It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)
University Library, University of Saskatchewan

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is coming to a close. The end of the year is always a time for reflection and there were milestones for the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP) in 2016. July 2016 saw the 3rd anniversary of the opening of the Centre which was held during the 7th International Evidence Based Library and Information Practice conference held here at the University of Saskatchewan. In October, we hosted our third C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, a 1-day conference dedicated to librarians as researchers. It was a fantastic day with a keynote address from Margaret Henderson from the Virginia Commonwealth University, a range of outstanding presentations focused on research projects as well as the hows and the whys of librarian research, and of course the granola bars. This blog, Brain-Work, continued into its third year with a wide variety of posts from authors across Canada and increasingly around the world.

And speaking of an international focus, 2016 was also the year that the C-EBLIP Research Network was launched. The network is an international affiliation of institutions that are committed to librarians as researchers and/or are interested in evidence based library and information practice. Since the soft launch of a 2-year pilot at the end of April, 21 international members have joined from Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Hong Kong, Ireland, and the United States. The C-EBLIP Research Network was created to foster collaboration and communication among librarians who are doing research, are interested in research, and/or who are involved with evidence based practice or wish to be. While the membership is institutional, the network is specifically for librarians on the ground. And of course, the more the merrier, so if you think your organization would be interested in joining the C-EBLIP Research Network, there’s a handy form you can fill out here: handy form

Well, if 2017 is as exciting as 2016 has been, we’re in for another fantastic year. C-EBLIP would like to wish you and yours a very happy holiday season and all the best in the New Year.

Using storytelling guidelines to simplify communication

by Jill Crawley-Low
Science Library, University of Saskatchewan

Recently in the University of Saskatchewan Library, a Sustaining Leadership Learning session on storytelling in an organizational setting was offered. During the half-day workshop, we learned the ways in which stories can be effective when introduced in a work setting to share understanding and connect people on a personal as well as on an organizational level. The role of storytelling in organizations includes sparking people to action; transmitting values; fostering collaboration; leading people into the future; and other good things (Denning, The leader’s guide to storytelling, 2011). We learned about a variety of storytelling structures that can be used to develop a story for almost any occasion. On a basic level, the key elements in building stories include purpose, idea, and content. If storytelling does, in fact, improve communication in the workplace then there are lots of opportunities for this practice in academic libraries.

For instance, developing a comprehensive collections strategy is a complex task with many facets and underlying assumptions, and, however appealing a complex discussion about collections’ issues may be for librarians, it is likely not so enticing to our community. So, taking advice from Natalie Babbit the author of Tuck Everlasting who said, “Like all magnificent things, it’s very simple”, we would break down the collections strategy task into manageable segments and use the storytelling methodology to focus the information to be shared and make it simple, yet meaningful. Still not convinced?

Taking only one aspect of the collections strategy, i.e., the responsibilities of liaison librarians and faculty in building collections that support research and teaching, the purpose, idea and content components guiding development of a story can be applied as follows:

Purpose – could the learnings from the storytelling session be applied to tell stories that would create transparency and create better relationships between the library and the university community?
Idea – since collections work is a passion for many librarians, could stories be used to create some excitement and understanding around a collections strategy that would be informative and interesting for the casual reader from the university community?
Content – with the intention to communicate key pieces of information, what kinds of information would be included?

If the purpose and idea are to share information about collections and enhance relationships with our academic colleagues, then the next step is to identify the content that supports the generation of a story. For this example there are a number of sources: an in-house document that outlines the potential duties of liaison librarians; the library literature that contain examples of best practice in liaison librarian responsibilities; liaison librarians can be asked to identify core values in their work, and also how they interact with faculty in supporting research and teaching; conversely, faculty can be interviewed to find out how they interact with liaison librarians, and which library services are most useful in supporting their work; and lastly discipline-specific characteristics can be included. Once the content has been gathered and the message is clear, four elements for impactful storytelling according to Denning (2011) can be applied to develop the style, tone, and final shape:

Style
– write as if you are talking to one individual, be focused, simple, clear
Truth – tell the truth as you see it
Preparation – choose the shape of the story and stick to it
Delivery – be comfortable in your own style, know your audience, connect with your audience.

The result is a story about the relationships between faculty and liaison librarians in building collections that support research and teaching. Following the impactful story development guidelines, it would be jargon-free, focussed on users, transparent and simple, and it would reveal some of the passion that librarians hold for the work they do. The story might be presented orally in meetings or in casual conversations. However, it would also lend itself to publication on the library’s website reaching a wider audience along with other collections documents. Not all topics can morph into stories, but when we want to communicate on a more personal level, storytelling is a viable option and one we might have overlooked. As Albert Einstein acutely noted, “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, you don’t understand it yourself.”

References
Denning, Stephen, 2011. The Leader’s guide to storytelling: mastering the art and discipline of business narrative. 2nd rev. ed. Jossey-Bass.
Babbit, Natalie, 2011. Tuck everlasting. Square Fish.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Information Literacy: Stronger, Together

by Angie Gerrard
Murray Library, University of Saskatchewan

I heart information literacy! I am lucky that information literacy is intertwined with my professional practice and research interests. Most recently a team of us developed a framework for information literacy instruction for undergraduate students here at the University of Saskatchewan. A milestone of this project was a presentation to the university’s teaching and learning committee of council where our work was graciously embraced by fellow colleagues who also share a passion for teaching and learning. An unexpected perk of this presentation was meeting a colleague, who is an instructional designer outside of the library, who was interested in digital literacy.

Digital literacy was something that I did not have much experience with, or at least I didn’t think I did. I wondered how digital literacy was related to other literacies. My brain had been in overdrive trying to keep up with the new and improved concept of information literacy (thanks to the new ACRL Framework) so I questioned whether there was room in my heart and head for yet another literacy. Turns-out …. yes, yes there was!

My backstory: I knew that information literacy was alive and well outside the walls of the library (yay) but to be honest, I really had no idea of the scope. So, a focus of my research has been to try and uncover faculty perceptions and practices of information literacy. What I have learned thus far is that yes faculty value information literacy but not necessarily by that name and not necessarily delivered by librarians. Interesting stuff, right!? My point is that maybe we as librarians need not worry so much about what we call information literacy and who is teaching it but instead, focus our energies on collaborating with those who share our same overarching goals, i.e. improved student success, critical thinking skills, lifelong learning, etc.

Which leads me back to digital literacy. When I first started this collaboration I admit that I was trying hard to figure-out the perfect match and alignment between information literacy and digital literacy. Was there a hierarchy? Was one a subset of the other? What came first, the chicken or the egg? And yes, we were able to find many commonalities and overlaps of these concepts (ex: critical evaluation of information, understanding how information is produced, ethical use of information, etc.). But perhaps more importantly, through this somewhat unknown process, I’ve come to realization that we as librarians don’t always need to be waving the information literacy flag when we meet with colleagues outside the library. We don’t own information literacy nor we should we appropriate others’ conceptualizations of what we deem to be ‘information literacy’. The beauty of the recent reconceptualization of information literacy is that it opens the door to much wider conversations around information, research, teaching, and scholarship. And I welcome this!

To date, my collaborator and I have taught a few sessions on information literacy and digital literacy, mostly to faculty, and we are now looking into the future. We are also at the stage where we are trying to figure out what to call this beast (‘digital information literacy’ is a bit of a mouthful so I welcome any and all suggestions). The point is that we are working together, each from our own context, trying to come to a common understanding and a way forward. And really, isn’t that the exciting part?

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Ethics are for everyone!

by Moriana Garcia
Carlson Science and Engineering Library, University of Rochester
and
Kristin Bogdan
Engineering Library, University of Saskatchewan

In this blog post, we would like to put out a call to action – that librarians seriously consider taking whatever ethics training is available at their home institution, whether they have a specific requirement to do so or not. We came together as research collaborators due to a mutual interest in visual research methods, and our plan to employ those methods in our practice. We intend to publish the research, so we began our journey through the research ethics process. The more we learned about it, the more we realized that this training could have an impact in many areas of our work.

In libraries we collect data about the people that use our spaces, collections, and online resources all of the time. This can be benign and completely anonymous, like gate counts, or specific to individuals, like patrons borrowing records. The systems that we use to provide content to our communities collect information in ways that we don’t even think, and may not fit within our professional or personal sense of ethics. Patrons’ privacy is a common topic of discussion in public libraries, but not so frequently in academic ones. An organization that is trying to change that is the Library Freedom Project. The group, a partnership among librarians, technologists, attorneys, and privacy advocates, aims to promote intellectual freedom in libraries by educating librarians on government and corporate surveillance threats, privacy rights of the population, and the responsibility of libraries to protect those rights. Their website provides access to several educational resources on these topics, and it is a good starting point for librarians interested in privacy issues.

Research ethics training is one way to become more aware of the ethical issues that we face in our practice and in our research. We both went through the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) Program online training. This training is regulated by the Interagency Advisory Panel on Research Ethics (PRE) in Canada or the Office of Human Subject Protection in the United States. These offices aim to protect the rights and welfare of human research subjects at the institutional level. They usually manage the local Research Ethics Board (REB), or Institutional Review Board (IRB) in the U.S., which reviews, approves and follows up on any research project involving human subjects, and provide education and training for researchers on ethical research issues and human subjects safety. Training on human subject research traditionally covers the historical development of human subject protections, as well as current regulatory information and ethical issues related to the topic. An intimate understanding of concepts such as vulnerable populations, consent, and what is known as the three research pillars in research ethics — respect for persons, beneficence and justice — is an important part of the training. You can get more information about these topics in the Belmont Report.

Ethics training will increase your awareness of any possible ethical issues and where you can go for help. Much of the assessment work that we do as librarians will qualify as exempt when it comes to ethics, but you still need to get approval from your ethics office if you want to publish. At the 2016 C-EBLIP Fall Symposium, the keynote speaker, Margaret Henderson, suggested that you should get ethics approval for any project where there is even a remote chance that it will be used for research. Another suggestion from Margaret that could facilitate ethics approval is having a shared set of research instruments (surveys, interview and focus questions protocols) that librarians could use for their evaluation and assessment activities. Using the same instruments as others will take out some of the stress of creating new surveys before going through the ethics process and it will make it easier to compare results across different libraries, which would create a base of LIS research that would be of great value to the profession.

In conclusion, it is well worth the time to go through the ethics training. Going through this process will also help you talk to faculty about their research and allow you to point them in the direction of the research ethics office. Ideally, we would go through the training in our LIS education in order to get a sense of the requirements of doing research on human subjects. We work with vulnerable communities all of the time, so understanding how our practice and research impacts them is in the best interest of everyone.

References:
Henderson, M. “Collaborating to Increase the Evidence Base in Library and Information Practice.” C-EBLIP Fall Symposium. October 12, 2016.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Non-Attachment as an Antidote for Procrastination

by DeDe Dawson
Science Library, University of Saskatchewan

I have a weakness for popular psychology books and I’m a wee bit of a cynic, too – so when I came across Oliver Burkeman’s book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking I knew it would be good. And it is good, very good: entertainingly written and thought-provoking. After returning my borrowed library copy I actually went out and bought my own copy and re-read it! Now that is an endorsement.

But what does this have to do with research?

I wasn’t expecting to find advice to apply to my research in this book – but sometimes when you least expect it the most useful nugget of wisdom lands on your lap!

Each chapter in the book explores a different counter-intuitive route to happiness. In chapter three, “The Storm before the Calm”, Burkeman discusses the Buddhist philosophy of non-attachment. Essentially, Buddhists believe that the root of all suffering is attachment. It is a very human and understandable tendency to cling to things we like and avoid things we don’t. Both of these tendencies can be considered attachments though. The examples Burkeman uses are:

“Develop a strong attachment to your good looks – as opposed to merely enjoying them while they last – and you will suffer when they fade, as they inevitably will; develop a strong attachment to your luxurious lifestyle, and your life may become an unhappy, fearful struggle to keep things that way.” (Burkeman, 2012, p. 53)

So, the Buddhist approach to life is to practice non-attachment: to be non-judgmentally aware of these feelings and impulses but not get hung up on them. Once we stop struggling to be positive and happy then we might actually experience some peace! Counter-intuitive… but compelling.

And now the connection to research… Virginia Wilson wrote candidly in this blog a few weeks ago about her struggles with procrastination – a common curse of academics when they get to the “write-up” portion of a research project. We’ve all heard the inspirational quotes, the motivational tips, and other well-meaning advice. Burkeman states that most of these tips and tricks don’t work simply because they are more about putting you in the mood to get things done, instead of how to actually get things done.

It turns out that non-attachment can be a practical way to get things done.

If you wait until you’re in the right mood to get things done… then you’ll never get things done:

“Who says you need to wait until you ‘feel like’ doing something in order to start doing it? The problem, from this perspective, isn’t that you don’t feel motivated; it’s that you imagine you need to feel motivated. If you can regard your thoughts and emotions about whatever you’re procrastinating on as passing weather, you’ll realise that your reluctance about working isn’t something that needs to be eradicated or transformed into positivity. You can coexist with it. You can note the procrastinatory feelings and act anyway.” (Burkeman, 2012, p. 69)

The emphasis in the above quote is mine. These last two sentences are the ones I underlined and starred in the book (my copy – not the library copy!). After this passage Burkeman goes on to describe the daily rituals of some highly productive and famous writers – they rarely include techniques meant to inspire or motivate, instead they are routines that provide structure whether or not the writer happens to feel motivated at the time.

An aside: My artist husband claims he needs to be inspired to paint – and guess what? He doesn’t get much painting done. I always tell him: “Just sit down and paint, the inspiration will come!”

So, this is my advice to myself and my fellow procrastinating writers: recognize that you don’t feel like it… then just sit down and write. It is very similar to Lorie’s advice to Virginia: “Just do it!”

Oh, and read this book:
Burkeman, O. (2012). The antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking. New York: Faber and Faber, Inc.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Considering collaborations

by Margy MacMillan
Mount Royal University Library

Most of my work in Library and Information Practice involves other people so it’s not surprising that working on building and using an evidence base for this work has brought me into close collaboration with people across the library, the campus, and global libraryland*. Reflecting on these experiences has illuminated some patterns and common factors in positive collaborations as well as some aspects that require attention at the beginning to ensure everyone stays friendly at the end.

One of the most important things is to align conceptions of realistic timelines, milestones and deadlines. In one group I worked with, this was evident even in small things – if we said we’d meet in the lobby at 7:30 to catch a shuttle to a conference, we were all there by 7:00. This congruence happened naturally among us, but is something that most groups I’ve been part of have had to work out. While the set dates of publications and presentations can be helpful motivators, developing a schedule that all collaborators are comfortable with should be part of the early planning stages.

Related to the question of time, is motivation. Understanding why your collaborators are interested in the project and how it fits into their lives can help determine feasible timelines. If one partner needs to analyse data as part of planning for a new service and another sees the potential of this analysis to inform wider work through publication, the partners will have to accept different commitment and energy levels for different parts of the project. In situations like these, colleagues and I have often taken the lead at different stages: gathering, initial analysis, submission and write-up. While we all contributed to these stages, leading different parts was an effective way to align aspects of the projects with our skills and motivations, and ensured that no one felt overburdened.

A crucial aspect in both of these collaboration was that we trusted each other to do the work. That trust was built on frank discussions of available time and competing priorities, acknowledgements of each others’ expertise, and shared understanding of tasks and expectations. Looking back those have been key factors in all of the successful collaborations I’ve been a part of.

Nancy Chick, Caitlin McClurg, and the author, collaborating on a cross-disciplinary project.

Nancy Chick, Caitlin McClurg, and the author, collaborating on a cross-disciplinary project.

Openness to others’ expertise is, of course, critical when you are working across disciplinary boundaries. Your partner may be more comfortable in a different research methodology, or simply a different citation style, and developing a shared language around the project is critical. Disciplines bring distinct terminologies and conventions around knowledge creation and dissemination (to see this in action, bring a table of mixed faculty together, open the discussion of author name order, and stand back). These differences affect the questions you ask, the evidence you value, the analysis you undertake and the audience(s) for the final product.Just as you would when coding data, nothing works quite so well as writing down decisions once you find  consensus.  It’s easy (and occasionally disastrous for a project) to make assumptions about shared understandings working with people in your own discipline, but I’ve found these groups can have just as divergent thinking as cross-disciplinary ones. The early communicaiton stage is often skipped on the assumption that as members of the ‘hive mind’ of librarianship we have common conceptions of  information literacy, or what term we should use for patron/user/client/ or how open does a publication need to be to count as OA?.

Much of this: negotiating meaning across disciplines, negotiating time zones and spelling conventions across borders and oceans, or negotiating variations in motivation regardless of other differences or similarities, is a matter of making the tacit explicit, of learning how to say what we mean, what we need, and what we can do clearly and without apology.

It turns out that this really is one of the great unsung benefits of collaboration. Working with others has taught me more about my professional self than any other activity. It has made me think about my values as a librarian, as a researcher, and as a teacher, and in articulating those values to others I have found a strengthened sense of purpose. Negotiating the meaning of information literacy, whether with library colleagues or with other faculty has given me a more nuanced personal definition, and helped me enact and communicate that definition in my teaching and scholarship. I have found that these meaning-making tasks have been far more productive and authentic when I have worked on them as a means to collaboration than when I have considered them as ends in themselves.

Try starting your next collaboration with the kind of conversation that engages participants in self-explanation, where tacit assumptions and definitions are brought into the light of others’ questions, probed for nuance, and made explicit. There is no guarantee this will lead to a trouble-free project of course, but according to the OED ‘explicit’ does derive from the classical Latin explicitus: free from difficulties… so it just might.

*A semi-mythical place where all information is well-organized, all colleagues are congenial and collegial, and timezones prove no barrier to productive conversations.

For a longer discussion of collaboration in research, I highly recommend the “Coda on Collaboration” chapter of Critical Reading in Higher Education: Academic Goals and Social Engagement by Karen Manarin, Miriam Carey, Melanie Rathburn, and Glen Ryland, 2015, Indiana University Press.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Confessions of a Procrastinating (at times) Researcher

By Virginia Wilson, Director
Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice (C-EBLIP)

When I sat down this morning to write out a comprehensive to-do list, I had to turn away from it for a moment. In my research section, there’s a bit too much going on. I’m in the middle of three research projects – one of which is a solo project and is hanging on far longer than I would have hoped. If it were a child, my data would be starting kindergarten this fall. My other two projects are collaborations. They are moving along, which I attribute to the accountability that comes from working with others. I sometimes look at co-workers and colleagues whom I admire and wonder “how do they get it all done?”

Regarding my solo project, I think my procrastination has been fueled by the feeling of not having a big enough chunk of time to really get into it. That’s merely an excuse, of course. I do have time, and I have had the time, and even if there are not great stretches of it, I should be able to be productive. But the longer I don’t do it, the easier it is to not do it. One of my collaborators, Lorie, said, (and I paraphrase): You can get a lot done in a couple hours or a half a day. You just do it! Just do it. That’s it, really. Don’t think about it, don’t mull it over, don’t wonder, don’t ponder, and for heaven’s sake, don’t read any more literature…just do it. As Yoda says, “Do. Or not do. There is no try.” I’ve been doing a lot of “not doing” on this solo project. So, enough of that! I’m going to enlist all of you as my accountability buddies. I’m declaring here in print that I will write that paper by Spring 2017.

How am I going to do this, you ask? I’m going to take advantage of the C-EBLIP Writing Circle. Every two weeks, a group of us gets together, shares progress and goals, and then writes for a couple of hours. It’s surprisingly effective! I also did some looking around for other productivity techniques and came across a post on lifehacker (and who doesn’t want to hack their life, am I right?) where they outline the five best productivity methods based on “your” votes. The Pomodoro Technique looks pretty interesting. I just need a “simple timer and a little discipline.” Hmm, okay. I’ll set the timer for 25 minutes, start it, and get to work. After I’ve worked for 25 minutes, the timer goes off, and I get a 5 minute break. Apparently, that is one “Pomodoro.” And I go on from there. The key is “short, sustained bursts.” There are some other productivity techniques listed, including a secret from Jerry Seinfeld. I do fear, however, that I will end up procrastinating by exploring more and better productivity techniques!

So, there you go. Probably more than you needed to know about my inner research psyche, but I surely cannot be alone when it comes to following through on research projects. I look to role models for inspiration, which is helpful. But probably the biggest drive for my solo research project right now is the age of the data. It’s still viable, I’m sure of that, but it really needs to get out there. If anything, I owe it to the folks who took the time to share their stories with me. So, that’s a good motivator, too. If you have similar stories to share, or some interesting productivity techniques, I’d love to hear about them.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Late Summer Break

by Virginia Wilson
Director, Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

A week of August is gone already and soon we’re all going to lament, “Where did the summer go??” Or, if you’re in the land down under, you might cheer, “Yay, winter is over!” Regardless, Brain-Work is taking a bit of a break for the remainder of August and will return in September with our current roster of blog writers eager and ready to go. We’ll have some familiar faces as well as some new additions to the lineup. In 2016/17, we’re going to be blogging like never before! If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at writing a blog post but don’t want the commitment of your own blog, consider writing for Brain-Work. You can contact me to sign up or if you have any questions. Info for contributors is here: Brain-Work info.

A reminder that the C-EBLIP Research Network is in recruitment mode. The Research Network is an international affiliations of institutions who support librarians as researchers and/or are interested in evidence based library and information practice. You can find out more information or fill out a form to join here: C-EBLIP Research Network.

And the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium: Librarians as Researchers is set to go on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. Set in the lovely Paris of the Prairies, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the third annual symposium features a networking breakfast, an international keynote speaker, a single track session, and lots of time for meeting, greeting, talking, and sharing. Registration will open closer to the end of August, so plan now to attend. You can find out all kinds of Symposium stuff here: C-EBLIP Fall Symposium

Teaser: Selinda Berg and I are cooking up an exciting new C-EBLIP Research Network initiative. I can’t say much more at this point, but be on the look out for something new coming this fall.

Lessons Learned: A Book Editing Collaboration

by Maha Kumaran
Leslie and Irene Dubé Health Sciences Library, University of Saskatchewan
and
Tasha Maddison
Saskatchewan Polytechnic

Recently Maha and Tasha (M/T) had an opportunity to collaborate on a major research project – editing a book. The book is entitled Distributed Learning: Pedagogy and Technology in Online Information Literacy Instruction and is expected to be published in October 2016 by Chandos Information Professional Series, an imprint of Elsevier.

Editing a book is a massive, arduous, and time-consuming project that typically extends over a long period of time. As editors of this project, M/T originally initiated conversations with the publishers in October of 2014. The book proposal was accepted in January 2015 and the final manuscript was submitted in May 2016. The book is now in the safe custody of the publisher undergoing copy-editing and production.

Collaboration has its merits and learning moments. This post reflects on the merits of M/T’s collaboration and what they learned from working together.

There is lots to do:
• Initiating the project and connecting with various groups of people
These groups include your institutional ethics office, your fellow editor(s), and people at the publishing house. You need to finding reviewers for your initial book proposal, chapter authors, and peer reviewers. For this project there are 22 chapters and 44 contributors, so you can imagine how many emails were sent and responded to.
• Deadlines to deal with
Deadlines for abstracts and chapters from authors and feedback from peer reviewers on each chapter. Then you need to work with the publishing house until the final manuscript is submitted.
• Corresponding throughout the project
Corresponding about copyrighted material within chapters and contributor agreements with authors, negotiating the contract with the publisher, collaborating with your co-editor almost on a daily basis, sending acknowledgements to chapter authors on receiving their work, writing letters to the peer reviewers, sending their feedback to authors, and all the while remembering to keep confidential information in check, etc.

Merits of this Collaboration – Strengths of M/T Combined:
After submitting the final manuscript, M/T appreciated working together on this project. Neither one could have completed this task without the others’ help. Tasha’s expertise in communicating in a timely fashion with empathy (especially when a chapter had to be rejected), her ability to nudge others gently with reminders, and her positive attitude throughout the project is a huge skill set.

Maha’s prior experience with publishing, writing, and co-editing proved invaluable throughout the process especially when negotiating the contract with the publisher and anticipating critical next steps. Maha is also a good editor and Tasha looked to her for advice on many issues throughout the peer review process.

What did we learn?
• Find someone that complements your skills and hopefully shares your research interests – easier said than done!!
• Communicate! Communicate! Communicate! If you cannot answer an email immediately, acknowledge receipt and let them know you will respond soon. M/T communicated primarily through email, but also met in person, phoned each other, and sent text messages.
• Be prepared. Last minute issues will occur: an author might pull out too late, may decide not to submit the chapter, and may not accept your revision suggestions. Learn to remain nimble and adapt accordingly.
• Sometimes things will fall apart, something won’t meet your expectations, events won’t happen on time, issues won’t get resolved the way you want them to be resolved. Get over it and move on!! See the big picture.
• If you find someone who is easy to work with and you form a successful team – hang onto them! This doesn’t happen every day and it is truly special!

Other Brain-Work posts on collaboration:
http://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2015/06/09/collaborating-for-research-experiences-and-lessons-learnt/
http://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2014/08/19/to-boldly-go-the-research-collaboration/
http://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2015/04/21/co-authoring-shared-work-%E2%89%A0-less-work/
http://words.usask.ca/ceblipblog/2015/09/01/co-authoring2/

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.

Remaining Relevant with Reconfigured Print Collections

by Jill Crawley-Low
Science Library, University of Saskatchewan

Lately I have found collection management, specifically weeding of a collection and identification of a core collection, to be a challenging exercise. The University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) Engineering Library’s print collection built over many years is being reconfigured, including downsizing, to open up space for infrastructure that supports individual and group learning and research. A reconfigured collection remains in the branch while the majority of the collection that has not been dispersed is housed in remote compact storage. Although materials can be requested from storage by placing holds in the catalogue, in person browsing will be limited to the branch collection. A combination of computer-generated data and human-generated subject knowledge was applied to determine which items to keep and which to discard. After all this effort, the question posed is: will the reconfigured collection serve the needs of those who use it?

Those who use it are U of S students and faculty who work in a fast-paced and changeable institutional environment that is also shared by the library. Teachers, researchers, and learners expect easy access to resources and assistance on demand. In response, the University Library offers a variety of service options. The library profession lends support to all types of libraries by envisioning the ideal future and developing creative ways to provide perpetual access to e-resources, share print resources cooperatively, and address preservation issues for all types of resources.

Academic collections consist of a small proportion that you can see on the shelves. The remainder of the iceberg that is underwater is accessible online, available freely or at cost. E-resources demand management by library workers with specialized knowledge and skills: the results of mismanagement are acutely visible. Ongoing access to electronic resources requires significant labour and financial resources. Print collections do not demand management; in fact, they invite neglect. Weeding projects typically occur when there is a pressing need, such as space reduction or collection relocation, and not as an ongoing process when there is time to consult with those who use the materials and make solid decisions that will still apply some years hence.

These thoughts occurred as I stood in the stacks of that carefully acquired engineering collection and saw the well-used books side by side with those that were last opened when they were processed and shelved for the first time. I wondered about the combination of logic applied to data and the less logical subject knowledge that would result in the most relevant reconfigured print collection remaining on the shelves. I also wondered how important the unseen online component of the collection is to our users’ information needs, and the value of taking time as well as employing the subject and technical expertise of library workers to dismantle a collection that has been built over the years.

The question asked at the outset of this post, “Will the collection serve the needs of those who use it?” is going to be answered in the months to come by the usefulness of the core, or reconfigured, collection. We will monitor the use of the collection going forward, and, if some of our decisions have run counter to our service mission to assist clients on their research and learning journeys, we will take their advice and reconfigure the reconfigured collection.

This article gives the views of the author(s) and not necessarily the views of the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice or the University Library, University of Saskatchewan.