The New England Technical Services Librarians, a section of the New England Library Association, is hold their annual spring conference called The Many Hats of Technical Services on Friday, April 12, 2013 at the College of the Holy Cross, Hogan Campus Center, Worcester, MA.
Keynote speakers will be Susan Gibbons, University Librarian, Yale University and Jessamyn West, Library Technologist & Community Manager, Metafilter.com and her library blog, http://www.librarian.net/
Nicole Engard, Vice President of Education, ByWater Solutions and her library blog, What I Learned Today http://www.web2learning.net) will be holding a morning session called The Accidental Systems Librarian: Using our Librarian Competencies in Managing Systems.
Currently Unemployed / Library School Student – $25.00
NETSL/NELA Personal Member – $50.00
Non-Members – $80.00
Registration ends on Friday, March 29, 2013. There are no walk-in registrations.
For more info:
Posted by Rich
Even though RSVPs are closed, I thought I would mention the presentation folks from the National Records and Archives Administration (NARA) are giving at MIT’s Center for Civic Media Thursday (2/21) from 12-1:30 pm.
Our speakers will provide a brief introduction to the kinds of records that the National Archives maintains, a discussion of some of the new ways that we are seeking to make the content in those records available and more useable, and how we are looking beyond traditional researchers in the process.
My library network, NOBLE, is looking for a full-time System Support Specialist. The deadline for applying is Thursday, Feb 7, 2013. Knowledge of Linux operating systems is required,
Institution: NOBLE, North Of Boston Library Exchange
Job: Systems Support Specialist
Duties/Description: Systems Support Specialist needed to participate in
operation of servers, networks and software for the North Of
Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE) in Danvers. Operate and
update servers, troubleshoot issues, file bug reports,
working with NOBLE staff, staff of other networks, system
vendors and the open source community.
NOBLE is an automated library network and technology partner
for 28 public and academic libraries operating an open
source Evergreen library management system as well as
providing web hosting, email, a telecommunications network,
downloadable ebooks and audiobooks, and digital repository
Qualifications: Knowledge of Linux operating systems required. Familiarity
with perl, PHP; relational databases (e.g., MySQL,
and programming concepts desirable. Knowledge and
experience with software development, including version
control, documentation, and sound security practices,
computer applications in a library setting, web servers, and
Apache experience with HTML5, WordPress, Evergreen a plus.
Bachelor’s degree or equivalent in Computer or Information
Science or a related field and 1-3 years of increasingly
responsible related experience optimal. Ability to work
independently and with initiative as needed, and the ability
to work collaboratively.
Salary: $52,100 with benefits
Closing Date: February 7, 2013
Send: Applications accepted until position is filled. To
ensure consideration, applications should be
submitted by February 7, 2013 to
gagnon at noblenet.org, attn. Systems Support search.
Posted by Rich
Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society is offering a 12-week online copyright course to 500 selected students. Applications are available now through January 3.
We’re excited to announce that Berkman Faculty Director Terry Fisher will be teaching a version of his Copyright course on the edX platform in the spring, beginning Jan. 28: https://www.edx.org/courses/HarvardX/HLS1x/2013_Spring/about.
Unlike other “MOOCs” (massive open online courses), Copyright will be offered to a relatively small cohort of 500 students, who will be admitted via an application process and supported by a small army of Harvard Law School Teaching Fellows. The Teaching Fellows will lead weekly, real-time discussions for course sections.
The application process is open now through Jan 3. We’re looking forward to diverse and international participation, and would very much appreciate if you could help spread the word to your communities:
edX Copyright course page: https://www.edx.org/courses/HarvardX/HLS1x/2013_Spring/about
edX Copyright application page: https://hub.law.harvard.edu/copyrightx/courses/1?course_tracker_id=1
If the world doesn’t end soon, that is.
Via a Washington Monthly blog post, RKO told me a college close to my heart, Newberry College, now offers a social media major. According to the press release: “Offered through the Department of Arts and Communications, the Social Media major will be an original interdisciplinary program that would capitalize on the strengths of existing courses in Graphic Design, Communications, Business Administration, Psychology and Statistics. Four innovative courses, created specifically for the Social Media major are also included in the curriculum.” The Washington Monthly wonders what kind of value such a major would have. Would students be better off earning allied degrees, such as design or marketing, then honing social media skills on the side (which so many of us do anyway)? I guess we’ll find out once graduates from the new program get jobs.
And that’s all I’m going to say about that because of my ties to the college involved.
Need some travel ideas? How about visiting some haunted libraries?
This international list features exciting destinations like Mexico, England, Ireland, Australia, and South Africa.
The list of US hauntings inspires a tour of the Midwest and Southwest with a few wanderings to other regions.
Some of the ghosts are librarians, library users, and former land owners.
Tonight, 11/8, from 5:30 – 7 pm, the New England Chapter of the American Society for Information Science and Technology (NEASIST) discusses an upcoming case where someone made academic journal articles available to the public, US v. Swartz.
Champions Sports Bar, Marriott Hotel
Kendall Square plaza (next to the Red Line)
50 Broadway, Cambridge, MA 02142
Aaron Swartz has been charged with felonies for accessing JSTOR via the MIT network, getting many articles, <strike?and making them publicly accessible elsewhere (correction in the addendum). Tonight’s conversation focuses on many aspects of his actions and the consequences.
I thought I had posted about this situation before, but apparently not. The NEASIST blog post points to some articles for background.
Disclosure: I know Aaron.
Addenda: 11/08/2012 I am mistaken about what Aaron did with the articles. All he had done with them was download them.
The meeting was not a presentation or summary and discussion as many of us hoped it would be. We made small talk waiting for someone to start the meeting. When it became apparent that wasn’t what was happening, some of us talked about US v. Swartz. Since many of us had come to learn about the situation and its present status, we weren’t really prepared to have any indepth discussion about it. The folks I chatted with came up with far more questions than insightful perspectives.
01/13/13: It is with great sadness that I share the news of Aaron’s death. I will miss him and his brilliant mind.
Kevin Poulsen of Wired Magazine summarizes some of Aaron’s accomplishments: “When he was 14 years old, Aaron helped develop the RSS standard; he went on to found Infogami, which became part of Reddit. But more than anything Aaron was a coder with a conscience: a tireless and talented hacker who poured his energy into issues like network neutrality, copyright reform and information freedom. Among countless causes, he worked with Larry Lessig at the launch of the Creative Commons, architected the Internet Archive’s free public catalog of books, OpenLibrary.org, and in 2010 founded Demand Progress, a non-profit group that helped drive successful grassroots opposition to SOPA last year.” He also reports that MIT is investigating their “… involvement from the time that we first perceived unusual activity on our network in fall 2010 up to the present. [MIT's president] asked that this analysis describe the options MIT had and the decisions MIT made, in order to understand and to learn from the actions MIT took.”
Just the other day, I was telling someone about blog group’s quest to attend campaign events for the Democratic presidential nominee candidates back in 2003 and how I should have been thinking about doing a little bit of that this fall while I don’t have a full-time job taking dibs on my weekdays. Today, one of my friends sent me a link to register for a ticket to a major Democratic rally featuring President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton in Concord, NH on Sunday, November 4. Tickets to New Hampshire events with Mitt Romney are available for Portsmouth on Saturday, November 3, and Manchester on Monday, November 5.
Libertarian Gary Johnson will be elsewhere in the country. Green Party’s Jill Stein will be in Tennessee until the debate with other candidates in Washington, DC, Sunday night (11/4). From their campaign sites, I could not figure out what Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party are doing until the Washington, DC debate.
But I did figure out where some web designers could possibly get jobs … I’m going to rest my sore eyes away from the computer now.
As if hunting for a job is not tricky enough, social media users now have to ponder what they want to post with what a potential employer might think about the content. Onlineclasses.org has an amusing flowchart giving pointers about when to post what online while looking for work and statistics about recruiters’ and hiring managers’ online research practices. Seventy-nine percent of hirers look at a candidate’s online presence. Seventy percent have rejected a candidate because of something they saw online.
It must be fall because it is once again time for the Boston Book Festival. Most events cost nothing and happen close to or in Copley Square. As well as authors talking about books and writing, there will be writing workshops, exhibits, flash fiction, and poetry.
Since the rain washed away my plans today, I read through several old Information Today publications I probably picked up at previous Special Libraries Association conferences and stashed in a “someday I’ll read this” pile.
I began with a 2003 Searcher issue with a cover story about early online pioneers. While the history of the databases MEDLINE and ERIC was fascinating, what sticks with me is the article about the future of information professionals in information retrieval—the future that is now 9 1/2 years gone. Librarians still need to make cases for themselves to be involved in search initiatives in their own companies and in other companies. A sidebar highlights this challenge in light of job postings:
“… Why not just hire a librarian? Instead, this company has decided to throw everyone but librarians into the code tank. Part of that oversight may be disdain. … I think it just didn’t occur to anyone at these companies that librarians could help.
Aside from “re-marketing” librarians as a whole, numerous voices have said that librarians need to get more technical, to learn programming and database design. … [L]earning enough programming fundamentals to come to tomorrow’s meeting with some pointed questions can be accomplished in two college courses. …”
Author Nicholas Carroll then proceeds to make a case for why librarians should focus on learning interfaces and interface design because many of the people who work on these parts of a system are more likely to appreciate input from librarians. “[I]f librarians cannot find a horse to pull their cart, they should for the moment hitch their cart to a horse heading in the right general direction. … [B]ecause IR interface and storage are merging—and a foot in the door of interface could lead to a voice in how information is stored and retrieved.”
(When I get a chance to share career advice with library and information science students and new professionals, I usually suggest learning a programming language or some other aspects of our field that seem more like computer science than library science.)
The other set of articles worth noting comes from the June 2008 Computers in Libraries issue focusing on usability and patron-centered design (yes, that’s how the cover describes it). Erica Reynolds’ article outlining the Johnson County (Kansas) Library’s methods of gathering feedback during their Web site redesign and applying usability principles can be very helpful to anyone facing such a task. Even if there isn’t much time to revamp a small portion of a site, asking for other opinions can be very beneficial. Cassi Pretlow’s annotated list of 10 tools to aid in implementing or evaluating sites for usability shares some great resources. The links and short summaries follow. Pretlow provides more details in her article.
- Webinaria: records what people do during usability testing
- Browsershots: renders sites as they should look in various browsers you specify
- WebSort: allows the organization exercise known as card sorting online
- Xenu’s Link Sleuth: a downloadable program that checks links
- Usability.gov: intended for government Web site designers, this resources has very useful information for everyone
- Survey Monkey: for the creation and sharing of online surveys
- Google’s Custom Search Engine: adding a search box to your site helps people find information on your site
- WAVE: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool: give it a URL, file, or some code to learn how accessible it is
- Readbility Test: get a general idea about the reading level of your site content
- Vischeck: simulate certain kinds of color-related sight impairments when viewing Web sites
The Special Libraries Association New England Chapter holds a one-day conference on Saturday, October 13, with topics like taxonomy, project management, sound preservation, competitive intelligence, and tools.
Communication, Commitment & Collaboration
Saturday October 13th, 2012, 8:45am-4pm
Southbridge Hotel & Conference Center, Southbridge MA
SLA Members – $50 | Student/Retiree/Between Jobs – $30 | Non-Members – $75
Just a brief note: Tonight’s (Monday, 9/10) Wikipedia gathering features a local public librarian and a local archivist and a discussion about Wikipedia Loves Libraries, the initiative for more collaboration between libraries, archives, and Wikimedia.
Monday, September 10, 2012
Clover Food Lab
7 Holyoke St.
Cambridge, MA 02138
The Boston Wikipedia Meetup Group usually meets on the second Monday of each month. This event is one of their regular meetings. Everyone is welcome to attend, whether they know anything about Wikipedia or libraries, have gone to a gathering before, want to attend regularly, etc.
Addenda 9/11: The gist of the meeting: two tentative November events will celebrate Wikipedia Loves Libraries: one at a Boston Public Library branch and one at the Cambridge Public Library’s main branch. Planning is still happening. I’m not sure whether I should mention the prospective dates. Cambridge needs to confirm the one we came up with at the meeting. The events won’t compete with each other.
The group would love for more libraries to host events. Activities can include teaching Wikipedians how to use specialized or uncommon sources in a library collection, offering materials for scanning and posting online, and having people research local history to include in encyclopedia articles. There is a lot of flexibility here. Maybe there’s some local history mystery you’d like researched. Maybe you’ve always wanted a list of your company’s devices with accompanying photographs and notes. Maybe photographs of those portraits on the wall would look great on the Wikipedia biographies.
9/19: It looks like Saturday, November 17, is the confirmed date of the Wikipedia Loves Libraries event at the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library–the one near Harvard Square and the high school. Times are still TBD, but the program looks like it will be a chunk of hours beginning in the late morning and going into the late afternoon.
11/7: Registration for the 11/17 event is available. Signing up before Friday, 11/16, will help ensure enough food is available. Most of the event happens between 11 am and 5 pm.
11/17: So, yeah, a few of us are hanging out at the Cambridge Public Library discussing and working on Wikipedia until 5 pm. Come on by! The Beech Room is to the left after entering through the main entrance. The archives are the second floor, but I’m not sure if anyone is up there.
Esteemed librarian Donna Scheeder from the Library of Congress is hosting a roundtable conversation about the future with a panel of information professionals from a variety of roles and companies.
(The audio is fairly bad because the microphones they gave the panel aren’t picking up their voices very well and there’s a lot of background noise and squealing from elsewhere in the convention hall.)
The panelists as listed in the program are: Stephen Abram from Gale Cengage Learning; Sara Batts, Kirkland Ellis; Lee Ann Benkert, National Security Space Institute; Scott Brown, Social Information Group; and Susan Hildreth, Institute of Museum and Library Services.
Susan: emphasizes leadership, responsibilities, and social media; the concept of embedded librarians is really cool; we need to be proactive
Donna: Where was the future? Where did you find it?
Stephen: I found it now. Ponder the challenges of serving the mobile user, especially when her device is no longer at home?
Donna asks the room: How many of you are in organizations creating apps for users? ~30 hands (I estimate there are 200-300 people in the room.)
How many of you are embedded? ~20 hands
In my last full-time position, I was both.
Sara: Identifying future trends is one of the challenges.
Scott asks the audience: How many of your organizations still have physical libraries? ~50 hands
Donna: Is it productive for us to keep talking about traditional versus non-traditional librarianship?
Susan: I think we need to stop talking about the traditional stereotype and instead focus on finding what we can do to add value to the organization and just do that. Let’s talk about how we enrich our communities and help people move forward.
Lee Ann: I’ll let you in on a secret: I’ve figured out the future of the profession. She pulls a fellow named Richard out of the audience to talk about something he said in a session where he misspoke and said “yestersay” instead of “yesterday,” but “yestersay” stuck in her head. She thinks we keep using yesterday’s language to talk about problems of the future and maybe the language doesn’t fit.
Sara: I have no idea what a traditional librarian is because I’ve never been one. A lot of us are eager for change. We want to change the things we don’t like. We’re unhappy with this model of conference, so let’s change it.
Stephen: The disconnect between what people who have been in the profession for a while think is being taught in library school and what is actually being taught in library school is very different. Some of the more experienced librarians seem to approach new grads with thoughts rooted in fear, uncertainty, and doubt. We have a responsibility to bring the newer librarians along with us as well as help the more experienced professionals.
Susan: Library use is changing so much. We have huge physical attributes in our libraries. There’s going to be an even bigger shift from print to digital in the future. I’m scared we aren’t going to be ready, not just with exciting ways to present digital content, but also because we need to figure out what to do with the physical space.
Donna: It’s always been my thought to never give up the real estate. You can always find something to do with it, but once you lose it, you might not get it back.
Donna: Tweeted question: what kind of panel do you not want to have at SLA again?
Scott: One on adding value but that doesn’t actually show how value is added.
Stephen: If I never hear the word ebook again … People often talk about ebooks as if they’re all fiction. These days, there isn’t one permanent, stable solution because of how the technology is changing. We need to be aware that everything is still changing and not let that deter us.
Lee Ann: Make interactive dialogs be as if you’re talking to a friend or a future partner, not just a stranger you’re meeting a conference and may never see again.
Susan: How we can as a profession support content creation. How can we vet everything on a community scale? [There must have been a topic switch or another question I missed because what Susan said doesn't seem to be a response to Donna's question about what we need less of at this conference.]
Susan: Harvard hosted a debate about whether libraries are obsolete, that led to a great conversation about what valuable services libraries provide.
Donna clarifies that the debate was about libraries as a physical space.
Donna: Another tweet asks how many corporate librarians lost their jobs last year. We can’t really answer that because we don’t know, but I’ll ask how many audience members work in digital-only environments. ~20 hands went up.
Donna: What’s said in this space stays in this space.
A bunch of people groaned.
Donna: To wrap up, what would each of you like to tell the audience before we close?
Susan: I wanted to show a picture of how I turned a closed space into an open space to illustrate how important I believe responding to our community is.
Stephen: We need to be more cognizant of our colleagues and the challenges they face. Let’s do more to support each other.
Donna: My picture [which the AV folks showed] is of a woman doing a yoga pose on the Grand Canyon’s rim in such a way it looks like she’s going to take flight. That’s how I think of the profession.
In order to ask questions of the panel, you must tweet with #SLApanel as the tag.
I fully admit I am primarily attending this session to support fellow SLA Cuba Delegate Melanie Freimuth, but I anticipate learning much from the two other contributed papers in this session.
Amy Spiegel and Barbara Wilson, now of Dow Chemical Company
Having attended UW-Madison, sitting in a presentation by Dow Chemical librarians gives me a flash of the 1960s protest era. Learning about the company’s information services will be neat. Dow bought the company for which these librarians work. They’re still in the process of integrating.
They use some six sigma methods. They want to improve how they utilize technology, deliver information where they’re working/within the context of their work, and partner with their IT department to remove as many barriers as possible, like extra passwords, levels of access, etc. People in chemical companies also often become very absorbed in what’s happening internally in their company. They want to find ways for people to stick their heads up to look outside the organization easier.
The focus of the paper is going to be on Market Tracker Indicators (MTI): graphical displays and visualizations of external economic indicators and charting of external indicators against internal financial results. This first module is in a series of tools comprising the Market Tracker Toolkit, is in SAP, and was developed with the help of the IT department. The screenshot shows a graph with labels on one side explaining which lines go with which economic indicators. The librarians learned through the production of this chart that many people within the company did not realize all of the various economic indicators that might play a role in the company’s success. The librarians realize this chart is not the answer to all of the questions, but it’s definitely been helpful to many people. As the business changes, they can change the chart. The charts are also customized for different sectors of Dow. Graphics like these charts tell stories more powerfully than giving a client a complicated spreadsheet.
This project has built credibility: people *know* the librarians can get the data, make it relevant, tap the technology to share it, etc.
Listening to Our Users: Comparing Feedback & Insights from Multiple Surveys and Points of Contact
Michael Maciel and Leslie Reynolds of Texas A&M University
Any interaction with a student is an opportunity to gain feedback about what they want and how the 12 libraries are meeting their needs. Some of the techniques they use include: transaction surveys, total market surveys, mystery shopping reports, focus group interviews, employee field reporting, employee research, service reviews, advisory panels, and customer surveys.
Their principle listening device is LibQUAL, which is a barometer and harbinger of needs and expectations. It’s through the Association of Research Libraries.
A recent accreditation project involved 7 major areas and identified priorities: Library Web to locate info on my own, a comfortable and inviting location, info easily accessible for independent use, easy-to-use tools to find things, eResources accessible from home or office, and employees who are consistently courteous. Their successes include consistently courteous employees, a willingness to help users, and more. (Michael is going through the slides very quickly without addressing all the points on them.) Concerns include their priorities outlined above.
Michael explained how selected feedback methods work and some of what they’ve learned from them and the importance of using sustainable feedback tools. Sharing and documentation of the results is vital. If something isn’t working right, change it or get rid of it.
They invested in the Disney Institute’s customer service training and found it to be incredibly useful for their purposes. They can now offer a higher and more consistent level of customer service and have provided their staff with a complementary skill set.
Tribulations and Triumphs of Cuban Librarians
Melanie opens with a quote from the National Library director about how librarians do what they can while being mindful of what they have. Like me, she says one of the biggest challenges is preserving materials in settings without climate controlled environments. Melanie did not notice many copiers or scanners or similar devices that are common in US institutions. She applauds our translator’s ability to quickly learn the jargon of our profession. Among her summary of our visit to the Ruben Martinez Villena Public Library, she tells about the outreach efforts of the librarians to get books to the sick or elderly.
When weeding old issues, the librarians do what we do by trying to find homes for the materials before trashing or recycling them. Cuban librarians are not allowed to accept books from Americans.
While highlighting the Cuban Book Institute visit, Melanie outlines the challenge of making money through publishing books in Cuba. Publishing houses must produce a minimum number of books to provide copies to all of the Cuban libraries and the National Library. Cuban bookstores throughout the country receive copies. If the books don’t sell after a long time period, they are donated to prisons or hospitals.
Melanie explained the sculpture at the technical university of a creature attacking a human figure waving a Cuban flag as the creature being the United States and the figure with the flag representing Cuba.
When discussing Internet limitations, Melanie discussed the challenges of not having enough bandwidth and how someone at INFOMED told us opening Google would be enough to crash their system. With limited bandwidth, they aren’t always able to access some of the major international Web sites because they might not be able to download graphics and such.
For the picture of passionate librarians, Melanie showed the librarian at the natural history museum we visited with whom we were all impressed because her enthusiasm and cheer filled the room.
The best part of Melanie’s presentation imho was her photos of various street signs, including one with a trumpet in a red circle with a red line through it and one with children with satchels running.
As always, it’s difficult to talk about the Cuba trip without getting into politics. An audience member’s question inspired delegation leader Cindy Romaine to begin talking about what we learned about the embargo/blockage and why keeping the blocks in Cuba might not be the best idea anymore.
This session is one the Solo Division organizes each year to allow solos to tell their positive stories. Tanya Whippie of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development began by encouraging us to celebrate even small victories and successes.
Tanya has been at HUD for almost 2 years. Some people build libraries from nothing. Others build them from messes. HUD didn’t have librarians for a while. Hierarchically, the library falls within the research division. She’s done a lot to create allies, improve the resources and access to them, and do outreach, like a speaker’s series. Before Tanya began working her magic, many people thought of the library as being a place where they could nap during work hours.
Hildy Dworkin of the New York City of Department of Social Services (and now the division’s past chair) opened by emphasizing the importance of marketing. People contested a banner she wanted for the library because everyone would want one. Her agency does not allow departments to have newsletters, so she’s figured a way to produce an occasional electronic publication with a date that doesn’t qualify as a newsletter, yet highlights what the library can do for employees. For this publication, she looks for things other people are doing that have great information value about which other people should know. Having a logo and sharing contact information is valuable, even if it’s passing bookmarks out to coworkers for their teams.
“Don’t be thrown by the word ‘know.’” Don’t say “I don’t know” when someone asks you to do something you don’t know how to do. People usually don’t ask you to do anything they don’t think you can handle. “I don’t have that at the top of my head right now. Let me check and I’ll get back to you later.”
Don’t be afraid to take things on. Be prepared for the surprise drop-in.
Kevin Adams of the Institute of Environmental Science and Research in New Zealand had some major challenges to overcome after some sizable earthquakes in 2010. He discussed how he uses various partnerships and professional colleagues to bolster the professional services he can provide while his library’s collection is in storage. Maybe libraries are in the same situation of having displaced collections due to earthquake-damaged buildings and such. In some cases, materials are in storage. In others, items are in parts of buildings that are closed off for safety reasons. He mentioned some photos available via the University of Canterbury’s Web site, but they might not be available anymore.
He looks forward to having a conversation with an architect about rebuilding the library. He recognizes he needs to strengthen certain relationships to make sure he’s involved in the rebuilding process and help his coworkers understand why he ought to be at the table for those conversations.
Kevin orients new employees to the library. He points out he’s as much of a resource as the collection is and that he is available to be used for everything: searches, document delivery, etc. Kevin approaches it as the scientist does the micro-level, being focused on a specialty, while Kevin handles the macro picture. He’s had positive results with that approach. He also sometimes mentions other things he’s found in his search, like trends or tangential articles. His company is small enough that he can still walk around and talk to people. He believes that’s the most important activity he can do as a librarian. It’s good marketing, it gets you out there. Let your clients be your advocates. Some will tell their coworkers how helpful you can be by showing what you’ve done for them.
One customer’s assistance request became a new Sharepoint section. Kevin was going to send him a list of links to local government sites to get him started on finding certain local reports. When he pondered what amount of work that left the customer, he decided to make a list on Sharepoint with more direct links to the reports and maybe some copies of the reports.
Hildy added some thoughts on how being a leader in professional associations has helped her in her career. In some cases, we don’t have leadership opportunities where we work, but managers sometimes recognize talents people use outside of work.
LexisNexis’ Bobby Schrott introduced the session by explaining the fascinating conversations he and NPR’s Kee Malesky have had led him to think he wanted to bring the conversation to a broader audience of content lovers. He provided some background on NPR, it’s use of content, and the role the librarians play regarding information consumption, preservation, and use in the organization.
Kee opened by explaining National Public Radio’s different librarian roles: music, broadcast, and reference. She also gave a brief overview of her career and decision to become a librarian. She teased Bobby about an early LexisNexis terminal with keys so tiny, she had to use a pencil to type. She grins: “It is, as most of you have realized, one of the best library jobs in the world.” The organization recognizes the importance of their work. “We have an obligation to the American public because we are public radio to save our work.”
Bobby cycles back to the idea that the librarians at NPR were contributing story ideas—not a traditional librarian duty—and asks Kee to talk more about that and how Kee has been able to partner with certain reporters to really contribute to the news cycle and programming. Because NPR started as a small, underfunded organization, doing things inexpensively and pitching in to help the greater organization just became part of the normal routine. There are many opportunities for Kee and other librarians (two broadcast librarians are in the audience) to mention things they learned through the news or events or … anything to the reporters. “It’s important to always be in that conversation,” Kee stresses. Contributing like that is a continual process.
Those two librarians are working on a project to digitize 40 years of NPR audio. When cataloging, Kee and the other librarians way back when used to joke about how convenient it would be to be able to click a button right there on the catalog record that would play the audio instead of the digital record pointing to a physical location from which someone would have to pull tape. The software is open source
An audience member asked about NPR’s organizational chart related to libraries: where do the librarians fit in the structure. The libraries moved out of the news umbrella a few years ago. A newer investigative unit asked for a librarian when it was formed. The director of the librarians, SLA News Division colleague Laura Soto-Barra, has made some staffing changes to enable her to focus more on big picture things, promoting two librarians to managerial roles.
The librarians also do a lot of customized training, from new employee orientation to more specialized tasks if reporters need it for a story or when changing roles.
An audience member asked about ticketing and tracking systems for reference inquiries. Laura instituted some more organized ways to keep statistics on library use. It sounds like doing so is fairly simple: what kind of inquiry (broadcast, reference …), from which group, how long did it take to fulfill the request, and maybe a few other metrics. Bobby points out keeping the numbers can be as simple as using spreadsheet software. There will always be people or departments who use the library more than others. Learn who those users are because you might be serving an audience you didn’t expect to serve so much and because at some point, you may need advocates and people who can go to bat for you. Bobby observes that “it’s hard for senior managers to ignore a compliment that’s been broadcast nation-wide.”
People also mentioned LibStats, Servicewise, Desk Tracker, homegrown system, RefTracker (which features forms on the intranet clients can complete), InMagic, and Sharepoint to share spreadsheet files. I built a FileMaker database during a previous role.
Credibility: When a new accountant starts, she doesn’t have to prove trust in the same way other professionals, like librarians, have to establish trust. Kee began in the reference library in 1990. Back then, there were two librarians who worked days to cover the week that didn’t overlap. When she was a new librarian, one of the famous NPR personalities visited the library and seemed hesitant to interact with her fully. By providing excellent service, she was able to establish trust with him gradually.
Bobby asked the audience to share stories about establishing credibility.
Some people recognize that librarians are better at going through large amounts of research or search results than they are; and, that often they can do it more efficiently. Some execs and non-librarians recognize that they don’t have the same kind of time to do that work themselves. Some people realize when and how they need librarians.
Wowing senior management can be a very good thing, but with how quickly they can change, be prepared for changing relationships and needing to establish credibility with new people often. Bobby requests an audience member share her experience with that. Learning how to communicate with upper level business folks is important: do they prefer charts and graphs to text? Synopses? Analyses? A list of results? Tailoring answers and results to your audience is vital.
Bobby prods Kee to talk about some challenging or difficult questions she’s handled. One example is when Kee tried to find the words “follow the money” in documents related to the Watergate scandal. People associate that with the book All the President’s Men, but it isn’t there. They traced it to the movie script.
Decisions about when to tell people in the same company about similar research happening elsewhere often falls to the librarian. Corporate library confidentiality is different from public library confidentiality. In some news environments, the librarians regularly play yenta. “Oh, you know, someone else was asking about that the other day … Are there two stories happening on this topic … ?” Some reporters will vet ideas with the librarians before fully developing them in order to get ideas about what’s available, what’s been covered before, what might be a new approach now.
Librarians sometimes can point out how companies are using information inefficiently. One librarian mentioned how after she came on board, she noticed people in the company kept ordering the same journal reprint articles because there wasn’t a way within the organization to see what had previously been ordered and whether the rights to that article permitted sharing. In some cases, the same people were reordering the same articles.
Get to know the experts in your organization: people who speak other languages, have certain hobbies or degrees … Create an experts list with contact information.
Don’t discount the value of free labor and internships. Corporate office in Australia that will never hire a degreed librarian? Would a local university with a library school have some kind of intern program that might cover that gap?
An audience member gave an elevator speech about the importance of giving elevator pitches.
A lady wonders how we can offer new services to employees who have been with a company for decades. Librarians need to be adaptable and flexible and familiar with their clients needs and desires.
The NPR news production process has changed in the last few years, librarian Janel Kinlaw explains, so the librarians have become more proactive than they were previously.
There’s a danger with innovating too much, both in terms of moving too quickly for users to feel comfortable and when it comes to all areas the library covers. Great, you have a Twitter feed! How’s your cataloging software?
Libraries as portfolio managers is a hot topic.
One of our News Division colleagues ponders strategies for maintaining human contact in this world where many people prefer email or texting or … Walk up and down the hallway, engage people in conversation (“Wow. I really liked your piece yesterday!), and just make yourself available in person, outside of the library, somehow. NPR’s embedded environment makes in-person interactions much easier.
Being embedded has its benefits. We can reach our constituents easier, but we also lose incredibly easy contact with our librarian colleagues. Instant messaging and chat solves some of those problems.
Since Kee works alone on the weekends and has her days off during the typical work week, she reads through the logs the librarians use to track what’s happening. Others do the same when they return to work after the weekend to learn what Kee handled.
Some examples of being proactive include reminding people about valuable resources during certain times. “The Olympics begin in a few weeks. We have the following materials: …” They also take time to give updates about major projects.
Bobby advises taking advantage of mistakes to point out to people how the library could have helped. (Other organizations’ mistakes are suitable.) His example was one where a media outlet put someone on the air who claimed to be a certain expert. Another outlet broke the story that that fellow wasn’t who he claimed to be. Bobby reminded that organization about some resources they had through LexisNexis they could have used for a quick background check that would have indicated this fellow was bluffing.
NPR has about 19 librarians and interns all together.
Kee’s suggestions for the future include reanalyzing ourselves to figure out what we can do with our roles in the organization and how to change when the areas around us change. She uses one of our newspaper colleagues as an example. When the newspaper decided to close its library, he was able to create a job by pointing out how his content management skills would benefit the reporters if he managed certain kinds of information and information architecture. Kee emphasizes that the need for librarians and our skills is growing, though many jobs are not going to be titled as “librarian.”
Kee closes the session by briefly mentioning her new book due out in the fall.
(Oh, heh, I should have worn my “I heartfully listen to NPR” shirt again, eh.)
I session hopped this morning. I began in the Wikileaks presentation, but moved to Using Scenario Analysis to Predict the Future of the Semantic Web.
I headed for the Wikileaks session because of a general interest and the News Division sponsored it. I listened to the speaker outline many of the complicated and broad issues related to the laws surrounding secret information leaks and whether people who repeated leaked information are as liable as the person who shared the secret information. After a while, I realized I wasn’t in the mood for the presentation style of reading an essay of deep thought, so I switched to Using Scenario Analysis to Predict the Future of the Semantic Web with August Jackson of Verizon about halfway through.
STEEP: social, technological, economic, environmental, political
social: increased use of social media,
tech: inclusion of semantic standards in applications
economic: valuation of “big data” companies, cloud-based platforms move IT, spend from capex to opex
environmental: drive to conserve energy with smart grids and smart applications
political: public budget constraints drive push for cost-savings, regulations related to data privacy and protection, desire to increase transparency of some government operations
Availability of semantic experience, adoption of natural language processing, corporate adoption of industry standard ontologies, inclusion of semantic standards in applications, adoption of non-relational databases, availability of easy-to-use ontology editing software, valuation of “big data” companies, new revenue models and services based on data, regulations related to data privacy and protection
implications wheel can be a good way to flesh out scenario stories
“Smart content” would see changes in the substance and medium of news. What happens with the facts in articles? How much does copyright protect them? More people are going to the web to find content than a print edition of a news source. Semantics can help connect people to news content better. Many news sources are semantically modeled. “Data journalism” becomes standard, changing expectations of empirical evidence and providing interactive infographics. Publications offer APIs, leading to copyright challenges and new monetization models.
Make the Most of a Difficult Situation: Solutions to Get You Through
co-author of The Information and Knowledge Professionals Career Handbook (among other activities)
Jill outlined ten approaches to handling difficult situations, then we discussed two sample scenarios and some situations audience members broached.
Jill says she’s stayed in difficult positions because she kept waiting for people to change.
Is there a way a difficult situation will pay off for us? Maybe it’s in what we learn about ourselves or learn about the situation. Or perhaps it’s in the connections we make in light of the difficult situations.
Jill asked us to define what a difficult situation is:
Dysfunctional organization (every organization is like a family: there will be some dysfunction)
Change, whether positive or negative
Doing more with less, budget cuts
Polarized groups, groups not able to work together well
Breaking down boundaries
Jill’s 4 overarching things:
Don’t like it
Don’t know how to handle it
See limited options
We often think of difficult situations being associated with a person, but many times, it’s an organizational issue
One example is someone with an unpleasant odor
Conference website and slideshare have handouts: http://www.slideshare.net/jill_hw/make-t…
learn about the situation: get out of your space, walk around the building, hide in the bathroom on a different floor, stand back, drop assumptions
think about the external environment: why is the boss suddenly being difficult (bad marriage, kid problems, boss problems)
brainstorm/mindstorm: if you can’t talk with someone else, at least sit with yourself and some paper to think things over
pull together a team: who can you talk to who might give you a different perspective or options, maybe someone who knows something about your organization can give you a different point of view, by talking through the situation, you might hear it differently
build support/find a mentor: get help exiting the situation, who can help you with that?, be patient about the exit: it took Jill a year to leave the 4-year bad situation: got her ducks in a row, started a journal to outline her ideas and figure out what to do next
learn how to listen to what is said and not said: what kind of words and language are they using?
talk to the person causing the angst
if it’s harassment, involve human resources: harassment is one time when you shouldn’t just sit down and take what’s happening; however, bullying is not illegal in the workplace (Jill says in one of her difficult situations, going to HR would not have worked because of the work environment. When she left that organization, many other people left, too.) HR protects the organization, isn’t necessarily workers’ friends. Find the lay of the land before going to HR.
if you need to leave, have a strategy: network with people, row your ducks, update your resume, get on LinkedIn or other online communities, check out your finances, the TRAK staffing lady recommends considering exit strategies a long time before the situation becomes a crisis or emergency, what can I do differently in the organization,
Question from the audience: how can you gauge what things are like in a different organization to know whether working there won’t just lead to the same problems? Jill suggests talking to insiders, when you’re interviewing, look around: do you notice things that seem odd or out of place or might indicate certain problems? glassdoor.com and indeed.com have company reviews
remember the positives: you’ll be so pissed off at the situation, you’ll forget about the good things: the people you’ve met, the experience, your rolodex, Jill left her role with good contacts and tech knowledge she wouldn’t have gained elsewhere;
trust your gut: if your gut says “I just have to leave” and you mean it, handle the consequences
situation 1: The company reorganizes and you’re now under a manager who doesn’t value what you do. What do you do?
find out what the manager values and try to find a connection between what you do and what the manager values
show the manager your value, like cost reduction
try for a personal connection: if they appreciate you as a person, maybe they can see your value
find advocates who can talk to your new manager, especially someone who is a hierarchical peer or someone at a higher level
present yourself as a professional, act as if you’re on equal footing
self-promote: share positive comments from others (but be ware of your manager being upset by them: jealousy, control issues, etc. Talk to your manager: what’s your problem with these positive comments? They reflect positively on you and your leadership as much as they’re compliments about my work.)
consult a lawyer: you might not realize what’s happening is illegal, especially because different states have different laws protecting lawyers; but be careful what you say/how you handle the situation because you want to be as professional as possible -> you have no idea what the consequences of your action might be, if you’ll be branded professionally as being litigious, positive references are good ones,
Situation 2: your organization shifts service models and now requires someone to be on call 24/7.
how frequently would it be happening
what’s the impact
how does the organization support that, what resources are available
what does “on call” really mean? what does “24/7″ really mean?
what expanded benefits go along with this change: working for 7 days, off for 7 days
when talking to staff, emphasize the positives, try to get their buy in, address their concerns, compensation/benefits, maybe get HR or your boss to go with you to inform your staff, figure out the best approach to inform the staff–many will get stuck on being on call 24/7 and not hear anything else you say, be clear about details, let the staff figure out how to do coverage and anything else the staff as a group can decide: don’t mandate unless it’s absolutely necessary
sample scenario: lady presents ideas: boss says “No!”, but coworker suggests same thing and boss says “Yes!”
audience member says “are you sure it’s that your boss doesn’t want you to get distracted from the things you do well?”
communication style difference?
is the boss someone who needs to “hear things twice” before making a solid decision?
what do you do when you don’t match the corporate style? depends on what you want, but if you can modify yourself slightly to fit in and that works for you, go ahead. Also, it shows others how serious you are about the job.
An audience member suggests remembering that you don’t necessarily need to be your whole self at work, that you can leave parts of yourself out and still be fulfilled. It’s up to you and what you want.
rejecting people because of style might be unconscious
sample scenario: my boss and coworkers call me “Barbie”
talk to HR
suggest a team building exercise to open the door to a larger conversation
check out the larger campus dress code
Several people referenced Malcolm Gladwell’s book blink.
USA Today carries a cover story about people using various online services to share cars, rent rooms or houses, and run errands. The focus is on people doing these things to earn extra cash, but there is an undercurrent of some just wanting to share what they have. Various Web sites connect those who would like to share with others looking to use the resources, whether it’s a car or time to handle a task.
(N.B.: The print edition has an article on 3A about steampunk culture: Reliving ‘history that never was.’ I haven’t been able to find it online, perhaps because my steam search engine has problems getting to USA Today content.)