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


Nov 05

Members-Only Online Discussion: Surveys in Libraries

Members-Only Online Discussion: Surveys in Libraries
brought to by the ACRL-ULS Evidence Based Practices Discussion Group

The ULS Membership Committee is pleased to provide a free online discussion for ULS members on Monday, December 2 at 1-2pm EST. 

To register, go to: http://ala.adobeconnect.com/e3ls0tsxc53/event/registration.html

Surveys in Libraries:

Want to know how well your library meets the needs of your faculty? Whether students understand how to navigate the library’s resources? Surveys are a great tool for learning about  your patrons’ perceptions of your library services and how well your library meets their needs, but they can also be a waste of time for everyone involved if they are not done correctly.

Join an online discussion where four expert survey users will encourage discussion on how to get the best results when constructing your own survey OR using pre-existing surveys.  This ACRL ULS online discussion is brought to you by the Evidence Based Practices Discussion Group.

 

Speakers:

Wendy Begay (Librarian, Tohono O’odham Nation) will explain the importance of actionable surveys to libraries.

Jason Martin (Head of Public Services, Stetson University) will speak on proper survey construction including the use of a blueprint and question types.

Rick Stoddart (Assessment Librarian, Oregon State University) will talk about the Counting Opinions survey as an alternative to LibQual.

Lisa Horowitz (Assessment Librarian, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) will discuss her experiences adding a library-related question to a series of campus-wide surveys.


Oct 17

Tips from the Trenches: To 3D Print or Not to 3D Print?

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

Editor’s note: “To 3D Print or Not to 3D Print?” is the second in a series of blog postings, “Tips from the Trenches,” by Cinthya Ippoliti.

To 3D Print or Not to 3D Print?

Part of the mission of the learning commons is to stay on the cutting edge of technology. So it’s no surprise that we’ve installed a 3d printer as a first and small step towards thinking about a makerspace in the Terrapin Learning Commons and the libraries as a whole.

Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool because to date, we’ve received about 10 questions a day regarding its use and several students have printed some “fun” items. So what kinds of things did we have to consider when adding this tool? First, we had to decide what type of printer to purchase. Our IT partners were instrumental in helping us buy a MakerBot 2X-not so high-end that we couldn’t afford it, but cool enough to attract attention.

What about policies and cost? This was fairly simple as these types of printers are becoming more and more mainstream. But there are still some logistics involved. Charge by the length of time it takes to print something or by its weight? Should students have a file ready to go or would we help them create it? We decided to charge 20c/gram and provide technical assistance for the students who wanted it, while simply processing the job for those who didn’t.

Should printing require mediation or be more self-service? At first we wanted to retain some control over the printer given that we ourselves had to learn how to use it, so it is comfortably perched behind our TLC Tech Desk in full-view and garners at least a few interested onlookers who watch its systematic, layer by layer whirring each day.

Finally, what happens if a job goes wrong? For now we’re willing to re-print something if it’s our fault and we’re keeping things in a pilot mode. We’ve created a basic webpage with all of this information in order to assist students and give them an idea of what to expect: http://www.lib.umd.edu/tlc/tlc-tech-desk

So what’s next for us? A few hands-on workshops and continued publicity with the goal of reaching out to others on campus who might be interested in either using this type of tool or providing programming and additional activities revolving around makerspaces. We see a strong connection with those taking classes in human computer interaction, the sciences as well as the arts.

What are the takeaways if you are interested in setting up this type of service?
1. A recurring theme is collaboration-find out who knows about these tools and invite them to meet with you to identify potential partnerships and support.

2. Start small-we only have one printer for now and we’re going to strategically build up this model, but it will take time and we don’t want to rush into anything we can’t sustain.

3. It’s ok to make mistakes and learn as you go-that’s part of the process, just keep things flexible and adjust as needed.


Oct 13

Greetings from the ULS Chair

Greetings ULS Community!

As the current Chair of ULS for this year 2013/14, I wanted to say hello and share some information to our over 4,475 ULS members! (# as of August 2013).

 

1) Celebrate our Accomplishments

Every year  ACRL leaders of the sections, interest groups, and chapters report the activities and programs that their unit carried out in support of the ACRL Plan for Excellence. Check out the report for ULS for FY13 (June 2012-July 2013) by Past-Chair Stephanie Atkins on ULS ALA Connect site.

 

2) Join the Online Conversations

ULS is looking for more ways to engage our members – especially for those who may not be able to travel to conferences – and to continue conversations from conference events. We have folks in ULS leadership with experience conducting online learning sessions (like our TULScommittee’s lightning round ups!)  who are helping coordinate with various ULS committees for content and topics.  ULS Exec  has decided to try offering at least two  “Online Discussions” for our members to join in virtually this year.  Details will be coming soon but hold the date Dec 2, 2-3 pm EST for the first ACRL ULS Online Discussion!

 

3) Network and Connect

Are you planning to attend Midwinter in Philly? We are trying a new idea this year for ULS committees. We will have one All-Committee Meeting (tentative) SAT JAN 25, 10:30-11:30am where most committees in ULS will represent. Those on these committees can meet up for a meeting, but other  interested members can stop by and learn more.  Some committees will still have their own timeslot at midwinter  - especially those who do discussion groups: Campus Admin and Leadership DG, Committee on the Future of Libraries, Evidence-based Practices DG and Mid-Level Managers DG.  (Find out more about all the ULS committees)  Note:  We also will not host an in-person meeting for ULS Exec at Midwinter but rather will be hosting an online meeting after the conference.

 

4) Network and Connect with ULS virtually

Find us on facebook.

Check out our wiki.

Join the ULS Listserv.

Connect on ALA Connect

And be sure to check out more on our blog - guest submissions are welcome so please share!

 

I’m excited about the possibilities this year and hope you all will find ways to get involved, network, learn, and share. Please contact me if you have any thoughts or ideas or questions!

 

beth filar williams
University Libraries Section Chair
efwilli3@uncg.edu


Oct 02

ACRL e-Learning webcast: The Publishing Rollercoaster – Writers Sound Off

Join ACRL for the e-Learning webcast, “The Publishing Rollercoaster – Writers Sound Off,” on Wednesday, October 9 (1:00 – 2:30 p.m. Central).  Expand your knowledge of professional publishing from concept through research, submission, revision, and publication. Bringing first-hand experience of the writing and publishing process, the webcast panelists will share their experiences while presenting strategies and tips for those who are hoping to get published for the first time, or who wish to grow their skills.

 Learning Outcomes:

  • Develop critical skills to improve their writing process, including strategies for getting published.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of the professional publishing world.
  • Make connections with others around the country to expand possibilities for collaborative writing projects.

Presenter(s): Barbara Fister, Gustavus Adolphus College; Christopher Hollister, Associate Librarian, University of Buffalo Libraries; Angela Courtney, Head, Arts & Humanities Department/Head, Reference Services Department, Indiana University Libraries; Moderator: Melinda Dermondy, Syracuse University

Registration materials are available online, and group registration and other discounts are availableVisit the webcast site for additional details.  Contact mconahan@ala.org or call (312) 280-2522 with questions.

 


Oct 01

ULS Member Scholarly Work: Owens

Congratulations to Tammi M. Owens, who recently had her article on virtual reference service published in Internet Reference Services QuarterlyOwens is Emerging Services & Liaison Librarian with the Darrell W. Krueger Library at Winona State University.

Tammi M. Owens (2013) Communication, Face Saving, and Anxiety at an
Academic Library’s Virtual Reference Service, Internet Reference Services Quarterly, 18:2, 139-168. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10875301.2013.809043.


Sep 19

ULS Member Scholarly Work: Horowitz & Martin

Congratulations to Lisa R. Horowitz and Jason Martin, who shared information about their recently published article. Lisa R. Horowitz is Assessment Librarian at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries and Jason Martin is Head of Public Services, duPont-Ball Library, Stetson University.

Horowitz, L.H. & Martin, J. (2013). The Librarian as Practitioner/Researcher: A Discussion. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 8(3), 79-82. Available at: http://ejournals.library.ualberta.ca/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/20500/15739


Aug 30

Tips from the Trenches: From Learning Commons to Event Planning

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

Editor’s note: “From Learning Commons to Event Planning” is the first in a series of blog postings, “Tips from the Trenches,” by Cinthya Ippoliti.

From Learning Commons to Event Planning

Your learning commons is very successful, students are using your spaces and services and there’s a certain buzz and energy which surround these areas throughout the year. But wait, more campus groups have found out about your comfy furniture and reservable study rooms and are asking to use them for their workshops and events! Certainly a learning commons is not in the business of planning events…or is it?

This is exactly what happened at the Terrapin Learning Commons (TLC) at the University of Maryland, which occupies one floor of the McKeldin Library. So what have we done? We quickly realized that we needed an online form where interested groups could specify which of our various-sized rooms they wanted to utilize and for what purpose. Until recently, these requests have come in on an ad-hoc basis and the need outgrew our ability to effectively manage all of these competing events. We’ve had requests to host cocktail parties, coffee hours, peer-group tutoring sessions and a semester long class, all utilizing two larger rooms and a few smaller study rooms. For each event, we now ask groups to indicate how they want the furniture placed, what the expectations are for set-up and cleaning and how many people they think will attend. On the day of the event, we make sure the room is ready, post signs to alert students and make certain a staff member is available to help in case there are any last minute issues.

In addition, for those departments who wish to use our spaces on a more permanent basis, we’re forming specific partnerships that promote cross-marketing, sharing of student engagement opportunities and collaborating on using data and assessment systems. Our first partnership this semester is with the Graduate Writing Center who will occupy one of our larger study rooms for some of the activities mentioned above. In addition, we will cross-promote services on our respective websites, hand out flyers and giveaways from our TLC Tech Desk and capture this data via our LibAnswers system.

How is this possible you may ask? First, we have a strong internal partnership with our IT department who has been included in these conversations from the beginning. Portable instructor stations, laptops and easy to move furniture are the key to making these spaces as flexible as possible. Second, we have incorporated these services into the existing workload of our tech desk staff. Under the supervision of our TLC Manager, students are trained to check our calendar for the day’s events and fill out our checklist (this is still in development) to make sure they know what’s happening at any given time. Third, we announce daily sessions and workshops one of our monitors.

Final takeaways for this post:
o Find out what the need is on campus for library spaces if it doesn’t already exist
o Plan how you will support incoming requests and how you will allocate appropriate staff to provide this service-this does not have to be costly or complicated
o Look for ways to create deeper partnerships which may yield added benefits for the library down the road
o Finally, market and publicize the great work that results from these activities-you never know what hidden opportunities lie in wait


Jun 27

ULS Mid-Level Managers Discussion Group at ALA Annual

Mid-Level Managers Discussion Group

Are you a mid-level manager in an academic library? Or, are you contemplating moving into management in a library? If so, please join us at ALA Annual for a discussion about burn-out and morale.

When: Sunday, June 30, 1—2:30pm
Where: Hyatt Regency Chicago: Columbus AB

For more information about this discussion group, please see our wiki page at: http://wikis.ala.org/acrl/index.php/ULS/MidLevel

Leslie Madden, Convener


Jun 19

ULS program – Busting Out of Your Cubicle!

If you’re heading to ALA, please check out the ACRL ULS program. It promises to be practical, relevant, and fun to be a part of!

 

Busting Out of the Cubicle:  Your Creative Self at Work

Saturday, June 29, 2013

4:30-6 p.m.

McCormick Place Convention Center, S102bc

Are your library’s brainstorming sessions more like… brain droughts?  M.J. D’Elia and Robin Bergart of Innovative Bootcamp (University of Guelph) will show you activities and strategies you can use to teach your library how to be a more creative organization. As academic libraries face new technologies, shifting priorities, and ever-increasing competition for resources, they must learn to respond creatively to problems. Innovation and organizational creativity know-how are critical to success.

Leave this active, hands-on session electrified!  Hope to see you there!


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