The opening general session of this year’s American Library Association (ALA) conference in San Francisco was a victory celebration, thanks largely to ALA’s luck and planning in booking Roberta Kaplan, lawyer for the Supreme Court case that overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, as the opening keynote. On the two-year anniversary of that case, the court found in favor of marriage equality, turning Kaplan’s appearance into so much more than a speech. While Sunday’s Pride Parade added logistical complications to travel, the mood was gala, with many of the 15,883 attendees and 6,813 exhibitors popping over to see the scene or participate. Total attendance was up by almost 3,000 compared with the 2014 annual conference in Las Vegas.
Further contributing to the mood was the presentation of TechLogic’s inaugural People First Award to the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Pennsylvania Avenue Branch in Baltimore, for its courage in remaining open as a safe haven during the turmoil following the death of Freddie Gray in police custody. Branch manager Melanie Townsend-Diggs and Director Carla Hayden delivered moving words on the experience.
Continuing the social justice theme, social media scholar and advocate danah boyd presented on digital literacy and big data as part of the RUSA President’s Program on Sunday, June 28. ALA Council on Sunday morning overwhelmingly passed the Resolution on the Importance of Sustainable Libraries.
The Knight Foundation announced its second News Challenge for Libraries, with the specific question and open call for ideas expected in March and winners to be presented at the 2016 annual conference in Orlando, FL. The Knight and Sloan foundations also said that together they’re making a $3.4 million investment in the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), which will help the program cover all 50 states by 2017. ALA released its National Policy Agenda for Libraries, focusing on fostering capacity and advancing the public interest.
Top tech trends
Librarians should not be afraid to discuss the implications of collecting and analyzing patron data, library technology consultant Carson Block said during the Library and Information Technology Association’s (LITA) Top Tech Trends panel on June 28. Patrons have become accustomed to commercial entities anticipating their interests and needs, Block argued, but if libraries refuse to consider ways in which patron data can be managed responsibly, they risk falling behind enterprises that offer superior service but little concern for confidentiality.
Block was joined by Andrea Davis, knowledge manager for the Forest Trust (TFT); Grace Dunbar, VP, Equinox Software; Bonnie Tijerina, founder of Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) and fellow at the Data and Society Institute in New York; and moderator Emily Clasper, system operations and training manager, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, NY.
Each panelist came prepared to discuss two technology trends impacting libraries and patrons. The discussion on patron privacy was sparked by Tijerina’s first trend—widespread availability of free Wi-Fi and the growth of “smart cities.”
GOOD TIMES AT ANNUAL Top row, l.-r.: Celebrating the Supreme Court decision on the Defense of Marriage Act at San Francisco’s City Hall; on the show floor, 3M set up a Diversity Wall to promote diverse books and made a donation for each title suggested; Sunday’s Pride Parade headline said it all. Second row, l.-r.: ALA Keynoter Roberta Kaplan dovetailed with the historic events of the week in her speech at the Opening General Session; Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Melanie Townsend-Diggs and Carla Hayden (holding check, l.–r.) received TechLogic’s People First Award during the Opening Session; Sarah Lewis headlined at the ALA President’s Program, Third row, l.-r.: the exhibits, as always, were a huge draw; the Knight Foundation took the opportunity to make a big announcement. Fourth row, l.-r.: part of the Auditorium Speaker Series, Gloria Steinem drew a crowd; the winners of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction were announced, with keynote by basketball legend–turned–novelist Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Nonfiction winner Bryan Stevenson (12)—Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption—posed with well-wishers; fiction winner Anthony Doerr (13)—All the Light We Cannot See—was all smiles. Photos by Tom Graves and James Rosso/TwiceHeroes.com
Because public-private partnerships among municipalities, tech corporations, and advertisers are emerging as a more likely model for getting such networks built, universal broadband access offers new opportunities for libraries but also raises new concerns about privacy. Tijerina discussed cross-sector collaboration as her second trend. For example, social media organizations and telecommunications companies have user data that could be useful to humanitarian organizations during a crisis.
Davis discussed the resurgence of podcasting, noting that improved tools are leading to mainstream popularity. As her other trend, Davis discussed how libraries are continuing to deploy RFID technology to simplify inventory tracking and tasks beyond self-checkout and security provision.
Block’s first trend concerned patrons bringing multiple devices to the library, noting that, in aggregate, these can strain Wi-Fi capacity. Investing in movable, scalable wireless access points that don’t require controllers is one way to meet increasing demand, he said. For his second trend, Block discussed the growth of “innovation communities” within libraries.
Dunbar, whose Equinox Software provides hosting, training, and development support for the open source Evergreen integrated library system (ILS), as well as the Koha ILS and other open source solutions, highlighted two ongoing trends: the growth of open source in general and the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) to connect a library’s ILS with third-party services and systems.
Academic libraries consider the future
At “Look into the Crystal Ball: Future Directions for Higher Education and Academic Libraries,” sponsored by the Association of College and Research Libraries University Libraries Section (ACRL ULS), panelists Chris Bourg, MIT director of libraries; Janice Jaguszewski, director and associate university librarian of health sciences at University of Minnesota (UMN) libraries; Deanna Marcum, managing director at Ithaka S+R; and Mitchell Stevens, associate professor of education and sociology at Stanford University shared their forecasts.
Stevens envisioned multiplatform vehicles for teaching and research, transforming higher education. He also noted, with the ever-growing demand for lifelong education, “We’re going to be needing to fit higher education into adult lives rather than fit adult lives into higher education.” People will need portals they can trust; curation will be key to translating the ubiquity of information into educational quality.
Marcum cited two recent Ithaka studies that referenced low completion rates; the pedagogical techniques needed to educate an increasingly diverse student population; the consistency of transfer credits; and varying levels of preparedness among students. Online instruction enables public universities to increase access without having to build out physically and helps private colleges stay vital as class sizes shrink. But this changing infrastructure also brings clashes between administrators, who are looking for ways to increase numbers, and faculty, who feel that new teaching methods take time away from required research. Libraries are well positioned to assist on both sides, Marcum noted, by providing technology, information on open educational resources, course material evaluation, and general support.
Jaguszewski felt academic libraries need to ask: What do users need that the library is in a position to provide? She pointed to several UMN initiatives, including its Grand Challenges, which encourage cross-disciplinary student investigations toward solutions for problems such as poverty, climate change, and hunger; Zooniverse, a group of citizen science websites, and its humanities correlate Zoomanities, which encourages crowdsourced document transcription; and the university’s data repository (DRUM), part of a suite of data management and curation services.
“We’re rethinking what a…degree looks like,” said Jaguszewski. “Is there a standard sequence of courses that you have to take?” Much of what spurs UMN’s innovation is the demand for what she terms radical collaboration—leveraging expertise from everywhere.
Bourg said she is less interested in how libraries respond to change and more in how they create it. It would be valuable, Bourg said, to develop discovery environments that would put curation and filtering tools in the hands of users.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT Top row, l.-r.: LJ’s annual Movers & Shakers luncheon honoring the class of 2015 was held at the Blue Mermaid; 2015 Movers (l.–r.) Stevo Roksandic, Heather McCue, and Mindy Reed toast the day with SLJ’s Rocco Staino (back); the first group Mover, We Need Diverse Books, was represented by (l.–r.) Ilene Wong Gregorio, Dhonielle Clayton, and Sona Charaipotra. Second row, l.-r.: more Class of 2015 Movers (l.–r.): Michelle Luhtala, Seth Ciotti, Brian Mayer, and Melissa Jacobs; on hand as well were (l.–r.) Movers Christy Aguirre, Lori Easterwood, Sarah Flowers, and Gregory Lum; SAGE also feted the 2015 academic Movers with a reception at its booth, where (l.–r.) Sharona Ginsberg, Kyle Courtney, and Colleen Theisen were celebrated. Third row, l.-r.: at another party, LJ’s 2015 Paralibrarian of the Year, Tamara Faulkner (2d from l.), Hickory PL, NC, received kudos from (l.–r.) Hickory PL director Louise Humphrey, State Librarian of North Carolina Cal Shepard, and Assistant State Librarian Jennifer Pratt; amid friends and colleagues, Faulkner had her photo op with the $1,500 check from award cosponsor DEMCO, presented by DEMCO’s Janet Nelson. Photos by Tom Graves and James Rosso/TwiceHeroes.com
Libraries also need to take on issues of data literacy, Bourg proposed; she would like to see them join with faculty in teaching critical thinking skills and fostering consciousness. “I think librarians’ single most important contribution to the future,” she said, “will be to equip our communities with the history, the context, and the data to understand and solve the big problems of our times.” Bourg called for activist, proactive librarians “who will be the change we want to see in the library world, in higher education, and in our communities.”
The envelope please
As always, far too many book programs and authors to list packed the schedule (many moderated by LJ Prepub Alert editor Barbara Hoffert, who shared her impressions at ow.ly/PHIMr). LJ Reviews editor Henrietta Verma shared her small press finds at ow.ly/PHIpB; more book and database coverage from ALA can be found in the reference section (p. 125).
Headlining them all was the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. ALA president Courtney Young presented the welcome address; author and basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar delivered the keynote; and Carnegie Medals Selection Committee member Donna Seaman announced the winners. In fiction, the award went to Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See, published by Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster (S. & S.). In nonfiction, it honored Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, published by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House.
At the awards ceremony, ALA announced that going forward the Carnegie awards would be aligned with the association’s other notable honors such as the Newbery and the Caldecott. Shortlists will be announced in the fall (look for the 2016 shortlist in October 2015), with the winners announced at each Midwinter Meeting.
Every conference produces a bumper crop of news from the companies that serve libraryland, and this one was no exception.
EBSCO and Ex Libris announced a partnership to streamline libraries’ acquisition processes and optimize patron access. All print book, ebook, and journal orders placed via EBSCO online collection development or ordering systems will be automatically updated in Ex Libris’s Alma LMS through EBSCO’s use of the Alma Real Time Acquisition API. In addition, EBSCO is making proprietary linking technology available to Ex Libris to improve the accuracy of links from Ex Libris solutions to full-text articles hosted on the EBSCOhost platform. EBSCO also expanded its partnership with the H.W. Wilson Foundation to increase the American Doctoral Dissertations database to include submissions from 1955 to the present, with the goal of a single portal at www.opendissertations.com.
ProQuest debuted Intota v2 at the conference. Powered by a linked data metadata engine, it will provide acquisitions, description and delivery capabilities, and support management of both electronic and print collections and will include a next-generation version of Knowledgebase. It will be available to libraries in mid-2016. ProQuest Ebook Central, which integrates elements from both ebrary and EBL, plus new functionality, is now in beta and is expected to go live later this year.
Gale, part of Cengage Learning, debuted a collaboration with Skillsoft to deliver approximately 250 online workforce training courses on business, management, and computer application skills to public libraries. Gale also said that it will be enabling its full-text scholarly content—roughly 2.5 million articles from thousands of scholarly publishers—to be indexed by Google Scholar.
SirsiDynix and Zepheira announced a joint project to develop a plug-and-play product, the Visible Library Beta Program, that will convert MARC records to linked data findable through a web search. Interested libraries can start right away.
Innovative also announced a new service to simplify the publication of Linked Data records. The new Output Data for Libhub Service extracts library records from the database of any Innovative ILS or Service Platform (Sierra, Polaris ILS, Virtua, or Millennium) and formats them for transformation to Linked Data vocabularies including BIBFRAME and schema.org. The new service is available as a one-time full database output with optional monthly updates. Library records are output in MARC/XML for sending to Zepheira, which transforms them to BIBFRAME and publishes them to the web.
Baker & Taylor’s (B&T) Evidence-based Selection Planning (ESP) service has completed its pilot and is now available for all U.S. public libraries. ESP combines data analytics from collectionHQ with B&T’s Title Source 360 to choose titles based on past circulation by author, subject, and other metadata. The service will include new functionality in the forms of Title Performance Ranking, Predictive Distribution Engine, Fund Monitoring, Performance Monitoring, and Enhanced Collection Development Support. Three service levels will be available to accommodate libraries of various sizes and budgets. The company also debuted its new All-in-One Axis 360 mobile app.
HONORS & AUTHORS Top row, l.-r.: the Ferguson Municipal Public Library, MO, was honored during ALA as LJ’s 2015 Library of the Year. (l.–r.) Editorial Director Rebecca Miller presented a plaque to Director Scott Bonner (2d from l.), here with LJ publisher Ian Singer and sponsor Gale Cengage’s David Schroeter; the library’s efforts were acknowledged (2) with a standing ovation. Second row, l.-r.: Bonner spent time with (l.–r.) Salt Lake County libraries director Jim Cooper, Seattle City Librarian Marcellus Turner, and Larry Neal, director, Clinton-Macomb PL, MI, and president of the Public Library Assn.; Steven Potter, director of the Mid-Continent PL, MO, spoke on the impulse to nominate Ferguson; Bonner also garnered the Lemony Snicket Award, delivered by Snicket himself, Daniel Handler (c.), plus an “honorary brown girl dreaming” sweatshirt from author Jacqueline Woodson (l.). Third row, l.-r.: sessions included the Beyond Genre panel, with writers Marc Thompson and January LaVoy; Shannon Kopp; and Michelle Tea. Photos by Tom Graves and James Rosso/TwiceHeroes.com
Above the Treeline launched Edelweiss Analytics, a collection analysis tool for libraries that blends the Edelweiss platform’s organizational tools and title data with the methodology and style of inventory analysis tool Above the Treeline, used by independent bookstores. Ingram Library Services worked with Above the Treeline to bring the product to market and will handle sales and marketing. Edelweiss Analytics tracks library circulation and monitors collections, providing recommendations on removing and/or adding titles. In addition to holdings and circulations at other libraries, it includes retail sales and stock information and integrated digital galleys.
3M unveiled an integration between its 3M SelfCheck QuickConnect Interface and the 3M Cloud Library that recommends ebooks to patrons while they are checking out print books and other materials, which can be borrowed using the SelfCheck touch screen. LibraryThing presented TinyCat, a new OPAC for small libraries with fewer than 10,000 holdings.
Ebooks and more
OverDrive debuted OverDrive Listen instant audiobooks, as well as narrated ebooks that synchronize the read-aloud text page views. Soon, the company said, streaming video and audiobooks will be extended to Roku, so consumers can use them on home TVs via Wi-Fi.
Odilo announced the addition of frontlist and backlist titles from Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and S. & S. to its ebook lending library.
Pay-as-you-read ebook platform Total Boox announced a new partnership with the Califa Library Group.
Recorded Books and iVerse Media inked an agreement giving Recorded Books the exclusive right to sell Comics Plus: Library Edition to public libraries in the United States and Canada. Recorded Books partnered with Boopsie to work with Boopsie’s new AccessILS platform to scale sales and deployment and integrate with a library’s existing ILS.
Ebook distribution network Trajectory Inc. and Image Comics announced a global digital distribution deal.
A bigger piece of the fundraising pie
ALA’s United for Libraries division presented a session on a perennial topic of interest: “Getting a Bigger Piece of the Pie: Effective Communication with Funders and Policy Makers.” Deborah Doyle, director of development for the Friends of the San Francisco Public Library (SFPL), president of the California Library Association, and United for Libraries board member, used the end of a major funding and construction drive as a reason to organize a citywide celebration. The resulting parties have brought in a number of new partners and sponsors.
Valerie Gross, CEO and president of the Howard County Library System, MD, and April Butcher, executive director of the Sacramento Public Library (SPL) Foundation, CA, and member of the board of directors of California Public Library Advocates, both advocated rebranding library services to focus on their core educational and literacy mission.
Among the hands-on tips, direct mail tends to work better than online; collaborate with other organizations that share your mission; tell outcome stories people want to hear, such as halting summer slide; and make sure the board has members who will reach out to other institutions and implement intentional leadership and solid financial practices.
To justify fundraising to patrons who wonder why they’re being asked to pay for a publicly funded institution, talk about enrichment, panelists said, and be able to explain where programming comes from, while keeping in mind that the larger donors are typically not library users. Panelists also offered advice about reaching out to older constituents by highlighting specific senior-friendly programs and to younger, affluent citizens by explaining how an endowment made now can multiply their impact three times over.
This is only a fraction of LJ’s coverage of ALA’s annual conference. For more, visit lj.libraryjournal.com.
Matt Enis is Associate Editor, Technology; Barbara Hoffert is Prepub Alert Editor; Lisa Peet is Associate Editor, News; Meredith Schwartz is Executive Editor; and Henrietta Verma is Reviews Editor, LJ