Indiana Library Federation Annual Meeting

This text documents my experiences at the Indiana Library Federation Annual Meeting, Indianapolis, IN, March 24, 2005.

Keynote address

War monument
War monument
bronze door
bronze door

Instead of driving, I arrived by plane early in the morning. This gave me an opportunity to see some of the war monuments of downtown Indianapolis in a different light, literally.

The day's keynote address was given by Syd Lieberman, an internationally recognized story-teller who taught High School English for thirty years. Mr. Lieberman began by explaining why libraries hold a special place in his heart. Specifically, he met his future wife in a library when he was thirteen. She winked at him, and he went over to see her. He praised libraries a place where a special type of education takes place. On one end of the spectrum there is education of the strictest order. Pupils sit in rows. They are lectured. The curriculum is well-defined. At the other end students are self-directed. There is no formal curriculum, and people meander about the space. The first place is your traditional school. The second place is a library.

The bulk of Mr. Lieberman's speech consisted of a number of short stories. They were stories of his wife, his mother, and his children. They were stories depicting history (the Johnstown flood and the Holocaust) and current events (the Mars rover mission).

The importance of stories, he says, is their ability to communicate "golden moments". Stories make us laugh, and they make us cry. They can do these things because they communicate truth. They slow you down and they are powerful tools that touch you, not so much intellectually, but emotionally and in the heart.

Libraries, he concluded, facilitate story-telling.

Federated searching

Mary Beth Minick and Kathleen Hanna, both of Indiana University/Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), shared their experiences implementing Ex Libris's MetaLib application. From their handout:

The IUPUI Libraries MetaSearch portal provides both novice and advanced users with a coherent and friendly environment of electronic resources that the libraries recommend. It enables users to simultaneously search multiple resources and receive the results in a unified display. Uses can obtain the full text of an article, link out to the original interface of any resource for advanced search features or services, place an interlibrary loan request and more... [See the following link] and click on the Guest Log On button:

For students their goal is/was to implement an alternative tool to Google. Faculty, on the other hand wanted one database to search, not many. After about a six month implementation phase, much of which seemed to be waiting for the vendor to install something, their system was brought up in the summer of 2004. At the present time, it is only being marketed for faculty, but anybody is can to use it.

To implement the system they first created a hierarchy of terms. Most of these terms are subjects, but some of them are literary genres and research tool types (library catalogs). Each term is then associated with no more than ten databases because the system's performance slows down given a number greater than ten. Each database can be a Z39.50 target or some sort of "screen scrapped" resource supported by the vendor. After selecting a term the user enters a query, waits as the search is federated, and gets a list of results grouped by database. The user then selects one of the databases and a list of citations is returned. Each citation is associated with an OpenURL link enabling the user to retrieve the full-text of the citation. No surprises.

Minick and Hanna were especially proud of a bibliography creation feature they implemented against the software. Users can search the database and have selected resources added to sort of "shopping cart" -- the E-Shelf. This E-Shelf is then associated with a URL, and the URL can then be saved for future reference and placed in faculty course pages. Students can then access the bibliography through the E-Shelf and deal less with things like e-reserves and course-packs.

Lilly Corporation

For lunch I visited a former colleague at the Lilly Corporation named Earl Smith. Earl and I used to work at the North Carolina State University Libraries in the early '90's. Earl is the first person to show me the Gopher protocol. We had lunch in the dinning area. He showed me around the library spaces of the corporation. We talked shop.

So you want a new website

In the afternoon I gave a presentation outlining the University Libraries of Notre Dame website redesign process. From the summary:

S.R. Ranganathan postulated in his Fifth Law that a library is a growing organism. This holds true for library websites as it does for libraries in general. At the same time, we wanted to make sure the thing we were recreating "grew" in a way that was not only functional but usable as well. We wanted to make it easy to use, navigate through, and be seen as tool to facilitate learning, teaching, and research. By answering the questions of context, content, and users we were able to articulate a strategic plan for the website. By combining our professional judgment with technical expertise we were able to accomplish our goals thoroughly and systematically. By continually repeating the process we will ensure the continued relevancy of the website. Managing websites, like reference services and collection development, are never-ending:

Most of the twenty or so attendees were from public libraries and worked in public service departments. Some were thinking about redoing their own website. Others were just curious. Most of the attendees seemed to be looking for technical solutions to website implementation given the restraints of little or no technical expertise or staff.


Civil War
Civil War

Flying down and back to the meeting made for a relaxing day. Indianapolis has a nice downtown with plenty of things to do. The city does not roll up the sidewalks at 5 o'clock. The conference was pretty much what I expected. Lots of public libraries represented, and the vendor area was filled with the usual publishers, book signings, and library architects. It is shame Notre Dame is so geographically far away from the rest of the library community in Indiana. I sincerely believe we have something to offer.

Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <>
Source: This document was never formally published.
Date created: 2005-03-29
Date updated: 2005-03-29
Subject(s): Indian Library Federation (ILF); travel log;