Sunday, October 31, 2004

Final Report to Mortenson Center

Here is a copy of the report that I submitted to Susan:

My final report is divided into three sections:
1. What I learned/accomplished while I was here
2. What I hope to accomplish on my return to the University of Cape Town Libraries as well as to LIASA nationally and within the Western Cape Branch
3. Short evaluation of the Mortenson Center program overall

1. What I learned/accomplished while I was here
During the two months spent here, the International Library Program has expanded my horizons and opened my eyes and mind to new opportunities and ideas, as well as, in some cases, made me look at old ideas afresh. The experiences and networking activities, meeting other librarians and sharing our experiences and concerns also gave me pause for thought -- I had this idea [I suppose many of my colleagues back in South Africa would have the same idea] that many answers lie in the United States – the best practices, the solutions -- and that libraries in the States are almost perfect. If there can be only one thought that I am taking back with me , it is that the problems are common all over the world, that we all face similar problems -- advocacy, budget cuts etc etc -- and to solve those problems (which come with different cultural and societal overlays) is something librarians across the world need to work on together through sharing of experiences and so on.

But thankfully, I am not limited to only one thought!

Just before I left South Africa, I was asked what my expectations were about the program, and what I hoped to achieve --- my response was that I was looking for “A-Ha” moments, and I have not been disappointed! In fact, I have been overwhelmed! These moments have come at different times, in different sessions, in mid-conversation with fellow librarians at my host institution, some at most inopportune times. I felt my horizons broaden and myself grow and develop within a couple of weeks of being here. I am certainly going back to South Africa a different person, re-invigorated and re-energized, and very much aware of myself, my strengths and my weaknesses.

It is very difficult to pick out highlights as the whole programme was inspiring and a feast and I have enjoyed every bit of it, taking what I can - eating as much as I can. I will need time to digest and mull over, and internalize my experience.

I would like to say that I cannot really pick out one or two highlights -- the whole programme was a highlight -- but I don’t think that would be an acceptable answer! Different parts of the programmes were highlights for different reasons.
Some of the highlights include are the host visit to the University of Illinois Springfield Brookens Library with my host Jane Treadwell; the ILA Conference in Chicago and the Reaching Forward South Conference. Learning to put together a country presentation with a group of 6 other very individual librarians trying to work together as a team, to get one whole integrated product which we were all happy with, was another very challenging highlight - Blood, sweat and tears! A lesson in teamwork!

The Digitization course was different -- and a major learning curve for me -- especially as it was the first online (WEBCT) course that I have ever participated in. I’m still not too sure if I am comfortable with learning something through using an online method, but this will be something that I need to work through myself. There was a lot of reading to do on the screen and that was quite hard! I can see opportunities for other courses, particularly info lit when it can be integrated into the curriculum.

Although I am very familiar with Web Design (my honours paper in 2003 was Web Design and Construction), I found this course very useful -- it served as a refresher – but also introduced me to blogging, which I had a vague idea about. The idea of learning about webblogs was to show us how quickly one would publish on the internet, and to then use it so we could practice our HTML skills. I now have my own webblog which I have been using as a diary while I am in the United States. The address is and if you have a look at that, you will see that I have had many A-Ha moments or thoughts/questions that have been raised in my mind.

The chance to explore software like MS Publication and the assistive features on MS Word was great. Although I use MS Publication and MS Word, one does not often get the opportunity to explore the software when you are caught up in the day-to-day workday. You really only use the features that you can quickly discover!

What else were highlights? The sessions on Management with Dale Silver and Terry Weech; Playing Pomojo …. The Customer Service session using the FISH philosophy; the uncannily accurate DISC personality test. What can I say? The whole programme was a highlight.

2. What I hope to accomplish on my return to the University of Cape Town Libraries and to LIASA nationally and within the branch.

There are already two confirmed items on my “To Do” list on my return:
• 24 November, Alvina Matthee and myself are scheduled to do a short presentation to Western Cape LIASA members at our end of year breakfast meeting, on the programme
• An article has been commissioned by the editorial staff of the Cape Librarian (the in-house journal of the Cape Provincial Library Services) on the programme, or some aspect of the programme

Generally speaking, I will go back to share my experiences, observations and A-Ha moments with colleagues both at the University of Cape Town Libraries and other academic libraries within the Western Cape, as well as within the Western Cape LIASA branch. This may be in an informal setting such as a conversation over the reference desk or with colleagues in the staff room, or may be in a formal setting such as a presentation to colleagues or to LIS students. If what I pass on, leads to A-Ha moments for others and leads to e.g. development of services or changes in policy or direction or even changes in attitudes, then that will be an accomplishment of the programme.

Within UCT Libraries, I particularly want to take the opportunity to be more involved in policies/activities related to information literacy and the marketing (advocacy) of the library. I see the two as going together, and certainly the ideas and sessions that I have been exposed to while here, have confirmed this. I hope that my library director will continue her support of my presence on this programme by enabling me to be able to participate in these and to use the ideas, skills etc that I have developed while here.

On my return to South Africa, my priority has to be the completion of my research proposal and short project for the B.Bibl Hons degree that I am pursuing. I was due to graduate at the end of this academic year (December 2004) but this will not be possible as I have been here. However, if I can complete everything by the end January 2005, I will be able to graduate in July 2005. My research topic looks at access policies for secondary users in the academic libraries in the Western Cape. I hope to pursue this topic further for my Masters dissertation. Much of what I have seen here has indicated that we need to explore multi-type consortia in South Africa if the digital divide is not to be perpetuated.

There is one programme that I would like to develop further and offer to my colleagues and to LIASA members in the Western Cape, and that is Customer Service using the FISH philosophy. If I can persuade our colleagues that this is the philosophy and attitude to bring to work or better still, bring to one’s life, then that would be great.

Ujala Satgoor and I have already spoken about my contribution towards LIASA nationally. We have identified involvement with the LIASA webpage as a contribution that I can make, and this will be further explored on our return.

3. Short evaluation of the Mortenson Center International Program overall
What I liked:
• The full program covering a broad expanse of subjects and experiences and observations. The visit to Chicago to ALA, and ILA, the host visit to Springfield – the exposure to American culture was so positive.
• The networking opportunities were brilliant - I have now have contacts in academic libraries, who work in the information literacy field and whom I will contact once I am back at my home institution.
• The opportunity to mix with librarians from other parts of the world and learn and share with them (and realize once again, that the issues are common!)
• Friends -- I have had good experiences with the “Friends” that have been given to me, Joyce Wright here at the Undergraduate Center, Pamela Ortega from Eastern Illinois University (who introduced me to a number of librarians there who are involved in Information Literacy as well as services to the wider community by the academic libraries); and Jane Treadwell and her husband, Victor Ginsberg at U of I Springfield. The staff of the libraries that I spent time in, have been so kind, welcoming, hospitable, and ready to share and to allow me to share with them -- and the surprise visit to the elementary school with Jane Running was entertaining and informative! (I haven’t worked with young children in large groups for years!)

What I didn’t like:
There was very little that I didn’t like. We had been warned that the program was going to be very full, and that we would be moving out of our comfort zones. It did mean that a lot of material was covered in a very short space of time. As an example, the material covered in the HTML course over those few sessions, was the same material that I covered in the year-long course last year.

I would have like a mixture of practical and theory in the digitization class -- but there again, I found it a bit difficult to adjust to the online only milieu. And at the time of writing this report, we have not yet had our one-day workshop.

But the program has been long … 8 weeks is a long time to be away from home, and at times, the homesickness was difficult to cope with (both in myself and then seeing others that were homesick). Thank heavens for email, but it is not the same…

I don’t have too much to recommend, other than to suggest that the HTML training happens in the program, so that the participants learn about webblogs quickly, and can then use them for recording purposes for reports, etc as well as giving them HTML practice.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Wed 27 October DiSC Leadership Trait Assessment

This was a very interesting workshop during which we took the DiSC personality profile. I've done other personality profiles, but this was so accurate, it seems uncanny. One can do the personality trait test for different circumstances (home, work etc) and it looks at the behaviour of the person. We explored our own personality types and the behaviours, as well as then other personality types and their behaviours

There are four different personality types:
D = Dominance (emphasis is on shaping the environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results)
I = Influence (emphasis is on shaping the environment by influencing or persuading others)
S = Steadiness (emphasis is on cooperating with others within existing circumstances to carry out the task)
C = Conscientiousness (emphasis is on working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy).

Information was given on (a) the person's tendencies (b) desirable environment and an action plan which indicated who this person needed to work with (what tendencies and characteristics those people needed) and what this person needed to be more effective.

I can see this particular tool being very useful for the BEC and at work. Yes, there are a number of personality trait tests that one could use like Myers-Briggs, but I could recognise myself in this one. We would have to access the material which includes special workbooks in which you need to scratch off the covering to reveal "the truth"

And which one am I? Well, that would be telling .... but it should be easy to guess.

DISC Classic Personal Profil System 2800. Customer Service University : opening minds to the human side of business. Inscape Publishing, 2001

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Meeting Paula Kaufman, Library Director of U of I - Urbana Champaign

Paula Kaufman spoke to the group about the role of the Director. She has been at U of I for five years.

She explained that she has very little hands-on management in the library -- this role is delegated to the Associate Directors -- as she spends three-quarters of her time outside the library. Basically, her role is to secure the library's financial and political future; to make the strongest case for money on campus and to then explain to library staff why we didn't get as much as "they" gave us. Some of the difficulty in this case was getting the staff to see that the library was part of the greater whole! About 20% of the university budget was allocated to the library and these came from state funding, tuition, research grants & contracts, and gifts - funds from individuals, corporates, grants etc. There was currently a fundraising campaign for the library on campus with several campus partners. (I attended a football match - Illini vs UCLA - which was a fundraiser for the library and during which the library was promoted, and fundraisers honoured)

Part of Paula's role is to build a shared vision with staff in the library. It is also balancing the generational expectations and challenges of having four different generations in the library. Handling user expectations especially when the users demand instant responses -- she pointed out that we don't need to meet every user expectation. And then there is the challenge of recruiting and retaining librarians and staff & fostering career development.

The library is open to everyone in the local community, and has a good working relationship with the local public libraries. U of I library is also part of several multi-type consortia. (A thought here is that this is something that the libraries in South Africa should look at - yes, we have interlibrary loans etc, but maybe the issue of multi-type regional based consortia should be explored more)

Paula described the different staff that she has working in the library:-

1. Faculty who are librarians who are either research or service librarians on a tenure track; they have faculty status (my peers' business cards reads "Associate Professor"), hold advanced degrees and have excellent records of research and scholarship (means published) and service (which includes service to the professional association, presenting at conferences etc)

2. Academic Professional staff who are not librarians but could work in the Development office as fundraisers, or perhaps IT professionals and so on

3. Civil Service Staff who are not faculty -- this include library support staff (clerks and assistants)

4. Graduate Assistants who are pre-professional employees. These are usually MLS students. There are currently about 104 working in the library, covering the various reference desks etc. (Some are involved in presenting training sessions in the library, answering chat-reference queries etc)

5. Student workers who then work at the circulation and reserves desks.

(A very good book that she recommends is the Effective Executive by Peter Drucker.)

Friday, October 22, 2004

Fundraising and Grant Writing - 19th & 22nd October

Assignment: To write a grant proposal within a year of our return home.

Useful websites:-
Foundation Centre at which is a free resource. UCT Libraries will also have access to the Illinois Research Information System (IRIS) who will be giving us a year's free subscription.

Thursday 21 October: Market Research on a Dime

This session, again at Lincoln Trail Libraries System, presented by Market Research consultant, Donna Fletcher, looked at efficient techniques for libraries to learn about their customers at a low cost. The emphasis was on American libraries (we were joined by other librarians), but much of what was said applies internationally. We all should know about our patrons and customers ...

Donna briefly looked at why it was important to do market research (what you don't know, can hurt you!) and why one needs to know one's customers. Their perspective may be totally different from how one and one's staff view things; it also allows one to be proactive in addressing customer needs, rather than reactive, and forms a basis for long-range planning and marketing plans.

She explained different types of research techniques, and looked at qualitative and quantitative research (simple, non-academic explanations) and then described some case studies, identifying where one should ideally use a professional and where one could save money. Market Research is an expensive business.

Then I got thinking .... when last did we at UCT Libraries do a survey of our users -- not something based as part of someone's Masters -- but a library survey. I know there was a pop-up online survey shortly after Aleph was introduced, but I am not aware of any other survey (and I have been at the library for 13 years!) So how do we know we are meeting user needs and what those needs are? Maybe it is time to do a survey... Would this not be part of the marketing team's brief???

Wed October 20 FISH - Excellent Customer Service

Jan Ison and Amy Weber of the Lincoln Trail Libraries System presented this workshop on Excellent Customer Service using the FISH philosophy which is more than a philosophy -- it is an attitude - based on the philosophy followed by the Seattle Fish Company (think it was). There are four principles -- Play; Make their day: Be there and Choose your attitude. And these work, not only in the work situation - but in one's every day life. I really think that more people need to be exposed to it so they can choose ... (but as Jan pointed out, not everyone is comfortable with this philosophy and idea of playing and having FUN while one works! Librarians are "professionals" and "professionals" don't have fun! )

Reminder to self: See we or CPLS have the video, and check for books by Stephen C Lundin with a view to setting up a workshop or a discussion. Don't forget to buy the fishy elements and other fun stuff!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Ideas for Workshops, Presentations, Articles, Discussion Topics

These are some of the workshops, discussion topics to "start a conversation about ..." The list serves to remind me about the possibilities and the a-ha moments that I have had - lest I forget! Expect that I will only continue with a few as there are too many in this list!

Specific tasks connected with the programme to do on my return:
* Joint Presentation to LIASA Branch on SALLP experience on 24 November
* Article for Cape Librarian on SALLP experience by 20 March 2005
* Write a grant proposal for an organisation by end 2005 -- either UCT Libraries (after discussions) or a community based organisation or school (thinking maybe College of Magic)
* Formal report to LIASA by 3rd December

UCT Libraries:
* Presentation on SALLP experience/trip/observations
* Information Literacy Practices - online courses, workshops
* Marketing - including market research on users needs and wants
* Improved Reference Services: Question Board service; Live Chat Line Reference
* Setting up a Friends in an academic library (discussion)
* Facilitate a "Generations in the workplace" discussion/workshop
* Customer Service using FISH philosophy
* Digitization Project - what about Rare Book's Fore-edge painting books?
* Explore possible ideas about electronic reserves

LIASA Branch/Interest Groups
* Presentation on SALLP experience/trip at Breakfast Meeting on 24 November
* Motivational Talk: Success
* Motivational Talk: Staff Relationships
* Team Building: Playing Pomoja
* Facilitate a "Generations in the workplace" workshop/discussion
* Workshop on Reference services across the different library sectors
* Marketing - including simple market research
* Services to disabled users (facilitate a discussion, possible article for Cape Librarian)
* Library advocacy
* Fund raising and Grant writing
* Web design training
* Presentation skills around poster sessions and table talks for conferences
* Customer Service using FISH philosophy
* Start conversation about joint info lit projects across different library sectors.

Related to Studies
* Multi-type consortia

Monday, October 18, 2004

Another beautiful image

We are experimenting with posting pictures onto the webblog. This is a picture of my favourite animal seal point siamese

Script for presentation to Springfield Commission on International Visitors

One presentation slide depicting the number of different types of libraries in South Africa was on the screen.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk very briefly on Libraries in South Africa. My name is Ingrid Thomson and I will be speaking on behalf of my colleagues, Alvina Matthee, Rhundu Mhinga, Raspy Ramagondu, Mariam Natalwalla, Terese Els and Ronelle van Vollenhoven.

South Africa has a population of 45 million; we have 11 official languages, 2 capital cities - in Pretoria and Cape Town and 9 provinces.

As the slide shows, we have over 11 000 public and community libraries, just under 9 500 school libraries, 88 academic and higher education libraries, numerous special libraries which includes corporte, research and medical library - A very special library to mention here is the Library for the Blind in Grahamstown - and a national library with two branches one in each capital.

The message that we would like to bring to you is that libraries are making difference in our country. As our young democracy grows, so all the different types of libraries play an ever-growing important role in our society in their own communities and jointly, across different sectors, by making information available and accessible to the citizens of our country, helping to create an information-literate society and creating a culture of reading through a variety of activities like literacy classes, reading programmes, advocacy training and so on ... with the benefits that this brings to our society and economy.

Libraries in South Africa do make a difference!

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Visit to Host Library: U of I Springfield Thursday 14th & Friday 15th October

I was hosted by Jane Treadwell, Library Director of the Brookens Library at the University of Illinois in Springfield for Thursday and Friday. After the official activities at the Illinois State Library, off we went ...

A programme had been drawn up for me, which included a surprise item (surprise for me, at least) - I was visiting Matheny Elementary School at the request of the school librarian, Jane Running, in the afternoon, so the children could meet a librarian from South Africa. (Jane had previously been at the Illinois State Library and had been involved in Mortensen Center host visits -- and was very keen to have a South African librarian come to visit)

The programme on Thursday consisted of a tour of Brookens Library and the visit to the school.

Friday's programme was more intense - I spent time with Kathy Roegge in Access Services. It was very interesting to see the way they do electronic reserves -- basically scanning the article in as a pdf and making it available for a short length of time. (There is more to it than that, but that is basically what it is) The library was interviewing for a reference librarian and the candidate was being interviewed. Part of the process was an open presentation by the candidate on a brief that that had been given to her, after a tea in which we both met staff. I sat in on the presentation.

Then I spent time with Albert Whittenberg in their Educational Technology section. It seems that the library takes responsibility for IT/Media Services/Equipment in classrooms etc. I saw some amazing technology! And literally every pc in the computer lab had a scanner, plus a couple of them had some video machines attached (for the media students)

After lunch, I did a small presentation on UCT Libraries as the staff were very interested in hearing about us and what we do. Then I spent time with Stephen Smith, Head of Bibliographic Services (including Acquisitions) and a little later with Tom Wood in Archives. Ielleen Miller of Reference who is responsible for much info lit courses etc then took me through a couple of their online courses. Then Albert took me over to see some of the new classrooms -- more amazing technology .... the interactive white boards are something else!

The school visit was fascinating and totally unexpected. I spoke to two groups of Grade 4s and 5s who were scheduled to come to the library that afternoon. I told them a little bit about South Africa -- there was a map of Africa that I could use to get them to find South Africa and Cape Town on. The questions afterwards were fascinating -- do we have tornadoes, do we have hurricanes, do people live in houses, what are the stores like, are there wild animals in my garden, had I ever seen Nelson Mandela in real life... they were equally fascinated to hear that I had never touched snow and a little horrified to hear that children wear school uniform! There were three books on South Africa in the library -- a picture biography of Nelson Mandela, a book on Desmond Tutu and "The day Gogo went to vote".

A big thank you to Jane Treadwell and her husband, Victor Ginsberg, for their wonderful hospitality -- I was so spoiled and made to feel really welcome... so much so, I did not join the rest of the returning Mortenson Associates on the bus back to Urbana-Champaign, but was brought back by Jane and Victor, after a tour of Allerton Park and lunch.

I would like to thank Susan and Barbara, and Bonnie at the State Library for making the trip possible!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Visit to Springfield Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th October

After leaving Orchard Downs early in the morning, we arrived in Springfield around 9.30 am and checked into our hotel, the Springfield Hilton -- the tallest building in town.

The morning started off with a tour of the Illinois State Museum (a natural science museum) and an exhibition called "Changes" which emcompassed all the environmental changes that have happened in Illinois over the last few millenia. It was really fascinating and I think that we were specially honoured to have the curator of exhibition, Dr Bonnie Styles, take us around.

We then went back to Illinois State Library where we were welcomed by Jean Wilkens, Director of the State Library, and were then shown around the library by Blaine Redemer, Head of Reference with a quick visit to the Trademarks and Patents Library on the ground floor

Then off to the Old State Capitol State Historic site, and a whirlwind rush to see Lincoln's home. It poured with rain the whole day, so we did very little walking.

That evening, Kathryn Harris, Divisional Manager for Library Services, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, presented: Harriet Tubman speaks: What was the underground railroad? What a fascinating story?

On Wednesday, we were up bright and early, walking around the corner to visit the Lincoln Library, the Public Library of Springfield. And then off for a tour of the Dana-Thomas House which was designed by Frank .... who sounds a fascinating character.

Back to the State Library for a lunch meeting with the Springfield Commission on International Visitors, where each country had to do a presentation -- this time using one slide and only speaking for a max of 3 minutes. It fell to me to do the presentation -- the script of the presentation will be posted on this webblog. Susan chose the slide...

After lunch, we went off for a tour of Talking Book & Braille Service which is one of the services offered by the Illinois State Library, and then off to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library for a very honoured preview (the official opening was the next day) with Kathryn Harris. I think we must have seen every nook and cranny, -- it really is a beautiful building!

That evening, we were hosted at a dinner reception out on a farm (really the most beautiful country setting, under cover with good food and wine ...) which gave some of us an opportunity to meet our hosts.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Beautiful flower

We are experimenting with posting pictures onto the webblog. Pink rose

Introduction to Digitization

This is a basic 3 -week course on digitization which has been presented as an online course using Webct. A one-day hands-on workshop will happen later in the next couple of weeks. The technical aspects of digitization have been demystified. We had to work out a possible project after learning about criteria for selection etc and then virtually purchase equipment with a virtual budget ... I thought that Tanya's collection of Fore Edge paintings would be an excellent choice - a unique collection and something different! So that is my digitization project - something different. But maybe digitizing the collection of fore edge paintings could become a real project for UCT Libraries.

Working on Webct is difficult especially with the amount of reading that we need to do -- there are several pdf documents to read and assignments/quizzes every second day. I'm not sure that I like working online like that -- my inclination would be to print off the documents so that I can read them at my leisure and page back and forth easily... but the documents are large and would cost a lot to print off!

Web Design Class

The Web Design class is being presented by Eric Sizemore and is aimed at giving the group some basics in designing a web page. The idea was to divide the class into two -- a more experienced group and one with less or no experience. As it turned out, there were only two of us with any web experience (Raphael and myself) and much of what he was planning to cover, I had already covered in the honours course. So Raphael and I decided that we actually did want to be in the groups with the others so we could brush up and also pick up other tips. I know very little about webblogs ... and in any event, it's a good way to brush up.

It would be better if the course wasn't so spread out ... much of what we are covering in two or three sessions, was covered over several months in my honours course, so some of the guys are struggling a bit... but we're getting there. The idea is that we would be able to train others on some basics of web page design.

The webblog was one way of getting published on the internet very quickly, although I tend now not to use it for practising the html coding, but rather as a diary and for reporting. But some of the odd things that appear on the webblog are exercises in the web design class.

Monday October 4 : Diversity Librarian

Monday October 4
Dana Wright, the Diversity Librarian at the Undergraduate Library spoke about her role as Diversity Librarian as well as her temporary role of information literacy Librarian. In the set-up at UofI, the undergraduate library is considered the primary home of the undergraduates, although they are encouraged to use the departmental libraries as well.

The important question to ask is "What is the library's role in undergraduate education?"
The answers: - to make sure that the students become competent in doing research during the time they are here and to ensure that they students are successful. The biggest challenge is that they don't know what library experience the students have, other than it is quite uneven and that there also is a big divide. They don't assume that the students have any skills at all. Similar to our experience in South Africa.

So what do they offer?
- Tours on the physical space of the library (the physical space can be quite confusing)
- General classes where students and staff can sign up online. These classes are run at different times during the day and evening. They run 4 different workshops
- Workshops for courses that demonstrate writing requirements. The instructional librarian offers sessions to each class
- Creation of online handouts and tutorials

In some courses, there is a writing requirement, and the Instructional Librarian offers a session to each class, including handouts.

In discussing Dana's role as Diversity Librarian, she pointed out that Diversity means different things -- and for her diversity includes physical, gender, economic, religious and ethnic diversity. There is also diversity in library experience and diversity in the expectations of what the library can deliver. She works closely with the Minority Office and various student units who work to make the students successful, doing outreach to diverse students.

Some facts and figures about the Undergraduate Library:
* 2003 undergraduate enrolment was about 28 500, with 6 811 first year students; number of first year students for this year has increased to 7 284.
* 5 librarians including Head of Undergraduate Library who does a couple of desk shifts on the reference desk a week. The Head of Media Resources Center does not do desk shifts, as I understand, so it leaves 3 librarians to do ref desk shifts, including evening ref shifts from 6 - 9 pm. The reference desk is assisted by 9 Graduate Assistants (these are LIS students) who also then assist with the information literacy sessions.
* There are student assistants on the circulation desk and on the reserve desk. My overall very generalised impression about the academic libraries that I have seen, is that the majority of the staff in all dpts -- from Cataloguing and Acquisitions to Conservation -- are student assistants

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Recommendations for LIASA Conferences

Illinois Library Conference

The full programme for the Illinois Library Conference is at this web site.
I have some ideas for LIASA conferences, and although the group will be pooling these to send one email, I want to get some of my thoughts down on paper.


Every single person who registered (with the exception of non-members) were issued with ribbons that indicated whether they were members, new members, executive committee, speakers, conference organisers, exhibitors , award winner etc.

We could do something similar and order a large supply of ribbons which could be standard at all conferences. Would suggest we include a category "institutional member" and possibly something for "branch committee" or "interest Group member"

I understand that when people register, they are sent their name tags, so the actual registration process on the day is very quick, with the name tag considered proof of registration and the conference bags (or whatever) are handed over. There were no queues!


This was an eye-opener ... and an indication that we need to look differently at our vendors, to think out of the box. There were architects, computer people, library furniture, LIS schools, Government Departments, companies that do promotional materials for libraries, the State Library. Got me thinking a bit more - what about banking institutions or insurance aimed at librarians, sell those large companies (and get some sponsorship) some space -- what about Musica? CD Warehouse? Waltons?

There was a computer display which doubled as an internet cafe manned by salespeople. It was an interesting arrangement as they had one CPU and 8 pcs connected to it. (I have a brochure about this)

Poster Sessions

There were quite a number of poster sessions on all sorts of topics and these were very practice-orientated. There were different posters each session. What an unintimidating way of presenting at a conference as one can chat or just view. None of the topics, as far as I can recall, were very academic, but covered aspects like
activities or special services in the libraries.

Table Talks

Another very unintimidating way of presenting a topic or starting a conversation and having a discussion with a group or individual. A presenter or group of presenters would sit at a round table and invite others to talk to them. Would be a good way of building up confidence to present.

Some other thoughts

* Start calling for proposals for papers early in October/November so people have
time to submit -- with guidelines that will make librarians out there think "hey I can do that" especially in poster sessions or table talks. Presentations etc at conference always seem to be *academic* - and that scares people as they think that the work they are doing should be presented in a formal, academic manner -- so we need to be more inclusive and that way, would encourage librarians to market themselves and their activities.

* Suggestion for a speaker: What about getting Heather Parker Lewis to do a presentation on self-publishing? She has just written an excellent book.

* Door prizes (or lucky draws) at the opening session and at the Members Meeting (their AGM) and Awards Committee. I really liked the way they recognised people's efforts and achievements, especially those who work on committees etc, calling out their names and having them stand up and take a bow from where ever they are. I must say though that the Awards side of things went on for a while, with the President or chair of the committee calling out the award winners and giving a bit of a spieel , these guys coming up with someone who would introduce them saying why they won and then the thank you speech. But this AGM ended on time when it was scheduled to do --- something LIASA must learn to do! (I understand that this past LIASA AGM went on from 2 pm to 7 pm -- not at all acceptable! We have to learn to manage better.)

* Breakfast or evening reception - there were several reunions for alumni of various library schools. For example, University of Illinois alumni had a big red I on their name tags (which was entry to breakfast). Is this not something to be considered. I'm thinking particularly those distance education students of UNISA - I didn't really know any of my fellow students at the time. Would be a good networking opportunity.

Chicago Visit and ILA Conference 26 September to 1 October

Sunday 26 September
Travelled to Chicago by bus with the group. It took about 3 hours to get there from Urbana-Champaign. Stayed at the Holiday Inn which was fairly close to Navy Pier where the Conference was being held. Spent some time walking around Chicago waterfront -- Millenium Park and up and down various roads like Michigan Avenue, looking in the shops (and doing some shopping). It really is a beautiful city.

Monday 27 September
We visited ALA offices and had a number of information sessions and presentations staffers there -- on diversity, intellectual freedom and CIPA (it was Banned Books week) and international relations, as well as a tour of the ALA premises. In the afternoon, we had a tour of the Chicago Tribune Newspaper library and an information session with their librarian (research editor) and the head of the foreign desk. I left the Chicago Tribune with a few questions buzzing in my head about the situation of newspaper libraries in South Africa. I know that the IOL newspapers no longer have a library - so what do the reporters do? Search the internet? Search Lexis Nexus? I've fielded some ready reference calls from IOL reporters ... so what is the situation there? Also who is preserving copies of newspapers in South Africa? Is it a NLSA function? Are the newspapers doing it themselves? What media - microfilm? digitization? Another research topic for some one!

Tuesday 28th September
I attended a pre-conference all-day workshop entitled Strategic Marketing Skills for Academic Libraries which once again reinforced what I came back with from IFLA in Glasgow -- we need a marketing plan and that plan needs to be tied to the strategic plan and made known to the library staff. I would like to have the opportunity to present the information from the workshop to the Marketing Team when I get back, and I really do think that I have something valuable to contribute there, and would like to be officially included in the team.

During the time of the conference, we were paired with librarians from other institutions who would help guide/sort out problems etc while we were at the conference - I was linked up with Pamela Ortega from Eastern Illinois University who is a reference librarian with the responsibility of co-ordinating information literacy. We had some very interesting conversations, and I was introduced to other Eastern Illinois University Librarians with whom I will stay in touch, particularly as they have been doing research into my particular honours/masters topic.

Wednesday 29th September
Sessions that I attended on first day of the conference:-
* Higher Education Standards for Libraries (2004): Library Assessment and the New ACRL Multitype Standards which are hot off the press and will be applied from January. Again, what was presented here ties in with marketing and also with information literacy, and there is certainly information that we can use here, especially with the upcoming accreditation visit to the University of Cape Town next year. Again, I would like the opportunity to present this information (certainly my take on it) to library staff. Not everything can be applied directly to our South African situation, but we can certainly take bits and pieces that we need.

* The keynote speaker, Lynne Lancaster, author of When Generations Collide, spoke about generational issues in the workplace and in the marketplace. She identified several clashpoints between the generations. I have asked Celia to order the book for us, as these issues apply in our library as well -- not only among staff, but also among our library users -- and it has implications for how we do marketing, information literacy, signage, notices and other things. It would be a great conversation starter and discussion topic. Think that we have quite a number of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers on the staff, but the students are most certainly Millenials.

*Are you being served? Measuring patron satisfaction in an academic setting which basically was a report on surveys done at Eastern Illinois University Library. When the last survey was done, they distributed the survey all over campus, in residences, food halls etc and achieved a high return rate. Again, I have some notes about this, but the information covered more their survey, rather than offering practical tips.

* What are those kids doing in here? Serving Children in Academic Libraries. The librarians who presented here are in fact Education librarians (mainly Eastern Illinois University). Some of what they were saying doesn't really fit into the South African context, mainly because of the funding of the libraries which means the libraries have to be open to their wider communities. These libraries are running story hours for children, have group visits/training on databases from school children etc amongst the usual operations/services for the primary group of users. They pointed out that this should be regarded as recruitment for the university as well as for the profession. There was an extremely useful bibliography.

All food for thought as you know that my topic for my honours/masters research is the access policies in academic libraries in the western cape with reference including services/outreach to secondary users. But this got me thinking some fairly radical thoughts ... these education libraries act as a resource or research for the students and practising teachers, offering the dedicated, specialised services that we offered at the old Education library, but these libraries also incorporate what would be very similar to the services provided by Teachers Learning and Resource Centre at UCT (which is still going ... and I know at one stage had a question mark over its existence) Could we not start a conversation (my catch phrase of the moment!) about incorporating this into the library -- it kind of makes sense.

There was another very radical thought that I had, during this session, and is something that I would like to "start another conversation" about -- introduction to databases as an extra-mural during summer school ; what about offering similar sessions to Grade 11 or 12 students during the vac -- although given the current policy at UCT Libraries about school children in the library, this may be a better idea to take to Genevieve Hart and Sally Witbooi at UWC. However Julian has pointed out that there is a proposal on the table for the establishment of Centre for Open Learning under CHED with one of its the objectives as " to make the academic resources of the institution accessible to a wider range of participants .... and to become socially responsive" - so this would be something that they could follow up. Of course, I would very much like to be involved in this!

Just as aside: in talking to librarians here about the official no-access that outsiders have to using the databases because of software agreements, they all point out that it doesn't say that in the agreements their institutions have signed ... as long as the user is in the library, he or she has access. Many of the librarians say (and I saw this myself at Northwestern) that they have public access computers. The pcs are all password controlled -- students have to sign in with netlogins, but those public access computers have very generic passwords. Something for the LIS in SA to take up with the database providers who are the same! Or is there something I am missing here?

Thursday 30 September:
This was the day of our presentation (Library Advocacy in South Africa) and we had a good turnout. No one left early which was great, as we ran a little over time. The South African team then attended the Mortensen Center's presentation when our colleagues from Columbia, Vietnam, Uganda and Kenya did presentations on their countries. These presentations will probably be on the web shortly.

That afternoon I spent walking about the exhibits, attending poster sessions and sessions called Table Talks. Looked at a poster session entitled "Showing up in the strangest places : shifting the setting for academic librarian/teaching faculty collaboration" -- some interesting strategies there, but what was gratifying to know is that certainly in the work that I have been doing in collaborating with our academic staff, I am on the right track. The presenter was from Illinois State University.

Another poster session dealt with Copyright Basics : tools to assist educators. I will pass information on to Charles Masango in CILS, but I think that we can adapt the tools to suit our needs.

The table talk session that I sat in on was on a project called Illinois Clicks -- a portal or gateway (think funded by Illinois State Library) set up by librarians giving useful sites for the citizens of Illinois, including homework help. Yes, there was another thought coming on .. can we do something similar in South Africa? Province based? There is something at the moment in the Western Cape but not from libraries.

Friday 1 October 2004
* The ABCs: Assess before Change looked at assessing library instruction programmes and what is meant by "outcome assessment" , "session specific assessment" and "programmatic assessment" - the session described how Illinois State University's Milner Library started to overhaul library instruction and information literacy programmes' evaluation and assessment process. The first thing that comes to mind is that we don't have any sort of formal assessment ... and as the session went on, it confirmed my strong feeling that we as subject librarians actually need some sort of teaching education if we are involved in any sort of library instruction. I know that we have had this conversation before without any resolution, but sitting in the session only confirmed it. So what if the academics don't have a teaching qualification! We are not academics, but to be able to do an effective job in drawing up a curriculum, devising outcomes, assessing and evaluating the programmes, coping with the different learning styles and impact of the diversity of students in the class, as well as for our own professional integrity we need to have some sort of recognised national qualificiation -- that the info lit programmes presented by subject librarians at UCT are quality programmes. But sitting in that session, I became more adamant that I need and want to have a SETA recognised train the trainer qualification if I am to provide a better quality service, and if it cannot be part of my development plan at UCT Libraries, then I will simply have to pay for it myself!!

* More Poster Sessions
I then spent the rest of the morning looking at other poster sessions and walking around the exhibits. The poster session was entitled "Graphic Novels as LIterature" -- again Librarians at Eastern Illinois University. They applied for a grant to beef up the collection on Graphic Novels -- various departments at Eastern had been including graphic novels (comics) in reading lists etc, and the library was unable to supply. With the support of the various faculties, they successfully applied for an external grant to purchase graphic novels and materials about graphic novels.

We then left to return to Urbana-Champaign and stopped along the way for lunch at some fast food places. KFC tastes awful in the States

Tues 5 October Visit to Illionois Fire Service Institute

Tues 5th October: we had a very interesting visit to a special library on campus (Illinois Fire Service Institute) [] for firefighters . They are, I understand, the only such library in the States, and the Fire Institute is one of three in the country as well.

Do you know if we have any sort of equivalent in South Africa? Would , for example, the municipal library at the Civic Centre in town, be the library that the fire department in CT would use? What about other municipalities?

The comment from the librarian as well as one of the senior people in the research institute said that no one thought there was a need for such a library, until they had one ... I'm also trying to puzzle out which libraries in SA would cater for such a specialised need? Is there a need? Where is firefighting training carried out? The Fire Institute has training facilities which they hope to replicate across the state. (we had a quick tour and watched some training in action). Suspect that it is mostly in-house, but I don't know.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Creating a blog

Wow, this is amazing! This will be extremely useful to keep a journal of the time spent at the Mortensen Center in Illinois, and the food for thoughts that I have, so that there is at least a record which can be shared with others with I choose to share.

The intention of this blog is to practice writing in HTML code - so some entries will use HTML, but others (like this one) will just be in normal wordprocessing.