03 October 2007

Issue Intro: A New Day for BiblioTech

Welcome to the first Fall 2007 installment of BiblioTech. You'll notice a few things have changed around here. We moved BiblioTech to a blog format, because it provides more content versatility and will hopefully make it easier for us to publish more quality content more frequently. Plus, with the new format you can:

  • interact with the authors and each other via comments.
  • conduct keyword searches using the tool at the top of the page.
  • browse the archives using the menu to the right.
  • subscribe to BiblioTech using your favorite RSS aggregator.

We've transferred all of the features we could track down from the past issues of BiblioTech as well, and you should definitely look through some of the older issues. There are some real gems that were tucked away in the BiblioTech vault that are worth a look.

We hope you enjoy the facelift and added functionality. Now let's get down to business. This issue spotlights a number of features loosely centered around the theme of this year's Graduate Student Symposium— Change and Opportunities: Libraries in the New Millennium. Make sure you register now for the conference! You won't want to miss it.

Before we turn you loose on the new issue, we'd like to encourage you to consider contributing to the next issue of BiblioTech. We aim to have one or two more issues before the semester is over, but we can only do it with your contributions. Please get in touch if you have any questions.

Jason Kucsma, your BiblioTech editor
Fall 2007

Please Note: The default setting for comments was set to only allow registered users to post. We have opened this up to allow any reader to comment. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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Pedantry Versus Persuasion -or- How to Keep Em’ Coming in the New Millennium

by Kirstin Thomas

Last spring, during an internship at a local community college, I had occasion to put my theoretical acquaintance with library marketing to the test. With no prior experience in marketing, I froze in terror during the initial meeting with my internship supervisor (a recent SIRLS grad) when she asked if I might be interested in drawing up a rough marketing plan for the library as my main project, as this was an area that was sorely neglected by library faculty due to more pressing obligations. I gulped and said “Yes, of course. I happen to have an inherent interest in marketing” (lie). Following our appointment, I raced home, dropped my information literacy instruction class, and enrolled in the divinely up for grabs special topics course entitled “Advanced Issues in Information Resources: Marketing Library and Information Services to Communities.” Taking this path, as the saying goes, has made all the difference as I prepare to jump headlong to the real world of 21st century professional librarianship.

My internship proved to be an eye-opener in many respects. Not only was I unversed in the fine art of library marketing, but I also had not, for all practical purposes, ever worked in a library (at least beyond the solo post of subbing in an elementary school media center). My subsequent experience engaging with half-a-dozen faculty librarians on a day-to-day-basis confirmed my suspicion that there must be a curious combination of genetics and life experience that inspires one to become a librarian. Though we like to fancy ourselves a unique breed of maverick forward-thinkers, and would certainly recoil in shock at any allegation of rigidity or charge of being resistant to change, we are, as a whole, a self-absorbed (introverted), order-loving, territorial, censorious, pedantic, and stubborn bunch (remember…if it stings a little, it’s probably true). This is why our libraries often feel more like penal institutions than the kind of responsive, flexible and innovative environments they need to be in order to remain relevant in an increasingly competitive information environment. Jeannette Woodward, author of Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the Bookstore Model, eloquently sums up what I feel will be the biggest hurdle librarians must overcome in order to be successful in the new millennium: “To be affective, we must bring people to the library, and to do that, we must mold the library to their preferences, not the other way around.”

Once upon a time, the library was not the port of last resort, but rather the only stop for information beyond what was available in the family’s Life Nature Library or three-volume set of Tell Me Why (that is, if you were lucky enough to own such an extensive personal collection of resource materials). In the great tradition of supply-and-demand, the library was like Park Place in the world of information real estate. This put librarians in the unique position to concede to their innermost selves with impunity, because the public really didn’t have an alternate choice, let alone multitudes of choices, regarding where to get their information. The “Come hither, peons, and quietly wait your turn, for I am the venerable gatekeeper of information” attitude of yore continues to linger in many of today’s libraries, as evident in the ever-prevalent Thou Shalt Not signage (DO NOT use cell phone, drink, eat, visit social networking sites, talk, sleep, sneeze, etc.), the prejudice among library workers against subjecting their activities to scientific scrutiny (Brooks 373), the failure of most libraries to actively collect and respond to user feedback, and finally, the general irritation with young people, in particular young adults, who have the audacity to periodically submit to fits of exuberance in our hallowed and esteemed institutions.

Please don’t misunderstand. In the very first days of the SIRLS program, when I was still as green as the day is long, groups of students were asked to share why we wanted to become librarians. Since I did not have the advantage of being able to formulate a more intelligent response based on the revelations of my fellow students (I was picked right off the bat), I nervously blurted the first thing that came to mind, which was incidentally the truth: “I want to become a librarian because I revere books and think that libraries smell like God.” Of course, this wasn’t the whole truth. If I had been entirely honest, I would have said this: “I want to become a librarian because I like the idea of getting paid big bucks to sit behind a desk and read, with only the periodic distraction of demonstrating how to use the copy machine or having to point to the bathroom or pencil sharpener (in a quiet place that smells like God).”

In the final analysis, I think that many contemporary students and recent graduates of library schools, particularly the large numbers of us who came to the profession as a second career (with very little or no experience working in libraries), were drawn to it based on certain notions of what librarians and libraries are supposed to be. For example, librarians are supposed to work from behind a desk, not from behind a PDA; libraries are supposed to be a place for quiet study, not a venue for Dance Dance Revolution; librarians are supposed to edify the public (because we know what is best for our fellow man- the best books to read, the most conducive atmosphere to improve the intellect, the most appropriate Internet sites to visit, etc.), not indulge our community’s every foolhardy wish and whim. As such, we are equally appalled at the concessions that will have to be made, the acts of persuasion we shall be forced to concede to, and the oppressive uncertainty of the road ahead. In the end, the main difference between “millennial” and old guard librarians is not ideological, but rather the keen understanding that if we are unwilling to adjust our thinking about what a library is supposed to be, and what our jobs are supposed to entail, we run the risk of endangering our very livelihoods. I read somewhere once that the film industry nearly collapsed, escaping decline only when it decided it was in the entertainment business rather than the movie business. Likewise, railroads stopped growing because they decided they were in the railroad business rather than the transportation business. It is my hope that libraries don’t succumb to a similar fate by deciding that they are in the library business rather than the dynamic, fiercely competitive and constantly evolving information business.

At the end of my internship at the local community college, I had the opportunity to present to the library chair and faculty a comprehensive marketing plan that was the fruit of an entire semester of shared labor distributed among myself an four other library marketing students (we decided to use this library as the basis for our final group project). I prefaced the web-based presentation with the following apologetic communiqué:

Our ideas and choices for this project were almost always informed by current best practices and contemporary thought coming out of library schools today, which can be distilled down to one simple truth: Libraries no longer have a monopoly on information, and as such, can no longer afford to be apathetic about change, particularly in regards to improving customer service and developing a marketing mindset.

My presentation contained suggestions that included actively garnering user feedback, identifying areas for regular assessment, expanding the current list of goals and objectives for the library, creating a library presence within the college’s online courseware, loosening restrictions on computer use, identifying and humanizing library staff via a photo wall that indicated each librarian’s academic background as well as a surprising fact (raced dog-sleds in Alaska, volunteer firefighter, Irish clog dancer…you get the picture), and creating a more casual environment on the first floor. When all was said and done, I got a big round of applause and a swift scoot out the door, as it was my last day, and I am pretty sure that my presence had become more of a disruption than an obliging diversion (except for my internship supervisor, who bid me a tearful farewell). In retrospect, I can imagine that I was rather annoying in my exuberance, and remain grateful for the experience and enlightened because of it.

One of my favorite sayings is “Change the way you think about things, and the things you think about will change.” This idea is especially salient in regard to the upcoming SIRLS Graduate Student Symposium, aptly entitled “Change and Opportunities: Libraries in the New Millennium.” I was happy to see that the original title, “Change and Challenges: Libraries in the New Millennium, was amended. In the end, the way you look at a situation can make all the difference. We can look at change as an unwelcome burden or an opportunity to make a real difference in our communities by giving our users what they really want. I hope we will swiftly acknowledge and align our service philosophy to the simple truth that Google and others have known all along: In the 21st century information landscape, the customer is king.

Works Cited:

  • Brooks, Terrence A. “The Model of Science and Scientific Models in Librarianship.”Library Trends 38.2 (1989): 237-49.
  • Woodward, Dianne. Creating the Customer-Driven Library: Building on the BookstoreModel. Chicago: American Library Association; 2005.
Kirstin Thomas is a recent graduate of the School of Information Resources and Library Science at the University of Arizona.

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How To Impress Your Future Employers

by Rebecca Blakiston

It can be tough applying for jobs after graduation, especially when you are in there with a large and competitive pool of experienced candidates. How can you compete when you are just getting out of library school? Well there are some simple things you can do now as a student to gain valuable experience while at the same time boosting your resume. Here are some suggestions:

  • Work in a library. This is a simple one, but I know people who have failed to do this and it has really hurt them when looking for a job. Even student employment (the UA Library hires a ton of student workers) can give you valuable skills in customer service, collection maintenance, circulation and reference. It will also expose you to the library work environment. Internships and graduate assistantships are often even better, so be sure to take advantage of these.
  • Attend conferences. This can be extremely valuable. Attending conferences is a great way to network with professionals around the country. It’s also one of the best ways to keep on top of current hot topics in the field. Many conferences will be too expensive on a student budget, but local conferences such as AzLA in Mesa and Living the Future in Tucson are possibilities. Plus there are always student rates for these conferences you should take advantage of while you can. And of course there’s the Symposium, which is not only local but also completely free.
  • Publish. Even a small student publication, such as BiblioTech, can be put on your resume under “Publications & Presentations.” If you’re planning to work in an academic setting, especially if there’s a possibility of tenure-track position, this shows you’re taking an interest in publishing. It also shows you know how to write. There are a lot of other opportunities to publish – the library world has a lot of publications – so why not try submitting something and see what happens?
  • Present. Almost all professional librarians have to present on a somewhat regular basis, whether it be at conferences, in front of their colleagues, or to the community. A lot of positions even require a presentation as a part of the interview process. So get practice now. The Symposium offers a great opportunity to do just this in a low-key setting. Another great way to add content to the “Publications & Presentations” portion of your resume.
  • Associate, Professionally. Professional associations are another thing that will inevitably be a part of your library/and information science career. Get started now by joining the Library Student Organization and attending meetings, perhaps even becoming an officer. This shows leadership skills and interest in the profession, which will go a long way with potential employers. In addition, it’s a great way to get to know your colleagues in school and start expanding your network.
  • Get your name out there. In the online world of self-publication there are a lot of chances to be heard. Try making an insightful comment on a famous library blog, such as librarian.net or tametheweb. Contribute to one of the ALA wikis. E-mail an inspiring professional and ask them a question. Blog, and tell others about your blog. Think how much easier it would be to land that job if the employer had actually heard of you and was impressed by your work.

The library job market can be competitive, and it’s important to have experiences that will make you stand out from other applicants. Taking the initiative now will place you ahead of other new librarians, and your chances of landing that interview just got a little bit better.

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Connecting People and Information: Lessons from the 2007 SLA World Conference

by Nancy Bronte Matheny

With the wide eyes of Dorothy Gale from Kansas upon landing in Munchkinland, I entered the Denver Convention Center armed with a pre-registration packet and an unbridled hope and anticipation for good things to come at the 2007 Special Libraries Association (SLA) Conference. I was not to be disappointed. No Lollipop Guild or Enchanted Forest, but the experience was just as sweet and just as enchanting.

As a student of the School of Information Resources and Library Science(SIRLS) Master’s program, I came to Denver June 3rd, due to the generosity of the Information Technology (IT) Division of the SLA, and partly out of curiosity about life in the Major League. I was in Denver to accept the 2007 Jo Ann Clifton Student Award from the IT Division for my paper “Forging cultural heritage collections online: The story of An American Tale,” developed in Dr. Peter Botticelli’s amazing course Digital Libraries. Through the four-day roller-coaster ride, I picked up a few lessons I wish to share with you as future conference attendees, fellow library students extraordinaire, and future colleagues.

Lesson 1: Network, network, network
As any business coach worth his lapel pins will tell you at a professional function, network, network, network. Trite to some, and overwhelming to others, the act of cultivating people who can be helpful to one professionally is the crux of any conference. And somewhat accidentally, it was the highlight of the gathering for me. I didn’t go intending on networking, but it just happened.

Entitled “From wallflower to active networker,” Dr. Renee Gilbert’s workshop, amusing and informative, accentuated the interest among information professionals in how to do it right. The modest conference room bulged with over 200 people. Attendees were practically up on their chairs begging for more. Networking, or socializing in general appeared to be a raw nerve for many in attendance. Not surprising considering many may typically find themselves lost behind book stacks or behind a flat screen, as I am quite often found in doing my schoolwork. My friends would decidedly not consider me the wallflower variety, but the tips from a self-described “reforming shy person” were invaluable. For example, her suggestion to always be the ‘host’ instead of a ‘guest’ of any three-way conversation at a cocktail party or other mixer was helpful.

As a distance student from cyberia, it was also quite a shock meeting real human beings, and American ones at that. They’re so friendly. I am able to get over to the U.S. from time-to-time but am not really used to socializing with them. An American myself, living in the Middle East country of Oman, it was a strange but wonderful feeling. To reconnect with fellow SIRLS student and UA-SLA student president Cindy Elliott was, indeed, magical.

But what awed me the most, was the fact that, people at the top of their profession were so easily accessible and easy to talk to. It was, indeed, humbling and inspiring to chat with SLA President-elect Stephen Abram. And a privilege to speak with Jane Kenney Meyers founder of the Lubuto Library Project, to learn how she started a modest school library for HIV/AIDS orphans in a shipping container in Zambia, made me really reflect about what I might do here in Oman to help facilitate literacy in the country.

And to meet Mohammed Rashid, Arabian Gulf University Librarian and SLA Board Member for the Arabian Gulf, and Dr. Saif Al Jabri, Director of Information, Sultan Qaboos University from right here in Muscat, but right there in Denver. My intent is not to impress you, but to impress upon you how networking was made simpler by showing up at an annual conference. Network, network, network.

Lesson 2: Be prepared to be surprised
The image of a bun-sporting spinster in a polyester leisure suit was something I did not witness at the conference (okay, maybe once or twice), but rather some very hip, and very savvy well-dressed professional men and women. That was just one of several surprises I experienced at the convention.

The convention center floor itself was like a huge organism gushing with light, sound, and energy you could cut with a knife. The world’s information – where it was going, what was new, what would change lives, was right there on the convention center floor, a true adrenalin rush. “Quiz shows,” demonstrations, handouts, samplers from state-of-the-art print and multimedia sources from the Big 5 and other top global vendors was electrifying.

I was surprised to learn that Pakistan, right next door, has launched a national Digital Library (Pakistan higher Education Commission), which further promotes research in the country. Sheesh, seems we only hear about civil discontent in the news from Pakistan, not the use of cutting-edge technology to advance research in the sciences. Mr. Muhammad Shahid Soroya, librarian at the School of Mathematical Sciences at Government College University in Lahore, delivered a thoroughly informative lecture with slides about the achievements of his team, in the “Global Librarianship” workshop. Be prepared to be surprised.

Lesson 3: Keep an open mind
Going into the conference with an open mind can make for a more enriching conference experience. I learned at “Leading meetings: Getting things done and having fun” that I really can learn to work with “free-spirits.” I learned that you don’t actually have to be wearing an evening gown to attend the SLA IT Division Gold Diggers’ Ball. I learned that you can think outside the scheduled program, and crash a mixer/reception with which you have no business to meet some fascinating people. I learned that former Vice President Al Gore has real insights into the pivotal role information professionals will play in the future of our global knowledge society. Keep an open mind.

The Special Libraries Association (SLA) Conference was not the first library powwow that I had ever attended, but the first international one, and it was a doozy. Overall, the conference helped me bring into better focus future plans in the biz, while of course confusing the process further by opening up so many more possibilities. The conference made me glad that I had chosen this profession. So remember, when you head next year to Seattle for SLA 2008, be prepared to network, network, network, be surprised, and keep an open mind.

Nancy is a graduate student in the School of Information Resources and Library Science program. She lives in Muscat, Oman.

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Games, Gaming, and Gamers: Why You Want Them in Your Libraries

by Elizabeth T. Danforth

Words you know:
Candyland. Monopoly. Trivial Pursuit. Pokemon.

Words you might know:
Wii. World of Warcraft. Second Life. Dance Dance Revolution.

Words you may not know you need to know:
Halo. Guitar Hero. Club Penguin. Runescape.

What do these things have in common? Games: they are all games and about gaming. And you need to get them on your radar as you move into the library profession.

Why? Reasons are legion. One of the main reasons is that this is where the users are, whether you call them users, patrons, customers, or civilians. Last year games finally outstripped movies as the worldwide choice of entertainment in terms of financial investment in buying and playing them. There are nine million people playing World of Warcraft – that makes the population of Azeroth larger than most countries in the real world.

Do you need more reasons? Start with some things you need to realize:

  1. Gamers come in all ages, flavors, and sizes. Do you assume the typical gamer is a teenaged male, overweight and unfit, living in his mother’s basement? Your beliefs of gamer stereotypes are demonstrably untrue according to the ample research. Forty-two percent of the online gamers out there are female. Only 20% are children. The demographic of those who have ever played video games is 100% of MIT freshmen. The video game generation has more in common in the way they approach life, business, teamwork, advancement, and success than the media’s separation of them into Gen X, Gen Y, or Millenials, partly because of the way they – we? – have grown up with games as the model for how to approach life.
  2. Games and game-playing are good for you, and for the children and teens around you. Over half of all teens engage in “participatory culture,” much of it associated with games, marked by peer-to-peer learning and the development of leadership and other workplace skills. This “hidden curriculum” affects future school and workplace success – or failure. Have you ever read a Pokemon card? Three nested conditional sentences rife with jargon, yet absorbed by kids facing little more than Dick and Jane in school. Small wonder they’re bored; games reward immersion with success. To get the most from the game they check out the Pokemon books too, in order to learn the associated lore and background information. And Grandma doesn’t want to join the family at the Thanksgiving dinner table because she and Grandpa are getting to bowl together – on the Wii – for the first time since she broke her hip. Her arm will be sore in the morning, but not because she couldn’t cut through the potato skin.
  3. Games will be an integral part of tomorrow's libraries, and tomorrow's worlds (yes, plural). Whether you call them MUVEs or MMORGs (multiuser virtual environment, or massively multiplayer online roleplaying games), cyberspace has worlds to discover and libraries will be there. An avatar in Second Life has no use for a can of Coke® except as window dressing; Big Business is having trouble figuring that out. An avatar in Second Life does need information, and a virtual library is one place to come looking for how to make money or buy hair, how to build a prim, or listen to Diana Gabaldon read from her newest novel. And in a recent study out of Syracuse University, 77% of sampled libraries reported that they support games in one fashion or another.

But gamers? In the library? We are heavily about education and entertainment, and games are both. Public libraries especially are increasingly about being a community commons. Some games work best face to face, but where do you go to play? Even online games can be enjoyed shoulder to shoulder with friends, each on their own laptops even as their avatars move together in cyberspace.

"But," you say, "I'm going to work in a business library, a medical library, a special collection. I don't want or need this trivial fluff."

Actually, you might. Maybe you can't see a place for World of Warcraft... but games in general? Yes. The military has invested heavily in online gaming as a recruitment tool. Businesses are regularly using games to recruit and train personnel; it's far more motivating than a powerpoint and the information is internalized faster. Research from IBM shows that leadership skills practiced in online games teaches and rewards success and innovation. Games are being used to help young and old understand the medical procedures they're facing, and to teach them visualization techniques and attitudes that help them battle cancers. Retirement homes are using the Wii for the chair-bound, for socialization and for exercise appropriate to their constrained activity levels. So familiarizing yourself with the world of games, gaming, and gamers should be on even your more rarified agendas.

And World of Warcraft, like Second Life, has been called "the new golf." So you might want to log in and take part in your boss's raiding guild after all. Show 'em the stuff you're made of, your ability to function as part of a team, and how you can be relied on as your mage kicks out the DPS to save your boss from certain death in Zangarmarsh.

Liz Danforth is a professional illustrator, writer, game developer and designer inducted into the Academy of Gaming Arts and Design Hall of Fame in 1996. She has 17 years experience as a public library paraprofessional and is two classes from graduating from the SIRLS program.

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by Mira Domsky

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01 January 2007

Issue Intro: Presentations, Conferences, Internships, and More

Learning takes many forms. We're all familiar with the sort of learning that takes place in the classroom (be it physical or virtual), but concentrating entirely on classroom studies does not make for a well-rounded librarian-in-training. This isn't to say that our classes aren't important - they are - but classes are only one of many ways for us to grow within our profession. That's why much of this issue of BiblioTech is dedicated to the kind of learning that happens outside of the classroom.

LSO presented a number of successful professional development programs. We sponsored a number of talks from information professionals in diverse areas of the field, and also offered SIRLS students two chances to present their own work, at the Student Reflections on Professional Conferences program and at the Graduate Library Student Symposium.

A number of students managed to fit trips to professional conferences into their busy schedules, and this issue of Bibliotech has reports from two of those conferences. Beth Hoffman talks about October's Internet Librarian conference and Jason Kucsma offers his thoughts on the Persistence of Memory: Stewardship of Digital Assets conference. Conferences aren't the only way students have gotten away for professional development activities, either. SIRLS alum Shana Harrington completed an internship in Ireland over the summer and shares her experience (and some pictures) with us.

And in a slightly different form of professional developement and in keeping with "Tech" part of BiblioTech, Jeffrey Collins offers us a white paper on website evaluation, an extremely useful subject to know about. Not only can it help us to create polished, usable professional electronic portfolios (which are becoming a useful asset in today's job market), but can also help us to build better library websites.

Finally, I'd like to give my great thanks to the outgoing BiblioTech editor, Federico Martinez. Freddy is the person most directly responsible for gathering the articles for this issue - I just posted them. So thank you, Freddy, for making my first issue of BiblioTech as easy to put together as you did.

Beth Hoffman
BiblioTech Editor, LSO Webmaster

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LSO Fall 2006 Professional Development Events Summary

by Federico Martinez

LSO offered a number of professional development events last semester. We brought information professionals in as speakers for our jobs series and our presentation on presentations, our resume consulting service was a success once again, and we offered SIRLS students two chances to present their own work at two exciting events.


We hosted several outstanding guests in our Jobs, Careers, & Pizza Series, and our speakers were kind enough to appear in both Tucson and Phoenix. Jeremy Reeder spoke to us about career path planning, with an emphasis on the public library system. Jeremy Reeder is Staff Development Manager for the Maricopa County Library District. In Tucson, Jan Knight, Mary Graham, and Ann Ewbank talked to us during a panel discussion on their varied career paths and experiences. For the Phoenix talk, Mario Klimiades from the Heard Museum spoke in the place of Mary Graham. Jan Knight is an information consultant. Mary Graham is the Librarian at the Arizona State Museum. Ann Ewbank is now at the ASU West library and has been a K-12 librarian. So you can see they had a great variety and suggestions to share with SIRLS students.

As most of you have already experienced, giving presentations in class, at work, and in a myriad of other situations is very common in our field. LSO sponsored an evening with an excellent speaker, Patti Overall, who provided students with tips and suggestions for how to make the best posters and presentations. This is relevant for any student considering presenting at a poster session or giving a formal presentation.

We recorded the evenings' discussions as podcasts (available here) and also as videocasts. Videos from these and other LSO events are now available on YouTube.

Resume Consultations:

UA's Library Science Librarian, Mary Feeney, and LSO sponsored an afternoon of one-on-one resume consultations for SIRLS students. Students were matched to librarians currently working in the field they are interested in applying for and given the chance to go over their resumes. Distance students were able to have virtual consultations as well.

If you missed this round of resume consultations don't worry! You can check out resume tips and helpers. Since this was such a success last semester and this semester, it will undoubtedly continue next semester, although it might be restricted to just virtual consultations in the Spring.

Student Presentation Events:

LSO also hosted two great events that gave SIRLS students a chance to do a little speaking of their own.

The Student Reflections on Professional Conference program in September gave SIRLS students a chance to share their experiences at conferences and seminars with their peers. The conferences students spoke about were as diverse as ALA Annual Conference, The Middle Eastern Library Association Conference, and the American Chemical Society Annual Meeting (and more). Many of the presentation slides are available on the LSO website.

The 2006 SIRLS Graduate Student Symposium in November offered students another chance to speak to their peers and to present work from their classes. Once again, there was a wide range of topics, including everything from Information Access & Cultural Knowledge to Digitization Projects to Ethical Dilemmas in Reference Work (and much more). We were also once again lucky to get an engaging, dynamic and enthusiastic librarian as our keynote speaker: Michael Stephens, Instructor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University and proprietor of the library blog, Tame the Web. Again, many of the slides from student's presentations are available on the LSO website.

We're still working to put together a great slate of presentations for Spring 2007. To kick off our programming for the semester, SIRLS Visiting Associate Professor of Practice Tom Wilding will be giving a talk about Managing Your Library Career Wednesday February 7, 5:30-6:30 in the SIRLS Multipurpose Room. And that's just the beginning. Keep checking the LSO Calendar for the latest LSO professional development and social events.

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Becoming Librarian 2.0: Internet Librarian 2006

by Beth Hoffman

Just about every librarian I talk says professional development is important, so I took advantage of the fact that all my classes were online last semester to get away from Tucson for a few days and attend my first professional conference. I went to Internet Librarian in Monterey, California from October 23 – 25. Here are the highlights.

First, a bit of background: the official theme of the conference was "Integrated Experiences: Compelling Content Combinations" but it could just as easily have been "Building Library 2.0." The idea of Library 2.0 has been kicking around amongst the more techno-savvy in the library world for about a year now, and it's gaining some staying power as a buzzword in the broader library community (Library Journal has info on the topic, like http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6365200.html). The general thrust of the Library 2.0 movement is remaking the library and library services to be user-centered, and to make use of new technology for outreach and to help build communities. Most of the best presentations I saw at Internet Librarian had something to do with Library 2.0 and they showed some of the amazing ways that libraries are reaching out to folks and building communities online.

However, librarians can't start using all the new online tools for outreach and community building until they know about those tools themselves. So, one of the challenges in building Library 2.0 is in training your staff in all the new technology, and one of the sessions at Internet Librarian showcased one of the most interesting programs for staff technology training I've encountered. Helene Blowers, the Public Services Technology Director of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) gave an overview of a program she put together, called Learning 2.0. The program was voluntary, self-directed, self-paced, and focused on having fun and learning by doing. There were some nifty rewards to entice people to join: everyone who finished in the allotted time got an mp3 player and was entered in a drawing to win a laptop. Helene likened this approach to creating a summer reading program for the staff: you dangle out a nice reward to get folks interested and then trust that after a little while, the learning itself will be its own reward and will keep people motivated.

Learning 2.0 covered a lot of new technology: blogs and podcasting, wikis, folksonomies, online applications, and more. Participants were given 23 tasks to accomplish, from setting up and posting to a blog to using some online tools to create a custom search engine. As an added bonus, the entire Learning 2.0 program is available online at: http://plcmclearning.blogspot.com/ and is available for the rest of library world to use for their own training and to modify as needed.

This is just an amazing concept, and it was pretty successful for PLCMC. They had over 300 staff members sign up and more than 200 of those folks finished the program before the deadline to get the mp3 player had passed. This seems like a wonderful way to encourage staff to learn about new technologies, and to have fun while they're doing it.

And speaking of new technologies, the next highlight of the conference for me was hearing about one of the most innovative library initiatives I've encountered. Lori Bell, Director of Innovation at Alliance Library Systems; Tom Peters, CEO of TAP Information Services; and Michael Sauers, Internet Trainer at the Bibliographical Center for Research gave a presentation called "The Second Life Library 2.0: Going to Where the Users Are" about building a virtual library in the online game Second Life. One of the ideas behind Library 2.0 is that libraries should make their services available to users wherever those users might be, for instance, online.

Online games are very popular, particularly with the younger generations who have grown up with video games (like me), and they're no longer seen as just for kids. Second Life is one of many popular online games, although it takes a slightly different approach than some others. Second Life is more of a virtual world or a sandbox to play in than a game: there are no objectives and no ways to "win" it's meant to be a virtual version of life. Whether or not this is the sort of thing that sounds appealing to the average person, it's proven to be a very popular (over a million people have signed up, and about half a million appear to be reasonably active).

Some librarians took a look at the game and saw it as a chance to experiment with virtual services and create an entirely different kind of community outreach. They created a virtual library within Second Life that offers reference services, research databases (several vendors have donated free database trials to the project), and programs (several authors have given talks). They're building up a virtual collection, based mostly on public domain content and on content that Second Life players themselves have created, and have put on a number of virtual exhibits. If you're interested in following their progress, take a look at their blog: http://infoisland.org/

They also talked about the challenges they've faced in creating this virtual library. Perhaps the biggest challenge is dealing with burnout among the volunteers who are building the library (and this is, by-and-large, an entirely volunteer effort). A project this big is a definite time-sink, and there have been a lot of volunteers who have had to drop out of the game (temporarily or permanently) because they needed to spend more time on their Real Lives. There are technical challenges as well: Second Life is a 3D game and it requires a pretty powerful computer and high-speed Internet (and the faster the better) to play, so it's not a game that's accessible to everyone. The game also doesn't have the best of records when it comes to reliability: the software still has bugs and there are the occasional server crashes that take the whole game down. It is also (and I speak here from personal experience) difficult to get the hang of controlling your avatar, the character you create to represent you in the virtual world – there is a definite (and steep) learning curve involved to play in this world. However, despite these and other challenges, I think the Second Life Library 2.0 project is an impressive experiment, and I'm glad to see there are folks in the library world who are willing to push the boundaries of what libraries can be. Even if the Second Life Library 2.0 project fails, what they're learning about which library services work and which don't in virtual spaces should prove valuable to everyone involved in building virtual libraries.

The last major conference highlight in terms of programs that I want to mention is the PictureAustralia project (http://www.pictureaustralia.org/index.html). As part of a larger presentation about how libraries and librarians are using the popular online photo-sharing site Flickr (http://www.flickr.com), Fiona Hootan and Tony Boston of the National Library of Australia gave a virtual presentation (PowerPoint slides with pre-recorded voiceovers) about their virtual library of images of Australia. The PictureAustralia site brings together virtual photographic collections from a large number of museums, libraries, archives, and other cultural agencies within Australia.

This archival material itself is enough to make the collection impressive, however, they're also letting people add their own photographs to the collection, by uploading their photos to Flickr and then designating them to be part of one of the photo collections that the PictureAustralia folks set up on Flickr. The PictureAustralia folks then grab the photos, photographer info, tags, and other metadata from Flickr and turn it into Dublin Core metadata that can be searched along with all of the other collections on the PictureAustralia site. (You can read more about their call for contributions here: http://www.pictureaustralia.org/Flickr.html)

This is such a wonderful way to both build a collection and engage in community outreach. I've heard of some similar projects like this before, but never anything on this scale (or anything that brings new community contributions together with other collections like this). They've been wildly successful in getting people to contribute their pictures – nearly 12,000 photos have been contributed since they started the Flickr project in March 2005.

These are just a few of the session highlights from this amazing conference, but perhaps the biggest highlight was that I got a chance to meet some great people. Most everyone I've ever talked to has told me that the networking opportunities are one of the best reasons to go to professional conferences, and I certainly found that to be true in this case. It was also a great way to get re-energized about the profession and to remind myself why I wanted to get into librarianship in the first place (a perspective that sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day grind of getting through school). Internet Librarian may not be a conference that appeals to everyone (it's very much a "by geeks, for geeks" kind of conference), but I think it's well worth attending for anyone who wants to learn about the latest things librarians are doing to make use of the Internet and Internet technology.

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Interning in Ireland

by Shana Harrington

This summer I interned at the Dublin public library for eight weeks. I was placed at the reference desk in the Music Library of the Dublin City Centre Library, Ilac Centre. My direct supervisor was the head music librarian, Noel McMahon. He and his fellow librarian, Susan Flood started my training immediately. I was quickly shown the ins and outs of the music library. The first day I familiarized myself with the two software programs the library district uses, Galaxy, for checking out materials and catalog questions, and Metaframe, a program that utilizes databases created in Microsoft Access. These databases are created by the library staff and include composer information, song titles (which are not listed in catalog records) and an index of scores. Both of these programs are necessary in assisting patrons.

In addition to performing reference duties, I also worked on a research project developed by Noel. He asked me to research and report on the question of whether or not music and public libraries should move from CD format to digital. The digital format would require lending mp3 players and providing a service where patrons could download music from the library website. This project was fascinating. The University's databases were an invaluable addition to my research, the e-journals provided me with the background I needed to develop a logical answer to the question Noel posed. I found that there is a library in the U.S. that is already circulating MP3 players, and was able to contact them for the purposes of the paper as well.

Aside from the research project, working at the music desk with these two librarians was a valuable experience. I could compare and contrast between the public and academic libraries in the United States and Ireland. I quickly picked up the rhythm of the reference desk. The Music Library utilized the Dewey Decimal System, so once I located an object for a patron, I was able to find it quickly. The Galaxy system is a text-based catalog, similar to ones I've worked with in libraries here. I learned many of the shortcut keys and various commands, and was able to put items on loan, as well as check them out and in. The patrons at the library were very varied. This particular branch library is recommended to many immigrants entering Ireland from other EU countries. They can come to the library knowing little or no English and learn it through the services the Language Learning Desk provides. Because of this, I learned different ways to communicate with patrons, in order to find the materials they were looking for. After a couple of weeks I settled into the routine, shelving items, re-sensitizing them and even watering the plants! Patrons began to recognize me, and loved to hear about Arizona. I thought these little things were quite necessary in learning about the functions of a library. It’s not just about the collection, or the computer system, but the people who use it. Since I have worked at a public library reference desk in Nevada, too, I can say that the accent may be different but the people are there for the same thing, information, education and entertainment.

As for the people, the staff was a joy to work with. Noel and Susan were so knowledgeable. We discussed the similarities and differences between the libraries in America and Dublin. Susan helped me utilize Metaframe and taught me how best to answer reference questions for patrons. Noel and I talked about the technologies libraries use; for example, we discussed cataloging procedures. We are very lucky to have MARC records and copy cataloging. He has to catalog every item individually, even if it is a duplicate, and then send it to the processing department to be labeled and barcoded. We also discussed how RFID technology is probably the way of the future for libraries.

Overall, this is an experience I will never forget. The people were welcoming, helpful and always interesting. The country was amazing, and I explored as much of it as I could. Up north, they are still in the middle of a civil war. In the West, off the coast of Galway, on the Aran Islands, Irish is still the native language. In Dublin, the city is becoming more metropolitan and is a destination for travelers from all over the world, even Tucson!

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Bridging the Gap Between Present and Future

by Jason Kucsma

If there was one underlying theme for the Northeast Document Conservation Center's (NEDCC) Persistence of Memory (PoM) conference in December, it was that the future of digital assets management and preservation is limited only by the imagination and diligence of today's information professionals. As a new student in the field of information resources and library science - with my sights tentatively set on digital assets management and preservation - attending this conference cemented my convictions that my interests and talents have a lot of room make meaningful contributions to the field of digital preservation. My experience at the PoM conference also reinforced much of what I had learned throughout the semester during a Digital Libraries course. By covering familiar themes of risk management or collaborative models for digital preservation work, or by inviting Priscilla Caplan discuss PREMIS - a project I had been reading about weeks prior in relation to my own digital preservation project proposal - NEDCC covered a tremendous amount of terrain in two short days of conference proceedings. At the risk of contradicting myself, I have to say that the PoM conference cannot and should not be reduced to simply one theme. I would like to take a moment to expand on a number of ideas and topics covered at PoM that made me just a little more anxious to finish school and begin contributing to a field that is experiencing dramatic and rapid changes.

Because much of this is new terrain for so many information professionals, I sensed a good deal of necessary bridge building at the PoM conference. A substantial number of attendees seemed to be coming from traditional archivist and librarian backgrounds, and a lot of work needed to be done to bridge the gap between old ways to thinking about our assets and how we will steward them into the future. Paul Conway, Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, reinforced that although we are working with new technologies, "basic archiving principles endure." In other words, our commitment to certification, collaboration through distributed networks of archives, and the trust in our collections provided by accurate metadata are all consistent tenets of reliable collections regardless of the technologies used in creating them. We heard similar sentiments echoed by Priscilla Caplan in her discussion of the Preservation Metadata Implementation Strategy (PREMIS). Caplan discussed traditional preservation metadata needs like provenance, authenticity, and viability and how they are related to new digital preservation metadata needs like renderability, format migration, and standards from which archivists can all work.

I mention this bridge building because I think that it is crucial for us to consistently think about how to connect the present practices with future work. As a young information professional who has very much embraced the digital nature of information or "stuff," I feel like I am entering the field with a certain advantage - an understanding that so much of the information created in the world right now is done digitally, with no analog counterpart. At the same time, I (and my colleagues) have much to learn from where the field of preservation has been and work to crosswalk those best practices from the analog world to a digital one.

Bridging the gap between the present and the future cannot happen in a vacuum, however, and no conference on the work of cultural heritage institutions would be complete without discussion of how we go about this critical work in the face of dwindling financial resources and overworked personnel. This crisis was a common theme throughout a number of presentations, and it certainly leaves us wondering how small non-profit institutions can compete with commercial endeavors like Google Book Search and its counterparts. Katherine Skinner, Digital Programs Team Leader at Emory University, provided some of the most encouraging and tangible examples of how collaboration between institutions can effectively work to stretch financial and personnel resources to work more effectively. Indeed, as we see with Anthony Williams and Don Tapscott's new book, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, massive collaborations that exceed any of our preconceived notions of what it means to work together are exactly the sort of working relationships we need to be developing to further the critical cultural preservation work so many of our institutions are engaging in.

At the risk of stating the obvious, collaboration and cooperation seem to be the cornerstones for our work in this emerging field of digital preservation. These relationships will not only inform the standards we use in our work (metadata for digital preservation, for example) and best practices for going about the work of digital preservation, but they also help us maintain relevance in a world that is completely saturated with new digital information second-by-second. It was hard to leave the PoM conference without feeling a bit overwhelmed. We have a lot of work to do, but it is encouraging to think that I will be joining the ranks of these thinkers and doers in helping determine the future of this dynamic field.

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Google Vs. Yahoo

by Jeffrey E. Collins

It goes without saying that there are a multitude of Web sites on the Internet. What may be a little less obvious to the untrained eye is the preponderance of poorly designed, inefficient, or nonfunctional Web sites. This white paper will briefly discuss general criteria for evaluation of a Web site by focusing on two Internet search engines, Google (www.google.com) and Yahoo! (www.yahoo.com), as illustrative case studies. This evaluation will then allow you to establish an effective and user-friendly Web site. This white paper may come in handy for SIRLS students as they develop their professional ePortfolios.

The content of a Web site is the most important predicator of value. However, there are also several other key factors in determining whether a site will be successful in accomplishing its goals. These include usability, design, consistency, navigation, and simplicity. The analysis of Google in comparison to Yahoo! contributes much to the understanding of what makes an effective Web site.

Download PDF of this website appraisal.

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