I attended the 29th North American Serials Interest Group (NASIG) conference in Ft. Worth, TX in May 2014. This friendly group of over 300 serials and electronic resources librarians creates a lively atmosphere for learning and networking. The conference was held in the historic Hilton Fort Worth, formerly the Hotel Texas- the site where President John Kennedy stayed and gave a speech before leaving on his final motorcade.
A strong thread running through many sessions at the conference this year had to do with tracking and archiving digital information. When a web page is cited on a particular day, a later researcher trying to replicate the research material may or may not be able to find that original cited material. Broken links and missing web pages are becoming a problem. This was ably demonstrated by Dr. Katherine Skinner, Executive Director of the Educopia Institute, the opening vision speaker. She proposed that the changing mission of librarians may be to provide and protect access to social, academic, and scientific memory. She proposes that resources must be channeled into infrastructure to sustain the information that already exists. Other speakers agreed, providing talks on techniques to maintain and track perpetual access titles, manage e-resources in the cloud, and archiving the content of hybrid and open access journals.
The NASIG Core Competencies Task Force recently drafted Core Competencies for Print Serials Librarians, to outline the skills needed for librarians who manage print serial resources in today’s libraries. Open discussion sessions were held at the conference for anyone wanting to comment on this document under development. This paper builds on the recently completed Core Competencies for Electronic Resources Librarians by the same group. Rachel Erb, the Electronic Resources Management Librarian at Colorado State University, referred to these documents in a presentation on the impact of reorganization on library staff. Many libraries are trapped in workflows that reflect a print environment, even after the majority of their resources shift to online. This situation can make workloads unbalanced and unfair. Colorado State University used the core competencies documents to assess staff skills and strengths, cross-train employees, and reorganize workflows to more accurately reflect an electronic environment and more accurately align with budget expenditures.
In addition to many excellent traditionally formatted conference presentations, there was a Great Ideas Showcase where innovative ideas, new workflows, and new applications of technology were demonstrated via posters, laptops, tablets, and more. Some great conversations came from these informal gatherings. There was also a round of vendor lightning talks, where several vendors had a few minutes each to highlight upcoming products and initiatives. Finally, there was a block of time dedicated to Snapshot Sessions- a series of 5-7 minute presentations briefly describing a project or interesting idea by a number of librarians.
I returned from the conference invigorated, with many ideas swimming around in my head that can be adapted to my own situation. Sharing thoughts and conversations with colleagues from all over the country is invaluable. Library funding issues always seem to loom over all our heads, and hearing about the creative ways others have found to adapt to doing more with less while still providing exceptional services is invigorating.
I feel very lucky that I was able to attend the NASIG conference with the support of the WNYLRC Professional Development Grant Program. I would like to thank the Council for the assistance in making my trip to Fort Worth possible.
Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian