Friday, May 21, 2010

UCLA: Discussion of the Future

Summary of LAUC-LA Informal Meeting 4/7/10

Diane Mizrachi, LAUC UCLA Division Chair

This year, Statewide LAUC has initiated a dialog among its members on topics of interest to our future. On April 7, 2010, approximately 25 LAUC-LA members met for an informal meeting to look at two specific issues and how they impact the future and can be improved upon. The first issue is ensuring and improving upon the value of librarian professional expertise by the university community, and the second looks at the development of a new generational catalog – Next-Gen Melvyl. Below is a summary of our discussions.

In the values discussion we identified what specific expertise we posses and want to be valued for, and then created a list of suggestions. These questions may seem obvious but it is important from time to time to take stock of what we do and what we would like others to value about what we do. At the LAUC Southern Regional meeting at UC Irvine on May 6, UCSD UL Brian Schottlaender discussed a study he did recently of academic library job postings which reflects the evolution of skills and knowledge needed in our profession. These kinds of studies and introspection are important for us when visualizing and planning towards the future of libraries and librarianship.

Discussions identifying our expertise seemed to cluster around three general areas: expertise we have acquired through our studies in MLIS/MIS programs and on-the-job experience, subject expertise, and collaborations.

What we do and expect to be valued for:
• Our expertise above the layman acquired through our professional training and experience:
o Knowing how information is organized, stored, accessed
o Fluency in all sorts of information tools and resources,
o Knowledge of information vocabulary, collections
o Organizing, classifying information, integrating and evaluating
o Recognition of the "Invisible substrate" principle (by Marcia Bates): people don't realize that there's a science to information organization - having subject expertise doesn't necessarily mean one knows how to organize it best for retrieval & use
o Long term commitment to viability and direction of our collections, researchers have a short-term view.
o Library instruction to end-users and staff:
 we plan, prepare, implement and evaluate our library instruction--help people learn how to learn
o Expertise with e-resources - licensing, acquiring, delivering, & maintaining are more complex than with print
o Scholarly communication issues & intellectual property
 faculty perspective--where they publish affects what we can buy in the future
 student perspective—plagiarism
o Training new librarians, new professionals and interns
o Functional expertise as important as subject expertise--undergrad services, metadata, cataloging, etc.
o Because we have mental models of information organization from our training, we can apply these models to new situations
o Create new standards--technical services; how to fix something when broken; integrating new materials into existing;

• Subject expertise
o Subject specialty becoming more important as general surfing becomes easier & more possible.
o Language expertise – our ability work with information in a multitude of languages
o tension between librarians who may make recommendations related to specific subject areas, and those who don't--partly dependent on subject expertise of the person--e.g., synthesizing information

• Collaborations
o The more we work with faculty and students the more they respect us.
o We offer different perspectives on information than researcher – more holistic
o Networking to other collections & libraries
o Groups with different expertise work together
o Bringing people into shared spaces (web, 2nd life), commons

Current and Future Needs and Suggestions
• We get questions from the larger community because we’re UCLA. We need to be valued for our role in the community as a whole.
• Need an atmosphere where ideas and creativity can flow without fear of reprisal
• Every grant should have a dollar amount and librarians written in as personnel
• More investment in preservation of digital data
• Need to highlight our instruction expertise to make this expertise more visible.
• Partner with faculty in teaching classes
• Increase collaboration and partnering across library, campus and off-campus communities
• Partner with businesses to improve search functionality--cataloging, instruction--librarian as search engine
• Find a mechanism for librarians to serve on relevant faculty committees
• Need greater communication to the university community about what we do and our value
• Great publicity and marketing of librarians
 Personalize the librarians so we’re not just an institution
• Greater extension of the integration of IL into the general curriculum
• Investigate the adoption of the Management and law Library models of integrating/embedding librarian into other departments
• Encourage more transparency between librarians & administration and vice-verse
• Create a forum for non-LAUC library specialists (e.g. may be MLIS holders but position not in librarian series)
• LAUC should take a bigger role in reminding admin that we are here to advise them on services and policies--check in with us--we are the ones who work directly with users and want to provide assistance in making decisions
• Implement student fees for library services (address student-fee to library services)
• Education
• Information universe is increasing in complexity, not decreasing
 Continue professional training and development
• We need to keep updated with newest developments in searching, licensing, purchasing of information in all formats

Questions for Further Discussion
• Should we re-think our status and promote acquiring faculty status?
• Merging and changing of units and roles has created fewer opportunities for librarians to lead nationally and internationally--less subject specific areas--e.g., government docs, how can we reverse this?
• Collocation principle has slipped – do we even still value that? Libraries would say yes but how do we convey that?

Issue 2: Next-Gen Melvyl

• faceted searching; many international institutions are listing their materials; one place to search for information, books, journals, articles
• Only catalog that offers my library, UC libraries, OCLC libraries, all libraries
• Will be possible to see all in-process records
• Each campus may adapt default display
• federated search doesn't look for articles from all dbs we license

What are the most important pieces of advice that you would give to the designers of Next-Gen Melvyl?
• Implement an Authority Control for author listings
o Attend to the de-duping problem
• Implement Browse Headings Searches for authors & subjects (like our current OPAC)
• Change display from relevance to alphabetical by author name or subject heading
o Sort facet searching by author name or other reasonable way, not by # of records
• Provide guidance on how to search vernacular for materials published in non-Latin scripts
• Make smaller icons, so less scrolling needed
• If reporting locally, UCLA materials should be the default display
• Implement options for focused searches--Catalog only, Catalog + articles, Articles only
• Include RLF paging mechanism
• Include notice to users that it doesn't search all licensed databases
• Make it easier to find E-books:
• Add types of searches--
o search for specific item--e.g., Nature (journal)
o Call number
o better book series searching
o Searching: known item or subject – “start of” for titles, subjects, & keyword in subject
• Graphic design of records daunting--info spread out all over page; hard to figure out what sort of item you're looking at
• Ability to select items from search list to email, rather than have to go into record to email
• Option to display brief or detailed record
• Allow log-on users to do customize their displays