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This blog has MOVED

Hi everyone! This blog has moved! Please come and check it out – I got tired of managing 2 blogs at once and decided to bring everything together. So, if you’re so inclined, come read over at this blog’s new home :)

Here you will find Library-related issues and discussion, photography, poetry, and my musings as an editor for an up-and-coming literature magazine. Exciting things are happening.

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Safe Zone: practical applications in the commuter-college library

If you remember from my last post, I started working on a LGBTQ libguide with a few other colleagues in the HACC system.  Luckily, I was able to attend the Safe Zone training presented at the York Campus today and gained some valuable information that can be utilized to assist our LGBTQ student/staff/faculty population across campus’.

First, we learned terminology that I THOUGHT I was totally familiar with – this was not the case.  Most noteably, I discovered that the term “Transgender” is an umbrella term, while I thought it meant someone who was transitioning from either male-to-female or female-to-male but who hadn’t gone through with the surgery yet.  ::insert obnoxious buzzer::  Wrong!

However, this got me thinking – what terms would LGBTQ students be using in their search?  I wrote down terms and added them to the libguide (which is not public yet).  I put this under the “Books” tab, but I am still mulling over the idea of placing books, articles, and more into one category.  I added a section: “Try using these terms” to help our campus population find more information on what they are looking for.

I also learned about “Central Voice” which is an LGBT paper published out of Harrisburg (available here) and that the SGA (student gov’t) is working with the “It gets better” project – all of which I am very excited about.  So, I was thinking of adding the latest edition in PDF form to the libguide so that it is also accessible online and physically.  I think that many LGBTQ students may not be comfortable carrying around the physical pamphlet, so making it accessible online would provide another avenue of access.

Since HACC York does not currently have an Allies group on campus, I was thinking that maybe the smaller satellites could work with the Harrisburg campus’ strong Allies group to coordinate events together.  Since this is a commuter campus, we should be thinking of ways to allow all students the chance to participate.

Here’s some things to try:

  • Skype meetings with Harrisburg Allies group to other HACC Campus’
  • Coordinate events such as: Campus Pride or set up a  display table at local (central PA) Pride events during the summer.  This will show that HACC is a safe place for all students and it gets us out there in the community.
  • Discuss having special topics classes offered at different campus’ on Queer Studies.  Seems out of reach, but it’s not unheard of.
  • Celebrate Pride events in the library!  Parties = People!  Bring people in, provide a safe space, gain allies, and promote library resources for LGBTQ students/staff/faculty

With a little help, we can all reach out to provide a safe space on campus for LGBTQ students.  The library plays an integral part as we are providers of information, and we need to be understanding, knowledgeable, and able to provide resources to our campus community.

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PaLA 2011 conference notes (Sunday/Monday)

So if you didn’t attend PaLA this year, don’t worry!  I’ve taken a few notes on my short stay in State College, PA.  Since I got there a little later on Sunday, I only went to two sessions.  Then, on Monday, I went to three sessions and presented my poster: “Changing perspectives, building careers: library internships for undergrads” with Libscenester :)

Service Learning @ the University Library

  • The data shows: students take ownership of learning, it increases student motivation to learn course content, learning through point-of-need is most effective, and it’s a low-pressure way for students to transfer skills. how does this apply to Higher Ed?  Perhaps at HACC, the community college I work at, we could have our CSI (computer science and information) students teach computer literacy to non-traditional students.  This will then increase their ability to learn the material they have worked with in class and then transfer skills to students in need.
A safe space on campus to serve LGBTQ students and faculty
You can find the slides of this presentation here , but here are the basics:
  • ALA provides many places for libraries to get ideas for starting LGBTQ
  • Our universities need to provide a safe welcoming environment (either through collection development, or in my case, an online guide)
  • Guides should be electronic and should have a contact person and/or link to a student group on campus
  • Our reference librarians should be knowledgeable of terminology and where students can find the guide.
  • Outreach:  Connect with Allies group on campus, educate staff on ALA ethics, participate in safe-space training, GLBTQ history month is October (reach out!), try poetry readings, hook up with the Student Activities group, etc.
At HACC, we are collaborating to create a GLBTQ libguide for our students.  As it stands, there is a “Diversity” guide which provides excellent information.  However, in order to provide service to all students and to treat everyone as a WHOLE, we are collecting materials and working across campus’ in order to provide the best service for our students and community.
Marketing: a librarian’s field guide to NFC
Ever hear of Near Field Communication?  No?  Well, it is basically a new way to transfer information (data) between phones similar to a QR code.  However, this type of marketing will allow people to just “tap” their phone to an icon and have that information transmitted through a short field blue-tooth connection.
What does this mean for libraries?  How can we use this technology?

  • Obviously, Marketing – outreach
  • Provide a quick way for people to register to library events
  • Replace locks?  Possibly for 24-hr labs, dorms, etc.  Replace the student ID
This technology is very new and the iPhone4s does not support it YET.  The phones that do support the technology include: Nokia C7, N9 and the Google NexusX phone.  Perhaps this is something to look forward to in the near future – experts predict 2012 :)
Get off the bench: Outreach initiatives
This was a fantastic presentation discussing some easy (and cheap) ways to get students and the university community into the library – who doesn’t want that??  Here are some things I gathered from the talk:
  • Try performances at the library – this helps get people into the library as well as bring awareness to other students about different campus events.  This is a fun way to integrate departments across campus
  • A college author reception: bring in the faculty to have a pseudo-fancy event to celebrate the work they’ve published.  Offer cheese and crackers and display the work (MU might remember the Showcase of Scholarship).
  • Offer free tea and hot chocolate on late hours (HACC-york is possibly working with the tutoring center to provide a 24-hr open access environment for students for finals – maybe we could try this).
  • Anything having to do with a birthday (famous in the library-world or not) will bring people into the library.  Cake = people.
  • Offer study breaks – legos, games, crafts
  • Book-truck decoration contests – maybe campus groups?
  • 1st Friday exhibits in the library – this could be fun.
  • Write Thank You cards to people on campus that have helped out the library.  Maybe use some photographs from special collections for the front of the cards!
Going Mobile with Lincoln
This session discussed mobile marketing of the library (at Gettysburg College).  I went to this session because I am preparing a QR code presentation for Millersville University and I got some good ideas about marketing here.  The problem is: how do we get the website to go mobile – how do we tell students that they can access the library at all hours even when the library is closed?
           First, we need to know what students are using, who’s the target, and what values are there?
Here are some ways to market to students:
  • Partnerships with campus community groups
  • Table tents (in library) and maybe in the study rooms
  • Digital signage
  • Newspaper/stall publication
  • Stacks signage
Promote the message “Wherever you are.”  I like this because for my instruction I use QR codes so students can access their libguides at any moment when they need help.  I have been following the QR codes to track data and to see if people are actually using them – we cannot forget to assess what we are doing, or we begin to assume what the students are doing – and we all know what ASSuming does to us ;)
Hopefully you can take something away from these notes – I look forward to spearheading new initiatives at HACC from what I learned at PaLA.  So, just like last year – Thanks PaLA!


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Hey PaLA 2011!

Fall weather, classes starting, and PaLA conference-time is in the air!  

This year, I am presenting a poster with LibraryScenester called “Changing perspectives, building careers: library internships for undergrads.”  Learn how I (and other interns at Millersville University Library), gained invaluable experience and the motivation to continue further study in librarianship – so, be sure to stop by on Monday between 1-2pm! :)

It’s good to know, too, that I’ve never stayed overnight at a conference so this is going to be an entirely new experience for me.  Last year, I just walked down to PaLA which was being held about 4 blocks from my apartment – this year, I’m driving 3 hours up to State College (no worries, I’ve got playlists).

Here’s a few things that I’m bringing for my short stay at PaLA 2011:

  • My trusty laptop – Mostly because I have to work on a Lit midterm – haven’t decided whether to bring it to sessions – thoughts?
  • Multiple outfits- I’m terrible at choosing what to wear, hopefully my hotel roomies can help me out :)
  • My COAT – It’s going to be freezing and raining on Sunday, so come prepared!
  • iPod – for the car
  • Camera – I’ve never been to State College, and I thought taking photos at PaLA would be a fun way for me to relax between sessions.

Be sure to check back for notes from the sessions – thanks for having me again, PaLA :)


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Student-Worker to Professional Librarian: Overcoming the Transition

Today marks the end of my first week as an Adjunct Reference and Instruction Librarian at HACC (Harrisburg Area Community College) York Campus.  While I am very excited to start working on my instruction presentations and help students at the reference desk, I have found myself dealing with a tough transition from student-worker to professional librarian.

How could this be?  I have been applying for librarian positions for over a year now – I went to library school – why does being a “Librarian” feel so awkward?

As a student-worker and supervisor, I was constantly moving: looking for students/staff/faculty, training incoming students, working the circulation desk, ILL, resource sharing, stacks, and special projects.  I also had several supervisors that I had to report to.  Now, I have the specific duty of manning the reference desk and working on class presentations, but I still have the urge to shelve newspapers and books, check the book-bins, and tell student-workers what they should be doing.

I am also finding myself concerned about being called “Faculty.”  During my tour, I met several staff and faculty around campus who mistook me as a new student.  Since the majority of the student population is non-traditional, I get the overwhelming sense that they don’t trust me to help them with their assignments.  And if the students don’t trust me, how will the other faculty trust me to instruct their classes?

How does one deal with this dilemma?  Well, here’s what I’ve done so far:

  •  Told myself: they wouldn’t have hired you if they didn’t think you were qualified and capable of doing the job.  This mantra has helped and was reinforced at my New Faculty Orientation.  Obviously, during my interview and presentation, they saw my potential regardless of my appearance (specifically age), and thought that I would be a good fit and addition to their library.
  • Be confident.  “Confident” isn’t the first word I would use to describe myself, but I have quickly learned how important it is to gain trust from students.  If students see that you are confident in finding the information they are requesting, you ultimately gain their trust.
  • Ask questions.  Don’t be shy, you are working with librarians.. They love to answer questions.  I have found that the more questions I ask, the more comfortable the staff and faculty feel with me – I want to do the best I can, and they see that.  All of this will help boost that confidence :)
  • Relax.  You don’t have to know everything all at once.  Any new job is an information-overload, and no one expects you to know it all.  Just remember to breathe while sorting through all of your new work email.
  • Be flexible and don’t panic.  During my first week, my supervisor had a family emergency which left me at the reference desk by myself.  Instead of panicking, I just followed #4 and winged it the best I could.  If you don’t know an answer, tell a student you will get back to them with the information they are seeking – don’t worry!

As I explore, discover, and learn all about being a professional librarian, I am sure I will begin to feel more comfortable in my new role.  In the meantime, I have to squash those desires to direct student-workers and command the circulation desk as I previously had.  Those days are over now – I can finally say I am an Academic Librarian, so it’s time to start acting like it!

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Library Day in the Life [of the unemployed librarian]: Tuesday

Today turned out to be pretty busy for me for day 2 of Library Day in the Life round 6 :)  Here’s what I did today:

8:00-9:00 – Got up, started the coffee pot and made breakfast for Ava.  Then, I checked my email and got ready to go to Millersville University for a webinar.

9:30-10 – Met up with Library Scenester to get my parking pass and settled into the library classroom (by logging into Twitter and Facebook).  Met another librarian from the Lancaster County Public Library System who graduated with me this past December in Clarion.  We talked about what direction in librarianship we want to take and she told me she would like to get back into Academic Librarianship (heh, me too).

10-10:50 – Listened to “The Joy of Text” webinar sponsored by PaLA CRD.  I tweeted some of what was going on during the session, but I also took some notes.  Before the break we learned:

  • What text messaging is and the definition of SMS.  (I found that this was a kind of unnecessary information considering the audience)
  • Discovered the LYRASIS delicious page, however, we were told that this would be moving sometime in the near future.  In the meantime, there are some pretty interesting links if you are interested in continuing your education on mobile reference services.
  • Reasons why texting and reference makes sense: 1. Phone is favored form of communication. 2. Texting is easier (and quicker). and 3. There is documented evidence of increased usage.
  • Learned about “the cloud.”  Basically, this cloud is the core network that every device that has internet connection bounces off of.  I thought we already assumed that, but now there is a term for it.  This is something that I have been seeing on TV a lot more in ads, now that I am jobless.

10:50-11:05 – BREAK TIME!  Which meant fill up on caffeine at the Starbucks on the G floor of the library (a favorable addition to the building).  I must thank Erin for spotting me the extra dollar for my Almond Joy Latte :D

11:05-12 – Wrapped up the webinar:

  • Vendors offering SMS reference service: Libanswers, Mosio: Text-A-Librarian, Volusion, Library H31p, Altarama, Google SMS (Voice), Guide by Cell, [KGB and ChaCha]
  • Briefly touched on policies/tone of texting, how to be professional and polite and uphold ALA standards.  Also, what are the students’ expectations? However, I would have liked to have seen an example of a library implementing this in their library, maybe an article link.  I think that this could be touched upon a little more for the purposes of the seminar.
  • How to implement: use dashboard service as in Mosio? Or every librarian have a device?  The text service could be used all the time or just during peak hours.  Again, I didn’t really get more than that.  I would have like to have seen libraries that are using this and how it is working.
  • Results May Vary: you may or may not get as many texts as you were expecting (obviously).  But, it becomes an issue when the library must choose a service and sometimes, the pricing is based on how many texts will be going out per month.
  • Best Practices: Provide hours + Availability, FAQs, Policy, Staff training, and Promote/Market the service.  Here, I would have liked how other libraries had marketed the service and how it is working for them.  I would like to see what flat out didn’t work.  I could probably tell you: bulletin board marketing (which was suggested).  While a good idea in theory, students just aren’t seeing it.  Believe me.
  • How to answer texts: Direct complicated texts to email or chat, always use an away message if necessary, send descriptive links OR URLs, keep it simple, and be mindful of text character limits.  However, here again, I would have liked to know how to approach a question.  Should we conduct a deeper reference interview with, say 4, texts?  Or, should we throw assumptions of unlimited texting aside, and stick to one-text answers?

Essentially, I learned that the library is just going to have to come up with some skeleton base that seems appropriate for their particular library- Then, EXPERIMENT.  No one will know how to implement this into libraries if there aren’t people experimenting and writing about it.

12-2:30 – worked on cover letters at the library with my friend and former co-worker (and now library intern), Jacob (whose blog looks startlingly similar to mine..uh oh!  :) ).  He was there for me to complain to when discussing the cover letter.  After a while, I start to forget what I am doing and what job I am applying to.  Right now, I am working particularly hard on this one job application because the description seems to fit my experience and also the direction I want to take.  However, I don’t get too excited: I have enough rejection letters to wall-paper my bathroom.  This isn’t to say that I don’t put in a serious effort into every app that I send out, but I have to remember to keep it light, so to speak.

2:30-3 – Drove to my hair dresser (gotta keep it fresh for any upcoming job interviews).  This time, though, I got a little lost because: a) My new GPS talks extremely low and b) my hairdresser quit the salon and is now doing it out of her house, so I’ve never been there before.  But, I will say, it was a relaxing part of my day, and her new house-salon is beautiful!

3-4 – Enjoyed myself at the salon, I was pampered with coffee, food, and some man (the next haircut client) who entertained my nerdy photography babble  :)

4:30-6:30 – Cooked dinner for Ava, played with her and put her to bed.

6:30-8 – Finished working on my cover letter from earlier and rearranged my CV and added/changed a few things.  Man, this stuff is tedious.

8-Now – Writing this post.  And listening to Pres. Obama in the background talking about this economy.  And I am sitting here thinking, ‘yeah tell me about it.’

*Hope you didn’t fall asleep during that post.  We’ll see what tomorrow brings!*


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Library Day in the Life [of the unemployed librarian]

Since graduation, things have been busy looking/trying to find a job.  I have been doing my own searching while working with former colleagues and I have probably sent out over 50 applications and c0unting – so, I thought it would be interesting to participate in Library Day in the Life: Round 6 and describe the life of the recent-library-school-grad-unemployed-librarian.

6:45 – Got up and immediately went for the coffee pot.  Got ready, got Ava dressed and then checked my email.

8-9:15 – Received email about the “Joy of Text” webinar I am participating in tomorrow at Millersville and confirmed the date because my days have been running together since becoming unemployed.  Watched Ava listen to records and play with her books, kissed her goodbye, and started becoming nervous for my interview

9:30-9:45 – Drove to my interview.  Job Title: TSS (Therapeutic Staff Support).  Main Responsibilities: Encourage child/adolescent in fostering greater independence and socially responsible behavior (usually in the classroom).   Not a librarian position, but still extremely excited.


11:30-11:45 – Called my best friend/former internship supervisor to tell her how my interview went.  I was also driving to the grocery store (I know, I shouldn’t talk on the phone while driving, but I was too excited).

12:00-12:30 – Grocery shopped and picked up extra milk because of the possibility of another Snowpocalypse (Nor’Easter, haha).

12:45-1:30 – Whipped up a quick lunch before Ava woke up and checked email and facebook.  I received a few more job notifications and started copying links to my Job Pathfinder.

1:45-3 – Fed and played with Ava.

3-4:15 – Talked to another best friend on the phone about my job interview and sent him an email of links for jobs I thought he might be qualified for.

4:15-6:45 – Cooked dinner, fed and played with Ava some more.  Then, put her to bed.

7 – Another good friend came over and we discussed the possibility of me landing that job.

9p-Now – Finishing up this post and job searching..until at least midnight.

Being unemployed actually means working around the clock looking for jobs, so my day really never ends.  I feel guilty if I have down-time between the baby’s nap schedule and don’t look for jobs.  I add each link to jobs onto a pathfinder I have created and then start drafting cover letters until my eyes cross, and then I am satisfied enough to go to bed.

However stressful it may get, I am always hopeful and excited for the opportunities of a new day :)

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Government Documents in the Digital Age: Providing Perpetual Access and the Future of the FDLP

Since 1813, the United States Printing Office (GPO) has had the mission of keeping America informed.  The GPO’s main function is to collect, organize, and preserve information from Congress, the three branches of government, and other federal publishers and “disseminate that information to the public.” [1] The GPO offers these documents for sale and also through the Depository Library Program, however many of those documents are being born digital or are being digitized.  The GPO and the Federal Depository Library Program are behind with regard to dealing with the issues that have surfaced since the Paper Reduction Act of 1995.

The GPO and libraries have been consulting how to deal with the ever-changing digital age with regard to preservation of electronic and physical items, access to this information, marketing, and keeping libraries in the Depository Library Program.  These issues have been discussed and are only now being implemented into local libraries while providing an architecture for authentication and marketing of the documents has been an ever-increasing problem faced by librarians.

Because of the internet, there has been many concerns about documents born digital by the GPO could possibly be changed and how librarians and patrons would know the difference between the actual document and a forged one.  But even though being born digital has its faults, the Public Printer is the government employee that has to deal with the most risk.  It is more difficult to keep a record of documents when they are easily being placed onto the Internet as opposed to being printed without losing the integrity or authenticity of an item.  Therefore, this paper will discuss the many ways some of these issues can be resolved and how the GPO is handing the switch to digital materials.  It will also discuss how libraries can market these documents to the public, how these changes affect the Depository Library Program, and where the Depository library program is headed for the future.


Different publishing agencies are to provide the GPO “with the documented assurance that the electronic publications will be made permanently available at the original site of publication if the agency is no longer able to maintain them.”[2] This way, if the document is lost, the GPO will have permanent access to the document and the law states these will be kept in-house at the GPO or servers provided by the FDLP.

This has been made possible through P.L. 103-40 that directs the Superintendent of Documents to:

1.     Maintain an electronic directory of federal electronic information.

2.     Provide a system of online access to the Congressional Record, the Feral Register, and other appropriate publications distributed by the Superintendent of Documents

3.     Operate an electronic storage facility for the federal electronic information made available on that system

4.     Accommodate as feasible, agency and departmental requests to have their information included in the system[3]

Meaning that it is the responsibility of the Superintendent of Documents to provide these facilities to store the federal electronic information for patrons to find the information that is both feasible and accessible to the public.  But this is only one concern of providing documents to the public, preserving them, and perpetuating them for the long-term.

Authentication is a growing concern and was discussed at the Depository Library Council in 2003.  The main concern was that digital information can easily be changed, so version and authority control headed the discussion.  Many different versions of a similar documents can be available at a multitude of different websites at any given moment.  However, how will the public know the difference between the actual document and a version of that document?

This ultimately makes users question the validity of the document they are searching or have found and librarians are given the responsibility of helping people sort through the actual documents and the versions.  “This is especially true for information products related to legal documents such as statutes, regulations, opinions, decisions, and guidelines as well as health related bulletins, census reports, datasets, and business statistics.”[4] So, the DLC came up with many different ways for Federal Depository Libraries and the public to know the authentic documents from the versions.

The first implemented infrastructure was the Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) in 2004.  The basic function allows the GPO to digitally sign all documents that are digitized or born digital.  This provides a “safeguard for data against unauthorized alteration or substitution of information.  It also allows patrons to confirm the authenticity and integrity of the information they are accessing from GPO.” [5]

After implementing the PKI within government publications, perpetuating public access to materials became a concern.  Even though documents could be authenticated, a growing concern includes providing permanent access, as the Depository Library program provided that in the past.  This means, GPO must “make information accessible to the public on a continuing and indefinite basis in come online mode and/or collections of Depository Libraries.”[6]

The FDLP makes it clear that documents that are not part of the FDLP have no guarantee of being available permanently.  The GPO has tried to handle this dilemma by making partnerships with depository libraries that “agree to host part of the electronic Permanent Online Collection for free.  However, not all depository libraries are included in the program and thus creates a disconnect between the community and authenticity yet again.

Jennie Burroughs suggests with regard to legacy documents, the GPO’s emphasis on cataloging should be reignited because “complete cataloging would improve local patron access and expand service and provides the beginning framework for identifying and tracking persistent, authentic digital copies of legacy material.”[7] This would then help offset the storage costs of depository libraries since they must provide the material for free as being part of the program.  One way to provide better access that provides both authenticity and perpetual access is to have a depository catalog contain links to digital copies, however financial support for preservation in depository libraries is lacking.[8] Without more funding to preservation, documents can be lost or destroyed.  An example of just that is when the AP recently reported that “nearly 80 percent of U.S. government agencies are at risk of illegally destroying public records and the National Archives is backlogged.”[9] Without providing perpetual access, more and more documents will be lost and access to information will fall to the wayside.


When the FDLP was established in 1813, when “Congress authorized the distribution of House and Senate Journals and other Congressional documents to universities,”[10] providing access to electronic documents was something no one could have anticipated.  The purpose of the program was to provide free public access to government information and Title 44 mandates the “current legal and regulatory environment for the distribution of government information.”[11]

However, there has been an increasing non-compliance problem because of ignorance to Title 44 and with conflict between the Congressional Joint Committee on Printing (JCP) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) which creates missing or fugitive documents.  About half of all U.S. Printing have not been included into the FDLP for this reason.[12]

The fear of losing more documents because of the onslaught of electronic material has become even more apparent because of the lack of updated standards by the GPO.  The U.S. National Commission on Libraries and Information Science (NCLIS), “outlined the need for policy to guide electronic publication and dissemination.”[13] The new plan’s general goals were to provide a modern enterprise for a flexible digital system for federal documents which was to ensure better Interlibrary Loan (ILL) operations and increase access and utility for government information.

This interoperability between other FDLP compliant libraries is important because of how government information is being accessed.  More than 75% of homes have access to the internet and many are accessing public government documents from the convenience of their own home.  Therefore, it is easy to see that as of 2005, more than 100 libraries have left the FDLP program since 1998.[14]

Libraries still participating in the FDLP are now considering droping from the program as many of the documents are available electronically for free.  The libraries currently participating must hold their documents as according to the law in their holdings and are losing space and it is becoming increasingly more expensive to hold onto materials and store documents before they can be discarded.  So, it is becoming more financial sound to drop out of the program, donate the documents or discard them, and move to a fully electronic environment.

However, since the government wants to hold onto the libraries currently enrolled in the FDLP, many new features have been implemented such as blogs, RSS feeds, and more.  This way there is more communication between other library systems which increases ILL resource sharing and betters transfer of missing documents among FDLP libraries.

For libraries, the DLC foresees a greater access “to current and historical government information via the proposed national digital collection as well as the flexibility to offer government information without the attainment of depository status.”[15] For libraries, this is pretty revolutionary.  This means that current depository libraries who stay with the program will become a sort of archives for government information while the rest of the libraries will provide access to the online materials provided by the GPO.  This can be seen as both good and bad because even though the majority of items will be available electronically, many will not be.  This means, there will be less tangible documents and a higher risk of losing those documents.

The face of government documents information dissemination, accessibility, and authentication is clearly changing and the GPO has yet to fully catch up.  Many documents are being lost or are too damaged to digitized and are therefore ending up unpreserved in a depository library among the other tangible but unusable documents.  With half of the amount of documents being printed are considered fugitive documents, government documents librarians are to fill the responsibility of maximizing access to information more than ever.  It is an increasing concern to be able to provide access to all either electronically or physically, but ultimately, it is up to the library and the government documents librarian to fill the role of advocate.[16] As our documents and our world progressively move toward an all-digital environment, librarians must head the movement and make the best of the constraints of the FDLP and GPO.

[1] Suhasini L. Kumar, “Providing Perpetual Access to Government Information,” The Reference Librarian 45: 94, 226.

[2] Suhasini L. Kumar, “Providing Perpetual Access to Government Information,” The Reference Librarian 45: 94, 227.

[3] Carol D. Doyle, “Federal Electronic Information in the United States,” Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Ed, 1: 1, 1825.

[4] Suhasini L. Kumar, “Providing Perpetual Access to Government Information,” The Reference Librarian 45: 94, 228.

[5] Suhasini L. Kumar, “Providing Perpetual Access to Government Information,” The Reference Librarian 45: 94, 229.

[6] Carol D. Doyle, “Federal Electronic Information in the United States,” Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Ed, 1: 1, 1830.

[7] Jennie M. Burroughs, “Flexibility is the Future and Complete Cataloging is the Key,” DttP 37 (Spring 2009): 24.

[8] Jennie M. Burroughs, “Flexibility is the Future and Complete Cataloging is the Key,” DttP 37 (Spring 2009): 24.

[9] AP, “Audit Shows Records at National Archives at Risk,” (October 26, 2010).

[10] Robert A. Staley, “Electronic Government Information Dissemination: Changes for Programs, Users, Libraries, and Government Documents Librarians.” Collection Management 32:3, 306.

[11] Depository Library Program, U.S. Code 44 (2005).

[12] Robert A. Staley, “Electronic Government Information Dissemination: Changes for Programs, Users, Libraries, and Government Documents Librarians.” Collection Management 32:3, 307.

[13] Robert A. Staley, “Electronic Government Information Dissemination: Changes for Programs, Users, Libraries, and Government Documents Librarians.” Collection Management 32:3, 307.

[14] Judith C. Russell, “Federal Depository Library Adds and Drops, FY 1998-2005.”  GovDoc-L mailing list (July 2005).

[15] Robert A. Staley, “Electronic Government Information Dissemination: Changes for Programs, Users, Libraries, and Government Documents Librarians.” Collection Management 32:3, 318.

[16] Lisa Ennis, Government Documents Librarianship: a Guide for the Neo-Depository Era. (Medford, NJ: Information Today, 2007), 68.

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Koha ILS: Right for your Library?

When choosing an ILS for your library, it is important to consider many factors including size, funding, and compatibility with other consortia.  In order to get an overall feel for a system, one must test that system and do extensive research before choosing the best ILS for a particular library.  It is for this reason; many libraries should look into using a relatively new ILS called Koha.

Koha “is the first free software library automation package” and is growing tremendously in a worldwide market as a reliable ILS (Koha 2010).  The researchers behind the program began in 1999 before the 2K switch and ever since then have been growing and pushing for a new kind of ILS that would be universal to all library systems, including home-use.  First released as a beta program in 2008, the system is now live worldwide in three languages.

A main proponent in making this worldwide ILS is Koha’s policy on a no-vendor lock-in (Koha 2010).  Meaning the program will stay a free open-source software that enables libraries to download and install Koha themselves and have the “in-house expertise to purchase support or development services from the best available sources” (Koha 2010).  This provides libraries the option to be free to change their support company and export their data system at any time, as long as the support company that library chooses allows it.

Since this particular ILS is open-source software, it enables libraries worldwide of all sizes such as public, academic, special, and home libraries to benefit.  Not only does it provide basic options in functionality, it also offers comprehensive and advanced options including “modules for circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, serials, reserves, patron management, branch relationships,” to name a few (Koha 2010).  It utilizes an RDBMS searching function working together with an external search engine to provide users the most powerful searching possible.

The different modules Koha offers is completely comprehensive in that in the cataloging function, it is operable with MARC records which aids in acquisitions.  Because of the added advanced searching capability, acquisitions workflow is tremendously improved and serials information can be easily imported supported by other systems and technologies already operating in many libraries. Thus creating a smooth transition into the free system.

With regard to the reserves function, users can keep materials and adjust the circulation statistics and different checkout rules for those items, similar to that of Voyager for no cost.  For example, if the system were to be used in the academic setting, professors can place items on reserve for students and the user of Koha could enable the system to only allow the student to check out the material for a three-hour period to allow other students to access the material.  Enabling this function is extremely important to maximize workflow and accessibility.

This ultimately leads into the importance of patron management capabilities with the ILS software.  Koha automatically runs reports that send out reminders to patrons via email (or school email) and physical mail.  These reports can be run on a few different systems such as Microsoft Access, similar to that of Voyager’s Reporter.  This allows the user to have a better grasp of circulation statistics and holdings at any given moment (Koha 2010).

Koha also allows libraries to smoothly transition because it is truly a platform-independent solution that can be integrated immediately.  The OPAC, circulation, management, and self-checkout interfaces are all based on standards such as XHTML, CSS, and JavaScript (Koha 2010).  Meaning, any existing software can easily be transferred into Koha’s system because it is compatible with any World Wide Web technology.  This is especially important with electronic resources, as their document management allows for documents to be displayed in a myriad of different formats to be accessible by patrons with Internet access.

Recently, Koha 3.2 was released that corrected several bugs and added new abilities and differences including: the ability to batch modify items, batch delete items, a complete rewrite of the label maker, patron card creator, how budgets are handled, added more patron permissions, check out messages, fast add cataloging, custom RSS feeds, SOPAC integration, enhancements to acquisitions including those that allow for ordering over Z39.50 and from a staged MARC (and MARCXML) file, and the ability to merge bib records, and there are also talks of adding another metadata format storage system to be even more easily integrated into a home library (Engard, 2010).

Of course, with the new added features, Koha provides a plethora of tutorial and training material to aid librarians in smoothly integrating this new system into their existing ILS.  The students at Wayne State University created the Koha English training manual in English, however, there are several versions in many different languages including Spanish, French, German, Greek, Arabic, and Portuguese (Koha 2010).  The website also offers a Wiki page for their developers to discuss nuances in Web 2.0 librarianship and offer coding guidelines and API documentation to continuously improve the system.

Along with training manuals available in PDF format, there are also tutorials available on the Koha Wiki that discusses anything from simple frequently asked questions to upcoming Koha conferences (Koha 2010).  The company suggests prospective users go to different conferences in their area to get a full feel of the system through demonstration.  This is important for librarians to engage in because sometimes it can be difficult to find time to schedule a vendor to visit their own library.  However, with the amount of information provided by the website alone, training sessions can be done in-house and save time while making the large switch to a different ILS in the library.

Though, if training in house or if the tutorials are not enough, Koha offers free support as well as paid support depending on the extent of aid or training that must go into integrating the system to a particular library.  The free support includes the manuals discussed above and also the Koha bug database that includes a list of problems that have been discovered to be typical problems users may face.  The website also offers the ability to subscribe to their mailing list or to engage in their IRC, or real-time chat.

If this support is still not enough for your library, or if you do not have a systems librarian, one can pay for their support.  These companies around the world support Koha and “are happy to provide libraries with the full array of vendor services” (Koha 2010).  This includes installation, migration assistance, data integrity testing, staff training, software maintenance, and development of new features as they are released.

What can be seen as a negative is the amount of clicking to find information provided on the Wiki page.  One must click on a particular link and then go through the A-Z list of more links to help solve a problem.  However, the company encourages users to provide feedback, both positive and negative, to enable them to make decisions to change the feel of their website and to grant the wishes of their users.  Individual developers make these technical decisions, including libraries that directly or indirectly contribute new features, and members of their release team (Koha 2010).

For these reasons, Koha would be a wonderful ILS asset to any library, including public, school, special, academic, and home libraries.  The only issue with public, school, or home would be the use of MARC for cataloging.  Many times, MARC record is more complicated than necessary for the typical school or private library and may be a reason to go with a different ILS.  However, Koha is making a concerted effort to add an array of different formatting choices to continue to provide services to libraries of all kinds, worldwide.

Engard, N. (2010). What I learned today. Retrieved from

Koha. (2010). Koha library software about. Retrieved from

Koha. (2010). Koha users worldwide. Retrieved from


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Thanks PaLA!

Today was my first time experiencing a library conference… and I presented in a panel discussion.  Pretty intimidating, right?

Our panel discussion: “Blogging to develop your digital identity: crafting your personal brand,” helped inform librarians of various backgrounds of the importance of creating a digital identity, particularly in the blogosphere.  I described how blogging can help students better expand their virtual presence for prospective employers, and how blogging can be used as a critical outlet for staying current with professional literature in the field.  I have always found these points helpful for my own personal growth, and it was great to be able to share that with a very receptive audience.

Despite being nervous about presenting, I am confident the information we shared today helped other librarians better understand the importance of blogging from a student and professional librarian perspective :)

Check out my co-presenter’s blogs:

Then, after the panel, I walked around the exhibits and met one of my professors for the first time face-to-face – talk about networking both physically and virtually.

I also attended a panel discussion on TEDx to conclude my 1st library conference experience.  I wish I would have been able to attend all 4 days, but as of right now, my work won’t allow me to take off that much time :(  However, what little conference exposure I had this year, it was definitely a rewarding experience and I met many librarians with similar interests.  I am going to try to attend another conference in the near future so I can network more, learn about trending topics, and hopefully get my name out there.

So, thank you PaLA-ers for giving me the opportunity to speak to you today and for providing a welcoming atmosphere to this library noob!

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