Leaving Las Vegas: ALA Annual Conference Roundup, round 1

Wherein we distill thoughts on ALA Annual 2014. First up, a couple of non-preservation sessions. The preservation notes will be posted soon.

On Introverts

Jennifer Kahnweiler, PhD,  author of A Quiet Influence: The Introverts Guide to Making A Difference, gave the ALCTS President’s Program keynote on the power of quiet influence and the strengths that introverts bring to the workplace.  When asked to raise their hand in response to the question, “How many of you are introverts?” roughly 95% of the audience agreed. This is not a surprise to anyone in Libraryland, right? What is different is that Ms. Kahnweiler, who self identifies as an extrovert, is not out to make us into something we are not or to imply, as so many do, that being an introvert is a bad thing or that we should necessarily change into extroverts. She was here to instead help us realize our strengths and help us identify how we can use those strengths to better navigate our work.

By definition introverts are energized from within while extroverts get energized by people and places around them. Neither is a bad way of being, they are just different. Let us remember, too, that while you may have tendencies one way or the other, we often possess qualities of both the introvert and the extrovert and some of us have learned to “turn on” one or the other when the situation requires.

The characteristics of introverts are:

  • Analytical
  • Patient
  • Think before they speaking
  • A sense of both humility and privacy [which makes them terrific librarians I suspect]

Introverts are found in every industry and they can exact influence even if they are not in positions of power by challenging the status quo and inspiring change. Introverted leaders tend to be more analytical and listen more to their employees. According to Kahnweiler, we need introverts’ quiet influence now more than ever.

Challenges for introverts in the workplace include:

  • People exhaustion
  • Having to make fast decisions
  • Teams
  • Selling yourself
  • Putting on a happy face (she says the question introverts hate most is “what’s wrong?” because they tend not to demonstrably show their emotions)

How introverts can successfully navigate the workplace

Kahnweiler suggests ways that introverts can successfully navigate the workplace. If you manage introverts, these are good things to realize and provide space for if you want the most out of your staff. She stresses that introverts make an impact by quietly influencing people. These “ripples of influence” can change the workplace and make a huge impact on individuals and organizations.

Preparation—Taking time to adequately prepare for meetings or presentations helps alleviate anxiety.

Taking quiet time—Introverts are thinkers and need time and space to think through problems and find solutions.

Engaged listening—Listening provides a chance to build rapport and understand issues and concerns at a deeper level. Engaged listening is about connecting to the other person, not making the conversation about yourself. Of course, if all you do is listen, you run the risk of being perceived as not having an opinion or an idea. You also run the risk of being the person in the office people come to so they can vent, which can be stressful. Key tips: don’t multi task, bracket your thoughts (take random thoughts and put them in a ‘parking lot’ so you can concentrate on listening and being present), ask yourself “what can I learn from this?,” and move your body and be healthy.

Writing–Introverts can use writing as a way to gather thoughts and express ideas.

Thoughtful use of social media–She urges introverts to start with just 15 minutes a day and try social media as a way to build community and make connections. This is one part of her talk that really didn’t wring too true for me personally. I find that librarians and archivists have embraced social media with vigor, but then that is the pool in which I swim so maybe more people than not feel social media is too stressful.

More on Introverts

Susan Cain, “The Power of Introverts” TED Talk (February 2012); an animated version from RSA Shorts is here.

Bryan Walsh, “The Power of Shyness” Time Magazine February 26, 2012. [Walsh erroneously used “shyness” when he means “introvert.”]

Tumblarian Talk

This was a great conversation starter, I only wish the session lasted longer. My library is new to Tumblr and we are trying to build our community there. We will be participating in the #5DaysOfPreservation event the week of July 14th to help build that presence but I wanted to attend this to find out more.

If you are on Twitter, search #tumblariantalk for posts from the panel discussion. The panelists started with very brief statements with the conversation following. The panelists’ slideshows are online. A list of Tumblarians including some on the panel can be found on The Lifeguard Librarian’s site.


Ian Stade, Hennipin Co Library

Show unique items
Timely topics, post content that relates
Guest posts from interns and volunteers
Partner with researchers to show their work and interests


Colleen Theisen, University of Iowa Special Collections and University Archives

They have five Tumblrs with special collections content, organized by single collection, theme or department
Reblogs across tumblers
Feeds Instagram directly to Tumblr
Participate in common themes such as Miniature Mondays and Throwback Thursdays to create quick content
Don’t forget to use hashtags


Katie Anderson, Rutgers Special Collections (Paul Robeson Library)

Survey says 27% public and about 30% academic and special collections are using Twitter [see the survey information on slideshare]
Enable questions and submissions to facilitate conversation
Use your Tumblr description to market yourself and say something about who and where you are (many people ignore this)


Rachel Dobkin, Gov-info.tumblr.com

Tumblr is a project of LIS-GISIG students, their motto is “Making gov docs sexy since 2012”
Gets content from a variety of government blogs and social media
Defines government documents as anything any government agency ever touched even a little bit
Highlights data, services, health, archives, etc.
Information activism is an interest for her and trying to get more people involved
Hunts down documents when she reads in the news that “data or documents aren’t available”
Posts about every day
NASA pics are most popular


Daniel Ransom, Holy Names University

Tumblr is a mix of personal and professional acct
Alternative to using exclusively twitter or other format
Likes Tumblr for its responsiveness
Easy to connect to other librarians and the tone is generally positive


Molly Wetta, Lawrence public library

Focus is on readers advisory
Tries to post twice a day and wants half to be original content
Highlights local events and does readers advisory posts that relate
Produce readers advisory charts and graphs, insanely popular
Book reviews are popular


Audience discussion

How do you measure “success” with social media?

  • Weekly stats
  • Google analytics (add Google analytics id)
  • User quotes, collect the anecdotal evidence when you get it
  • No analytics for rss and reblogs
  • Journalists can find your posts and get you visibility
  • Questions through Tumblr are as valid as in person reference questions

Responding to criticism, some do, some don’t. Most of the Tumblarians on the panel were trying to make special collections accessible and don’t get a lot of negative feedback.

When you reblog, try to add info or sources that you may have that can add to the conversation.

How do you engage with students directly? Enable questions, put email on account, keep track of local community tagging trends.

Censorship, should we or no? Mostly no, one person did take down one post by request, she had permission to post a photo but made it into a gif and the person who gave permission didn’t like that and requested they take it down.



AIC 2012 Notes: Conservators and Social Media

Conferences are not all about the sessions.

The Good News: AIC’s Conservators Converse has done a great job of blogging talks from the annual conference. If you are looking for the Book and Paper Group sessions, the Electronic Media Group sessions, the Photographic Materials Group sessions, or any other session, you can easily find them (filter by category for ease of finding what you want). This is a fantastic way to share the event and kudos to them for wrangling so many people to blog the sessions.

The Bad News: You can now find almost all of the sessions on the Conservators Converse blog, which leads very little for me to post here. So what is left for me to talk about?

Let’s start with the session I participated in, “Communicating Conservation.” The panel was expertly put together by Nancie Ravenel, author of Social Media for Collections Care wiki. The panelists discussed how they use various social media and gave tips for effective blogging. Melissa and I focused on what platforms we use and why, who our audiences are and some of the ideas we have come up with that have been successful. Our presentation is available online. The presentations have been written up for Conservators Converse by Rose Cull (thanks Rose!). There is a good discussion going on over there and I encourage you to chime in. I wrote more about the resulting discussion and my lingering questions over on Preservation Underground.

Issues I’m Still Mulling Over

As a blogger both here (the “personal” me) and as part of my institution (the “professional” me), I am stuck on this idea of participation and how we can increase readership and response. It is called “social media” after all, which implies something beyond the simple act of writing. It’s been difficult with this blog to inspire conversation, although we have some loyal readers and responders and we are thankful for all of them. But all bloggers hope to spark ideas, share experiences and talk with people. How can we get more readers to comment or even to write guest posts? What content really gets your attention? Without feedback we are just shouting into the wind and expending energy that we could better channel elsewhere.

Which leads me to the next point, that of eyeballs, attention spans and the proliferation of really interesting blogs. When Holly and I started this blog there were not many preservation blogs out there. There were some, mostly personal blogs, but not too many that discussed issues or trends in the profession. Now we are competing with so many really great blogs that I wonder if we have hit a saturation point and capturing anyone’s attention will be increasingly difficult. Are there too many blogs out there now? Are we simply competing with them or is there more opportunity to collaborate across blogs (I would personally love that)?

Why are so many organizations reluctant to post their social media guidelines? I was asked during the discussion if my library has posted it’s blogging guidelines, they have not. I am in conversation with the key people who have the authority to make that happen, let’s just say the guidelines are still not available. You can find some on Nancie’s wiki, and Rose pointed to this link, but as we were putting our library’s guidelines together the organizations we found  sharing their documentation were mostly small public libraries. Why don’t we share more with the public and with our colleagues? this came up at the Great Debate, too. I realize there are privacy issues, and sensitive subjects, and it’s hard to stick your neck out in a profession that loves to judge and question. But I do think we should continue this discussion of why we use social media, what best to do with it, and how we can share more.


AIC 2012 Notes: Book and Paper Group Business Meeting

The Book and Paper Group held its annual business meeting on Thursday, May 10th. I estimated about 60 people were in attendance (a very, very small number of the membership…this will be important later).

AIC Annual Meeting 2013

Next year we will be in Indianapolis, IN*. The theme of the conference is “The Contemporary in Conservation.” To me that means plastics, modern adhesives, maybe trends in conservation either at the bench or in our programs. What does it mean to you? I’d like to explore education (both for conservators and for our target audience) and advocacy (for conservation, conservation education, etc). Get your paper ideas in!

BPG Budget

As usual we gnashed our teeth about the budget and the fact that since we have spent down our reserves as we were told, we now have little in our wallet should we need it. Our esteemed secretary asked us to consider ways we can raise funds.

The issue of the cost of the Annual came up and whether it is time to move to an electronic version to save money. The BPG Annual takes a very large portion of our available funds each year. We discussed (again) moving to an electronic version of the Annual with a print on demand option. The erroneous argument that printers want 1K orders before printing came up, as did the persistence of digital data (at least that part did at our table). These are both valid arguments, but not insurmountable problems if we do a little homework.

Print On Demand The argument that printers require at least a thousand print orders for the publication before working with you is incorrect. I talked with a friend who works at a large commercial bindery that also offers POD services. If you want more than 1,000 issues is is cheaper to print your publication traditionally, but if you need less than that number POD becomes a viable option even for very small orders. He said they would print one copy of that is all you wanted, although a hundred or two or three would be more affordable per piece.

Print As Archival Record The internet is not an archive, I think we can agree on that. With no print back-up we risk losing the work of our membership to the vagaries of the internet if we go e-only. That said, JAIC is deposited in JSTOR, which is a trusted repository for electronic publications. Does the BPG Annual meet the criteria of JSTOR? I’m not sure, but we should find out because depositing it with JSTOR and allowing POD for print is a great idea and would save us a lot of money.

My Proposed Solution Let’s investigate the following hybrid solution:

  • Move the Annual to an e-publication with the option for POD for those members who want print.
  • BPG should print (pick a number) Annuals for deposit in traditional repositories that will commit to their preservation.
  • AIC/BPG should deposit the Annual to JSTOR so that the preservation of the electronic publication will be assured.

A couple of caveats:

  • A hybrid approach (e-preferred publication in JSTOR with POD option) only works if JSTOR will take our publication. We need someone to investigate that (heck, all AIC interest group publications should be there).
  • If JSTOR will not take our publication, we could still offer an e-preferred/POD option if we deposit enough paper copies in trusted libraries/archives that will commit to their long-term preservation and access.
  • POD publications should be easy to order if you want one now or in the future.
  • BPG should foot the bill for POD requests since the Annual is a benefit of our membership. If BPG feels members should pay for their own POD copy as was suggested at the meeting, they should reduce our dues accordingly. Hey, maybe with less expensive dues we could gain membership. Win-win!

Discussion Groups

This is where things get interesting…voting on implementing changes when less than ten percent of your membership is at the meeting seems shaky and is a constant problem (7:30 a.m. meetings could have something to do with it).

New discussion group guidelines were proposed that laid out how much time should be devoted to speakers vs. discussion, and some other things I neglected to write down (sorry…if you were there, please fill us in). The guidelines were proposed because the discussion groups in the recent past have done more programming with less time devoted to discussion and are becoming indistinguishable from the regular program.

Much discussion ensued since “guidelines” are often interpreted as “rules” and the point of the discussion groups is to be more free-form and flexible in their programming. As someone who has done a lot of discussion group planning I see it as a failure of the co-chairs if enough time is not allotted for discussion. There are many ways to put a discussion program together, but you cannot have a discussion if you are left with little or no time to actually talk to each other. I don’t think we need rules  from above on how to plan our discussion group meetings but I was in the minority and the guidelines were approved.

The majority of the members present approved a new discussion group, the Art on Paper Discussion Group (APDG). This presents a conundrum as we now have three DG’s and our agendas are already pretty full. BPG offered two programming scenarios for vote (only two, really? I could think of at least one more scenario that wasn’t mentioned): Given that BPG will maintain 1-1/2 days of regular programming (therein lies the rub) we could have 1 of the 3 DG’s present each year, which means your group only meets every three years; or we could have 2 of the 3 DG’s meet each year with one having the year off. This one (2/year with one taking the year off) is the one that won the vote.

So, I guess I’ll attend 2 out of every three AIC conferences since LCCDG is the primary reason I go to AIC any more. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all the hard work that goes into planning discussions, and programming is difficult. I’ve been there and done that and it is often a thankless job. But we will never be free of conflicting interests at a large conference, so using the straw-man argument that we want to reduce conflicting schedules and therefor relegate one interest group to oblivion every third year further marginalizes library and archives conservators in my opinion. I could go on, but I won’t. It is done, and now it remains to be seen what happens from here. Go forth and discuss.

*Home of Shapiro’s, the best damned corned beef sandwich EVER!

ALA Midwinter 2012: Preservation Administrators Interest Group Meeting Roundup

Written by Laura Bedford and woefully late in posting by me. Sorry Laura for the delay, and thanks for your notes. By sharing information like this, especially when travel budgets are so tight, we all benefit.

Preservation week  April 22-28, 2012

Two websites:

  1.  ALCTS website (http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alcts/confevents/preswk/plan.cfm)  – for institutions to grab materials off for their own sessions;  it will contain a map of events for preservation week – you input info and it’s updated. (thru ALCTS)
  2. @ your library pass it on website (http://www.atyourlibrary.org/passiton)  – more for the public – what’s going on during the week, including  family focused events and activities.

@your library  will have different daily content focus:    AV, quilts, comic books, slides,  digital photos, family docs; it will include both video and print content.

There will be 2 webinars during Preservation Week  –  Tuesday : textile collections care;  Thursday:  digital photo conservation.

Also look to @facebook   facebook.com/preservationweek and @twitter.com/#/PreservationWk

Preservation week national spokesperson – Steve Berry.  He’ll speak on Monday 1/23 about his “ History Matters”  organization created by him and wife.

There’s a Preservation Week booth for the first time at ALA – will be continued through other meetings, staffed by volunteers.

IMLS Fellows

  • Annie Peterson –  IMLS Fellow at Yale, MLIS at Urbana-Champ, intern at UCLA and George Blood
  • Nick Szydlowski – IMLS Fellow at NYPL; IMLS at Simmons, works at MIT.
  • Kimberly Tarr – NYU moving image program; prior A/V project at Smithsonian’s NMAH; auditing NYPL audio spaces.

All will be presenting at ALA Annual in Anaheim on their fellowships.  Also Evelyn Frangakis from  NYPL will be organizing a memorial for Jan Merrill-Oldham  at PAIG at Annual – contact her if you want to be involved.

Managing an efficient local book scanning workstation

Roger Smith – Head of the Preservation and Digital Library programs at UC San Diego

UCSD just completed contract with Google – selecting material for digitization to fill in gaps in rare materials that weren’t sent thru the google process.  Working through a rights checklist assessment process, determining what will be viewed at a local level or publicly.  Asking questions to find out what materials fall in private and public levels.   Why are we digitizing – for preservation, access, both? What costs are associated with collaborating with other institutions?  Focus on managing assets going forward.  He looked system wide in UC’s,  starting with combined metadata repository, in efforts to break down silos within UCSD.

Setting yourself up – currently he has one scanner, buying a second.  What level of work you expect to do  should drive what and how many scanners you purchase.  What special needs do the materials entail – what about automated features?  What is the budget?  UCSD chose manual page turning feature, to be able to send special collections material thru it.  What’s your time frame?  Important to get a loaner from a vendor first, or plan site visits to check it out and talk to other customers – like at ALA.

Proposal management –get buy in from other depts.; create a proposal mgmt process from the library to help other depts. go thru and manage their expectations; define the purpose, value, audience, timeline, collection description, number of objects, condition, metadata, staffing, funding and approval tracking.  Many depts. came with good ideas but didn’t have answers to questions at the offset – needed to go thru proposal mgmt process before beginning.

Continue reading

Conference Report: GBW Standards of Excellence

Post contributed by Karen Jutzi, Conservation Assistant, Special Collections, Yale University Library Preservation Department.

The 30th annual Guild of Book Workers Standards of Excellence Seminar was held October 6–8 at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, MA. Four optional tours of area facilities were given on Thursday: North Bennett Street School & the Boston Athenaeum;  Margaret Clapp Library at Wellesley College; the Museum of Printing History & NEDCC; and ACME Bookbinding & Harcourt Bindery. I attended the tours of the Museum of Printing History and NEDCC, where we were shown the imaging facilities and the paper and book conservation labs.

Thursday evening’s opening reception was held at M.I.T.’s Hayden Library. During the reception, the Wunsch Conservation Lab was open to tours, which were given by Nancy Schrock, Bexx Caswell and Ayako Letiza. There was also a selection of items from the Hayden Library’s special collections laid out for our perusal.

Presenters at this year’s Standards were Katherine Beatty, Dan Essig, Todd Pattison, and John DeMerritt.

Katherine Beatty demonstrated the construction of an Islamic bookbinding. Katherine holds an MA in paper conservation from Buffalo State College. She studied Islamic bindings with Yasmeen Khan at the Library of Congress. Katherine constructed an Islamic bookbinding from start to finish:  from the method of sewing the text block, through a demonstration of the intricately woven chevron endbands, to the construction of the leather case with its distinctive fore-edge flap, to the elaborate cover decoration.

Todd Pattison, Collections Conservator for Harvard College Library, presented a 19th century cloth reback with board reattachment.  Todd demonstrated the entire treatment (with a little help from a hair dryer to hasten paste drying) within his 2.5-hour session, noting that at Harvard the expected treatment time is usually less than 2 hours. To create a more sympathetic reback, he tears the cloth, and leaves material in the joint. When the spine piece is reattached, the torn edges of the cloth fit back together and create a less obvious repair.

John DeMeritt, an edition binder from California, demonstrated a “modified” Bradel binding he uses in his work. From what I could tell, what made it modified was his use of jaconet instead of paper to connect the boards. He prefers to use jaconet for strength. In this particular binding he also used Bristol board instead of binder’s board, which (after lining and covering with book cloth) created rigid but very thin covers.

All in all, a very interesting series of tours and sessions.




Scan And Deliver Webinar Report

Last week I attended the OCLC Scan And Deliver Webinar. A recording of the webinar will be posted to the OCLC News website sometime in October.

The OCLC “Scan and Deliver Report” (PDF) came out early this year stemming from a working group that looked into streamlining special collections digitization requests. In short, the working group looked at scanning on demand for patrons requesting special collections materials and determined that best practice is prompt delivery. On page eight of that report is a three-tiered workflow for “user-initiated” digitization that includes three tracks, the inside track, middle track and outside track. Each track describes an increasing amount of commitment and resources and is designed to help institutions decide how to fulfill patron requests for digitized materials in the quickest, most efficient manner.

My notes from the webinar:

Introduction (I think this was done by Jennifer Schaffner, OCLC Research):

  • Access is the priority, delivery is the goal.
  • Let the context [of collection, of the request, etc.] be your guide.
  • Do the minimum necessary for delivery.
  • Be flexible, “jump the tracks” if you need to.
  • Each track outlines best practice within that track; the Inside Track is NOT a short cut.

Anne Behde, San Diego State University (representing the Inside Track):

  • Purchased a Bookeye book scanner for their rare book reading room; patrons take items they want to scan to the desk, desk staff approve request if the item is in good condition and train patron on using the Bookeye. The patron scans the item themselves. The scanner is set up near the desk for ease of watching out for the materials, and patrons are asked to record what they are scanning for the library’s statistics.
  • Take controlled risks.
  • Analyze your anxieties and roadblocks; is it fear or legitimate roadblocks that are preventing you from implementing a scan on demand program?

Julia Gardner, University of Chicago (representing the Middle Track)

Anne Blecksmith, Getty Research Institute (representing a hybrid of the Middle and Outside Track)

  • They developed a Digitization On Demand Team; interdepartmental team of everyone involved in the process of digitizing materials.
  • Their Specialized Photography group deals with rights, exhibits, graphics, etc.; the Digital Projects Team does the digitization on demand, mass digitization and collaborative digitization projects.

Much of the Q&A session was about the Bookeye book scanner which most of these institutions are using for their DoD requests and issues of metadata. I did ask whether anyone saw an increase in conservation needs after scanning, Anne Behde said that no increase has happened because they are careful with the pre-screening.

One person asked how this report works with the OCLC “Rapid Capture: Faster Throughput in Digitization of Special Collections” (PDF). There apparently was no connection, although the panelists all had a “hmmmm…” moment. I haven’t read that report, but I will to see if there are obvious connections or if they are in opposition of each other.

I think our institution and many others will likely go down this road. If you Google “Scan and Deliver” you will see many institutions already have. I’m interested in the patron self-scanning model in particular. Considering we already have a copier in our reading room, a planetary copier seems like a better choice overall. But I’m also interested in how this tiered service may be added to our existing digital reformatting program (which includes an Internet Archive station as well as a stand-alone department to digitize collection material).

If your institution has implemented Scan and Deliver in any form we would love to hear about your experience. What is the structure of your program, is Preservation, your rare book library, or your ILL department doing the scanning or are your patrons doing self-scanning? How do you feel about self-scanning and/or digitizing on demand from a preservation standpoint? Have you seen any increase in conservation requests from self-scanning?

AOTUS Imparts Customer Service Wisdom

I attended the annual Triangle Research Library Network (TRLN) annual meeting today. The keynote speaker was none other than David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States (AOTUS).

His address, titled “Creating a Customer Focused Organization,” had some nuggets of inspiration from his many years of experience managing some of the largest and most complicated institutions (MIT, NYPL, Duke, NARA). I wanted to share my notes because I think there are good lessons to be learned here.

General observations from his experience at NARA

  • The farther you get from the top of the organization, the less you feel part of it or that your voice is heard. People should feel they are working as one organization.
  • It’s important to develop a culture of leadership.
  • Your staff are your primary asset. You need to develop a culture of trust and empowerment.

Mr. Ferriero’s six lessons on customer service

  1. Look for good models of customer service and emulate them; be sure to look outside libraries and archives. Good examples are FedEx and Zappos.
  2. Customers don’t come first, employees do.
  3. Look for ways to engage with your customers, they tend to want to talk to you about their research.
  4. Unless you genuinely like working with people, stay out of customer service.
  5. Internal customers are equally as important as external ones.
  6. You are never done improving customer service.
What are your thoughts? what have you learned through your experience on improving customer service?
By the way, Mr. Ferriero’s latest blog post is on conserving the Magna Carta. It’s worth a few minutes to read, and follow the link to the video.

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