Libraries and Technology

Anders Lyon, the Stacks Coordinator at Gleeson Library, attended the Library Information Technology Association (LITA) Forum in Denver, November 9th-12th, 2017. LITA is a division of the American Library Association and this year’s annual conference focused on the intersection of libraries and technology. The topics covered data management, analytics, digital initiatives and user experience.

Of particular interest to Anders were sessions focused on user experience (UX). UX includes the library’s web environment as well as physical space. The focus of these sessions were methods of gathering user experience data which would be used in future project improvements/redesigns.

For example, in one presentation a mobile kiosk called the UX Cafe was set up in high traffic areas. Patrons were offered coffee and granola bars to participate in a brief study. For more on UX resources and blogs, check out UX for the Masses.

Anders noted that while Gleeson Library solicits feedback from the university community, establishing something similar to the UX Cafe here would formalize the process and increase the frequency of data collection. He proffered an example of a study where users would be asked to find a resource from the library’s digital collections. Administrators of the study would take notes as users describe the process of finding the resource. The results would be used to identify areas in need of improvement and to implement changes to the library’s online environment.

IFLA Annual Congress

Debbie Benrubi, Gleeson Library Technical Services Librarian, attended the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) Annual Congress in Wrocław, Poland, August 19-25th, 2017.

From the website: “…(IFLA) is the leading international body representing the interests of library and information services and their users. It is the global voice of the library and information profession. Founded in 1927 in Edinburgh, Scotland at an international conference… we now have more than 1,400 Members in over 140 countries around the world.” Gleeson Library is a member of IFLA.

Debbie noted that the Secretary General of IFLA, Gerald Leitner, is leading an effort to unify and amplify library voices worldwide with the Global Vision Discussion. Everyone interested in libraries was invited to participate. The responses to the questionnaire, will form the plan of action for IFLA’s goal: “to build literate, informed and participative societies.”

The American Library Association (ALA) Video Round Table nominated Debbie to represent ALA at IFLA and she was elected to the Standing Committee of the Audiovisual and Multimedia Section (AVMS) session in 2015. She chaired the AVMS’s joint session with the Information Literacy Section and the School Libraries Section at the 2017 World Library and Information Congress, with “Media is the Message: Critical Use of Video in the Digital Age” as the theme. 5 papers were presented, each showing different ways of using video in libraries, to an audience of approximately 200 people.

As a cataloger, Debbie was particularly interested in a session on enhancing controlled vocabularies to make it easier for researchers to find information about different aspects of indigenous people and cultures. Subject headings in a catalog use a controlled vocabulary to bring together resources on a particular subject. For instance, one cataloger presented his work in augmenting Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) to include more Native American tribes’ names. Another presentation discussed a joint project of three Scandinavian national libraries developing subject headings to bring out aspects of the Sami people and culture of the far North.

Digital Humanities Summer Institute

In June 2017, Colette Hayes, Reference and Instruction Librarian at the Gleeson Library participated in the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) at the University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia.

Of the many courses on offer, Colette decided to take one on digital humanities and pedagogy, and another on models for digital humanities at four-year liberal arts colleges. They were week-long, hands-on, intensive courses taught by digital humanities practitioners. She spent time outside those courses attending pre-institute workshops, daily colloquiums, lunchtime un-conference sessions and extra curricular activities at the University of Victoria.

How does this impact her work at USF? Colette shares one of her plans of action and the way it facilitated team work with librarians from other institutions: “One project that I proposed as a part of one of the intensives I took at DHSI was a digital exhibit about the history of student social justice activism at USF, using the newly digitized copies of the Foghorn in Gleeson Library’s digital collections. After I presented this proposal to my cohort, a classmate approached me to share a similar project that a student was working on as part of a digital humanities summer fellowship for undergraduates run by his university’s library.”

Examining the main takeaway of attending the institute, Colette notes, “… DHSI emphasized, for me, the collaborative nature of digital humanities (many dh projects are interdisciplinary and involve libraries and IT departments), as well as the opportunities certain digital humanities projects offer for student research and public scholarship.”

An example of one of the digital humanities projects featured is The Suffrage Postcard Project. According to Colette, it is significant because “undergraduate and graduate students and their professor, Dr. Kristin Allukian used a platform called Omeka to create a searchable, tagged digital collection or database of suffrage postcards, and are using this database alongside historical research to analyze and ask questions about these artifacts.”

For more information on the courses offered, visit the Digital Humanities Summer Institute website.

Technology, African Libraries and Meeting the Development Agenda

Justine Withers, Gleeson Library Electronic and Continuing Resources Catalog Librarian, attended the 4th African Library Summit and 2nd AfLIA Conference. It was held in Yaounde, Cameroon, May 16th-19th, 2017.

AfLIA stands for African Library and Information Associations and Institutions. From the website: AfLIA is an independent international not-for-profit organization which pursues the interests of library and information associations, library and information services, librarians and information workers and the communities they serve in Africa. More details here.

The theme of this year’s conference was, “Libraries in the Development Agenda: Repositioning African Libraries to deliver on the Future We Want.”

According to Justine, “Much of the discussion revolved around the inseparable relationship between access to information and meeting the goals set forth in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. I attended the conference in order to learn how I could assist some local libraries in Cameroon and how they handle the technical challenges of electronic resources. I learned the importance of meeting users where they are — including the technology they have access to and actual geographic location — and supporting local resources as much as possible. I will be thinking about how our own researchers access the library catalog as I make our resources visible.”

If you’d like more information about the conference, the program is downloadable in .pdf format here.

Yaounde restaurant

Mobile Access to E-journals

David Ferguson, Acquisitions Coordinator, Gleeson Library, att

NASIG 2016

ended the NASIG (North American Serials Interest Group) Annual Conference in 2016. A particularly interesting and alarming session he attended was, “We went mobile! (or did we?): reviewing and promoting third-party device-neutral library resources.”

The University of San Diego librarians discovered they were unaware how many students used mobile devices to access e-journals via the library website. They also realized they did not know how many successful versus unsuccessful attempts are made, if some providers are better than others, and the fact that vendors offer apps for either iPad or iPhone but often not both.

After a thorough study, they established a workflow when promoting mobile access and implemented a “training the trainers” (especially public service staff) to help address any questions or problems encountered. Check out the results of the study in their published article:

Conference description:


Do you know how your students access electronic resources?

What issues do you encounter?