Category Archives: Conferences

Electronic Resources and the READ Scale

When a patron has a problem with an electronic resource, what does he do? There are a few possibilities, and depending on where you work, one might be more likely than another. Maybe he visits the website that explains what to do. Maybe he contacts a librarian. Maybe he contacts the IT help desk (which I recently discovered is often what people do where I work). The experience in each case is different, but ultimately we want the patron to get his issue resolved in a timely fashion with a high level of satisfaction. Plus we would like to get some information for the future to improve the system or documentation.

At both Electronic Resources in Libraries and ACRL, I talked about my work trying to adapt the READ Scale to measuring the difficulty of electronic resource access issues. Basically this has taken the form of adding the READ Scale to a simple ticketing system, and then monitoring what types of questions I was spending my time answering. I want to make it easy for all the staff at the library to answer the lowest level questions, so that I can spend more of my time getting the highest level systems working well.

Slides from ER in L are posted below. They are also posted on Dominican’s institutional repository, but speaking of high level systems that need to work better… well, not the best for embedding automatically in blogs. You might also want to consult my handout for ACRL, which is rather similar to the ER in L handout but is online on someone else’s server, so why put it on any of mine?

If you want to know more about any of this, do get in touch with me. I am looking for potential research study participants.

Chicago Underground Library’s Community Based Cataloging System: Talk at Code4Lib 2011

Last week I traveled to Bloomington, Indiana for the Code4Lib 2011. I certainly learned a lot for my day job (more on that in the coming days), but I was actually there along with Nell Taylor to present my work with the Chicago Underground Library. This was a well-documented conference, so you can pretend you were right there with me, or else remember what it was like being there.

  • Our talk is archived here (45 minutes in).
  • Slides/Handouts here
  • We were absolutely thrilled with the reception we got on Twitter, IRC, and blogs, particularly this post by Eric Hellman. I got involved with the project because I thought it was something important and worth doing, and a little outside validation from time to time is important to stave off burnout.

    There were a few points and questions raised that I wanted to discuss in some more detail than I always did in the hallways or late at night in the hospitality suite. I also want to thank everyone who offered advice or future help, and I will spend some time over the next weeks getting organized to set up distributed coding/usability/etc.–as well as getting the regular Underground Library volunteers up to speed on the capabilities of the new website.

    First, yes, the record item data is “stored” in Drupal. I am pretty sure librarians are the only ones bothered by this, as most people are ok with the concept of stuff being on websites. Think of it less as a library catalog and more as a series of webpages about things and maybe you will be happier about it. It is, however, done in a very Drupal-y way that as that I mentioned during the talk, is not easily replicable in other CMSs. That is not to say that is not not replicable in them, only that Drupal makes it trivial to set up this style of library catalog (I say trivial in the sense that if you know Drupal it’s trivial. If you don’t know Drupal, you will not find it so). After all, we were doing something similar in WordPress. Again, think of it as a series of webpages about stuff, not a library catalog!

    That being said, I am a librarian, and over the last months I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable about our data. Nell put my fears succinctly on the CUL’s Facebook page “CUL’s new metal band: Crises of Data Confidence. First album: The Road to Damascus of Dublin Core.” Despite my name being bandied about on Twitter with Dublin Core, I am not tied to that as the only metadata schema that is worth considering. But I do like it, and could absolutely see building the catalog in something like Omeka that has it built in. The main point of doing something like this is to make the data easily retrievable and understandable by other systems, rather than being quite so flat and Drupal-y. As many people pointed out, Drupal is not a preservation strategy, which is absolutely right. Many people suggested using Islandora, which is a Drupal front end to a Fedora repository. I absolutely like this idea, though as of now we don’t exactly have a “repository”–and I will point out that the virtual catalog doesn’t really represent the physical library either for right now, as we don’t have space or staff to keep things in order.

    Here’s the deal though. At the end of the day, we want to make this a replicable model for lots of people who don’t have lots of server space, technical ability, or time, but who do want to create their own Underground Library. That is the goal, and that goal will inform future development. As I said, lots of people offered to help, and I will be taking all of you up on those offers.

    I am probably forgetting to answer other questions or comments, so please let me know if there’s something else I should address.