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ATG Special Report — The Charleston Library Conference Fast Pitch 2016

by | Jan 21, 2017 | 0 comments

by Ann Okerson  (CRL), Steve Goodall  (Outsell, Inc.), and Katina Strauch (Against the Grain)  <kstrauch@comcast.net>

Judges and contestants on stage at the Charleston Gaillard Center. Click to enlarge photo.

In November 2016, the Charleston Conference began the Fast Pitch sessions.  Fast Pitch was conceived by Ann Okerson (Senior Advisor, CRL) and supported by Steve and Jane Goodall’s Family Foundation.  In 2015, the Charleston Conference had presented several well-received panels about startups, innovations and entrepreneurship.  For 2016, we decided to expand on those themes by actively encouraging creative solutions in academic libraries.  We asked conference registrants to submit proposals to present at the Charleston FAST PITCH plenary session at the Charleston ConferenceFast Pitch was open to those in the process of developing new, innovative, and implementable ideas to improve their academic libraries or related organizations.  The intent is to showcase innovation in library information management and to award the most deserving examples of innovation.  Two monetary awards ($2,500 apiece) were offered to further support the development and implementation of compelling library innovations as well as to provide a strong “vote of confidence” from a panel of experts and from Charleston Conference attendees.  Participation in this process helps library entrepreneurs further develop their innovations and contribute to meaningful impact.

L to R: Anthea Stratigos, Scott Warren, Martha Whittaker, Katy DiVittorio, Charles Watkinson, Kate Ross, Jim O’Donnell, Ann Okerson, and Steve Goodall. Click to enlarge photo.

In 2016, we had an amazing group of hard-charging entrepreneurs who competed for the awards.  Four finalists were selected to make a ten-minute presentation to the Charleston Conference audience and to the three judges — Jim O’Donnell (Arizona State University), Anthea Stratigos (Outsell, Inc.) and Martha Whittaker (American Society for Microbiology).

What follows are summaries from the four finalists and eight summaries from those proposals selected for Honorable Mentions.

The winners of the two $2,500 awards were Scott Warren (Judges award) and Kate Ross (Conference attendee award).

We look forward to the Charleston Conference Fast Pitch competition for 2017 and know you are too!

The Four Finalists

1)  RelaxMap — by Katy DiVittorio (Acquisitions Librarian, Auraria Library)  <katy.divittorio@ucdenver.edu>  library.auraria.edu

On November 4, 2016 Katy DiVittorio from the Auraria Library in Denver, Colorado pitched the RelaxMap during the first Fast Pitch Competition at the Charleston Conference.

The RelaxMap proposal was a collaboration between Shea Swauger, Head of Researcher Support Services, Jenny Filipetti, Creative and Educational Technology Manager, Sommer Browning, Interim Associate Director of Technical Services, and Katy DiVittorio, Acquisitions Librarian.

Auraria campus is home to three institutions, University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver, and it is located right in the middle of downtown.  According to the 2015 National College Health Assessment 33% of students indicated that stress affected their academic performance.1  With over 51,000 students on campus, that’s a lot of stress!  Traditionally, libraries offer study breaks with free food or games around exam time, but some libraries have been more creative in attempting to reduce student stress.  For example, some libraries “circulate” therapy animals, or provide stationary bikes or even nap pods.  The RelaxMap aims for the same outcome, a relaxed, successful student, but in a completely different way.

The RelaxMap is a view of the Auraria Campus that highlights calm, stress reducing areas.  Students who feel overwhelmed by exams or stressed out by final projects could refer to the RelaxMap and head to the most serene locations on campus to take a breather, read quietly, meditate, or just relax.  The RelaxMap will be created through biomapping.  Student volunteers will walk specific routes around campus wearing a GPS unit and a finger cuff that measures galvanic skin response (a way of reading a body’s emotional reaction to its environment).  These volunteers will also keep a walk journal to record any unusual experiences during the route.  This combination of data will then be overlaid onto a campus map to find out what students were feeling and where.  The areas on campus that have the lowest or least excited readouts will be marked as “relax zones.”

The RelaxMap will be distributed in the library, posted on our Website, and displayed on our Discovery Wall.  To continue to help us better serve our constituents, we hope to then adapt this process for assessment of library services and post-occupancy evaluation of newly renovated spaces.

While the RelaxMap didn’t receive funding at the Fast Pitch Competition, Auraria Library is still excited about this project and is actively seeking alternative funding.  We have expanded the reach and integration of the project to encourage use of our new creative technology spaces, for example having our student volunteers build the devices themselves in our MakeLab or Innovation Garage.  We are also collaborating with psychology classes on campus on related applications of the project.

Once complete we will develop an online toolkit of process documentation, code, and required hardware.  This information would enable other libraries to create their own biometric and environmental assessment tools, as well as local RelaxMaps for their patrons.

If you want to keep up with our progress (or give us money!), please contact <research@auraria.edu>.


  1. American College Health Association. (Spring 2015).  National College Health Assessment: Spring 2015 Reference Group Data Report.  Retrieved from http://www.acha-ncha.org/docs/NCHA-II%20WEB_SPRING_2015_REFERENCE_GROUP_DATA_REPORT.pdf.


2)  Strengthening Collections Collectively to Share Statewide — Coordinated Collection Development API Project — by Kate Ross  (Lavery Library, St. John Fisher College)  <kross@sjfc.edu>

The CCD (Coordinated Collection Development) API Project is unique in supporting the shared development of collections by real-time delivery of information needed to make purchase decisions.  The project will continue development of a platform that analyzes real time interlibrary loan requests, holdings, and collection building profiles from participating libraries, and communicates information between libraries in order to facilitate data-driven coordinated collection development decisions.

The CCD API Program is  unique because the tool increases the communication among participating libraries without delay;  enhances the responsible growth of collections shared among participating libraries where monograph budgets are shrinking;  and utilizes data that already exists about user requests and collections.  Striving toward coordination of real-time purchasing and sharing requested materials while maintaining fast delivery time through a shared platform is unique.  This project brings a sustainable approach to collection development where participants reduce duplication, reuse library materials, and leverage information that already exists in separate systems.  The CCD platform helps partners interested in shared collections use data to decide whether to purchase and who should buy material that is the best fit for the local institution and group.

The project’s overall success will be the result of partnerships, relationships, participation, and ultimately more diverse collections.  Assessment will include the number of high-demand or unique items added to the region due to CCD API recommendations.

During this current grant year, we will work with several libraries and focus on using the CCD API to generate purchase recommendations of unique, highly-requested books and videos.  We have targeted libraries that will expand the use of the tool outside our region and outside of the IDS Project, as well as develop workflows for real-time Coordinated Collection Development (buying at the point of ILLiad request).  At least two more libraries are interested in participating.

In the future, we hope to further develop the API and workflows to be used in software systems throughout New York State.  We will continue to build our platform within ILLiad and other systems, as well as our approach to collaborative demand driven CCD using real-time requests and data for decision making.


3)  Syracuse University Libraries Blackstone LaunchPad Idea — by Scott Warren  (Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, Syracuse University Libraries) and Linda Dickerson Hartsock  (Executive Director, LaunchPad, Syracuse University Libraries)  <sawarr01@syr.edu>

Syracuse University has a history of entrepreneurship which its Libraries have long supported.  Now the Libraries are trying something new.  We partnered with the Blackstone Charitable Foundation and received a three-year grant with University Librarian David Seaman as principal investigator, which put entrepreneurship inside the Libraries, at the heart of academic life!  A versatile 625 sq. ft. glass cube, named the LaunchPad, was constructed on the first floor of Bird Library — the campus’ most visible and heavily trafficked spot.  The LaunchPad is not just a tenant, however.  Rather, it is the Libraries’ service point to support student-focused entrepreneurship across the entire university.  Staffed by an executive director, Linda Dickerson Hartsock, who comes from an economic development background, the LaunchPad is strongly integrated within the Libraries’ broader programs and services.

What makes Syracuse’s LaunchPad special is its location.  Placing a student-focused entrepreneurial center within a library means it becomes truly cross disciplinary and cross cultural, reaching a much more diverse audience.  Moreover, it can readily tap library resources including the deep expertise of subject liaisons and collections that already span disciplines.

And it’s working!  More than 1,000 students have engaged with the LaunchPad since its April 2016 opening.  They’ve taken part in ideation workshops, team and mentor meetings, networking events, coaching and training sessions, venture demos and product launches, as well as other collaborative activities.  Most come from non-business backgrounds and for many the LaunchPad is their first place to explore ideation, innovation and venture development and meet other students interested in the same.  After all, there is nowhere better than a library to bring students from many different majors together!

LaunchPad strengths include:

  • Campus-wide accessibility, open to students across all majors via inclusive entrepreneurship:
  • One-on-one mentoring that cultivates entrepreneurial thinking and problem-solving;
  • Interdisciplinary team-building that fosters a team approach to ideation, and utilizes collaboration as a tool for innovation

Next steps include developing a print collection, beginning with books, to be located within the LaunchPad.  Titles were crowdsourced from faculty, providing further stewardship and engagement with the Libraries and include books on ideation, creativity, design thinking, data science, and innovator biographies.  What we are really excited about, however, isn’t the collection itself, but the conversations and ideas the books will spark.  This is collections driving a community and vice versa.  To facilitate that experience, an entrepreneurship book club will be led by Dickerson and Stephanie McReynolds, the Business, Management, and Entrepreneurship Librarian.

Building a working collection for the Syracuse University Blackstone LaunchPad further demonstrates why libraries are the best sites for entrepreneurial centers by tying what’s in library DNA to such centers.  This idea should be widely applicable to academic libraries supporting entrepreneurship and Blackstone has expressed interest in scaling the idea to the nearly twenty other campuses in its network of LaunchPad sites.  Because the LaunchPad utilizes sophisticated metrics, the SU Libraries may be able to connect resource use to venture starts and demographic data, which could result in a richer understanding of how Library services and collections drive successful student outcomes.  As a result, entrepreneurial centers within libraries is a natural win-win that strategically helps libraries develop their own capacity for innovation and entrepreneurial, risk-taking action while benefitting students.  More about the LaunchPad can be found at http://launchpad.syr.edu/.


4)  Fulcrum – Online Platform for University Presses and Libraries — by Charles Watkinson  (University of Michigan Library)  <watkinc@umich.edu>

Fulcrum (http://www.fulcrum.org) is a new online platform designed by university presses and libraries to publish media-rich scholarship.  Our mission is to make digital publishing safe for humanists.  Our core values are discoverability, flexibility, and durability.  Since 2015, University of Michigan Library has been working with colleagues at Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, and Penn State to design the platform.  Our first publications are companion Websites for books produced by these partners, but we’re progressing to host complete publications and collections.  For example, Fulcrum will also host Lever Press (supported by over 50 liberal arts college libraries aligned with the Oberlin Group) and the ACLS Humanities Ebook Collection.  To build the platform, we’re using the Hydra/Fedora open source software framework employed by many libraries to build repository tools. Initial development is supported by a generous three-year grant from the Mellon Foundation and we’re partnering with Lyrasis to create a sustainability plan which will include a hosted version.

What problem is Fulcrum trying to solve?  The problem is that all our authors are digital scholars but lack the tools to publish their work.  The minute a professor picks up a digital camera, she starts accumulating a rich electronic archive of visual materials.  She may also create audio, video, 3D models, and numerical datasets.  But current digital platforms do not meet the needs of the digital scholar:  A digital humanities platform like Scalar won’t be discoverable through the information supply chain;  a commodity eBook platform like Atypon is built around a traditional conception of the book and lacks flexibility;  meanwhile WordPress and other DIY options have no preservation plan for complex digital files.

Unlike currently available platform solutions, Fulcrum makes rich media objects simultaneously discoverable, flexible, and durable.  As a basis for discoverability, every image has a stable digital identifier and we’re working with supply chain partners to make sure these objects are indexed, taking advantage of the fact that the University of Michigan Press already has relationships with vendors and discovery services.  We can be flexible because the Hydra open source community is already developing many applications to support the ambitions of our authors and we can repurpose these.  We’re already delivering images, film, and audio players and will soon support interactive 3D visualizations.  Above all, Fulcrum is distinguished from other platforms by its commitment to durability.  We display rich metadata to make sure that every object can be migrated forward and we use the University of Michigan Library’s distributed preservation infrastructure to ensure that we are good stewards of digital objects entrusted to us.

What’s next with Fulcrum?  We’re excited to be developing a hosted service for publishers who share our commitment to sustaining digital scholarship and will work with Lyrasis to roll out an attractive offering.  We don’t have the capacity or inclination for hard sell marketing — we’d prefer to use the power of the non-profit network that we as a library-based publisher are part of.  And you’ll see new publications with increasingly sophisticated functionality appearing from University of Michigan Press, committed as we are to authors in fields like music, theater, archaeology and natural history who are particularly interested in presenting multimodal publications.  While we believe that the Fulcrum platform offers Michigan and its partner publishers a competitive advantage in recruiting authors, we also measure success by how many other publishers and libraries reuse the open source code that we’re making available through GitHub.  After all, we all share an interest in helping authors in the humanities and qualitative social sciences move to creating publications that fully leverage the affordances of the digital environment, and the more that other publishers can help scholars move “beyond the container” the happier we’ll be.


The Honorable Mentions

1)  The Charleston Conference Library Innovation Award 2016:  Fast Pitch Competition — by Tahirah Akbar-Williams  (Co-Director of the 2016 Diversity Immersion Institute, Education & Information Studies Librarian, UMD Libraries) and Cynthia Sorrell  (Co-Director of the 2016 Diversity Immersion Institute, Assistant Head, Collection Development / Liaison Librarian: Arabic & Persian Studies, UMD Libraries)

Diversity is one of the major objectives in practically every academic and business Strategic Plan.  The multiplicity of people with various racial identities, cultures, sexual identities, and age groups are now more prevalent than ever before in our workforce.  In such service-oriented organizations as libraries, whether public, academic, private or special, it is imperative to initiate diversity programs.  Such strategic and mandated goals help staff to address, appreciate, and interact with a plethora of differences as well as commonalities in the people who are served and the various groups with whom we interact daily.

The American Library Association’s (ALA’s) document entitled the Core Values of Librarianship, states “We value our nation’s diversity and strive to reflect that diversity by providing a full spectrum of resources and services to the communities we serve.”  (ALA Policy Manual 53.8  [Libraries: An American Value])

Two African American librarians at the University of Maryland Libraries turned that pedagogical principle into action by designing and implementing a program known as the 2016 Diversity Immersion Institute (DII).  By garnering the assistance of dedicated professional colleagues and organizations based on and off campus, the DII began sessions with six volunteer graduate students from the University of Maryland iSchool.  We identified several learning outcomes for the iSchool graduates:  1) gain a better perspective of issues regarding diversity and inclusion through readings and self-reflection,  2) an opportunity to develop and implement targeted educational programs, and  3) learn about diversity and inclusion by interacting with pre-collegiate African American teens, as well as librarians and faculty members of color.  Our goals for our pre-collegiate African American male students were:  1) expose them to the field of librarianship,  2) teach them practical research and writing skills, and  3) provide them with first-hand experience navigating college life and culture.

With supporting funds from the UMD Libraries and other organizations, the DII made it possible to invite eight African American high school students and their chaperones to the campus.  This experience provided an exceptional learning experience for everyone involved —the teenagers, the iSchool graduates, library faculty, the administration of the UMD Libraries, and library support staff — to witness the true meaning of diversity and inclusion.

A quote from 32nd President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, which provided hope to America during the great depression still rings true today, providing hope and direction for those of us who seek to improve the conditions in libraries and in our world today with respect to diversity and inclusion.  He said, “If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships — the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”


2)  Design, Build, Experience: Visual Strategies for Infusing Next Generation Library Spaces with Next Generation Resources — by Madelynn Dickerson  (Information Resources Coordinator, Claremont Colleges Library)  <madelynn_dickerson@cuc.claremont.edu>

Our project is called “Design, Build, Experience: Visual Strategies for Infusing Next Generation Library Spaces with Next Generation Resources.”  The goal of the project is to make electronic resources “tangible” by coordinating a team of students to design and build an art installation that physically represents the Claremont Colleges Library’s complex Web of electronic information and to help library users make the connection between the physical library building and the digital collections it supports.  This idea was inspired by the work of Daniel Goods, a visual strategist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, whose mission is to communicate complex scientific concepts through site-based works of art.

With the Claremont Colleges Library currently undergoing an exciting physical renovation, the art installation will be a centerpiece of newly remodeled second floor spaces, and allow library visitors a means of experiencing electronic resources in real space.  Claremont Colleges Library’s recent building renovation projects help to demonstrate the value of the Library by engaging users in new technology-rich spaces and by providing opportunities to collaborate and explore.  We want to make sure there is a similarly clear connection between the Library’s value and its digital collections.

To complete the work, the Library is collaborating with Sarah Gilbert, a sculptor and professor of art at Pitzer College, who has incorporated the art installation project into her Spring 2017 course ART 176: Materiality, Craft, and Labor.  Students will have the opportunity to consult with collections librarians, subject specialists, and faculty across the disciplines to learn about the nature and breadth of electronic resources in our collection.  We will also partner with the Rick and Susan Sontag Center for Collaborative Creativity (also known as “The Hive”), a cross-campus center for innovation whose mission is to support creative, experiential learning opportunities for students.  We are committed to documenting the project in our institutional repository, Scholarship@Claremont.

We are very excited about the “Design, Build, Experience” project, and the opportunities it provides students to engage deeply with electronic resources, library spaces, and complex issues of information literacy in the digital age.


3)  Section108Video.com – A Due Diligence Database for VHS Preservation — by deg farrelly  (Arizona State University Libraries)  <deg.farrelly@asu.edu>

In the mid-1970s advent of the VHS format revolutionized libraries’ ability to collect and loan film.  Now, collections developed during the 25+ years of the format’s dominance present an impending crisis.  Conservative estimates are that between 15 and 25 percent of all VHS titles in academic collections titles were never released in DVD or streaming format and/or are no longer available in the marketplace.

Section 108 of U.S. Copyright law:  17 U.S. Code § 108 specifically allows libraries to make up to three digital copies of works that are lost, damaged, stolen, deteriorating, or in an obsolete format.  VHS is now an obsolete format; the last VHS player, by the last VHS manufacturer, rolled off the assembly line summer 2016.  VHS is also a deteriorating format.  Research by Walter Forsberg and Eric Piil reveals that even brand new VHS tapes fail to perform to industry specifications.

Section 108 requires libraries to engage in reasonable effort to determine that an unused copy cannot be obtained at a fair price.  This due diligence represents an onerous task.  Searching for replacement copies on a title-by-title basis is detailed, tedious, and time consuming.  Three academic librarians (Chris Lewis, American UniversityJane Hutchison Surdi, William Paterson University;  and deg farrelly, Arizona State University) developed a database of titles for which due diligence has been completed.  This database is now available to other libraries as a resource to consult in their own preservation efforts.

Section 108 Video is freely available online at www.section108video.com.  The database lists more than 1600 titles for which due diligence was conducted, resulting in a determination that these titles may be duplicated within the parameters of copyright law.  Only titles that meet the requirement of being no longer available in the marketplace are included.  Titles identified as being available for purchase either in hard copy or with in-perpetuity/life of file format streaming files are not included in the database.

Anyone is free to view the database.  Registered users may add to the database, either by generating new records for titles not already included, or by tagging existing entries with their own local identifiers.  The goal of the project is, through crowd-sourcing, to continue to amass a record of titles eligible for duplication within Section 108.  It is hoped that just as the database will reduce the need for multiple libraries to conduct individual due diligence, its metadata will identify titles for coordinated preservation of video content.

A Charleston Conference Fast Pitch grant would have provided funds for initial planning implementation of such a coordinated effort.  Documentary and educational video exists as part of the collected record of human knowledge and deserves as much as the printed record to be preserved.  But time is running out!  Estimates are that VHS and other analog video formats will be unplayable by 2025, due to lack of functional equipment.

Section108Video.com is but a first step in assuring the preservation of this irreplaceable material.


4)  Using Change Detection Software to Assess Reference Usage at USC Libraries — by Caroline Muglia  (Head, Resource Sharing and Collection Assessment Librarian, University of Southern California)  <Muglia@usc.edu>

My fast pitch proposed an expansion of the small grant-funded project I am already engaged with at University of Southern California Libraries in collaboration with the Viterbi School of Engineering to assess the usage of our physical reference collection.

In libraries, we create and collect data related to circulation, downloads, EZ proxy, storage use, study spaces, and so much more.  Even with the increasing sources of data, there are a lot of shadowy corners in the assessment and evaluations of collections in an academic library setting.  In particular, the usage of physical non-circulating reference books represents a quandary in our assessment.  USC Libraries has a large collection of reference books including language dictionaries, handbooks and companions, encyclopedias, and test preparation guides.  These books line the shelves in the reading room of our flagship library and are interspersed throughout the other libraries on main campus.

My research question was simple: how often do these reference books get used?  Since I could not rely on circulation data (they are non-circulating materials), and low-tech approaches seemed to provide inconsistent results, I engaged the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC to find a more creative and accurate solution.  There I paired up with a Professor of Environmental Engineering, Dr. Sam Masri, and a PhD student, Preetham Manjunatha, with a focus on computer science and vision detection software.

Focused on a sample of size data (one wall of books in the reading room of the flagship library), we mounted a small, lightweight camera powered by change detection software developed by my research partner, Preetham.  The computer was connected to a server that housed images captured every 10 seconds.  With the algorithm Preetham developed, image 2 would be compared to image 1 to detect the changes in the image.  If a book was taken off the shelf, then image 2 would indicate no book where a book once was and a change would be registered.

Specific to assessment, this project fills in the gaps in several ways. First, the data collected by the camera provides usage information that I was not able to glean before.  Second, this is important because the books consume valuable shelf space.  With space constraints impacting all libraries, I can begin to make a value case about either keeping the books on those shelves, or replacing them with more heavily used titles.  Third, many reference subjects are being duplicated in databases and other electronic resources.  The data from this project allows me to analyze the content overlap between the reference books and the reference databases subscribed to by the Libraries.

While this project was a great pilot project, the fast pitch proposal would have expanded the project beyond the sample size and beyond the single library where the camera was housed.  This project represents an innovative approach to assessment as well as a creative partnership with the Engineering school at our institution.


5)  CC-PLUS Fast Pitch, Fall 2016 — by Anne Osterman  (VIVA Director, George Mason University)  <aelguind@gmu.edu>

The success of library consortia in facilitating collection development decisions for shared purchases depends heavily on the availability and analysis of usage data.  In a 2014 survey conducted by the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC), more than 40 consortia around the world articulated a mission-critical need for a usage data management system, yet solutions in this area are lacking in both availability and functionality.

A number of ICOLC members (PALCI, VIVA, Jisc, Couperin, HKN, CRKN, CDL, and USMAI) have partnered to address this need by seeking funding to develop an open usage data management platform.  The resulting partner proposal is known as CC-PLUS, or Consortia Collaborating on a Platform for Library Usage Statistics.  Many other consortia, from 14 countries, have noted their support, and stand ready to participate in this critical effort.  CC-PLUS will be an international, modular, open technology, proof of concept platform for the collection, display, and analysis of consortial library usage data.  It will be adapted from software previously developed by a partnering organization (Jisc’s existing Journal Usage Statistics Portal, or JUSP, codebase) to collaboratively address community-identified usage data challenges.  No open solution is currently available for consortial usage statistics, and existing commercial alternatives are too costly, potentially risky in terms of divulging competitive intelligence, and too inflexible to address the wide variety of consortial needs.

By harnessing the collective power of the consortial community, the CC-PLUS tool would:  provide an open usage statistics platform to manage data for multiple libraries simultaneously;  provide consortia greater leverage in procuring improved vendor usage data through the adoption of a standard, international platform; and improve the effectiveness and efficiency of library consortia by decreasing time spent managing systems, allowing for greater focus on the analysis and use of usage data for practical purposes, such as vendor negotiation, collection management, and resource sharing.

This adaptation of the JUSP tool and services has the potential for tremendous impact across thousands of libraries worldwide, as many consortia harvest and track usage statistics on behalf of their member libraries.  Evidence of the scalability of this project can already be found in the Couperin consortium’s successful adaptation and customization of the JUSP software for their local needs.  A successful platform would scale internationally and may result in a new consortial service organization.  The partners are excited about this project and are currently exploring external funding options to make the CC-PLUS tool a reality.


6)  The University of Tennessee Pop-Up Library Program — by David Ownby  (Acquisitions & Continuing Resource Specialist, University of Tennessee, Knoxville)  <downby1@utk.edu>

The University of Tennessee Libraries are engaged in an effort to expand first year studies initiatives promoting student engagement and research skills.  Special Collections continues a collaborative instruction course with the Department of English introducing undergraduates to primary source research including Civil War era correspondence and other documents.  Library Take Out is a newer program where librarians visit residence halls to hold sessions with students about research services, acclimating to the academic environment, special events, and more.  These efforts align with UT’s strategic vision for becoming a top 25 university and the Libraries mission for serving as the Knoxville campus’ main street.

However, current programming remains localized to library locations across campus.  Library Take Out and the Pendergrass Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine Library’s “roaming library” are the only current exceptions.  This limits outreach efforts to students already aware of services and resources from visiting the library, participating in more structured, scheduled library instruction, or attending class-based sessions.  Building on the concept of Library Take Out presents an opportunity to grow our user audience and provide another alternative outreach point to the undergraduate community.

The Pop-Up Library Program is designed to move some library services and more instruction into the residence halls.  A proposal group of interested faculty and staff was formed in 2016 to organize the program and work to implement its core components.  The three core components are:

Mobile Location:  A weekly route servicing all freshmen residence halls where students can return circulated materials and interact with volunteers from the Libraries faculty and staff to learn about library services and receive personal assistance.

Microprogramming:  A semester-long rubric of short library instruction using a modified elevator speech model.  Sessions lasting 1-3 minutes are designed to establish initial contact and provide students with information most relevant during the early, middle, and late semester.  This will include information on tutoring centers found at the Libraries, De-Stress for Success activities, etc.

Liaison Coordination:  During middle and late semester, volunteers will coordinate with assistant librarians to schedule meetings with students for individual research assistance.  Volunteers will also have access to a schedule of subject liaison open office hours to direct undergraduates wanting more detailed research support in their subject area.  An overall goal is the promotion of undergraduate research within the Libraries’ service environment.

The members of the proposal group are currently refining plans for programming and reaching out to stakeholders — from both the Libraries’ organization and the campus community.  Current goals are to submit a formal proposal and budget request to the Libraries administration during 2017 with a program testbed starting in the next 1-2 academic years.  The group looks forward to an opportunity to share the results of this program with its professional community in the near future.


7)  Improving Access to Research Materials via IDS Article Gateway — by Shannon Pritting  (Library Director SUNY Polytechnic Institute)  <prittis@sunyit.edu>

Libraries of all types are struggling to maintain subscriptions as prices increase while library budgets remain flat.  Electronic subscriptions occupy an ever increasing portion of budgets and prevent libraries from expanding services in other areas.  There are few attractive options for libraries which want to provide access to research materials to users in a way that is cost effective and simple.  Libraries are caught between subscriptions to single journals, large research collections, or article-level purchasing that is either not instant or must allow expensive access for everyone, which can quickly become costly.  The IDS Article Gateway platform, developed by the IDS Project (idsproject.org) and SUNY Polytechnic Institute Library, uses Resource Sharing technology and workflows to deliver fast or near-instant access to research material to users in a way that involves little or no staff time and removes as many barriers to user access as possible.  Where resource sharing has typically sought to deliver articles in 1-2 days, libraries using Article Gateway deliver articles either within a few minutes or a few hours.

In the past, Resource Sharing and Interlibrary Loan have helped users gain access to research material far beyond what their libraries could afford as a single institution.  Going forward, resource sharing can offer many options for libraries to provide users near-instant access to research material in a way that is convenient yet cost effective, allowing expanded access without the need to wait a day or more for access.  The Article Gateway platform integrates with various Web services, providing IDS libraries with more options to access research materials while also removing the need for staff to review requests.

Using IDS-developed resource sharing technology as the foundation, the IDS Article Gateway can automate verification of copyright and licensing, determine the best price for purchase from article vendors, and can create user profiles and system configuration that will allow more refined instant purchasing of research articles.  This opens up another method for libraries to meet the information needs of researchers and students and helps to ensure that content is delivered in the most seamless and cost effective manner.  The IDS Article Gateway fully automates resource sharing article requests and allows for automatic borrowing of articles from other libraries or purchasing articles from document providers.  In addition, this service also standardizes and completes citations to ensure that the data for the decision is accurate and that staff time is not needed to correct request information.

Beta testing has been underway for nine months at three libraries, with fifteen more libraries currently in production.  Additional libraries will be added as implementation scheduling allows with the goal of having thirty libraries using IDS Article Gateway by the end of calendar year 2016.  As more libraries adopt IDS Article Gateway, new features and functionality will be added such as Open Access filtering, expanded delivery configurations, and a customizable analytics dashboard.


8)  UU (Utrecht University) Easy Access: A Browser Extension — by Johan Tilstra  (Lean Library)  leanlibrary.org

A few years ago, the staff at Utrecht University Library had to make a difficult decision:  continue with their aging home brew local search engine, Omega, or do what so many other libraries do these days: buy a commercial, off-the-shelf local search solution.  Clearly, there was no alternative between spending a lot of money and spending a lot of time and energy (and, thus, money again) — or was there?  After extensive research into patron behavior, it became apparent that there is a third way:  accept that more and more, patrons aren’t using the library as their starting point for their research activities, and draw the inevitable conclusion:  don’t pour scarce resources into an expensive local discovery.  Instead, the staff decided to  1) focus on supporting discovery, wherever it takes place, and  2) improve the delivery of their owned or licensed materials.

This strategic refocusing eventually led to a new and highly appreciated service called UU Easy Access: A Browser Extension that proactively notifies users whenever they’re browsing a Website that contains material licensed by their library.  It’s in active use nowadays by a large portion of the Utrecht University population, but at the time, there was only a hunch: “What would happen if we wouldn’t ask our patrons to come over to us — to the physical desk, or to our Website – whenever they felt they might need our services?  What if we were to offer some of our services proactively, within their browsers?”

Various browser extensions for library services do exist (think Zotero, LibX, Lazy Scholar), but not what we had in mind.  As the program manager at the time, I decided to use a methodology popular with tech start-ups that intrinsically deal with innovative and unproven solutions:  the Lean Startup.  That methodology, with its emphasis on user feedback, guided us through various iterations of the browser extension:  from the very first raw sketches on paper that we discussed with students and researchers over (lots of) coffee, to a working prototype that nowadays more than 3,000 patrons use on a daily basis to get access to library licensed material.

A working prototype that draws positive reactions doesn’t instantaneously constitute a robust production service.  For that, there’s a lot of work still to be done — more than a single library might want to take on. At the same time, we realized that this browser extension might be a valuable addition to the services of every research and university library around the world that uses some kind of proxy solution for access to their e-resources.  So, with the help of the Utrecht University incubator, I’ve founded Lean Library:  an organization that’s committed to offering library patrons worldwide easy access to licensed resources, while at the same time offering librarians invaluable insights into how their patrons are using those e-resources.  Together with my cofounder I’m off to a new start, and things are looking bright: we’ve only just started, but are already getting lots of positive feedback, from librarians around the world.



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