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ULA 2003 Conference


MAY 2003

Notes by Fran Zedney

I attended the conference on Thursday, May 8. ULA is always an interesting event-a time to attend some informative sessions, meet with colleagues from other libraries, and see what's new with the vendors. This year's conference was no exception. My sincere thanks goes to Joan Hubbard for paying the registration fee for my attendance.

Keynote Address

This year's keynote speaker was Joan Frye Williams, a librarian and consultant, who spoke about new trends in technology which might be applied to libraries and how we can use technology to lure patrons to use library resources. She emphasized that it is better to experiment with new technology than to do nothing while you wait to see how the technology develops. She thinks our quest to be neutral or non-judgmental works against us since it makes us slower to change. She advocates looking at new technologies to see how they might be applied to library functions.

  • Convenience technologies

Convenience is a major deciding factor in library use. Libraries should consider the following:

Vibrating pagers -now found in some restaurants, these could be used in libraries where patrons have to wait in line (for computers, etc.)

Wireless "point of sale" computing -enables staff to be mobile, to be where needed

Fully interactive web sites with plenty of in -links (electronic outreach)-she advocates having a web presence on any of those sites your patrons use. Many don't think of the library as the first place to go

Credit and debit card transactions -Stewart Library is ahead of the game!

  • Access technologies

Magnetic strip/chip based cards -she says bar codes on library cards are out of date. Magnetic strips are more widely used

Accommodation for user - supplied hardware such as PDAs, cell phones, PCs, portable mass storage devices, etc.

Voice recognition (VIVO) -this technology is better than the "press 1" sort of options

  • Presentation technologies

Emerging formats, such as books on MP3

Recommender systems/collaborative filtering (take a look at Users want recommendations from peers (take a hint from This concept ties into Kathy's ideas about building a library community with our web page.

Courseware/learning management systems -Distance ed systems like Blackboard and WebCT offer applications for general library use. She suggests them as an easy way to create bibliographies, for example.

Infrared listening systems -Systems with headsets which let users control the volume and allows the speaker to speak softly could be useful for library tours or other programming

Game-style navigation -Our younger library users have a different orientation than we do when it comes to the web. The traditional way of reading, from top to bottom, left to right, no longer applies to web navigation . Instead, think top center of the page (like

  • Instructional/Mentoring technologies

Think mentoring rather than instruction. This change in philosophy is being echoed elsewhere in the literature.

Dual workstation screens -let patron do the keyboard stuff rather than being an observer while the librarian shows "how to"

Webcasts- Put your programs on the web!

  • Productivity technologies

Radio frequency i.d. circulation/security/security systems -like Salt Lake City Public's new system. They are expensive but much faster.

ONIX ( This cataloging system developed for the publishing industry and used by Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. will replace MARC records in her opinion.

Genealogy Reference Services for Public Libraries

I attended this session since I was scheduled to do several presentations on WSU's genealogy resources at Utah Genealogy Association's Ogden regional meeting and thought I might get some pointers. Unfortunately, it was pretty disappointing. The speaker, Lloyd Bockstruck from Dallas Public Library, has done presentations at other genealogy conferences but I thought he had a boring style. One thing I learned was to be aware of regional differences in both the meanings of words and the pronunciation of names. The surname Tarwell, for example, could possibly be Tawell or Tallwell, depending on regional dialect.

Evolution of an Information Literacy Course: From Workbook to WebCT

This program turned out to be much more interesting than the previous one. Presenters were Richard Eissinger and Scott Lanning from SUU. They discussed the evolution of SUU's Library Media 1010 class. It is a one credit, self-paced online class focusing on library research. They do not see it as a duplication of Internet Navigator. Information may be found at

They use WebCT for the quizzes and they paid about $750 to use for plagiarism. They thought it was worth the cost. They also recommend as providing inexpensive, easy to use ways to develop training packages, incorporate animated gifs, etc.

As the program evolved, they kept various statistics and found that from Fall 2000 to Spring 2001 the failure rate for students taking the class actually increased from 11.3% to 13.5%. To combat this, they added first day in-class orientation sessions, letters reminding students of drop dates if they hadn't already started doing the assignments, and live help sessions (which were poorly attended.) In return for their efforts, the failure rate jumped to 22% in Spring 2003. For the several terms combined, the grades were as follows:  

 38%--A   32%--B   10%--C   4%--D     16%--F

85% of the F's went to Freshmen and Sophomores

50% of students receiving F's did no assignments, 64% of those were Freshmen

The next thing the staff considered was a pre-test, post-test. They based their pretest on one that Bowling Green State University developed. It asked 16 basic questions. Some of their findings:

98% used the Web   95% knew Google   77% had some understanding of call numbers   49% knew about truncation   36% knew something about Boolean operators   26% had an understanding of where to start their research

Only 12% had used Pioneer in high school

The post-test numbers increased dramatically. Students' comments indicated they either love or hate the program. Students also wanted deadlines. Evaluations showed lower teacher satisfaction with the online classes (78%) than the overall campus in-person classes (92%). Teachers with the highest satisfaction level sent the most email to students.

        Their suggestions about developing an online class:

Use minimal graphics and avoid plug-ins

Offer easy print options

Be aware of different learning styles

Offer an audio option with text read by students

Require students to use Word or WordPerfect, and limit email to WebCT or campus email only to minimize problems

         Problems they've had

Connections with other courses isn't always apparent. (Why is this "library stuff" important to me?)

Some faculty assume that because students have taken the online class, additional subject-specific instruction isn't necessary.

Most students have not had online classes before and they don't understand the demands and difficulties on an online class.

Some students lack computer skills

The need for the course must be constantly justified

Digitization Projects at BYU

Another program I attended at ULA was about the digitization project going on at BYU. Whether or not you are LDS or originally from Utah, they have some very interesting journals, photos, theses, etc. available. Currently they have about 73,000 total pages in their digital collection! The Overland Trails collection includes pioneer diaries, and the Wiliam Henry Jackson collection includes over 1500 photos of Utah scenes, native Americans, etc. Really interesting! And that's just part of what they've digitized.

The University of Utah has also been actively digitizing documents dealing with Utah history. Their historic newspaper collection has three Utah newspapers from the 1890s to 1922 and more will be added. Both universities have used technologies which make the collections easy to browse and search. I highly recommend them.


Awards Banquet

Since I was in charge of planning the banquet, I had to be there. And it was certainly worthwhile. The food was delicious and all of the people receiving awards gave very gracious speeches. Lt. Governor Olene Walker was there to present the distinguished service award to Amy Owen. Nancy Tessman received Librarian of the year Award for her work with the new Salt Lake City Public Library, and Carol Hansen received recognition for her work in promoting information literacy with an award from the Library Instruction Round Table.

All in all, a great day!


Updated May 16, 2003. Please send comments to Fran Zedney
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