Why I Like UVU’s Library

April 3, 2009

I am back at the Utah Valley University Library and I wanted to share why I like this place:


There is just something nice about the feeling of natural light while you study or do research. Why do libraries have to be dark and archaic? The openness is inviting and encourages long periods of study instead of a desire to leave as soon as possible, like some of the more light-restrictive and oppressive library atmospheres.


Very few places seem cramped. The ceilings are purposefully high and in some cases open two or three stories up. It is also really clean looking but part of that is of course how new the facility is.

Food court

I love the idea of being able to eat in libraries. UVU pulls this off really well. Somehow even though there is study areas all throughout the food court and around it, the area is still very quiet and conducive to thoughtful study (I am in the food court writing this). However, this does not mean one cannot talk in groups.


There is a place to study everywhere. I have walked all through the building and I can always see somewhere to sit, plug in, and work, chat, or socialize.


You can collaborate, you can study in private; there is even a large playroom for students who have children but still want to get some studying done.

Go here to see the other pictures I have of the library.

UVU Library Food Court

UVU Library Food Court

Study Area

Study Area


Getting Involved in ACRL (ALA 2008)

July 28, 2008

While at ALA I was able to go to the ACRL 101 session Saturday Morning.

The first part of the session discussed ways to get more involved in ACRL. One of the ways that I can really support is to read their blogs. I find I read almost every post from ACRLog because they are always so thoughtful and informative. The second part of the session was centered on how to negotiate ALA annual. Here are my notes from the speaker’s comments on ACRL and negotiating ALA Annual:

How to get involved at ACRL

  • people who are successful are attracted to other people who are successful
  • We want to learn
    • we have f2f
      • conferences
      • scholarships
    • electronic learning
      • on-point chats
      • spring board speakers
      • volunteers for podcasts/webinars are welcome
  • want to advance
  • want to have an impact
    • blogs
    • best practices in C&RL News (C&RL is the #1 publication outlet in our field)
    • 25 discussion lists
    • volunteer in over 50 different committees (New Member Wiki has info)
    • mentoring opportunities
    • enter your profile and photo on Meet our Members website
    • form an interest group
    • effective practices clearing house
    • become a legislative advocate

Advice for New Librarians at ALA Annual Conference

  • acronym list
  • map
  • you can attend anything that is not closed
    • awards committees/nominating committees are closed
  • still go to committee meetings
    • listen to their issues
    • find out where you might fit in
  • find time for yourself
    • personal health
    • take a swim in your hotel pool
    • visit local attractions
  • take notes: so much information
  • have business cards handy
    • jot down what you talked about for later
  • how do you choose what you do?
    • programs
      • try something you have never heard of; new perspective
    • exhibit halls
      • just take the free stuff you will actually use
      • use UPS/FedEx if you can’t fit everything in your luggage
      • you will also find chocolate
      • of course you can talk with the reps from publishers and vendors
    • networking
      • talk to people on the shuttle
    • tours
    • discussions
    • poster sessions
      • take the handouts so you can think about it later
  • make a schedule…then abandon it
    • pick out things that interest you…but sometimes you may not be right in your choice
    • don’t be afraid to walk out and go to another session
  • don’t stress
    • you may miss something but you can always email who offered the program and get info from them

Publishing in Library Science: ULA/MPLA 2008

May 9, 2008

Peter KrausPeter Kraus, from the University of Utah Library, presented a fascinating discussion on how to start publishing in library science.

Favorite tips:

Start with reviewing articles and grants; you can see over time what makes a good article/grant proposal to help you in your own future compositions.

Look at the Journal of Library Philosophy and Practice–particularly welcoming to first-time writers.

Here are my notes:

What do you mean I have to write?

Do I even have something to say?

Publishing within librarianship or any field in academia should be a supportive venture

You do have something to say—we all have a voice.

Ave academic librarian publishes two articles in a career—this makes it so there is not a really strong understanding of why we are faculty

Publication is a yardstick to measure productivity

Helps with external funding (more research, more likely to receive research grant)

Rachel Singer: Librarian’s guide to writing for publication (2004)

New ideas

New projects; case studies

New programs (even ones that were not successful)

New collaborations

Trends affecting your library (internal and external)

Rule of three—if you have an idea this is a progression:




Writing happens on our own time

8am: 1 hour a day to write/research/edit (nothing happens in the morning)

Or, professional leave (every other Friday; spring break, etc)

Getting Started

Read what others have written: good, bad and ugly

Be objective

With the Idea

Start writing asap—just jot down your ideas immediately

Get your source lined up early

If you are dealing with a publishing deadline make sure ILL is done early for you

Keep a list—what’s current, what can wait

Some publication projects are more urgent than others; can your topic wait a year while you work on another publication that is more current and necessary today? (good example: historical information—this does not change)

Writing style: Concise Clear and Complete

Remember the reader

Begin with main point

Be concise

Be unemotional

Use clear, specific language

Write in a friendly professional style (not so cold)

User active voice whenever possible

Move from known information to new information as quickly as possible – don’t bore the reader

Avoid complicated sentences

Use correct grammar, spelling and punctuation

How to begin publishing

Book reviews (journals are always looking for book reviewers)—some libraries do not see this as a valid publication outlet

Journals that mentor new writers

Journal clubs/faculty writing groups/Grand Rounds

Start a writing group where you get your peers opinion before you submit it to a journal

Grand Rounds: formal presentations to your colleagues in the library

Grant reviewers (federal, state, non-profit)—National Endowment for Humanities, NEA, other state institutions

Review grant proposals will help you see good and bad grants

Writing for publication course for graduate students in a university

Many universities have this type of course

Writing Scientific Writing course

H-net: www.h-net.org CFP (call for paper/presentation)

Various list-servs by disciplines

Calls for papers and book reviews

Age-old questions

Do you focus on one key journal

Do you focus on many journals

Publishing in LIS journals

Publishing outside the field

Two most important points

Quality is everything—journal article is you

Do something you are interested in or passionate about


University writing labs

Often ignored by faculty

Not for content but for organization and structure issues

What can happen if you get published?

Invitations to write

Invitations to present at conferences

Where to start looking to publish

Journal of Library and Philosophy of Practice—this is my favorite articles

4-6 weeks from time of submission to response; 3-6 month for publications

For your first or your 50th article this is a wonderful journal

Articles from all over the world

Portal: Libraries and the Academy

Very supportive mentoring program

Stand by your values

Elsevier = good to writers; bad to librarians—are you looking at this as a librarian or a writer?

Open access = good

Institutional repositories


If a journal does not allow you to keep copyright, move on and find another or negotiate (even hard-core contracts are negotiable)

If your dean is advocating for SPARC – open access follow the example


15% acceptance rate so this is a big deal but there are different avenues

College and research libraries news

Look at what they are looking for—look at their call for papers

College and research libraries

Journal of academic librarianship

Some like it others don’t (Elsevier bought this journal)

Look at their website

Always looking for book reviewers

Utah Academy of sciences, arts and letters


great for discipline research, hard sciences, history, British Literature

practically guaranteed a presentation if you are accepted

published abstract even if the article is not published (nine different indexes in different fields)


Q: reviews: do they provide a text they would like a review for? Or do you read something, compose and submit before you know if they want it?

They will send you a list and you select a book you would like to review

How likely is it to get published without a PhD in a discipline journal

Partner with professors but make sure the work is equally distributed

Journal of library philosophy and practice

Even though it is online it is peer-reviewed, index in 6 different journals,

Q: it is not outside faculty it is library faculty who are not letting us publish in online journals

Just tell your provost: you are asking for peer-reviewed journals and that is where I am at” show them the acceptance rates and show comparable numbers with other academic journals

Get a letter from the publisher: your article is getting published and it is a peer-reviewed journal (if your publication will not come out till next year)

Q: when you are thinking about something to write about or on and trying to decide on qualitative or quantitative studies;

Your decision; check for what has been done; if it is a NEW idea, do it

Successful Library Instruction

March 21, 2008

At the close of another instruction season for me, I have some observations.


I found that movement around the classroom made a huge difference in attention. Although it felt awkward at times, even showing a book or other item of interest behind the first few rows changed things up and kept the students off-balance enough to renew their focus.

Another technique I found effective was voice variation. I got more mileage out of emphasizing through whispers than I did through loud excitement. Of course it was the bellowing that made the whispers unusual.


What do you do when you hear, “I don’t like my topic” or the softer “I don’t really have a topic yet”? My first response is always, “What’s your major?” Freshman writing can be dangerous going down this road. If they are Undeclared, I move on to “What do you like to do?” Essentially, I try to get them to tell me what they are interested in, why they are in the major they are in, what they do in their spare time, etc. From there we talk about how their individual interests actually can connect with the assigned umbrella topic.

Once they have a topic that they are actually interested in, they need to find information and resources. Students really respond when they see how a tool applies to their research. Answering the “So…how is this supposed to help ME?” question in their eyes can do wonders. Sometimes a practice run through a database with a student’s real topic doesn’t go that well (0 hits). Taking the extra time running through ways of broadening search terms pays dividends. My favorite thing to do is open it up to the whole class. The more or the students who participate openly, the more other students can gain ideas and confidence from their peers.


One of the tools I love to introduce is the bibliography generator (in our case, RefWorks). I know that everyone gets an “ooh, aaah” out the of three-second Works Cited page but I like RefWorks because of its organization potential. I love helping students see how having links back to the item or at least a citation can help them speed up the initial source-finding process. Mark it and export so you can look at it later without having to re-search again.

One of the aspects of library instruction I find can be potentially frustrating is teaching how to use the library catalog. Since the OPAC is not as usable as Google, students can quickly become turned off by it. Helping them see that general terms are best in the OPAC and specific are best in subscription databases has increase the usefulness of the library and books in general. Monographs in the catalog have a lot more information than what their title and limited LCSH have to tell about them.


Finally, even though the instruction sessions are designed to be formal, finding a way to connect to each student is invaluable. Be personal; allow yourself to laugh with them. Show interest in what they are researching and why. This helps you connect faster when you go one-on-one with them during their personal practice time; now they will really accept your help when you approach them. If you honestly try to remember their topics and majors, or at least show that you tried (by guessing and failing) you will have another connection.

One of the funnest ways I have found to connect with the students is learning their names. 20 students names in only 1 to 2 hours (depending on your program)? Mission: possible. Be at the door when they come in and ask them. Then in the middle of instruction you can use the name when they raise their hand or if you call on them. If you forget, take a minute and try to remember. A good laugh comes quickly when students see an instructor struggling on a name–but it also adds credibility. All people, not just students, what to be treated as individuals.

First-Year Writing and Libraries

March 4, 2008

The ACRL blog has a guest post by Marilyn R. Pukkila who reports on some things she heard at the First-Year Experience Conference. While attending a presentation in which the speaker mentioned library instruction:

…the speaker asked, “And what do we think of the library presentation?” in a tone which obviously invited ridicule and criticism. One of the participants obligingly responded with a rude noise, and the presenter nodded and laughed along with others in the room…

I have always had a great response from students about the usefulness of instruction. Until our tools become as intuitive as Google, students and faculty can learn something new.

Marilyn continues:

Yes, my ego was a bit bruised, but I’m much more concerned with the messages that students are receiving from faculty about the useful/uselessness of librarians in the educational enterprise.

This is a real issue. I have felt on more than one occasion that the students who come to library instruction a little less than excited to learn are in the sections with First-Year Writing instructors who think library instruction is a waste of time or even who are resentful that we take time away from their class; however, if we are not helping the isntructors’ students I can’t really blame them.

For me the most effective library instruction sessions I’ve had or observed were those in which the librarian and the instructor met and discussed in detail what the learning outcomes were for the course as well as the instruction. Buy-in can be as simple as skipping a database that the instructor feels is less-effective. The other byproduct of those kinds of informal meetings with librarian and instructor is confidence: confidence in the librarian’s ability and in the value of library instruction. If the librarian shows a strong sense of capacity and professionalism in this pre-library instruction planning meeting, the FYW instructor is more likely to look forward to the instruction.

Leap Year for Libraries

February 29, 2008

I started thinking about what academic libraries could look like next February 29th (or maybe what I hope they will look like) and here is what I came up with:


Books will still be a part of the budget but we will see more agreements like the journal-subscription model for serials: print, online only, or print and online. Libraries will be able to decide if they want the book in print or full-text online or both and will pay vendors a fee for each type of access.

Information Commons

[Update Jan 9, 2009: Had to delete a link to cindiann‘s photo of the Harvard Lamont Library Cafe because the University asked it to be removed from all public accounts…Sad. Anyway, if you have a chance, check it out.]

There will be increasing pressure to have a cafe with Wifi for informal collaboration and research. Libraries will need to come to grips with how they really feel about food. The Commons will be a place to share and mashup the streaming content available from on and off campus (e.g., course videos, presentations, YouTube, etc).


I would like to say (once RDA finally is adopted) that in four years MARC will at least be enhanced by FRBR principles or, even better, MARC will be replaced altogether (*sigh* if only). As it is, this seems optimistic in the extreme.

Interlibrary Loan

Although the total number of interlibrary loan requests may not go down, there will be less requests for individual articles as more content is available online. I actually tried to find a citation in Ebsco, Gale and Proquest recently that didn’t have either an HTML or PDF available; it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Requests will increase for items which are not online (old–out-of-print, but still in copyright–books) or, in the case of special collections, may need institutional authentication. ILL will be sending out a sort of temporary login for digitized special collections.

LibLime LogoILS

Open source initiatives like LibLime will be a more popular option for libraries because of their timely adoption of user-centric tools for searching and collaborating. The expensive ILS vendors of the past will be marginalized as more libraries turn to ILS overlay systems (Primo, Endeca, etc) or open source options like LibLime for simple, intuitive searching.


While face-to-face interaction will still drop over the next four years, virtual reference will increase. iPhone functionality in most phones by 2012 will make texting a library easier and more comfortable.


Open access journals will still be an issue for some academics but the number of citations to free online articles will continue to increase, despite the ‘experts’ who only see top-tier journals as viable publication outlets. As citations from free articles skyrocket, most scholars will admit (either privately or openly) that open access journals are really making a substantial impact on scholarship.

Facebook logoOf course there are many other aspects of libraries that will evolve over the next four years but these are what I would like to see happen. Maybe some of my thoughts are a bit drastic for just four years. If you think about it though, last February 29th, most people were just starting to glimpse the power of Google; Facebook had just barely been launched; and user-generated content and blogging had just started gaining real traction.

Faculty Librarians

January 9, 2008

This post by Stephen Bell on the ACRL blog has caused some stir since yesterday.

Here’s the gist: At institutions with tenure-tract librarians why are librarians called faculty? What makes a faculty librarian faculty?

(BTW: A lot of the comments from Bell’s post are very informative, especially Anne-Marie Deitering’s; go see her own post about this).

In an interview recently for a library faculty position one of the committee members asked: “What do you think it means to be a faculty member?” Although I can’t remember what I said (I was totally caught off guard), here is what I came up with later:

  1. A faculty member researches and publishes
  2. A faculty member teaches and instructs
  3. A faculty member serves in the academic/professional community

From what I have seen this is also in order of professional significance. Now some may be offended by this but that is just what I have observed (and I’m not saying I agree with it either). The platitude is “publish or perish” not “serve on a committee or perish.” Anyway, beside the point…

This list shows that no matter what Stephen Bell may say, the relationship with students is not really what faculty is about (unfortunately; again, I’m not saying I agree here). Of course administrators will require professors to “mentor” students and “assist them in learning” but those are nebulous charges. Only publishable research resulting from student-interaction is what goes into a faculty portfolio. There is little/no weight given for any academic status/rank advancement system that I know of that counts how many hours were spent consulting with students in an office. Again it is not that consultations are unimportant, it is just that they have no weight in deciding status/rank (unless one or more of the students write glowing notes about you to the dean; even then are the weight of student reviews even with publications when it comes to advancement?). It all boils down to the three things above: research, formal teaching, and citizenship.

Do the ‘teaching faculty’ do those three things? Yup. Do faculty librarians? Yup. However, that is only what makes faculty librarians faculty. That is not what makes them librarians.

I got into academic librarianship because I felt that, unlike professorial faculty, a librarian’s weight and worth is measured largely on relationships with patrons. We really are about helping with research and encouraging learning in both formal and informal settings.

Faculty librarians have a responsibility to do the three things above–no question, so that may be what makes them faculty, but they are librarians because of their relationships with patrons.