26 November 2008
“For the SLA Centennial, we’ve been asked to provide an essay on our perspective regarding where our profession has been, is and is headed—no small task.” So wrote Stephen Abram, current president of the Special Libraries Association. Here is just a short summary of his “wish list.”
1. Focus: If we want our profession to achieve something great, then we have to do it with laser-like focus.
2. Recognition: Let’s work on getting someone who values us to be a highly visible champion. [Almost ex-First Lady Laura Bush was a great disappointment in this area. Editor]
3. Confidence: We need to have the confidence of our convictions and take action—sustainable action.
4. Communicate: …to influence the people who matter—the ones who affect the hiring of librarians and information professionals, those ones who choose priorities, the ones who ascertain budgets…
5. Balance: Let’s balance all of the needs of every type of specialized librarianship. Our differences and small and our common needs are great.
6. Learning: Let’s learn anew. Let’s learn new modes of learning. Let’s create compelling content. Let’s collaborate on a whole new scale.
7. Trust and Respect: We need to ensure that we don’t devolve [our] critical thinking strength into random criticism.
8. Welcome: Let’s embrace new graduates and those new members in the first five years of their careers. Let’s invest time and effort in our LIS schools. …let’s welcome a wider range of information professionals from all around the world.
9. Risk: Our need is great; we won’t get to where we want and need to be without taking some calculated, more sizeable risks.
10. Commit: Commit to a future, a positive future, that you create—not one that just happens to you.
There’s lots more in his full post on the SLA Centennial website. If you care about SLA’s future, you should read the whole thing.
23 November 2008
Audio and video of some United Nations events are now available from the UN University Office in New York.
Thanks for Library Boy Michel Adrien for alerting me to this.
Library Boy blog: http://micheladrien.blogspot.com/
21 November 2008
The Florida State University library catalog can draw you a map to show where the book you want is shelved—or at least it can for some books. This is a really neat feature and should be something that many libraries can implement. What a wonderful service to your users!
To see it in action, go to the URL below and search for Pushing the limits: new adventures in engineering by Henry Petroski, (hard copy, not the e-book). Then click on “Map It” by the call number.
LIFE magazine (gone but not forgotten) has just released millions of photographs from their photo archive. The site says the photos cover from 1750 to today, but the date categories only show 1860-1979. Confusing. You can choose from many subject categories including people, places, events, sports, and culture, with six suggested topics per category. There is also a search box and a search tip: “Add ‘source:life’ to any Google image search and search only the LIFE photo archive. For example: computer source:life” will yield LIFE photos on computers.
I found over 200 images of libraries (mostly NYPL and the Library of Congress) and the same for books. You can see them at full size with great resolution. There’s nothing on the site about using the images, but I imagine it’s okay for non-profits, with attribution (the photographer’s name is included), but for-profit organizations should ask for permission.
This is a great addition to the video resources on the Web. Thanks to LIFE and Google (the site host and scanner of the photos).
18 November 2008
Tip’d is a new “community for financial news, ideas, and tips.” Registered users (free) can submit news stories or tips, vote on stories they like, and comment on others. They cover business, currencies, entrepreneurship, green, private equity and venture capital, stocks, commodities, economy, funds and etfs, personal finance, real estate, and technology. There is also a blog and you can subscribe by RSS or email.
Tip’d was created by “a US-based, privately held company. The founders are Jimmy and Andy (aka Jimandi)—regular businessmen who enjoy discussing the day’s financial news.” As of mid-November 2008, there were 1760 current members, 805 articles published with another 1973 in the pipeline, nearly 24,000 tips, and over 1250 comments.
If you work in the business or finance area, this is definitely worth a try.
14 November 2008
If you're interested in learning more abou the net generation--and if you aren't you should be--you'll want to read about John Palfrey's [Harvard Law School] presentation on "Born Digital."
They have 5 characteristics:
1. "I blog therefore I am."
2. They are multitaskers.
3. They create content.
4. They create mashups.
5. They have an international perspective.
Read Jenny Levine's post on her blog,The Shifted Librarian, at http://theshiftedlibrarian.com/archives/2008/11/13/john-palfrey-born-digital-presentation.html
The Information Center Connections blog is up and running. Carolyn Sosnowski has put a lot of effort into it and it is really worth your reading and subscribing--I do. It's part of the larger family of Connections blogs (which evolved from our e-newsletters).
Info Center blog: http://slaconnections.typepad.com/info_center_blog/
11 November 2008
Muchos kudos to Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor, GSLIS, Dominican University, River Forest, Illinois--and frequent contributor to OPL--for receiving the Pratt-Severn Faculty Innovation Award from the Association for Library and Information Science Educatiion. The award is "designed to identify innovation by full-time faculty members, or a group of full-time faculty members, in incorporating evolving information technologies in the curricula of accredited masters degree programs in library and information studies." That certainly describes Michael. CONGRATULATIONS!
10 November 2008
Want to have some fun? Analyze your blog. Here are three courtesy of Helene Blowers (via Stephen Abram’s blog).
Typealyzer “provides a Myers-Briggs type analysis of your blog and shows you the area of the brain that your writing style reflects most.” I am an ISTP and use my left brain. (ISTP: The Mechanic: The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts. The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.)
Genderanalyzer determines what sex you write like. I test as 68% and, last time I looked in the mirror, I am a woman.
Readability Test determines what grade level your blog is written at. I guess I write over most people's heads: post-grad college level. I think that's because I tend to write long, complicated sentences. Sorry about that folks.
It I were not convinced of the accuracy of these type of analyzers before, I am even less confident in them now. But you might have better results.
Readability Test: http://www.criticsrant.com/bb/reading_level.aspx
07 November 2008
There’s an interesting article in the latest (November/December 2008, pp. 20-22) issue of Computers in Libraries. In Failure Is Always an Option, Daniel Chudnow [Library of Congress, Washington, DC] encourages us to look at how we fail and “to be willing to share what you’ve learned when things go wrong” (20).
This is one of the problems with the library literature—we only write about “how I did things good in my library,” our successes. We can learn much more from “how I screwed up in my library,” our failures, but you hardly ever read an article about that.
You should read this article, take it to heart, and write about your failures and what you learned from them.
05 November 2008
I found a neat guide to help you with your IT issues. TechSoup has a set of guides called MaintainIT Project Cookbooks. All three would be good for OPLs, but one is designed especially for us: The Joy of Computing: Small & Rural Libraries. Each chapter is called a “Meal Plan” (a cute contrivance—ignore it). They include: Focusing on Your Ingredients for Success, Meat and Potato Patron Computers, Volunteers for the Kitchen, Computer Culinary Academy—Getting the Technology Training You Need, and Future Menus for Library Technology Services. There is also an appendix on tips and tricks and an index.
This is all available as a free download or you can purchase a bound copy for only $8.92.
The other two cookbooks are: Recipes for a 5-Star Library and Planning for Success.
“The MaintainIT Project is an effort of CompuMentor, home to TechSoup, a non-profit serving fellow nonprofits and [US] public libraries with technology information, resources, and project donations.” It is funded by the Gates Foundation.
Another service of TechSoup is the provision of software at discounts up to 90 percent. There are other programs (including computers) available for public libraries that are 501(c)(3) organization.
Free download: http://www.maintainitproject.org/files/TheJoyofComputing-061807.pdf
The other Cookbooks: http://www.maintainitproject.org
Software discounts: http://www.techsoup.org/stock/libraries/default.asp
04 November 2008
Berinstein, Paula, Business Statistics on the Web: Find Them Fast—At Little or No Cost, Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books, 2004, ISBN 0-910965-65-X, US$29.95, foreword by Charles Cotton [former chair, Globespan Virata, Cambridge, England].
Berinstein, co-founder of Paula Hollywood, Inc., an animation software company and author of Finding Statistics Online (with Susanne Bjorner, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 1998, ISBN 978-0-910965-25-5, US$29.95), has put together an impressive guide to sources of statistics relating to business, economics, and marketing. Chapter One, Quick Start, has “the absolute best tips” and “starting points for busy people.” Succeeding chapters cover sources of statistics and general search tips, followed by chapters covering US industry, non-US industry (heavy on English-speaking countries), market research, economic and financial statistics, company info, and demographics and population. She ends with a chapter on special tips and tricks, and “Your Competitive Advantage: Estimating Company Numbers You Can’t Get.” There are 32 sidebars and case studies and a glossary of statistics terms (from her previous book).
If you only use the sources in Quick Start, you will probably be able to find the majority of the statistics you will need, but for those difficult numbers—the only ones I was ever asked to find—you need to consult the other chapters. The other “must-read” chapters are the last two. Special Tips and Tricks covers determining what things cost, estimating your competitor’s marketing costs, how to use media kits and company filing to find out about industries, how to use government statistics, and—last but definitely not least—knowing the right questions to ask. In the very last chapter, Estimating Company Numbers You Can’t Get, Berinstein tells you what information you need to get started; how to draw up a timeline; how to find out how the company is funded; what to look for from the company’s products, how they are sold, and their target market; to use what you already know about the industry; to find out about competitors; what to infer from the company’s marketing; how to evaluate how much buzz the company gets in the media. I never would have thought to use all these tools in my competitive intelligence gathering.
This book should be in the library of every librarian (or market researcher) doing any type of competitive intelligence. And, since you should be doing CI if you want to become indispensable to your organization, that means you need this book.
Broderick, James F. and Darren W. Miller, Consider the Source: A Critical Guide to 100 Prominent News and Information Sites on the Web, Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books, 2008, ISBN 978-0-910965-77-4, US$24.95.
Miller is a reporter who lives in Asheville, NC and Broderick teaches journalism at New Jersey City University in Jersey City, NJ. They have collaborated on a wonderful resource for journalism librarians and others who need to locate information from the media (widely defined). The 100 sources are presented in alphabetical order from Agence France-Presse to Yahoo! News, with AARP, Consumer Reports, Hispanic Web, PBS, Rolling Stone, Weather Channel, and WebMD in between. Each entry includes an overview, what you’ll find there, why you should visit, keep this in mind (warnings and caveats), off the record (little details), and a rating (from one to five “newspapers”). There is an appendix listing sites by ranking and an index.
I would have preferred a different arrangement, by subject, with an alphabetical index. If I knew what organization had the information I wanted, I probably wouldn’t need this book. That aside, it is a good guide to what’s out there and how to use it. I wouldn’t classify as a “must-have,” but as a “must-borrow.”
Tamaiuolo, Nicholas G., The Web Library: Building a World Class Personal Library with Free Web Resources, Medford, NJ: CyberAge Books, 2008, ISBN 0-910965-67-6, US$29.95, edited by Barbara Quint [Quint and Associates, Santa Monica, CA], foreword by Steve Coffman [VP for Product Development, Library Systems and Services, Inc., Germantown, MD]
“This book will show you where to look for electronic versions of items that, if translated into physical terms that would sit on library shelves, would cost considerable money.” While Tomaiuolo was a medical librarian [he is now at Central Connecticut State University. New Britain], he found that the costs of research were escalating and that he could probably provide comparable service to his customers by using the Web. He cautions, “This doesn’t mean people won’t be visiting libraries. Librarians are on the leading edge of helping individuals find information. ...Nor does it mean that people should always opt for the least expensive resource.” He also reminds the reader that “it is unwise for individuals to trust everything they unearth on the Web. This is where a librarian’s knowledge and judgment become critical.”
The book begins with Free Articles and Indexes: Can You Afford Not to Use Them? and continues with chapters on news sources, ready reference, ask an expert and digital reference services, books, images, and art. There’s an entire chapter on technology: plug-ins, toolbars, privacy concerns, sources just for Netscape users, and blogs. In Final Considerations, he reminds us again that we can’t trust the Web, that some things will never be on the Web, and that the Web isn’t static and we need to keep looking for unfound information. The appendix has lists of links by chapter (which are more easily accessed from the website) and there is an index.
My biggest quibble with this book is the use of Personal in the title. Every library, personal or institutional, and librarian can benefit from reading and using this book. After all, the librarian’s mantra is cheaper, better, faster—and Tamaiuolo has created a guide to finding information that is (usually) free, reliable, and online. What more could one ask? Buy this book!
03 November 2008
MacKellar, Pamela H., The Accidental Librarian, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2008, ISBN 978-1-57387-338-3, US$29.50, foreword by Karen Strege [Director of the American Library Association Library Support Staff Certificate Program]
What is an “accidental” librarian? MacKellar, a library consultant who has mentored many “accidental” librarians in all types of libraries, writes, “Librarians without MLS degrees are essentially accidental librarians—increasingly being hired as frontline librarians of all kinds and sizes, performing duties that were formerly carried out exclusively by professional librarians, while MLS librarians can be found working behind the scenes in management and administrative positions, including technical services, marketing, systems administration, and personnel.” (9) She adds, “Accidental librarians may be more numerous—and important—than you think:” many research libraries hire non-librarians as directors; many library school deans do not have a MLS [including number-one ranked University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]; Librarians of Congress do not have to be degreed librarians (the first librarian was appointed in 1899 and the first degreed librarian was L. Quincy Mumford (1954-1974); the Council on Library and Information Resources doesn’t require its grant recipients to study LIS; and some states do not require the State Librarian to have a MLS.
The above doesn’t even take into account the myriad of non-librarians who staff small libraries in churches, corporations, and small public libraries. MacKellar reports that only about two-thirds of public librarians have a MLS (varying from 21 percent in Montana to nearly 100 percent in Hawaii and New Jersey). This is a deplorable situation, especially when more and more newly-graduated librarians cannot find professional positions. However, it is not a situation that is likely to change. Therefore, it is especially good that this book has been written—to give these “accidental” librarians the basics of librarianship in an easy-to-use and easy-to-implement form.
The book is divided into four parts: I. Basic Library Principles (what is a librarian? what are libraries? the people libraries serve, determining the needs of people libraries serve, letting your vision, mission, and plan be your guides); II. Basic Library Practice (developing the library’s collection, acquiring information for the library, organizing the library’s information, retrieving and disseminating information, library services, library policies, library management essentials, library marketing, removing barriers); III. Technology and the Library (public access computers, automated catalogs, online reference tools, library 2.0) and IV: Career Development (getting connected and finding support, librarian certification, continuing education, distance education, and degree programs). The text is supplemented by many sidebar interviews with successful accidental librarians and useful exercises at the end of each chapter. There are three appendices (sample library policies, LIS education resources, and library issues and legislation), a list of recommended reading, a list of websites, and an index.
While not as good as having a “real” librarian running every library, it is much better than having an uninformed amateur who is called a librarian providing poor service and giving the profession a bad name. What’s more, it can also serve as a good refresher course for anyone with a MLS who has been out of school for a while. A very worthwhile purchase.
Doucett, Elisabeth, Creating Your Library Brand: Communicating Your Relevance and Value to Your Patrons, Chicago: ALA Editions, 2008, ISBN 978-0-8389-0962-1, US$45.00.
This is a book designed not to be read front to back; it is designed so that you can read just those sections that apply to your own library’s situation. Doucett, director of the Curtis Memorial Library in Brunswick, Maine, has both a MSLIS and a MBA and has served as a project leader for branding programs. She even includes a sample project plan moving from what branding is through a brand audit to developing a brand and marketing plan. She begins differentiating marketing and branding and defines branding in one comprehensive sentence: “Branding is the process of defining a library’s story, distilling that into one short, appealing sentence that tells the whole story, and then visually conveying the story via the library’s logo and other branding elements.”
Next come chapters on why brand? who should be involved in branding: the ideal brand, the brand audit, the story: defining your message; the visuals: attention-grabbing support for your message; brand standards, brand advocates, and marketing; how to work with outside help; evaluating your brand: short-term and long-term; maintaining your brand; blogs and brands; and common pitfalls and false assumptions. In addition to exercises at the end of each chapter, there are two appendices consisting of three actual case studies and 113 words to describe your library and what makes it unique, a short glossary and an index. I can’t think of anything she has left out.
If you are considering creating a library brand—and every library, no matter how small, should have one—or updating your existing brand, this is the one book that you must read. (I would also recommend this classic: Ries, Al and Laura Ries, The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, New York: Collins Business, 2007, ISBN (paper) 978-006000773-7, US$18.95.)
The Accidental Librarian: http://www.accidentallibrarian.com
Creating Your Library Brand: http://www.ala.org/editions/extras/Doucett09621
I hope that you will enjoy this new content. Let me know..........
Brookover, Sophie and Elizabeth Burns, Pop Goes the Library: Using Pop Culture to Connect With Your Whole Community, Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc., 2008, ISBN 978-1-57387-336-9, US$39.50, foreword by Erin Helmrich, Teen Services Librarian, Ann Arbor District Library, Michigan
Based on their blog, Pop Goes the Library, Brookover, a Library Media Specialist at Eastern Regional HS, Voorhees, NJ (and formerly Senior Teen Librarian, Camden County Library System, Voorhees) and Burns: head of Youth Services, NJ Library for the Blind and Handicapped, Trenton and former lawyer, have created a wonderful guide to creating a library that will please and inspire your younger users.
In the introduction they write, “This book is about identifying and harnessing the power of your community’s pop culture.” (xvi) More of their mission comes from the blog’s manifesto: “We’re public librarians. We believe libraries can learn from and use Pop Culture to improve their collections, services, and public image. We love TV, music, the movies, comic books, anime, magazines, all things Net… you get the picture.” (xv) Even if you don’t work in a public library, you can learn from this book since we are all serving and marketing to the same people—and, increasingly, this means to younger people.
“To us, pop culture is whatever people in your community are talking, thinking, and reading about.” (3) Community can be the hospital, law firm, or organization you work for just as much as it refers to the people in a public library’s district. They encourage readers to talk to teens; they will be the future users of your library—public or special. They include a good section on trendspotting to help you become proactive, get ahead of the curve, and be prepared for the future. None of this is any good if you don’t tell your users of the new and exciting things you are doing, so there is a section on marketing. A long chapter is on information technology and stresses the importance of being at least somewhat IT literate, a problem many solos face. “Technology can both be pop culture in itself, and can be used in innovative ways to provide pop culture library services such as materials, programming, and outreach.” (112)
The biggest lesson Brookover and Burns make is that you shouldn’t work in isolation; use the combined talents and knowledge of your peers, management, and users to improve the library. One of the best features of the book is the Voices from the Field section at the end of each chapter. The “voices” are librarian responses to survey done by the authors in July 2007. There are three chapters and an appendix on programming, with a list of ideas month-by-month. Other appendices include websites and resources by chapter and a list of core pop culture resources for library professionals (e.g., print, web, video). There is an index. The book is supported by a web page with links to many of the resources in the book.
This is a great resource for any librarian, public or otherwise, who wants to bring a fresh approach to collection building and programming.
The blog: http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com
The book’s web page: http://www.popgoesthelibrary.com/popbook
02 November 2008
Jureeka! is a Firefox extension from Michael Poulshock, a public interest lawyer in
You can create tags for legal sources found on the web and Poulshock has plans for a search/recommendation feature. Now Jureeka! links to around 275 volumes from the Federal Reporter, covering U.S. federal circuit court cases from 1880-1992 (hosted at Open Jurist (volumes 1-95) and Google Book Search (volumes 96-281), to several major Canadian legal sources, including: The Constitution Acts (1867 and 1982); Supreme Court cases from 1876 to the present (S.C.R. and SCC citations), Federal Court cases from 1988 to the present (F.C. citations), Consolidated Statutes of Canada, Consolidated Regulations of Canada; and citations to U.S. state cases in the regional reporters, such as A.2d, P.2d, P.3d, N.E.2d, N.W.2d, S.E.2d, and S.W.3d from the last decade or so, made available courtesy of Fastcase's Public Library of Law and Precydent.
I’m not a law librarian, but this seems like a great tool.
Jureeka! blog: http://www.jureeka.blogspot.com/
Download from Firefox (now version 1.5): https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/6636