Erin Dorney

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Student Panel at PaLA Lehigh Valley Chapter

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lvpala

Last week I got to facilitate a really fun session for the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Library Association. For my breakout session I decided to copy a format I had seen Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches use back in November 2011 at the Library Journal Summit in Philadelphia.

We recruited students from four local colleges/universities and basically ran a live focus group, talking openly with them about why they use the library, how they do research, and how they use technology. I’m not going to name names to protect these innocent students who so kindly shared their honest opinions about libraries, but we had representatives from Northampton Community College, Widener University, Penn State, and Muhlenberg University. And guys, they were amazing. Everyone was professional and had great, well-articulated thoughts to share. It was really inspiring to work with them (thank you!!!).

In my introduction I shared a little bit about why I wanted to do a session like this instead of just talking to attendees about academic libraries. We talk a lot about initiating change from within (or outside of) our institutions and change-resistors. “User experience” is also a phrase that has gained traction in recent years. In my position, I’ve found that talking directly with users has provided me with the tools I need to initiate change in my library. I realized when we started our Library Student Advisory Board that when I talked with students about different projects or initiatives, they gave me actual evidence as in “yes this is a good idea” or “no, no one would use it like that” that I was able to leverage to bring about changes in the way things were done and the projects I pursued. I think it’s really important for us to talk to our users, to be open to what they have to say, and most importantly, to make changes accordingly. Sometimes it’s difficult to do this because there are so many things vying for our time but I think it’s critical in terms of designing the future for academic libraries.

I remember walking away inspired and excited from Aaron and Amanda’s session in 2011 and I hope attendees had a similar experience after participating last week. If nothing else, perhaps they learned one new thing about the life of a college student, or left feeling empowered to talk to the users at their own institution. Personally, this was one of the most fun presentations I’ve ever done.

A couple of people wanted to see my list of questions, so you can steal those here (no worries, I borrowed most of them from Aaron and Amanda and added some of my own—you have permission to steal this entire idea!). Mine are at the top—the numbers are the initial questions I started with and the indented letters are follow up questions that I asked on the spot based on student responses. If anyone has questions about how this worked, just leave a comment and I can share more details.

Sending huge thanks out to Aaron and Amanda for sharing their questions and advice for the student panel, to LVPALA for inviting me to present at the workshop, to Courtney Eger for being an excellent speaker contact and helping recruit students, to Tina Hertel and Muhlenberg College for helping recruit students, and of course to the students who volunteered their summer time to participate in what could have been a very uncomfortable experience (I hope it wasn’t too bad!). This was truly a session that couldn’t have happened with just me alone. Collaboration for the win!

I’m planning to do another post about things I thought were intriguing about the student responses but I have to transcribe the audio from the session first… stay tuned!

Written by Erin Dorney

May 28, 2013 at 10:53 AM

ACRL Conference Notes + Selected Tweets

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Building a Dream Team: Library Personas in the 21st Century Library by Lynda Kellam (Data Services & Government Information Librarian at UNCG Jackson Library), Jenny Dale (First-Year Instruction Coordinator and Reference Librarian at UNCG Jackson Library) and Lauren Pressley (Associate Director of Learning and Outreach at Virginia Tech)

  • 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think (read this)
  • What do I do best that other people cannot do as well? Those are my competencies/persona.
  • What do I spend time on that other people could do or do better? Try to ignore, minimize, or outsource those things.
  • What is your professional persona?  How do you incorporate different personas into a future-forward organizational structure? Try to organize “functional specialties” in a diverse team approach.

Library Publishing and Undergraduate Education: Strategies for Collaboration by Stephanie Davis-Kahl (Scholarly Communications Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University), Michael Seeborg (Professor of Economics at Illinois Wesleyan University) and Isaac Gilman (Scholarly Communications and Research Services Librarian at Pacific University)

  • Use students to peer-review submitted articles and write critical reviews of articles once they’re published to help them learn about scholarly publishing and become part of the process.
  • “silos belong on farms”
  • Teaching students how to package information will help them think critically about the information they encounter/consume
  • Gilman created a journal publishing for-credit course that was then expanded into a publishing minor program that explores both traditional and emerging forms of publishing (sounds awesome!)

Hacking the Learner Experience: Techniques and Strategies for Connecting with your Instructional Ecosystem by Andy Burkhardt (Emerging Technologies Librarian at Champlain College), Lauren Pressley (Associate Director of Learning and Outreach at Virginia Tech), and Brian Mathews (Associate Dean at Virginia Tech)

  • What do we need to start, what do we need to stop, and who do we need to work with?
  • William Perry, 1968, big in student affairs (look up)
  • Kolb, experiential learning, think about the cycle – where are you and where is everyone else in the room?
  • Think about who students are through information – make it personal and relatable.
  • Legitimately learn together – not sage on the stage but also not guide on the side.

The Mother of all LibGuides: Applying Principles of Communication and Network Theory in LibGuide Design by Carol Leibiger and Alan Aldrich (Associate Professors at University of South Dakota)

  • The average subject guide takes an experienced librarian between 8-20 hours to create.

Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage: Another Facet of Usability by Wendy Wilcox, Gabriela Castro Gessner, and Adam Chandler (Access Services Librarian; Research and Assessment Analyst; and Electronic Resources User Experience Librarian at Cornell University Libraries)

  • Studied 637 LibGuides using stats from Springshare and bibliomining to log user location.
  • 70% of guide usage was by non-Cornell affiliated users (who is using them – other librarians I guess? Are we all just looking at each others’ guides?)
  • Number of tabs in the guides they studied ranged from 1 to 19 (…WHAT!).
  • Is it even important to know who is viewing our guides (my opinion, yes).

The Art of Problem Discovery by Brian Mathews (Associate Dean at Virginia Tech)

  • If we just keep doing what we’ve always done but a little bit better, we miss out on growth opportunities.
  • What is our total landscape?
  • Don’t sell products or services – help people address the needs they have/their jobs.
  • What if we scrapped all existing library services (no legacy services), identified the tasks of our communities, and rebuilt new services around those needs? What would the library look like? (This was probably my favorite idea of the whole conference… I really wish I could do this somewhere. Maybe I should just do it conceptually and then see if I can get anyone on board with the idea).
  • Invest in other people’s problems.
  • We can’t just be louder (YES. I feel like this is always an issue with library marketing. People seem to think if we just put up more and larger posters around campus, an initiative will be successful, when in reality it has to be more strategic… and the right message).
  • Librarians as problem developers/problem designers.
  • Disrupt intentionally.
  • Just read the whole paper, people.

Love your Library: Building Goodwill from the Inside Out and the Outside In by Adrienne Lai (Emerging Technologies Librarian at North Carolina State University Libraries), Lia Friedman (Director of Learning Services at UC San Diego Library), Alice Whiteside (Librarian & Instructional Technology Consultant at Mount Holyoke College), and Char Booth (Instruction Services Manager & E-Learning Librarian at Claremont Colleges)

  • Cultivation, communication, collaboration, context, camogogy (camouflage + pedagogy) = outreach
  • Pull children’s books from your education section for stress-relief events
  • Sneak teach!
  • Special Collections pop up library in Art & Design building- bring it to them
  • When they opened a new building, had students take photos of library spaces and tag them on Instagram. A program fed the images to digital displays within the building (after moderation) and some will be preserved in the archives. Over 1700 photos already. Students like seeing the student-perspective (DO THIS AT MILLERSVILLE).
  • Put a Q&A board away from public service points for privacy and then post pictures of answers on social media.
  • Full-sized librarian cardboard cutouts for visibility when not at a desk/office.
  • Google outreach map with different locations for events, hanging things, tips. Helpful for student employees (yup, do this).
  • Slides / Handout (“steal with joyful permission” – Char)

Written by Erin Dorney

April 15, 2013 at 8:08 AM

Posted in Conferences, Libraries

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ACRL 2013 Conference

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ACRLlogo

I’ll be at the Association of College & Research Libraries 2013 Conference Wednesday through Saturday (April 10-13). Thought I’d share my tentative schedule here in case anyone wants to catch up before/during/after a session. I have lunches and Friday night dinner open if people wanna meet up! Comment, text me, tweet or DM @edorney to get in touch.

I’m presenting with some of the other Lead Pipe Editorial Board members on Thursday at 3 PM about #diylib culture. We’d love to hear your thoughts before the panel session so we can incorporate a variety of perspectives. Check out our recent editorial for all the details. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, April 10

8 PM – Battle Decks! – Imagine, Improvise, Inflict: Get Inspired or Die Trying

Thursday, April 11

8 AM – Building a Dream Team: Library Personas in the 21st Century Library

9 AM – Meeting with Lead Pipe Editorial Board members

10:30 AM – Library Publishing and Undergraduate Education: Strategies for Collaboration

1 PM – Hacking the Learner Experience: techniques and strategies for connecting with your instructional ecosystem

2 PM – Poster Session

3 PM – From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy

4:20 PM – Henry Rollins Keynote

Dinner with Lead Pipe Editorial Board members

Friday, April 12

9:30 AM – Poster Session

11 AM – Contributed Papers: “The Mother of all LibGuides”: Applying Principles of Communication and Network Theory in LibGuide Design/Hidden Patterns of LibGuides Usage: Another Facet of Usability/The Unobtrusive “Usability Test”: Creating Measurable Goals to Evaluate a Website

1:30 PM – The Art of Problem Discovery

2:30 PM – Poster Session

4 PM – “Love your library”: building goodwill from the inside out and the outside in

8 PM – All Conference Reception

I’ll probably be blogging at some point since this is my first time attending ACRL. Anything you’re looking forward to?

Written by Erin Dorney

April 7, 2013 at 12:18 AM

These are things that are happening

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globe

March

On March 12th (2 PM EST) I’ll be co-presenting “Stealth Librarianship: Creating Meaningful Connections Through User Experience, Outreach, and Liaising” with Kiyomi Deards and Bohyun Kim. We’ll be talking about relationship-building and how user experience research, outreach, and stealth librarianship can be used to create meaningful connections within the campus community. The class size is limited to 60 participants, so register now! And let us know if there is anything specific you’d like to see us cover.

April

I’ll be in Indianapolis from April 10-13 for the ACRL 2013 Conference. It’s my first ACRL and my first trip to Indiana. On the 11th I’ll be presenting on a panel with some my fellow Lead Pipe editors:

From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy – In October 2008, In the Library with the Lead Pipe published its first article. Additionally, numerous groups have been hosting unconferences, infiltrating SXSW, and more. The culmination of do-it-yourself (DIY) activities points to a growing DIY culture that is permeating academic libraries. Find out from some of these DIYers what DIY library culture has inspired in academe, and how these innovative enterprises tie into our scholarship, instruction, and advocacy.

May

I was invited to present a session for academic librarians at the Pennsylvania Library Association Lehigh Valley Chapter Spring Workshop on May 23rd at Muhlenberg College. I’m trying something a little different (modeled on a session I saw Aaron Schmidt and Amanda Etches do in November 2011) and will be bringing in some students to discuss the library:

A Crevice or a Chasm? Investigating the Disparities Between Experience and Expectation – How wide is the gap between what students expect from the library and what they experience? Hear from four current college students about why, when, and how they use (or don’t use) the library. Audience members will have the opportunity to pose their own questions to the panel following this facilitated conversation.

June

My first conference abroad! A joint proposal I submitted with two colleagues was accepted for presentation at the 5th International Conference on Qualitative and Quantitative Methods in Libraries being held in Rome June 4-7 at “La Sapienza” University. Does anyone have international travel tips for me? I’ve never been outside the US, so this is big & awesome news!

One Website to Rule Them All: Meeting the Needs of Students, Faculty, and Librarians – Most academic library websites have three main audiences: students, faculty, and librarians. While there are additional audiences (including non-users, community members, staff, and parents), these three groups spend the most amount of time on our sites. Libraries risk losing credibility and customers if these three main audiences do not have a good experience on the site. While each of these groups has a different set of needs and expectations, many academic libraries do not have the freedom, time, or skill set to develop a distinctive website for each user group. Our challenge, therefore, is to create a single website that meets the needs of each of our individual user groups without sacrificing continuity of design, quality of information, or consistency of navigation for one group over another. This presentation will highlight the opportunities and challenges of building an academic library website for students, faculty, and librarians. Each speaker will address one audience and will highlight various qualitative measurements which attendees can recreate at their home institutions in order to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of their websites to make targeted improvements.

How is your spring looking? Anything you’re looking forward to? If you’ll be at any of these events, make sure to say hello!

Image CC BY-SA 2.0 courtesy of fsse8info on Flickr

Written by Erin Dorney

January 14, 2013 at 10:48 AM

PaLA Conference 2012

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pala 2012 logoJust sharing some of my notes and reflections from the 2012 Pennsylvania Library Association Annual Conference in Gettysburg earlier this week. It was great to see friends and colleagues from across the state. Unfortunately it wasn’t 100% awesome since I was recovering from a bad cold, the hotel wifi was terrible (almost non-existent!), and we couldn’t find a ton of great places to eat in Gettysburg. Health, the interwebs, and good food are apparently staples of my happiness. I did really enjoy the tours this year – a wine tasting at Adams County Winery (picked up a bottle of Turning Point) and a nighttime walking tour of the haunted Farnsworth House Inn and Cemetery Hill! I was running around a lot so I didn’t get to attend a ton of sessions (I co-presented a session on Monday, facilitated two focus groups, and ran three unconference sessions – thanks to all the volunteers!).

Unconference session notes

  • I thought the unconference sessions went really well. Some of the same people came to all three, but there were also new people at each one which made the group breakout discussions pretty unique. We tried to get everyone to do evaluations so PaLA can decide if it’s worthwhile to do again next year (in my opinion, yes!).

Playing for Keeps: Lifelong Learning in the Ludic Library by Barbara Fister (Professor, Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library @ Gustavus Adolphus College)

  • The Citation Project – great project coming out of the composition and rhetoric fields
  • Student approach to research is to find some quotes that work and rearrange them
  • Being really good at following the rules stifles creativity and discovery – how does this impact how we teach information literacy?
  • There is value in doing things, not just learning about things

Using “The Filter Bubble” to Create a Teachable Moment by Allyson Valentine (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College) and Laura Wukovitz (Instructor @ York College; Adjunct Reference & Instruction Librarian @ Harrisburg Area Community College)

  • Panopticlick
  • “confirmation bias”
  • Peek You
  • My reflections:
    • “The Filter Bubble” by Eli Pariser might be a really fun pick for a college One Book, One Campus program to get students to think about this kind of stuff on a broader scale.
    • Filter bubble instruction might work well in Millersville’s COMM100 classes where students do public speaking and have to present both sides of an argument/persuade their audience.
    • I posed this question during the Q&A portion of the session. Are library database vendors picking up on the idea of the filter bubble? I know some systems have built-in recommender services (if you liked this article, you might like these) but what about federated search systems? Do we know if EBSCO is privileging its content over other provider’s content that has been integrated into the results? If we don’t know how the systems determine relevancy, then we don’t really know, right?

The Space Between: Valuing and Utilizing Empty Spaces in Libraries by Alica White (Head Librarian @ Penn State University Mont Alto)

  • If you look at the aerial view of botanical gardens, they are a lot like the floor plans of library buildings (never noticed this before, but true)
  • Sala Borsa in Bologna, Italy
  • My reflections:
    • We need to think intentionally about the space between and around things in our libraries and be strategic about that space. It’s like whitespace when you’re designing a poster or a layout. The eye needs room to breath in order to take it all in.
    • We could brainstorm some way to revitalize “stacks” as content goes more and more electronic. I was thinking maybe you could take out some shelves from the middle (leave end caps and shelves at the top/bottom – even leave some books on the top ones, maybe?) and then put in a row of hanging plants. This would bring some green elements into the space but also create a nice vertical line that’s not completely solid or blocking too much visibility – a way to section off some space without closing it in completely?

Moving Towards the Future: Three Applications of Cutting-Edge Mobile Technologies in Libraries by Carolyn Sautter (Director of Special Collections and
College Archives @ Gettysburg College), Jessica Howard (Reference & Web Services Librarian @ Gettysburg College), Eric Phetteplace (Emerging Technologies Librarian @ Chesapeake College) and Erin Burns (Reference Librarian @ Penn State University Shenango)

  • Write your search terms like a robot
  • Aurasma augmented reality app seems cool
  • The Gettysburg artiFACTS project is a great example of one area the library could be considered an “expert” at outside the building. There’s lots of artwork located in different buildings on campus and the library could “curate” QR codes with additional information (where the piece came from, history of it, etc) for an interactive exhibit.
  • My reflections:
    • Aurasma (or something like it) would be the perfect thing to incorporate into a poster session at a conference. You could put right on the poster which app to use (or, an entire conference like ALA or ACRL could make the decision to use one app) and then if you put your poster up but weren’t standing right next to it all the time, visitors could scan and see you do a pre-recorded video poster talk.

Written by Erin Dorney

October 5, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Help us speak at SXSWi 2013!

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sxsw logo

This year I submitted two core conversation proposals for SXSW Interactive. Acceptance at this conference is extremely competitive—over 3,200 speaking proposals were submitted for 2013, more than ever before. This is where I need your help! Public voting accounts for 30% of the decision-making process regarding which proposals are selected (40% of the process is the SXSW Advisory Board and 30% is based on the input of SXSW staff).

Anyone who creates an account on the SXSW Panel Picker is eligible to vote on the ideas they believe are most appropriate for the 2013 event (even if you don’t plan on attending). It’s a simple process that will only take a few minutes of your time. If either (or both) of my topics sound intriguing to you, I would love your support! It would be a dream come true to present at SXSW—I’ve never been to Texas, y’all!

Voting is open now through August 31st. Thanks in advance for your help! And if you’re a librar* aficionado, check out and vote for the other library, archives, and museum-related proposals (follow #sxswLAM on Twitter for details).

Proposal 1: Seriously Good Writing on the Web w/ @frierson re: @libraryleadpipe

Everyone’s got opinions. How do you make sure yours don’t stink? Join our core conversation for an engaging discussion about how to ensure your writing is taken seriously on the web. Team members from the award-winning blog In the Library with the Lead Pipe will facilitate and share tips on new, nimble, proactive forms of digital publishing which borrow editing practices from academia but add an idea-centric, action-oriented approach to content. Help us define a new genre of publication that leverages seriously good writing while at the same time encouraging commentary, discussion, and participation.

  1. How can I ensure my writing is taken seriously on the Internet?
  2. How do I structure an editorial/peer-review process?
  3. How can I get people to volunteer to create content for free?
  4. How can I maintain an action-oriented approach to long-form, scholarly writing?
  5. How do we define this new genre of publication?

Proposal 2: The SXSW Statements: Your Email is Killing Us w/ @lcsarin

Email drive you batty? “Reply All” make you want to scream? Lots of people have tried writing email manifestos and bills of rights, but the problem remains. It’s time for the thought leaders at SXSW to stand up and say NO MORE. At this participatory session attendees will create an collaborative digital public declaration that takes a stand against clumsy communicators. Once designed, this crowd-sourced manifesto will be shared around the globe, in the hopes that we can enjoy a little less work and a lot more play. Let your voice be heard!

  1. What are the “new rules” of email in the digital age?
  2. What does an effective email look like?
  3. What are the rules for “reply all”?
  4. How can I manage my inbox without having a mental breakdown?
  5. How can I teach my friends/colleagues/boss about proper use of email (without pissing them off)?

Written by Erin Dorney

August 13, 2012 at 2:08 PM

How to attend a virtual conference

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computer on a desk

With the 2012 ALA Virtual Conference right around the corner, I’m sharing some tips for attending online conferences and webinars. Below are things I’ve learned while completing an online master’s degree, presenting content virtually, and organizing/attending the ACRL virtual conference back in 2011:

1. Clear your schedule.

Multitasking is a fabulous thing, but it’s easy to slip into mindlessness during a virtual conference, particularly if the slide deck is less than scintillating. Don’t double book yourself to be on-call or monitoring emails during the time you’ve set aside to learn a new skill. Chances are you or your institution paid quite a bit of money for this opportunity and it’s important that you engage actively with the presenters, audience, and content. Lock your office door, block out time on your calendar, and force quit Outlook. It’s time to learn.

2. Get yourself a rocking headset.

There’s nothing more attractive than a earphone/microphone combo unit. I jest, but honestly, if there is any kind of audience/presenter interaction planned, you’re going to want something more than your built-ins. Most online conferences allow audience members to chat/IM with the presenters or moderators in order to ask questions. Only a few sessions I’ve attended have allowed people to actually speak to one another and usually these were smaller, more intimate events. I can only imagine what kind of nightmare would occur if hundreds of attendees tried to speak over one another. If you’re attending a virtual conference from work, wearing headphones sends a non-verbal message that you are busy. If attending a virtual conference from home, I’ve found that wearing headphones helps me concentrate on the session instead of wandering off to wash the dishes or organize my colored pencils.

3. Forage for noms.

Having some delicious snacks can help you stay focused on the task at hand: learning. Plus, carefully selected, healthy foods can give you a quick energy boost when staring at a screen just… becomes… too… boring… zzzz. I recommend coffee (it’s one of my main food groups), fruit or veggies like green peppers, apples, or carrots (just make sure your mic is muted!), and little bit of trail mix with raisins, nuts, and chocolate.

4. Cue up conference hashtag.

We all know and love tabs and multiple windows, right? Use them to open the webinar software and Twitter simultaneously so that you can monitor off-site mentions. Most events will have a designated #hashtag and this can be a great resource. You can connect with other attendees to build your network. Sometimes people will live-tweet the webinar and non-attendees will chime in with their own thoughts and questions. Presenters will often interact via the hashtag pre-event to drum up excitement and curiosity. And if you blog about the virtual conference, be sure to tag your post to maximize reach.

5. Take breaks.

It’s really, really tough to sit for an extended period of time and maintain focus while looking at a screen and hearing a disembodied voice. I recommend taking a few breaks throughout the day. Some virtual conferences have these built in as transition time. What I’d love to see is a virtual conference that incorporates some sitting/standing/stretching exercise techniques for attendees to go through during the down time (ALA, go!). This leads right into my last tip, which is…

6. Find out if the sessions will be recorded.

Attendees often have access to recorded sessions for a certain period of time after the event. This allows you to take breaks when you need them while still getting the most out of the virtual conference. Another thing you can do if you have access to recorded sessions for an extended period of time is pace them out. For example, if you had access to 9 recorded sessions, you could watch one session a week for 3 months. You could learn a new skill from a new presenter each week!

I also encourage you to check out Jo Alcock’s Ten Tips for Presenting a Webinar, if only to get a feel for what it’s like on the opposite side of the screen. So, what other advice do you have for attending a virtual conference? Feel free to share in the comments!

Image CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 courtesy of Pörrö

Written by Erin Dorney

July 9, 2012 at 7:14 AM