Summertime NC LITe

On June 9 I attended the summer meeting of NC LITe (NC Library Instructional Technology). Since about 2009, a group of instruction librarians and others have been meeting twice a year to share ideas and projects. The focus has been primarily on tools that we use for instructional purposes, but the topics have expanded to include pedagogy, outreach, and much more. Basically it covers any instruction-related topic, but especially the intersection of instruction and technology. This year we had a our largest meeting yet. It was hosted by Duke University at The Edge.

NC LITe has varying levels of structure (mostly depends on the campus host for the particular meeting), but we rarely have formal presentations. One constant is that we always kick off with a Campus Update. This round robin format allows each campus to share out new events and services. It is a great way to hear from all campuses and get a sense of the variety of activities and interests. This year’s hosts, Brittany Wofford and Kim Duckett at Duke University, took notes for the campus updates and you can read them on the Google Doc.

After the campus updates, we attended break out sessions on various topics. I attended one on Curriculum Mapping and a second on Engagement outside the Library. Notes for some of the breakout sessions will be available in the Google Doc.

The Curriculum Mapping session was especially helpful for me in taking on a new liaison area (History) and being an Assistant Director of IGS. The session was facilitated by

Snapshot of Hannah’s Curriculum Map

Hannah Rozear, Instructional Services Librarian at Duke, who also created this handout on Curriculum Mapping. She talked about her experience using Mindomo to map her interaction with the Global Health program at Duke. Char Booth has written and presented extensively on this topic before and our own Amy Harris’s article was recently recognized by the ALA Library Instruction Round Table as a 2015 Top Twenty article. So, this is something that we’ve been talking about, but it was especially helpful to see how Hannah handled the process for one program and from her own perspective as the liaison librarian. For example, in addition to mapping library instruction against the courses offered, she mapped research and geographic interests of the faculty as well as the extracurricular and co-curricular opportunities for students. I found that to be helpful for someone new to an area. Our discussion also revolved around what to do with the information once we have collected it. Most of us would use the map as an environmental scan, but the visualization of our library instruction next to the curriculum could also help understand where holes are with library support for a discipline (for example, anthropology has a lot of library instruction but social work is getting no love). If you are new to curriculum mapping, you can see examples from Claremont Colleges Library.

The second session on Engagement outside the Library focused on efforts to engage students outside the library walls and on non-curriculum based activities within the library. For example, Duke’s The Edge has hosted student lightning talks on their personal research projects. Others talked about their efforts to have collaborative research/writing centers in dorms. One interesting point was that to get graduate students involved in these activities we need to be sure to give them opportunities that are “CV worthy.” For example, if you have an undergraduate symposium, recruit graduate students to serve as jury members for paper prizes.

My favorite part about these meetings is the chance to catch up with academic librarians from around the state. UNCG librarians have always had close relationships with the librarians at Wake Forest University and getting to see that crew is always a highlight of NC LITe.

lovely libraries
Academic Librarians Unite!

NC LITe keeps on, keepin’ on

NC LITe is the NC Library Instruction Technology group. We meet twice a year to talk about all things library instruction/tech related. It is fun. This year was at NCSU. Below are some really rough notes (I was late because like always I got lost driving in Raleigh). I’ll post access to the slides when they are available.

Katy Webb @ ECU talked about using the youcanbookme website to replace a previously cumbersome process for students to schedule a consultation with a librarian. The new service is branded as “Book A Librarian”, and students can choose time to meet with a librarian with a 24-hour turn around. They made it look similar to the room reservation system, and the students are actually booking a consultation room and a librarian shows up. After the room is booked, the department will decide which librarian takes the appointment by using google cal. I was excited to hear about this site because I had been using Jiffle and then ScheduleOnce and then those sites got greedy and went subscription only. This one is free.

Kerri Brown-Parker @ NCSU school of education talked about her efforts to train teachers in developing the information literacy skills of high school students. She mostly focused on the types of assignments the teachers could develop in senior year to prepare students for college level work.

Jennie Goforth @ UNC Chapel Hill discussed the rebranding of the design lab in the undergraduate library.  The old branding was a bit dated, and the library wanted new tagline. The smartest part was that they based the design of the logo on design of a separator screen in the lab. Instead of coming up with something that doesn’t integrate with the space, they matched the design with the decor. SO SMART.

Hannah Rozear @ Duke talked about a really cool project to teach critical digital literacy as an embedded librarian in a writing class called “Hacking Knowledge”. Her goal was to honor the diversity of voices through their assignments and the library instruction session. To accomplish this, Hannah and the instructor co-designed assignments, relocated the library sessions to a regular classroom, increased the number of “library” sessions to six, and modified the content to focus on nontraditional sources and critical thinking about traditional sources. She had a lot more in her slides including learning outcomes (nerd out with me!), so I hope she will share those soon.

Finally, the awesome Kyle Denlinger @ Wake Forest and Rebecca Hyman @ State Library of NC talked about the crazy successful rootsMOOCa MOOC focused on genealogy. They apparently had 4018 people sign up for it. The coolest part is that the MOOC inspired a grassroots Facebook learner group. In addition, their materials are CC licensed, and Kyle can give access if you are interested. Their slides are available.

We also had three short round-table discussions on various topics: supporting technology; supporting research assignments; and creating sustainable online instructional modules. These again are rough notes.
Tech Table
  • Wake Forest created a process for proposing projects that might require new technology. If the library doesn’t have the capacity currently, they can prepare for it.
  • Also we discussed teaching/supporting people who lack basic computer skills in the academic library. We haven’t talked much about this, but at some schools with adult populations this is an issue to consider. Honestly, even some digital natives worry me at times (e.g., number of students who can successfully start a PowerPoint presentation is strangely low).
Supporting real research assignments
  • At Davidson College the library is part of the Center for Teaching and Learning. To do outreach with faculty, they have invited faculty individually for informal lunch conversations.
  • NCSU & UNC both have lots of issues with first time teachers creating impossible assignments. To deal with this they got invited into the first year writing program to do training.
  • Someone mentioned the need to create collaborative place to put rubrics and assignment examples. Someone always mentions this, but follow through is difficult. What are the barriers to doing this?
Online instructional module
  • High Point University created a module for graduate students to take them through entire scholarly process from the basics to much more advanced needs.
  • We also talked about the role of the library in teaching students about plagiarism. Some have decided it isn’t the library’s role; others like UNCG are so embedded in that process it would be difficult to not support. Interesting conversation.

Finally we had a tour of the new NCSU Maker Space. Pretty cool operation. This is just one view of it. I want one of those hanging power cord things in my office. Just for the heck of it.

NCSU Maker Space in D.H. Hill
NCSU Maker Space in D.H. Hill



Data deluge: IASSIST conference wrap up

I attended the IASSIST annual conference last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota. IASSIST is an international data professional conference and a great forum for data specialists to get together and chat. I am very happy to say it went well because I was the Program Co-Chair and if it hadn’t gone well, well … These are my brief notes from the sessions I was able to attend and take notes (a few times I was unable to stay in a session because of questions elsewhere). I would suggest looking at the twitter feed if you are interested. We had a new member taking sketch notes during the conference, which were quite popular. Also Laurence Horton from LSE took very detailed Google Doc notes.


Day 1 kicked off with a fantastic plenary by Steve Ruggles from the conference host, Minnesota Population Center (MPC). His talk focused on the development of the Census over time. His main argument was that the Census Bureau (CB) played a tremendous role in developing innovative technology and data collection methods during the early years through the mid-twentieth century, but that the more recent Census years have seen stagnation and a loss in the CB’s leadership. While depressing at points, Ruggles highlighted a few collaborations between the CB and the MPC that are promising such as the Census Longitudinal Infrastructure Project (CLIP).

I chaired a session entitled Training Data Users. King-Hele discussed training efforts at the UK Data Archive. Primarily they have concentrated on in-person workshops, but they have also started creating webinars and training guides/videos. I’m looking forward to checking some of these out during my summer! Katharin Peter at the Univ of Southern California talked about supporting data-related assignments. Her univ had a competitive grant program for faculty to encourage the creation of these assignments in conjunction with instructional designers and Katharin as the data librarian. Although USC was able to offer significant grant amounts, I think faculty could be encouraged with much lower amounts at other schools. Another incentive could be the creation of communities of practice where faculty can share and learn. They will eventually create a repository of data assignments but that is in the early stages. Finally Kristin Eschenfelder and her team from Univ of Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) closed out our session.  They used the IASSIST journal, IQ, to analyze connections between Social Science Data Archives over time. Using historical network analysis they were able to track the interactions between the different archives and funding agencies. It is a really interesting project and I can’t wait to see where they go with more data. They were also part of our new paper track and were required to submit a paper in advance, which anyone can access. They also won the first paper award prize.

The plenary for day 2 was a bit controversial, but we meant it that way. We had Curtiss Cobb, head of the Population and Survey Sciences Team at Facebook, talk about Facebook’s interest in the digital divide in the developing world and its initiative They have also been acquiring third party data to inform their research, so Curtiss discussed his evaluative framework for acquiring data. Again, Laurence has more notes on the specifics of the talk. While there were questions about Facebook’s “altruistic” intentions, I enjoyed having an outside perspective on social science data and its use.

I also attended a fabulous session with the Minnesota Population Center on their various data programs. So much goodness in this one. They talked about their products from the old standbys like IPUMS-USA and IPUMS-International to newer products like Terra Populus, which integrates environmental and population data. The one I am really excited about for my history graduate work and haven’t used much is the North Atlantic Population Project. With our Atlantic World focus at UNCG, it seems that this could be popular.

One of my favorite sessions brought together geospatial data and qualitative data specialists, two areas that are increasingly popular in libraries. Andy Rutkowski formerly of USC talked about combining GIS methods with qualitative data especially archival information. It was a really nice discussion of the more theoretical aspects of these techniques. In addition, Mandy Swygart-Hobaugh talked about her analysis of job postings related to qualitative data support in libraries. She found that it is an under-supported area. You can read more about her project soon in the edited volume Databrarianship: The Academic Data Librarian In Theory And Practice, coming to a library near you in Fall(ish) 2015.

The last session I could attend was Training Data Users II David Fearon and Jennifer Darragh from Johns Hopkins talked about training for de-identifying human subjects in data sets. This is a really cool and extremely specialized service, but one that I am sure lots of faculty would welcome with the new sharing requirements. They developed their workshop information from a training session offered by ICPSR. They have some handouts, but I couldn’t get the URL down in time. I will add when it is available.

Finally, we closed out with a plenary talk by Andrew Johnson (no, not that Andrew Johnson) on Politics of Open Data. He is a city council ward representative for Minneapolis and was one of the creators of What We Pay For, a website that tracks federal government spending and connects your salary to actual government expenditures. He talked about his interest in providing open data access and the political roadblocks he encountered along the way. Great way to end a conference all about data!

The presentation, poster, and pecha kucha PowerPoints are being collected now. We will make them available as possible, but unfortunately there may be a delay. If you are interested in any particular presentation, get in touch with me and I can send you more information. Overall it was definitely the best IASSIST ever.