The Librarian’s Skillbook #sla2013 @debhunt6

I’m currently reading The Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Career Skills for Information Professionals by Deborah Hunt and David Grossman. I picked it up at the Special Libraries Association conference in San Diego last week. It’s got a nice mix of hard, tech skills and soft, people skills. They point out that “no one expects you to be an expert in all of the skills in this book,” but of course, the more you can acquire, the better off you will be — either in your current job or your next one.

I plan to write more when I have finished it.

Some links:

Tour of Qualcomm library and UC San Diego library #sla2013

On the last day, I got to go on this tour to two libraries — one corporate and one university — and I’m glad I did. I first heard about Qualcomm’s library at Internet Librarian in November 2010, and I’ve been wanting to see it ever since.

Our first stop at Qualcomm was a tour of the in-house museum, led by Mark Better. It’s inside the security gate, so you need to have an appointment with a staff member to show you around. To hear Qualcomm tell it, they invented or had a big role in:

  • Truck tracking
  • Cellphones
  • The idea of the smartphone
  • Digital cameras
  • The insides of the Kindle
  • E-mail client software (Eudora)
  • Emergency phone systems (post-Katrina)
  • OnStar technology
  • Smart electric meter

Their future projects include:

  • Kid tracker, pet tracker
  • Something like the tricorder from “Star Trek” that could diagnose your health wirelessly
  • “Augmented reality” for 3D games and education
  • Displays that work in full sun
  • Wireless charging for phones and electric cars

Qualcomm Library

The Library serves c. 20,000 employees in San Diego and around the world. (I think they said they had 14 staff.) Our tour was led by Britt Mueller and Bee Bornheimer.

The collection is 70% electronic, but there are still some books that they can only get in hardcopy. When they buy e-books, they don’t use any of the wholesalers, but go directly to the publishers. They try to negotiate the right to own them in perpetuity and to load them behind their own firewall, with no simultaneous usage requirements and no DRM restrictions.

They make training videos to show staff how to do common research tasks.

They collect market research reports and demand that vendors supply metadata.

They don’t necessarily collect internal reports. Qualcomm “encourages some chaos” and lets different departments maintain their own data. The library, though, partners with IT in order to be able to find this information through searching the many repositories on the network.

The library has lots of seating areas to encourage staff to come in and use it. Low shelves in the front allow for a better view and more light.

They are open 24 hours a day and have self-checkout. Things go missing, but they come back.

They have a collaborative space that allows multiple computers to be attached to one monitor during meetings. (Steelcase/Mediascape)

The librarians have glass-walled offices to encourage users to ask questions.

UC San Diego library

It’s the Geisel Library, because Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr. Seuss) and his wife Audrey gave the money for it. There’s a statue of Dr. Seuss and the Cat in the Hat in front. They have Dr. Seuss’ papers in special collections.

They ran out of room about 20 years after opening and expanded underground.

Interesting collection: North Korean films (somebody has to collect them, right?)

The Judaic Studies program sponsored an exhibit on Israeli author and visiting scholar Amos Oz.

GIS lab.

Interesting things on display:

  • 1/4-size model of lunar landing module
  • Origami by engineering students
  • A poster on research into gnostic fields
  • Junkyard derby car
  • Human-powered submarine

Compact shelving.

Researching emerging issues: climate change through a kaleidoscope #sla2013 #climatechange @SLAERMD

Librarians from different types of institutions spoke about how they see climate change.

  • Environment: Shari Clayman, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Military: Dr. Gail Nicula, Joint Forces Staff College (emerita)
  • Insurance: Sharon Smith, AIG
  • Health: Lynn Kysh, University of Southern California
  • Moderator: Mary Maguire, World Resources Insitute and ERMD Chair



EPA web site, generally:


Other aspects:

EPA Reports:

U.S. Global Change Research Program

[Update: A good place to keep track of climate change news and reports, especially as they relate to water, is the Santa Clara Valley Water District Climate Change Portal. There’s an RSS feed for updates to the reports listings.]

[Note: In the following sections, I will emphasize the environmental points made by the speakers. For more of the content of their remarks, see the slides.]


The branches of the U.S. military are very concerned about climate change, both because they believe it will increase competition for resources in less-stable parts of the world and because it will change the nature of the Arctic.

ABCs of Military Resources by Lily McGovern and Greta Marlatt

Water Scarcity: A Selected Bibliography by Greta Andrusyszyn, librarian, U.S. Army War College

Climate change has been included as a factor in recent national security reviews and other military strategy documents.

DTIC – Unclassified military reports

Homeland Security Digital Library (HSDL) – Government employees can request full access to the collection.


Links on climate change and insurance

PG&E Currents articles on climate change


Potential health effects:

  • Heat- and weather-related morbidity and mortality
  • Waterborne diseases
  • Vectorborne and zoonotic diseases
  • Foodborne diseases and malnutrition
  • Respiratory, cardiovascular diseases, stroke
  • Cancer
  • Neurological diseases
  • Human development
  • Mental health

Sources for research:

  • Pubmed – Search National Library of Medicine’s Medline database. If you don’t add any quotation marks or boolean operators, it does a sophisticated synonym search using the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH)
  • Gene (NCBI)
  • Grey Literature Report (New York Academy of Medicine)

Vendors: Big changes for OCLC, Proquest Dialog @OCLC, @DialogLLC #sla2013


Pushing OCLC Worldshare Platform product, where you put your whole library system in the cloud.

This year the interlibrary loan function will go to Worldshare, whether you have the whole Worldshare package or not. I saw a demo of it (and got to do some hands-on), and it looked like a nice improvement of the current ILL module (FirstSearch).

Proquest Dialog migration

I’ve been hearing about this for 2-3 years, but now it’s happening soon. Migration kit coming in the mail.


No more connect time or “Dialunit” pricing. You only pay for your results.

More ways to search: left-hand truncation, “contains”

Lots of ways to slice and dice your results (facets), done with drop-down menus and slider bars and other kinds of up-to-date web interface features.

Export options: PDF, XML, and many more.


Not all databases are coming over to the new platform. And they don’t have a list available yet. They are emphasizing four main content areas — engineering and sci-tech, news and trade. pharmaceuticals, and patents. I talked to Proquest folks and individual database vendors who were at the conference, and I think all the databases I use most often will be coming over.

Hardcore technology for softcore librarians #sla2013 #hardtech

Hardcore technology for softcore librarians

Kendra Levine, Amy Buckland

Google doc for sesssion


“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.” — Alan Kay

Don’t be scared of it.

It’s not about the tools, fools. If you have a problem, look for tech to solve it. Not the reverse: you have a cool tech tool and look for a problem to use it on.

Moore’s Law: smaller chips, cheaper hardware.

Raspberry Pi: very small, very cheap Linux computer, very programmable. Size of a credit card, $35. Apps, video output. Transportation people thinking about putting them in public places to give info.

Arduino: microcontrollers, monitors. c. $20. Using as air quality monitors. LED displays.

Piratebox / Librarybox: lightweight server that shares files with the public. On WiFi, but not connected to the Internet. Could use it as a digital library.

All things mobile: smartphones, tablets. Smart watches connected to smartphones.

Some kids are disconnecting to get more privacy.

Google Glass.

3D printers.

Project Management (web-based, relatively cheap and easy):

* Asana
* Basecamp
* The old Gantt chart
* Jira
* Trello


* Google Docs (Back up your data, though)
* Dropbox
* Microsoft 365

Data analysis / visualization:

Have to have good, clean data

* R (programming language for statistics) + D3 (JS library that NY Times uses)
* Excel
* Many Eyes: See what others have done
* Voyant: Wordle on steroids
* Starlight: pinpoint maps (download, not free)
* Pro-cessing
* Google Charts

Civil War in Four Minutes


Social media: Use it as a professional to carve out your space on the Internet. Be genuine, be helpful. Make it more of a conversation. It’s OK to have it be a one-way medium, but make it clear that’s what you’re doing. Follow your users.

* Google Hangout / Skype / Facetime: meetings just got real

* 5A7: French-Canadian meet-up site. “Time to actually MEAT up.”

Make library a collaborative space. Only rule is you can’t have a formal meeting with projectors, etc.

Some libraries have couches and whiteboards.


* Tiki Toki
* Chronozoom
* Neatline for Omeka: GIS photos, works with WordPress


They don’t have to be:
* at your org.
* in your association
* in your industry
* in libraryland

Go to a non-library conference.

Associations: Shared brains are good things. Other folks have same problems, don’t reinvent the wheel, harness your network.

Conversations: The best thing ever. Especially if you’re a solo librarian in a big org.

Yer mama or other people in your life. The oldest researcher in your organization: they know the history.

You! You work with info everyday, you know what you need, sleuthing is fun, look to other industries for inspiration.

Bamboo DiRT – Suggestions for “digital research tools.”

KM content that delivers: Learn from the experience of early adopters #sla2013

KM content that delivers: Learn from the experience of early adopters

Nola Vanhoy, Catherine Monte, Nina Platt — all law librarians

Legal profession has suffered in the last few years. Law school grads doing document discovery for low wages now.

Early initiatives: 1st generation intranets, “HotDocs,” precedent banks, deals database, early portal development. IT wouldn’t give them a database, so she put deals database into the library catalog!

West KM product.

Database of outside counsel and “top 500 clients.”

One of the things Nina was most proud of was a research portal based on MS Access and Coldfusion (later MS SQL), personalized to lawyers.

Brief bank. You get an initial bunch of documents, but then nobody adds to it.

When they used West KM, they got the documents because they pulled them out of the DMS, rather than relying on lawyers to hand them over.

Tagging: most people not good at it and don’t want to do it. Lawyers certainly won’t do it.

KM is 90% people and 10% technology. Change management is a huge part of it.

Important to have someone who understands what you do and will go to bat for you.

ILTA KM survey

Database of attorney skills

Database of documentation of the KM system

Should go from the problem to the tech solution. Too often, it’s the reverse. Some group gets excited about some vendor’s presentation, and that’s what gets things started.