Thanks Everyone!

Working with everyone this quarter on this blog has been a great experience.  Since we all had a common interest of archives there was a common ground and connection from which the group could draw upon.  Archives and special collections are an invaluable resource.  Because of limitations in funding, especially with the recession, and the high cost of digital preservation, large digitization projects are not as practical as cheaper more affordable apps.

I agree with everyone’s assessment regarding the group’s performance on this project.  Thanks to everyone’s hard and efficient work, the assignment came together very quickly and easily.  It was great to be involved in a group in which all of the members were responsive and proficient.

We decided to use googledocs to collaborate and edit the paper, surprisingly I’d never used googledocs so when a group member suggested it I was excited to try it, it worked very well, and made collaboration between the group very easy.

The idea for an app, especially an app such as Stack Tracks was a great idea, and one that is truly needed.   The assignment was to make a contribution and I feel as though this app proposal is significant.  Despite library professional’s conclusions that apps are going to be trending, the app market and libraries have not produced many apps yet.  The ones that have been produced have largely been institution/library specific.  Having an app such as Stack Tracks that is collaborative between many library institutions is beneficial and useful.

Thank you Shannon, Christie, Nel, and Warren for all of your hard work, input, and posts.  Hope everyone has a fun summer.

Link

Budget Cuts at MOA

As the quarter draws to a close, I thought I would share one last article from the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology.  The article discusses budget cuts and how the museum and archives are affected.  The current trend of budget cuts is being felt with our neighbors to the north.  Archival projects at the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia represent a large collection of culturally significant material to Canada and are in dire threat of being eliminated due to cuts to the National Archival Development Program.  Have any of you visited the MOA?  It is a beautiful place and they are doing great work there. 

Working with Stack Tracks

As Christie and Nel both noted below, the collaborative effort put forth by our group members for this final assignment was great. The proposal/writing about Stack Tracks seemed to fall together with ease–everyone contributed equally to a project for which we held (and still hold) enthusiasm. The learning process for this project–to visualize, research, and present ideas for a new mobile application that could change the way we relate to libraries–was clear and rewarding.

Because the scope of Stack Tracks is so large, the literature review with which we started the project was (to say the least) useful. As I noted in my lit. review of examples that Stack Tracks might study/follow, part of our responsibility as library professionals lies in shaping and presenting information in the best ways we know how, especially where technology is concerned. This project allowed us to think about both raw data and aesthetics. In other words, what coding and testing might be necessary to get Stack Tracks up and running, and how could the interface of a mobile app like Stack Tracks be made visually appealing? Those are just a couple of the many questions we considered and addressed in the course of this project.

As has also been mentioned, there’s nothing that compares to actually visiting a special collections division, or archive, or repository, etc. That said, mobile apps–especially if they’re well designed, informative, and intriguing–could act as great motivators for a library user to visit her school’s special collections division, or encourage a student in search of an in-depth source or artifact to visit an archive. Stack Tracks’ ability to plan and guide is one of its great strengths; ST would prove highly supportive in both of the situations mentioned above.

Working on this project allowed our group time and space to figure the transformations that are bound to occur in future information technology. The project allowed us room to consider information technology’s ever-changing role in special collections and archives, too.

Many thanks to Annette, Christie, Nel, and Warren for this quarter’s encouraging group work experience.

Reflections on Stack Tracks

My thoughts after reflecting on our proposal for a mobile app, Stack Tracks, are the same as when we decided on the project: I think the idea behind Stack Tracks is a sound one. Bringing attention to libraries by highlighting unique features and services and encouraging people to visit libraries in person are important and worthwhile efforts, for a couple of reasons.

First, as the archivist I interviewed earlier this quarter mentioned, libraries are becoming similar in that it is easier than ever to get access to the same books and resources. Special collections are what make libraries unique.

And second, encouraging people to actually visit a special collection or an archive in person—which Stack Tracks will do via its trip planning functionality—is essential, as I noted in my portion of the literature review, because archives hold our collective heritage. I truly do believe that there is power in viewing a historical artifact in person rather than on a screen or reading about it in a book.

Ultimately, I think the project served its purpose of asking each of us to seriously consider taking our work to a professional setting. That had been intimidating to me, but both through this assignment and in talking with the archivist from my leader interview about presenting at professional conferences, it seems much more feasible and even fun.

Overall, I thought the process of creating our proposal for Stack Tracks went smoothly, especially given the time constraints imposed by receiving the project so late in the quarter. Our group worked well together and it was truly a collaborative effort. It was great working with Christie, Annette, Shannon, and Warren throughout the quarter.

Reflection: Thanks for the memories!

                Our group is based around the fact that we all have an interest in archives and special collections.  The wonderful thing about archives and special collections is the variety of archives and special collections that exist.  Each member of the group has their own specific area of interest within archives and special collections, something that is somewhat reflected in our various posts.  I say somewhat because certain posts dealt with our interests but the tasks set forth in the assignments, including the final assignment, gave us the opportunity to explore beyond our interests and to perhaps gain new interests.   

                I really enjoyed working with my group and they were very easy to work with throughout the quarter and on this final assignment.  Our idea for a mobile application, Stack Tracks, will be a great tool that libraries and archives can utilize to allow users to create their own unique information experience.  Although we have not actually built the application our group has created a plan of action and conceptualized functions that might one day make this application a reality.    It was nice to come up with an idea that all group members agreed on and seemed interested in doing.  Through email communications we were able to coordinate our efforts.  For the first part of the assignment we decided what information we wanted to find for our literature review and everyone chose a category.  We also used this strategy for the final written part of our assignment.  The final written part of our assignment also involved the creation of a shared Google document that we could use to add the sections we each wrote and combine them for the final draft. 

                Overall, for a group project, this whole process was painless and enjoyable.  Group projects can quickly become a situation where a few people pull the weight for everyone else in the group.  This group did a great job in equally dispersing and doing the work.  Thank you for a great quarter-Annette, Nel, Shannon and Warren!

Examples To Live Up To

Aside

By now, it’s likely clear to you that our group is working on a mobile application for use amid the stacks. Given this fact, another area we’d do well to look at would be standout examples of libraries—especially academic libraries—at the forefront of mobile app integration. For my part, I found said examples, and in doing so consulted a wide range of sources—American Library Association, Coalition for Networked Information, Library Journal, and Elsevier’s Library Connect, to name those on which I eventually settled. Based on the findings for this literature review, it seems that the past two years especially have seen a rapid increase in research, writing, presentations, conferences, and plain ol’ discussion about how libraries can make space for, and be creative with, mobile technology.

In “The History of Information Science and Other Traditional Information Domains: Models for Future Research,” William Aspray offers excellent reasoning for library professionals’ heightened conversation regarding mobile technology: “We increasingly live in a world that is technology driven, and to study the information domains without paying close attention to those domains most closely associated with information technology is to see the world with blinders” (Aspray). He goes on to note, “Technology influences the nature of work.”

Think about it: how often do you use apps via your iStuff or your Smartstuff to map a location, read a restaurant review, make a grocery list, or take a picture? For many of us, mobile apps have changed the ways in which we go about our daily routines, not to mention the ways in which we store, send, remember (and forget!) information. And the students with whom we’ll work in academic libraries—I’m thinking here of both undergraduates and graduate—likely rely on their mobile technology far more than do most LIS 501ers. Point being: our future as library and information professionals depends on a) our understanding of how information-seeking behaviors have changed with the advent of mobile technology, and b) how well we can adapt mobile technology to fit the needs of library users.

At last year’s American Library Association Annual Conference, mobile apps were widely discussed. Mentioned in David Rapp’s “ALA Annual 2011: Top Tech Trends: Apps on the Upswing” were Oregon State University and North Carolina State University, both for their incorporation of academic course resources into mobile apps. And if you’ll recall, a major tenet of the ALA’s Core Competences of Librarianship requires that we, as librarians, put to use “…principles and techniques necessary to identify and analyze emerging technologies and innovations in order to recognize and implement relevant technological improvement” (4D, “ALA Core Competences…). Not only is it our responsibility to remain up-to-date on technology such as mobile apps, it’s also our responsibility to mold and present information for best use via said technology. With that in mind, I offer a few highly informative pieces that highlight academic libraries’ mobile app creations—examples that our group might aspire to in constructing Stack Tracks.

*”Center of Attention” from Library Connect in conjunction with Digital Collections on DukeMobile iPhone App

Mentioned in Lisa Carlucci Thomas’s “Gone Mobile? (Mobile Libraries Survey 2010),” DukeMobile has proved to be a boon to Duke University libraries and their patrons. Though Library Connect‘s line of questioning with Web Designer Sean Aery and Digital Collections Program Coordinator Jill Katte is succinct, the responses given by Aery and Katte are informative. They’re also a great prep/overview for the YouTube video created by Duke University Libraries as a demonstration of DukeMobile’s capabilities. Aery and Katte articulate examples of DukeMobile aids library users, while the video demonstration provides a thorough how-to of the app.

**Mobile Library Projects at North Carolina State University

An extensive presentation of several mobile projects at North Carolina State University, Tito Sierra’s PowerPoint stands as an invaluable example of the varied ways in which mobile apps might/can be of help to library and information professionals in their work with library patrons. Sierra’s “Guiding Principle” slides are must-reads for anyone thinking of (and for those preparing to) build useful mobile apps. Plenty of pictures—excellent here as clear examples—and minimal text make this PowerPoint a useful, necessary tool.

***Gone Mobile? (Mobile Libraries Survey 2010)

Lisa Carlucci Thomas’s Mobile Libraries Survey for Library Journal covers a great deal of ground in a clear, no-nonsense manner. With examples of academic libraries that have taken great strides in mobile technology—Duke University, the University of Oregon, and Yale University, to name a few—and data presented in useful charts and graphs, Thomas’s survey is a good comprehensive picture of where mobile technology is, and where it’s headed. The subheads/divisions here are helpful as well—Budgets, Priorities, Skills, Perception, etc. Thomas addresses both the benefits and challenges of working with mobile technology, while also discussing possibilities for future funding and implementation of all things mobile.


 

The Importance of Special Collections and Archives

Special libraries and archives serve an extremely important function in today’s society.   In the last several years there have been numerous studies about the importance of special libraries and archives.   Dooley and Luce (2010) state that special collections and archives may be defined as library and archival materials in any format that possess some value, uniqueness, and rarity.  Paaviainen (2007) states that special collections offer professional expertise in particular fields.  Without getting into a debate of Lexicon and meaning, special libraries and archives can simply be defined for debate’s sake as a library or archive that holds a unique collection of information and provides further expertise.  Special collections constitute a major portion of most libraries operations and are critical to scholarship (See Panitch  2001).

In proposing an app called Stack Tracks to explore unique libraries around the world, special collections and archives in particular may benefit from such an app.  As many institutions have, at some point, undergone some form of digitization project.  However, a majority of these digitization projects are limited in scope and funding according to Dooley and Luce (2010).  As the Association of Research Libraries has pointed out, “Digitization is a tool used now in virtually all special collections libraries (See ARL 2009).”

For my portion of the literature review, I sought to highlight the value and importance of special libraries and archives.  How I approached this issue was to first examine some of the major surveys and studies already performed on the subject and then I sought to examine their references to pull out relevant and pertinent resources.  I found it rather peculiar that there are many online resources for the scholarly study of special collections yet, special libraries and archives are limited in their online digitization due to the resources necessary to digitally publish and maintain such resources (Again, see ARL 2009).  Three resources in particular offered exceptional background on the value of special collections and archives, and vast amounts of data on the subject; The Association of Research Libraries has published several studies on Special Collections in ARL Libraries and the OCLC has also published an extremely helpful and interesting survey titled, Taking Our Pulse.

 

Dooley, Jackie M, and Katherine Luce. (2010). Taking Our Pulse: The OCLC Research Survey of Special Collections and Archives. Dublin, Ohio: OCLC Research. Internet resource. Retrieved from http://www.oclc.org/research/publications/library/2010/2010-11.pdf

This is essentially OCLC’s follow up survey to the ARL’s 1998 landmark survey and attempts to examine how far special collections have come since the 1998 survey.  This survey also discusses library size and budget, collections, user services, cataloging and metadata, challenges, staffing issues, and departing from ARL’s study, a more significant contribution to the subject of digitalization and the issues that special collections and archives are facing in this regard.

 

Paavilainen, Elisa. (2007). The Role of Special Libraries in the Finnish Library Network.    Internet resource.  Retrieved from http://www.kansalliskirjasto.fi/kirjastoala/neuvosto/hankkeet/kokoelmakartta/Files/liitetiedosto2/Collections_special_libraries.pdf

This is a useful power point that highlights the importance of special collections.  Bulleted points provide useful references for discussion points.  The power point also highlights strategies for special collections as well as evaluating special collections.  The survey really served to highlight the importance of special collections as well as examining the significance of special collections.

 

Panitch, Judith M. (2001).  Special Collections in ARL Libraries: Results of the 1998 Survey Sponsored by the Arl Research Collections Committee. Washington, D.C: Association of Research Libraries. Internet Resource.  Retrieved from

http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/spec_colls_in_arl.pdf

This survey is a landmark survey, which, at the time, surveyed 99 ARL special collections and examined a wide variety of issues ranging from access use, preservation, structure, budgets, and was one of the first major studies to examine digitization.

 

Special Collections in ARL Libraries: A Discussion Report from the ARL Working Group on Special Collections. Washington, D.C: Association of Research Libraries (2009). Internet resource. Retrieved from

http://www.arl.org/bm~doc/scwg-report.pdf

This is another survey put forth by the ARL that deals with collections policy, discovery of hidden collections and access, cross-institutional collaborations, digitization, and the challenge of born-digital collections.  This serves as a fantastic, policy level survey and a great follow-up to the ARL’s landmark 1998 study.