NASIG 2007

I had the pleasure of attending the 22nd annual North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) conference last week in Louisville. I had an excellent time attending the workshops and talking with people who work in all areas of serials. It’s a great organization in which I am glad to be involved. NASIG is a mix of librarians who work in libraries, publishing, consortia, and for vendors; it makes for great conversation because all sides are involved.

Here’s a run-down of my experience at the conference. (The NASIG website has a pdf of the conference program and a pdf of the NASIG Newsletter covering the conference.)

The Evolution of Reading and Writing in the Networked Era
Bob Stein, Director of the Institute for the Future of the Book

I’m glad this presentation started off the conference. Bob talked about the history of marginalia and these conversations between readers. Today, online texts like Gamer Theory allow multiple readers to comment one a single, virtual copy of the book. I liked his point that “the discussion becomes more interesting than the book.”

Column People: What’s Their Future in a World of Blogs? The Role of Columnists in Academic Journals
Allen Scherlen, Appalachian State University; Bob Nardini, Coutts Information Services

It was good to attend this on the heels of Bob Stein’s discussion of community and shaping content. I think the session would have benefited from including a presenter who has the point of view of a columnist who also writes a blog.

We Are All Winners: Training Silents to Millennials to Work as a Team
JoAnne Deeken, University of Tennessee; Paula L. Webb, Delta State University

I was looking forward to this presentation because I’m interested in different learning styles. The presenters emphasized that the goal of any workplace is to get things done; when working with people who represent different generations, it’s important to provide options for how to work and train that address each generation’s strengths. Other interesting points:

    – the silent generation (1925-1942) will be the first generation to not produce a US president (Carter and George H.W. were born in 1924; Clinton and George W. in 1946)
    – silents chose their employer with the intent to stay with that employer
    – baby boomers (1943-1960) are “me” centered; even in terms of teamwork and authority, it’s all about them; they are also interrupters
    – for many years, the boomers were the generation, the demographic; boomers weren’t conscious of having that attention, but now they don’t have that attention and feel lost (e.g. “what do those crazy Target commercials mean?”)
    – generation x is the smallest generation, half the size of the boomers or the millennials, and are the interpreters between the boomers and the millennials
    – gen xers need feedback to know they’re doing well
    – millennials are outnumbering boomers and represent the lowest parent-to-child ratio in US history
    – millennials are far better at multitasking than gen xers (who are pretty good); their short attention spans also mean that they will spend fewer years in a job before moving on to something else

There were many more interesting points. I immediately started classifying the behavior of conference-goers. I referred to this session frequently throughout the conference, and I’ve passed along my notes to colleagues who work outside of the library field.

Discussion Group: ER&L Forum
Dana Walker, University of Georgia Libraries; Jill Emery, University of Texas Libraries

This was one of the best sessions I attended. The discussion covered staffing, workflows, invoicing, how we can improve knowledge bases, and other topics. There were lots of comments from all areas of the serials world, the content providers (vendors, publishers) and the libraries. It was an excellent session, and very satisfying to hear that we’re all struggling in the same ways (and can unite to shape our future). Eleanor Cook likened it to a therapy session.

(Dana Walker’s notes can be found on the ER&L blog.)

Tumbling Dice: Publishing, Aggregators, and ERM
Sandy Hurd, Innovative Interfaces, Inc.; Linda Miller, Library of Congress; Kathy Klemperer, Library and Information Systems Consulting

These three worked well together to present this topic. Sandy Hurd quoted a colleague who called serials a soap opera: titles are born, adopted, die, reborn, married, divorced… hmm, and is electronic access the evil twin?

I didn’t know anything about ONIX for Serials Standards until this session; Linda pointed out the importance of more people becoming familiar with these standards and get on board. In emphasizing the level of details and amount of work associated with e-resource management, she said something that I hear a lot and totally agree with: “This is serious time. This is not electronic check-in. This is finagling.”

Hurry Up, Please. It’s Time. – State of Emergency
Karen Schneider,

Karen’s presentation was also titled “The Paranoia Presentation” because, she joked, serialists love a title change.

Karen talked about having a healthy dose of paranoia to approach the subject of preserving information and access: take LOCKSS, which is “designed around catastrophe.” Her random questions about the Google scanning project and the recent Time-Warner-developed postage rates highlighted the need for us to (respectively) support better alternatives like the Open Content Alliance and speak up about our values.

Hitting the Trifecta: Alternative Career Paths for Those With an MLS
Panelists Anne McKee, Greater Western Library Alliance; Bob Schatz, Coutts Library Services; Christine Stamison, Swets Information Services; Steve Oberg, Abbott Laboratories; Beverley Geer, SAGE Publications; Michael Markwith, WT Cox Subscriptions

Also among my favorite presentations. The panelists offered great advice to people looking to use their degrees in non-library positions. It was nice to hear these peoples’ stories of how they have moved around in the profession. Steve Oberg mentioned the importance of having specific goals and realizing that those goals may change over time. Find a place where you fit. That’s great advice for anyone. More advice (that Steve Oberg is a smart guy):

    – what matters more than money is finding challenging, interesting, and fulfilling work
    – learn (and be willing to learn) quickly
    – “build a record of accomplishment” and articulate what you’ve accomplished

The discussion between the audience and panelists ended with a focus on us (libraries) vs. them (publishers and vendors), and the perception of “the dark side”. Perception can become a reality. Someone wisely pointed out that we’re all in the library world, and we should no longer be divided. The panelists pointed out that they view themselves as librarians. They are. (Abigail and Katy give their points of view on Ab’s blog; Steve gives a panelist’s recap on his.)

Verbal Bourbon: Speaking Secrets to Intoxicate Your Audience
Jeff Slagell, Delta State University

There were so many presentations I wanted to attend in this time slot, and I almost went to something else. This ended up being one of those sessions (like Training Silents to Millennials) that changed my perspective as a participant. I started paying attention to the speakers’ behavior and thought a lot about my own past presentations. It’s good to be reminded how to communicate effectively.

Betting a Strong Hand in the Game of Electronic Resource Management
Paoshan Yue, University of Nevada, Reno Libraries; Liz Burnette, North Carolina State University Libraries

I think everyone I asked at NASIG uses single records in their catalogs for journals. I see the benefit. Paoshan mentioned this in her presentation, too. I understand my library debated this for a while, and we ended up with separate electronic records. I’d like to revisit the idea.

Paoshan also touched on two approaches to managing workflows: distributed (team approach) and integrated (one or two people coordinating activities). I think it might be wise for UVM to use the integrated approach, with an e-resource librarian coordinating the activities of a team of people. The team would include people who work solely on e-resources and others who have some print responsibilities (our collection contains unique print materials). Cross-training would be important. The e-resource librarian would evaluate resources, handle licenses, facilitate workflows, work with the link resolver, etc.

Blame the Verbal Bourbon session I’d just attended for raising my expectations of presenters, because I didn’t stay for much of Liz’s portion. She read her presentation from what sounded like a paper, and I found that hard to follow.

A New Approach To Library Service Discovery and Resource Delivery
Dan Chudnov, Library of Congress, Office of Strategic Initiatives

Dan’s talk focused on simplicity. “Why is it so hard to find our stuff? Why is it so hard to use our stuff? Why can’t libraries be more like iTunes,” allowing users to connect to each other’s stuff (music or reading)?

I wasn’t familiar with COinS, but I was able to follow Dan’s ideas about using service links (like, Digg, and Technorati) for research functions. All the major media outlets use them ( uses Digg and Facebook, among others). There could be a library/research link. “The user reads the journal, the journal finds the library, and the references find each other”: that’s how it’s like being on an iTunes network.

I appreciated Dan’s emphasis on simplicity: “try new stuff, watch closely, and adjust slightly.” Don’t make the solution more difficult than it needs to be, and don’t require patrons to have to install software or learn a new procedure. These service links are out there: libraries and publishers should grab hold.

It Takes a Community: The CLOCKSS Initiative
Victoria Reich, CLOCKSS Initiative, LOCKSS Program, Stanford University Libraries

Like the Open Content Alliance Karen Schneider mentioned in her talk, LOCKSS is a program I think UVM should get in on. I learned about LOCKSS in graduate school.

Victoria also emphasized libraries’ roles as trusted archives, and it was reassuring to know that publishers are supportive of our role. A lot of us (libraries and publishers) have been around for a really long time: how’s that for knowing how to survive?

Someone (a student grant winner?) promised Victoria a video of installing a LOCKSS box, a la Jessamyn West’s Ubuntu video. I like that people are doing that because it’s empowering to see others install software. I can do that, too! And who knows how many people outside the world of education will be inspired, too.

ERM on a Shoestring: Betting on an Alternative Solution
Jennifer Watson, University of Tennessee Health Science Center; Dalene Hawthorne, Emporia State University

I was really looking forward to this topic because we’re on the verge of looking for a commercial ERM… who knows when we’ll get one. So I was curious to know how others are cultivating home-grown systems. We use EBSCO admin products, Excel sheets, shared folders on a server, and a private web page.

Jennifer outlined her library’s use of Filemaker Pro, Blackboard, and MySQL. Dalene uses EBSCO’s Registration Tracker (like us) to track correspondence and suppressed bib records to organize license agreements. Dalene has a student worker who is involved in data entry, and they’re about to start a search for an e-resources librarian. I definitely think UVM should consider an e-resources librarian position and bring a student onboard.

The presenters noted that these solutions may not be reasonable for libraries operating on a larger scale. UVM may fall into that category. Even if we can’t implement some of these ideas because of the scale of our collection, this session helped me understand what we need to look for in a commercial ERM when that time comes.

I was disappointed that no one shared their libraries’ shoestring ideas at the conclusion of the presentation. Hopefully the discussion will continue on the conference Moodle.

Alternatives to Licensing of E-Resources
Zachary Rolnik, Now Publishers; Selden Lamoureux, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

I didn’t catch all of this presentation because it was at the same time as ERM on a Shoestring. But I met Selden at the opening reception, and she and Clint Chamberlain (my fantastic mentor from Trinity University) gave me a run-down of the presentation. There’s a NISO working group called Shared e-Resource Understanding (SERU) that wants to offer an alternative to licensing. While may make sense to negotiate licenses for larger and expensive packages, it would save a lot of time and money if libraries and the “long tail” of smaller publishers would agree on “common understandings around e-resource subscriptions.”

In her presentation during Tumbling Dice, Linda Miller gave a statistic that on average it takes 1-3 hours to interpret a license. So this makes a lot of sense. A lot of major publishers, vendors, etc. are involved in the working group. I hope this is something UVM will be involved in.

Sarah Sutton, one of the wonderful co-chairs (with Clint) of the Awards & Recognition Committee, wrote this summary of the session on her blog.

Many thanks to Birdie for encouraging me to get involved in NASIG and apply for the grant. I want to thank Clint for being a fantastic mentor; he’s someone I plan to keep in touch with. Thanks also to Sarah, Carol Ficken, and Clint for getting me to NASIG. I’m grateful to Chandra and Dana from UGA and Jill from UT for taking me under their collective wing and giving me the inside scoop on NASIG and ER&L. It was fun to meet Rick from UNR (that guy who said to stop checking in serials! I liked him before I met him!). It was a pleasure to meet Abigail in person, and to get to know Deanna from CCC. It was great to hang out with some of the other award winners, Erin, Barbara, and Angela. Hope to see you all next year!


3 Responses to “NASIG 2007”

  1. Ab Says:

    Great write-up Toni! You covered a lot of sessions I didn’t get to. Thanks.

  2. Toni Says:

    Looks like people are looking for the conference Moodle (people searching for “nasig moodle” have found my site). It’s at I’ve also linked to it above in my write-up on the ERM on a Shoestring session.

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