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Becoming 100% Buzz-Word Compliant
Anne R. Kenney
When does AA not refer to Alcoholics Anonymous? BIG doesn’t mean something large? REDS isn’t a baseball team, and DSS isn’t the Department of Social Services? Answer: When you work at CUL.
Yes, like it or not, library land is full of jargon. Of course, we’re not the only acrophiles around. Acronym Finder, the Web’s most comprehensive dictionary of acronyms, abbreviations, and initialisms, contains over 565,000 “human-edited” entries. Another database, Acronym Attic, provides over 2.5 million definitions of unverified but potentially valuable content.
I turned to those databases to see how well CUL jargon was represented. Acronym Finder has 256 definitions for AA, including Alcoholics Anonymous, Acts of the Apostles (from the Bible), and the band Amon Amarth, but Academic Assembly didn’t make the list. Neither did DLIT or PSEC or Vivo, unless, of course, you are referring to Delinquent Load Identification Table, post-stimulus electromyographic complex, and video in/video out, respectively. I thought not. And you will search in vain for any references for KMODDL, CDExec, and ITSO. Acronyms that are likely to make it tend not to be CUL-coined. For instance, I struck pay dirt for DLF, ILR, and JSTOR.
To help orient folks new (and not so new) to library lingo, we’ve gathered together some of the more-common acronyms that pepper our daily conversations. Rachel Brill has compiled the list, adding URLs (there I go again) where available and noting when terms have been superceded. For instance, you can forget CTS (it’s now LTS) and IRIS (now PSA) and DCAPS (now DMG). It may be OK to refer to DSpace (the software), but CUL’s version of that IR is now called eCommons.
Obviously, the list is only a start. Help us develop this folksonomy by sending your own suggestions to Rachel, at rlb34.
Hmmm, I need some more notepads.… Should I use a Pcard or submit an L-order? I know, I’ll ask Rachel to get them for me.
Click to view the chart.
CUL was among the first group of research libraries to offer chat reference service. Since 1999, through collaboration with reference staff in Engineering, Mann, and Olin, we’ve been able to offer chat reference service regularly Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and, during the busier weeks of each semester, Monday through Thursday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. But we were not able to cover the intervening dinner hours, late-night hours, or weekends. This wasn’t enough coverage for our patrons whose work habits don’t always coincide with our ability to staff services—we wanted more.
So, back in 2001 we created an innovative partnership with the University of Washington to extend chat reference service by taking advantage of the time zone differential. UW provided general assistance for CUL patrons until midnight, and CUL covered early-morning hours for UW. The service was well received by patrons, but when UW joined a Washington State chat consortium in 2003, our extended coverage ended. We went back to the drawing board.
After a lot of planning, in June 2007 CUL became a participant in a new cooperative chat reference service that provides basic help for patrons 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Now, no matter where they are located in the world or what time it is, patrons are never more than a click away from help. The Ask a Librarian link is placed throughout the Library Gateway, in the Library catalog, and even in BlackBoard—the course management system currently used by Cornell faculty.
The cooperative is not intended to replace our existing local service. Rather, it supplements, complements, and extends a basic level of help that is very useful for patrons but that does not encompass the full range of reference services needed during core service hours. CUL reference staff continue to provide complete online reference service Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and some evenings. We’re also hoping to add some weekend hours. But now the cooperative fills in the gaps, picks up overflow traffic during peak hours, and allows us not to worry about staffing during emergencies such as blizzards, electrical outages, or fire alarms.
The way the cooperative works is that participating librarians from universities and colleges all over the U.S. take scheduled shifts. On their shift, they answer questions from any patron from any participating institution or state. (Some states, like our neighbor Pennsylvania, have 24/7 chat reference for all their residents.) In addition, there are several professional “chat librarians” who work for the cooperative (especially in the middle of the night). The service is predicated on the idea that trained reference staff can find their way around online information resources from just about any library to a certain extent—or at least well enough to get a patron started or make an intelligent referral.
For patrons, online chat is easy to use (similar to Instant Messenger) and offers a couple sophisticated features that allow us to establish a connection with the patron’s browser and demonstrate search strategies and resources. For example, after hours, when a CUL librarian is not available to help a Cornell patron find an article or locate a book, a cooperative reference librarian can search our catalog or try to check our journal holdings. If the question is too complex or requires information that is very local in nature and can’t easily be found on a library Web page, for instance, the cooperative librarian might give the patron a Cornell library phone number or e-mail address to contact for additional assistance. Or the librarian can use the chat software to refer the question back to CUL for follow-up. The software sends an e-mail notification to designated staff at CUL, who respond to the patron as soon as possible—usually by the next business day.
In turn, volunteers from Engineering, Mann, and Olin reference staff (Mary Patterson, Mary Ochs, Gail Steinhart, Baseema Krkoska, Camille Andrews, Jim Morris-Knower, Nancy Skipper, Michael Engle, and Virginia Cole) also take cooperative shifts during which we answer other institutions’ patrons’ questions. It’s a challenge, but believe it or not, it’s actually a lot of fun and a great window into other libraries, their Web sites, and their patrons. The hours aren’t great, though—early-morning and after-work hours.
The software we use for chat reference is OCLC’s Web-based QuestionPoint, which was specifically designed for cooperative reference. It has a number of nifty features that are extremely helpful in the fast-paced world of chat reference. For instance, the software has an online queue that enables chat staff to see the patron’s question, operating system, and affiliation before responding. The software alerts us with sound and screen pop-ups when patrons arrive. In the queue we can also see all the U.S. librarians who are on duty and how many patrons each is working with. (Most chat reference staff, even the very experienced, avoid working with more than three patrons at the same time). We can use an internal IM to chat with another librarian if necessary, or even transfer a question to him or her mid-chat. We can also use pre-scripted messages to help save time and typing.
The QuestionPoint software also senses and signals when a patron’s own librarian is on duty. Thus librarians from other institutions can avoid picking up someone else’s patron. As mentioned above, the cooperative is based on the idea that all trained reference staff can provide some help, but the best, most accurate, most thorough assistance is provided by a patron’s own reference staff.
Last, the software provides the helping librarian with a Web page for the patron’s library—a kind of cheat sheet that provides a quick path to links and policies.
QuestionPoint provides virtual training for the software and Best Practices for chat reference, which all participating cooperative librarians agree to follow. QuestionPoint’s Best Practices have developed over nearly a decade of the cooperative’s existence. They suggest guidelines for librarians’ behaviors online to ensure successful interactions with patrons. Some of them may sound obvious—reflecting the same principles we apply when working with patrons in person. However, they don’t necessarily come naturally when staff are under pressure. A few highlights of the Best Practices are projecting a polite, helpful, positive, and friendly persona; providing accurate and in-depth assistance using restricted resources at the home institution; and balancing timeliness with our commitment to instruction.
Although we are cautiously optimistic about the cooperative chat service, the jury is still out. With guidance from the Research and Assessment Unit, we have planned an evaluation project that will help determine the future of chat 24/7 at Cornell.
The chat software stores transcripts (purging patrons’ personal information after ninety days), categorizes them, and provides a variety of statistical reports, which helps us to monitor the cooperative’s performance. We can send transcripts that fail to reflect best practices to QuestionPoint’s professional quality-control staff, who then work with reference staff to improve performance. (The CUL co-op volunteers can be reported for unsatisfactory performance, too, if we don’t live up to the standards. But so far, so good.) At CUL we also monitor quality by reading through transcripts. So far, we’re pretty pleased with the after-hours assistance CUL patrons have received. And so are our patrons. Here’s what a few had to say on the brief survey available at the end of each chat session:
There’s nothing that signals the influx of new energy to the campus quite so much as move-in day, when first-year students arrive. The quiet summer campus suddenly erupts with activity and people. Parking all over West and North Campus, thousands of new students and their families are very much in evidence as they unload essential belongings, meet new dormmates, explore Cornell’s 745 acres, discuss the New Student Reading Project, and prepare for their new academic adventures. One of their shared experiences on move-in day is dropping by the campus services event in Barton Hall, where the Library (among many other campus service providers) sets up a mini-shop. New students and their families who visit the CUL booth collect library literature and perhaps a highlighter or some bookmarks, but they also meet a librarian and learn how to find their library, when they can attend orientation sessions, and how to get more information. This face-to-face encounter is often the Library’s first chance to introduce students to library services, and an important opportunity to reach out to new Cornellians.
The Barton Hall extravaganza was of course only one of many programs scheduled for new students. Resident assistants and grad students also learned about the library at their own information fairs. The eServices Fair transformed Olin’s Libe Café with ten booths representing various libraries and e-services and made two door-prize winners especially happy.
Librarians from PSEC’s Reference & Outreach and Instruction committees actually began developing plans for welcoming new students to Cornell last spring. Plans focused on marketing strategies for promoting general services and specific programs, such as “Ask a Librarian” and workshops. “Ask a Librarian” got a new URL (ask.library.cornell.edu), and Carla DeMello designed “Need Help?” an engaging series of bookmarks, each of which spotlights one of the four “ask” services—walk-in, e-mail, phone, and chat 24/7—as solutions to potential crises. The Digital Reference Services Committee requested that we place particular emphasis on the newly expanded 24/7 service hours for online chat, which a red sticker now promotes.
Rachel Brill, with assistance from Laura Larrimore, designed a new postcard that directs patrons to the Library Events calendar for workshops throughout the library, all of which are now entered into the calendar. Carla also designed a new public services banner that promotes the Library’s public facilities, collections, and events. Other contributions from Library Communications included red CUL bags and the new Library Guide, hot off the press. As in past years, unit libraries developed targeted handouts, and many offered their own orientation events. All together, the Library offered over sixty scheduled tours this year, with many more available on demand or online as podcasts. Thanks to the enthusiasm, labor, ideas, and contributions of a number of library staff, 2007 is off to a great start with a very successful orientation season.
Booths were set up and staffed by:
Mark Funk, the head of Resource Management-Collections, and Carolyn Reid, the director of Weill Cornell Medical Library, attended the World Library and Information Congress: 73rd IFLA General Conference and Council held August 19-23, in Durban, South Africa. As president of the Medical Library Association, Mark gave an invited presentation, Open Access: Dreams and Realities, for which the text is online.
Congratulations to Diana Delgado, the head of Information Access Services at Weill Cornell, on the birth of her son, Nolan James Lopez! Diana will return to the library in January.
Peter Hirtle attended the Society of American Archivists annual meeting in Chicago in late August. He addressed the Preservation and Recorded Sound sections and also presented in a panel, Copyright Legislation and Litigation Update.
From July 30 to August 3, Peter Hirtle and Ira Revels gave a workshop on digital imaging at the Georgia Archives, in Morrow, Georgia, to thirteen librarians and IT professionals from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). They thank Oliver Habicht for helping to arrange computer support with CIT’s OnSite Solutions for equipment that was used at the workshop during hands-on labs. They are also grateful to John Hoffman, Don Fenton, and his staff for their support with the storage and shipment of the project equipment. In November 2007, professionals from six of the twenty HBCUs participating in the CUL-HBCU Digitization Initiative will travel to Ithaca to participate in a second workshop on digitizing audio and video and advanced issues in digitization.
Ira Revels was awarded the Dr. John C. Tyson Young Professional Award during the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s Sixth National Conference of Librarians of Color, which was held on August 3 in Fort Worth, Texas. The award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to the profession during the first ten years after receiving their MLS degree. Ira received a plaque and a check for $1,000.
Pat Viele traveled to the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) Summer Meeting in July at Greensboro, N. C., where she conducted her Mining the Hidden Web tutorial. She had set a limit of twenty participants, but it filled far in advance, and twenty-three people actually attended.
Visualizing Meaning: Copying the Masters. From September 9 to October 1, Mann Gallery, Mann Library. An exhibit by artist Jeni Wightman of Cornell faculty members’ favorite visual representations of data.
The artist takes important or meaningful visual representations of data (charts, graphs, etc.) selected by Cornell faculty and incorporates them into household items such as blankets and rocking chairs. By changing the context of the theoretical framework of academic discourse, this installation hopes to both subsume the viewer into the data as well as engage more senses in comprehending the data. Mixing the perceptual field of art and the conceptual field of science, Visualizing Meaning humorously places the relationship between lived and charted experience in a dialog. More information on the Visualizing Meaning project and the artist is online. For further information on the exhibit, contact Howard Raskin, at hbr1.
The Pickup. An exhibition of maps in support of the Cornell New Student Reading Project. Through September 22, on the lower level of Olin Library. The Map and Geospatial Information Collection has prepared a display of maps related to this year’s choice for the Reading Project, Nadine Gordimer’s novelThe Pickup. Since the Reading Project is a community event, this year the collection has duplicated the display at Tompkins County Public Library as part of that community effort.
The Pickup. Let us go to another country…—Bob Kibbee
We begin in South Africa—never named in the novel, but some offhand touches of description allow us to identify it. South Africa as a nation is almost incidental. Its geography, although unique, is not defining; its bureaucracy could be any bureaucracy. The city where Julie Summers and Abdu meet could be any urban agglomeration in the developed world. Its streets could be any streets. We have enough to identify Johannesburg, although our initial identification is from an offhand allusion to Soweto, Johannesburg’s most well known neighborhood. The rest is purposefully generic: “the Suburbs,” or “the Northern Suburbs.”
The maps chosen help American readers, perhaps unfamiliar with South Africa, to orient themselves. Postapartheid South Africa is only glimpsed in the novel, but the maps provide some background for the history and the broad social forces at work in the city and the country. This world, once a hopeful destination for Abdu, rejects him. At the same time Julie discards it, “rejects” is too strong a term. Both, on different terms, go to another country.
That other country, even more anonymous and unspecified than South Africa, is Abdu/Ibrahim’s homeland. Never named, the country as presented in the novel is little more than a cultural milieu and a physical geography. We see with compelling clarity the Islamic world and the Islamic family challenged by the twentieth century. We also experience the desert at the end of the village as a defining, transforming space. This space is one that Ibrahim has rejected, along with much of his culture, long before, to go to another country, but it is this space that seduces Julie until she embraces it completely.
Ibrahim’s homeland is not meant to be identified. Five different reviewers have confidently asserted five different countries, a testament to Gordimer’s skill at presenting an Islamic country that is at once generic and convincing. We decided to pretend that the country is Morocco. The tomb of Sidi Yusuf, around which the place grew, according to Ibrahim, brings to mind the real tomb in Marrakesh and the environment of the Maghreb, where pilgrims visit the tombs of Sufi holy men. Marrakesh, quite a large city, couldn’t be Ibrahim’s village, so we postulate a place like Erfoud, east of Marrakesh and on the edge of the Sahara. The maps were chosen to illustrate the many kinds of cartography that can represent a place like that without insisting too strongly on the place itself.
The third world is the world of Ibrahim’s aspiration—Australia, Canada, Sweden—places where many like him hope to immigrate. Geographic Information System (GIS) software produced thematic maps of Detroit and Chicago, the final(?) stops on Ibrahim’s itinerary of escape. Visitors should find the maps interesting and useful adjuncts to enjoying The Pickup. Perhaps they will give some understanding of the state of mind that compels many, either in imagination or in reality, to go to another country.
Richard Strassberg Retirement Reception. Tuesday, September 25, Terrace Lounge, the Statler, from 4 to 6 p.m. Remarks begin at 4:45 p.m., and the event is open to all. Richard is retiring from Cornell after thirty-nine years of service effective October 10. Most of Richard’s Cornell career has been as the director of the Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation and Archives. A memory book is available online for your comments.
Lafayette: Citizen of Two Worlds. September 25, 2007, through April 28, 2008, Hirshland Exhibition Gallery, Kroch Library. CUL celebrates the 250th anniversary of the birth of Lafayette with an exhibition drawn from Cornell’s extensive Lafayette Collection, the largest of its kind in America.
Best known for his role in the American and French revolutions, Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier de La Fayette (1757-1834) belongs to American and French history alike. His ideals were formed by both the French Enlightenment and his exposure to America’s culture of civic equality. As a result, he viewed himself as a citizen of two worlds and described himself that way on more than one occasion.
The exhibition examines Lafayette’s role in the French Revolution and America’s fight for independence, his lifelong advocacy of liberal ideals, and his support for reform causes such as the emancipation of African slaves. His personal and political relationships are explored through correspondence with his wife and other family members and between notable figures such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The exhibition also investigates the origins and evolution of Lafayette’s mythic status as the defining symbol of friendship between France and America: a symbol as powerful today as it was during Lafayette’s lifetime. The exhibition is also available online. Other events will include a major lecture (date to come), piano concerts, and films. See the Web site for further details.
Dalai Lama Visit. Kroch Asia will be featuring an exhibition, beginning in October, of various Buddhist texts and artifacts—a Web site will be available soon. A series of six lectures/seminars will be held in Olin Library from September 20 through November 15: Tibetan Buddhism: The Union of Sutra and Tantra; The Tibetan Tradition of Mind Training; Questions and Answers on the Dalai Lama’s Visit; History, Tradition, and Truth: Buddhist Studies and Its Recurring Pattern of Demythologizing Buddhism; Being Buddhist in the Kathmandu Valley; and Identity and Indistinguishability: A Buddhism & Science Dialogue. For dates, location, and a description of content, as well as other university events surrounding the Dalai Lama’s visit, see the Humanities Events Web site.
Study desk in 6th floor tier of Mann Library stacks, February 1957.
Mann Library Reopens Its Doors
For the past seven years, the front doors of Mann Library had been closed. For a few years, Human Ecology staff lived in the old building. After they left, the SUNY Construction Fund took over, and the Ag Quad became the parking lot for Pike Construction.
Atrium, skyward view, 1st floor, renovated Mann Library building, March 2007 (Photo by Robert Barker, Cornell University Photography)
Anyone who used the the original 1950s-era Mann Library building will remember that there was no air-conditioning and no networking—but there were unnavigable stacks and a leaky roof. There were also lovely art deco touches and beautiful wood inlays. Throughout the renovation, the architects, Beyhan Karahan and Associates, preserved the beauty of the old building and added a modern infrastructure for the library and the Liberty Hyde Bailey Hortorium. The labs and offices of the hortorium are on the top two floors, while the library occupies the first four floors. A new, light-filled atrium knits together the addition with the original building. The joining of the addition to the renovated building was extremely complex. Every staff member moved at least once; every computer, desk, and book was moved at least once.
On August 24 Mann held a celebration open house offering tours of the new spaces, food from the Manndible Café, door prizes, and even a farmer’s market. They were ready for the start of the new semester.
Medical College Class of 2011 Finds Treasure in the Library—Kristine Alpi
Special thanks go to the library staff, including our intern Svetlana Oziransky, who gathered the students into groups and then went to their clue locations to await the students. Once students found their way, staff delivered their key messages, marked the completed stops on the map, and provided the next clue. The rest of the library staff did the crucial work of keeping our services for other users going during the event.
This year, Team 3 completed all ten clues in thirty-four minutes, and each member received a flash drive. All students who completed the treasure hunt evaluation received one of the library’s spill-proof drinking mugs. As you can see from the photos, it was lots of fun!
Uncertainty and STM (Science, Technology, and Medicine) Publishing—Pat Viele
In the meantime, these titles were added to Academic Search Premier. Again, there was no announcement. I contacted both the aggregator (EBSCO) and the distributor (Springer) to ask about long-term access via Academic Search Premier. Neither could give me an answer, except to say that although they had long-term contracts, the publisher (MAIK) has the final say about how and where its product will be available. If MAIK should suddenly change its mind again, we could abruptly go back to square one.
Because of these uncertainties, John Saylor, Leah Solla, and I decided to use this as a test case and mount the CD-ROMs locally. Funding for the project is central. I delivered the MAIK CDs to David Ruddy, who explained the process to me as follows:
David will keep me posted on developments. This project will help us to streamline the process of maintaining access to materials we have already paid for and to cope with abrupt shifts in distribution. This year the American Astronomical Society moved its journals to the Institute of Physics from the University of Chicago Press. Although we are assured of continued access, no details have yet been announced.
Zachary Kemp, formerly a student supervisor at the Johnson School Management Library, was recently hired to fill one of the evening and weekend supervisor positions at Catherwood. Zack graduated in May from Cornell with a B.Arch. degree. Steve Gollnick, Zachs’ predecessor in this position, is now a digital resources specialist working with Mary Newhart to help populate the library’s digital repository, DigitalCommons@ILR.
Ron Liso will be retiring from his weekend supervisor position in the Engineering Library on September 21, after almost eighteen years of dedicated service to CUL. Ron began his employment in the Engineering Library in January 1990 as a circulation/reserve assistant and has consistently been a hard-working, reliable, and flexible contributor to this library and others, including the Physical Sciences Library.
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