OLA Super Conference CFP – OLITA stream!

I’m the co-planner for the Library Info Tech stream of the OLA Super Conference. This means I get to read all of the proposals that come in and work to craft a program that’s useful, broadly applicable, and genuinely fun.

This year’s theme is “Think It. Do It!” I am mostly really in to this theme. Despite appearances to the contrary, I’m kind of a productivity app-n-tool junkie. I like big ideas and tiny, broken-down tasks, but often struggle with turning the former into the latter. Attempts to articulate even very basic ways to do this are appreciated.

But the “it just takes hard work!” thread of the theme gives me pause. It’s an attitude that dismisses many of the reasons that certain groups move ‘from thinking to doing’ more easily than others. I am thinking about #LibTechGender as one important piece of this conversation, and about Mozilla’s Ascend Project as another. So: a critical look at ‘just do it’ will also be a welcome part of the conference.

All that is to say: you should really, really submit a proposal! Feel free to email myeself (jacqueline at scholarsportal dot info) and/or my co-planner (Stephanie dot Orfano at uoit dot ca) to bounce around ideas in the next few weeks! Continue reading


Electronic Resources & Libraries 2014

What a great conference Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) is. Presentation topics seem so timely to my own work—two years ago the talk was all discovery layers, this year it was heavy on eBook licensing and usage—and the specificity of the content is also highly appealing: useful tips about EZProxy here, large-scale models for analyzing troubleshooting workflows there, and a rabble-rousing talk by Barbara Fister to remind you how you got yourself into this mess in the first place.

And it’s always in Austin, where it’s sunny and friendly and busy (though being a city famed for live music still means 80% of it is terrible alt-rock covers).

I presented with my colleague and friend Meg Ecclestone on the usability of borrowable eBooks. She wrote a good piece about our rationale and progress here, so I won’t repeat but, in summary: their DRM causes a lot of confusion:

I’ve published my notes below, but would really encourage you to watch Barbara Fister’s talk in full.

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Library Publishing Forum

It’s been a week and my brain is still buzzing from the 36-hour long inaugural Library Publishing Forum.  I saw nothing of Kansas City, unfortunately, but the experience of being transported to a whole community deeply committed to publishing in libraries was so, so valuable. I came away with a lot to think about, and a list of projects I wish to have funded asap (please and thank you).

I am late with this. Others have blogged, Storifyedarchived or shared quicker and better than myself, so I’ve written just a few quick thoughts, and included the entirety of my notes below, should they be of interest.

– Similar to discussion in digital humanities, there’s a tension about the role of the library as service provider versus research partner. An extra layer of complexity is added in that, in addition to libraries building relationships with scholars, there are many instances where libraries collaborate or merge with their university’s press. Questions here are around who manages, who selects and, of course, who pays for the publishing work that go on as parts of these relationships.

– What’s more interesting to me, and more useful to think about since I’m not tied to one school or press, is the publishing that’s going on in libraries as library work – either as service or as in-library scholarship. What became very clear at LPF was that it’s often not possible to distinguish a library publishing effort from a library-managed Digital Humanities project. It’s arguably not necessary either, as long as conversations about publishing and conversations about ‘doing DH’ are not happening separately.

Should libraries and their presses integrate? Should they align but have different foci? Should libraries reject the traditional publishing model completely? Before attending the forum, I had really only thought of libraries-as-publishers in this third sense—and the Forum may have further radicalized me in that direction.  There are a lot of consortial opportunities in that scenario, and I look forward to fleshing them out in the coming months. I’ll also be pushing to formally join the Library Publishing Coalition as soon as it opens to consortium (quite soon!).

Notes below. Some session notes are more fleshy than others, and I’d be happy to clarify or expand with anyone who’s interested.

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The #iSkillsSM workshop

In mid-February, I taught a workshop at the University of Toronto’s iSchool on social media. It was specifically about social media for conference networking, a bit of a dry topic, but a useful one to think about.

When I was starting to sketch out the course, I read a lot of listicles about conference networking. They were mostly boring and terrible, and said things like, “decide what you want your personal brand to be” and “turn connections into a network.”

 Thrilling. Continue reading

OLA Super Conference 2014. Phew.

As I slowly dig myself out from under a pile of last week’s work (if you’re reading this, I probably owe you an email), I wanted to take a moment to say how much I enjoyed being a part of OLA’s 2014 Super Conference.

As an OLITA planner,  I am so genuinely grateful to everyone who submitted and spoke under the OLITA banner. I saw so few sessions, but I bothered a lot of people for feedback, and the responses were very positive. I must also give a deep and sustained bow to the OLA office, whose management and logistical support is truly, truly outstanding.  Continue reading

Slides from CASRAI 2013

Today I gave a short talk on <odesi> (sometimes ODESI, sometimes Odesi), a social-science microdata catalogue and repository that is one of Scholars Portal’s core services. It was a fairly small crowd (it was 4:30 PM, aka nap time), but I think a useful session. My co-presenters discussed other data access initiatives, including the Data Liberation Initiative and the Statistics Canada Research Data Centres (the DLI and the RDC, respectively.

Urgh, I’m going to talk about LibGuides

Oh my god. I can’t believe I’ve just come home from my first day of Access to write a blog post defending LibGuides, surely one of the most ridiculed of all recent library trends. I might as well say “you know Second Life has a lot of pedagogical value.” I do not want to be that person.

LibGuide are a giant time-suck and they do allow for a lot of bad design decisions very easily. But the tone today on Twitter (#accessyyz) and in the room was weird—it was really derisive, as if the idea that subject librarians wanted to create web-based resource guides with an easy-to-use tool was ludicruous. As if someone who had not been brought up to develop web content would have any business trying to put content out there. Because I have to tell you: there are not a lot of other mechanisms available.  Continue reading