Conference Corner – Digital Library Federation 2016

–Submitted by Greg Bem

I am a faculty librarian at Lake Washington Institute of Technology (LWTech). From November 6th to November 9th, I attended the Digital Library Federation (DLF) Forum in Milwaukee, a conference that focuses on nearly every element and aspect of digital librarianship, both within and beyond higher education. Despite myself and my library not being holding membership within the DLF, I received a professional development (PD) grant through the Washington State Library to fund my attendance and participation. This grant, which aims to assist librarians in specific skill building and training opportunities, allowed me to fortify my pre-existing knowledge of digital librarianship and projects related to digital archives and preservation with new, specific knowledge pertinent to a current archive project here at LWTech. The archives at LWTech remain, at the moment (and hopefully not for much longer) relatively closed, sterile, and underutilized. The potential for archives within smaller institutions to serve a foundational role not only within the school but the greater community has inspired me to pick up the slack when it comes to the archive that is literally fifteen feet away from my desk. Working with Ari Lavigne (a graduate student at the Information School at University of Washington), Kate Magner (also a faculty librarian at LWTech), and Ellen Kinamon (library tech and catalog/archive expert at LWTech), I am attempting to explore how to open the archive up to the greater community within the school, as well as potentially utilize its functions as a space for exploring history, supporting activism, and enhanced digital literacies via the academic programs at LWTech.

This year’s DLF Forum, the second I have ever attended, was an amazing experience, and provided me with countless insights and opportunities into how I should feel and approach the archive and its future at my library and in my life. The DLF Forum’s keynote address by Stacie Williams, was worth the trip to the conference alone, as it explored the role of care in everyday labor, and empowered librarians to do more for the greater good. Additional explorations that resonated with me as a technologist and “forward-thinking” individual included managing static webpages using Jekyll, minimal computing, the power of digital exhibits using Omeka (which, for the record, is where LWTech is headed), and understanding the role of workflows in a project and its management. I could go on with plenty of amazing projects and fantastically inspiring work being done all over the country (and beyond), but doing so would be redundant (the resources are all available through community notes pages accessible via the DLF’s site). As a professional minority, a librarian representing a community and technical college background at the conference, I felt completely inspired to learn the amazing ideas being utilized by the larger schools across the information landscape and re-envision them as being relevant and possible under relatively constrained resources at LWTech. Going forward, I feel strongly about the role of experimentation and commitment to innovative realms of organizing and sharing information, and how that impacts the lives of anyone who comes across LWTech and its resources, either intentionally or serendipitously, will benefit from such pushes forward.

I trust anyone reading this that finds it of value or is curious about more details will send me a message. Thank you for reading this brief glimpse into wonderful new pathways in the professional field!

Conference Corner – OpenEd 2016

–Submitted by Kate Manger  (LW)

OpenEd LogoI was fortunate to be able to attend the 13th OpenEd Conference recently held from November 2-4, 2016 in Richmond Virginia. As one of the two faculty librarians, the other being Greg Bem, who are helping support the Achieve the Dream OER degree initiative at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, this conference was a great opportunity to hear more about the efforts, grant-funded or otherwise, that colleges and universities are doing across the country. To avoid droning on, I’ll stick to sharing my three main takeaways. Feel free to be in touch though, if you have comments or would like any additional information.

My first takeaway is the shift I saw from adoption of OER to a focus on pedagogical change through OER. Rather than stressing the cost saved by switching one textbook, sessions stressed the impact to teaching, to student engagement, and to learning that could come through the adoption of OER. One faculty even eliminated the cost saved from his OER adoption presentation and replaced it with the learning students will have achieve.

My second takeaway comes from the Keynote speaker Sara Goldrich-Rab, author of Paying the Price. Her speech and research highlighted, in a rather daunting and depressing way, how great the struggles can be for students seeking an education. Personal challenges aside, the financial and educational structures meant to support and provide a step forward in life is, according to her research, shoving people back and even removing the aspiration for higher education altogether. 

My last, and brighter, takeaway is the growing work across institutions. Instead of degree paths or one changed course, there are growing efforts to work through consortiums or statewide to implement OER. Unfortunately, I wasn’t involved when OpenWa launched, but that seems to be a similar line of thinking. Some examples from this conference include those by OPEN SUNY and Maricopa Millions, as well as the newest endeavors through GO Open Massachusetts. I realize that there are unique instances and policies at each institution, but it seems like as OER becomes more widespread, this kind of collaboration and cooperation can take larger steps forward and help, what Richard Sebastian coined as, horizontal rather than vertical columns of adoption.