v32#2 Don’s Conference Notes

by | Apr 11, 2020 | 0 comments

By Donald T. Hawkins (Freelance Editor and Conference Blogger)

The 15th Electronic Resources & Libraries Conference

Austin, TX was once again the site of the Electronic Resources & Libraries (ER&L) conference, which met on March 8-11, 2020 at the AT&T Executive Education Center. There were several reminders of this year’s 15th anniversary—a significant milestone. One person and 2 vendors have attended all 15 ER&L conferences.

15th Anniversary Reminders

And here I am in the ballroom foyer.

The meeting drew about 800 attendees, with about the same number attending online. It also had an exhibit hall with about 100 exhibitors. The COVID-19 coronavirus had a significant impact on the conference. Handshaking and hugs were prohibited and replaced by alternative greetings such as elbow bumps and foot taps. Six registered exhibitors did not come to the exhibit hall, and about 30 sessions were presented remotely.

Opening Keynote

Barbara Fister

Barbara Fister, Scholar-In-Residence at Project Information Literacy (PIL), presented the opening keynote, entitled “Libraries and the Practice of Freedom in the Ages of Algorithms.”

She said that data has replaced oil as the new ideology. We need to learn about this extraordinary shift in our information environment, how we can contribute to making change, help our students and faculty understand what is going on in the world of information, and what it means to be information literate.

PIL studied the experiences of 22,000 students from 92 institutions with news and information, and the need for changes, asking questions such as: What do we know about our current information environment? What do students know about it? What are their concerns? and What should we do now? In the age of algorithms, data is everywhere, collected continuously, and processed in real time. Data sources used to be distinct but are now aggregated and distributed differently. Automated decision-making systems are used for many purposes. 

Great power and great responsibility are now separated, and we are living in a surveillance state making us less free. We value free speech, but we also care about social responsibility. Libraries can address these issues and guide us as a profession. 

Over a decade of research, PIL has taught us much about students’ opinions:

  • The hardest part of research is getting started and defining a topic.
  • Evaluating information is a collaborative process; only 11% of students turn to librarians for advice. 
  • Students follow similar paths through the same few trusted resources for their assignments. Many students feel they have no choice but to use online systems.
  • Students practice privacy self-defense, but faculty are less knowledgeable about privacy strategies. 
  • Graduates are confident that they know how to search and analyze results, but not that they can ask questions on their own.
  • Most students think that news is important in a democracy, but 36% of them said they do not trust any news sources because they grew up with untrustworthy sources.

Algorithmic literacy is absent from classes and should be taught so that students learn how to ask the right questions. Actions we should take now include:

  • Encourage peer-to-peer training and involve students in the learning process. Get engaged about technology decisions on the campus.
  • Integrate the student learning experience. Do more to make information literacy a holistic experience.  Find stakeholders on campus who have already built bridges into the community.
  • Help students to break out of a sense of helplessness. Librarians can help by keeping lists of articles that help people broaden their definition of information literacy. We are not here to teach students how to be students but to prepare for life after college, so they must understand where information comes from and how they can participate in processes.

Electronic Resource Librarianship: Past, Present, and Future

Susan Davis, Acquisitions Librarian for Continuing Resources and Licensing Specialist, University at Buffalo, was at the first ER&L conference in 2006. She described herself as a “battle-tested survivor” of the electronic information industry and presented a fascinating trip down memory lane. Old-school research involved punched cards, the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature, card sorters, typed catalog cards, etc. Serials control was done using the mail, fax machines, 2400 baud modems, printed lists of serials holdings, and lots of spreadsheets. Publishing started with letters between researchers and the first journals, such as the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1665. There was a large explosion in publishing after World War II, when authors transferred copyrights to publishers, who added value to research reports.

Here is Davis’s outline of the development of electronic publishing systems:

  • 1980s: The early years of online retrieval
    CD-ROMs, floppy discs, and dialup systems. NASIG’s first conference in 1986 was entitled “Serial Connections: People, Information, Communication.” 
  • 1990s: emergence of licenses;
    NASIG’s 7th conference in 1992 featured discussions of copyright and licensing of electronic information. Open URLs and Big Deals were introduced.
  • 2000s: Electronic Resource Management Systems
    Serials Solutions was incorporated; COUNTER was formed; discovery systems were launched in 2009, and e-books appeared.
  • 2010s: Debut of electronic resource libraries (ERLs)
    The NASIG conference included a workshop on “Core Competencies for Electronic Resources. Subsequent ER&L conferences discussed ERL roles and more core competencies.
  • 2020 and Beyond
    We can look forward to integration instead of batch loading, interoperability, browser plugins, better documentation of procedures, and continuing education. Many librarians will be doing ERL work without having the term in their job titles.

There are, of course, many other developments and technologies that one could include in review such as this, but the session was a very useful outline, both for old-timers in this industry (like me!) as well as for younger people who have jumped in more recently.

They Published Where?!

Susan Vandagriff, Instruction Librarian, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), analyzed faculty publications to discover how many were openly available and how many appeared in predatory journals.  Faculty members were asked to submit their data for the survey and reported 3,300 publication activities including 1,565 journal activities. Vandagriff found that the data were frequently inaccurate and needed a significant amount of cleaning before it could be used; for example, some faculty members created a separate record for each step in the publication process, and others were not sure where or what they published. The final data included 1,333 unique publications, which is quite different from counts in Elsevier’s Scopus database.  Journal websites were used to verify the data for each title.

Results of the survey revealed that 4% of the publishers controlled 62% of UCCS’s research. The top two publishers were Taylor & Francis and Elsevier. In the last 2 years, OA publishing has grown dramatically and now accounts for 20.7% of UCCS publications. These data are important to determine faculty interests and are useful in negotiations with publishers.

Published predatory journal lists tend to be outdated, so Vandagriff used her own criteria, which included false editorial boards, publisher addresses, and indexing claims. Her definition of predatory journals is: Predatory = outright lies + an author publication charge (APC). This graph shows the rapid recent growth of predatory publishing, with a total of 26 journals from 22 publishers. A single publisher accounted for 20% of the articles from UCCS.

Data from the survey were shared with the administration and deans of each college; as a result, predatory publishing was added to the library’s publishing workshop series. 

Faculty members from all colleges said they wanted peer-reviewed articles to be used in tenure and promotion criteria, but not many had them, so the criteria need to be revised to reflect the changing landscape of research. Additional education on OA and predatory publishing is needed.

They’re Doing What?!

Molly Beisler, Head of Discovery & Digital Services and Interim Director of Technical Services at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR), reported on a study that she and 3 colleagues conducted on the use of information resources in undergraduate thesis research. The research questions were:

  • What information literacy and research practices do Honors students use to complete their projects?
  • How do these practices relate to their self-efficacy (the belief in one’s ability to execute certain tasks to achieve certain outcomes)?

The connection between self-efficacy and performance is not always clear because students may be over-confident in their skills. Self-efficacy does not necessary rise with time and experience. 

The study was conducted by 4 librarians with 11 Honors students, each of whom completed 4 questionnaires and 2 interviews. Interviews were recorded and videos of them were transcribed for analysis to determine:

  • Where did students start searching?
  • What search tools did they use?
  • What did they search for? (A known item? An author? A topic?)
  • What types of keywords did they use?
  • How did they evaluate the searches or sources?

Practices that decrease self-efficacy include not using the best keywords for searching because students have difficulty finding a balance between a narrowly focused search and a broad overview, missing critical sources because there is little awareness of interlibrary resources, and not understanding expectations for different parts of their theses. 

Recommendations from a professor or advisor are very powerful influences on student searching behavior. Other sources of support include peers in their research field and the research help desk in the library. It is important to recognize that students use different search tools: sometimes they are not those one would expect. For example, some students learned about JSTOR in high school and continue to use it in college, and others refuse to use any print sources.  

Libraries must make an effort to push content to where students are and do usability studies to understand their users. It is critically important to connect with the faculty because they are the library’s conduit to students. UNR librarians therefore make sure that public service librarians are kept up to date when databases are added or deleted or when system changes are implemented, issue an internal newsletter as well as newsletters tailored to the needs of specific departments, and promote “featured databases”.  Even librarians working in the back office should make an effort to get out and talk to users.

Unlocking the Value of the Monograph

Scholarly monographs have become more digital recently, which has affected libraries and researchers. Jennifer Matthews, Collection Strategy Librarian, Rowan University; John Lenahan, AVP, Journals and Books, ITHAKA; and Harold Colson, US History Librarian, International Relations Librarian, and Social Sciences Collection Strategist, UC San Diego (UCSD), investigated usage data to discover effects on the digital discovery of books.

John Lenahan said that ITHAKA staff has been studying the effects of moving ebooks to its platform. ITHAKA, a global research community, had 230 million uses of ebooks and 21 million uses of ebook chapters in 2019. The highest usage of ebooks is in countries where English is not the primary language. ITHAKA’s platform is integrated; ebooks are displayed like journal articles to improve discovery and usage. After full ebooks started to appear in search results, users asked to see individual chapters as well.

The majority of chapter downloads were from titles published in 2016 or earlier. High usage and discovery supports smarter library acquisitions, and reveals undiscovered user needs. Community colleges, small colleges, and secondary schools account for about 70% of usage.

Future developments include integrating additional types of content, connecting primary sources with the secondary literature, and continuing cooperation with libraries.

Harold Colson noted that demand-driven acquisition (DDA) was responsible for the dominant share of purchased titles, many of which were over 20 years old. The number of titles purchased annually peaked in about 2009 and has decreased rapidly since then.

Jennifer Matthews said that discovery of e-books is mostly at the title level rather than the chapter level. Some of the results are in PDF format, and others are in XML, which causes frustrations for users. Rowan University changed its platform to library services, which was a game changer. Metadata came from a variety of sources; libraries must not abdicate their role in advocating user-centric data. Using discovery services instead of a catalog is another game changer because it allows better access for users and personalization capabilities such as saved searches. One of the librarians at Rowan observed that a fundamental irony is that discovery depends on metadata, but metadata sources are no longer completely controlled by librarians.

Users typically do not distinguish between books and chapters, and full-text searching is not as uniform with books as it is with journals. Chapter-level indexing is needed to enable successful full-text searching. Many users, especially undergraduates, are satisfied with initial search results. Students are more interested in the system interface, but librarians are more interested in the content; balance is needed between these two perspectives. Librarians should especially help students who are just learning how to use the library.

Building a Library Brand Without Books

Nathaniel King, Library Director, and Tiffany King, Assistant Library Director, Nevada State College (NSC), noted that NSC, founded in 2002, is the second fastest growing institution in the state. They described how the library decided to devote all of its space to students and store all of its 15,000 books offsite; it became one of the first bookless libraries, but a few others have recently emerged. 

The first thing one usually thinks about with a library is books, so a major initial challenge was branding the library. Users generally do not care where content comes from, so the library must differentiate itself on emotions—a brand is a combination of promise (imagery) and performance (emotion). The library must be connected to the success of students, so we must rethink the focus of the academic library. College can be difficult, so we must let students know that changes will be made so that they will feel that the library is a place where they can belong and be welcome. NSC librarians were trained to smile, make eye content, and use name recognition wherever possible; as a result they received a 93% satisfaction rating—the highest of any service on the campus. Many students need mental health services, and the library became a space for rejuvenation and reflection, especially with the addition of over 300 plants to the space to create a visually pleasing environment.

Reaction was strongly positive to the library’s efforts, and the value proposition was understood. When students were asked about their concerns, they mostly mentioned noise, need for study rooms, and more computers; only 14% of them mentioned the lack of books.  This quote from a professor was typical of the high praise the library received:

“As a literary studies scholar, I am accustomed to physical books and prefer to engage with them in that way. For this reason, I was skeptical about researching with our digital holdings; however, I find that the immediate access to the books that I require really helps propel my research forward. I no longer have to wait for a book to arrive or risk it being recalled. Moreover, I can quickly search for and highlight terms and passages relevant to my research, thereby consuming books that much more easily and quickly. It has reshaped my research; I now voraciously read through new research in my field because I know it’s just a click away.”

Anticipated Impact of Open Educational Resources (OERs) on Library Collecting Practices

Ben Jahre, Head of Electronic Resources, Lafayette College, and Jason Reed, Health Sciences Information Specialist, Purdue University, reviewed OERs and discussed a survey of 139 people which was conducted in August 2019.

According to one definition, “OERs are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or under an open license that permits no-cost access, use, adaption, or redistribution by others with no or limited access.” They are welcomed by students who are struggling with the rising costs of textbooks, and many of them do not buy the books needed for their classes. Most students find that OERs are just as good as the printed textbooks they have previously used, possibly because most open textbooks are peer reviewed. Students’ grades generally do not decrease if they use OERs. According to opencontent.org, the 5 Rs of OERs are Retain a copy, Revise, Remix (combine), Reuse, and Redistribute. Librarians have been heavily involved in OER initiatives, especially relating to information literacy and course design.

The research questions of the survey conducted by Jahre and Reed and some of the responses were:

  • How long have you been working in libraries? (Most were over 20 years)
  • What is included in your job responsibilities? (OERs and collection development)
  • What is the profile of your institution? (Most were private universities having less than 5,000 FTEs)
  • Which Carnegie classification best describes your institution? (Most public ones were doctoral universities)
  • What is the library’s collection budget? (Most were over $2 million; smaller ones were $500,000 to $1 million)
  • What are the 5 year trends in budgets? (The rich get richer, and the poor get poorer; 60% have increased, those with budgets less than $100,000 have decreased)
  • Do you have an OER initiative in place? (89 public universities did)
  • How is it funded? (Most said by the library, campus administration, or external grant sources)
  • Who is eligible for the OER program? (Faculty, adjuncts, visitors, postdocs, and clinical faculty)
  • If an OER program is not available, why? (Resistance, lack of interest or demand, lack of staff time to facilitate, lack of funds or expertise)
  • What is the impact on collections budgets? (Part of the budget is being used to support OER efforts, and as those increase, the budget decreases because many things can be found online. Many librarians think there will be little or no impact on their budgets.)
  • What is the impact on materials collected? (Some librarians are collecting links or metadata for OER content. Some also purchase e-textbooks; they would not have purchased textbooks in the past. Others think the impact will become large; the library will become a “place” rather than book storage units; and librarians will be information keepers rather than collection builders.)
  • What is the impact on policies? (There is now a significant focus on teaching or research. The library is now taking on expenses previously borne by the students. Some libraries are finding that an envisioned free abundance of materials does not exist.)

Future research will explore potential correlations between institutional background and anticipated impacts by measuring the impact of OERs on various stakeholders.

Myth of the Big Deal

Tim Bucknall, Assistant Dean of Libraries, University of North Carolina (UNC) Greensboro, and Founder of the Carolina Consortium, presented this definition of a Big Deal: “A package-priced subscription to many journals from a single publisher (that includes perpetual ownership)” and said that many people are promoting Big Deals that are contrary to their practices. He listed these myths and the associated realities of Big Deals:

  • Big Deals are big. Some have less than 100 titles. 
  • They are expensive. Many cost less than $10,000.  Only a few cost $1-2 million. Sometimes big and little institutions are in the same deal.
  • They are always multi-year commitments. Not true—publishers will happily take your money for 1 year.
  • They are impossible to leave in the middle of a license term. All of the largest publishers have allowed libraries to leave when they ask. 
  • They are a sneaky way to force you to subscribe to new launches at an extra cost. Most publishers are up front about new launches and extra costs, and most deals allow libraries to choose whether or not they want a new journal.
  • They are hyperinflationary (often 5-15%). Bucknall’s deals are less than 4½%, although if you choose to add a newly launched journal, they may cost more.

Big Deals are in decline in the US, as this graph shows. People do drop but others join. Some drop out and then join back a few years later. 

  • They are creators of ridiculously high profit margins. Elsevier has many products, and a drop of one has little or no effect. Changing the model does not necessarily change profit margins.
  • Big Deals are bad deals for libraries. There is a wide range of benefits: They generally cost less than $1000/year, with 0% inflation, a CPU of 27 cents, and a 50% cost reduction.
  • They are like cable TV. This is the most overused analogy. (People with big TV packages usually watch only 4-5 channels.) You do not need to get a big package to get the few journals you want. The deals are opt-in. 

There is nothing inherent in the Big Deal model that makes it good or bad for libraries.

What Use is “Use”?

Amanda Price, Monographic Acquisitions Librarian, and Stephanie Towery, Copyright Officer, both at Texas State University (TSU), described analytics that drove decisions in the Kanopy Patron Data Acquisition (PDA) program to mitigate what was perceived as a disaster. Their presentation, entitled “Teasing out meaningful use in a streaming PDA program, its data-driven end, and partnering for a more positive delivery of bad news,” looked at how analytics can help with runaway PDA programs in challenging budget years. Price noted that restaurants are a good analogy: even if the food is good, if the service is bad, customers will not return. It is a “front of the house” and “back of the house” situation. If we work together as a team, our product can be pushed out and we can keep bringing people in.

At TSU, library users liked the Kanopy system so well that usage grew 94% in one year, but budget allocation in 2018 was flat. By September 2018, Kanopy spending was taking up 10% of the library’s total budget allocation, which could not be sustained. There was no flexibility in the PDA model, so Price and Towery had to determine how to forecast future spending and then communicate the problem to the users.

The first step was to understand what constitutes a “use”. Is it the number of clicks or the minutes used? Then, what is being used (direct use or through PDA)? Finally, is the cost/use reasonable? Once this was done, results and these possible solutions were communicated to subject librarians who are directly serving the users:

  • Mediated acquisitions made by request only,
  • Popular content grouped to create a targeted PDA program, or
  • Discontinue the program between semesters. 

The flat budget required a return to mediated acquisitions. 

Understandably, the faculty members were very unhappy with this change and protested the removal of access to Kanopy.  The librarians therefore took these steps in communicating with the faculty members: 

  • Make discussion of the problems a two-way process and provide the reasons for the changes clearly and concisely.
  • Commit to supporting each other through the transition and have an acquisitions contact available if the subject librarians do not know the answer to a question.
  • Deliver the message with empathy and make the faculty members feel heard.
  • Commit to being patient and kind throughout the process.

The result of this approach was that the faculty got the necessary information, understood the costs and decisions that were made, and worked with the librarians.

ER&L Jeoparody

Contestants (L-R): Ann-Marie Breaux, Victor Lau, Laurel Sammonds Crawford

This traditional highlight of the ER&L conference is a parody on the popular quiz program Jeopardy, in which contestants are given answers and must supply the questions. Contestants were a librarian,  Laurel Sammonds Crawford, Head of Collection Development, University of North Texas Libraries; vendor, Victor Lau, Director, Institutional Sales, Springer Nature; and publisher, Ann-Marie Breaux, VP, Workflow Management Services, EBSCO Information Services. Categories of the questions included purchasing, licensing, pricing, user access, emerging technologies and trends, and ER&L potpourri, Here are the answers given to the contestants:

CPUSushiGeorgia Tech
2014IP AddressPortico
EigenfactorORCIDThe Big Deal
Black Open AccessSERU (Shared Resource Understanding)Creative Commons
DRMPerpetual AccessClick Through
Single Sign On (SSO)Screen ReaderFake News
Linked DataOpenURLPersona
The TijerinasFolioBIBFRAME
Virtual RealityDubaiRobert McDonald

Laurel was the winner of the contest with a score of 7,800.

Duped By Dupes

Lynn Gates, Faculty Director of Cataloging and Metadata Services, and Joel Tonyan, Systems Librarian, both at the Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS), addressed the problem of duplicate items in search results from discovery systems. UCCS has an e-resource budget of about $1.7 million and subscribes to 43 e-book packages which contain a total of 355,562 e-books. In February 2019, 6.58% of their e-books were available from 2 or more vendors. Aggregator packages and new materials tended to have higher duplication. UCCS has been using Summon as its discovery system since 2015.

Gates and Tonyan found that there could be as many as 3 different full text links in a single record. They conducted a study with 11 undergraduate students who were asked to complete 5 known e-book title searches in Summon. The 5 titles were chosen from a list of those available on 3 or more vendor platforms, and the survey participants were asked to rate their frustration level with the searches. 

Participants said that they trusted Summon to direct them to the correct book and when there were duplicate entries for it, many of them assumed they had made an error in searching, and others did not notice that they were sent to the wrong book, which is doing them a disservice. (They always chose the first result unless they were looking for a specific edition of a book.) About half of the students commented on the duplication and said they were frustrated by differences in the form and data for each entry, and did not understand why the results all looked different.

Next steps include making sure title links work and point to the right place and to a vendor that students like, developing a list of preferred vendors, sharing the results of this study with library instructors, and developing a good reporting system for bad metadata in Summon.

Protecting Patron Privacy

Peter McCracken, Acquisitions and E-Resources Librarian, Cornell University, led a spirited discussion of patron privacy to a standing room only audience and suggested a plan to inform library users of abuses of privacy by vendors. He said that privacy is a public good and can be protected only through collective action, urging libraries to be more concerned with patron privacy. People trust libraries; they genuinely serve people, and millennials use them more than any other age group. Here are some of McCracken’s suggestions:

This is a great opportunity for libraries, so we need to act now! 

McCracken proposed a simple “Red Light/Green Light” point system to rate vendors’ actions relating to privacy. Some vendors understandably want assurance that users are affiliated with a subscribing institution, but others seek every possible method of monetizing each individual user by automatically signing them up for their newsletter (sometimes without the user’s knowledge), requiring potential users to submit demographic data, or obtaining the details of their research. Here are some suggestions for the rating system:

Transparency is important. If we use the rating system, we must explain why the vendor got their score, especially highlighting procedures being used by vendors to monetize their user data. The goals are to share concerns about specific egregious vendor practices, encourage vendors to improve their treatment of patron data, and raise patrons’ awareness of privacy issues. 

Cornell is not using a vendor rating system yet, but McCracken encouraged attendees to adopt his suggestion and improve it as necessary. What kind of data are we collecting and how long should we keep it? It is fine to collect data on books, but at many libraries, including Cornell, user data is deleted when a book is returned. (I raised the point that users might like to see and collect their own data. That would be an enhancement to the rating system which needs to be developed.)

Two Policies on Streaming Video and Access Issues

Lea Currie, Head of Content Development, University of Kansas (KU) Libraries, and Faye Christenberry, Collection Strategy & Licensing Librarian, University of Washington (UW), compared their institution’s streaming video policies. They noted that there is a growing demand for streaming video; in the last year, video on demand services grew 9%, and subscription streaming rose 24%. Videos engage students, motivate them, expose them to languages and cultures, and bring the outside world to them. Faculty members want students to watch videos multiple times. Because most laptops now do not have CD-ROM drives, streaming has become very popular. Some libraries digitize content to videos internally, with the files password protected and hosted on a server controlled by the staff and only available in the library. Many students prefer to pay to rent a video to watch at home even though there is no cost to them if they go to the library. Issues with streaming services include costs, difficulties in predicting budgets, making renewal decisions, and the time involved (acquisition and processing of content can take as long as 6 weeks).

Videos at KU

The Dean of Libraries at KU is also a copyright attorney, so he guided the library’s implementation of Fair Use. Limiting access to faculty members and students is different from making the video available to the public. The KU library prepares a limited number of DVDs for courses and places them on reserve for the current semester. Requesting instructors must agree to copyright compliance, explain their need for the video, and answer affirmatively a series of questions regarding the anticipated uses. If there are any negative responses, the request is declined, and the instructor is contacted for an explanation. The library found that more requests were declined initially than approved.

Videos at UW

Similarly to KU, the experience of UW was that demand for videos is up—students expect access to them, and faculty members want them to view videos outside of class. In contrast to KU, DVD circulation has grown significantly. UW’s policies are that videos must be required for an entire class, and classes using them must have an enrollment of at least 20 students. There is a limit of 5 new streaming videos per course; faculty members are responsible for compliance with copyright laws; and an attorney is available to answer questions. 

Closing Keynote

Jennifer Kim

In her closing keynote address, Jennifer Kim, CEO and Founder, MissionDriven.co, discussed how diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) can be advanced with a grassroots learning approach. Diversity is defined as differences between people or perspectives; equity refers to policies, practice, and position; and inclusion is making sure your voice matters. We are in a stressful time with much happening in the world, and diversity seems to be everywhere. It applies to libraries, which are special sacred spaces where people can go, learn, and connect.

How can we make DEI come alive and what can we do as individuals? Kim drew on the example of Silicon Valley, where many companies formerly were almost exclusively staffed with men. But small teams can have an impact, and the last startup had a 50/50 gender balance, which is proof that it is worth trying to implement DEI. We must make people feel included; sometimes individuals have needed to prove their credentials and abilities to get their ideas heard. And sometimes disabilities are not things we can see; for example, you cannot tell that a person is hard of hearing just by looking at them. 

A McKinsey study in 2015 found that ethnically diverse teams are 35% smarter, so diversity matters. Diversity work can be emotionally charged with a lot of anxiety, frustration, and anger. We need to get these feelings out in the open and discuss them. Here is Kim’s learning-oriented approach to DEI.

DEI impacts all of us, and we can impact DEI. Go beyond the numbers and watch what is visible. Learning together within your community will help you go far.

What does work:

  • Practice intersectionality and focus on all audiences.
  • Focus on marginalized groups, which can highlight effective practices and make improvements.
  • Learn together and bring in more conversation.
  • Bring DEI to life by looking inwards. Fight the urge to blindly copy; build upon strengths, find what is working, and how you can do more of it. The point of diversity is to do diverse things and build it into products and services.


ER&L will return to Austin in 2021 on March 7-10.


Donald T. Hawkins is an information industry freelance writer based in Pennsylvania. In addition to blogging and writing about conferences for Against the Grain, he blogs the Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian conferences for Information Today, Inc. (ITI) and maintains the Conference Calendar on the ITI website (http://www.infotoday.com/calendar.asp). He 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 45 years.

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