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Library Retreat … To Another Library

On June 3 we had our annual library retreat.  Normally, we use part of this day to engage in some kind of exercise that will improve library operations and then we do something fun.  This year, however, we decided to devote the whole day to a service project at the Springfield Public Library.  Like a lot of public libraries, Springfield has struggled in the last year with budget cuts and layoffs.  As a result, the staff has not been able to complete several projects.  There’s nothing we love more than a challenge, though, so we arrived bright and early at 8:30 to tackle whatever they could throw at us.

I, along with two other Reference Librarians, spent the day shifting the entire fiction collection in order to remove a row of shelving.  We didn’t quite make it all the way through the alphabet, but got close enough so that the SPL staff can finish the job.  Who knew there were so many different fiction authors!  Some of the other projects included sorting and packing summer reading kits, completing some original cataloging, mending damaged items, and staffing the circ desk in the children’s section.  In total, we donated 80 hours of work to SPL!

Faculty Newsletter 2.0

August 25, 2009 Leave a comment


Like many liaison Librarians, I prepare a welcome back newsletter for my faculty.  In it, I tell them what has changed over the summer and remind them about the resources and services that we provide.

Well, it might be a stretch to claim that my faculty newsletter falls under the heading of “web 2.0,” but it’s certainly different from anything I’ve ever done before.  In past years, I’ve written and done the layout for my newsletter using Microsoft Publisher and, thanks to the templates available, they’ve come out OK.  This year, however, I wanted to do something different; something that might catch their attention a little more.  It didn’t take me long to decide – this year, instead of writing a print document, I’d create a video newsletter.

Of course, that’s easier said than done.  At first I was all set to use a piece of software called Jing Pro, which would allow me to record video of myself talking as well as screen shots from my computer.  It was very simple to record all the material I needed.  The only problem was that the sound of my voice and the video of my lips moving were not in sync – disconcerting to say the least and very distracting.  Plan B was to use Jing to record the screen casts of the online resources that I wanted to demo and QuickTime Pro to record the video of me talking.  After many, many, takes, I got all the material I needed and threw it, along with a few photos, into iMovie.  Several edits later, I had my video newsletter.  You can see it for yourself by clicking here (Here’s an alternative version that runs using QuickTime).  It runs about 13 minutes.

I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not perfect.  There are production problems, such as the volume changing from one clip to another.  I’m also not the most lively narrator there is and I could have been much more precise in terms of my message.  Still, I’m pretty pleased with the outcome.  I’ve shot video before, but I’ve never really put something together from so many different sources, which was a great learning experience.  I also learned a great deal about the amount of time it takes to make even a halfway decent video.  Of course, I also hope that my faculty learn a thing or two about all the changes that have taken place in the library this summer.  After all, that was the whole reason for doing this in the first place.

Success at FitFest

February 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Here I am showing our research guides to one of our students at Fit Fest 2009.  We met a lot of students who were familiar with the library and our resources, but we met even more who were not.  We’re hoping to hear back from them again soon!

At Springfield College, our mission is to educate people “in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to humanity.”  That philosophy was in full force at this year’s Fit Fest.  Fit Fest is an annual exhibition that focuses on how individuals can achieve personal wellness.  Visitors could choose from more then 2 dozens exhibits and activities such as blood glucose testing, alcohol education, advice for setting up a home gym, kidney disease screening, and a demonstration of gluten free foods.  All of these topics were chosen because they addressed this year’s theme – “Healthy Living, Healthy People, Healthy Pride” – which was based on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Healthy People 2010 campaign.

Understanding how to find reliable health related information is, of course, a key component to personal wellness.  That’s why the Reference Librarians from Babson Library were there at Fit Fest in full force.  Visitors to our booth had a chance to take a quick quiz to test their web searching savvy and to talk with the Reference Librarians about what health related resources the library provides.  We also got a chance just to connect with students and explain to them just what the library can do for them.  Some were surprised to hear what we had to offer, but we were also pleased to hear others say that they use the library a lot or that a librarian had visited one of their classes.

Maybe it was because of our great booth.  Maybe it was because we were placed between the Wii demonstration and the alcohol awareness booth (where visitors got to put on “beer goggles” to test their ability to do certain tasks while “impaired” – I didn’t do so well!) Whatever the reason, we had a great turnout and talked to a lot of students, faculty, and staff that we might not have reached otherwise.  Fit Fest 2009 was an unqualified success and we’re looking forward to 2010.  See you there!

Hello SFX!

June 30, 2008 Leave a comment

A screen shot of Babson Library’s new SFX linking menu.  SFX enables patrons to find the full text resources they need, regardless of where they exist in the library’s collection.

After numerous planning meetings, several conference calls, one in-depth training session, and a lot of data gathering, we are ready to roll out Babson Library’s new SFX link server.  SFX, from Ex Libris, provides library users with links to full text articles and other library resources, such as the online catalog and open web services such as Google Scholar.  It also provides access to library services such as Interlibrary Loan and online reference assistance.  By pulling all of these different resources together, SFX helps connect library patrons with the information they need  regardless of where it is located.

Unfortunately, this is not our first experience with link resolver technology.  We previously used DiscoveryResolver (formerly LinkFinderPlus) from Endeavor and, while the product worked, it was difficult to manage.  Things went from difficult to horrible in January 2007 when two key events happened.  First, we upgraded from LinkFinderPlus to Discovery Resolver.  We quickly learned that the new product had several back end problems that made it even more difficult to administer.  In addition, technical documentation was practically non-existent and it was almost impossible to talk with someone from Support.  Next, Ex Libris formally announced that it had purchased Endeavor.  This now meant that Ex Libris had two link resolver products:  DiscoveryResolver, which was buggy at best, and SFX regarded by many as the industry standard.  It quickly became obvious that DiscoveryResolver would be rapidly phased out, which meant that we were stuck with a doomed product.    Fortunately, Ex Libris was willing to work with former Endeavor customers and help them migrate to their products, which led to our adoption of SFX.

My involvement in the SFX project started from the very beginning when the Director decided that the implementation team should be made of up key staff from both Technical and Public Services.  Together, we worked our way through all of the steps in the implementation process:  data gathering and processing, SFX configuration, training, testing, and all the other little things too numerous to mention.  I have learned a great deal about how SFX works, how to manage the system, and how to teach others to use it.  Of course, there is a great deal more to discover and I am looking forward to developing my skills with SFX in the weeks and months to come.  Hello SFX and welcome to Babson!