Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How do we engage faculty in Web 2.0?

In August 2008, two committees at Medaille College, Faculty Development and the Ad Hoc Educational Technology Committee, teamed up to present an event about Web 2.0 and education. With short notice to prepare the event, a local presenter was chosen. John Thompson, Associate Professor in the Computer Information Systems Department at Buffalo State College gave a lecture/presentation. The presenter was not very well received, but in listening to the discussions that ensued, I kept asking myself the same question: How do we (we being librarians and faculty committee members) engage faculty in Web 2.0?

As a librarian, my career would have probably come to an end by this point if I had not accepted the change that technology brings at a neck-breaking speed. How did I come to accept and work with Web 2.0 (or Library 2.0)? While working as a Technical Services Librarian at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, I had the opportunity to move the library from a card catalog to an online catalog. I learned about library systems from the inside out and upside down. We didn't have a big staff (actually almost no staff), but with the help from two colleagues in our IT Department, I learned about relational databases and how the information we enter into that relates to what the public sees, what the staff sees, and how the staff creates reports. I worked with IT to manage our library computers and our systems. I didn't have to maintain the server, but I needed to be able to communicate with the IT staff to keep everything running smoothly. It worked out wonderfully. I learned and the Gallery Library moved into a new era.

Now I work as the change agent for library technology at Medaille College. We have been implementing a new integrated library system and I have been evaluating everything we do and how we do it. As we moved through implementation, I kept the staff informed as to our progress and time line. The Support Services wiki became an essential tool we used to track our decisions and projects. The wiki, a Web 2.0 technology, has been a wonderful collaborative project management tool.

Web 2.0 is about conversation. I'd like to see more faculty take part in the conversation. How do I do that? I think that one way to do this is by building confidence and enabling individuals to try something new. Acceptance that it is possible to relate to and engage students in active learning by using the educational technology available to all faculty might be realized as faculty become more comfortable working with technology. So, I will continue to teach workshops and work with faculty individually to help build the confidence necessary to converse in the Web 2.0 world.


Monday, November 3, 2008

CONTENTdm training

On September 23, 2008, Laura Osterhout, Regional Services Librarian at the Western New York Library Resources Council (WNYLRC), and I taught "Introduction to CONTENTdm for WNY Legacy". This 5 hour workshop was attended by 11 local library employees, mostly librarians, and was part of WNYLRC's Digitization Boot Camp: Image Series. The advertisement for this workshop stated: During this session, participants will be introduced to WNYLRC's WNY Legacy digital repository, and will get hands-on experience uploading images using the CONTENTdm Acquisition Station. The workshop will include a step by step workflow for uploading images as well as a detailed discussion of the use and importance of metadata.

CONTENTdm is digital collection management software. WNYLRC has purchased a license for use by its members. WNY Legacy is the local CONTENTdm site which brings together digital collections from libraries and library systems in Western New York. As part of WNYLRC's efforts to spearhead the creation of library digital collections, the Regional Digital Heritage Advisory Subcommittee was formed in 2004. I have been on this subcommittee since its inception and served as chair for two years (2005-2007). Laura has also been on the committee since its inception and now manages the CONTENTdm site. To read more about the WNYLRC Regional Digitization Program, visit the WNYLRC website page for the program.

The workshop gave the participants hands-on experience working with CONTENTdm and thinking through the process of assigning metadata. Laura and I used images from Laura's own photograph collection to provide examples to work with. Each participant was able to upload and create metadata for 2 images by the end of the class. We stressed the use of WNYLRC's metadata template in CONTENTdm along with the other online tools available to help in the creation of meaningful metadata, including the WNYLegacy Metadata Dictionary we started on WNYLRC's wiki site. Other metadata resources discussed were Dublin Core and controlled vocabularies.

What I might do differently if asked to present this again would be to do an in-class evaluation of a few of the participant's final uploaded images and metadata. Having a discussion with the entire class about why the item was cataloged with particular phrases, subjects, etc. would be helpful in teaching context of the metadata. It is important to catalog each item with enough information to describe it on its own, but also place it in the larger context of the collection. This is a difficult concept and one that is key to providing relevant metadata.

All in all, the class was well received and the evaluations were very positive.