Category Archives: Information Services

Back to Basics: Value of Professional Associations and Conferences to You and Your Organization

It is timely to remember and share some thoughts about the value of a professional association. The value comes from not only being a member but also by being active in one way or other because despite issues that occur in any organization, they have their value both short and long term.

The SLA Leadership meeting in New Orleans is coming up in a few weeks and the annual meeting in Cleveland will be in June. It is a great opportunity to meet colleagues, enhance leadership skills, and enjoy the city.  January and June are some of the prime conference times for librarians and information professionals. Do you participate in one or more of these? There are many other meetings and activities that occur throughout the year that are also valuable but that are not necessarily directly associated with a professional associations and those should be considered as well.

OK, so what is so good and valuable about these things? The information industry is turning upside down and sideways many times over and has been for a long time. Participating (notice I don’t say attending) in conferences in person or at least virtually enables you to hear about what is going on and talk with other people who are dealing with all of it.

A couple of key points:

*Conferences are a good investment if you take full advantage of what they offer – so while everyone’s financial situation is different, just because your employer doesn’t pay for your expenses doesn’t mean you can’t/won’t/shouldn’t participate. Success comes from investing your time, effort and money throughout your career, not just when you earned your graduate degree. You invested in your education to get yourself going in a career. It doesn’t stop there. You have to continue to invest in yourself and as stated previously that takes time, effort and oh yes, money. Let’s look at this a bit more closely in a way you may not have done so previously.

Many times people complain about the cost of conference registration, workshops and the typical travel costs on top of that. Indeed, it is an investment and sometimes it is just not feasible to have that kind of expense on a regular basis. But how about this. Think about how much it costs for a credit hour at a typical university — not when you went to school (for those of us who have been around a while), but now. The cost will be on average several hundred dollars to $1,000 and lots more (depending upon the school) per credit hour. This adds up to lots of thousands of dollars over a one to two year period. If you were willing to spend that kind of money to get your degree, don’t you think spending a small portion of that on a reasonably regular basis to keep yourself informed and well prepared is worth it?

Another point is the opportunity to meet friends and colleagues you already know and to make new friends. Many people talk about how they discovered a job opportunity or learned something new or simply made some new, fabulous friends at a conference. The job marketplace is more dynamic than ever, and you never know what may change at a moment’s notice. It is not unusual to have a career in many different arenas over time, and those contacts you make at conferences become invaluable in understanding what is possible. All in all, it’s important to invest in yourself and take advantage of the many opportunities provided in lifelong learning at conferences and by other means.

 

Putting knowledge to work — skills and experience learned through real life SLA activities

One of the tag lines used in the past for the Special Libraries Association has been “Putting Knowledge to Work”.
This year SLA had an in-person leadership summit in January in New Orleans that by all accounts was a valuable experience for the attendees. While I am currently president-elect of the Southern California Chapter of SLA and this would have been an appropriate meeting to attend, I was already committed to too many other things at the home base and could not take the time or expense. More on that shortly. That being said, I am very glad others were able to take advantage of the opportunity to gain leadership training and commiserate with colleagues.

So, why was I not there? I was “putting knowledge to work”. This year I am a co-host to a very important international meeting of approximately 40 librarians and other representatives of the Biodiversity Heritage Library partners. The event is happening in mid-March and I need to use all energies toward this effort as well as keeping things going in my daily work responsibilities as a solo librarian in a very busy institution. I plan to do some reflection on this whole process after the event is done.

Requirements for the meeting includes gaining senior management commitment to the event, collaborating with colleagues, arranging and scheduling facilities, contracting with vendors for catering, negotiating funding, and so much more. Having had many opportunities to do these tasks over the years as part of leadership opportunities in SLA, I knew I could put this knowledge to work. I have had training and learning opportunities in various jobs and other associations, but not as much as through my involvement in SLA.

So, in short, I wasn’t at the SLA Leadership Summit because I was using the skills and experience from SLA and needed to focus on details at home base. I do plan to attend the Leadership Summit next year and encourage others to do as well whether they are an elected, appointed, or aspiring leader.

Altmetrics for librarians

About 6 years ago a new area of tools was developed that helps collect and measure mentions of research articles online. Altmetrics helps to gather information about research and enables expansion of the understanding of the awareness and potential value of the research.  The field is known as altmetrics and it supplements the typical information found with citation analysis that form the basis for impact factors. There are a few companies with products and services providing altmetrics. I am working with the Altmetric for Institutions product from Altmetric – a Digital Science company based in London, UK .

Librarians in research institutions would find this set of tools of interest and can read my paper or watch a presentation I gave about it at the VALA2016 conference in Melbourne, Australia in February 2016. This is the link for it: http://www.vala.org.au/vala2016-proceedings/1000-vala2016-session-6-hulser.

Digitizing audiovisual collections and more in 2015

The interesting thing about the information profession is that it is forever changing and challenging. I have been so busy with various projects that I have neglected my blog but here are some thoughts to ponder.
For the past few months I have been involved with the California Audiovisual Preservation Project. Through this grant I am getting a number of films and audiotapes digitized that are in the library’s collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. They can be accessed through the California Light and Sound section of the Internet Archive (www.archive.org). Some of the items are raw footage of events at the NHM Exposition Park site as well as the La Brea Tar Pits in Hancock Park.

I’ll have some other projects to talk about in the near future as well.

“Spotlight on a Librarian” Royal Society Publishing (UK) — My interview

I recently had the pleasure to be ‘interviewed’ via e-mail by the Royal Society Publishing (UK) newsletter editor for their regular feature “Spotlight on a Librarian”. Here is the URL if the link doesn’t work for some reason:  http://newsletters.royalsociety.org/q/1N7XofzaQvq0eb/wv.

The interview appears in the issue about 2/3 of the way down. I thought the editor would tighten up what I sent but apparently left some of my long sentences in the published piece. If I’d have known I would have done another pass to edit it myself, but it still should be a decent read. It was fun to see I am in the same issue as a brief article regarding comments by the Prince of Wales, Prince Charles on the challenges of environmental problems contributing to the collapse of civilization.

Topics I discuss in the article include open source content access and affordable pricing to research articles among other points. I find myself in continued conversations with publishers about licensing costs and affordable access to research, particularly for non-profit and educational purposes. The institutional subscription and licensing charges are particularly completely out of line for museum and specialized research libraries who don’t have the student or faculty information access traffic that an academic institution typically has, yet publishers and content providers price access to that academic model. <sigh> This is a work in progress for all involved so let’s see how it goes in the future.

Cloud computing — everything old is new again

Cloud computing, an ability to get computing power without installing and managing a system locally, is growing fast. Think back to the 1960s and 1970s to time-shared computing systems and you will see a similar architecture. The difference is the elimination of the ‘connect’ charges, more functionality for cost paid among a number of things. The down side is there are security issues that need to be addressed, the charges for concurrent users, ‘search’ and more can quickly add up if you are not careful. Still it is a feasible, cost-effective way to take advantage of a library management system and other software as service offerings. I’ll be giving a talk about this at the Computers in Libraries 2012 conference in March in Washington D.C.

Copyright and Licensing knowledge key elements of an Info Pro’s skills porfolio

Lesley Ellen Harris is an attorney specializing in copyright and licensing and she has an excellent newsletter and website at copyrightlaws.com I highly recommend. Recently she focused on what she titled “Positions and Job Functions in Copyright & Licensing: The Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter”. The PDF of a special issue on jobs that include licensing and copyright elements can be downloaded from the website.  Included is an  overview of interviews with several librarians who have copyright and licensing issues as part of their responsibilities.

As noted in the article, the expansion of electronic content licensing demand information professsionals be able to understand and negotiate licenses. Of course, we also need to know when to consult with legal counsel to ensure awareness and (we hope) compliance of coworkers within our institutions.

As a museum librarian I am providing services in a research institution that is similar to an academic environment but also has elements of what is experienced in a corporate scene as well. I see a blend of the need to be copyright compliant and yet also take full advantage of what ‘fair use’ enables. At the same time, it astounds me to witness how so many people really don’t understand where ‘fair use’ begins but also ends. More on that topic in another post!!