Supervising

I have been a supervisor for most of the time I have had a full time job. Overall, I enjoy the added responsibility and mentoring aspects of supervision, but as with anything, there are always positives and negatives.

I will begin with the negatives and get them out of the way, so I can then move on to the great aspects of being a supervisor.

Negatives

  • The Hiring Process
    • Depending on when you work, the actual process of hiring an employee can be drastically different. However, in most public-state run-academic settings the process is long because of all the oversight needed to hire a state employee. Forming the search committee, drafting the job ad, getting the ad approved, posting the ad, reading applications, deciding on who to interview, getting the interviewees approved, conducting the interviews, deciding on who to hire, getting the hire approved, drafting the offer letter, getting the offer letter approved, sending off and receiving back the signed offer letter, and finally beginning the on-boarding process. This list does not even include some of the smaller tasks done by a search committee or the committee chair. I do understand that some of these steps are needed, but all of the back and forth really slows down an already slow process.
  • The Paperwork
    • The term “paperwork” is a bit antiquated at my institution because most of the hiring process is now completed online and through electronic forms. However, the systems in place here and I am sure elsewhere tend to mimic the older paper processes instead of possibly adapting to the newer technology. While I have no real suggestions or solutions to these issues, I think the process overall could be looked at, assessed, and simplified.
  • Discipline
    • I won’t say much on this topic other than instituting disciplinary action can be one of the worst things a supervisor has to do. Personally, I have had really good employees so far and have never needed to reprimand them, but I have attended enough trainings and heard enough stories to know that it is extremely hard. Not only do you have to follow all of the steps set out by Human Resources, you also have to make sure the employee will not resent you afterward and will want to improve and continue working.

Positives

  • Mentoring
    • While I personally enjoy the small tasks of approving time and signing leave forms (I am a nerd), I truly think the best part of supervising is mentoring. Supervisors naturally know the employee’s job inside and out and will be doing the majority of the training when that employee is new. However, supervisors should also listen to that employee’s ideas and suggestions as they learn their tasks and the culture of the office because there could be a new way of thinking or a new way of working that could greatly improve the job. My definition of mentoring in the simplest sense is two people learning from each other. This means that a supervisor needs to give their employee knowledge and room to grow, but they also need to listen and learn from their employee because that person will have different experiences and a different take on the job. No two people are alike and keeping an open mind will allow both the supervisor and the employee to better work together.

Now, I know there are three points under negatives and only one under positives, but I think successful mentoring far outweighs all of the negative aspects of supervising. Having a great mentor/mentee relationship can be difficult in its own right, but if supervisor and employee work at it, the outcomes will make for a much more productive and happy work environment.

Workload Balance

Hi Readers. I am sorry it has been so long since I posted anything, but all of the commitments I made during my first year of librarianship are really starting to come to fruition. Because of this, I have not had as much time to dedicate to writing on this blog. However, I am now re-dedicating myself and will make a more decided effort to contribute. Here goes…


Having been a professional librarian for a year, the biggest piece of advice I can give to is “keep balanced.” I know this is a mantra that is regularly floats around academic libraries and universities, but I am now coming to understand that it is key, especially if you are like me and interested in everything.

My wide interests led me to say “yes” to almost any opportunity that came my way. This occurred because I was new in my job, found so many things fascinating, and had just come from a staff position where the day-to-day work was regulated and allowed for little personal flexibility.

To give some background, University of North Texas Librarian Faculty are Non-Tenure Track and work within the three general areas familiar to most academics: 1) Primary Assignment, 2) Scholarship, 3) Service. My abbreviated personal breakdown is as follows:

  1. Primary Assignment
  2. Scholarship
  3. Service
    • UNT Faculty Senate member
    • UNT Faculty Senate Executive Committee member
    • Special Collections Librarian search committee member
    • Co-Chair of committee to re-write the UNT Library’s internal promotion/review policy

This is an abbreviated list and each point represents many extremely important tasks of which I am proud to be a part. Also, I do not feel over extended in any way since I love being busy. Therefore my “balance” is not about doing less overall or in any one specific area, I simply need to focus on balancing how I work. You may want or need a different type of balance and at this point I don’t have a lot of answers for you or me. I do, however, have some questions and thoughts that will hopefully lead to discussion, more thoughts, more posts, and eventually balance.

  • What are your priorities?
    • Do you like serving, do you like writing, do you like having a lot of assignments to drive your library’s mission forward?
  • Do you have personal/career goals?
  • How can you organize priorities and goals into daily task/ time allotments?
  • How do you work best?
    • Do you like to switch between tasks or do you like to finish one thing before starting another?
  • Do you want to work only at work and never at home or do you not mind “always working?”
  • Seek guidance from others in your field
    • How did they structure their early/mid career?
    • How do they find work-balance?
    • Can you adapt their structure?
    • Don’t try to re-invent the wheel, seek people/scholars you admire and ask how they stay balanced.

Eleven months later

A crazy thing happened to me the other day. I looked at a calendar and realized it was almost the end of September. While normally this would have little significance for me (other than signalling that fall is here), this year the date jumped into my head. It made me stop and realize that HOLY CRAP, I HAVE BEEN AT THIS JOB FOR ALMOST ELEVEN MONTHS! This is a time I always knew would come since time always move forward, however, it seems like the 11 month mark snuck up on me really fast.

To use a cliched phrase, but one that I feel is apt in this situation: “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.” This is exactly how I feel now that I am quickly rushing toward the one year mark in this position. I am extremely fortunate to have a job I love and to enjoy coming to work each day. To celebrate this almost anniversary, I feel a reflection on the last eleven months is in order.

A small sampling of highlights in no particular order:

  • Received a Dean’s Innovation Grant
  • Elected to represent Group II in the Faculty Senate
  • Elected to represent Group II on the Faculty Senate Executive Committee
  • The CMS Department was trained and became part of a NACO funnel
  • Received a “Highly Effective” rating on my probationary review
    • I am therefore now an actual Assistant Librarian
  • I was selected to help fellow librarians draft a UNT Policy specifically for librarians.
  •  Begin a research project to help make table top games more discoverable and searchable in library catalogs
  • Attended the 2016 ALA annual conference in Orlando, Florida

I am sure I missed some things, but even just looking at this list, it is amazing what can be accomplished in such a short time.

I am excited to move forward, continue in this position, and see what the future holds!

Grants

Well, I have forayed into the wide world of grant funding.

The UNT Library Dean, Martin Halbert, awards “Dean’s Innovation Grants” each year to various librarians who have an innovative idea and need funding to help research, study, and work on that idea. This is a great starting point for learning how to apply for grants, because they are small ($5,000 max) and internally funded. However, they do tend to be competitive because UNT has a lot of great librarians who all have great ideas.

This year, I decided to try and apply for one since I am really enjoying my new job and career as a librarian. At the suggestion of my Associate Dean, I reached out to some colleagues in the government documents area of the library, which is the same area of the library where I volunteered in the past. After a few meetings and looking at different collections, we settled on applying for the grant as a research and demonstration project. The basic idea of our project will be taking an already established collection at our library and adding current and cutting edge library technology to the information and see how it affects discoverability and use.

The application process was pretty simple and we thought our idea was interesting and fairly innovative. However, until Martin announced the grant winners, there was no communication about how many people applied or how the decision process worked (aside from his personal/professional discretion). But on the day of the awards ceremony, much to our surprise, only my grant and one other received the full $5,000 while some of the rest received about half of their asked for amount.

Needless to say, this shocked me especially because as lead person on this grant, I am very early in my career. But I do love working hard and meeting challenges and I am excited to see what this research holds. As we get started on the project, I will make sure to post updates here as well as links to anything that might be published elsewhere on the internet.

Wish us luck!

UNT Open Access Symposium, 2016

The University of North Texas recently held the 2016 Open Access Symposium on May 19th and 20th.

This year’s theme was “Open Access at the Tipping Point” and I think the presenters did a good job of showcasing this idea.

In this post, Open Access is frequently abbreviated OA.

 

THURSDAY, MAY 19, 2016

The symposium begin with a joint keynote address (joining the OA symposium and the Library Publishing Forum) from University of California press’s Dan Morgan. He spoke on two different projects run by the UC Press, Luminos and Collabra.

Luminos

  • A monographic publishing service.
  • Structured using the same standards of traditional publishing including a high quality editorial board and peer review.
  • Aims to make monographs more immediately available.
  • No single entity bears the cost.
    • The press, author(s), and possibly library share the total cost.
  • The books are free electronically, but can be purchased print-on-demand.
  • The books currently on the site are both born-Luminos titles and those were converted to OA after their original publishing deals were written.
  • Since creation, Luminos’s print-on-demand sales has equaled previous regular monograph sales.
  • However, because it is an OA publisher (even though the rigors are the same) many deans and school administrators are saying to not publish here.
    • This has caused much strife between OA supporters and traditional academia.

 Collabra

  • An open access journal
  • Launched in January 2015
  • Works on the Article Processing Charge (APC) model
    • Their charge is $875 for each article
  • The APC can either be used to pay the author or be put-forward toward the wavier fund. This fund can be used if the APC cannot be paid.

 General Comments

  • OA is all about transparency
  • One of the best manufacturing houses to work with is Ubiquity Press
    • They have a completely transparent model of pricing
    • They will only charge for the individual services used and are open to negotiation
  • OA is an outcome and not a path
    • Not everything is known at this point
    • It is not a peer-review process
  • We need to work on getting the word out about OA so that people will understand it is a good platform.

 

FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2016

The next day began earlier than originally scheduled because of a last minute addition to the schedule. Alexandra Elbakyan, founder of Sci-Hub, agreed to speak via Skype from her home in Russia.

  • Considered by some to be the Edward Snowden of science publications.
  • Sci-Hub shares journals and articles that are typically locked behind paywalls of major publishing houses.
  • The service gained massive support through user donations.
  • She wants to keep the service completely free.
  • She has received much criticism because of her subverting the traditional publishing model.
    • Simply put, she takes “donated” user names and passwords of current subscribers and uses their paid access to provide free access for all.
  • She has also been accused of breaking intellectual property laws.
    • Her response to this is: How can knowledge be property? Ideas should be freely shared so that everyone can benefit.
  • The foundations for her ideas on property and for Sci-Hub itself come from communism.
    • Ideas and knowledge should not just benefit the rich.
  • She is not wanting to create a revolution. She is just stealing on a small scale in protest, while ultimately striving for equality.
    • Her ideas on theft:
      • It is respectful and ancient, the Greek god Hermes is the god of thieves.
      • Theft is about opening communication.
    • Ultimately she said that she wants to create the open flow of communication and ideas in the sciences because the more open they are, the quicker knowledge can grow and progress.

After this session, which caused some mumbling around the room since much of her talk was on communism and stealing, the symposium moved on to Friday’s keynote address. The talk was given by Johan Rooryck, a linguistics professor, about his work with OA and the OA linguistics journal, LingOA.

  • Under traditional publishing models “[Authors] do all the work and [publishers] get all the profits.”
    • Journals call all of the shots, from style, to price, to distribution.
    • Publishers work alone, libraries and researchers work alone.
    • The end user of the information pays for access.
  • Under a fair OA publishing model.
    • Researchers call the shots.
    • Publishers, libraries, and researchers/authors all work in collaboration.
    • The producers of the information pay for production.
    • End user pays nothing.
  • LingOA
    • It is collective of linguistics journals.
    • It uses Ubiquity Press (for many of the same reasons as stated above in Thursday’s keynote.)
    • Glossa is their primary journal.
      • LingOA has enough money to run Glossa for five years.
      • LingOA is acting as an incubator for the journal.
      • After the 5 years it will transfer publishing to the Open Library of Humanities.
        • The fee to use ALL of the Open Library of Humanites is less that the subscription cost of one traditional journal.
      • The incubator model (as they used with Glossa) is the best was to start a new OA journal.
    • When creating / moving a journal to OA.
      • Make is discipline specific.
      • This will work best if you discipline is already OA friendly.
      • Have enough money at the start so that there are no author facing charges.
      • Start with an incubator model and then move it to a consortium.
        • Similar to Glossa

The next presenter was Rufus Pollack, founder of Open Knowledge International. His main topic was wanting to get people to not only think about open access, but also open research.

  • Pollack mentioned he wrote a blog post about Open Scholarly Publishing.
  • The free use of curated data and results is important, but the open access of the data used to obtain those results is also important because scholarship is all about building on others work and discovering something new.
  • There is some initial cost to OA, but authors, researchers, libraries, and publishers can all work together to make that cost small an accessible to all.
    • An OA journal of the future should be a curated list of quality titles.
  • Online information is different from physical information.
    • After the first copy, online information is almost free to reproduce.
  • He wants everyone to be an activist for open access and open knowledge.

The final presentation I went to before lunch was a panel about sustaining open access. It was moderated by Ron Chrisman, and included the presenters: Kevin Stranack, Daniel Paul O’Donnell, and Nancy Maron.

Kevin Stranack spoke first.

  • The status quo of publishing is not working.
    • Prices are extremely high.
    • Library budgets are not increasing.
    • Big deals with publishers are not usually great deals.
    • Canadian libraries (all three panelists were from Canada) have the extra struggle of dealing with poor exchange rates.
  • The Article Processing Charge is not working and is disruptive to libraries.
    • APCs favor hard sciences because they researchers get a lot of grants which can cover the money.
    • Humanities do not get large grants if any and the departments or libraries would have to come up with the money.
  • In order to become viable, OA should look to the co-op model.
    • It is based on seven principles.
      • Voluntary and open membership.
      • Democratic member control.
      • Autonomy and independence.
      • Education and training.
      • Collaboration among other cooperatives.
      • Creates a large community and voice.
    • The co-op would include everyone: Journals, Libraries, Funders, Service Providers, Authors, Researchers, etc.
    • Members share all finances.
    • Journals get an income from the membership costs.
    • The more journals that are members the cheaper it will be to produce work.
    • End to traditional opaque journal pricing.
      • Easier for everyone to budget expenses.
    • There is one study about OA Co-ops in existence.
    • There are two OA Co-ops already up and running:

Daniel Paul O’Donnell spoke second.

  • He reiterated that APCs are not a sustainable way for OA journals to operate.
  • He stated that the web was meant to disrupt traditional scholarly publishing.
    • In Tim Berner-Lee’s original diagram showcasing the web, Daniel says that it inherently includes publishing.

Nancy Maron spoke last about monograph publishing. She is also president of the consultants Blue Sky to Blue Print.

  • OA does not need to be focused primarily in journals.
  • Traditional monograph publishing is difficult.
    • Expensive to produce.
    • Sales are slow and difficult.
  • She is currently working on analyzing survey/study results which will show how expensive it is for university presses and traditional presses to actually publish a book.
    • She is looking at every aspect, from material cost, to labor cost, to fringe costs.
  • She will take these results and help publishing firms determine the best and most cost efficient way to become OA.

After a great lunch break, the featured speaker for the afternoon, Brian Nosek, spoke about improving openness in scholarly communication.

  • How researchers work is different, but only one version of the results will get published.
    • The methods and the mistakes are rarely known in their entirety.
  • Traditionally there are incentives for getting research published, but not necessarily getting it right.
  • Brian founded the Center for Open Science (COS).
    • Everything is open and public.
    • Every part of the process is open.
      • From research, to data, to process, to workflows, to results, to publishing and everything in between.
    • This openness allow for other to build on work and expand on work and possibly bring new light to an issue another researcher if facing.
    • The COS works with the Open Science Framework (OSF).
      • The OSF is a dashboard and a repository where researchers can share every step of their process with the public.
      • It allows has functionality to track every researcher on a project so that ever person’s input is recorded.

The next session was about the first step in promoting open access on campus. It featured a panel comprised of Anjum Najmi, Dillon Wackerman, and Phillip Reynolds.

  • The panelists tried to make a very interactive panel by asking questions of the audience. Personally, I found the way they did this confusing and distracting and it made it very difficult to take notes.
  • They said they will distribute the slides they used with their notes on them, and I will link them here once I have them.

The final session I was able to attend was one about up and coming trends of Open Data in Academia and Beyond. This panel was split into two parts, the first on GIS given by Douglas Burns and Allyson Rodriguez and the other on a new project called the Open-Data Button given by Chealsye Bowley and Sarah Melton.

  • GIS Trends and Open Access
    • Geographic Information Systems or GIS was once thought to be a discipline by itself. Now it is considered to be more of a tool used many different areas of science and geography.
    • GIS, as it exists now, is a great way to aggregate geospatial data.
    • ESRI is the premier software and information provider for GIS data, but they are an extremely expensive service.
    • There are some OA GIS providers, but they are still not a robust as paid services.
    • Douglas said that the best OA GIS service at this time is QGIS.
      • It is the most user friendly and models itself closely on ESRI.
    • One really cool thing that OA GIS has brought forward is the site Open Street Maps.
      • This is site allows users to go in an edit street maps instead of relying on a large company to make the changes.
      • Since it is also open access, others can use the data in the maps for other projects.
    • Open Access and Open Data Buttons
      • Sarah and Chealsye are part of a group of students and early career professionals that want to get the word out about OA.
      • This group developed plug-in button for any browser that allows the user to submit a request for the open access of articles or data any time they hit a paywall.
      • The basic idea in using either button.
        • If you find an article you cannot access or within an article if you find you would like to see the data they used, all you have to do it click the button on the top of your browser.
        • This will open a tiny window which will auto-populate with the citation information about the article as well as the author’s email address. Once you manually fill in your contact information and provide a reason for wanting to be able to access this article or data, you click submit.
        • Your submission goes to the Open Access Button team and they compile all the submissions and they advocate to the author on your behalf.
          • They said their emails are personal and professional and not in any way meant to feel threatening or like spam.
        • Once they hear back from the author, they will then email the original requesters will information about the open access article or if the author refuses OA, they will let the requesters know that too.
        • These answers also go into their main database, that way when another person run into the same paywall and clicks the button, they will automatically be redirected to the OA version they need.
      • They are really trying to be a friendly advocacy group and show authors the benefit of OA by providing real example of how it would benefit fellow researchers.

Overall, I found the UNT Open Access Symposium very interesting. I knew little about OA when it started, and while it is still a complex topic, I feel I have a greater understanding of where OA is now, and where it wants to be in the future.

Once the symposium posts the videos and slides for all the presentations, I will make sure to link them here.

littleBits

I recently checked out the UNT Library’s set of littleBits electronics. These are essentially circuit board components that can be magnetically snapped together to create various electronic devices. There is no wiring or soldering required and they are geared toward getting younger kids interested in electronics and circuity.

The true beauty of this product is, that while there are building instructions for certain projects, all the parts can be interchanged and used with each other to create any number of other projects that have never existed before. Also, you can find inspiration on the littleBits website by looking at other people’s creations.

UNT has a few sets, with almost every piece from the littleBits collection included, available for checkout from The Factory at UNT. One word of note though, make sure you have time to wait when you want to check out/check in the littleBits kit because the staff at The Factory has to make sure every part is there before you can leave.

Tabletop Game Genre Headings

I am an avid gamer. I like computer games and casual games, but by far my favorite type of game are tabletop games. These can range from traditional board games, to card games, to family games, and anything in between.

I am fortunate to work here at UNT where our Media Library has one of the largest library-owned tabletop game collections in the world. I cannot share much now because the project is still in its early stages, but I am currently working with two other cataloging librarians here to develop genre heading terms for tabletop games. Our goal is to use these headings to help patrons find games easier in the catalog and a be able to narrow down a game selection based on exactly what type of game they want to play.

As we develop this list a move forward with the various stages of the project, I will keep this blog updated with our findings and ideas.

The Factory @ The UNT Library

The UNT Library has a relatively unique, but not unheard of, area within the main Willis Library known as a makerspace. They have named it The Factory, and while many of it’s functions fit into the definition of  a makerspace, The Factory is actually so much more.

For those that are unfamiliar with term makerspace,  it is essentially a space that provides access to technology and supplies that allow users to create and explore in ways not traditionally available.

The Factory has services that include 3-D printing, 3-D scanning, large format printing, milling, and laser cutting. Some of these services incur a fee based on time needed or materials used. They also offer many different pieces of technology for checkout and use by library patrons, including:

  • Arduino kits and accessories
  • Raspberry Pi kits and accessories
  • LaunchPad kit and accessories
  • LittleBits Kits
  • Makey Makey Kits
  • Various digital and film cameras form Canon, Panasonic, GOPro, Miranda, Honeywell, and Flip
  • Oculus Developer Kit 2

They also recently received a grant and purchased more technology such as the Sphero 2.0 as well as more traditionally crafty items such as sewing machines, embroidery machines, and a Cricut cutter.

However, as much as The Factory has for patrons to use and check out, one of their coolest features are the classes they host. The employees of The Factory create events around the products they have and the skills required to use those products. They have workshops on 3D modeling software, how to solder circuits, robotics, the Oculus Rift, Arduino, and many more topics.

If you are in the Denton area, stop by UNT and check out The Factory or if you have more questions about setting up your own makerspace, please call The Factory at 940-369-5259 and they can put you in touch with the right person.

Career update

4 Month Update

It is hard to believe I have been a librarian now for four months. It seems like I just started yesterday, but when you look at the numbers I have almost been here half a year. As the saying goes, time flies when you are having fun, and I am truly having fun.

Here is a small look at the things I have done and learned since arriving last November:

  • Joined the RIG group of librarians which promote research and publishing
  • Attended various meeting and tried to make myself known by people around the library
  • Learned the intricacies of being a “faculty-equivalent” librarian
  • Cataloged a lot of physical and electronic books
  • Began creating a poster presentation with a colleague about a signature database we use
    • This presentation was accepted at TLA and we are waiting to hear back from ALA
  • Began researching genre terms for table top games with two other librarians
  • Took over responsibility for facilitating the physical book workflow in the cataloging department
  • Learned about and took classes on the new BibFrame standard being created by the Library of Congress
  • Was nominated for a seat on the UNT faculty senate
  • Dealt with the interesting quirks of the UNT Library Annex Building
  • Participated in the campus visit/interview of the new head of cataloging
  • Began to adjust to the fact that I am now truly a colleague of the other faculty on campus
  • Became cataloging liaison to the collection development area
  • Became one of three liaisons for the libraries for the new UNT Faculty Information System
  • Began to find out how I fit as a librarian into the profession

I have had a blast so far and I hope to continue to do great things and have a lot of fun while doing them!

Thanks for reading.

BIBFRAME and linked data

I recently attended a seminar hosted by the Dallas Public Library (DPL) about their experience being an early adopter of the BIBFRAME (BF) standard and how they were able to implement this framework on their catalog. While I will not go into exactly what BF is in this post (that will come later), I will detail the highlights of the meeting in the hopes that they can facilitate the discussion on BF and possibly help a library who wants to begin pursuing the use of BF for their institution.

To give a simple and basic introduction to BF, I will say that it is a library specific encoding standard that makes data machine readable and therefore findable through more platforms that just an OPAC. It also allows this data to cross reference with other information thereby creating a fuller knowledge base. This standard is based off of Tim Berners-Lee‘s idea of the Semantic Web and how the internet should actually be an interconnected web of information.

Libraries are late adopters of the Semantic Web, but thanks to BF, we are starting to catch up. The DPL’s place as being one of the few early adopters of BF allows them to be on the bleeding edge of forming this standard along side the Library of Congress (LC).

In order to put their catalog online, they chose to work with the company, Zepheira. This same company is also works with the LC to develop this standard, so Zepheira has been a part of BF from it’s inception. The DPL’s process of going from catalog to linked data live online requires quite a few steps. I will try to simplify them here:

  1. They receive/place catalog records in their database as normal using RDA and MARC.
  2. They export those MARC records and use MarcEdit to tranform them to MARC21.
  3. They upload those MARC21 records to Zepheira.
  4. Zepheira transforms those MARC21 records to BF linked data records and preps them for uploading to the DPL’s LibraryLink site.
  5. Zepheira then uploads the BF records to the LibraryLink site and waits for Google and other search engines to crawl the web and find these new linked records.
  6. Once Google indexes the records, they are now findable online through Google’s search engine and will appear in the results queue.
  7. The link that a searcher clicks on in the search results then automatically directs them through the LibraryLink site and into the DPL catalog.

This is a gross oversimplification, but it demonstrates the basics of how the DPL’s records are findable online. A lot of the BF transformation work is handled by Zepheira in this instance and since Zepheira is working with LC in creating the standard, the DPL likes that they are using the latest and greatest version of BF.

Transforming record via an intermediary service seems to be the best way to make BF work at this point since the library version of linked data is still in its early stages. Hopefully this helps clear up some basic questions of how a library can currently make use of BF and make their catalog available to the wider linked world.