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DMIL Member Interview With P. J. Neal

DMIL Member Interview With P. J. Neal

 

1. How did you get involved in military librarianship, and in DMIL?

I took a long, indirect route! It’s important to start all of this by saying that I’m a bit of an odd duck in that I’m not a librarian at all, nor have I held a job that would typically be associated with membership in our organization.

I first joined SLA a bit over a decade ago when I was a strategy consultant and trying to build out a new research group in our firm and was looking for job candidates. At the time, I was consulting to corporate boards, and was looking for people who were skilled in business and law librarianship. A few years later, I switched firms, and started doing more consulting work to the military and federal government. I joined the Military Libraries Division at that time, largely for the same reason I joined SLA originally – to recruit great candidates. A lot of the work I was doing involved working with intelligence analysts and researchers, and we needed people on our team with those same skills.

Four years ago, I switched jobs again, but kept my affiliation with Military Libraries Division because of my personal interest in the work they do.

2. What positions in DMIL have you held?

My current position is the first one I’ve held: Director and 2015 Conference Planner.

3. How did you become DMIL Director for the SLA Conference in Boston? What experiences from the conference were most memorable for you?

I originally ran for the position years ago, but lost out to a really fantastic candidate. About 14 months ago, she had to step back due to personal and professional obligations, and our Chair called to ask if I might still be interested. I stepped in, and it’s been a rollercoaster ride ever since!

I’ve lived in the Boston area for almost 20 years, and I’m thrilled to see the conference here this year. This is a city with so much history and ties to the military – from being the birthplace of the revolution, to the home of the USS Constitution, to the fact that it’s the center of the robotics industry today. It’s also an easy city to get to from other parts of the East Coast, and as a result, we were lucky this year to be able to get a great speaker from Washington, DC, Navy Commander Benjamin Armstrong, to come and talk to us about leadership.

Commander Armstrong is an award winning author and historian who has published widely on naval history and strategy, including the books “21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era” and “21st Century Sims: Innovation, Education, and Leadership for the Modern Era.” He has lectured on history, strategy, and innovation at U.S. Special Operations Command, the Naval War College, and the Defense Entrepreneur’s Forum at the University of Chicago. A graduate of the US Naval Academy, he holds a master’s degree in military history from Norwich University and is currently a PhD candidate with the Department of War Studies, King’s College, London. He is a Commander in the U.S. Navy who has served as a search and rescue and special warfare helicopter pilot during numerous deployments to the Middle East, coastal Africa, and South America, and ashore he has worked as an instructor pilot and as a strategic analyst in the Pentagon.

4. What was the most fun place you visited in Boston?

The city itself. This is one of those wonderful places where just walking around is entertainment. From the architecture that combines colonial elements with modern structures, to the street performers and musicians, to boutique storefront windows, to all the wonderful parks and waterfront, you can be entertained without spending a dime, and without ever having to go inside.

5. If someone were to visit your library or your town, what would you be sure to show them or recommend that they see?

I’ve got three great libraries I’d take people to visit.

I live in Cambridge, MA, right outside Boston, and we have one of the most beautiful public libraries you’ll find anywhere in the world. Several years ago, it underwent a total transformation, combining the original 1889 library – an old stone building – with a brand new addition that was all glass and light, and the outcome is remarkable. Since it reopened in November 2009, it’s been awarded nearly two dozen architectural awards from the American Institute of Architects, the American Libraries Magazine, and many others. (It has some good books in it, too!) Here’s an overview of the transformation: http://www.rawnarch.com/casestudy/cambridgepubliclibrary

The other two libraries are both at Harvard, where I’ve worked for the last four years.

For anyone interested in business, the Baker Library / Bloomberg Center at the Harvard Business School is a must-visit. I’m just completing a graduate degree in history, and have been digging through their archives for the last two years, and never cease to be amazed at the materials they have, and how wonderful the staff are.

The second Harvard library is Widener Library, on the main Harvard campus. It’s the largest repository of books in the world, and it just celebrated its 100th birthday. As part of the celebration, John Lithgow helped create a short celebratory video, “Ode to a Venerable Library.” Check it out: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2015/05/ode-to-a-venerable-library/

6. Please recommend one LIS-specific book or article that you read recently that you found particularly good. What makes it worthwhile?

This is going to sound like an odd choice, but Umberto Eco’s book “How to Write a Thesis” was recently published in English, decades after he wrote it in the original Italian. It is, in some places, archaic – he talks about notecards, using address books to organize your subjects, and making sure you have change for public phones. But at the heart of the book is an examination of how you organize information, guidance and mentoring for researchers who may be struggling or unsure of how to proceed, and an acknowledgement that research and writing demand so much of us, often more than we want to admit.

I like this book because it’s a good reminder that despite how much has changed in our field (physical books to ebooks, publications to databases, in-person to virtual), at the heart of things, it’s all the same.

7. If you were to recommend one book, just for fun, what would it be?

Twenty-something years ago, I read “Gates: How Microsoft’s Mogul Reinvented an Industry – and Made Himself the Richest Man in America” by Stephen Manes and Paul Andrews. It’s one of those books that has just been stuck in my head ever since, undoubtedly because I’m interested in both business and technology, and Bill Gates is one of those historical figures who you can honestly say transformed the world in many ways. I remember the book being a page-turner, insightful, engaging, dramatic, suspenseful, detailed, all the things you want a book to be (especially when that book is about 600 pages!).

Over the years, I’ve wondered if the book was really as good as I remembered it. If I re-read it, would it hold up to my memory? Or would it be like revisiting an old summer vacation spot and finding it wasn’t idyllic but instead run down, or going back to your old elementary school and finding it small and enclosed, not the large magical place you remember it being?

I’m about to find out. I have two long train rides in July, and just downloaded a copy to my Kindle, and I’m going to re-read it.

You should read it, too. If it’s only half as good as I remember it, it’s worth your time.

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Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition – CRS

The growing number and modernization of ballistic missiles in the Asia-Pacific region poses a security challenge for the United States and its allies and is thus a concern for many in Congress. The United States has made ballistic missile defense (BMD) a central component of protection for forward-deployed U.S. forces and extended deterrence for allied security. The configuration of sensors, command-and-control centers, and BMD assets in the region has slowly evolved with contributions from treaty allies, primarily Japan, Australia, and South Korea.

Observers believe that North Korea has an arsenal of hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles and likely dozens of medium-range Nodong missiles; the extended-range Nodongs are considered capable of reaching Japan and U.S. bases there. Longer-range North Korean missiles appear to be under development but remain unreliable, with only one successful test out of five in the past 15 years. The U.S. intelligence community has not yet concluded that North Korea can build nuclear warheads small enough to put on ballistic missiles, but there is significant debate among experts on this question.

Full Report: Ballistic Missile Defense in the Asia-Pacific Region: Cooperation and Opposition (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

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Keep your contact information current

Always contact SLA Membership with your current contact information. This is where accounts are confirmed and to ensure you continue to receive and able to post messages.  You will also need to contact the DMIL list administrator, Gene Bruce: Gene.r.bruce.ctr@navy.mil , when you change addresses.

Follow the instructions below to subscribe to the Military Libraries Discussion List (SLA-DMIL):

Send a message to: sla-dmil@sla.lyris.net
Leave the subject line blank.
In the body of the message type: Subscribe SLA-DMIL first_name last_name
For example: in the body of the message type: Subscribe SLA-DMIL Joan Smith

DMIL always welcomes new members.

 

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Facebook Page for MLD

Facebook Page for MLD

The Facebook Page for MLD is now active again.  You can find it at MLD Facebook .  Please tell all of your military library peers and friends about this.

 

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How an NPR Librarian Outdid VA Researchers in Finding Mustard Gas Victims – Government Executive

The Veterans Affairs Department knew there were 4,000 World War II veterans who had been exposed to mustard gas during chemical experiments, the existence of which wasn’t declassified until the 1990s.

But the agency’s effort to track them down and compensate any who suffered injuries went almost nowhere, according to exclusive findings by NPR’s investigative unit in a report broadcast Tuesday.

Read the full story at http://www.govexec.com/defense/2015/06/how-npr-librarian-outdid-va-researchers-finding-mustard-gas-victims/116074/?oref=govexec_today_pm_nl

 

 

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L.A. as Subject Archival Residency Program. Applications are due June 26, 2015

Residency Details:
The Autry National Center Libraries and Archives, the California State University, Northridge (CSUN) Libraries, and the USC Libraries will each host and mentor a Resident Archivist for an initial three-month supervised archival project, followed by three, three-month rotations at L.A. as Subject member archive sites, applying archival standards and practices to make local collections accessible.

A total of three Residents will be hired.

Appointments are for one year only.

Salary:
$41,600 anticipated hiring maximum, plus benefits

Resident Requirements:
· Completion of an MLIS or equivalent graduate degree (no earlier than May 2013) with an emphasis on Archival Administration
· Ability to travel to assigned rotation sites (3 total), located throughout Los Angeles County and surrounding areas

Applications:
Candidates will apply directly to the Autry, CSUN Libraries, and/or USC Libraries, Please see direct links to each job announcement below.

Applications are due June 26, 2015. Residents would start work in early November.

For more information please read the Residency Program FAQ or contact Project Coordinator Cindy Mediavilla at cmediavi@ucla.edu.

Click here to apply to the Autry National Center

Click here to apply to Cal State University Northridge Libraries (job id# 4773)

Click here to apply to USC Libraries.

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