Friday, October 29, 2010

Going back to Web 1.0, or worse?

Two things catch my attention today, both of which have come up at work in the last week or so. First, this announcement from EBSCO:

Effective with a software release due this week, EBSCO will treat a short list of command line search tags (when entered in lower or mixed case) as text. Only UPPER CASE instances of these tags will be treated as search tags.... We highly recommend that all users become accustomed to entering ALL command line search tags in UPPER CASE to accomodate future additions to the short list of affected tags....

So, what can we do to incovenience power users? If you want to do an author search, you need to enter AU, not au. Descriptors (subject terms) are only DE, and not lowercase de. Let's go back to the good old days of case-sensitivity. Let's change something people are used to using, for no clear reason to the customer. As my director said, "Let's re-learn DOS while we're at it."

Then, a colleague noticed that a lot of the locations in our library catalog (which are somewhat cryptic abbreviations) no longer have links to what the location codes mean. Since it's a consortial catalog, there's often no way for a user to know what library has the book they need. I'm told there are over a thousand location codes in our catalog, and that individual libraries are responsible for maintaining their own information. Since some of them aren't doing it, it's the patrons that lose. And who knows why those libraries aren't doing it; maybe they don't have the staff time, or the system makes it too hard to keep up. But once again, our users get the short stick.

In the meantime, we've put on our a website a list of the main tags, and which libraries they represent. We'll try to see if something can be done at the consortial level. I don't know what we can do about EBSCO - may get the patrons after them?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Instructional Progress Report

We're into the second week of classes, and so far I've talked to one international marketing class and three finance classes. Coming up are marketing, PR writing, and advertising to see me to the end of the month. I have more classes scheduled this term than my average, with still a couple of faculty I'm waiting to hear from. The library must be hot this year!

Also coming up are presentations with my colleagues at the South Dakota and Minnesota Library Associations meetings, talking about our high school librarian/student research. It is SO neat to be doing original research, however small, and talking to audiences that REALLY are interested in your topic. So even though work is hectic, it's pretty satisfying.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Guides and More Guides

How sad that I haven't blogged since June. Since then I've had a vacation in the Black Hills, and have been short on sleep. Two colleagues and I went to Duluth to do a presentation on our high school research. I've also been working on LibGuides, the oh-so-wonderful new-to-us product for presenting our subject guides. It's addictive!

Gotta go - I have to work on a LibGuide for biography.

Friday, June 4, 2010

What I've Been Up To

So, what HAVE I been up to since April? Darned if I know. I know I've been working with students, teaching (talked to a graduate International Marketing class this week), preparing for our poster session next week at the Association of Christian Librarians conference (more on our high school research, and the poster is VERY well done, thanks to Donna!) Transitioning our subject guides to LibGuides. Keeping up with our databases, and reviewing "mine" as they come up for renewal. Had a retreat/strategic planning meeting for our latest reorganization, which is partially triggered by the several early retirements we'll have at the end of the fiscal year. Using up vacation time before the end of June.

I really, REALLY like LibGuides. I treat myself to working in it, when I'm caught up on my other projects. Our goal is to migrate our guides for fall. The business librarians will be meeting in a few weeks to review our business guides, decide who will handle what, and decide which guides can be combined or go away. I've already been looking at the usage and working on some of my guides. I haven't figured out yet how I'll migrate the international business guides: we have eight, which could be trimmed down - but how? Do we need separate international marketing, company, and industry guides? What about country information (used by other disciplines than business)? And the regional guides, which overlap a lot? I'm still pondering this.

In a week, I'm off to the Special Library Association (SLA) conference in New Orleans. I've never been to the city, so I'm looking forward to that, mixed in with my recent dislike of travel and utter confusion about how this conference is organized. Although I've been to SLA more than once, their conference and their online site for it bewilder me. But, onward I go!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Conference presentation

This week, my colleagues and I presented some findings of our high school research project at the National Catholic Education Association conference here in the Twin Cities. We had a good turnout (35-40 folks), the technology behaved itself, and we somehow managed to talk over the hymn singing session in the room next door. We found that graduating students from Catholic high schools know a few things that we academic librarians can build on (plagiarism is bad, how to cite sources in MLA style, how to select and organize materials for their project, etc.) One thing that surprised me is that they don't know about investigation footnotes, bibliographies, and other clues along the research path. This is something I'll want to talk about more when helping students one-on-one.

In the next few months, I'm talking to a management capstone class, I'm a co-presenter at a regional conference (different topic), and our group is doing a poster session at another national conference. I'll try and catch my breath, every now and then.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Thoughts on being a professional

I've had three or four ideas for blog posts recently, but when I don't make time to blog, they get lost in the ether and miscellany of my life. At least in my last post I noted one: what does it mean to be a professional? I've noticed that within the community of librarians (those "degreed" or job-titled folks), not everyone has the same standards of how you do your job. I've seen some behavior that is incomprehensible to me. How can you do x, or not do y, and still call yourself a professional? It's been in my mind for awhile, so today I'll riff on that a bit.

  • A professional (in the library biz) takes a stab at a question, even if it's not their area of expertise. Even if the technology is way beyond them. A professional tries.
  • A professional is not afraid to say, "I don't know," and then keep trying.
  • A professional can say, "I didn't think of that," and give credit to another's good idea.
  • A professional can learn from anyone: younger, older, peer.
  • A professional thinks about the patrons.
  • A professional goes the extra mile (which can get them in trouble.)
  • A professional cares.
  • A professional may "lose it" at a meeting (we all lose it sometimes), but a professional tries to improve their behavior - they don't keep "losing it," meeting after meeting.
  • A professional has a bad day, or a bad week, and so sometimes fails to live up to the idea of a professional. But they acknowledge that, and move on.
  • A professional wants to do something for the profession, and does it when they can.
  • A professional learns and grows in their profession.

And now, back to my regularly scheduled workday. Take care out there.

Friday, January 22, 2010

What I've been up to lately

I'm dismayed that it's been so long since I've done a blog post. It isn't like I haven't been working. It isn't like I haven't had good ideas for blogging (so far I've found one: what does it mean to be a professional? I'll have to figure out where I hid the other ideas.) But December mean the holidays, and getting ready for them. Just as we rolled into January, the valve on our dishwasher at home broke, and much of our upstairs and downstairs was flooded while we were at work. For the past few weeks, we've been living out of storage tubs (luckily, insurance will cover most of the repairs.) I may blog more on that later. But here's what I've been up to professionally.

Two colleagues and I are doing research on the information literacy skills of our incoming first-year students. We have surveyed (and are interviewing this month) the librarians at some of our "feeder" private high schools, to see what their graduates know, that we can build on. It's a hot topic right now. We are replicating a study done by Islam and Murno in 2006 ("From perceptions to connections: Informing information literacy program planning in academic libraries through examination of high school library media center curricula." College and Research Libraries, 67(6), 492-514.) Earlier this month, we interviewed high school librarians in the Twin Cities metro area, and for the last two weeks of January, we're doing greater Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin (we were "iced in" earlier this week in Des Moines.) It is very exciting to be involved in primary research, even in a small way. I'll try to post more on this later, but right now I need to do more catchup now that I'm back in my office.