is happening outside of the traditional world of academia.
- Where is the next Khan Academy?
- Not much change in the last few hundred years (majors, etc.)
- Jeff Salingo (http://www.jeffselingo.com/)
- Move away from majors – more toward experiences.
- No one wants to be first to change. No one wants to leave the “prestige” race.
- Is that the fear of failure? Yes, absolutely.
- Much more alt-ed now. Traditional education (4 years of linear study etc.) is waning.
- Where do the alt-ed people connect with the library?
- Sebastin Thrun Vision for Disruptive Higher Ed
- We are in an evolutionary period.
2. Practical examples from libraries. (physical space and learning space)
- Physical environment
- SCALEUP room at Virgina Tech.
- Also Purdue and Penn State?
- Library leads experimentation.
- NCSU Hunt library Creativity Studio.
- What can space do we need to call it a “Creative space?”
- “one button studio” very popular and gets people in the library.
- Temple University: Think Tank and Flex-Study Space
- Remind 101
- Learning environment
- Combining research and writing.
- Library Publishing Coalition
- There is a crisis in scholarly publishing.
- SUNY open textbooks
- Publishing is a big movement.
3. Things we can do to create a better culture of experimenting
- There is something good about experimentation.
- Chip and Dan Heath – “”Switch”
- Start small – keep it simple.
- Think like a scientist – think like a designer. Question to experiment. Understand the problem.
- Support staff re-skilling.
- Create cross-departmental projects. Get out of silos.
- Kill off the HiPPOs (Higher Paid Person’s Opinion)
- Fail frequently and fail quickly.
- Even in failure – what was learned?
- Talk about it at your library. What is our tolerance for failure?
- Connect with experimental projects.
- Resolve to explore more mysteries.
- These are important!
- Mystery boxes are everywhere. (https://www.ted.com/talks/j_j_abrams_mystery_box)