Who Moved My Library?

Commentary on the changing world of libraries, from the viewpoint of a corporate library.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

So I took the summer off...

From blogging anyway. I've been away for quite a while. And a lot has happened since I've been gone.

1. I graduated from Dominican University with an MLIS/MBA.
2. My supervisor was let go - now I'm in charge.
3. I enjoyed a thoroughly uneventful summer.

While I was away I did manage to keep somewhat up-to-date thanks to Bloglines.

I must say I feel like I don't have much to add to the blogosphere at the moment. However, I did want to stop by and say hi and let you know that I'll be attending Internet Librarian next month. I plan on blogging about the sessions that I attend. My husband will be going with me and we're going to spend some extra time in Monterey. I'm thoroughly looking forward to this trip.

I think that's good enough for my first post in a while. I'm going to ease back into this thing.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Semester Update

Some of you may have been wondering where I've been lately. OK, so it's just my mother who's wondering. I'll give an update anyway.

This semester I caught a serious case of senioritis. I wanted to be done without having to actually do the finishing! Well I managed to fight it off long enough to complete assignments and drag my butt to school on days with bad weather. You (read my mother) will be happy to know that I'm 99.9% done! I have one more essay question to answer on my take home final and that's it.

I'm particularly proud of my performance in my Strategic Management class. We did a business simulation where we got in groups and ran a company. We made decisions such as pricing of our products (athletic footwear), celebrity endorsements, advertising budgets, capital structure and the like. I had a blast with this. It was so fun to run a company! Plus we were competing with the other groups in the class. There were seven groups total and we finished fourth. Not great (I really wanted to win) but not bad either! We ran the company for 8 quarters. When the simulation was completed we had to write an annual report for our shareholders and hold a shareholder meeting where we talked about our performance. Well I managed to put together a ROCKIN' annual report for our group using Microsoft Publisher. Our group also decided to go above and beyond and create a fake website for our fake company. NO other group went this far. I have to say we ROCKED!! You (again, my mom) can check out the 'fake' website for our 'fake' shoe company here.

Today is my last class and graduation is May 6. My goal for this blog is to write much more frequently once I've graduated. So don't worry Mom you'll have tons to read!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Elsevier Polling Special Librarians

My supervisor was asked to poll Pharmaceutical librarians to find out answers to the following questions. Her presentation to Elsevier is on Wednesday. If you would like to offer your answers to the following questions I'll try to get them to her before Wednesday.

1. What keeps you awake at night as a publishing or refereeing scientist?
2. How will your requirements change over time?
3. What is your wildest dream for a product/service that could make you much more effective or efficient?
4. Do you currently, or in the near future, have needs that are likely to be unmet?
5. Name any other supplier/company who could serve, in any way, as an example for Elsevier?
6. What does Elsevier do best?
7. How can Elsevier work more effectively with you?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

$5000 Scholarship from Dialog for Graduate Students

Hi fellow LIS students,

FYI - Dialog is accepting applications for the 2006 Roger K. Summit Scholarship. From the application:
Each year The Dialog Corporation honors Dr. Roger K. Summit, founder of DIALOG, by sponsoring a $5,000 scholarship for graduate students in the field of library or information science. Applications for the Roger K. Summit scholarship are evaluated based upon the following criteria:
I. Academic Achievement (20 points)
II. Demonstrated interest in electronic information services
A. Course Work (10 points)
B. Research (10 points)
C. Experience (10 points)
D. Writing Sample (15 points)
III. Faculty Recommendations (15 points)
IV. Dialog Proficiency (20 points)
For those interested, applications must be submitted by April 30, 2006.

Good Luck!

Friday, March 03, 2006

What makes our Library a Library?

Data Obsessed defined what makes her library a library. I thought I'd do the same.

What makes my library a library is the librarians!

I work in a pharmaceutical company library. Recently our physical space was downsized. Consequently we were forced to downsize our collections. Therefore, all we have left to build upon for the future is the value the librarians add.

I think we find ourselves in this predicament today because we failed to align the library to the strategic goals of the corporation. We never tied library success to the success of the corporation as a whole. As a result, when space started to become scarce we were a prime target.

I am hoping to turn this around. While we were not given everything we wanted to create a virtual library that would rival our old physical library, I'm still trying to add these items incrementally. Regardless of the resources we're allowed to bring in, we will still provide the best service to our customers and we will strive to be the best library we can be!

I will be taking this opportunity to create a library that is strategically aligned to the success of the company. How will I do that? I think the library needs a champion in upper management. If we get upper management buy-in, if someone with influence realizes that a superior library will create superior results for the company, then I think the library will be more successful. I've identified some target "potential champions." Now all we need to do is figure out what their hot buttons are. What are they concerned about? What issues are they dealing with? Once those have been identified, the library needs to provide solutions to those issues/problems. If our champion is concerned with ROI, we make the case that robust library services provide the best ROI for the company's employees. If our champion is concerned with understanding the competition, we make the case that no one can provide better competitive intelligence than a well funded library. You get the idea.

As you can see we have a tough road ahead of us. Sometimes it takes the rug being pulled from under your feet, literally, to make changes for the better. I just hope it's not too late.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

NPR Talk of the Nation - "If a Library is Bookless, What's In It?"

Instead of studying, this time for an Organizational Behavior midterm, I am once again trying to find content for blog posts.

ResourceShelf mentioned a NPR Talk of the Nation episode that covers "If a Library is Bookless, What's In It?" Guests on this episode were: Tom Frey, Executive Director of The DaVinci Institute, Jo Haight-Sarling, Director of Access and Technology Services at the Denver Public Library System, and Charles Brown, Director of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, N.C..

Commentary

This proved to be an interesting program. I was drawn to it because the special library I currently work in is in the process of downsizing our physical collection. We are trying to create a more robust virtual library; however we are also experiencing budget woes. We will be working for a long time trying to replace the physical items we lost with virtual items. In the interim we will be the best library we can be and provide the best service we can provide!

The program gave great insights into how some public libraries are incorporating new technologies into their services. I’m intrigued by the digital media check out system the Denver Public Library has implemented. The problem I have is which of my special library materials would be best suited for such a system. Charles Brown’s (do you think he has a dog named Snoopy?) comments on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s new ImaginOn facility were especially exciting. Their combined children’s library and children’s theater facility sounds so fun! Parents and children who are able to use the facility are so lucky!

Tom Frey’s comments were especially interesting. I’m having a hard time wrapping my brain around his vision of the future search engines being able to search on smells and textures. I think he is correct that libraries are in the process of redefining themselves. As this transition takes place, growing pains will be experienced by both patrons and libraries.

The most disturbing part of the program was callers’ comments. One caller called and asked Frey about how to limit a search to only retrieve materials from the library. I was shocked by this question and Frey directed him to check out his library’s website to find options to search just the library. However, the caller clarified that he would like to retrieve results from the library’s actual collection in search results. I felt a little better after this clarification. At this point Frey commented that new technologies are making this more and more possible. He brought up a new book scanner. This new scanner allows the user to insert an entire book. The scanner then digitizes the entire book. Amazing! I was surprised there was no talk of Google Book Search. Another comment that disturbed me was a caller who suggested that libraries of the future are already upon us with the advent of the internet. He suggested a role for librarians of the future would be technicians managing the technology. However, I was pleased with Frey’s response. He reminded the caller that libraries and librarians are more than sources of information. He also reminded the caller that even though we are in an era where an entire generation of people believes that if it’s not online it doesn’t exist. That simply is not true. There are many examples of information that has not been digitized and is not online. Thank you Tom Frey for saying this so well!

While this program didn’t help me come up with more ideas for my present situation it was still valuable for understanding what others are doing and the general public’s comments about those activities. Below is a summary of the program, if you’re interested.

Program Summary

Jo Haight-Sarling discussed initiatives at the Denver Public Library to bring more technology into their libraries, evolving with the times. Denver Public Library has been using technology to provide reference services 24 hours a day 7 days a week for years. More recently, they've been experimenting with podcasting story times and providing downloadable books, audiobooks and movies for patrons. The downloaded media would be available for the patron to use for the typical check out period and when that period is over digital rights management software would "make it disappear." As Haight-Sarling mentions, "these items don't require shelf space and they're never late!" When asked by the host, if eventually some people would come to the conclusion that the library doesn't need a building Haight-Sarling responds that the lack of need for a library building might be true of some patrons who utilize the "virtual library" as another branch, however they also use technology to bring people into the library and make them aware of services that they might not have otherwise known about, such as cultural programming, cooking demonstrations, author talks, etc. For example, they will podcast an event and listeners of the podcast will realize that such programs are taking place and make a point to participate in the next program. Additionally, there is still a demand for traditional library services, even from those patrons who utilize the virtual library services.

Tom Frey commended the Denver Public library for experimenting with different technologies. Frey predicts that in the coming years we will see a dramatic change in services libraries provide. He predicts that libraries will continually have to prove their relevance as the ways we access information continues to change. Frey's take on search technology: currently its text based but Frey predicts that in the future people will be able to search on smells, tastes, etc. For example: 'I want something that smells like this loaf of bread,' or 'I want to find something that tastes like the margarita I just enjoyed,' or 'I want to find something that has this level of reflectivity,' or 'I want to find what areas in the world have this barometric pressure.' With this level of complexity being added to our search technologies he even predicts that in the future there will be people who get college degrees in search!

On the phone a caller asks if it's possible to restrict a search to retrieve only information from libraries! Frey suggests that the caller can do this with a couple of clicks on his library's site. The caller clarifies that he wants his results to also include information from a library's physical collection. At this point Frey brings up a new book scanner that you can put a book into and the scanner will digitize the entire book, thus making it searchable!

Another caller asks about the availability of high quality digital images and brings the point that those without fast connections rural patrons will experience inconveniences. Frey responds that larger bandwidth options are being made available to the public for free, but that the library's role is not to be an ISP, providing bandwidth to patrons. An email comment suggests that libraries evolve into community centers to bring in patrons. Frey comments that libraries will be transitioning from information centers to cultural centers with information as a part of the larger equation.

Charles Brown discusses his library's collaboration with a local theater. The major youth library in downtown Charlotte is a library facility with a programmatic partnership with the Children's Theater of Charlotte. The facility, named ImaginOn, houses 30,000 square feet of library materials for youths and has two stages that serve as the home of the Children's Theater of Charlotte. Instead of story time they have Story Jars where children can create their own story, with music and costumes. When the story has been created the child can swipe their library card and "deposit" it into the jar or distribute it to relatives or friends. The facility was made possible because of tremendous community support.

Back to Frey, he is asked if the certainty of the definition of the library will change as the library itself evolves? His response: in the middle ages information was so precious libraries would chain books to lecterns. Today, information doesn't have to come in book form (e.g. audiobooks). Libraries have always been about transmitting information to their patrons. What people need to realize is that today, information doesn't equal books. A caller points out the value that librarians add. Frey agrees that librarians are great resources for helping people become comfortable with the new technologies.

A caller comments that libraries of the future are already upon us with the advent of the internet. He says that it's been suggested that a database be created through a science of combination (combining architectural science, material science, medical science, etc). Searches can then be made to that database. He further comments that librarians of the "old" libraries acted as filters making decisions to acquire books in one area and not another. Librarians of the "new" libraries should be technicians. Frey comments that he would agree with that if the sole purpose of librarians were a source of information. However, librarians are much more than that. Children librarians conduct story times, libraries are a place to gather. Therefore libraries are much more than a conduit to information. Caller then questions whether librarians are truly grasping in their hearts the concept of new technologies and are they learning how to teach the public about how to use this new library. Frey reminds the caller that not all information is on computers. He states that we are at an era of an entire generation of people who believe that if it's not online it doesn’t exist. However, there are many examples of information that has not been digitized and therefore does not exist online. He also reminds the caller that 2/3 of the world are connected online, leaving 1/3 unconnected. This leaves libraries as a vital link. Libraries are trying to redefine themselves. As libraries transition there will be anxieties about what things should be included and not, what should be funded and not funded.

Monday, February 27, 2006

New Feed Address

This post is for the 7 people who subscribe to my blog. That's right 7!!

I have created a feed for Who Moved My Library? through Feedburner. I read about Feedburner at 'Brary Web Diva's blog. She recommends Feedburner for seven very good reasons. After reading her post I went over to Feedburner to check it out for myself. The program sounded pretty interesting so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Of course to get the most out of Feedburner people must be subscribed to your feed. But I'm not going to let that stop me!

So for the 7 people who are reading this, if you would be so kind as to resubscribe to my feed with this link.

Thanks ever so much,
Natalie.

Make Your Own Secret Hollow Book

Instead of studying for my Social Responsibility of Business midterm I've decided to catch up on some old bloglines feeds. I came across one that details how to make your own secret hollow book from the How2DoStuff blog. The librarian in me says "NO, don't destroy that book." However, the crafty part of me wants to try this, even though I don't have any contraband to put in a hollow book.

I realize that some libraries just don't have the room to keep ALL the books it ever owned. In fact the special library I currently work in is going through the downsizing process right now. What a great use for those old unwanted books! Also, a great homemade gift idea. The fun part could be finding the right title for the intended recipient. Of course, if your replete with old unwanted books you could construct a Book Bar. But that's far too much work for me!