Tag Archives: Ashley Moye

OMGMetrics

tsll

When I first proposed beginning a column on metrics, it seemed like a common sense notion. In fact, the proposal practically wrote itself. Library metrics are the hottest of topics, as we’re simultaneously a service industry and an industry whose value to patrons and communities is difficult to quantify. This results in our necks traditionally being one of the first on the chopping blocks during cuts, and our staff and supporters constantly fighting for more allocated resources. Qualitative anecdotes don’t defend our worth effectively in this business-savvy, metrics-driven world, nor do they assure that we’re maximizing value for our patrons in our expenditure choices.

As a true librarian at heart, once the column was approved, I started my research. Often when beginning research, you cast your first net with extreme caution, prepared to be buried under a towering mound of inaccurate or inapplicable results. Surprisingly, despite the importance and value of library metrics, I discovered they aren’t touched on with near the frequency you’d expect. Why this phenomenon? I have some ideas.

Let’s face it. Librarians are rarely math-centric. I learned this as a MLIS student with an undergraduate degree in actuarial science. While like majors could bond over their commonalities, I always felt a little lost – who needs a math librarian? Further in to my library school career, I was swept up into Technical Services librarianship when I came in for a part-time reference desk job interview at my legal resources professor’s workplace and the Technical Services Director saw math featured prominently on my resume. She immediately usurped my reference interview and stole me away to the land of backlogs of Westlaw and Lexis bills, much to my delight. In retrospect, I don’t even remember interviewing formally. You say, “statistics,” and librarians’ ears perk up. You say, “I like numbers,” and their eyes light up. Then, they hand you a stack of papers covered with numbers and run before you can hand it back.

Yes, people who have bad memories from their math classes growing up are often squeamish around things number-related. While I understand that fear completely, library metrics are completely different. Hence, one of my goals at the outset of this column is to help our amazing group of technical services law librarian readers realize that hearing the word “metrics” is not synonymous with “panic.”

To begin, let’s go over some basic concepts and vocabulary regarding metrics and their uses in libraries. First, all metrics aren’t created equal – for example, they: (1) use different collection and evaluation methods; (2) speak to different audiences; and (3) serve different purposes. Understanding the breadth of this topic is the first real step in creating and tracking functional metrics, which can then effectively communicate value and aid in decision-making. There are many things you can measure in the library falling into the general categories of inputs, processes, outputs, outcomes and impacts.

“Inputs” is a fancy name for resources used to produce or deliver a program or service, like staff, supplies, equipment, and money. Through processes, these inputs become outputs – resources and services that you produce, including your available materials and the programs you organize and host. Input and output tracking gives you those first glance statistics, easy to count, measure, and report, as these are tangible things. Outputs are usually what are reported to stakeholders or decision makers, e.g., we check out this many books, we have this many research guides, or these many people use the library. However, these metrics don’t accurately demonstrate the value of our services and our products.

And here’s where outcomes and impacts come in. I tend to agree with the school of thought that outcomes and impacts are the same thing, seen from different perspectives. Outcomes are changes from the perspective of our customers and impacts are the same change from the perspective of a stakeholder, usually more of a high level change, with long-term effects on the larger community. These metrics are known by quite a few names, including impact metrics, performance metrics, and outcome metrics, and are primarily intangible, making them much more difficult to measure. Naturally, they also communicate the most value and provide the most guidance and support.

Let’s be clear. Metrics are different from statistics, and for that matter, so is data. Just because you did poorly in your statistics class or didn’t score highly on the quantitative section of the GRE doesn’t mean that you should run from data or cringe when metrics is bandied about in a meeting with stakeholders or decision makers. Formally, data is qualitative or quantitative attributes of a variable or set of variables which typically arises as a result of measurements. Statistics don’t even come into play until you study the collection, organization, and interpretation of this data. Even better, in the library world, statistics don’t necessarily require the use of Greek letters or even convoluted equations. Most statistics, measures, and metrics can be organized into operating metrics, customer and user satisfaction metrics, and value and impact metrics.

Operating measures and operational statistics (such as how many people came to the library, how many check-outs took place on a certain day, and how many hits we had on a database) lend themselves well to understanding resource allocation, improving efficiencies, and making budget determinations. Customer and user satisfaction metrics, on the other hand, tell us how well the choices we made are doing based on operating measures and indicate what improvements may be required.  Value and impact measures are incredibly meaningful in their own right, as they often incorporate satisfaction and the importance of separate outcomes. These are the most elusive of all measurements; so naturally, they’re the most valuable.

Martha Kyrillidou, senior director of the Association of Research Libraries statistics and service quality programs, once said “what is easy to measure is not necessarily what is desirable to measure.” This is such a true observation regarding metric gathering in libraries – easy measurements rarely result in meaningful statistics, meaning one of your first challenges is figuring out how to make the things you choose to measure meaningful. Simply put, a meaningful measure shows you how much value you’re getting out of your investment. This could mean the investment in the library itself and the value that the stakeholders or decision makers are getting out of that investment, or it could mean what sort of value your customers are getting out of how the library chooses to invest their resources, both in terms of financial outlay and in terms of staff time. To determine meaningful measures, you need to understand your stakeholders or decision makers, and you need to understand your customers.

For instance, quantitative resource usage information doesn’t show how or why users are using materials, or even indicate how satisfied they are with the products. Relying solely on quantitative data, such as a basic measure of number of hits, isn’t necessarily enough to justify value to stakeholders and customers. Our most popular blog post at the law school, according to easily generated WordPress statistics, is one featuring a cartoon sun. Looking at the numbers and reports, you’d assume this was an incredibly popular post and maybe even assume it contributes a lot of value. However, this particular post features a metadata tag for “cartoon sun,” and one of the most searched keywords that leads people to our blog is – you guessed it – “cartoon sun.” Here, it’s obvious that a simple number doesn’t communicate actual value to our customer base or to our stakeholders and decision makers.

Similarly, one database may feature twice as many hits as another database when comparing generated usage reports, but that could be because it has a convoluted interface (possibly even for the sole purpose of generated inflated hits). Again, just because it’s an easy measure doesn’t mean it’s meaningful. Qualitative data, such as patron survey feedback and user experience testing, provides the context within which to view these numbers. This often means using a hybrid approach of both quantitative and qualitative data.

So there you have it. The metrics world is wide and wild, and this column will do its best to shine light on as many parts of it as possible. In addition to detailed discussions of the general metric concepts already mentioned, additional topics will include collection methods, statistical concepts in a nutshell, resource usage statistics, COUNTER and SUSHI, collection and transactional statistics, consortia challenges, web metrics, altmetrics, faculty support, law firm and public law library metrics, performance indicators and benchmarks, as well as discussion of tools for presentation and manipulation of data.

I’m still figuring out how best to approach the column to meet the needs of our audience, and since the next issue is devoted to American Association of Law Libraries (AALL) Annual Meeting program reports, this column won’t reappear until fall. I’d love to hear any suggestions on format and approach, any questions you’d like for me to attack, or any topics you’d like for me to cover. Shoot me an email at amoye@charlottelaw.edu, and let me know what you think!

~Ashley Moye~

 Technical Services Law Librarian (TSLL)  is an official publication of the Technical Services Special Interest Section and the Online Bibliographic Services Special Interest Section of the American Association of Law Libraries.  This article originally appeared in the June 2014 issue and is reprinted here with permission.

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What’s in a Day as a Charlotte Law Librarian?

We are excited to announce that the Charlotte School of Law Library won First Place in the “Best Video” category of the 2014 American Association of Law Libraries 2014 Day in the Life contest!

librarians on patrol: no book left behind

In Spring of 2013, in preparation for our impending move to a high-rise in uptown Charlotte, we began a massive book giveaway initiative to rid the collection of redundant materials, free up space, and share these resources with our law students and local legal community. Through this project over thirteen thousand books found loving families, but in the midst of the madness, a few books ended up scampering away that needed to come back home. Enter the Librarians on Patrol – in October, six of our staff, both strong and brave, took a trip in a U-Haul across state lines to find our babies and bring them back so they could be stored, wrapped and transferred to our new library shelves come January 2014.

Featuring: Aaron Greene, Ashley Moye, Brian Trippodo, Cory Lenz, Kim Allman & Minerva Mims

Filmed October 11, 2013 in Charlotte, North Carolina and Rock Hill, South Carolina

“Addy Will Know” courtesy of SNMNMNM – snmnmnm.bandcamp.com/

~Ashley Moye~

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Filed under Careers, CharlotteLaw Library Team Members, Events, Hidden Treasures, Librarians Can Be Fun Too, Unique Libraries

The New OrgSync Interface

OrgSync is releasing a powerful new update to improve your user experience.  This redesign features better organization, simplified navigation and added functionality.

The redesign release is planned for July 22, 2014.  We will notify you if this date changes.

 

And check out the new OrgSync iPhone app, which makes it easy to access what you need, when you need it!

While OrgSync is already mobile-friendly and can be accessed through all mobile web browsers, the new iPhone app can assist iPhone users in the following tasks:

  • Find and join organizations
  • Read the latest campus news
  • Discover and RSVP to events
  • Access campus information, bookmarks and forms
  • Connect with peers and organizational leaders
  • Contribute to discussions

For more information, and to download the app, visit http://www.orgsync.com/mobile.

~Ashley Moye~

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AALL Spectrum Feature — Moving on Up: To a Deluxe Library in the Sky

interior stairway

A view of the interior staircase from the IT help desk on the fourth floor

Charlotte School of Law Library opened its doors in 2006 to an inaugural class of 86 students. In the early days of building our library stacks, we absorbed a collection belonging to the Mecklenburg Law Library that was no longer maintained by the local public library system. Our first home for the collection was in a repurposed three-story law office, and, while the building itself was a beautiful Gregorian-style mansion situated in the upscale urban area of Dilworth, it soon was deemed too small to meet the physical collection needs of our exponentially growing incoming classes and subsequent staff additions.

West Side Story

In the summer of 2008, we simultaneously cataloged and processed an extensive collection purchased from the former National Judicial College and packed up house and home, destined for a new location. The space was part of new development meant to bring rejuvenation and urban redevelopment to an area of Charlotte that had been the victim of urban blight and serve as a flagship of renewal for the area.

Unfortunately, soon after our move, the recession hit and the development of the area stagnated. Our law library space on the second floor of this building was designed with little input from the library staff and leadership, and the owners of the building resisted creating an interior that was too specific in meeting our needs. As the years passed, our student body grew to more than 1,500, and staff and faculty grew as well. The demands placed upon the law library’s facilities and infrastructure by this influx of patrons, in addition to our attorney members and public patrons, meant that our space was ill-suited to accommodate such demands. 

Moving, Part Deux

In late 2012, we learned that Charlotte School of Law was destined for uptown Charlotte, taking over nine floors of a premier center city office complex, Charlotte Plaza. This time around, we were fortunate to participate in planning our new library, and many of our suggestions were incorporated into the final design. Our main objective in designing the library was to meet the needs of students and faculty alike. We analyzed how our space was currently being used and tailored our new space to increase access and use.

Study rooms in our old space were highly sought after, so in our new space we increased the number of study rooms from 21 to 39 and scattered a number of these study rooms outside the library on other floors at Charlotte Plaza. Many students also appreciated the quiet study space at our old location, so we designated our entire space on the fourth floor as a quiet area. Our reference librarians are highly engaged with our students, so we created a reference hallway dedicated to these librarians’ offices in short walking distance from the reference desk. To enhance collaborative study among students and between librarians and students, we added two distinct Research Zones in the reference area, equipped with computer hook-ups and large monitors.

In order to make all areas of the library easily accessible to students and faculty, we included an internal staircase to connect the fourth and fifth floors. The circulation desk, reference desk, and information technology help desk are all situated directly off the staircase. Focusing on accessibility, we transitioned all of our treatises, state materials, journals, and regional reporters from compact shelving to static shelving.

Free to a Good Home

Although doing away with compact shelving and opening up the library space for our patrons was a welcome change, it did leave us with a conundrum on our hands. Space constraints had been few and far between in our old building, resulting in a somewhat unwieldy collection that had no business moving to our new building en masse. Second copies and non-updated materials abounded, especially reporter volumes, ranging on and on ad infinitum. Once we moved to our uptown building, discard projects would take on a life of their own, requiring use of a freight elevator and possibly even professionals. So, despite the fact that it made our inner librarian bones cringe and twinge, a large number of books needed to be sent away to the “farm” to while away their days in the sunshine, or, more preferably, be rehomed.

Beginning in the 2013 spring semester, we began preparing for our move with a massive book giveaway initiative, reducing our collection as well as allowing us to serve our law student and local legal communities. Over the course of a semester, the library team came together to identify redundant materials, remove them from the collection, and find them good homes. An online database was created via Google, displaying cover art and details of each title. Books were offered in phases, first and foremost to students and alumni as both resource materials and window dressing, well-suited for new lawyer offices, and then to faculty, staff, other local libraries, and the community. Through this project, more than 13,777 books found loving families, with only a few minor hiccups, and we were left with only 2,000 books remaining for the “farm.”

I’ve Got 99 Problems, but My Team Ain’t One

After celebrating our successful discard project, we began planning the spacing and organization of our newly culled collection. We spent days poring over blueprints, wandering the stacks with measuring tapes, and crunching linear feet measurements into calculators. Similar to many other law libraries, our collection is organized primarily into categories, such as regional reporters, journals, federal materials, and treatises, and, within each of these sections, by Library of Congress classification numbers. We also have a dedicated reference section focusing specifically on North and South Carolina law. With two floors and a wide range of shelving in addition to these divisions, simple planning turned into a strange logic puzzle, attempting to preserve our categories and maintain a natural flow of the collection across the floors. Once the final calls were made, we congratulated ourselves and moved on with our regular day-to-day duties.

Our original plan to place our shorter book shelves on the fifth floor to provide a clear line of sight was short-lived. It became apparent that our architects weren’t necessarily familiar with the nuances of library design. The reinforced flooring necessary for taller stacks was only available on the fifth floor, due to the third floor being occupied by a different company, which made it impossible for engineers to reinforce the fourth floor as well. Suddenly our logic puzzle was back with a vengeance, requiring reallocation—meaning more hands on deck, more face palms, and more desperate cravings for margaritas at lunchtime.

The library was the last department scheduled to move on Friday, August 2. However, at this point, both the fourth and fifth floors in our new building were still under construction due to the reinforced flooring required and the labor-intensive installation of the floating stairwell between the two floors. As a result, the library would have to make do with a much smaller temporary space until our permanent location was complete. We rallied and proved our flexibility, rising to the challenge of separating our essential collection for the temporary space and leaving the nonessential materials on the shelves in our old building for the duration of the semester.

A Team in Transition Stays in Transition

August 2 came, and we packed our offices with much fanfare, planning to start work on our temporary floor the following Monday. However, on the way back from a staff lunch outing, management was informed that our temporary library floor was not ready and that our staff would be spread out into unused offices throughout the building for approximately one week. Thankfully, this “temporary-temporary” arrangement lasted only the one week.

In our temporary library space, we proved that we were a team time and time again. We were only in this location for one semester, so the school was reluctant to incur any expenses renovating the floor for such a short period of time. As a result, four members of the circulation staff shared a small work space, all of our technical services staff was confined to one room, and reference librarians were spread out two to an office. There weren’t enough shelves put up for the course reserve collection, one of the doors didn’t even have a door handle, and students were frequently locked out of study rooms due to the way the door locks had been constructed. The library staff had to adapt to tightly packed spaces that housed our work desks, book carts, and overflowing book collection. Students were less than impressed with the temporary library. Library staff frequently had to remind students and faculty that the space was not permanent.

At Long Last, Welcome Home

After the semester closed and the holidays arrived, we went to our homes happily while movers and builders feverishly worked on preparing our new floors, and we were able to welcome in the New Year in our permanent space. Our students, faculty, and staff have all been impressed with our new facilities, and we all believe that it was worth the wait. Finally, we’re here to stay!

This article was featured in the May 2014 issue of the AALL Spectrum, the official magazine of the American Association of Law Libraries.

~Ashley Moye, Brian Trippodo, Erica Tyler & Kim Allman~

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I’d Rather Be in Detroit, Michigan

The 2014 Innovative Users Group annual meeting took place in Detroit, MI from May 6-9.  We traveled to Detroit with a modicum of skepticism, due to a lot of negative media attention focusing on the city.  We weren’t sure what to expect, but we were determined to keep an open mind.  And we’re so glad we did, as we were pleasantly surprised at every turn.

Take a look at the REAL Detroit we found on our trip.

All in all, Detroit is a modern city featuring a safe downtown area full of incredibly friendly locals, amazing food, and gorgeous architecture.   We were sad to go, and we’re hopeful that IUG will decide to return to the city for future conferences.

~Brian Trippodo & Ashley Moye~

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What ARE Your Favorite Study Aids?

During National Library Week, the library conducted a survey polling our current students about their favorite study aids.

The results have been tallied and sifted through, and we are proud to present the official word on Charlotte Law student’s preferred study aid materials!

Our top five study aids are:

  1. Examples and Explanations – 28.57%
  2. Emanuel Law Outlines – 12.78%
  3. Flash Cards – 12.03%
  4. Black Letter Outlines – 11.28%
  5. Glannon Guides – 10.53%

Here’s the full breakdown:

Want to know why people prefer one type of study aid to another?  We’ve got a graph for that too!


Here’s some of what our students had to say:

“I use The Black Letter Outlines for supplement reading because they provide a solid overview of the specific material and key terms that I should be pulling out of the cases I am assigned.”

“This study aid speaks in regular language. It breaks down concepts to make them very simple to understand (Emanuels).”

“I am an audio learner. It allows me to think visually while I listen to the subject I’m studying (Audio CDs).”

“I’m not one to use study aids, but I like the Examples & Explanations because they’ve been consistently recommended by professors and because they give an opportunity to test your knowledge rather than just rephrasing.”

“I find that most professors suggest this series as a supplement to their teaching. Additionally, I have found that the explanations are very clear and helpful to explain complex theories (Examples & Explanations).”

“The Understanding Series breaks down the subject material in terms in which you will understand it better.”

Want to take a closer look at our study aids collection?  Check out our Academic Success LibGuide, and as always, don’t hesitate to contact the library with additional question or feedback!

~Ashley Moye & Erica Tyler~

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Filed under Books & Stuff, collection, Student Information

Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain – A Book Review

copyrightquestionsandanswers

For many information professionals, copyright fascinates and confounds. Copyright is glossed over in many classes, and librarians struggle to find clear answers to questions that arise in their practice. In the early days of a career, it is easy to blame youth for your befuddlement, but as years pass it becomes more and more difficult to plead ignorance. I have turned to a number of resources, including books, seminars, and massive online open courses, but all have skimmed over practical issues. For many librarians, copyright is simply a hurdle, not a concept to be lingered over, and swift resolutions to imperative questions are invaluable. Copyright Questions and Answers for Information Professionals: From the Columns of Against the Grain by Laura N. Gasaway goes a long way in fulfilling that need.

Gasaway, a recognized expert on copyright, has been wrangling with copyright problems for fifteen years now, answering questions from readers in a regular column in Against the Grain, the periodical offshoot of the Charleston Conferences. In her column, she addresses her audience of librarians, publishers, teachers, and authors, clearing the fog and replacing it with clear practicalities, one query at a time.

In her new offering, these questions and answers have been curated, updated, organized, and reassembled, giving readers access, in a single work, to Gasaway’s experience and expertise that was before scattered throughout her columns. Gasaway covers all the usual suspects, including fair use rights, library reserves, licensing, interlibrary loan, preservation, software, and digitization. Question-and-answer pairings are organized into topical chapters, and the book finishes with an emerging issues chapter providing current content on timely subjects such as HathiTrust and the first sale doctrine.

Each chapter features a brief introduction that provides context, but the value of the text lies in her answers to each questioner’s specific needs. While this idiosyncrasy does make the book poorly suited for cover-to-cover reading, it is perfect for quick reference. Other popular copyright texts use the question-and-answer format to show applications of broad concepts, but since the questions posed in this book are wide-ranging and true to life, it effectively provides applicable answers to specific questions. Unfortunately, this also means that when looking for concrete answers, there is no guarantee that guidance for a given question is present between the covers.

In this case, a comprehensive and exhaustive index holds the key to unlocking the precious wisdom inside this book. This is a weakness of the book. While a primarily question-and-answer format leads you to believe that this work would be well-suited for novices, specialized vocabulary or specific portions of the Copyright Acts are often indexed instead of the words used by the questioner. Underutilized cross references again hinder those without a strong knowledge base, and while excellent term definitions and clear, concise summaries of concepts are repeatedly provided throughout the text, the index does not easily lead a reader to them. Not having comprehensive keyword references may seem to avoid redundancy, but instead it limits usability. Readers will not be approaching this text with exact replicas of existing questions, but instead will need to glean their own answers through a careful reading of answers to similar inquires. Because the language of exact inquires is not carefully indexed, an e-book version of this work would be preferable, allowing readers to perform keyword searches and thus work with whatever vocabulary they have on hand.

While the index and other minor inconsistencies keep Gasaway’s content from shining as brightly as it should, Gasaway deserves great praise for her work’s greatest strength: her ability to strike a balance between handing out specific advice and teaching readers strategies to navigate the treacherous waters around best practices and general guidelines. Guidelines and fair use do not lend themselves to cut-and-dry answers, making many copyright texts full of generalizations. However, Gasaway brilliantly teaches her lessons through examples, focusing not only on the use of best practices, but also on the importance of careful risk assessment. She reminds readers that copyright is rarely a firm line, unfortunate though it seems. Instead, application of copyright law is often nebulous. Gasaway’s well-balanced advice guides readers in making their own choices, weighing their options, and choosing to overcome their copyright hurdles the way that is most appropriate for them. In this role, Gasaway is truly a master of her craft.

~Ashley Moye~

This book review first appeared in 106 Law Libr. J. 108-109 (2014).

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Filed under Book Reviews - The Stranger the Better, Books & Stuff, Of Interest to Law Students