Archive | February, 2005

Into the night . . .

On tonight’s (snowy) agenda is a formal reception at Philadelphia’s historic Union League.

The two-block walk from the hotel may seem a lot longer than normal, given the weather.

In this picture taken earlier outside, even Dali looks amazed to see the snow keep coming down.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

Surveying Academic Librarians

Jim McGinty’s been going through his results from a survey of U.S. and European academic librarians. There’s tons of data here, so I can only record a few things that I thought were interesting. Head librarians, reference librarians, and subject specialists had different views on issues. Trade shows are extremely important to head librarians more than those further down the hierarchy. In the U.S. 40% of all librarians think the Internet has improved the standards of scholarship, while 70% in Europe agree. A key variable is faculty, so Jim advised the audience to pay attention to faculty. Librarians in general aren’t satisfied with their outreach programs. The three most dominant issues for academic librarians are open access, institutional archiving, and Google Scholar.

Final thoughts on librarians from Jim: They’re approachable but time sensitive, stressed by change driven environments, service sensitive, especially in technical areas, educated consumers who are focused and process oriented. They expect and appreciate competency and react differently depending on position and responsibility. Outreach is a big deal. Archiving in an electronic environment is major issue, faculty involvement is critical to digital research, current awareness of advantages and pitfalls of web, consortia has become a very important communication channel, and reps are important, but must meet librarian expectations.

There were 4 pages of answers to the open ended question of what they wanted to tell NFAIS attendees. They fell into four general categories: budget/economics, interface/product capabilities, communication/sales, and industry issues. Jim says he’ll put these up on the NFAIS Web site.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Miles Conrad lecturers

Jim McGinty, this year’s NFAIS Miles Conrad Lecturer, receives a few pointers from last year’s award recipient, John Regazzi (right).

A complete list of the people who have received this award–and given the lecture–in the past–can be found here, at the NFAIS Web site.

You will also find the full text of recent lectures by Dialog’s Roger Summit, Bela Hatvany (SilverPlatter), Karen Hunter (Elsevier) and Kurt Molholm (DTIC), to name just a few.

Jim McGinty has now started his lecture and is reviewing the results of a survey he commissioned precisely for this lecture.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

High Tea?

Barbara Brynko, the new editor-in-chief of the Information Today newspaper partakes of the afternoon refreshments. (The Ritz is famous for its high tea.)

There’s no such thing, of course, as a free lunch (or even a free pastry). Barb was up at the crack of dawn this morning to be in Philadelphia on time for her breakfast interview with Jim McGinty, who will appear next on the program to give his “Miles Conrad Lecture.”

You’ll be reading her interview with Jim McGinty in an upcoming edition of Information Today.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

Elsevier on PDAs

Toni Clogston gave a thorough overview of how clinicians use PDAs. Over 40% of physicians use PDAs and they tend to be the younger doctors. Elsevier is putting its Handbooks on PDAs but they don’t expect people to read PDFs on their PDAs. It’s necessary to customize content, consider search functionality, realize that users are mobile, and that handhelds may not be the next new thing. In fact, Toni suggested an analogy to 8-track tapes.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Contextual Design

Ovid Technologies, which is a Wolters Kluwer company, is trying to get away from products designed by engineers to ones that meet user needs. Jay Chakrapani showed how Ovid’s been using Contextual Design to accomplish this. First Ovid did 2 hour interviews and watching how they did their literature searching. Then there’s an interpretation session, affinity diagrams, visioning and storyboarding, and create paper prototypes. Then Ovid took the prototypes back to the customer to see how they interacted with it. The fun part is inventing new features. The process uses real customers not personas.

Early findings: There are two camps of users, structured subject searchers versus web searchers; content currency and full text is critical; literature search is one step in a process that involves many applications; there’s no time for training; and search process is separate from reading articles.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Best Leading Lady

Others participating in the high-level role-playing exercise at lunch today were (l-r) Paul Ryan (DTIC), Matt Dunie (CSA), Linda Sacks (Thomson Scientific), Lou Parziale (H.W. Wilson Co.) and (not shown) Margie Hlava (Access Innovations) and yours truly (InfoToday).

Linda Sacks took the award for best actress for her depiction of the aggressive sales executive who tried to convince her peers in IT and Finance that the world really didn’t need or want v29.2 of the retrieval software. No, she said, customers really cared more about the user interface and that’s why the competition was beating them up in the market.

Her plea fell on deaf ears.

Well . . . such is life in the real business world.

After watching the role playing, the other executives attending this session discussed how to get our companies to see reality and react realistically.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content

Workflow Tools at West

Chip Cater explains Thomson West’s new approach to its products, moving from a product focus to a customer focus, not trying to change customer behavior but changing tools to be more explicit and fit with customer workflow. West has synonym tables oriented toward legal vocabulary. If someone enters “reach of contract,” West will say “Did you mean breach of contract?” By focusing on customers, West realized it owned a lot of content it had never pulled together. It was offering cases, statutes and regulations, but users also wanted jury verdicts. So West started creating new products from stuff they already had and segmenting workflow based on types of law/user type/job role.

Lessons learned: Workflow of litigators lead to successful reframing of the market; if you link it, they will come; approximately correct not precisely wrong; it’s not about software, you’ve got to get software and content together, but that’s really hard; focus on workflow led to additional growth.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

Best Actor (in a supporting role)

David Brown, General Manager of DIALOG DATASTAR (A Thomson Business), won top honors at today’s executive luncheon for his role as Rich Phees, the slimy investment banker who pulled off a merger deal for his client, despite the protests of board member Jane Prudential–played by PsycINFO’s Sr. Director Linda Beebe. (Pictured right).

The strategic planning role-playing exercise, organized by Nerac’s President Kevin Bouley and business consultant Barbara Colton, was a big hit with the NFAIS executives lucky enough to be invited.

Okay. Okay. We had to read the book, and all that. But this was a very useful, high-level, retreat-like event that is a welcome addition at a conference such as NFAIS.

Nice job all around.

Dick Kaser
ITI VP, Content