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Come Back Next Year!

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CIL 2019 has concluded.  As usual, there were many new and fascinating topics highlighted in the presentations.  You can see the speakers’ presentations here.

Be sure and mark your calendar now with the date for CIL2020!

Best wishes.

Preparing Libraries For the Digital Future

Peter Velikonja

Peter Velikonja

Peter Velikonja, Head, Research, Koios, LLC, presented a fascinating discussion of what communities want using Google Search data. Koios loves libraries; how do we raise awareness of them? Libraries are the epicenters of information. How do we make the connection between what the library has and what the public wants. The Toronto Public Library displays feeds of what users are searching, which is an indication of what the public wants. Here is a sample:

Toronto searches

We make sense of random words falling from the sky by putting out “buckets” to collect words and sorting them according to our interests, then categorizing them according to importance.

You can also find what people are typing into Google by looking at Ad Words, which will show you the average monthly volume of searches–indicators of interest. An advertiser uses these ideas to form a grouped set of keywords called a campaign. Ad Words can also tell you the volume in targeted metropolitan areas and compare it to the population of the areas, which leads to the community insights. Ranking the campaigns gives the top subjects searched. Libraries can use this to tailor their services. For example, in the “My 311” category, the top term is “hospital near me”, and in genealogy, it is “obituaries”.

311 top terms

Comparing libraries to the US standard shows interests in communities across the country. They are quite similar. Then you can look at hot keywords by town. They are indicators of focused local interest. Unique keywords show you unusual interests of individual communities that libraries can investigate. (See for examples.)This type of information is wide and flat. Normal strategic plans don’t include the population and are aligned with existing library users. This is one way of getting out of the library and getting data on the community. You can compare your community with Google searches. Some things are at the top in the library that are not at the top in Google.

Library Publishing 2019: Milestones and Forecasts

Terence Huwe

Terence Huwe

Terence Huwe, Library Director Emeritus, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, University of California, Berkeley, referred to The Once and Future Publishing Library by Ann Okerson and Alex Holzman (CLIR, 2015) and reviewed the history of libraries as publishers (photo). The skill of publishing books dates back to the 1600s. Many US university presses began in the library; some of the early ones are Cornell University Press in 1869, University of California Press in 1893, University of North Carolina Press in 1878-1879, and Johns Hopkins University Press. University Presses hope they have best sellers because they will make a lot of money.

In 1992, the shift to electronic publishing began with a dialog between ARL and AAUP. The Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia was a very significant development. We are now confronted with an avalanche of technologies. SPARC changed the rules; libraries became publishers, IR overseers, research data administrators, and partners with university presses (see eScholarship, an OA repository for University of California researchers). As a result, we achieved a fuller awareness of digital life cycles across all types of media, how to launch entrepreneurial ventures despite the risks, and gained allies among administrators and faculty.

The hurdles to publishing are low, but editorial skills are crucial. OA became a pillar to the university owning its own content. Educating the faculty on OA took 20 years. Anybody can publish a book with pressbooks; at UC Berkeley, undergraduates are publishing books. There are opportunities for the library to train people. Libraries were the first organization to see that information has a life cycle. We learned how to become intrapreneurial.

OA has legitimized claims for academic control of scholarly information. There is an opportunity to be different. OA has been a big help; people should be able to read for free. Publishers were slow to recognize how powerful this is, but they are now updating their business models. OA versus profit is a very powerful meme.

We need to make data available. We are in scary times for learned societies. SPARC has branded the library as a ally to publishers. Nobody should underestimate the possibilities of data; it solidifies partnerships. Data is for us.

Librarians and faculty are now working together; OA is much better understood and has become a viable business model.Librarians see many unfilled roles in OA. Publishers now recognize that libraries don’t want to make money; they just want to make content available. Everybody is jockeying for position.

The Library Publishing Coalition (LPC) is a new association-level model to help library publishers share lessons. Libraries want to share information with each other; their core competencies are relevant to the publishing world. The LPC has 80 members and is growing. The vast number of publishers want to publish OA. If profit is not a driving factor, why can’t we collaborate? The payoff for librarians is recognition that we are doing the right thing. Amherst College Press became a department of the library after the provost convinced them to merge because they understand their users.

We must be strategic but we also must hold on to things that matter. The challenge is adding a new core competency. Will we find the time to do this? Administrators have a big say in it. Publishing expertise in the library is already a given. Here are some strategic considerations:

Strategic considerations

The library should contract some of the work We will see some big interest in this; there is already a demand for training. Morale can be an issue.


  • Library publishing is here to stay.
    Here to stay
  • Competition will be constant.
  • There will be a shakeout among players.

Huwe concluded with these thoughts:

  • The library profession is being invited, cajoled, urged, and pulled into the role of digital publishers.
  • It makes sense to regard digital publishing as a new core competency.
  • As with all services, to succeed we must “follow the users” and meet their needs.




Engaging With Impact Stories

Sue Considine and Ben Bizzle

Sue Considine and Ben Bizzle

Sue Considine, an independent consultant and former Executive Director of the Fayetteville NY Public Library, and Ben Bizzle, CEO, Library Market and Co-author, Start a Revolution: Stop Acting Like a Library (ALA, 2014) are writing a book It’s All About the Story to be published by ALA. Libraries are the one place in a community where all are equal and are a place of belonging for all citizens. Nothing demonstrates this more than maker, experiential, and collective experiences. The power of making is a social infrastructure. Our work is essential to our communities and helps us understand why we remain in the industry despite all the difficulties. We know that our good work saves lives. Sue started the Fab Lab in the Fayetteville Library which changed the lives of people in the  community. Some people on the fringes of the community feel that the library is their home; we are their equalizer.

Ben’s book was a traumatic life-changing experience. His forthcoming book co-authored with Sue is on why we do the things we do and the importance of that. You never know what a user’s needs are. Sue and Ben have collected stories from around the industry. The impact we have on people’s lives is amazing. Although librarians may not get paid well, they got into the industry because they wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes what seems to be the most mundane of reference transactions turns out to be the most meaningful interaction of the day. We can make people feel like they are not alone and make a difference in their lives.

The session concluded with the audience members sharing some of their stories.