Modeling Real Search Skills in Action #il2013 #internetlibrarian @researchwell

[One last session from Internet Librarian that I haven’t had a chance to blog about until now.]

Tasha Bergson-Michelson, formerly Google search educator, now school librarian at Castilleja School
Julie Erickson, South Dakota State Library

Started by asking attendees to jot down some ideas for searching on the topic of the effect of sleep deprivation on the mental processing speed of students.

Here are some of the facets I wrote down:

  • Sleep: lack, hours
  • insomnia
  • Sleep deprivation
  • processing speed
  • mental process*
  • students
  • teenagers
  • adolescents

The idea of this session is not only to do a good search, but to show your users/students what you are doing, so they can apply the techniques themselves.

Reference interview: Ask “What did you mean by that term?” (In the example above, we’d want to know what age students we are talking about.)

A good question: What would the perfect book title on this topic be?

Try adding the word “scholar” in Google to get more academic results.

When you make a mistake, say, “How fascinating” as you try to figure out and explain why the search results came back the way they did. Every failed search teaches me something.

Real-life example: Tasha did a search on “Internet models,” which, it turns out, does not bring up models of how the Internet works. (NSFW)

Less is more: don’t tell everything you know.

Think before typing in a searchbox: who cares about this thing? That will give you a clue to who might be providing information about it online.

Many people don’t know about:

CTRL-F to find keywords on a web page.
Using “-” to exclude terms in a search (boolean Not)
Searching on filetype: and color:

Even when people learn about a new technique, they may not realize it’s transferable. People may learn they can do to limit their results to the Census web site, but not realize they can also do or even

One good article can lead to more. Try a subject encyclopedia to get started. A New York Times article can lead to more scholarly research.

The librarian keeps you engaged by talking to you.


World’s Strongest Librarian #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Josh Hanagarne
World’s Strongest Librarian

Librarian in nonfiction at Salt Lake City library.

Extreme case of Tourette’s.

Why libraries? Change lives. Great equalizers.

Without libraries, there would be no librarians.

Pro self-improvement, but despises the self-improvement industry.

When it comes to libraries, willing to be preachy. Libraries have saved his life.

SLC director said it’s our job to make a better community, to give the public as much of what they want as possible within the library’s mission.

Ideas: lifelong learning, introduce people to knowledge and people to people, economic empowerment, dream with our eyes open.

Josh: Purpose of a library is to make people free, freer than they could be without the library.

Story of his Tourette’s.

Couldn’t go outside, not even to the library.

Went to the quietest place he could think of — the library — and asked for a job application.


Arranged to offend a homophobe.

Homeless man from Nicaragua said the library was a miracle.

Homeless man named Scott who seemed to be playing a video game was actually designing one. “A library immediately awards you dignity by walking in the doors.” You can be anonymous or you can ask a question.

Woman who had to give up kids for adoption.

woman who was being battered.

Vietnamese man: “You have such lovely Dockers.” Said he found his true love in a Vietnamese newspaper. “Without the library, there is no true love.”

Another man with Tourette’s: only place where they let me be me.

Any time you spend thinking “I can’t believe this is happening” is time you can’t spend reacting. Say, “This is happening.” The sooner you can say that, the sooner you can say, “What next?”

What sustains us is how much you love yourself and how much we love each other.

Old definition of “to free” is “to love.” With librarians, this is where he feels free, in every sense.

When he was 4, saw moth with a 3-foot wingspan. His mother said, “Where do you think it went next?” Libraries are about questions.

We can leave this conference freer than we arrived.

Very inspiring. Everybody in the room got mushy. Standing O.

Collaborative Cloud Strategies and Impacts #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Kenley Neufeld, library director, Santa Barbara City College

Small library, nobody responsible solely for tech.

Needed new system. Wanted to eliminate server and desktop maintenance.

Wanted to expand services, improve student experience and staff workflow.

Wanted to prepare for increased mobile use.

– Cloud-based backend
– Web-based frontend
– Cost savings from not maintaining a server

Went with OCLC Worldshare Management System

Change management:
– Do your homework
– Engage everyone
– Work with vendor on problems

For students:
– Easy account management without a separate authentication (could be a problem, since it requires sharing info with cloud vendor). However, the last piece of authentication data remains local. Works with Shibboleth.
– Notice and reminders via e-mail
– Platform agnostic
– Single search: ILS bundled with discovery service
– Faceted search
– Deeper exposure to resources
– Simple integration of ILL

For staff:
– No servers to maintain, no software to install
– Use Windows or Macs
– Simplified circulation
– Integrated ILL
– Integrated budget tracking
– Instruction: can teach discovery system or individual databases
– Work anywhere
– App development (Used to hand-copy fines from circ system to college system; was able to automate this.)

Would like to have a shelflist, but OCLC hasn’t built that yet. May be in the December update.

Performance is determined by Internet speed. If OCLC goes down, all 150 libraries using the system go down. In Internet access is lost, he has a backup solution.

Over a period of 3 years, they break even. And got the discovery layer that they couldn’t afford before.

Rob Ross, OCLC

Says users are satisfied. Catalogers and system administrators save a lot of time.

Staff working on an analytics model. More reports will be available.

Open platform: customers can build apps or see what others have done. OCLC builds the core functions, but open it up for others to add to.

Traditional deployed software:
– Core apps only
– Closed to community contributions

Cloud software:
– Core apps as scaffolding
– Community empowered to contribute
– Mix and match to heart’s content

– Infrequent, anxiety-producing

– Smaller, frequent updates
– Everyone on the same version

– One person could read the manual and become the master

– Rewards continual learning
– Decentralized system allows mastery by module, distributed expertise
– Future state is — literally — what you make it.

– Staff need to keep learning
– Management needs to reward adaptation over mastery
– Job roles may be redefined
– Working from anywhere is possible. Example: small academic library could bring books to a campus fair and can checkout using iPad or iPhone. Example 2: consortium can do cataloging for members. Example 3: Academic library with world-class Afghanistan collection. Now they can hire somebody and have them work in Afghanistan.

Gains include:
– Contemporary system for all materials formats
– No hardware to purchase or manage
– WorldCat as your catalog of record (can still have local notes), but you inherit all upgrades (such as if another library adds table of contents notes)

– Cost savings
– Time savings
– Patron satisfaction
– Staff satisfaction
– Increased usage of materials

Building Google’s Power-Searching MOOCs #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Tasha Bergson-Michelson

Librarian at Castilleja School, formerly Google search educator

Just because it looks magic doesn’t mean you can’t get better at it.

Google thought it should do a MOOC. Has tools: Youtube, Docs, etc. Can also handle 10 million people at once.

Six hours of content. Wanted to reach a broad audience. Multiple choice/fill in the blank. Semi-synchronous.

Never put a midterm in the middle. Could take it as many times as you like, but had to finish by a certain date. Lots of people complained about that. “Apparently a deadline is not as firm an idea as I thought.”

Five-minute videos plus activity. Offered a text alernative for thsoe with different learning styles.

Videos are hard to edit and it’s hard to get everything in. In the text version, they could include more info.

When writing for 155,000 people, someone will hate every question.

Problem: Google learns from people’s bad queries, so sometimes that would cause the bad query to work for the next person.

People might learn they can search on and not realize they could do the same thing for

People from 196 countries and territories. Questions were too ethnocentric.

Question about whether the word “evolution” occurs in the Google Books copy of On the Origin of Species. Answer differs depending on the edition you search.

Improved each time and never had the same complaint twice.

People learn by watching over someone’s shoulder. How could they emulate that in the MOOC?

People have different ways of doing things.

Made 12 challenges. Didn’t have to do them and didn’t have to do them in numerical order. They required multiple steps and could be solved in multiple ways. Example: identify a feather found on the ground at the Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve.

Had to be a right-or-wrong answer or people freaked out. But then you outline your steps, and students could read each other’s answers.

Did Google Hangouts to talk about the challenges.

Did Advanced Power Searching class.

Text usage was about 50% that of video usage. But it varied by topic.

Fish pedicure / worm therapy divide. Yarnbobmbing was a popular topic. If you don’t know what thousands of people like, go for weird.

Didn’t help students with final challenges. They helped each other.

Start with outcomes:
What do you want students to know? Work backwards from there.

A list of technical skills does not equal competencies.

Format and contents must grow out of objectives.

Create a “big-idea” narrative. Key critical thinking skills. Overarching themes. Tie themes back to actionable skills. Such as, not usually just one way to do things.

Align desired content, user needs, and design constraints. How to talk about these things without delving into library science terminology.

Color filtering: If you search for Bach pictures that are white, you get sheet music.

Tesla: different colors for car vs. person.

Soccer players running around: use green.

This gets people’s attention and makes them listen, not the library science theory.

Test and test again:
Groups can be small. Doesn’t have to hugely formal. Prioritize fixes, fix, and test again.

Some loved the advanced format, some hated it.

Some people spent a lot of time on it, some couldn’t.

Connect with students. Use social media to create a community.

Libraries in the Cloud #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Marshall Breeding

Book: “Cloud Computing in the Libraries”

Libraries need to have technology that aligns with what their current mission is.

Academic libraries:
Shift from print to electronic journals.
Still working it out for monographs.

All libraries:
Need to handle multiple formats.
Emphasis on digitizing local collections

Client-server to web-based computing
Cloud computing is a major trend in IT
Offers libraries opportunities to break out of individual silos of automation and engage in widely shared cooperative systems.

“Cloudwashing”: lots of claims to be “in the cloud” when products may not be any different from what they were.

Vendor-hosted library systems go back to at least 1994.

– web-based interfaces (as opposed to software on the desktop)
– externally hosted
– pricing: subscription or utility
– Highly abstracted computing model
– Provisioned on demand
– Scaled according to variable needs
– Elastic: consumption of resources can contract and expand according to demand

Local computing:
– Buy and maintain a server
– Buy and maintain software
– Electricity and data center

Cloud computing:
– Annual subscription with measured service or fixed fees

Can be cost-saving for both library and vendor.

“Multi-tenant software-as-a-service”: one copy of code base serves multiple sites; software functionality delivered entirely through web interfaces; upgrades and fixes deployed universally.

People can use Gmail and companies can use with no loss of functionality or privacy. No upgrade interruptions.

Data as a service: Bibliographic knowledgebases or discovery indexes that serve many libraries.

Possible new ways of conceptualizing library automation:
– Fulfillment: circulation + ILL + DCB + e-commerce
– Resource management: cataloging + acquisitions + serials + ERM
– Customer relationship management: reference + circulation + ILL
– Enterprise resource planning: acquisitions + collection development

Open systems:
Libraries need to do more with their data.
More interoperability
Open source
Open APIs

Challenge: more integrated approach to information and service delivery:
– Books
– search the web site
– articles
– openURL
– e-journal finding aids
– subject guides
– local digital collection
– Metasearch engines
– Discovery services (yet one more box on the web page)

Discovery from local to web-scale

Populating web-scale index with full text: a good front door to everything in your collection.

Ebsco, Summon, Ex Libris Prino, Worldcat

Libraries can move into a shared infrastructure model (multiple libraries, that is).

Consortia merging (Illinois Heartland), statewide (South Australia, much of Georgia) and national (New Zealand, Iceland, Chile, Denmark) systems, Cornell-Columbia system (2CUL).

Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Culture #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Michael Ridley, University of Guelph, keynote

“The welcomed demise of literacy.”

“Reading and writing are doomed.
Literacy as we know it is over.
Welcome to a post-literate future.”

Literacy: visible language, reading and writing.

Literacy replaced orality, so it’s “inevitable” that something will replace it. He says this is a good thing.

It’s a thought experiment.

Online “book-like thing” at Collaborative authorship with students, etc. Set up at Pinterest site for the bibliography.

Marshall McLuhan: “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”

Literacy lets us do great things, but it’s also a kind of prison.

Socrates said it was the end of memory.

There’s too much information.

Less than 3% of languages are “visible languages.”

In the 1700s, people felt there was too much info and invented encyclopedias, etc. Writing itself may have come from accounting (for animals, etc.).

Writing is hard to learn, difficult to use, slow to process, prone to error, insufficiently powerful, addictive.

Candidates for post-literacy:

– Bio-computng/neural prosthetics (“I think that’s good, and we should all get implants of some sort.”) He thinks this is more “hyper-literacy.”

– Telepathy / Techlepathy (He brings in a psychic to his classes!) Makes people nervous. Techlepathy is connecting yourself up to others through technology.

– Collective Unconscious (or Consciousness): Says quantum physics endorses this.

– Drugs / Cosmetic neurology

– Machine intelligence: close to computers that are smarter than we are.

Stages: disruption, suspicion, loss, unsophisticated use, early adopters, elitism & power, mainstream.

The idea of a sense of self comes from literacy.

The brain is a soup of chemicals and synapses, etc. What if we could create a drug that would “grow an understanding in your mind”? Learn French, for example. (Learn to love Big Brother, too?)

The Vulcan mind meld. There’s even a book that says this is possible. (“There really is a very strong scientific basis to this.”)

Asked students to think about how we get there. One answer: aliens.

William S. Burroughs: “Language is a virus from outer space.”

Samuel Beckett: “Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Beyond Literacy Radio podcasts. He wouldn’t let the students write a research paper, but as someone pointed out on Twitter, isn’t this a return to orality?

“We have to go there.” “It’s inevitable, it’s optimistic, it’s advantageous.”

Question: Have you considered a class where nothing is written? Answer: it wsn’t possible. We have to use the tools we have.

Had a class where two strangers suddenly danced around for half an hour with no explanation.

Question: teenagers communicate with Snapchat and Instagram. We still have to be literate to succeed. Answer: No, what teenagers do isn’t post-literate. Yes, you have to be literate now, but everntually reading will be a fetish (as Capt. Picard reads Shakespeare).

Question: if we can do telepathy, etc., why do we need oral langauage (or French)? Answer: oral language is innate, but written language is a tool. Eventually, the machine overlords won’t speak English, French, etc. (Only half-kidding when he said this.)

Question: will this help ADHD kids? Answer: we preference literacy in the extreme. People who have trouble with literacy could have other tools to succeed.

Holistic Library UX #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Aaron Schmidt



– catalog
– signage (use common terms, friendly language)
– reference desk (fortress, like the DMV)

Perception of library:
– Books (first, always)

Too difficult to download e-books / audio books from libraries

Do we really want to compete with Amazon / Apple / Google even if we could?

Grocery store model of libraries: go in, get something. Doesn’t reflect the intellectual aspect of libraries.

24-hour automated “library”? What is a library without people?

Circ stats aren’t the only story. It’s not physically possible to increase circs indefinitely.

We are often reactive to trends.

Focus on results: nobody wakes up and says “I want to use measuring cups today.”

Focus on design (broadly defined): making something for a purpose.

Smoke detector that goes off when you wave at it. Based on what people actually do.

Porter airlines: good user experience, good web site, good people, good service.

User experience is not just for technology. It’s not just customer service.

Should be useful, useable, and desirable.

What was the goal of the services? Was it good? What detracted? Were you confused? Describe the physical space.

Do a UX audit.

Have a UX partner (another library) look at your library with fresh eyes. Then do the same for them.

Have to critique things to get better.

Work like a patron day.

Journey map: the steps a user would have to take.

Signage audit.

Have someone who’s never been to your library accomplish a task.

“The Non-Designer’s Design Book.”

Contextual Inquiry:
“Anthropology, Inc.” in the Atlantic

See how people actually use buildings, furniture, equipment.

User Research:
What users really do, not just what we think they do.


Human-centered library catalog (see slide with “Plainview Library”)

Signs with clear zones about what you can do where.

Different collections: baking pans, tools, plot of land.

Creation spaces

Community publishers.

Connecting people with people.

Solving problems.

“We are not our patrons.”

User experience says we need to listen, not shout at them.

“What’s a library worth” in American Libraries, 2007

No library exists in a vacuum. What’s good for your ecosystem is good for you and vice versa.

Everything we do can make things better.

Updated to add: link to Atlantic article.

Engagement Strategies in Turbulent Times #inet2013 #internetlibrarian

Kara Evans, Pfizer

Library is under IT

Allocated content budget to R&D

Training sessions on online products

Weekly updates go to 15,000 subscribers in the company

Formed a team to optimize information assets.

Did survey on information needs, then focus groups.  Asked what their pain points were.

– Improve transparency
– Increase our presence (Staff didn’t realize there were still people they could call once the physical library went away.)
– Target communications (Come to staff meetings to talk about specific needs and solutions.)
– Simplify e-library (Web site has gotten a little cluttered.)
– Evaluate delivery options

Outreach part of the job.

Working with executive sponsor, so decisions are understood at highest levels.

Robin Henshaw and Valerie Enriquez, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals

Ironwood is a start-up, but they hired a librarian early on. The library is under R&D.

Library does:
– Literature searches (PubMed, Scifinder, Pipeline)
– Article requests
– Copyright compliance
– Database subscriptions
– Training
– Vendors
– Communications (outreach)

Added collaboration to all services.

Embedded: attending department meetings, working with R&D.

Added: Embase, Dialog, etc.

More tasks done by end users. (e.g., article delivery from Science Direct)

New users: meet them in person and do training on databases, etc.

Group training: tailored to particular groups (e.g., chemistry, competitive intelligence)

Meetings with research working groups

Vendor training

Outreach about new databases as they are added.

IM: Just introduced at the company.

Info Pro Skills for the Future #il2013 #internetlibrarian

Those DAM Info Pros, Deb Hunt

Project at Exploratorium, science museum in San Francisco
At the time, there were 2.75 FTE working on the project.

Librarians know these things.

Developed metadata
– by different types of users
– by content
(based on Dublin Core)

External web (75 dpi photos)
Internal (300 / 600 dpi)

Copyright: Need to know who owns it before you put it out on the web.

Software may be up and running in 30 days, but there are many other factors. Choosing software, designing metadata, working out taxonomy (that alone could take 6 months to a year).

More challenges: physical layout of collection, territoriality, documenting intellectual property, documenting workflow.

Pleasant surprises: popularity of digital assets with staff and external users, some best assets created by non-media dept. staff.

Exploratorium Digital Library.

Shameless plug for Deb’s book: My review here

David Diamond, Picturepark, and author of “DAM Survival Guide.”

Digital Asset Management killers (and how librarians can fix them):

– Too big and too abstract, don’t know where to begin and where to end
– Don’t see big picture; everybody sees it from their own perspective. (Librarians can have neutral perspective.)
– Goals are unclear and uncertain
– Too much democracy in all the wrong places: need buy-in from everybody, which leads to compromises that water down the initiative
– Can’t-say-no attitude. Everybody wants to put in their own stuff, which may not be of permanent value (party invitations, draft specifications)
– No ownership
– No follow-up. Once it’s done stakeholders want to go away. There’s no one who can answer questions that come up. Nobody is asking users: how’s it working for you? Is it doing what you want it to do?
– No evolution. If it ain’t broke, nobody wants to try to improve it. No vision. Fear of breaking it.

How to do these things:
Go where they are. Groups on LinkedIn.

Speak their langugage, feel their pain.

Contact DAM software makers.

Learn the lingo:

Next week:

Create content: write what you know

Ruth Kneale, National Solar Observatory

53 physical books. Everything else is a digital asset.

Also a systems engineer, so she’s involved in building of new observatory on a mountain in Hawaii.

Does archives, databases, document management, reference, research, training.

Translates between scientists and engineers.

Runs servers, web site, new desktop systems, troubleshooting.

Uses her info pro skills to do all this.


Sharepoint can be used for digital assets, but a dedicated digital asset management program will give you more features.

If you’re asking what software to get, that’s the wrong question to ask first. Need to do needs assessment to find out what your organization’s needs are. That could take 6 months to a year.

If offered a chance to do something, volunteer! You have the library/information skills. You can learn Drupal or library databases as you need them.

Ruth: We have mad skills. We can do more than just the room with the books (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Toot your own horn!