Technical CATs

We have an initiative at the library to help our students spend less money on texts used in classes, called the Course Adopted Texts (CATs) E-Book Initiative. Our Librarian for Collection Development and Evaluation works with the campus bookstore to cross-reference course-adopted texts with e-books already purchased by the library. Where there is a match, she notifies faculty so they can direct students to the URL for the e-book.

When e-book licenses permit multiple simultaneous readers, those are perfect for use in a classroom setting, a GO. For subscribed content or licenses that permit just a few simultaneous readers, those may be sufficient for a small class or if it isn’t the main text for the class, a PAUSE. For licenses that permit only one reader at a time, those don’t work well in a class setting, when many people are usually trying to access the content at the same time, a NO.

We were trying to think of a visual way to convey GO, PAUSE, and NO to our users, along with text to explain whether or not an e-book was a good bet to be assigned for a course. I noodled around in our catalog and found that in Innovative Sierra an image can be coded (using HTML) to display to the public. My super awesome colleague, @CompareTheo designed three images to represent GO, PAUSE, and NO, as green, yellow, and red cats. He saved the images in our web space and then he added the HTML to the license records of our e-book collections. Here is an example of one of the cats in action:

Green cat example

This green cat image signifies the e-book is recommended for use in a multi-user setting, as a course-adopted text.

See what it looks like live, at All of the e-books that are linked to this license record will get the same text about Authorized Users, Concurrent Users, Course Adopted Text (CATS) Use, and Permitted Use.

Here’s the simple HTML string we inserted into the license record to make CATs happen: <img src=”URL_where_the_cats_picture_is_stored” height=”20″ width=”25″ style=”margin-top: 5px”><br> Recommended!

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Quality in qualitative research

Roller, Margaret R., and Paul J. Lavrakas. 2015. Applied Qualitative Research Design: A total quality framework approach. New York: Guilford Press.

If you’re interested in making sure that your qualitative research is trustworthy, and that your methods section doesn’t include statements like, “magic occurs here,” check this book out. The authors have developed a framework for designing qualitative research design to be credible, analyzable, transparent, and useful. They apply the framework to the usual qualitative methods (interview, observation, and more), prompting the reader to consider the four framework components throughout each method.

This is one of those books that as you read, you find yourself nodding along. If you’re designing an in-depth interview, for example, of course you know that you’ll want to make sure that the people you’re interviewing will be able to provide the data you need to answer your research question, and that those people are representative of a larger population. The book ties this intentionality of choosing the right people back to the framework component of credibility. *nod* In order for your research to be credible, you’ll want to select your interviewees carefully. Yes, you know this already, but unless something like this book is prompting you to make sure to do it right, well…we know how tired designing good research can make a person.

Give this book a read to affirm what you want out of your qualitative research, that it be considered rigorous and well designed.

BONUS: I learned about reflexive journaling from this book and am excited to give their journaling template (page 42) a try.

Book cover image

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Interview with the authors — that’s me!

ALA Publishing has a real nice (and short) written interview up with me and Cheryl on their website, about our book Marketing Your Library’s Electronic Resources: A How-To-Do-It Manual for Librarians, at Here’s a little snippet from the interview:

The first edition has been one of our bestsellers. Why did you write a second edition, and what are some of the most useful updates?

We learned so much from our readers about their experiences using the first edition that we wanted to incorporate all that feedback and share it widely. In the first edition our readers found the marketing plan reports we included very helpful – in this edition we’ve added some more. To help you get moving on your own marketing plans faster we’ve created a downloadable template. Grab it, use the prompts to consider the essential steps in a marketing plan, and get going!

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FM3 Monkey Mind

I posted previously about the sounds I like to listen to when I’m writing. Based on your recommendations I added quite a bit to add to the rotation. I am smitten with Moby’s Long Ambients ( – thanks for the suggestion, Mark!

I knew with the latest iPhone OS update it was going to break one of my favorite apps, FM3 Buddha Machine; I updated, and it sure enough did break. It’s nonfunctional at the moment, but they’re working on fixing it. In the meantime I started listening to their Soundcloud station. They even have a piece called Monkey Mind, so of course I had to tell you about it. Here’s a link:

Buddha Machine

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*silent fist pump*

I think a lot about the accessibility of our library’s licensed e-resources. Sure, if there’s not already a clause in a license agreement about compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, we request that it be added. But what does that actually mean for our patrons? There are levels of accessibility, and simply having a clause in the license agreement doesn’t guarantee that our patrons will be able to satisfactorily view/hear/navigate the content.

I worked with our library’s e-resources licensing consortium to ask them to start collecting Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates (VPATs) when initiating conversations with a new vendor. I appreciate our consortium’s willingness to do this, as it gives its member libraries information up front about the expected use of the e-resource for patrons with disabilities. I’m just one person concerned about this, I don’t have much power to affect change. But groups of people concerned about this, banded together, could.

And then I bumped into a particularly large group of people concerned about this, the Big Ten Academic Alliance. Here’s what they’ve accomplished so far (this is grabbed right from their site):

Because of the group:

  • The Big Ten libraries have funded a pilot to provide selected vendors with third-party accessibility evaluations. Evaluations, along with any responses provided by vendors, are posted on the E-Resources Testing page. This program provides vendors with the information and opportunity to improve the accessibility of their products and gives members of the library community information about the accessibility of these works.
  • The Big Ten Academic Alliance has also adopted model accessibility license language that can be found on the Standardized Accessibility License Language page. Library e-resource vendors may be approached about inserting this (or similar) text into BTAA Library consortial licenses or institutions’ individual licenses to ensure these contracts address accessibility concerns.

The stuff on their site is freely available, go check it out! I especially like that they note standardized language to use when negotiating accessibility in a license agreement. And that tab on the site about the accessibility testing they’ve done on vendor e-resources, posting the results publicly? Awesome!

Big 10 Academic Alliance logo

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If platform upgrade email alerts were truthful

A comic strip about platform upgrade emails from publishers

*E-resources librarians around the world nod in agreement* This one’s for you, folks!

More monkey comics at

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