Wednesday, October 31, 2007

More Conference Musings

I'm going to add my two cents worth regarding our conference. First, thank you to my colleagues here at Library Cloud for such gracious and kinds words about me. I'm blushing!

Ohio academic library folks are so blessed to have such a great organization as ALAO. I've said it before, the people are a critical factor in its success. My two colleagues, Diane and Karen, are definitely included in that. While I may have helped them ease into ALAO service, serve they have done fantastically for the past several years. I was truly overwhelmed at the honor of being selected as the Jay Ladd Award winner for 2007; but much of my "success" in ALAO has been because of the people I got to work with and their willingness to let me voice my opinion and try new things and allow me to grow and build each position I held. I have to admit, the two positions I enjoyed the most were being Membership Coordinator and PR/Outreach Coordinator (hence why I was always carrying a camera around!). The members I got to know and the institution liaisons I got to work with were just amazing. The numerous boards I served on; each was unique in its make-up and implemented some really great new services such as our website, our electronic newsletter and our online elections. Not to mention their willingness to help the planning committee at the conferences. I loved it all, but especially the people!

The conference this year had some really great programs and I am unashamedly proud of my assistant, Pat Wood, who presented a program on cultivating quality student workers and who also presented a poster session with one of our Student Assistants, Janah Shumaker. I have made sure our campus knew about our successes this year!

One of the most intriquing programs I attended was one by Linda Dobb, who is Excecutive Vice President of Bowling Green State University. She planned on talking about innovative collaborations, but instead spent some time talking about a new initiative of Governor Strickland. The University System of Ohio (USO) is a new hot topic for Higher Education in Ohio. Obviously, many mindsets will have to change and new collaborations developed to accomplish this, but Linda really pushed our librarians to ensure that academic libraries become part of the planning and dialogue that should be occuring at our respective institutions. I had heard about it somewhat in relation to our consortium, OhioLINK, but my campus has not really mentioned it much. I foresee many conversations to be held in the future over this new mandate. Since I have a technical college and a branch of Ohio Stae on my campus, I can imagine that each will approach it in different ways. I will be curious to see how it will play out and how exactly my library will be able to help.

I really enjoyed Joe Janes' presentation as well as the panel discussion which followed his keynote address. The panel had no fear of no questions; our audience kept them coming throughout the hour. I saw Joe taking notes during the panel discussion; I hope Ohio librarians and their perspectives become a future column in Library Journal.

Programs on various technologies were also plentiful; I enjoyed the folks from University of Akron-Wayne College and their discussion of Community College 2.0. My hats off to them for being so adventurous and offering so many new services for students. The program on creating tutorials on academic integrity at Miami University Libraries was interesting, too. May you continue to add more courses and expand your tutorials! I definitely may steal some of your ideas!

Congratulations to all the presentors and to the poster session presenters. It is a leap of faith to put yourself and your project and progam on the line; rest assured that there were folks who learned from your sharing of knowledge!

Way to go, ALAO and the planning committee!

Monday, October 29, 2007

ALAO 2007: From the Registration Desk

As a conference planning committee member, those few days after the conference ends are a time of contemplation and recovery. After catching up on my sleep, I spent some time reviewing the best and the worst of the conference from my strange perspective behind the registration desk.

This is my fourth conference as a planning committee member and one thing that I've learned over that time is that the best place to be is the registration desk. I get to talk to so many people! Everyone has to stop at the registration desk at some point during the conference so I get to chat with old friends, put faces to names that have long been showing up in my email from discussion lists, and make connections with people I haven't met or heard of before.

The highlights: connecting with old friends, including one from a previous job (Tom Marker now at OSU's Health Sciences Library) and another from library school (Laura Kinner from University of Toledo); a discussion with some of our library science student volunteers about the advantages and disadvantages of online learning; talking with OHIONET's Roman Panchyshyn about the future of cataloging; joking with my fellow planning committee members; surprising myself by performing some non-conference-related reference work for attendees; working with the Greater Columbus Convention Center's network guy, Jeff Greenwood; resolving some membership issues for attendees; watching the GCCC folks set up AEP's "Monte Carlo" room on Thursday night and laughing at the dancing waiter; hearing positive comments about many of the presentations and poster sessions; the mushroom ravioli at lunch; Clifford, the bell-captain at the Hampton Inn, and his cheerful and helpful attitude; and sitting at the lunch table with Betsy Blankenship when she discovered she was this year's Jay Ladd Award winner (Yeah, Betsy!).

The downside: the temperature in the ballrooms and lobby were too cold; the noise from the AEP Monte Carlo event (especially the often out-of-tune karaoke singers!) on Thursday night; the sudden disappearance of the coffee on Friday morning (AUGH!); the mini-crises on Thursday as we were setting everything up for the conference; the horrible tiramsu at lunch; and not getting as many of the presentation PowerPoints/Handouts as I had hoped for the ALAO website (

Overall, feedback has been pretty good but we'll have examined all the evaluations in another couple of weeks so we'll have a better idea of the level of success for this conference. Planning a conference is a lot of work and I'd like to pass on my thanks to Doug Morrison, Chair of this year's committee, for all his support and enthusiasm when I was losing mine, and to a great group of people who kept me laughing through it all: Joyce Burnett, John D. Crissinger, Alice Crosetto, Ione Damasco, Kevin Deemer, Matthew Farthing, Lori Fielding, Kevin Furniss, Brian C. Gray, Stephena Harmony, Angel M Jackson, Krista McDonald, Melanie McGurr, Diana Nichols, Sue Polanka, Diana S. Riemenschneider, Oliva P. Riley, Rob Withers.

In the meantime, the 2008 Conference planning process is getting underway. If anyone is interested in being a member of the planning committee, please contact the Conference Planning Committee Chair, Karen Wilhoit at karen.wilhoit at It's a great opportunity to contribute to ALAO and meet a wonderful bunch of people.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

ALAO 2007: Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award

Congratulations to Betsy Blankenship, head librarian/director of Marion Campus Library, Ohio State University at Marion/Marion Technical College, winner of the 2007 Jay Ladd Distinguished Service Award. Presented by the Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO), this award is ALAO's top honor:

"This award is designed to recognize those ALAO members who promote academic libraries and librarianship not only on their own campuses, but within the state. It also recognizes those who provide leadership in the promotion of ALAO through service such as committee membership, executive board office, or interest group chairmanship." (ALAO Website)

I would also include my personal addendum to this award; Betsy's leadership capabilities are not limited to the promotion of academic libraries in general, she has been a gracious mentor to many new librarians. Several years ago, Betsy was the first person to welcome me as a new CMCIG chair and board member at an ALAO board meeting. She answered my endless questions about the organization and my duties with quiet competency, making me feel at home in this new librarianship venture.

Though not on the ALAO board this year, Betsy continues to embrace challenges in the library profession and ways to promote librarianship. Camera in hand, she enthusiastically supported her library staff in their professional endeavor, presenting poster sessions at ALAO. Though not completely comfortable with the idea, she was quick to say "yes" when asked to venture into this technology endeavor; joining Library Cloud as a contributor (it only took a slight bit of arm twisting).

Congratulations again Betsy!

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ALAO Conference

It's that time, an annual fall academic library event I always look forward to attending. Tomorrow is the first day of the two day Academic Library Association of Ohio's (ALAO) 33rd Annual Conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

I printed my directions to the Convention Center, located my hotel and judged it's proximity to the Convention Center (easy walking distance), printed the page from the ALAO web site telling "if not parking at the Hampton Inn, use parking lots 3 or 4. These are closes to the C-Pod area" where ALAO events are being held, and printed a copy of the schedule at a glance for both days. Yes, there is a full program available from the ALAO web site, but I like to view that at the conference and look at the schedule-at-a-glance from home the night before.

I am looking forward to hearing Joe Janes on Friday at the President's Program. As I have mentioned her before, I was lucky enough to hear Mr. Janes at the 28th Annual Conference five years ago. There will be plenty to choose from over this two-day event and I am sure I will be blogging about them over the next week. All that's left for me to do is decide if I should drag my work laptop along, or take notes at the sessions I attend and bring my camera instead. I have not been able to determine if the convention center is wireless (shades of unhappy users at Akron looming in my thoughts), so I will probably opt for notes and my camera. It is a lot lighter to carry!

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

2007 Blogging Scholarship

Straight from my email inbox, the Actions and Answers section of the lastest issue of American Libraries Direct:

Library Student is finalist for $10,000 blogging scholarship

"Karin Dalziel, an LIS student at the University of Missouri–Columbia, is one of 20 finalists for College’s 2nd annual
blogging scholarship, which features an award of $10,000 to help pay for books and tuition. Dalziel was selected from hundreds of applicants and is the only library blogger in the group." (ALDirect, 10/17/07)

I have read Karin's blog, already placed my vote, and would encourage people to take a look at the finalists for this interesting award. (And yes, seriously consider voting for Karin.)
And, to answer the question posed in the header of Karin's recent blog posting, Am I the only one that likes library school? ... nah, I really enjoyed my experience at Pitt.

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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

It's time for something new

We have taken the first step to a new library web page; not just realizing the time for change has come, but knowing that it will be easier to start anew as opposed to upgrading what currently exists. This has been quietly in the works for several months, to be fair most of a year. After attending two Dreamweaver workshops last fall, I put my new found knowledge to work redesigning the Instructional Resource Center web site (and blogged about it here, here, and here). I learned many useful things, such as utilizing Dreamweaver's option for applying a template as opposed to creating my own generic page, and as is often the case found many things that could have been done better. With a new library page on the horizon, I will be able to put these experiences to good use.

As with the IRC web page, I will be starting the new library web page from scratch. While in theory starting over sounds like more work, it will actually be less problematic making design, flow, and content changes. Additionally, there will not be a period of time where new pages and old pages must live together in less than perfect harmony. When the time comes I am hoping to completely eliminate the existing page, erasing everything but the irc folder inside the main library folder on the server and then sending over new; but I am getting ahead of myself as this is an issue for completed pages.

Monday's librarian meeting set the stage. Each librarian is charged with scouring the web and locating three library web pages they like, keeping in mind there are a few constraints we will be held to; Ashland colors, similar formatting to the current main AU Web site, and the ability of the web designer. I recommended the following resources to begin our search:

I spent some time perusing the offerings on these sites and my favorites are:

  • North Carolina State University Libraries
    This page has six basic categories of information presented to their users and includes brief descriptions of each topic. It is text based as opposed to heavily image based and loads quickly. The basic backround is white, therefore no problems with printing. It also utilizes simple tables to format the page.

  • Fordham University Library
    Four information categories are presented + two side bar menu's with Quick Search and Helpful links (I really like the quick search - we have a catalog quick search but this is nicer). The page uses CSS as opposed to tables and, unfortunately, was a pain to print.

Though only a first step in what will be long process, it's exciting to see what could be. Have a favorite library web page? Feel free to add addresses in the comments section.

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Training wheels aren't just for librarians

I just finished reading "Should we take off those training-wheels" by Meredith Farkas @ Information Wants to Be Free and it struck a chord with me. I do not think this is something specific to, or mired in, libraries and librarianship. Though unfamiliar with the term, training wheels culture, two graduate assistants and I have been struggling with a like phenomenon in regards to a lab course. This self-paced basic technology lab is delivered using WebCT; students are encouraged to "try" individual assignments on their own using instruction modules and tutorials (video and written). Each year, students taking the course are more technologically savvy regarding computers. Each year the attempts at completing the work using provided instructions suffers a decided lack of interest.

"As instructors and trainers, I believe we are doing our best work when we can push people to take off their training-wheels, because we are helping them to become better life-long learners. So next time someone asks you for an answer they should probably be finding themselves, think about what you’re really teaching them if you give them the answer." (Farkas, 10/7/07)

We want students to succeed; throughout their entire academic career, not just within the library. In fact, we owe it to them as educators to make this possible, hence the inclusion of video, audio, chat reference, blogs, and other web 2.0 technologies students are familiar with and comfortable using to academic course-work. It is one of the reasons applications to AU's technology faculty learning community doubled from 2006 to 2007. But where do we draw the line, encouraging and expecting students to try? Are we doing them any favors sending email reminders, updating calendars, and posting to blogs?

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Friday, October 05, 2007

Are the students out there?

October is here and Autumn Quarter (for us) has definitely arrived. Along with that is the usual assortment of activities, events and community functions.

Ohio State Marion welcomed over 500 new freshman this year with a convocation program and a Common Book reading and discussion of the book "Honky" by Dalton Conley. Many students did read it this time and quite a few actually liked it. Many special welcome events were planned; the library collaborated with our new campus security office to offer a safety quiz and win an Ipod. I was amazed at the lack of response by many students; they were not interested in winning an Ipod or even getting a free prize just for doing the quiz. Others events and activities were similiarly not attended. I know how much work the staff put in to the events (myself included) to offer a great environment in which to start their academic careers. In a way they are shortchanging themselves; it's one way to distinguish college from high school and a great opportunity to explore what is out there. After all, who doesn't want free food and free prizes for doing virtually nothing but being interested? I fear that the lack of interest may spill over into areas of work performance, volunteer initiatives and others. We need students to be committed and interested!!!