Internet Librarian 2010, part 7

Learning from Failure

There were a number of sessions on failure and how to learn from it. Matt Hamilton of Anythink Libraries in Colorado (that’s really what they call themselves) spoke. “We open doors for curious minds” is their slogan.

They built a number of new buildings but didn’t do any project management. The books got there before the furniture.

“We shoot for 80% [success] then work on the other 20%.”

Had an unconventional summer reading program with no sign-ups or prizes, but people missed those things.

“We can’t let [the uncomfortable people] kill the library for the sake of their personal comfort.”

They don’t have a formal process for documenting failures and lessons learned.

Links from Bobbi Newman’s presentation are available at her blog, Librarian by Day

Surfacing value: speaking to be heard

Mary Ellen Bates spoke on the topic of “Surfacing Value: Speaking to Be Heard.” The slides are available.

She emphasized that you want to be able to talk to your boss’s boss. When you get that chance, you don’t want give him or her an “elevator speech,” but rather an elevator conversation.

Don’t talk about what you have and what you do – at least not in library lingo. Talk about what’s in it for them. Talk about the why, not the what or the how. Good words and phrases:

  • Value-added intelligence
  • Provide insights, identify trends
  • Facilitate good decision-making
  • Competitive advantage
  • Customer service (not “reference”)
  • In-depth research for content Google can’t find (not “online searching”)
  • Information analysis (not “search results”)
  • “We don’t make the strategic decisions; we make them better”
  • “We bring insights from the outside”
  • “We help people make better decisions”
  • “We make critical information findable”

Answers to “What do you do?”

  • “I’m part of the information mafia”
  • “I make sure my CEO looks good”
  • “I’m my organization’s secret weapon”

Government 2.0

Gary Price talked about what’s new in the world of government web sites.

Metalib is a new metasearch engine from the U.S. Government Printing Office. The basic option searches about 10 databases. The advanced/expert option searches 53. See the A-Z list to get an idea of what it’s searching or just to find out about some great databases from the federal government.

Mobile apps:

C-Span has an amazing new video archive (well, amazing if you’re a government nerd like me).

The Catalog of U.S. Government Publications has lists of new electronic titles (click on “New Titles”).

User Experience Design

Implementing a one-click “Get It!” button:

  • Whether the library owns it or not
  • Whether it’s a book or journal article

The system will figure out whether to make an in-house request or an interlibrary loan request. They need to change their ILS to work with LDAP.

Patron-Driven E-book Acquisitions

[Update: Slides available at]

Librarians at UC Irvine wanted to take the approval model to the e-book world. What’s more, they wanted to make sure every book would get used (the average for print books is about 50%).

Most vendors require a deposit upfront. UCI preferred to spend as they go.

Desired current content.

They selected three publishers: Cambridge, Chicago, and Oxford. All publish a large number of e-books, which are released soon after the print edition.

Then they looked at vendors. Each has a different pricing model. Settled on Coutts/MyiLibrary.

The deal they got with Coutts is that if an e-book is available within eight weeks of print, they would send a MARC record, which is loaded in the OPAC. If the item is used three times, the library is charged for it. If it’s used two times or fewer, no charge.

The URL in the catalog record goes to a product page, which has info such as table of contents. The user has to go deeper for it to count as a use.

E-book prices tend to be 1.2 to 1.75 times as much as the hardback price.

Not able to resolve the interlibrary loan issue. All publishers had DRM limits.

Libraries, E-books and E-content

Librarians from the University of Houston tested various e-book readers and vendors. They compared Sony E-reader, Kindle, and the Kindle app for iPod Touch, purchased various books and had librarians test them. They also had a trial with NetLibrary and Springer E-books (downloadable and device-readable).

People like iPod Touch the best: small size, other uses (music, the web). Nook app for iPad became available later: backlight. (IPad also became available after the test. It has many of the same advantages with the addition of a bigger screen.)

Kindle and Sony: single use, hard to read in sunlight, bulky, difficult to download to them.

None of the devices did well with scientific works, which need to display tables and color images.

NetLibrary for E-readers collection allows downloaded “checkouts” for a limited time. Have to download additional software: Adobe, etc. Content wasn’t geared to an academic library. Another NetLibrary service has PDFs, but they’re not made for small devices.

SpringerLink: No DRM, but only downloadable by chapter or sections. PDFs not formatted for small devices.

Kindle and Nook apps available for iTouch. However, iTouch battery runs out sooner.

Blio (new reader from Ray Kuzweil): Graphics look good, reads aloud. Connection with Baker & Taylor.


Internet Librarian 2010: My favorite session

Social Computing Tools: Telling Users About Themselves

I thought this would be another talk about how to use Facebook and Twitter. Instead, Bee Bornheimer of Qualcomm — who was unexpectedly presenting solo — talked about using social networking tools within her company’s network. It gave me some good ideas about stuff I could do back at MPOW.

Her library has three main areas:

  • Research and analysis
  • Content licensing (e.g., market research)
  • Technical

They have a database of their past service requests, which is what drives a lot of their magic. For example, they do an annual report with statistics to management, such as:

  • Here’s how your group is using the library
  • Here are popular downloads for your department

“People like talking and hearing about themselves.”

They have internal versions of social media. (Note: it’s not clear to me if these were completely home-brewed or if they purchased software and slapped their own name on it, invariably beginning with a “Q.”)

  • Wiki
  • Blog
  • Social bookmarking (similar to

When a group is sharing information on a wiki, the library can chime in with resources.

They produce “wiki widgets” about the library, which can go on users’ web pages, with information such as:

  • Most popular books for your department
  • Most popular journals for your department
  • Popular downloads
  • Additional resoruces
  • Contact info.

Once they produce these, they are dynamically updated, so there’s no more work to do.

“Nobody ever says no.”

When they talk about the library to staff, people say, “I’ll go when I have time,” which means they’ll never come. You can come to them.

Benefits to clientele:

  • Embedded in their workspace
  • Customized to their needs
  • Highly relevant resources
  • Allows staff to see what their peers are doing (particularly useful for new employees)

Benefits to the library:

  • Connect more people with resources
  • Strengthen partnerships with other groups
  • More opportunities to learn about users’ needs
  • It’s easy to do!

They keep their stats in a Filemaker DB (including circ. system and web site stats — both imported into Filemaker).


  • Research request
  • Purchase request (linked from no-results screen in the catalog) **

Internet Librarian 2010, part 5

Keynote: CIOs

Michael Ridley, CIO and chief librarian, U. of Guelph; Donna Sheeder, CIO of Congressional Research Services, LC; IT guy from a small public library in Kentucky (gamely substituting at the last minute)

Ridley: enterprise IT vs. tech populism (everybody doing their own IT). The Information Age is over. Everybody is in the information business. It’s the Age of Imagination. Open organization: freedom to try things, even if we fail.

Sheeder: Understand the ecology and environment in your organization: tech, culture, budget, risk. (LC, with Congress watching over it, is risk averse.) Movement for telework. Proliferation of devices: align your content to what users are using. SaaS, GIS. (I never heard anyone pronounce these as “sass” and “jis” before.) Very concerned with security.

Kentucky IT guy: “Here to help you get there from here.” Made changes to network and servers to save energy.


  • Internet everywhere, library everywhere
  • Show a solid business case for what you want to do
  • Align with the greater goals of the organization
  • Think like a user and like a decision maker
  • Make yourself visible
  • Tolerance of other “tribes”

(Good advice for anyone in any kind of support role in your org.)

Sheeder: IT and staff should develop requirements before jumping to a solution. Ridley (disagreeing somewhat): Have to have creative “skunkworks” out there doing their own things.

Personal Information Management

Gary Price (presentations) talked about all kinds of web sites/open-source software to do:

  • Computer backup
  • Site capture (a webmaster will know you are doing this, unless you use a VPN to disguise your IP address)
  • Bibliographic management (review of various services)
  • Social media archiving (one-click download of your Facebook data, e.g.)
  • Storage
  • Bookmarks plus
  • Web archives and caches (Archive-It)
  • Searching your hard drive

Adding Value to Research

Marcy Phelps, Phelps Research (presentation)

Make information easy to use, distill, make connections. What’s the bottom line? Ask your user.

  1. Have an executive summary: 1-page, bulleted, top-level summary, address questions, link to additional information further down
  2. Cover memo: Address user’s research questions, your general approach, any issues that came up, findings in 25 words or less, one-page, branded
  3. Add meaning to boring numbers. Excel charts, data visualization (see Gapminder and the Guardian‘s data store for inspiration)
  4. Add a dashboard: graphical display all in one place, multiple graphs
  5. Let others do the work. Dialog has a report option you can use. Smart art in Excel. American FactFinder

Invest in learning and creating templates, showing your value.

Internet Librarian 2010, part 4

Managing Your Library’s Online Presence

Jennifer Koerber of Boston PL talked about your library’s presence on social networking sites:

  • Common logo, font colors (as much as allowed)
  • Use the same name everywhere if possible, or similar
  • Spell it out if you can
  • Use for IM names, user names
  • Have generic e-mails (such as webmaster@, reference@, etc.)

[Update: Jennifer Koerber’s slides are at]

SuHui Ho, UC San Diego:

Moving online: analog services have digital counterparts:

  • Collections
  • Services:
    • ILL, circulation
    • Reference (texting, IM, e-mail)
    • Instruction (LibGuides, podcasts, Camtasia videos)
    • Outreach (social media)

Building vs. managing a web site.

Life cycle management is like weeding the print collection. Bad links are bad PR.

Use metrics to determine:

  • Links on the home page (what’s popular)
  • Keywords to put in metadata (search terms)

Colleen Brazil, Sno-Isle (Wash.) libraries:

Overdrive subscription not easy to use.

Detailed error form and tracking db.

Brand Awareness

Librarians from Colorado State University talked about paying for advertising on Google and Facebook to target students who might be interested in their full-text databases. In Facebook, you can target people at a school, but people on Facebook are not interested in doing research at that moment (who knew?). With Google, you can exclude IP addresses, but not target them. You can, however, target a small radius (c. 10 miles). A much higher percentage of Google users went on to do a search. (At the time of the conference, if you went to Google and set your location for Monterey, Calif., then searched “Awesome CSU librarians,” you’d see one of their ads.)

Librarians from Providence College talked about putting your logo everywhere — signs, tschotschkes. “Your web site is your Sgt. Pepper’s.” Think about mobile. Have regular, interesting content on your blog. Ubiquitous, consistent presence. Software like xtranormal and blabberize converts text to video. Jing does video of computer transactions.

Digital Managers

David Lee King, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Bobbi Newman, and Matt Hamilton talked about being the digital managers at their libraries. No slides (yay!).

David: Role is to expand services, 2-way communication with users. Digital collection is like a building: it has a collection, a building, staff, even a janitor.

Sarah: Asking all San Jose Library staff to write content.

Discussion of whether staff content should be unmoderated. All thought it should be, but some were overruled by higher-ups.

Interaction with IT: Tell them it’s a 3-month beta test, then everyone forgets.

Requirements: project management, inspiration, creativity, marketing, not being afraid to experiment in public, communication, perseverance.

David’s roles: digital branch manager, long-term planning, social media.

Sarah’s roles: web site, databases, ebooks, social media, tech training. (Breaking news: Sarah’s redesigned web site just debuted today, Nov. 15. It looks great!)

Bobbi: Everything with no staff and no money.

More on the EPA libraries

From OMB Watch:

Lack of Plan for EPA Libraries Threatens Access to Environmental Information

After more than three years of development, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has yet to complete a strategic plan for its library network or to inventory the network’s holdings, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The Bush administration controversially moved to close several agency libraries, but opposition from Congress and the public pushed EPA to reverse course and reopen the libraries. However, the GAO report makes clear that additional steps are needed to ensure the library network’s valuable holdings are genuinely accessible to the public.

More from OMB Watch

Internet Librarian 2010, part 3

Information Architecture and Navigation, cont’d. from earlier post

Jacquelyn Erdman of East Carolina U. talked about her library’s web site redesign.


  • No manual
  • Roving librarian
  • As much as possible, automated

Navigation goals (done with an MS Access db and ColdFusion):

  • Dynamic
  • Facetted (e.g., publication types, peer-reviewed sources, etc.)

One-search (using Summon) and browse by topics.

Best bets (recommended site for topics), tags

Sidebar: recommendations, tutorials, contact info.

ECU Joyner Library sites

Web site for library web site redesign project

Search Discovery Tools, Greg Notess, Montana State U.

“Discovery Tools” are the hot new thing vendors are selling to libraries. But, according to Notess, Discover = metasearch. It’s the newest variation on the premise of one [Google-like] search box for all library content:

  • Library catalog records
  • Citation and abstract metadata (some or all)
  • Full-text indexing (some?)
  • Local digital collections

Some vendors with library web pages where examples can be seen:

The difference between discovery and federated search is that discovery puts everything in one index and searches it, but federated search goes through each database separately. So, discovery is faster.

Problems with discovery:

  • Search multiple databases through discovery is not the same as searching each one individually. About 90% of the data gets into the discovery index. (Is that OK? It means you’re paying for data that people might not see if they only use the discovery tool.)
  • There’s also overlapping metadata between databases; duplicates are not always caught.

Montana State had problem with Worldcat Local (old WLN records didn’t show up) and Summon:

  • Items deleted from the catalog didn’t get deleted from the discovery index
  • Upgrades had issues
  • Thousands of results from simple searches
  • Problems searching for known items, such as database names, book titles, journal titles

Other problems with discovery tools:

  • We don’t know when it’s searching full text
  • Relevance ranking is not as good as it should be (for example, in the known item searches above, the known item didn’t always show up first)


Water district race-ist: the rest of the story

Update to the story of the neo-nazi running for a water district board in Southern California.

Neo-Nazi loses closely watched bid for water board seat in Riverside County, Los Angeles Times:

A neo-Nazi who generated national publicity by running for a seat on a small Riverside County water board was soundly defeated in the polls on Tuesday.

According to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, Jeff Hall got less than 30% of the vote.


GAO: EPA Needs to Complete a Strategy for Its Library Network to Meet Users’ Needs

The Government Accountability Office says in a new report that the EPA Needs to Complete a Strategy for Its Library Network to Meet Users’ Needs. From the summary:

Although EPA has taken a number of steps to meet the needs of library users, it has not completed a plan identifying an overall strategy for its library network, with implementation goals and a timeline of what it intends to accomplish. Scheduled for completion in 2008, the strategic plan was to provide EPA staff and the public a detailed view of EPA’s library operations and future direction. The draft outline of the strategic plan, however, is largely a placeholder list of current and planned EPA activities. For example, while it emphasizes the central role to be played by electronic library resources, the draft outline does not contain goals or a timeline for completing an inventory of holdings or digitizing those holdings. The draft outline also does not set out details of how funding decisions are to be made. Given the current economic environment, without a completed strategic plan, including a detailed strategy for acquiring, deploying, and managing funding, EPA may find itself hard-pressed to ensure that the network can meet its users’ needs. The agency has reopened libraries closed during reorganization, although about half the network’s 10 regional libraries are operating with reduced hours. EPA has also developed standards for the regional and headquarters libraries’ use of space, on-site collections, staffing, and services. The agency has also hired a national library program manager to carry out day-to-day activities and bring focus and cohesion to the network. Working closely with EPA management and library staff, the national library program manager, who is responsible for library network strategic planning, has set in motion a number of actions meant to improve library network operation and communication, including working closely with internal and external advisory boards and creating a library policy and related procedures. EPA has resumed digitizing some of its libraries’ documents, although it has not inventoried the network’s holdings. The agency is digitizing documents in three phases. Phase 1 was completed in January 2007, phase 2 is scheduled for completion in December 2010, and planning has begun for phase 3. Because EPA has not taken a complete inventory of its library holdings, however, it cannot determine which documents, or how many, will need to be digitized and, consequently, cannot accurately estimate the total cost of digitization or how long it will take. Since we reported on the library network reorganization in 2008, EPA has taken steps to communicate with staff and other stakeholders about its library network, including providing information about the libraries and soliciting information from library users. EPA has also made improvements to the main Internet gateway to the network, making more documents available electronically and providing better access to electronic documents and services. Nevertheless, because EPA’s 2009 survey of the information needs and library use of its staff had methodological flaws–similar to those GAO identified in 2008–the agency is unlikely to obtain accurate information that would enable it to make appropriate decisions on the corrective actions that would best address library users’ needs. GAO recommends, among other actions, that EPA complete its strategic plan for the library network and ensure that survey methods provide reliable data on which to base decisions. With clarifications, EPA concurred with our recommendations.