Recent Events

The opening keynote

Indi Young (L) with Jane Dysart, IL Program Chair

Indi Young (L) with Jane Dysart, IL Program Chair

The Impact of Deep Understanding

The Impact of Deep Understanding

The opening keynote speaker, Indi Young, Co-Founder, Adaptive Path, and author, Mental Models and Practical Empathy, titled her address “The Impact of Deep Understanding”.



She began with this photo of her bookshelf which has a copy of My Trip to Europe, 1937, by Betty May Hale, a 13 year old girl who wrote home to her grandparents every day so that they could see the trip through her eyes.

The thinking process is still the same today, despite widespread and rapid access to technology and knowledge. The photos illustrate what is going through the author’s mind so that thoughts can be shared with others. Along with their albums, they also let others understand the photographer and what they were thinking. We can do this through deep understanding when we try to understand our ancestors through a variety of different kinds of research such as usability testing, contextual research, needs analyses, etc.  We must understand problem spaces which will let us understand the person. We measure quality by seeing whether the solution we have is working and by purpose and whether it is working. There are many applications of empathy:

Applications of Empathy

Applications of Empathy

Be able to support the intents and purposes of people to understand their needs and support their tasks and goals. Look at your purpose and see how to achieve it.  A “mental model diagram” will help reach the goals and compare them to the purposes that people have.

Mental Model Diagrams

Mental Model Diagrams

Using empathy, you think the thoughts of your customer, not your thoughts.  There are different types of empathy, including

  • Emotional empathy: Joy, sadness, etc. Understanding and supporting another person’s emotion and what they are feeling.
  • Cognitive empathy: Understanding what went through a person’s mind and the way they are thinking supporting them when they are trying to achieve an intent or purpose.

Applying empathy is acting like another character (walking in their shoes). You must listen to develop empathy. A listening session is like going on a tour and asking the guide questions about the tour, but not about something unmentioned. You must break through the surface and understand the depth: reasoning, reactions, how the decision was made, guiding principles, sources of the opinions, etc. “Why” is very powerful question. Start a listening session to determine its scope: “What went through your mind as you tried to accomplish your purpose?” Then use an event that happened: “What about the last time (first time, memorable time) you were doing it?” Avoid judging or contempt, even if you don’t agree. Put yourself in their situation as the speaker, not yourself. Support a person’s emotions so you can build rapport.

Active listening is when you completely tuned in to the other person. Don’t take notes; you want your brain to be understanding.  We to this to attempt to banish assumptions about why people do things. We must find out the customer’s needs so that we’re not operating on intuition but on real data. Frame your thinking by people, not by solutions. Here are some examples:

The amount needed to do these studies is minimal compared to other types of research. It is not a part of the production cycle because it cannot be inserted into it. You are not doing this kind of research to build a service but to figure out which service to build. How a study like this works:

  • Decide which subset of your audience to explore and which of their purposes to examine
  • Conduct a one-on-one listening session.
  • Transform transcripts of sessions to a mental model diagram. Don’t use sticky notes; they don’t convey the depth of nuance of data.
  • Combine and summarize: Identify and untangle the concepts a person mentions then restate each one in a clear way so you won’t have to re-understand them later on. Write a clear summary.
  • Group patterns: Find affinities between the summaries and across participants. Let labels develop themselves.
  • Support the thinking and philosophies of the person, employ the language the ways they are using them.

Each listening session is about an hour; analyzing the data and getting the richness of the human aspects can take up to 10 hours.

Internet Librarian 2016 Opens

Welcome to the blog for Internet Librarian 2016!  It’s hard to believe but this is the 20th Internet Librarian conference.  Where does the time go?  Lots of changes are in store as you will discover in succeeding posts, but some things don’t change–great speakers, networking opportunities, reconnecting with old friends, and more.  So check back often for the latest news, which I look forward to bringing to you.

Here are some scenes from the opening events.

Attendees pick up their materials at the registration desk

Attendees pick up their materials at the registration desk

Breakfast is always popular

Breakfast is always popular

Tom Hogan Sr. Opens IL2016

Tom Hogan Sr. Opens IL2016

Tom Hogan Sr. opened the conference and said that 17 Internet Librarian conferences have been in Monterey. Just under 600 people have pre-registered, from 43 states and 15 countries outside the U.S. A large number of people are attending their first conference; there are 126 speakers at the conference. Approximately 12 companies are exhibiting.

Enjoy the conference!



Come Back Next Year For Another Great Conference

018 Small

Another very successful CIL conference has concluded. It covered a number of topics of high current interest and offered a good look at some new and emerging technologies.  The exhibitors were happy too; the Exhibit Hall was crowded during the breaks.

So be sure to put the dates for CIL 2017 on your calendar:

March 21-23, 2017

And if you have something to report on, consider submitting a proposal when the Call For Papers for CIL 2017 is issued shortly.

I hope to see you there!

Don Hawkins

Who Are You Online?

Lennea Bower, Alexandra Zealand, Darlene Fichter, Jeff Wisniewski

(L-R) Alexandra Zealand (Arlington VA Public Library), Lennea Bower (Montgomery County MD Library), Darlene Fichter (University of Saskatchewan Library), Jeff Wisniewski (University of Pittsburgh)

Types of Online Accounts

The first part of this session focused on privacy aspects of online accounts and the image they convey. Lennea and Alexandra began by describing types of accounts. Some are parody accounts, where the owners want to have what they say distinguished from their professional writings. Professional accounts tend to be owned by organizations; personal professional accounts are owned by individuals writing about or on behalf of their workplaces.  It is important to recognize that if you post your real name on a social media platform, others can find out who you are, where you work, and connect that with your online personal account. However, this is changing significantly as the platforms update and strengthen their privacy features.

What already exists online consists of items posted by you or with your knowledge, or posts of children and minors. Think about your family if you work in a public setting. What are you posting about them? Will it be there forever? Today’s generation is the first one growing up with social media platforms from birth. When children turn 13, they can get a Facebook page; be aware that they might not like the baby photos posted by their parents.  (The average family posts 973 photos of their kids before they turn 5.)

Do you represent your institution online?  What is important to your community? With whom do you want to connect? Use an acceptable standard of professionalism in your postings; spell correctly, use complete sentences, etc. State your guidelines, and follow your organization’s policy page. (Many organizations have policies governing their employees’ use of social media; a comprehensive directory of many of them is here.) Know your communication goals at the beginning. Here is an example of three organizations’ Twitter pages that follow these principles:

Sample Twitter Pages

Do you have multiple people sharing the same account? Do you have a single voice or multiple voices (sub-voices)? Are the sub-voices official or unofficial? If they are official sub-voices, here are some things to think about:

  • Who do you represent?
  • What is important to the people who follow this account?
  • Who do you want to follow this account?

Hootsuite, is a tool which manages separate accounts and can create separate web browsers for them. Some handheld apps allow for multiple accounts.

One way to keep your personal and professional accounts separate is to use a different monitor for each one so you always know where you are and won’t make a mistake.

A Twitter Wake-Up Call

Darlene and Jeff focused on Twitter and its use in libraries. They emphasized that libraries must be on Twitter and said that it would be irresponsible for your library not to be on Twitter, especially if you are doing a lot of broad communications. When a communications medium becomes so ubiquitous and has immediate live impact on a community, a presence is essential for proactive and reactive reasons. Twitter has hit a tipping point. It is the place where we first learn about things that are happening in the world.  It has become the new news release medium. For example, organizations frequently no longer have press conferences and hope that their message gets passed along by the new media; instead, they have Twitter conferences where they can speak directly to their followers and to a wider online community (including the news media).

Why Twitter now?

  • It is an open platform unlike Facebook.
  • It is searchable and has a conversational search engine.
  •  It breaks the news and is a direct channel to communities, both nationally or regionally.
  • It is an unfiltered discussion medium. Nobody is holding the keys; you can speak directly to your followers.
  • Things announced on Twitter tend to go viral; it is universally on the radar..

Half of Twitter users follow brands or companies. Twitter users are a source for mass influencers. 25% of its users are African Americans (approximately double the average for the US population).

Use Twitter proactively and reactively. You can get a lot of traction from live tweets.  In a reactive mode, use Twitter to fight misinformation and to communicate in a time of crisis or major disaster. Internet hoaxes and misinformation can spread like wildfire online, but using Twitter, you can communicate with the community and clarify what actually occurred.

Do you have guidelines for what happens in a crisis?  (You need to have this conversation if you don’t!) For example, in the recent Freddie Gray crisis in Baltimore, the local library decided to stay open and Tweeted about it.  The Tweets became news; they did not have to wait for a reporter to come and talk to them. Twitter is immediate. It allows you to reach the media to pick up your story. You are not in complete silence. It is also bi-directional; you can hear from your followers.

Don Hawkins

Not Your Usual Content

Julia Tryon and Curt Tagtmeier

Julia Tryon and Curt Tagtmeier

This session described the production of two fascinating and unusual types of content.

The Rosarium Project

Julia Tryon, Commons Librarian at Providence College, likes roses, so she started the Rosarium Project. What interests her most is what has been written about roses, and there is no lack of material; much has been written over the centuries. (The first book solely about roses appeared in 1796.) Tryon gave attendees a tour of the history of literature about roses, accompanied by beautiful photos of them. Advances in printing provided an opportunity to distribute catalogs and manuals, like this one.

Rose catalog

In 1992, the typical way for a librarian to share a subject was to compile a bibliography; the Rosarium Project is now a full-text searchable database on the web. Because of copyright considerations most of its over 900 records describe English language non-fiction materials published before 1923. Advances in technology have provided the opportunity to make information available to the world. The audience includes scholars, gardeners, and popular culturists.

Tryon used the Reader’s Guide database to find 163 items published between 1824 and 1922. A surprising number of them came from general interest magazines. The information was encoded using the Oxygen XML Editor and the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines to produce XML files for the database. (An abstract of her talk with some additional details is available here.) TEI has the advantages that it is adaptable, allows for spelling standardization, and allows the addition of notes to records to add value.  A useful source for learning TEI is the TEI By Example website. Files are uploaded to the TAPAS project for validation; TAPAS is also the database host.

Not Your Usual Selfie

Curt Tagtmeier, Digital Collections Librarian, Highland Park Public Library and an author of several self-published books, discussed self publishing, a growing trend. Self Publishing is a huge market, as these numbers show.

Why Self Publish?

Although there are many titles available, the problem is finding them. People self publish because they have something to share and do not want to just put it on a blog. Here are some stereotypes about self-publishing.

Self publishing stereotypes

Self publishing presents several challenges for the author. Many platforms require authors to agree to exclusivity and will not allow them to publish on more than one site. Some libraries limit self published collections to physical books acquired by donation; however, Library Journal has established a program designed to expose books to more readers by creating state portals where readers can find the books (the library must subscribe to BiblioBoard). Other organizations are getting into the act; the Illinois Soon To Be Famous Author Project will give free promotion of a book for a year. The Daviess County Library, in Kentucky has established a comprehensive program to help authors.

Daviess County example

Self publishing challenges for libraries include content and quality control, e-books in a compatible format and how much staff time is required to catalog the books.

Tagtmeier uses Amazon’s CreateSpace system to create and publish his books. The system is very user friendly; if desired, the entire process can be done by simply filling forms on templates (available in the system), and cutting and pasting text. It will handle obtaining an ISBN, create the cover, and manage the sales and distribution process (even using the Kindle if the author wishes).

Don Hawkins