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The spring meeting of the Association of Southeast Research Libraries (ASERL) was held April 26-27 at Vanderbilt University. I flew in with Aisha Harvey from Duke Tuesday morning and went straight to the meeting. The afternoon program centered around a theme of planning for shared print repositories. Constance Malpas of OCLC gave a high level overview of national efforts using a dazzling set of data that featured possibilities arising from the Hathi Trust. For example, 34% of the print holdings in ASERL libraries is duplicated in the Hathi Trust. Imagine the implications! This is the second talk I have heard her give and she is truly a jaw dropping wunderkind, sort of like Nate Silver talking mass digitization with the presence of Lady Gaga. See her if you can.

Malpas was followed by Lizanne Payne who talked about various regional efforts in print retention, including WEST, PALCI and Orbison Cascade. Our former colleague Emily Stambaugh is active at the California Digital Library with the WEST project. Each regional project must decide its own method of identifying titles and gaining commitment. The development of trust among members was a constant theme throughout the afternoon, which hit home in the next presentation.

It was my job to introduce Aisha Harvey, who is a Visiting Project Officer from Duke, working one day a week to get ASERL’s own shared journal retention project off the ground. Lauren C and Carol know what high hopes I have for this project to help us in weeding our own print journal collection. We are one of 13 ASERL’S libraries to offer titles for retention. Almost 1000 titles have been identified thus far and we hope that many more will come after this meeting, following unanimous approval of the Retention Agreement.

In the business portion of the meeting, it was announced that following an open bid process, ASERL headquarters would be moving from Lyrasis in Atlanta to Duke in Durham in July 2011. We will invite John Burger from ASERL to come visit us this summer after he moves.

Wednesday morning’s discussion centered around data curation, one of the hottest topics around in research library circles. Susan has been interested in this for awhile and is planning a summer technology project around it. Wake doesn’t have quite the research profile as most of the other ASERL libraries, but we do have faculty who have raw research data that need preservation and we have faculty who get grants from NSF where there is a new requirement for a data management. This is an area to watch and potentially take leadership at the campus level.

Best Practices in Resource Sharing: a recent benchmarking survey identified ASERL libraries that follow national best practices in the area of interlibrary loan and resource sharing. I was happy to see that our own ZSR interlibrary loan department was one of 17 libraries that scored 80% or better and earned a RRS “Star award. Congratulations to Cristina and her crew for this recognition! Watch for a story on it in the next ZSReads!

ZSR was also featured on the next discussion topic of ASERL’s collaborative Civil War Project. Our Confederate broadsides were used as the feature example because we learned that the New York Times discovered one to use in a feature they were doing on the Sesquicentennial. Great!

The next topic was about an effort to streamline and organize the Federal Depository Library Program in the 10 state Southeast region, under the leadership of Judy Russel, former Superintendent of Documents and current Dean of the library at Florida. As a selective depository, we will be involved in this and I will be talking to Roz about our responsibilities.

Deborah Jakubs from Duke and Sarah Michalak from UNC-CH talked about a bold initiative among the TRLN libraries called “Intellectual Property Rights Strategy for Digitization of Modern Manuscript Collections and Archival Record Groups.” Basically, it is a way to assert fair use for special collections in a risk-sensitive manner. I will share with whoever is interested.

ASERL is a great networking group and I always learn a lot. We visited the newly renovated exhibition areas of the Heard Library, which were very impressive for their creative use of digital signage including a light display on the floor of current search terms from the OPAC (something only a librarian would love)! They also had the best use of an old card catalog that I have ever seen in their cafe:

Library Cafe at Heard Library, Vanderbilt University

The fall meeting will be in November. Can’t wait!