Virtually Interacting with Books and Exhibits #internetlibrarian #IL2014

[Belated notes from a session at Internet Librarian.]

John Shoesmith, of the University of Toronto rare books library, talked about their efforts to put their exhibits online.  Physical exhibits only work for those who can get to the library while they are going on, but online exhibits can reach people far beyond the library and long after the exhibits are over.


  • Drupal: mirrored existing site (require hand-holding byt IT staff)
  • Omeka: open-source content-management system.  Used its exhibit builder plug-in for display.
  • Islandora: tools.
  • Fedora: repository.

For labor: museum studies students.

Juan Denzer, Binghamton University library

Their library director heard about how the National Library of China has a newspaper reader that works with gestures from the user.  They replicated the system to create 3-D models of rare books, allowing the user to view them without actually handling them.


Library Support for Digital Scholarship at Harvard Business School #internetlibrarian #IL2014

[Belated notes from a session at Internet Librarian.]

Michael J. Hemment of the Baker Library, Harvard Business School

The university is studying the faculty research cycle.  The law library is working on a digital archive on the history of the law school.  The university is thinking about students’ needs 20 years in the future.  Does the library help them get a job?

Question for a (any?) database project: try to get everything or concentrate on quality materials?

The library produces 118 information products: research guides, e-mail newsletters, etc.

Journalists write about Harvard research in a section of the web site called Working Knowledge.

Information management services: helps other university web sites improve their visibility with taxonomy, etc.

The library is trying to understand customers’ needs and work backwards from there.  “We librarians make assumptions about what our customers need and don’t talk to them on an ongoing basis.  Needs may change.”

Talking to users, observers.

Ongoing analysis on requests: matching them to existing resources.  If nothing exists, they identify a gap.

Web site on the research lifecycle: advice for each point.  Another one on the teaching lifecycle.

Surveys led to a redesign of case studies on their web site.  Also, use speaking with faculty and students, web analytics.

Leader 360: case studies on business leaders.

13 e-mail newsletters to MBA students on major industries.

Column on library special collections items in the Harvard Business Review (“Vision Statement”)

Helping faculty create e-books.

Updates on case studies (e.g., on Internet companies that may have changed considerably in the last few years).

Future of Libraries: Challenges & Strategies #internetlibrarian #il2014

Ken Haycock

Beyond the pandering, nostalgia, etc. Other people moving into traditional library roles: community centers doing preschool, senior programs. University deans say they could let students study in the cafeteria for lower cost.

Libraries are moving into others’ spaces — makerspaces, etc.

We can’t spend two years studying the integration of two desks. Industry would do it in two days.

What is our unique value proposition? Public dollars and a demonstrable return. What is our staff’s expertise that others don’t have?

We are just about the only sector that doesn’t have a common success metric. High customer satisfaction is not enough.

Is the library one system or a collection of neighborhood services?

How can the sense of entitlement of our staff be broken?

Panel: Corinne Hill, Chattanooga Public Library; John Szabo, Los Angeles Public Library; Donna Scheeder, Library of Congress.


Return on investment. People don’t value culture, but they will pay $150 for one football ticket.

Need to align with organization’s goals. Police and fire do better, because fear wins out. Align yourself with education, youth, public safety. Tell politicians, “Let me tell you how you can achieve your goals while you’re in office.”


“Delightfully frustrated at the opportunity to hit homeruns.” Leveraging that warm fuzzy. It’s not the only thing, and it won’t last forever. Leverage points of contact. Become heroes, essential players, special sauce. (Lot of metaphors here.)

Deal with relevance and marketing.


What are the trends in society that impact libraries? IFLA study. The future is now. Personal, educational level; organizational level (aligned with society); national level (e.g., net neutrality); international level (copyright agreements, e.g.).

Any goal includes information: health policy, economic policy, etc.

We provide information to people for free and the guidance to empower themselves to better their lives.


We could have too many opportunities. What’s the best one to go after?


We need to be tuned into community needs, not just air-conditioned places where cool stuff happens. Information empowers people.


Have to say no sometimes. Building adjacencies to things you already do well. The company that makes ATMs went into self-checkin at airlines.


Have to determine what success looks like. You’re helping people be the best they can be. What is the most pressing need? How do I go about doing what my community needs?

Have people who can tell the story of how you helped them.


Staff boots on the ground have to know what the goal is (“take that hill”) and be empowered to make changes as needed.


Using data vs. using stories? Both are good, but you have to know what resonates with your funders. Politicians like to talk about “school readiness.”


Using national educational standards to make decisions about programming. Number of people who came in is a proxy for its value.


Statistics about how people who can’t read are likely to be unemployable and problems for society.


How do we change library culture? We want to study things and roll it out across the system, rather than letting individual branches just do it?


We have to do both. It takes 3-5 years to change the culture. Hire for attitude then train for skill. Get people with tech skills. They know what an Adobe upgrade is and don’t need a training class.


Give staff flexibility to pick from a menu of initiatives. Be as innovative as you can without going to jail.


When new leadership comes in, it’s a chance to try new things. Let a thousand flowers bloom, but you have to make a garden at some point.


The percentage of professional librarians has gone down.


When I interview librarians, I find very few that are interested in taking risks. Removed college degree from library assistant job description.


We get greater flexibility from paraprofessionals. I want MLS people to be flexible and innovative, etc.


Library education is evolving. We should stop making a distinction between traditional and non-traditional librarians. It’s evolving.


Predictions for 5-10 years.


How closely we work with our communities. We will relinquish some of that elitist expertise.


Strategic partners with formal education. 0-5, k-12, MOOCs, lifelong learning.


Academia doesn’t see that MOOCs will disrupt their business, the same way news and publishing have been disrupted. Digital divide can get greater, not smaller. Libraries can make the difference.

Edited to make things clearer.

Persuasive technology: beyond user needs #internetlibrarian #il2014

Yoo Young Lee, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

College roommate wanted her to squeeze toothpaste from the bottom. Didn’t happen until she found a tool that made it easy.

Ask students what they want from the library, most of the answers have to do with space.

Most students found the library web site easy to use, useful, consistent, relevant, etc.

Many liken it to Google. But maybe it should be more like Wikipedia, directing you to an answer right away.

PhotoMath program takes a picture of a math problem and gives the answer. Is this what the library web site should be?

University library facilitates research, not search. Study a subject vs. find a quick answer. The library web site should be Google plus something more. Students’ wants and needs should influence improvement, but also we need to think about what we need to teach students.

We need to teach them that research takes time, they need to try multiple resources (go beyond Google), the first try may not be enough, feeling overwhelmed is normal.

Facilitator: for those with high motivation, low ability
Spark: High ability, low motivation
Signal: High ability, high motivation

Based on Fogg’s

University of Minnesota library web site has an “assignment calculator” that gives students the steps for their assignment and tips on how much time to allot to each step.

Making it Happen

Ken Haycock, USC Marshall School of Business (formerly San Jose State Library School)

“Satisfice”: satisfying + sufficing.

Decisionmakers often pick the first satisfying solution.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Decisionmakers may not have faced that problem. What problem that they face are you trying to solve?

Important to know whether they prefer quantitative (number) or qualitative (stories) evidence.

Money seems to flow to some people. We’re more likely to get support if we’re seen as credible and trustworthy. We do what we say we’ll do, we’ll report on it.

When librarians advocate, we’re seen as whiny and looking out for ourselves.

People do things for their reasons,not yours. We need to speak the language of the funders. What did the mayor say were the priorities for the city? Not how many people came to your employment sessions and how many enjoyed it, but how many actually got jobs.

if you don’t know what your boss’s objectives are, ask. Connecting agendas.

Show respect to your funders.

Can’t make withdrawals if you don’t make deposits. Build relationships. Let decisionamkers know what you do.

Timing, who’s involved, who’s a barrier, how can I make this a 3-year project rather than a 3-month project?

Most likely to be successful if you ask for what you want right up front. If you want $50K, ask for $50K, but say you could get by with $25K. Don’t ask for $100K thinking you’ll get whittled down.

Don’t get confused by attitude rather than behavior. They may be supportive but not give you money.

Universal principles:

1. Liking. We tend to listen more closely to people we like. Whether they think you like them.

2. Reciprocity. Gifts, but could be non-financial, like a gift.

3. Social proof or consensus. What are other people like us doing? Library directors looked at funding per capita ($29 to over $80). City managers looked at budget percentage (3.9% everywhere).

4. Authority. People listen to those who seem to know what they’re talking about.

5. Core values, public commitment. If people say something in public, they’re likely to stand by it. Also values. Does a politician talk about keeping taxes low or best return on the dollar?

6. Scarcity. People value what is scarce. We see ourselves as dealing in a scarce resource, but people see us as being in the information marketplace, which is rich and free. What is our value proposition? What is our unique resource? Our value, our scarcity is the expertise of our staff, not the building.

We tend to like those who are similar to us. You have to demonstrate that you like those who are different. You can ask the same questions. We tend to like those who praise us. Even more valuable if it’s second-hand. (The reverse is true: if you denigrate somebody behind their back, that gets back to them, too.) Working together on a team builds liking, too.

Reciprocity. A university president wrote 5 thank you notes every day. Good answer to thank you: “I’m sure you would do the same for me.”

Social proof: Testimonials from someone doing the same thing.

Authority: Doctors, etc. have their diplomas on the wall. Librarians often feel they’re arrogant if they point out their professional status, then get upset when the public thinks circulation clerks are librarians. We should dress professionally, too. Authority is enhanced if you acknowledge your weakness at the outset, rather than letting them discover it for themselves. Shows confidence.

SOPPADA = Subject, objective, present situation/problem, proposal, advantages of what you’re proposing, disadvantages of what you’re proposing, what actions you want taken. Often successful in proposals. Pointing out the disadvantages takes the wind out of the sails of those who want to find fault.

We rarely talk about core values. Things can get de-railed if somebody believes this isn’t what we should be doing. If people make a public commitment, they’re more likely to stick to it.

Scarcity: We are presented as scarce, but free. Ask yourself what you really add.

Networking. It’s hard to make people feel you like them if you’ve never met them. Show up, be seen.

4 Es: eye contact, extend hand, exchange business card, engage in conversation.

Connect agendas with people who think you like them, do something unique for the organization, and you will win.

Further reading:
“Work the Pond!”
“Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive”
“Influence: Science and Practice”
Articles by and about Cialdini in Harvard Business Review and Scientific American

Edited to correct some misspellings.

Is Technology Changing Your Brain? (Josh Hanagarne) #internetlibrarian #il2014

Josh Hanagarne, the “world’s strongest librarian

Had a dream about a highly anticipated speaker, who turned out to have a fish head. He starts his speech with, “Call me Fishmael.”

Hasn’t been a manager except a short stint as a branch manager. Killed it with the mending cart, though!

His Tourette’s means that he has had to learn to pay attention.

Library school recruiters told him he would be the “steward of democracy.”

After an intense year of library school (including a lot of time online), went back to reading for pleasure. Used to read 200-300 pages a day (doesn’t get much sleep because of Tourette’s). Could not read in the same way.

He pays close attention to his brain, so he knew something had changed.

He spent time doing breathing exercises and had a year without Tourette’s. An MRI shoed that his brain had actually changed during that time. (It’s gotten worse since then.)

Like HAL from “2001”: “Dave, I can feel it, my mind, it’s going.”

When reading, would get antsy three paragraphs in.

(Reference to “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr, which says the Internet is changing us. Not paranoid like “The Net Delusion.”)

Will never stop being a heavy Internet user and wouldn’t want to reverse progress. But assuming the Internet is changing our brains, we should think about that.

T. S. Eliot felt that his sentences got shorter and he lost subtlety when he started writing on a typewriter.

According to a biographer, Nietzsche’s writing changed to aphorisms and puns when he started using a kind of typewriter (“under the sway of the machine”).

Cormac McCarthy, “Blood Meridian”: “A man’s at odds to know his mind” (because you have to use your brain to know your own brain).

A brain is a lump of pink and gray goo. How does it do what we do? We get up, recognize things and people, agree on our observations of reality. We know we are ourselves, because we have a mental record of our past.

Is your memory decreasing apart from age? Carr uses a metaphor of sticky notes as short-term memory and a filing cabinet as long-term memory. Memory depends on getting those sticky notes into the filing cabinet.

Believes Internet addiction is real and that he has it.

How many of you have already logged into Facebook this morning? (Maybe a quarter of hands went up.)

His definition of addiction: something makes you feel way better than it should and you have an unwillingness to become uncomfortable.

Loneliness and jealousy: Facebook can make you feel worse afterward. (Sherry Turkle, “Alone Together”)

Does it change our habits and manners? How many have answered a text message while talking to somebody else?

Does it change the way we think? He is addicted to one-star reviews on Amazon.

Does it change the way we think about ourselves? People at the library ask for help getting a Facebook account. They have to answer all kinds of questions about what they like.

“You as dropdown menu.” You have to choose from a finite list of options. What if they don’t have your option? We are defined by software somebody wrote. Book: “You are not a Gadget.”

Does it change the nature of experience? It used to be you could eat celery or go on a hike without sharing a picture.

Pictures of celebrities now often have the person taking the selfie in the foreground.

Do you get excited about doing something or sharing that thing on social media?

Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” Hanagarne (and I) say, it’s only nine pages, read it.

When a subject is drained of its images, it loses emotional power. So we have euphemisms like “ethnic cleansing” rather than what it really is.

If all writing is meant to be skimmed, we lose the power of writing to convey what’s really going on.

What if we could agree on what feminism is and how we could achieve its aims, but only if we all read a 50-page complex document sentence by sentence?

How does it work? Any problem you want to solve, you have to ask this question. Kids were shown a drinking bird toy and wouldn’t even guess how it works, because they could look it up on their phone.

What does it mean to know something? Knowing where an answer is can feel like knowing an answer.

What might this mean for libraries?

Books: wants people to be able to take a big, complicated book off the shelf and get something from it.

What are libraries for? Libraries are a place to dream with your eyes open (Stephen Abram). Not much time to dream in between tweets.

Freedom is at stake. A library makes people freer than they otherwise would be. You are not free to ask a question that would not occur to you. Everyone has manacles on their minds; they are the questions we don’t ask. The library gives you more questions to ask.

There is no off switch to adaptation. You will get better at whatever you do. If reading seems to be harder, it’s because it is getting harder.

Our mission is to keep as many minds in play and playful. We need to fight for literacy and openness. This is part of that.

The only ones we’ll be able to trust are those who are still trying to think, who still know that words means something.

Questions and answers:

Working on a YA novel, another memoir on faith.

He’s working on expanding his limits. Read until it gets hard, but keep expanding that time. Didn’t want to associate reading with a freaked-out state.

One questioner says she can read the way she used to at a cabin with no phone and no Internet access.

Hanagarne’s great reading list from this talk has been compiled at

Edited to add: a few things including the link above.

Software Giant Best Practices for 21st-Century Digital Libraries #internetlibrarian #il2014

Sonya True, Vanguard University (formerly Microsoft and consultant to many companies)
Richard Hulser, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (formerly IBM)

Business principle: outcome focused. Results oriented, in line with org.’s missions and goals, personal performance goals, shared up and down to align.

Richard asked his CEO what she expected from the library. Usable collection and make good use of technology.

Risk averse vs. risk tolerant.
Proof of concept vs. pilot. (If you call it a pilot, the expectation is that it’s going to get bigger. If it’s a proof of concept and it fails, that’s OK.)

Negotiation: conversation, not a battle. Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA)

Environmental scanning: Look around, know your culture. Sonya worked for the Grateful Dead. Deadheads are everywhere, not just the hippie stereotype. She designed skis and a snowboard for them.

Some vendors talk about being agile, but aren’t really.

Tools: Confluence, Jira, Basecamp, Roadmap (dashboard display) — all project management tools.

Kanban tool: Trello (advanced to-do list for a team: to-do, doing, done)

Intelligent fast failure (Jack Matson): moving faster, failure is OK, it leads to success.

Ready for primetime: No beta releases! One vendor said, “Our libraries are our beta testers.” We’re paying good money for something with bugs galore. (OTOH, if you’re risk tolerant, and you know it’s a beta product, maybe that’s OK.)

Rollouts: make it an event!

Know your enemy/opposers. The quiet ones may be silently objecting and may cause problems later. Get them involved early. Learn what their objections are. They’re part of the solution, not part of the problem. At least they’ve been heard, even if you can’t do what they want.

Communicating the Value of a Knowledge Audit #internetlibrarian #il2014

Cindy Shamel, Shamel Information Services

How to convince your management to do a knowledge audit, but really about convincing them to do any project you think needs doing.

Bottom line upfront

* Know your executives: what do they value, what keeps them up at night, what are their motives
* Know your organization: what are the goals, what is the current strategy to meet those goals
* Be brief, be clear, and bottom line up front (BLUF)
* Be prepared to answer questions and consider alternatives

Diagnostic company: collecting competitive intelligence, but didn’t have a centralized system for tracking what they had. Need a knowlege audit. Did some benchmarking of competitors. Determined risks of what they were not doing.

Had 15 minutes with the executive committee. Outlined problem and best practices. They said yes.

In another case, she was called in to do a knowledge audit for an international hotel chain. Identify content and put it on a web platform. It turned out there wasn’t that much content. What employees really needed was access to other employees in the company. Had to convince management to change direction. Developed a three-year plan for knowledge management.

Be sure you know who is going to give the final yea or nay. It may be a committee or a key person. Be sure you address what they care about. At diagnositc comapny, nothing happened without CEO approval. At hotel chain, CEO delegated authority but wanted to be informed.

What is their chief concern? At the Navy, they were cocnerned about budget cuts, so saving money was important. She found out by asking people; they usually know. You can ask the administrative assistant of the decisionmaker. Ask your contact. Check public speeches and letters to stockholders.

You are not their chief concern. You need to get their attention. Immediately, point to a cost or benefit. Examples: our competitors introducted three new products while we introduced one; in the face of budget sequestration …

Or quote the decisionmaker him- or herself.

Project reassurance and speak with authority. Don’t worry, it’s going to be all right. This proposal will addreess risks and concerns.

In one project, Shamel offered to translate between a lieutenant and a para-librarian.

“I’ve seen things like this.” “We can fix this with best practices.” You’ve scared them, but you can fix it.

If the goals and objectives have already been set out for the year, say how your project will fit in.

Don’t concentrate on how your team may be overworked. Decisionmakers are focused on the big picture.

Use words from the mission statement or project plan.

Told the Navy they needed to keep spending money on databases, but they also had to hire a librarian to fix the problems. Even though it was going to cost more money, they were happy to know there was a solution.

Talk about the benefits, not the features. Help them envision: once this project is finished, this is how things are going to be better. Don’t say, “I’m going to collect the research documents into a database,” but “We’re going to meet the regulatory requirements to have the supporting documents.”

Other good things to say:

“We’re going to relieve information overload by delivering targeted news updates.”

Some places want a PowerPoint presentation. Some want a written report.

Keep it short, even sentences short.

Animations and music won’t impress executives. They’re thinking, “Why am I here and what do I need to know?”

Avoid jargon, acronyms.

The term “audit” may scare some people. Financial people may like it. You could call it a “Knowledge services study” or “Information access study,” etc.

Keep it short. Assume 15 minutes to make your point. You could have more slides or an appendix to your report, but don’t assume you’ll get to deliver it.

Hotel study: 6-month study summed up in 5 slides. This is what we came to do, this is what we found, this is what we recommend, this is what things will look like in 3 years.

Again, bottom line up front. They’ll be able to listen if they know where you’re going.

Expect the unexpected. Be prepared with back-up slides. Be prepared to shift gears, address objections. Listen to objections and be prepared to make adjustments.

Practice out loud with an audience. Practice answering questions.

Book chapter on knowledge audit:

Semper Gumby: always flexible.

Learning from Medical Libraries #internetlibrarian #il2014

Renee de Gannes-Marshall, Canadian Medical Association

Web site for members:

Complete overhaul, new CMS, review of 30,000 pages. 46 people over more than a year. 400 members assisted.

Clinical tools are the top reason members use the site, but no way to search across resources.

Evaluated discovery services and went with Ebsco Discovery Service (EDS). Used API to build it directly into the site. More customization of search and more usage metrics, but it’s a whole lot more work.

Testing by librarians, then moderated usability testing with users. Hired a firm to do the user tests. 12 1-hour remote tests via WebEx.

Filters with library jargon like “document type” and “database” didn’t help users. Publication type is more meaningful to people. Hid some of the filters that only librarian use under “more filters.”

Final testing. Needed to do some additional tweaks after everything was moved over. Also, some adjustments for mobile access.

Video about new features and tutorial. ( is available to the public.)

Elisabeth Marrapodi, Trinitas Regional Medical Center (N.J.)

Games and Second Life to improve health literacy.

Nalini Mahajan, Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital (Ill.)

People looking online for medical

Their library has done (or will do soon) web sites for persons with disabilities (and their potential employers), for parents of children with disabilities, and for those in rehabilitation. Links to Medline and other sources. Form to ask for more information.

Edited to add links and fix typos.

Unifying UX: Consistency with Content #internetlibrarian #il2014

Jordan Fields, Garfield County Libraries (Colo.)
Mark Noble, Marmot Library Network

III Sierra Opac
Vufind, open source discovery layer
Overdrive e-books

Patron tries to find e-books. Catalog is difficult to use. There’s a long help document. She goes to Amazon.

Asked users to do tasks and watched them. Also asked little questions, like what should this label say? Offered one “book buck” (good for paying fines, etc.)

It doesn’t make sense to users that catalog looks different from the larger web site. They tried to make it seemless. “Book scroller” (row of cover images), click on it and go straight into catalog.

Simplification: one result per title, not lots of different editions that confuse patrons. But you can still click on “show editions” to see all editions. Sorted so local copies show first, then available copies elsewhere.

Enrichment through NoveList: series, covers.

“More like this” based on metadata in catalog. Works with movies, music, etc. as well as books. Staff loves this stuff, instant reader’s advisory.

Web site is on Drupal. Navigation links across top is the same in both catalog and web site.

Before integration, it looked like four different web sites:
* desktop web site
* desktop catalog
* mobile web site
* mobile catalog

Now, they all look pretty much the same.

Gave staff access a month ahead of public and training. Staff felt listened to.

Took a few months to figure out best way to group records. If there’s a problem, a librarian can report it and library staff — rather than a programmer — can fix it.

Library is not part of county government, so their web site doesn’t have to look like the county’s. Some of the libraries in their consortium have to be consistent with a parent organization, but that can be done with iframes and CSS.

Other databases (Ebsco, Zinnio) allow a certain amount of customization by adding the MARC records. They have told vendors what they want from their APIs.

Edited to make things clearer.