WINNING ESSAYS

  

ALA 2013
Annual Conference
ALA Annual Conference, Chicago, IL:  June 27-July 2, 2013

For the 2013 Annual Conference two grants were awarded:

Genny Jon

University of Western Ontario

 

Collaboration in Libraries

Collaboration is becoming more and more necessary as libraries need to stretch their resources to meet changing needs. Fortunately, collaboration is easier in the age of increased connectivity, leading to improved library models.

In Ontario, libraries have been collaborating in consortia to deliver services to their patrons. Two main public library consortia exist in Ontario. Public library systems located in central Ontario have formed the Ontario Library Consortium (OLC). The Southern Ontario Library Service (SOLS) was mandated by the Ontario government to provide library services to the people of Ontario at a sustainable cost. These consortia provide member libraries services such as interlibrary loans, pooled collections, aggregate purchasing agreements, pooled e-resources and e-collections, technical support, and the opportunity to network with other member libraries. The Southern Ontario Library Service also offers AskON virtual reference, training opportunities and consulting services to member libraries.

Outside of these consortia, library systems have collaborated on smaller projects such as regional resource sharing. Academic libraries have also taken advantage of consortia. The Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) is a consortium of Ontario's 21 university libraries. OCUL delivers services such as Scholars Portal. Scholars Portal is a shared technology infrastructure and set of shared services and electronic collections for member libraries. Scholars Portal services include preservation which comprises a trusted digital repository and an agreement to preserve the last copy among OCUL libraries, interlibrary loan and a virtual chat reference service. Electronic offerings include bibliographic tools such as RefWorks, digital content such as journals, books, statistics and microdata, and geospatial data.

Beyond Scholars Portal, OCUL member libraries collaborate in committees and groups to collect, preserve and ensure access to OCUL's scholarly collection. Ontario's publicly funded colleges of Applied Arts and Technology also participate in a library consortium, the Ontario Colleges Library Service (OCLS). OCLS is funded by a grant from the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and is mandated to provide three Core Services for the benefit of all 24 Ontario college libraries. OCLS' Core Services are a union catalogue, negotiation and management of vendor agreements, and research as recommended by the Heads of Libraries and Learning Resources. OCLS' opt-in Services, operated on a cost-recovery model, include Video-on-Demand, Federated search, Remote authentication service, a centrally hosted ILS, professional services, and AskON Virtual Reference. Some special libraries in Ontario are also members of consortia.

The Ontario Courthouse Library System is centrally managed by LibraryCo Inc. in accordance with the objectives, policies and principles established and approved by the Law Society of Upper Canada, in consultation with the County and District Law Presidents' Association and the Toronto Lawyers' Association.

Health libraries are also part of consortia. The Consortium of Ontario Academic Health Libraries (COAHL) is a cooperative effort of Ontario's medical school libraries which has undertaken initiatives such as consortial licensing for a core collection of online information resources, providing access to Ontario Learning Resources for Nursing, a suite of evidence-based electronic nursing resources, teaching information literacy skills to specific groups in each member library's communities, and supporting the Ontario Hospital Association's eHealth Library Initiative, a proposed suite of core, province-wide, e-health information resources provided to all health practitioners and to hospitals located in Ontario. The Northern Ontario Health Libraries Consortium is a smaller grouping of health libraries that have reciprocal agreements in place to provide medical school students with access to book loans and documents.

Virtual Reference

My personal experience with library collaboration is with OCUL's Ask a Librarian virtual reference service. Ask a Librarian is a partnership between Ontario university libraries choosing to pool resources to provide a virtual reference service to library patrons who connect to the chat from the websites of participating libraries. The use of virtual chat at a specific institution is frequently not sufficiently high to warrant dedicating librarians to staff the chat service at each library for an extended period. Collaborating with other institutions to share the workload and hours ensures that library resources are used efficiently and that coverage periods can be extended beyond what could feasibly be offered by each institution. Hour-long shifts throughout the coverage period are assigned to libraries by a coordinator and each institution ensures that its shifts are staffed. A real-time staff chat message board provides opportunities for librarians to ask for help from and to provide suggestions to colleau answering questions in their area of expertise. During less busy periods, librarians have used the staff chat to get to know each other. Ask a Librarian's service model also provides internship opportunities for students. Volunteer student interns can put reference skills learned in the classroom into practice by performing virtual reference as fully functioning members of the Ask a Librarian team. After a short period, interns find that they are up to speed and can answer most questions. In addition to the benefit of gaining practical virtual academic reference experience, interns also have opportunities to collaborate with librarians and with each other. In return for the support received from librarians, interns also help to extend library resources by providing additional staffing for the chat service and by reducing wait times for chat users.

I have been an Ask a Librarian intern since September 2013. During this time, in addition to learning about the types of reference questions asked by and having the opportunity to assist university library patrons, I have the chance to work alongside, and to learn from some superb librarians. I have also been able give back by assisting colleagues on a few occasions. Similarly, the Southern Ontario Library Service also provides library students with comparable internship opportunities.

It is this student's hope that other virtual chat services adopt service models that allow students to contribute to chat staffing and to gain practical experience through internships. It is clear that libraries in Ontario have found ways to collaborate to maximize scarce library resources to efficiently deliver services to patrons and will continue to seek other opportunities to do so in the future.
 

References About.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.libraryco.ca/about About.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ocul.on.ca/about About Us.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ocls.ca/about-us Benefits of OLC Membership.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.onlibcon.on.ca/client/default/?rm=OLC+BENEFITS0|||1|||2|||trueCOAHL Successes.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://coahl.weebly.com/successes.html COAHL Supports Ontario Hospital Association eHealth Library Initiative. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://coahl.weebly.com/ehealth.html Ontario Colleges Library Service.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ocls.ca/ Ontario Library Consortium.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.onlibcon.on.ca/client/default Services.
(n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ocul.on.ca/services Southern Ontario Library Service. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sols.org/
 

Click here for: Genny Jon's ALA 2013 Report

 

Laura Browning

Florida State University

 

Since August 2012, I have worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Undergraduate Services department of Strozier Library, the main library on Florida State University's campus. I work directly under the sole instructional/reference librarian in the department. Over the course of the last two semesters, I have taught over 50 information literacy classes primarily to ENC1142 and ENC1145 classes. The classes I teach are always connected to a research project undergraduates are currently working on and range in topic from television stereotypes, to Shakespearean films and literature, to hero archetypes, and more! The classes were designed specifically to interest and motivate the undergraduate students who sign up for them. I have used everything from Batman to The Big Bang Theory as example research topics to increase student interest and motivation. But, I have found that one of the most effective measures to build student involvement and success rates is to establish strong collaborative relationships with the teaching assistants (T.A.s) I work with, as well as their primary faculty advisor within the department of English.

How do strong collaborative relationships begin to form when initially planning information literacy instruction? First, it begins with a good line of communication with English faculty. Before the beginning of the fall semester, we reached out to the faculty member in charge of all the English T.A.s. She invited us to visit the T.A.s beginning orientation to market our instructional services through a quick presentation and distribution of flyers/cards. Our presence in this meeting was vital and helped us establish a presence within the English department. Since this initial meeting, we have been invited to even more orientation events in the English department throughout subsequent semesters.

After spreading the initial word about our services, I sent a personal email to every ENC1142 and ENC1145 T.A. and introduced myself, advertised our instruction room and class services, and let them know how we could collaborate with them to meet their students' needs. I had a very high level of initial response from the majority of the T.A.s and as I taught more and more classes, T.A.s spread the word to their colleagues and we gained additional bookings. This personal email, addressed specifically to each T.A. by name, helped get our collaborative partnership on the right foot.

How did I collaborate with each of the T.A.s for a successful class? Initially, I asked them to send a copy of their class assignment to me and also offered to meet with them in person to prepare together if they so preferred. Most T.A.s communicated with me primarily through email, but some preferred to come into the library to meet. I made sure to listen carefully to the types of resources they wanted their students to use, offered my own suggestions of websites/materials I could share, and then took all the best resources and linked them to a libguide page I created specifically to meet their class needs. Libguides were a fundamental element in strengthening my collaborative relationships with the T.A.s. Whether the T.A. met with me in person or communicated with me through email, I made each class their own unique tab on my ENC1142 and ENC1145 libguide. The link is http://guides.lib.fsu.edu/enc1142?hs=a. The reason they helped strengthen our relationship is because I listened to what the T.A. wanted their students to learn, created a custom page to meet the students' needs, and then asked the instructor for feedback/revisions before using the guide to teach the class.

Many instructors told me that they loved the guides and found them to be very helpful. This collaborative element made each T.A. feel that their class was special and unique and that they had a voice in how the library could be of assistance to their students. Making the T.A.s feel that their voice was heard and crafted into a tangible product is vital in establishing strong partnerships. Assessment is another very important component of creating collaborative partnerships. After every class, I asked the instructor for feedback on how the class could be improved. I also asked them to share their students' feedback in the form of student essays about their experience (as anecdotal evidence). It was easier to assess my instruction this way because many of the instructors already had the students complete a feedback essay assignment and this assignment could be easily shared with us, with their consent. I have to say that while my instruction was not always perfect, the overall response I got from each of the instructors and students was overwhelmingly positive.

To continue this strong collaborative partnership, we actively decided to invite all the T.A.s and library instructors to a Coffee and Cookie Gathering at the end of the spring semester. This was a way to personally meet with each of the T.A.s to share feedback, provide additional outreach and marketing services, to establish a stronger presence within the English department, and to thank each T.A. for their support. This meet-up was great because I continued to strengthen existing relationships, while also meeting new T.A.s that I could potentially work with in the coming semesters. Throughout this entire process the last two semesters, I have learned so much independently and through creating these lasting relationships.

This essay outlines in detail what my daily collaborative partnerships looked like, but it also teaches professionals some important general lessons about collaboration. You can do so much with a simple warm greeting and smile and by showing faculty and instructors that you care about their students. Even if every information literacy class isn't perfect, they won't remember that. They will remember the feeling you give them before they walk in the door and after they leave. And that is powerful.
 

Click here for: Laura Browning's ALA 2013 Report

 

A thank you letter from Laura Browning:

 

Dear Iris and Board Members,

I just want to say that receiving this scholarship means so much to me, more than I can truly describe. I have so much passion and love for this field and am so grateful for the opportunities I have been given thus far. Thank you so much to each of you for providing me with the Robert F. Asleson Memorial ALA Conference Grant to attend the ALA conference this summer. I will make each of you proud and will definitely make the most of this opportunity. I will be stopping by the Accessible Archives booth #339 to say hello and am looking forward to creating my report!

I wish you could have seen me today jumping around my desk at work shouting “I’m going to the ALA conference in Chicago!” It was quite a sight! I was so overjoyed and I do love sharing my enthusiasm for the library with others. I was very inspired after reading Bob Asleson’s biography and I will be continually striving to make my own impact on the field, with story's like his serving as a constant reminder that we can each make a difference.

Thank you so much,

Laura Browning

 

Mid-Winter Meeting 
ALA Mid-Winter Meeting, Seattle, WA:  January 25-29, 2013

Nicole Lehotsky

University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

 

The current economic climate requires that everyone, including librarians, justifies their existence. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in public universities. With funding coming from taxpayers and seemingly never-ending budget cuts, each department must find ways to do more with less and must convince boards to grant it funding, often at the expense of others. Libraries have a habit of being overlooked, and as library leaders, we must constantly reflect on the work our departments are doing, develop reports based on those findings, and share those findings with the public and key decision makers.

 

As Dean of an academic library, I would require regular reports from each library department indicating number of patrons served, quality of patron interactions, patron location and use of resources, recommendations for areas of expansion or reduction of services and resources, and analysis of time spent on activities versus outcomes. With this information, I could synthesize reports that compared library usage (by class, by student population, etc.) with GPA and other metrics of student success, as well as reports that analyzed the number of faculty members who used library resources and services to develop research and grant proposals and their success rates.

 

In preparation for meetings with key stakeholders, I would reach out to students and faculty members to provide testimonials about the library's impact on their success and achievements and submit those testimonials to board members who make fiscal decisions. I would also advertise these successes within the walls of the library by creating short profiles and quotes placed in common public areas. I would also contact media outlets (especially student papers and alumni bulletins) to broadcast achievements of students and faculty made possible by the library in their publications, raising awareness among contribution bases and vocal groups about the value of the library to the campus community and beyond. Proactive reporting would hopefully prove to administration before a financial crisis or budget cut that the library is a worthwhile investment of funding.

However, even the best departments will face cuts, and we must be prepared for those events. One way the library can set itself apart is to have a running list of the most important uses of funding (absolutely essential database and serial subscriptions, subject areas that require updated resources for student achievement, staff hours spent increasing patron success through backend work or patron-facing services, etc.). Additionally, the library should maintain a list of areas that can afford cutbacks (afford being a loose term) in a ranking system. These lists should have the input and as much support as possible from faculty members and possibly a student focus group. By being able to provide this type of analysis about the library's collection and services, the library can show itself to be thoughtful with regard to budget and hopefully garner the support of administration who will recognize the library's commitment to thriftiness and decision-making for the greater good of the university.

As Dean my responsibility is to make sure I know the workings of my library and its benefits to students, faculty, and staff and to share those benefits in meaningful ways with key stakeholders including administration, alumni associations, public entities, and student organizations. Advertising our successes and resources will encourage others to use the library and its resources, which will result in higher levels of achievement and even greater successes. Sharing this cycle of achievement and growth with others will solidify the library's vital position within the community, making it an asset worthy of investment and sustainability.

 

Click here for:  Nicole Lehotsky's ALA Midwinter 2013 Report


 

ALA 2012

 

Annual Conference
ALA Annual Conference, Anaheim, CA:  June 21-26, 2012

Tim Thompson

Indiana University

 

As librarians know too well, traditional reference works often tend to gather dust rather than garner attention. Yet much attention was given to the recent announcement that the venerable Encyclopedia Britannica had retired its print edition and become an online-only publication. The Britannica announcement reminds us that traditional reference works still hold their share of cultural cachet and that the transition from print to digital still has the power to raise eyebrows. It also reminds us that the decision of any one library to “go digital” cannot be separated from the market-driven choices of content providers. When managing today’s reference collections, librarians may find that decisions about format have increasingly been made for them. Britannica’s move only serves to strengthen the sense of inevitability around the print-to-digital transition.

 

The days of physical reference collections may be numbered, but traditional print reference works are still being collected by librarians and still being regularly reviewed in the pages of Reference & User Services Quarterly. The very waves made by the Britannica announcement suggest that this transition is far from complete. Roncevic (2005), in an article based on conversations with both librarians and publishers, found a considerable degree of confusion “about how to best manage reference collections during the period of transition” (p. 8). Although libraries have embraced the obvious advantages of electronic reference, including “ease of use, cross-searching capabilities, and simultaneous and remote access,” many are still reluctant to abandon print resources altogether (Roncevic, 2005, p. 8).

 

In the end, the question of format (print versus digital) may actually be a red herring. Google-anxiety (the fear that library reference services have been supplanted by the Internet) is not in and of itself a sufficient reason for embracing all things digital. The simple fact that a reference resource is available online does not mean that it will find its user. As East (2010) observes in his article “The Subject Encyclopedia in the Age of Wikipedia,” many online encyclopedias are not “earning their keep” either (p. 165). East provides download counts for selected titles in a virtual reference collection at a large Australian university and points to a glaring gap between the cost of these electronic resources and their actual use, which proved to be modest.

 

For certain user groups, print resources may still hold an important—and indeed central—place, especially for users whose research habits were shaped prior to the advent of Google and Wikipedia (Roncevic, 2005, p. 10). Even when a particular resource does exist in both print and electronic formats, it is rarely safe to assume that the two are equal; the print version, in some cases, may even be superior to its digital counterpart. The most important reference source in the field of Latin American studies, for example, is the Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS), a curated bibliography of works that have been selected and annotated by a diverse group of scholars. Edited by the Hispanic Division of the Library of Congress, HLAS alternates yearly between the humanities and social sciences, devoting a volume to each. Although HLAS maintains a freely accessible online version of its content, its search interface falls short of being user friendly, and visitors to the online HLAS are left with little sense of the carefully edited structure of the print edition. Before taking steps to eliminate print reference collections, therefore, libraries must ensure that they are not depriving their users of the very resources they consider to be essential. In cases such as this, direct contact with users—through surveys or focus groups, for example—can help clarify existing gaps between print and digital reference resources.

  

Given the higher cost of electronic resources, the decision to implement a completely digital reference collection carries with it an even greater responsibility for user outreach and instruction. Although federated search engines have greatly improved user access to widely scattered online resources and platforms, they are no substitute for active promotion, whether through resource-specific instructional sessions or work by liaison librarians to help instructors incorporate relevant reference sources into their classes (East, 2010, p. 167).

 

The real questions facing reference librarians are the same basic ones as always: who are our users, what do they need, and how do we reach them? The answer to these questions may lead one library to replace its physical reference collection with an electronic one, while it may lead another to maintain a smaller, more targeted print collection to supplement its online content and subscriptions. As reference departments reconsider and reshape their collection development policies within their particular budgetary constraints, their decisions should be based as much as possible on objective input, including “disaggregated use statistics from vendors” (East, 2010) and data gathered from reshelving studies (Colson, 2007).

 

However challenging it may be, this period of transition and uncertainty has the potential to be extremely productive for libraries. Consortial agreements among libraries allow for the possibility of cost-sharing, and relationships with vendors can lead to new products, better content, and innovative modes of access and retrieval. Above all, this transitional period provides libraries with an opportunity to reconsider their collection development priorities and reevaluate the continually evolving reference needs of their users.

References

Colson, J. (2007). Determining use of an academic library reference collection: Report of a study. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 47(2), 168-175.

East, J. W. (2010). “The Rolls Royce of the library reference collection”: The subject encyclopedia in the age of Wikipedia. Reference & User Services Quarterly, 50(2), 162-169.

Roncevic, M. (2005, November 15). The e-ref invasion. Library Journal 130(19), supplement, 8-13.

 

Click here for:  Tim Thompson's ALA Annual Report 2012

 

Mid-Winter Meeting 

 

ALA Mid-Winter Meeting, Dallas, TX:  January 20-24, 2012

Diane Malmstrom

San José State University

 

There is no doubt: the future of archivists, librarians, and research providers is rapidly changing. With so many primary sources being made available online, the question they must ask themselves is, “How DO we provide excellent reference services when the world has gone digital?” While I feel the foundation of reference services will remain true and good, it is the way archivists and librarians go about fulfilling reference needs that requires adjustment for the foreseeable future. There are several areas in which I feel Web 2.0 and 3.0 technologies, and specifically digitized primary sources have affected the way that libraries do business, and the way that research is conducted.

 

For the information professional, keeping up with emerging trends is a necessity. Without doing so, they run the risk of collections falling into obscurity. One of the largest issues affecting the library world currently is how to deal with the enormous amount of electronic records being created every day.  Electronic information is being produced faster than it can be acquired, processed and presented to the user. For example, archivists are committed to long term preservation of historical material. But what happens when that material is untouchable and lives in the clouds? Issues such as these have created a greater need for librarians and archivists with technological skills and experience working with digital material.

Luckily, many LIS courses are now focusing on these issues. In order for those new to the profession to compete for jobs, they simply must have that edge, or be left behind. In order for information professional to assist scholars and students in their research assignments, they must be familiar with Digital Rights Management (DRM), and how it affects the way in which they provide reference services. In the past, archivists and librarians have kept abreast of copyright laws for physical collections. Today, digital copyright laws can be even more involved, taking a great deal of their time to stay on top of all the constant changes brought on by new technologies.

 

A second issue that has arisen from this technological burst is the idea of a national finding aid.  Now that most of society is online, it makes sense for reference service providers to offer a tool to assist students and scholars in finding the valuable archival resources they are seeking. Currently, however, there is not a national guide in place which searches all finding aids. In order for this to work, information professionals will need a shared set of standards, which at this time does not exist. Archivists from all over the nation are struggling to come up with national standards that will allow uniform searching, allowing them to provide better reference services. Currently, the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) serves as a model for what may be, and it is a step in the right direction. This is a topic that will need to be addressed continually until a solution is found.

 

Public relations remain an important part of the reference transaction. Outreach has always been a part of archival life and it is a valiant attempt to explain the archives and to get people involved. Suddenly, there is a way to let those outside the immediate area know what is going on in the library, and to assist them from afar. Research providers must now spend more of their time digitally explaining collections and the rules that go with using them. With each new emerging technology, it seems that outreach duties multiply. More and more users are spending time online, and archivists and librarians are feeling pressured to fill that outreach niche. Libraries, such as Stanford University have even moved into Second Life, a 3D virtual world, as a way to reach users and provide reference. New researchers, seasoned researchers, as well as the interested public can experience a visit to the archives, complete with Hollinger boxes that open showing a digital version of the insides. Their avatars can then click on the contents to view digital copies. I really do think this is a wonderful outreach to provide to users, and I fully support it as a user myself.

 

For the researcher and professor, I see mostly benefits, and a reduced workload assisted by primary source digitization. In the past, researchers often had to travel great distances at large expense to view a collection that may or may not be of relevance to their research. Now, with the aid of the internet, they are able to preview collections, which are being digitally made available to them. This convenience allows the seasoned researcher to decide if a closer look is needed, or that possibly, a photocopy would be sufficient. First time archives users are often intimidated with the strict rules associated with archival collections. Being able to read about the experience ahead of time on the archives website, and find out what is expected of them makes the first visit much less daunting. Learning the ropes online also allows them to become familiar with archival vocabulary, and to “practice” their research skills. Professors benefit in that they have the satisfaction of knowing that when they refer their students to the library, they will be able to access significantly higher amounts of scholarly material than in previous days.

 

It is certain that many of the issues surrounding the evolution of information technologies will not be solved overnight. Just as new rules are written, new issues will arise which require adjusting. The key to the changes lies with the archivists and librarians, and how they work together with researchers to weather this technological storm. Also, by listening to researchers needs, archivists and librarians will be able to refine online searching to create a better result for all involved. The technology revolution has forever changed the way materials are acquired, arranged, and searched, but by remaining open to change, the challenges that information professionals face will evolve along with the technology, and everyone will be more knowledgeable in the end.

Click here for:  Diane Malmstrom's ALA Midwinter 2012 Report

Left to right: Cheryl Crosby, Diane Malmstrom, Iris Hanney

 

ALA 2011

 

Annual Conference

 

ALA Annual Conference, New Orleans, LA:  June 23-28, 2011

 

 

Catherine Larson,

Graduate School of Library and Information Science

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

 

"In order for librarianship to remain what it is, it must change; if it doesn't change, it cannot remain what it is." - David Penniman (Abram 45)

The consumer market is impacting library service by changing how services are offered to patrons. Examples include mobile technologies, chat services, roving librarians, and embedded librarians. Perhaps the most instrumental change to library service that consumer markets have affected is a reassessment of patron needs and how the library can provide for those needs. As Stephen Abram states in his article, Evolution to Revolution to Chaos? Reference in Transition, "Policies have moved from serving library management needs and library workers' preferences to where end-user needs trump librarian insights and personal search preferences." (Abram 44) Librarians have had to move where the users are, rather than expecting users to come to them.

One way we are seeing changes locally is at the reference desk. One library studied the usefulness of the iPad in reference was the Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. There, iPads were used with roving reference librarians. The authors stated, "Librarians with iPads can access information, such as a call number, without forcing the student to locate and log into a desktop. It untethers both the librarian and student from their computer workstations." (Lotts 219) Abram in his article points out that users expect libraries to match their own needs, "We have to be everywhere they are, since that's the user expectation, and adapt to the tools that match their needs -- IM, texting, smartphones, social networks, and the rest." (Abram 44) As patrons increasingly use mobile technologies it affects where those patrons will do their research. Just as the librarian is no longer tied to a desk, neither is the patron.

Now what limits a user's location for research is dependent upon the strength of wifi or VPN availability and access to online databases or catalogs. As the Morris library learned, "One recent disappointment was learning the library's signal does not work well on our outdoor patio space, which is a popular destination for studying students." (Lotts 218) At one time, the idea of researching outside the library's walls would have been completely unheard of. Now with digital access and mobile devices, users have the choice of where to work. Is the library as research space disappearing and what is taking its place?

We are starting to see librarians moving outside the walls of the library and into locations where they are serving specific organizations as embedded librarians. "As librarians seek to redefine themselves, the model of embedded librarianship is generating interest as an effective means of applying the knowledge and skills of librarians towards the information challenges of the digital age." (Carlson 167). As more and more librarians find themselves entrenched in other locations, having a portable device with an online catalog at their fingertips will be ever more important. The consumer market has forced the hand of library service to go where the research is needed be it a physical location or a digital one.

So how else has the consumer market affected the physical library space? Library spaces that once declared no cell phone usage in the space, now have to consider allowing data cell phone usage to keep up with the consumer demand (Mairn). Comfortable chairs in open spaces and personal desks with built-in outlets have become a sign of a more modern library allowing users to sit comfortably with their mobile or laptop device. With online access many users now find they can research outside of the library, say from the comfort of their own homes, or as stated earlier, the patio of the library.

The consumer market has caused us to change how we provide reference to our patrons, but it is both a blessing and curse. As information becomes more accessible to a greater number of people, it also stirs up issues of information ownership. As libraries begin offering more services online and through mobile technologies, those patrons who cannot afford equipment to view this content outside of the library become limited in what information they can receive. Added to that, private corporations have become not only gateways for searching information but control that information even once it is in the hands of users. Information is easier to access but has become a commodity controlled by corporations. An example of this is when Kindle owners discovered after purchasing, indeed while some readers were still reading, that the books, 1984 and Animal Farm had been deleted from their Kindles due to a licensing issue. Having purchased these e- books, users were under the assumption that they owned the books and could read them at will. With paper books, owners own the books, and can even resell them. With digital content, ownership becomes less clear and users may not understand that (Fisher). Users who are accustomed to quick access to online content are discovering that with that ease of use comes a price tag that's not clearly marked.

Even in the face of ownership issues, the market is growing exponentially and libraries are aware of the changes in the consumer market and they have not been sitting on their heels. As conference sites such as the Handheldlibrarian.org gain footholds, it's clear that librarians are heeding the call and moving to where the users are. Where geographic location may once have hindered a patron from accessing information, now libraries can reach patrons across the globe. Chad Mairn, speaking as the keynote speaker for the Handheld Librarian Online Conference III, noted that roughly 5 billion people are estimated to have mobile phone access by 2015 (Mairn). Those without mobile technologies may increasingly be left behind, but it would seem that this number will only get smaller and smaller with every passing year. As technology continues to advance, patrons - including those who may never step into the brick and mortar building - will still need help sifting through the content on the web and in person. Answers will still need to be found; questions will still be asked. How and in what format those question are asked and answered only the future can tell.

Works Cited

Abram, Stephen. "Evolution to Revolution to Chaos? Reference in Transition." Searcher 16.8 (2008): 42-8. Library Lit & Inf Full Text. Web. 1 May 2011.

Carlson, Jake, and Ruth Kneale. "Embedded librarianship in the research context: Navigating new waters." College & Research Libraries News 72.3 (2011): 167-70. Library Lit & Inf Full Text. Web. 1 May 2011.

Clark, Nicola. "At Schiphol, an Unlikely Sanctuary of Books - NYTimes.com." New York Times. 15 Sept 2010. Web. 1 May 2011.
www.nytimes.com/2010/09/16/arts/16iht-library.html

Fisher, Ken. "Why Amazon Went Big Brother on Some Kindle E- books." Ars Technica. Web. 1 May 2011.

Lotts, Megan, and Sephanie Graves. "Using the iPad for reference services: Librarians go mobile." College & Research Libraries News 72.4 (2011): 217-20. Library Lit & Inf Full Text. Web. 1 May 2011.

Mairn, Chad and Joe Murphy. "Handheld Librarian III - Creating the Future of Mobile Library Services" HandheldLibrarian.org Web. 1 May 2011.

Click here for:  Catherine Larson's  ALA Annual Conference 2011 Report

 

 

Left to right: Iris Hanney, Catherine Larson, Cheryl Crosby

ALA 2012

 

Annual Conference

 

ALA Annual Conference, Anaheim, CA:  June 21-26, 2012