Friday, October 18, 2013

Michigan State University Library

I am embarrassed to admit that I have never visited the MSU Library. I have come to Lansing numerous times while I have lived in Michigan, but it has always been for some specific purpose that did not bring me near the library. I have visited the Library of Michigan at least three or four times, I used to come to Michigan Library Consortium events, but for whatever reason, did not visit MSU. I am amazed that at many conferences where librarians meet, I see no curiosity in visiting the local libraries. At Michigan Academy I find that I am often the only librarian who chose to visit the host institution's library and talk to their staff. This time I was in Lansing for the Michigan Library Association Annual Conference and was forced to come to the MSU library as I had to pick up the key of the house I was staying in from someone that worked in the library. It was my intention to visit the  MSU library anyway, so this just gave me the extra incentive.

When I asked where I could park, my friend suggested the stadium parking lot. I have to admit the Spartan Stadium felt massive compared to Waldo Stadium, but I remember in my brief time working with the Ohio State women's volleyball team, that the Ohio State stadium was also overbearing.

The library itself is the typical older academic library. Someone at the conference asked me why Western didn't have a new library, when Eastern, Central and others had built new library buildings recently. I explained that we had just gotten a new Education Library and Archives, and that the Waldo renovation was not that long ago. I am fine with our building in general, it is that we have not reorganized our space since that renovation to fit the new needs of our patrons. My main purpose in visiting other libraries is to get ideas for changes in our own library. 

The MSU library has five floors in two wings that are connected only on the bottom two floors. One wing is the "quiet wing" that holds most of the LC classified books and has mostly individual carrels for studying. The other wing has more of the group study rooms and spaces, conference rooms, government documents, maps, current periodicals, the copy center and reserves, fine arts collection (art and music) and the Digital and Multimedia Center.

I asked the reference librarian about their groups study rooms and she said they did not have enough. They have six Collaborative Technology Labs, which have to be reserved (online) and about as many simple group study rooms. I saw places that were just divided off with office room dividers for group use. There was a large fairly loud group working together right in front of the reference desk and the librarian said they had no rooms to accommodate a group of that size.

As in every other library I have visited recently, there was a cafe, the Cyber Cafe, serving high quality coffee - by that I mean having the fancy machines to make espresso, cappuccino, etc. with flavors, etc. They offered snacks like chips and candy, and had one display cooler of more substantial food like sandwiches and salads. There was a fairly large area beyond the counter with tables for eating, socializing and studying.

The first floor had various special collections on display, such as the faculty book collection, Cesar Chavez Collection, browsing collection and new books. The Writing Center had a space not far from the reference area, that they staff Sunday through Thursday 5-10 pm. They said that they had satellite writing centers throughout campus. The reference collection has once again been pared down to a small used section with low shelves, maybe the size of our index shelf area that we are cleaning out.

They have a combined copy center and reserves and on a wall near-by they listed the services this area provides: printing and copying, poster printing and laminating, scanning and faxing, supplies, course reserves, course materials program, and an Espresso book machine for printing on demand.

They have a Digital and Multimedia Center, which also includes the Vincent Voice Library and Technology Labs. My understanding is that this is where they keep all their audio and video recordings and the equipment to listen to and view them. There are staff that can help students create multimedia materials, and I heard someone refer to this area as being the place where things are digitized. This is also the area that contains the ONLY GUEST access computer. There is a table of computers for using the catalog and library resources by the reference desk, but to look at email and Facebook and surf the Web, there is only ONE computer for non-MSU folks. I did not ask about wireless access.

One last comment on signage. It has been noted that it is difficult to find one's way around big academic libraries. MSU's solution is to provide signs and colored tape lines to lead people to the correct areas. They do not have carpeted flooring, so the tape probably works better on their tiled floors, but it is an idea. It also assumes that things will stay in place for a long time, as I can't imagine redoing the tape for every shelf shift.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Digital Commons Great Lakes User Group Meeting

August 8-9, 2013, held at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, IL

Jacklyn Rander & Sarah Beaubien of GVSU, Sarah Shreeves
of Univ. of IL Champaign-Urbana and Stephanie
Davis-Kahl of Illinois Wesleyan University
About 30 Digital Commons users from eight states gathered in the Ames Library for this useful exchange of ideas. Dave Stout, our area sales manager from bepress was there to greet us as one of the most active groups of DC users. There are now 322 DC customers, up from 50 six years ago, with 69 new sites in 2012. There are 1.3 items in all the repositories, with almost 70% full text that have been downloaded 145 million times with an average download of 162 times per object.

Stephanie Davis-Kahl was the local organizer (I met her at the repository manager certification), while Sarah Beaubian of Grand Valley had organized the program. Stephanie mentioned a great list of things that had happened with open access this year alone, including the federal and other funding agencies requiring open access to work done with their monies and the White House Open Data Policy.

Since next year’s focus for ScholarWorks will be on faculty publications, my new ScholarWorks grad assitant and I were happy to see sessions that focused on getting faculty publications into the repository. Margaret Heller form Loyala University in Chicago talked about searching for current faculty article publications, importing them into RefWorks, exporting the file into Excel, using OpenRefine and JSON to check Sherpa Romeo, and getting liaisons to help contact faculty to get permissions and post-prints. I like the idea of concentrating on most recent publications across campus. I did a quick search of WMU publications in Web of Science in 2013 and came up with 155 hits. Margaret also suggested using OpenRefine and JSON on CV’s. I am not familiar with these tools, but it looks like they can save a lot of time. Looks like even book chapters can be posted, if the right permission is received. Another interesting idea was to celebrate faculty publications with a wine and cheese event at the library.

Joshua Neds-Fox and Damecia Donahue of Wayne State University had some great ideas on working with faculty, understanding their hesitations, concerns and misunderstandings about open access, showing them the impact of open access in their field. We talked about the fact that open access differs across disciplines, but in general the impact is positive, as OA leads to more readers and more potential citers of one’s work. They also made the distinction very clear between gold and green open access - gold OA is given by the publisher, who may charge an author a fee, while green OA is given post publication by the copyright holder. The presenters felt that green OA was the better way to go, as long as you can get your hands on the post prints, but that is easier, if it becomes part of the publishing flow. They took us through a four step process that they use when talking with departments: 1) Research the OA advantage in the field, 2) Get a list of high impact journals in the field, 3) Run the journals through Sherpa Romeo (usually a high percentage allow post-prints or publisher PDFs), and 4) Present these findings to faculty with graphs and pie charts and citations to articles proving your point. Wayne State also uses the „do it for me” argument, where faculty love to hear that you will do something for them. They encourage faculty to add an author addendum to the agreements they sign with publishers, allowing for the right to deposit their article in the IR.

I was interested in hearing Kim Myers from The College at Brockport (SUNY), as I had seen her impressive annual report and project management workflow at a previous training session. She is not a librarian, but comes from business, so has more of a „return on investment” approach to her IR. She talked about the importance of a communication plan that is a project management document, looks at the different stakeholders and what needs to be communicated to each group. Kim talked of various tools such as software to create infographics, which can communicate numbers effectively; using emails to communicate with authors about their posted works; and using annual reports as a tool. She mentioned various ways to tell if the IR has had an impact and to show that it helps to enchance the reputation of the college, attracts students and funding, etc. She has been able to engage 65% of the library staff in the repository.

I had the opportunity to ask Dave Stout from bepress about the relationship between Digital Commons and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses before I had to lead the round table discussion about ETDs. ProQuest used to market Digital Commons and as an added benefit, they offered schools a way of importing ETDs from ProQuest to their DC repository. The schools that came on board during this era have that feature grandfathered in. Now you have to purchase the backfiles from ProQuest (I heard a huge range of prices) and then do some coding to bring the metadata and files into your own DC repository. Iowa State University offered to help with the coding. At the round table discussion we shared ideas, practices and frustrations. Some no longer submit to ProQuest and just have their ETDs in the IR. Others are already using the ProQuest ETD Administrator, where students submit directly to ProQuest. Not everyone has a centralized grad college that acts as a gateway for their ETDs, and some have to beg each department for the work of their students. I believe everyone I talked to had moved away from print copies, some even liquidating their print copies. One comment heard was that they were unhappy with the quality of the digitized copies received from ProQuest of older materials, which were probably digitized versions of the microfilms.

The last session of the user group meeting was especially valuable to me, as it was about providing data management planning services, presented by Sarah Shreeves from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. With all the funding agencies now asking for data management plans, as they want to see data reused, verified, replicated for a broader impact. Almost all of the sites and tools shown by Sarah were unfamiliar to me. Here are a few:

Sarah was encouraging all of us liaisons to become familiar with the data management world, so we can properly advise our faculty. We need to be aware of options available on campus, security issues, open access, DOIs and to be involved with the conversation on campus that includes OVPR, the Graduate College, and departments. We need to help people to cite data sources properly.

Ames Library - Illinois Wesleyan University - Bloomington, IL

Here's another example. Illinois Wesleyan University has a student population of 2100. The library was build 10 years ago and contains 16 group study rooms and 6 project rooms, which contain projection and other equipment and need to be reserved. Students are asking for even more rooms.

The first floor contains almost no books. I talked to a librarian and he explained that they had recently cleared the books from the floor to provide more space for students. They were not able to afford more nice furniture like what they bought when they first built the library, but they got some donated from State Farm, which has its corporate headquarters in Bloomington. The first floor does still have the current periodical collection and Popular Reading. The rest of the space has a reference desk (no open reference collection), computers, comfy seating, tables and group rooms. The computer lab is open for student use, if there is no class scheduled. Some people like to study in an enclosed space. In the middle of the first floor there is a rotunda with a display of Native American pottery gathered by John Wesley Powell and his students in the late 1800's. I do have to note that they do not have a cafe.

The lower level has an auditorium, which we used and I found to be very nice, but I understand it is underused.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Rural libraries in the West

Though I was not going to visit libraries on my vacation out West to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming, I could not help but notice, that there were libraries even in the smallest of towns. I took a couple of photos as I was quickly passing by, and one was specifically called the Leadore Community Center and Library. This town in Idaho has a population of 105.  

I stayed for a few days in Story, WY with a population of 828. It has grown from about 400 when my cousin first moved out there about 25 years ago. I remember the one room library that mostly focused on local history and was open a few times a week with a volunteer librarian, if I recall correctly.

I could not resist and went to check out the Story Library this time, and was surprised to find a nice small library that is open six days a week, has all the latest novels and movies people might want, has a couple of public computers and free wi-fi for use by visitors inside and on a deck outside. Someone recently had donated a special Louis L'Amour shelf with all of his books bound in leather. In the back was a community room for meetings, workshops and other gatherings. The back room and office space had been added fairly recently. They are a branch of the Sheridan Public Library (pop. 17,000, metro area 29,000) and are doing well. Yeah!

Sunday, June 02, 2013

"Library as Place" at Novi Public Library

I have not been to any conferences this year, as I blew my whole travel budget
on one training session for our institutional repository in Berkeley, CA. I wanted to do something small, so I attended the Library as Place workshop coordinated by the Michigan Library Association and held at the Novi Public Library on May 31, 2013.

The sessions were not exactly on Library as Place as I think of it, and the sessions seemed somewhat more appropriate for public libraries, but it was interesting to hear what others are doing, and I especially enjoyed looking at the new Novi library.

The Librarian by
Jim Havens
The keynote speaker was Terry Link from Michigan State University, who has done a lot of things besides being a librarian, including serving as an elected official. He writes a blog called the Possibilitator. His talk on Libraries as the Nexus of Sustainable Communities urged us to look at our values and then work towards making our libraries support those values both in the way we work internally, and in what we provide and teach our patrons. We did an exercise on our personal values in the environmental, economic and social spheres. The kinds of things this group of librarians supported the most were living wages, contributing to the community and organic/local food. At our tables we discussed how we could apply this to our own libraries. At my table we had three academic librarians and we struggled more with how we could apply these values, though the community piece seemed the easiest for all of us to tackle. What I got out of this is that we do need to brainstorm on how we are following our values and in our case our mission. We can say, "Oh, we already support the Learner centered, discovery driven and globally engaged mission of our university" BUT have we really looked at what more we can do to support that mission with our programming.

We are currently offline

The second session was on Business Collaboration, and I was surprised to see Lisa Garcia from WMU presenting on the business outreach center (can't find its official name) and the Michigan Corporate Relations Network. I am not sure what her presentation had to do with library as place, but it was interesting to hear about the different programs and grants they provide the small businesses in our community. Jill Porter from the Traverse Area District Library spoke to the business resources and workshops they now systematically provide to their area small businesses. I liked the fact that they worked closely with the Chamber of Commerce, SCORE, Rotary, etc. If we had more business librarian hours, we could offer more services to our community too. Corey Seeman spoke from the Kresge Business Administration Library at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where they have 21 (!!!!) employees and can help their students on the complex business questions, as well as community members. They field reference questions from the outside, including from prisoners and other libraries. They are working on a LibGuide with free and MeL databases available to all residents of Michigan. I liked their message and image when chat was not available (above.)

Three Children Reading by
Randolph Rose at main
After lunch we had a session on Makerspaces. Jeff Sturges is in charge of the Mt. Elliot makerspace in a church in the Detroit area, where they provide space and materials for community members to build and repair computers, bikes and many other things. They work with digital media (sound recordings, etc.) and wearables. I just recently read about a bike repair place like this letting kids earn their own bike, after they learn to repair it. This seems like a very worthwhile community project, involving all generations where anyone can be a teacher of a skill - it may be an adult teaching a child to use a tool, or a child teaching an adult to use the computer. Then Steve Teeri from the Detroit Public Library explained the makerspace they created in the teen room of their library, which also has bike repairs, but more crafts including paper crafts, sewing & wearables, knitting, graphic design, robotics and Arduino. Their audience is teens 13-18, they have something going on every day and on Saturdays three workshops or more. This brings in teens, gives them a reason to use library resources, and promotes life long learning. Again, not exactly applicable to our library, but we could be doing more programming in our space - maybe related to book crafts, maybe bringing in people at slow times.

Novi Library Cafe
The last session was on bringing dogs into libraries. The first presenters were from the University of Michigan, where they bring in dogs for 3 days, 3 hours at a time around finals. This has become a very popular thing for students. No advertising is needed - they just announce it once and then the students let each other know. They ask handlers to bring in well trained therapy dogs and explained pitfalls and details to consider. Jamie Vander Broek's title at UM is Learning Librarian and Exhibits & Programming Librarian. Again, we lack staff, but this is a great idea to have someone coordinate different programs for the libraries. Tom Shilts was from the Capital Area District Library and talked about service animals and how important they have been in helping vets and children. Another man was from For Better Independence Assistance Dogs and talked about the differences between service dogs, therapy dogs and facility dogs. He had great stories about how dogs have helped people, whether it is a kid reading books out loud for the first time to a dog, or a vet that finally leaves his room to see the dog in the facility.

Finally, the Novi Library itself. It is only three years old, and looks like they have considered the needs of the community in creating it. It helps that they are located right next to the high school campus, so when school is out, they get a good number of high school students. When you walk in, there is a desk of people to greet you, and a cafe to the right. Past the cafe was the meeting room in which we had our workshop. The lower level has new books, video and audio, and the Fireplace Lounge - a newspaper and magazine reading room. 

Novi Special race car
Children's room
About half of this lower level is devoted to the children's collection, which includes 4 study rooms, a story hour room and activities room. The main room has on display the Novi Special, race car of special importance to the town history. The second floor contains the adult reading room, quiet study room, 5 individual study rooms, teen room (teen fiction and some game consoles), computer lab, and plenty of computers for all to use. The local history room was still under construction, and there was a board room that can be used by community groups. Info (reference) desks on both floors. 

Plants and flowers Life Tiles
by Connie Lunski
Throughout and around the library there is plenty of art and sculpture. The most impressive was a collection of 1,600 ceramic Life Tiles created by local artist. They were displayed throughout the library in groupings by different parts of the world, stories, transportation, plants, etc. I also like the Glass Apples.
Glass Apples by Richard Ritter.