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SLA/SIIA — A Meeting of the Minds


At the Software & information Association’s (SIIA‘s) members’ breakfast this morning, SLA President Janice Lachance posed with SIIA President Ken Wasch (left) and Ed Keating, VP of the SIIA’s Content Division.

— Dick Kaser, ITI VP, Content


A Visit to the Space Needle


I read about it in My Weekly Reader, back in grade school–which was, hmm, many moons ago.  But DowJones gave me the opportunity last night to take the monorail out to visit the now historic structure, which was the centerpiece of the 1962 (yes that’s a "6") World’s Fair.

Up on the top observation deck, it seemed there was no one without a camera . . .

— Dick Kaser, ITI V.P., Content


Are You An Informationist?


 Josh Duberman (left), of the National Institutes of Health (and an "informationist" himself) conducted a very popular session yesterday afternoon on "embedded librarianship."   Among the speakers was NIH’s Susan Whitmore, shown speaking, above.

To paraphrase, "informationists" or"embedded librarians" are those information professionals who also possess a depth of subject knowledge (say in medicine), which permits them to anticipate what a researcher is looking for among the results.  Informationists don’t just retrieve references, they analyze, sift results, digest the material, and deliver answers.

You’ll no doubt get the full report from one of my most trusted Information Today reporters, Mimi Drake, who I spotted (below) taking notes in the standing-room-only audience.

— Dick Kaser, ITI VP, Content



Building a Cyberinfrastructure (Grants Available)


Lucille Nowell, Program Director, NSF Office of Cyberinfrastructure, opened a series of four sessions yesterday on the topic of building bridges to the future by creating an the infrastructure necessary to support data preservation and visualization.  You may be able to help.

"Infrastructure," she said, "is that stuff we largely forget . . . It helps us live our lives.  And we don’t think of it unless it’s not there."

Our society’s infrastructure depends on electricity, water, telecommunications grids, and transportation facilities.  A library’s infrastructure depends on catalogs, indexes, OPACS, online resources, computer networks, search engines and email. 

Most libraries clearly already depend on a cyberinfrastructure, but, "With more than 2000 years of experience in content retrieval for texts," she observed, "we don’t know the first thing about searching and retrieving videos."

We are also not so good about preserving data. Citing NSF studies, Nowell said, "almost no one is confident that they can archive data for the 50 to 100 years of its useful lifetime." 

The grand challenges of the 21st century, she said, depend on retaining large data sets,  But we can’t keep everything.  And, she observed, that’s where librarians may come in.

NSF, though it’s DataNet initiative, is looking for answers and is inviting librarians to participate in defining the solutions. No money is specifically available for digitization of collections or building institutional repositories, but if you have some data (anyting in digital form) that could serve as a pilot, there may be an NSF grant in your future.

Short proposals are due Oct. 6.  For more information, go to:

Dick Kaser

ITI, VP, Content

Under Mostly Sunny Skies


OK, so after three days of sunshine and blue skies, we have some clouds, cooler temps, and a bit of drizzle today.  Hey, aren’t we supposed to be in sessions anyway?

Barbara Brynko
Editor in Chief
Information Today

Say Cheese!

Admit it. You love to play when you get a chance. So here’s your chance to try out some Web 2.0 software learning tools in the SLA Innovation Laboratory . You can sample the latest emerging technologies from Twitter to Second Life to blogs and wikis. According to SLA, this is the place “to discover, play, and learn,” and there’s no course, conference, or event involved. You can try out the tools by yourself or with your team. This is where the “lab rat doesn’t have to follow the maze anymore,” says SLA president Stephen Abram. “You can cut right through” those obstacles that may get in your way. The only tools you’ll need are your username and a password to become a genuine Innovation Lab Rat.


Barbara Brynko

Editor in Chief

Information Today



The Lubuto Project Revisited


Last year’s SLA attendees will undoubtedly remember the standing ovation that librarian Jane Kinney Meyers received after winning the 2007 Dow Jones Leadership Award for her work on the Lubuto Library Project. And Meyers is still generating applause from here to Zambia.


This year, Meyers is back at SLA at the Dow Jones booth with an update on the success of her project. Stop by the booth to see the highlights of last September’s opening celebration as the first Lubuto library in Lusaka changed the landscape of Zambia. The events are captured on a DVD that is being screened in a running loop at the exhibit.


Meyers was “thrilled” with the launch of the library, but her work continues. The library and those that follow will “open the larger world to some of the most vulnerable and marginal children and youth on earth.” The children of Lusaka are now using the 4,000-book collection, which was sent from the U.S., in the trio of round thatched structures that replicate local traditional architecture. The library opened its doors to more than reading and education for the children; the library comes alive with story-telling, drama, mentoring, and song.


Meyers and her team are gathering funding in earnest to continue the campaign. She’s pleased to report that she has received a $10,000 grant from Oprah’s Angels Network toward construction costs and met the $20,000 Challenge Grant offered by patron and advisory board member Marilyn Hollinshead for another Lubuto library in rural Nabukuyu in Zambia.


One of her next stops is ALA in Anaheim later this month where she’s getting ready for a panel discussion about the project with several of her other Lubuto team players.


Meyers’ passion is unwavering. The project team plans to build at least 100 libraries in Zambia and surrounding countries in the next decade one building at a time.


Barbara Brynko

Editor in Chief
Information Today  

Massages for Sore Muscles, Courtesy of Thomson Reuters

After a day of racing from sessions to appointments carrying a heavy bag, the massage chairs at this station in the exhibit hall were a welcome sight. Visitors to the Thomson Reuters booth were rewarded with a ticket for a free massage—including a foot massager. How wonderful! This should be a fixture at all conferences, IMHO. Thank you TR!!

Paula J. Hane
News Bureau Chief, ITI



Speaking of EBSCO (I was, wasn’t I?), look for its new 2.0 interface in July. They’re previewing it at the booth and it’s really pretty slick. They did a thorough job of usability testing, using Kent State’s Usability Lab and the University of Illinois. Funny how what librarians and library information companies think is perfectly obvious on a website is not at all obvious to endusers. Their eyes just don’t go where we think they will. Better to design a product that reflects how people actually interact with a web page than how we think they will or, worse, how we think they should.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals

Going Green

No, "going green" doesn’t refer to St. Patrick’s Day. That’s in March; this is June. SLA has various initiatives to help the environment. The conference bags this year, for example, are fabric rather than plastic, and made from recycled materials. There are recycling areas throughout the convention center.

One exhibitor who’s really stepped up to the green plate is EBSCO. They’re offering SLA members free access to their GreenFILE., which is on the EBSCOhost platform. From the EBSCO description on the SLA website:

"GreenFILE offers information covering all aspects of human impact to the environment. Its collection of scholarly, government, and general-interest titles includes content on the environmental effects of individuals, corporations, and local/national governments, as well as measures to minimize these effects. Topics covered include global climate change, green building, pollution, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy, recycling, and more. The database provides indexing and abstracts for more than 380,000 records, as well as Open Access full text for more than 4,700 records."

This supplements the database EBSCO had already made available to SLA members: LISTA:

"Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA) indexes nearly 690 periodicals, plus books, research reports and proceedings. Subject coverage includes librarianship, classification, cataloging, bibliometrics, online information retrieval, information management and more. Coverage in the database extends back as far as the mid-1960s. The thesaurus in LISTA includes 6,800 terms, 2,700 of which are preferred terms."

My only gripe with GreenFILE is that, once you’ve clicked over to it from the SLA site, you can’t use the back arrow to return to the SLA website.

There’s other environmental, "going green" stuff going on at SLA hedquarters, plus SLA’s president, Stephen Abram, is accepting nominations for a special Presidential Citation honoring SLA "Knowledge to Go Green" Champions. Recipients will be announced at the SLA Leadership Summit in January 2009 to mark the inaugural year of SLA’s Knowledge to Go Green initiative.  You can nominate individual SLA members as well as SLA units that have implemented green policies or made significant changes in their way of doing business. The deadline to apply or nominate for the Green Champion presidential citation is 15 November 2008.

Marydee Ojala

Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals