Imagining with Members: DC Chapter

US Department of Education
US Department of Education

My July visit to Washington, D.C., combined a great DC/SLA Chapter program, several library visits, and a quiet dinner with a friend and mentor.

I began my tours at the U.S. Department of Education, National Library of Education, where I met with Karen White and Pamela Tripp-Melby. The Library has a total staff of thirteen. Director Tripp-Melby works with White on outreach efforts, including presentations on services and resources for the evidence-based research that is conducted across the agency. The Library serves Department employees and the public. A major project is the cataloging of a textbook collection that dates from the 1830’s to the 1940’s and includes 28,000 volumes. This project highlights the extension of traditional library competencies into areas of special collections and digitization. Pamela leads Open Access for the Department of Education, and worked with other Department employees to draft their policy. A challenge in the Ed policy is the definition of research. Much Department funding goes to programming that may or may not produce a scholarly paper. Data  and data storage also present unique policy challenges. With no central education data repository, researchers will need  to store data in local repositories. Education data includes a significant amount of human subjects data, which must be handled with care.

Turning to SLA, we bridged the open access and data discussion with career opportunities for data librarians. Researchers need people who can manage this information. This is a career development opportunity for SLA and its units. Other emerging careers for information professionals include user experience  and information architecture professionals. Indexers and catalogers are re-imagining themselves as metadata specialists. Special librarians have skills and knowledge of organizations that can be leveraged for new career opportunities. Understanding emerging fields and practices is critical, and our conference programming must reflect this content. A shift in our conference planning cycle to a competitive programming model could assist in delivering fresh, broad content.

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Imagining with members: Pacific Northwest and Oregon Chapters

This past week I traveled to Seattle, WA and Portland, OR to attend ACRL 2015. Flying into Seattle, I had the opportunity to make a few site visits and attend a Pacific Northwest Chapter (PNW) Board meeting.

Liz Doyle and Mary-Thadia D’Hondt met with me at the Region 10 EPA Library. Inside the space was a blend of new technology and traditional collections that serve both employees and the public. A highlight was a collaboration table that allowed groups to plug into a shared interface with individual computers and jointly work on projects. With government dollars being stretched ever further, Liz and Mary are seeing an increase in interlibrary loan. There is also a movement toward a more centralized look-and-feel amongst EPA sites, as well as shared development and information opportunities such as webinars.

Dee, Liz Doyle, Mary-Thadia D'Hondt at Region 10 EPA Library
Dee, Liz Doyle, Mary-Thadia D’Hondt at Region 10 EPA Library

I toured the University of Washington with the Executive Director of the National Science Communication Institute (nSCI), Glenn Hampson. We had a group lunch that included Mel DeSart, UW, to discuss possibilities for an All Scholarship Repository, part of the Open Scholarship Initiative. There is exciting work ahead on this project that is focused on accessible research. Stay tuned!

University of Washington Reading Room
University of Washington Reading Room

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