The Ohio Valley Group of Technical Services Librarians (OVGTSL) was founded in 1924 and draws its members primarily from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky; however, membership and conference attendance are open to anyone interested in library and archive technical services. The purpose of the organization is to provide an opportunity to gather together for the interchange of ideas and discussion of issues in library and archive technical services; to form a united group with the aim to keep in touch with movements in the field of technical services; and to cooperate with and offer suggestions to the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services (ALCTS) of the American Library Association and/or the appropriate sections of this Division.
Nice lineup of speakers and topics including Gwen Evans and Ben Hunter (keynote speakers) and 21 concurrent sessions covering everything from Institutional Repositories Development to ContentDM for Archives Management. Hope to see you there.
When was the last time your library space contained a “tutoring carnival”? When was the last time you received (or wrote) a shift report about your library that contained the words “…jam packed; constant flow of people in and out.”? When did you last feel that students were really using the resources of your library and that you had an engaged community partnership? This is how the library staff reported what they saw and experienced as a direct result of a new community collaboration at the University of Idaho.
In the latest edition of Collaborative Librarianship, Kristin J. Henrich, describes the collaboration the library developed with the Tutoring and Academic Assistance Program (TAAP) at the University of Idaho at Moscow. Ms. Henrich writes not only about the ups and downs of their project but also gives a thorough “how-to” sequence including the following short excerpts:
- Administration – “Is there campus administrative support for the project?” “Does the project support the goals of the campus strategic plan?”
- Partners – “Which units on campus would be a natural fit for collaboration?” “Are our student learning outcomes similar?”
- Practical Considerations – “How will we assess the success of the project or service?” “Who will staff the service? Librarians, library staff, or staff from external units?”
Why was the Tutoring and Academic Assistance Program (TAAP) such a great fit as a collaborative partner? On the practical side, TAAP needed more room. They wanted to spread out across the campus and not be limited to their offices in the student affairs department. Their mission was very similar. They wanted to help students stay in school (there’s our retention theme again) and they wanted the students to use their services. Collaborating with the library was an easy ‘yes’ for them. The tutors could meet students in a well-known location on campus and everything they needed was at hand once some low cost modifications were made to the common area in the library.
Ms. Henrich offers many more planning-related questions and thoughtful considerations. She covers so much, that you could use her lists and specific approach directly.
“Leveraging Strategic Institutional Partnerships: Creating a Phased Learning Commons at the University of Idaho Library”, Collaborative Librarianship, (5) (4) 2013, collaborativelibrarianship.org, February 24, 2014.
You’ve got a problem. You’re in a middle school library (and yes, this means kids are reading physical books, which they prefer) and your collection includes books that are prize winning and have received excellent reviews. But some of these books are not circulating. Not even once. And while you’re working on reading your entire collection, let’s face it, how much time do you have to read middle school fiction?
Suzanne Dix, the librarian for the Upper School and Middle School Library at Seven Hills School, was faced with such a dilemma. She did not want to automatically weed these books because they are newer and again, they are award winning and/or highly recommended by an organization Suzanne trusts. So she came up with an idea which includes her community and she named it the Book Tasters.
How Book Tasters Works
- Suzanne pulls about 20 books with zero circulation.
- The sixth graders who have signed up to be a Book Taster, can come and pick up a book from this group.
- They write a review using a form Suzanne created on Google Docs.
- Suzanne prints the review and pastes it into the front of the book.
- Then the book receives a special sticker, indicating that it’s been ‘tasted.
- Suzanne has an area for recently Tasted Books on top of a low shelf. Over time, Tasted Books would simply be shelved as usual, but the special sticker would remain.
- Once a month the Book Tasters are ‘paid’ in a lunch (pizza and pop).
On the day of my visit the Tasted shelf was empty. Suzanne says that no sooner does she put one on the shelf, then it is checked out!
This is real work. Suzanne wants to know if the book is good as far as the kids are concerned and whether or not it should stay in the collection or be donated. The students learn how to write helpful book reviews and they’re rewarded not only with pizza but with recognition. Their reviews include their name.
And if you’re wondering if sixth graders are willing, Suzanne currently has 35 students Tasting Books. Sounds delicious to me.
If you’d like to know more about Book Tasters, Suzanne would be happy to hear from you Suzanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
If you haven’t discovered “The Journal of Creative Library Practice” let me introduce you. It is an online journal intending to “…reach librarians and information professionals of all types.” Founded in 2013, and published under a Creative Commons License, it accepts Reviews, Articles and does some Peer Reviewed Publishing too.
How often do you read a library article and think to yourself, “Wow, that’s really new and exciting!”? And I don’t mean new to just be new, but new and usable to you and your customers. Here’s an example from “Straight to the Heart of Things” – Reflecting on Library Metaphors for Impact and Assessment by Richard A. Stoddart, Assessment Librarian at Oregon State University and Press.
“An Activity to Explore Metaphors in Your Library:
A worthwhile exercise for librarians and libraries is take some time to reflect on the metaphors potentially operating in association with your library. I find this sort of activity helpful in exploring the alignment between what I think we do, what we actually do, and what others think we do. The results of this reflection also suggest possible ways we might communicate with our stakeholders in a more meaningful manner. Undertaking an examination of library metaphors allows for an in-depth exploration of three factors that may shape overall library perception.
This sort of guided reflection provides an opportunity for libraries to:
1. Reevaluate and refine the internal and external definitions of the library and its services.
2. Recognize external visions of the library employed by patrons that may differ than those of librarians and library.
3. Inspire and define the direction the library for both librarians and patrons.”
Wow. In all the talk of library assessment I’ve participated in over the last few years, no one has suggested that we spend some time examining the mental models we and our customers hold about us. We do the usual complaining that we’re seen as ‘buildings with books’ and we can’t seem to move beyond this lament. Mr. Stoddart is asking for deep thinking, not broad brushing. It requires thoughtful and potentially time consuming conversations. But what could be more productive to our collective futures than engaging with each other in this way?
Mr. Stoddart continues with a list of specific questions you could use in small groups or on your own. There’s the part you can use right away, or at least at your next Strategic Planning Committee meeting. We’re starting our next round this spring and I plan to propose starting with this conversation.
Thanks to “The Journal of Creative Library Practice!”
Note about the image
The image is from a different article "The Missing Piece: Outreach to College and University Staff Members" by Jennifer Hill of Johns Hopkins University. Jennifer sets up in the cafeteria on a Quarterly basis. She gets to meet people in person, who otherwise simply know her through email or chat. Jennifer readily admits that the cafeteria piece is not new. But read about the whole program and you'll see why staff wait in line to talk with Jennifer.
Greta Southard (Director of Boone County Public Library) never imagined she’d be here, after starting her career in law libraries. From a start in Ohio, Greta found her way to Chicago, working at ALA Headquarters, heading up the Public Library Association and organizing the annual PLA conference. According to Greta, what’s great about being a library director is that you actually get to implement the forward thinking ideas you put together as part of every conference, every year. You don’t need to convince the folks ‘out there’ to do anything. You simply build it with your people.
One of Greta’s main challenges is getting people to look objectively at their programming to see how it could be improved, how it could be oriented to more people in the community. This evaluative focus has led to significant restructuring in programming, not by offering that many more programs but by shifting the focus. So in the last year an increase of 4% in programming resulted in a 25% increase in attendance. Many programs are now multi-generational so that the library can be a family destination.
Not to worry, Greta is still involved in putting together conferences. This year it’s the Kentucky Library Association’s “Libraries: Leading the Way in the Information Age.” Greta would certainly know.