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Value-Added Research

(L-R) Daniel Lee, Qin Zhu, Amy Affelt

This panel described some innovative ways of providing value-added research for clients.

Amy Affelt

Amy Affelt said that we pull rabbits out of the hat all the time.  This is not so impressive to many users, but one thing that gets raves is a customized clipping service.  The benefits of alerts is that you are finding information people need to know before they see it themselves.  You read the news so that they do not have to.  The problem is that the more alerts you send out, the earlier you have to start!

The Amazon Kindle has changed her life because it allows her to download items because e-reader versions of papers and magazines are ready before they are on websites.  And the materials don’t get wet in the rain!  PDFs of articles can be downloaded from the Kindle to a PC.

Advantages of the e-reader:

  • Size
  • Headlines easily scanned
  • Easy to highlight phrases
  • Online dictionary can be used to look up unfamiliar concepts
  • Read or browse content across platforms
  • The Kindle becomes an ad hoc flash drive, so large files are easily transferred to the PC.

The Kindle has many advantages over the iPad.  It’s cheaper ($189 vs. $429), allows use of a Gmail account (the iPad requires a WiFi hotspot), can access content on a variety of platforms.

Daniel Lee

Daniel Lee provides information services to professionals at Navigator, a 20-person company.  He uses content analysis to find meaning from text or visual data, with techniques common to the social sciences.  Issue tracking, reputational analysis, and stakeholder analysis are examples of this type of analysis.  He tracks journalists and bloggers to understand who is writing about what and also what is being said about his company in the social media world.  Citation analysis is also useful to understand the flow of information through professional journals.

Skills necessary to do content analysis are similar those of catalogers.  You need to be comfortable with spreadsheets and databases.  Attention to detail, concise writing ability, and importantly, curiosity, are necessary.

Search analytics are available from many vendors, which are useful to get a better understanding of the retrieved data.  Some of the vendors providing analytics include Factiva, Canadian Newswire, and Karma.  More resources are available on his blog.

Qin Zhu

Qin Zhu spoke about putting information in context.  Working at Hewlett-Packard (H-P), a list of H-P researchers’ publications was required for the annual report.  Information discovery tools with broad subject coverage and advanced search capabilities were used. The retrieved information was consolidated, de-duped, and presented in different forms (plain text, HTML, RSS, and XML).  Links to the original publications were provided for full text viewing.  These different forms allowed distribution to a variety of publications.

The project was continued after the annual report task was completed, which has helped ongoing discovery, promoted colleague collaboration, and made information a service.


Planning and Designing for Attention: The Wednesday Keynote

Keynoter Jody Turner Chats With Program Chair Jane Dysart

Innovation advocate Jody Turner has worked with several consumer companies, mapping strategic pictures of today’s world and helping them understand today’s culture.  She is a heavy library user and said that libraries are useful to help design at the beginning of the process, not at the end like graphic designers who makes things attractive to consumers.

Today we are feeding information to multiple generations and must tailor our approach differently for each one.  How do we curate the right people with the right information?  The new model is to be who you are, do what you love, and define what having the information means to you.

Data is the new social capital.  The big word today is empathy.  People want to be part of a culture and part of a community, no longer just in a neighborhood.  Our role is to bring people together in meaningful interaction. If my “town” does well, we all do well.  Use your words to capture what is going on, and make up words (she used “innoventors” as an illustration) to describe the use of information in new ways.

Companies have brands and mission statements.  It is important for you to have your own personal mission statement and for your family to have one too.  Small things can make a difference; for example, when you are doing a project, set up a Google Alert so you are aware of external developments.  A good book to learn about this is The Power of Pull:  How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set big Things in Motion.

Turner concluded with a list of trends and supporting resources.  They are all available at her website, Culture of Future.


[Technical note:  Why does the blog posting for Wednesday’s keynote immediately follow the one for Tuesday?  Because there is no conference Wi-Fi access in the Monterey Marriott, so I could not write the postings in real time (grrr!).]

CIO Insights: Tuesday Keynote

(L-R) Mike Ridley, Donna Scheeder, Jim Peterson

A panel of 3 CIOs, Mike Ridley from the University of Guelph in Ontario, Donna Scheeder at the Congressional Research Service, and Jim Peterson at the Goodnight Public Library in Franklin, KY, exercised our minds in the Tuesday keynote.  (Thanks, Jim, for agreeing to pinch hit at the last minute for the original speaker who was unable to come.)  Mike views his mission as maximizing the business practices of the university in order to change it; Donna said that information management goes hand-in-hand with technology; and Jim characterized himself as “The Geek In the Wallet” when new technology is being obtained.

Conference Chair Jane Dysart asked the panelists a series of questions relevant to today’s environment.  Here are the questions and panelists’ answers.

What are today’s significant changes and challenges?

Mike Ridley:

Although the CIO is all about the enterprise, everybody does their own IT today, which can be at odds with the enterprise.  We all have “tribal” identities–ways of thinking about what we do.  In a university, there are lots of tribes.

The information age is over, but we’re still holding on to it. Everybody is in the information business now, and we should let go of that metaphor.  This now the age of imagination.  We are completely ignorant of what the future will bring, what the toolset will be, and how it will evolve.

Donna Scheeder:

Each discipline has its own culture, so the challenge is to get an enterprise-wide approach to balancing resource allocation.  We add value by understanding our environment.  There is a big move to teleworking in the government which is affected by device proliferation.  We must align our content and deliver it to all types of devices.  Our biggest single challenge is security and asset protection.

Jim Peterson:

In the end we’re all the same with computers, servers, etc., but IT has its costs.  We need to have an organized way to get the information out at the most effective cost.  Increasing speed increases productivity because less time is spent waiting for it to be displayed.  One cost that we may overlook is the cost of power.  If a device produces heat, it is wasting power.  We must look at other power-efficient devices.

IT is more than the person you call when you have a problem; it is the facilitator to help you get the information you need.

About 35 billion items connect to the Internet today, and that will grow to 1 trillion in 3 years.  What will this mean to libraries?

Donna Scheeder:

Where do we want the library to be?  The library is the screen.  Why can’t we take it to where people already are, where they are in the mood to relax, contemplate, and read?

Mike Ridley:

The Internet will eventually get so big that we won’t notice it anymore. Libraries will be everywhere all the time, and the danger is that they will disappear.

Jim Peterson:

Libraries disappearing may be a good thing–who better to use Google for you than a librarian?

What tips can you as CIOs give us for our own environments?

Jim Peterson:

Show a solid business case for what you want to do.
Talk to your legislators so they will know your problems and requirements.
Help each other when your library is in danger of disappearing.  For ideas see this site.

Donna Sheeder:

  • Figure out how what you want to do must be aligned to the greater goals of the organization.
  • Think like the user.  What do they want to do?
  • Think like decision-makers.  What is the economic reality of your organization?  Don’t think like the library–think like the enterprise.  Be able to frame the problem and work together to form the requirements.  Creativity must happen in areas important to the organization.  It is easy to create content and put it up.  How do we ensure it gets preserved?

Mike Ridley:

  • Think like a participant.  How can you involve yourself?
  • Make yourself visible in your organization as much as possible.
  • Develop a level of tolerance for the various “tribes”.
  • Have a skunk works to develop and explore new things.
  • Central IT is your friend.

We need people who understand the technology but who can talk as users.


Rip Van Winkle’s Libraries in 2510

Rip Van Winkle

At conferences such as IL, one often finds sessions devoted to the future of libraries in 3, 5, or at the most 10 years.  But the organizers of IL 2010 went far beyond that with the Tuesday evening session on libraries 500 years(!!) in the future.  Well, at least nobody at today’s session will be around to validate the predictions!

The Audience Gathers

The Shanachies, Eric and Jaap, took us on a trip into the future.  They showed an interview with Ernie Ingles, Vice Provost and Director, School of Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta.

Erik Interviews Ernie Ingles

Ingles likes libraries because they are very dynamic places.  There has been so much change in the last 40 years!  That was 5 years after the first photocopies were introduced into libraries.  What’s next and how do we start preparing for it?  Where will libraries go?  We must stop thinking that there is something called a library.  There are many kinds of libraries, and the differences will become more profound.  We are the keepers and curators of yesterday’s and today’s knowledge for tomorrow.  Our client 500 years from now needs to have available some of the things of today.  We have to deal with that future not only in print but also digitally.  There is nothing permanent about a digital file.  We must stop thinking about decades.  We have managed to inherit a heritage from our predecessors.  It will be that way in the future, but we must start thinking how we are going to preserve our heritage.  We have not taken preservation as seriously as we should.  The world has to understand that we have the skills to do it, but we need a general understanding.  We need leadership to give librarians the confidence they need to make the case that this is important.  I would like to see that people have come forward to take on those challenges.

Ernie comes back to tell us what happened

From a viewpoint 500 years hence, Ernie said that nobody cared about long-term preservation.  Something went wrong!  Metadata terrorists were creating app things.  They were creating dysfunctional taxonomies–even though the knowledge was there, you couldn’t find it.  They made everything digital and forgot about print.  We heard about a “Saint Steve A.” who had the ability to counteract what the terrorists were doing.

An old video of an interview with “Steve A.” was found.

Erik Interviews "Steve A."

He has no doubt that devices will be implanted so that we won’t have to worry about losing our phones.  People find it hard to imagine how much change will happen.  We are entering a period of very dynamic change. It’s not about desktop screens, products, or content.  It’s all about context.  We have gotten much better at communicating to transfer information.  We can move more information than ever before.  We need to understand better how information flows and how we can improve its context.

Unfortunately the video was damaged, but the body of Steve A. was found and unfrozen.

He got very passionate about reading.  We brought people together, and it was depressing.  They would say things like, “If we could only catalog the Internet…”.  We showed them that this would take 9,000 years with today’s technology.  We were worried that librarians have not leaped up to the next plateau.  I wondered how we could shock them out of their complacency.  How do we protect the world of discovery and culture for the next 500 years.  Some people actually said they couldn’t think more than 3 years in the future!  How do we get our passion to transcend our small world?

We will be totally interconnected, but there will be “opt out” places where you can do things yourself and have free thoughts without being connected.  Will our search for libraries be in vain?

Erik interviewed “The Librarian in Black”, a.k.a. Sarah Houghton-Jan.

We are trying hard to connect to our users using whatever device they have.  It’s really important not to be device-specific.  We use open access so that our information will always be available.

The "Librarian in Black" Becomes the "Librarian in White"

Is there hope for libraries?  There is, but all the data we have is so encrypted, we need a key to the internet.