Cultivating Digital Library Professionals, 2015 IMLS Focus: National Digital Platform


>>TREVOR: So, huge thanks to everyone again
for joining us and those on the webcast as well. I’m excited to just turn things over
here to John Palfrey. He’s going to moderate a panel focusing on sort of education, training,
professional development and building capacity to work with all these sorts of things we’ve
been talking about today. So, I’m going to turn it over, and he’s sort of queue things
up and introduce the panel.>>JOHN PALFREY: Trevor, thank you so much,
and thank you to Maura Marx for inviting me and all of us here. This panel is called cultivating
digital library professionals. I think it’s Maura’s idea of a joke to have a non library
professional to moderate, thank you, but I’m delighted to be here and spend time with this
fabulous panel. We are going to have introductory statements by each of the four panelists,
and then we will have some hopefully discussion among the panelists and open it up to all
of you, so get your ideas ready. I think it makes sense for me just to introduce the group
very quickly and then turn it right over to you guys. Andromeda Yelton is the owner of
Small Beautiful Useful LLC which is one of the best names of a company ever heard, and
I can’t wait to hear more about it. Bethany Nowviskie is the director of the digital library
federation, which everyone knows is affiliated with the council library and information resources.
Kim Schroeder is lecturer is at Wayne State University in the school of library and information
science, and Margo Padilla joins us as well and she is the strategic, programs manager
from the metropolitan New York library council. And we will go down the row this way, ending
with Margo in the clean up spot, and we will start with Andromeda. Over to you.
>>ANDROMEDA YELTON: Thank you, John. I was going to talk today about why ongoing tech
training is hard, the nuts and bolts of pedagogy and what you can do to help. Maybe I still
will in Q & A, but right now, 40 miles north of us, Baltimore is burning or maybe it isn’t.
It is 10,000 people protesting peacefully against many years of secret violence, violence
kept secret with habitual gag orders with national media drawn like moths to the handful
of flames. the stories I hear on Twitter are not the same as the stories on CNN, and we
as cultural heritage institutions are about our communities and their stories and about
which stories are told, which are made canon and how and why. So, I want to talk about
how technology training and digital platforms can either support or threaten our communities
and their ability to tell their stories and to have their stories reflected and the canonical
story that we build when we build a national platform I want to make it explicit that what
we are doing in this room today is about deciding whose stories get told, by whom and how. Whose
are valid, and whose are not. Whose get to reach our corridors of power only through
protests and fire. I was reminded this morning of an article co authored by Myrna Moralis
who was researching the young Lord’s party, which is a political organization in her native
Puerto Rico, and she was looking through library controlled vocabulary, and she couldn’t find
any literature about it, and a sinking feeling, she thought maybe she should check the header
for gangs, and that was where she found information on this group, and I was reminded of a thing
I did at a Harvard library cloud hack a thon earlier, intersectional library cloud, where
I looked at the most popular elements circulated in Harvard, using the stack score and their
API, and I looked at whether they also had subject headers that reflected women’s studies
or LGBT studies or African American studies, using code and meta data as a way to surface
what people learn matters when they’re doing scholarship and learning at one of the most
famous institutions on earth. TLDR, it didn’t really turn out to matter. They’re not reading
about stuff like that when they’re reading the things that they mostly read at Harvard.
So, the way that we structure our meta data, the content we seek, the tools we give people
for interrogating the platform, whom we empower to use these tools and add this content and
teach about these tools and construct them, how many they are, how diverse they are have
these profound effects on which stories that we advance and we say matter as cultural heritage
institutions, which in turn, shapes the present and the future.
I’ve said before that libraries are about transforming people through access to information
and each other, and that’s true, but today, I’m thinking more about what we can do to
let more people transform libraries and how libraries and our content and API’s and platforms
can be tools for more people to transform each other, how the meta data that courses
through digital platforms is the frame we have to tell and interpret stories, and how,
therefore, as meta data creators, we must be consciously inclusive, and how, when we
train librarians to use and create national digital platforms, we can train them to use
these skills in a contextually aware way, not just to understand technology and use
it, but to interrogate it and construct it from a critical perspective, to see how technology
interacts with our communities and our stories and where those gaps are and how we can be
part of bridging them, because here we are, comfortable and safe, mostly white, talking
about how millions of dollars should be spent, and Baltimore is covulsed by its history and
by the blind eye so many of us have turned to it.
>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: Wow. That was fantastic. My message is going to be pretty simple, and
I think it will inevitably, in the last panel of the day, reinforce some points we’ve already
talked about today. I also think it still dove tails with her sort of welcomed intervention,
because what I’m talking about too is community, and the message is this, that we need to put
as much energy into connecting and building up groups of people into developing and supporting
the motivated skilled, diverse and intersecting communities of practitioners that we have
as we do in connecting the services, the systems and the other pillars of the national digital
platform. So, the first thing that should come into many institutions is not another
technology component that you have to support, but rather a functioning social conduit to
a broader culture that understands digital library workers and that values the various
communities that they inhabit and intersect with and are inspired by. So, I see the continuous
renewal and expansion of expert practitioner communities as our most fundamental sustainability
issue. It’s the one on which all the others depends, and I’m consciously using the word
community here rather than calling this our digital library workforce or similar, even
though I know there’s such danger that such a happy sounding word could make us elide
difficult often gendered labor issues in the discussions, but I do it for two reasons,
and the first is it helps us scale up a conversation that is too often about local and individual
professional development, and also because of how it plays on individuals as a concept.
So, understanding that you are part of a community changes your ethical orientation toward your
colleagues, your users, your shared work. Most of all, it sharpens your sense of futurity,
your inclination to look beyond immediate horizons and to consider the much longer term.
Communities, as we just heard, have prospect and retrospect, futures and histories. They’re
predicated on mutual support and common fate, and they have the capacity to draw together
people at different career stages or with diverse professional identities and personal
orientations towards user groups.. Communities themselves set intellectual direction in ways
that bear watching. So, this is why funding programs that support
projects at national scale need, at the very least, to stay plugged into the conversations
of practitioner in communities as those communities develop in their self conception, and as we
hope they continue to develop demographically to better represent American society. Now,
the first law for a funder in relation to this evolution may be do no harm, and this
is perhaps to return to some of the concerns that we heard right off the bat this morning
about these programs maybe inadvertently reinforcing a kind of totalizing homogeneity. At best
though, being aware of how our various practioner communities are evolving and where they may
be stagnating could help agencies like IMLS make enabling investments at crucial moments.
On the other hand, the trick for funders is how to support developer communities through
programs that are necessarily and fruitfully user and project oriented. So, a lot of what
I’ve been talking about sounds like the Laura Bush 21st century librarian grants, which
is a wonderful framework for supporting practitioners as individuals as individuals and cohorts,
but how you tie programs like this to the infrastructure building that we’re talking
about today with this IMLS priority may not be immediately obvious. We know it’s necessary,
that’s clear, because the best professional development and frankly the only meaningful
community development comes through project based learning involving real world situations
and collaborations. So one possibility is to infuse the spirit of those LB21 grants
throughout IMLS that is to require more strongly that professional development outcomes for
grant participants and for their larger communities of practice be formally addressed in all IMLS
programs. So if we agree that this is a crucial part of increasing our national capacity,
it should be taken seriously in all of our grant applications and in all of our reports
of outcomes. We know that much of the value of a funded project comes in around the edges
of the core deliverable, and a requirement like this becomes a tool for individual staff
members, for middle managers to use to create healthy local institutional cultures. So want
a grant? Show that not only can you get a worthwhile project done, but that the experience
of working on it in community will positively impact the careers and the potential of your
staff for years to come. Show awareness of how your people fit into and interface with
and help advance expert communities of national and global scope.
>>KIM SCHROEDER: So being the last panelist of the day I am throwing out my presentation
entirely, but in digging around (inaudible) last night, I was looking at early models
for library and archival education, and they pretty much followed a model we are familiar
with which is lecture and practice. And as far as we take our new skills to educate our
students now which will be your employees soon, it has been the challenge, so we know
there has to be some kind of hybrid between lecture and practice. How much practice? How
much practice, do they need to know to be able to come in and be viable employees without
extensive training. How much professional development will they need ongoing. how are
you going to manage this. How many volunteer projects can students handle in the midst
of getting a graduate education. So, these are all things that we are really struggling
with in our field and we have great discussions at the faculty meetings about this. So, my
proposal really is that none of our traditional skills can slide and we’re adding new skills,
I would just propose that we double curriculum. That’s pretty much it. It was a joke. Obviously,
financially, we can’t do that to the students, so trying to figure out how to teach them
to really execute the research methods in a lab is really vital for feasibility for
us to be able to understand interoperability, to understand how to patch together various
systems to allow your meta data to stream through, how to build digital preservation
into the management of your assets. It’s really a humongous challenge, and I think that we
definitely need more insight into discussions like this, but also the library schools archival
institutions and allied educational organizations need to discuss further what we need, not
that we’re going to have a great standardization, but we need to better understand what we’re
providing our students and what they come to a potential job able to do so we need to
speak to students, we need to speak to employers and among ourselves in education we need to
do more talking. And if I could just for a minute, I will repeat this into the microphone,
I would be very interested to know what type of skills you would like a new employee have
when they walk into your institution. A fact of purpose. Anybody else? Willingness to learn
with whoever you are helping. An entrepreneurial spirit definitely something we like to garner.
Curious? Okay. Solid communication skills. Margo said lift 45 pounds. What about (laughing.)
What about project management or managing technology? I mean, that’s something that
we’re very interested in. I like fearless. I’m teaching a class this summer where we’re
going to really take apart a Lenix server and work at installing a lot of different
pieces that have been mentioned today and have them understand what that entails and
that it’s not, that you still have a do over if it doesn’t work the first time, because
I think there’s a lot of intimidation. So, those kinds of new skills, understanding linked
data, I have students come to me all the time and say, well, which programming language
should I take? I obviously cannot answer that question for them, it depends what they want
to do with their career, but the bottom line as far as teaching some of this technology
is that the students have to be able to demonstrate to you that they can learn technologies, and
so that’s, from the education standpoint, what we’re trying to build within our students,
that they can learn the technologies, because as you all know, it’s unlikely you will find
one person with every single technology skill and traditional skill in a job posting, but
if they have an allied skill and allied competency in another technology, you know they’re trainable
and that they will be able to pick that up and be effective with it. So, we have a lot
of challenges, and I really think we need to do larger surveys with employers and students
and the educational community to understand what it is, what our end goal is.
>>MARGO PADILLA: So, I’m the program director for the national digital stewardship residency
in New York, and I’m here to talk about the program, which I think attempts to address
some of the issues that have already been brought up. The program was developed to cultivate
the next generation of digital stewards by placing recent master’s degree recipients
in host institutions and having them work on a significant digital stewardship project.
The program is currently being implemented in Washington, DC, Boston, New York. It will
soon be a virtual program administered by WGBH and the American Archive of Public Broadcasting.
The program is still fairly new. We have 20 residents that have so far gone through the
program, so we’re still learning what some of the issues are, but we have accomplished
many of our goals. The goals of the program is to act as a bridge for students coming
out of graduate programs to further equip them with the skills they need not only to
be competitive in the job market but also to have a meaningful impact on digital stewardship,
but to also become leaders in the field. The program also strives to place residents in
organizations where they can really boost the entire program and to get the organization
to get to the next level in its digital preservation long term goals. For projects we tend to look
for intellectual engagement for the resident, but also lots of hands on work. We really
want them to get their hands dirty. We also look for projects that address issues faced
by organizations nationwide, so for example, in the current round in New York we are dealing
with providing access to born digital records, long term preservation of scientific data,
and quality assurance measures for web archiving. So when the residents arrive, we have two
to three days of initial instruction, and we do digital preservation basics to make
sure everyone is on the same page, and we also work on their project management skills.
After that we have one to two workshops per month and those are really hands on and immersive.
During this time the residents are regularly presenting on their work locally, regionally,
and nationally, and we are actively participating in the digital community stewardship, established
by the program and by the host institution. So, every host institution commits at least
one mentor to the resident, and this may be mentored who may or may not have a strong
digital preservation background, but we really like to have someone in the resident’s corner
who can help them navigate the ins and outs of the institution. A lot of times these residents
are implementing new procedures and policies, and they need to be mentored to help them
sort of navigate the waters. The mentor is also there to help guide the resident through
experimentation, through pitfalls, helping them expand the skills that they bring to
the residency and acquire those that they still need.
One of the strongest elements of the program is the cohort model. So, the cohorts come
to work off of each other’s skills and connections, and we really aim to have past, present and
future cohorts networked and talking and exchanging ideas, and this is sort of where we start
to think about scaling up the NDSR program. NDSR has the potential to become a collection
of these one off projects, so we are trying to stay focused on the big picture. How does
NDSR leverage funding that goes to a particular iteration of the program towards building
a national capacity. So, one of the small steps we’ve taken in that direction is requiring
the residents to create reports and documentation of their process and what worked and what
didn’t so that other organizations that are addressing these issues can replicate it for
themselves. Another way is, again, focusing on the residents. They gather for their time
in the program and then proceed to get jobs throughout the country. By keeping all the
cohorts networked, they become this incredibly skilled and community, helping each other
with problems, helping each other identify opportunities and sometimes just offering
words of encouragement Establishing a community for recent graduates can help us retain some
of the talent that might otherwise leave our field by making them feel invested and committed
and even special. When so many jobs are short term or temporary, NDSR can help anchor new
professionals. The program continues to evolve, and we will be welcoming new cohorts this
year. We look forward to integrating a lot of what has been brought up today.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Thank you guys very much. This is a terrific range of view points on
this broad and important question. I have two things that I wanted to ask, but I see
that Mike has got his hand up right now, so I’m going to defer to Mike and fold in my
questions as we go. Jump right in.>>SPEAKER IN AUDIENCE: I’m going to confess a personal bias, a person who has
spent six wonderful years working in a library and does not have a library degree, and I
often wonder if I need to go back and get one to ever be a legitimate library worker,
and I can say, as someone who is not a librarian, that’s a caveat on every idea I have. I guess
my question is, you know, I think that it’s right, part of the problem of professional
development is clearly about expanding the set of skills that you impart to library school
grads. Another question and idea is what about imparting some basic concept of libraries
to grads from law school, business school, design school, you know, computer programming
grads, so just one example of the kind of thing. I don’t have a business degree, but
I worked at McKenzie for four years, and they have this thing called a mini MBA, which is
three weeks and is supposed to give you the highlights of what you would have gotten had
you gone 2 years to business school. A little insulting to anyone who went to business school.
I wonder about, you know, a mini LLM or a mini library degree for people who bring something
valuable from another discipline but want to know more about library school and what
they would have learned there but aren’t quite willing to go back to night school for three
years to do it. Do you have thoughts on how you can embrace more deeply other than librarians
and archivists as legitimate and contributing library workers?
>>KIM SCHROEDER: Well, one of the things that we are all, you know, in recognition of is
that everything we do is collaborative, and, so, we need people with various perspectives.
So, I don’t have any urge for a very homogeneous discipline or execution of our projects, I
don’t think that would be the best use of our time. I, being an educator, yes, I would
love for you to come get your MLAS, that would be great, but I also understand finances and
time and once you already have a career out there, there’s a lot of other things to do
with your time, but I think that you can get at some of that through the collaborations
that you do, and certainly, I don’t have a technology degree, but I spend a lot of time
with tech people trying to absorb as much as I can, so I don’t feel bad that I don’t
have a tech degree, and I hope they don’t feel bad they don’t have an MLAS, so I just
think we learn from each other.>>JOHN PALFREY: Kim, could you imagine a
mini three week intensive, you know, MLAS sort of thing, and do you do anything that
is distance learning? So could Micah from New York be at Wayne State in any way to get
his mini degree?>>KIM SCHROEDER: I could envision that, actually,
and we have a very entrepreneurial management there, so I will take that back and ask them
about it, honestly, and we do have an online program for digital curation folks, not yet
for archives, so there are definitely things that you can do online.
>>JOHN PALFREY: A short while into my time as a library director without a library degree,
I found myself in Jim Neal’s office at Columbia, and he taught me the term feral, I was a feral
librarian, a feral profession, and it was fine and not to worry too much about it, but
I do think that you might find that Micah’s idea would both be a business opportunity
for some leading “I” schools and library schools, and but also something that would actually
meet a need that’s slightly different than somebody going back for two or three year
to do a full on degree; it might expand upon the number of people who might get involved.
>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: I’m Deanna Bell. I’m assuming that I’m here as a past president
of the Society of American Archivists and not because I work at the Library of Congress.
One, I do want to mention that the society of American archivists does offer a digital
archivist certification program to become a digital archive specialist, nine courses
and then you take a test, so that would be an option. If we’re looking at professional
development, it sounded very much as if some of the presentations that were being discussed
were for new professionals, not for those of us who have years in the profession. Second,
to respond to the idea of a course that mentored could take and become mentored with a degree,
well, be the equivalent of mentored with an MLIS or, you know, get those activities, for
a long time, the national archives and records administration offered a two week program
called the modern archives institute where you learned the basic skills so that you were
prepared. There are other versions of it known as the western archives institute, there’s
one that’s done in the south, so there are those options out there that are available.
I do want to go back to something that happened earlier this morning about how you can reach
the users. I primarily work with teachers, and they’re the ones who, we discovered when
we put out American Memory, our number one user group was teachers. We’re not talking
to the teachers, we’re not talking to the folklorist who is reaching out into the communities,
and we should be doing that as well, and the last thing, I do want to respond to Andromeda
and something that she said. How many of you have family members that are in Baltimore?
I do. I spent a lot of time talking to my mom last night, who lives about 20 minutes
away from where all this was happening, and I’m feeling a little bit of frustration towards
some of what Andromeda was saying, because, yeah, Baltimore was burning, but I think there’s
some reasons why beyond just the anger and frustration of a person being involved in
police custody.>>JOHN PALFREY: Do you want to say more on
that topic since it’s the issue of the day for all of us?
>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: I will be honest, I am not conservative, my mom is, but the
thing that frustrates me about some of this is that the African American community is
destroying its own community. They’re not going and storming city hall, they’re not
going and doing things like that, they burned down a senior center that was being built
to support the seniors in the community, they went in and looted the CVS that everyone was
talking about before they burned it down. They’re destroying their own communities,
they’re not saying, hey, come and help us. It’s happened, it happened in Los Angeles,
it happened with the riots after Martin Luther King was assassinated, and my concern is that,
all right, yeah, there are problems in the African American community, there’s been anywhere
from 50 to 80 percent unemployment for African American males, there was an article in the
New York Times about the disappearing African American male and that more and more and more
African American males are either incarcerated or dying but the community that is out there
is destroying itself. Not just the majority community destroying the African American
community, so I have major fears when my 81 year old mother, I am calling her and going
do I need to come up and get you because you are ten minutes away from where everything
is burning down, and you live in the roughest part of Baltimore city, on with one of the
highest crime rates and the largest drug communities, so my concern is if we are talking about how
we are supporting the community, we need to be looking at the libraries. In Ferguson when
they opened their libraries, the two libraries I went to as a kid are closed. The branches
in my community are shuttered, and I am sure the other one is too. That is ten minutes
from where my mom lives and where the burning is taking place.
>>JOHN PALFREY: I saw a few hands, but Andromeda, did you want to say..
>>ANDROMEDA YELTAN: I don’t think I can add anything to the voice of someone who has lived
in the city. I haven’t.>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Librarianship is
one of the few professions that does not require any continuing education or certification
of its members. There are exceptions, health sciences, law, but for the most part, we do
not have that requirement, we might have that expectation. Can you speak to that as whether
we need to start to work on as a community.>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE; I think there would be
advantages and severe disadvantages to instituting ongoing certification. The advantages would
be scale and scope. You reach everybody, it is part of the culture, it is part of what
is done and there is no chance of remaining working in libraries without keeping your
skills up, without but there are other factors to taking care of that problem. When I think
of that I think of teachers re-upping their certifications. It is not a sort of nimble
system. It’s not a system that is very easy to sort of intervene in, to advance. The very
often big sort of slow moving system like that reifies a decade ago’s, you know, cutting
edge. So, do we want to setup a sort of formal re upping of certification or do we want to
depend on the kind of user communities and sort of practitioner communities that I’m
talking about to be a little narrower, to be a little more specific and to be a lot
more sort of current in what it is that they’re teaching each other? That’s probably where
I would invest rather than in something more formal.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Bethany, you talked in an eloquent way about the notion of project based
learning as something that would be helpful in the context of learning library skills.
Could you imagine marrying that idea to Jim’s in some fashion to come up with a series of
projects that need working on that would, in essence, be something somebody might do
in regards to ongoing training in some fashion?>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: Absolutely. I’m pretty
new to the federal library association, I’ve been there a week and a half, but before that,
I spent 20 years at the University of Virginia working in the digital humanities community,
and most recently, directing the scholars lab and its graduate fellows programs, which
over the years have evolved from solo fellowships for graduate students working in the digital
humanities to team based and project based fellowships, and we watched, because the scholars
lab as a digital humanities center is administratively embedded in a library, all along, we were
thinking and talking with librarians about how do you move that outward, how do you apply
that kind of interdisciplinary cohort based learning that happens around a real world
project, so these are fellowships that graduate students get to join a cohort of five other
grad students, all from different disciplines, to conceive of, prototype, launch and assess
a software project in the course of a year, so they really are thrown into the deep end.
It’s been really neat to see that concept spread out to other libraries. So, Columbia’s
developing a librarian program, UVA is exploring a praxis for librarians. So, just that model
as our graduate students finished up and moved on into libraries and cultural heritage institutions
rather than into the professoriate, taking that kind of concept with them, so I think
that’s a professional development model that has legs, and it also can get things done.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Kim or Margo, do you want to respond to Jim’s question?
>>MARGO PADILLA: Yeah, just, I’m not ready yet to throw in the towel on the library schools.
I think there’s still ways to sort of develop what they’re doing there, maybe through cohorts
or through specialized tracks before you start requiring additional education, once you’ve
already invested in the IMLS.>>JOHN PALFREY: Yes, please?
>>SPEAKER: This is Trevor Munoz. I am curious, I would like the panel to reflect a little
bit more on working on thinking about library museum leadership, so who they see as possible
cohorts, opportunities for further development. I’m interested as to who you see as part of
these people, because I think some of the leadership of these organizations sees certain
parts of their staff as maybe more ready or more able to go out and be part of something
that, say, the DLF would do and are maybe not looking at their cataloging department
with the same kind of eyes, and I wonder if you could sort of talk about that challenge,
about helping these institutions re imagine with their staff who are there, who might
not be as comfortable self identifying and self promoting about being ready for change
but who are ready for change.>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: If I might jump in to
say that subject librarians are another one of those cohorts that often don’t get that
kind of attention or aren’t assumed to want to leap in, and that’s why I’m attracted to
this model of sort of investing in expert practitioner communities and really letting
them define intellectual direction and help us see what they see as their user communities
and what they see as their sort of, their communities, right, because that often will
include people from other sectors of the library, people in scholarly communities that use these
resources or help build these tools and wanted to find them, so that’s my sort of off the
cuff response, is that I think we don’t ask those smaller groups that we very often target
for this kind of, you know, praxis program like experience. We don’t often ask them in
setting something like that up, who do you want to pull in, who do you need, this is
not going to work unless you bring in who? Tell us.
>>KIM SCHROEDER: On a smaller scale, we have a digital media projects lab at our school,
and we use it to outreach to our community, so we have, you know, a real to real audio
conversion system, lots of audio, lots of other video formats, and when we work with
smaller museums and other cultural institutions, they pretty much let us lead everything because
they’re so understaffed, so, you know, we’ve been talking about the big scale, but on the
smaller scale, they’re so grateful for a graduate student, the equipment, all of that to be
dispensed, they often don’t know what to ask for, so they don’t realize they need a digital
preservation plan, they just know they needed something digitized. So, we try to use that
as a teaching moment to sort of ratchet up and educate them about managing their digital
and how they’re creating access and long term preservation.
>>JOHN PALFREY: I wonder if I could take an example from the previous panel and then put
it back to you guys as a specific, which was I was struck by Trevor describing the idea
of meta data mobs and why we didn’t necessarily have more people in that kind of mode working
on collaborative projects. If you were to compare, for instance, what happens to Wikipedia,
the notion of Wikimania, the number of people who contribute to that, the idea that you
have a bunch of people coming together, geeking out, improving articles and meeting on an
annual basis, in the context of DPLA, and we’ve tried to do a version of that, but it’s
definitely not, you know, thousands of librarians rolling up their sleeves and adding meta data,
which I think it could be, and if you think about how many potential people could participate
in this, whether it is library students, actual librarians, retired librarians, why don’t
we have meta data mobs, and if that actually is potentially something that we would want,
and I embrace Trevor’s suggestion, I think it’s a great one, what’s between here and
there, and is it that we need to change the culture of the community, to take your term,
Bethany, is it that there’s more we could do in library schools or in programs like
the one that Margo’s running? Does professional development need to be more? What’s standing
between us and really, really productive meta data mobs and coding groups developing? Why
haven’t those things happened in the library community? Maybe a better way, how do we get
to the place where they are, assuming that’s a good thing?
>>KIM SCHROEDER: Well, we have 120 years of library education behind us, and these are
paradigm shifts, and we have to do more talking, we have to do needs assessment, we have to
do structure in order to gather the information, we have to, again, survey the population,
whether they’re users, employers, students, etc., so there’s a lot of work to be done,
much as we talked about earlier today. So, I don’t think there’s a lack of will, I think
that most institutions are just trying to survive in their world, and it comes back
to an earlier point, which is that there’s not been national drive to fix this typically
as there is within your own institution.>>JOHN PALFREY: As someone who right now runs
a 237 year old school, I often think about this problem, which is how hard is it to change
something that’s been doing really well for a long time, and I would say, in libraries,
it’s been a success story, but I do think it’s something that needs to be changed, so
I am taking your point that 120 years is a challenge as much as it is a positive in this
context.>>ANDROMEDA YELTON: I think there are three
things that immediately spring to mind. One is that if you propose some kind of service
or activity in libraries, there’s a lot of people who will instantly ask what’s your
plan for making it sustainable for all of time. Not everything has to be, and you’ll
never do a meta data mob if you have to have a plan to do it every week for all of time.
Another reason, or something that I think does a good job of dealing with that mindset
is the 4th floor in the Chattanooga Public Library, which is constructed very intentionally
as a space for prototyping new services, and it’s okay for things to happen there once
and fail and not move on, but it’s also okay for things to be found useful there and to
spread out throughout the system. So, I think sometimes, you have to be really explicit
about creating a space and things can fail. Another reason is things like meta data mobs
and text sprints and stuff are really high touch. It’s not, you’re not going to get them
if you just wait for a bunch of people to self organize and need people setting priorities
and providing resources. Gross Stuff is an open source project that does a great job
of organizing sprints in atomic ways that allows people to show up for a weekend and
do stuff. But they work at it. The other issue is workplace time and support. I just came
out with a technology report on librarians who write code at work. You can download it
for free, and I asked them, it’s at journals.ala.org, and I asked librarians, did you get support
from your workplace in learning how to code and I asked what form did that support take,
and they said, basically, they didn’t actively stop me from doing it. I’m like your bar is
set a little low, right? So, if we’re talking about people learning to use and employing
tech skills in a way that it’s like, go to your full time job where there is no time
to do these things, come home, make dinner, put your kids to bed, do your chores, it is
9 pm, now you can learn to code! This is made to fail.
>>JOHN PALFREY: After library school, right?>>ANDROMEDA YELTON: Yeah, after that too.
So, I think this is a thing where a place like (inaudible)
has a real advantage because it has a name and resources to convince people to spend
time at work on work things involving change.>>SPEAKER: Andromeda, You had jumped into
some of this, and I wanted to thank you for your sort of diversion to take us through
the Baltimore considerations, but I also wanted to make sure that you had time to share of
the other issues that you started to jump into, but I think part of this gets at a real
challenge around how we change the conception of what labor is in this environment, and
I think the trick, like, funding projects is one thing, but in another environment,
there’s sort of a culture shift about what being a professional means in terms of having
that time and that space as part of your job to say that, you know, I need to be learning,
as an example, when one of the developers working on Zooterra decided he needed to use
a different framework, he said I need to take three weeks to learn it before I’m going to
implement it, and everyone said, of course, that’s what you do as a developer. So, I’m
curious for the group’s thoughts about how sort of cultural professional sort of labor
issues, what needs to happen there and how do we get there.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Margo, you have first crack at it, if you’re interested.
>>MARGO PADILLA: I don’t have thoughts at this moment.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Fair enough. Passing is absolutely accepted.
>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: So, it made all the difference in the world, I think, for the scholars lab
as a library and that kind of R and D space when I really instituted and started to protect
20 percent R and D time on the old Google model for all staff, and that was all staff
across the board, it didn’t matter what projects you were working on, the departmental assistant
had the ability to call on this time. Now, we had to do, there were rules that came with
that kind of exploratory freedom. The idea was for everybody to be able to take a half
step back from all of the demands being placed on them, for working with faculty on projects,
for working on internal infrastructure projects, for all of the data migrations and sort of
moving content forward that we had inherited from decades of digital work at UVA, take
a step back to be able to, A, breathe, and B, look at the commonalities among these requests
and maybe invent something that addressed more than what they were being asked for and
solved some problems, so that was the concept. Some of the ground rules that I sort of set
around this included that anybody who was taking advantage of R and D time needed to
be able, at the drop of a hat, to say what it is that they’re working on and make a kind
of compelling case for how it met the mission in some loose way of the scholars lab, of
the library, of the University of Virginia, so you had to connect it and be able to speak
compellingly about it, and really, the other sort of base requirement was that there be
some visible outcomes so that you were publishing, whatever that meant for the project you were
working on. Sometimes, your vector was get hub, sometimes, your vector would be a conference
presentation, there were books that came out of this, there were lots of different kinds
of sort of published formal accessible outcomes, and what we found were the projects that emerged
did meet broad needs. So, things like black light came from scholars lab R and D time,
so, you know, take a break and tinker around with this and think about it, you know, that
was the seed of some projects that really radically changed the way our library operates,
that opened up possibilities for collaboration with other groups, and the neat line project
was another one of those that was an R and D project. So, and that’s kind of an answer
to the previous question too, is it’s just time, right? It’s time, and we kind of get
ourselves into the mindset that we need to fill every possible moment and don’t give
your staff enough time to sort of breathe and be creative and really exercise those
entrepreneurial skills that we’ve been talking about and put things that they’ve learned
to use.>>JOHN PALFREY: I’m often struck by the fact
that there are 125,000 or more libraries, and if you just thought about that, there
would be a huge amount of person power to put to bear out there. Please.
>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Yeah, I want to say I love the idea you just threw out, John,
but I also want to go back to some of the things that we were talking about on the panel
earlier today, on the gaps panel, and specifically rewinding back to two questions, which continue
to come to me as I’m hearing you guys talk. We’ve got this kind of identity crisis that
I think is going on, it’s been going on for a long time, which makes it more important
now, and I think that same identity crisis that’s there in libraries, archives and museums
themselves is also there in the I-schools and the few museum school programs that are
there, and until we figure out how we’re going to define what our mission is, it becomes
really, really hard to teach people to go in that direction, and so I want to challenge
us to walk back a few steps, and I know ALA is working on some master language right now
around what libraries are and what we’re supposed to be doing, you know, one of the problems
in our field is that there aren’t clear hierarchies that can tell us what these things are, so
we have to figure out way to facilitate voices from the community and synthesize them up
and then act on it, and so I want to start there, just as a, you know, who are we and
how does that impact what answers we can give to where education needs to go.
>>JOHN PALFREY: So we’ll definitely come back to that. Keep going.
>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Okay, and then the second piece is the who is collaborating.
So, again, coming back to the second thing that I introduced on the gaps, where are the
bridges and where are the bridges missing, and right now, one of the critical bridges
that I see missing, not just as the Executive director of Educopia, in a course that I teach,
one of the things I’ve been able to do is, you know, tell my students, go out and do
a digital preservation plan, and I’ve done this assignment for about five years, and
it’s something that I came up with because I’m a practitioner who then came in. I wasn’t
trained in library science, that was not my background. I was practitioner and I came
into the classroom and I brought into the classroom practice and said, all right, you
can partner with anybody, you can partner with a construction company, museum, aquarium,
whatever, and my students have done all of those and more, they’ve had these incredible
experiences, and, so, when I heard you guys talking about how do you start a meta data
mob, I think one of the pieces that’s broken is the piece between the I-schools and the
practitioners, often in the same institution. So just in those academic settings alone,
we’ve got some repair work that I think we need to do and some bridges that need to be
built. Sorry to go on for a long time.>>SPEAKER: Two fantastic questions/comments.
Let’s start with Katherine’s first question, which is a fundamental question then we’ll
come to the who is collaborating question. So, let’s start with the fundamental and then
we’ll go to the secondary.>>KIM SCHROEDER: As far as collaboration
>>JOHN PALFREY: You’re going to the second one first? That’s fine. Go for it.
>>KIM SCHROEDER: Well, Katherine, you and I are of like minds. So, I have always, in
every class I’ve ever taught, introduced a hands on project. I don’t care if it was an
introduction class, because I think that it gives students more confidence in interviewing,
it adds to their resume, it helps them with their people skills and their professionalism,
so that’s something that we’re very adamant about, and when I took over the archival administration
program, that came with it, the practicums in both digital content management and archives,
so we have that piece, but I also manage the digital media projects lab, which means I’m
working with organizations like our contemporary arts museum, etc. in the area and Detroit
Sound Conservancy to provide help to them and also skills for the students, and they
get a lot more out of that than just specific hard skills, and it gives them something more
to talk about and research in the classroom as well. We’ve also got the alternate spring
break, where they often travel to the national archives or presidential library, etc., for
a week of intensive. So, I’m really adamant about the experiential training, and my issue,
which I mentioned a little bit earlier, is I’m not sure even where to cut it off. I have
some students that will just, whatever I post I need a volunteer for, they’re there, but,
you know, how far do you go, but it’s really critical. Those are the students that get
the jobs as soon as they graduate. I have a colleague at the Library of Congress who
said there is no other science where you don’t experiment hands on to add to your education,
so I think that’s absolutely critical. From a collaborative standpoint, we are working,
I am making as many connections as I can for my students, and we have some that have gone
through the NDSR program, which is a fabulous program, and it’s really important, but everything
we do is collaborative, and at the NDSA meeting a few years ago, they were talking about the
blurring lines between librarianship, archives and museum administration, and I think that’s
okay. I’m sorry, but because of the digital tools, the way we do our jobs is different,
and that’s okay, and every team I’m on for a large scale project has archivists, librarians
and technologists and maybe museum curators. Everything I do is that way, and we do come
at things a little differently, but we have some overlap in our skills that allows us
to successfully institute projects, and I just think that’s the way it’s going to be,
and I think if we’re too territorial, that’s going to prevent us from success.
>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: You are the exception, and, so, the question of collaboration at
Wayne State is a different question from the question of collaboration when you’re not
at Wayne State, and I really do, I mean that both as a compliment and also a challenge
to all of us, you know, field wide, how do we turn that around, how do we build things
that are more practicum oriented, like what Bethany was talking about, like what Clear
has done with the fellows program, you know, there are lots of examples of this now both
in an internship and residency kind of space, but not so much in the classroom space, and
so thinking about how to forge those connections not just in the one off spaces, but in the
system.>>JOHN PALFREY: You’re welcome to treat that
as a rhetorical question.>>KIM SCHROEDER: I’m just going to say, earlier,
an answer to a question was narcissism. My facetious answer right now is peer pressure,
maybe. I just think these discussions are the way to go, and I think when you have so
many student successes in also doing the hands on, that that will get through to people,
and it also means the students will choose where they go.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Kim, Your point earlier, that many of your students are not going into
the professoriate is an interesting thing, if you are seeking to have more professors
it would be interesting to have some combo, or maybe there’s a root back in some way to
help populate the professoriate as well.>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Todd Carpenter with
NYSO. Something that’s been bouncing around on Twitter, in result to the 20 percent, Google’s
20 percent thing, it was actually 120 percent, and this actually leads to my question. How
do we as a community foster a culture that is professional development is part of the
100 percent that you give, not the 125 percent that you give, that it’s part of your job
to improve your skills and that the staff and the institution should benefit from you
gaining more skills and it’s on you personally to do that little bit of extra to learn how
to code using an Mook at 2:00 o’clock in the morning after you put the kids to bed.
>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: Yeah, so I’ll tell you what I did. I think we’re about to see whether
it works or not since I left the institution, but what I did as a manager was I wrote it
into people’s job descriptions, you know, if I got hit by a falling piano or whatever,
there would be a way for each individual staff member to go back and say, no, this is my
job, R and D for at least 20 percent of my time in my 40 hours a week is my job, and
then what we did in terms of day to day practice was I never took it myself, I went around
fending off demands to try to make it possible for people to really take advantage of it,
and, you know, people did that to greater and lesser degrees, but it did help mitigate
that risk that it could be, you know, we’re asking people to perform what is beyond humanly
possible to do.>>JOHB PALFREY: It is fundamentally taking
something from a peripheral activity to a core activity. We did something very similar,
and I think it’s just about making administrative choices, right? I think we joked about those
things. I guess it was Kim saying that those skills that we no longer have to train for,
but, really, we do have to take stuff out.>>SPEAKER: The important thing is it becomes
part of the culture, not just the job. It becomes part of the mindset, and that became
something that attracted people to the group and something that helped retain them.
>>MARGO PADILLA: I think, also, professional development is something that’s not lost on
new professionals. Like I said, so many of the jobs that new professionals take are temporary,
and so you’re constantly training for your next job, but if you’re talking about professional
development being part of the culture, it’s definitely part of the culture of being a
new professional. You can’t stop.>>ANDROMED YELTON: It’s not like you can’t
demonstrate concrete value for these skills if you’re in a context where you really need
to do that. The people who are writing the scripts in my report, Becky wrote something
that saved one to two weeks of cataloger time per year, so if you gave her a couple weeks
to learn that skill, it paid off within a couple of years Eric wrote a thing that helped
them deliver better reference statistics, and so they could go to their broader institution
and say we know that you did not know this and did not believe us, but now we can show
you that half of our questions in the beginning of the semester are on tech support, and we
need to staff and resource that because we are where your students learn to use their
computers. People do really amazing things that make life better in concrete ways if
they have the skills to do it.>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Michael Edson again.
A couple things. One is I think we can’t neglect the fact that we need to train managers, train
management, train leaders on change. This is going to be the accelerating pace of cultural
and technological change is going to be with us for a really long time, and as a community,
I think we suck at it, and other industries are running circles around us. I’ve gotten
to the point where you can kind of see the habits and you can see if the vocabulary is
there or not, and sometimes, you just have to fold up your laptop and listen. This is
a huge issue. We need to train our top leaders how to change. The other thing is, I think
it’s really great to be talking about optimizing training and professional development for
professionals, but I think we need to think more expansively about who we want as library
practitioners in the same way that the web has opened up new kinds of curation, new people
who can participate in the creation of knowledge and the curation of knowledge, we can have
an existing cadre of library professionals who are better than the ones we have now through
training. Don’t we also want, you know, 10 million citizen librarians from 200 countries
also doing that work. I suspect they are already doing that work. You can turn them into a
movement. You can help them be successful in their own communities. That’s probably
a really great outcome for society, and I don’t want this project to lose sight of that.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Excellent. I take that to be a statement and not a question. We have
2 minutes until we will turn it over to the archivists of the United States.
>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: We left one question hanging out there, and it’s been bugging me.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Hang on one second, Bethany. There’s one more comment, it sounds like,
from the crew, and then you’ll each have a chance to do a 30 second clean up.
>>SPEAKER FROM AUDIENCE: Allen from ALA. So, going back to the national digital platform,
since that implies a very different kind of orientation, developing, you know, systems
or applications that will be useful throughout the country as opposed to focusing on what’s
useful for your own library, does the panel have any thoughts in terms of what that means
for what kind of education we’ll need for professionals going forward? The other quick
comment is, in my work, we also focus on national policy advocates, so people who could testify
at Congress, or as Micah mentioned, people who might negotiate licenses with publishers
at a national scale, and going forward, I think we’re going to need just more people
like that to engage with the world beyond libraries, and, so, any thoughts? Just putting
that on the table in terms of education training we’ll need going forward.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Thanks Allen. So, in roughly a tweet or two length, do you guys want to
give last comments? We’ll go Margo and end with Andromeda. And Bethany you can hit on
anything else you want on the way back.>>MARGO PADILLA: I think just for the last
two comments, one of the most significant investments we can make is in developing new
professionals, higher them permanently and training them to become managers, and as far
as schools go, training them not on a specific programming language or something that is
sort of, will disappear, but on how to think about these problems, you know, developing
a digital preservation plan will never get old, so thinking, not necessarily always hands
on skills, but how to think through problems, that’s a skill that will last throughout one’s
career.>>KIM SCHROEDER: I would definitely have to
agree. Having a business background, I use those skills constantly in managing these
large projects and assembling volunteers, and just knowing how to do a budget, project
management and needs assessment, all of those skills are really important, and they’re going
to continue to be really important for what we’re doing because we are looking at larger
scales, more integration, and more globality in what we do and how we share information.
>>BETHANY NOWVISKIE: So, I wanted to address the identity crisis question. It kind of bugged
me then too. The question is how do we define what our mission is, how do we make it compelling,
how do we attract new practitioners. I want to resist a single answer to that. I think
what makes a message about libraries compelling is that it speaks to peoples’ own experiences
and to their personal missions, and because we are many, what we want to do is create
frameworks that help us voice those to different practitioner communities and user groups.
>>JOHN PALFREY: Excellent.>>ANDROMEDA YELTON: I guess my two tweet summary
is that supporting professional development has a multiplier effect on the value of all
the platforms that you invest in, and enabling the people who create and use and teach your
platforms to think critically about the intersection of society and technology makes the technology
more inclusive and valuable.>>JOHN PALFREY: One can tell that Andromeda
is a true tweeter. I hope you’ll join me in thanking this panel for a great time. Thank
you. (Applause.)

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