Reports of Meetings — ACRL 2017, CNI Spring 2017 and the 36th Annual Charleston Conference

Column Editor: Sever Bordeianu  (Head, Print Resources Section, University Libraries, MSC05 3020, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM  87131-0001;  Phone: 505-277-2645;  Fax: 505-277-9813)

ACRL 2017At the Helm: Leading Transformation — March 22-25, 2017 — Baltimore, MD

Reported by:  Alyssa Russo  (University of New Mexico)


The theme of the 2017 meeting of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) conference, held on March 22-25, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland was At the Helm: Leading Transformation.  The conference showcased a typical mixture of sessions focused on practice-based methods, tools, and resources, however, sessions featuring issues of diversity and social justice stood out this year at the conference.

The opening keynote address was delivered by David McCandless, a British data-journalist and author of Information is Beautiful.  His passion for telling stories with data was conveyed throughout his talk. In one diagram he focused on expressing billions of dollars, and how difficult it is for most people to conceptualize billions, yet these numbers are regularly tossed around in the media.  In a colorful diagram plotted with media reported spending in the billions, the viewer is able to see patterns in the numbers that might otherwise be missing.  McCandless’ ability to visually frame and reframe data is entertaining and often surprising.  Aware of the opportunity for abuse of misrepresenting data, McCandless has made his data transparent through publicly available reference sheets to trace back his sources.  When asked to speak more about truth in the face of alternative facts, McCandless informed the audience that he is currently working on a new visualization that teases out different types of truth, from empirical fact based on experimentation and reproducibility to personal, emotional truth based on individual experience.  Anyone interested in viewing these interactive visualizations can visit McCandless’ website:

In an invited presentation, Professor Nicole Cooke from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, shared her story about building a library and information science program that teaches diversity, social justice, race, gender, and sexuality issues.  Her story revealed the challenging reality that she shoulders the entire responsibility of leading this effort while the ischool supports the initiative from a comfortable distance.  This is further compounded by her admission that former students she taught had made tone deaf or downright hurtful comments regarding such issues.  This situation only further demonstrates the need for inclusion of these topics throughout the curriculum.  What fuels Cooke’s intense passion for teaching, given the exhausting circumstances, is the meaningful interactions and relationships that are built in class. Initially, library students were not relating to the social justice concepts until the power of storytelling was tapped.  This approach rebooted the content thanks to the new framing where the personal is political.

It goes without saying that Roxane Gay, author of bestselling Bad Feminist and professor of English at Purdue University, was a top highlight of the conference as the middle keynote.  She embodied a recurring theme at the conference:  A Call to Become Comfortable Being Uncomfortable.  Gay spent the bulk of her address unapologetically discussing national politics, language, and the power of reading.  Reflecting on how carelessly people use language in political slogans and catchphrases she pronounced, “Language becomes an empty container for whatever people want to fill it with.”  This is related to the problem she has with allies.  She doesn’t have time for allies who stay at a comfortable distance, who are privileged enough to be able to be indifferent to others’ adversities.  The collective mentality of so-called “allies” who remain comfortably removed got us to the current political landscape.  At the University of New Mexico, this manifested when Milo Yiannopoulos’ right to free speech trumped the library’s operations and forced the Library to close its doors and services early as a safety measure.  Gay advised the audience to engage in small acts of resistance.  For example, librarians shouldn’t buy Milo’s book.  Even small acts of resistance require courage, and Gay challenged librarians to find those that cause and practice small acts of resistance.

Gay also shared her fatigue at being asked for answers to diversity issues.  She didn’t miss a beat in her response, “I am just a writer.  I don’t have access to secret magical Negro wisdom that white people aren’t privy to.  What I do know is that today, tomorrow, and for the foreseeable future, everything we do is political as readers, as writers, as booksellers, as people.”  It was sadly ironic that many of the questions she fielded after her talk probably only perpetuated her fatigue for these types of questions.  Even so, she graciously offered this advice:  think through your resistance to whatever you are trying to better understand.  “Don’t shame yourself.  Do the work.”  Empathy came up several times as a piece of the puzzle, alongside the acknowledgement that empathy comes from reading exhaustively.  It’s time to do more reading.  It’s also time to remember that neutrality is a myth and the ally card is just another way to say that you are neutral.

Verna Myers’s mission is to disrupt the status quo.  She is a former lawyer turned diversity consultant, and author of What If I Say the Wrong Thing? 25 Habits for Culturally Effective People.  Demonstrated through her energy, humor, and talent for casually talking about heavy material with panache, Myers’s presentation covered acknowledging biases, expanding comfort zones, and interrupting the behavior that manifests from unconscious bias.  She began by defining unconscious bias, or those automatic associations humans have about groups of people that differ from themselves.  She also addressed the rampant denial people cling to when confronted with the idea that they possess biases.  Everyone has them if it makes it easier to swallow.  Myers cited Harvard’s Project Implicit, a test that measures implicit preferences for racial groups, as an example that demonstrates unconscious bias.  One needs not look far to see who part of their in-group is, and therefore, who is not.  Furthermore, it’s not that anyone is necessarily wrong about the merits of those they favor within their in-group, but they’re missing out on the merits of people who fall outside of that in-group.  Myers made the point that if an individual messes up, then they need to apologize and move on.  By avoiding a person after making a mistake, the offender only further punishes that person for their own discomfort.  Meyers also made it clear that no one is the diversity police.  Do not try to change a person, but do interrupt the behavior that comes from unconscious bias.  It can be as simple as asking, “What do you mean?” after someone steps in it.  Myers has a TED Talk for those interested in learning more (

Finally, Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first African-American to hold the post of Librarian of Congress, delivered the conference’s closing keynote address.  The anticipation leading up to the address was palpable as the final sessions wrapped up.  Hayden’s decision to keep the Enoch Pratt Free Library open to the community during the unrest in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray has garnered respect and admiration that reaches well beyond the realm of librarianship.  Her actions serve as an example of the ways librarians can practice small acts of resistance.  At the conference, Hayden’s optimism and dedication to service were immediately demonstrated when she was spotted out in the audience shaking hands and taking pictures with conference attendants before her address.  Hayden spoke about her goal to make the library accessible to everyone, she acknowledged how representation matters, and offered advice about staying grounded and not losing hope by building a strong community of support.  She used the personal example of her mother, who helped her get through the nerves during the confirmation vote for the nomination of Librarian of Congress.  Hayden is making history, and she proposed that we celebrate this moment of cultural relevance that librarians are having. In response to those who do not recognize the value of this profession, she jested, “I’m a librarian, I’m in it for the glory.”  Thanks to Dr. Hayden, conference goers left ACRL 2017 feeling a sense of hope that has been missing from much of 2017.

The next meeting will be ACRL 2019 set to take place April 10-13, 2019 in Cleveland, Ohio.  ALA News recently announced that conference theme will be Recasting the Narrative.


CNI Spring 2017Developing and Managing Networked Information Content; Transforming Organizations, Professions, & Individuals; and Building Technology, Standards, & Infrastructure — April, 3-4, 2017 — Albuquerque NM

Reported by:  Laura Kohl  (University of New Mexico)


The Spring Membership meeting of the Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico April, 3-4, 2017.  The meeting was held in beautiful downtown Albuquerque at the Hyatt Regency Hotel where participants were able to enjoy the spring weather and warmer temperatures.  CNI is a joint initiative of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and EDUCAUSE which promotes the use of digital information technology to advance scholarship and education.  The membership consists of major research institutions in North America and beyond, and the membership meetings provide the opportunity for the leaders and practitioners at these institutions to meet and discuss projects that are moving the profession forward.  Keeping in the tradition of its “long history of being the first to offer discussion of major networked information developments,” the meeting covered three major themes:  Developing and Managing Networked Information Content; Transforming Organizations, Professions, & Individuals; and Building Technology, Standards, & Infrastructure.  The Keynote session was followed by two days of parallel rounds of breakout sessions that covered a plethora of topics related to every aspect of networked information.

The keynote address was delivered by Alison Head, Executive Director and Principal Investigator of Project Information Literacy (PIL) and a Research Affiliate at Harvard’s MetaLAB.  The title of her talk was aptly named:  What Today’s Students Have Taught Us.  The takeaway of the talk was that libraries are in a changed state based on new developments of technology and scholarship and that librarians and information professionals have to work even harder to connect with our base to keep libraries relevant.  This talk set the stage for the concurrent sessions which addressed how professionals in the field are solving their networked information needs.

Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management at John Hopkins University and Jaap Geraerts, Research Associate at the Center for Editing Lives and Letters at University College London, discussed the current progress of the Archaeology of Reading (AOR) project in their talk titled A Linked Data Approach for Humanities Data.  The AOR project is creating a digital research environment that takes the works of Gabriel Harvey and John Dee, two “notorious annotators,” to create a web of relationships between the annotations and the content of the books.  This system is creating a common infrastructure across a diverse range of humanities data.  

Chris Bourg, Director of Libraries at MIT and Heather Yager, Director of Digital Development at MIT held an open forum in which attendees were encouraged to discuss the 2016 “Future of Libraries Preliminary Report,” which envisions libraries operating as “open, trusted, durable, interdisciplinary, and interoperable platforms that can provide the foundation for the entire life cycle of information for collaborative global research education.”  It was clear that participants were very interested in creating this global network of information, but that most lacked the funds or infrastructure to do it.  No one institution can build the library of the future alone as it will take buy-in from all.

Fenella France, Chief of Preservation Research at the Library of Congress (LC) talked about Online Scientific Reference Sample Collections and Shared Linked Data for Heritage Science and Related Disciplines.  She mentioned that sustainable access, open source file formats, and the capacity of linked data are the main challenges for data in any discipline.  To overcome these challenges, the Research Data Alliance (RDA) is working with LC’s Preservation Research and Testing Division to build standards that can be used to create linked data for cultural heritage material.  She discussed the specific need for standardized digital protocols to address interoperability between heritage institutions.

Dean Krafft, Chief Technology Strategist at Cornell University and David Carlson, Dean of University Libraries at Texas A&M University, and Sebastian Hammer, President at Index Data gave an update on FOLIO, OLE, and the Open Library Foundation, OLF.  These speakers described this community-based effort at creating an open source library services platform.  This is a community that strives for inclusion and anyone can participate as they are actively seeking new partners.  At the same time, they are also partnering with vendors to advance the scope of library technologies.  Collaboration between librarians and technologists will be essential to build a sustainable open source model.

In their talk Building Distinctive Collections through International Collaborations, Lessons from UCLA’s International Digital Ephemera Project, T-Kay Sangwand and Todd Grappone from UCLA described their efforts in partnering with cultural heritage institutions in Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East to preserve cultural heritage artifacts and the infrastructure to support it.  Of particular interest was their recent work in Cuba and the technological hurdles that had to be overcome.  Given the lack of broadband communication between the U.S. and Cuba, the data had to be transported on hard drives.  During a recent trip to Cuba Todd Grappone expressed his excitement upon discovering that the national media had provided positive coverage of the work, highlighting the interest garnered by government institutions in these kinds of preservation projects.  Clearly, cultural initiatives overcome political boundaries.

Kenning Arlitsch, Dean of the Library at Montana State University and Justin Shanks, Semantic Web Identity Researcher at Montana State, discussed the need for structured data on the semantic web so that search engines can discover a library’s resources.  The semantic web relies on structured data records for discovery and without it records are invisible.  They discussed their research from a recent doctoral dissertation showing that Semantic Web Identity (SWI) for ARL institutions is poor.  As a result, the richness of library web content is mostly overlooked by the popular search engines.  There is no consistency even in the names of the institutions, or whose responsibility it is to report it, therefore creating massive inconsistencies in an institution’s discoverability on the semantic web.  Libraries need to put the effort into Search Engine Optimization projects in order for their data to become findable on the Web.  An interesting observation was that libraries with a Wikipedia entry often had more accurate information for their Knowledge Graph Card in Google search results.  Arlitsch is an indefatigable advocate for structured data and his examples were eye opening.

A sample of the other sessions will give an idea of the truly vast array of topics that were presented at the conference.  DSpace 7: Selecting and Building a New DSpace User Interface by Michele Mennielli of 4Science, Debra Hanken Kurtz, CEO of DuraSpace and Maureen Walsh of Ohio State;  Direct from the Swamp: Developments of the 45th President and the 115th Congress, by Krista L. Cox, Director of Public Policy Initiatives, ARL and Alan S. Inouye, Director of Public Policy, ALA;  To the Rescue of the Orphans of Scholarly Communication by Herbert Van de Sompel and Martin Klein of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Michael L. Nelson of Old Dominion University;  Understanding Usage, Impact, and Pitfalls in Research Data Analytics by Jon Wheeler of the University of New Mexico, Stephen Abrams of California Digital Library and Kenning Arlitsch of Montana State;  and The Role of Academic Libraries in an Era of Fake News, Alternative Facts, and Information Overload by Donald A. Barclay, from the University of California, Merced.  This is but a small sample of a truly impressive program.

The closing plenary session was given by Amy Brand of MIT Press and was titled:  Fresh Perspectives on the Future of University-Based Publishing.  University presses, like libraries, need to reinvent themselves to strive in the digital era and to take on more active roles in support of research dissemination.  University presses also need to ensure a sustainable model in which both print and digital will continue to develop.  She emphasized that collaboration between presses and other departments on campus is key to producing scholarly communication.

The CNI membership meetings take place every six months.  The next meeting will be in Washington DC, December 11-12, 2017, followed by San Diego, April 12-13, 2018, and again Washington, DC, on December 10-11, 2018.  Given the rapid advances in technology and the multitude of efforts taking place, it should be interesting to follow the projects and developments in networked information taking place then.  

Issues in Book and Serial Acquisition, “Roll With the Times or the Times Roll Over You,” Charleston Gaillard Center, Francis Marion Hotel, Embassy Suites Historic Downtown, and Courtyard Marriott Historic District — Charleston, SC, November 1-5, 2016

Charleston Conference Reports compiled by:  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library)  <[email protected]>

Column Editor’s Note:  Thank you to all of the Charleston Conference attendees who agreed to write short reports that highlight sessions they attended at the 2016 Charleston Conference.  All attempts were made to provide a broad coverage of sessions, and notes are included in the reports to reflect known changes in the session titles or presenters, highlighting those that were not printed in the conference’s final program (though some may have been reflected in the online program).  Please visit the Conference Website at, and the online conference schedule at from which there are links to many presentations’ PowerPoint slides and handouts, as well as links to video for select sessions.  The conference blog by Don Hawkins is available at  The 2016 Charleston Conference Proceedings will be published in partnership with Purdue University Press in 2017.

In this issue of ATG you will find the third installment of 2016 conference reports.  The first two installments can be found in ATG v.29#1, February 2017, and v.29#2, April 2017.  We will continue to publish all of the reports received in upcoming print issues throughout the year. — RKK


Albatross: Rolling on a Sea of Data — Presented by Annette Bailey (Virginia Tech);  Tracy Gilmore (Virginia Tech);  Leslie O’Brien (Virginia Tech);  Anthony Wright de Hernandez (Virginia Tech University)

Reported by:  Tami Wilkerson  (Oregon Health & Science University)


In this session, the speakers described the creation of several different systems used to collect ejournal usage and cost data to facilitate return on investment analysis.  The first iteration, dubbed the “Big Ugly Database” was a large Excel spreadsheet that over time became unmanageable.  They also imported SUSHI data into their ILS and later used a Microsoft Access database for several years.  Finally, they created a database based on entity relational diagram with SQL and Python scripting to help automate workflows.  Creating the database presented several challenges such as non-standard data from publishers and inconsistent past practices at the Library, which required significant data cleanup and manipulation before ingestion into the system.  The end product now provides actionable information for making collection development decisions and the speakers hope to further use the database for assessment, data visualization and more in-depth analysis.


All About MOOCs: Online Learning is Alive and Well — Presented by Tim Bowen (Copyright Clearance Center);  Heather Staines (ProQuest SIPX);  Jeff Voci (Elsevier);  Lori Ostapowicz Critz (Georgia Tech)

NOTE:  Tommie Doyle (Elsevier) substituted for Jeff Voci on the panel.

Reported by:  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library)


Staines provided an update on MOOCs, describing stackable degrees, the filter-down benefits to faculty and students, the unbundling possibilities availed by MOOCs.  Students with “seriousness of purpose” are willing to pay for information content, and SIPX is actively working in the content provision chain.  Ostapowicz Critz described the online master’s degree in computer science at George Tech that is competitive with the on-site program.  Interestingly, to date, only public domain, not copyrighted content has been used for this program’s MOOC, though vendor solutions are being sought for the future.  The program is not a “big revenue stream,” rather a break even proposition, but still supported by university administration.  Bowen discussed options for content in MOOC’s-not to use copyrighted, to use public domain, to link to the content, to obtain permission.  Challenges include enrollment, payment and allocation (who pays?), piecemeal and aggregated content and laggard purchasers.  MOOCs are scalable when users acquire and students pay.  Doyle shared an interesting example of an Elsevier published out of print book (7-8 years old) that received a new life (sales quadrupled in 9 months) because it was referenced in a MOOC course.  It was noted that new markets for publishers can be the outcome of MOOCs, since they are inviting to lifelong learners and have a global (social) mission. Also, university presses should take note (of this potential revenue stream and opportunity).


E-books and Young Academic Users: What Do We Know? — Presented by Devendra Potnis (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville);  Xiaohua (Awa) Zhu, (Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville);  Kanchan Deosthali (Univ. of Mary Washington)

NOTE:  Co-authors Kanchan Deosthali and Devendra Potnis, as well as Rebecca McCusker (Univ. of Tennessee), were unable to attend the conference and did not present.

Reported by:  Emily Billings  (University of North Texas)


In this session Zhu (Assistant Professor for the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville) reported results of an undergraduate student survey that contained both closed and open ended questions.  Zhu started by building on previous research regarding student preferences of eBooks and their reading trends.  This survey focused on undergraduate students’ awareness, intention to use, expectations, and important features toward academic library eBooks.  The survey determined that students prefer human-computer interaction features with eBooks, increased findability on the library website, and promotional materials including: librarian consultations, tutorials, and advertisements.

Student awareness of or about library collections doesn’t vary by gender.  The actual use of eBooks does differ by gender.  Also, student use of eBooks is related to awareness of and about eBooks.  The intention to use eBooks doesn’t differ by gender.  The intention to use eBooks is related to the awareness of and about eBooks.  The intention to use eBooks is also related to the previous use of eBooks and intention to use eBooks is also related to the actual use of library eBooks.


Mapping the Free Ebook Supply Chain — Presented by Rebecca Welzenbach (Moderator, Michigan Publishing);  Rupert Gatti (Open Book Publishers);  Eric Hellman (;  Jill O’Neill (NISO)

Reported by:  Michael Rodriguez  (University of Connecticut)


This panel presented preliminary results from a 2016-2017 study funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and designed to understand how free or open access eBooks are discovered and used.  Gatti explained that the traditional supply chain of publishers, booksellers, and aggregators still dominates book distribution, but free eBook distribution is far more diffuse and complicated.  Does making eBooks freely available boost readership?  Hellman, who led the Mellon-funded study, explained how researchers collected usage data for 120 free eBooks and broke down the data by title and referring URLs.  Referrals varied by publisher.  Readers of University of Michigan Press open access eBooks originated mostly from Google or .edu websites but hardly ever from library websites or catalogs, whereas almost a third of Open Book Publishers usage originated from libraries.  Future analysis will be at the title level and delve into the reasons behind the numbers.  Finally, O’Neill highlighted the messiness of even expert users’ experiences.  She modeled a searcher who bounces from Amazon to Google Books to WorldCat to Hathitrust looking for one full-text free eBook.  O’Neill traced some of this messiness to incomplete and inconsistent metadata.  Stay tuned for a new NISO recommended practice on eBook metadata.


Implications of BIBFRAME and Linked Data for Libraries & Publishers — Presented by Michael Pelikan (Penn State Information Technology Services, Emerging Technologies Group);  Michele Casalini (Casalini Libri);  John Richardson (Zepheira Technologies LLC);  Dennis Brunning (Moderator, Arizona State University)

NOTE:  Michael Pelikan did not participate in this session.

Reported by:  Anna R. Craft  (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)


Brunning (Interim Associate University Librarian for Academic Services at Arizona State University), opened the session by noting that previously scheduled speaker Pelikan would not be able to join the group.  Brunning moderated the session and provided some initial academic library perspective.

Richardson gave an overview of BIBFRAME as the planned replacement for MARC.  He discussed Linked Data as a tool to leverage existing data, and indicated that there is great value in the use of shared linked identifiers.  He showed how traditional MARC records are full of possible connections to use as links, including names, publishers, material forms, and places.  He also showed examples of use cases and discussed the importance of collaboration in this process.

Casalini gave context to Casalini Libri, which produces high volumes of MARC records for Romance language countries.  He discussed the company’s project to enrich MARC records with URLs in order to simplify the conversion to Linked Open Data and BIBFRAME.  He provided the steps to this process and showed an example of a “person” cluster, demonstrating how it brings together access points from various authority files.

In response to audience questions, the speakers described Linked Open Data as “universal,” used by many organizations in many fields, while BIBFRAME is a library-specific data model for Linked Open Data, and will be used to transform MARC.  Richardson indicated his belief that MARC is going to continue to be in play for “a long, long time.”  Casalini indicated that RDA functions to address some parts of BIBFRAME.


The Odd Couple: University Libraries and Book Stores Team Up to Reduce Textbooks Costs for Students — Presented by Teresa Hazen (The University of Arizona);  Niamh Wallace (The University of Arizona)

Reported by:  Julie Gaida  (Pacific University)


Traditionally, academic libraries have not acquired textbooks, but due to the increased financial burden on students and evolving eBook license options, the librarians at the University of Arizona introduced a pilot project to add electronic textbooks to their collection.  This pilot, an effort to contribute to student success and make the library a more visible resource, began in 2012 with a partnership between the library and the independent campus bookstore.  After acquiring a list of required textbooks from the bookstore, library staff identify which titles are duplicated eBooks in the collection and which can be purchased as multi — or unlimited user eBooks.  Once the eBooks are purchased with student fee funds, the professors are notified that the library owns their chosen textbook and the link to the library’s webpage for each individual eBook is listed on the campus bookstore’s webpage that title.

There are some known issues with this process that library staff hope to address in the future, including receiving required textbook titles at the point of adoption rather than all at once which creates workflow bottlenecks.  Other future goals are to merge this project with the library’s OER initiative, increasing awareness through marketing, and improve usage data collection.


Preservation of Digital Collections and Dark Archives — Presented by Craig Van Dyck (CLOCKSS), Michelle Paolillo (Cornell University);  David Pcolar (Digital Preservation Network);  Greg Suprock (Apex CoVantage);  Jabin White (Ithaka/JSTOR)

Reported by:  Katherine Ahnberg  (University of South Florida)


While many library and information professionals are familiar with the LOCKSS initiative (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe), this session included discussion of a variety of digital archive solutions, including Controlled LOCKSS and Portico.  Preserving and archiving materials on behalf of libraries to ensure current and perpetual access to the scholarly record, panelists detailed the challenges of access permissions and release of data from user restricted dark archives.  With a shared focus on developing systems which offer long term and scalable solutions of data storage, panelist contributions included the practical considerations regarding workflow design, standardization, interoperability, and en mass format migration in response to technological advance and shifts in the scholarly landscape.  Offering case studies to illustrate common issues in digital preservation, this session invited attendees to consider the budgetary, technical, and project management components of long-term content storage and delivery.


Quantifying the Impacts of Investment in Humanities Archives Presented by Eric T. Meyer (University of Oxford)

Reported by:  Crystal Hampson  (University of Saskatchewan)


Meyer presented results from a study of the impact of digital primary materials, done for Jisc and ProQuest.  The study was funded by ProQuest and used two resources:  Early English Books Online (EEBO) and House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP).  The focus was: “Is anyone using these resources?” and “What are they using them for?”  A long development cycle takes place before impact is realized.  Usage of both resources have been increasing over a decade.  EEBO is used primarily for research.  HCPP is used for both research and teaching.  Humanities researchers rely heavily on specific digital collections that they use regularly.  Humanities scholars collectively use a large and diverse number of resources which are essential to them, though often used by only one person (among the survey respondents).  The resources are cited fairly well, within a growing body of literature. It is difficult to discover citations to digital collections because references may cite the items but not the collection.  A larger than expected range of disciplines use these resources, especially the New York Times digital materials.  Digital primary materials allow scholars to compare items side-by-side in ways never possible before.


Seeing that Students Succeed: Rising Expectations and the Library’s Role in Teaching and Learning — Presented by Roger C. Schonfield (Ithaka S+R);  Kate Lawrence (EBSCO Information Services)

Reported by:  Ibironke Lawal  (Virginia Commonwealth University)


This session addressed students’ success from two angles.  One presenter focused on policy perspectives of states and institutions, while the other presenter’s discussion was on the students’ dynamics with faculty and librarians.  Students’ success minimal definition is retention at the sophomore year, progression, and graduation.  However, it is broader than that.  There is a rich set of other rationale as well.  Emphasis is on student success for a variety of reasons. Leaders’ concerns about productivity lead to shifting priorities of policies and agendas towards students’ outcomes.

Schonfield discussed the ITHAKA research and presented results of case studies about institutional transformation, committing to student centered mission, and strategic planning.  On the faculty survey, more than fifty percent agreed that students have poor skills and information literacy is most important to students in developing critical thinking skills, even at doctoral institutions.  The study also found that research grew in relation to information literacy.  Lawrence discussed the digital ecosystem where there is disconnect between faculty and students.  Faculty wants consistency and longevity, but students want efficiency. Emerging themes include information skill development and faculty library/librarian partnerships.

Lastly, some questions sparked open lively discussions in the audience.  The questions are: What can a library do to support student success?  How do you assess the outcome?  How do you know they are learning?  How do we define students’ success?


Access to Freely Available Journal Articles: Gold, Green and Rogue Open Access across the Disciplines—Presented by Bobby Hollandsworth (Moderator, Clemson University Libraries);  Michael Levine-Clark (University of Denver Libraries);  Jason Price (SCELC);  John McDonald (University of Southern California)

Reported by:  Crystal Hampson  (University of Saskatchewan)


This session presented the results of a study of articles found freely accessible on the web, either as open access or as illegal copies.  Levine-Clark began the presentation, noting research indicating that library discovery tools accounted for only 39% of the University of Denver’s referrals to a publication, the other 61% come through Google, Google Scholar or other means.  The group used Scopus to select 300 articles published in 2015 and searched them in Google Scholar, Google, ResearchGate, and SciHub.  Articles were considered gold OA if found on the publisher’s site, green OA if found in repositories or author websites, “rogue OA” if found on Research Gate or, and pirated if found on SciHub.  McDonald detailed the findings, which indicated that 26% of the articles were found as gold OA, 20% as green OA, 37% were found as rogue, and 87% were available on SciHub.  Price concluded, noting that since other research has indicated 88% of researchers do not think it is wrong to download pirated papers, the accessibility of illegitimate copies should be concerning to libraries and publishers.  Discoverability of OA articles in library discovery tools will be the group’s next step.


The Devil is in the Details: Challenges of Collaborative Collecting — Presented by Charles Watkinson (Moderator, University of Michigan Library);  Judy Russell (University of Florida)

Reported by:  Ramune K. Kubilius  (Northwestern University, Galter Health Sciences Library)


Not only did Russell use the word “challenges” in her session title, but she and moderator Watkinson encountered some technical challenges (glitches) with the presentation equipment.  Still, in the time available, Russell was able to describe six collaborative projects that she and her library have undertaken (two were underway when she began her job in 2007).  She had lively interest and expertise in projects with government documents,  since she had previously worked at the Government Printing Office (GPO).  She described projects such as the Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) with 43 cooperating institutions, ASERL Collaborative Federal Depository Program with 12 regions, the Florida Academic Repository (FLARE), and Scholar’s Trust, a merger of the efforts of ASERL and the Washington Research Library Consortium.  The collaboration with Elsevier, recently expanded to include other publishers through CHORUS, wasn’t without its initial critics and questioners.  A new partnership with the Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí” de Cuba, (BNJM) to establish a Cuban Heritage collection illustrated that sometimes a diaspora community can provide more complete holdings than a country’s official repositories (when a publishing environment may be government restricted).

The African proverb quoted at the beginning of the session proved to be on point for this presentation — “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”  Not all of the described projects worked well, and not all may be sustainable.  Russell’s advice was to learn from failures, see the potential, convince partners to participate, have patience, and persevere.  Collaboration requires dedicated believers and implementers, allows sharing of expertise and costs, stimulates creativity.  One can only admire the many “playgrounds” in which the University of Florida Libraries are playing (collaborating).


The Evolution of E-books Presented by Tony Horava (Moderator, University of Ottawa);  Mitchell Davis (BiblioLabs);  James O’Donnell (Arizona State University Libraries);  David Durant (East Carolina University)

Reported by:  Susan Whiteman  (University at Albany Libraries)


O’Donnell opened the program by stating that currently available eBooks are dysfunctional. “They are not books and are only moderately E.”  Navigating eBooks, he said, has the functionality of papyrus scrolls and they are crippled by DRM restrictions that inconvenience users.

By contrast, bootlegged (DRM-free) eBooks are easy to use, allowing cutting and pasting and limitless printing.  O’Donnell also noted that sales of the Kindle peaked in 2011 and has since flattened.  For eBooks to be here in 50 years, what’s needed are fewer platforms, better standards, and more functionality.

Durant pointed out that the technology-substitution model has not done for eBooks what it has done for journals.  Referencing the writings of Nicolas Carr and Naomi Baron, he noted that eBooks are not conducive to reading at length, nor do they offer the ease of in-depth learning that print provides.  Devices such as smart phones and tablets encourage skimming and multitasking and are best used for more superficial reading.  The eBook market needs a complementary model to print that better encourages the acquisition of knowledge.

Davis described the pilot project at the University of Liverpool of an innovative new model of e-textbook.  Written by university faculty, it’s being hosted by Charleston-based BiblioBoard, a cross-platform system that allows multi-user access to digitally based information.

Davis stressed that open educational resources (OER) with unlimited simultaneous user and peer review will be the industry’s revolution.  Student-user experience of this pilot has been overwhelmingly positive, and access to OERs has the potential to save students thousands of dollars.  BiblioBoard still seeks to realize consistent returns even as access to the lucrative e-textbook market is sought by competitors such as Amazon.  


That’s all the reports we have room for in this issue.  Watch for more reports from the 2016 Charleston Conference in upcoming issues of Against the Grain.  Presentation material (PowerPoint slides, handouts) and taped session links from many of the 2016 sessions are available online.  Visit the Conference Website at — KS


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