Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Coordinating with Librarians - Remembering to play nice

Again I was invited to write an article for  the 2013 Best Practices for Government Libraries that is edited by Marie Kaddell.  The full PDF is available from Marie's blog - Government Info Pro.

Here is my article - Coordinating with Librarians:

Several years ago a friend and I were talking about another librarian.  My friend made the comment that this other librarian was odd.  I asked, “Is he really strange or is he just library odd?”
Over the course of my twenty-five years of working in libraries, visiting libraries and attending library conference, I have come to the realization that librarians on the whole are a pretty odd lot.  Before anyone takes offense – be assured that I count myself among the odd.

Of course, being odd is part of what makes us interesting and part of what takes us into the realms of research and reference.  That’s why many of us think outside the box.  Some of us don’t even see the box!
Appreciating our differences:

We are all different.  Some of us are extroverts; some of us are introverts.
After taking a Myers-Briggs exam, I learned that I am an Introvert.  Then I read the descriptions of the various facets and combinations.  Lo and behold!  There’s nothing wrong with being an Introvert.  It is useful to know what our type is and understand the people around us so we can work better as a team.  Yes – we all have to be part of a team.  Even solo librarians work with other people.

I am an introvert who has learned to be an extrovert.  Sometimes I have to psych myself up to attend a party and interact with people.  And then I need some serious downtime.
The point of taking the Myers-Briggs exam is to learn better how you work and how you can be more effective with your colleagues.  It helps if other members of your staff take the exam so everyone can learn to work together more effectively.

There are other ways of accomplishing this – find what works best for your group.  The important thing to understand is that everyone on the staff is a little different.  They will each approach the same task in a slightly different manner.
Respecting our differences:

When I was working as a cataloger the library hired a director of Technical Services.  She wanted to sit down with me and review my work procedures.  I had a moment of resentment.  I had been doing my job for over a year and I didn’t need anyone telling me what to do.  Fortunately the moment passed.  I considered that was now her job to supervise me so she needed to see what I did.  And, since she had a lot more experience in libraries than I did, I just might learn something from her.
In fact, I learned a lot from her – including how to be gracious to staff members who can be resentful.  She was always fair showed respect for all of her colleagues.

Get acquainted:
In June I attended the SLA Annual Conference in San Diego.  The highlight of the conference for me was a presentation by Capt. Winston Smith, USN, Commander of the SanDiego Naval Base.  So much of what he said resonated with me and what I have been trying to do over the past year.

He says he spends 1/3 of his time visiting the ships at the navy base, 1/3 of his time meeting with the tenants and other commands on the base, and 1/3 of his time outside the fence – engaging with the local communities.
These visits aren’t inspection tours – he wants to know the people and them to know him so he can be approachable and better understand their needs.  So, in a library we should spend 1/3 of our time with our colleagues, 1/3 with our customers and 1/3 with our administrative stakeholders.

Some of these interactions will be formal such as staff meetings and presentations.  But don’t forget the informal – grabbing a cup of coffee or sharing lunch.  Find connections with others that don’t involve classification schedules or acquisitions.  But when you are working with your staff – make sure they know you appreciate what they are doing.  Remind them how their work fits into the big picture and serves the mission of the organization.
Know thyself:

This is an aphorism that dates to Ancient Greece.  And we still forget its importance!
Again I recall something that Capt. Smith said in his presentation in June - What is your psychological driver? Identify your own strengths and weaknesses. 

When we know our strengths we are free to let others be strong too.  Another person’s expertise isn’t viewed as a threat when I know that I have my own expertise.  Hopefully our expertise is complementary and we can learn from each other.  When we combine our efforts we can accomplish more for our organization.
Putting it into practice:

A year ago I started a new job.  I am a director of an agency library program.  I give support and policy guidance to my libraries but I have no supervisory authority over them.  They are themselves a consortium – each is independent of the other.  They are funded and supervised locally.
Fortunately I have a boss who sees the importance of my visiting the libraries and meeting with the librarians and the local supervisory and command staff.  This has helped me to understand the work in each of the libraries as well as get to know my librarians.

A few months before I started one of the librarians organized a monthly conference call to coordinate work on the eJournals resource.  I was surprised to learn that this was a recent development.
In addition to visits to the districts to meet the librarians, I started a weekly email to update everyone on what I was doing and sharing any agency information that I knew of.  I usually get some feedback on those –so that tells me that they are reading the messages.

My agency has several librarians who have been on board for many years.  I have made an effort to reach out to them to learn the history of the agency as well as the particular history of the library program.  They have been a big help and have saved me from making several mistakes.  They have pointed out matters of protocol as well as practical matters of working with the Department of Defense.
Email has become my default means of contacting people.  I have had to overcome that and pick up the phone and talk to my colleagues.

The personal meetings with my librarians and the personal phone calls have been the biggest asset to me in working with them and learning how to best support them in their work.  Nothing can beat that personal touch.  I learn a great deal by meeting others and it reminds me that I still have a lot to learn.
I encourage other librarians to be constant learners.  Learn from others at all levels of experience.  One librarian I know is also a potter.  She tells me that she is always intrigued to watch a novice potter throw clay on the wheel for the first time.  It allows her to observe an untrained approach and gauge what her instruction might be for that person.  And sometimes she learns something new.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Amusing spam -

I help maintain a website. There is a function for our members to register as members. The web-bots have found the site and every day I have to remove spam requests for accounts. They have gotten clever - the even include info in the Bio section. But I'm not fooled.

Some of them put me in mind of war movies from the 1940s where inept spies tried to dupe Americans.  It also reminded me of the Monty Python sketch about the Hungarian phrasebook.  These folks are trying to say something, but the words are just not right. 

Here are some examples from the website:

  • Hello, I'm Evelyne, a 19 year old from Unterengstringen, Switzerland.  My hobbies include (but are not limited to) Association football, Rock stacking and watching Family Guy.

  • Im Lenard and was born on 1 January 1988. My hobbies are Reading and Reading.

  • Hello! My name is Marylin and I'm a 28 years old boy from United States.  Here is my web page: brazilian hair extensions

  • Remember to schedule your time. Weather kamin stripping and caulk can crack this time of bank collapse, a wise move would be to use mild heat to bring blood to your feet through improved, warmth-stimulated  circulation. The top track is also a great all round the house must.

  • I'm Vicki and I live in Mulataga. I'm interested in Social Studies, Archery and German art. I like travelling and reading fantasy.

  • The individual that wrote the post is known as Emile however he doesn't like when individuals utilize his full name. What I love doing is bee keeping plus I'll be beginning something else together with it. She functions because a reservation and transportation ticket agent plus she will likely not change it anytime shortly.  Missouri is her birth region. Check out the newest news on my website:

  • Not much to write about myself really. Yes! Im a member of website.xxx. I really hope Im useful at all

  • I am Noah and was born on 3 September 1985. My hobbies are Dog sport and Videophilia (Home theater).

  • Hi, my title is Penelope but my husband does not want it at all. To raft is what love performing. My daytime job is a debt collector and I'm doing very good financially. California is really where I have been living and I do not plan on altering that. We keep up an internet site.

  • 21 yrs old Life Scientist Mullenax from Leamington, has pastimes which include shopping, kayak tours and car. Remembers what a splendid spot it was having made a trip to Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.

  • Hеllo! Mу name іs Odell. Ιt is а little about mysеlf: I live in Italy, mʏ city օf Campagnano Dі Roma. Ӏt's called often Eastern οr cultural capital of RM. Ӏ've married 1 үears ago. Ӏ hɑve two children - а son (Gladys) aոd the daughter (Frieda). Ԝe all lіke Squash. (I don't know if they mean the vegetable or the sport.)

  • I'm a 42 years old, married and work at the college (Playwriting). In my free time I try to teach myself Japanese. I've been twicethere and look forward to go there sometime in the future. I love to read, preferably on my ipad. I like to watch Breaking Bad and The Big Bang Theory as well as documentaries about anything astronomical. I like Volleyball.

  • The author's name is Myesha though she doesn't really like being called like that. His day job is a debt collector. My husband and I chose to reside in South Dakota. Playing hockey is something my wife doesn't really like but I do. She's been working on her website for some time now.

  • I'm Ashly аnɗ I live ѡith my husband aոd our 3 children іn Metz, iո the south ρart. My hobbies arе Archery, Equestrianism аnɗ Handball. (If this is a combined sport it sounds almost like Hunger Games!)

  • The author is known as Shoshana Minter. Years in the past she moved to Guam. Credit authorising is how she makes money but quickly she'll be on her own. To play basketball is what her family members and her appreciate. Go to her web site to find out much more

  • The writer's name is Rosann Brewster and she totally digs that title.   The factor I adore most caving but I've been taking on new things lately.  Meter studying is what I do in my working day occupation but quickly I'll be on my own. Her home is now in Kentucky and her mothers and fathers live close by. 

  • 27 years old Film, Television, Radio and Stage Owners Ezekiel from North Vancouver, enjoys marquetry, top online games and wood working. Plans to give up work and take the family to lots of the noteworthy heritage listed places on the globe such as Dja Faunal Reserve.

  • 28 year-old Cook Danny from King City, has hobbies and interests which include caravaning, pet sitting austin and cave diving.  Has completed a wonderful round the world voyage that consisted of visiting the Historic Centre of Lima

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Social Media and Agility

Steven L. MacCall, PhD, School of Library & Information Studies, University of Alabama
Military Libraries Workshop, Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
December 11, 2013

Much of Dr. MacCall’s presentation used examples from his teaching experience and his requirements that his students make use of social media.

Technical Agility – as in technology

Use tools – whether or not they are computerized.  Not all of the tools that we use as librarians are computerized.  Many are trusted resources that we know will work

Heidegger wrote of the hammer and the hand/arm as a unit.  If you think too much about how to use the hammer – that’s when problems start.

There is a transparency to tool use

Agility – ability to change rapidly in response to customer needs and market forces.  Adaptability, flexibility, responsiveness – OED

Technical agility in social communications: what are the barriers?

Personal technical agility barriers:
  • Do we view people who use Twitter as a geek or nerd?  Or are they curious or industrious?
  • Is social media second nature to you?
  • Know your personality and use what works for you – or use it to work for you.

Professional technical agility barriers can be subdivided:
  • Technical services – using computers to solve problems and enhance services
  • Public services – document delivery and similar services

Overcoming barriers:

·         Require adoption

o   Make the case by using problem-solving

o   Provide scenarios for using social media

·         Encourage agility

o   Overcoming time challenges

o   Deploy what you know to new contexts

o   Tools come and go

Monitor various communications channels (listservs, blogs, Twitter, Facebook)
  • For professional development
  • On behalf of clients

Interstitial computing:
  • Tweeting, checking email etc. in our downtime – waiting in the checkout line
  • Is this smart to do in a 24/7 world – or do we need to take breaks?

Customize your Twitter life:
  • Follow a few key people and check the feed once per day or per week – scroll through the tweet history.  With only a few people it isn’t too hard to do.
  • This doesn’t work if you are following 50 or more people.
  • Learn to search on hash-tags for themes

Final thoughts:

·         Draw sustenance from the technical agility of your colleagues both current and from the past

·         Technology with a purpose:

o   Solve problems

o   Be more efficient

·         Consider the network of your fellow professionals

·         Document your professional social media activities:

o   Easier said than done

o   We need better tools!

Social media adoption is merely the next technical agility challenge.

Big Data Content Organization, Discovery, and Management

Margie Hlava, President, Access Innovations
Military Libraries Workshop, Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
December 11, 2013

Big Data
  • Data is the new oil – we have to learn how to mine it! Qatar – European Commission Report
  • $ 7 trillion economic value in 7 US sectors alone
  • $90 B annually in sensitive devices
  • Land, Labor, Capital, + Data

Data Deluge – the End of Science, Wired, 16.07

            Too much data to analyze and process!

Google, eBay, LinkedIn, and Facebook are all Big Data harvesters, they were expecting Big Data from the beginning.

They don’t need to reconcile or integrate Big Data with their IT infrastructure because they were built to deal with it.

Traditional sources of data and the analytics performed upon them aren’t going away.  Big Data is the new member of the family that must be integrated.  Data scientists have to learn to work with the data and be able to analyze it.

Big Data is too much stuff to deal with in a reasonable amount of time!
Big Data is a term applied to data sets whose size is beyond the ability of commonly used software tools to capture, manage, and process the data within a tolerable elapsed time. Big Data sizes are a constantly moving target currently ranging from a few dozen terabytes to many petabytes of data in a single data set. – Wikipedia, May 2011 

There is a new paradigm – one of data-intensive scientific discovery

There are new special collections – more about methods than data.

  • Location aware data
  • Life streaming
  • Insurance claims
  • Hubble telescope
  • CERN Collections
  • Flight data
Unstructured data
  • Means untagged or unformatted
  • PDF
  • Word files
  • File shares
  • News feeds
  • News Data feeds
  • Images

This isn’t entirely accurate.  We make use of the properties of PDF and Word files, we can add a lot of metadata and give the files structure.  Only most people don’t do this.

Structured data is like xml – the tagging describes the data.

What are the problems?
  • Data infrastructure challenges
  • “taking diverse and heterogeneous data sets and making them more homogeneous and usable”
  • Is this a problem or an opportunity?
  • All that data – what can it tell us?
  • Privacy
  • Copyright
  • Neurological impact
  • Data collection methods

Government Initiative

Big Data Senior Steering Group (BDSSG) was formed to identify current Big Data research and development activities across the Federal government, offer opportunities for coordination, and identify what the goal of a national initiative in this area would look like.

There is a fast-growing volume of digital data.  Do we need new technology?

Techniques for dealing with Big Data

Content organization – doesn’t matter where the data lives (machine, cloud, etc.)

Undifferentiated, unstructured – needs organization.

Type of database structure:  where are we going to put it?   Do we use a relational database or an object-oriented system?

An object-oriented system using java or xml pulls all the descriptors into one place – the object.  Example of a bottle of water – the descriptors would all live with the object – (water, bottle, plastic, origin, etc.)

What are Librarians doing?
  • We are using meta-search tools to integrate all these data sets.
  • We give structure to the unstructured data
  • We create the meta-data

Where do store the meta-data?
  • With the records - in the html header
  • Store the meta-data in a separate file and link to it – database or Sharepoint


Top Tips for Turning Information into Insights

Marcy Phelps, Phelps Research
Military Libraries Workshop, Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
December 11, 2013

Twitter - @maryphelps

Can we be replaced?

Clients are drowning in information.  Too many results from DIY (Do-It-Yourself) searching (Bing, Yahoo, Google, Ask, etc.)

We have to learn how to express our value – Show & Tell

Information Analyst – We tell folks what is worthwhile in the information that we retrieve for them.

5 Tips:

1.      Listen & Learn
  • Reference interview
  • Informational interview – how are customers going to use the information?  That tells us how to deliver the information – a report? A list? A spreadsheet? A chart or other table?
  • Include a Table of Contents and a cover letter

2.      KISS – Keep It Short & Simple
  • Use 1 or 2 sentences to justify to yourself why you are including items in your response to the requestor.
  • Executive Summary: one page, bullets, address questions, summarize answers, include links to more information, add your observations
  • Article summaries included with citations

3.      Use visual formats – charts and graphs often tell more than just a table; diagrams, dashboards, data maps, word clouds, timeline

4.      Bring in the Power Tools
  • Data mining
  • Analysis – SWOT, PEST (Political, Economic, Social and Technological factors),
  • Using Insights – FAQs, Issue briefs, Powerpoint, Cheat sheet, Intranet/portal deliverables

5.      Create a report toolkit
  • Templates for Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Style Guides
  • Chart Gallery
  • Map Gallery
  • Branding


Tools for Charts and Graphs:

Tools for Diagrams:
Tools for Data Maps:

Tools for Word Cloud:
  • Wordle.net
  • Pajek.com – gives some explanation of word size in a word cloud


Image resources:



Future of Military Libraries

Virginia Suzy Young, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Research, University of Alabama
Military Libraries Workshop, Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Alabama
December 10, 2013

Dr. Young spoke from her experience as the Director, U.S. Army Advanced Science andTechnology Directorate at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.  Currently she is advising Redstone on the future of their libraries.

Dr. Young has seen a gradual decline in
  1. Library Resources
  2. Expectations for libraries
  3. Interest in libraries

The entry to the library is no longer the front door.

We need to talk to people about the return on investment (ROI) for libraries to their agencies.

How is it that other areas at an agency develop so quickly and are able to respond to needs yet libraries don’t?  It is a matter of funding – other departments get more funding.

New Requirements for librarians:
  1. A previous evolution of operations and management has become a revolution.
  2. Other duties as assigned – For librarians this is becoming full-blown new Military Operational Skills (MOS) – becoming more active intellectual partners with our customers.
  3. Maintaining the pace of technology development may become impossible and certainly cost prohibitive.
  4. Balancing traditional values and managing customer expectations.

What is the future?

Libraries should transform from being centers of information to being centers of culture. Become enmeshed with the culture of your agency or office.  Not the place to go to – because you are already engaged with your customers.

Plan for obvious advances that will require flexibility to accommodate:
  • Verbal communication
  • Access to all global information
  • Partnerships with non-traditional partners
  • New service requirements for IT

Concentrate on an enterprise approach:
  • Consortial buying
  • Priorities for our customers
  • Make the best of virtual services
  • How can libraries become more lean?

Career Agility: Transforming Knowledge and Expertise into Strategic Value

In early December I attended the Military Libraries Workshop, sponsored by the SLA Military Libraries Division.  The Workshop sessions were held at the Von Braun Center, in Huntsville, Alabama.

The next several blog posts will be my notes from the talks.
Deb Hunt, SLA President and Chief Librarian at the Mechanics' Institute, San Francisco
December 10, 2013

Deb opened up by talking about a joint report from SLA and Financial Times – Evolving Value of the Information Professional and the five essential attributes of the modern information professional - http://ftcorporate.ft.com/sla/ (registration required to download a copy.)

From the Executive Summary:

Some key themes emerged from the survey data and in-depth interviews which underpin this report:

1. What worries knowledge providers most is that an increasing number of their colleagues are bypassing them and accessing the information they need directly (e.g. using Google). Apart from undermining information professionals, this creates significant organisational risk. The second major, but related, challenge for information professionals is demonstrating their value to the business. Many are also struggling to meet organisational expectations in an environment of declines in budget, IT investment and headcount.

2. Information users (e.g. executives) suffer from information overload. Their challenge is a perceived lack of up-to-date, relevant, decision-ready information, delivered quickly enough for them to make use of it.

3. The majority of knowledge providers currently overestimate the level of value they provide. Overall, 55% of knowledge providers say they add “a lot of value”, yet only 34% of executives are willing to say the same of them.

4. But executives appear more ready than ever to engage with information professionals. Some 49% of information users expect the level of interaction and engagement between knowledge providers and senior management to increase in the next three years.

5. One key way in which this engagement is set to increase is through the use of “embedded” information professionals. This will see information departments shrink or disappear, but will also dismantle many organisational barriers. Rather than being siloed in libraries, information professionals will become team members within departments that were once internal customers.

6. Communication, understanding and decision-ready information are rated (by all respondents) as the most important attributes for modern information professionals. They are also among the areas with the largest shortfalls in performance ratings between users and providers, so information professionals should focus on improving these attributes above all others.

Deb's key points: 

  • Librarians and information professionals need to be defined in terms of the value and benefit they bring to an organization.
  • What value do we bring to our organization?  What do we do that no one else does?
  • Align your library with the mission and strategic goals of your organization.
  • Engage your users on their terms.
  • Make yourself indispensable to your clients!

Invest in yourself!
  • Step up to the plate and plan your own professional development.
  • AIIM - Association for Information and Image Management – has a lot of free webinars and other training on Enterprise Content Management, Big Data and other topics.  A lot of the training is provided by vendors – but it is still helpful.
  • Take a look at Career Sustainability on Linked-In – http://linkd.in/pqkjzp for Librarian Career development podcasts, books and discussions.
  • SLA offers certification in Knowledge Management, Competitive Intelligence and Copyright Management.  They also have suggested competencies for Librarians and information professionals in the 21st Century.

  • What skills do I currently have that can expand my career potential?
  • What skills can I learn or improve in order to move ahead?
  • How and when will I take those steps to improve?