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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