Monday, April 29, 2013

The Adjunctification of Academic Librarianship

Much ink has been spilled talking about the future of libraries, but comparatively little attention has been paid to the future of staffing libraries, outside of Jeff Trzeciak's infamous recommendation to hire PhDs as opposed to librarians credentialed with Masters of Library and Information Science degrees. What is happening at my place of work suggests that perhaps we should be paying more attention to this aspect of potential library futures.
As director of the library, I'm culpable in this exercise. Trzeciak proposed to take advantage of a market efficiency, an excess supply of labor on the PhD market, and I am doing the same for MLIS holders. I have advocated for more full-time staff, paraprofessional and credentialed librarians, but due to an operating budget of $35 million (that's for the university, total, per year), my inability to successfully lobby the administration (though I'm unclear if I could successfully do so), and the political economy of permanent crisis in higher education, I find myself here, propagating a system I hate. There are two full-time staff and six part-time staff, two of which are in MLIS programs. Four are part-time librarians. They are, in short, adjunct librarians. This future of academic libraries may be coming to a university or college near you.

Why call these part-time staff adjunct librarians? Because when the only tool administration has is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Adjuncts are a solution to a problem in academic departments. They are now a solution in the library. And to paraphrase Tarak Barkawi, I am in part to blame for administering and legitimating this "Thatcherite budget-cutting exercise."

The only way, it seems, I can staff a library, is to exploit the surplus labor on MLIS job market. That is frustrating. That is sad. That is depressing. And I don't know what to do about it. I would love to make the part-time staff full-time, but clearly that is not going to happen any time soon here. In the meantime, part-time staff get a paycheck, but no benefits, and some experience. We get labor. But that labor is tenuous. Last week two of these staff members gave their notice. One librarian has moved on to a full-time job, six months after receiving a Masters degree. Another is leaving to focus on the final semester of an MLIS program, and the frantic job hunt that goes with it. And for us, the cycle begins anew. I wish I knew how to stop it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The 2013 Craft Brewers Conference Wrap-Up Post: Photojournalism!

From Monday, March 25th to Friday, March 29th, 2013, Washington, DC hosted the Craft Brewers Conference. Thanks to, yours truly got to attend. This is what happened.

Tuesday afternoon I checked into the conference, as both Monday and Tuesday were pre-conference days and move in days for the exhibitors.

Every conference gives you a totebag, only this one
gives you beer. Pay attention, library conferences!
I opened this beer a few days later. There's a nice rye bite to this pilsner brewed specially for the Craft Brewers Conference by The Brewer's Art, DC Brau, and Devils Backbone.

On-site reception, courtesy of German hops growers.
The room smelled nice. 

Because, you know, science! 
I left the convention center and headed over to Churchkey, which put on an event featuring saisons, ales fermented with Belgian and Belgian-style yeasts originally made in farmhouses for workers in the fields. Beer geeks will be pleased to know that I sampled offerings from Hill Farmstead, Crooked Stave, Tired Hands, Jester King, and more.

From there the next stop was the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, for the conference welcome reception.

I'm in the National Air and Space Museum!
Drinking beer!

Towards the end of the event I found Heavy Seas, out of
Baltimore. They claim to produce more real ale than
anyone else in the United States, and brought a cask of
their Loose Cannon IPA with Cascade hops in the cask.
Yes, please. 

Beer and rockets. That's what it's all about, kids.
"I feel alive, so alive."  
I was happy to see DC Brau’s Brandon Skall, who’s been coming to this museum since he was a toddler, pouring beer there. If it was a cool feeling for me, imagine how he felt.

Selfie of the beer I brought into the Air and Space
Museum, just to prove that I brought beer into a
Smithsonian Institution. No ducky face. 
The conference began on Wednesday morning with a general session full of facts about the beer industry and a keynote from Kim Jordan of New Belgium. Said facts:

  • There are 2347 craft breweries in the United States, and they sold 13.2 million barrels of beer in 2012.
  • 1254 more breweries are in planning.
  • 409 breweries opened in 2012, though there were also 43 closings. 
  • The most popular style of craft beer is Indian Pale Ale. No surprise there. (The actual most popular "style" is "seasonal," but that encompasses at least 4 styles, one for each of the seasons.)
  • Amber lagers and wheat beers are on the decline.  

The conference schedule is posted here. At about 11:15am this session ended and the beer started flowing in the BrewExpo Exhibition area, which was overwhelmingly amazing. What better time for Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA or a Sun King Cream Ale than 11am?

An Alsatian hop grower showcasing the finished product. Aramis, left, may
become a trendy hop. New Belgium is already using in in an India Pale Ale.    
Overall in terms of "it" hops, it looks like Mosiac will be the next big thing. Keep an eye out for it. It's already in use in a double IPA from Great Lakes and is the sole hop in a rye pale ale from Terrapin.

Local beer on tap in the Brew Expo.

A packaging company brought this. Sounds, delicious, no? 
I went to two sessions on the past, present, and future of malt and malting, and I feel like I took a 3-credit course on the subject. A wonderful experience. Here are my notes. Then it was back to BrewExpo.

As you can tell, they had a very good selection at this
station: Sweetwater, Dogfish, Left Hand, New Belgium...

Sly Fox Brewing's new can. Just peel back the lid.
The future!

Yeast man. There's no swag like mitosis swag.

On an eye-opening and perhaps disappointing note, I saw at least three vendors selling flavoring extracts, and one of these had a roster of craft brewers lined up for testimonials. So now I don’t know if there’s any actual chocolate in Rogue Chocolate Stout, one of the examples a vendor showed me, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Does it matter?

Over at, there is some discussion about whether or not this conference was good for DC's beer scene and the local brewers, who may have been overshadowed by out-of-towners during that week. Praise for the week here, concern here. Cheers.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Computers in Libraries Wrap-Up, Or, How to Attend a Conference

Last week I was fortunate to attend the 2013 Computers in Libraries conference. Unlike the American Library Association annual meeting, which I often find unwieldy, CIL is just about the right size in terms of attendees, panels, and vendor exhibits.

From looking at list the presentations and panels I attended, you'll notice a few patterns.
  • How information is displayed and presented on the library website, and how that information can be made more user-friendly. Often times this means thinking more like a school media specialist or school librarian than one who works at a university library, thus I attended a few presentations in that track. I find them a refreshing antedote to "big picture" presentations that we couldn't afford to do at my place of work. More on that in a minue. 
  • Managing electronic resources is challenging, especially for someone like me who's charged with these tasks, but has nothing in the way of formal learning, and very little in the way of informal learning. 
  • Demonstrating the value of said resources, and more, and then displaying and presenting that value in a way that is persuasive to stakeholders. 
  • I also want to be if not on the cutting edge, at least slightly behind it in terms of larger trends in larger libraries. Though my current place of work definitely does not fit that bill, I've worked at R1 institutions in the past. Much of what's presented at these panels doesn't apply and can't apply, to my current place of work, but it's nice to know what's out there and who's doing what.

D101 ● BYOD: Bring Your Own Device
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Jill Hurst-Wahl, Director, & Christopher Lawton, Program Assistant, Library & Information
Science Program, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University
Kateri Abeyta, IT Manager, Denver Public Library
Mobile devices are quickly becoming an essential element in both personal and workplace productivity. Library IT staff are faced with the challenge of maintaining network security with the flexibility of a mobile workforce. All types of libraries are being impacted by BYOD, whether they realize it or not. Do you have policies and guidelines in place regarding these devices? Our speakers share some insights, and then the audience shares their insights with their colleagues.

B102 ● Seven Deadly Sins of Websites
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Casey Schacher, Resource Discovery Librarian, &
Paige Mano, Web Communications & Social Media Coordinator, University of Wisconsin
Tony Aponte, Science & Engineering Librarian, UCLA
Is your library site all it could be? Far too often, library websites harbor major usability and design issues that prevent patrons from easily accessing the wealth of resources available to them. Speakers evaluate real-world library websites using authoritative guidelines and reveal the most common usability and accessibility sins being committed. Find out how your library website stacks up: Is it a sinner or a saint?

D103 ●
Innovative Library Tech: Practices & Services
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Carol Watson, Director; Maureen Cahill, Student Services Librarian; & Wendy Moore,
Acquisitions Librarian, University of Georgia Law Library
How is your library evolving? To meet changing demands at our institutions, many libraries have undertaken innovative technology initiatives over the past few years. Our libraries can develop best practices from sharing the results of our experiments with new services with each other. This is your chance to participate in an open forum. This session uses the “fishbowl” format to engage audience members in a discussion of creative library technologies. Speakers facilitate comments from audience participants in the fishbowl and encourage discussion from the audience as well on topics ranging from the latest whizbang gadgets to effective technology instruction tactics.

D104 ● Metrics, Value, & Funding
3:15 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Rebecca Jones, Managing Partner, Dysart & Jones Associates
Moe Hosseini-Ara, Director, Service Excellence, Markham Public Library
This interactive session starts with an overview of what metrics to look for and how to develop them from experienced librarians. It then proceeds with a whole-room discussion and brainstorming on how to get the right data to make an impact to funders and stakeholders

E105 ● Misinformation, Autopilot Thinking, and Credibility:
Teaching Information Evaluation
4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Debbie Abilock, Co-founder, NoodleTools, Inc., Palo Alto, California
How does misinformation originate and spread? What cognitive factors come into play when students evaluate sources? And what can we do to teach them to de-bias their judgments? Ignite your teaching by learning to model quick-and-dirty “rules of thumb” that students can use or revise when they evaluate sources during short research tasks. And, conversely, learn when to add “points of friction” into your instructional design, so that your students will be willing to think deeply when their research project is “worth it.”


C201 ● Metrics That Work
10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Karen Krugman, Chief, Research Library & Archives, Export-Import Bank of the United States
Kris Vajs,Chief Librarian, Research Library, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
Karen White, Senior Librarian & Team Lead, USAID Knowledge Services Center
Are senior leaders getting the right message from your management reports? Are your reports a useful vehicle for your department or just part of the routine information you deliver to your manager? Do you want to learn how to communicate the importance of all of your library’s contributions to your organization but find that your metrics lack substance? Join our experienced leaders for this practical session to learn why management reporting is so critical for libraries, discover current management reporting trends, hear about management reporting at three federal libraries and see sample management reports, learn what statistics to track, how to turn them into real management information, and how to present your metrics effectively. Included are a list of metrics you can use in your own management reports.

B202 ● Creating a Culture of Usability
11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
Krista Godfrey, Web Services Librarian, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Paulette Hasier, Manager, Research Services, &
Jessica Sanders, Research Specialist, ARTI (DOD Contractor)
Library websites are slowly transforming into powerful, and more importantly, easy to use tools. In order to develop the latter, it is essential to perform constant and consistent usability testing. Hear how Memorial University of Newfoundland is trying to create a culture of thoughtfulness toward our users through the establishment of a web usability team. Learn why usability is important, how it implemented the new team and directions the schools are going in. Then hear how one library paid attention to the evolving needs of users, employed user-friendly open source tools to engage clients, created collaborative spaces, and improved the UX with new information delivery functionalities and mobile solutions.

A203 ● Negotiating Econtent & Tech Licenses
1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Mike Gruenberg, Gruenberg Consulting, LLC, & Author, Buying & Selling Information: A
Guide for the Information Professional & Salesperson That Ensures Mutual Success
Richard Hulser, Chief Librarian, Natural History Museum Los Angeles County
By setting clear goals and expectations, information professionals can make the most of the meeting and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with the content sales people. Get tips from a long-time salesperson, supporter of libraries, and recent author and from a librarian who has been on both sides—sales and purchase!

A204 ● Institutional Repositories
2:30 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
Julian Aiken, Access Services Librarian, Yale Law School
Hollie White, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Duke Law School
Duke and Yale Law schools have two of the most successful open access online institutional repositories in North America. Delivering more than 12,000 objects and 2-million-plus downloads to a global audience, the Yale Law School Legal Repository and the Duke Law Scholarship Repository are turning into indispensable resources for scholars and practitioners across the world. Join our speakers to hear how these two law schools are using their repositories to extend the global reach of their scholarship, and enhance their value within the academic community. Topics include platforms, permissions, staffing, workflows, outreach, and publicity.

E205 ● Open Educational Resources and the Open Web
4:15 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Heather Braum, Digital and Technical Services Librarian, Northeast Kansas Library System,
Lawrence, Kansas
Gary Price, INFODocket and FullTextReports, Washington, D.C.
Join two experts on the vital subject of finding free educational resources online. First, Heather Braum discusses open educational resources, a rising trend in classrooms, in libraries, and in DIY education circles. Learn how you can make the move from traditional textbooks and classroom resources and discover the what OER has to offer your library, school, and community. Then, hear veteran web resource locator Gary Price discuss discovery and finding tools, techniques, and even the necessary mindset you need to unearth the best digital content for education—so you can serve up just what’s needed for that social studies class, just when it’s needed.


B303 ● Evolving Tech Services to Manage & Discover E-Resources
1:30 p.m. – 2:15 p.m.
Li Fu, Digital Services Librarian, &
John Coogan, Systems Librarian, University of Maryland University College
Candice Kail, Web Services Librarian &
Colleen Major, Electronic Resources Librarian, Columbia University Libraries
Both of these libraries are transitioning their technical support functions to ensure access, discovery, assessment, sharing, and development of digital content and applications. Hear how these libraries are shifting their approaches to authentication, link resolvers, discovery tools, cataloging, usage statistics, web technology, the relationship between e-resources and virtual library environment, and the influence this is having on staff in systems and technical services.

A304 ● New Face of Reference
2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
David Stern, Associate Dean, Public Services, Illinois State University
Crystal Shiffert, Reference Librarian, Monroe County Library System
Shari Clayman, Internet Reference Librarian, &
Abbey Gerken, Assistant Library Network Coordinator, ASRC Primus, EPA
Krista Schmidt, Research & Instruction Librarian/Science Liaison, &
Joel Marchesoni, Technical Support Analyst, Western Carolina University
Stern talks about shared workspace collaboration tools and describes the use of a shared workspace for manipulating multiple media materials and the sharing of real-time workstation screens to understand and demonstrate more sophisticated search methods and to facilitate the mastery of more advanced tools and techniques. While increasing collaboration and interaction at a distance, remote control is also the next step in offering advanced instruction, assistance, and collaboration. The next two presentations include reference librarians who partnered with a library technical support analyst and a vendor to develop a tablet-based app and a mobile app to extend reference service. The last talk focuses on how an ask-a-librarian service leverages the time and expertise of EPA librarians across the country to present a unified service to all EPA staff. It shares lessons learned during the last 3 years and future plans.

C305 ● Data: Digging Deeper & Displaying
3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Jeff Wisniewski, Web Services Librarian, University of Pittsburgh
Data you gather is just data until it is analyzed, interpreted, and conveyed in a meaningful way. With Google Analytics incorrect conclusions can be drawn without doing an in-depth analysis. Wisniewski provides a framework for accurately assessing the data to make informed design decisions in combination with other user tests, surveys and focus groups. See how Pittsburgh is mining data to learn about user behavior.

My notes on these sessions may or may not be useful to you. They're not as good as these notes. But here they are, all the same.

Here is a link, via Storify, to my tweets during the conference. I'm a big believer in using the back channel during conferences.

A full conference program, in pdf, is here.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

It's baaaack! The BeerBrarian's Guide to Computers in Libraries 2013

Since I live in DC, I thought an insider's perspective might be useful for the upcoming Computers in Libraries 2013 conference, which meets at the Hilton just north of Dupont Circle.

A brief word about the guide:
With a few exceptions, anything posted below have been vetted by me. These are places I frequent, or at least have been in. Not mentioned is that west of the conference there are many embassies, which would be a nice walk during breaks, or after the sessions have ended for the day.

There are some dine arounds, but they're at very pedestrian restaurants. I understand the distinction between a good meal and good food, so if you're doing one of these, it's for networking and the company, and not what's on your plate.

The Washington Post has a guide to the area. It's a bit unwieldy, but comprehensive.

I write for on the side. Here's their guide to beer in the area.

If you're familiar with Dupont Circle and think I missed anything, please let me know.

View Computers in Libraries in a larger map

Cherry blossom season in DC will hit its peak between April 3rd and 6th, right before Computers in Libraries. The Washington Post has put together a handy graphic on the Tidal Basin area.