Erin Dorney

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Guest post at PaLA CRD blog

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If you’re so inclined, I have a guest post up over at the Pennsylvania Library Association College & Research Division blog It’s Academic:

Partying, neighborhoods, friends, tribes and networking,  it all comes down to people and the power we have to make or break situations, organizations, conferences and the like. If you’ve ever questioned the importance of professional organizations (either at the national level like the American Library Association or the local level like the Pennsylvania Library Association), it might be that you’re tipping the scales in the wrong direction. Getting involved is not only about the structured learning opportunities these organizations provide. It’s about gathering people together who have shared goals, experiences and passions to see what ignites… (read more)

In other news, I am going (mostly) offline for the next week on a vacation to Vermont with two other librarian friends. I think Melissa kicked it off on a good note:


Written by Erin Dorney

July 8, 2011 at 12:14 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

My 2011 ALA Conference Schedule

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If you are going to ALA and will be at any of these sessions, let me know! We can sit together, chat or grab coffee during down time. I would love to meet some of my virtual friends and as you can see below, I still have a variety of meals to plan. This will be my first conference with a smartphone (huzzah!) so I should be able to communicate a little better for last minute plans. Just send me an @reply or DM on Twitter to get in touch! Or let me know if you want to exchange numbers.
Thursday, June 23 – Arriving in New Orleans

Dinner with the roommates at Jager Haus German Restaurant & Bar

Friday, June 24

9-5 – ALA Unconference

3-4 – ALA Emerging Leaders Poster Session

10 – ALA Dance Party

Saturday, June 25

9:30 – Coffee meet-up with colleague

10:30-12 – ACRL From Idea to Innovation to Implementation: How Teams Make it Happen

1:30-3:30 – NMRT Seizing Opportunities to Serve: Professional Involvement, Local to National OR Emerging Leaders Summit: “You’ve Emerged, Now What: The Emerged Leader Toolkit”

4-5:30 – LLAMA/NMRT New Leaders Discussion Group OR ALTAFF Tales from the Heart: Literary Memoirs

6 – Dinner at Cochon Restaurant

7-9 – Newbie & Veteran Tweet-Up at Bar Uncommon

9 – Facebook After Hours Social at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop

Sunday, June 26

8-10 – Making a Lasting Impression (If I can get up this early… which could be doubtful)

10:30-12 – YALSA Pecha Kucha: Teens and Technology (come see me, I’m presenting “All Up in Your Face(book): Virtual Identity Management for Teens and Young Adults”)

1:30-3:30 – ACRL 2013 Coordinating Committee Meeting

7:30 – 10 – Joint Merritt Fund / NMRT Awards Reception

9 – HackLibSchool Meetup at The Avenue Pub

Monday, June 27

8-10 – LLAMA PRMS Library Marketing Unprogram: Learn from your peers

10:30-12 – REFORMA How I Landed My First Librarian Position, And What I Did ‘In Between’ (come see me, I’m one of the panelists!)

Lunch with panelists/whoever wants to join us!

5:30-7 – Battledecks 2011, Convention Center Rm. 344

Tuesday, June 28 – Heading back to Pennsylvania

Written by Erin Dorney

June 3, 2011 at 12:45 PM

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C&RL News – Job of a Lifetime – Lizz Zitron

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My fifth interview for the Job of a Lifetime (JOAL) column in College & Research Libraries News is now available online! I spoke with Lizz Zitron, outreach services librarian at Carthage College Hedberg Library in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I have been itching to interview someone working as an academic outreach librarian since I started editing this column, since it’s my job title as well! Lizz is doing some very innovative and creative things at her library, including student-run community workshops and Family Fun nights. Check out the interview here:

Job of a Lifetime – Lizz Zitron, outreach services librarian at Carthage College Hedberg Library

You can also visit her blog at I want to thank Lizz for her wonderful interview and for her patience (this column was ready a while back but was bumped due to some publication scheduling issues). Keep up the good work.

Do you have the job of a lifetime? Enjoy & feel free to leave comments!

Related posts:

Written by Erin Dorney

April 7, 2011 at 1:00 PM

ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference, Friday

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Please consider completing this evaluation for any of the virtual sessions you attended at the ACRL: You can fill it out as many times as you want for different sessions and it will be very helpful to the Virtual Conference Committee for future planning as well as presenters who would like to improve their skills. Thanks in advance!

9 AM: Harnessing Your Projects: Using Project Management Techniques and Basecamp in Libraries, featuring Barbara Lewis (Coordinator for Digital Collections at University of South Florida).

  • 105 audience members
  • Audience Poll: What experience do you have with project management? 49% I have managed many projects, 30% I have managed one or two projects
  • A project has a specific beginning and end, doesn’t go on and on forever (that would be more a program). There is a defined scope of work at the beginning to avoid project creep. It often requires multiple participants, skill sets, and resources to provide a deliverable.
  • Project management = skills, techniques and tools
    • Planning – what is the end product going to be? Put together a project team. What specific things need to happen? List of tasks to be completed along with schedule. What are the milestones? What are the risks?
    • Tracking – identify completed tasks, ensure quality, recognize and resolve bottlenecks.
    • Reporting – communication with your team, boss, and end-user/customer/client.
  • Work breakdown structure – list of tasks and sub-tasks
  • PERT chart (Program Evaluation Review Technique) – a visual graphic of the dependencies
  • Gannt chart – project task and schedule
  • Product breakdown structure – list of components for the deliverable
  • Project Management Tools – Microsoft Project, Open Proj, Trac,, AceProject, @task, Basecamp, Omniplan
  • Audience Poll: Have you ever used project management software before? Majority = no
  • Basecamp:
    • You can set up and RSS feed for updates
    • Not different levels of permission – you have access to the project or you don’t
    • You can customize your colors/settings
    • Can assign tasks and due dates to a specific person
    • You can have reminders sent to people before their tasks are due
    • You can track how long you spend on tasks – good for time management/tracking
    • Limitations – no calendar, tasks can only be assigned to one person, no view only users, search doesn’t search the Writeboards, can’t globally change users assigned to tasks (as when a student worker leaves), can’t covert a To Do list to a template.
  • How does Basecamp ensure user privacy? Not sure. Each institution has separate and secure space on their servers.
  • How steep is the learning curve? About an hour, then a few random questions. Very intuitive. Good video tutorials on the Basecamp site.
  • Can you archive files outside of Basecamp? You can do an XML output.

10:30 AM: Humanities by the numbers: evaluating usage data of collection areas, featuring Arianne Hartsell-Gundy (Humanities Librarian at Miami University), Masha Misco (Catalog & Slavic Librarian at Miami University), and Jeffrey Hartsell-Gundy (Miami University).

  • 101 audience members
  • Talking about their research project
  • Audience Poll: What areas of responsibility do you have? 74% Collection Development, 70% Public Services, 46% Subject Specialist, 44% Technical Services, 35% Administration, 35% Acquisition
  • Areas evaluated include folklore, communication, linguistics, composition and rhetoric, and theatre; Russian orthodoxy, history of Russia, political science, slavic literature
  • Research questions:
    • How close are we to the 80/20 rule?
    • Which call numbers in our collection circulate the least/most?
    • Break down numbers of materials in call number ranges.
  • Something happened to my computer at this point and I wasn’t able to follow the rest of the presentation 😦

12 PM: Integrating the Library into Online Courses, featuring Susan Thompson (Coordinator Library Systems at California State University San Marcos), Thoreau Lovell (Head of Library Information Technology & Media Services at Leonard Library, San Francisco State University), Hillary Kaplowitz (Instructional Designer at California State University, Northridge), Danielle Skaggs (Coordinator of Online Instructional Design at California State University, Northridge) and Christina Mayberry (Science and Engineering Librarian at California State University, Northridge).

  • 132 audience members
  • Online classes are increasing at their universities (classes only online AND hybrid with significant online component).
  • Changing assumptions of how students interact with the library – they expect to find their resources in the course container. Faculty may bypass library for course reserves and upload them directly into the CMS.
  • We can’t expect students to proactively come to the library – instead, we need to go to them. We have also lost control over what the student sees in the CMS, the professor has that control. We can’t provide a consistent set of information that we want students to have access to.
  • So, how can librarians participate in a meaningful way?
    • Independently contact and collaborate with individual instructors – takes a lot of time and is inconsistent.
  • Change in course management system = several campuses switched to Moodle due to funding. This allowed customization.
  • Audience Poll: What LMS does your institution use? 15% Moodle, 42% Blackboard, 12% Desire to Learn
  • San Marcos:
    • 7-year-old library building with solid technology infrastructure
    • Planning for Moodle required collaborative planning with library systems, web development librarian, reference/instruction librarians, access services staff and campus IT.
    • Things they wanted to offer: access to reserves, video, improve and simplify back-end processes, ability to contact librarians, search catalog and databases, ability to renew items, ILL…
    • Ended up offering 3 primary services: Reserves, Video on Demand, link to the library homepage.
    • 2 methods to add content: dedicated reserves role (campus IT/library controlled) librarian role (faculty controlled)
    • Reserves & Video on Demand = Convenient access for students at point of need, easy for the library to comply with copyright.
    • Future: want content to be automatically generated based on course subject & a “sticky” block to group all library material.
    • Audience Poll: Who manages the course management system at your institution? 52% Central IT, 32% Academic Technology, 10% Other
  • Northridge:
    • Site level block – includes link to library webpage with information about course resources (a pared-down page with the essentials). Appears in every course in Moodle, instructors cannot opt out. Sticky.
    • DIY embedding – actions instructors can take on their own without a librarian to embed the library into their course. Instructions within Moodle and on the library website.
    • Librarian role – similar to teacher role. Added by instructors within courses, can push resources, create activities, interact with students and provide assessments. Target instructors who are already using the library, who are already collaborating with you. It’s an easier sell and can spread visibility and create library advocates among faculty members.
    • Import librarian-created content.
    • Librarian-run Moodle sites – librarian in the teacher role. Library research site – classes can enroll. Having students view the lessons before an in-person instruction session made them more engaged. Could be stand alone, could be in addition to.
    • They have 1,800 (34%) courses with a Moodle component & 30,000+ student accounts
    • They wanted front-end enhancements not back-end modifications (hosted by vendor).
    • Multiple options for different levels of integration. Many opportunities available for collaboration.
    • Outreach to campus community = faculty retreat presentations, teaching and learning bytes, Moodle training workshops, and Library Message in a Minute (you tube videos on different topics).
  • San Francisco State:
    • Displaced due to a protracted library renovation project (I NEED TO CONTACT THEM RE: OUR PROJECT AT MU).
    • Are working from tent annexes (looks awesome).
    • Moodle re-branded as iLearn, managed by academic technology.
    • 2,400 courses using iLearn
    • Got a phone call at this point so I missed a large portion of this section 😦
    • Three tiers of integration: top-level, course level and instructor level.
    • Future: Want to improve article search, move eReserve system into iLearn, explore what student bookshelves would look like (instead of faculty bookshelf), add librarian role, and better understand how faculty and students would like to see library resources integrated into iLearn. More outreach, too.
    • Lessons learned: cross unit collaboration is always hard, it feels like losing control but the relationship is KEY!

1:30 PM: Listening to users…. Closing the feedback loop: Just do it! featuring Meg Scharf (Associate Director for Public Services at University of Central Florida) and Lisabeth Chabot (College Librarian at Ithaca College).

  • 120 audience members
  • Audience Poll: Does your library have a suggestion box? Electronic or print? How do you respond to questions?
  • Ithaca College – Ask us or Tell us – invites feedback, scolls FAQ with REAL answers right next to it. Librarian who answers has photo posted near response. Awesome idea! They use Subjects Plus.
  • Within 24-hour turnaround time.
  • Popular topics = heating, cooling, cell phone usage, comfortable seating, requests for food, need for outlets.
  • Central Florida gets more paper suggestions than electronic. 5 boxes are located throughout the building. Best questions come from the box in the staff lounge. Very interesting! Answered electronically on the website.
  • Also have a guestbook – look up article by John Lubbens (L&M Magazine). Sometimes this grows to a running commentary with students replying to one another. Using a homegrown form that feeds to their intranet for a response.
  • Interesting to look at the words that are being searched for on the library website. This can help in the development of FAQs and website design – give them more obvious options if they miss the drop down menu.
  • Dealing with inappropriate comments – skip over the curse words, don’t publish derogatory remarks. Very little misuse, more just emotional or dramatic. Kill them with kindness in the response to fight this.
  • Closing the loop with webpages – web is a customer service medium. Table with slips of paper with magnets on the back with categories/topics from webpage. Then students arrange them as they see fit. They take digital photographs. Do this with faculty as well. Also have red dots to indicate what is most important to them on the library website. Also a visibility thing – looks like a game, attracts attention.
  • Tell faculty members that you need their comments electronically or physically to use as evidence when trying to bring about change to services/resources.
  • Get rid of library-speak! Articles, not journals.
  • Tailor description of resources to course outcomes within course guides.
  • Mystery Shoppers – not used to “catch” your staff, but to reveal design flaws. They got some from human resources at their university (CHECK INTO THIS). Found out students were struggling with a consistent greeting when answering the phone. Easy to remedy.
  • Complaints – we all get them. A complaint not resolved or answered leaves the patron feeling they have been ignored on purpose.
  • Community dialogue about cell phone use in the library on the web. Identified different perspectives. Comes down to community ethos. Asked for student perspectives on how to address this. Distilled the comments and came out with some “best practices” and signage indicating “Phone friendly” areas.
  • When framing a reply, pause. Don’t escalate the situation by answering quickly. Get the whole story. Take your time, ask them questions. Give them your full attention. Make them think you have all the time in the world to devote to this. Even with email complaints. Then they know that this is important to you.
  • Librarians should aspire to surprise and delight their customers.

3 PM: When Nontraditional is the Norm: Shifting the Instruction Paradigm for Adult Online Students, featuring Erin Brothen (Education Librarian at Walden University), Erika Bennett (Information Literacy & Instruction Librarian at Capella University) and Kim Staley (Reference Librarian and Liaison to the School of Public Service Leadership at Capella University).

  • 120 audience members
  • Their courses are all online, asynchronous, libraries is completely online.
  • Audience Poll: 71% regularly work with adult learners
  • Origins of adult learning – 70% of adult learning is self-directed and highlights practical applications (Tuft).
  • Malcolm Knowles – Andragogy (adult learning theory, as opposed to pedagogy) 6 assumptions:
    • The need to know. It’s not enough that it’s just on the syllabus.
    • The learner’s self-concept. Adults want to be self-directed within the classroom.
    • The role of learner’s experience. Wealth of experience can enrich and impede classroom learning.
    • Readiness to learn. Best when there is a need for the learning.
    • Orientation to learning.
    • Motivation. Internal motivation drives adult learning.
  • Limitations to andragogy – it’s a model not a theory, not a lot of empirical evidence, is it exclusive to adult learners?
  • Constructivism vs. Instructivist/Objectivism.
  • Andragogy in the library – Ingram 2000 – Immediate need for practical help, fear of looking stupid (don’t underestimate this! It’s not enough to say call the library, say there’s no shame in calling the library. It’s not their fault), desire to become independent (crossover between millennials and adult learners).
  • Adult online students come with diverse technology skills. They don’t necessarily choose online because they like technology – convenience is one of the main factors.
  • Professional experiences seem very important e.g. business professionals (used to reaching trade journals) v. nursing professionals (are more familiar with continuing education). This can impact their experience of the library.
  • Conflict between need for practical help and desire for self-actualization. Time crunch dominates because things are DUE.
  • Audience Poll: Does your institution have standards or guides for publication or tutorial creation? 56% no, 31% working on it 13% yes
  • Design best practices:
    • Inclusion of level (basic, intermediate, etc) so that learners can pick and choose.
    • Have objectives to help situate students in the learning process.
    • Tutorials should be problem-based. Focused to solve immediate need.
    • Time – keep tutorials short and to the point, let them know how long it’s going to take. Break it into pieces for they don’t have to sit through the whole thing each time.
  • Accessibility concerns – font size, color, audio (pacing/narration and word choices), personalization (adjustable screen size, close captioning), format (text, video, printable version).
  • Example: Joyner Library –
    • + You can change size of screen, close captioning, pauses for you to review and volume control.
    • – Graphics make it hard to load on different connection speeds and screen readers.
  • Example 2: Syracuse University Library –
  • Example 3: Capella University Library –
  • All examples were PRIMO from ACRL.
  • Make sure your tutorials are findable!
  • Continue the discussion:

4:30 PM: Checklist Manifesto for Electronic Resources: Getting Ready for the Fiscal Year, featuring Lenore England (Digital Resources Librarian at University of Maryland University College), Li Fu (Digital Services Librarian at University of Maryland University College), and Stephen Miller (Associate Provost at the University of Maryland University College Library).

I was pretty much shot at this point in the day, so I am planning on viewing this webcast at a later point in time since they were all recorded (stroke of genius, ACRL!).

Written by Erin Dorney

April 1, 2011 at 4:57 PM

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ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference, Thursday

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(As a reminder, all of these sessions were streamed live and recorded, so if you missed them, anyone who registered for ACRL can log into the virtual conference website and watch them in a few days)

9 AM: On the Front Lines: New Opportunities for Embedded Librarianship, featuring Jenny Dale (First Year Instruction Coordinator at UNC Greensboro) and Lynda Kellam (Data Services and Government Information Librarian at UNC Greensboro).

  • First virtual session: 110 audience members
  • Part of these efforts were to increase retention, “mandate” from the UNC to work on this.
  • Audience Poll: How would you describe your institution? 28% large public university, 25% small private university/college, 23% medium public university
  • Librarians are tenure-track, 90 staff members.
  • Living Learning Communities = students work together in the same classes and live together in (sometimes) themed dorms (e.g. leadership, service). Usually smaller groups/cohorts of students to help them develop a community they feel comfortable with.
  • They have librarians embedded in academic courses, in academic departments, and in learning communities (focus of the presentation today).
  • Audience Poll: Are  librarians on your campus embedded? Yes in online classes (12%), Yes in traditional face-to-face classes (20%), Yes in some other way (14%), Yes in a combination of the above ways (54%), No (24%)
  • Case Study: Warren Ashby, oldest living-learning community in North Carolina. Started by doing select outreach events there (on-site), but that developed into more (office hours, curriculum development – helping faculty create assignments that integrate research and the library, library instruction in the dorms). Attended a lot of events there as well (e.g. student unconference).
  • Library First-Responder – A student was trained for about 15 hours. In the dorm who has familiarity with the library services, contact info., and could help direct students in the right direction to get help from a librarian. Library ambassador. Student volunteered for the job (and is paid based on time she spends answering questions). They advertised her dorm room and chat/IM name (with her permission). She decided that whenever her dorm door was open, she could help.
  • Create a LibGuide specifically for a living-learning community was very popular.
  • Audience Poll: Does your campus have learning communities? 55% yes, 42% no
  • Best practices:
    • Identify potential partners
    • Define your relationship with your assigned unit. Could be hands off approach is best.
    • Balance outreach with other responsibilities
    • Redefine the library’s role
    • Connect with the institution’s strategic goals

10:30 AM: Personal Branding for New Librarians: Standing out and Stepping up, featuring Bohyun Kim (Digital Access Librarian at Florida International University), Erin Dorney (Outreach Librarian at Millersville University Library) and Kiyomi Deards (Assistant Professor at University of Nebraska Lincoln).

This was my first virtual presentation ever! I think it went well judging from tweets? Perhaps someone will blog about it and I can link to their coverage here. If you attended, thanks! There were more than 107 audience members.

12 PM: Depending on our Users: Collecting User Feedback to Assess and Improve Research Consultations, featuring Carrie Forbes (Instruction Coordinator and Reference Librarian at University of Denver Penrose Library) and Erin Meyers (Student Outreach Librarian and Research Center Coordinator at University of Denver Penrose Library).

  • 134 audience members
  • Audience Poll: Do you offer reference or research consultation services? 90% yes
  • Noticed a decrease in number but increase in complexity of research questions at the reference desk.
  • Wanted to offer consultations in a visible, dedicated space – essential element, enclosed by glass walls, first floor for referrals.
  • Audience Poll: Where do you offer these services? 53% in librarian office, 18% at reference desk, 15% in another dedicated library space
  • Need to assess interactions – length, type, #.
  • Data from Sept. 09- Sept. 10 from surveys following the consultation. Demographic information, service awareness, satisfaction & open-ended question designed to get at learning outcomes.
  • Needed buy-in from all reference faculty and GAs who worked at the research center for this feedback survey. It’s online and built-in survey monkey. Worked together on wording (verbal and written). Tweaked it as they went during the first quarter.
  • They average about 300 instruction sessions/workshops for the size of their university (10k students)
  • Instructional assessment – they asked: What was the most important think that you learned in the library workshop? If you were to attend a follow-up workshop, what topics or resources would you want us to cover?
  • Research sessions are one hour in length, sometimes 1-1, sometimes 1-many
  • Social Work, International Studies, LIS, Business & Clinical psychology (top 5 graduate majors seeking help in the research center). Important data for marketing the services.
  • Satisfaction rate: Out of 938 individuals surveyed, 93.8% would recommend to a friend or classmate
  • When did students seek help? How far before due date did you seek help – 5 or more days before the due date (66%)
  • 7 faculty reference librarians who are liaisons as well. 10 grad students working at the research center consultation room. Very robust training program including shadowing librarians.
  • They have the ability to have 4 consultations going on at the same time.
  • They work with faculty to market the service via faculty, campus events, orientation, liaison advisory group (faculty across campus who attend 2 meetings per year).
  • Some students like to tell their professors that they sought extra help at the research center.
  • They have written a more complete article about this service (“The Research Center…” in Reference Services Review Volume 38, Number 1, 2010).
  • How did you hear about the research center? From a professor, in a library instruction session, new student orientation.
  • Audience Poll: How do you assess your reference services? Counting reference questions (on-going) 79%, counting reference questions (sampling) 17%, user surveys/feedback 6%
  • Graduate students are staffing on weekends.
  • They want to modify some of the learning outcomes questions (due to low response rate), work on assessment of non-students (community, faculty), talk to faculty about the quality of work they are seeing & look for correlation, follow students over a period of time to determine long-term impact.

1:30 PM: Training Volunteer Library Teachers: Novice to Professional in a Few Painless Steps, featuring Suzanne Julian (Library Instruction Coordinator at Brigham Young University).

I took a break for this session to work on some homework due tonight for my poetry class. If I find someone who blogged it, I will post the link here for you.

3 PM: Benefits and Challenges of Academic Librarians in Virtual Worlds, featuring Robin Ashford (Reference & Distance Services Librarian at George Fox University), Beth Kraemer (Information Technology at University of Kentucky), Diane Nahl (University of Hawaii) and Denise Cote (Associate Professor at College of DuPage).

  • 112 audience members
  • Audience Poll: Have you created an avatar in a virtual world? 50% yes 50% no
  • Many virtual worlds are used by young children
  • Virtual worlds are currently in the trough of disillusionment (according to Gartner’s Hype Cycle)
  • They found that the primary responsibilities of academic librarians in second life were pretty much evenly distributed among the various areas of library work.
  • Used social media to get the word out about the Google Docs survey. Was out for about a month.
  • Successes = library events and traditional reference work, collaboration, professional development and content creation.
  • Texas Wesleyan University Genome Island
  • Challenges = technical difficulties, steep learning curve, insufficient value and unknown application.
  • Their study represents a sounding taken 5 years after academic librarians began working in second life.
  • 62 respondents to their survey.
  • Second life is open source so other virtual worlds use its code.
  • We can’t replicate traditional library work in the virtual world environment.

4:30 PM: Digital Library Interdependence: Building external partnerships with cultural heritage organizations, featuring Darren Poley (Outreach Librarian at Villanova University).

  • 87 audience members
  • Geared towards external partnerships developed.
  • To have a trusted digital repository is really at the heart of what a library offers to an institution.
  • Audience Poll: Do you have a trusted digital repository? 38% in development, 38% growing for some time, 24% not yet
  • Factors: (RLG-OCLC Report, May 2002)
    • Scope of collections (looking for a fit for what you’re already building in your collection). What special collections do you already have? What subjects are descriptive of your institution? What associations does your library already have?
    • Preservation and life-cycle management (in order to be trusted, needs to be able to migrate and be preserved)
    • Wide range of stakeholders (most important factor to creating interdependence. Library has a commitment to look outside of itself to see who would have a shared stake in preserving this heritage)
    • Ownership of material and other legal issues (proper documentation, owner and copyright permissions). Make friends with the legal department. Discuss real situations you can envision.
    • Cost implications
  • Institutional latitude – Do you think your institutions gives you the latitude to build digital partnerships?  Are digital initiatives, technology development, and public affairs handled inside or outside of the library?
  • VuDL –

Did you attend ACRL on-site or virtually? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences.

Written by Erin Dorney

March 31, 2011 at 5:26 PM

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ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference

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ACRL Virtual Conference Banner

Due to the unexpected passing of a family member, I will not be attending the ACRL 2011 Conference on-site in Philadelphia this week. However, I will be attending the virtual conference in full force, including blogging about the live webcasts and even presenting online. While I am disappointed to miss the in-person interaction with my academic library colleagues over the next few days, I look forward to participating electronically and connecting with many of you over Twitter, Facebook, and the virtual conference website.

As a reminder, the virtual conference website is open to anyone registered for the virtual conference AND everyone who is attending on-site in Philly. Conference material will be archived there for up to a year later, so face-to-face attendees can go back at any time and watch the webcasts they may have missed. Slidecasts (recorded PPTs with synched audio) from every contributed paper, cyber zed shed presentation, invited paper, and panel session presented in Philadelphia will be posted to the virtual conference site a few days after ACRL wraps up, so they can be accessed as well. Handouts can already be downloaded, for attendees to preview before sessions.

I want to thank my co-chair Scott Vine from Franklin & Marshal College as well as our entire ACRL 2011 Virtual Conference Committee for their hard work on organizing an excellent slate of online programming for Thursday and Friday. I am honored to be presenting “Personal Branding for New Librarians” with Kiyomi D. Deards ( / @kiyomid) and Bohyun Kim ( / @bohyunkim) on Thursday at 10:30 AM EST. Maybe I’ll see some of you there!

What are your plans for ACRL? Is this your first time attending?

Written by Erin Dorney

March 30, 2011 at 3:03 PM

What should I put on my business card?

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I’ve been following a great NMRT listserv discussion about business cards for MLS students/new professionals. I thought it might be nice to synthesize some of the advice in a blog post, along with offering some thoughts of my own.

Traditionally, print business cards were standalone pieces, designed to provide a glimpse of an individual’s qualifications and contact information. Cards included things like an individual’s name, mailing address, phone number, fax number, office location, etc. However, business cards have undergone major transformation within our increasingly digital era. They now have the potential to provide a gateway to an individual’s full-fledged online persona.

So, what should we put on our print business cards? As a designer, I am a fan of less text. Using visual elements to create an impact is something I am always striving to improve in my own work, and that includes personal branding/identity management. Instead of listing every little detail in lines of uninspiring text (typography is the most difficult design decision for most individuals), I would advocate for the following:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • QR code AND/OR a link leading to a landing page or something like an profile
  • Optional – If you are a student, you may consider including “MLS Candidate, Institution Name, Year of Graduation” next to or beneath your name. This indicates to potential employers and new contacts that you are on the market.

Potential things to include on your landing page: LinkedIn profile (if you don’t have one, go make one now), Twitter (if you tweet professional or pseudo-professionally), email, Skype, e-portfolio, blog, major awards/recognition (Library Journal Mover & Shaker, ALA Spectrum Scholar, ALA Councilor, etc.).

Using a QR code on your business card is a quick and easy way to link smart phone users to your virtual persona. QR codes are becoming more and more popular (I recently spotted one in a Sephora magazine and another one on a table tent in the University dining hall). You can generate a barcode for free as sites like this QR-Code Generator. The only thing to keep in mind is that not everyone has a smart phone (I don’t), and some who do may not have downloaded a barcode scanner. I would recommend including a short link in addition to the QR code for individuals who either don’t have barcode-scanning capacity or who are unfamiliar with QR code technology.

If that seems sparse, don’t worry. White space is one of the most valuable elements designers can have in their toolbox. Consisting of the empty space between and around graphical elements and text, white space provides breathing room and is sometimes referred to as negative space. It gives the viewer’s eye a chance to rest, along with subtle cues regarding intended visual path. Although a business card is small space-wise, visual clues and breathing room are still important. Use remaining space on the card to make some kind of personal statement, through colors (fun, professional, minimalistic), a logo, a quotation, embossing, etc. You can find some great examples on The Business Card Flickr group. Be wary of cramming too much on both sides of the business card – many people like to write notes on the back about where and when they met you, things to follow up on, etc.

Some might argue for including your job title on your business card, but I think if you want to remain flexible, leave it off. You can always include a section on your job/institution on your landing page. Plus, when you purchase business cards (check out sites like VistaPrint and MOO), you usually have to buy them in large quantities. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck with a box of outdated and useless business cards (although there are some fun things you can do with them; check out cards of change). However, you could put a more generic title after your name (one that’s not tied to your business or institution), like “Information Professional”, “Graphic Design Guru” or “Instructional Designer”.

There are lots of other voices out there, some even pondering whether print business cards are dying.What do you think? What’s on your card?

Written by Erin Dorney

February 7, 2011 at 8:39 AM