President’s Report

Welcome to spring in Ohio everyone! Here that could mean anything from 6” of snow to 75 degree days and tornado warnings. For ALAO, spring means opportunities for member engagement.

O15513 Kristy McDonald

Krista McDonald

Board elections are fast approaching. The Nominating Committee did a great job of recruiting a terrific slate of candidates this year, and now it’s up to our members to stay engaged and cast their votes. Please watch your email for the election ballot in the coming weeks.

Our Interest Group Co-Chairs have been hard at work planning their annual workshops. Several have opened registration already. Please scroll to the IG section of the newsletter for workshop dates and descriptions as well as registration information where applicable.

The Interest Groups will soon be seeking new Co-Chairs for the 2017-2018 year. These positions are a great way to become involved with ALAO and network with colleagues who have professional interests similar to yours. Watch your email later this spring for announcements describing the role of the Co-Chair and telling you how to volunteer.

Finally, I’d like to encourage our members to join the ALAO Mentoring Program. We are looking for both mentors and mentees. The Professional Development Committee provided details about the program in their section of the newsletter below and provided a link to the sign up form. I have been both a mentor and a mentee in my career and have benefitted greatly from both roles. This is a wonderful way to get support if you are starting your career or find yourself in a new role, and it’s a great way to give back if you are at a more advanced point in your career.

I hope all of you will take advantage of these opportunities to engage with ALAO this spring!

-Krista McDonald, President, Miami University Hamilton

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Annual Conference Update

Annual Conference Call for Proposals

It’s time to submit proposals for presentations, posters and/or roundtable sessions for ALAO’s annual conference on October 27, 2017 at the Nationwide Hotel & Conference Center in Columbus, Ohio.katy-kelly-vice-president

Presentation proposals will be accepted until April 10, 2017. You have a bit more time to submit posters and roundtables: Those are due May 15, 2017. More information and submission guidelines are available on the conference website. Please note that all presenters are responsible for their own registration and travel costs, see the information below regarding the availability of presenter grants.

Think creatively about how your work connects to this year’s conference theme, “Libraries Act, Respond, Transform: The A.R.T. of Empowerment.” Explore how academic libraries and librarians provide resources and initiate programs, partnerships, and policies that empower patrons, staff, and stakeholders while advancing equity and social justice. Remember, small actions in any area of the library can lead to big transformations.

Ideas can include, but are not limited to:

  • Critical Librarianship
  • Nontraditional resources and services
  • Services for and inclusion of diverse populations
  • Collection development trends and models
  • Open Access/Scholarly Communication
  • Programming/Outreach/Marketing
  • Accessibility
  • Leadership, and Mentoring
  • Discovery and Metadata
  • Information Literacy
  • Sustainability

ALAO encourages library support staff and library student growth, career development, and participation in conference activities, and awards two presenter grants, one for support staff and the other for students. These grants (up to $150 each) are intended to assist with the costs incurred in preparing the presentation and modest travel costs associated with the presentation. Additional information will be sent to those who indicate eligibility on their submission forms.

If you have questions, please visit the website or contact Cara Mia Calabrese or Eric Johnson at

Remember to save the dates:

October 26, afternoon: Preconference workshop, details forthcoming.

October 26, evening: OhioLINK’s 25th anniversary social.

October 27: Annual conference.

-Katy Kelly, Vice President/President Elect, University of Dayton

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Past President’s Report

Please watch for the announcement about the ALAO elections in the next few weeks. I feel there is an exciting slate of candidates.

Announcing Innovation Conversations Webinars

In partnership with SWON Libraries, ALAO is very excited to offer new learning opportunities for members. ALAO members and staff at SWON supporting member libraries may attend for free and access recorded archives of the webinars. We plan to offer 3-4 webinars a year as part of a series called “Innovation Conversations.”

Innovation Conversations gives people a chance to hear from and speak with library leaders on hot topics, new trends, or exciting initiatives. The first part of the online meeting will feature a short presentation on the topic that brought this library leader(s) to our attention. The second part is a live interview and Q&A session.

Stay tuned to the “Upcoming Events” section of the ALAO homepage and sign up for the ALAO listerv here for further announcements.

-Brian Gray, Past President, Case Western Reserve University

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AAAS Annual Meeting 2017: report from the ALA Liaison

The American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting, held February 16-20, 2017 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts, focused on “Serving Society through Science Policy.”  Evidence-based science policy has always been essential for a healthy, prosperous, and just society.  Meeting, as we were, just weeks after the inauguration of President Trump and literally on the day that the Senate confirmed climate-change denier Scott Pruitt as EPA administrator, sparked a new urgency among conferees to “speak up science.”  Nearly every session I attended, as the American Library Association liaison to AAAS, made mention of the critical need to effectively communicate science research to the public.  Working productively with Congress and federal agencies, amid unease and uncertainty regarding anticipated changes in administrative policies, was a repeated theme.

That unease was brought to the open in the Rally to Stand Up for Science held on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Copley Square.  The rally was not sponsored by AAAS, but hundreds of conference goers left the Hynes Center to march a block north, where scientists, advocates and science enthusiasts listened to speeches and voiced their approval.

Plenary lectures and selected other live-streamed events are archived online, open access, for public perusal.  I highly recommend “The Scientist as Sentinel” by Naomi Oreskes, author of Merchants of Doubt: how a handful of scientists obscured the truth on issues from tobacco smoke to global warming (co-authored with Erik M. Conway).

Beyond the high-profile plenary lectures and rally, there were dozens of symposia – panel sessions of brilliant people, talking about gene editing, climate science, honey bees, social responsibility, implicit bias in STEM education, the perils of newsfeed algorithms in social media, the ability of “super sharers” in Twitter to perpetuate fake news, teaching critical evaluation skills through editing Wikipedia, and a packed session on using Reddit to communicate science directly to the public, to name just a few.  We heard that Reddit is the 7th most popular website in America, that 60% of its traffic comes from mobile devices, and that the majority of Reddit users rely on it as their primary news source.  Scientists in the audience were given a brief tutorial on hosting an effective AMA (Ask Me Anything) on – a platform with 1400 moderators, with strict posting and commenting rules.

AAAS again paid the meeting registration fee for 30 librarians, and I facilitated the session for sponsored librarians and anyone else interested in attending.  We heard presentations from AAAS staff and lightning talks from colleagues.  The slideshow from that session is posted on Slideshare.

The mood at AAAS regarding likely decreases in federal funding for fundamental science research, potential loss of access to science data on federal websites, and perceived threats to scientific integrity in the Trump administration led me to collaborate with Joseph Straw, ALAO Government Relations Liaison, to write a letter in support of science and evidence-based policy from ALAO members to the White House.  As of March 2, 2017, that letter was co-signed by more than 90 members.  The letter, with its signatures, will be sent to the White House on March 6, 2017.

Related news stories

-Alison Ricker, ALAO Procedures Manual Coordinator, Oberlin College

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Notes from the Trenches: Anecdotes and Best Practices from the Library World

Adding Theses and Dissertations from OhioLINK to our bepress Digital Commons IR, CORE Scholar

This past summer, 1,443 Electronic Theses and Dissertations (ETDs) were uploaded to CORE Scholar. We had talked about adding the ETDs for nearly a year, and decided Summer 2016 was the time for this massive undertaking. Fears of having to download each paper from the OhioLINK ETD Center permeated our thoughts and drove our workflow toward finding a way for automation. I know several schools are eyeing their ETDs for inclusion in their repository, and I hope this short explanation of our process can help those who can’t quite figure out how to undertake such a giant project. Please note, however, that these instructions are specific to a Digital Commons repository. Below is our process:

Step 1 – Request the Metadata

Request the metadata from OhioLINK. It gets sent to you as a massive spreadsheet. There are probably fields you don’t need, and several fields you’ll have to play with to fit your repository’s schema.

Step 2 – Tests

Bepress provides a demo site/sandbox for all Digital Commons users. We were able to figure out a few things using our Demo Site. First, uploading one record at a time, besides being incredibly laborious, would not allow us to simply import the record from the OhioLINK site. However, we were able to import the ETD via a batch upload spreadsheet. This led to our second breakthrough.

Each ETD has a unique identifier, called the Accession Number, which was included in the metadata given to us by OhioLINK. By adding “!etd.send_file?accession=” before the Accession number, and “&disposition=inline” after the Accession number, one has created the direct URL to the document. Luckily, as I said, the batch upload tool in Digital Commons allows for the import of the document. By adding a column with the first part before the Accession Number, and one with the last part after the Accession Number, we were able to merge all three cells to create the direct link to the document. Read, we did not have to download each ETD. We simply needed to merge three columns. That’s it.

Step 3 – Metadata cleanup

This past spring, a volunteer came to us seeking experience working with Institutional Repositories. She was a huge help in the metadata cleanup process. Capitalizing titles, merging columns, adding consistent keywords, disciplines, department names, etc. We downloaded ASAP Utilities, a wonderful add-in for Microsoft Excel, which helped her accomplish a large chunk of the cleanup quickly and concisely.

Our volunteer left in April, putting this project on hold until June. In the meantime, we investigated OpenRefine. Using OpenRefine for this project was a lifesaver. It detects duplicates, clusters information to find inconsistencies, has a plethora of faceting and editing tools, and is an all-around powerful software for data cleanup. I’m nowhere near an expert, and have yet to completely implement all of OpenRefine’s tools, but what I did use was incredibly helpful both in speed and consistency of data.

Step 4 – Uploading

It was time to actually push the upload of our ETDs. Early on, we had decided that our ETDs would go into one container, and would then be sorted by department into smaller collections. This made the upload process that much easier.

I ran into two snags during the upload process. First, DON’T TRY TO UPLOAD 1443 RECORDS AT ONCE. That is a terrible idea. After learning my lesson, I uploaded the records in batches of 100. This helped speed up the process, and if I got an error, it was much easier to fix. Second, Digital Commons does not allow HTML entities in the Title or Abstract fields in a batch upload. And we had A LOT of HTML entities. Thankfully, find and replace took care of most of that cleanup.

I am confident that adding our Theses and Dissertations to CORE Scholar has increased the visibility of the ETDs and has highlighted the unique research being performed at Wright State University. To date, the ETDs have been downloaded over 23,000 times.

If you have any questions about our workflow, CORE Scholar, the ETDs, etc., please don’t hesitate to contact me.

-Elisabeth Shook, Second Year Board Member, Wright State University

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Mentorship Program Call for Participants

The Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) Professional Development Committee (PDC) is excited to announce this Call for Participation in our Mentorship Program for 2017-18.

We invite people interested in being mentors and mentees to complete the registration form: Forms are due March 31st, 2017.

Who Can Be a Mentee?

Everyone is welcome to be a mentee, whether you are a student, a newly minted professional, or a more seasoned librarian. This is a great opportunity to connect with someone in the field who will work with you to develop your career.

Who Can Be a Mentor?

We welcome mentors from all levels of professional experience in academic libraries. Mentoring offers a meaningful way to engage with a colleague, be a supportive listener, and help them identify and achieve their professional goals.

Interested in Both?

If you are interested in both mentoring someone and being mentored, simply submit the form twice—once for your preferences as a mentee and once for your preferences as a mentor.

Program Overview

The PDC will pair mentors and mentees in June, 2017. We will host a Meet-n-Greet social event in August at the State Library of Ohio where mentoring pairs can get together in a fun, informal setting. If you can’t make it to Columbus for the event, mentoring pairs will schedule a first meet-up at a time/place convenient for them.

During the 2017-18 year, mentoring pairs are free to arrange times to talk or meet in person as fits their needs. Some pairs might be able to catch up at the ALAO conference in October, 2017. The Mentorship Program runs through April of 2018.


Please email:

Miriam Matteson, Co-Chair Professional Development Committee, Kent State University

Judy Carey Nevin, Co-Chair Professional Development Committee, Ohio University Lancaster

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2016 Research Grant Recipients

Studies K12 Libraries – Katy Mathuews

College-readiness is of increasing importance in an environment of outcomes-based higher education funding that emphasizes student retention and graduation rates. The school library environment experienced by students during their K-12 educational years may have a direct impact on the students’ success in their academic library in the higher education environment. Using the 2016 ALAO Grant Award, Mathuews seeks to understand the physical environment, information literacy support, and staffing that students have access to in the K-12 years and how these factors might shape the students’ perception of the value and usefulness of academic libraries in higher education. Exploring these perceptions will help bridge the gap between K-12 schools and colleges and universities in the effort to increase students’ college readiness.

The study will allow for visits to each school district in Appalachian Scioto County, OH including Clay Schools, Sciotoville Community School, Green Local Schools, Minford Local Schools, Northwest School District, Notre Dame School District, Portsmouth City Schools, Bloom Vernon School District, Valley Local School District, West-Nile Local School District, Wheelersburg Local Schools, and the Career Techonology Center. Scioto County was chosen due to the high incidence of poverty in the county. In Scioto County, approximately 60% of children under 6 years old are classified as low-income or in poverty. The study interviewer will take pictures of the physical environment and make general observations about size and condition of the collection, computers available, among others factors. The interviewer will also present basic information-gathering questions to the school media specialist, librarian or other school official noting availability of support staff, types of assignments, and resources offered.

Mathuews was able to use grant money to hire early career librarian Zachary Lewis to complete the site visits and interviews and to help analyze the data. Lewis is the Access Services Librarian at Shawnee State University, located in Scioto County. The grant award covers travel costs and analysis work. To date, Mathuews and Lewis have visited 7 schools with plans to visit the remaining schools by June 2017. The project also allows Lewis to make connections for future collaborations with local K12 librarians to support student success. Early findings highlight several similarities and differences involving freshman library orientation, use of electronic sources, and access to the library space and staff. Mathuews and Lewis look forward to sharing results of the study at future conferences.

Surveying for College of Engineering – Tammy Stitz

A survey for College of Engineering faculty members and another survey for engineering graduate students were developed to explore curricular and advisor support in reviewing the literature and writing the results for student theses or dissertations.  The Research Grant from Academic Library Association of Ohio (ALAO) provided an incentive for survey respondents.  Fifteen faculty members won a $25.00 Amazon gift card, and nine graduate students  won a $20.00 Amazon gift card.

In April 2016, an email containing the hyperlinks to the Qualtrics surveys was sent to the secretaries and administrative assistants in the biomedical, civil, computer and electrical, and mechanical engineering departments.  Twenty percent of the graduate students and 21% of the faculty responded.  Albeit a small sample, the number of respondents was greatly increased from previous survey attempts of this population, and the results indicated a need for targeted library services.

The data revealed that often individual graduate advisors must teach students how to perform and write a literature review.  Nearly all of the faculty respondents perceived that the students needed help in knowing how to synthesize information and in using in-text citations properly.  Twelve percent of graduate students indicated they needed writing assistance.  In addition, 64% of faculty indicated that students did not know where to start in finding literature, and 62% of the student respondents agreed that they need help knowing what to search to find the most literature.  Seventy-three percent of the faculty perceived that students needed assistance in determining if a reference is scholarly.  The students found organizing and formatting their references most important.  Seventy percent of students wanted assistance with reference management.  A small percentage of students and faculty did not think the students needed help.

-Elisabeth Shook, Co-Chair Research and Publications Committee, Wright State University
-Eboni Johnson, Co-Chair Research and Publications Committee, Oberlin College

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