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RBMS Seminars Committee Meeting Minutes - 2014 Annual Meeting, Las Vegas

RBMS Seminars Committee Meeting

ALA Annual 2014 - Las Vegas

Saturday, June 28th

Las Vegas Convention Center - N238

1-2:30 pm


Attending:  Jennifer Borderud (Baylor University), Heather Smedberg (UC San Diego), Elspeth Healey (University of Kansas), Melissa Nykanen (Pepperdine University), Katie Henningsen (University of Puget Sound), Anne Bahde (Oregon State University), Mattie Taormina (Stanford University), Sarah Horowitz (Haverford College), John Overholt (Harvard University), Lois Fischer Black (Lehigh University), Michael Inman (New York Public Library), Sara Logue (Emory University), Jennifer Schaffner (OCLC Research), Julie Grob (University of Houston), Marlayna Christensen (UC San Diego), Danielle Culpepper (Rare Book School), Molly Dotson (Yale University), Laura Micham (Duke University), Colleen Thiesen (University of Iowa), Leah Richardson (University of Chicago), Mark Greenberg (Western Washington University), Alex Johnston (University of Delaware), Marilyn Rackley (Atlas Systems), Hjordis Halvorson (Newberry Library)


I.  Those attending the meeting introduced themselves.  Friedman-Shedlov volunteered to act as recorder.


II.  Minutes of the January Midwinter meeting were approved.


III.  Chairs Borderud and Smedberg thanked those rotating off the committee for their service.


IV.  The chairs asked for general comments on the 2014 seminars.  It was noted that a couple of the seminars (Publishing for Professional Growth and the Future of the Special Collections Professional) experimented with different, more interactive formats this year, and that this was well-received. It was suggested that this type of format is especially suited to the afternoon time slots. 


In response to a question from a first-time attendee asking for more clarification on what defines an RBMS Preconference seminar, chairs Borderud and Smedberg explained that they are first and foremost intended to be educational in nature, rather than just reportative.  Micham added that they may or may not focus on the conference theme.  Others commented that it is important to ensure that the content among speakers is not redundant, and that plenty of time is left for Q & A. It was noted that many speakers this year were not RBMS members or were new to RBMS and may not have been as familiar with the format of RBMS seminars.  It is important for the seminar liaison to clarify this.  A recommendation was made that each seminar plan for 30 minutes of time for Q & A.  It was also highly recommended that seminar participants and liaisons have at least a couple of phone conversations/conferences as a group, so that speakers know what the other participants will be covering. Schaffner suggested that this be written up as a best practice. 


Several people commented on how helpful the A.V. staff person from Bally’s was, and requested our thanks be conveyed for the excellent service.


Greenberg commented that it was extremely helpful that funding was made available to facilitate bringing in some speakers who are not RBMS members. Others agreed this was critical to the success in recruiting speakers for seminars.


V.  The committee reviewed the proposed seminars for the 2015 Preconference:


Culpepper and Micham, 2015 Preconference co-chairs, said that there will likely be 11-13 seminar slots, as evaluations show they are a major attraction for attendees.  They may experiment with having more concurrent break-out sessions, as attendees have requested smaller, more intimate sessions.  Liaisons need to be sure to communicate appropriate expectations about audience size to speakers. 


It was noted that more concurrent sessions means harder choices for attendees.  Henningson asked whether more would be recorded.  Greenberg also noted that careful groupings of sessions so that they appeal to different audiences is also helpful, when possible. 


Culpepper and Micham also emphasized the importance of moderators keeping speakers to time limits to ensure Q & A time. 


1. Curating Relevance:  Engaged Collection Development

Greenberg mentioned that his interest was particularly piqued by the idea that the seminar would discuss use of demographic data. 


2.  Ladies and Gentlemen, Put Your Hands Together:  Successful Technical Services and Public Services Collaboration. 

Friedman-Shedlov wondered whether the seminar would be dealing with rare books/special collections or archival materials, or, ideally, both.  Henningson asked if it would touch on the impact of MPLP (More Product/Less Process).  Greenberg asked for some clarification on whether the focus would be on best practices based on organizational structure or on organizational culture.


3.  Collaborative Instruction in Special Collections:  Methods, Means and Modes

Henningson noted that they hope to diversify by looking for someone from a small and/or non-academic institution as the third speaker. Others suggested it might be helpful to have the third speaker be a faculty member who has worked with a librarian or archivist on such a collaboration.  Others suggested it would be helpful to clarify whether the seminar would be discussing collaboration specifically in the context of semester-long course collaborations or “embedded”-type arrangements, as opposed to one-off collaborations. 


4.  Fugitive Bits:  Taking born Digital Records from Up in the Clouds Down to Earth

Taorima asked if there would be much focus on use/access, which is mentioned in the seminar proposal.  Friedman-Shedlov explained that the seminar would focus on our actual experiences thus far, which don’t yet include much in the way of use.  It was suggested that the additional speaker(s) include someone from an institution who could address this aspect, since use informs so many other decisions. UC Irvine, which has set up a “virtual reading room,” was suggested as a possible place to check.   Taorima also suggested contacting SAA DAS workshop organizers for suggestions of potential speakers. Friedman-Shedlov emphasized that the session is intended to focus on the more typical practices that are being developed to deal with electronic records, rather than edge cases.  Henningson suggested looking for a speaker from a smaller institution.


5.  Blurring the Lines Between special collections and Area Studies:  Affinities, Collaborations and Integrations

There was some concern that few RBMS members work in environments where collections are organized around area studies, so make sure to make it relevant.  It was suggested that “bridging” would be a better word that “blurring.”   Other comments were:  Be more explicit about what affinities, collaborations, and integrations will be discussed and will the seminar address spectrums of models, structural questions, or regional and linguistic differences within existing structures.  Others commented that this topic could be the basis for an overall conference program theme.


6.  Transferring Stewardship of Cultural Heritage Treasures:  Survival, Adoption, Sale, and Abandonment of Rare Collections and Unique Materials

Schaffner said she is working with Cynthia Buffington of Philadelphia Archives and Manuscripts.  Several people offered suggestions of relevant case studies, including the Water Resources Collections at UC Riverside and the Rosenbach collections at the Free Library of Philadelphia.  Others suggested the seminar be sure to address issues with alumni and administrators, as well as the public perception. 


7.  Make it Work: Creative Solutions to Common Problems

Lots of support for this idea, which should provide practical take-aways for attendees from small and large repositories alike.  Culpepper suggested that at least two liaisons be assigned to this seminar, as pecha kucha sessions require a lot of work to organize.  It was also suggested that the call for potential speakers be opened to people from both small and medium-sized institutions.


8.  To Every Book Its Reader:  A User-Driven Manifesto

Inspired by the ITHAKA S+R reports on users’ experiences doing research with collections, Call explained that the idea is to present small, practical fixes that are simple and inexpensive to implement.  She would like to assemble at least 100 different such practical ideas and already has a substantial list.  There was some concern over whether there would be enough time for four speakers.  Others suggested this session might work well as pecha kucha.


9. Publishers’ Archives: From Acquisition to Access

Greenberg wondered whether the focus on records of large publishers would be too specific/not of great enough interest beyond the participating speakers.  Others suggested the appeal might be broadened by including one speaker who could discuss small publishers’ collections and/or smaller repositories. 


10.  Mess is Lore:  Navigating the Unwieldy World of Social Media. 

Lots of support for this idea.   Thiessen explained that they don’t want to pin down too many details too early, as the social media arena changes rapidly. Friedman-Shedlov suggested that the seminar be sure to focus on potential pitfalls and solutions, not just on what platforms are being used and how.   Taorima emphasized the importance for all to learn from what Thiessen and Overholt are doing in this arena. It was also suggested that the speakers include someone from a smaller institution.


11.  Collaboration Between Special Collections Catalogers and Scholars.

Nelson withdrew this proposal, as she doesn’t have time right now to organize it.


12.  Digital Humanities and Special Collections:  New Tools, Challenges, and Opportunities

It was suggested that the speakers include a “post-DH” voice (reflecting the fact that increasingly, “digital humanities” is just the new “humanities.”


13.  Rare Book “Hack and Yack”:  Hands-On Research Use of Bibliographic Metadata

It was suggested that there wouldn’t really be enough time during a regular seminar slot for what is proposed, but it might work to have a seminar followed by a separate hack-a-thon in a classroom.  Students from Berkeley could be recruited. 


14.  Collection Development as Eldercare:  Tips for Working with Aging Donors

There was support for this seminar but some question about the title.  The group thought that a panel including a librarian, an elder law attorney, and an elder care worker as mentioned in the proposal would be very interesting. 


Lois Fischer Black said the Security Committee plans to submit a proposal on revisions to the security guidelines, security in the classroom, and efforts to reach smaller institutions.


VI.  The chairs noted that they will follow up with those who proposed seminars regarding the questions raised by the committee.  There will be time to tweak and revise proposals.  Then in August they will be sent out to committee members for a vote. 


VII.  The meeting adjourned at 2:30 pm.