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Hi y’all, from the Lone Star State…and they are everywhere!

After a very smooth travel day yesterday, and having some time to enjoy a few sights of Dallas, today’s sprint started with a bang…literally. Well it was really an air horn, and it was really a 5K, but the day was a full run. My first session of the morning was the RUSA STARS ILL Discussion Group. There were two presenters followed by a q & a that was cut short due to time. The first presenter was Bethany Sewall from the University of Denver who gave a presentation called “100% Document Delivery: what to do when your collections are ALL off site.” She said that as the library was trying to determine how they might conduct an entire renovation they had two choices. Do 20% a year for 5 years, (which would fully impact two classes of students, the class of 2016 and the class of 2017, who would be suffering under conditions of a less than able library) OR they could close the library for 18 months and renovate the whole thing. They opted for the quick renovation. They’ve moved the entire collection off site and are housing the staff in various parts of the campus, the majority of the public services people are holed up in the Ballroom in their Student Commons. All materials were “ingested” into their off site storage, (high bay but not mobile), and they were originally expecting to return 80% to the library. Then changes were made to the original plan that was only to allow 20% to return. Ultimately, 50% of the collection will be allowed to return to the library. Faculty were up in arms over the decision and the administration mollified them by promising a 2 hour turn around time for physical materials or scanned articles. Three positions were created for their off site storage facility, and they employ upwards of 50 students a semester to meet those document delivery goals. The offsite facility is also open from 5am to midnight while the library is open all night in a 24/5 schedule like our own.

The second presenter was Tina Birsch from Indiana University-Purdue. She discussed the methods they go to to identify and fulfill items that have been requested from ILL but were found by the staff on the open web. The process was detailed from how she created custom rules and routing in ILLiad, to what her email replies said to patrons to encourage them to search the web in advance of submitting an ILL request. The conversation devolved into a philosophical one with one side feeling like the patron will always continue to send requests rather than check to see if the material is on the web, while the majority said, when you find the information, you should just provide it. The “work” is already done. She finished her presentation by suggesting that, with the increase of material on the web, ILL departments need not fear that their stats will falter. The importance of speed and convenience by most users will ensure that requests still come in, even if users could have found it on their own.

After the EBSCO lunch, shared with many ZSR folks, I attended the Digital Media Discussion Group. This was a group of both public, and academic libraries, and a handful of vendors like Swank and Alexander Street Press. Topics raised included the frustrations that libraries have with trying to remain current on all technologies when patrons come in with their latest e-book reader and want to learn how to download content on to it, to how to catalog electronic books, and streamed media that has been licensed. It was a far reaching and interesting discussion. The vendors came away with many ideas on how to make their products better match library needs.

My final session of the day was the LLAMA Interiors Discussion Group, where I found Roz, Giz. and Lauren Pressley already in attendance. This, like the last discussion group, was a session filled with public and academic librarians who were wrestling with how to ensure that whatever changes they implement through furniture and upfitting, would meet the needs of the patron groups for years to come, and design professionals, architects, and furniture representatives who were sharing their talents to assist with those choices. Among the most salient points, we heard the now common refrain that spaces should be flexible, comfortable, timeless, able to be converted. A few new ideas came to the fore though. One was the concept that during the “day” the library space might be many individuals studying silently side by side, whereas by night, the library becomes a space for collaboration. I think we find that in our library. Also, another idea is to “do a pilot” of an area, getting 6 or 8 chairs or chair/table combinations and see how students like it before purchasing more. Let them be involved in the decision, and have them “kick the tires” rather than redoing entire spaces every 15 or 20 years. Iterative change. Finding the right mix of collaborative space v. individual space is going to change from day to day, week to week, semester to semester, so flexibility is critical. Another thought that I hadn’t considered before was that we should be keeping human health in mind when purchasing chairs that students can be sitting in for upwards of 8 hours at a time! In even small renovations lighting, technology, furniture, space, color all come into play. And the greater impact might come from colorful furniture, rather than color on the walls. It was a very interesting session and will give Roz and I a chance to play with ideas related to the atrium renovation. (We also found that one of the attendees was a library designer who has a child who is a freshman at Wake! She gave Roz her card! Yay!)

This all was followed by a reception of the Distance Learning group mingling with others in the section. We met up with Erik there and had a good visit with him and decided to just eat dinner at the restaurant and then head back to the hotel for an early-ish night. Remind me to tell you all about Giz’s awesome ability to hail a cab. More tomorrow.