Transcript: Charleston Conference Preview

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Charleston Conference Preview
Interview with Katina Strauch & Leah Hinds

For podcast release Monday, November 5, 2012

KENNEALLY: This November, hundreds of librarians, publishers, consultants, and technologists will trek to the American southeast coast. The destination for their pilgrimage is the annual Charleston Conference. Since 1980, the Charleston Conference, in South Carolina, has made it possible for publishing executives to debate critical issues with all types of professional librarians in a friendly and informal environment.

Welcome, everyone, to Copyright Clearance Center’s podcast series. My name is Christopher Kenneally, your host for Beyond the Book. My Copyright Clearance Center colleagues return each year from the Charleston Conference with high praise. The tone is casual, they tell me, the talk irreverent, even though the answers to challenges confronting everyone are far from simple.

Joining me for a special preview of the Charleston Conference, where Copyright Clearance Center is proud to be a bronze sponsor, is the conference founder, Katina Strauch, assistant dean for technical services and collection development at the Addlestone Library of the College of Charleston, and editor of Against the Grain. Katina Strauch, welcome to Beyond the Book.

STRAUCH: Thank you, Chris.

KENNEALLY: We also have joining us today Leah Hinds, who is assistant director for the Charleston Information Group and works very closely with Katina on the development of the whole conference program. Leah Hinds, welcome to Beyond the Book.

HINDS: Hi Chris. Nice to be here today.

KENNEALLY: Well, it’s great to have both of you join us. Looking forward to the conference itself. And I think this is a good place to start with kind of a review of how we got here. Katina, you’ve been working on the conference now for more than 20 years. You’ve seen it grow tremendously. Tell the listeners a bit about the history.

STRAUCH: The conference – this year is its 32nd year. I started it before I was even 20. The conference I started because I didn’t have any money in the library to attend other meetings, and I didn’t really have any book money. I had never bought any books for the library. So I decided I’d bring some people together to talk about acquiring materials for libraries, and I did it in Charleston because everybody likes to come to Charleston.

I wanted it to be a different conference. I wanted it to involve everybody. I didn’t want to have exhibits. I wanted people to be able to be informal and flexible, and I want it to be a unique conference. So I wanted people to be able to talk together who were presidents, or just people on the bottom. I was on the bottom then. I had been a library technical assistant. This was one of my first professional jobs. So I wanted to be able to talk to the big guys, even though I was a little guy, and I wanted it to be that kind of conference.

KENNEALLY: And I know from what I hear that the spirit of that still is true for this year, for 2012 – as you say, more than 30 years since you got all of this going. What makes the 2012 conference different this year?

STRAUCH: I don’t think it’s going to be that different. I think we’re just going to try to maybe accentuate the positive of things that we can do to make libraries better and to make what we do more enjoyable and better.

KENNEALLY: I want to turn to Leah Hinds, and Leah, perhaps you could tell us about some of the numbers. How many people are going to be attending the conference – how many do you expect this year?

HINDS: We currently have 1,468 attendees registered as of this morning, and we’re expecting it to be around 1,500, maybe a little over that. And of those attendees, we now have 446 speakers. So it’s a record-breaking year for us. Last year, we just topped 1,400. That’s one way that it will be a little different this year, but not much. You’ll just have a few more people.

KENNEALLY: How much of a challenge is it managing all those attendees, all those speaking engagements? It must be really something of a juggling act for you.

HINDS: It is. We have a great core group of people that we work with – a great group of conference directors and people to help out on site. That’s something that Katina does a really great job of, is finding the right people for the job, to juggle this. So it’s all coming together.

STRAUCH: A lot of what we do at the conference is ideas from other people. Other people have great ideas about how to develop the conference and things to do that’ll make the conference better. We do our “dine-around,” which is an idea of one of our directors. Everything that we do is somebody else’s idea, not mine. And Leah’s got a lot of the great ideas. We just know when to accept people’s ideas.

KENNEALLY: It’s always good to listen to good ideas. I tell people I get my ideas 4two places – I think of them or I steal them. So Katina, perhaps when you get those good ideas, you run with them. What’s a “dine around”?

STRAUCH: The dine around is on Friday night, when people can go out to meet with colleagues in a famous restaurant in Charleston. They can choose to just go out and be together and talk about whatever they want to talk about. They pick the restaurant, and then the people are together that have picked a particular restaurant, and they’re all conference attendees. One of the directors always manages the group, to make sure that they talk and discuss things that they’re interested in.

KENNEALLY: Right. Well, I can imagine there are a lot of topics that are pressing for librarians, and for publishers. It’s a time of great change in both professions. Talk about some of the more important questions. I suppose it’s all about the impact of digital that’s really getting everybody focused on the future.

STRAUCH: Yeah. Digital rights, (inaudible) driven acquisitions, e-books. There’s a lot of emphasis this year on usage statistics. Alt-metrics is a new term that’s emerged in the last couple of years. I think peer review is going to be a big issue, because as we see more and more self-publishing or blogs, we’re going to see a lot more calls for peer review.

There’s a lot with rights management, which the CCC knows all about. Digital rights management is a huge new area. Not new, but it’s very emerging. And text mining is another big area, so we’ve got a lot of things to try to at least put a little hole in the sidewalk, or whatever.

KENNEALLY: You mentioned e-books, Katina Strauch, who is, of course, the conference founder for the Charleston Conference. What is it about e-books that librarians are particularly concerned about in 2012?

STRAUCH: Well, I think the fact that you can’t really share e-books. I think a lot of what we’re seeing with the electronic environment, that what we used to be able to share and print, we can’t necessarily share in the electronic environment. So there’s a lot of discussion about how we can share e-books, how can we share purchases of e-books? And maybe how we can text-mine more e-books.

KENNEALLY: Let’s talk about text mining. Because in fact, my colleague Skott Klebe from Copyright Clearance Center, who we’ve had on Beyond the Book several times, is going to be leading that discussion. I understand that the focus is going to be on the process of gaining access to text for various kinds of research. And so I guess the question you’re posing to people is how librarians, publishers, and researchers can use text mining for the benefit of the scientific community. What are you hoping to get from that particular discussion?

STRAUCH: I’m hoping that we can have a way that we can proceed, so that we can see some progress in that area. I think that right now, there’s a lot of discussion about what we can do, what’s available, what Google might allow us to do. And it seems like we just need to start the conversation. It has started, but it needs to continue and maybe get a little bit more sophisticated in terms of what libraries are looking for.

KENNEALLY: It’s a great place and a great time to start the conversation. And Leah Hinds, you mentioned there were going to be more than 400 speakers. And I was looking at that list, it is an impressive list. This is just a couple names from the Bs. Peter Binfield, the founder of PeerJ. My own colleague Tim Bowen, who is director of academic products and services at Copyright Clearance Center. Peter Brantley, who is director of the Bookserver Project at the Internet Archive. So tell us about some of the speakers who you think you’re looking forward to hearing from, and just how the interaction is for attendees with these speakers. Is everybody pretty approachable?

HINDS: Definitely. I think that’s one of the big draws of Charleston, as Katina was saying earlier, is its informality, and the centralized location. We’re in sort of a small venue in downtown Charleston – or smaller, not tiny. But it’s a very approachable venue, where the plenary-level speakers will come off-stage and mix and mingle over refreshments with attendees. One of the speakers that I’m interested in hearing is Anurag Acharya from Google Scholar, the founder and lead engineer there, is going to be one of our keynoters on Thursday morning. We’re going to have Annette Thomas from Macmillan. She’s also going to be Thursday morning. We have a panel of provosts – that’s going to be another interesting one. What provosts think librarians need to know, and that’s going to be moderated by Jim O’Donnell from Georgetown.

KENNEALLY: I wonder if I can wrap it up this way, Katina. For somebody who’s been in the library community for so many years, and done such a lot of work to help to educate your peers about all of these issues, I guess I’m wondering where you feel – can you give us a prediction about where we will be in just a few years? Are these issues going to be resolved? We mentioned at the top that there are a lot of challenges. The answers aren’t simple. But your expectation is that we can – we meaning the community of publishers and librarians – can come together in ways that will move us forward and resolve some of these issues.

STRAUCH: Yes. That’s why we’re trying to accentuate the positive. I think that we can. I just think we have to start thinking very positively about the possibilities of improving what we do and how we do it.

KENNEALLY: Katina Strauch, who is conference co-founder for the annual Charleston Conference coming up next month in November – Katina, thank you so much for joining us here today on Beyond the Book.

STRAUCH: Thank you very much. This has been a lot of fun.

KENNEALLY: I’m glad you think so. And we also want to thank assistant director for the Charleston Information Group, Leah Hinds, for joining us. Thank you, Leah.

HINDS: Thanks for having me, Chris.

KENNEALLY: And now we’re going to cross over to the offices of Copyright Clearance Center, and we’re joined at the moment by Tim Bowen. Tim, welcome.

BOWEN: Thank you, Chris. It’s a pleasure to be here.

KENNEALLY: Well, Tim, you’re a good colleague of mine. You’re director of academic products and services, and you’re going to be joining Katina and Leah, and everyone else at the Charleston Conference coming up later this week. You’ll be speaking on the Get It Now Experience.

But before we dive into that, let’s tell people a little bit more about what other colleagues at Copyright Clearance Center will be speaking about. On Thursday, November 8th, Skott Klebe, who is the copyright evangelist here – quite a title – will be part of a panel looking at Negotiating Access: Textmining in 2012 and Beyond, addressing how publishers, librarians, and researchers can take textmining forward to the benefit of the scientific community.

Then on Saturday, November 10th, our colleague in the strategic accounts department, Michelle Norell, who’s a senior account manager there, will be part of a panel looking at a fascinating topic, Copyright and the Cloud: Publishing, Content Workflow, and Licensing. Also on that panel, Todd Carpenter, executive director of NISO, and Franny Lee, who is the co-founder of SIPX. They’ll be looking at how the wide and cheap availability of cloud-based media services is changing educational and professional workflows.

But Tim, let’s get back to your panel. You’re part of a three-person panel. You’re joined by Jeremy Shellhase, he’s systems librarian with Humboldt State University, and you’re also joined by Christine Stohn, who is a product manager at the Ex Libris Group.

Take us back a bit to 2009. California State University Libraries had a problem. What was that problem, and how did Copyright Clearance Center, working with the library and other providers, help to solve that?

BOWEN: Well, thanks Chris. The problem that CSU had, and they came to me with this problem and said, CCC, can you help us out with this, is that interlibrary loan delivery times just weren’t meeting their patrons’ expectations. So a patron at a CSU library would request a journal article through their standard interlibrary loan process, and it was taking five to 10 days to get that content. Unfortunately, that was taking too long, and what they found out is about 50% of the time, that when they got the content and provided it to the user, the user never retrieved it.

KENNEALLY: I know that’s an important point, because resources at libraries everywhere, particularly on campus, are really strained right now. So the idea of wasting time and wasting money must’ve really galled them.

BOWEN: It was substantial, too. You’re exactly right. I mean, budgets are tight right now, and when they approached us, they had estimated they were losing about $500,000 a year.

KENNEALLY: And that’s just one library.

BOWEN: Well, that’s actually the CSU system.

KENNEALLY: The CSU system, forgive me. Again, a substantial number any way you look at it. So that was the problem. How, then, did we get together with some of our partners to provide a solution?

BOWEN: Well, we worked very closely with CSU and some of our publishing partners, and we did a pilot program. And that worked out very well. We did a pilot with four CSU campuses and with Elsevier. And we did that for a semester, it worked very well, we ended up extending it for another semester, that went well, and they said, OK, we need to offer this to the entire system, and we then commercialized the product and offered it to every institution.

KENNEALLY: You say it went well. So what was changed? I mean, how do we go from that paradigm you were describing to the new one?

BOWEN: Sure. What they saw was a dramatic decrease in the time spent getting content and providing it to their users. Again, it was taking them five to 10 days to get content through the standard interlibrary loan process. Through Get It Now, they were getting journal articles in five to 10 minutes.

KENNEALLY: Wow. That’s a heck of a change. And for librarians, why does this matter? I mean, I was looking at kind of a preview of your presentation next week, and a key word there is flexibility. What is the Get It Now experience doing to make the operation of their systems more flexible for libraries?

BOWEN: One of the things librarians want to see is happy patrons. And that’s one of the things they’re realizing out of Get It Now is happy patrons, because they’re getting their content quickly and efficiently, and the quality of the documents – that’s one of the things we get from our comments from the users is, wow, compared to interlibrary loan, which sometimes you can get scanned documents that are fuzzy, or disoriented on the page, and there’s streaks on them, and things like that, the quality of the documents are wonderful with Get It Now, because it’s just the way the publisher produced them.

But with Get It Now, what we’ve done – we’ve integrated it with link resolvers, specifically Ex Libris SFX. And Christine Stohn will be presenting with me at the Charleston Conference, and she can explain this more. But Get It Now and SFX provide extreme flexibility for the user – for the librarian, I should say – because they can turn on Get It Now – turn it off and turn it on, depending when they want to.

So when the ILL office is open, they can use the standard ILL process. But on weeknights and weekends, when the ILL office is closed, and a request just goes untouched until Monday morning, you can have Get It Now working then, and we can deliver content at 2:00 on a Saturday night in five to 10 minutes.

KENNEALLY: I know that’s got to make librarians happy, because their business is providing information. You mentioned customer service before. They define successful relationships with a customer – do they get the person what they were looking for as quickly as possible? And so really, we’re just assisting them in making that possible.

BOWEN: Exactly. Again, happy patrons is a good thing, and that’s what is the Get It Now experience.

KENNEALLY: Right. And you mentioned that Christine Stohn will be joining you. You’ve also got Jeremy Shellhase, who’s systems librarian from Humboldt State University. So it’ll be a peer-to-peer conversation as well.

BOWEN: It will. I’ll talk first about what Get It Now is, how it works, why we developed it. Then I’ll hand it over to Jeremy. Jeremy’s going to talk about, truly, their experience using Get It Now and implementing Get It Now at Humboldt State University, and then Christine will then follow up. Because Humboldt State University uses Get It Now and SFX, she’ll talk about how they work together – how the product works together with Get It Now and how Humboldt State’s benefiting from it, and the flexibility that the two products provide.

KENNEALLY: OK. Well then we’ve got the rundown there on an upcoming program for the Charleston Conference, taking place on Thursday, November 8th, the Get It Now Experience. We’ve been talking with Tim Bowen, our director of academic products and services here at Copyright Clearance Center. Tim, thanks for joining me.

BOWEN: My pleasure, Chris.

KENNEALLY: We’ll tell people as well that you’ll be joined on that panel by Jeremy Shellhase, systems librarian for Humboldt State University, and Christine Stohn, a product manager with the Ex Libris Group. You’ll be joining several of our colleagues also speaking at the Charleston Conference, and we’ve had the chance to get another preview from the organizers, Katina Strauch and Leah Hinds.

Beyond the Book is produced by Copyright Clearance Center, a global rights broker for the world’s most sought-after materials, including millions of books and e-books, journals, newspapers, magazines, and blogs, as well as images, movies, and television shows. You can follow Beyond the Book on Twitter, find us on Facebook, and subscribe to the free podcast series on iTunes, or at the Copyright Clearance Center Web site, copyright.com. Just click on Beyond the Book.

Our engineer is Jeremy Brieske of Burst Marketing. My name is Christopher Kenneally. For all of us at Copyright Clearance Center, thanks for listening to Beyond the Book.