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Come Back Next Year For Another Great Conference

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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


The Value of Value in the Near Distant Future

Stephen Abram

Stephen Abram

As he frequently does in his presentations, Stephen Abram, Principal, Lighthouse Consulting, made some provocative statements and asked probing questions. He discussed the value proposition for libraries, which is (1) Why do we exist? and (2) Does what we do align with that? For example, many libraries have launched extensive digitization programs, which may not be productive. We could be making the world a worse place because we have not integrated the results, so it is difficult to find them. Have we unfettered our information or have we continued the long tradition of libraries to add fetters to it? That is not making it easier for the user.  It is as if we have a lot of pretty mosaic tiles, but we have not made a picture. What are our tiles making and what is the context of our users? When we pull a lot of content together, it can lose context and become more of an amorphous mass.

We need to ask ourselves questions: How many of us have surveyed the top 10 questions our library requesters ask ? When you know those, what is your website support for them? How do you build a path to information literacy. Are we still book-centered? People have visual, auditory and textual learning styles; how do we put context together for them?

We need to consider how museums curate materials. When you build context, you must support a point of view.  Museum professionals curate to a point of view; librarians pretend to be non-judgmental and not have a point of view.  There is no bigger lie that we tell ourselves. We are biased toward culture, quality, what choices we make, so we need to be clear on the point of view in order to curate.  Are you focused on learning, discovery, or broadening viewpoints?

Do our virtual branches model the activities of the main library? Or do we keep things completely dis-aggregated and expect the users to figure out where to go or which database to search? We are not moving fast enough to aggregate properly.

Personas are very useful in determining the groups we serve and creating services for them. The way people are changes how they work with things. We now know that people have different learning styles, so we cannot prepare them by making them all readers. DVD rental stores have nearly all disappeared, so many people are using non-textual resources in libraries. In the 1800s, people read together in a classroom; now we watch DVDs together. We are looking for information literacy skills instead of looking for information fluency skills. Skill is not the goal; it is a process toward the goal.

Why are we going against biology? People develop at different rates based on their age. Personas help us determine this. We need to show people how to get better information from all the quality things we have licensed.  How do we aggregate the social with everything else?

We have fields, tags, tools, linked data, etc. that have all been redesigned to make our data work together. Do our metadata strategies support the pathways that users are taking? We have tools to create things that integrate multiple types of information and support the specific challenges we face. Why don’t we have our pathfinders in a huge vault that everyone can share. Librarians have a huge ability to keep their lights under a basket!  We need to work from features to functions and benefits.

How are we integrating the librarian and the social contract into social media spaces on our websites? If you are not where your users are, you are running away from a marketing opportunity to represent your values.

Physical and digital materials each have strengths and weaknesses, so create an experience to take advantage of them. Is your search experience generating self-esteem and knowledge when that is needed? Every collection in the library should be justified by the programs you are offering. Impact, outcomes, and value will tell you whether you are successful.

We are not an information profession; we are a knowledge profession that sits in the space between data and behavior. We need to evolve towards being experience-centric. We have a diffusion problem; why does it take so long for things to diffuse into our communities?  The main thing that we do not do well is to serve the business community.

Don Hawkins