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The Association of Southeastern Research Libraries held its Fall 2012 meeting in Atlanta (Decatur, actually) on November 13-14. The first night, I had dinner with a ZSR donor who happens to be a retired librarian, which was a very enjoyable experience considering that she was born and raised 3 doors down from my house in Beaufort! The next morning, I attended the Board meeting due to my position as President-elect.

The meeting itself started with a presentation by Tracey Campbell, a faculty member at the University of Kentucky, “A Shared Interest in the South: a Framework for Future ASERL Shared Digital Projects.” This is meant to be a potential sequel to ASERL’s acclaimed digital Civil War portal, to which ZSR has contributed digital items from Special Collections. Dr. Campbell is a student of the “New South” and spent some time describing the scope of the term. Basically, the New South is the old Confederacy today, shaped by the Civil War, with many of the same feelings and loyalties as the Old South. As a historian, he attested to the power of a rich, combined archive such as ASERL’s. It has helped his own research considerably. After his presentation, there were small-group discussions to determine next steps. There will likely be an effort to shape topics in broad subject areas like civil rights, women’s issues, music, literature, etc. Watch for more on this initiative.

The next session was a panel on best practices in assessment. The user experience librarian at Georgia Tech talked about their student advisory board and an attempt at the assessment of physical spaces using design charettes, focus groups, advisory boards, surveys, census, and 3rd party partnerships. Our friend Kathy Crowe at UNCG talked about their annual assessment plan tied to the university’s strategic plan. They work with the Office of Planning and Assessment and post results using a LibGuide format. They have used a “Mystery Shopper” approach, which aroused lots of interest. Their new Digital Media Commons was a result of an assessment that determined there was no other help available for students with media. Florida State used an ethnographic approach, similar to the University of Rochester, and generated 1500 pages of transcripts. They learned that the favorite working hours for faculty were 10:00 am-2:00 pm, but it was the opposite for students. Yep. Because they have turnstiles requiring a card swipe for entry, they could demonstrate that 80% of the entire undergraduate student body had visited the library during the year.

The day finished with a few business items:

  • The bylaws were amended to tighten the language on probation and suspension procedures in the membership sections.
  • A motion passed to endorse model language for data management plans developed jointly by ASERL and SURA (Southeastern Universities Research Association). I have since passed that along to others in the WFU administration.
  • There was a show of support to proceed with reciprocal sharing of ASERL’s print journal repository with the members of the Washington Research Library Consortium. Individual participants will be asked to sign an amendment to the existing Memorandum of Understanding.
  • ASERL’s federal depository library program is progressing well. The Steering Committee will follow up with members who have not yet signed up.
  • ASERL statistics are due by January 15. John Burger asked for volunteers to look at data collection in light of ARL significantly changing their data requirements.

The last day started with a presentation from Clemson on space and building planning. After several starts and stops, they used an incremental “Roadmap” approach to add group study rooms, classrooms, and other improved user spaces. Interestingly, they received a $6 million complete overhaul of their HVAC system as part of the regular deferred maintenance program on campus. Jealous!! I made a good contact with the architect member of the team, so that was valuable.

The next presentation was Brandon Butler, Director of Public Policy Initiatives for the Association of Research Libraries, entitled “Libraries and Copyright 2012: The Code, The Siege, and What’s Next.” I confess to having an unnatural fascination with copyright (my first year as a baby hospital librarian was the year the current law was enacted), so I found his talk highly informative and entertaining. “The Code” refers to the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic Libraries, which has enjoyed a positive reception from college and university attorneys and many success stories in libraries. “The Siege” refers to the siege of fair use repression under which libraries suffered for decades, which is now beginning to lift after a series of favorable court rulings including AIME v UCLA, Georgia State, and the stunning victory of Hathi Trust over the Authors Guild. “What’s Next” includes the Kirtsaeng v Wiley first sale doctrine case (and if Kirtsaeng loses that one, libraries may as well pack up and go home), Section 108, orphan works clarification, and access for the print disabled (bet on them, they always win). It was probably the best copyright talk I have ever heard.

The meeting ended with a series of brief updates:

  • Library Publishing Coalition is a new group to provide a forum for exchange with digital publishing initiatives in libraries. I gave the information to Bill.
  • ASERL Directory of Open Access Activities will soon be available. A listserv is being started for Scholarly Communication people like Molly. ASERL will be seeking a Visiting Program Officer in this area.
  • SCOAP3 has finally reached the implementation phase. ZSR signed up years ago as part of an international effort to wrest control of high energy physics journals back from commercial publishers. The good people at CERN (who brought you the Higgs boson particle) are now saving the world for high energy physics. Go get ’em.
  • The next meeting will be April 23-24 in Memphis, TN. Can’t wait!