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Come to CIL 2019!

CIL 2019

Another CIL conference has concluded. It was very successful and explored many topics of significant current interest, some of which have been summarized in this blog. With four or five simultaneous tracks, there were many sessions that I was not able to attend. However, many of the slides from the speaker’s presentations, as well as those from the workshops and cybertours, are available on the conference website.

Now, before you forget it, mark the dates for next year’s CIL on your calendar and plan to attend.

Measuring Research Impact and Maximizing Impact Using Bibliometrics and Altmetrics

Elaine Lasda and Richard Hulser

Elaine Lasda and Richard Hulser

Elaine Lasda, Associate Librarian, University at Albany, began with a brief overview of citation metrics and altmetrics. Altmetrics are more useful than traditional citation counts because they recognize research not reported in the traditional literature such as those on social media, and are more timely, reporting data in months, not years.

Proprietary (not free) bibliometric resources include the Web of Science (which will soon include a Book Citation Index), Scopus, and Plum Analytics. Free tools are also available.

Bibliometric tools include:

  • Kopernio (now owned by Clarivate),
  • Clarivate, which is useful for identifying highly cited researchers, top topics,  etc. and which has links to lots of free tools,
  • (free from Scopus) includes CiteScore which is more than a simple impact factor,
  • Google Scholar’s citation counts also give the i10 index (the number of citations in last 10 years), and h-index, which rewards a long career of publications. It also includes a “publish or perish” downloadable tool.
  • Scholarometer, a browser add-on gives picture of author’s output.

The ORCID ID gives authors a number that can be used in searches to disambiguate variations in author names and measure citations. Citation counts are at best an approximation. WorldCat Identities show where an author’s books are held.

Kudo helps researchers get known on various platforms. Reputation approaches are a less evidence-based way to evaluate researchers: word of mouth, luminaries/notable editors, professional associations, and published surveys.

Richard Hulser, Chief Librarian and Curator, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, reviewed altmetrics and the products using them. Think about your context for using altmetrics. (In his case, the museum is a research institution working in areas such as marine sciences, mineral sciences, paleontology, and others.) Funders and donors are noticing this, and altmetric tools expand their awareness. They also help librarians stay current in the research and scholarly process, show value in new ways, and are current with the born-digital generation.

Challenges for the museum’s research departments include raising their visibility and value to the institution and then the institution’s value to all, with measurements to back up their reasoning. Libraries and archives in museums are challenged to demonstrate their 21st century usefulness. They therefore focus on the museum’s digital image and social media presence, capturing the visitor’s experience before, during, and after their visit. DOIs are used to draw attention in social media and other resources to content.

Why altmetrics at the museum: All curators love to hear about their own research and who is reviewing them in the literature, papers, and online media. Sometimes references in the literature are identified using altmetrics, but no press release has been issued, so the researcher can alert the Communications Office in this case. Using DOIs, altmetrics can also aggregate a researcher’s work, which is useful in applying for grants.

Several articles have highlighted some concerns about altmetrics including:

  • They may not be well received by researchers and have the reputation of just identifying “popular” articles,
  • They do not capture all published research (not all articles have DOIs) or online discussions of research, and
  • There is the potential for manipulating and “gaming” the system.

Despite these concerns, altmetrics play a useful role in identifying and measuring research outputs, both for institutions and librarians.

The Gen Z Tech Disruption: Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst

Kerry Keegan

Kerry Keegan

Kerry Keegan, Training and Library Solutions Consultant, Atlas Systems, described some of the newest members of our population: the Gen Zs. Here are the generations as they are commonly defined.

The Generations

Keegan polled the audience and found that half of it was made up of Millennials. The oldest Gen Zs are now just entering college.

We have an emotional attachment to things that happened in our early years, which is why it is useful to distinguish generations by their birth years. Here are the formative events of recent generations:

  • Boomers: Vietnam, Woodstock, civil rights, Kennedy assassination, Watergate
  • Gen X: Berlin wall, Challenger, AIDS, MTV, Desert Storm
  • Millennials: 9/11, Columbine, Google, social media, video games, Y2K
  • Gen Z: Great Recession, ISIS, marriage equality, Obama’s presidency, rise of populism

Michael Dimock, President of Pew Research, has said that we need to keep in mind that generations are are a lens through which we understand societal change, rather than a label with which  to oversimplify differences between groups.

Keegan focused the remainder of her presentation on Gen Zs. They want:

  • Inclusion. Only 16% of their households resemble the traditional nuclear family.  Elements of democracy are coming into households, and GenZs make significant use of “pester power”: 67% of parents get their child’s input before making a purchase of things like dining out, toys, apparel, entertainment, and food; 59% will not purchase without a child’s approval, and 42% of parents have buckled under pressure on purchases.GenZs don’t expect success to come easily and want to work for their success. Over 50% say their personal success is very important to them. They believe that hard work is necessary and winning individual awards is important.
  • Immediacy. Constant lifelong exposure to mobile technologies has influenced broader expectations and behaviors. They are early adopters by nature, hyperconnected but selective and believe that perfection is the enemy of progress. They are used to having to correct and get bugs out all the time. They want to access an enormous amount of information in a short time, which will make them productive employees in the future.
  • Image consciousness. They are stressed about how they appear and feel badly when they compare themselves to others. Social media is a significant source of stress. They want to look good in selfies on social media and be “YouTube stars” or “Instagram stars” that get millions of followers. They are acutely aware of their digital footprint and have a strong tendency to worry about privacy: 82% think carefully about what they post, and 43% regret something they have shared online.

Hyperconnectivity is not a distraction for Gen Z. Almost 80% of Gen Zs access social media several times a day and 77% are using Facebook as a passive information source; 63% use Instagram; 61% use Snapchat; and 45% use Twitter as a real-time news source.

Social media posts should be hand crafted for each platform to reflect its rules and norms. Authenticity matters to GenZs. They want a person speaking to them, prefer real non-curated messages, and hate disruption by ads. GenZs are big users of mobile phones; 3/4 of teenagers have a phone and are mobile connected, and they have an average of five screens that they interact with daily. 

Where are librarians already primed to excel and how can they reach these people? Bureaucracy, traditions, and size make it unlikely that they will lead to any groundbreaking and technological innovations. We can’t curate all the information and are not the people that know everything any more. All we can do is to help people find things and try to make the best choices. We have already created a culture that supports these services. We can use the Internet of Things to improve access to our materials (ALA already activates for this) and speak freely, which is very important to Gen Zs.

And remember — we were all young once.

What Our Library Stopped Doing

Laura Soto-Barra and Rebecca Jones

Laura Soto-Barra (L) and Rebecca Jones (R)


Rebecca Jones, Managing Partner, Dysart & Jones Associates, said that we often speak about the new things we are doing in our libraries, but sometimes you have to stop doing things to make way for something new. . We all like to do things in which we are competent, and we don’t like to be told to stop them.

Here are things we have stopped doing:

  • Card catalogs. When library catalogs became available electronically, we stopped using card catalogs because they were slow and inefficient. When computers came along, for the first time multiple people could access the catalog simultaneously. We reallocated our most precious, special, and expensive resource–our people. We are responsible for them and we need to make sure they have the skills and competencies to do other things. Librarians became team members on faculties, due diligence teams, and in community initiatives.
  • Assigning librarians to the desk or fixed service points. They were then able to start being fully engaged team members, becoming involved in community positions, leading customer engagement, etc.
  • Selecting, approving, or checking all items purchased. Librarians no longer need to do ordering and approving items.
  • Checking out items. Self-checkout stations have become common in libraries.
  • Processing purchased items. Now, everything arrives already processed.

We must use evidence to ensure that people have the skills and confidence for the future to grow and go anywhere. Look at the client value of the services we provide and get their strategic fit in the organization, as the chart below shows. If something is not strategically positioned where we want to go, divest it. If it has high client value, double it or stop it if it has low organizational value.

Client fit and strategic value

Sometimes changes will be better accepted if you make them fun. But don’t underestimate the grieving process that some people may have to go through when something disappears.

Laura Soto-Barra, R&D Chief, NPR Research Archives and Data Strategy (RAD), reviewed what they stopped at NPR. When you want to change things, you need alliances and cannot do it alone. Things that changed at NPR:

  • A new name for the information service, which was rebranded as RAD (Research, Archives, and Data Strategy).
  • New relationships with colleagues,
  • Merging of three separate libraries into one, and
  • Creation of a strategy.

The NPR library was formed in 1971 to serve journalists and archive their stories. But they were not considered partners and were largely invisible. When they were rebranded as RAD, they stopped being librarians, and became researchers, data strategists, and archivists. The new name gave them a new identity and new freedoms; they chose the job titles that described their work and responsibilities. We have become product owners and are agile, active, and confident. 

The RAD service has positioned itself in the organization and is not affiliated with any specific division but serves all colleagues as needed. They market themselves to the whole organization and have become trusted and respected. They maintain digital collections of information and acquire resources as needed, no longer subscribing to print publications (unless that is required to get the electronic version). Repetitive data entry-based work has been eliminated.

New relationships with colleagues have greatly increased RAD’s effectiveness and have enabled them to function as partners wherever needed in the organization.


The Thursday Keynote: Digital Transformation and Community Impact

Jane Dysart and Jeanne Holm

Jane Dysart (L) and Jeanne Holm

Jeanne Holm, Senior Tech to the Mayor and Deputy CIO, City of Los Angeles, reviewed some of the smart city and information technology developments in Los Angeles. (This is an update of her keynote speech at Internet Librarian 2017.)

Information is rampant. Every minute we are subjected to a deluge of it.

The Information Deluge

The Information Deluge

How do we make sure that people are getting appropriate and secure information? Online games like SimCity help us envision the future and what people’s roles can be. We must give people power through knowledge and balance that with privacy considerations. We have amazing tools to do the digital transformation.

Information Tools

Information Tools

LA has 4 million people and covers over 500 square miles. 25% of the residents are below the poverty line. We need to give them the opportunity for education to improve the quality of their life.

Geospatial information can be used to create digital data. It is used in a smart city initiative. What are we getting out of it? There are a lot of sensors around the city of LA. Smartphones are watching the traffic; LA is no. 1 in congestion. We are giving up our privacy for convenience of finding out information. Devices are in public, but they count numbers and understand traffic patterns. They do not collect personal information. For example, they can detect a person crossing the street in a wheelchair and give them  more time to get across. We are looking at how technology can help the aging population. The criteria for being independent involves a person’s desire for independence.

Libraries are becoming the central point of resources. Using open data provides information about government, traffic, services, etc.  MyLA 311 systems let people contact government and submit service requests.

MyLA 311

This service gets  about 6.1 million calls a year and gives 24-48 hours response. Open data is used to find where vulnerable populations are in case of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, etc. Earthquake sensors can give people a minute or so of advance warning on their cell phones, which helps remove uncertainty and fright. Autonomous vehicles give independence and receive information, but surprisingly for LA, many people don’t own cars.

We support the Paris Climate Agreement goals to keep greenhouses gases down.

Paris Climate Agreement

Smog days are now less frequent and the city is much cleaner.

LA Smog

Artificial agents like Alexa are empowering devices for people, especially for aged people (Alexa has become a new best friend for many seniors!), but we must balance AI with the human touch. “Officer Chip” is a chatbot in City Hall to interact with people and give quick answers to questions.

There is a growing need for connections in some areas of the city, and libraries are an important part of providing them. In poorer areas, home connections are dropping. Libraries can provide connectivity, access, and literacy. Telecom companies are a large part of this strategy.  Computer giveaway programs are also helping large parts of the population. Libraries provide training programs to teach people how to use these computers. Tech2Go systems let users check out a computer and wi-fi hotspot and get  a month of internet service.

In LA’s “Every child ready to read” program, on the first day of kindergarten every child gets a library card and learns its power. LA Makerspace programs are partners with non-profits to let kids to create things and help demystify science and engineering. 781 workshops have been held and 15,000 kids have gone through the program. FindYourFuture is a user-friendly program to connect people with the knowledge they need to help them find a career.. LA College Promise gives students the perception that they can afford college; they can get 2 years free in a community college, so they can get their AA degree. The Federal Crowdsourcing and citizen science toolkit to let people connect with science programs in the government and helps them get access to education and digital literacy. The goal is to end poverty everywhere, and libraries are at the central part of the effort. Access to information empowers people to make better decisions.

Connecting With Clients: Communications Theory and Reference Interviews

Caryn Wesner-Early and Laura Hjerpe

Caryn Wesner-Early (L) and Laura Hjerpe (R)

Reference interviews have been a central part of librarianship for a long time, so it was appropriate that Caryn Wesner-Early, Search Strategy Expert, ASRC-MS and Laura Hjerpe, CGI Federal, presented a fresh look at them. Their talk covered the various types of reference interviews, why have them, how to do them, and what to do if the  client is not happy with the results.

Reference interviews are not easy because frequently the requester is trying to describe something they don’t know, is unaware of what is available, or needs help defining the scope of a project. So it is easy to misunderstand what the user want. We know what is in our libraries, but sometimes we don’t know if what was found is the right answer. Here are some good reference interview characteristics.

Reference interview characteristics

Goals of the interview include making contact, identifying the real question, checking that the need has been met, and encouraging repeat business.

During the interview, there may be a shift between quick reference and research. The requester and librarian are colleagues in the process. Both have the same goal: to find the needed answer. Let the requester do most of the talking.  Repeat, summarize, paraphrase.

Good communication skills are vital because the requester is providing the terminology to determine the search.  Body language and facial expressions influence what we hear. Make eye contact with the requester and have a relaxed open posture.

Listen carefully and give full attention to the request. There are three kinds of listening: competitive/combative (the listener interrupts and challenges the speaker), passive/attentive (the listener is considerate but might not be engaged enough or provide feedback), active/reflective (the happy medium, the listener is engaged but suspending judgement of the requester). Active listening tips: provide feedback, defer judgement, summarize, then respond. Ask the requester to clarify or give an example of what is desired. The Mindtools site has good advice for communicating. Use open questions to encourage the requester to talk, such as

  • What are you focusing on?
  • What else can you tell me about it?
  • If you had the perfect reference or were writing an article on this, what would it be called?
  • What have you tried so far?

Sense-making questions add structure to the interview and help fill in the gaps:

  • What industry is this term used in?
  • Do you want results only from that area?
  • What does term mean in your field?
  • Where would you like to begin?

Advantages of the in-person interview are that the requester and information professional can see each other’s body language and can go to the shelves together to check materials that might be relevant to the question. Disadvantages are that participants may feel rushed, and language differences can cause problems.

If you are doing a phone interview, smile when you are talking which will give you a good voice. Remove all distractions and don’t multitask, ask speaker to clarify, say more, give an example. It can be more difficult to explain a process even if both participants have the same site open on their computers.

Virtual reference interviews using chat, IM, or email present their own problems. If possible, read the request before starting to work on it and isolate parts of the request that are not clear.  Another colleague of a supervisor may be able to help. Nuanced conversations are difficult; tone, mood words, capital letters, and punctuation must be regarded. Emoticons and informal language can be used to advantage, but a professional tone must be maintained. Virtual reference interviews often provide time to think about the question and compose a thoughtful answer.

Here are some suggestions for chat etiquette:

  • Be conversational but professional.
  • Be concise but not rude.
  • Break a long answer into two or more parts.
  • Use short, frequent messages.
  • Accept a few typos in your response.

Research interviews on advanced or complex topics are different; they are more extensive and require different methods. The interviewer must ask for alternate terms, jargon, concepts that must or must not be included in the results, and other specific details. At the end of the interview, review what you and the requester have agreed on as the scope of the search. The scope of the search can change during processing, so be sure to document and review these changes with the requester.

Reference interview problems and solutions:

  • If an interview is taking a long time, use closed questions to signal the end. Ask if anything else is required and offer to schedule a time for a follow up.
  • If the requester is unhappy, review the original request and what was done. Ask what is missing and make sure you understand the problem. You may need to refer the requester to a supervisor to resolve the problem.
  • If a requester is angry, do not argue. Use active listening skills to focus on the complaint. Parrot back key points to confirm your understanding and focus on the solution.



YSee paper on anger in the library from 1999.