Home 9 Blog Posts 9 Don’s Conference Notes-Electronic Resources & Libraries 2023: Camp ER&L Continues

Don’s Conference Notes-Electronic Resources & Libraries 2023: Camp ER&L Continues

by | Apr 23, 2023 | 0 comments


By Donald T. Hawkins

The Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference convened again in Austin, TX on March 6-8, 2023 and continued the Camp ER&L theme that was so successful last year. About 665 “campers” attended in person, and 690 attended virtually to hear plenary sessions, attend workshops, have fun at an ER&L Jeopardy and Battledecks sessions, and visit the exhibit hall.  About 335 attendees were at their first ER&L conference.

Opening Keynote

Dr. Lionel P. Robert, Jr.

The opening keynote by Dr. Lionel P. Robert, Jr, Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information and the Michigan Robotics Institute, was entitled “What Does It Mean to be a Human in the Age of AI and Robotics?” He began by noting that humans are different from machines or animals.  This is not a new question, and it does not have a single answer; in fact, there are at least five perspectives that must be considered; they are overlapping and do not replace each other:

  1. Theological. Humans have a relationship with God and were created by Him. We have a soul, a divine spark from our creator. See Genesis 1:26-28 in the Bible which says that God created human beings in His own image; therefore we are privileged over the rest of the world. God made the animals on this earth for humans.
  2. Philosophical was Aristotle’s perspective: humans are males and can pursue their own goals. They have a rational soul, are organized in society, and are capable of sustenance, growth, and reproduction.
  3. Humanist.  Humans are superior to other creatures and objects and are typically not religious. They have a strong belief in science to advance humanity and deserve to live with dignity.
  4. Posthumanism challenges the boundaries between humans and non-humans; many things can be considered humans. They are not considered special or superior. There is no requirement for a physical body. We are no more privileged to live than a dog or a tree!  
  5. Transhumanism stresses the evolutionary path for humans. Emerging technologies like robots can help us transcend our limits.

Humans and robots are converging, and people are enhancing their bodies with machines. Is it possible for a machine to augment itself to be a human which will result in digital people? Human brain-powered computers could be the way of the future.

The great convergence: humans and robots. We can see the benefits. Are we a long way from these issues? Animal parts can be used to supplement a human. According to GPT Chat

How does this matter to us? There are legal implications: can technologies have the same rights as we have? Sophia, a robot, was given Saudi Arabian citizenship in 2017. It is the first robot to be given citizenship in another country and a United Nations title. Can AI be a creator? Is art created by AI really art? Who gets the credit for it? What legally defines a human? Can you lose your rights for not being human enough? Can a machine gain rights for being human enough? 

In Japan, humanoid robots could soon become part of the family. AI-human romances are flourishing, and this is just the beginning. There is no industry more poised to advance than sex robots; it is a $30 billion industry today. A robot brothel in Texas has sparked controversy and ethical questions. There is a growing movement to stop these.

Where will all this end? Will we treat machines like humans or will we treat humans like machines? Many lines are being crossed. We need to be thinking ahead and not allow humans to do things just because they can; we must also think about the social implications. AI systems are all powered by data, and that data comes from us. Machine learning is not like human learning. AI does not extrapolate like people. Cost, computational power, and storage are driving AI.

Collection Assessment in Academic Libraries

This session featured 4 academic librarians discussing collection assessment, a process of continuously evaluating the library’s collection, in their libraries.  The purpose of collection assessment is to assure that the library’s collection meets the current needs of the community by providing reliable, up-to-date, and attractive materials and other information sources. Assessment always provides an opportunity for outreach. An assessment program is often reactive to events such as budget cuts, new programs, new resource formats, department initiatives, and changes in the campus environment.

The way of evaluating libraries is changing.  Increasingly, libraries are evaluated by their access to accurate and reliable information rather than the number of books that they own. When a weakness in a subject area of interest to their community is found, librarians must find a way to strengthen that part of the collection. One important side benefit of performing a continuous collection assessment is that it helps library staff members know the collection better.  By looking at the collection and evaluating it, staff members will learn more about the kinds of information that are and are not available in their library.

What should be measured? A common statistic is the “use of the library”.  A survey by Abraham Bookstein1 on what constitutes use of the library suggested these 9 possible “uses”:

It is important to find the right tools for an assessment, and it may be useful to get tools from non-traditional sources, as shown here.

Meghan Burke and Angelique Roy from Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, described their analysis project.  Five years of COUNTER statistics reports were downloaded and usage trends for e-journals, e-books, and databases were analyzed. Link resolver statistics were used to supplement the analysis when COUNTER statistics were not available. 

It is also important to prepare a project outline first, asking questions like these.

  • What are you trying to evaluate?
  • What is the value of a resource?
  • What is the usage of your collection?
  • How diverse are the titles you hold?
  • Is the collection serving the users effectively?
  • How do people use the collection?

Faculty committees can be a useful source of information; if possible, find opportunities to serve on them. 

Alice Pearman, Collection Management Librarian at Plymouth State University, Plymouth, NH, said the library’s collection needed to be assessed because their view of it was very hazy. Budget cuts affected the library, so it was necessary to keep the collection balanced and demonstrate the value of the library to the administration. It is important to start with a framework, decide what story to tell, and ask questions to help tell it.  User input must be included. Some questions to be answered include how many titles are in the collection, how many are in each subject area and where is it not meeting demand?  Visualizing the data is important to help administrators, particularly those not directly concerned with the library, understand the collection.  A very useful book is The Complete Collections Assessment Manual: A Holistic Approach, by Madeline Kelly (ALA Neal-Schuman, 2021).

OED100: Redefining the Oxford English Dictionary

This presentation began with “Birthday Words”, an entertaining game that displays the word that was added to the OED in the player’s birthday year. To use it, simply search for “OED Birthday Word”, click on the first result and then on “Start”.

The OED works to record the history of human language and how it is evolving.  It began in 1857 when a committee was formed to collect unregistered words in English. Two years later, Oxford University Press agreed to publish the list. In 1987, the OED appeared in electronic form, and in 2000, OED Online was launched.

The OED describes origin, meaning, and history of each word. Most people access it through a library or because a library has made it available. A new platform and website are currently being developed. Here is a photo of OUP’s display in the ER&L Exhibit Hall. (Beth Bernhardt, at left, is the Program Director for the Charleston Library Conference.)

Consortial Futures: Where will Library Consortia Go Next?

This session was a panel discussion with questions asked by Jill Grogg from Lyrasis, the moderator.

What do you see as strategic programs for consortia to grow toward? Conversely, what do you see as areas of decreasing focus in the future?

The greatest strength and also the greatest weakness is the ability to choose what we participate in. There are opportunities for collaboration, sharing the ILS, collection development, and collection management.  Physical resourcing has decreased; instead e-books and advocating for licensing terms has grown instead. Consortia provide economies of scale and opportunities to work with publishers and pool resources between consortia. 

What do you see as powerful opportunities for, and examples of, collaboration across consortia?

The International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) is a prime example of how collaboration is occurring. The push for transparency and changes in pricing has caused a sharing of information with other consortia and an opportunity to work with publishers to pool resources and develop a scalable opt-in shared collection. Shared professional development initiatives are also available.

What kinds of pressures are consortia facing? Can we expect more strategic consolidation among consortia in the future?

We can expect to see more merging of consortia and transitioning of non-strategic or non-mission critical areas of work with other consortia or other service providers. Being in an opt-in culture is challenging. Requirements to demonstrate value to members can be problematic. Reduced or uncertain budgets and loss of institutional memory are pressures. There is an emerging culture of doing more with less. Shared off-site storage is discussed frequently, but it never seems to happen.

What do you envision as the future role of consortia in shared infrastructure or open access?

Development of shared collections and more OA investment of monographs as they are perceived as part of the collection, which will allow us to invest in the infrastructure we want. Transformative agreements are much more effective at a consortial scale. Where do consortia fit in with publishers that do not charge APCs?

Placing Primary Sources at the Heart of Education: publisher and library collaboration across pedagogy, platform, and archives

This session was sponsored by Adam Matthew Digital (now known as AM) which has worked with libraries and archives for over 30 years. The way people interact with primary sources and access archival material has evolved from microfilm to AI technology. AM is reimagining what a primary source can be by discovering archival sources and conceptualizing how to publish them. Interactions with primary sources bring history alive and are excellent teaching tools, so we must consider how students and faculty interact with them. The key principles are discoverability, contextualization, access points, critical thinking, and source variety. Discoverability depends on good metadata and more access points to enrich the user’s experience and encourage critical thinking. Different users connect with different types of primary sources and need to learn how to use them effectively. 

Text mining AM’s collections can be done with the raw content: students do not access the XML text directly but can use Google Colab to combine text and code to create a word cloud that can be downloaded. AM’s Quartex platform connects communities to archival material and allows users to create their own websites and entry points into collections, and transcribe and publish student and faculty research.

This session began with entertaining skits by “students” with questions relating to privacy. Major privacy issues today include:

  1. Complex Authentication. Many contracts use old language. A student is searching sensitive topics and wants to know what information is stored about them. Different authentication methods share different data, but even the same method can be configured in different ways. Traditional contract language does a poor job of managing data use.
  2. Website tracking. A concerned student has heard that the college websites use Google Analytics to track usage. Libraries are being affected by campus-wide web tracking, and some libraries have opted to install plugins that can be potentially invasive.
  3. Browser security.  Browser vendors have changed their browsers which disrupt authentication. Apple is planning on anonymizing browsers. A frustrated student is unable to access library resources using their new iPad. Broader societal concerns are driving browser vendors to increase security, which will impact library access. Anonymization prevents the use of third-party cookies.
  4. Data privacy. A confused student wants to save time by re-using his credentials on each publisher’s website, which is usually a bad idea. Federated authentication can support both personalization and security, so we should urge all vendors to authorize federated access to their platforms.

Managing data privacy in libraries has major challenges because the library has no authority over what vendors do with personal identification. We need to educate colleagues about these issues and advocate for the use of privacy-preserving websites. 

Let the Library Be Your Compass When Navigating eResources

The second day of ER&L featured several presentations on eResources. The first one was by Heather Jeffcoat and Anu Moorthy, eResource librarians from the Georgia Tech Library, which is actively helping users navigate to the eResources portion of the library’s website. For example, dropdown menus were obscure to many users, so links from them were added across the top of the search box. The library’s discovery tool, Primo, allows users to download PDF copies of articles. Since PubMed is a very popular service, direct access to PDFs was added for the convenience of users. Efforts are being made to urge users to check if the library has an item before requesting it by ILL. LibKey will be added to the discovery system to help facilitate this.

Getting Noticed on the Web: Making Library Data Portable and Visible

Andrew White from Renssselaer Polytechnic Institute and Amy Thurlow from EBSCO noted that even though users are searching on the web, it does not understand MARC records, which means that catalog data is not available on the library’s website, and the catalog cannot show relationships between concepts, people, places, etc. The solution to this problem is BIBFRAME which was developed by the Library of Congress and has a visual graphing feature that can show additional information about a book. Users can therefore borrow books online using Google, use Open Library to find a nearby library that has it, or create “knowledge charts” of relationships among items.  

Future-Proofing Access: Going Where Your Patrons Are

It is important to provide access to library materials at the point of need. Lean Library, a browser extension, streamlines access and provides alternatives to full text and OA. LibAnswers and LibGuides are library systems that can also be integrated into users’ workflows and used by librarians to curate knowledge and share information. 

According to the American Psychological Association’s report, “Stressed in America “ 78% of surveyed students reported more than average stress, and many of them are overwhelmed by it.. How can libraries help them? They obviously cannot do their work for them, but they can increase their reach and improve access by integrating content LibGuides into their services which will create a better user experience. A new ChatBot in LibAnswers lets students try to find answers to their questions before they chat with a librarian. It also provides an FAQ page to answer common questions.

The Who, What, Where, and How of eResources Librarianship

The role of an eResources librarian is not what it was a few years ago, and it is growing over time. E-resource librarians manage life cycle of eResources, activate collections, and engage vendors. 

Many e-resource librarians have developed skills such as cataloging, acquisitions, etc. in the course of their normal activities, which causes stress as administrators expect eResources librarians to perform those functions. Here is a list of responsibilities taken from an actual recruitment ad, with notes of changes that occurred shortly after the position was filled.

Here are some things that can be done better (“PDs means “Position Descriptions”).

Because of the rapid change in the eResource field, we cannot expect someone to be doing the same things they did several years ago. 

In 2022, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article, “Higher education is a land of dead-end jobs”, but 2022 had the highest number of jobs posted since 2007. So a study was done to determine the employment circumstances of advertising eResource librarian jobs separately by collecting and analyzing 66 ads for open positions during 2022. The results of studying “where are they now” showed that of 24% of the 66 job ads resulted in a promotion, and 13% resulted in appointment to a new position.  

The First Six Months: How does a new eResources librarian thrive? 

Here are 10 pieces of advice according to Sarah Guy, eResources Librarian at Appalachian State University:

  1. Learn how things work in your library by talking to your colleagues, building a network, and learning systems and processes.
  2. Talk to vendors. Ask for an account overview and a review of their products and start to build a relationship.
  3. Understand current subscriptions. Make spreadsheets and lists to track subscriptions.
  4. Improve workflows. Find gaps and room for improvement. If there are no written workflows, write them down.
  5. Create a wish list by collaborating with liaison librarians and faculty members. Generate ideas for end of year funds.
  6. Understand licenses. Consider items to be addressed in them. Learn the license process at your institution.
  7. Attend conferences and network. Meet colleagues from other organizations and participate in consortial agreements.
  8. Stay up to date on literature of the field, such as videos, articles, listservs, etc.
  9. Prioritize self-care; take a break or a walk. 
  10. Just get started. Don’t be paralyzed by over analyzing.

More advice:  Learn about the systems used in the library and the people who work on them. Expect the unexpected: look at licenses and trouble tickets; communicate with internal and external organizations; keep on learning and have fun.

Ten Questions to Ask and Answer as a New eResources Librarian

Laura Spradlin, eResources and Systems Librarian at Illinois Wesleyan University, further explored the role of eResources librarians.

  1. How will you address access issues and troubleshooting? How are issues reported? Who will respond? How will you track trouble tickets, problems, and updates?
  2. How will you capture and track data? What questions do you want to answer and why? Who are the stakeholders? Is the data for internal or external use? Who is responsible for data analysis?  What system will you use for data collection and viewing?
  3. Where can you find professional support? Does your organization have a mentoring program? Do any colleague’s responsibilities overlap with yours? Which alerts (listservs, etc.) are available to you? What professional development opportunities are available?
  4. Who is responsible for what?
  5. How will you track licensing information? Who needs to know? Is the information internal only or public facing? How are historical licenses stored? How is perpetual access documented? 
  6. How are annual or cyclical workflows handled? How will you document them? How are new resources evaluated, purchased, and activated? How are canceled resources deactivated? Who are the stakeholders? How will you track relevant information throughout the year?
  7. How can you improve the accessibility and diversity of eResources collections? How is accessibility addressed in licenses? How are concerns reported? What is the workflow to handle them? What campus partners will you work with? How could a diversity audit be conducted by your organization?
  8.  How are your discovery tools meeting the needs of your users? How are decisions made and implemented? Who are the stakeholders? Why were previous decisions made?  What is working and what is not? How will you test and document changes? 
  9. What tools can make your eResources life easier? What software and hardware can help? What processes could be automated? What skills would help? How can you address issues proactively and ask for what you need?
  10. How will you set boundaries for yourself? What are the guidelines for addressing access issues or requests? What documentation can support your boundaries? How can you establish buy-in from your colleagues and supervisor? How will you address processes that are not working well?

Fearlessly Interim: Best Practices for eResources Management When the Position is Vacant

It takes a lot of stamina to shoulder responsibilities that you are not used to doing, but being fearless when you are doing them is even more challenging. Many libraries have struggled to maintain their online resources while trying to fill an eResources position. Being fearless is somewhere between having courage and being reckless. If there is no eResources librarian at an organization, the first thing to do is understand what impact the position would have on users, which is a necessity.  Tools for coping: cross training staff, order records, listservs, and documentation of workflows. When someone is leaving here are some things to do before they leave to help ease the transition:

Here are things to do after they have left:

Surviving on your own actions:

From the perspective of an existing eResources librarian, here are some things to understand: your position description and what is expected of you; for example, will you be supervising other staff, does the position have tenure requirements, and what are your strengths and weaknesses coming into the position? Consider the present state of eResources management in the organization: what systems are you expected to work with, are you part of a consortium, how are systems configured, and where is data stored? It is important to acquire knowledge and build relationships. Change is hard and must be managed. 

There is a strong chance that the person hired into an eResources management position might not have any idea what that person does. So it is important to have a “new hire buddy” and get connected. Information to be provided to the new hire includes updated holdings, contact, and logins; information from the previous person in the job; access to the budget; and other responsibilities that will be required. Don’t overload the new person, and give them time before starting big projects. Remember that actions can be undone. Have patience and breathe!

Invisible Threat: Cybercrime in the Library

Cybercrime, a new form of crime, may feel far away, but hackers target libraries because they have a large user base, the data they hold, and they are easy targets. Espionage is an especially big reason to break in to libraries because of the research, especially medical and engineering research, conducted at higher education institutions.

According to OCLC, library cybersecurity matters because of their technical infrastructure, information and digital literacy, remote access to services, and commitment to privacy.  Libraries are great security advocates because they are gatekeepers and have the relationships to protect: privacy, institutional assets and information, and publisher assets. Stolen credentials can access personal email accounts and financial information, personnel information, departmental budgets, licensed e-content, university research, and social media.  Unfortunately, not every student has unique credentials. 

EZProxy is an attack vector

Most attacks try to guess passwords. (Phishing is well known as the attempt to guess passwords through email; smishing is the attempt to guess them through SMS messages on cell phones.)

Here are 4 EZProxy configuration tips 

It is important to know your practices. Libraries have a shared responsibility—collaboration is key. Security is not just an IT problem, and attacks are not unique to IT or to Fortune 500 companies. The worst thing we can do is nothing.  

Libraries are especially vulnerable to social engineering attacks because they like to help people. Both users and providers have obligations to seek conference and networking opportunities. Libraries are more vulnerable because they are smaller. EDUCAUSE has a wealth of information, and the Scholarly Networks Security Initiative (SNSI) maintains a list of upcoming events on security. We are not all cybersecurity experts, but we can engage more. Mature security practices include modern authentication methods, unique passwords and password managers for all staff members, knowing how to restore from backups, and using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) everywhere. Use haveibeenpwned to check if your email has been compromised. Have a security strategic plan and focus on risk assessment. Know how to contact an IT person.

Publishers should be worried about content protection, privacy, and keeping content off pirated sites. Cybersecurity is very fragile. Although monitoring systems are robust and effective, they can easily fall apart. Publishers have a legal obligation to protect user privacy and institutional data. We can have both privacy and security.  Institutional scenarios include compromised credentials, IP blocks, ransomware attacks, false or inflated usage data in COUNTER reports, and diminished usage. Libraries are often reluctant to implement security responses until publishers do. We need to reduce the friction that users experience when they are trying to access information, create a campaign for information security literacy, and develop mature security practices. 

Journals in Flux: The Evolving Role of LIS Publishing

Michael Fernandez from Yale University, editor of Library Resources and Technical Service (LRTS) and Courtney McAllister from Atypon, editor of The Serials Librarian and Serials Review noted that most manuscripts submitted for publication in a journal need some level of revision. Here are some editorial responsibilities

The landscape of journals is shifting. New kinds of content are appearing, with more book reviews and short articles. We want to shorten the time between submission and publication. 

What is happening now? What is changing? 

Authorship: How to get manuscripts ready for publication and still preserve the author’s voice. How much influence do we as editors exert? We do not want to use too heavy a hand and also make it clear that authors can push back on any suggestions we make. The new challenge now is to align policy and practice.

Readership: Matching journal content to readers’ interests.  Most authors are also readers. Many submissions are now about print-based workflows. How are readers responding to the content? New directions will make journals more dynamic, increase the diversity of authors, and raise issues for school and public libraries (such as book challenges and book bans), and collection development. The future will include more diverse authors, a faster publication cycle, more variety in content types (case studies, interviews, etc.), and integration of peer review exposure into LIS curricula.

Measuring ROI on Shared e-Book Purchases

Kathleen Carlisle Fountain from Oxford University Press (OUP), said that consortial e-book agreements are a large part of their business. They share access, discovery, purchasing, and collections with a consortium and try to make deals that are mutually beneficial to everyone, while protecting the ability to do scholarly research and giving authors an expanded audience for their works. Here are components of a good consortial deal.

Case studies:

  • OUP and the Big 10 Academic Alliance 

Participants buy content as it is released. Every institution owns every title forever, even if the deal eventually falls apart.  

  • Amy Fry, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) described the Consortium of Academic Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI), a group of 128 academic libraries in Illinois, has an Evidence-Based Acquisition (EBA) program which buys individual titles that they own in perpetuity. Features of CARLI:

Data Collection to determine prices for the agreements with consortia:

List prices of the books were obtained from GOBI. OUP publishes about 1,200 e-books and releases them 3 times/year. The consortia price paid per institution is much lower than the list price. The use rate at each institution is low, but total use rate is higher because different institutions use different books. Users have different needs, so as a book stays in the collection, the usage of each one increases over time. Branch campus book use is low, but putting their books into the consortium is at no cost to them. Books on all subjects are being used, but there are some that OUP could publish more in (e.g. biology). 

Benefits to OUP of the consortial book agreements:

These agreements take a long time to negotiate. OUP wants steady revenue and works hard to get consortia revenue to the right amount. There is latent value in books that have not been used. Cataloging and discovery are important to drive usage. 

Perspectives on Open Access in the Humanities: Exposing the Challenges in Transitioning to Open From a Variety of Viewpoints

John McDonald, Product Manager at EBSCO noted that OA is growing over time for most publishers, but there are barriers to OA in the humanities:

Costs of publishing OA are higher for each individual publisher, as shown by APC profiles:

Are transformative agreements the solution? 

Are APCs lower in humanities publishing? A database of over 10,000 articles from nearly 6,000 journals was built and enhanced with APC prices. The result of this analysis showed that APCs are not really lower in the humanities.  Two of 4 publishers appeared to give discounts for humanities, but the other two charged more. Caution must be used in interpreting this data because the database did not have a large number of humanities articles. It is clear, however, that APCs are still quite expensive for humanities scholars.

Seth Russell from Taylor & Francis (T&F) discussed the publisher perspective of OA and noted that T&F publishes mostly social science and humanities journals, the total number of journals published and the number of gold OA journals is increasing. Biological and medical science journals publish the majority of OA articles.  

In 2022, 26 titles, all of them in medical or science and technology disciplines, have been converted to OA. Considerations in converting–must ensure that journals remain sustainable and continue to serve the needs of the research community.

Here are some considerations in converting a journal to OA:

The main considerations are that the journals remain sustainable and continue to serve the needs of the research community. Conversions of sci-tech and medical journals to OA have been very successful; primarily because of a large number of OA submissions, a strong Editorial Board support for OA, and a need for OA in their subject area. Some journals were not as successful because their authors objected to paying to publish, diminishing support of editors, and the time and effort needed to convert. 

Michael Levine-Clark, Dean of Libraries at the University of Denver, said that 88% of their articles are in the humanities and social sciences (HSS) and were published by T&F; only 6 articles are OA. The university maintains an OA Publication Equity Fund which provides up to $3,000 to authors if no other funding is available, with the requirement that their article be published in a fully open journal. Some researchers believe strongly in OA and will use whatever funding is available to make their articles open, or their discipline has only hybrid journals so they are not eligible for the university’s funding. Others would rather spend research funding on supporting research by students and postdoctoral work. Here are some observations on these issues:

  • Fewer articles per journal in HSS makes it harder for APCs to drive revenue,
  • Journal subscription costs are lower in HSS,
  • Funding is scarce in HSS,
  • HSS scholars publish fewer articles in their careers, and
  • Articles are often less important than books in HSS.

Closing Keynote: Leveraging Technology for Inclusive Libraries: A Exploration of Identity Literacy

Michael Brown

Michael Brown, a MLIS student, at the University of South Carolina and a Ph.D. student at Clemson University presented the closing keynote on facets of our identity: what has shaped our identity and the person we want to be. We define identity literacy as readers’ proficiency and willingness to engage in the meaning systems embedded within texts and to consider adopting them as part of their own personal meaning system within which they define themselves and their relation to the world. How would you describe yourself? Every part of you matters; multiple aspects have turned into a single person. Educators are doing the foundational work of propelling users into our spaces. Education theory says that readers or users know the meaning of what they are looking at. Literacy is more than reading and writing; what you are reading is about you, and you are not in isolation. We must focus on action research, not just idle theories. How can we expect you to interact with a user whom you have never met before?

If we have problems and do not address them, what is the purpose of them? A library is not just a building; it is a home. We must be on the cutting edge of knowledge so we can serve our users. When we look at metadata, we have taken the trouble to understand our knowledge and access resources. Most first-generation students do not have that. We need to break things down and make collections accessible so that users can make our materials as accessible as possible. There is a power of standing together; if we can keep the line strong, our users will grow and our systems will flourish. We need to make certain that information is readily available to users. For many children, the public library is their safe space. Brown proposed the concept of identity literacy as an equitable, diverse and inclusive conceptual lens with which to frame the purpose and practice of display making, collection acquisition, training, and outreach in library science moving forward.


  1. Bookstein, A., “Sources of Error in Library Questionnaires”, Library Research, Vol. 4, 85-94, (1982)

Donald T. Hawkins is a conference blogger and information industry freelance writer. He blogs and writes about conferences for Information Today, Inc. (ITI) and The Charleston Information Group, LLC (publisher of Against The Grain). He maintains the Conference Calendar on the ITI website). He contributed a chapter to the book Special Libraries: A Survival Guide (ABC-Clio, 2013) and is the Editor of Personal Archiving: Preserving Our Digital Heritage (Information Today, 2013) and Co-Editor of Public Knowledge: Access and Benefits (Information Today, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of California, Berkeley and has worked in the online information industry for over 50 years.


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