The Elephant Tale of Data

by
Kristin Lee, Tufts University
Liz Settoducato, Tufts University

Earlier last year when I asked my colleague Liz Settoducato, Engineering Librarian here at the Tisch Library, if she would be interested in looking into Jumbo the Elephant with me we didn’t realize it would become a bit of a weird obsession. A simple idea to use data about Tufts University’s beloved mascot for instruction sparked research into the circus, P. T. Barnum and his shenanigans, taxidermy, and scientific specimens. The more we read, the more we wanted to know.

This project has become a place where our personal journeys to librarianship collide. My background is in science and I have long been fascinated by the idea of physical objects as data. I also love maps, a perfect way to present the adventures of an elephant who had his own personal train car. Liz comes from the world of gender studies and archives. She understands how our fascination with different forms of entertainment impact scholarship and research, and why it is essential to study this as part of the experience of being human. Together we can look at our subject, the sadly doomed star of the London Zoo so fiercely pursued by circus showman P. T. Barnum, who met his end in a train accident in St. Thomas Ontario in 1885, as the pop culture icon and flesh and bone creature that he was.

Chasing down information hasn’t been easy. There are circus handbills, correspondence, newspaper articles, songs, and images of Jumbo in collections all across the country. But we wanted more. Jumbo became the mascot of Tufts University posthumously, when his stuffed hide was donated to the Barnum Museum of Natural History in 1889 by Mr. Barnum himself, after travelling with the circus (The Story of Jumbo). There are pieces of Jumbo, King of Elephants, in collections all over the country (I just found out about this piece of tusk at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan while writing this ). His heart was purchased by Cornell University, but all they have left is the jar, a fact which caused Liz and me to have a conversation about just how you could lose a 40 lb elephant heart. All of these specimens were once a whole, living elephant, a collection that requires each piece for context, and bringing them back together (at least virtually) has become a bit of a mission.

What we call “Our Eccentric Jumbo Research Project” isn’t really that outlandish in the context of librarian research at all. We are using tools from the digital humanities to explore texts, like the biography of Jumbo by his keeper Matthew Scott, to try and figure out how the people around him understood him. We are thinking about how P. T. Barnum, purveyor of “humbug” and serial hyperbolist, spread misinformation about his prized attraction to get the attention of crowds and how that affected the public view of wildlife in places they could only imagine in the late 19th century. We are tracking down data from studies of Jumbo’s bones and his tail (the only piece that survived after the rest of his hide was destroyed when Barnum Hall at Tufts burned down in 1975) to better understand how he was treated during his short life. Librarianship is about not only providing our communities with what they need, but giving them access to worlds they didn’t even know were out there and allowing a sense of wonder and whimsy to infiltrate the research process.

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

Project Management and Librarianship

by Laura Newton Miller, Assessment Librarian
Carleton University

I did something a little different this past year while on sabbatical: I took an online community college course called Intro to Project Management. I kind of wish I had taken something like this earlier on in my library career. People who know me will attest to the fact that I was kind of “whiney” about it for the first few weeks (sorry about that- I wasn’t ready for the whole “grades” thing!) In the end, it turned out to be quite a useful experience.

I will be the first to tell you that there is way more that I can learn about project management and I am by no means an expert on this topic. But I thought I would share some thoughts in case any of you are interested in learning more.

A project is defined as a temporary, unique endeavour that has a definite beginning and an end. It is not part of regular operations (although when complete could move to that). We deal with projects all the time in libraries. A project could be the implementation of a new service, the renovation of a library building, or the introduction of a new technology. One could also use project management to work through a research endeavour. I can’t help but think we SOMETIMES muddle through things. Maybe there’s a way to do things better.

Project Management is the “application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to project activities to meet project requirements” and can be categorized into 5 “Process Groups”- initiating, planning, executing, monitoring & controlling, and closing (PMBOK Guide). A project can go off-kilter in any one of these groups. For a little taste of how one works through this, one could take a look at the initiating process. The main purpose of this stage is to align stakeholders’ expectations with the projects purpose, helping them understand the scope and objectives, and “show how their participation in the project and its associated phases can ensure that their expectations are achieved” (PMBOK Guide). Who are the stakeholders? They are members of the team who are working on the project. They are also those who could be affected by (or perceive themselves to be affected by) the project. Project Management helps to identify stakeholders (throughout the entire project lifecycle), how to understand their relative degree of influence, and how to balance their demands, needs and expectations.

Just taking this small (but very important) aspect of Project Management made me realize just how much we need more training in this. I don’t envision becoming a certified project manager at any point soon, but I am hopeful that my intro course will help me to do my job a little better.

If you are interested in learning more about Project Management:

Books– (a quick look in WorldCat shows that these are available in several libraries- hopefully one near you. I’ve linked below to Amazon)

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK Guide)– This is the go-to guide put out by the Project Management Institute. It’s a bit of a dry “what to do” as opposed to “how to do it”, so you may want to supplement with other resources, such as…

Project Management: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide – I appreciate easy-to-read things.

Video-
ProjectManager.com YouTube channel: I find these videos short and helpful. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUr0u2WqDWBdxrHnM1nRZiA

Research Articles (project management and libraries) (open access)

Horwath, J.A. (2012). How do we manage? Project management in libraries: An investigation. Partnership: The Canadian Journal of Library Information Practice and Research, 7(1). https://journal.lib.uoguelph.ca/index.php/perj/article/view/1802/2493#.Wk6oBt-nHIU

Unfortunately the other few that I found in my quick search are paywalled, but there is an evidence summary of one article within EBLIP journal:

Sullo, E. (2016). [Evidence Summary]. Academic librarians at institutions with LIS programs assert that project management training is valuable. Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, 12(3). https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/eblip/index.php/EBLIP/article/view/29275/21431

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

What’s Legal isn’t Always Ethical: Learning Analytics and Article 2.5

by Kathleen Reed, Assessment and Data Librarian, Instructor in the Department of Women’s Studies, and VP of the Faculty Association at Vancouver Island University

Recently I met with members of an institutional unit outside the library that are working on building a predictive learning analytics system to identify at-risk students so that interventions can be made. The desired model is expansive, pulling in many points of data. The group wanted access to library user records, so they could match student ID numbers with library account activations, check-outs, and physical usage of library space. At my institution, like many others, students agree upon entering the university to have their institutional records be accessed for internal research. But do student actually know what they’re agreeing to when they click the “accept” button? How many of us actually read the fine-print when we access services, be they universities or a social media platforms? While technically the students may have given consent, I walk away from these meetings feeling like I need a shower, and questioning why so many people in education are uncritically hopping on the learning analytics train.

Librarian professional ethics mandate us to resist the panopticon-style student information systems being built by many post-secondary institutions in the name of “student success,” and that are built into learning management systems like D2L and Moodle. The American Library Association has clear policies on Privacy, and the Confidentiality of Personally Identifiable Information about Library Users. The ALA’s Code of Professional Ethics states, “We protect each library user’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to information sought or received and resources consulted, borrowed, acquired or transmitted.” (ALA, Professional Ethics) There’s been plenty of librarians talking about libraries and learning analytics; Zoe Fisher has a nice summary on her blog.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that learning analytics don’t have a place in education. But that place should be driven by informed consent of the people whose data are being analyzed. To me, simply throwing in fine print in a long legalistic document doesn’t count as “informed consent” (and IMHO it also doesn’t stand up to strict British Columbia privacy laws, but that’s a debate for another time). Students need to be told exactly which data are being accessed, and for what purpose. Right now, at least at my place of work, they’re not. I’m teaching in Gender Studies this term, and using the learning management system D2L. When I mentioned to students that I don’t look at the learning analytics that are a part of the instructor view in D2L, most were shocked that professors could look up when and what course information students were accessing.

I sit in Learning Analytics meetings and think “if only we were subject to the Research Ethics Board (REB)…” Despite my early-career eye-rolling at some of the hoops I’ve had to jump through for REB approvals, I’m coming to appreciate these bodies as a valued voice in keeping researchers within solid ethical boundaries. REBs make us stop and think about the choices we make in our research design, and the rights of participants. Because REBs serve this function, the research being done is frequently to a high ethical standard.

Contrast this with internal work being done that doesn’t require REB approval, or any training on ethics or privacy. Much of this work is done under the guise of the Tri-Council Policy Statement – Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2014) Article 2.5, which exempts institutional research from Research Ethics Board approval. Article 2.5 states:

Article 2.5 Quality assurance and quality improvement studies, program evaluation activities, and performance reviews, or testing within normal educational requirements when used exclusively for assessment, management or improvement purposes, do not constitute research for the purposes of this Policy, and do not fall within the scope of REB review.

Application Article 2.5 refers to assessments of the performance of an organization or its employees or students, within the mandate of the organization, or according to the terms and conditions of employment or training. Those activities are normally administered in the ordinary course of the operation of an organization where participation is required, for example, as a condition of employment in the case of staff performance reviews, or an evaluation in the course of academic or professional training. Other examples include student course evaluations, or data collection for internal or external organizational reports. Such activities do not normally follow the consent procedures outlined in this Policy.”

What this means is that most of the assessment work done in the library – unless it’s research for articles or conference presentations later on – is not subject to REB review. It’s the same for folks who are building learning analytics tools, or monitoring the progress of students within the institution. From what I’ve witnessed, the projects that fall under Article 2.5 are some of the most ethically-fraught ground within post-secondary education. I’m not arguing that anyone who does internal work should have to go through a full REB approval process. But they should have to have some training on ethics and privacy. Perhaps there should be the equivalent of a Research Ethics Officer for investigations that fall under Article 2.5, to help ensure that internal work is held to the same high ethical standard as research.

The guidance that REBs give and the mindset in which they train us to think is valuable, and should be more widespread in post-secondary institutions regardless of whether research falls into or outside of Article 2.5.

REBs, I take back every shady comment and eye roll I ever threw your way.

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

Following a Research Plan – an update

by Jaclyn McLean, Electronic Resources Librarian
University of Saskatchewan

In August, I wrote about my personal challenge of taking on too much. I committed to a plan for the year ahead, and to keep reminding myself that my plate was full. Well, readers, let me admit that I may have not been able to keep my idea generating brain completely in check.

Click the above tweet to read the Twitter conversation

I might need an intervention, and even though my early expectation was that my idea wouldn’t make the cut, I was wrong. My e-poster was accepted, and I’m getting excited about participating in ER&L from afar this year, and doing a Q&A about my poster on Twitter. And truly, the content of my poster is being informed by ongoing work I’m already doing. So, designing & making the poster as a short slide deck is the only added burden on my time. Am I being naïve, believing I can squeeze something else into my carefully planned Gantt chart for the next couple of months? As the deadlines for a few of my projects on the go draw nearer, I sure hope not. Am I glad that I made a careful plan for the year, am sticking to it, and managed to limit myself to one new research project? Yup! Would January and February be a bit calmer if I’d managed to restrain myself from submitting a proposal. Maybe, but we’ll never know.

I am still grateful to past me for making a research plan. It has been a very successful tool for me so far. Why?

• I am more conscious about how much time I actually have for new things
Without a plan, I would very likely have said to yes to a couple of new things because I was excited about them, and found myself in over my head

• I can update anyone about my progress on any ongoing project quickly & easily
Whether it’s collaborators, my research mentorship team, or someone else who’s interested, I always know where I’m at and where I’m going next

• I can update my plan easily, and it’s visually appealing
I check my Gantt chart at least once a month, at the start of a research day—it takes less than 10 minutes, and reminds me where I’d expected to be & where I’m at

• I went in knowing that there would need to be adjustments
Now I know which of my deadlines are external (e.g., a collaborator waiting for me to finish something, a journal submission deadline), and which ones are just for me, and can be adjusted to match current reality as a project progresses

• I feel rewarded and satisfied when I can check something off a list
I like making a plan and sticking to it, and the reward of staying on track is enough for me

Do you have any research planning strategies that work well for you?

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

Follow Up to the Release of the Peer Reviewed LIS Journal List

by Virginia Wilson
Director, C-EBLIP

Last week, C-EBLIP launched a list of peer-reviewed LIS journals. Selinda Berg created this list originally and Kristin Hoffmann picked it up and updated it. The open access titles are indicated with the OA symbol and Canadian titles are highlighted with a little maple leaf. The original idea of the list is to give librarians, information professionals, and archivists a place to go when they are searching for somewhere to send a manuscript. Love it!

Well, it seems that many, many others love it, too. Carolyn Doi (@cdoi) tweeted about the list on January 15 at about 4:45PM SK time. As of January 18, mid-afternoon, according to Twitter Analytics, her tweet had 897 total engagements including 361 link clicks, 200 likes, 127 retweets, 86 detail expands, and 4 replies (it’s all more now).

Fig 1: Twitter analytics for @cdoi’s Jan. 15, 2018 tweet (click on image for larger, clearer picture)

News of the list went seemingly around the world! Others tweeted, and Kristin Hoffmann had a blog post in Brain-Work about the list, and then the list announcement was sent to several listservs. The response has been amazing! People have been contacting us with additional journals to add. We’ve received emails thanking us for this useful list. An announcement showed up in the Canadian Association of Research Library‘s (CARL) E-lert email (thank you, CARL!) and on Librarianship.ca (thank you, Cabot!). It’s been extremely exciting and gratifying.

Obviously, the need for such a compendium of LIS journals is there. This list fills a gap. And this makes me wonder what else we are missing. What other great LIS resources are on hard drives or usb sticks or in file cabinets that would be useful if they only had an online home? It’s a commitment, that’s for sure. Providing online access to content takes time. For example, the plan is to revisit the journal list periodically. The links need to be checked, journal names change, some go from closed to open access, and there are journals coming and going all the time. And that means maintenance as well. There’s a workflow involved that right now consists of 2 people, Google Drive, and a website.

Even though there is a time commitment to a project such as this, it is such a worthwhile endeavor. It’s offering a service to our profession. It’s helping librarians and other info pros find a place to publish their articles (research studies, opinion pieces, thought pieces, book reviews, etc.), and it’s providing directions to resources for evidence based library and information practice and for professional development. I’m thrilled with the response to the list and I hope people continue to engage with it long into the future.

I encourage colleagues to think about anything they might have created to support research, practice, or professional development in librarianship. Is there a way you can get it online and available to all? Or, you could tell me about it and maybe we can make something work.

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.

Introducing the C-EBLIP List of Peer-Reviewed Journals in LIS

by Kristin Hoffmann
University of Western Ontario

Have you ever wondered where to submit your latest research paper? Would you like to be able to identify Open Access titles in librarianship?

I am happy to announce that the C-EBLIP site now hosts a list of peer reviewed journals in library and information science (LIS). This list was created to help librarians and archivists identify journals where they can submit manuscripts for publication. To that purpose, we have developed the list with three key features in mind:

Organization by category
There are twelve categories for this list, covering a wide range of topics in LIS, which help identify journals that relate to the topic of your manuscript. The category “Library and Information Science” contains the journals that are the broadest in scope. For simplicity, we have listed each title in only one category.

Identification of Open Access and Canadian titles
Open Access (OA) journals have theOpen Access logo logo at the end of their reference. Happily, there are many more OA titles now than when we started this list in 2007, in part because all of the journals that have launched since then are OA. Since C-EBLIP is based in Canada, we have highlighted Canadian titles with Maple Leaf .

Active titles only
The list does not include journals that have ceased publication, because the goal is to help identify potential venues for publication. We have listed journals under their most recent title, with previous titles provided in the entry.

Selinda Berg created this list in 2007 for the Librarians and Archivists Research Support Network at the University of Western Ontario, based on information from Ulrichs Serials Directory. I have since maintained this list in print, and we have shared it as part of the participant handouts at each Librarians’ Research Institute, updating it with newly created journal titles. Moving it to the C-EBLIP site means that this list is now publicly available and online.

In moving the list online, I reviewed each title over the past few months to check that the basic information about the journal was complete and up to date. Over the coming year, my plan is to add brief annotations to each title based on the focus and scope as described on the website for each journal.

There are almost certainly more titles we could add to this list, and despite our best efforts there may be typos or other errors. If you notice any incomplete or incorrect information about a title, or if you would like to suggest additional titles to include on this list, please comment here or write to Virginia Wilson, virginia.wilson@usask.ca

By the numbers
Journals currently on this list: 115
Open Access journals: 35
Canadian journals: 5
Journals that have launched since 2007: 14
Journals that have launched since 2007 and are Open Access: 14
Journals that have changed their name since 2007: 10

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.

UBC Okanagan’s First Researcher-in-Residence Day Report

by Marjorie Mitchell
Research Librarian, UBC Okanagan Library

A small and intrepid group of librarians and archivists gathered on December 15, 2017, in the University of British Columbia Okanagan Library Special Collections room for a day focused on the processes of conducting research. Librarians from Okanagan College and UBC’s Vancouver Campus joined their Okanagan colleagues to hear Jane Schmidt talk about her experience conducting research while on sabbatical, the challenge of peer-review for a topic that takes a critical stance, and, following the publication of her article Little Free Libraries®: Interrogating the impact of the branded book exchange, the media attention she and her research partner, Jordon Hale, received. Jane talked candidly about doing research on a topic she was passionate about, creating strong research partnerships with people who have complimentary skills, and about managing the aftermath of publishing an article critical of a US-based not-for-profit organization that caught the media’s attention.

In the question and answer time following Jane’s formal presentation she said one thing she would have done differently was to have secured ethics approval for portions of the research. She ultimately ended up excluding from her article what she learned from following social media on the Little Free Libraries® because she hadn’t sought ethics approval in advance of joining the closed Facebook group whose members are all people who built individual installations of a Little Free Libraries® box. A participant also asked Jane how she would have done this research if she had not been on sabbatical. Jane emphatically answered that the research would not have happened!

Following Jane’s candid and engaging talk, invited speakers Pierre Rondier and Mary Butterfield, both from UBC Okanagan, talked about writing grant proposals. Pierre focused on information about applying for Social Science and Humanities Research Council grants including the types of grants available, their scope, deadlines and criteria. Mary shared her insight as both a person who helps members of the Faculty of Management to write grant proposals and as an adjudicator for community grants such as community arts grants and grants from the Central Okanagan foundation. Both agreed researchers need to thoroughly understand the criteria of the grants for which they are applying.

The final session of the day was a panel presentation and discussion of research collaborations. Jane Schmidt talked about working with her researcher partner who was a student at the time they worked together. Sajni Lacey spoke about finding research collaborators during her time as a contract academic librarian prior to starting at UBC Okanagan on a tenure track. Finally, I spoke about collaborating in a large group over long distances highlighting my participation within the national studies on research data management practices of groups of faculty. Audience members added their experiences to the discussion to round out the breadth of variety of research, especially research done while on sabbatical or study leave.

Participants expressed an interest in seeing this type of event happen again.

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.

12 questions for new year’s research reflection

by Carolyn Doi
Education and Music Library, University of Saskatchewan


New Year’s Resolutions” by Jorge Cham

We’ve made it to 2018! For many of us, 2017 was a bit of rough one. The new year, with promise of new possibilities, is a great time to reflect and move forward with resolve. While I am generally skeptical of those long new year’s resolutions lists (do I really need more on my plate?), I do find it helpful to take time to plan for the year ahead.

When it comes to academic timelines, January is more of a half way point than a beginning. One busy semester is now behind us and one still yet to come. Often my research projects fall to the back burner in the fall, while teaching, research support, and collegial obligations become bigger priorities. With conference season coming up in the spring and summer, making sure those promised papers and presentations are well underway is critical.

I would like to use this new year as an opportunity to reflect on my research activities to this point, where I am now, and where I need to get to. Nothing like a quick check in to get the ball rolling. If you’re in the habit of keeping a research journal, feel free to borrow these questions and document your own answers.

The Researcher’s 12 Questions for New Year’s Reflection:1

1) What was an unexpected win (big or small)?
2) What was an unexpected obstacle?
3) What was the best research tool or resource you discovered this year?
4) Who within your research network did you build the most valuable relationship with?
5) What was the biggest change in your research?
6) In what way(s) did your concept of your research grow?
7) What was the most enjoyable part of your research?
8) What was the most challenging part of your research?
9) What was your single biggest time waster?
10) What was the best way you used your time?
11) What would you try if you knew you could not fail?
12) What was biggest thing you learned?

The jury is definitely out on whether setting resolutions is an effective way of achieving change. Resolvers seem to have a higher rate of success than non-resolvers, when combined with self-efficacy, skills to change, and readiness to change. But, this may also depend on the type of goals we set. Personally, I’m keeping my own resolutions simple this year with two questions: What do you want to bring into 2018? What do you want to leave behind?

Check out #academicresoltuions or #365papers on twitter for some inspired goal setting. Whether you are a resolver or not, here’s to a productive, insightful, and healthy research year ahead!

1Adapted from Tsh Oxenreider’s 20 Questions for New Year’s Eve.

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.

Season’s Greetings from the Centre for Evidence Based Library and Information Practice

by Virginia Wilson, Director
C-EBLIP

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the year just past and look forward in anticipation to the New Year.
Christmas bokeh

By William Brawley [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

2017 was a year of change for C-EBLIP. We saw the arrival of a new Dean of the Library. Melissa Just joined us in February 2017. With new leadership came the challenge and excitement of changing priorities and new ideas. The University Library hosted the very successful national Access conference in late September so C-EBLIP took a hiatus from the Fall Symposium. We wished her well as our research facilitator, Carolyn Pytlyk, moved to another role within the University. And we welcomed a brand new research facilitator! Katya MacDonald came on board in November 2017.

2018 will see the return of the C-EBLIP Fall Symposium. Be on the look out for the call for proposals in early spring and make plans to join us for a great day of sessions focusing on librarians in our researcher role. We are also planning another pre-symposium workshop which will be a professional development opportunity related to research. And, as announced earlier this winter, the very first C-EBLIP Spring Writing Retreat will be held April 9 – 13, 2018 at the Temple Gardens Hotel and Spa in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Space is limited so book your stay now. You can find all the details on the C-EBLIP website. And of course, Brain-Work continues its 4th year of being a space for librarians to talk about their research, explore professional issues and ideas, and share what worked and what didn’t. The longevity of this blog is heartening to me and I thank those fine contributors from across Canada and around the world who share their work via Brain-Work. I also thank our readers, without whom a blog would be pointless.

In closing, I hope you have a very happy holiday season. Happy New Year and all the best in 2018!

Planning the Access Library Technology Conference

by Shannon Lucky,
Library Systems and Information Technology
University of Saskatchewan Library

In September the University Library at the U of S hosted the 25th Access Library Technology Conference. The core planning team (Jaclyn McLean, Craig Harkema, and myself) are still wrapping up the last loose ends and paying the last of the bills before we hand everything over to the next planning committee, but we have had time to reflect on the last year of planning and what made the event a success. The TL:DR is that smart delegating and asking for help saved our sanity and made Access a much better conference than we could have done on our own.

The longevity of the Access conference is remarkable – it is not led by an academic association and doesn’t have much of a formalized structure. It is supported by a community of library technology people dispersed across Canada who pass the organizing role from institution to institution each year. It had been 19 years since Access was last hosted in Saskatchewan (Access 1998!) and it felt like we were overdue for a return to the prairies.

Organizing a conference is one of those tasks that academics take on because someone has to do it, but it isn’t something library school prepares you for. In some ways, this makes Access a great conference to host, in other ways the lack of guidelines was daunting. There are so many ways to mess it up.

We were handed the keys to the conference – logins credentials, a comfortable budget (that we didn’t want to empty for future years), and documentation from previous years – and were told to start planning immediately. There are only a few traditions we were advised to continue: we should livestream the conference for free (which we did – recordings on the YouTube channel), keep it a single stream program, continue the Dave Binkley Memorial lecture, and make sure there are enough socializing opportunities (and enough refreshments).

Our core team was well balanced and it was a real pleasure working with Craig and Jaclyn, but we were appropriately intimidated by the amount of work that needed to be done in less than a year. In response, we delegated like crazy. This may be the most successful thing we did during the entire process. By dividing up tasks into discrete projects with well-defined time commitments and expectations we were able to approach colleagues and Access community members to pitch-in in ways that utilized their strengths and were (hopefully) professionally beneficial for them. Making targeted asks rather than a general call for volunteers also may have helped us solicit time from very talented and busy colleagues.

The major volunteer contributions that made this conference possible were:

  • The program committee (Charlene Sorensen, DeDe Dawson, Karim Tharani) who wrote and advertised the call for papers, coordinated the peer reviewers, and created the timetable. This felt like a gargantuan task, perhaps the biggest part of making the conference successful, and having this work happen smoothly while we dealt with more prosaic tasks was a big help.
  • Peer reviewers, mainly members of the Access community, who volunteered online to review proposals. We were impressed with the number of volunteers and their thoughtful feedback.
  • The diversity scholarship committee (Maha Kumaran, Naz Torabi, Ying Liu, Ray Fernandes). I could not be prouder of how well the diversity scholarship program worked this year. We were fortunate to have Maha, whose research involves diversity in libraries, agree to lead this committee who designed the application and adjudication process, spread the call for applicants well beyond the typical Access circles, and made their decision after reading many qualified applications. The excellent work of this committee made me feel confident in our process of awarding the scholarships and it is one of the top things I will recommend to future organizers.
  • Hackfest workshop leaders (Darryl Friesen, John Yobb, Curt Campbell, Donald Johnson, Andrew Nagy) who organized workshops on the first day of the conference including hauling gear and coordinating their groups of registrants.
  • Conveners (Megan Kennedy, Tim Hutchinson, Carolyn Doi, Danielle Bitz, Joel Salt) who coordinated, introduced, and moderated questions for each block of speakers.
  • Social events (Sarah Rutley) who managed to transform all of our crazy (and sometimes terrible) ideas into three days of great activities, coordinating multiple vendors, food allergies, and last minute changes.
  • Hotel logistics (Jen Murray) who was the central contact point between the committee and our venue – having one person focused on all the details around the space, food, and time schedules was a lifesaver, particularly when things went off the rails.

In other areas, we ponied up and paid for professional services including the venue, catering, AV support, live streaming, and registration system. All money well spent. The downside is that I know we had enthusiastic, talented members of our local library community who would have gladly volunteered and done a fantastic job. It’s almost a shame we didn’t have more work to do. Almost.

There are many more people who made this event successful including the support of the U of S Library and Dean Melissa Just, Virginia Wilson who gave us great advice based on her experience hosting the EBLIP7 conference, Carolyn Pytlyk who helped me write our SSHRC Connections grant, past Access organizers, and all of our sponsors. I also want to thank all of the attendees who were so engaged and enthusiastic about both the perogies and the conference program. The whole process was so much fun you can count me in to host again in 19 years – see you at Access 2036.

Access 2017 organizers and volunteers

Access 2017 organizers and volunteers celebrating a successful conference by throwing axes.

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