30 June 2009

Lessons for Corporate Libraries--and Others

“When the Internet as a popular research tool began affecting the lives of librarians and information professionals and their clients, accountability for contributing to the mission (i.e., bottom line) of one’s parent organization—whether a for-profit or not-for-profit—became the most critical driver behind the survival of corporate libraries.”

Thus begins a great article by special library gurus Toby Pearlstein (retired from Bain & Co., Inc., Boston, Massachusetts) and James Matarazzo (retired Dean, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, Simmons College, Boston). They outline the ways corporate librarians can—and, in fact, must—make their value known to the decision-makers in their organizations.

What happens to an organization when the library is closed? The authors answer this with the case study of the “Caveat Publishing Co.” The librarian had not seen the signs of a change in the wind and it was too late to make a case for keeping the library open. Senior management had hired consultants to make cost-cutting recommendations. “Since they were never asked for any data from the library manager,” the decisions didn’t take into account how or if the library was used. They conclude that if the decision to close the library is made by top management, “resistance is futile.” The head librarian had 4 months to train the staff to meet their information needs with the resources on their desktops. However, ‘is it reasonable to expect that they [the writers] can do the job of a researcher as well?” (I see a double meaning for “as well:” in addition to their own jobs and as well as the librarian did.) The answer is unknown, but probably not. “In similar publishing environments where the library has been cut, one writer noted that he never heard anyone say it was a good thing….”

Pearlstein and Matarazzo conclude, “Perhaps there was a disconnect between the library and the divisional heads or their bosses at Caveat that made it easier or at least less controversial for them to drastically reduce library services.” The moral? Know what’s going on in your organization, make sure top management knows the value your library brings to the organization’s bottom line, and act proactively. As networking guru Harvey McKay says (in the title of one of his books, which you should read, by the way)—Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty—because if you wait until the axe falls, it’s too late.

Read, understand, internalize, and implement the message in this article—before it’s too late for you!

Pearlstein, Toby and James Matarazzo, Survival Lessons for Librarians: Corporate Libraries—A Soft Analysis and a Warning, Searcher 17(6):12-17,52, June 2009, available for US$2.95 at http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/jun09/index.shtml

26 June 2009

How to Influence Decision-Makers

In a post on his blog, Stephen’s Lighthouse, Stephen Abram quotes the following from an article in Business Week.

“1. Every decision that affects our lives will be made by the person who has the power to make that decision, not the ‘right’ person or the ‘smartest’ person or the ‘best’ person. Make peace with this fact…
2. When presenting ideas to decision-makers, realize that it is your responsibility to sell, not their responsibility to buy…
3. Focus on contribution to the larger good—not just the achievement of your objectives…
4. Strive to win the big battles. Don’t waste your energy and psychological capital on trivial points…
5. Present a realistic ‘cost-benefit’ analysis of your ideas—don’t just sell benefits…
6. ‘Challenge up’ on issues involving ethics or integrity—never remain silent on ethics violations…
7. Realize that powerful people are just as human as you are. Don’t say, ‘I am amazed that someone at this level…’…
8. Treat decision-makers with the same courtesy that you would treat customers—don’t be disrespectful…
9. Support the final decision of the organization. Don’t tell direct reports, ‘They made me tell you.’…
10. Make a positive difference—don’t just try to ‘win’ or ‘be right’…
11. Focus on the future—let go of the past…”

Abram post: http://stephenslighthouse.sirsidynix.com/archives/2009/06/managing_influe.html
Original article: Goldsmith, Marshall, Effectively Influencing Decision-Makers: These eleven rules about how you can influence decision-makers to adopt your ideas will benefit your career—and the organization you work for, Business Week, 19 June 2009,

New Zealand Study Finds That Healthcare Workers Don’t Use Internet-Based Research Tools

A study by four researchers in Christchurch, New Zealand found that a frightening 37 percent rarely or never consulted Google and 58 percent rarely or never consulted Ovid Medline or PubMed. Medical and dental staff consulted search engines (83 percent) or library resources (63 percent) at least weekly, higher than nursing or allied health staff. All professional groups consulted coworkers or experts more frequently than they did online or library resources. They used Google more often than any other electronic resource (big surprise) and it received the highest value rating (yikes). Almost all searched using keywords; few used MeSH terms. Over 82 percent wanted more training on searching Internet-based resources, so there is still hope for educating them on the value of better sources.

Hider, Philip N., Gemma Griffin, Marg Walker [all of University of Otago-Christchurch], and Edward Coughlan [Christchurch Hospital], The information-seeking behavior of clinical staff in a large health care organization, Journal of the Medical Library Association 97(1):47-50, January 2009, http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2605037

24 June 2009

Things to Think About in These Bad Economic Times

The 15 June issue of Library Journal (v. 134, no. 11) has two columns that you should read.

Be Selfish, Promote Service, The Transparent Library, by Michael Casey and Michael Stephens, p. 23
In these times of diminishing resources, it is more important than ever to provide excellent customer service. “Anyone can shine when money and time are in abundance. It takes a positive and progressive individual to stand out when things are difficult.” The Michaels have some excellent ideas that bear reading—and implementing.

Libraries & the Inspiration Business, Backtalk, by Brian Mathews, p. 38
“With federal, state, and county budgets drying up as record numbers of users flock to libraries, now is an excellent time for introspection about our profession. What exactly is our line of work?” “One of the great things about our profession is that we have the chance each day to make a positive impact on our community. Don’t miss out on your opportunity to inspires someone today.”

23 June 2009

Notes from SLA2009/Colin Powell & Solo Diversity Session

It was a wonderful conference. I attended lots of sessions, but only took notes on two. Here they are.

BTW: This was my last SLA Conference. I have to draw the line somewhere--so I don't continue to volunteer for things. (I'm now archivist for Solo and List and Wiki Mistress for the Retired Members Caucus. Neither requires my presence at conferences.)

Keynote: General Colin Powell, USA (Ret.), Sunday, 14 June
He spoke for about 45 minutes with NO notes at all; no ums, hums, ers, or ands.
Success=preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.
This is a new age; we have to change the brainware.
We have to move at the speed of light; faster than anyone else.
It’s a transactional world; we must update at every transaction (not daily, weekly, whatever).
Book recommendation: Shirky, Clay, Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, New York: Penguin Press, 2008, ISBN-10: 1594201536, US$24.95.
He is a consultant to Google (among other companies).
“I’m analog. I got a $59 converter and now I’m digital.” His 14-year-old grandson was hardwired digital.
What does he miss most from the State Department? His own plane (a 757), his honor guard presenting him with a Diet Coke on a silver tray. “It was cool.”
“The world is flattening; we have to compete in that world.” Security makes it too hard for foreign students to come to our universities.
“No terrorist can change our free, open society—only we can do it to ourselves.”
On leadership:
“Everything I learned about leadership was at infantry training at Fort Benning.”
“The followers get the work done!” Never forget that.
As a leader, ‘you have to give them a purpose” so they understand. Be passionate, infectious.
Leaders have to invest in people; give them support and what they need.
Congratulate followers. People thrive when you show them their worth to you.
You must also punish or reprimand and “prune the organization.”
“You’ll know when you’re a good leader when your troops follow you—if only out of curiosity.”
They’ll see you’re ready—they trust you. “Trust is the essence of success in an organization.”
“The human connection is essential.”

Diversity in Leadership: Generation X—The Changing Paradigm in a Knowledge-based Society, Julius Jefferson, Jr., Library of Congress, sponsored by the Solo Librarians Division
Although not a solo librarian, he was a solo child and is a drummer (who really solo when they play a solo). Good speaker, well-constructed speech.
The leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say "I." And that's not because they have trained themselves not to say "I." They don't think "I." They think "we"; they think "team." They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don't sidestep it, but "we" gets the credit. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done. Peter Drucker, The Essential Drucker, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2001.
Gen Xers create their own world without boundaries.
Gen Xers are independent; don’t like (or need) to be managed, especially micromanaged.
Words to describe Millennials (another name for Gen X): consensus, ambient intimacy, flexibility, worklife integration (not just worklife balance).
Big no-no: comparing a Gen X professional to your child.
Is there succession planning? Are the managers mentoring or grooming the next generation? Especially in the institutional knowledge they need to know.
Leadership and the paradigm shift
Shift from top down to horizontal leadership.
Leadership: inspiration, trust, advocacy, education, coaching, vision, and courage. Be unafraid to teach. We need leaders at all levels of the organization.
“Management must encourage us—every day!” this is especially true of NextGens.
Solos must inspire ourselves, advocate for ourselves.
“I can’t think of a better time to be a librarian than now.”
Collaboration is critical to success; we may see manager chosen not on seniority but on their ability to lead.
Branding: what do we offer to people? Take from all generations to improve the library, services, and products.
Finally, remember, “leadership is all about ‘We.’”

Recent Website Reviews on InSITE

(from Law Librarian Blog by Joe Hodnicki, Butler County Law Library, Ohio)

Law librarians at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, search the Internet for potentially useful websites, select the most valuable ones, and provide commentary twice a month via their current awareness service, InSITE.

The June 15, 2009 issue includes:

AfriMAP: Africa Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project
American President: an Online Reference Resource
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
and the
Worker Rights Consortium

There's also a searchable database of past reviews and you can browse current and archived issues from the home page. You can subscribe to the RSS feed as well.

InSITE home page: http://library2.lawschool.cornell.edu/insiteasp/default.asp
Hodnicki's full post: http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/2009/06/recent-website-reviews-on-insite.html

A Handful of Practice Area Blogs by Lawyers

Joe Hodnicki [Butler County (Ohio) Law Library] called our attention the these blogs in a recent post on his Law Librarian Blog.
See his post at http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/law_librarian_blog/2009/06/recent-website-reviews-on-insite.html for details and URLs

Military Veteran Attorney Blog
Products Liability and Injury Lawyer Blog
Drug Recall Lawyer Blog
Overtime Lawyer Blog
Lemon Law Lawyer Blog
DUI Attorneys Blog
Securities Fraud Attorney Blog

11 June 2009

NUMBER 1000!! Five Phrases I Hope I Never Hear in Libraries Again

This is my 1000th post! Amazing.

Five Phrases I Hope I Never Hear in Libraries Again (based on a true story)
by Michael Stephens, Tame the Web blog, 8 April 2006, http://tametheweb.com/2006/04/ten_phrases_i_hope_i_never_hea.html

1. We’ve always done it this way.

I think it’s time to red flag any utterance of that phrase in our libraries and make sure it’s not just an excuse to avoid change. It may however, be the best way to do something... so if you say it, add “and we examined other ways, and this way is still the best!”
If you are hiding behind that phrase because you’ve had enough new things or just want to keep things the same, it might be time to move on. Is it anxiety that puts up barriers?

2. He/She is a roadblock for anything to get done.
This is a tough one. It usually comes in a whisper from an exasperated librarian who can’t seem to get anything done because someone on their team or up above stops everything in its tracks to think. What did Abram say...? "When librarians study something to death, we forget that death was not the original goal."
In this climate of rapid change, we can’t take 6 months, form a committee, write agendas, meet, transcribe the minutes, make more agendas, have more meetings and on and on. The best librarians in the future will make good, rapid decisions, based on evidence, experience and a view of the big picture.

3. The IT department won’t let us.

I know there are many reasons why some things simply can’t be done in some libraries, but after many workshops, talks and receptions talking to librarians, this seems to be the number one hit on the Librarian’s Frustration Hit Parade. Thank Goodness we have folks writing about it:

4. I don’t have time for (insert new social tool here).

Ouch. Here’s where a healthy dose of evidence will help. Print some copies of the Newsweek story, The New Wisdom of the Web (http://www.newsweek.com/id/45976), any of the Pew Reports that discuss uses and their online activities and some of the wonderful real life examples we have of librarians using social tools.

5. Our director doesn’t like technology.

Attention library directors! If you don’t like technology, there may be a problem! You do not have to be a tech genius, but you need people under you who aren’t afraid of change, can innovate and will help guide your decisions. And you have to be able to talk to them. Failure to implement technological change can hurt the reputation of a library. Failure to allow your librarians, techie or otherwise, to move forward with improvements and new services in this 2.0 world, will send them running away screaming. (And they will tell their colleagues at conferences all about it! Trust me.)

Want to Get Published?

If you have an article that you’re dying to get published, San Jose State University’s Laurie Putnam has several resources to help you.

Putnam, Laurie L. [San Jose (California) State University], Professional writing and publishing: Resources for librarians, C&RL News 70(4), April 2009, http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/acrl/publications/crlnews/2009/apr/prowritepublish.cfm

Writing and Publishing Resources for Librarians Who Write, San Jose State University Alumni News 11(1), article 5, 2009, http://slisgroups.sjsu.edu/alumni/newsletter/09Spring/alumnewsspring09.htm#article5

San Jose State University Library and Information Science Publications wiki_, http://slisapps.sjsu.edu/wikis/faculty/putnam/index.php/LIS_Publications_Wiki

Laurie Putnam’s LibraryWriting Bookmarks, Delicious, http://delicious.com/LibraryWriting

Compare Search Engines

Phil Bradley lists eight search engine comparison sites in a post on his blog. Enter your search terms and the site runs them against various search engines—you decide which is best. Most compare only two engines, but some do more.

Sites mentioned are: Blind Search, Bingandgoogle, Bingle, Tripleme, GrabAll, Scour, Searchboth, and Soovle. Personally, I like Blind Search best, but you decide.

Bradley’s post: http://philbradley.typepad.com/phil_bradleys_weblog/2009/06/search-engine-comparisons.html

09 June 2009

What I've Read Lately...and So Should You

Here are a few articles that I think you should be reading. Most are from a great issue of Information Outlook (Special Libraries Association’s magazine) on the future of the profession.

Oder, Norman, MLS: Hire Ground? Library Journal 134(10):44-46, 1 June 2009. Discusses how economics and new technology may lead to fewer degreed librarians being hired and used by libraries. “Consultant Joan Frye Williams tells libraries not to put their most skilled people at the desk requiring the most interaction with the public. ‘We need to separate intake, which does not require a master’s, from execution, which does,’ she says.” But can non-professionals do an adequate reference interview?

Frey, Thomas, Rethinking the Post-Recession Specialty Library, Information Outlook 13(4):15-19, June 2009.
“…libraries will begin to experiment with a version of the digital library I’ve termed ‘the electronic outpost.’ Electronic outposts will evolve over time around the core services most relevant to a particular user group. Here are some examples of new library functions: search command centers, podcast studios, vidcast studios, virtual world stations, gamer stations, mini-theaters, cyber cafes.” Only one of these—the first—is a typical library function of today.

Huffman, Karen, Deborah Hunt, Nerida Hart, and Daniel Lee, Adding Value, Going Global, and Serving Smaller Clients, Information Outlook 134(10):27-31, June 2009.
Four SLA members were asked “to share their views on (a) the most significant developments that will affect the industry and profession and (b) how SLA can best help them and their colleagues prepare for the future.” Hart (Land and Water Australia).“I believe libraries, as we now know them, will not exist; the need for information professionals, however, will grow. They will be co-located with their clients and work side by side with them on projects to obtain better outcomes for their parent organization.” (This is how she works—her organization has no library.) “We need to educate information professionals not to expect to be located in a physical library but to think outside what has been done in the past.”

Abram, Stephen, Blogging as a Special Librarian, Information Outlook 134(10):47-48, June 2009.
Advice for newbies to blogging. “We should all be communicating regularly with our users, colleagues, patrons, markets and just plain folks. Invest part of yourself and your personality in your blog. If you’re real and authentic, people will be attracted to your advice.”

Schacter, Debbie, Adjusting to Changes in User and Client Expectations, Information Outlook 134(10):55-57, June 2009.
“Will the world be without information professionals in the future? I doubt it. Will the nature of the work or our interactions with our customers be different? Undoubtedly.”

Latham, John, Reaching Those Who Search (and Fail) on Their Own, Information Outlook 134(10):59, June 2009.
“Even if you provide excellent service, it will only be apparent to those within your organization who have benefited from it. You have to get the word out to those within your organization who have not used your services—and especially to senior management.” An Outsell survey shows that the search failure of most information workers is nearly 40 percent.

Note: Is it my imagination or are there a lot more articles in Information Outlook from people outside the library world?—regular columns excepted. While it’s good to hear from others, why aren’t there more articles by SLA members? Aren’t we submitting them?

04 June 2009

Law Library Links

The Canadian Association of Law Libraries has put together a nice list of links for law libraries. Among other things, it has links to law library associations in Canada, the USA, the UK, the EU, the Caribbean, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

URL: http://www.callacbd.ca/index.php/publisher/articleview/frmArticleID/214/

02 June 2009

Ten Ways to Tell If You Are a Solo Librarian

John Clark [Hartland (Maine) Public Library] wrote this for the initial issue of MLA to Z: The News-to-use-letter of the Maine Library Association (April 2007). You can identify with it even if you don't work in a public library. I love it.

1. People in the checkout line hand you a reserve request written on the back of their grocery list.
2. People tell the town manager you work too much because they saw your car at the library after 9 P.M.
3.You stop at yard sales to buy movies for the library.
4. You have a network of fellow scavengers who save Coke, Pepsi and Powerade caps so you can redeem the points for more stuff for the library.
5. Your fingerprints are on every item in the library.
6. You debate weeding a title you just know cousin Emma will hate you for, but do it anyway.
7. You’re on the delivery service, but drop off an ILL pouch in the next town after hours because you’re going there anyway to do some grocery shopping.
8. You visit other libraries and the first place you go is their used book shelf.
9. There is a bigger library that has adopted you, and you have done the same for a smaller library.
10. You have done story hour while simultaneously checking out books and answering a reference question over the phone.

URL: http://mainelibraries.org/_documents/newsletter/200704newsletter.pdf