28 February 2006

Building Bridges to Information Products and Services

Carol Tenopir [School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, USA] recently gave the Miles Conrad Memorial Lecture to the National Federation of Abstracting and Information Services. Her topic was Building Bridges to Information Products and Services. The name of my company is Information Bridges International, and was derived from a desire to connect librarians in small or one-person libraries to the resources they need, to their customers, and to the larger library world. Tenopir talked about the need for all of us to do the same. Here are just some of her comments.

“My career...has been about building bridges—bridges between librarians and publishers; bridges between students and knowledge; and bridges between research and practice. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the work librarians and information industry professionals do is about building bridges to some degree or helping people build their own bridges—particularly bridges between users and the information they need.

“The most important lesson from building bridges is to know traffic patterns or know your users. The majority of information users just want tools and technologies that help them get their work done better and in the most convenient fashion. They do not want to change their work habits unless it is obviously more convenient for them. Systems that help people get their work done better will be readily adopted.

“Desktop access of electronic journals for faculty, links to full articles from indexes, systems that integrate information into updateable spreadsheets or graphs, cut and paste citation systems for authors and students, integration of dictionaries and glossaries into products for kids, medical reference books downloadable to a PDA for physicians, newsfeeds accessible via cell phones, instant messaging or email reference for college students, are all examples of ways that product features help people get their work done and are adopted quickly by a sizable group of the intended population.

“Knowing your users leads directly to realizing that lots of different onramps are needed to content. Staying a step ahead of users’ needs (and remembering that the new doesn’t usually completely or immediately replace the old) is the challenge. Behaviors do change somewhat over time and after familiarization—but often just for more and better uses of the same material and systems. New behaviors are a result of becoming familiar and comfortable with electronic sources, technologies, and possibilities. One solution does not fit all and the allowable time between enhancements is growing shorter as people’s attention span and patience shortens, as expectations heighten. We are building expectations at the same time we are meeting them. No matter what you do it will never be enough in today’s climate of change and high expectations.

“Sometimes bridges to our ultimate users need a little help, however. A bridge between the information system provider and the ultimate end user that has the supporting structure of the information specialist is still often stronger than the direct bridge. Many have been trying to build the direct bridge for decades and it just doesn’t hold up as well as expected. This is one of the hardest lessons for the information industry to learn. For over twenty years I’ve heard new CEOs at online companies come in with the “revolutionary” idea that there are only thousands of librarians, but millions of end users. But librarians make the overall collection decisions and make sure the bills are paid and, more importantly, provide help so people can make the most effective use of information products.

“Finally, sometimes the fastest route is not the best. Sometimes a researcher just wants to enjoy the ride and is not in any particular hurry to arrive—in these cases a ferry (or a hot air balloon) works just as well as a bridge. Serendipity, berry-picking, and browsing are not the most efficient ways to get information, but they are part of the research and development process. Researchers need time to think and develop their ideas. Information sources should help them do that.

“In conclusion, don’t let libraries or information companies be bridges to nowhere. Not paying attention to users needs is the surest road to nowhere, and a fancy design with no meaningful purpose or content, no quality, no rigor behind the interface will in the long run lead to nowhere. Subject experts in the workplace want robust and useful content in addition to easy to navigate and effective systems to get them where they are going. They want to get their work done faster and better and all of us in this business are in the business together of making sure that happens.”

These excerpts will also appear in a future issue of The One-Person Library: A Newsletter for Librarians and Management and are taken from Tenopir's column for Library Journal, Online Databases, 17 February 2006. Used with permission.

27 February 2006


Jennifer Croll [University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa] answered this question in an article in inCite, the journal of ALIA, the Australian Library and Information Association, titled “The business of libraries.”

Croll said a lot of important things, but this was my favorite.

“I’d ask, ‘What is our unique selling point?’ I’d position the library as close as possible to the entrance of the organization or make sure it is signposted. And it would appear prominently on the intranet. I make sure the library is really in the face of users. I am willing to be push. I would position the library in the mind of the users in terms of our unique selling point. I also work to position the library in the minds of internal staff, like academics. If you don’t have management support and collaboration, you may not have clients in the long term. I confront my potential user; I drag them over the door, because once inside, I offer a huge world.”

What have you done to “drag them over the door”? What is your library unique selling point? What do you do better than anyone else (either in the organization or outside it)? Make sure your users understand this.

Read the entire interview by Geraldine Barkworth at http://alia.org.au/publishing/incite/2006/01-02/print.html?ID=17.


Michelle Boule, posting on the blog of the Library and Information Technology Association, American Library Association, reported on a talk by Antony Brewerton [Oxford Brookes Library, Oxford, UK] made at the OCLC Symposium at ALA Midwinter 2006. I heard Brewerton at an AALL conference in Boston a few years ago, and this sounds just like him. Here is just a bit of the post.

“One of their most popular campaigns involved posters with various pictures of mixed drinks. A picture of a beer said, “get ahead.” A shot said, “fancy a swift one?” [It probably would be politically incorrect to do this in the States.] Another campaign involved the slogan “finding information can be a piece of cake” with pictures of cakes, bars, and cookies.”

To see some of the other very imaginative ideas he presented, read the entire post at http://litablog.org/2006/01/24/oclc-symposium-part-4/


Jeanne Bliss, founder of CustomerBLISS, a consulting and coaching company, has a wonderful post on the MarketingProfs.com blog entitled “10 Ways to Love (and Respect) Your Customers.” It wasn’t written for libraries, but a lot of it is very applicable. Here they are, with my comments on how to apply them in your library.

1. “Eliminate the customer obstacle course.” Make it easy for your customers to find you, to find information, to complain, and—especially—understand the card catalog. Go to your local bookstore and see if they use call numbers. No, they don’t; they use simple signs that say “mysteries” or “fiction, shelved alphabetically by author,” or “pets.” You may not be able to get rid of the call numbers, but you can add descriptive signs to the sections, either above them or at the end of the ranges.

2. “Stop the customer hot potato. He who speaks to the customer first should ‘own’ the customer.” Empower your front-line people to solve problems. Give them the knowledge to help those who come into the library. Don’t make the customer go from person to person just to find out how to sign up for a computer. And if you can’t give them the power to solve problems, at least put up decent signs so customers can figure out things for themselves.

3. “Give customers a choice.” If you send out an email newsletter, give recipients a very obvious and easy way to get off the list if they want.

4. “De-silo your Web site.” Integrate the web site; avoid having a marketing section, a sales section, an engineering section, and a library section. Organize it by subjects, by potential questions that customers are looking to answer. Think like your customers, not like your organization.

5. “Consolidate phone numbers.” Give the customers only one or two numbers to call to get information—and make sure whoever answers those numbers can answer the questions customers might have. Also, have the numbers answered by live people, not machines, and definitely not by a system that asks the called to “press 1 for a, 2 for b,” etc. I hate “telephone hell” and I’m sure your customers do, too.

6. “Fix the top 10 issues bugging customers (really).” Do you get complaints? You probably think that no complaints is a good thing. It isn’t; it’s a very bad thing. It is impossible to satisfy everyone, so you should always expect a few complaints. If you get no complaints it means that your customers think that you won’t do anything about them anyway, so no sense in complaining. So respond to every comment, with a plan of action—then, fix it!

7. “Help the front line to listen.” Arrange classes in active listening for those on the front line. If you’re a solo, then take the classes yourself. Hearing is not the same as listening!

8. “Deliver what you promise.” And its corollary: never promise something you are not positive you can deliver. Underpromise and overdeliver. If you think you can deliver that document by this afternoon, but aren’t sure, tell the customer you’ll have it first thing in the morning. Then, when you give it to him at 4:00 p.m., you look good. Customers may not always remember when you come through, but will always remember when you don’t.

9. “When you make a mistake, right the wrong.” Believe me, you will make mistakes. When you do, admit the mistake, apologize, and tell the customer exactly what you are going to do to fix it. Studies show that a customer for whom you’ve fixed a mistake is actually more satisfied than one who has never experienced a mistake by you. Interesting, isn’t it?

10. “Word to believe.” Whenever there’s a difference of opinion between the staff and the customer, believe the customer. Trust your customers. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t stand behind your staff, but don’t automatically assume they are right and the customer is wrong.

To quote Bliss, “customers vote with their feet and decide whether they will stay or leave based on their perception of how much we value them and how we treat them. So, getting customers to love you has got to start with showing them the respect they deserve by making it painless and eventually a joy to do business with you.”

This article: http://www.marketingprofs.com/6/bliss1.asp
MarketingProfs blog: http://www.marketingprofs.com
CustomerBLISS: http://www.customerbliss.com


Document Imaging Talk
This site is designed to be a forum for news on the document imaging and enterprise content management industries. From Ralph Gammon, publisher of the Document Imaging Report and contributing writer for Transform Magazine.

doing IT better
From Alan Pelz-Sharpe, long-time consultant, writer, speaker and instruct analyst, this site has posts on information and knowledge management, business value, change management (BPR) and outsourcing.

Information Management Now
Information management, content management, information technology, data management, records management, and library management, from Information Management Body of Knowledge, a product of Patrick Cormier, government project manager, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

rim stands for records and information management or recorded information management. News and columns about trend in the industry from an unnamed Canadian.

The Ten Thousand Year Blog
Archivist-historian David Mattison’s musings and Web tracks on digital culture preservation issues.

From The Industrial Librarian blog, 5 February 2006, http://davehook.blogspot.com/2006/02/records-management-blogs.html


Check out Scott Ginsberg’s post on his blog, Hello, my name is BLOG, on the Top 10 Ways to Make Your Website More Approachable. I don’t agree with all ten, but they are worth considering, especially these two.
1. “Put every piece of contact info possible”
3. “when people come to your site, they have to thin, ‘OK, what’s the one thing they want me to do?’ Make it clear…”

URL: http://hellomynameisscott.blogspot.com/2006/02/top-10-ways

25 February 2006


Do you know what your customers really want your library to be and to do? If you don’t, you need to find out.

Helene Blowers [Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, USA] was able to watch members of a focus group as they discussed what they felt were “must haves,” “nice to haves,” and “don’t care” items for a public library. She wrote about what she discovered on her blog, Library TechBytes. A couple of her observations:
“Our customers highly value customization features. When visiting our homepage, they want to be able to customize it down to their favorite branch level….” “Outside of homework assistance, few participants found any personal value with the online subscription databases that we provide.” And the most disturbing… “With the exception of homework assistance, the library (in the public’s mind) is out of the information business.” The information here is not only for public libraries, but can be applied to all types of libraries.
The article: http://libtechbytes.blogspot.com/2006/02/what-i-learned-last-

The library: http://www.plcmc.org
Her blog: http://libtechbytes.blogspot.com

Joyce Valenza [Springfield Township High School, Erdenheim, Pennsylvania, USA] wrote what improvements teen really want to see in libraries. Although written about school libraries, their observations are applicable to any type of library. Here are some of their suggestions, taken from her blog, Joyce Valenza’s NeverEnding Search.

“Make it easier to get to from home.” “Describe what each search tool is best for.” “I want it to say, ‘Welcome [student’s name here] on the opening page.’”

URLs: The aticle:



Her blog: http://joycevalenza.edublogs.org

Finally, read how the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County has redesigned one of their rooms to reflect the tastes of their users in this article from their local newspaper.


The article: http://www.charlotte.com/mld/charlotte/living/food/13929990.htm

The library: http://www.plcmc.org

FOUND ON THE WEB—Miscellaneous Web Sites

Here are some interesting sites (and blogs) I’ve come across recently.

Regret the Error
This blog “reports on corrections, retractions, clarifications and trends regarding accuracy and honesty in the media.” Unfortunately, most of these corrections are never entered into the search engines or databases, so they aren’t found in the search process. Produced by Craig Silverman, a writer and consultant from Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Yahoo! Podcasts
Here’s the place to search for podcasts (“an audio recording posted online”) and to listen to them. The home page also has suggestions, lists of most popular and highly rated podcasts, and searching by categories or keywords.

World Public Opinion
A product of PIPA, the Program on International Policy Attitudes, based at the School of Public Affairs, University of Maryland, USA., this site was established “to provide a source of in-depth information and analysis on public opinion from around the world on international issues.” You can explore by region or topic (development/aid, environment, globalization/trade, governance, international security, justice/human rights, United Nations, etc.). There is also a section on “Americans and the World—comprehensive analyses of US public opinion on international issues.” Very interesting.

WebJunction’s Focus on Space Planning for Libraries
This article, by Linda Demmers, Los Angeles-based library facility planning consultant, covers the basics of space planning and has many links to other sites. If you’re planning a new library or just remodeling the one you have, this is a great place to start.

All About Plagarism
A wonderful site from an unlikely source, the librarians at the Gananda Central School District, Macedon, New York, USA. It is aimed at high school students, but can be useful for writers of all ages. Included are: questions to ask about information, definitions of plagiarism, how to avoid plagiarism, and many good real-life examples of the impact of plagiarism (how it can ruin one’s career, etc.). Very nicely done site.

22 February 2006


The printed preliminary program for the 2006 SLA Conference in Baltimore, Maryland, is now out. CAUTION: It is NOT complete! Especially in the day-by-day listings. Check the listings by Division in the back.

I’m also told that both hotels attached to the convention center are full—already.

Here are some programs you should take a look at:

CE Events:
Branding 101: What it Takes to Build a Library Brand, Chris Olson, Saturday 10 June, 8-12 a.m.
Leadership 101, Rebecca Jones, Saturday, 10 June 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
Making a Business Case for the Information Center, Lesley Robinson, Sunday 11 June, 1-5 p.m.

The Keynoters:
Gwen Ifill, Senior Correspondent/Managing Editor of US Public Broadcasting’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Opening General Session, Sunday 11 June, 6:30-8 p.m.
Walt Mossberg, Technology Columnist, The Wall Street Journal, Closing General Session, Wednesday 14 June, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – a “must see” for me, at least.

SOLO Librarians Division Events:
Happy Hour: Meet and Greet, Saturday 10 June, 5-8 p.m.
Open House, Sunday 11 June, 8-11 p.m.
Communicating Your Value to Management (ticketed event), Monday 12 June, 7:30-9 a.m.
Developing Leaders, Monday 12 June, 9:30-11 a.m. (with many other divisions)
Cultivating a Champion: Partnering with Groups, Monday 12 June, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m (with CI Division)
No-Host Dinner, Monday 12 June, 5-8 p.m.
Open House, Monday 11 June, 8-11:30 p.m.
Moving to Client-Embedded Service (ticketed event), Tuesday 13 June, 7:30-9 a.m. (with B&F)
Luncheon and Annual Business Meeting (ticketed event), Tuesday 13 June, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
Becoming a Value-Added Information Professional with Mary Ellen Bates, Tuesday 13 June, 1:30-3 p.m.
Board Meeting (all welcome), Tuesday 13 June, 5-6 p.m.
Silent Auction, Tuesday 13 June, 6-8 p.m.
Open House, Tuesday 13 June, 8-11:45 p.m.
Suddenly Solo: Dealing with Unexpected Downsizing, Wednesday 14 June, 9:15-10:45 a.m. (with Engineering)
Success Stories of Solos, Wednesday 14 June 1-2:30 p.m.

Programs of Other Divisions:
Community Partnerships in Safety: Encouraging Police and Librarian Connections, featuring Solo’s own Tom Rink, Monday 12 June, 9:30-11 a.m.
Stress Management; Laugh for the Health of It, Monday 12 June, 3:30-5:30 p.m. (I missed this in Nashville—heard it is wonderful)
Grant Opportunities for Special Libraries, Tuesday 13 June, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. (MAH Division)
Association Awards Dinner (ticketed event), Tuesday 13 June, 8-12 p.m.—Solo Division supporter Judy Field will be honored with the John Cotton Dana Award, SLA’s highest honor
Keeping Current, with Paul Hane of Information Today, Wednesday 14 June 1-2:30 p.m. (News)
Value of Information, Wednesday 14 June, 1-2:30 p.m. (Chemistry, PAM, Engineering, and S&T)

You can find more information at the Conference website: http://www.sla.org/content/Events/conference/ac2006/index.cfm


I have just had my second refereed article published—the last was in 1983!). Here is the cite:

Siess, Judith A., Strategic Planning for Hospital Libraries, Journal of Hospital Librarianship 5(5):37-49, 2005.
Abstract: Strategic planning, the structured way of dealing with the uncertainty of the future, need not be feared by librarians. It can be done in four simple steps. First, analyze the library's present situation. Second, develop alternative futures for the library and determine the preferred scenario by examining the library's vision and mission statements, then develop objectives and goals. Third, write the action plan, the specific steps for achieving the objectives and goals in step two. Last, implement the plan and review and evaluate it to determine if the goals and objectives are being met. Case studies illustrating successful and unsuccessful implementation of strategic planning are included.

I’m quite proud of it. If you absolutely cannot get a copy, I have a few reprints that I can send out. Contact me at jsiess@ibi-opl.com


If you are, you should know about The Sedona Conference. “The Sedona Conference exists to allow leading jurists, lawyers, experts, academics and others, at the cutting edge of issues in the area of antitrust law, complex litigation, and intellectual property rights, to come together - in conferences and mini-think tanks (Working Groups) - and engage in true dialogue, not debate, all in an effort to move the law forward in a reasoned and just way.”

What’s important for records management, however, are two of their FREE publications:
The Sedona Guidelines: Best Practice Guidelines & Commentary for Managing Information & Records in the Electronic Age. September 2005 version is available at: http://www.thesedonaconference.org/dltForm?did=TSG9_05.pdf. The Sedona Principles: Best Practices Recommendations & Principles for Addressing Electronic Document Production The January 2004 version can be found at: http://www.thesedonaconference.org/dltForm?did=7_05TSP.pdf. You have to register, but the publications can be downloaded for free. According to a corporate records manager here in Cleveland, they are very useful.

URL for The Sedona Conference: http://www.thesedonaconference.org/

20 February 2006


My new book The New OPL Sourcebook: A Guide for Solo and Small Libraries is finally available. Library Journal said “This sourcebook … offers pearls of wisdom for all libraries, not just those that are small. Highly recommended for all librarians” about the 2001 edition.

But this edition is over 100 pages longer (nearly 500 pages) and is arranged differently. The first half is still about management of small libraries (see Table of Contents below). But the back half, edited by John Welford (the wonderful proofreader of The One-Person Library newsletter), is now arranged by subject and has lots of new links to resources. The largest sections are for Medical Librarians and “Libraryland,” stuff only a librarian could love—and you will!

Because the book is softbound, it is the same price as the previous edition, US$39.50. You can order it from the publisher, Information Today, or you can get one from me—complete with an autograph.

Ordering information:
Siess, Judith A., The New OPL Sourcebook: A Guide for Solo and Small Libraries, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2006, ISBN 1-57387-241-5, US$39.50, http://shop.store.yahoo.com/infotoday/newoplsour.html

To order the book from me, contact me via email for more information.

Table of Contents:


PART I Management for OPLs and Small Libraries

Chapter 1 What Is an OPL?

A Brief History of the OPL Movement
Where OPLs Work
Characteristics of an OPL
A Week in the Life of an OPL

An International View, the Universality of One-Person Librarianship
Profiles of OPLs Around the World
Chapter 2 General Concepts
The User Is Job One—Customer Service

Know Thy Organization: Organizational Behavior and Corporate Culture

Chapter 3 Time Management, Prioritization, and Planning
Time Management

Stop Wasting Time


Chapter 4 Financial Matters
Financial Crisis
Evaluating Your Library
Money-Saving Tips
Chapter 5 Working with Others
Communication: An OPL’s Guide to Connecting
The Annual Report

Oral Presentations

Working with Your Boss

The Care and Feeding of Nerds, or How to Work with Your Computer People

Interpersonal Networking

Library Promotion: Self-Serving or Just Good Sense?

Chapter 6 Along the Information Superhighway: The OPL and Technology
Past: Where Have We Been? How Far Have We Come?

Present: How Do Librarians Use Technology? Finding Our Role

Future: Where Are We Going

What about the Virtual Library?

Chapter 7 Other Issues: Education, Downsizing and Outsourcing, and Knowledge Management
Education for One-Person Librarianship

One More Pair of Hands—or One Less: Downsizing and Outsourcing
Knowledge Management
Chapter 8 The Future of One-Person Librarianship

The Library of the Future
Future Roles of the Librarian
The Future for Specific Types of Librarians
The Future of One-Person Librarianship
My View of the Future

Chapter 9 Business, Management, and Economics
Advertising, Business, Management and Economics, Not-for-Profit Organizations, Strategic Planning
Chapter 10 Computers and the Web
Search Engines, Creating Better Web Pages, Accessibility
Chapter 11 Government
International and Multi-National, Africa, Asia, Australasia, Britain and Europe, North America
Chapter 12 Journalism and News
Chapter 13 Language, Literature, and the Arts
Chapter 14 Law, Legal Libraries, and Copyright
International Law, US Law, Intellectual Property, Law Librarian Stuff
Chapter 15 Libraryland Stuff
Reference Sources, Managing E-Resources, Grant Writing, Records Management, Prison Libraries, Disaster Planning, Marketing and Advocacy, KM and Information Science Stuff, Libraries and Books, Professional Issues, Keeping Up, Careers and Job Hunting, Library Schools: Australia, UK, USA and Canada, Library Suppliers, Subscription Agencies, Professional Associations, Just for Fun and Miscellaneous
Chapter 16 Medicine and Medical Libraries
Physical Therapy, Mental Health, Pharmacy, Medical Statistics, Laboratory Testing, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Continuing Medical Education Sites, Hand-held Computer Resources, Evidence-Based Medicine, EBM Nursing, Consumer Health Information Web Sites, Especially for Librarians
Chapter 17 Miscellaneous
Calculators of All Kinds, Fun Stuff, Travel
Chapter 18 Science, Engineering, and Technology
General Science, Engineering, Materials Science, Technology, Aeronautics, Agriculture, Biosciences, Chemistry, For Science Librarians
Chapter 19 Social Sciences
Education, History, Psychology, Urban Planning and Geography
Chapter 20 Annotated Bibliography


I have just finished reading a wonderful book—Reality check: the pocket guide to special librarianship, by Jane Edinger of Australia. It is a slim (less than 150 pages), spiral bound volume chock full of how-to’s for everything from career planning to document delivery to disaster planning. Edinger created the book from notes she made when starting a law library from scratch.

Strewn throughout the book are “Reality Checks,” anecdotes from real-life situations faced by the author and others. They are really the best part of the book; that is not to demean the rest of the book—it is really well done.

If you can’t sit still long enough to read my newest book, The New OPL Sourcebook: A Guide for Small and Solo Libraries, order Reality check and read and implement it. Better yet, get both. (Mine’s cheaper….)

Order information:

Edinger, Jane, Reality check: the pocket guide to special librarianship, Perth, Australia: Charted Information Services, 2004, ISBN 0-9750776-2-7, AU$45 plus AU$15 shipping outside Australia, http://www.chartedinfo.com.au/realcheck.html

Siess, Judith A., The New OPL Sourcebook: A Guide for Solo and Small Libraries, Information Today, Inc., 2006, ISBN 1-57387-241-5, US$39.50, http://shop.store.yahoo.com/infotoday/newoplsour.html


Garr Reynolds has many tips for “Presenting under fire: links to tips on keeping your cool” on his web site, Presentation Zen. Topics include: dealing with hecklers (from 3M), several on dealing with difficult audiences, dealing with tough questions, and many more. There are also good tips on his personal website, with sample video, tutorials, and slide and delivery tips.

You might also check out a couple of articles that have appeared in The One-Person Library newsletter:
Tips for Better Presentations 20(6):9-10, September 2003.
10 Tips for Successful Public Speaking 21(9):10-11, January 2005.

(If you aren’t a subscriber to OPL, you can become one for just US$69. Go to http://www.ibi-opl.com/newsletter/oplform.html)

Links to tips for keeping cool: http://presentationzen.blogs.com/presentationzen/
Garr's tips: http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/index.html
The One-Person Library: http://www.ibi-opl.com/newsletter/


Just a quick post to tell you about a neat new piece of technology. ATIZ announced its BookDrive "the world's first and only desktop-sized, automatic page-turning scanner." It's pricey (about US$35,000) but is a fascinating development if you want to do a lot of digitizing. Check it out at http://www.atiz.com/BookDrive.php


I’ve been reading a lot about Web 2.0—and still don’t understand it. But this post by Dion Hinchcliffe goes a long way toward explaining it. He lists “Best (Or Most Interesting) Web 2.0 Definitions and Explanations” on his blog, appropriately called Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 Blog. If you’re also trying to figure out Web 2.0, click on this article.



Everything you wanted to know about law library careers but didn’t know whom to ask…. You can find the answer on the BIALL web site. BIALL is the British & Irish Association of Law Librarians and they have a super web site.

My favorite page is the one on Careers. It includes “Where do Legal Information Professionals work?” There are paragraphs on academic institutions, law firms, national government, libraries for legal professionals, industry and commerce, and freelance/consultant. But what’s the most impressive are the links to “a day in the life of a ----- law librarian.” These are librarian profiles from their magazine and are quite well-done and informative.

Why can’t I find something like this on the AALL, SLA, MLA, or even ALA web sites?

http://www.biall.org.uk – then click on Careers (the real URL is unbelievably long)


Jill Stover, author of the blog Library Marketing—Thinking Outside the Book, has two posts that you really must read.

The first is, Worth another look: Marketing Malpractice. She comments and expands on an article in the Harvard Business Review that talked about marketing malpractice. Her main points:
1. Marketing should be about what the customer want done, not just the customer.
2. People buy products or services, not organizations.
3. “Marketing isn’t about newsletters, e-mail lists, or posters, it’s about services.”

Read Jill’s post, then get the original article (costs US$6.00) and read it. Then, put it all into practice. You’re sure to get better results from your marketing.

The second post is called Marketing is more than you think…A LOT more! Again, she is commenting on an article she read, this time in BusinessWeek Online. Marketing is more than public relations and publicity. You have to live the brand. Jill says, “I think about how libraries add coffee bars and cushy chairs to create welcoming environments, but what good are those efforts if staff are not equally welcoming and our buildings are laden with “Do Not” signs? Amen.

Marketing Malpractice (Jill’s post): http://librarymarketing.blogspot.com/2006/02/

HBR online: http://harvardbusinessonline.hbsp.harvard.edu/

Marketing is more than you think: http://librarymarketing.blogspot.com/2006/02/


Unshelved is a super cartoon strip set in the Mallville Public Library and featuring Dewey, the young adult librarian and other somewhat bizarre characters--all of whom we have encountered from time to time. Even if you are not a public librarian, you will identify with the situations in the strip. One of the writers is a real-live librarian (I seem to remember at Microsoft or such.)

If you want to catch up, there are three collections of past strips: v. 1 Unshelved, v. 2 What Would Dewey Do? and v. 3 Library Mascot Cage Match. And, of course, there are t-shirts, caps, etc. that you can buy for your desk. A new reader should check out the primer--it introduces all the characters.

Check the gang out at http://www.unshelved.com and subscribe to the email feed so you won't miss a day.

(This is not a commercial--just letting you know about a great way to perk up your day.)

16 February 2006

FOUND ON THE WEB: European Library, How Products are Made, Deaf Resources


This site provides access to the digital and non-digital resources of the 43 national libraries of Europe. “It enables types of collection-level searching which would otherwise be impossible.” It is searchable. Some digital objects require a fee. It is managed by a group based at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the national library of the Netherlands.


The European Library: http://www.theeuropeanlibrary.org/portal/index.htm

Koninklijke Bibliotheek: http://www.kb.nl/


If you’ve ever wanted to know how air bags, artificial snow, batteries, CDs, jet engines, paint, or watches are made, this site is for you. There are step by step descriptions of the assembly and the manufacturing process, complete with drawings and diagrams, and background information, materials, applications, by-products, and “where to learn more” (books, articles, and online links. It is searchable. There are a few relevant, but unobtrusive, ads. A fascinating site.
URL: http://www.madehow.com/index.html


This is a virtual library of references and links to worldwide information on deaf and hard-or-hearing people. Most resources are from the USA, but some are from Japan, the UK, and India. It is produced by Karen Nakamura, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Yale University, who has been studying disability culture, history, and political/social movements in Japan and the United States for the past decade.

Some of the resources included are: bibliographies, magazines, catalogues, accessible HTML, national or state organizations of or for the deaf, WWW sites, schools and universities, scholarships, linguistics and sociolinguistics of sign languages, resources for deaf kids and their parents, resources deaf gays/lesbians/bisexuals, churches and synagogues of and for the deaf, technological innovations, mailings lists, newsgroups, online magazines, home pages of members of the deaf community, and deaf-owned businesses.

Deaf Library: http://www.deaflibrary.org/
Karen Nakamura: http://www.deaflibrary.org/nakamura/index.html


Remember the wonderful Stumpers electronic list for help with those really difficult reference questions? It was run by Dominican University, but “died” a while back. Well, now there’s a successor—Project Wombat, hosted by the folks from Project Gutenberg. And it is still free. You can subscribe to a version with only the questions and answers or one with all the comments. The archives, FAQ, and subscription information are at

Project Wombat: http://www.project-wombat.org/
Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org

15 February 2006


Jill Stover tells us that we can be marketers, even if we “live near the bottom of the library hierarchy.” We can’t change the marketing plan of the entire organization, but we can market our own little part of it—our library.

In her article, A micro-marketer in a macro library: Challenges and possibilities, that appeared yesterday (14 February 2006) on her blog, Library Marketing-Thinking Ouside the Book, she has 5 suggestions. You’ll have to read her blog for all the details, but here is a very short summary.
1. You can set marketing policy for your own small part of the organization.
2. You can “live” your mission and brand.
3. You can have input into the organization’s marketing decisions because you are especially close to your users.
4. You may not determine exactly what services are provided, but you can deliver them excellently.
5. You may not have a lot influence on large-scale issues, but you can determine how to manage the small stuff—“and small things count big!” in how users perceive the library.

Really good stuff here, read the entire article! (And while you're there, look at some of her other great posts.)


14 February 2006


Rebecca Gould has a good article on RainToday.com, a marketing site, on How to Write a Great Online Article. Here is the short version, but you should read the entire article if you are doing any writing online.

1. “Start with a great hook,” that is, pick a title that is descriptive rather than cute.
2. “Cut to the chase.” The first paragraph has to keep the reader’s interest.
3. “Know your A, B, Cs and 1, 2, 3s.” Short paragraphs (no more than 4 lines) are a must.
4. “Don’t be vanilla if you’re really rocky road.” In other words, be yourself—let your personality show through.
5. “Once upon a time.” Stories get your point across better than narrative.
6. “Save the selling for sales.” Don’t push your message too hard.


10 February 2006


There's a good post by Michael Casey on LibraryCrunch.

"Library customers do not always want librarian answers. Sometimes customers want soft data and not hard data." By soft, he means documents, but connections to other people with similar concerns. For instance, when a woman comes into your library looking for information on her newly-diagnosed breast cancer, along with articles and books and websites, you may want to direct her to a local support group or a web-based bulletin board.

"In many ways this is simply an extension of model reference behaviors--making sure our customers get the answer they want and need and not simply the answer we want to provide them." Good words, Michael.

To read the entire post, go to http://www.librarycrunch.com/2006/02/the_answer_and_nothing_but_the.html


Here are some interesting sites I’ve run across recently.

If you are looking for medical, training, and care information for dogs, cats, fish, birds, ferrets, reptiles, or other small pets, look here first. It is from Drs. Race Foster and Marty Smith, two Wisconsin veterinarians. Yes, they also sell medicines and other pet supplies, but the site has so much good information that it doesn’t seem that commercial. (And their products are priced very competitively.)

Over-the-counter (OTC) Medicines
Most of us take an over-the-counter (non-prescription) medicine at least occasionally. It is wise to know what you are taking, so check this site before you take that pill. It has descriptions, ingredients, and drug interactions for most of the medicines you are likely to need. The site is part of Family Doctor, offered by the American Academy of Family Physicians, so you can rely on the information here.

The National Center for Fathering “provides r-based training, practical tips and resources to help men be the involved fathers, grandfathers, and father figures their children need.” Tips are divided into fathering stages (newborn to adult), fathering situations (adoptive, step-dads, divorced, etc.), key relationships (sons, daughters, other dads, father figures, spouse), and hot topics (everything from discipline to work-family relationships to sex). There’s also a humor section, and a store with gifts and books “for and from dads.”

Electronic Privacy Information Center
“EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, DC, USA” that publishes reports and books about privacy, open government, free speech, voting, and other civil liberties issues. At this site you can find articles and analysis on issues such as the sale of your telephone records.

PetEducation: http://www.peteducation.com/
OTC: http://familydoctor.org/otc_center.xml
Fathers: http://www.fathers.com
EPIC: http://epic.org


BioMed Central is introducing a new journal, Education for Evidence-Based Practice. The editors will be Andrew Booth, Reader in Evidence Based Information Practice, Sheffield University, UK and José Emparanza, Clinical Epidemiology Unit, Hospital Donostia, Basque Country, Spain. and there are international editorial and advisory boards. For more information, see http://www.eebp.org/info/update.

09 February 2006


Gary Price, author of both ResourceShelf and DocuTicker, has been named the Director of Online Information Resources for Ask Jeeves, the online search engine. His charge is to provide outreach to the library and education communities and by working closely with leaders of both communities “make Ask Jeeves a product that librarians and educators can count on.” He will also work with the Ask Jeeves product development team on new services or enhancements to current ones.

What about ResourceShelf and DocuTicker? They will continue to exist under the control of Will Hann (WillCo) and Price. He assures us that “my comments along with what's posted on ResourceShelf and DocuTicker will remain independent.”

ResourceShelf: http://www.resourceshelf.com/
DocuTicker: http://www.docuticker.com/
Ask Jeeves: http://www.ask.com/
Gary’s announcement: http://www.resourceshelf.com/2006/02/

Ask Jeeves’ press release: http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060209/sfth056.html?.v=43

08 February 2006


If you are an OPL, you probably think you don’t have time to blog. Here are some things to help you change your mind.

Debbie Abilock, quoted in Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog, listed some of the reasons that school library media specialists (aka librarians) don’t blog. I’m sure that some of these are the same reasons you give.

1. Not enough time

2. It’s a low priority

3. No compelling professional need.

4. Ignorance of technology—“and no clear reason to learn it”

5. “Current library website does the job”

6. View blogging as “vanity journalism” like “deadly, self-absorbed Christmas letters”

7. Other traditional outlets for writing available

8. Lack of writing skills

9. Lack of tech support to maintain blogs.

I would like to answer each of these excuses in order. (They are not really reasons, but excuses. Reasons assume that you can’t do something; excuses are why you don’t do it.)

1. Of course you don’t have time to blog if you add it to all your other tasks. You should decide that blogging is so important that you will drop something else in order to do it. You can also start with a short-term blog, one that deals with a subject with an automatic end date. Jill Stover, Undergraduate Services Librarian at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of the Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book blog, gave the example of a blog for Black History Month. (See the blog, “Short-term blog for long-term marketing gain.” You limit the amount of time you will spend blogging, but you might find that you and, more importantly, your customers like the blog so much that you will continue it.

2. If your customers (or potential customers) include young people, what is called the millennial generation, you need to reach out to them in a way that they are comfortable with—and they definitely are into blogging.

3. There are a couple of compelling professional needs: the need to stay abreast of new trends and technologies (to avoid obsolescence) and the need to attract new customers—customers that might not be reached any other way.

4. Ignorance is no excuse. You have the ability to learn anything and I’ve just given you the reasons to learn blogging.

5. Unless your web site is very hip and “with it,” I doubt that it “does the job,” especially with the younger crowd.

6. Yes, may blogs are merely online journals or diaries, but a librarian’s blog should be more—it should be another educational and public relations vehicle for the library.

7. The problem with this “reason” is the word “traditional.” The reason blogs are so valuable is that they are not traditional, not print, and not likely to be dismissed by the younger generation.

8. I sincerely doubt that you cannot write. What you need to be sure of is that you can write clearly and in a style appropriate for the web. And this you can learn. Besides, the only way to better your writing skills is to write.

9. You can use Blogger or another similar blogger site to host your blog and you will not need tech support—it is that easy.

The March issue of my newsletter, The One-Person Library, will be devoted entirely to the subject of blogging. It will include Thinking About…The Importance of Blogging (an editorial) and these Theme Articles: What is Blogging, Anyway? Why Should I Blog? How Do I Learn to Blog? Which Solos are Blogging? and a Selected and Annotated List of Library and Librarian Blogs. If you would like a sample copy of OPL (as a Word file), just email me at and request the March issue.

So, now that your excuses are taken care of, blog on!


“Blogs? Blogs? We don’t need no stinkin’ blogs!” Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog:

“Short-term blog for long-term marketing gain,” Library Marketing-Thinking Outside the Book: http://librarymarketing.blogspot.com/2006/02/short-term-blog-for-long-term.html

The One-Person Library: A Newsletter for Librarians and Management: http://www.ibi-opl.com/newsletter/index.html


WisBlawg, The University of Wisconsin Law Library blog—a very good one—has moved. You can now find it at http://www.law.wisc.edu/blogs/wisblawg/ Note its new tag line: “Searching Smarter…With a Little Help from a Law Librarian” According to an email from Bonnie Shucha, Reference and Electronic Services Librarian at UWLL, “I felt that it summed up the dual purpose of WisBlawg: 1) to offer useful advice to make legal practitioners smarter researchers and 2) to emphasize the value that law librarians bring to the practice of law.” It’s a great tagline and a great explanation of what they’re trying to do. Way to go!

Not to be outdone by the badgers, The Ohio State University’s Moritz Law Library has a brand new blog. Its catchy name is “Moritz Legal Information Blog” and it is located at http://moritzlegalinformation.blogspot.com/ It has some good links to other blawgs and they post often.

WisBlawg: http://www.law.wisc.edu/blogs/wisblawg
Moritz Legal Information Blog: http://moritzlegalinformation.blogspot.com/

02 February 2006


Marketing and branding expert Chris Olson [Chris Olson & Associates, Annapolis, Maryland, USA] has a wonderful article in Informed Librarian Online. It is titled, Reading the Tea Leaves.

Olson talks about the current definition of a library (a collection of books) and the challenge of changing it to something more descriptive of what modern libraries are and will be. Some especially good quotes:"

"It's not that being associated with books is bad. Where the library brand begins to crumble is when people say that they use the library less [because] they like to locate information for themselves."

"Unfortunately for us, the library brand has gone from being beautiful to a challenge."

"There will always be some folks who will, after hearing about the services and products offered by the newly branded information service, conclude that it's like a library. But the person will be on their way to understanding that something is different."

Usually I agree with Olson, but I just can't agree that for libraries and librarians to be successful in the future they need to call themselves something else. We need to change what the words "library" and "librarian" mean, not change the name!

PS. If you haven't seen Informed Librarian Online, take a look at it. It is a current awareness, table of contents service designed just for librarians. And it is free. I heartily recommend it (and not just because it includes The One-Person Library).

Chris Olson & Associates: http://www.chrisolson.com
Informed Librarian Online: http://www.informedlibrarian.com/
Reading the Tea Leaves: http://www.informedlibrarian.com/guestForum.cfm?FILE=gf0602.html


This quote is from Kathleen Webb [University of Dayton, Ohio, USA].

"If all of this information is available on the web, why do we still need libraries? I haven't heard anyone talk about outsourcing career counsiling on campus to monster.com!"

Well said.


I found this in a good little e-book, Seth Godin's Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web, but it was found originally on his blog, Seth's Blog (an unimaginative title from a very imaginative guy). I've bolded a section that I think applies to OPLs and other small libraries as well. Enjoy.

Small is the new big

Big used to matter. Big meant economies of scale. (You never hear about “economies of tiny” do you?) People, usually guys, often ex-Marines, wanted to be CEO of a big company. The Fortune 500 is where people went to make… a fortune.

There was a good reason for this. Value was added in ways that big organizations were good at. Value was added with efficient manufacturing, widespread distribution and very large R&D staffs. Value came from hundreds of operators standing by and from nine-figure TV ad budgets. Value came from a huge sales force.

Of course, it’s not just big organizations that added value. Big planes were better than small ones, because they were faster and more efficient. Big buildings were better than small ones because they facilitated communications and used downtown land quite efficiently. Bigger computers could handle more simultaneous users, as well.

Get Big Fast was the motto for startups, because big companies can go public and get more access to capital and use that capital to get even bigger. Big accounting firms were the place to go to get audited if you were a big company, because a big accounting firm could be trusted. Big law firms were the place to find the right lawyer, because big law firms were a one-stop shop.

And then small happened.

Enron (big) got audited by Andersen (big) and failed (big.) The World Trade Center was a target. TV advertising is collapsing so fast you can hear it. American Airlines (big) is getting creamed by Jet Blue (think small). BoingBoing (four people) has a readership growing a hundred times faster than the New Yorker (hundreds of people).

Big computers are silly. They use lots of power and are not nearly as efficient as properly networked Dell boxes (at least that’s the way it works at Yahoo and Google). Big boom boxes are replaced by tiny ipod shuffles. (Yeah, I know big-screen tvs are the big thing. Can’t be right all the time).

I’m writing this on a laptop at a skateboard park… that added wifi for parents. Because they wanted to. It took them a few minutes and $50. No big meetings, corporate policies or feasibility studies. They just did it.

Today, little companies often make more money than big companies. Little churches grow faster than worldwide ones. Little jets are way faster (door to door) than big ones.

Today, Craigslist (18 employees) is the fourth most visited site according to some measures. They are partly owned by eBay (more than 4,000 employees) which hopes to stay in the same league, traffic-wise. They’re certainly not growing nearly as fast.

Small means the founder makes a far greater percentage of the customer interactions. Small means the founder is close to the decisions that matter and can make them, quickly.

Small is the new big because small gives you the flexibility to change the business model when your competition changes theirs.

Small means you can tell the truth on your blog.

Small means that you can answer email from your customers.

Small means that you will outsource the boring, low-impact stuff like manufacturing and shipping and billing and packing to others, while you keep the power because you invent the remarkable and tell stories to people who want to hear them.

A small law firm or accounting firm or ad agency is succeeding because they’re good, not because they’re big. So smart small companies are happy to hire them.

A small restaurant has an owner who greets you by name.

A small venture fund doesn’t have to fund big bad ideas in order to get capital doing work. They can make small investments in tiny companies with good (big) ideas.

A small church has a minister with the time to visit you in the hospital when you’re sick.

Is it better to be the head of Craigslist or the head of UPS?

Small is the new big only when the person running the small thinks big.

Don’t wait. Get small. Think big.


Seth Godin's Incomplete Guide to Blogs and the New Web, http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/05/seths_new_ebook.html
Seth’s Blog, http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2005/06/small_is_the_ne.html

01 February 2006


Subscribers to my newsletter, The One-Person Library, are used to seeing an editorial about this time of year on the benefits of going to one of the upcoming professional conferences. Now I can bring this message to all of you out in blog-land.

This year I am inspired by a page out of the MLA (see abbreviations below) preliminary program for their 2006 conference in May.

"Seven Great Reasons to Attend MLA '06"

1. Schmooze, that is, network. "Unique knowledge and interests can pollinate new ideas and provide springboards for interesting discussions." Skip a session and hang out in the lobby, or by the registration desk, or in the exhibit hall. See who you can meet there. Walk up to people you don't know and introduce yourself. Ask them about their libraries and tell them about yours. Exchange business cards. (Note to self: take plenty of business cardds. Every year I run out.)
Go up to one of the association officers and introduce yourself--you'll be surprised how friendly they are, even to new members or students.

2. Stay Current. I assume that this is why you go to a conference in the first place. A professional conference is the easiest, most economical way to obtain continuing professional education. You can get 2 to 2½ days of education in one week, in one place, for one airfare and hotel stay. And that doesn’t even count what you learn from the sessions (see next point). The price is usually below that of comparable courses from for-profit companies and the information is specifically for and by librarians.

3. Learn Best Practices. One of the best ways to learn is from the experiences of others. That’s what the sessions at library conferences provide. Other librarians tell what did and didn’t work in their libraries and what new products and services they are using. Vendors give seminars on their new products and systems. You can even present a session or paper yourself, giving your management a better reason to let you go to the conference. (And you’ll learn a lot in the process of preparing your presentation, educating yourself as well as others.)

4. Mentor. “Another way to give back to the profession is to mentor members new to the organization.” Most professional associations and their constituent groups have formal or informal mentoring programs. If you are new to the organization or the profession, find a mentor; if you are a veteran librarian, mentor someone. You’ll both be better for it—and so will our profession.

5. Attend exhibits. Where else can you find such a variety of products and services solely for libraries and librarians? ALA’s exhibits are huge, with every major publisher and systems vendor present. SLA’s are smaller, but still impressive—it usually takes me at least 5-8 hours to get through them all. MLA, AALL, etc. have fewer, but more focused exhibitors. To get the most out of the exhibits, take some unanswered (or even answered) reference questions and ask the database vendors to find the answer. When they demonstrate their wares they will use searches to which they know their system has the answer. You want to know if their system can answer your questions. (I figured I got US$250-500 worth of free searches at every SLA conference.) And of course there are the free office supplies you can stock up on. (I haven’t bought a sticky note, pen or pencil since I started going to conferences. Hint: near the end of the exhibits you can usually take as many of the giveaways as you want—they don’t want to pay to ship them home.)

6. Separate Fact from Fiction. I’d never thought of this benefit, but the MLA article says, “The MLA annual meeting provides attendees with a unique venue for openly discussing innovative technologies and experiences with vendors, allowing you to differentiate between the hype that some publications promote and real world experiences. Vendors offer a number of … opportunities for customers to confront spin or hyperbole head-on, especially during question-and-answer sessions.”

7. Enjoy the city. Although you need to spend enough time at the conference to justify the expense to your employer (or yourself—see below), you should take at least a day to explore the host city. This year MLA is in Phoenix, SLA in Baltimore, ALA in New Orleans, AALL in St. Louis, CLA in Ottawa, ASIS&T in Austin, Texas, ALIA in Perth, LIANZA in Wellington, LIASA in Pretoria, etc.

8. (not on MLA’s list) It’s the professional thing to do. Being a professional means dong all the above. It also means paying for a conference if your employer doesn’t. Yes, you should try to get your employer to pay your way, especially if other professionals get this benefit, but if he or she won’t pay, you should go to the conference anyway. Make it a family vacation, share a room with someone, offer to split the cost with your employer—but GO!

MLA, Medical Library Association, http://www.mlanet.org
SLA, Special Libraries Association, http://www.sla.org
ALA, American Library Association, http://www.ala.org
AALL, American Association of Law Libraries, http://www.aallnet.org
ASIS&T, American Society for Information Science & Technology, http://www.asis.org
CLA, Canadian Library Association, http://www.cla.ca
ALIA, Australian Library and Information Association, http://www.alia.org.au
LIANZA, Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa, http://www.lianza.org.nz
LIASA, Library and Information Association of South Africa, http://www.liasa.org.za

To find other conferences, consult the International Calendar of Information Science Conferences, http://icisc.neasist.org/


As we enter tax season, customers come to libraries to look for tax forms. If you don't want to stock them, put up a sign directing them to Forms.gov: The US Government's Official Hub for Federal Forms.

Forms can be located by number, agency, or name. Included in the over 5400 forms are ones for taxes, small business assistance, social security, and even FEMA. (Be aware that the system is optimized for MS Internet Explorer, but it worked fine for me using Foxfire.)

URL: http://forms.gov/