Thursday, November 26, 2009

American Library Association 2009 Annual Conference

I attended sessions at the American Library Association's Annual Conference in Chicago, July 11-13, 2009. In selecting which sessions to attend, I looked for topics including research methodologies and using data to develop collections and services. When I attended this conference, I was new to my role as Library Director.
I attended the following sessions:

Designing Effective Research Surveys : Regina McBride, Ph.D., Dean of Library and Information Services, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, presents a program designed to assist academic librarians refine research design skills. The program involves: developing research questions, selecting research methodologies, and designing the research study. Topics include: developing useful questionnaires; techniques for conducting telephone interviews and focus groups, and constructing surveys to get the information needed. A PowerPoint presentation, participant discussions, hands-on exercises, and handouts of sample research designs are included. This program is sponsored by the ACRL Research Committee. This was a basic survey presentation stressing the concepts of validity, reliability, and generalizability.

Millennials in Graduate School: How Do We Support Them? : Millennials, those born between 1982 and 1994, are finishing college and entering graduate school. Surveys suggest that these students use libraries heavily and are less than satisfied with the experience. What do these digital multi-taskers want and expect, and how can university libraries support their needs? This program will bring together a panel of speakers to discuss trends in graduate education, the expectations of this cohort and the successful approaches that will engage them. Speakers: Susan Gibbons, Vice Provost and Dean, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester; Joan K. Lippincott, Associate Executive Director, Coalition for Networked Information; Barbara Dewey, Dean of Libraries, University of Tennessee
Powerpoint presentations can be found on the ACRL website. My notes: The presenters discussed how millennial graduate students research and how studies of this group have improved library services for them. The U of R has a publication detailing a study of graduate students: The Next Generation of Academics: A Report on a Study Conducted at the University of Rochester.

Collection Development 2.0: The Changing Administration of Collection Development : Collection development is undergoing revolutionary changes. In the last few years, most libraries have made major changes in the way they manage collection development. This program will help clarify what new approaches some libraries have taken and why, their consequences (both intended and unintended), and what some of those thinking about these issues see on the horizon. Moderator: Steven Harris, University of New Mexico; Presenters: Jonathan Nabe, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; Martha White, Lexington (KY) Public Library; Rick Anderson, University of Utah. My notes: Current trends include patron-driven acquisition, pay-per-view options, interlibrary loan for titles too expensive to purchase, and true coordinated collection development through consortia. See the ALA Conference wiki for presentations and reading lists.

Listening to the Customer: Using Assessment Results to Make a Difference

From the ALA wiki:

Speaker #1:Catherine Haras, California State University – Los Angeles

Title: Assessing an information literacy initiative

Short description: The JFK Memorial Library at California State University, Los Angeles, has built a healthy information literacy program by continuing to assess student learning as well as faculty perceptions of students’ research habits. Assessment results inform Library curriculum, help to grow program outreach, and have modified campus policy. The Library has developed a sustainable model of information literacy at the first-year and upper-division (capstone) levels, reaching 18,000 students per year through credit-bearing courses and almost 700 course-integrated and stand alone workshops.

Speaker #2: Dr. Richard Moniz, Johnson and Wales University

Title: Using multiple assessments to evaluate library services

Short description: Dr. Richard Moniz will discuss a number of widely varying assessments such as LibQUAL+, annual library surveys, the Standardized Assessment of Information Literacy (SAILS), and Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analysis and their application at a somewhat unique private university. With a focus on results or changes made as a result of customer/patron input, Moniz will also briefly discuss the pros and cons of each approach. A brief examination of several approaches is intended to show how no single assessment is enough for a complete environmental scan of the library's services.

Speaker #3: Annie Norman, State Library of Delaware

Title: The Measure of Library Excellence

Short description: The Delaware Division of Libraries / State Library have facilitated a quality learning journey for Delaware libraries since 2002. Library staff participates in training to apply various tools that businesses use to achieve performance excellence, including Baldridge Criteria, Balanced Scorecard, and Six Sigma. Most recently, Division of Libraries staff members are listening to the customer through the Delaware Library Learning Journeys program, an action research project to develop tools, tips, and techniques to unleash inner genius and support lifelong learning. Lessons learned to date will help others to make a difference in their libraries.

My notes: What I learned from these presentations is that anecdotal evidence is not valid. The presenters proved that what they thought was true about the students (anecdotal) proved to be very different from the assessment collected through testing (direct assessment) and surveys (indirect assessment). When the assessment from the direct and indirect assessment was analyzed and compared with faculty focus group findings, the librarians created a more effective information literacy program. Librarians need to develop their pedagogical skills. LIBQUAL+ is a useful survey tool.

Nuts & Bolts for Academic Friends
Friends and development officers for academic libraries are invited to attend this highly interactive session where attendees will share best practices for fund raising, creating endowments, increasing membership, and improving the profile of library Friends and Foundations on campus. Hosted by the Friends section. Speakers: Mary Dodge, Sam Huang. My notes: This session was most helpful to me. I learned about academic library friends groups from two experts in the field. ALADN (Academic Library Advancement and Development Group) holds an annual conference. There is no cost to join the group.

Through Their Eyes: Collecting Visual Data For Designing the Learning Environment : My notes: The presenters described methods for collecting visual data to use in planning renovation or construction. Nancy Kress, University of Chicago, did a way finding study with students to improve the library signage. Judi Briden, University of Rochester, talked about the photo diaries students created to document their school life. Kathleen Webb used photographic studies to develop a method for assessing learning spaces (classroom and non-classroom spaces) and to explore the relationship between learning and the characteristics of space. She co-wrote an article about the study, published in Portal, Oct. 2008 (v.8, no. 4, pp. 407-422). Rebecca Bichel, Kirsten Kinsley and Jill Duncan, Florida State University described a partnership with Herman Miller to develop an actionable assessment which used data analysis to create action steps for transformation. Their key points included: Think big, act fast, test small; Failure is a valuable part of testing; Make the data matter; Tight resources are no excuse.

Pay Attention to Your Users! Conducting Qualitative Research to Reinvent Library Services: In developing library services, librarians place the user at the center of planning. In this program, three experienced researchers show how qualitative methods provide effective means to learn what libraries should do to help people meet their information needs. The presentations will include discussions and examples of software used in qualitative research and ways qualitative research can inform practical management decisions. Speakers: Denise Agosto, Drexel University; Sandra Hughes-Hassell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Lynn Westbrook, University of Texas at Austin. The Powerpoint presentation can be found with this description on the ALA wiki. My notes: Qualitative research contributes to the profession's development when the findings are shared through presentation and publication. Qualitative research uses verbal, not numerical, data. This research is concerned with the process of an activity. Software for data analysis: HyperResearch.



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