Friday, November 17, 2006

Internet Librarian 2006: Preconference & Day 1

Hi everyone! I'm Sarah Clark, the newest contributor to Library Stories. I'm Access Services and Distance Learning librarian at Rogers State University, and I'll be bringing you interesting library stories from Tulsa and northeastern OK. Quick plug: If you're interested in my more generic LIS musings, feel free to check out my blog, The Scattered Librarian.

Last month I was lucky enough to attend the Internet Librarian conference in Monterey, CA, and Adri asked me if I would share my notes and experiences here. I took a lot of notes, so I'll break things out into three posts (pre-conference/day 1, day 2, and day 3). I provided links to the more important sites and presentations, but the rest can be found easily at the conference website/wiki or through google. Expect parts 2-3 this weekend or monday--I don't want to choke your inboxes. Thanks for reading!

Internet Librarian 2006
October 22-25
Monterey, CA

October 22: Pre-Conference
Searcher’s Academy

Mary Ellen Bates, Principal, Bates Information Services
Chris Sherman, Editor, SearchEngineWatch
Gary Price, Director, Online Resources,, & Publisher,
Greg Notess, Publisher, Search Engine Showdown
Mary Ellen Bates, Author, Super Searchers Cover the World & Super Searchers Do Business

Greg, Mary-Ellen, Chris, and Gary provided a great analysis of new search engines, websites, gadgets, widgets and general internet tools that are useful for librarians. All of them were fervent about the opportunities (and perils) that 2.0 offers searchers, and I found out some nifty tools for searching what I had previously thought unsearchable (like speech-to text technology that lets you search inside podcasts and videos!).

Mary-Ellen's presentation on searching 2.0 content was probably the most useful to me today, but Gary's left me extremely inspired about finding out more about the technology behind search engines, and about all the new toys the "big 4" are developing. Search technology seems like it's nearing a tipping point on several fronts, and it behooves us as librarians to pay attention to the trends and make sure we're part of the paradigm shift.

October 23: Conference Day 1

Opening Keynote: Grabbing Attention: Keeping Pace with Readers & Technology

J. A. Jance, Author, The Edge of Evil & many J. P. Beaumont & Joanna Brady mysteries

This was a very inspirational introduction to the conference. Jance (who has a MLS in addition to being a published author) discussed how the internet in general and blogging in particular have influenced her work, and while it was not as “technical” as some speeches, it provided an insight into the human side of the tools we are integrating into our services.

The Web 2.0 Challenge to Libraries: Paul Miller, Technology Evangelist, Talis Information Ltd.

I am an avid fan of Paul Miller’s podcast (Talking with Talis), and have gotten more than a few ideas from his discussions of how we can integrate new technologies into the library to create a more user-friendly experience for our patrons. Paul is unique among some of the “new guard” of librarians in emphasizing Technology as a tool for patron empowerment, rather than on implementing “technology for technology’s sake.” Paul’s thesis is that Library 2.0 represents a fundamental shift in how libraries approach users, and that we must integrate into where the users are. To this end, Paul discussed several necessary tasks that both libraries and the profession as a whole must undertake to take full advantage of this new “open-source”, interactive world:

--Open Library systems and data to user input as appropriate, including sharing our bibliographic data openly instead of locking it up in proprietary pay-to-access systems such as OCLC’s Worldcat.
--push the library everywhere—use “mashup” tools to enable users to see library content anywhere on the internet—example: when doing a amazon search, a widget on the user’s computer automatically lets them know if that book is available at their local library
--engage with actual AND POTENTIAL users—Go to where users are, don’t just wait for them to come to us
--Disaggregate the ILS (this from an ILS vendor!)...and bring systems together
--Shared innovation

30 Search Tips: Mary Ellen Bates, Bates Information Services

A great summary of practical tips and tools librarians can use in their online research activities. Due to space I’m not going to list the links that were included in this seminar, but I can give more detail to anyone who’s interested. One site that will be universally useful is, which in addition to being a bookmark manager and allowing the user to save a version of a site as it existed at the time they surfed it, can help automatically generate bibliographic citations in all the major formats which can be exported to endnote, etc. Scandoo, a website that provides rankings for websites by their reliability, will also be a very useful tool to novice internet researchers. Zotero is another useful online citation management tool. This session as well as Searcher’s academy reinforced the need to include basic and advanced searching tips and tools in library instruction.

Using Ethnographic Methods to Know Your Users
Judi Briden, Digital Librarian for Public Services,
Katie Clark, Director, Science and Engineering Libraries, &
Isabel Kaplan, Engineering and Earth Sciences Librarian, University of Rochester River Campus Libraries

This school took an innovative approach when performing a study of their student population to determine their needs. In addition to the typical survey activities, this library teamed with a member of the anthropology department to do an ethnographic study which involved in-depth interviews with students about their research process, shadowing freshmen during a “typical” night in a dorm to get a good view of their study environment and habits, and focus groups which created their ideal library spaces and websites. The librarians came away with a deeper understanding of the continuous multitasking that is a part of modern students’ lives, the near-constant connection to technology through cell phones and laptops, and the importance of creating a library and a web presence that enable social interaction and group work, as well as easy access to course materials and reference guides. I came away with several ideas for implementing a scaled-down version of this methodology for our next student survey. Their full presentation is online at

Cool Tools and Mashups for Webmasters
Darlene Fichter, Data Library Coordinator, University of Saskatchewan
Frank Cervone, Assistant University Librarian for Information Technology, Northwestern University

This workshop had many great web editing and programming tools for webmasters—I’ll save you the technical details but summarize that there are a number of new tools that are making it increasingly easy for the “average” webmaster to add high-end features such as flash, API gadgets and mashups, and other tools to library websites. As my library's archivist, one interesting mashup concept discussed was a map (from google earth or another tool) overlaid with information about local history, etc. For instance—by clicking on a “pushpin” on the Claremore map over the Will Rogers memorial, one could see a popup containing a link to the memorial, as well as descriptions from our catalog of Will Rogers-related resources from the archives and general collections. This session left me not only excited about the potential usefulness of these “cool tools” for our users, but also encouraged that creating and implementing these tools is within the grasp of the “typical” library.

Library Redesign: Making the Data Work Harder: Steve McCann, Digital Projects Librarian, University of Montana

McCann did a study of 600 “typical” academic library websites to discover the most popular layouts and search box options. He noted the rise in popularity of search boxes on the home page, as well as the increased use of federated search. One search tool that might be a useful model for our library site was a “tabbed” search box used by the University of Oregon’s library—see .

Synergy for Better Services: IT & Library Cultures
Kathryn Deiss, Metropolitan Library System
Matt Gullett, Imageon, Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library

I was particularly interested in this session, as my almost 2 years at RSU have taught me the vital importance of having a strong relationship with the IT department. The presenters pointed out that there are many similarities in the priorites and attitudes of these departments (ensuring system security and stability, providing information to users in the most effective manner), but that differences in mindset (Information should be free vs. Information should be protected from malicious forces, customers as reason for existence vs. customers as annoyances/threats to the system) can create tension between these two cultures. An open dialogue, combines with compassion and respect for the other side’s goals and concerns is critical for fostering a healthy relationship between librarians and their IT staff. While I personally have a bit of an advantage when it comes to bridging this cultural gap (my dad and husband are both software developers), I still picked up some handy tips for nurtuting this vitally important relationship.

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