Apr 10

SXSW 2014 Round-up Overview

Author: Sara O’Donnell, University of Northern Colorado, on behalf of the ULS Technology in University Libraries Committee

On March 26, 2014 the ACRL ULS Technology in University Libraries Committee hosted the SXSW 2014 Round-Up, a webinar featuring five speakers who presented overviews of their favorite sessions and themes from SXSW Interactive 2014. The free online event afforded those who were unable to attend SXSW in-person a glimpse into one of the most cutting-edge technology conferences in the country. In 10-minute lightning-round style presentations, each speaker offered her unique take on the conference, highlighting ideas and innovations of interest to academic librarians.

The panel of speakers (in order of appearance) included:

• Lisa Martin, Business/Economics/Hospitality Librarian, University of Houston Libraries
• Emily Hurst, Technology Coordinator, Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library
• Bonnie Cain-Wood, Senior Communications Specialist, Oklahoma State University
• Emily Rimland, Kalin Librarian for Learning Innovations, Penn State University
• Carolyn Cunningham, Librarian for Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

Speakers introduced the nearly 80 webinar participants to practical tips and tricks – from how to speak and write better to how to snap great pictures on your smart phone – as well as emerging trends that will transform the way librarians assess and distribute information. Social media, big data, and wearable technology (think Fitbit) were identified as recurring themes at SXSW that could have a big impact on how we offer library service and engage with users.

If you weren’t able to join us for the webinar, you can still catch the full recording here: https://connect.usu.edu/p68do9kaznm/

Or view the slides here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7Yjs7K2KGIRM2dqUWN1QXIxU1k/edit?usp=sharing

The ACRL ULS Technology in University Libraries Committee plans to continue bringing conference overviews straight to your computer screen, so keep an eye out for future round-ups on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Apr 03

ULS Members-Only Online Discussion: April 23

Members-Only Online Discussion: Academic Library Outreach
brought to you by the ACRL-ULS Academic Outreach Committee

The ULS Membership Committee is pleased to provide a free online discussion for ULS members on Wednesday, April 23 from 12-1 pm EDT. To register, go to: https://acrl.webex.com/acrl/onstage/g.php?t=a&d=663903084

Academic Library Outreach: The Intentional, the Desperate, and the Serendipitous

Academic librarians Matt Upson and Lizz Zitron tell their tales of implementing successful, serendipitous outreach at their libraries. Matt, co-creator of the Library of the Living Dead comic, shares his story of how he turned desperation and by-the-seat-of-his-pants outreach into a community-building national phenomenon. Lizz, editor of theoutreachlibrarian.com, offers guidance and practical examples for those already implementing intentional outreach or looking to start. No matter your budget, staffing, or patron needs, Matt and Lizz are sure to inspire you through their stories and experiences.


Lizz Zitron, former Outreach Librarian at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI, is now Instruction Librarian at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. At Carthage, Lizz worked with both the college community and the greater community at-large. She writes about engaging myriad communities and the importance of connecting academic libraries to the local community.

Matt Upson is Director of Library Instruction at Emporia State University and will join Oklahoma State University as Director of Library Undergraduate Services in April. He enjoys providing (or at least attempting to provide) practical, humorous instruction and promoting meaningful interactions with community members. He recently shaved his beard and is not feeling as confident as he did around mid-February.

Mar 28

Technology & Libraries Committee SXSW 2014 Round-Up

Earlier this week the ACRL-ULS Technology & Libraries Committee presented a webinar that recapped many of the sessions attended by members at SXSW 2014.

If  you were unable to attend you can watch the webinar or view the slides at your leisure. And if you watch the webinar, be sure to complete the evaluation.

Mar 26

Academic & Research Libraries IFLA Applications Due May 1

ULS needs to  nominate an IFLA ACRL representative for the 2015-2019 session of an IFLA Standing Committees. For ULS we fall in this category:  Academic and Research Libraries along with CJCLS, and CLS.

We are soliciting applications from eligible members who would like to represent ALA at IFLA. This is just NOMINATION and those names submitted will be reviewed and chosen by ACRL in June.

Summary of the highlights from guidelines:

  • Members are nominated and officially endorsed for a four-year term to every IFLA section standing committee at each IFLA election. The new appointments will be for the 2015 – 2019 term. Individuals can only serve on one IFLA committee at a time, and a maximum of two consecutive terms. Any ALA/ACRL member may be suggested for nomination to one of the six IFLA standing committees above. Individual applications for nomination are also acceptable. Current incumbents who are eligible for a second term may apply for continuation.
  • Nominees should be experts in the field covered by the section and have a working knowledge of at least one working language of IFLA (English is an IFLA working language), and should have reasonable expectation of attending meetings of the standing committee without cost to IFLA or to ACRL.
  • ALA representatives on IFLA section standing committees are required to report to their constituencies on appropriate developments and information originating from their respective committees; these communications may be published in ALA journals or newsletters, or as special reports to ALA members; and transmit a copy of the report(s) to the ALA International Relations Committee.

Candidate applications/nomination suggestions should include & SENT TO BETH (efwilli3@uncg.edu) BY May 1:

  1. Completed application form (attached)
  2. A resume reflecting expertise in field of the section applied for
  3. Affirmation that the person can fulfill the working language and travel requirements


Author: Beth Filar Williams, ULS Chair 2013/14

Mar 03

The ACRL-ULS Current Topics Discussion Group Wants You!

Are you passionate about academic libraries? If so, the ULS Current Topics Discussion group wants you! Check out their call for discussion group leaders/presenters for the 2014 ALA Annual Conference meeting.

Jan 23

An ACRL-ULS Emerging Leader Looks Back

Author: Tarida Anantachai, Resident Librarian, Syracuse University Libraries

With ALA Midwinter fast approaching, ACRL-ULS will be busy with plenty of meetings and discussion groups (for more information, check out this list of ULS Activities at ALA Midwinter 2014). Midwinter also kicks off another cycle of the Emerging Leaders (EL) Program, bringing together early career professionals from all walks of librarianship as they embark on a series of leadership trainings and a six-month group project, the latter of which is presented at a poster session at the following ALA Annual Conference.

Last year, I was honored be sponsored by ACRL-ULS to take part in the Program, and am still extremely grateful for the amazing experiences and connections that that came as a direct result of it. ALA Midwinter marks the official start of the program, during which ELs engage in interactive workshop discussions on topics related to leadership and collaborative work, and meet their project teammates to initiate the next six months’ worth of work. I was grouped with three incredible academic librarians to collaborate on an ACRL-sponsored project, which (as with a few other EL projects) was actually a continuation of a previous EL team’s work. For this iteration, our specific goals were centered on orienting new and potential ACRL members to their first ALA Annual Conference, as well as to ACRL as an organization. In addition to our eventual poster presentation, my teammates and I led two live pre-conference webinars via Adobe Connect in order to do so. As such, over the course of the next six months we engaged in activities including evaluating the previous EL teams’ contributions, conducting surveys and interviews with our target audience, implementing a communication plan, and, ultimately, producing and assessing our webinars in conjunction with ACRL representatives. My teammates and I worked extremely well together over the course of the six months, staying in close contact with each other and utilizing various virtual platforms to organize our documents and ideas, including e-mail, Google Docs, and even conferencing within Adobe Connect itself. At the same time, we also received incredible support from our team mentor and the ACRL officers involved. It really was a dynamic and collaborative process, and when it finally came time for us to take the stage, I think we all had a lot of fun!

Overall, I think our finished product(s)—not just the poster, webinars, and other deliverables, but also our collective growth throughout the process—was successful. And while most of our EL experience was amongst each other, it is worth mentioning that additional virtual trainings were also provided to the whole EL cohort between the two conferences, further supplementing our continuing education within the Program. Reuniting at ALA Annual after many months of work was rewarding yet bittersweet, as it marked the end of our formal teamwork. Yet as with any collaboration, the connections we made with each other and the other participants were just as valuable and have since been sustained; in fact, we have continued to stay in touch and even discussed working together in other future capacities. Since then, I have also been fortunate to work on some ALA committees, including those within ACRL-ULS; in many ways, I credit the Program for opening doors towards such committee involvement, and in general, for introducing me to so many inspiring and talented colleagues along the way.

I genuinely enjoyed being an EL, and am so excited for the next cohort as they begin their own EL journeys. I was similarly delighted to discover that ACRL-ULS would be generously supporting another participant this year: Nataly Blas, current Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, MLIS graduate of Florida State University, Spectrum Scholar, and all-around fantastic librarian. But for more about her, stay tuned for her forthcoming blog post! ‘Til then, best of luck to her and the rest of the Class of 2014, and we look forward to seeing the amazing things to come as you begin your own “Emergence!”

Jan 05

ULS Activities at ALA Midwinter 2014

If you are heading to Midwinter in Philly, please take note of our events and meetings that are happening.

For the first time ULS will be hosting an All Committee Meeting. Almost all the committees in ULS will be represented at the time slot. Some will be having a meeting which you are welcome to join (regardless of being on that committee) and some will just have a representative there to chat with any interested members about volunteering with ULS. (Learn more about ULS committees here & note that we are accepting volunteers for committees now too!)  You are also welcome to attend the separate discussion group meetings and PLEASE come to our social on Saturday night! Details on all are below.


Beth Filar Williams
Chair ULS 2013/14


ULS All Committees Meeting
1/25, SAT 10:30-11:30, LOEWS-Congress A

Campus Administration and Leadership Discussion Group
1/25, SAT 3:00-4:00, PCC-303 AB, Topics: partnering with Grants & Contracts offices

Committee on the Future of University Libraries
1/26, SUN 8:30-10:00,  PCC-118 C

Evidence-Based Practices Discussion Group
1/26, SUN 10:30-11:30, PCC-307 A

Mid-Level Managers Discussion Group
1/26, SUN 10:30-11:30, PCC-308

Public Service Directors of Large Research Libraries Discussion Group
1/26, SUN 4:30-6:30,  PCC-307 B

1/25, SAT 5:30-7:00  at the Field House, 1150 Filbert St. 19107
Find out more here & sign up to attend on the ULS Facebook page (linked above)

Dec 13

Tips from the Trenches: Putting the “Learning” Back in the Learning Commons

Author: Cinthya Ippoliti, Head, Teaching and Learning Services, University of Maryland Libraries

Editor’s note: “Putting the “Learning” Back in the Learning Commons” is the fourth in a series of blog postings, “Tips from the Trenches,” by Cinthya Ippoliti.

Workshops are a natural extension of the services of the commons. These days there are a wide variety of offerings geared towards giving students the basic skills they need to either use the equipment and software in the commons or learn about basic tools such as citation management programs.

But is there more? This Fall in the Terrapin Learning Commons (TLC), we decided to try something different. We began in Fall of 2012 with an informal TLC Workshop Series in response to need for citation management support. There was no one library department who “owned” it, so we began with Endnote Web and expanded to include other citation management tools such as Zotero as well as additional skill-based sessions on poster printing utilizing our new printer. We had over 100 students enroll in these various workshops and the initial feedback suggested we should continue to offer these types of learning opportunities.

In the meantime, digital badges arrived and we wanted to see if we could formalize learning while offering students something a little extra. This Fall, students attended in-person workshops under four main tracks, taught by a variety of experts across the libraries:

1. Visual literacy/Primary Sources
2. Multimedia software and techniques
3. Citation Management
4. Production: Poster and 3d Printing

They had the option to enroll in a Canvas course comprised of matching modules which became available after the last workshop ended and access additional readings and videos as well as quizzes designed to test their learning of the in-person elements as well as the content for each module. Upon passing each module with a 75% or better, they could earn a badge for each of the four competencies. The opportunity to win an iPad was probably the main motivating factor-we will assess this for future offerings.

Five people enrolled, two finished the entire course. Their average scores at the end of the class were 91.7% and 97.5% respectively. What did we learn from this experience and what are our takeaways?

• The numbers of attendees has decreased, while our workload has increased especially with this new curriculum. It simply might be that students do not want to devote the additional time to another “course” outside of their classes

• Interest in some things like poster printing is no longer high-presumably students know how to use the equipment

• The workshops are not always held at a convenient time for students and in-person may not be the best format

• There is no disciplinary context for the content, so students might not see it as relevant

• How do we accommodate the just-in-time vs just-in-case needs? We need a more flexible curriculum

We are planning on gathering feedback from all those who attended our workshops (34), not just those who completed the course, to determine how we can improve. We will also determine if we can offer more online content for the workshops where appropriate. Finally, we will collaborate with specific campus-wide partners to see where in the existing curriculum a format such as this might best fit. For example, might a freshman orientation course benefit from having this type of online content tied to specific competencies that could be assessed for a badge? Or might this fit better in a broader academic setting where a campus-wide badge might be awarded?

We are still exploring all of the possibilities available to us, but the idea of creating an original curriculum that goes beyond offering independent workshops for students has intrigued us and is challenging us to discover what lies ahead.

Nov 13

ACRL-ULS Webinar: LITA Forum Lightning Round-Up

Did  you miss last week’s LITA Forum? Then be sure to catch next week’s free webinar!

WHAT: LITA Forum Lightning Round-Up!
A free webinar presented by the ACRL-ULS Technology & Libraries Committee. This post-conference online session will provide attendees with an overview of some of the best presentations from LITA in Louisville, KY. Speakers from a variety of university libraries will present overviews of what they learned at the conference in a lightning-round fashion.

WHEN: Tuesday, November 19, 1-2 pm Central / 2-3 pm Eastern

REGISTER NOW: Go to the Google registration form. You will be emailed the link to the live webinar as the date approaches.

Nov 13

Tips from the Trenches: Ebooks, ebooks everywhere and not a helpful link

Author: Cinthya Ippoliti, Head, Teaching and Learning Services, University of Maryland Libraries

Editor’s note: “Ebooks, ebooks everywhere and not a helpful link” is the third in a series of blog postings, “Tips from the Trenches,” by Cinthya Ippoliti.

With the increased presence of ebooks in our collections, the UMD Libraries are attempting to address the needs of our users by conducting an internal usability testing project to identify issues such as accessibility, discoverability and general functionality. This project will lead to the creation of a troubleshooting guide for users as well as accompanying programming slated for Spring in the Terrapin Learning Commons in the form of an open house where we will work with our campus community to get readers and devices ebook ready. This seems to be the most logical unit to provide this type of support as ebooks cut across subject areas and disciplines and present more technological issues as opposed to content-related challenges.

So what are the issues we’re encountering and how do we translate them into an opportunity to assist our users? For the purposes of this testing, we’re using data collected via our LibAnswers system, but this could easily be the subject of a needs assessment survey or similar effort. Most of our e-book issues have to do with discoverability and accessibility. Patrons simply don’t know what titles we have available. We have had very few questions regarding e-book downloading to a particular reader. Most users simply want access – we have not had too many questions regarding check-out or keeping permanent copies either. It seems that most people have a particular chapter or section they need and as long as they can get access to that content, that’s their priority.

We’ve also heard from liaisons that they are getting questions from faculty about how to use e-books and we don’t have a good system in place for referring them to additional support. While we can troubleshoot accessibility issues such as links to titles we should own, there is no one area of the libraries that deals with the other sets of problems, such as vendor imposed limits on checking items out, formatting/printing and self-service options for more advanced users.

Our testing consists of the following activities and equipment with a volunteer group of about 12 staff from a variety of units and departments:

o Specify what vendors and titles to test
o Have a good variety of devices
o Try to “break” each e-book and test all possible options
o Each person should be testing every title
o We will then combine results from those who are using the same or similar devices for a comprehensive look at all the issues based on vendors, platforms and readers

1. iPhone 5
2. iPad or other tablet (Dell tablet and Android)
3. iPad mini
4. Kindle
5. Nook
6. Sony
7. Microsoft surface

We are also interested in asking the following types of questions regarding functionality:
1. Checkout and downloading options
2. File formats such as PDF’s or other
3. Capability to save, print and take notes
4. Necessity to use third party software

Testing is currently under way, and we hope to utilize the results of our study to create a troubleshooting guide and host an e-book open house in Spring 2014 based on a “petting zoo” approach to assist users who bring their own devices to get them set up, troubleshoot on the spot, and pre-load specific titles.

So what are the takeaways for this type of testing?
• This does not have to be a formal committee or initiative-we were able to purchase a modest amount of devices for those who did not already own one

• Internal testing is key-chances are if you’re having issues, so will your users

• There should be a unit or area that takes the lead in support and troubleshooting, otherwise users will not know where to go and there will not be a centralized effort

• Use existing or collect whatever data you need to help you decide where to start, as that’s often the most challenging aspect

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