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Tales from a Web Librarian

ALA 2015 Recap, Days 2 & 3

ALA sessions were in full force this weekend, hence the late blog post. But I attended some pretty awesome talks (and hosted a couple myself) that I'm excited to share! Saturday Bright and early Saturday morning I attended a talk entitled "All the Data: Privacy, Service Quality, and Analytics" given by Lisa Hinchliffe and Andrew Asher. Lisa began the discussion by stressing that, although data collection in libraries is an essential form of evaluation, it needs to be done in a way that protects both the patron and the library. The shift to digital platforms, integrated library systems, and vendor-hosted services has given us a deluge of opportunities and avenues for exploring data that would have been unavailable to us two decades ago. But with great power comes great responsibility (spiderman, eh?). The idea of collecting user data to develop higher quality services is a fantastic idea, but where (and how) do we draw the line on what we collect and retain? How do we initiate consent-based data collection without losing the ability to collect meaningful data completely? Is it appropriate to retain a list of all the titles a patron has ever checked out or requested? Certainly not.

One of the major points in ALA's Privacy Declaration states "All users have a right to be free from any unreasonable intrusion into or surveillance of their lawful library use"-- a point we all assume is being upheld by the libraries we visit. But what happens if these trusted, respected institutions aren't upholding their end of the bargain?

The numerous risks of retaining identifiable patron data was then listed by Andrew, along with some recommended best practices for data collection in libraries. It was a very eye-opening, and sometimes alarming, talk!

Afterward, I attended a really awesome talk called "Rightsizing Your Library: From Weeding to Services" given by Suzanne M. Ward, Mary Evangeliste, andKatherine Furlong. Essentially, the talk stressed strategy, objectivism, user-centered approaches, openness, diversity, and repetition. For a hardcore collection librarian like myself, it was fabulously validating and enlightening to hear the stories and process refinements from fellow academic librarians.

I then met up with Laura to talk with a representative from Kanopy, a video platform much like Netflix but designed for libraries.

Finally, Laura and I headed over to a talk on Makerspaces where we met up with Meredith and Alex. It was quite a crazy day (imagine navigating the busy San Fran streets while hundreds of librarians slowly meander about in their cardigans (IT'S CALLED POWER WALKING, PEOPLE.. sigh).

Sunday Sunday was EXHAUSTING. Early that morning I headed over to the main exhibit hall of the gigantic Moscone building to present my wonderfully bright, bookworm-adorned, poster on our acquisitions policy. My poster was easily the best one there (hem hem) and I received numerous compliments on the design and readability.

Here's how the poster looked in all its 8ft glory. I also adorned my table with one of my scarfs for a little extra pizzazz (BOOM):

And here's me admiring how good a thesis can look with some design accoutrements (note coffee in hand):

The poster sesh went off really well, and I had a fabulous team of supporters and facilitators to back me up (Laura, Alex, and Meredith). I made some great contacts with fellow librarians in the field, and even made friends with a librarian who found a way to address ez-proxy error issues with a simple code!

Laura's poster session followed, and despite the mob, I was able to spend a little time admiring the beautiful poster Meredith designed to highlight EdLab's accomplishments over the years.

From there I headed over to the Marriott conference hall to facilitate my hour long discussion on digital acquisitions. I had the pleasure of prompting and guiding a lovely group of librarians through the talk, and heard some really valuable opinions and insight on their own digital acq policies within their academic libraries.