IDS Project Conference 2016

In July, Joe Natale and Terry Palacios-Baughman attended the IDS Project Conference 2016 in Albany, NY. Terry attended the pre-conference and the regular conference, the regular conference as a grateful recipient of an IDS scholarship.

At preconference, Terry attended “IDS Logic Rule Creation.” This was a hands-on workshop that provided the basic concepts of how to create logic rules for streamlining ILLiad workflows. Logic rules included ways to change a status or run a query behind the scenes. Knowing what logic rules are possible and how they are created enables ILL staff to propose them to IDS who ultimately implements them.

The second pre-conference session was “Modifying ILLiad Webpages.” Here we were shown examples of more robust ILLiad pages and instructed on how to make the changes. Terry brought back her new knowledge and with Joe’s previous knowledge, they worked on improvements. The changes can be seen when you log into your My ILLiad page and include new tables of useful information on the main menu page.

To start off the regular conference, the keynote speaker was Dorothea Salo. She spoke of how we can influence change and are greater catalysts than we think we are.

In “Meet the new ILLiad Server Addons” we learned that with ILLiad’s last upgrade, addons are easier to install and modify. We were shown some of the new features and provided with the background of how to use them.

The IDS Project update session provided a review of IDS Logic Services including the standard number extractor service coming this fall to ILLiad. Logic will also be featuring dynamic due dates for lending that take into account consortial loan periods and custom reasons for cancellation. The PubMed API will allows ILLiad borrowers to check multiple document providers at once!

Joe attended a session on the state of interlibrary services in Cuba. This presentation offered a history of the service from the Revolution to the present. Card catalogs are alive and well and there is very little web presence.

Additional sessions that we attended included Managing Purging and Delinking, Lending Availability Services, and Massachusetts Library Delivery. We also learned that Atlas will be rolling out the capacity for ILLiad to store credit card information.

During the poster session, Terry presented a series of posters titled “Job Aid Applications.” The posters illustrated using job aids in ILL workflows to develop efficient, confident and independent staff.

The IDS Project gives genuine meaning to the term “resource sharing” and we walked out of many sessions with a sense of awe at the genius that abounds from the IDS project team.


IFLA World Congress 2016

On August 14-19, Michael Rodriguez attended the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)’s 2016 World Library and Information Congress in Columbus, Ohio. Michael’s attendance was supported by a $1,000 fellowship grant he was awarded by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Michael, meaning me, wishes to thank IMLS, ALA, and UConn for making his attendance possible.

Michael in front of WorldCat
Michael + EFF sticker + OCLC tour earbuds, posing in front of the WorldCat servers.

Highlights included a tour of OCLC Headquarters, where Michael got to take a picture with WorldCat; a three-hour program on information privacy and security; and opportunities to engage with and learn from more than four thousand librarians of all types who traveled from as far afield as Uganda, Costa Rica, Egypt, and Italy. Takeaways included the need for better data security and privacy, which should inform licensing and website practices, plus the reconfiguration of print collections. Most of the papers presented at IFLA are available open access under a CC BY license. Michael and many other attendees live-tweeted sessions using the very active Congress hashtag: #wlic2016.

Print collections reconfiguration

One IFLA panel tackled “collections reconfiguration” (thorny issue, elegant word choice). Concordia University Libraries worked to dedupe print monographs published after 1950 (a date chosen to avoid discarding rare editions) and achieved a 10% print reduction by deduping alone. Concordia also had a collection development statement – not a detailed policy, but a statement of principles – approved by the University Senate, which presenter Meredith Griffin noted gave the library leverage in working with faculty to reduce the print collections footprint.

Meanwhile, California State University at Fullerton struggled to achieve faculty buy-in for reducing print collections. As presenters J. Michael DeMars and Ann Roll explained, in a black comedy worthy of Samuel Beckett, the library’s interim dean mandated that faculty be allowed to review and opt for retention at the item level of each and every print monograph slated for deselection. Naturally, one single professor opted to retain 1716 out of 1744 monographs in the initial pilot. Next time around, the librarians required faculty to input their reasons for retention, prompting retention requests to fall to 1816 out of 30,844 monographs, though “keep this important book” was copied and pasted hundreds of times into the retention form anyway. Interestingly, 12 percent of retention requests were from librarians, making the library the third largest departmental source of retention requests.

Think Cal State had it tough? Coleen Hoelscher had to weed the Marian Library’s rampantly overgrown special collections pertaining to Mary, at a theological institution focused on the study of Mary, with colleagues who were members of religious orders. Resistance was considerable.

Information security and privacy

Next up were invited speakers who addressed information security and patron privacy in our digital age. Polly Thistlethwaite of CUNY Graduate Center talked purging ILL data from ILLiad in collaboration with OCLC – a project recently featured in the Guardian. Talks from David Greene of Electronic Frontier Foundation, Alison Macrina of Library Freedom Project, and Jamie LaRue of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom each emphasized the importance of using HTTPS encryption protocols on library websites and eresources, even on those webpages that do not involve the transmission of social security or credit card numbers. Why? Because anyone with simple monitoring tools can squat on an unsecured network and see every interaction users have with a website. What’s more, on HTTP sites none of the data is encrypted in transmission, so nefarious third parties can intercept, track, and even modify the data during transmission without users realizing it. Given librarians’ emphasis on patron privacy, unsecure web services are problematic.

Reflecting these concerns, the White House ordered all federal government websites to implement HTTPS by the end of 2016, stating that “all browser activity should be considered private and sensitive.” At IFLA, Google’s copyright senior counsel, Fred Von Lohmann, reminded us that Google penalizes unsecure HTTP websites by ranking them lower in search results. Starting in January 2017, Google Chrome will flag HTTP websites as “not secure.”

Later, I looked up Marshall Breeding’s Library Technology Reports on library systems and services. This year, Breeding established that 85% of ARL libraries encrypt neither their websites nor their discovery searches or catalogs (pp. 30-33), a situation that Breeding calls “nothing short of alarming” given how highly libraries value patron privacy and how encryption for all parts of all web services is fast becoming an industry standard.

To remedy this situation, presenter Alison Macrina gave a shoutout to the Digital Privacy Pledge, by which libraries and library-associated signatories vow to implement HTTPS on their own web properties and to cease using unencrypted vendor services. Twenty organizations, notably UC Davis and DPLA as well as providers like JSTOR, have onboarded thus far. Macrina also cited free tools such as Privacy Badger, HTTPS Everywhere, KeePassX, and PIA that people can use to understand risks and transmit data securely. Meanwhile, EFF explains what librarians need to know about HTTPS.

Michael is now a member and proud wearer of an EFF lapel pin.

Ivies Plus Discovery Day

On July 25, Michael Rodriguez and Janice Christopher attended the Ivies Plus Discovery Day at MIT. (The Ivies Plus group comprises Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Penn, Princeton, and Yale.) Attendees included user experience designers, developers, catalogers, systems librarians, electronic resource managers, and others, demonstrating the broad scope of library areas impacted by discovery layers.

MIT Beaver With Human
Michael holds up his comically large and wrinkled MIT beaver t-shirt, which he won at Discovery Day by knowing the origins of “grok.”

Chris Bourg, director of the MIT Libraries, delivered the opening keynote on making serendipity cool again. Bourg took as her inspiration Roy Tennant’s observation that “only librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find . . . and lots of folks like to discover.” Bourg’s theme was the desire for serendipity, how a task force at MIT is hearing from faculty about how they want an online discovery environment that transcend physical browsing, how they want to make “happy and unexpected discoveries,” to learn things that they didn’t know that they didn’t know. Such a discovery experience requires a different kind of searching from the 2-D linear searching that libraries, Amazon, and even Google offer—it would be a 3-D, associative search that resembles neural networks and mirrors how humans actually think. The first librarian to champion this was Muriel Cooper from MIT, back in 1994. MIT is working with a start-up called Yewno (not out to users yet) that will potentially deliver this type of discovery, or at least a basic flavor of it. Yewno succeeds Stanford University’s old Grokker discovery tool. Bourg wrote up her talk on her blog. Or search Twitter for the hashtag #iviesdiscovery.

After an update on the Open Discovery Initiative, we were treated to round-robin demos of the “state of discovery” at each of the Ivies Plus schools. These demos had a couple of interesting trends. First, Blacklight, the open-source discovery layer, was heavily represented as a layer on top of traditional ILSs, along with next-gen discovery (Summon, Primo, EDS) – most sites had multiple interfaces. Sometimes the next-gen discovery was used just for articles retrieval. Second, the “bento box” display is popular – it takes the unified search results offered by the discovery interface and re-silos it into books, articles, videos, etc.

The libraries are doing interesting discovery customizations. Harvard has integrated its archives and finding aides into Primo and is working to customize Primo into its sole discovery interface for images—a project requiring them to build new scopes and create grid displays. Princeton’s Blacklight integrates alternative scripts like Chinese and Arabic into item heading displays, so users can read right to left in the original script. Brown is trying to move discovery away from Conway’s Law—the concept that organizations end up designing systems that mirror the communication structures of those organizations. Harvard is shifting from a projects-based, one-and-done model toward a model of continuous improvement. There was a fascinating conversation about the degree to which libraries should prioritize discovery versus access – making happy and unexpected discoveries versus being confident that the links will take us to where we need to go.

What emerged in the Q&A at the end of the keynote, and the ODI update, and the discovery demos, and the reason there were so many different flavors of library staff represented in the room, was that making any of these discovery platforms look simple on the front end requires a lot of heavy lifting on the back end. In the course of one major web redesign project, for example, Yale hired four dedicated personnel. Grace is achieved through collaborative programming, configuration, metadata, knowledge base management, user experience, and more.

ELUNA 2016

In May 2016, seven UConn Library staff attended the ExLibris Users of North America (ELUNA) Annual Conference, along with Technical Seminar training, in Oklahoma City. More recently, we held a roundtable conversation to share what we learned with all staff. This blog post records some of what we learned.

Big thanks to Sheryl Bai and Janice Christopher for contributing to this post, and to Tim Dannay, Joelle Thomas, Claudia Lopes, and Elisabeth Umpleby for being such phenomenal conference buddies and colleagues.

If anyone would like the PowerPoints or other information, Michael is happy to help.

Michael Rodriguez (Electronic Resources Librarian, UConn Storrs)

Developing A-Z Database Lists

East Tennessee State University’s Jacob Kindle and Clemon Travis delivered an extraordinary presentation on the Primo X-Services API. They used this API to build an A-Z database list native to Alma/Primo, eliminating the redundancy of maintaining separate lists in the catalog, website, and LibGuides. They began by creating an Alma electronic collection and cataloging each database, plus developing normalization rules, scoping, PNX display, facets, and code table changes. They customized the API-generated interface using CSS and JSON. Results are impressive. Before she found new pastures, Joelle Thomas and I became excited at the prospect of using the Primo API to replace the obsolescent Research Database Locator, used by Storrs and the regional campuses.

Troubleshooting Access

Michael and Sheryl attended a highly informative session by the University of Minnesota’s Sunshine Carter and Stacie Traill on “Troubleshooting Electronic Access Issues in an Alma / Primo Central Environment.” One of the very first Alma and Primo Central customers, U of Minnesota shared workflows, tools, and staff training approaches for diagnosing and resolving e-resource issues. All their materials are available open access. Michael and Tim were particularly intrigued by browser extensions and bookmarklets such as Live HTTP Headers and UResolver Debug View. Michael attended another helpful related session, “Picking Apart the Alma Link Resolver” by Rose Krause and Andrea Eickholt of Eastern Washington University, along with a Technical Seminar training session on troubleshooting e-resource access in Alma/Primo. Following the conference, the Storrs-based Licensing & Acquisitions unit members shared and tested techniques for troubleshooting electronic resource access.

Migrating Ezproxy

An odd man out at ELUNA was Texas Tech University’s talk on migrating from self-hosted to OCLC-hosted Ezproxy. As UConn is planning a similar migration, Michael made a point of attending this talk. Texas Tech migrated in July 2015, but it was not till December that the final kinks were worked out of their hosted solution. Justin Daniel and Lynne Edgar cited the ultimate benefits of migration but advised organizations planning the move to deep dive into their Ezproxy authentication methods, SSL certificates, mobile device compatibility, and other seemingly straightforward elements that may create unexpected complications. Most of the specific problems encountered by Texas Tech emanated from poor communication and lack of in-house expertise. The presentation was helpful in illustrating what not to do for a successful Ezproxy migration – and Sheryl, who also attended the session, concurs with this assessment. TTU’s experience is written up in the Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship.

Leaning into the New Primo UI

Among ELUNA’s highlights was the demoing of the new Primo user interface. The new UI features mobile responsive design and boasts a modern look and feel. Thanks to Joelle, UConn’s partially functional beta instance is already online. There is also a sandbox instance. Neither beta version is available for public consumption for months to come, but feel free to click around.

Developing Professionals

Also at ELUNA, Michael Rodriguez and Janice Christopher volunteered to serve on the 2016 conference planning committee for the ExLibris Northeast Users Group (ENUG). This regional library conference will take place on October 27-28 in SUNY New Paltz, New York. Proposals are due by July 20. Janice, who also presented at this year’s ELUNA, comments that ENUG is a friendly, useful gathering of library users of ExLibris products. She encourages UConn librarians to consider submitting a presentation proposal or two.

Janice Christopher (Systems Librarian, UConn Storrs)

Intensifying Analytics

Analytics is the place. I attended several sessions on Alma and Primo Analytics between the Tech Seminar (M-T) and ELUNA (W-F). I had several “Aha!” moments: Use the key values to sort dates; “prompted” doesn’t mean what it did in Voyager; use the report description field to provide detailed description, requester, date, purpose; use the Oracle BI Search feature to find reports (good motivation for good metadata); % and _ are wildcards (multiple- and single-character respectively); how to replace text; the MINUS query; etc. Also found out that ExL has a small group dedicated to creating out of the box Analytics reports and dashboards in all areas, and those would be good to look at and use as-is or modified. Good job to those of you forging ahead with Analytics, but we’re only scratching the surface. And now Primo has its own Analytics and is in the process of growing. (N.B. Greenglass? All the circulation data came out of Voyager—15 years’ worth.)

Crowning APIs

The APIs are the other place. After attending an excellent session from the ExL VP for Development, I have a much better sense of what the APIs can be used for and what you can achieve with them: as he said, “You used to query the database with SQL, now you use the APIs.” The cool and scary additional thing, though, is you can use the APIs to change data. (With great care and after sufficient testing, of course.) One issue, as was pointed out on the Alma list last week, is that ExL is segregating a certain amount of capability in the APIs, but using them requires programming skills that not all libraries have. We have them, but can’t wait for a sprint to complete projects. Hence, I will be trying to pick up some programming skills…

Meeting Shareholders

ExLibris plenaries are like shareholders’ meetings. I have no idea why this had not occurred to me before; I’ve attended enough of the darn things. At ELUNA, ExLibris management does a lot of talking: Wednesday morning, two-thirds of Thursday morning, and early Thursday afternoon. Recaps of the last year, the roadmap for the next year, reports from Next-Gen Systems, Operations (the Cloud, basically), strategic directions from the resident Big Thinker, all that sort of stuff. They didn’t mention this past year’s revenues (the previous year’s were $100 million), but did talk a lot about joining with ProQuest. It does help deal with ExL if you think of yourself sitting there as one shareholder, owning one share. Some institutions may have a pile of shares. Sometimes you magically find a number of shares under a mattress. ELUNA is the shares multiplier – it is the users’ group, and as such tries to influence ExL’s direction, with varying degrees of success. I do have to give ExL management credit for taking open questions from the floor at the annual Q&A—not many companies do that.

Sheryl Bai (Systems Librarian, UConn Health)

Integrating ILLiad and Alma

UConn Health is currently implementing ILLiad and an ILL staff mentioned this program to Sheryl. Presented by Northwestern University’s Alice Trippit and Kurt Munson, the session focused on integrating the ILL functionalities of Alma and ILLiad, with Alma handling the borrowing and lending and ILLiad handling the notices to patrons. The ILLiad Addon sends four NCIP messages from ILLiad to Alma. It handles creating incoming borrowing request item records and the associated patron hold, deleting the record when borrowing item is returned, outgoing lending requests are moved to the Resource Sharing Library and returned lending items are restored to their permanent location. The presenters provided screenshots showing how to configure Alma for this optimization.

Troubleshooting Access

Like Michael, Sheryl highlighted the University of Minnesota’s “Troubleshooting Electronic Access Issues in an Alma/ Primo Central Environment.” Presenters provided helpful toolkits, flowcharts, schedules, and guidelines.

Transitioning Authentication

“Transitioning from PDS to SAML in Alma/Primo,” delivered by ExLibris rep Andrew Walsh, was a Tech Seminar session introducing SAML (Secure Single Sign-On Protocol) to replace the currently used PDS user authentication method. SAML is the most standard and secure framework for authentication and authorization for web application. PDS provides an Active-Passive solution for authentication while SAML provides an Active-Active solution. The new Primo-SAML Authentication method supports LDAP, and SAML authentication and can handle cascading and parallel configuration using Primo Authentication Manager. The presenter showed how to configure Alma/Primo. With ExL support, customers should be able to implement SAML themselves.

International ILLiad Conference 2016

On March 15, Stan and I joined about 400 ILLiad users from the four corners of the globe as well as Atlas and OCLC staff to attend the International ILLiad conference in Virginia Beach.

The keynote speaker was Mary Sauer-Games, Vice President of Product Management at OCLC.  Her talk was focused on Millennials, who have high expectations for quality and speed.  They expect a response in 10 minutes; to meet this expectation you need to be filling with your own collection if available.  To meet Millennials where they are, libraries should be using social media: ILL could share trending titles and subjects, instructional videos, etc.  Use responsive design.  Check out OCLC’s Geek the Library program. Yet, despite the expectations for rapid turnaround times, Millennials still prefer print to e-books.

In “Writing a Comprehensive ILL Operations Report: Methods, Data, and Results” we heard about looking at and charting your operations across the board: ILL print PDA, ILLiad, consortia comparison, different systems, shipping, staffing (which we do!).  Year to year comparison examples were shown.  It’s important to share your story, to show how and why metrics change (e.g. due to staffing, systems, and policies) and how those factors affect your metrics.  Part of the story is not the story.

“An ILL Practitioner’s Role: Advocating Open Educational Resources” talked about textbooks and ILL.  Textbooks are problematic: hard to get back from patrons; fill rates are low, arrivals delayed; many become non-returns or overdue.  Partner with your campus bookstore, collection development team, acquisitions department, circulation and reserve.  Lots of statistics were shown to back up need for open access.  You can retain, reuse, revise, remix, redistribute.  Free or low cost to print.  Many are peer-reviewed and high quality.  Different groups doing this were profiled.  ILL staff can get involved by providing metrics, lists of cancelled textbooks with faculty; share metrics with student government groups.  Add OER sources to your catalog.  Reach out to faculty.  Award faculty for reviewing books.  We’re already doing a lot of this.

In her session “Caught by the Copyright!” Gail Perkins Barton of the University of Memphis presented her library’s strategy for reducing copyright costs.  She opened with a discussion of common guidelines and best practices, e.g., including copyright notices on request forms, the “Rule of Two” and “Rule of Five,” etc., and then reviewed the options libraries have to be compliant with copyright guidelines, from denying requests to partnering with document suppliers.  The suppliers covered were “ScienceDirect: Article Choice,” “Copyright Clearance Center – Get it Now,” and “Reprints Desk: Article Galaxy.”  A price comparison revealed that Article Galaxy was the most economical, and that their turnaround time was excellent.  She also showed how these services could be integrated with ILLiad. Another component of this presentation was “Tiered Service” which limits the fees a library is willing to pay according to the patron’s status, e.g., undergraduate vs. graduate vs. faculty. Librarians are also encouraged to take advantage of free resources, previews on publishers’ websites, etc.  We already do a lot of this already.

“Managing Courier and Reciprocal Borrowing Relationships” addressed and provided solutions to the problems that may arise when a library is engaged in multiple consortia. Different fee structures, loan periods, and delivery methods can all conspire to complicate relationships with partner libraries.  (We encounter this with libraries in CT who use both OCLC and the state library system to place requests.)  The presenter, Jen Salvo-Eaton, University of Missouri – Kansas City, demonstrated how ILLiad and the Customization Manager can help manage these relationships, through the use of routing rules and group assignments, customization of templates, etc. She also recommended using statistics to evaluate the quality of service provided by partner libraries – and not anecdotal evidence.  Stats can be especially helpful when considering/justifying leaving or joining a group.

The Atlas Systems update session was informative.  In May ILLiad 8.7 becomes available.  This is a maintenance release and will have many behind the scenes improvements.  8.5 will no longer be supported. Genie Powell also discussed Atlas Systems’ role with ArchiveSpace as a registered service provider, additions to the video training library, and the concierge service.

In “Half the Work: Circulating Lending and Borrowing Requests from ILLiad in Alma Using NCIP,” Northwestern shared their story.  They implemented NCIP in Alma for ILLiad and turned on both borrowing and lending options.  Using Z39.50, you can circulate ILL borrowed loans in Alma; in lending it precludes you from having to check lending items out separately in Alma.  It moves the lending request from a permanent location to the resource sharing library (lending check out item).  Upon return it moves it from the resource sharing library (lending check in item).  The ILLiad addon sends messages to Alma when records are updated via event handlers in ILLiad.  In borrowing, it creates a brief record for the loan and ties it to the patron (borrowing accept item).  Upon return, the system deletes the brief record and disassociates it from the patron (borrowing check in item).  All ILLiad machines must have the addon.  You must disable all Alma notifications.  Lending is easier to deal with than borrowing, which is complex. Despite some frustrating experiences, the presenter said he was glad they went forward with the integration, and proposed the formation of support group for librarians interested in integrating Alma and ILLiad.

We all met to hear about OCLC updates with Katie Birch.  Many libraries have updated their days to fill to 1-2 days, an excellent example in resource sharing commitment.  Multiple address issues have been fixed and mis-shipped errors have greatly decreased.  Outstanding glitches should be fixed shortly.  Lenders can now refund any request that has been set to shipped and charged with IFM; only the full charge can be refunded.  Once the charge or refund has occurred, no further charges or refunds can be actioned on a given request.  Available reports were reviewed.  Questions about symbol consolidation and satellite instances are encouraged and can be submitted to Tony Melvyn.  Remember that your symbol should follow your time to fill commitment: if you share a symbol with an off campus repository, your time to fill should reflect the true time to fill implications.  ILLiad has lots of reports on borrowing and lending, take advantage of them (which we do).  Use (the OCLC Community Center) to make enhancement requests, ask questions, get news and documentation, and order IFLA vouchers.  Also member forums.

Poster presentations were shared at the social.  I presented “Smart CATs: Cancelling Textbook Requests the Smart Way,” which outlined our process for cancelling students’ requests for textbooks ordered for UConn classes.  Staff from Emory and Maryland called it brilliant.  Atlas rather amusingly placed my poster next to one by William Gee of East Carolina University; William was presenting on why obtaining textbooks is a good idea.  We had a lot of laughs about that, I can tell you. It was also an impromptu meeting of the Patrick Carr Fan Club.  Also visiting my poster was my old student worker (and Dave Moroch’s granddaughter) Alyssa Grimshaw, who now works at the Yale Medical Library. In the photo I’m talking with Marie Hansen from Emory.

Erika's Poster


In “ILL by the Numbers: Using Custom Searches and Statistics to Increase the Noticeability of Your ILL Department,” we learned more about searches and reporting.  You should keep metrics and provide reports to keep conversations going, keep you relevant.  Make your data available (which we do).  Examples were shown.  You can customize and share these with library staff who don’t come to you.

Stan gave his presentation, “Stop saying No: Improving Fill Rates and Reducing Lending Denials in Interlibrary Loan,” which, along with the other sessions, is viewable on the Atlas Systems’ training site.  Attendees responded with numerous questions and comments. The photo is below: he had a full house.

Stan's Presentation

In “Unlocking the Interlibrary Loan Code for the United States,” we learned about the latest undertaking of the Code revision, headed by Ohio State University.  It will now be updated every 7 years to keep it current.

Its purpose: to establish principles to facilitate requesting and regulate the exchange of materials.  It only applies to US libraries; international code is dictated by IFLA.  The Code pertains to all library types and sizes and is system-neutral.  The original code is 100 years old this year and began as the Code of Practice in 1916.  Interesting quotes were shared from the original code.

What to do now: make sure your local practice and policies are not in violation of the Code.


  • ILL is for single patron use and not for groups or classes
  • Use secure packaging, no staples, and no labels on books
  • Ship to correct location
  • Pay attention to the redefined due date which eliminates shipping
  • The main intention for interlibrary loan is for when you do not have a local copy, or if your local copy is unavailable: missing, damaged, checked out, etc.
  • ILL with other countries is encouraged
  • Requesting library must specify special requirements, comply with copyright law, be aware of related guidelines (CONTU)
  • Pay promptly for lost materials, request renewals before due dates when possible
  • Generous loan periods are encouraged as well as lending without fees
  • If you do bill, do so promptly
  • Fill all formats
  • Work with those responsible for negotiating licenses to include favorable ILL terms

In “The Request Must Flow: Practical Workflows for Resource Sharing across Multiple Locations,” Binghamton University’s Melissa Perez recounted the library’s challenges with processing ILL requests at different locations on campus.  She emphasized the importance of regular communication between staff, which she facilitates through “Resource Sharing Roundtables” (similar to our RCL DD-ILL summer meetings), and consistency between the locations with regards to policies and workflows.

The conference concluded with its regular “Unconference” session.  Attendees suggested topics which they could then discuss as designated tables.  Stan spent quite a bit of time at the RapidILL table, and shared our experience with the RapidR program.

Open Classrooms, Open Libraries: Academic library services supporting the creation and use of open education resources

On June 28, 2015 at the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco, I attended the session “Open Classrooms, Open Libraries: Academic library services supporting the creation and use of open education resources.” This session included two presentations.

The first presentation was titled “The Open Textbook Network: Libraries Working Together to Advance Open Textbooks” and the presenter was Sarah Faye Cohen, Managing Director of the Open Textbook Network at the University of Minnesota. Cohen explained that the network originated because one of the biggest barriers to instructors adopting open textbooks is the fact that they don’t know where to find them and how to evaluate them. The Open Textbook Library attempts in part to solve this problem. The library aims to provide a complete catalog of open textbooks along with reviews from faculty. It currently contains 178 textbooks and 204 reviews. Since going live in 2012, traffic on the Open Textbook Library website has steadily increased.

The Open Textbook Library is maintained by the Open Textbook Network. Through Hewlett Foundation funding, this network partners with academic institutions to promote the adoption of open textbooks. Currently, about 20 universities participate. There is a one-time fee of $5,000 for participation and institutions must also pay certain fees to some of their faculty in order to incentivize use of open textbooks. The network provides on-site training that aims to engage faculty in the value of open textbooks, particularly emphasizing the issue of affordability for students. According to Cohen, 39 percent of faculty who attend the network-provided on-site training eventually adopt an open textbook for a class that they teach. She said that future plans for the network include developing strategies for scaling up their operations and better assessing the impacts of the adoption of open textbooks. They will also be releasing a new website later this summer.

The second presentation was titled “Open/Alternative Textbook Initiatives at Kansas State University” and the presenter was Beth Turtle, Scholarly Communications Librarian at Kansas State. Turtle explained that an important point of origin for KSU’s initiatives was the interest that two faculty members had in creating open textbooks. After creating such textbooks, they became advocates for their colleagues to develop similar resources and they requested that the KSU Libraries assist in their advocacy. This request resulted in a pilot project with funding from both the university’s Student Governance Organization ($80,000) and the KSU Libraries ($20,000). Subsequently, this initial funding was replaced with funding that the provost has agreed to provide ($50,000 this year and another $50,000 next year).

The goal of the initiative is to save students money and to lead a transformation in textbook models from ones in which students must purchase these materials to models in which the materials are openly available. Additionally, they wish to facilitate the development of materials that will lead to enhanced teaching and learning. Ultimately, they would like for every freshman and sophomore class to use an open/alternative textbook.

The initiative promotes a related set of efforts. These efforts include the development of open textbooks, the adoption of existing open textbooks, the creation of OER models, and the integration of library-licensed content into course curriculum. They have been targeting low-level high-enrollment courses that are frequently taught. Since the spring of 2013, they have awarded 32 stipends (ranging from $2,000 to $5,000) to KSU instructors for the development of open/alternative educational resources. The stipends have impacted about 11,000 students in 38 courses. They estimate the savings to students to be at least one million dollars.

In working with instructors on the development of alternative and open textbooks, Turtle stressed that mentoring is important; while some instructors have clear plans, others are not sure how to get started or may lose track of their efforts as other priorities arise. When an instructor receives a stipend, half of it is paid up front and the other half is paid after the completion of the project. Additionally, they work with instructors to connect them with the expertise that they need, including experts on copyright, instructional design, accessibility. Each spring, all stipend recipients meet together to discuss their efforts and share their successes and problems.

KSU Libraries has recently begun formally assessing its efforts so far to promote the adoption of open/alternative textbooks. The assessment has included student surveys and interviews with instructors. The student survey results indicate that students are somewhat satisfied with the open/alternative textbooks that have been developed. Their biggest reason for supporting these materials is the savings that they offer and their biggest concern is that some students prefer to learn using a hardcopy. Students were strongly supportive of the continuation of the KSU Libraries’ initiative.

Medical Library Association(MLA) 2015 Annual Meeting in Austin, Texas.

MLA 2015 Librarians Without Borders

Before the MLA Annual Meeting, I had volunteered to serve as a mentor for the Medical Library Association’s Colleague Connection Program.  The program matches returning members with first time attendees.  Mentors help guide their mentee through the extensive program and give them a sense of community by introducing them to other medical librarians, telling them about social events, going out to eat, or walking around the city.  Before the meeting my mentee, Jennifer Douthit, and I exchanged emails and photographs and agreed to meet at the Welcome Reception on Saturday, May 16th.   We also met my roommate, Penny, and her mentee, Emily, that evening and walked around the Exhibit Area, while enjoying a few hors d’oeuvres. The next morning the four of us attended the New Members/First Time Attendees Program and Breakfast.  There were welcoming remarks by the MLA President, Linda Walton).  Then iconic Lucretia McClure talked about the changes that she has seen in medical librarianship over several decades and asked the new members to reflect on what they might expect in their future careers.  After breakfast, we had an activity where each of us would find a new person to speak with for three minutes.  After three minutes we would find another person.  This activity lasted thirty minutes and allowed us to make many new acquaintances.

Over the course of the meeting Jen and I learned more about our different career paths and families.  Jen is a librarian at a medical device company.  Her previous experience was in technical services in a large public library.   She made the most of her time at the meeting by arriving on Thursday to attend two continuing education courses on instructional design.  At her current job, she will be providing training.  We discussed how to best tackle the meeting program and the benefits of using the online planner and meeting app.   I told Jen that after the meeting we would have an opportunity to view recorded sessions that conflicted with the sessions that we decided to attend.  We touched base at a couple of sessions, shared some meals, and went for a walk to the Congress Avenue Bridge.

On Sunday, I also attended the MLA Presidential address by outgoing president, Linda Walton, where she talked about the past year’s accomplishments.  Her slides included information on a letter written by MLA to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education regarding library support for colleges of pharmacy and the revised Draft Standards for 2016.  This and input from other groups helped to put the “L”-word back into the standards.

Mae Jemison, a physician and the first woman of color to go into space as an astronaut, was an inspiring plenary speaker, who talked about her support for science literacy and her involvement with various organizations.  She is leading the 100 Year Starship initiative to ensure that humans will be prepared for intersteller travel within the next hundred years.

The Pharmacy and Drug Information Section sponsored some special sessions.  One that I found particularly informative, was the Access Pharmacy panel on “Serving English Language Learners.”  Strategies to educate English learners about their health included using demonstrations and practice, integrating native language literacy, using popular songs regarding diseases such as diabetes to begin a session, and encouraging them to tell their stories to empower the learner.  Another panelist from the MD Anderson Cancer Center talked about serving highly educated people with limited English skills.  He encouraged us to use complete sentences when answering questions, to speak and stress syllables and words within a sentence in a normal manner, and to smile.   One of my colleagues at the University of Iowa, Xiaomei Gu, talked about the librarian’s role in a research university.  She served on a task force with a variety of university staff, students and faculty members.  They created a list of library staff language skills, conducted focus groups, and created a library guide.  Another useful session talked about the different perspectives of students versus librarians and wants versus needs.

There were many sessions on interprofessional education.  One session which I attended was on interprofessional clinical informatics education and practice sponsored by the Collection Development Section.  My colleague, Sarah McCord discussed the findings of her systematic review of the literature on the assessment of this topic.  She found Helena M. VonVille’s Excel Workbooks for Systematic Reviews, licensed under a Creative Commons License useful.  Links to the workbooks can be found at

If anyone wants to talk about what I learned about updates to PubMed at the National Library of Medicine (NLM) booth in the exhibits area, please let me know.  At the NLM Update session, they discussed the National Institutes of Health Director search, research data access and clinical trial data, new data management plan guidance to be released for public comments, PubMed journal selection, linking an ORCID ID to PubMed, PubMed Commons – a forum for scientific discussion of articles, feedback requested on Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) RDF linked data, responsive web design, embedding in training resources, and NLM collections and exhibits.  Questions from the audience included the issue that status tags are no longer available in the summary view and inconsistent inversion of MeSH entry terms.

The final two plenary speakers on Wednesday talked about two hot topics.  Ann McKee, who serves on the Mackey-White Traumatic Brain Injury Committee for the Players’ Association of the National Football League, presented her research on CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy).  Discussion after the talk considered other areas of CTE concern, particularly women athletes and abused women.

Eszter Hargittai, a professor of communication studies at Northwestern University, presented her research on the role of internet skills or how people can benefit from their digital media use.  She talked about her research techniques and what to look for to be sure that the research is credible.  Higher skilled internet users use advertisements and user-generated resources in a cautious way.  Bias toward resources that confirm our opinions is common.  For example, if we believe that pregnant women should not drink at all, we will be drawn to resources that confirm our belief.  Dr. Hargittai found that skill and socioeconomic status differences have persisted over time and may be increasing.

After the meeting I was able to renew a friendship that dates back to Junior High and to visit my son in Arizona.  Time away was well spent.



Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, 12th Annual meeting


National Archives and Records Administration (Archives I), Washington, DC
National Archives and Records Administration (Archives I), Washington, DC

Archives & Special Collections is a founding member of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress, an organization which encourages the preservation of material that documents the work of Congress, including the papers of representatives and senators, and supports programs that make those materials available for educational and research use.  Last week I attended the 12th annual meeting of ACSC, hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration’s Center for Legislative Archives located in Washington, D.C.

Over the years I have been representing UConn in this organization, I have taken the opportunity of the location to meet with the staff of Connecticut’s Congressional delegation and this year was no exception.  On May 12th, I met with the Chief/Deputy Chief of Staff for Representatives Larson and Esty and Senators Murphy and Blumenthal to remind them that UConn would be interested in being identified as a repository for their papers and to answer any questions they may have regarding congressional research collections or Archives & Special Collections at UConn.  Having already spoken with representatives of Rosa DeLauro and Joe Courtney earlier in the year, I hope to hear from all of them when the time comes for the records to find a permanent home!

The conference itself is a great opportunity to meet with colleagues from repositories with similar collecting interests and to learn what is happening in the wider world of documenting Congress, as well as hear from scholars and former members about their concerns, interests and activities associated with congressional papers.  Sessions throughout the remainder of the week touched on think tanks, instruction support tools for the Bill of Rights, financial and friend support, women in Congress in the 1980s, electronic records and current research, and oral histories with a focus on the Voting Rights Act.  Rounding out the two and half day conference was a presentation by a small group of ACSC members who have begun a collaborative online exhibition, an online Omeka instance hosted by the University of Delaware, that shares items from a variety of institutions illustrating issues associated with the 89th Congress (1965-1966).  Definitely a project to which UConn will be contributing!  It was also a pleasant surprise to have our own Barbara Kennelly, who served in Congress for 17 years representing the 1st District, speaking as part of the women in Congress presentation.  This annual conference is always informative and sends one home bursting with ideas and plans…but having been away from the office for a week, I have some catching up to do first.

For more information about

The Association of Centers for the Study of Congress 

The political collections in Archives & Special Collections

The Great Society Congress online exhibition

Congress creates the Bill of Rights information (app/ebook/pdf)

Barbara Kennelly Papers

Senate Oral histories

12th Annual Conference packet and authorized researcher pin
12th Annual Conference packet and authorized researcher pin

Computers in Libraries 2015, Washington DC

"Libraries need to be co-creators of the community’s goals and dreams."

In the spirit of one of the sessions I attended, I will make this personal.   Not all of the conference take-a-ways can be defined by the conference program, or even found in the videos that appear on the conference webpage after the fact.  To be sure, the content of the sessions were interesting and often brought about things that I hadn’t anticipated being important, but the conversations between sessions, and at dinner were just as important as the content of the sessions.

Most useful sessions for me:

Customer Development M.J. D’Elia, Head, Learning & Curriculum Support, McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph.  M.J. presented a model based on techniques of startup companies.  In this model, assumptions of the service provider are tested as users give valuable information, either directly, or indirectly, that identifies their real needs.  This model helps to set expectations at the beginning, and to get valuable insight from early adopters.  It allows service providers to keep an eye open for indicators of  success from the customer’s perspective, making pivots in different directions easier when off track, and allows managers to better support growth based on the results of evaluations.  Asking the right questions is key.  One question might be; “Were there enough computers?”  A follow up question might be; “How important was that to your satisfaction of the service?”  The slideshow from that session can be found here.  (This has already been something I have used for the video editing training service that we will be offering in WB and GH.)

Impact Measures Moe Hosseini-Ara, Director, Markham Public Library.  Moe talked a great deal about connecting to the operational, and strategic goals of the larger organization.  He also talked about making the statistics relevant to these goals, and in using statistics to tell a story that is both representative of the work, and meaningful.  The goal is to collect and communicate the right statistics, which also means not collecting statistics that are no longer working toward the changing goals of the organization.  (This will be useful for the video editing training service that we will be offering in WB and GH.)

Video Streaming Tips & Learnings Marcus Ladd, Special Collections Digital Librarian, Miami University Elias Tzoc, Digital Initiatives Librarian, Miami University.  The presenters talked about Kaltura   Pointed to an article, admittedly dated, called “Video use and Higher Education”  (This talk was useful to the video editing training service that we will be offering in WB and GH.)

Community Librarian… Shelley Archibald Community Librarian, Technology Burlington Public Library.  Shelley talked about engaging diverse groups in community building.  She wrote, “Libraries need to be co-creators of the community’s goals and dreams.”  (This gave me some ideas to enhance a class I plan on teaching with the OLLI program in Waterbury Spring 2016.)

Storytelling: Diane Cordell, Consultant and Writer, CyberSmart Education Company.  (This gave me some ideas to enhance a class I plan on teaching for the OLLI program in Waterbury Spring 2016.)

Other Good Stuff:

Search tips: by Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services, Inc.

Building Community Partnerships: Melissa Christakos, Coordinator of Reference Services, Chesapeake Public Library.  Melissa got me thinking about how to use a Memorandum of Understanding.  (This has already been something I have used for the video editing training service that we will be offering in WB and GH.)

I attended other presentations on metrics, and a few on webapps that were quite informative, and provided many links.  Look for those in the links to the presentations below.   I’ll look through some of my other notes, and will post a reply here if there is anything else that really stood out as noteworthy.

Links to many CIL presentations:





acrl sign

Co-authors of this post: Dawn Cadogan and Kate Fuller

OER is the acronym for Open Educational Resources, a phrase which represents the movement for teaching materials that are freely available for use and re-use. The movement has been gaining steam in the last few years, primarily due to student advocation for more affordable textbooks.

As members of the Libraries’ Open Textbook Initiative, we are learning that other universities are also invested in this issue. This was confirmed while attending this year’s ACRL Conference. These are some of the OER-related presentations we attended during the conference.


Brian Young from the University of Mississippi contributed a paper entitled, “Assessing Faculty Perceptions and Use of Open Education Resources (OERs)”. Ole Miss provided grants to faculty willing to adopt open educational materials for their courses. These faculty were surveyed before and after their OER courses. Young found that locating high-quality and up-to-date open educational materials was time-consuming for faculty. By contrast, traditional textbook vendors offered services which simplified the evaluation and selection process for faculty customers. During the post-course survey, a promising finding was that faculty found that students are more likely to bring their OER materials with them to class than when the faculty assign traditional textbooks. This is likely because the students could access OER texts easily through laptops or mobile devices. There were two takeaways which Young highlighted. First, libraries need to develop better marketing of library-licensed resources. Faculty need to know how they can use these resources for their courses. Young noted UNC’s e-textbook portal. In addition, Young found that faculty are confused by the nomenclature; libraries need to review how they talk about OER. Young believes phrases such as “free textbook alternatives” or “free internet materials for teaching” get the message across more succinctly that “open educational resources”.

Heather Joseph, Executive Director of SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) spoke on her invited paper titled, “Open Expansion: Connecting the Open Access, Open Data and OER Dots.”  In this presentation, she encouraged libraries to use open materials to think bigger – to consider how “open” can help solve problems, as well as be used to help create new opportunities.   The biggest problem open content can address is cost; open content removes intermediaries, reducing or eliminating costs.  But in addition to addressing cost, “open” also means full reuse, which has large implications for teaching, research, learning, and making.  Understanding the significance of open as the default mode is crucial for enabling new works and creating new value.

Poster Sessions

Librarians from Georgia Perimeter College shared their role in GPC’s affordable textbook initiative. In their poster, Mary Ann Cullen and Ann Mallard, described how the library was able to help faculty to identify existing OERs for use in English composition classes. They even were able to participate in the selection of textbooks to adopt. The College was recently awarded a $30,000 grant by Affordable Learning Georgia to create an open textbook. See Cullen and Mallard’s poster at

Carmen Mitchell, Institutional Repository Librarian at California State University San Marcos, presented a poster on CSU’s project – Cougars Affordable Learning Materials (CALM).  Started in 2013 with funding from the Chancellor’s Office, CALM began by establishing marketing materials and preliminary partnerships with campus entities like the bookstore, student groups, and Institutional Planning & Analysis (who added questions to student evaluations) – and introducing the concept of CALMing the cost of textbooks to faculty.  For the past 3 semesters using a competitive application process, CALM has granted 35 faculty awards ranging from $500-$3000 for implementing cost reduction techniques, and has saved CSU students over $700,000.  More information on CALM can be found at .

Brigham Young University- Hawaii, a small undergraduate college, took a different approach to address textbook costs. In their poster, Librarians Becky DeMartini and Marynelle Chew described their library’s decision to make every course textbook available on reserve after finding that 56% of surveyed students either only sometimes or never purchased the required textbooks for their classes. Deeming this program a success, they have found that the reserve textbooks circulate about 5x as much as other books in the collection.