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).


90 firms have emitted almost two-thirds of greenhouse carbon in the industrial age #libraries

Just 90 companies have emitted 63 percent of the carbon emitted to the atmosphere since the industrial age began in 1751. That finding has been reported in various news outlets recently. But do you know how researchers determined that?

I have colleagues at various universities: at Cambridge, at the British Library in London, in Sydney, in Johannesburg, Berkeley, to look at collections of annual reports housed in business libraries. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t catalogued so we had to go in person to dusty stacks and find the old reports for most of these investor-owned companies going back to the early 1900s, sometimes even earlier than that.

Generations of business librarians have saved those annual reports, having no idea that people in the 21st century would study them to determine greenhouse gas emissions.

The Librarian’s Skillbook: a short review @debhunt6

When I wrote about picking up a copy of the Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Career Skills for Information Professionals by Deborah Hunt and David Grossman, I promised I’d give it a fuller treatment after I finished reading it. I finished it a while ago, but I am just getting around to writing this review.

The Librarian’s Skillbook is a very practical work for beginning librarians, unemployed/underemployed librarians, or mid-career librarians who feel the need to brush up their skills, either to look for other jobs or to improve their status at their current workplaces.

The skills are a mix of technical skills (such as digital archiving and enterprise content management), traditional library skills made more relevant for the 21st century (such as strategic knowledge and providing “value add” solutions), business skills (such as project management and not giving away the store), and interpersonal skills (such as networking and being proactive). (They acknowledge that librarians tend to be quiet, unassuming types, but encourage readers to learn new skills and let people know that they have those skills.)

For each of the 51 skills in the book, Hunt and Grossman describe the skill, give some tips to acquire the skill, and list a few web and print references to read. The tips often encourage the reader to practice the skill at their current workplace or, if that’s not possible, to do some kind of internship or volunteer work to learn the skill. They won’t take no for an answer; they believe you can do this!

Most of the skills include a section called “this skill in action,” in which Hunt and Grossman give an anecdote from their own careers or those of other librarians they know. Hunt and Grossman have both had varied careers. She has worked at the Exploratorium (a science museum in San Francisco), as a consultant, and now at the Mechanics’ Institute. He has worked as a journalist, a builder of online databases, and now in the local history room of Mill Valley Public Library (Calif.). So, the stories from their careers add some real-world details to their advice.

At the end of the book, Hunt and Grossman encourage readers to sit down and plan how and when they will acquire some of the 51 skills. Again, they urge you to just do it!

Note: Nothing in this review, pro or con, has been influenced by the fact that my picture shows up on the web site for the book.

Hunt, Deborah and David Grossman. The Librarian’s Skillbook: 51 Essential Career Skills for Information Professionals. 2013.

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.

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.

How to re-energize your library #sla2013

How to re-energize your library

Richard Hulser, Natural History Museum of LA

Turn perception of library from passive into an active source of information and education. Still are rows of catalog cases. No online catalog until about three years ago.

49% of collection is in OCLC.

Library was closed from 2008-2011 for earthquake retrofit.

Now, open with display cases, seating areas, etc.

Align library with parent organization’s vision & purpose and strategies & technologies.

Consider: physical resources (including digital resources), people resources, policies and procedures.

What is a successful library to upper management? NHM wanted:

1. Library is used physicallly [and virtually]
2. Everything in the library has a purpose or should not be there
3. Technology is used wisely and effectively.

Demonstrate results.

Internal collaboration. In NHM’s case, that means IT, office furniture, supplies, infrastructure needs, strategic initiatives.

Get out of the library. Talk to people. What are your users’ priorities?

Collaborate externally: SLA, County Library.

Volunteers, interns. If you’re in a corporate situation, you should pay your interns. Make sure they’re learning something.

Many technologies to consider. Don’t believe people who promise their product will solve all your problems.

Tech strategy: Supplies the rationale and priorities for funding, ensures priorities are addressed in a timely and appropriate way.

Needed online catalog access, e-content access, access to sectional libraries, intranet, external web site.

Needed something in the cloud.

Updated to add: I should point out that this session was sponsored by EOS International and that Hulser praised them highly for helping him accomplish his goals. (Additional disclosure: they gave attendees a boxed lunch.) However, many of the principles that Hulser talks about would apply no matter what library database system you use.

What’s it like to work THERE? #sla2013

What’s it like to work there?

San Diego Zoo “zoobrarian” Amy Jankowski:

Zoo, safari park, Institute for Conservation Research

Library is located at the safari park. Not open to public, just staff, volunteers, and “targeted researchers.”

Library moved from zoo downtown to the safari park.

Horticultural staff, veterinarians, education staff, HR, finance, etc.

Field project staff.

Still get a few periodicals in print.

c.11,000 books, 400 journals.

Archives and rare books.

Historic images: can do reproductions.

clippings, zookeepers’ journals about animals.

Reference, library instruction, tech services, web development, newsletters, etc.

Do outreach to employee lounges about 2-4 times a month.

Web site:

Some animals, there’s just not a lot of research. Conservation status, for example, changes.

Monthly newsletter, bi-weekly digest of animal/zoo news.

Small staff, limited budget, small space, geographic distribution of staff.

Mary Ann Williams:

Took tech classes at U. of Michigan: Java, Ruby on Rails.

Digital archivist at Disney. The job description didn’t say archivist or librarian; it was written by engineers. Corporate model was shifting. Networked and was able to move to Disney Animation Research Library. Vault contains art work from beginning of Disney. Built digital image database.

After five years, her goals weren’t the same as the company’s. Moved on to Guthy Renker as digital assets manager.

Yet to work for someone with an MLIS. Feels it makes her stronger as a librarian, gets to define job and ask for what she needs.

In IT dept. Manages a DAM system.

Does Sharepoint development now.

“My career is meant to evolve beyond the words ‘librarian’ and ‘archivist’.”

She facilitates communication. Thinking about being an independent consultant.

Jon Haupt, wine librarian, Sonoma County Wine Library, Healdsburg:

“Do people check out lunch?”

Interest in food and arts. Was working as a music librarian. Thought he wouldn’t get the wine librarian job.

Convinced wineries and public libraries to open wine library in 1989. Wineries buy subscriptions, friends group.

Other wine libraries: Napa Valley wine library (in public library, not a dedicated librarian), UC Davis, CSU Fresno, Cal Poly Pomona, Wash. State U., Cornell

Collects on all aspects of wine: history, business, etc.

c.60 periodicals, rare books, ephemera.

Index to wine periodical literature:

Wine labels.

Amorphous collection policy, changing needs, advisory group, service to wine appreciation folks.

Trying to serve whole region. And with Winefiles, it’s really the only database of its kind.