ATG Hot Topics – ER&L Edition 4/8/16

Erin GallagherBy Erin Gallagher

Happy Friday, everyone!  I write these hot topics from the allergy capital of the U.S.  Okay, I don’t have actual data to back that up, but I know our tree pollen is “very high”, which, in applicable terms, means we’re a group of sneezing, sniffling, eye-watering bunch of librarians in my department.  Bring on the summer thunderstorms.

Did anyone else attend the ER&L conference in Austin, TX this week?  What a terrific few days!  If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a small-ish conference held every year in Austin that focuses on e-resources management, innovative library technologies, and digital services.  This was my second year attending (and presenting) and I found the sessions to be high-level and engaging once again.  Plus, they feed us like we’re on a Caribbean cruise.  Here were some of the highlights that stood out to me:

  • Dawna Ballard, Associate Professor of Communication at UT Austin, delivered a rousing keynote on the frustrations of “finding time”. We got a crash course in chronemics—the study of time and how it’s used—and the need for chronemic literacy.  This keynote really hit home, as I often find myself trying to “maximize my time” and achieve the elusive “work-life balance”.  Dr. Ballard exposed some common myths around these concepts and got us all questioning our assumptions.  Bottom line: we could all use a little chronemic alignment.
  • Many of us are somewhere in the long process of migrating to new, revolutionary systems that hold both promises and threats. We are concerned about changing workflows, shifting responsibilities, the uncertainty of our futures, and our job security.  Effective change management and honest communication can go a long way toward realizing that our anxieties often don’t match up with reality.
  • Discoverability, discoverability, discoverability! Though the emphasis was different in each session, several focused on the difficulties inherent in making the explosion of digital resources discoverable to our users (or not).  From primary sources to textbooks to open access content to OERs, it’s clear that discoverability is not just a technical issue, but one fraught with ethical and moral conundrums.  What is the library’s role in resource discovery?  Can we make peace with Google?  What do you think?  I’d love to address some of these questions at the Charleston Conference this November.

I leave everyone with a question raised at the excellent closing keynote by Dr. S. Craig Watkins:  Is your library poised to catalyze action? 

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