Discussion Group: Get Involved with NELA

NETCRL– Teen and Children’s Librarian round table.

NETSL– sponsors conference at Holy Cross every spring. November will see another conference co-sponsored by NELINET, focused towards cataloging, but something for everyone.

ITS– Information Technology section. New chair of ITS section present, Rick Taplin. He was also the founder of this section. The IT section originally dealt with topics related to A/V issues, but now the scope has expanded to include many technological topics. Meets bimonthly, typically in Shrewsbury. Spring program yearly. Held an open source program (successful) this past spring. Programs at Annual yearly as well. Looking for new members interested in involvement at any capacity! Good to meet people from other states and see what they’re doing.

This last statement holds true for all sections, for exchange of ideas.

Kris Jacobi, president-elect of NELA, introduced.

NELSSA– Support staff section,VOLUNTEERS NEEDED!

HQ76.3– LGBT library employees.

Membership committee (Ann Connolly)- lots of email, bimonthly board meeting attendance, needs new ideas for recruiting new NELA members, things that would be beneficial to NELA members. In touch with new members and thank them, in touch with members to renew. NOT A LOT OF DATA ENTRY!

Public relations committee– need chair, help. Open for submissions for chair. Contests, brochures, booths/tables at NELA and other conferences.

Educational assistance committee– Grants and scholarships to MLS students, continuing education. Meetings flexible.

Conference committee– plan annual NELA conference, open exchange of ideas to plan program. Pooling of shared resources of speakers, etc. Includes inviting authors, etc. Cmte. works with other comtes. as well to development program.

Intellectual freedom committee– John Barrett was past chair, need new chair. Keeping up with news on issues with intel. freedom.

Publications section– collaborates on newsletter and website- new initiative to make both synchronous.

Nominating committee- pulls slate together for elections

Bylaws committee– chaired by Joanne Palko.

Joining a group can be a path to becoming an officer in NELA.

6 state reps in NELA- represent each state interests. Sometimes reflects political climate of state.

Please contact Ann Connolly if you have any questions about NELA or join any of the sections of NELA.

New members brochure, sections info on www.nelib.org.

NELA Executive board has treasurer, secretary, senior and junior director (junior director advances to senior director).

There are 800+ members of NELA.

Suggestion: run NELA membership drives at same time as state membership drives.

NELA sponsors 1 program at each state association conference, NELA President attends every state conference.

NELA also holds bi-annual NELLS (New England Libraries Leadership Section) conference. Four day conference on leadership and planning,. Besty Bray and Cheryl Bryan are co-chairs of NELLS. Communication via NELA listserv, virtual meetings. No live meetings as of yet, but it may come.

Suggestions: Possible permanent job board online? Need to pump up mentoring program, job sharing, posting, etc. Mentoring committee!

Wants: reinvigorate NELSSA, more activity with HQ76.3

Conference planning committee is comprised of both independent people who only serve on that committee and also representatives from other committees.

When to call a Systems Librarian

Systems LibrariansTuesday, 10:30-12:00

Margaret Donovan from the Cary Memorial Library in Lexington, MA, Edward McDermott of Goddard Library at Clark University, Don Richardson from Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Laurie Welling, Assumption College Library, all in Worcester, MA, discuss their experiences, good and bad, taking on the positions of System Librarian at public and academic libraries. Find out how they deal with the many day-to-day varied situations of their jobs, and who they need to involve to keep the systems functioning smoothly.

Everything is technology, so SysLibs end up working with all departments and all tools

Everyone (staff, Trustees, patrons), etc., like to see evident results – new tools, statistics, and working computers

Technology Culture is important in the library – staff should understand available tools. Libraries also have staff-only tools (mp3 players, digital cameras, etc.), to borrow, use and learn. The best way to create a technology culture is to rewrite job descriptions to include tech skills, and make sure new employees are qualified and comfortable in all aspects of librarianship.

What software do you use for statistics?
Voyager ILSs’ software into MSAccess database, database stats from vendors (trying to migrate to the “counter” standard with vendors – there is also the “sushi” standard, which is an automated stat system that gets pushed to you)

What about tracking PC maintenance

  • Most PCs are on a regular replacement cycle (3-4 year cycle), with funding coming from Town (they have to know how much this costs and that is important)
  • Use a spreadsheet to keep service records and IP address and service phone numbers, to make service calls easier
  • Use a spreadsheet to keep track during the year of all stats (usage, circ, etc) to make compiling at the end of the year easier

How do you manage unfreezing to do updates?
DeepFreeze and CleanSlate are both used. All computer stay on all night, and updates are scheduled for night (DeepFreeze is great for automating)
DeepFreeze should work on Vista no problem

Do you create and update websites?

  • WPI: Originally we created websites (in the 1990s), but maintenance and updating is shared throughout the library staff (4-5 people). But soon WPI is going to a CMS (Red Dot), so all existing models will change
  • Assuption: work more with OPAC than website – Electronic Resources Librarian does website
  • CML: There is a web team (2 people) who do most of the content, but there is supposed to be more. I do mostly thr tech support.

How is a good number for a web team?
WPI: We found 9 is too many, so pared it back to 6. Everyone knows basic HTML and has different areas of the site they maintain.

Do you implement technology competencies?
CML: We had a checklist, which made people nervous because they saw it as a test. Most people are getting better, and some have strengths in areas where others don’t (also use less-tech savvy people to troubleshoot and proofread handouts, because if they can do it, anyone can do it)

How about patron training at different skill levels?
CML: We do schedule classes in our training room, but there hasn’t been a lot of interest. Mostly it is on-the-spot, one-on-one

How does network tech support work with individual libraries?
CML: We learn a lot from each other (Minuteman), and they are great for responding

What about tech support coverage when you’re not there, and how many hours a week are you open?
CML: We have almost complete coverage, but there is always plan B: hang an “out of order” sign, and it can wait until tomorrow. But we do get calls/emails at home.
Hours: CML: 68 hours/week, WPI: 105 hours/week, Assumption: 100 hours/week

Do you circ laptops?
WPI: It is popular, and we check them out as normal but with a special “laptop use” agreement
Assumption: We use a lojack on the laptops

What about your professional development?
Assumption: Lots of on the job training, but have taken classes or self-taught: Oracle, php, MySQL
WPI: Haven’t learned as much as I’d like to, but comfortable with learning new things
CML: Was sent to Microsoft Server school, but since then it is just learning as software evolves (no one else in the library has to learn so much as quickly)

How do you document your job for your replacement?
CML: A collection of binders with manuals, etc. Also keep a “day book” of daily tasks and problems (which I also use to refer back on myself)
Assumption: Our documentation is out of date
WPI: We document the Voyager ILS well, and regularly update job descriptions, but we could do a better job with the details

Do you have digital microfilm equipment (scan to pdf, email, etc)?
CML: We had one, but it got stolen, and then we found that people were happy just printing right from the microfilm. You never know what the public wants until they start to use things
Assumption: We have assistive technologies, but not all staff can know everything. We want them to be familiar, but not experts, and let patrons (the users) be the experts

Best and Worst Experiences
WPI: Best – after 25 years, I got my own office. Worst – can’t think of one
Assumption: Best – tape backups don’t run on weekends because no one is there to change the tapes. I wrote an export script that ftp the backup to an external server. It took months, but it was worth it. Worst – not having an office, because I can’t concentrate
CML: Still waiting for best and worst. Bad – two different floods (which both came from the ceiling, not from below). Good – you always know you’re helping to make the whole library work

How much time do you spend helping patrons with computer questions?
CML: Maybe six times a week. Staff is good at calling me only in real emergencies. Also have to manage expectations, and not go above and beyond in every single situation.

What elevel of access do staff have to their machines?
CML: Most are powerusers (web people are local admins), and no one knows admin passwords on public computers. To do this, you need authority from above, and also the credibility for staff and patrons to believe you. We crack down a bit on non-work use (changing wallpaper, online shopping, etc), because these aren’t the staffs personal computers, they are the library’s computer (those are the people that usually end up with spyware and slow computers).
WPI: Staff have admin rights on the PC they use, and they are responsible for it
Assumption: Mostly same as WPI, because staff is busy and work hard, so it is important for them to stay connected (especially for those that work extra)

Scriblio: Web 2.SO? – Why it matters to Libraries

Lichen RancourtTuesday, 8:30-10:00

Scriblio is a program to help libraries create a stronger online presence developed by Casey Bisson of Plymouth State University and Lichen Rancourt of the Manchester (NH) Public Library. Lichen demonstrates why this just may be a new model for future OPACs. It provides keyword searching, faceted searching and browsing, persistent URLs for easy linking and full integration of website and catalog content and… it’s open source and can be used for free.

Slides available at http://remainingrelevant.net/remaining/236

What is a library?
A collection that is cared for and made available to the public

  • A collection: is not just books, but information resources – audio books, DVDs, internet resources
  • Cared for: librarians manage these materials and assist in their location and use
  • The public: the people we serve; our town, our consortium, anyone who uses our website or comes into the building (not limited to geography)

Enter Web 2.0
Libraries are no longer just destinations, but are a platform for information exchange (library to patron and patron to patron). This is also what Web 2.0 does – lets people share information with each other easily.

Geography is becoming less and less important, because some interaction happens online.

Three characteristics of Web 2.0

  • Usability: Traditional library tools are built to be used by experts. Web 2.0 tools are built to be used easily by anyone (2.0 = do it yourself)
  • Remixability: How easy is it to use content from our source and use it in another (embedding YouTube videos or flickr pictures into a blog, etc)
  • Findability: How are these tools found online? Patrons can’t find library books through google because traditional ILSs are “closed systems.” Web 2.0 tools are open to external searches and links

If libraries are about serving communities and Web 2.0 is about building communities, then Web 2.0 needs library service. Because, what do libraries have that Web 2.0 tools don’t have? Librarians to help.

Enter Catalog 2.0
This allows ILSs to serve patrons however they are searching online (the library website is just one avenue to the collection).

Traditional ILSs don’t like to share their data – even with librarians. New options are:

Scriblio meets all of the above criteria – easy to use by non-experts, but provides expert information in an open and shared way.

It’s a small plug-in for a wordpress blog

Tamworth Library website: http://www.tamworthlibrary.org

  • Sidebars has calendars with upcoming events and library hours (based on Google calendars (one location for data is represented in multiple locations, instead of having to update multiple locations)
  • Sidebar also has a flickr badge, showing the latest uploaded photos (of programs, resources, etc)
  • Blog posts serve as announcements, in the center of the homepage
  • Pages are for more static content, which exist within the website’s navigation
  • Catalog data is also treated as “live” data, so they show up as new books on the homepage (like a blog post) – having data in this format makes is very easy for patrons to browse new books. Catalog records use all existing library controlled data, as well as incorporates user tagging data (patron-generated data is not stored in the ILS – it is stored in Scriblio)
  • All three data types are searchable from one search box
  • Drawbacks: data is not live (uploaded manually in batches), so circ status is not completely accurate, and holds cannot be place. YET – this is open source and always in development
  • Some data provided by amazon – images, reviews, etc. – in return for a link back
  • RSS feeds are available through Scriblio automatically – for anything you want, based on the way you tag/categorize records
  • Patrons are adding comments and book reviews
    • this data is also included in the search
    • this is how Tamworth is currently handling reserves – they are sent as emails to staff (and this comment is not published)
    • All comments are moderated (patrons can choose “private” so that librarians see it but other patrons don’t)
    • Patrons also suggest things to do/purchase
    • Makes homebound patrons feel welcome

Jay RancourtJay Rancourt, Director, Cook Memorial Library

  • Implementing this makes the Board of Trustees nervous – be ready for this, but push forward. The Board likes it, but are worried about privacy
  • Posting policies for privacy issues: library incorporates web posting into their policy: get permission in writing from program presenters, and get verbal permission from parents (and try to avoid taking recognizable pictures of kids faces)
  • Managing information is less work than the old site – all web-based, so it can even be done from home (think snow days)
  • Knowing how people get to the website is a favorite thing – people coming from search engines is now equal to people who go there directly (it means the library data is findable to the world)
  • Kids and Teens love this, and get interested in posting
  • Use this to promote local history resources (much better than a vertical file). Best of all, patrons who know this local history can contribute
  • This is a great way to open a new channel to patrons – we already do in-person, phone, fax, email, etc… now we do IM and respond to comments

Back-end (WordPress)

  • Try setting up a free blog at wordpress.com to see how it works and how easy it is
  • New posts are easy forms to fill in
  • Changing the look of the website is just choosing a theme
  • Different permission levels for different users (staff can each have their own login and level of rights
  • Plug-ins are easy to add and turn on/off
  • Scriblio is a plu-in, with it’s own admin screen. Easy form to upload new catalog records
  • See working.remainingrelevant.net for a working example of a “fresh” Scriblio install

Is this tied in with LibraryThing?
Tagging is separate from LibraryThing tagging

Is it really just two people doing this?
Yes (Casey Bission does code, Lichen interacts with libraries, both develop ideas), with Jessamyn West helping with documentation.

Do you work with other Open Source projects?
Not directly, but the OS community is very open and friendly

How much time do you spend doing this?
Maybe 2-3 hours a week; the interfaces are so good that it’s easy and fun to use – especially since results are immediate

Is this moving the idea of a community center online? ie, are you helping community patrons start and use flickr accounts, etc., so they can contribute, too?
We hadn’t thought of it, but that’s a great idea. It’s also a great idea for programs. However, we do post information from patrons – one Trustee posted a video to YouTube of the 4th of July parade, and the library embedded that in a blog post.

When will this be ready for us?
Soon – maybe summer 2008. Contact Lichen for more information.