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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.