Monthly Archives: January 2010

Sudden Thoughts And Second Thoughts

Good Example of Having Presence

In a previous post I wrote about the important of having presence if you want to be a leader in or beyond your library, and if you want to be perceived as a leader by others. If you are called upon to deliver a spur-of-the-moment, extemporaneous explanation of why your library matters, and all you can do is sputter a few cliched, incomprehensible, overly technical or downright dull statements, your stature as a leader will be seriously weakened. Though the post communicated the importance of presence, it failed to deliver a good example of presence. Well, I just found one. Watch – and listen to – New York Public Library President and Chief Executive Officer Paul LeClerc in this video clip. Then you’ll understand what it means to have presence.


In a recent post I pondered the value of powering done, whether for days at a time or even just an hour here and there during your day. Thanks to colleagues who shared their ideas for or experiences with powering down. For those interested in exploring additional ideas for how to slow down I recommend taking a look at the latest issue of Good magazine which is titled “The Slow Issue“. It contains a series of articles that explore the value of living life at a slower, sometimes “off the grid” pace. If you only have time for a quick look, try “Hurry Up and Wait” in which several futurists share why they think slowness might be just as important as speed to the future. If you are still not sure what it means to slow down, maybe you need to watch this video.

What’s Your Semester Plan?

And speaking of time, have you given thought to how you want to use your time this semester, especially if you want to position yourself to do more writing or proposal preparation? It definitely helps to have a personal plan for what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get it done. If you find yourself continually challenged to begin projects or complete them, a plan with specific goals may help. What works for me is something similar to what Kerry Ann Rockquemore offered in a column that advocated semester planning for faculty. What it comes down to, I think, is setting some realistic goals for yourself, setting the priorities, committing to a daily routine of writing and reading – and scheduling it, and working with a partner if you need the support. Have a back up plan. That way if project A drags to a halt for some reason you will have Project B to shift your energies to – and it’s less likely you’ll drop the routine to which you committed.

Keep An Open Mind About The Skills We Can Use

The Library 101 project received a fair amount of attention, but I felt no particular need to endorse or condemn it. Personally, the project does not resonate with me. If its creators enjoy the project and other librarians find it of value, that’s all good. Along with a video, the creators provide a list of Library 101 skills. That list includes some useful items and some questionable ones. Again, no one is forcing this on any of us. It did come to my attention that the mention of HULU as a recommended “skill” for librarians was the object of ridicule. When I heard this I was somewhat skeptical myself. But recently our Media Services Librarian gave a workshop for our campus community on finding and using video resources. Many resources were identified, and I was surprised to see HULU among them. After all, who doesn’t know about HULU, and isn’t most of the content television shows? Turns out most of the faculty there didn’t know about HULU. I learned that HULU has content with educational value. Whether it’s Jon Stewart interviewing a political figure or popular author or providing access to a classic film or short feature (yes – you do have to watch some commercials), faculty thought that HULU had content with value. We also learned some tips and tricks for making better use of HULU. Turns out there was something worth learning here after all, and that it took a skilled librarian to share that with faculty. It pays to keep an open mind to new possibilities.

No Hand Sanitizer Found At ALA Exhibits

In advance of the American Library Association Midwinter Conference I reported that (scroll to the fourth item) 2009 was the year of hand sanitizer, and that little bottles of the stuff had surpassed pens as the number one giveaway item at professional conferences and trade shows.

So quite naturally I was curious to find out if many vendors at the ALA conference in Boston would offer hand sanitizer instead of pens. Much to my disappointment I discovered that pens still rule at the ALA conference. While nearly every vendor offers pens, I could not find even a single vendor giving away hand sanitizer.

Here’s a video that summarizes my hunt for hand sanitizer at the 2010 Midwinter exhibits:

Thanks to the following vendor representatives who appear in this video:
Jennifer Bradley – National Academy of Sciences
Henry Gross – Association of Research Libraries
Tom Porter – Learning Express
Trish – Language Learning Software
Renee San Jose – OverDrive
Cherene Birkholz – Action Library Media Service

Maureen Sullivan – ACRL Academic/Research Librarian Of The Year

Maureen Sullivan, owner of Maureen Sullivan Associates and Professor of Practice in the Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science Ph.D. Program in Managerial Leadership, is the 2010 Association of College and Research Libraries’ (ACRL) Academic/Research Librarian of the Year. The award, sponsored by YBP Library Services, recognizes an outstanding member of the library profession who has made a significant national or international contribution to academic/research librarianship and library development. ACRLog congratulates Sullivan on being named the newest recipient of this prestigious ACRL award.

ACRLog also congratulates the winners of the 2010 ACRL Excellence in Academic Libraries Award Winners: The Bucks County Community College Library, Newtown, Pa.; the A.C. Buehler Library at Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, Ill.; and the Indiana University Bloomington Libraries.

One Search Box to Rule Them All

This guest post by Amy Fry, Electronic Resources Coordinator at Bowling Green State University’s Jerome Library, is a timely reflection on Midwinter and on current events that have us all wondering how to strike a balance between convenient access and dependence on a few powerful vendors.

Discovery services, as you can imagine, were a big topic at ALA Midwinter this year. EBSCO discussed their new product at both the LITA Electronic Resources Management Interest Group on Friday night and at their own Academic Lunch on Saturday; Cal State Web Services Librarian David Walker discussed them at the LITA Top Tech Trends forum on Sunday, and my own ALA committee, the RUSA MARS Local Systems & Services Committee, hosted a discussion forum about them on Sunday afternoon.

These services were born in response to librarians’ exasperation with isolated content and disappointment with federated search technology, as well as the continued realization that our students want the library to work like Google. But according to Senator Joe Lieberman, libraries are not alone: the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs not only recognizes a similar problem in intelligence databases, but is saying the same thing: Why doesn’t it work like Google?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010, on NPR’s Morning Edition, Lieberman told Renee Montagne what librarians have been telling each other about students for years. “I’m concerned that they [employees of the National Counterterrorism Center, in this case] don’t have the easy ability to draw linkages between the various databases.” He continued: “when we go into Google…Google immediately searches an enormous number of databases. It’s not clear to me that, at the National Counter Terrorism Center today, if you put in the name ‘Umar Farouk’ or even Nigerian it will automatically cross-search all the intelligence and law enforcement databases it has. I want to find out whether that exists, and I’m afraid that it doesn’t.”

Montagne couched this as a “computers” problem. “Is that computers?” she asked. “Is that, literally, you cannot go in there and put ‘Abdul Farouk, Nigerian, Yemen’ and…bring everything together?” Of course, saying it’s a problem of computers, or even one of search, simplifies it greatly. It’s a problem of not only bringing together, but accurately searching, de-duping and ranking results from databases designed on different platforms using different descriptive standards (from bare-bones MARC to full-text and everything in between) to fulfill very different information needs (think MEDLINE versus Web of Science versus MLA). It’s also a problem of getting information providers to agree to work together, especially when doing so potentially violates their core business, which is to provide value-added, premium information at a price. EBSCO’s Sam Brooks described the problem well when discussing vendor efforts to get indexing services to agree to let products like EBSCO Discovery Service and Summon (Serials Solutions) search their full files, not just the top layer of metadata. His description (which ended with, of course, his telling us how using EBSCO solves this problem) brought home the complexity of this endeavor and how far, with so many information providers working at cross purposes for profit, we probably still truly are from that one Google-like search box, despite all vendor claims.

So far, I haven’t heard anything negative from libraries about discovery services, and user testing at the University of Minnesota, the University of Chicago, and Dartmouth College (as described by our panelists, Cody Hanson, Frances McNamara and Barbara DeFelice) was, also, largely positive (while pointing towards directions for refinement). David Walker cautioned that the true measure of these products remains to be taken, but I am cautiously optimistic and very excited – as long as libraries and vendors (like our law enforcement agencies) can keep our shared goals in view.

In this respect the even more recent fallout between EBSCO and Gale over mainstream magazines is disheartening: with each telling such different stories I fear that we will never learn the whole truth. Will “one search box to rule them all” become “one vendor to rule them all”? It seems contrary to the spirit of cooperation that the library community has fostered since books were unchained centuries ago, but the true measure of this possibility, like that of discovery services, remains to be taken.

Amy Fry

A Visit To The ACRL Booth

It’s always fun to stop by the ACRL booth at ALA Conferences to see who’s hanging out and who’s actually staffing the booth. Here’s what the booth is looking like these days:

Hanging at the ACRL Booth at 2010 ALA MW
Hanging at the ACRL Booth at 2010 ALA MW

The folks staffing the booth when I stopped by were Kathy Parsons (far left) of Iowa State University (who I had the pleasure of meeting in Waterloo back in May of 2009 when I spoke to the Iowa ACRL Chapter) and Ann Riley of the University of Missouri. I didn’t quite catch the name of the fellow on the far right, but he mumbled something about once writing for ACRLog. Sure pal. Everyone says they wrote something for ACRLog.

Dang. I forgot to check if they had giveaways for the Philadelphia Conference in 2011 – like refrigerator magnets or bookmarks. Oh well, there’s a reason to visit the booth at ALA in Washington, DC.