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April/May/June, 2012
Volume 58, Number 2

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Literacy and Sustainability in Virginia’s Libraries

Virginia Library Association 2011 Annual Conference
Portsmouth, Virginia • October 27–28

A photo of Steve Almond on the far left, a photo of Rebecca Kamen on the left and a photo of audiences keenly listening to the keynote speakers.
Keynote speakers command rapt attention.
At far left is Steve Almond, author of the story collections My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the novel Which Brings Me to You (with Julianna Baggott), and non-fiction books.
At left is Rebecca Kamen, whose work explores the nexus of art and science, informed by wide ranging research into cosmology, spirituality, philosophy and science.


10:00 — 11:30 p.m.

Opening General Session

VLA President Matt Todd opened the first session of the 2011 Annual Conference by recognizing the Virginia Association of Law Libraries as co-sponsor, and then introduced Portsmouth mayor Kenneth Wright. Mayor Wright welcomed VLA members by expressing his appreciation for our return to the city and by stating his opinion that “a library is one of the cornerstones of a healthy community. They bring opportunity to all.”

Next President Todd recognized the work of the VLA Conference Committee and the leadership of Executive Director Lisa Varga who was chair of the group for 2011. The opening session moved along quickly and without interruption as attendees were invited to the conference social scheduled for later in the evening and were reminded that this year’s keynote speaker was actually on time and ready to present.

Rebecca Kamen, Professor of art at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), was introduced by Todd, who explained that she supported his library by organizing outstanding exhibits there and by encouraging her design students to volunteer to work with library and VLA projects. Todd also noted that she was a positive influence on the NOVA campus, especially in her efforts to display art in science facilities.

Kamen proved to be an impressive speaker who used very high quality graphics to illustrate her talk. She began by explaining how librarian Sylvia Rortvedt had influenced her research and helped her to connect art and science and by discussing her life-long relationship with libraries and reading. Rachel Carson’s books were a particular influence on the young Kamen, but writers such as Joseph Needham have continued to inspire her throughout her career. She cited Needham’s work in Science and Civilization in China as the source of her interest in Ming Dynasty astronomy that led her to trade a sculpture for a Chinese book from the period.

A photo of VLA Executive director Lisa Varga on the top talking on the phone
A photo of VLA President Matt Todd cutting the ribbon on the Exhibit Hall.
Above, VLA Executive director Lisa Varga multitasking during 2011 Conference
Below, 2011 VLA President Matt Todd cutting the ribbon on the Exhibit Hall on Thursday, with Membership Committee Chair Rebecca Miller hidden behind Matt and John A. Moorman, VLA President 2010, holding the ribbon on the right

Kamen also related how reading a book cited by Albert Einstein as an influence, Natural Science for Practical Use in Every Household, helped her envision the sixteen sculptures in her series “Invisible Sightings.” Other sources of inspiration for Kamen were a set of manuscripts at Benjamin Franklin’s American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia, as well as historic scientific drawings she saw there. Old card catalog cards and The Bee Book, along with some exposure to illustrations of astronomical black holes, led to her 2009 exhibit “Manuscript as Muse,” which included 13 sculptures related to scientific discovery.

Kamen has also found inspiration in the Robert Hooke materials at the Chemical Heritage Foundation, modern x-ray diffraction images, Cosmographica by Petrus Apianus (1495–1552), and the shape of the Fibonacci spiral, which she used to help represent the periodic table of elements. These diverse influences plus her study of the history of the periodic table back to the days of alchemy became the foundation for Kamen’s acclaimed installation “Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden,” which will become a permanent exhibit on the NOVA campus.

In closing Kamen reminded us of her work in “altered book” sculpture, and, after taking a few questions, closed by saying about her work with libraries that “Anything that gets people in a library is good.”

President Todd then adjourned the session and sent us to our lunch and the vendors’ exhibits.

Cy Dillon, Hampden-Sydney College
Preconference: 2:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Ghosts of Virginia

Presenter: L. B. Taylor

A photo of L. B Taylor.

Noted Virginia author L.B. Taylor was the speaker for the VLA pre-conference. He is an authority on paranormal activity within Virginia, and he has written over 23 books and numerous magazine articles related to Virginia ghosts, Civil War ghosts, and regional hauntings throughout the Commonwealth. His books are valued not only by those who are interested in the paranormal, but also by teachers, who appreciate the historical context.

Taylor began his presentation by saying that it was not his intention to try and make believers out of those in attendance; rather, he wanted each attendee to make up his or her own mind about whether or not the paranormal exists. He went on to say that “most of what people perceive as ghosts can be explained by rational or scientific means. Still, there’s that one percent or less that to me are inexplicable.”

Taylor defined a ghost as a person who has died in a tragic way, and who is unaware that he or she has died. The ghost may manifest itself in a specific place in order to check in on those it has left behind, or a ghost may be trying to right some wrong. And finally, the ghost may be staying around in order to protect a loved one or to seek out revenge. A ghost may manifest itself through sounds, aromas, physical phenomena, and sightings. Some people have reported hearing moans and crying; some have smelled specific fragrances; some have felt cold areas within a room. People have reported seeing things fly off shelves and shadows that move across a wall.

The author explained that he seeks out paranormal activity at unusual and historic sites such as Jamestown and Williamsburg and eventually compiles the stories into regional collections of interesting and hair-raising tales. He then shared numerous ghost stories and showed slides of apparition photos that he had collected. The stories Taylor told — some humorous and some of a serious nature — included observations of paranormal activities in every region of the Commonwealth.

Attendees had an opportunity to ask questions and to share their own ghost stories. Judging from the many comments and stories shared, it was easy to surmise that the session was filled with those who were either curious about the paranormal or who have read many of Taylor’s books. Taylor is an excellent speaker who acquired new fans throughout the afternoon and provided the skeptics with much to think about.

Lydia Williams, Greenwood Library, Longwood University

1:15 — 2:00 p.m.

Gone with the Wind: The Legal Complexities of a Bestselling Novel

Presenter: Ellen Brown, Author

Ellen Brown, a lawyer and coauthor of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood, shared highlights from the book related to the life of author Margaret Mitchell as she dealt with the overnight success of her novel. This session was packed full of interesting stories about Mitchell and the novel that rocked the publishing world upon its release in 1937.

Brown began by acknowledging her co-author, John Wiley, Jr., who owns the world’s largest collection of Gone with the Wind books and memorabilia. Wiley has been tracing the history of the novel since he was ten years old. Because Wiley and Brown are fellow Richmonders, Wiley knew that Brown was a lawyer who worked for Fine Books and Collections, a rare book magazine. He invited Brown to see his collection and then asked if she would help him write this book that focuses on the legal issues Mitchell had to deal with, as her book became an overnight success.

A photo of Ellen Brown speaking
Ellen Brown shares highlights from the book she co-authored with John Wiley, Jr. titled Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood.

The book contains information about Mitchell that has never been published. The University of Georgia owns Mitchell’s documents, but one must meet with lawyers to obtain permission to quote from these papers. Brown and Wiley were given this permission, and then spent over a year going through these papers. Since the book was published by Macmillan in New York, the authors went through the publishing company’s archived papers housed in the New York Public Library. As Brown read through these documents, she learned that the publishers at Macmillan were disrespectful to Mitchell and that they attempted to take her for all she was worth.

Mitchell faced many obstacles in trying to retain control of her intellectual property and to earn some money from her creation. Mitchell turned to her brother who was an attorney, and he eventually learned enough about the publishing business to help her with the many legal battles she faced. Although it was not an easy thing to do, Mitchell had to fight many legal battles in order to protect her rights to what she had created and to gain some monetary compensation.

Brown is a wonderful speaker, and her presentation was packed full of interesting stories that bring this new publication about the life and times of Margaret Mitchell to life, making it a must read.

Lydia Williams, Greenwood Library, Longwood University
A photo of attendees visiting the exhibitors booth.
One of over 50 exhibitors offering library services of every description

2:15 — 3:00 p.m.

Neither a Borrower nor a Lender Be: E-readers and Library Policy

Presenters: Tammy Hines, Longwood University and Paula Alston, Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library

The presenters represented both the academic and public side of ereaders in libraries. They discussed e-reader users, circulation policies, and purchasing decisions before opening the floor for discussion.

In 2008, Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library (MFRL) started discussing downloadables with OverDrive — the global distributor of e-books. MFRL is part of the Southwest Virginia Public Libraries Consortium which began with 10 libraries but grew to 17 including Charlottesville, Hampton Roads, part of Eastern shore, and Poquoson. Smaller libraries couldn’t afford OverDrive on their own, but OverDrive was willing to work with consortia. Their program began in January of 2011. Longwood University’s e-reader pilot program began in the spring of 2010 with 12 Nooks, 12 Kindles, and 1 Sony. It began with Patron Driven Acquisitions (PDA) from Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Individual titles were loaded on individual ereaders then removed when the ereader was returned. After the pilot project and based on responses from users, Longwood continued to rely on PDA but also began to check out preloaded Kindles with about 50 best-selling titles each, while the Nooks were checked out as e-readers (this was because a credit card number was attached to the specific device which needed to be de-registered before it could re-circulate). The circulation period of e-readers then increased from 7 days to 21 days.

In May of 2011, OverDrive surveyed 11 public libraries across the country, including Fairfax County Public Library. The survey results indicated that 77% of those who use e-books and downloadables are female; 47% of users are between 40 and 59 years old; and 60% of those who download to a computer go on to use e-readers. Thirty percent of the survey respondents reported that they never visit a physical library, and 60% said they had learned about the OverDrive ebook service from library websites. Most reported that they could not afford e-readers.

There have been no known national surveys for academic libraries; however, Longwood’s findings showed that 38% of e-reader users are students; 37% are faculty, administrators and staff; 17% are library staff; and 8% are graduate students, friends of the Library, and others.

In early 2011, the Southwest Virginia Public Library Consortium started with a small collection of 1,529 e-books and can’t keep up with demand. These e-books have circulated 16,817 times and MFRL patrons alone have checked out 2,632 e-books. There are a large number of holds for Kindles and book titles have as many as 25 holds. Patrons believe that if an ebook is online, they should have access to it, but the policy is still one book per user. Loan periods are 14 to 21 days for e-books. The book is disabled once the circulation period is over. Patrons cannot renew e-books, but may check them out again if there are no holds and the title is available. MFRL started with 10 pre-loaded titles on 6 Nooks. Earlier, the library was able to purchase Kindles from OverDrive that were preloaded with 10–12 best-selling titles, and now each of those has about 60 holds. They also purchased one additional Kindle for each library so that staff could practice ordering, downloading, and viewing titles so they would be comfortable explaining the e-reader program to patrons.

A photo of Linda Hahne, Lisa Lee Broughman, Libby Blanton, Pat Howe, and Lydia Williams.
Posing for the camera (left to right): Linda Hahne, Lisa Lee Broughman, Libby Blanton, Pat Howe, and Lydia Williams

Longwood’s collection contains 28,490 e-books but only 112 are recreational titles that are downloadable to e-readers. These have circulated 389 times, but that count also includes the e-reader, power cords, and battery chargers. Check-out is limited to Longwood students, faculty, and staff.

Both presenters agreed with the need to reach out and market to non-library users. For example, the sources could be publicized on library websites, on Facebook, in student newspapers, and on posters distributed in areas outside of the library such as local gyms, the YMCA, and public transportation areas.

In the Southwest Virginia Public Libraries Consortium, each library decides on what to purchase in dollar amounts based on the percentage of participating population. At some libraries, patrons can make suggestions and “purchase” the title for the library. Those libraries set aside a certain dollar amount for patron suggestions, and titles are purchased until those funds are depleted. Equal funding is available for adult fiction, nonfiction, young adult, or children’s titles based on the number of holds per title and whether or not titles are duplicates. While some larger public libraries are putting 25% of their book budget into e-books. MFRL spends only 1–2% of its budget on e-books. Longwood’s pilot project, on the other hand, began with $2,000 for PDA, and each requestor was limited to $20. A limited amount of funds is now set aside for pre-selected titles and to continue PDA for e-readers.

As more people have purchased devices, the interest in borrowing devices from libraries has decreased while the interest in downloadable titles has increased.

During the open discussion period, presenters from MFRL and Longwood responded to a wide variety of questions. For example, (1) How are your e-readers holding up? (2) Do you purchase or lease your titles? and (3) Who takes care of your technology problems? Both presenters explained that their libraries charge for damaged or lost e-readers. MFRL charges $150 if an e-reader is lost and $1 per day late fee. At Longwood, students are responsible for all equipment loaned out and are charged replacement costs for lost or damaged devices. With OverDrive, the titles are leased, and should the library cancel with OverDrive, the titles are lost. Publishers such as Macmillan and Simon & Schuster allow purchase of e-books title by title. Academic vendors such as ebrary and EBL allow title-by-title purchases as well. Since state audits review where the funds have been spent, there is little leasing in state-supported academic libraries. OverDrive no longer signs state contracts as they did with Maine and Kansas (their first state contract). OverDrive is still in litigation with the state of Kansas as to who retains content.

Longwood turns to its Systems Information Specialist or Information Technology Specialist for initial help with technology problems, and then calls the Amazon or Barnes & Noble (B&N) help desk if needed. Longwood tries to maintain the program with the least amount of impact on staff time, with five staff members from different areas of the library each taking one day of the week to check for requests and to make sure the e-readers are ready for circulation. MFRL calls upon its Systems Information person to start with and has called the help desk at B&N and Amazon.

Once the Q & A session was over, the presenters finished up with a listing of helpful resources.

Pat Howe, Longwood University

2:15 — 3:00 p.m.

Sustaining Your Professional and Scholarly Identity in the Digital Environment: Strategies for Virginia Librarians

Presenter: Rebecca Kate Miller, Virginia Tech

Rebecca Miller had her audience involved from the first minute of her presentation when she used Poll Everywhere to have attendees respond to her questions by texting with their cell phones. Once she was sure the audience was engaged, she listed a variety of reasons why librarians might want to safeguard their online identity, and then, using her own name as an example, she showed how easily confusion can arise over search results.

This introduction led to a discussion of strategies that help maintain a consistent online identity appropriate to a professional person such as a librarian. Miller suggested that these strategies include being intentional, paying careful attention to what is already on the web about you, being aware of people who share your name, and searching with a variety of search engines. She then suggested being consistent in efforts to create a personal brand so that the images, messages, skills, and interests associated with your online identity are reflective of you and the personality you want to project. Her own decision to use her full name, Rebecca Kate Miller, is a good example of using a consistent approach to create a personal brand in cyberspace.

Miller further suggested using online social media “dashboard” tools such as Hootsuite and Tweet-Deck to help manage both our personal and professional use of sites. Another strategy she recommended is creating and controlling a personal website or blog using utilities such as Google Sites, Wix, Weebly, or Wordpress. This might even extend to purchasing and using an individual domain name.

When it comes to managing multiple web presences, Miller suggested creating online profiles linking to other sites. This can be done with Google Profiles, Linked In, ALA Connect,, and Scholar Universe, among others. The strengths and purposes of these sites vary, so select the one or two that focus on the identity you want to maintain.

Maintaining personal privacy also concerns Miller, and she recommended checking out Digital Tatoo, using good anti-virus and malware blocking software, and setting up a Google Alert to keep posted on anything mentioning you on the web. Finally, the occasional “vanity Google” can help uncover problem material, and it is only natural to suspect that members of the audience rushed to their smart phones and lap tops as soon as the session ended.

Cy Dillon, Hampden-Sydney College

2:15 — 3:00 p.m.

Where is the “Commons” in Learning Commons?

Presenters: Elizabeth Haworth and Sara Williams, James Madison University; Anne Houston and Eric Johnson, University of Virginia; George Oberle, George Mason University

The presenters from three different universities with Learning Commons started off their presentation by admitting that while each commons doesn’t actually have very much in common with the others, there are common strategies to consider when planning, or making changes to, libraries with learning commons. The presenters asked “can you be all things to all people?” and “is there a community we serve?” They suggest looking for patterns in the use of space and assessing students’ needs and wants through surveys, face-to-face interaction, and the LibQual® assessment tool. While long range strategic planning is important, it is also important to get creative and make things work day to day even when thinking of the future. A perceived problem such as space constraints might actually be an opportunity in disguise.

James Madison University (JMU): The Interactive Commons

JMU’s Carrier Library has maintained a traditional public service area, but with coffee. The Starbucks located inside the library is very busy, and takes up a huge footprint in the space, but the library staff has found that coffee has not only made door-counts go up, but circulation numbers are up too. Reference is also way up, with over 7,000 “real” questions last year. The Learning Commons space in Carrier has computers, spaces for groups to work together, and moveable furniture, and it is busy and crowded throughout the day. There are different partners from around campus sharing space in the library for tutoring and peer advising. The campus writing center is open from 7:00–10:00 p.m. four nights a week. Student interactivity is emphasized in the space through managed “graffiti” white boards, cork on columns for posting poetry, and interactive book displays that invite participation. Twice a semester “JMuse Café” — a dinner with a scholarly lecture — is offered. All of these efforts encourage dialog and participation and promote a sense of ownership of the space.

A photo of George Oberle talking about the intergrated learning environment.
George Oberle describes the integrated learning environment at the Johnson Center Library at George Mason University.

George Mason University (GMU): The Integrated Learning Environment

When GMU’s Johnson Center Library opened in 1996 there was no space planned specifically for commuter students. In an effort to address the needs of commuters and make the library the center of learning on campus, library staff co-located technology, technical services, and an academic learning library. The space contains the library, writing center, room for math tutoring, labs, and classrooms. The library is in the unique position of being located in a large multi-use building which contains a bookstore, food court, cinema, bank, post office, printing office, two restaurants, and a campus computer store. The library and media space takes up a significant amount of square footage on three floors of the building. The space is challenging, with staff separated from the books, more noise than they’d like, and not enough power access, but library staff have been very proactive in their efforts to actively support research and scholarship in a technology intensive environment. They provide access to work spaces for individuals as well as groups, have 1,500 user seats and 72 public computer stations that are always full, and they have added whiteboards, more power outlets, and more flexible furniture on wheels. In the future, there are plans to reduce the size of the collection to make more student space, bring similar services together, and continue to promote the idea that “learning is social.”

University of Virginia (UVA): The Scholars Lab

UVA’s Alderman Library is a graduate/faculty/research library with more than two million volumes. The library staff is interested in finding out what their graduate and faculty users need, and whether or not these needs overlap. Although their programming is primarily for faculty and graduate students, undergraduates are welcome if they choose to attend. There is a campus delivery service for faculty books and articles, but a small, dedicated group of faculty continues to come in. They come to browse, but they also come seeking intellectual and technological dialog. The Scholars Lab “caters to the digital research and scholarly analysis needs of faculty and advanced students in the humanities and social sciences.” The space supports faculty through a help desk that offers access to digital materials, scanning and software assistance, and in-depth consulting on projects that use technology such as Geographic Information System (GIS). Lectures are hosted in the space, the furniture is moveable, and there is a graduate student lounge. The staff of the Scholars Lab is seeking to build a community in the space and to promote continuous conversations with students and faculty.

Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney College

4:00 — 4:45 p.m.

Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) Users’ Group

Presenter: Kathy Perry

The VIVA Users’ meetings at VLA’s annual conferences have traditionally been fast-paced affairs packed with both information and attendees, and this fifteenth VIVA get-together was no exception.

Kathy Perry began by drawing names of audience members who would receive premiums from the various vendors that supply VIVA with information products and services. (While I can’t speak for all the gifts, the insulated coffee mugs that came my way are first-rate, and I did learn the names of colleagues as they rushed up to collect their items.)

Next Kathy introduced the vendor representatives present and allowed them to briefly mention any new products available to VIVA institutions. This was informative since attendees heard not only about things that libraries might want to buy but also about new no-cost features such as a mobile app for WorldCat.

The program then quickly shifted to a panel session involving John Ulmschneider, VIVA Outreach Committee Chair and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Library Director, Judith Thomas of the University of Virginia (UVA) Library, and Karen Vaughn, a librarian from Old Dominion University (ODU). Their session — titled Integrating Online Resources into the Teaching and Learning Environment — focused on how VIVA resources could be embedded in course management systems and other online utilities and how that might improve teaching and learning at our colleges and universities.

Ulmschneider emphasized that we need to make it easier for students and faculty to use VIVA content, such as digital books, in a variety of educational settings — not just in the library. He expressed frustration with having 500,000 online books cataloged, but having few strategies to recommend the use of these titles to faculty.

He expressed frustration with having 500,000 online books cataloged, but having few strategies to recommend the use of these titles to faculty.

Some of the means of increasing access to VIVA resources mentioned by the panelists included integrated searching and discovery tools, referral and rating services, tool sets for courseware, improved verification for citations, better pedagogy and assignment design, raising information fluency standards, and improving faculty awareness of the resources available.

On the other hand, two of the barriers to using these resources that came up in this part of the session were the lack of investment in access tools and copyright management problems with some of the aggregated databases.

Karen Vaughn then explained some of her efforts to integrate information literacy instruction in the course management system at ODU, including urging faculty to embed links to the library’s one-hour online class on research. The library staff not only developed instructional modules that were flexible and interactive, but they successfully worked with university faculty to get a general education requirement in information literacy established. Vaughn was enthusiastic about the success ODU had in using the open source utility eXe to supplement Blackboard in delivering modules on research to be used in a variety of courses. She demonstrated one of these sample exercises for the group.

Judith Thomas discussed her work in embedding VIVA content in courses in the Sakai learning management software at UVA. She explained the value of having single sign-on for access to the CMS so that access to VIVA content is seamless. Of course, this may expose problems with copyright restricting access in the wide variety of contexts characteristic of a large university’s academic offerings.

At this point in the discussion the vendor representatives were asked if they have tools (either existing or in development) that would help “unbundle” content. Other than concern from EBSCO that their licensing does not always allow the access VIVA wants, a few ideas emerged. Most VIVA resources do work with the Shibboleth authentication software; some vendors do have widgets that end-users can access; EBSCO has developed a search box that can be embedded in assignments in some course management systems; and vendors are continuing to work on mobile device access.

The variety of licensing restrictions for e-books came up here as one of the most persistent barriers to access. John Ulmschneider said succinctly, “We’ve been focused on content, but we need more than content.”

The balance of the session was devoted to a brief update on VIVA. Kathy Perry noted that currently only 44 percent of VIVA funding comes from money budgeted by the Virginia General Assembly, and that 97 percent of total VIVA expenditures go directly to purchasing user services. She also announced that the Resources for Users Committee would be considering e-book acquisition seriously in the next year.

VIVA statistics show that searching resources is up, ILL is slightly down, and the Safari e-books have recorded two million uses. Other developments cited were the Outreach Committee’s work on a new brochure and the updating of ILL guidelines. Finally, Perry announced that VIVA would be using the Balanced Scorecard system to look at assessment and develop a plan based on the organization’s mission.

Cy Dillon, Hampden-Sydney College
A photo on the top of Anne Anderson, Tamatha Lambert, Dana Beltran doing a synchronized cell-phone waving at the evening social and a photo in the bottom of musicians playing at the Portsmouth conference.
Above, synchronized cell-phone waving at the Thursday evening social. From left to right: Anne Anderson, Tamatha Lambert, Dana Beltran, all from Northern Virginia Community College.
Below, musicians jazz things up at the Portsmouth conference.

4:00 — 4:45 p.m.

Changing Standards: RDA, AACR2, and MARC21

Presenter: Elizabeth McCormick, Radford University

Elizabeth McCormick, monographs librarian at Radford University, provided a nutshell history of cataloging and its evolution before launching into an explanation of the changes one may expect to find in Resource Description and Access (RDA). The history of RDA itself is interesting. In 1991, work began on the Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR,; then, in 2004, development of AACR3 (Anglo-American Cataloging Rules, 3rd edition) started. However, those involved felt that these changes still didn’t truly address the needs of emerging formats. Thus, from 2005 on, the focus shifted to RDA (RDA, Though RDA is still undergoing revision, the Library of Congress has set the official RDA implementation date at March 31, 2013. It is believed that RDA will address the shortcomings of AACR2, which was felt not to have enough flexibility for nonprint materials. Based on the FRBR user needs and tasks, RDA focuses on the broad view of how to catalog, rather than how to catalog certain things.

Changes include everything from conceptualization to the gritty details of abbreviations and punctuation. Some terminology has changed; for example, “heading” becomes “access point,” “uniform title” becomes “preferred title for the work,” “see references” becomes “variant access points,” and “chief source” becomes “preferred source of information.” Restrictions on where to obtain core information about the resource have also changed. Without the use of abbreviations or Latin, and with more descriptive terminology and bibliographic content, RDA has been described as going from simple to verbose. New MARC fields, subfields, and codes provide further description of the physical nature and production source of the cataloged object; the catalog standard used; the details of each manifestation; and the relationships between a work, expression, manifestation, and item. If all this sounds complicated, it is. Catalogers who wish to keep up-to-date with the new standard will need both training and a subscription to the RDA Toolkit ( Though the new code is available in print from ALA, the association warns catalogers, “The online RDA Toolkit provides a one-stop resource for evaluating and implementing RDA, and is the most effective way to interact with the new standard” (

A photo of Craig Graziano performing at the conference.
Craig Graziano, Youth Services Librarian at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg.

RDA takes a different view on what is core information than AACR2. Notes are not core RDA, but unlike AACR2, at least one subject is. Transcription follows the edict, “What you see is what you take” (though one may add punctuation). The whole container is now the preferred source of information. Typos are transcribed without “[sic].” The data is supplied in the language/script of the resource (name and subject headings may appear in the language/script of the cataloging agency). One must supply a publication date; there are rules on how to determine what date to use. If one absolutely can’t supply a data element, one must type out “[date not identified],” “[place of publication not identified],” “[publisher not identified],” etc. If there’s no data about the publisher, default to the distributor, then to the printer. The copyright date is its own data element that must appear with © or “copyright”; it can’t substitute for the publication date, so both will appear. Abbreviations may only be used if they appear on the resource in that form. The ISBN gets its hyphens back, and illustrations are not core.

An interesting fact came to light in this presentation: as usual, the Library of Congress (LC) has its own ideas about how to apply this new standard, so many of the RDA records one sees in OCLC may follow different rules than the actual RDA mandates. LC’s RDA records are hybrids, not departing quite as radically from AACR2. For instance, LC is still using the 245 $b to maintain a similar look with older records, whereas RDA specifies the use of 245 $a only, transcribing everything as is. LC has its own guidelines for what is core data and what to do if something isn’t present.

No longer do we have the rule of three. Option one is to supply every creator or contributor in subfield $c. Option two is to supply only the first named creator for each function, but say “and six additional authors/illustrators/etc.” Abolishing the rule of three was seemingly intended to increase access in a world where keyword searching is ever more prevalent and patrons like to discover works by a multitude of favorite creators; for instance, there are often many popular writers and illustrators within one graphic novel, while short story collections may achieve more visibility when specific writers are traced. However, with the availability of option two, there’s a justifiable fear that in this world of shrinking budgets, combined with the time-crunch of learning and applying the new RDA standard, there will actually be even less access provided than under the rule of three.

Another notable change for contributor information includes the transcription of all extra data such as “Mrs.,” “Dr.,” and “Jr.,” along with any other information given. Further, one can add a phrase to help clarify what that person did. Along with eschewing abbreviations, the new standard calls for the cataloger not only to transcribe the place of publication and name of the publisher as they appear, but also to list all the places in the order in which they appear unless one is given prominence.

Fictitious characters are now considered real people… .

Some of the new fields include multiple 264s, with indicators that describe the type of publication data each contains: separate 264s describe production, publication, distribution, manufacture, etc. Printers are considered manufacturers. One can’t mix the use of the single 260 with the multiple 264s. For the 300 tag, there will be no more “unnumbered” descriptions; one must enter the exact or approximate number of units, such as 1 filmstrip (28 frames). Subunit numbering must follow the same format as that of units: xv pages, 400 pages (with “pages” repeated each time if the sequencing doesn’t continue). In RDA, one must use multiple 300s to separately describe each element in the set or kit, providing details about a book first, CD second, etc. Metric symbols are not abbreviations and will not contain periods, though each field must end with a period. The dimensions of the item and/or container are not core, though one can give them anyway. Further, the types of recordings and their characteristics are not core. Most of what has up until now constituted the 300 $b is not core, though one can choose to incorporate this information. In terms of series tracing, RDA doesn’t require the 830 as the authorized form. New tags 336, 337, and 338 describe the workings of the record and the type of resource; the 337 works with 007/00. “Electronic resource” is now “Computer (disc, card, etc.)” ( Fictitious characters are now considered real people and get their own 1xx/7xx, though a $c can be used to clarify what the character is [Sneaky Pie Brown $c (Pet cat) $e author]. The actual author, if known, goes in a 7xx.

One burning question remains: How quickly is your vendor updating your ILS? McCormick reports that Innovative is on the ball, making changes for free. Check to find out what changes are planned, how much input you might have, and what will be charged for this service. Will the new RDA fields and subfields be indexed? Does your library really want to display the new 3xx, which may not be useful to patrons? Will the lack of the General Material Designator (GMD) in RDA records confuse patrons? Other questions to consider include how to achieve staff training and provide access to the new standard (RDA print versus RDA Toolkit). In the meantime, the hybrid catalog is a real concern. Catalogers using OCLC are advised not to make duplicate records in the alternate standard, nor to “correct” older records.

Lyn C. A. Gardner, Hampton Public Library
A photo of conference attendees taking a break on the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel deck and below a close-up view from the deck.
Above, conference attendees take a break on the Portsmouth Renaissance Hotel deck.
Below is a close-up view from the deck.


9:00 — 10:30 a.m.

Second General Session

Noting the pleasure associated with being able to give recognition to those who have done good things, VLA President Matt Todd began the General Session by giving a presidential citation to Sean Bonney. The text reads “In recognition of his extraordinary graphic design work on behalf of the Virginia Library Association, including the development of our new logo, countless conference materials, extraordinary marketing resources in support of legislative efforts in the Commonwealth, and especially for his superlative work in coordinating the SnapshotVA initiative, developing its web presence and promotional posters, bookmarks and postcards; and contributing significantly to the Association’s advocacy efforts, this VLA Presidential Citation is issued to Sean Bonney.”

President Todd then yielded the floor to Jim Sanderson, who presented the Intellectual Freedom Committee’s awards for the Banned Books Week Display contest. This year’s winner was the Bateman Library at Langley Air Force Base, whose display combined a setting suggesting a prison with signs explaining why the books had been banned. Warning signs bore messages such as “Caution This Book May Cause Thinking,” and all of this was under the inspired theme “Free People Read Freely.” Sanderson noted that the Bedford County Public Library finished second with a thought provoking display featuring “dangerous books” in plain brown paper wrappers. In addition to having a significant emphasis on the censorship of children’s books, Bedford’s display offered bookmarks intended to encourage “illicit reading.” At this time the Intellectual Freedom Committee also recognized the work of the Jefferson Madison Regional Library and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression for their Banned Books Week observance at The Wall in Charlottesville. Supported by a grant from the Judith Krug Memorial Fund, a professional artist created a mural of banned books among flames that was accompanied by an opportunity to view the classic film “Fahrenheit 451.”

The next recognitions went to the 2011 VLA Scholarship winners, as introduced by Elizabeth McCormick on behalf of the VLA Scholarship Committee. First, the 2011 recipient of the VLA Paraprofessional Forum Clara Stanley Scholarship is Andi Ogier from Blacksburg where she works as the Serials Continuations Specialist at the Newman Library of Virginia Tech. Ogier has been active in VLA since 2010. The 2011 VLA Scholarship winner is Kimberly Rose of Haysi. Employed as a Library Assistant at the Lonesome Pine Regional Library since 1997, Rose’s goal in obtaining a graduate degree is to move into library administration. She has been active in VLA since 2011 and is earning her MSLS degree from Clarion University of Pennsylvania. Finally, thanks to a generous donation from the Friends of the Library in Buckingham County, this year’s Buckingham County Friends of the Library Memorial Scholarship goes to Hayley Tompkins of Palmyra. She is a part-time shelver at the Northside branch of the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library and the part-time Archive Specialist with the Fluvanna County Historical Society. A VLA member since 2010, she is enrolled in the MLS program at the University of North Texas. In closing, McCormick recognized all previous VLA Scholarship winners and announced that this year’s scholarship raffle raised over $1,400.

John McGehee of the James Madison University libraries then filled in for Caryl Gray as the representative of the VLA Awards Committee. This year’s VLA Friends Awards went to friends groups from Blackstone and Crewe Libraries in Nottoway County as well as to the Friends of the Stanton Public Library. VLA Trustee Awards were given to Betty Hamilton of Nottoway County and Karen Montgomery of Loudoun County. Next a VLA Life Membership was awarded to Carolyn Barkley, who received a standing ovation. Former VLA Executive Director Linda Hahne — although unable to attend the meeting — was recognized as winner of the 2011 George Mason Award.

Matt Todd then asked for approval of the minutes from 2010. Once that was received, he out-lined some of VLA’s accomplishments for 2011. Association finances are improving, especially where investments are concerned, and the Annual Conference will be profitable. VLA was a partner in a grant funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to improve immigrant literacy through increased exposure to libraries. Also, the Association cleared up some questions related to organizational structure, and the New Members’ Roundtable was revitalized. A second Leadership Academy has been scheduled, and both the Paraprofessional Conference and the Annual Conference have been held. The Association has selected a new editor for Virginia Libraries, Beth DeFrancis Sun, and a three-year strategic plan for VLA has been adopted. It has been a busy but productive year. After recognizing the work of the 2011 VLA Executive Committee, Todd passed the gavel to 2012 President Connie Gilman of Chinn Park Regional Library.

A photo of 2011 VLA president Matt Todd passing the gavel to 2012 president Connie Gilman.
2011 VLA President Matt Todd passes the gavel to 2012 President Connie Gilman of Chinn Park Regional Library.

Rebecca Miller of Virginia Tech then introduced speaker Steve Almond, a “literary provocateur” who is the author of the story collections My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, the novel Which Brings Me to You (with Julianna Baggott), and the non-fiction books Candyfreak, (Not That You Asked), and Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life. Lookout Press has just published his new story collection, God Bless America. Almond, who also self-publishes, was available to sign books in the exhibit hall after this session.

He claims to still be addicted, but doesn’t own a television set.

Almond began his good-humored, entertaining talk with the admission that he was a fan of television as a child, and grew up with brothers who also loved the medium. He claims to still be addicted, but doesn’t own a television set. After a very amusing description of the depths to which reality shows have sunk, Almond said “I am aware of how powerful screens have become,” and how much this challenges literary culture and the role of libraries. While he is not an enemy of technology, Almond does believe technological advances have made it all too easy for our attention to be distracted from more important things. The ease with which we can access music or movies or websites has made good music, entertainment, and information seem less valuable somehow — there is a danger in convenience.

As a young reporter in El Paso, Almond was impressed with the seriousness of a story written by a writer he was preparing to interview, and he encountered that story in the public library there. He sees himself as becoming more committed to books and the culture of literacy as his career has unfolded. He is also happy to have his books in libraries, even though that means there are readers who don’t pay for reading his work. In fact, he has been pleased to find that there are sometimes waiting lists for his books at libraries.

Almond values reading as an escape from distraction, an act that has things in common with prayer. And, he sees books as “remarkably efficient cultural artifacts.” His own foray into publishing comes from his concern about the business model of publishing, and he only sells his books in person, for cash, with proceeds donated to Doctors without Borders.

Closing with the assertion that libraries “bring us together and preserve our best dreams,” Almond received a standing ovation, and concluded with a short question-and-answer session.

2012 VLA President Connie Gilman then announced that the 2012 Conference will be in Williamsburg on October 24–26 and brought the meeting to a close.

Cy Dillon, Hampden-Sydney College

11:30 — 12:15 p.m.

Work-shopping for Success: Investing Resources in a Workshop Series to Maximize Benefits of Academic Support Services

Presenters: Jamie Price and Emily Moore, Jefferson College of Health Sciences (JCHS)

Price and Moore described their collaboration to design and deliver a series of weekly workshops that addressed student needs in such areas as research, writing, and studying. This successful collaboration between the library and the Learning & Writing Center at JCHS is currently in its first year.

The goal of this program was to capitalize on the shared missions of the library and the learning center to support students’ academic success. It was also hoped that public services staff might optimize their productivity and effectiveness by providing the opportunity for students to learn in groups. The library staff and the center coordinator drew on their knowledge of frequently asked questions to choose workshop topics. This helped to ensure that workshops would be relevant to their intended audience, while staff could draw on the resources and knowledge already in place — a win-win situation. Additional topics were chosen after interviews with faculty were completed. Widespread marketing, faculty support, and the careful match of workshop topics with student needs have rendered the program a clear success.

The organizers invited staff members from various academic support service areas to present topics such as successful project management, file organizing, test-taking strategies, selecting a research topic, the basics of database searching, and specific database overviews. Writing topics included how to write a research paper, resumes and cover letters, and several sessions on citation styles. Finally, several sessions focus on technology topics such as using Google tools, MS Word formatting, and embedding videos in presentations. Each semester the schedule is adjusted based on attendance and feedback, while topics are also scheduled to coincide with the calendar. For example, “Test-taking strategies” is most popular after students have received their first test results but before they take midterms.

The workshops take place during a college-wide activity hour so that they to don’t conflict with classes. Attendees are allowed to eat their lunch (a limited number of box lunches were provided as incentive during the first semester). To measure student learning, clickers are used for pre- and postworkshop questions. Workshop organizers also assess effectiveness using a brief evaluation at the end of each session, feedback from faculty, and a survey of all students at the semester’s end. Feedback has been positive, and attendance has increased. During the first semester of the series, spring 2011, attendance was an average of 15 students per session but the number of students rose to 35 in the fall (total enrollment at JCHS is approximately 1,000 including distance education students). While organizers attributed the increase primarily to the higher number of core courses taught in the fall, they also noted that word-of-mouth has increased students’ familiarity with the workshops. To accommodate all students, including those studying at a distance, workshops are recorded and made available online in the school’s course management system.

Marketing efforts were key to the success of the program. Initial marketing focused on faculty to ensure their support for student attendance. As a result, it was decided that students taking core 100 classes would be required to attend four of the workshops over the course of the semester. Other instructors have also chosen to forgive an absence or offer extra credit when students attended a workshop. The workshops are marketed to students in newsletters, flyers, calendars, and on Facebook. In addition, the workshops are marketed during student orientation and other events.

Initial results show that this program has facilitated student success and provided an enhanced understanding of the available support services. With good feedback and attendance, the organizers look forward to continuing the series, expanding faculty support, and increasing direct marketing to students.

Maryke Barber, Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University
A photo of the Jefferson Cup Committee members.
The Jefferson Cup Committee members, pictured here, honored author Calvin Ramsey at the Jefferson Cup Luncheon during the VLA conference. Back row (from left to right): Sasha Matthews, Sue Trask, Calvin Ramsey, Connie Moore, Andrea Clarke Front row (left to right): Elizabeth Swistock, Joann Verostko, Martha Cole, Helen Hinkle, and Terri Slusser

11:30 — 12:15 p.m.

Measuring the Soft Stuff

Presenter: Cynthia Hart, Virginia Beach Public Library

Cynthia Hart advises libraries that wish to delve into social media to look closely at their goals and strategic plan and to form a definite strategy based on these. Used wisely, social media can help the library manage its brand, tell its story, deliver information, provide services, and maintain its reputation. To demonstrate how to go beyond brand to achieve emotional responses, Hart played a video of the Coca-Cola Happiness Machine, in which a machine on campus begins distributing free drinks. Coca-Cola is so successful marketing happiness (“Have a Coke and a smile”) that people have an emotional connection with Coke and will argue passionately about its merits. Libraries should strive to achieve this same emotional connection by focusing on what it is that people love about their brand (books) and the many ways that libraries can be transformational in people’s lives.

To get this message across, libraries should embrace their own brand and broadcast how important it is. Libraries provide opportunities for reading, listening, and viewing for pleasure; they stimulate learning and broaden horizons. People who like to read, love to read. Slogans should tap into this: “Share the love of a good book,” “Make a date with your library,” or “Share a month-long romance with the stories and poems of Edgar Allan Poe.” Virginia Beach Public Library (VBPL) successfully held the Big Read in February 2011, branding the events with life-sized standees of Poe books and hosting events such as a lecture by Poe-relative Dr. Hal Poe (author of the Edgar Award-winning Edgar Allan Poe: An Illustrated Companion to His Tell-Tale Stories), which drew more than 4,000 attendees. To promote the Big Read, Virginia Beach made heavy use of social media, including Facebook, Twitter, and the “VBPL Recommends” book blog. Hal Poe was himself a guest reviewer for that month, helping to tie it all together. VBPL successfully drew a crowd by reaching out with social media, while tying everything together with recognizable graphics and themed events.

The most important thing in employing social media is to tell your story. Put a human face on the library brand. Make it relevant, tell the stories that people want to hear, and keep your posts or messages short, sweet, and to the point; you don’t want your audience to view your communications as spam. Remember that you’re in the business of community relations, and people are judging the library. Virginia Beach started a “Meet the Librarian” blog, complete with video introductions to staff members (including a manager who loves surfing). Librarians are interesting people, and the public loves to hear these inside stories. That’s what social media does best: connect librarians to patrons on a personal basis. But remember that you’re not just speaking from a platform — you’re part of a conversation. Before you jump in, you need to listen. It’s important to know what people think about the library — including how we can help our patrons and make them happy. Hart feels we can learn more from complainers, though we rely on our fans to help spread our message.

The deployment of social media by Virginia Beach Public Library meets one of their strategic goals in terms of connecting to the online world. But there must be ways to actively measure how effective this is. First, establish goals for your online presence. What results do you want to achieve? Some may include building awareness of the library, increasing customer satisfaction, lowering the cost of marketing, providing good public relations, and connecting with people. The goals themselves will both allow you to measure your results and dictate the strategy used.

To get your message across, listen first. Figure out what people are saying, then respond directly or indirectly (by reshaping services, for example). You can set up a listening post at; it takes five minutes to start an account, which allows you to pull in RSS feeds and other content from a variety of places to keep track of what’s going on. Other listening post sites include HootSuite and Addict-o-matic. Those who talk about the library may not be doing so in places where they know you can hear.

It’s also important to know how well the audience can hear the library’s broadcasts. How many people have the opportunity to see or read your posts? What is your range of influence, and who exactly is listening? The library might have 2,000 Facebook friends, 1,500 of them women — but not all of them necessarily read your posts. With social media, frequency is also highly important. The number of times you create the opportunity to be seen in a given period will help to influence how many are intrigued enough to comment on your post or pass it on. Engaged listeners are your biggest allies; these library-loving fans help to spread the word with all of their friends. For instance, 900 active fans have an average of 160 friends apiece. If fifteen of them comment, it multiplies your message, giving their friends the chance to see and comment in turn. Cultivate and befriend those who keep saying nice things. A librarian is a trusted source of information, but messages from family and friends carry the most weight, and may even trump personal experience.

To do this, she looks at news releases and the alerts from that day, and pays attention to whether anything bad happened in a library.

Measurements for the library’s range of influence include how many external links go to the library’s blog; how many website visitors are repeaters (come back at least twice a week); how many fans or followers the library has; and how many clicked through and/or shared your links. We understand who walks through our doors. It’s equally important to know who’s visiting or actively engaged with our social channels. Facebook can provide demographics for your audience. Likewise, offers fabulous statistics anytime you do linking. To measure which sorts of social media activities and posts are most effective for your library, choose some key metrics, such as unique visits, page hits, bounce rates, and length of visits. If you want people to stay on your pages longer, you can strategize for this, providing fun articles or tutorials. Whatever metric you choose should tie into your purpose for using social media in the first place. If your primary goal is to achieve a more personal involvement with patrons, the number of engaged listeners who are dedicated enough to interact is an important figure. If the goal is to increase customer satisfaction, take a look at the number of suggestions you received and the number you were actually able to implement. If you seek to build loyalty and trust, count the number of positive conversations. Compare your results to something similar in the past, and it will be easy to see if you were successful.

It’s important to discover what kind of content yields the best results. Watch and see how many are recommending your posts, interacting with you, commenting, rating, “liking,” watching, etc. What else happened that day? Did the library post something that generated buzz? Was there an important world, national, or local event that either diverted attention from or brought more patrons to the library? Hart cares more than anything about why people “unfriend” the library, since it’s so much easier to get a new fan than to get one back. To do this, she looks at news releases and the alerts from that day, and pays attention to whether anything bad happened in a library. Only once did she make a successful connection with a patron who had “unfriended” the library after having a bad experience. Hart was able to direct the patron to a manager who then solved the problem. It’s important to remember that people get emotional, and they express these emotions through social media.

Lyn C. A. Gardner, Hampton Public Library

1:15 — 2:00 p.m.

Free Tech Tools for Better Library Instruction

Presenters: Jennifer Whicker, Radford University; Kathy Shields and Amy Pace, High Point University

In this informative and practical session, the presenters introduced several different free tools useful for library instruction, including Prezi, Mindomo or, Jing, Lino it, and Poll Everywhere. Prezi,, a presentation tool, uses a canvas of infinite size to present information rather than slides. Users can create a personal account for 100 megabytes (mb) of free storage and the ability to download presentations for offline use. Users with an active .edu email address enjoy 500 mb of storage and a download option. There are Learn and Explore tabs on the Prezi website (with presentation examples and cheat sheets), and a link to the complete Prezi manual under Help. Community is important to Prezi, and users can keep up with news on the Prezi blog and two Twitter accounts. The Prezi Facebook page updates via Twitter. The presenters recommend using Prezi because it is more memorable than PowerPoint, and it feels very natural. They suggest viewing successful Prezis under the website’s Explore tab before creating your own, and they caution that there is no spellcheck, and hyperlinks will only work in browser mode.

Mindomo, , and,, are brain-storming tools that are useful for keyword listing exercises. Mindomo allows users to create up to three maps, add images, embed audio or video, and export maps as images (and there are no advertisements). also allows users to create three maps or sheets, but offers less customization (no images, hyperlinks, or video/audio). One advantage of is the very simple interface.

Jing,, is a useful tool for capturing images or video and quickly sharing with someone else via a link. After downloading Jing and creating an account, the Jing screen-casting tool runs in the background at the top of the user’s web browser. Jing offers two gigabytes of storage and up to five minutes of video capture. Using Jing to capture screenshots is great for chat reference as well as instruction.

Lino It,, is an online sticky note service. Users with a web connection have access to canvases, or virtual corkboards, and they can place sticky notes on these canvases. For real time assessment, it is possible to share a canvas with others so students can anonymously post their own stickies with answers or other feedback. It is easy to embed in LibGuides or link to a canvas with Lino It.

Another option for interaction and assessment is Poll Everywhere. Poll Everywhere,, is an audience-response tool useful for interaction, assessment, and icebreaker activities. Poll Everywhere is free for audiences of forty people or less; however, higher-education pricing plans are set by individual student purchase ($14 each), or instructors may pay a flat fee of $399/semester. Participants can respond to poll questions via text message, Twitter, or online by embedded link. It is possible to create both multiple choice and open ended, free text, questions. Responses are displayed live, and are stored in user accounts.

Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney College

2:15 — 3:00 p.m.

Documenting the Civil War Project: The Civil War 150 Legacy Project

Presenters: Laura Drake Davis and Renee M. Savits, The Library of Virginia

The Civil War (CW) 150 Legacy Project is a program of the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, which was established in 2006 to plan, develop, and carry out programs and activities appropriate to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War. The Commission partnered with the Library of Virginia to identify and locate original, family-owned manuscript materials concerning the Civil War. The materials are scanned and made accessible through the Commission and the Library’s websites for research purposes. Both of the presenters are coordinating statewide digitizing efforts, with Savits overseeing the eastern region and Drake Davis overseeing the western region, each with about 60 counties in the state.

Both presenters work with local contacts to identify no-cost locations for scanning events that are easily accessible, have ample parking, access to power strips or outlets, and tables and chairs for scanning staff and donors. The local contacts also recommend possible dates for events; publicize the events through local newspapers, churches, and community organizations; schedule appointments; and provide volunteers to assist with the events. The coordinators bring equipment such as scanners, cameras, and tripods, along with all necessary paperwork, to each site. Only well-trained archivists actually work with the scanning. Appointments are necessary since some materials can take a long time to scan. Average scanning time is two minutes per page for high-quality scans. Diaries could take up to three hours.

The types of material that are useful and important include daybooks or ledgers, diaries, hand-drawn maps, hand-drawn sketches, letters, military or discharge papers, original pension materials, photographs, reminiscences (even from the 1920s and 1930s), claims for damages by the Confederate or Union Armies, and other documentary materials. Subjects can include battles, John Brown’s raid, camp life, civilian life, the home front, medicine and surgery, military prisons, politics and government, reconstruction, secession, soldiers’ and unit histories, veterans and memorials, and perspectives from non-traditional viewpoints such as women, African Americans, pacifists, or foreigners. Copies from national archives are not scanned, since the service is limited to personal items.

A donor permission form, which allows the Library to scan and use the materials for educational purposes, is required. The donor information form is meant to obtain as much information as possible about the subject and also helps in cataloging and creating biographies. Each donor is provided with a handout describing how to care for personal collections.

Materials have been submitted to the CW 150 Legacy Project from over 25 states across the country since there is not a federal program for this sesquicentennial. The majority of materials received are in the form of letters and diaries, followed by photographs. Transcription services usually aren’t provided due to time constraints; however, the coordinators will work with volunteers who are interested in transcribing legible materials.

During the session, the presenters demonstrated the database of the CW 150 Legacy Project, which is searchable by keyword, battle, or region. Since June 2010, 62 scanning events have been held in several areas of the state and over 40 more are scheduled through June 2012. Over 22,000 images have been collected so far and it is estimated that the total number of images collected will reach 40,000. Collections that have been uncovered to date include accounts, diaries, daguerreotypes, letters, reunion memorabilia, photographs and reminiscences.

A number of the items scanned were described, including an 1863 diary with a bullet hole; a letter written from Warrenton dated July 8, 1862 by William Mayberry from Pennsylvania; letters explaining how one survived on the run or needed letters to burn to keep warm; and a letter from Robert E. Lee to Ernestine Stevens dated November 21, 1864. Other scans included a list of Quartermaster Stores from April 1863; a Gustavus Dey watercolor of a battle scene from 1862; an 1864 invoice of household goods shipped from Richmond to Buckingham County which included 17 chairs, 2 rockers, and a brass kettle; an 1863 request for leave and pass; 1863 discharge papers; and letters describing damages due to fires after the McClellan campaign (written between 1902 to 1908 by David Allen who was a slave during the Civil War).

The CW 150 Legacy Project has a traveling panel exhibit and a History Mobile — an interactive museum on wheels. Additional information about the project and a schedule of events are posted on: The digitized collection can be found at:

Pat Howe, Longwood University

2:15 — 3:00 p.m.

Using Quick Classroom Assessment Techniques to Generate Reportable Data from One-Shot Instruction Sessions

Presenter: Laura W. Gariepy, Virginia Commonwealth University

Instruction librarians at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) meet once each semester with all 72 sections (with 25 students each) of a required sophomore level research and writing course. The goal of the course is for students to complete a long research paper. The course is not discipline specific. Given the significant number of students, Gariepy streamlined the process by first developing a series of exercises based on specific learning outcomes. She created analytic rubrics to assess student responses and administered the exercises before, during, and after class. The assessment of the responses is ongoing.

Why did Gariepy take this approach? She sought authentic assessment in a contextualized experience for the students rather than multiple-choice “one size fits all” assessment. The rubrics are based on descriptive criteria and present an active learning opportunity. For more information about rubrics, Gariepy recommended researching RAILS (Rubric Assessment of Information Literacy Skills), and researching the work of Megan Oakleaf, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Science in the iSchool at Syracuse University. Gariepy works with students to turn their research questions into search strategies. Examples of her learning outcome measures include the following: (1) Students will be able to develop a topic-relevant search strategy related to a research question in order to search library resources effectively, (2) Students will be able to distinguish between multidisciplinary and discipline specific databases in order to select the most appropriate resources, and (3) Students will be able to locate articles in library databases in order to investigate and refine a research question.

In her work designing the rubrics and the ongoing assessment of the responses, Gariepy found there were both positive and negative aspects to the project. On the good side, using rubrics for assessment encourages student learning, and rubrics are good for assessing complex answers as objectively as possible. On the downside, the work is time-consuming, it is difficult to articulate everything you want to assess, the rubric method may or may not focus on retention, and in one-shot instruction sessions, you lose some of the advantages of rubrics.

Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney College

3:15 — 4:00 p.m.

Reading Images: Art Libraries in Norfolk, Virginia

Presenters: Laura Christiansen, Chrysler Museum of Art/Jean Outland Chrysler Library; Jessica Ritchie, Old Dominion University/Elise N. Hofheimer Library

Laura Christiansen and Jessica Ritchie are passionate about promoting visual literacy and preserving art information at the Jean Outland Chrysler Library (Chrysler Museum of Art, and Elise N. Hofheimer Art Library (Old Dominion University [ODU], They discussed many facets of these two fantastic libraries, including everything from history and operation to daily tasks and mission. Endowments are very important to art libraries, which are themselves essential to the greater mission of the institution, be it a university or a museum. Art libraries support teaching, learning, and research, as well as providing needed background and context for exhibits, collections, and programs.

At ODU, the Hofheimer Art Library serves a program that covers art history, studio art, and art education; each discipline must be approached differently. For art history, professors and students want scholarly sources, while studio artists visit the library to find inspiration and learn about canonic pieces. Those engaged in art education need to create lessons and hands-on projects. The library holds over 10,000 volumes on painting, sculpture, drawing, print media, photography, architecture, arts and crafts, and similar subjects. With over thirty periodical subscriptions, the library also collects artists’ books and exhibit catalogs. The great thing is, in the art field, all these materials are still relevant!

The library also has strengths in modern technology, with AV equipment and art DVDs, a high-resolution scanner, links to online art subject journals, a blog and website, and scholarly full-text and image databases. The library provides access to several digital image databases, including those maintained by the Art Department as part of its slide library, as well as Oxford Art Online, ARTstor, and Dartmouth’s Art History Visual Resource Center. The image database is especially important. As one can see from a Google image search, the same work of art is often reproduced in a multitude of colors and tones, preventing the student from getting an accurate sense of what the artist is trying to accomplish. Hofheimer’s image database provides a faithful representation of what the painting actually looks like and facilitates in-depth research consultations for tough subjects like Asian art and folk art. For some art subjects, there may not be many research materials available, or greater context may be needed to provide visual literacy in what might be a different culture from the researcher’s.

The Hofheimer Library is a vital part of the art program at ODU. Faculty love having the art library right next to their offices and classrooms; many students pop in after class. The library keeps up with faculty publications and faculty-recommended materials. Hofheimer collects to serve the curriculum, so the faculty is very involved, but it is a split collection, with some material located in the main library. The library’s art gallery ( features rotating exhibits, such as materials donated from a book arts class, while the Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries hold a specialized collection of self-taught and outsider art materials, which are not heavily collected elsewhere. The library also helps with instruction sessions. Studio artists are asked to draw their experiences with the session as a way to wake up to the process of doing research. In addition to holding classes, the library has put together an online guide to writing research papers.

Devoted to the library, Jean Outland worked in the stacks every day, bringing her chihuahua in a basket.

Providing another view of the functions of an art library, the Jean Outland Chrysler Library is a museum library within an art museum. In some ways, it’s a museum in its own right. The Chrysler Museum itself has a world-class collection of over 35,000 works of art. Automotive heir Walter P. Chrysler Jr. had created a fabulous art collection, including over 150 works by Picasso ( Though not all of this collection came to Norfolk, his wife, Jean Outland, was a Norfolk native, facilitating the transfer of a sizable portion, including the Chryslers’ large art reference library, in 1971. Devoted to the library, Jean Outland worked in the stacks every day, bringing her chihuahua in a basket. When she died in 1982, the library was renamed in her honor. Now boasting more than 112,000 volumes, the library has closed its stacks. The public may visit from Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., but there is no browsing; the library staff will bring out requested materials to the reading room, where one may also peruse the reference collection, periodicals, and auction indexes. In the stacks are about 100,000 more volumes.

The Chrysler Library’s main goal is to provide research assistance to museum staff preparing exhibits and preserving the collection. The library maintains object files for pieces in the museum and collects copies of every publication that features the museum’s art. Known for its world-class glass collection, the museum may open a glass studio, so the library gathers anything about glass — including seven volumes about glass rocks. The library is also a primary source of information for the public about the Chrysler’s collections and history. The 35,000 works of art at the Chrysler can now be searched online. The library helps people navigate that information, working with about fifteen colleges and universities as well as other schools from elementary to graduate levels.

The Chrysler Library holds about 55,000 monographs on fine and decorative art and 24,000 periodicals, with electronic access to more through JSTOR. Thirty auction catalogs and more than two thousand rare books and folios complement three hundred cubic feet of artist files — vertical files that contain clippings and correspondence, including letters from artists’ spouses demanding payment for their collections. The heavily used Knoedler archival collection contains original auction catalogs that were annotated by an army of clerks who wrote what things sold for and who purchased them, also appending tons of ephemera, such as cards and clippings for shows. The Chrysler Library actively collects about 250 periodicals, as well as current catalogs from Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Most of that information is online now, which saddens the curators (those glossy pictures and descriptive information provided great reference tools). Additional treasures include autographs and first editions; the fine editions published by bibliophile Walter Chrysler’s Cheshire House; an illuminated manuscript from about 1485; and a one-of-a-kind, sticky-back, 1980s photo album created by Tiffany Studios, which includes identification numbers for each piece. The library also holds papers from Walter P. Chrysler Jr. and his collection in the Provincetown Museum, along with records of the Norfolk Museum of Arts and Sciences prior to the acquisition of the Chrysler collection.

The Chrysler Library assists with research requests about art history, art work, and even the art in someone’s personal collection. Staff can’t appraise or estimate value, though patrons are welcome to examine auction catalogs for previous known values. The library staff have plenty of materials to help research any work of art, but can’t look at the original works in a patron’s possession. However, patrons can bring or send photos or scans; staff have been able to identify works of art or help with signatures (even from camera phones). The first step is to find out what people actually need to know. Research may encompass provenance as well as description. Requests range from preservation to questions about family papers or local architecture. The library staff even identified the type of wood used in a frame to assist in conservation. One interesting research request identified what turned out to be a piece of folk art by a Tennessee artist who created giant stone heads with nailed-on ears and left them by the side of the road in Tennessee and southwest Virginia. The inquirer had unexpectedly found this object in her back yard. Her neighbor liked to pick up things from the side of the road and leave them secretly in her yard. This one turned out to be valuable.

Both art libraries promote visual literacy and encourage people to join in conversations about images and how to look at them, including color and texture, paintings versus prints, and context and influence. A recent ODU studio assignment asked students to make a sculpture that would put them in the context of the greater conversation about art. Artists need to know their own traditions and antecedents, including who else has a similar style and how their work enters into this dialogue. The International Visual Literacy Association provides this 1969 definition by John Debes: “Visual Literacy [ … ] enable[s] a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment [ … ,] communicate with others [ … , and] comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication” ( In the past, many people were familiar with the motifs found in numismatics, vexillology, and heraldry. Bookplates, collectors’ marks, coins, and stamps held symbols that people recognized with ease. These sciences are now obscure. The average visitor spends only about three seconds looking at each work in a museum exhibit — not long or hard enough to recognize symbology. To reach its visitors, the museum pared down its approach to visual education to one concept: simply looking. Docents and curators try to engage people with art, encouraging them to spend more time and experience the power of looking again. For instance, one glyph-decorated, Pre-Columbian conch was always seen as a trumpet. However, a curator discovered that, held upside down, the carvings also depict a human face in a headdress. The object has now been repositioned in the display case.

A natural collaboration exists between the two libraries. ODU students do a lot of research at Chrysler, and ODU interns also worked on a Chrysler exhibit. The two libraries collaborate on research and jointly curate the Gordon Galleries at ODU and the collection of self-taught artists at Chrysler. However, the two recently engaged in a more overt collaboration: a book cart decorating competition. Chrysler used to do this internally; when they opened it up to their colleagues, ODU won the competition. The resulting cart — based on the Soundsuits of artist (not musician) Nick Cave ( — is currently on display at ODU. The public voting turns this into a great marketing opportunity for both libraries ( This year, Chrysler hopes to win back the crown.

The presenters closed with a sense of context. Comedian Steve Martin, a big art collector, wrote a 2001 book about his collection, Kindly Lent Their Owner: The Private Collection of Steve Martin, which he published to benefit the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art, Las Vegas. A lover of art and libraries, Martin crafted these essays on art, collecting, and the paintings themselves to help remind people of the importance of art. The physical look of a work of art on paper or on the wall continues to be significant to a lot of people. While many libraries worry about the digital age, these art libraries feel sure their offerings won’t go out of date, and hope to stick around.

Lyn C. A. Gardner, Hampton Public Library

3:15 — 4:00 p.m.

Visual Literacy: Added Value in the Classroom

Presenters, Gwen Vredevoogd and Marcia Dursi, Marymount University

The new Visual Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education developed by ACRL’s Image Resources Interest Group (IRIG) and approved by the ACRL Board in October 2011 bring attention to an area of information literacy that is rapidly gaining in importance. Teenagers’ daily use of media approaches the same number of hours as the adult workday, and educators are considering the relationship between use of images in instruction and increased student engagement. Yet students (and, some would argue, librarians and faculty) are not practiced at analyzing images, especially historical images. This lack of experience can cause problems, especially when images are provided out of context, or when they contain biased or misleading information. Librarians should therefore consider whether their programs should include instruction to help students find, interpret, use, and create images. The presenters used examples from their instruction to show how visual literacy can fit into information literacy instruction for a broad range of academic disciplines.

To start, Vredevoogd and Dursi engaged their audience with a photo analysis exercise. Using a worksheet developed by staff at the U.S. National Archives, participants answered questions about a photograph, without any prior knowledge of its context. Participants then learned whether their suppositions were correct. The exercise was a simple and powerful way to introduce an audience to the importance of an image’s social, cultural, and political context, while establishing directions for further inquiry.

One example given of how this method can be used was based on a photograph published in newspapers following the shootings at Kent State University in May 1970. Students were first shown the photograph, then given a few key pieces of information. Their assignment was to use research to discover the circumstances of the event shown. In another example, the presenters worked with faculty to incorporate visual literacy into an already existing research assignment. Students researched 20th century topics, then created advertisements using design styles appropriate to the period. This assignment culminated with students writing a paper.

Using images as a jumping-off point for information seeking is one way to incorporate visual literacy into the curriculum, but there are others; for example, images can also be used as prompts for writing assignments, and students can learn more about how to search for images by creating tags for them. Further information can be found at

Maryke Barber, Wyndham Robertson Library, Hollins University VL

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