Nora Burmeister, ER&L + Taylor & Francis Student Travel Winner

ER&L awards buttonElectronic Resources and Libraries is pleased to congratulate Nora Burmeister, one of two student travel awards to attend ER&L in Austin, Feb 22-25. Read excerpts from Nora’s winning essay and see why we are so excited to have her attend!

Nora Burmeister
Clark College, Circulation Technician
Emporia State University, 2015 MLS Candidate

Q: How are electronic resources related to your academic and/or professional career goals, and how will attending the ER&L conference help you achieve these goals?

A: I’ve always been interested in the way that digital technologies can help increase access to or usability of library resources. My career goal is to work with emerging technologies in an academic library. I’m particularly fascinated by emerging trends in acquisition and all of the issues that these trends entail. I’ve written and presented extensively throughout graduate school on aspects of patron-driven acquisition – one research paper evaluated methods of assessment in academic PDA programs, while another focused on user issues in these programs. I’m fascinated by open access and the increasing number of MOOCs offered entirely online. I’m also currently designing a library instruction course to be administered entirely online, utilizing collaborative free services like Google Drive and Skype. As a distance student, I’ve felt frustrated by the lack of library instruction offered by my university, and I want to improve digital library learning, particularly those for students who don’t live in proximity to the physical library. For the past year I’ve been working for an Orbis Cascade Alliance institution, and have been involved in the changeover from Millennium ILS to ExLibris SILS – I’ve seen first hand the benefits of using technology to make resources available to a much wider geographic audience. Finally, I’ve recently come face to face with disability, and issues of user experience, particularly accessibility have taken on new significance for me. More than ever, I feel compelled to ensure that all patrons, regardless of ability level, can enjoy equal access to library resources – physically, but I believe more importantly, digitally. The times I was confined to a hospital bed were the times I most needed information and I was lucky to have the skills to locate that information digitally. I’d like to improve that experience for others who find themselves in a similar position.

Q: While chatting with a faculty member, she mentions that all the material she needs to conduct research is available on the Internet. She comments that she doesn’t see a need for the library to have a physical presence on the campus. How would you respond?

A: First off, I would congratulate the faculty member on her digital literacy skills, her database navigation skills, and her ability to evaluate online sources for credibility, currency, and authority! I would then gently remind her that much of our population haven’t had the luck to acquire those skills – a physical space is as much for teaching those digital skills as it is for conducting physical research. To remove any physical presence is to assume that all patrons are as digitally adept as she. I’d also point out that different user groups have wildly different needs and therefore require different resources. While she may be able to see and hear well enough to navigate the internet/library databases by herself, others with auditory or visual deficits might require additional software or assistive technology to do so. The library can provide this expensive software to all patrons with needs such as this, so that the burden of cost is not placed entirely upon the individual. Continuing with the argument that the library is a conduit to information to all patrons, I would remind her of the value of having resources in more than one format. While a recent online full text journal article may serve the faculty member well, there are patrons who require different things from their resources. Scholars in the humanities may seek out physical copies of old periodicals to see advertisements reflecting cultural norms of an era. Finally, I’d share that I believe the library as space has value. It’s a place for scholarly conversation, a safe space to ask uncomfortable/private questions, and a spot for communities to gather to share information. I would encourage the faculty member to drop in during a busy computer class or community event to convince her of the value of the library’s physical space.

Follow Nora @norakb or norakb.tumblr.com where she’ll be posting #erl15 updates. Congrats, Nora!