Core Forum was back in October – surely I remembered to file my report!
Leslie Nielsen looking stern

A couple weeks ago – okay, seven weeks ago – I attended my first in-person conference since the Before Times, with airplanes and a hotel room and the whole shebang. This was the first (non-virtual) Core Forum, held in Salt Lake City. I attended its predecessor, LITA Forum, more years than not from 2001 to 2018, when it and LITA came to an end, and I attended last year’s Core Forum, which switched from in-person to virtual at pretty much the last minute.

Let me just say: I was a little disappointed by the lack of meaty technology content. [Whispered aside: I was on the program committee for last year’s Forum-That-Wasn’t and the Program-That-Would-Have-Been leaned more strongly toward tech. We’ll see about next year.]

What this meeting did have was an excellent pre-conference I was able to get into at the last minute, on campus-level learning analytics and/versus library privacy. Prioritizing Privacy: Bringing Library Values to Campus Learning Analytics Work is one outcome of grant-funded work by Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe. As part of the grant, she will be doing multiple iterations of this session. If you find it offered at any meeting you attend, I strongly recommend it.

The far too quick version: our colleges and universities are increasingly gung-ho for quantitative data, implementing learning analytics packages at the campus level, and encouraging libraries to implement library analytics packages. While gathering data is not inherently bad, these platforms may gather more data than necessary; anonymizing or pseudonymizing it is much harder than not collecting it in the first place; and some vendors may not be transparent about what they’re gathering or saving. Recommendations: be proactive; build systems that include privacy by design. Campus leaders under pressure to gather data may need assistance from people whose professional ethics have user privacy baked in (that’s us, if it wasn’t clear). More information at

Steve’s post does a great job of covering a really great opening keynote. On the second day, there was another great talk from Jonathan Moody, an architect whose work has often focused on public library buildings as a focal point for community building.

For the sessions themselves, a few program titles capture the mood of the moment: Incorporating Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Principles into Our Metadata; Exploring EDI Strategies in Cataloging and Metadata; Derogatory Term Analysis in the University of California’s Catalog*; and Anti-Racist Acquisitions. Clearly we are anxious about how our catalog records reflect our holdings (and how they reflect on us).

*A note about the derogatory term session. This session reported on clean-up work in a very, very big consortial catalog, over fifty years after the publication of Prejudices and Antipathies by Sanford Berman, which serves as something of a canonical list of derogatory terms that made their way into LCSH. The UC systems still has a lot of work to do. For the curious, ZSR’s catalog still has a few of these, but for the most part searching one of these outdated terms silently takes you to records with updated headings. For example, searching for the subject Idiocy pulls up records that have been updated to use Intellectual Disability.

Other than the sessions, the best things about the conference: dinner with one of the few LITA old timers I found, along with several new acquaintances; dinner with Steve Kelley with a discussion about which baseball teams are Evil. Worst thing: after committing to a very early flight out so I would get to SLC in the early afternoon, American Airlines decided I should still get up at 4:00am but then enjoy a six hour layover in Phoenix. Weirdest thing: the announcement that as a perk, Core members now get access to OCLC’s WMS sandbox for training and development. I’m not quite sure how I should feel about that relationship.

The Workday building in SLC
I asked if I could just turn in my receipts here. Apparently the answer is no.