Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SUNY 2011 Conference Notes

This is late in coming, I know. A death in the family and work upheaval stuff have gotten in the way since I returned from Plattsburgh. Below, in mostly unedited form, are my SUNYLA 2011 annual conference notes and thoughts, drawn mostly from what I jotted down using Fliq Notes app on my Nook Color:

At some point between first day sessions, I was reading an interesting article from the July 2011 issue of Wired magazine titled "Transparency for All" In it Jesse Lichtenstien talks about the impact open gov't data projects are having on digital divides. He makes 2 interesting points in the article that stuck out at me:
  1. Open data is good, but useless without parallel investments in information literacy education. Otherwise only the Haves (corporations, etc.) will be in a position to effectively use that data to their advantage.
  2. (I can't recall offhand if this was a point he made or something I concluded from his piece): Librarians need to step into this space and provide info lit education to their communities of users.
I started the conference by attending my first ever SUNYLA council meeting as the new delegate for my college and recently elected to chair the Working Group for Information Literacy (WGIL) committee. It was an informal, mostly efficient affair where some important issues facing either the association or our libraries were discussed.

After that I had to rush over to set up for my own 3 hour pre-conference workshop "DIY Podcasting,"  which I was co-presenting with my WGIL Room co-hosts Carleen Huxley and Mark McBride. We had requested a limited number of participants because part of the workshop would consist of particpants planning and recording their own podcast, and the group of 10 we got was a perfect size. I think the workshop went very well. There was lots of back and forth discussion and good questions and I think everyone had a blast recording the podcast.

Here are notes from a few notable presentations I attended:

"Partnering with your users: getting them to tell you what they want," Keith Compeau & Jenica Rogers, Potsdam
Libraries are a business. Users ARE customers. We must market ourselves. What messages aren't they getting? Need to assess and evaluate.

Librarians are good at counting. But numbers don't really matter! Need to measure success; output measures instead.

One dissatisfied user speaks on average to 25 friends and family about problem. So one dissatisfied user actually = 25 dissatisfied users (or potential users lost)

Communications: allow students/users to provide feedback right on the means of communication (see suggestion box below).

Immediate feedback. Make sure students know you are listening even when issues can't be fixed.

Take feedback to stakeholders as proof of need to fix things. When students are allowed to speak in their own voices (rather than through a "form" - it can be more powerful than anything librarians can write up that paraphrases that feedback.

Iterative improvement process. Change up feedback design so returning students don't see the same assessment twice.

End result: changes made are more based on what students want rather than what librarians think students need.

  1. allowed students to test drive furniture under consideration. Was fun for students and staff. Built morale and was engaging. They asked for feedback immediately and responded to that feedback immediately. Created an informal conversation.
  2. Suggestion box: no rules: informal assessment. Used "Suggestion" by Illegal Art. Make it proactive. Made the no rules design clear to students.
  3. Focus group: allowed students to tell their own story about how they interact with the library. They got great feedback on everyday life student engagement with library.

"Finding a level playing field and blurring the lines: how two librarians' love of sports built a relationship with the athletic dept. and student-athletes," Mike Daly and Dan Towne, FMCC

Build trust with outlier student populations via personal, informal interactions outside the library (i.e., librarian not as "librarian" but as regular person, more willing and able to share and create level environment for conversation. Results in uptick in questions from that population (i.e., one user will spread word with the group; back to 1 user = 25 users).

"Scholarly communications: refocusing the library's role at an undergraduate college," Kate Pitcher and Tracy Paradis, Geneseo.

Outreach is a bid issue; collection development isn't (at Geneseo)
Team-based approach. Held a retreat to map out priorities and make an action plan.

Problems to solve: lack of priorities & focus, coordination, message, knowledge and changing roles of librarians.

How do we change interaction role with faculty? How do they need help with their research? Did a user survey.

Pilot group: each librarian picked a couple of faculty they have close relationship with and arranged some informal, in-depth interviews with them.User survey used for rest of faculty.

Approaches: ed services (e.g., open access services) AND faculty creation assistance services AND promotion/awareness of issue.

Questions asked:
What motivates you to publish?"
Do you include students in your research work?
How are online/digital projects valued in your discipline? In the college? In your dept?
Optional, depending on conversation: Work with data? What do you do with it? Storage? Ok to follow up? Would you mind providing a copy of your CV?

Focus: making faculty services more a priority. Got admin support.
Prioritize, be proactive, manage expectations and know it takes time to grow this kind of thing.

"Working with writing tutors to improve research instruction," Barbara Kobritz, TCCC [TC3]

This was more of an open discussion with Barbara expertly facilitating the conversation. Lots of libraries share space or collaborate in some way with writing tutors [can any of those collab ideas translate to online enviro?]

Are tutor spaces in public areas seen as too remedial? Keeps students away?

Writing tutors approach pedagogy/learning from a different philosophy and perspective than librarians. For effective collaboration, there should probably be some cross-training going on, to learn and possibly align efforts where they overlap or when students are passed from one service to the other.

Seek out your writing tutor service, often they'll have a new tutor orientation - ask to take it - get an understanding of how they approach things.