Wrapping up Day 2 of the Exchange

We’ve finished Day 2 of the Exchange. Recordings of the presentations, plus the presenters’ slides and a transcription of the presentations are available on the website.  We encourage you to continue the conversation with the presenters by submitting comments and questions to their presentation pages on the website.

Use the Twitter backchannel #ALLExchange to interact with other participants throughout the conference. Day 3 continues on Friday, May 8, at noon EDT. The following summary is provided courtesy of Exchange Working Group member, Laura Baird.

Exchange Day 2: May 6, 2020. Continuity and Sustainability

Poster Sessions

After a brief welcome, the Exchange opened with eighteen virtual posters on a variety of topics. Several presenters reported on projects at their libraries, including restricting student work, professional development, migration, changes in leadership, departmental reorganization, outreach to advisors and automation efforts. Others shared useful tools like Google Colab, or larger lessons about transparency in purchasing, accessibility, usability, communities of practice, and moving course support online. If you missed any of the poster sessions, the full list is  available on the Exchange website.

Recruiting from Retail: University of Chicago Library acquisitions department experience: presented by Susan Martin and colleagues

Susan Martin and her colleagues at the University of Chicago Library shared their experiences recruiting staff from outside the library profession. They used recent staff turnover as an opportunity to examine what staff are currently asked to do and where their work was headed, then recruited for future skill sets. Rather than focusing on library skills, they recruited for strong, experienced managers. They shared their process including retooling job descriptions, reorganizing and prioritizing responsibilities, decoding resumes, refocusing the interviews, and working to spread the job posting more widely. After recruitment, they developed a training plan for library-specific skills and knowledge. The presentation consisted of a panel with perspectives from librarians, supervisors, and staff who had been recruited using their new process. The biggest challenges that new staff shared were seeing how a role fit into the larger infrastructure, and transitioning mindsets to contribute to develop a body of knowledge for future generations.

Disabled People Use the Internet! Building and Maintaining Inclusive Library Spaces Online: presented by Laura March and Amelia Gibson

To maintain inclusive online library spaces, Laura March and Dr. Amelia Gibson shared institutional and technological strategies. For any online space or programming, consider offering multiple formats including visual, text, and audio to improve the experience for everyone. Gibson advised that libraries plan for a realistic division of labor and consider resources they need, who manages them, who is allowed to represent the library online, and who has the training to do so. She argued that accessibility isn’t the job of one person, but is everyone’s. Inclusion isn’t something that can be done one time, and is an ongoing process.

Marsh then shared technologies to help improve accessibility. Social media has some built in tools but other platforms require third party software. She recommended adding alternative text, organizing web content in a hierarchical structure, using responsive layouts, using progressive enhancements, and using automated accessibility checkers to evaluate your work.

Documenting Library Work: Lessons We Can Learn from Technical Writers: presented by Emily Nimsakont

Emily Nimsakont shared technical writing practices that can help librarians to improve their documentation of library work. She addressed what it means to be a technical writer, defined what’s meant by a technical document, and discussed how technical writing can help with the process of documenting library work. She shared the basic steps to technical writing: plan, structure, write, review, and publish. For each step, she reviewed tools, tips, and useful activities. The presentation included a technical writing activity. She encouraged libraries to make the process of documentation easier and to create consensus so that everyone supports the documentation process. The documentation process can be flexible, and adjusted to fit the situation.

Participants were encouraged to say what practices needed to be documented and why. They also provided feedback on tools and resources that they had found helpful.

Lightning Rounds

The lightning rounds went fast, at under 10 minutes each, but were packed with content.

In Changing Your Library’s Caustic Culture with Kindness and Coffee, Joyce Garczynski shared her Shining Star Program, which acknowledges staff achievement by awarding staff nominees (and their nominators) with a chance to win gift cards. She credited this $120 program with improving moral and communication.

In Metadata Futures, UI, and Discovery Creativity, Jesse Lambertson mused on metadata futures as a collaborative, iteration concept, designed by people. As he stated, “Metadata enables access. Access requires description. You cannot have access without description.”

In ORCID US Community: Libraries Leading the Way for Interoperability in Research & Scholarly Communication Workflows, Sheila Rabun described ORCHID as a free, unique, persistent identifier and reviews case studies of ORCHID use.

In Sustaining Virtual Members in Professional Associations, Rhonda Marker examined whether in person experiences can truly be translated to virtual experiences for professional associations.

In Collaborative Web Content Management Strategies, Brittany Richardson discussed her stewardship of the library website using annual web audits with departments.

Recruiting From Retail: University of Chicago Library Acquisitions Department Experience

Session Description

Over the past couple of years, the University of Chicago Library acquisitions department experienced a significant amount of clerical and supervisory staff turnover. This turnover was the result of retirements, career advancements, and career changes. We viewed this period of change as an opportunity to recruit a highly skilled and diverse staff which will help poise and sustain the department for the future. To accomplish this, we knew that we had to think differently about what skills we needed and what skills would be transferable from industries outside the library or academe into the library.

This talk will provide an outline of the potential benefits of non-library industry hiring by exploring the following topics:

  • What types of skills are needed for work in the department, not just currently, but in the future?
  • What types of non-industry candidates could be well-suited for a job in the library?
  • How to satisfy current departmental needs and anticipate future industry developments and changes through hiring, and why considering applicants new to the Library may address each of those challenges
  • Reframing requisitions and interviews to focus on transferable/soft skills, in the absence of relevant library experience
  • Casting a wider net can sometimes yield unexpected, but fruitful results in a job search
  • Initial training and development to acclimate new hires into library work

The session will be comprised of short panel sections focused on a targeted topic during which we will have interactive polls, a matching game, and take questions from the attendees. Panelists will include a mix of staff: librarians, supervisors, and clerical staff.


Susan Martin, Head, Acquisitions Services, University of Chicago

Susan Martin
Susan Martin is currently Associate Professor and the Chair of Collection Development and Management at the James E. Walker Library at Middle Tennessee State University. Until March 2020, she served as the Head of Acquisitions Services at The University of Chicago Library. Prior to this position, she served as the Acquisitions Librarian at Texas Woman’s University in Denton, Texas. Her other experience includes writing and editing for an internet start-up and working as a professional librarian in a variety of departments: acquisitions, cataloging, circulation, and reference.

Susan holds an A.B. in American Studies and French from Mount Holyoke College and an M.S. in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. In her spare time she enjoys traditional librarian pursuits, such as book collecting, knitting, and cats.

Tina Erikson, Receiving and Rapid Cataloging Supervisor, University of Chicago

Tina Erikson
Tina Erikson is the Supervisor for the Receiving and Rapid Cataloging unit in the Acquisitions department at The University of Chicago Library. Before coming to the library, she was general manager for Argo Tea, a Chicago-based tea company. Other experience includes teaching ESL in South Korea as well as teaching Spanish language and literature courses at the University of Chicago.

Tina holds a B.A. in Spanish and Religion from Ashland University and an M.A. in Romance Languages and Literature from The University of Chicago. She loves playing Dungeons and Dragons and spending time with her husband, 1 year old son, and 2 cats.

Jessica Glomb, Library Orders Supervisor, University of Chicago

Jessica Glomb
Jessica Glomb is the Monographic Orders Supervisor at the University of Chicago Library. Her first experience with the book industry was as a buyer in the Lifestyle Department for Whole Foods Market in Wheaton, IL, where she worked exclusively with Baker and Taylor to procure and sell books on all things health and foodie related, among other fantastic products. She is ecstatic to have the opportunity to expand her horizons in the book trade and serve the community in a library setting.

She holds a BA in Psychology from Indiana University. In her spare time she stays up far too late reading about world history, industry and politics, and paints and cooks a little. With a background in nutrition sales, she dabbles in fitness, too!

Max Maller, Principal Orders Assistant, University of Chicago

Max Maller
Max Maller is Principal Monographic Ordering Assistant at the University of Chicago Library. Prior to holding this position, he has worked as a translator, editor, and journalist with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, the Chicago Reader, Jewish Currents, Chicago Review, and other publications. For two years, he was a sales clerk and buying specialist at Powell’s Books Chicago.

Max holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese Literature and Language from Reed College and an MA from the University of Chicago.

Philip Stefani, Receiving Assistant, University of Chicago

Philip Stefani
Philip Stefani is a Receiving and Rapid Cataloging Assistant at the University of Chicago. He first worked in the Penrose Library at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington where he was a Circulation Assistant, worked in the archives, and was a student research assistant. He has also worked as an English teacher in China and a commercial fisherman in Alaska. Before coming to UChicago, Philip was a collection and circulation clerk at Odd Obsession Movies, one of the last video rental shops on the planet.

He earned a B.A. in Art History and Visual Culture Studies from Whitman College. Outside of work, Philip enjoys reading, cooking, and spending time in the sun.