My key takeaways were that you don’t need anyone’s permission to chase your craft. Liz Gilbert oftens tells people that she hands out permission slips. I also learned that everyone has a great story inside of them that is just burning to get out. So may you remember that you don’t need anyone’s permission. You already have all the tools you need to chase your dream, you just need to find your internal barriers and remove them.
Grace and Peace,
Director, MLIS Program
The MLIS Program presents…
WAY Beyond Stonewall:
LGBTQ+ Young Adult Literature
2019 Marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots
This is a good time to look back at the LGBTQ+ young adult literature that has been published since then. From tired tropes to new horizons, Dr. Christine Jenkins will provide a survey of YA literature up to now, and Vee Signorelli will address new developments in trans representations and what young people are looking for today.
Dr. Christine Jenkins is Associate Professor Emerita in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She co-authored (with Michael Cart) The Heart Has Its Reasons: YA Literature with Gay/Lesbian/Queer Content, 1969-2004 (2006); Top 250 LGBTQ Books for Teens (2015); and Representing the Rainbow in YA Literature: LGBTQ+ Content since 1969 (2018). (https://ischool.illinois.edu/people/faculty/cajenkin)
Vee Signorelli is the admin and co-founder of YA Pride (previously known as GayYA.org). Vee is a first-year student at St. Kate’s. They work as a library aide at Highland Park Library and helps Addendum Books at events. Vee hopes to someday become a Teen Services librarian and published author. (http://www.gayya.org/ @findmereading)
For more information, contact Kallie Schell (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Event co-hosted by: St. Catherine University’s Master of Library and Information Science Program and its American Library Association Student Chapter, Progressive Librarians Guild, and Student Governance Organization, YA Pride, and Addendum Books.
Student Perspective: My First Professional Conference Presentation
On March 14, I gave my first professional conference presentation at LibTech 2018. Actually, it was a co-presentation with my husband, Mark. We spoke at LibTech about data visualization principles, and about the difference between pre-attentive and attentive processing. Our presentation, A Bigger Boat: Data Visualization Lessons from the Movies was very well received. We had many attendees tell us how much they enjoyed the session, and we were also given a very positive review in the Minitex News.
Mark and I are HUGE movie fans and the title comes from one of our favorite movies, Jaws. When Chief Brody first sees the shark he backs away from the stern of the Orca and quietly, but certainly, tells Quint, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.” That one line, combined with a terrific delivery by Roy Scheider, packs a great deal of contextual information into six words. Packing meaning into finite space is a key concept in data visualization.
Using a humorous approach and fun movie clips, we explained the basics of how human visual perception works in terms of form, color, spatial position, motion, and gestalt principles of proximity, similarity, enclosure, continuity, and connection. This information is important to know when you are making charts, graphs, or other visual material for reports and presentations — any time that you need to show data to patrons or funders.
Why and how did you choose the topic?
Mark loves talking about data visualization, it’s a big part of his job, so when I attended my first LibTech in 2017 and saw how varied and amazing each session was, I knew we needed to bring this presentation to the 2018 conference. The basics of data visualization, which our presentation covers, seem simple enough once you learn about them. It’s being reminded of what matters in showing data that helps you make better use of the data. As Edward Tufte, statistician and pioneer of data visualization, says “It is not how much information there is, but rather how effectively it is arranged.”
How is the topic of your presentation relevant to librarians and/or library patrons?
I feel good data visualization is important for anyone who needs to show data to someone else. For librarians, this could mean showing budget numbers to a board of directors or highlighting increasing circulation trends for a department head. There will always be a fight for libraries to get the money we need and anything we can do to help the funders and decision makers clearly see why we are important is good for the profession.
Having given the presentation, what advice would you give to any student who wanted to do something similar?
Oh my gosh, present!!!! I was a bit nervous because this was the first professional presentation I have ever been a part of. It was a huge leap to go from a short in-class presentation to 15 fellow grad students to over 100 professionals listening to what I had to say, but it was so worth it. Apart from the connections you can make by meeting people at the conference and after presenting, it is great practice for the real world. LibTech is local; it is a wonderful first step for presenting without the costs of travel.
MLIS Faculty: Make the Web Accessible ~ Applying Inclusive Principles
In collaboration with two MLIS graduates, Laura Hulscher (MLIS 2014) and Rachel Dols (MLIS 2014), I contributed a chapter to a recently published book, Applying Library Values to Emerging Technology: Tips and Techniques for Advancing within Your Mission by the ACRL (Association of College and Research Libraries).
Our chapter was on applying inclusive principles in web design to enhance accessibility. We addressed Web Accessibility as not only a technology competency, but also a diversity competency–both of which are important core competencies defined by the American Library Association (ALA).
We were invited to submit this chapter based on our long journey of research, which started in 2013 with a course project for LIS 7970: Web Accessibility & Usability. The goal was to design a website that everyone would find easy to use, navigate, and locate information, and then verify this through usability and accessibility testing.
Since we were primarily interested in determining the experience of users with limited or no vision (and therefore need to use screen readers to navigate the web), we decided to conduct our usability tests with people who are visually impaired.
It was striking to discover that most areas of library websites were not accessible for patrons who use screen readers! It was an eye-opening experience for us to not only learn about the technological barriers, but also to realize the broader issues around equity and equal access of information on the web.
Afterwards, Laura and Rachel stayed with me to continue producing research results, and we presented our findings at multiple conferences including MLA, ASIST&T and ALISE. We also published two papers–in the Library Quarterly and the Library and Information Science Research journal.
In this piece, I will outline some of the key points of web accessibility and user experience design in LIS.
What is Meant by Accessibility and What are the Barriers?
For example, the menu bar in Figure 1.0 will be read as a list of words of choices users can select from, and the letters A for zooming options will be read as, “A, A, A” to screen reader users.
Hence, this menu bar will make little sense to visually impaired users as it contains no contextual information that would clarify its purpose.
In Figure 1.1, the image on the left shows a page laid out in the HTML table format; the image on the right (indicated by arrows) shows how the left image is interpreted by screen readers.
As you can see, the top table is more confusing for users as it contains many uses of the word graphic mixed in with the [ALT] text that describes its content.
Figure 1.2 shows text that is ambiguous–which makes it difficult for visually impaired users to predict or guess what the link is for when the text is read by a screen reader.
As you can see, here, we would suggest changing the link to “make a research appointment” to help alleviate the confusion.
What Should Librarians Do?
As libraries moved with digital technology, the internet and web became essential means for disseminating information–for everyone for their daily use, as well as for resources and news related to government, employment, medical needs, education, and entertainment, to name a few. It is not solely because we are required to comply with a law (although of course, it is critical to understand the current law), librarians should also be able to support accessibility for all of our patrons because it is one of our responsibilities. To be effective in this regard, we must be aware that certain methods of website design can create barriers for different populations of patrons.
Why is Accessibility a User Experience?
During the presentations of our study, one of our key arguments was that accessibility is not only related to those with disabilities. Web accessibility should be considered as an equal access issue rather than merely a technological one. Information should be accessible and usable to everyone.
The most common accessibility barriers encountered were issues with information architecture and usable web design, rather than errors in coding. According to the American Library Association (ALA), diversity is a cultural competency. It is therefore important for us to uphold that professional value. Like any technology, library websites should be used to provide equitable services to every patron. However, without an inclusive and diverse approach to design, technology can just as easily create access barriers that reinforce the constraints of disability in our society.
Research regarding web accessibility is dynamic–rapidly growing and changing along with the internet. I am excited to see how the LIS community continues to engage with mine and others’ research within this area.
Kyunghye (Konhe) Yoon,
St. Kate’s Libraries: Surviving a System Migration
On May 31st, 2017, the CLIC consortium went live with a new library management system, Ex Libris’ Alma.
After years of discussion, planning, and implementation, the consortium–-whose member libraries include St. Catherine University, Bethel University, Concordia University, Hamline University, University of Northwestern, and University of St. Thomas, finally migrated to a new, next-generation, cloud-based library system that allows for the complete management of print materials, electronic resources, and patron data, all within one interface.
As a newer librarian in the field, I had heard many more experienced library colleagues warn of the terrors of system migrations, yet I was still surprised by the amount of work, stress, and frustration that came with the process. Indeed, the first few days in Alma were taxing, trying, and chaotic! Even now that we have been using the system for over nine months, many in CLIC would still say it is occasionally difficult to get work done.
Not only did library staff have to figure out how to work in different ways, the very nature of Alma – a library management system that manages both print and electronic resources – forced all of us to revisit which aspects of our work have been executed in a certain way only because the systems we were previously using required it.
Fortunately, and unfortunately, we went through the migration and implementation of Alma as a consortium.
The benefits were abundant: we could rely on each other’s expertise and experience, have productive brainstorming sessions to resolve issues, and distribute work between all members so less had to be accomplished at individual institutions.
However, there were also drawbacks. CLIC member libraries range in size and scope from small and understaffed institutions with staff working across many roles, to institutions with multiple campuses and libraries that have a number of staff in any given role. In addition, CLIC member libraries serve dissimilar populations– St. Thomas has four libraries in total, one of which is a law library with sharply different needs than, say, Northwestern, which has one general library for the entire university.
These disparities made for some difficult decisions and discussions in which CLIC had to determine system policies, configurations, and processes that would work best for all members. We came out the other side in one piece, and we are relying on each other more than ever to continue to learn how to best use Alma in our day-to-day work.
The dramatic changes that come with a system migration like the one CLIC went through can be a tremendous opportunity to grow–both on a personal level, as a librarian using the system, and at the institution or consortium level, as a body adapting to a changing library landscape:
Before Alma, library management systems were largely print-focused and forced libraries to rely on third-party systems to manage the activation, linking, and invoicing of electronic resources.
Having one platform that contains all our library systems seems like an efficiency, but many of us in CLIC have struggled to find a balance between the automation Alma provides and the control we have always had over the data we held.
A system like Alma automates all sorts of tasks for libraries, from the linking and updating of authority records to the sending of overdue notifications to patrons to the loading of updated patron records from student information systems. But we have found that sometimes with automation, we lose the ability to oversee changes that are being made to the system, to ensure the data changing is being changed correctly, and to be able to fix errors as they occur.
It is a new role for many of us in CLIC, one of analyzing job reports rather than executing the jobs ourselves, but it’s a role that holds a lot of promise for the future of libraries.
In CLIC, we are still trying to find those answers, but we are optimistic that we will eventually be able to use Alma the way it was intended to be used–relying on its automation features so that staff can invest more time into providing other services to users and venture into new, critical areas of librarianship like digital scholarship, publishing, and data management.
It is indeed a promising future, and one that will take time to achieve, but ultimately we can only get there by doing what libraries do best: working together, sharing our experience and knowledge, and being excellent stewards of our resources.
Cataloging & Digital Services Librarian
Alum News: Tom Jorgenson
What attracted you to the LIS field…
I think I found that I was able to connect with other people in my college library setting better than I could connect with people anywhere else–I enjoyed my coworkers, and I enjoyed connecting library users with their needs.
Now, I find that what keeps me in a library are still the people–especially the kids and teens that I work with. I enjoy watching them learn and grow, and if I do my job right, I get to help them do that.
What has been your biggest career challenge…
It felt like I had a brand new idea every other day that I wanted to do RIGHT NOW! It took a lot of guidance from my manager and others in the library system to get me to back off and really think my ideas through.
I still have a lot of ideas, but now I have a process (like, a literal flowchart) that I use to help me understand whether they are realistic for me and relevant to the kids and community that I serve.
I’ve still got a lot of learning to do, but I hope I’m a little more focused now, and a little less arrogant.
What has changed about the profession since you graduated…
What experiences at St. Kate’s (or otherwise) were most helpful in getting you to where you are today…
I’ve tried to create space in my current position to teach empathy, to promote diversity in library materials, to listen to and advocate for marginalized voices, to create opportunities for teens of all backgrounds to learn and grow and engage with their identities.
I’m not sure I would understand the importance of framing my work in this way if it weren’t for my LIS education.
What advice do you have for current LIS students…
I think librarians are too defensive when it comes to our professional status, our MLIS degrees, our titles as “Librarians.” We think we have all the answers, and we think we can make libraries relevant just by screaming about all of the Important stuff we think we are doing. We need to shelve our insecurity and instead learn to listen to the communities and the people we serve. It’s not about us. Seeing the trailer for the new movie “The Public” inspired me on this point.
I’m not saying I know how to do all of this myself; I’m still learning from people who are better at it than I am, I’m still trying to listen better and connect more closely with my community. I think this is a challenge I will struggle with throughout my career, but I have to try.
MLIS student Maggie Parra was selected to receive the SLA Conference Stipend award to attend the SLA annual conference in Baltimore in June.
Amy Riegelman (MLIS 2007), Social Science Librarian at the University of Minnesota, co-authored (with Caitlin Bakker) two recent articles regarding retracted publications: Retracted Publications in Mental Health Literature: Discovery across Bibliographic Platforms (2018) and Understanding the complexities of retractions (2018).
Amy Mars (MLIS 2012), St. Kate’s Research and Instruction Librarian, Trent Brager (MLIS 2013), and Kim Pittman won the 2018 Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Instruction Section (IS) Innovation award. They were selected for their work on 23 Framework Things.
On March 10, school librarians Lacey Rotier (MLIS 2014) and Melanie Burgoyne (MLIS 2009) visited LIS 7250 Curriculum and School Libraries to discuss how they integrate coding into their instruction.
On March 14, the following alums shared their time and expertise with the LIS 7010 class: Anna Zbacnik (SLMS/MLIS 2013) (Roseville Area Schools), Tami Lee (MLIS 2007) (Ramsey County Library), Laura Morlock (MLIS 2011) (Dakota County Library), Chris Jacobs (MLIS 1996) (3M), Molly Hazelton (MLIS Adjunct, current SLMS student, National Catholic Sisters’ Project), and Sarah Huber (MLIS 2014) (Purdue University).
— That’s me, Trish Vaillancourt. I am in my last year at St. Kate’s and enjoying the program very much. Please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for the newsletter. Also, I like cats…a lot.