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We woke up Saturday to a cold rain, which must be the reason why the rest of America doesn’t all move to Seattle because it’s pretty nice otherwise. The title of my first Saturday session is the underlying theme of the conference, in my book.

“Thriving in an Economic Downturn: Don’t Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste”

Betsy Wilson of the University of Washington put the session into context by saying that only 5 states in the U.S. do not have a revenue shortfall for the current year, endowments are plunging, and no one knows when it will end. In the past, however, libraries have typically used a crisis to increase collaboration. For example, the Association of Research Libraries was created during the Great Depression.

Steve Hiller, University of Washington, observed that data collection is by definition a backward looking activity, but use of the data is action driven toward the future. It is imperative to understand how faculty and students work and how we can position ourselves to serve them.

Similar to the presentation that Rosann Bazirjian and I will give later, Hiller said that our libraries are pretty much undergraduate spaces. They also provide work space for graduate students.We need to pay attention to match our hours of opening with student lifestyles, reduce physical collection footprint, and close branch libraries with low traffic,

Camila Alire, is known as the “Master of Disaster” for having led two different libraries through two devastating floods and one fire. She talked about the supreme importance of communicating with staff during a crisis. It was recently revealed that many employees of the firms making headlines in today’s recession said they heard nothing from their management about what was happening.They heard it on TV, but heard nothing internally.Camila said you can’t emphasize enough: communicate, communicate, communicate.In one of her disasters, she was told by her university counsel and the insurance company what she could and could not say for liability purposes.So if you are ever on the receiving end of an unsatisfactory communication, be aware that there are all kinds of factors involved.She held open forums for the staff and said what she could say and promised to have another one when she could say more. Integrity must prevail, you must be straightforward and honest.Her motto is to underpromise and overdeliver.Be honest if you have to set a timeframe back.Avoid promises that you may not be able to keep. Share the data that you do have so people will see your reasoning.

Tom Leonard, University of California, Berkeley

Seven ways forward in these uncertain times:

1)Dig through files to find collaborations from the past that are sound, but largely forgotten. Inter-institutional cooperation can really help now.

2)Step up to find short-term gain with partners. They formed a research library fellows cohort with some of their peers.

3)Train up existing people in skills you need.

4)Keep an eye out for barriers falling away with changes in university leadership.

5)Don’t leave money on the table and don’t stop progress because of fear of sustainability.

6)Sometimes we can fail in fruitful ways. Portals were thought to be the answer, they weren’t, libraries lost that battle to Google, but resources were ready to be harvested as a result.

7)Mass digitization is the only way forward. It wouldn’t have happened without Google, no one else has those resources. So stop apologizing and keep going.

“The Academic Library as Publishing Agent:Showcasing Student, Faculty and Campus Scholarship and Publications,” Marilyn Billings, UMass Amherst, Teresa Fishel, Macalester College, Allegra Gonzalez, Claremont University Consortium

[This is one of those presentations where the content was good, but what was extremely valuable was the ideas it generated for me on how to follow up back home.I came away with a whole slew of ideas (some good and some probably not so good) that I will share with the Scholarly Communications Committee when I get back. I think this is an area where ZSR can take a leadership role on campus.]

At the Digital Commons at Macalaster (BE Press group), their focus was on student honors projects, which is something we talked about for Wake if we can’t get faculty cooperation. They put up the online Macalaster Journal of Philosophy, and Studies in Mediterranean Antiquity and Classics, sponsored by faculty in the institution. These journals are indexed and discoverable in Google Scholar.They set up an editorial board of faculty to provide peer review and scrutiny.

The Claremont Colleges Digital Library (Content DM) published a formerly unpublished math textbook, which thrilled the author, and also Interface Journal (student work from Harvey Mudd). They established partnerships with the University Press, and faculty roles involving journals, conferences and workshops.They found unexpected champions in the emeritus faculty (who often had unpublished manuscripts that they were thrilled to see published.

Saturday at 1:30 must have been the most popular time slot in the conference, as my paper with Rosann Bajirjian (Replication of the OCLC Perceptions Study: The Experience of Two Academic Libraries) was then, as well as Lauren’s panel (Mapping your Path to the Mountaintop: Planning Where You Want to be in your Career) and a presentation by former colleagues at Wayne State! Rosann and I found our presentation well received, with lots of questions and interest from the audience.The practice presentation we did last week at ZSR helped a lot. We were afraid it was an old topic already, but many people came up and thanked us for doing it. That concludes two years of data collection, analysis and writing, almost like doing a dissertation!

After de-briefing at the poster sessions,all ZSR folks went to hear Roz talk about Google Docs at the Cyber Zed Shed (I am not making that up). She was fabulously cool, calm and collected, even when she lost her Internet connection and had to wing it for a while until she could borrow access from another computer!

I went back to the last presentation of the day, “Putting your money where your mouth is – $$ Speak Louder than Words,” Kim Armstrong, CIC, Jay Starratt, Washington State, where they examined the Top Ten Assumptions for the Future of Academic Libraries and Librarians, published by ACRL in 2007.The takeaway for me was when they looked at national norms in academic library statistics over a multi-year time span. For example:

Reference down 35% 2002 to 2007 (ACRL)

Circulation down 10% 2002 to 2007 (ACRL)

Gate count up 14% 2000-2006 (NCES)

Wanda was at the same session and we agreed it would be valuable to look at ZSR statistics for the same categories in the same time periods.We have been concerned over the drop in reference statistics but putting it in the context of the national norms will help to put it in perspective.

On our last night in Seattle, Wanda, Susan, Mary Beth and Roz had a great dinner at Wild Ginger and then met Lauren at the All Conference Reception at the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. We all agreed that Chris Burris absolutely needed to be there.Star Trek and Jimi Hendrix:what could be better?! Whew, long day.