A Friday flurry at OLA

A major storm hit Toronto, but I made the 20 minute drive to the convention centre in one piece.
At 8:00 am Vincent Lam, the winner of the 2006 Giller Prize for Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures, gave a talk on his experiences as a doctor and writer, as well as library-user. With all the high-tech equipment in modern medicine, language is still very important. He presented quotes from other doctor-writers, and my personal favourite was a quote from William Osler:
“It is easier to buy books than to read them, and easier to read than to absorb them.”
photo Vincent Lam on the big screen at the early Friday morning plenary at OLA 2008.
The first morning session I attended was Moving your Library to 2.0 and Beyond, and there were two presenters from Oakville Public Library and one from McMaster University.
Oakville Public Library adopted the 23 Things program for staff development of web 2.0 skills from the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg, as well as the Five Weeks to a Social Library program. The presenters from Oakville emphasized that there is a need for onging, onsite, all-the-time professional training. For a public library this is a plus for recruiting good employees and staff retention.
Oakville Public Library also discovered a great YouTube video that explains wikis:
Oakville Public Library outlined their list of steps for their web 2.0 training. Here are the main points:
1. Know your culture. The library might have enthusiastic users, but the staff could be overworked.
2. Get buy-in from your executive/directors.
3. Determine budget.
4. Get buy-in from management team.
5. Start buzz; pay attention to timing.
6. Poll your staff (if appropriate).
7. Determine the scope.
8. Which tools? Core competencies?
9. Determine parameters. Voluntary or mandatory?
10. Training delivery (what, when, where, who)
11. Incentives.
The result of the training was that staff became familiarized with the tools and thus were able to help patrons better. The staff could better encourage use of these web 2.0 tools, although there was not a lot of direct training of the public. There was not a lot of library operationalizing of these tools (although the elephant-in-the-room for Ontario libraries is BiblioCommons with its web 2.0 OPAC design). Blogs seemed to be the most used tools. There was some discussion on the problems with staff collaboration on documents. Google Docs was mentioned, and one library indicated that they solved a lot of these problems by using Microsoft SharePoint. Owen Sound Public Library advocated the development of in-house wikis over blogs, because the problems with collaboration and version control are solved with wikis. One problem today is out-of-control shared staff drives. Finding documents, collaborating, and version control are increasingly difficult with storing files on shared network drives.
These training sessions were useful for existing staff. New hires tend to have more familiarization with web 2.0 tools, and so to get them up to speed, pointing to the library’s existing web 2.0 content and having them go through the programs on their own is all they need to do, according to the presenters from Oakville Public Library.
A blog to check regularly: Tame the Web, updated by Michael Stephens.
The midday plenary featured Carl Honoré, author of In Praise of Slow: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed. (The book is also published under the title: In Praise of Slowness : Challenging the Cult of Speed).
Sharron Smith of the Kitchener Public Library presented an award to Ami McKay, the author of The Birth House.
More awards…
Mike Ridley of the University of Guelph receives the OLA’s Larry Moore Distinguished Service Award.
I spoke with Cynthia Bale of the University of Ottawa Library who presented a poster session on the exhibit floor at OLA 2008. Her topic was Trends and Effectiveness of On-Line Public Catalogues. She compared a traditional catalogue with one that had the newest faceted search interface. She found that individual differences in users had the biggest impact on the usability of OPACs– or in other words, the latest and greatest OPAC tools don’t necessarily translate into users becoming better searchers. Even after some training users had difficulty overcoming habits such as entering author names in First Name-Last Name order.
There were more cataloguing issues discussed at my first afternoon session: 245 $A: Cataloguing /$B : Back to Basics. As I listened to the presenters from public libraries I was struck by the importance of series searching and browsing. The Library of Congress had recently cut back on creating series authorities, and the outcry over this led to the formation of the Working Group on the Future of Bibliographic Control. In an elementary school library children love series– searching by series and browsing books on the shelves in series order.
Other cataloguing tips, problems, and practices…
From Waterloo Region District School Board:
– not doing genre any more; moving to subject only
– cuttering by series in many cases (children love to browse series on the shelves)
– removing “Juvenile literature” subdivision on subject headings
– consolidating the same work by different publishers in one record
– biographies classified by discipline
At the York University Law Library these were some of the issues:
– many loose-leaf publications; new cataloguing rules to follow
– complexity of replacement copies and supplements for sets
– problems with numerous editions where primary responsibility changes
– uniform titles for “Laws, etc.”, individual laws, and treaties
– consolidation in the publishing industry
– government body name changes
The cataloguing manual from the library at Brigham Young University was mentioned as a good resource.
I convened the last session of day, William Denton’s session on FRBR: Who’s Using It and What Can I Expect Next? William Denton, the web librarian at York University has maintained an excellent blog on FRBR, The FRBR Blog. In fact, William recorded the entire session and it is available (along with the presentation slides) from his blog posting on his OLA session: http://www.frbr.org/2008/02/02/denton-ontario-library-association-talk.
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