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Info Pro Ad in the WSJ

At this morning’s session on transformation roles for information professionals, Stephen Abram proudly showed the full page ad for SLA in today’s Wall Street Journal. Supported by Dow Jones Factiva, it speaks of the value that information professionals bring to businesses. It’s a powerful message and warrants excerpting here. There are free copies of the WSJ in racks around the conference center. Pick one up and post the page in your place of business. Thank you Dow Jones!

Behind every good business is an information professional.

The relevant, high-quality business information you need to take action doesn’t turn up all by itself. Whether internally or externally produced, it’s the lifeblood of people who work for you: librarians, knowledge managers, chief information officers, Web developers, information brokers and researchers. The Special Libraries Association, with support from Dow Jones Factiva, is behind your most profitable decisions…

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI

 

Technology Free For All

Two members of the News Division—Jessica Baumgart and Derek Willis—led an informative session on the tech tools they’ve found especially useful. Some attendees chimed in with some of their suggestions as well. Here’s a quick run down—they’re definitely worth checking out when you have some time.

Many Eyes (http://many-eyes.com) is a collaborative project from IBM that provides tools for data visualization. Tools include word trees, tag clouds, graphs, and more. People upload data sets of all kinds.

Dipity (www.dipity.com) makes it easy to create a timeline.

Meebo (www.meebo.com) is a free browser-based IM tool that can be useful for libraries.

Awesome Highlighter (http://awesomehighlighter.com) lets you quickly snag text on a Web page and share the highlighted text and the page with others.

There were lots more. Check out the links on Jessica’s blog: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/jkbaumga/2008/06/16/technology-free-for-all/. She also mentioned the babbledog site (http://babbledog.com), from the company she works for, renesys. Here’s what it does:
Babbledog is a place where you can share content of interest, interact with folks through live chat, and get recommendations about what to read. Babbledog learns what you like based on your quiz answers and what you read, post, and discuss. The more you use the site, the better Babbledog’s recommendations will be for you.

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI

 

Researchers R Us

John Law, ProQuest vice president, and Mike Buschman, IEEE client services manager, offered insights in How to Meet Researchers’ Changing Expectations, a SLA Hot Topic. 

Just how are students choosing resources these days? Law was armed with the results from a recent study that illuminated the options students use: library outreach, brand awareness, professional recommendations, and Google, of course. And just what are the top inhibitors to success for researchers? Try lack of awareness, difficulty navigating a library website to locate appropriate eresources, and searching the catalog front and center for articles. In essence, for many of the students, the research process was "frustrating."

Law provided some visuals that presented a sequential trail of screens reflecting individual users and their search for specific information. In one case, a student tried federated search and even popped over to visit a shopping site while the search results were being tabulated.

But many users tap into Google because it’s just easy to use when they are searching for supplemental research (locating a museum), or for handy look ups of terms (definition of the term p16 protein or to complete a citation for an article of interest). But the bottom line is that "researchers still understand the value of content/resources in the library."

For Buschman, the Digital Millennials had no problem going from source to source on their own, although the process of effective and productive search could be better realized by a librarian’s assistance. "They’re adept at looking and finding information," he says. "And never once did they ever ask for help. They consider themselves experts since they’ve been searching since they were 11." Older researchers? Hmm. They’re more likely to call colleague first.

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

View From Above

The Space Needle is famous for its views of Seattle, but you can get much higher than that at the Columbia Center Sky View, atop the tallest building west of the Mississippi.  I’ll leave it to you to search out the vital statistics of the building.  Here are some of the views–enjoy!

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

The Seattle Public Library

I enjoyed a wonderful visit to Seattle’s famous public library.  Here are a few pictures–look for a forthcoming article in Information Today, including an interview with one of their staff members.

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

The Beauty of Butterflies

 

 You may be wondering what these two photos have in common. For starters, both are butterflies. The one on the left is an actual butterfly in the Butterfly Gardens at Seattle’s Pacific Science Center, where Thomson Reuters held its reception Monday evening. The one on the right is the "Butterfly" costume worn by guitarist Jimi Hendrix at the Isle of Wight Festival in England on Aug. 31, 1970, and it’s on display at Seattle’s Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, where LexisNexis held its SLA reception Monday evening.

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: Tales From the Dark Side

 

What happens when a librarian changes jobs and goes to work for a vendor? Sometimes the librarian’s colleagues may view this as an act of betrayal. And sometimes the reverse happens: a vendor representative joins a library. Having been on both sides of this issue myself (although when I worked for a vendor, it was in database production, not sales), I was very interested to attend this session. The moderator, Dina Dreifuerst, a law librarian at Bracewell & Giulani, LLP, posed questions to the panel, and each participant then gave their views. Here are two of the questions and the responses to them.
 
What are some of the tricks you learned while working for a vendor?
 
The vendor-librarian relationship is very effective for both sides when it is well managed. Be clear on both sides about what you want and can give. Both sides need to be honest with each other. Honey works better than vinegar!
 
Vendors offer a tremendous amount of training, lunches, etc. and it’s all free to librarians—just ask!
 
Working for a vendor lets you go into other libraries and see how they operate. As a librarian, you need to operate from a business point of view. Learn business, listening, and negotiating skills, and take your own emotions out of the negotiation as much as you can. Vendors need to understand that librarians have constraints on them. Don’t waste each other’s time. Make sure you are very clear about what you can and cannot do under your contract.
 
Everybody’s time is more precious than ever before. Be honest, up front, and build the relationship whether you are a librarian or vendor.
 
Both sides need to develop their business acumen. Libraries are businesses within businesses. Vendors need to accept that library budgets will be cut, maybe only temporarily, and work with librarians. They need to focus on post-contract service: listen to what librarians need, and offer many training opportunities. Librarians need to clearly present their views to the vendors.
 
When vendors get reorganized, inform the librarians and tell them who their new sales representative is. Recognize that it takes time to re-establish relationships.
 
What misperceptions would you like to correct about vendors?
 
Not all vendors are out there to pull the wool over your eyes. Everybody is in business to make a profit, and there are many business models to deal with. We are all in this to safeguard the interests of all. Keep things honest and as straightforward as possible. 
 
It is not a bad thing for a librarian to work for a vendor. Having the skills to work with librarians is what made you attractive to them. It is not going to the dark side! Vendors are not plotting the demise of librarians!
 
It is important to be truthful with the librarians. Vendors really want it to be a win-win situation for both sides. Librarians can help them do that by clearly communicating their needs and expectations, and explaining the firm’s culture and priorities, decision-making process, short and long term goals. Identify your specialty areas, opportunities, competitive dynamics, which will help vendor create the most useful package of products.

 

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

Globalization of Information

The standard conference presentation format is a speaker addressing an audience, and then taking questions. Robert Schrott, Manager, Market and Industry Intelligence, LexisNexis, turned the format upside down. He took questions first, then tailored his talk to the interests of the audience, which made for an interesting and engaging approach. And of course, it ensured that the level of audience interest in his talk was higher than usual.

A current example of global production is Boeing’s new Dreamliner aircraft, for which 43 global companies are producing parts. This was a huge knowledge management problem because it was necessary to understand work processes in many countries, and it illustrates the functions of information professionals in today’s market.
 
 
Global knowledge is not a new concept. As this slide shows, people have been doing it for thousands of years. Technology and communications change how we view information. Borders are not a hindrance to information; instead you need space, regularity, speed, and depth. If you don’t have all of these, you can have only casual conversations. 
 
Even though technology and information has become global, it is not uniformly distributed. Intellectual assets are mainly being created in a few key countries; for example, the major patent activities are in the US and Japan, and scientific citations cluster strongly in the US. Globalization is therefore really regionalization.
 
 
We also must realize that we do not live in a transparent world. Our free press is not typical in many parts of the world, which censor the media or the Internet. Governments are not open and do not collect information systematically, which raises problems in dealing with copyright.
 
 
Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today

The Law and Ethics of CI

The SLA Competitive Intelligence Division sponsored a very informative session Monday morning that helped to delineate the legal and ethical aspects of working in CI. Lawyer Richard Horowitz gave a fascinating and entertaining presentation filled with great examples and test (trick) questions. He stressed the importance of understanding the law as essential to making an ethical judgment. And, when it comes to ethics, different industries have different standards. While I’m not a CI professional, I found the explanations and distinctions fascinating and helpful for many information situations.

There are two ways to protect a company’s information, patents and trade secrets—and each has advantages and disadvantages. Patents provide IP protection but that brilliant idea is now public information. Trade secrets aren’t public but competitors could figure them out using legal means and then imitate. A trade secret is information that gives economic advantage, information that is not in the public domain, and information you’ve taken reasonable precautions to protect.

Here’s an example of a real world scenario that surprised me. A competitor lies at a tradeshow and says he’s a student in order to see a company’s presentation—and this isn’t specifically illegal. According to the law, people can do a lot of miserable and despicable things that are generally considered unethical.

Here are some of the things I learned (I guess I just hadn’t thought like a lawyer):
• It’s not illegal to lie, though laws can make it illegal in specific circumstances (misrepresenting yourself to a financial institution, for example)
• There is no legal duty to rescue someone
• Inducement is a key issue, as in misrepresentation that induces a breach of confidence
• The onus is on information holders to protect their information

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI
 

Learning the Value of Conversation

David Gurteen, of Gurteen Knowledge, discussed with SLA delegates the important role that conversation can play in knowledge management.

There are two types of conversation, Gurteen said, debate and dialogue.

Debates are generally aimed at convincing someone of something, of defending and arguing over a position and attempting to impose ideas on others.  Dialogue, on the other hand, is about exchanging ideas in an effort to achieve mutual understanding.

Participants in the session, were organized into several "knowledge cafes" to consider the question of why knowledge sharing is so difficult in organizations and what can be done to improve not just the sharing of information but to reduce the barriers to knowledge exchange.

 

 –Dick Kaser, ITI VP, Content