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Martha's Blog

Welcome! It’s my privilege to work with people who make a difference — people across the University and across the Library who help people to learn, think, discover and do. My blog is intended to keep these people informed about key matters I’m engaged in on their behalf. Together, we develop information resources and services that inspire learning, spark creativity and build community.

Library Update – September 19, 2014

Posted on September 19th, 2014 in Library updates

Much of this week has had an external focus for me, but first, an update on some local matters.

At the Provost-Deans group meeting this week I described our Public Services Renewal project, the central topic for our all staff meetings at the beginning of last week. Our consultant, Rebecca Jones, has been reviewing the feedback accumulated from those meetings, the subsequent drop-in sessions, and comments sent to her directly, as she works on her final report. Discussions of implementation planning began with the PSR project group last week as well.

The Queen’s Research Data Centre Advisory Committee met this week and heard the very interesting observations of researchers who have relied on the QRDC. Their stories were striking examples of how an awareness of available information, such as data sets, is crucial to both sparking and answering research questions.

The Information Services and Technology Faculty Advisory Committee had its first meeting of the academic year last Monday. Topics included a draft procedure for de-provisioning IT access privileges when an employee leaves the University, a draft procedure relating to the authorization required for providing access in exceptional circumstances to an employee’s IT resources such as email, calendar, etc., and cloud-based collaboration and productivity services for Queen’s faculty and staff. Materials are posted on the Committee’s website.

The Information and Communications Working Group of the Queen’s Accessibility Framework caught up on various topics last week, including the work that ITServices has been doing to support website accessibility compliance and the Library’s plans to address details relating to the upcoming AODA requirement to make available accessible or conversion ready format of print-based resources or materials, upon request. For the latter, Library Services for Students with Disabilities will be providing recommendations to the Library Leadership Team this fall.

A meeting of the Campus Community Appeal co-chairs was a nice opportunity to reflect on the reasons people want to give back to Queen’s. We talked about ways to thank the hundreds of faculty, staff and retirees who make a gift to an area where they feel it is most needed. It has certainly been a pleasure for me, in my role as faculty co-chair, to see people from the Library at various thank you events.

Now, externally… between the CARL Board meeting in Ottawa on Monday, a CARL-CRKN Board teleconference on Tuesday, the CANARIE Summit on Wednesday and Thursday, and the CARL Project ARC meeting today, it has been a very Canadian week.  The CANARIE Summit, which I attended on behalf of CARL, was illuminating as a fairly new community for me, and opened new conversations about Project ARC and the Canadian digital infrastructure landscape.

I also engaged in a bit of cross-border activity this week with the inaugural teleconference of an ARL group relating to the recent Strategic Thinking and Design process.  The ARL Board appointed a small transition team (Brian Schottlaender (UC-San Diego), Anne Kenny (Cornell) and myself) to provide an assessment of the existing ARL committee structure and recommendations on new structures to engage the membership and move forward with the new ‘system of action’ framework that emerged from the design process. It’s quite fascinating to consider how an organization shifts its focus from supporting activities within each of its member institutions to facilitating cross-institutional collaboration and cross-sector engagement. I’ll look forward to sharing the reports with you in the coming months.

Relevant to this ARL work, and strategic change in any organization, is an interesting research project that two students in the Queen’s School of Business have discussed with me. They’re looking at the impact of ‘imprinting’ on organizational strategic change.  The idea is that the basic characteristics of every organization – its structures, values, roles, and relationships – are influenced by its history. They see the Library as an ideal context for exploring questions relating to the impact of imprinting, noting that the organization has existed since the university’s founding in 1841 and has experienced numerous periods of technological and organizational change during its history. When their research plans are confirmed they’ll provide information I can circulate for your interest.

I hope you’re looking forward to a lovely September weekend. Mine includes a joint Board-Senate retreat on the topic of the broader student learning experience within a changing post-secondary environment, and the opening of the Isabel.  A proud moment for Queen’s!

QUL People: Paul Clifford

Posted on September 12th, 2014 in QUL People

This summer, Paul Clifford asked me about the profiles I did in 2012-13. Will there be more?  Good idea, I said. May I interview you? Paul was keen, and a new series has begun! This round is going to involve three easy questions.

Where are you from?

Paul grew up in Kingston, near Centre and Union, just blocks away from where he now works.  He notes that had he gone straight to Queen’s after high school his entire education would have been on Union Street – first Queen’s daycare, then Victoria Public School, then ‘Winston at Victoria’ (a facilities issue in the new Winston Churchill school sent students back to the old school), then KCVI.  Paul is also from another Victoria, in British Columbia, where he earned a computing certificate and worked in programming and graphic design for 7 years, and Toronto, where he did a B.A. at the University of Toronto, and Japan, where he taught English for 3 years before returning to Kingston and a B.Ed. degree at Queen’s.

What might some people not know about you?

Paul’s work with us has its roots in exploring computers as he was growing up, but also in a desire to support another serious interest — music. He has played the bass professionally since he was 16, wherever he has lived. Music and academic interests took him to the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music, for its jazz and academic strengths, and there he met his wife, a percussionist from Japan. They’ve been together 10 years and have an 18 month old son. Music also turned Paul into a teacher — during his university years, for example, he enjoyed teaching groups of teenagers how to play in a band. Music was also a large part of his experience in Japan, where jazz is big. And music continues to take him places. Paul observes that it was through the music community in Kingston that he heard about the Library. (If you’d like to hear Paul play, check out the Gene Smith Quartet, Friday October 3, St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 5:00-5:45pm.)

Why the Library?

After teaching for a while at St. Lawrence College, Paul took advantage of an opportunity to work at Queen’s, providing first-level support at the ITServices help desk and then doing design work in Health Sciences’ Continuing Professional Development. He saw the Library as another great opportunity. He likes the ease of engaging, and he finds it interesting to consider our information roles in relation to the worlds of information architecture and web design. He notes that it has similarities to his experience with databases, where the process of normalization requires the ability to think about big categories of things and how they’re connected to each other. The Library also matches his values, including being committed to something you care about. It may also help that his very first job ever was as a page at the Kingston Frontenac Public Library, and he worked in Douglas Library as a teenager! We’re glad you’re with us again Paul.

Suggestions for this QUL People series? Contact Kathy Christmas. Thanks! Martha

Library Update – September 5, 2014

Posted on September 5th, 2014 in Library updates

At the end of orientation week many of us feel a strange combination of energy and fatigue — it’s so great to see the students back, but it’s also such a busy time. Thank you all for the part you play in creating a welcoming environment for our students on the campus, in our libraries and at our service points, physical and virtual.

This week we also welcomed the new Bader International Study Centre librarian, Sarah Butler, on her first visit to Queen’s. Sarah is joining BISC at an exciting time, as a new first year foundations program is beginning. She tells me she has greatly appreciated learning about our roles here in the student learning experience and research enterprise, and has been very impressed. I try to see things through a visitor’s eye every day, but it helps to have an opportunity to spend time with one for several days. It underscores what I truly believe — that it’s such an honour to be part of this great university and working with such wonderful people.

People. At the all staff meetings next week, we’ll be handing out a new organizational chart designed to show every person in the Library and Archives on one page. I hope to see you all at one of the meetings, to celebrate the successes of last year, to look forward to the one ahead, and to talk together about our future together as we review the recommendations of the Public Services Renewal project.  Meanwhile, enjoy the campus today and the weekend.

Library Update – August 22, 2014

Posted on August 22nd, 2014 in Library updates

Spotted on campus last weekend, the first sure sign of the new school year — a small group of happy people learning the Oil Thigh on the steps of the old Victoria School. It made me grin as I rode downtown. There are many things I love about Queen’s, some embodied in the fact that it has a school anthem that makes strangers link arms and laugh. Some even learn the words! I decided to celebrate with a new ringtone.

The Library Leadership Team caught up on many activities yesterday, and welcomed Anne Smithers as acting Coordinator of Collection Development. Here are the key items to note.

Implementation steps for the Library and Archives Master Plan have been outlined in an update for the chair of the Campus Planning Advisory Committee.  This includes terms of reference for an implementation advisory committee with a focus on engagement with key stakeholders. We’re now looking for a librarian and a library technician to serve on this committee. Please let me know by September 5th if you’re interested.

The Accessibility Services Self-Study has been completed and the Report recommendations are being reviewed by the Operations Review Committee on Monday. It will then go to VPOC for approval of recommendations regarding mandates and reporting relationships, and the operating budget requests will go to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Budget. For the Library, the key recommendations are that the Adaptive Technology Centre (ATC) expand its mandate beyond students and report to the Library, with appropriate funding, and that the Accessibility Hub Coordinator be an ongoing position physically located in the ATC.

The Public Services Renewal project is reaching the recommendations stage and will be the focus of our first All Staff Meeting of the new academic year. I’ll also do a brief reminder of the strategic priorities set in our 2014-15 to 2016-17 planning. Mark your calendars now to attend one of the sessions (each the same): Monday September 8, 1:00pm, or Tuesday September 9, 9:30am.

Last but definitely not least – what a fantastic morning we had on Tuesday with Kaleidoscope!  It was such a pleasure to listen to stimulating thoughts that drive our work. A big thank you to all who presented, to our guest speaker Dr. W. George Lovell and to our organizer Gillian Akenson. I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Library Update – August 8, 2014

Posted on August 8th, 2014 in Library updates

This is a brief update following vacation and a short week, but I do have a few items of note. First, I want to thank all those who acted swiftly to limit the damage in the significant leak in Stauffer Library on Tuesday evening, and all those involved in the cleanup.  It’s always good to see the support we receive from the university’s infrastructure as well as the dedication of our library staff, including the student casuals who immediately moved collections out of harm’s way. Well done, everyone.

Yesterday we learned that the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) has made public the Strategic Mandate Agreements (SMAs) it has negotiated with Ontario’s universities and colleges.  The Queen’s SMA is now posted on MTCU’s website, and the university’s announcement is on the Queen’s News Centre.  I encourage you to read the SMA, alongside the Strategic Framework, both of which provide important guidance for the library in relation to the university’s academic mission.

The Teaching and Learning Working Group recently held a workshop on designing tutorials, which supports one of our 2014-15 objectives, to “Transform Queen’s University Library’s virtual environment of information services and resources as one of the differentiating assets of Queen’s online learning programs, and Queen’s learning and research as a whole.”  Notes from the workshop are on the TLWG page at http://staff.library.queensu.ca/group/teachlearn/workshop17-designing-online-tutorials.

Moments after looking at the TLWG materials, it was intriguing to receive from an ARL colleague a link to this 1945 instructional film on how to use the library at UC Berkeley: https://archive.org/details/cubanc_000081.  As well as being a lovely study in the evolution of media and instruction, I found it interesting in the context of our public services renewal project. It’s a reminder that our current model stems from the pre-digital world of decades past – the card catalogue, the stack, the reference collection, etc. – but also that our core information business never changes. Persevere through the film and you’ll hear the final words: “In this way you will be able to take full advantage of the rich intellectual resources which have been placed at your disposal.”

I was asked yesterday by a visiting colleague, what do I want from our new public services model?  I want touch points designed specifically for today’s realm of rich intellectual resources, not the library of 1945. I want everyone touching us to know that information – awareness, accessibility, curation, preservation – is our business. I want a model designed specifically for Queen’s, the Canadian research-intensive university with a transformative student learning experience. The ‘bottom line’ – I want to make the very best use of our resources with an effective operational model befitting our talented people.

Have a great weekend, talented people!

Library Update – July 25, 2014

Posted on July 25th, 2014 in Library updates

The quiet of the summer campus is deceptive – underneath is a hive of activity.  As I go about conversations and work on various initiatives, it’s always interesting to see the combination of coordination and creativity that people use to make good things happen. Matters in the works right now include:

  • summarizing the Library’s accomplishments of the 2013-14 academic year, in alignment with the priorities we set in our annual plan, and working with Marketing on an annual report;
  • positioning the priorities we set last fall for 2014-15 to align with the Queen’s Strategic Framework approved by the Board this spring;
  • drafting the budget plan for 2015-16 to 2017-18, supporting the Queen’s Strategic Framework;
  • developing further details regarding LAMP implementation stages, working with Campus Planning;
  • working with the Provost and Advancement on fundraising strategy;
  • drafting a Library marketing and communications plan, with Marketing and Communications;
  • planning for the summer and fall phase of further e-reserves service implementation;
  • looking forward to the recommendations of the Public Services Renewal project.

Watch for communications on these and other matters in coming weeks, as well as a date for the first All Staff meeting of the new academic year in the second week of September.  Meanwhile, remember to sign up for one of the Public Services Renewal project’s ‘Draft the Dream & Design’ sessions. Click here to e-register for either the July 30 or August 6 session!

In other planning, you may be interested in two recent campus initiatives.  Several colleagues and I are helping facilitate a study of the Union Gallery to explore options for a sustainable future, following its recent loss of student fee funding. And further afield, a space planning project has been approved for the Bader International Study Centre that will include application of the LINQ (Library Information Network at Queen’s) concept.

The Library Leadership Team met with Wenyan Wu recently in his internationalization specialist role to share updates on the Matariki Humanities Network and ICACBR initiatives and the portfolio of the new Associate Vice-Principal International, Kathy O’Brien.  In my recent meeting with Kathy, she invited Library representation on Queen’s University International Programs Committee, where information is shared on partnerships and initiatives of various units. It was agreed that Wenyan will join the committee.

Externally, it’s a busy period of participating in the search for a new Executive Director for CARL and working on various aspects of CARL’s Project ARC and Research Data Canada. Last week I was pleased to be asked by SSHRC to serve on a small advisory committee formed by the federal funding agencies to provide input on consultations around the draft common (TC3+) Data Management Policy expected this fall.

Speaking of hives… Friday was a vacation day for me and a visit to Prince Edward County, including the irresistibly named Honey Pie Hives & Herbals. And honey reminds me of Winnie the Pooh, which reminds me of a favourite set of lines:

“What day is it?” asked Pooh.

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.

“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

Have a good one!

Library Update – July 11, 2014

Posted on July 11th, 2014 in Library updates

Good beautiful morning! I’m on the train to Toronto for a meeting with members of the Ontario Council of University Libraries (OCUL) Executive. The staff are as friendly and helpful as always, the view out the window is beautiful and the passengers are happy. One of my favourite ways to travel and work!

The last couple of weeks have flown by with a few days vacation at the end of the Canada Day week and some small blocks of time for the many planning-related activities of the summer interspersed with interesting meetings. Included in the planning-related activities are thoughts about our annual Fall all staff meeting, which I again hope will be an opportunity for ideas sharing. Your ideas in advance are welcome as well!

At the beginning of the week I met with our new Associate Vice-Principal International, Kathy O’Brien, to share introductory overviews and talk about the intersections of our portfolios. Next steps include a meeting with our international specialist Wenyan Wu.

One of the highlights of my week was being a guest in a seminar with the class enrolled in the BISC Digital Humanities Field School. They were at the castle and Shelley King and I joined by videoconference. The topic was fascinating to me – theories of ‘the archive’ in its broadest sense – and I was very impressed with the observations of some of the students. I learned a lot in preparing and participating, and look forward to sharing it (succinctly!) at Kaleidoscope in August.

A recent highlight for the Library as a whole has been this improvement in user service:  as of June 24, Collections Management and Services (CMS) has begun filling interlibrary loan (ILL) requests using Relais, an ILL system that is also now in use at many other OCUL institutions.  Relais improves upon our existing Ariel ILL system by allowing us to quickly scan and deliver requested documents to users via a secure website, providing faster and more convenient service to our users.  In the relatively short time since we’ve gone live, we’ve filled 140 ILL requests using Relais.  Special thanks to Nicola Sikkema for her work in Discovery Technology and Services (DTS) and CMS to install and configure the Relais system and to provide training and support as we went live with this new system.  With the system live at the ILL service point in Stauffer Library, the next step will be to introduce it for ILL users at west campus in the Education Library.

Have a lovely summer weekend!

Library Update – June 27, 2014

Posted on June 27th, 2014 in Library updates

We’ve moved from spring to summer since my last update, good timing for the theme of ‘renewal’ introduced by our Public Services Renewal project consultant, Rebecca Jones. It was good to see so many people at the all staff meetings this week, where Rebecca provided an overview of the process now under way. You can find the Project Plan, Timeline and Overview presentation on the Public Services Renewal page on the Library Staff Web.

At the beginning of this week we had our “Queen’s Senate 101” all staff session with University Secretary Lon Knox. He has made his slides available, and welcomes any follow-up questions or suggestions.

At the beginning of last week the Queen’s Research Data Centre (QRDC) Advisory Committee met to review the past academic year. There’s considerable interest in promoting the services of the QRDC to researchers who may not be aware of what it has to offer. Shortly after the meeting we learned that two QRDC researchers are this year’s recipients of the John Vanderkamp Prize for the best article in Canadian Public Policy, a very nice piece of promotion indeed! (See further information).

I attended the McGill Queen’s University Press Board meeting last week as well.  The Fall 2014 catalogue is out, with some stunning publications.

In LAMP matters… In a teleconference last Friday, representatives of the five institutions working on the Downsview shared print storage facility project agreed on several next steps for determining policies, the business model and operational details. Here at Queen’s, I’ve had meetings recently with Advancement, Campus Planning, Marketing and Communications to discuss various aspects of implementation. This summer will see a significant push on several supportive elements such as identification of sub-projects, recruitment of a project manager and development of a communications plan.

The Library Leadership Team meeting last week included Suzanne Maranda and Paola Durando presenting their recommendations regarding library support for the BHPI-CRP (Bangladesh Health Professionals Institute – Centre for the Rehabilitation of the Paralysed), working with the ICACBR (International Centre for the Advancement of Community Based Rehabilitation) at Queen’s. The LLT noted the strategic importance of ICACBR projects, and discussed the need to establish internationalization priorities in the context of the Library’s Standard Service Level Definitions.The inclusion of internationalization as a strategic driver in Queen’s Strategic Framework, and the recent appointment of the new Associate Vice-Principal International provide opportunities to begin addressing these matters.

The annual Heads planning session was held yesterday. As I’m sure you’re aware, the Library’s strategic planning aligns with the University’s Strategic Framework. On an annual cycle, we review activities of the previous academic year, look at opportunities and risks, affirm priorities for the current academic year, and establish priorities and service levels for the next multi-year budget and plan. The agenda for this year’s session, including advance input, is posted on the OUL section of the LIbrary staff web. This event begins the process of drafting reports and plans over the summer and input from all staff in the Fall.

The Accessibility Services Self-Study team concluded interviews last week and began compiling the results today. We expect to have a report with recommendations ready this summer to inform budget plans to be submitted in September.

If you haven’t had a chance to look at the OCUL Collaborative Futures Planning – Next Steps document that I emailed out last week, see the OCUL Collaborative Futures wiki space. This is an ambitious OCUL project and there will be many opportunities to be involved. We are moving forward immediately to initiate the first step associated with the timeline – recruitment of a Collaborative Futures Project Manager.

OCUL recently received an invitation to respond to the Ontario Online Steering Committee’s consultation framework leading to the establishment of Ontario Online as a not-for-profit corporation by this coming Fall. OCUL’s response provides background on OCUL’s mandate and activities in the context of online learning and offers suggestions for clarity on a number of matters relevant to the consortium (and our work at Queen’s).

As you enjoy the warmth of the coming months, keep in mind that one of my summer projects is to resume my Library People profiles, so if you are interested in participating, please let me know.

Library Update – June 13, 2014

Posted on June 13th, 2014 in Library updates

Our vision of ‘library’ was very much on my mind last week at the Bader International Study Centre at Herstmonceux Castle, UK, where I was helping with the selection of a new librarian. We emphasized to all involved that the scope of responsibility of the new position is far, far broader than what is thought of there as ‘the library’ – two lovely small rooms with books and a view of the garden. The new librarian will be working closely with faculty on development of the new first year program, information literacy learning outcomes in all programs, embedding information services in the virtual learning environment, exploration of e-text options, linkages to Queen’s virtual library, digital humanities research and other undergraduate and faculty research programs, and broadly speaking the learning and study space needs of students and faculty. In thinking about updating the existing library spaces, the context is the castle as learning commons. In the presentations I give about the evolution of great libraries, I often start with the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, noting that the ancient Library of Alexandria is thought to have been an early version of the modern university, including collections and reading rooms, meeting and lecture rooms, shared eating space and gardens. This intertwining of the concepts of libraries and learning in the campus fabric was very much part of our thinking in LAMP and it will be at the castle as well.

And now, since I only deal in virtual souvenirs, here’s a little digital humanities treat from England… if you’re interested in memes, Victorians and/or jokes, click on this link!

Speaking of LAMP, I’m meeting next week with the Provost and the Vice-Principal (Advancement) to discuss aspects of positioning for Library fundraising, and then we’ll proceed with the LAMP Steering Group included in our transition and implementation plan. As well, discussions are beginning with Campus Planning to identify sub-projects and sequencing.

The Library Leadership Team had a lengthy meeting yesterday to review accomplishments of 2013-14 and actions relating to our 2014-15 budget submission – priorities section.  At the Heads retreat on June 26th we’ll review the 2014-15 priorities for public posting, and we’ll begin discussing priorities for the 2015-16 annual budget plan.

One of the things I’m most looking forward to in our 2014-15 activities is the thinking that everyone will engage in with our public services renewal project. It will be a pleasure to welcome Rebecca Jones next week as she begins her work with all of us.

Have a great Friday and weekend! (I’ll be back in England virtually, via some books – in visiting Monk’s House and Charleston, I picked up a bit of a Bloomsbury bug!)

Library Update – May 30, 2014

Posted on May 30th, 2014 in Library updates

Congratulations to Nancy McCormack, who has been honoured by the Canadian Association of Law Libraries with the 2014 Denis Marshall Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Librarianship, presented on May 26 at the CALL annual conference. The award is bestowed upon a current member of the Canadian Association of Law Libraries who has provided outstanding service to the Association and/or enhanced the profession of law librarianship in the recent past. The award also honours a former Queen’s Law Librarian, Denis Marshall, whom many of you will remember well.

Queen’s first Data Day was a great way to begin this week. I heard very positive feedback from people who attended from various departments on campus and can imagine strong interest in similar events going forward. Congratulations to the organizing committee. My data day continued Monday afternoon with a visit to the CANARIE office in Ottawa where I participated in delivering a virtual workshop on the Research Data Canada pilot projects to support data management plans.

In my brief remarks in the opening panel at Data Day I mentioned an organization called DataKind to engage people in thinking about data as a public good and some of the reasons for the culture of stewardship we promote in libraries. For a treat, watch a TEDxTalk delivered by DataKind founder Jack Porway back in 2012, on big data in the service of humanity.

The Senate Library Committee’s Annual Report 2013-2014 was on the May 27th Senate agenda, for information. There were no questions. I’d like to thank Sandra Halliday for her service as Secretary to the Senate Library Committee this year, and everyone who spoke with the committee on its agenda topics .

The Provost has circulated information about budget planning for the three years beginning 2015-16; see the 2015-16 Budget Planning site and related Queen’s news items. All shared services have received their budget instructions. In the Library we begin our planning with a heads meeting in June and present our budget to the Provost’s Advisory Committee on Budget in September.

The Library Leadership Team agenda this week included a couple of key initiatives. We discussed the idea of supporting collections assessment with a visible program such as Trent University Library’s Subscription Review Initiative and agreed that it meshes well with 2014-15 strategic directions and the budget planning process. We also agreed that the Library should participate in a Matariki Network event at Queen’s in 2015, focused on humanities research. Planning for the event is just getting under way.

On OCUL matters, here’s the promised Digest of OCUL Directors 2014 Spring Meeting.

Today I’ll be welcoming donors to a thank you event at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, as part of my work with the Campus Community Appeal. I’m looking forward to a tour of the gallery with David de Witt, Bader Curator of European Art, and Stephanie Dickey, Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art.

The Bader theme continues tonight, as I board a plane for a visit to the Bader International Study Centre next week. I’ll be participating in the interviews for the new librarian and meeting with the University Librarian at nearby University of Sussex, where BISC students have access to the collections.

Enjoy your weekend — what a beautiful time of year!

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