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Archive | October 30, 2013

Internet Librarian: Josh Hanagarne Keynote

Community Engagement: Inspiring Insights & Stories

Josh Hanagarne

“The City Library is a dynamic civic resource that promotes free and open access to information, materials and services to all members of the community to advance knowledge, foster creativity, encourage the exchange of ideas, build community and enhance the quality of life.” Imagine having a client, a homeless person, quote the library’s mission to you. Inspiring? You haven’t heard anything yet! Josh Hanagarne believes in curiosity, questions, strength, and that things are never so bad that they can’t improve. At an imposing 6’ 7”, Josh is a performing strong man (he ties horseshoes in knots!), bookish nerd, devoted family man and a twitchy guy with Tourette Syndrome. Hear Josh’s entertaining stories about libraries and engagement and be ready to return to your library or information service, no matter what type it is, inspired and renewed.

Josh Hanagarne’s Closing Keynote address begins on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 3:30PM Pacific time and will be streamed right here.

Watch the Closing Keynote Here

Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future (The Wednesday Keynote)


Michael Ridley

Michael Ridley

Michael Ridley, librarian and former CIO at the University of Guelph, Ontario, spoke about the welcomed demise of literacy (yes, it’s welcomed!).  He said reading and writing are doomed; literacy as we know it is over.

DIsplacement of Literacy

DIsplacement of Literacy

Welcome to the post-literature future.  We are all prisoners of literacy.

There are all kinds of literacies.  This talk focuses on visible language; reading and writing.  It is inevitable that will be replaced by something else.  This is advantageous, not some new dark age.  We are going forward, not back.  Ridley published an online e-book and conducted a thought experiment, teaching as he was writing and engaging in collaborative authorship and networked conversation.  The bibliography was set up on a Pinterest site.  Reactions from readers were interesting.

Why are we thinking about post-literacy? Marshall McLuhan said “we shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.”  You have been shaped by literacy.  Socrates had this idea, calling literacy “the show of wisdom without the reality”.  It was the end of dialog between people and changed the way we think.  Only about 3% of languages are visible; it is therefore rare that literacy exists.  So why do we do this?  There is too much information.  We face this problem frequently.  The reaction is often to invent something that helps us move forward, which is why the alphabet was developed.  Our writing systems are hard to learn, difficult to use (they require a certain kind of environment), slow to process, prone to error, insufficiently powerful (even though we have some great writers), and addictive.

Candidates for post-literacy:

  • Bio-computing and neural prosthetics (adding computing tools),
  • Telepathy and “techlepathy”.  We are all telepathic and just don’t know how to do it.  Techlepathy is when people connect themselves cognitively to a network using one;s nervous system to be able to transmit information among one another.
  • Collective unconscious and consciousness.
  • Drugs and cosmetic neurology.  Possibilities of using interventions.
  • Machine intelligence–may be the real solution.  We are very close to computer systems that are much smarter than we are.  Machine intelligence is not alphabetic intelligence.
  • Post-humans.  It’s not about us at all.

All these possibilities have threats to them.  The transitions include disruption, suspicion and distrust, a sense of loss, unsophisticated use, early adopters, elitism and power, and the mainstream.  We will need to go through this transition.

The physiology of information is a rapidly moving field; new research comes out every week about how we think.  The brain has neurotransmitters,  biochemicals, proteins, connectivity, neurons, synapses.  That is information and what you know.  Everything you understand can be reduced to these substances.  What if we could create a drug that could grow an understanding in your mind?  For example, take a pill and learn French.  Where we get the pill could determine how we learn.  Telepathy involves that we connect ourselves pathologically.  Mindmelding by William Hirstein is a fascinating and relevant book.

How will we become post-literate?  Aliens?  The best thing we can do is fail, then try again (and fail better!).  So Beyond Literacy Radio was started by a graduate class to explore what other kinds of literacy would be like.  This has become a collaborative process with several other professional societies.  Reading and writing are doomed; we need something better.


Engagement Strategies in Turbulent Times


Engagement Strategy Panel

(L-R) Carla Evans, Library Systems Manager, Pfizer, Inc.; Valerie Enriquez and Robin Henshaw, Assistant Librarian and Librarian, Ironwood Pharmaceuticals; Deb Hunt (Moderator)


Cara Evans
Reconnecting with Users
The Information & Library Services at Pfizer moved from physical library to all digital. It has experienced staff reductions, spinoffs, and site expansions and has moved to decentralized funding model which provides portfolio governance, and transparency in the journal renewal process. When their “Executive Sponsor” (the VP of Research who sponsors the content) asked if they were maximizing the use of our resources, an “optimizing information assets team” was formed with a charter of maximizing the information service’s ROI by enhancing resource utilization, improving user engagement, and increasing the use of their services.  The team solicited qualitative feedback (who is using what), targeted the largest groups of users (chemists), and sent out an e-mail survey asking what their needs were.  This was followed up with focus groups.  Weekly announcements kept the stakeholders informed.

Here are the team’s next steps:

Next steps

After the physical library was closed, many users did not realize there were still people connected with the library and thought there was nowhere to go when they needed help. So the information services group needed to improve their presence. Librarians began attending department meetings and focused on work they are doing. They are now evaluating alternative delivery options for content and are also thinking of changing job descriptions to increase focus and keep the engagement going.  There is a need to promote why they are better than Google.


Robin Henshaw
Information Services at Ironwood Pharmaceuticals

Ironwood’s 3 goals are to focus on improving medicines that make a difference for patients, creating value to inspire continued support of its stakeholders, and building a team that passionately pursues excellence.  They felt the need to invest in a library and provide access to literature.  The information services group enjoys support of top management.  Librarians are not scientists but found they have the skills to support scientists.  Here is the mission and vision of the library organization.

Mission and vision

Library Mission and Vision

A centralized funding model allows equal sharing of resources and gives people a central place to ask for help.  Free databases, SciFinder, and Pipeline (for competitive intelligence) are used.  Copyright licenses allow sharing across the entire company; they have few institutional subscriptions.  Training is mostly led by vendors.

The model has evolved to include much more collaboration than before. The legal and compliance areas grew.  Librarians are embedded and attend department meetings.  They have purchased more databases: Embase, Dialog, Datamonitor, and Decision Resources and have collaboration agreements with partners and a motion picture license. End user searching is available, but librarians will do searches for staff members if desired.

Valerie Enriquez described how engagement with the Ironwood user population proceeded in a geographically dispersed environment.  (She works at the main site; Robin works at a remote site.)  The following services are offered:

  • Training of new hires on services available to them
  • Group training workshops
  • Meetings with research working groups (embedded librarian)
  • External training sessions provided by vendors
  • Switch from Sharepoint to Ironworks (the internal social network for the company), which has a library blog, featured content.

A continuing challenge is to raise awareness of what is available on the network.

Collaboration with remote site is achieved through phone conferences, WebEx/GoToMeeting (screen sharing help on how to use a resource), Google Hangout.

Summary and what’s next:

What's next


Video: Modeling Real Search Skills in Action

What is your experience of searching in front of patrons? Do you hope they don’t look at your screen, or wish that you could explain to them why you make the choices you do? We find that people learn search and research skills most frequently by looking over someone else’s shoulder. Thus, it is the job of today’s librarian to explicitly model strong research processes and encourage patrons by recognizing their own search strengths.


Tasha Bergson-Michleson, Instructional and Programming Librarian, Castilleja School
Julie Erickson, Electronic Services Coordinator, South Dakota State Library

Watch the Session


Teaching Machines: Creating Better Search Engines

Mike DeMars, Systems Librarian, California State University, Fullerton presented this session that focuses on how libraries can utilize website search logs to improve search results for users. The Pollak Library monitors all of the queries that users perform on both the library site wide search and on Xerxes, its customized Ebsco Discovery interface.

Analyzing these queries provided insight into how the library’s users were interacting with its site and brought to light some common mistakes our users were making. This analysis allowed the library to design new methods to more efficiently route users to the information they are looking for and to correct searches that would otherwise fail or return zero results. By teaching the machine how users search for items, the library greatly increased the likelihood that searchers are connected with relevant information.

Watch the Session

Mike DeMars currently works in both the Library Systems Department and Reference and Instruction Department at the California State University Fullerton Pollak Library.  This split assignment gives him the opportunity to design new research tools while also observing how they are applied. Mike’s ongoing study of the interaction between users and the library research tools has led to development of innovative ways to ensure technology is meeting patrons’ information needs.


Internet Librarian: Mike Ridley Keynote

Beyond Literacy: Exploring a Post-Literate Future

Mike RidleyReading and writing are doomed. Literacy as we know it is over. Welcome to the post-literate future. From the perspective of a literate person, the idea of a post-literate world seems frightening. It isn’t. At least it needn’t be.

Beyond Literacy views this possibility not as some new Dark Age but instead as a kind of liberation of human ability and interaction. Beyond Literacy is about a positive future. Think about it as a search for Alphabet 2.0.

Not for the faint of heart, you will definitely enjoy this lively and thought-provoking talk!

Mike Ridley’s Keynote address begins on Wednesday, October 30, 2013 at 8:45AM Pacific time and will be streamed here.

Watch the Keynote Here