California Academic and Research Libraries
California Academic and Research Libraries
Table of Contents .
September 2011 Newsletter (Volume 34, Issue 3) rss

President's Musings

Serengeti University: The View from the Reference Desk


“Through our own fieldwork in libraries, we have identified librarians as a keystone species.”
Bonnie Nardi, Vicki O'Day, Information Ecologies

After the relative quiet of a hazy summer at the university library, the view from the reference desk starts to change about a week before classes start. The ripple of last minute summer-session research projects is minor compared to the evidence of the swelling undercurrents of a semester about to break. If colleges and universities are the Serengeti plains of higher education, the reference desk is a watering hole – a first stop on the quest for knowledge.

A new student with parents in tow, perhaps with an eager, younger sibling along, will begin the elaborate, indecisive, ritual circling near the reference desk. Will they ask for directions to the student union? How to get a look at the class schedule? Or whether we have any books on DNA?

Unless the request is very clearly focused and specific, often there is an apologetic preamble ("I'm afraid I am not familiar with your library, but I am looking for something about…”) While there are a multitude of layers to our job as librarians, demystification is one of our primary functions, since so much of library use depends on some level of comfort with the organization and structure of the collection. People prefer different strategies to the business of finding what they need – some will gaze at library maps to calculate which area to browse to find their books, others will consult the catalog or tag along behind a wiser friend, and many will ask for help only as a last resort, their faces finally betraying relief at the discovery that there might be some method to the madness of organizing knowledge.

Librarian as Species

The first week of classes means instant, intense chaos. The reference desk is witness as herds of timid new students come to nibble at the resources, dashing off with alarm at the slightest sign of confusion or danger. Others come wide-eyed, as if caught in the lights of a nighttime motorcar, and stand bewildered before the array of information and techno-tools lined up in front of them. Newly-hired professors come with a falsely confident snap to their stride, assuming their reserve book lists actually made their way accurately into the catalog. Sometimes the big game come in, the heavyweight professors or the deans. They are checking on the resources utilized for their students' assignments or perhaps working on their own research.

I am not sure exactly what kind of animals we are as librarians, but we help the other animals, often even the unwilling ones, to find the best water and foraging grounds. We know the deep parts of the watering hole, as well as where the shorelines are muddy and need careful navigation. There are usually more than enough resources to go around for everyone, it is just the matter of finding what is needed, and for those unfamiliar with the topology and culture of the watering hole, the initial impression is overwhelming.

Many new students have never been in a university library before, where the collection is arranged with a different classification scheme than that used in public libraries. They need to become familiar with the geography to learn where to go for their new and different needs.

By the third week of the semester the questions have already changed, and have become more complex. “Where can I get journal articles on abortion?… How do I find the most recent research on the executive/worker salary disparity?… Where can I find information about Korean family structure?”

The apparatus of scholarship, which typically demands journal articles or books written by specialists in the field, ensures the professionally produced information that one finds in an academic library is of high quality. The new visitors to the watering hole don't always know this – any wet puddles, especially those within sight, look appealing. So part of the task, shared with the teaching faculty, is to point out the superiority of a more extensive look for water and forage, and that with a little care, the quality of the resources can be vastly improved.

Students as Taxonomic Orders

One of the many pleasures of the reference desk is watching the new students gain confidence, grow more daring and discriminating in their search for information as they become comfortable denizens of the watering hole. Right now, at the early stages of the semester, before the serious grunt-work of research is underway and another set of skills called into play, the possibilities are vast, the energy and optimism palpable, and the delight in new discoveries makes the university reference desk a front row seat on the dazzling and unfolding drama of research.

By the end of the second month, the reference desk is at its most vibrant and appealing stage. Research for many is in a happy phase. The first items have been found. The sun seems bright, water seems plentiful and there is the optimism that comes with the knowledge that if one does not find what one needs, there is always another day. It is easier to give directions to good foraging locations, although there are always those who petulantly maintain that this research business seems like a lot of work. Many of those coming to the area are often relaxed – lively but focused on their needs. Exceptions are those with take-home midterms that require some research, and who then try to trick apparently guileless librarians into doing part of their work. Often, when the exam questions are poorly framed, there is a panic and a rush for the best source of information on the current population of Ghana. Then the competition becomes tangible. Late-comers are often the most desperate, slinking with guilt up to the desk with awareness that they should have begun their foraging earlier.

There is some ambiguity about how to best handle some of these requests. It is not always obvious when the question posed is a mid-term – sometimes these sound suspiciously like any other reference question. But after three or four in a row, or a glimpse at the assignment (which can confirm the midterm suspicion) the situation may become clearer. Then the issue becomes how extensively to help the lost soul. Does one merely point at the distant source? Give a guide-map along with some knowledgeable advice about the terrain and places to avoid? How far does one lead the lost one down the path to the desired place? Or worse, how much interpretation to provide to decipher the assignment? If one knows the professor and his or her predilections (some professorial sadists enjoy watching their flock thrash about with difficult questions, others merely want their students to gain specific technical knowledge of the navigating tools or learn the lay of the resource waters) it is easier to give useful advice and know what stance to adopt.

Watering Hole Sentinels

Librarians have two main functions for the watering hole, only one of which is immediately visible. There are the reference folk, good at finding the hard-to-get, who operate in the transition zones. The catalogers and system people work behind the scenes, the packrats and organizers and technologists, who divine the important, arrange it thoughtfully and place it carefully where it can be found and used over and over again. Both are appreciative of faculty who have some sense of the best use of the watering hole. Those who send all their students, from all their classes, in a mad rush to select areas of the watering hole at the same time, often don’t realize the damage the trampling and intense competition for resources does to both the environment and its caretaker denizens. Students are frustrated when they feel they are following directions, only to come up empty at the promised fertile cove. They exhibit dismay or disgust at the poor level of nourishment available, while often a little more planning and strategic usage would have minimized the apparent poverty of the niche.

Good faculty know to send their fledgling students early to quiet, easy areas of resources, so that they may discover the taxonomy and morphology of the area. These professors often provide encouragement, and maps for direction.

Time of Troubles

By the last month of the semester, the area begins to feel harsher and more arid. While water is still available, good strategies in a calmer time (a detour over the ridge to another, perhaps better suited watering hole, arranging for resources to be portaged back) are no longer options. Time is running short, and the visitors show it with their darting eyes, and quick limb movements. The panic can lead to confusion. Questions are phrased hurriedly and thoughtlessly. It takes longer to figure out what the real need is. Speed and proximity become more important than quality. Arguments ensue. The visitor may suspect that the librarian-guardians are hoarding resources or hiding them with a labyrinth of academic deceit. The conspiracy of the educational system, which apparently makes all tasks as difficult as possible, is revealed again in the environment of the watering hole. Two miles through thorny brush to get to the best spring? Isn’t there a shortcut? Isn’t all this stuff online? It doesn’t need to be a good draught – it’s only for a five-minute speech, how about an easy place for a quick dramatic gulp? Return visits to the desk can be contentious – all the good resources have been taken or trampled by earlier visitors. Can’t the librarian do something about this? Isn’t this place for everyone? Patience, a thick skin and most of all, some presence of mind are important qualities now.

At brief moments at the reference desk, it is possible to catch a landscape view of the expanse of academia. The plains of well watered grass stretch out to the rolling hills and rugged mountains in the distance, whose very height and presence alter not only the landscape but the weather itself, catching moisture and sending it on its way to the lower valleys and plains. The different families and species of fauna are visibly hard at work, and their interplay at the watering hole is instructive. Niche adaptations vary, and the librarians note the seasonal changes in the fauna carefully. Decreased numbers of some genera provide alarm, as well as other observations about the health of individuals. Certain important species provide a clue as to the overall health of the ecosystem. Are they well fed? Coats shabby? Eyes glazed? How do the teeth look, and most important, how is the appetite? Comparisons between genera are unavoidable, and there are certainly some groups with better watering hole manners than others. Yet the overall picture is one of astonishing beauty and diversity, the pleasure created at the sight of the world of resources being utilized so that life may flourish is keen.

There are occasional moments of enlightenment at the end of the semester too. Visitors may return, and offer thanks for help in the finishing of their theses. Smiles and shining eyes are marvelous rewards for the cautious supervision of another research season. But the sentinels are always vigilant – for fortunes, habitats and even the supply of water, can change quickly and precipitously.

Photo by Kibuyu

Submitted by Ned Fielden, San Francisco State University, CARL President

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CARL Business

CARL Membership Report

CARL Membership Database and Renewal Period Changes

CARL is about to launch our fourth version of the membership database (for a
bit of history read the short note at the bottom).

I know you are saying "Not again!" But things have changed and the current membership
database is, for lack of a better word, broken. It was launched in 2005 and as you know,
for technology, that is really, really old (older than dog years).

The system will be updated with a new look. The important feature is that we are going back to an annual renewal date. Everyone will need to renew in September of each year. For those who enjoy trivia: September is the second largest renewal month, mostly because it is the start of school. Meanwhile, November is the largest renewal month, because of yearend taxes, the start of conference registrations, etc. August is the easiest time logistically to send renewal notices, and to ensure that all who register for early-bird conference rates will have a current membership. It will also help provide the interest groups with good membership data for planning purposes.

So, if you renewed or are new to CARL and paid in July or August, we will move you over to the new system and you will renew in September next year. Questions about your renewal can be sent to

History of CARL Membership Database

  • Originally it was all done on paper and members needing a list had to request one from the Membership Director. Those old lists are in the Archives.
  • In late 1990 and early 2000, Ron Rodriguez (then Membership Director) and John
    (CARL President) created the database in FileMaker Pro. It had to be
    uploaded by FTP to the server. Membership was still sent by postal mail.
  • Liz Ginno (Membership Director) started the work with John McGinnis to move the
    information to a more interactive format. On 2/26/2004 the first online membership database was launched.
  • In 2005 members renewed using the online database, but automatic credit card payment was not yet available.
  • On 12/17/2005, Liz Ginno (Outgoing Membership Director) and Kelly Janousek
    (incoming Membership Director) launched the current database, with annual automatic
    credit card payment. The database listed all the interest groups that existed in
  • On 9/1/2011, CARL will launch a new membership database with features that will be more responsive to our needs.

Summer Quarter 2011 Membership Data

  • New members to CARL: 17
  • Returning CARL members: 4
  • Renewal CARL Members: 75

CARL Elections: Call for Nominations

It is time again for CARL elections! Please consider nominating yourself or someone else for an office. An official announcement will be coming out over the CARLALL list soon. Offices up for re-election are:

  • Vice-President – South
  • Director-at-large-Private
  • Director-at-large-Community College
  • Treasurer
  • Secretary

Download (PDF) descriptions of these positions on the CARL web site.

Stephanie Sterling Brasley
VP South/President Elect.

Fall and Winter Program Announcements

SEAL-S: MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Hear about "Data Curation Initiatives" in October!

SEAL-S is planning a Fall Program on Friday, October 28th at Cal State Long Beach University Library. The tentative title for the program is "Data Curation Initiatives at California Academic Libraries."

CARLDIG-S: SAVE THE DATE! “Reference Shopping Spree!” is coming this December!

On Friday, December 2nd, CARLDIG-S will host a half-day workshop, “Reference Shopping
Spree” at California State University Channel Islands. Workshop attendees will hear from 10
different presenters about interesting, practical, innovative and just plain cool ideas related
to reference work. Later in the workshop, attendees will be part of the “shopping spree”
where they can meet with individual presenters and “shop” for great reference ideas. A call
for presenters will go out late August, so watch your email and listservs. For more information,
please contact Debi Hoffmann at 805.437.2701 or We hope to see
you there.

CARL 2012 Conference
April 5-7, 2012, San Diego, California

Creativity and Sustainability: Fostering User-centered Innovation in Difficult Times

Within library literature authors often expound on the importance of innovation. Innovation is something big, revolutionary, sweeping, extreme! With these definitions floating around it’s easy to feel innovation is inaccessible and overwhelming – especially when we’re moping about the latest budget cuts. But does it have to be? Webster’s defines innovation simply as “the introduction of something new,” and “a new idea, method, or device.” Add to that, libraries’ and librarians’ dedication to our users, and our definition looks more like this: “a new idea, method, or device, that adds value to our users.”

During CARL’s bienniel conference in 2012 we will recognize activities which either advance or sustain innovative services while also adding value to the user. Let’s celebrate our risks, our successes and failures, the ways we have become more nimble in responding to users’ needs, and just overall great projects that have been sustained and/or expanded despite difficult times.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the CARL Conference Planners at

Watch for more information this fall!

Stephanie Brasley, CARL Southern Vice President
Allison Carr, CARL 2012 Conference Co-Planner
Brena Smith, CARL 2012 Conference Co-Planner


ALA Conference Report

ALA 2011 Conference, 23-28 June
New Orleans, Louisiana

The hot, humid Gulf coast air of New Orleans in late June welcomed the American Library Association as it returned to the Big Easy for the second time in the interval since the Katrina hurricane and devastation that followed in 2005. Many times over the weekend, various local moderators and officials, as well as the local newspaper, the Times Picayune, observed that ALA had been the first major conference to come to New Orleans after the catastrophe, and that the city had been grateful for the show of confidence the library world had offered. Some twenty thousand librarians from every facet of the library world descended for a long weekend of meetings, panels, demos, talks, films, and heavily food- and drink-laced networking opportunities. Music seemed a ubiquitous accompaniment to everything that went on.

New Orleans

Festive balcony, New Orleans (photo courtesy of Ned Fielden)

As usual, the topics for discussion covered a wide gamut: mobile access, outreach, security technologies, diversity, and career choices. The academic sphere included more: issues of copyright, instruction, the so-called “discovery” systems, scholarly publication, retention and tenure, and library history. For many participants, the theme of doing more with less was dominant, and conversations that permeated the weekend brought up repeated stories of layoffs, retirements without replacement hires, squeezed budgets and damaged service to constituent bases. Yet the seemingly inherent native resilient qualities of the profession, in both individual and collective facets, were also apparent, and many presentations highlighted the feisty survival instincts of librarians, and their abilities to cope under trying circumstances.

Main speakers included a range of authors and personalities including Dan Savage, Daniel Ellsberg and Molly Shannon. There was much hand-wringing over budgets, the title change of the journal Libraries & the Cultural Record, which, come 2012, will be known as Information & Culture: A Journal of History, and the vagaries of Google’s plans to develop a universal corpus of digitized books. EBSCO continually and assiduously answered questions about their acquisition of Wilson, and what shape their subsequent plans might take. Career topics were front stage for graduate students and those actively looking for their first professional position.

As always, it is vaguely disorienting to have so many librarians in one place, all wired up and ready to talk shop. Spotting a librarian outside the convention center was not difficult, even those who remembered to remove their conference badges before strolling the French Quarter. The profile is not an ironclad cliché, more an aggregate of various “librarianesque” qualities, but usually includes the over-mentioned “sensible shoes” (high heels are generally an automatic disqualifier), casual professional dress, and an educated, if not to say “bookish,” expression. We are a remarkable, and enduring, sub-species.

The University Library Section held its Saturday night social at the Pirates’ Alley Café (located in the French quarter, off of Pirates’ Alley, naturally), where food offerings included mini-muffalettas and rum cake, and the bar offered local brews from Abita as well as a selection of absinthes. Members from Vermont and Idaho, Pennsylvania and Oklahoma, New York and Michigan, as well as California were present. An authentic local pirate even made an appearance.

My vote for the Most Beautiful Branch Library in the United States

Latter Library, Garden District, New Orleans (photo courtesy of Ned Fielden)

ALA has conference information, reports and presentation materials available here, and photos from the conference available here. The conference has a presence in the twitsphere and on Facebook. California librarians may want to note that ALA’s annual conference will be coming to Anaheim in 2012 and San Francisco in 2015.

Submitted by Ned Fielden, San Francisco State University, CARL President

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CARL Research Award Report

Special Report from 2010 CARL Research Award Winners!

Cognitive Interviewing Using a CARL Grant: Keeping Research Valid on a Budget

Francis Howard, MLIS, SJSU Librarian
Tom Hewitt, MLIS
Tina Peterson, SJSU Librarian

Instructing undergraduate students in information literacy concepts is a familiar part of being an academic librarian. Assessing the effectiveness of this instruction is necessary if we are to know how best to instill students with scholarly, responsible habits and useful skills in information consumption and production. Accordingly, some researchers at academic institutions have administered tests and surveys to gauge how much undergraduates gain from information literacy instruction. But how can we be sure that our test and survey questions are themselves clear in their meaning to students?

One practical means of doing so is cognitive interviewing. This process involves asking student volunteers to read proposed questions under standardized conditions, and having them identify any aspects of the questions that seem confusing or unclear. This article describes the cognitive interviewing component of a research project that was conducted at San Jose State University. This research project was funded through a grant from CARL in 2010 to Shannon Staley and Tina Peterson. To learn more about the larger research project of which the cognitive interviews were a part, see This article also provides guidelines for any researcher interested in using cognitive interviewing to standardize the questions of an information literacy instruction assessment test or survey.

During the Fall 2010 semester at San Jose State University, Education and Web Services Librarian Shannon Staley and colleagues administered a test of seventeen multiple-choice questions to undergraduate students attending information literacy instruction sessions at SJSU King Library. These questions covered skills and concepts central to information literacy and library research, and were administered to students before and after instruction sessions to gauge student learning.

Before these tests were administered, the seventeen questions and their answers were standardized through a cognitive interviewing process. In August 2010 Francis Howard, Senior Assistant Librarian at SJSU King Library, and Tom Hewitt, a Library and Information Science graduate student at SJSU, conducted cognitive interviews with ten undergraduate students to identify any problems of clarity in the questions and their answers. Over a three-day period, students were asked as they entered or left King Library if they wished to be interviewed.

Shannon developed a cognitive interview screener and a cognitive interview script for Francis and Tom to use in gathering volunteers. The screener consisted of six questions asked of students who volunteered to participate:

  • Are you a student at San Jose State University?
  • Are you an undergraduate student? (The research was targeting SJSU undergraduate students only, not graduate students.)
  • Do you work as a volunteer, intern, or student assistant for the SJSU King Library? (The research was measuring the information literacy knowledge of those students who had limited or no experience with the academic library.)
  • What is your major? (Health science-related majors were disqualified for the interviews, as these students might later participate in taking the information literacy assessment tests themselves.)
  • Please indicate your academic level in school. (Student input was later analyzed in comparison with academic level, from freshman to senior.)
  • Please indicate your gender. (We were interested in possible gender differences in interview feedback.)

The cognitive interview script, read to those students who had passed the screener, explained why the researchers were conducting the interviews. The script also made it clear to the student that we wished for all the feedback he or she could provide on the clarity of each question.

Francis helped guide the students through the interviews while Tom took notes on the feedback received. On each question, Francis would ask the student these two questions to help elicit feedback:

  • In your own words, what is this question asking?
  • Are there any terms that are unclear to you?

From the students’ responses, the interviewers gathered many valuable suggestions for revision. Below is an example of how student feedback helped us improve question and answer wording. Here is a question in its original form:

If you are searching using the keywords “children” AND “ADHD” but get quite a few articles about children with ADHD and autism instead of children with just ADHD, how would you eliminate the articles about autism?

  • Use OR autism at the end of your current search strategy
  • Use AND autism at the end of your current search strategy
  • Use NOT autism at the end of your current search strategy
  • Sort your original search results by date
  • Not sure

Based on interview feedback, the authors discovered that some interviewees were confused by the term “current search strategy” in the answers. Therefore, in the revised version of the question, we decided to change the answers to state what the string of search terms would be for each choice. Also, we decided to change the search terms from “ADHD” and “autism” to “bullying” and “stalking”. This was done to make the search terms less clinical and more easily understandable by all test-takers. Here are the revised question and its answers:

If you are searching using the keywords “children” AND “bullying” but get many articles about children who are bullies and stalk other kids, how would you eliminate the articles about stalking?

  • Use “children” AND “bullying” OR “stalking”
  • Use “children” AND “bullying” AND “stalking”
  • Use “children” AND “bullying” NOT “stalking”
  • Sort your original search results by date
  • Not sure

We found that the cognitive interviews helped greatly in creating questions and answers that would be more easily understandable to all undergraduates attending information literacy instruction sessions. Student feedback suggested revisions for fourteen of the seventeen multiple-choice questions. Most revisions involved changing words and phrases to make their meaning clearer to students who might not understand all of the terms and resource names familiar to academic librarians. For example, in one question, the term “core databases” was changed to “most important databases”. In another, “PsychInfo” was changed to “PsychInfo database”.

The following are lessons the interviewers gained from the experience of recruiting volunteers and conducting interviews. These guidelines can help any researcher gather cognitive interview feedback that is genuinely helpful in improving test design and wording.

  • Pre-arranging interviews at a specific time runs the risk that volunteers will not show up. Asking students as they exit or enter the library if they wish to take part in an interview tends to be a more efficient method of soliciting volunteers.
  • Have one person guide the volunteer through the interview, and one person take notes of the interviewee’s feedback. It is best to take the notes on a copy of the test questions.
  • Administering the interviews at a location close to the site of soliciting volunteers improves the chance that students will agree to be interviewed.
  • Offering an incentive for participation in the interview process may make volunteers more “eager to please” the interviewers in the way they offer feedback. If you choose to give a reward to volunteers, make it known to them only after an interview is completed.
  • Asking an “ice-breaker” question before the interview begins can be a useful way of making the volunteer feel more at ease. To help the interviewees relax into the interview, the interviewers asked them what they did over the previous summer that was fun, and shared some experiences of their own.
  • Make sure the interviewees understand that they are only to provide feedback as to whether the questions and answers are understandable – not say what they think the right answers are.
  • Have the interviewees read the questions and answers aloud to help you identify anything in them that might cause confusion. Ask the interviewees not only to identify anything they do not understand about the questions or answers, but to explain, in their own words, what each question is asking. This can help draw out sources of confusion that the interviewees may have trouble articulating.
  • Address potential volunteers in a way that will engage their interest and allow them to relate to your research project. Francis and Tom addressed potential volunteers in this way: “Hi. We’re trying to improve the way we teach students research skills at the library. Would you be interested in taking part in a research survey?” Students can relate to the experience of conducting research, or learning how to conduct research, at a campus library.
  • Strive for balance in ethnicity, gender, and academic major in your set of interviewees. Include students whose first language is not English, as they might provide insight into how questions can be more clearly worded for this student population.
  • The interviewers of this project (both men) observed while recruiting participants that women seemed more reluctant to volunteer than men. We came to the conclusion from our observations that having one woman and one man as interviewers could achieve more gender balance in participation.
  • If possible, have all researchers meet after each day of gathering interview feedback. This will allow you to discuss and address any problems encountered in the interviewing process.
  • Have all researchers meet after all interview results have been gathered to discuss what question changes are warranted in light of student feedback. This discussion can even generate ideas for question revision beyond changing what has been identified as problematic in the questions by students.

We should also note that cognitive interviewing is practical because it can be done with a small number of volunteers. Scholarly research confirms the value of interviewing only a handful of participants. According to Patton (2002), qualitative methods produce detailed data with a small number of students and cases. Patton also says that making decisions about samples and sample strategies depends on previous decisions about the unit of analysis. Qualitative research includes in-depth and small samples that are selected purposefully (Patton, 2002). Creswell (2007) recommends in phenomenology, that he witnessed the number of participants in a sample size in a study to range from 1 (Dukes, 1984) up to 325 (Polkinghorne, 1989). Dukes (1984) suggests using 3 to 10 participants and Riemen (1986) used 10 participants in a study. Freud researched the field of psychoanalysis using less than 10 cases (Patton, 2002). Lincoln and Guba (1985) recommend using a sample size selection that ends in redundancy. Patton (2002) advocates for qualitative small sampling that is based on reasonable coverage of the phenomenon that is used for the purpose of the study and interests of the stakeholders. Patton (2002) also favors gathering detailed information from a small sample of people, postulating that the researcher can analyze the data more thoroughly, and that the data can be more valuable, when the research is rich in information.

In agreement with these findings, our own experience confirms that interviewing only a small number of volunteers, in a limited amount of time and with a small budget, helped greatly to clarify our test. All that is needed for a similar effort in support of comparable research projects is some preparation, a few hours for interviewing, and the willingness to ask students if they wish to participate.

Submitted by Francis Howard, San Jose State University, Tom Hewitt, MLIS, and Tina Peterson, San Jose State University

Interest Group News

SCIL Spring Program Report

Safari Park (photo courtesy of Yvonne Meulemans)

SCIL Update

  • Outreach to Library School Students: This summer, SCIL collected the names of instruction librarians throughout the state who are willing and able to assist library school students who are taking courses in instruction. Starting this fall, students will have access to librarians who are interested and willing to serve as internship coordinators, be interviewed or observed in the classroom, or serve as a mentor. If you know of an LIS student who could benefit from this program, please have them contact Allison Carr, SCIL Chair,
  • Summer Social @ San Diego Zoological Society: With 20 people in attendance, SCIL celebrated the summer with the lions. Talitha Matlin, Librarian for the Zoo, arranged a fantastic tour behind the scenes at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park and the Institute for Conservation Research's Library. The tours were followed with a boisterous lunch where fun was had by all.
  • Invitation to the Fall meetings: SCIL business meetings are held at various locations throughout Southern California, from 10am-1pm (typically). While we do spend time on business, we also try to include time for networking, continuing education and discussions on current trends in instruction. New this fall are extended continuing education sessions at each of the business meetings. Our business meetings are open to any and all interested parties, and we'd love to have you!
    • September 16, 2011, Location TBD
    • October 28, 2011, Teleconference
    • December 9, 2011, CSU Fullerton

Submitted by Allison Carr, California State University, San Marcos

CARL Awards

CARL Research Award

The CARL Research Award Committee is inviting applications for the 2012 CARL Research Award. Individual applicants may apply for awards in the range of $250 to $1,500. Groups of two or more recipients may apply for awards in the range of $250 to $2,000.

Deadline:  September 30, 2011.

Award Details and Application Form:

Submitted by Alex Chappell, Claremont Colleges Library, on behalf of the CARL Research Award Committee

Ilene F. Rockman CARL/ACRL Conference Scholarship

The purpose of this scholarship is to subsidize the attendance of two Library and Information Studies students to the biennial CARL conference and to subsidize the attendance of one Library and Information Studies student to the biennial ACRL conference, thus encouraging and supporting library school students in preparing for a career in academic librarianship. This year, two students will be awarded scholarships to attend the CARL Conference in San Diego occurring April 5-7, 2012.

The deadline for the 2012 CARL Conference Scholarship is December 1, 2011. Late or incomplete packets will not be considered.

The award for the CARL Conference is $500 per student (awarded to 2 students). Conference scholarship funding is intended for the costs of registration, room and transportation.
Please visit the conference scholarship web site. The scholarship committee will announce the winner by January 15, 2012.

Submitted by Annie Knight, Chapman University

People News

Awards, Scholarships, Activities, Promotions and Retirements

UCLA said farewell to a number of Librarians who retired at the end of June:

  • Elaine Adams, UCLA Science and Engineering Library, after 29 years
  • Janet Carter, UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, after 37 years
  • Deborah Costa, UCLA College Library, after 36 years
  • Esther Grassian, UCLA College Library, after 41 years
  • Eudora Loh, UCLA Charles E. Young Library, after 36 years

Lisa Bartle and Stacy Magedanz were promoted to full librarian status at California State University, San Bernardino, effective September 2011.

Irene Berry has been promoted to Digital Services Librarian where she is leading the Naval Postgraduate School's scholarly communications and institutional archive projects.  Learn more about this exciting project here.

News from California State University, Northridge:

Kathy Dabbour was promoted to full librarian, effective Fall 2011, and is now the Government Documents Librarian, in addition to being the subject specialist for Communication Studies and Journalism. She continues to coordinate the Oviatt Library’s assessment program. Kathy also had an article recently published: Dabbour, K. S. and Ballard, J. D. (2011). Information literacy and US Latino college students: a cross-cultural analysis. New Library World, 112 (7/8), 347 – 364. doi: 10.1108/03074801111150477

Luiz Mendes, Electronic Resources Librarian, was elected Vice-President/President Elect of SCTPG (Southern California Technical Processing Group) and began his office on July 15, 2011.

Doris Helfer was inducted into the Special Libraries Association Hall of Fame at the 2011 SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia on June 12th, 2011.

Doris Helfer making her acceptance speech at the SLA Annual Conference

Sarah Dahlen, of California State University, Monterey Bay, has been elected to a two-year term as Treasurer of REFORMA, the national association to promote library and information services to Latinos and the Spanish speaking.

Linda J. Goff, Head of Instructional Services at California State University, Sacramento, assumed the role of President of the Library Instruction Round Table of ALA at the end of June, 2011. Linda has been an active member of LIRT since 1990, and has watched LIRT grow to become one of the larger Round Tables within ALA. She chaired the PR/Membership Committee for five years, served as Secretary of LIRT in 1998/99 and was Vice President last year. She was also the ALA/LIRT Representative to the Information Literacy Section Standing Committee, International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), from 2005-2010. Linda’s goal for LIRT is to strengthen ties to instruction librarians from all types of libraries, with emphasis this year on supporting our colleagues in school libraries. She will also head the LIRT 35th Anniversary Task Force which will celebrate 35 years of LIRT at the ALA conference in Anaheim next June.

Najwa Hanel, University of Southern California Engineering Librarian, was specially honored in May, 2011 by the USC Academic Faculty Senate for her “accomplishments on behalf of the faculty.”

Pam Howard, Biology and Health Professions Subject Specialist at San Francisco State University, has been awarded tenure and has been promoted from Senior Assistant Librarian to Associate Librarian. In 2009-2011, Pam served on the Nursing Informatics & Simulation Committee (NISC), working closely with the School of Nursing as they developed a simulation program for Nursing students. These collaborative efforts lead to two poster sessions, the latest at the Magic in Teaching conference held in October 2010, "Building a simulation program: Moving beyond the mannequin." Pam will be presenting on this topic at upcoming conferences as well. Additionally, she will be co-presenting a paper on "Ethical Thinking as a Cognitive Task" for the AAC&U'S Network for Academic Renewal conference held October 13-15, 2011, in Long Beach. In May and June, Pam enjoyed travels throughout Thailand.

From Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo: Miller to Become CIO, Gold Named University Librarian:

Michael D. Miller, Dean of Library Services at Cal Poly, has agreed to take on the additional duties of Chief Information Officer overseeing Information Technology Services (ITS) and merging the library and ITS into one new division called Information Services. In announcing this reorganization, Provost Robert Koob said, “I believe there are true synergies to be found over time, and in this current budget climate, that is an opportunity we cannot afford to overlook.” Miller, who joined Cal Poly in 2007, has worked extensively with IT and academic technology in leadership positions at the University of Michigan and Stanford University, and was the founding directory of the Avery Fisher Center for Music and Media at New York University. His degrees include an MS in Library & Information Science from Long Island University and an MPS in Interactive Telecommunications from NYU. Miller will become the new Vice Provost for Information Services/CIO effective mid-July.

Anna Gold will become University Librarian, also effective mid-July. Gold joined Cal Poly as the Associate Dean for Public Services in 2008, and has led research and learning support services as well as fostered public engagement programs such as Science Café, expanded library assessment programs, and improved interlibrary article delivery services. Before joining Cal Poly, Gold was Head Librarian of the five Engineering and Science Libraries at MIT, and previously led the Science and Engineering Library at the University of California, San Diego. From 1995-1999 she headed information services and public website development at the National Science Foundation; she also served at the Library of Congress for twelve years. Her degrees include an MLS from Catholic University of America and an MS from Virginia Tech.

On April 14th at a reception attended by many faculty and students, the UC San Diego Libraries were awarded the 2011 Academic Integrity Ally Award by the UC San Diego student organization, Academic Integrity Matters! (AIM!). The award was given to the Libraries as a campus department which supports academic integrity through activities and service that surpass expectations. AIM! Was founded in 2009 and works in conjunction with the campus Academic Integrity Office to educate students, parents and professors on the importance of academic integrity. The Libraries are honored to be the recipients of AIM!’s inaugural Ally Award. The certificate identifies six librarians who have been central to supporting the Libraries’ contribution to this worthy endeavor:  Alanna Aiko Moore, Alice Perez, Susan Shepherd, Gayatri Singh, Dominique Turnbow and Marlo Young. They have been involved in developing a tutorial (“Preventing Plagiarism: Keepin' It Real”), producing materials and offering consultations that educate students and support faculty in educating students on the importance of maintaining academic integrity.

Whittier College News:

Joanna Perez attended the 2011 annual ALA conference, and Sonia Chaidez attended ACRL’s national conference in March after both received SCELC PPDC grants for first time conference attendees. Mike Garabedian was elected Vice-Chair/Chair-Elect of SCELC’s Product Review Committee (PRC) for the coming year.

As of September 1, Louise Ratliff from the UCLA Cataloging and Metadata Center is beginning her term as Chair of the Los Angeles Division of the Librarians Association of the University of California.

Melanie Sellar, Education Services Librarian at Marymount College, spent two weeks in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala with Librarians Without Borders (LWB) working with a partner community school library to improve its collections, operations, and outreach. The service group was comprised of 24 LIS students from four Canadian universities and three professional librarians, including Melanie, who is LWB's Co-Executive Director. They followed up their trip with a presentation, "Service Learning: Bringing the World into LIS Education", in May at the Canadian Library Association's annual conference in Halifax.

Eleanor Uhlinger, University Librarian, was awarded the 2011 Meritorious Civilian Service Award, U.S. Navy, Naval Postgraduate School, for her leadership role in the successful reaccreditation of the School resulting in 10-year reaccreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Publications and Presentations

Joe Dmohowski of Whittier College attended the International Association for Media & History (IAMHIST) conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, July 6-9, 2011. This is an international film studies group and Joe presented a paper titled “The Script for Lawrence of Arabia and Hollywood Blacklisting.” The conference theme was “Media and Cultural Memory.”

News from California State University, Long Beach:

Khue Duong, Science Librarian, has published the article, "Rolling Out Zotero Across Campus as a Part of a Science Librarian's Outreach Efforts," in Science & Technology Libraries, 29(4), 2010.

Karin Griffin, Education Librarian, and Hema Ramachandran, Engineering Librarian have published the article, "Science Education and Information Literacy: A Grass-Roots Effort to Support Science Literacy in Schools," in Science & Technology Libraries, 29(4), 2010.

Carol Perruso, Journalism Librarian, and Barbara Kingsley-Wilson (Faculty, Journalism Department) have published the article, "Assessing Organically: Turning an Assignment into an Assessment," in Reference Services Review, 38(4), 2010.

Lua Gregory, Off-Campus Services Librarian and Shana Higgins, Instructional Services Librarian, at University of Redlands, presented a poster session titled, “Bleep! Free Speech and Censorship in the Classroom,” at ALA Annual in New Orleans. The poster presented themes, assignments, and student evaluations from their first-year seminar inspired by ALA’s Intellectual Freedom Manual.

On July 12, 2011,  Pamela Jackson and Patrick Sullivan of San Diego State University presented an ACRL e-learning live webcast entitled, "The Library's Role in Ensuring the Success of International Efforts on Campus."

Places News


Gale Burrow has been promoted from Instruction Coordinator to Assistant Director for Educational Services at the Claremont Colleges Library, which has also had the good fortune to be able to hire five new positions: Bonnie Tjerina is the Assistant Director for Collections Services, Char Booth is Instructional Services Manager and E-Learning Librarian, Natalie Tagge is Instruction Librarian, Sara Lowe is Electronic Resources Librarian, and Sean Stone is Science Librarian.

Ellen Carey has joined the library faculty at Santa Barbara City College. She will provide classroom instruction, support our online landscape, and collaborate on developing digital resources.

Matthew Cook joins the John Spoor Broome Library at California State University Channel Islands as the new Head of Public Services and Outreach. Mr. Cook last served as the Director of Research Resources at the College of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology, where he managed the Library and all network and technology for the school. One of his major projects included overseeing the expansion of the Graham Resource Center, which doubled the square footage, tripled the shelving capacity, and cost just under a million dollars. The expansion included the construction of a Rare Book Room and a seminar room for student use. Mr. Cook's professional associations include the ALA, Association of Architecture School Librarians and ARLIS. Outside of work, he enjoys gardening and making music.

The J. Paul Leonard Library at San Francisco State University is delighted to announce the appointment of two new Librarians:

Joe Daniels has been appointed Assistant Librarian at Leonard Library. Joe studied International Relations at the graduate level at San Francisco State University and is a recent graduate of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science, as well as a longtime staff member in Reserve Services at SF State. He will be providing instruction and research assistance in International Relations, Political Science and Public Administration during Mira Foster’s maternity leave.

Jason Vasche is now the music reference librarian at Leonard Library. He received his MLIS from UCLA and is working on his MA in Music History at SF State. Prior to his new appointment he worked as a reference librarian at several public libraries and as a cataloging services librarian at SF State.

Dudley Knox Library is pleased to welcome Stacy DeMatteo as Manager of the DKL Systems Team and Tom Doughty as Manager of the DKL Metadata Services Team. These new librarians bring a wealth of professional and technical experience from academic and public library systems to the Naval Postgraduate School.  

News from University of Southern California (USC) :

Ryan Edwards joined the USC Libraries faculty on Monday, August 1, 2011 as an Integrated Library Systems Librarian. He will be involved in the planning and operations of a wide variety of ILS–related tasks. Ryan received his Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from San Jose State University, as well as Master’s in Information Technology and E-Business from American InterContinental University prior to earning his B.A. in Political Science from University of California San Diego. In 2009, he further completed a Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital
Libraries from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Since 2007, Ryan has served as Systems and Web Development Librarian at California State University Channel Islands; there he manages the library’s Voyager ILS, RFID system, EZproxy authentication and access service, Web server, and DSpace institutional repository system. From 2002 to 2007, he worked at Pepperdine University Library, starting as a Reference Assistant, then Reference / Web Services Librarian, and eventually promoted to System Librarian.

After seven years of working in the Roy P. Crocker Business Library, as a Business Librarian, Eduardo Tinoco was selected by Dean Catherine Quinlan to serve as the Associate Dean for Public Services in the USC Libraries, effective July 1, 2011. Eduardo has worked as an academic librarian for a decade. He has held several research-related positions in the private sector, including four years as a reference librarian at Lehman Brothers and over five years at the Motion Picture Association of America. Prior to completing his B.A. in English at CSU, Northridge and his MLIS at San Jose State University, Ed served with distinction as a United States Army Ranger. He remains active with many veterans’ group at USC and beyond.

Melanee Vicedo has been appointed USC’s new Social Work Librarian. She received her MLIS from UCLA in 2007 and has recently completed a Visiting Reference Librarian & Diversity Fellow assignment at OCLC after having spent time working as a Reference Librarian at the Robert W. Woodruff Library in Atlanta, Georgia and Pearsall Library in North Carolina's Wesleyan College. She has experience with virtual reference, online video tutorials, webinars and course integrated instruction.

The Sonoma State University Library is delighted to welcome Nicole Lawson as our new Public Services Coordinator. Nicole earned her MLIS from Drexel University and her BA in French Studies from the University of Delaware. She previously held the position of Head of Access Services for Circulation & Reserves at UC Santa Cruz. Her particular skills and interests include: the role of libraries in learning management systems, user-centered design, and scholarly communications and copyright law.

Michele Lucero is the new Director of Communications at the Los Angeles Law Library. She was formerly West Librarian Relations Manager.

News from California State University, San Bernardino: In February, Risa Lumley started work as the new librarian for the Palm Desert Campus. In July, Jonathan Smith started work as the new systems/web services librarian.

Pearl Ly joined Shatford Library at Pasadena City College in July as the new Access Services & Emerging Technologies Librarian. She previously held the position of Natural Sciences Librarian at Cal State San Marcos. Pearl is also a 2011 ALA Emerging Leader.

Peter Runge, former Manuscripts and Digital Content Curator at the Cline Library Special Collections and Archives on the campus of Northern Arizona University is the new Head of Special Collections and University Archives at the Kennedy Library, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.

Dr. Mark Stover began as the new Dean of the Oviatt Library at California State University, Northridge on July 1, 2011. Dr. Stover brings with him 30 years of library experience, having served as a consultant, librarian, editor, instructor, and information technology professional. He holds masters degrees in Library Science and Religious Studies, as well as a doctorate in Information Science. Dr. Stover was previously at San Diego State University, where he was the interim Dean of Library and Information Access. In his 12 years at San Diego State, he served as Interim Associate Dean, Assistant University Librarian for research services, head of reference services, and Psychology and Behavioral Science librarian.

Librarian Gabriela Sonntag is the new Library Director at Armacost Library, University of Redlands. Gabriela comes to the university from CSU San Marcos, where she was the Coordinator of Information Literacy Programs and Reference Services and a Faculty Fellow in the Provost Office supporting assessment and program review initiatives.

Whittier College is pleased to announce that Nick Velkavrh is the new Systems Librarian for Wardman Library; he began work on August 9th. Nick will be graduating from San Jose State University's School of Library and Information Science in December, 2011.

Events and Exhibits

On Friday April 8, 2011 the Cal Poly, Pomona Library held an “After Hours” reception to honor donors and members of the Friends of the Library. The highlight of the reception was the unveiling of the new Wall of Appreciation, a large plaque listing donors who have contributed $1000 or more in support of the Library. Among those donors is Michael Oppenheim of UCLA, a 1976 graduate of Cal Poly Pomona.

What do the Russian settlement at Fort Ross, the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt, and the Great San Francisco Earthquake all have in common? Visit the Sonoma State University Library’s new Timeline Project, which integrates a visual timeline with geospatial mapping of historic places, notable people, and key events in California’s North Bay. Sonoma County history is highlighted with MIT Simile Exhibit software that offers a dynamic display of materials housed in our Regional and Special Collections. Take a look! The Sonoma County History Timeline project was funded by an RSCAP mini-grant received by SSU librarian, Joe Marquez. The grant paid for historical research conducted by two History graduate students as well as the creation of the timeline. Additional funding has been received to continue doing research for more history points to be added in the coming year. Check here for the Timeline Project – the site should be live soon.

The Wardman Library staff at Whittier College completed an ambitious inventory of the circulation collection this summer and the Librarians will be continuing with a robust weeding and replacement project in their respective subject areas over the next two years.  

About the CARL Newsletter

The CARL Newsletter (ISSN: 1090-9982) is the official publication of the California Academic & Research Libraries organization and is published online quarterly. The RSS feed rss for this newsletter is available at

Deadlines for submissions: February 15, May 15, August 15, and November 15.

Newsletter submissions, including creative contributions, People News and Places News should be sent to For corrections, questions and comments contact the co-editors, Mira Foster (, and Nicole Allensworth (, J. Paul Leonard Library, San Francisco State University, 1630 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94132.

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