Improving Accessibility through Strategic Planning, Assessment, and Collaboration

Anne Cooper Moore, Dean, J. Murrey Atkins Library, holds an MS in Library and Information Science and PhD in Educational Management and Development. She enthusiastically strives to shape library facilities, collections, and services that meet the continuously evolving needs of a diverse and inclusive public university community. Her research interests include assessment of library activities, library facilities, and information literacy. She has designed study, collaboration, academic support, and classroom spaces in four different academic libraries. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in college skills and writing, information literacy, management, and research methods at five different universities. She has been continuously active in RUSA, ACRL, and LLAMA and is currently President of LLAMA. She is also chair of the UNC System University Library Advisory Council.

Dr. Rebecca (Becky) Croxton is the Head of Assessment for J. Murrey Atkins Library at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She earned a PhD in educational studies, a doctoral minor in educational research methods, and her MLIS degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG). Becky is also an adjunct lecturer for the UNCG MLIS program and has taught a variety of courses including Data Visualization and Media Production Services. She previously worked as a Reference Librarian at both Johnson & Wales University’s Charlotte campus and Central Piedmont Community College. She is an active researcher and has published numerous articles and presented nationally on a variety of topics including quantifying the value of the academic library, online learning, professional identity development, and information seeking needs, preferences, and motivation of undergraduate students. She is a member of Association of College & Research Library’s Value of Academic Libraries Committee and is actively involved in the Library Leadership & Management Association (LLAMA) Assessment Community of Practice.

At a large research university in the southeast, strategic planning and a culture of assessment are key factors that drive the library’s efforts for continuous improvement and change. The library’s strategic plan is organized directly from the university’s Academic Affairs Plan, which flows from the university’s Institutional Plan. The Institutional Plan is a subset of the state’s university system plan. The University Library Advisory Council (ULAC), which consists of the deans and directors of the state’s 17 university system libraries, created its own strategic plan structured on the system plan; hence, all of the plans are aligned. The cohesion between the individual libraries and system goals has led to significant progress in major initiatives across the libraries.

Increasing accessibility is a major goal in all of the plans. In support of the library’s strategic goals to improve accessibility, several efforts have been underway, including:

1) Establishing a library Accessibility Committee,

2) Collaborating with the university’s Office of Disability Services to survey students to identify physical access barriers in the library (to be addressed in 2020),

3) Maintaining representation on the campus disability services/accessibility committee, which monitors physical and online accessibility best practices (these connections are helping the library address major accessibility issues to an early-1960’s building), and

4) Completely redesigning the library’s website with a user-centric, task-oriented approach after a year of usability testing.

Simultaneously, the ULAC Accessibility Committee assessed and developed best practices for the 17 system library accessibility web pages. In Summer 2020, the chair of the library’s Accessibility Committee will supervise a library school fellow to review the system library web pages and provide feedback to each library. The fellow will also draft an accessibility plan for the library.

The outcomes of the accessibility initiatives demonstrate a culture of assessment in an individual library, a university, and a system to the direct benefit of students. Connections with the Academic Affairs accessibility team, Disability Services, and Facilities are helping improve library accessibility. At the ULAC/System level, accessibility initiatives have provided consistent information on how to access system libraries for all populations.

Planning and intentionality are key to the success of the accessibility projects at multiple levels. Engaging a library-wide Strategic Planning Committee to identify the goals, objectives, expected performance outcomes, and tasks and tracking/adjusting them throughout the year helps keep the library moving steadily forward. Linking planning and assessment reinforces the importance of assessment in everything we do. Presenting reports from assessment projects to library staff, campus committees, and system leaders creates understanding of the importance of the assessment cycle, closing the loop, and library improvement. The library, campus, and system clearly understand the power of the assessment cycle to continuously improve efficiency and student success.

Building a Competency-Based New Employee Development Program

Melissa Fraser-Arnott is the Chief of Integrated Reference Services at the Library of Parliament in Ottawa, Canada where she manages a team of embedded subject-specialist research librarians. She has 15 years experience in special libraries and government settings including the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, the Centre for International Governance Innovation, and the Canadian Police College. She has a doctorate from Queensland University of Technology through the San José Gateway PhD Program, an MLIS from the University of Western Ontario, and will complete an MBA from the Australian Institute of Business in 2020. She is an active member of SLA, ALA, and ALISE. Her research interests include professional identities, LIS competencies, professional development, and library management.
Maureen Martyn, MLIS (McGill University, 1988), has more than twenty years’ experience working in the Canadian parliamentary milieu. From her early days as a reference librarian to her current role as chief of Branches and Reference Services, Maureen has been involved in many parliamentary projects, including LegisInfo and HillNotes, the Library’s research publications blog. She has held several management positions, including managing multidisciplinary teams at both the Library of Parliament and the House of Commons. She currently manages a team of more than twenty research librarians, senior research librarians and branch managers.
New employee development is an essential task for any organization, especially service and knowledge-based organizations where a highly skilled and capable workforce is central to the organizational value proposition. Ensuring that new employees have the competencies required to perform their jobs and to integrate into their new workplace culture is essential to organizational success. These goals are achieved through new employee development programs designed to socialize and train employees in order to help them function in their new role and workplace culture. This poster describes the redesign of a new employee development program for research / reference librarians in a special library setting. The Research Librarian Development Program is a year-long development program which was initiated in the library in 2012 in order to offer consistent training and development opportunities among all new research librarians. The program was redesigned in 2017-2018 to shift its focus from tasks toward competencies following competency-based management model. The program redesign included the creation of a new competency-based development grid, refinement of shared training plans, and the establishment of program milestones. The poster describes program changes, provides an overview of the development program with an emphasis on the types of learning activities undertaken by new employees over the course of their first year through this development program and offers lessons learned from reference services managers to guide the creation or modification of a new employee development program. These lessons can be applied to any new employee development program, regardless of library type. The specific set of competencies for research librarians and training approach at the Library of Parliament will be of interest to other reference services teams.

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Purchasing Power: Assessing Library Print Vendors

Jill Dawson is the Electronic Resources Librarian at the University of North Texas. Previously, she worked for over a decade in public libraries.
This project assessed the performance of two of the print suppliers for the University of North Texas Libraries: a major library book vendor and a large online retailer. The two measures used to gauge performance were (1) turn-around time to fulfill orders and (2) discount off list price as found on the library book vendor’s website. During the data collection period, we ordered the least expensive print book that was in stock at either of the vendors included in the assessment and recorded the ordering information. Following the data collection period, we analyzed the results and made a final recommendation for the ordering unit’s preference regarding print suppliers.

Transparency on Journal Pricing – Make a List!

Sian Brannon (she, her, hers), the Associate Dean for Collection Management at University of North Texas Libraries, has been in libraries since the 1990s. She has worked in public, academic, and technical libraries, but likes her home library the best. Her research interests include supervision/leadership, internships, assessment, Fear of Negative Evaluation, and randomly, the Technology Acceptance Model. She edits Public Services Quarterly, and is an adjunct professor for Technical Services/Research Methods courses.

Darin Castillo, Electronic Resources and Contract Assistant, University of North Texas

Todd Enoch, Head of Serials/ER Unit, University of North Texas

The University of North Texas Libraries subscribe to 1000s of different journals, e-books, and database packages, generally with annual payments. While some publishers insist on contract/license terms that prohibit disclosure of pricing information, many do not.

In 2017, following in the footsteps of the University of Alberta and Simon Fraser University, the University of North Texas Libraries elected to create a “Transparency List” of pricing for ongoing subscriptions for the sake of giving as much information as possible to inform decisions regarding collections.

Each year, the Collection Development Department in the Libraries amass pricing information for a rolling 3 years, and post it as a spreadsheet and a dataset in the institutional repository. It includes a ‘data dictionary’ describing the various fields. When publishers prohibit disclosure of their pricing, we have redacted the costs, and included a statement as to why. So far, the online Serials Transparency List has been viewed over 1,430 times.

With this information, we anticipate library liaisons and university faculty might look at pricing of journals in their fields for informed decision-making, and also use the data in ways we haven’t even thought of yet. We also make this public to the world in our institutional repository and through the SPARC Big Deal Knowledge Base in hopes that it helps other libraries with their negotiations and collection management decisions.

Three’s a Charm: System Migration as a Collaboration Case Study

Cory Lampert is the Head of Digital Collections and a Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Cory is responsible for leading a robust team responsible for digitization activities, metadata and linked data creation, and digital asset management. Her research interests include linked data, digital library competencies, and strategic planning for digital libraries. She is also active in several service activities focused on libraries and data, mentoring new librarians, and labor issues for contingent digital workers.

Darnelle Melvin is the Special Collections and Archives Metadata Librarian and an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he is responsible for managing metadata activities, remediation projects, and metadata documentation. He is co-author of Linked Data for the Perplexed Librarian and researches metadata, linked data, and resource discovery in relation to digital libraries, repository migrations, and data integration.

Seth Shaw is an Application Developer for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Libraries dedicated to Special Collections and Archives. Previously, he was the Electronic Records Archivist for Duke University and an Assistant Professor of Archival Studies at Clayton State University. He has been developing IT solutions for special collections and archives, off and on, since his days as an undergraduate student.

As the information profession addresses ways to un-silo assets and operations within our organizations, information managers are realizing the critical need to engage collaboratively to solve problems and make more strategic decisions. The authors will discuss a case study that addresses this need and exemplifies a new model of collaboration. Through examining a library digital asset system migration implemented via a team approach, the presenters will share several empowering possibilities that are created when information technologists, metadata experts, and managerial professionals learn to work together as decision-makers. The team experienced challenges; and these challenges will be described as scenarios with multiple perspectives, challenges and approaches. Using visualizations, the presenters will illustrate the spectrum of organizational perspectives and associated assumptions and delve into common fears and perceived threats when negotiating resource commitments. With these themes exposed, the presenters will offer recommendations for navigating each scenario with a focus on improved and inclusive communication. Recommendations will focus on techniques to encourage healthy debate; particularly in regard to respectful assertion of preferences, effective translation of complex concepts, and streamlined decision-making in flat hierarchies like committee and team structures.

To Co-Author or Not?

Sian Brannon (she, her, hers), the Associate Dean for Collection Management at University of North Texas Libraries, has been in libraries since the 1990s. She has worked in public, academic, and technical libraries, but likes her home library the best. Her research interests include supervision/leadership, internships, assessment, Fear of Negative Evaluation, and randomly, the Technology Acceptance Model. She edits Public Services Quarterly, and is an adjunct professor for Technical Services/Research Methods courses.

Dr. Catherine Sassen (she, her, hers) is Principal Catalog Librarian at the University of North Texas. She has published and presented on cataloging, indexing, assessment, career development, and mentoring.

Scholarly research gives us insight into the future of libraries.  However, collaborative research projects may crash and burn if not well planned.  Learn how to choose team members, facilitate collaboration and organize all the elements of a project to create a successful publication or presentation.  Also included are administrative responsibilities, thoughts on handling problems, examples of delineating responsibilities. 

There are multiple reasons to collaborate on scholarship – use others’ expertise, mentorship, reinforce accountability, and get motivated. Also, research indicates that there is a higher acceptance rate for multi-authored papers than single-authored papers. However, there are things to look out for in choosing collaborators – consider compatible work habits, receptivity to criticism, and commitment to fulfill responsibilities.

There are also multiple decisions to be made. These include where to publish, in what order authors’ names will appear, and how the manuscripts will be written. Who will coordinate? Who will write what? Who will revise?

Technology can be used to facilitate collaboration, and everyone should be aware of relevant deadlines. This poster presentation will also cover how to address problems – missed deadlines, less-than-stellar quality, how to say “no” in the future, and what to do if YOU are the problem collaborator.

Training the Trainer: Creating an In-House Professional Development Program

Nicole Potdevin, (M.A., M.L.I.S.) is the Associate University Librarian and Director of Public Services at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus Library in Madison, NJ. She earned a M.A. in Art History and Archaeology from the Institute of Fine Arts – New York University in 2009, and a M.L.I.S. from Rutgers University in 2014. Nicole’s main areas of interest and research are information literacy, professional development, and assessment in academic libraries.
During the summer of 2019, Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Florham Campus Library undertook a twelve-week Training the Trainer Program for librarians to teach each other about current trends in academic librarianship and share our individual areas of expertise. Created and lead by the Library’s Associate University Librarian & Director of Public Services, the purpose of the Program was to inspire her team of librarians to reflect upon their teaching practices, embed the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education in their one-shot information literacy classes, and increase awareness of current pedagogical theories and practices relating to academic librarianship.

Participation in this program was mandatory for five librarians with teaching responsibilities, including the Associate University Librarian & Director of Public Services, but was open to all library staff interested in attending. Each of the five teaching librarians were required to present on at least one topic, with some librarians presenting up to four topics. Topics for presentations included the ACRL Framework for Information Literacy for Higher Education, Legal Research, PowerPoint Best Practices, LibGuides, Instructional Design, and Special Collections & Archives. Presentations occurred once a week and lasted about one hour. While the presentations typically occurred every Tuesday at 10am over the twelve weeks, the small size of the program allowed for some flexibility with scheduling in the event of previously scheduled meetings, vacation time, or other unavoidable conflicts. The Training the Trainer Program was created in-house, therefore there was no financial cost. Because it was held over the summer, it did not interfere with teaching responsibilities and rarely interfered with reference desk coverage.

An anonymous survey at the end of the program demonstrated that while the program was considered to be too time-consuming, the participants greatly enjoyed and valued the opportunity to improve their knowledge of library trends, teaching best practices, and useful software and technology tools for reference and teaching. Participants also appreciated the time to collaborate and exchange ideas with their colleagues. Many of the topics covered during the Training the Trainer Program were adopted by the teaching librarians in their information literacy instruction afterwards during the fall semester. FDU’s Florham Campus Library plans to hold this program again in the summer of 2020 during a more manageable six-week period.

Restructuring the Student Worker Program in an Academic Library

Julia McKenna has been working in libraries for the past 5 years, most recently as the Circulation Services Manager at Jacksonville University. Her experience includes time in almost every part of library operations including circulation, technical services, periodicals, government documents, and ILL. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Jacksonville University and is a current MLIS student at Valdosta State University and MSOL student a Jacksonville University. Julia is a member of the ALA TOLD committee and a current participant in the Sunshine State Library Leadership Institute. She is also the founder of Managerine LLC, an educational platform for new and aspiring female leaders. Her article “So many students, so little time: Practical student worker training in an academic library” was published in the January edition of the Journal of Access Services.
In the Spring of 2018, the Carl S. Swisher Library restructured it’s student worker program from one general student worker position to five unique roles. The change was made in responsive to a small staff size struggling to keep up with both day-to-day operations, as well as their additional responsibilities and projects. Students were designated to either work in Circulation, Collection Management, Technical Services, Archives, or Government Documents. Each role was designed to assist a staff member on the circulation team and help to make the day-to-day operations more efficient.

The poster will examine the process of making these changes, what worked, and what didn’t. It will dive into the more successful components, areas for improvement, and overall how the restructuring has made an impact on the department over the past two years. There are certainly both benefits and drawbacks to the change, but overall it has been a positive asset to the library.

Overall, the poster will be designed to help managers looking to make a similar change to their student employee structure. It is also relevant for those managing volunteers in public libraries. Because libraries are typically short staffed and running on a shoestring budget, this restructuring can help to bridge the gap between meeting increasing demands with decreasing staff size.

Collaborative Web Content Management Strategies

Brittany Richardson is the Web Services Librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library. Her primary work includes front-end web development and content coordination. She conducts assessment of web content through UX testing, stakeholder feedback, and analytics. She strives to continuously improve user experience through collaborative efforts with colleagues across the library.
Library websites represent library services, resources, and information from a variety of library departments. How can we implement web content management strategies inclusive of these unique entities without subjecting the library’s web presence to disjointed editing or design by committee? This session will present collaborative methods that can be used by library web developers/content managers, including a framework for departmental content audits and mechanisms for obtaining internal stakeholder feedback on website redesigns. The benefits, and barriers, to implementing an increasingly open web design process will be discussed. Attendees will be encouraged to evaluate their library’s web content management processes and consider opportunities to improve the representation of all library departments.

Sustaining Virtual Members in Professional Associations

Rhonda Marker is Director, Shared User Services at Rutgers University Libraries. Among her responsibilities are the coordination of support and infrastructure for online information literacy and library instruction, as well as the management of digital projects and library publishing. Previous positions included Repository Collection Manager and Head of Cataloging. Rhonda has been active in ALA for more than 30 years, serving on several ALCTS committees. In that time, she was involved in the review of groups and committees that resulted in substantive changes and even the dissolution of groups that were no longer necessary. No librarians were harmed in the committee restructuring. Recently, Rhonda observed the stresses on sustaining committees and member involvement when they began meeting more often online than in person at ALA conferences.
Imagine that you are attending a library conference. You have a list of potential committees that interest you and you want to become active in one of them. If your schedule and logistics allow, you sit in on one of the committees and realize this is YOUR group. At one point, the chair says, “Would anyone like to work on this?” You raise your hand and the chair takes your name. After the meeting, you chat with a couple of other people who will be working on the task, as you exit the meeting room together.

Now imagine that the same committee meets only virtually. Can this involvement scenario be replicated in a virtual setting? What do you, the member, and the association have to change to make participation possible for you? In what ways can virtual meetings incorporate inclusive behaviors to sustain and refresh membership in a professional association?

Participants will understand the pitfalls of applying traditional meeting structures and membership development in an increasingly virtual environment. This session will invite participants to explore creative ways to encourage virtual participation in professional associations such as ALCTS/LITA/LLAMA, and make bold suggestions for our association to capitalize on the virtual environment in order to broaden participation.

The changes that we have to make in order to thrive in a virtual environment will incorporate inclusive behaviors. These might include communicating beyond our current active members to seek out potential members, reaching out to allied groups, and giving not-yet-members opportunities for meaningful participation.