Culture and Collaboration: Speaking the Language of Faculty

Laura Saunders of Simmons College GSLIS presented this session on Monday at 12:30pm.

The ACRL defines information literacy as “a set of abilities requiring individuals to “recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.” Though the term “information literacy” itself is somewhat problematic and can be off-putting to some, most faculty recognize its importance. Despite the agreement about the importance of IL, many college students are not as prepared as faculty would like. The library fits into the larger mission of the university, providing an opportunity for collaboration in this area. However, the reality is that most IL instruction is covered in “one-shot” classes or within General Education (GE) requirements; there is a lack of assessment, a lack of time devoted to it, and a lack of faculty buy-in (they agree that students should have the skills, but aren’t so sure it’s their responsibility to teach them).

Who is responsible for doing what? Where does the library fit into curricular support? Though IL instruction is often covered in GEs, Saunders suggested it might be more useful to move it into the individual academic disciplines. There are “cultures within cultures,” she found when she surveyed faculty, asking, “Do you think information literacy is different in your discipline?” Common concerns include searching for and evaluating information sources, but different kinds of information are preferred in each field (primary vs. secondary sources, for example).

Most IL instruction sessions, however, are structured the same way: most of the time is spent on finding sources, not evaluating them. In an oft-retweeted phrase, “The role of the librarian is to turn students into skeptics.” Often, though, students aren’t skeptical enough. In the words of one faculty member from Saunders’ survey, “The idea of digital natives is such a lie.” Indeed, Project Information Literacy (PIL) has found that students value convenience over quality.

How, then, can librarians improve information literacy instruction? Talking to faculty is the most important step, Saunders said. Anticipate the needs of the faculty, know their concerns, talk to them about what they’re interested in, target your message to their discipline. Students must realize that finding information is only the first step, and just because something is peer-reviewed does not mean it’s 100% reliable; evaluation (“thinking”) is still necessary.

Saunders had excellent slides to accompany her presentation; I didn’t get a chance to write down the details of her data, and the material isn’t up on the conference site (yet). Meanwhile, PIL has lots of great data, and Saunders also recommended Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills (RAILS) on track, which is a neat resource.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Statewide Open-Source Library Initiatives

Open-source library systems such as Koha and Evergreen give libraries large and small an alternative to having for-profit corpo-rations control their local systems. Learn how three New England states are making open-source solutions available throughout their states. State library officer panelists include Diane Carty from Massachusetts, Martha Reid from Vermont, and Michael York from New Hampshire.

Session info, slides, and links


  • It’s a rural state – only 18 out of 183 libraries serve communities greater than 10,000
  • VT’s state-wide and ILL catalog is Sirsi, which is no longer supported (and not liked by users), so open source presents an opportunity to do better
  • ILL is important because if people only have access to the collection in their small rural library, they’ll stop using the library
  • a better state-wide catalog opens the potential for a state-wide card for borrowing items and using electronic resources – however, some libraries are worried about the demand this might generate (and send their items elsewhere), and other libraries worry about lost revenue from charging out-of-town patrons for use
  • VT is currently running a Koha pilot with five libraries


  • Highly populated and organized/automated state, with 9 library networks
  • Three networks applied for and earned an LSTA grant for collaborating on catalog software
  • This is called MassLNC, uses Evergreen – after grant money was spent, the program is funded by contributions from the three networks (has one employee, the MassLNC Coordinator)

New Hampshire
First card-based union catalog started in 1932, centralized at the state library and offered phone-based ILLs to NH libraries – replaced in 1984 with NAIS automated statewide system, using LS/2000 from OCLC; then migrated to Gaylord product then to SirsiDynix, which included 234 publics and 600+ school libraries – this used a “node” system of co-op areas, and GMILCS, which serves NH’s population centers, is the only one left (others never achieved critical mass of population). The failure of other nodes led to individual libraries buying “playschool” versions of ILSs, which makes participating on a state level now difficult, because those very basic ILSs don’t support interoperability. Starting looking at open source, and decided to go outside the regular state government system (because of how slow and “no you can’t do that” it was – using the Park Street Foundation in Concord as funding agent for open source software

Why Open Source?

  • It gives libraries control, and lets them collaborate together and with the larger open source community, and there is a cost savings
  • you can use a single-service vendor (hardware, software, networking), instead of different vendors who never own (or fix) problems but just blame it on another vendor
  • libraries can identify the most important shortcomings, and devote development dollars directly to it

DIY or Vendor Support?

NH: uses ByWater Solutions – vendors have expertise that local support might not have, and it’s outside the state’s requiring justification for every change. As for the privacy of data in the cloud, that ship has sailed – no one has privacy or security anymore

VT: initially chose Evergreen because their evaluation determined it was the better option, but then switched to Koha because so many VT libraries were already using it. They first tried to hire new state employees to support the project, but couldn’t fit them into the budget, and then approached the state IT department and UVM but they weren’t interested, and so ultimately went with ByWater because that is who the VT libraries were already using. VT also used MARChive as a one-time records cleanup

MA: MassLNC contracts primarily with Equinox, but also does local development with network staff. This required a clear conflict of interest policy, to make sure network developers weren’t contracting on the side for projects they should be doing on network time. MassLNC and networks also have centralized bug reporting and development ideas tools

What is the future?

NH: Offer state-wide resources, but local areas can supplement these services with additional resources that are important to them (such as more frequent van deliveries, etc). Probably not a state-wide library card system – that was tried 1973-75, but stopped because it didn’t compensate lending libraries for lost access to their own material

VT: still have 30+ libraries not automated or using basic ILS (such as LibraryWorld), which need to be helped to connect to the rest of the libraries in the state. State-wide program is called Catamount, and VOCAL(?) is an existing network of about 50 libraries. One big need is to start a state-wide delivery system – current ILL is about 100,000, which is small because patrons cannot initiate ILL requests

MA: goal is to develop MassLNC into a state-wide catalog, with a common state-wide library card, with the minimum goal to get everyone on the same software and improve accessibility to all

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating Effective Support at Work Through Feng Shui

Margaret Donahue from Feng Shui Connections shows how to recognize environmental patterns that hold the keys to your success. They can help things run seamlessly or contribute to obstacle after obstacle. Empower yourself! Bring more balance, ease, flow, and success to your life by creating sup-portive and effective home and work spaces through feng shui.

Session info, slides, and links

“Feng Shui” means “wind water” in Chinese. It is the art of placement: arranging your environment to improve your life – the goal is to allow ch’i to flow freely (ch’i is energy force of all things).


  • live with what you love – bring yourself to workspace
  • make sure everything is safe and comfortable – soft & curves, and special focus on electrical and plumbing systems, which symbolize health and wealth (if your pipes are leaking, not only is your building unhealthy [poorly maintained and growing mold], but you’re also leaking money with wasted resources)
  • express yourself creatively: represent the community in the library (this is your environment)
  • organize everything – get rid of clutter, and everything has a home

9 Steps to Take Charge

  1. place your desk in a command position: ideal spot for desk (and bed and stove in the home) is with a view of the door but not in the way of the energy flowing through the door, plenty of space in front, support (such as a wall) behind
  2. supportive chair
  3. reflect your personality – whatever stirs your passion
  4. add fresh plants – they offset EMFs from electronic devices and also clean the air
  5. incorporate the colors you love
  6. minimize clutter
  7. set positive intentions
  8. apply Feng Shui Bagua: it’s an overlay that maps our environment to 9 key areas of life – see slide #48 for diagram [pdf]
  9. express confidence in yourself

Check out

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Trends in E-Books

Innovations in the e-book arena go beyond vendors and devices. This ITS panel explores new strategies to improve the patron’s e-book experience. Marilyn Borgendale from the NH library consortium GMILCS explains the advantage of inte-grating 3M’s Cloud Library into their catalog. Deb Hoadley from the MA Library System provides an update on the Mass Statewide e-book initiative. Meena Jain of Massbay Community College, discusses the challenges of providing e-books and devices in a universally

Session info, slides, and links


Really wanted to be guided by the principles, and their current offering puts the patron first whenever possible (and way better than other existing options).

They chose to use 3M Cloud Library as ebook platform, because it integrated so well with their Polaris system. Using an API, ebooks can be totally integrated with the catalog and patron accounts. Patrons can check out ebooks right in the catalog, and can see their ebook hold list and return ebooks from within their account. Also, ebook purchasing process automatically downloads MARC record to the catalog, so ebooks show up immediately after title is purchased.

3M uses Adobe Digital Editions at the vendor level, so patrons don’t need to mess with it – they just need their library card number and password. [This is awesome!]

Is very app-based, and works very well with mobile devices that use apps (have to side-load to Kindle Fire). For those that don’t, they can still download via computer and transfer with a cable.

Seamless device switching! Since it’s in the cloud, everything is account-based, which means you have the same access to everything no matter what device you access it with. Checkouts show up in your account instantly on any device, as long as you’re logged into your account.

Drawbacks: no audiobooks, and Hachette and MacMillan won’t sell to 3M.


Massachusetts is starting a state-wide ebook program. We’re contracting with three vendors, Biblioboards, EBL, and Baker & Taylor, to provide content. Libraries will then have option to put records in their catalogs, link directly to vendors, or use a Koha union catalog for searching (which will link to vendor interfaces for checkout).

The three vendors offer different types of content, and different lending models. Biblioboards offers curated public domain historical content, in an extremely easy to use organized interface; EBL uses simultaneous-use short-term loan of school/reference-type resources; B&T offered traditional one-checkout-per-copy downloads of popular reading fiction and non-fiction.

The goal of this project isn’t just to provide wider ebook access to all state residents, but to also push the boundaries of the ebook experience, to draw a spotlight to what doesn’t work.

The project is starting with a pilot stage of a mix of 50 MA libraries, for six months. Content will be about 120,000 ebooks. After that the project will be opened up to the rest of the state, and content will continue to grow. Projected pilot start is early November.


Ebooks need to be accessible to everyone, and that includes ebook readers.

The Nook is not at all accessible to the blind. Amazon has recently started putting some effort into making the Kindle accessible, but the iPad is doing the best job. It offers audible confirmations after different functions (for instance, a bing after it starts up, instead of relying on sight to know the screen has come on), and will read out app names when hovering over icon with your finger.

See slides for more information [pdf].

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Community Makerspaces: How Libraries Can Help

Many libraries want to be part of the makerspace movement, but don’t have the space, budget, or knowledge to start one. An alternative might be supporting an existing community makerspace Clint Crosbie from the Port City Makerspace in Portsmouth, NH, discusses what makerspaces are, how people use them, and ways libraries can be involved.

Session info, slides, and links

Information wants to be free, but it also wants to be expensive. – Stewart Brand

Information doesn’t want to be anthropomorphized. – Cory Doctorow

A good makerspace has to be, at its core, a geek hangout – a place where geeks who like to build and tinker can build and tinker or talk about building and tinkering.

Libraries often can’t afford, or doesn’t have the expertise, to host their own makerspace. In that case, partnering with an existing community makerspace is a great option. There are a variety of community makerspaces – look for one close to you at

Besides local makerspaces, look for existing maker-type groups to partner with

  • computer clubs
  • high school tech classes/technical high schools (shop, auto repair, welding, computer, anything)
  • look on for other local groups

Makerspaces in libraries

  • Crafternoon programs for kids
  • Have makerspace volunteers lead classes or workshops in the library – Lego mindstorms, building a solar-powered cell phone charger, etc
  • Host mini makerfaire – these have been very popular lately, and if you hold it they will come

Final note: check out the Library as Incubator project

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

BYOD: Supporting Patrons’ Devices in the Library

With more and more patrons using their own devices, access to library resources isn’t just about public workstations anymore. This trend means that patrons are asking for help with constantly changing hardware, and that underused library equipment is available to be repurposed. Amy Andreasson from Eldredge Public Library in Chatham, MA, describes her library’s in-person training and support for patrons’ hardware, Dean Baumeister from Memorial Hall Library in Andover, MA, shows how his library has found new uses for old technology, and Mat Bose from Hooksett (NH) Public Library presents his library’s Gadget Group as an example of an organized, proactive approach to helping patrons with their devices. The program is sponsored by ITS, and their business meeting is included.

Session info, slides, and links


Our guidelines:

  1. Hands-off: to protect staff, we don’t touch patron devices
  2. We provide as much help as we can, within reason
  3. We provide help at the time of need, so don’t require appointments (unless it’s a device/problem you’ve never heard of, or a topic that requires research)

Our most frequently asked questions:

  • Connecting to library wifi – we created a handout to help with this because we get asked so often
  • Phone questions from patrons seeking tech support on their home computer
  • Patrons who received a device as a gift (usually from their kids), and now feel sufficiently guilty about not doing anything with it that they want to learn about it
  • Which device should I buy? This always depends on the intended us, and usually we refer them to retail store to touch and feel devices to see which is the most comfortable for them
  • The single biggest Ah-Ha moment is showing someone the hidden menus on the Kindle Fire


Gadget user group

  • all devices are welcome
  • registration required (form asks about devices, areas of questions, etc)
  • usually 5-8 patrons attend
  • goal is to provide support, but it also gives a great opportunity to promote library resources, services, and programs
  • use email list to remind attendees, send out agenda, and links to resources
  • always have two library staff in the room to field questions
  • usually start sessions with ice breaker question (what new apps have you found?), the 15 minutes of sharing library news, 15 minutes of answering questions, then break into small groups based on interest/device
  • ways to promote: email list, electronic sign at library, referrals from desk staff, kiosk thin client computer using smugmug slideshow, website


Repurposed old public workstation PCs into catalog lookup stations.

  • set them up using free Linux Terminal Software Project software
  • terminal/with server, means everything is run off server and PCs are just thin clients – don’t even have hard drives
  • all they need is good network connection and a web browser
  • using WCGBrowser, which is very basic kiosk-type browser, so don’t need to worry about
  • patron hacking into Firefox/Chrome/etc’s fancier functions, because it just doesn’t have them
  • how-to steps at
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment