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Military Libraries Workshop

This post is written by Angela J.A. Kent.  She was this year’s winner of the Student Stipend Award.

I had the honor and the pleasure of attending the Military Libraries Division‘s Military Libraries Workshop as their Student Stipend Award winner. The workshop touched on a number of issues in librarianship including, Copyright, Big Data, Social Media, and Virtual Libraries.  The workshop also featured SLA President, Deb Hunt, and topped off with a 60th Anniversary dinner at Huntsville Alabama’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

Most of the presentation slides are now available and are worth reviewing.

This was the top takeaway for me. Although I missed Deb Hunt’s presentation, her point about investing in your own professional development was echoed in each session — including the 2-minute presentations vendors! Marcy Phelps emphasized the importance of branding your value-added research and analysis in big and small ways.

From an organizational standpoint, Jane Killian (from the Defense Forensic Science Center) showed how her virtual library still needed to be supported by physical presence and branding. Jane talked about taking different routes in the office so that she would run into her patrons and have the opportunity to share an article or research topic. And, like any good brander, Jill carries a signature style (a teapot!) that quickly connects her to the library.

For both the professional and the libraries that they represent, it is worth taking the time to think about your professional signature and how you can better brand and market their services. Organizing your professional online presence, then, becomes an important consideration and an issues that was raised in other presentations.

Harnessing (and keeping up with) technology
Steven MacCall’s presentation on social media raised the key points of technology adoption and deployment. And, as is certainly the case for military libraries, this means barriers related to cost and security. To address some of these challenges, the last panel provided lessons learned from their own libraries. Both of these presentations made think about a complementary session from the SLA Annual Conference: Strategic Leveraging of Social Media Content. What I find interesting about social media management is understanding through how the many online applications can (and should) serve different purposes.

Margie Hlava’s presentation on Big Data was representative of the true scope of what it means to try and harness technology. It also spoke directly to the work of librarians: extracting and making sense of data; organizing data through metadata cataloging and taxonomy; and data visualization. Margie touched on a number of key topics important to any library and information professional.  It reminded me of a course that I’d been meaning to take over at School of Data: A Gentle Introduction to Extracting Data.

While not quite a featured component to the workshop, Gretchen McCord‘s presentation on copyright was an update on issues that are of personal interest to me. Along the same lines as “keeping up with technology,” information professionals need to keep up with copyright — particularly as they relate to Fair Use and Open Access.

Doing more with less and learning from one another
While certainly not unique to military libraries, the final panel represented just how well military librarians are practicing resiliency and adaptability. Panelists shared lessons learned, best practices, and solutions to overcoming everything from budgetary constraints to security limitations.



About Angela

Angela is an MSc. MLIS Candidate (The Catholic University of America). She holds a Masters in Security Studies from Georgetown University, a B.A. in International Political Economy, and a certificate in Apprenticeship in Teaching (Georgetown University). Her areas of interest include open source intelligence & grey information sources, information policy (open access) intelligence analysis, and international & defense relations. Angela is from Toronto, Canada.

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Big Data, H.P. Lovecraft, and common sense


“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”  — H.P Lovecraft, “Call of Cthulhu,” Weird Tales, 11, No. 2 (February 1928), 159–78, 287.

While it is obvious that H.P. Lovecraft could not know about big data, this quote is very relevant.  Alexis Madrigal of Nextgov’s Big Data blog thinks so as well.  That is where I first saw this quote and its being linked to big data.  There are many things about big data and how it can be used that are very scary.  We have seen recently where is is actually difficult to limit how much data you may end up collecting because of how hard it is to separate out what you need from what is found (ie. NSA and FISA).  It is important to not blame the technology as the problem.  The problem is its application and use by human beings. 

There are many “Big Benefits” from the use and application of “Big Data.”  Look at the growth and maturation of the field of bioinformatics and its use in medicine.   Sequencing of the human genome is the application of big data.  Genomics will change how we are treated for disease. 

Big Data will help us in the battle to overcome global warming.  Increasingly accurate weather forecasts and improved computer models of the effects of global warming are all applications of big data.

Big data is now showing up in all the hard sciences and in the “soft” such the social sciences.  It is impossible to get away from it.

All of us in special libraries, especially in business, technical and research libraries, have seen our jobs change because of interest in big data and because many of us are directly involved in the exploration, analysis, and manipulation of big data sets. 

A bit of common sense will help us avoid us the fate suggested by H.P. Lovecraft of  “mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”  As with all technologies, big data is not in itself good or bad.  It is in how it is used.  As librarians we can help direct its use into positive directions.

Note: These are my own opinions and not the opinions of SLA, Military Libraries Division of SLA, my employer, or the U.S.Air Force or DoD.  — Bill Drew

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Oyster Books: Worth the Price of Admission?

Oyster is a new IOS app being hailed as the Netflix for books. It involves paying a monthly subscription fee of $9.95 per month to gain unlimited access to over 100,000 eBook titles.  The service is only available on an Apple iPhone or iPad.  An Android app may be released in the future, but no release date has been announced.

The service launched on September 5, 2013 to a start-up company based in New York. Currently there are 8 employees, none of which are librarians.

This new service has over 100,000 books from a small handful of publishers, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Workman and Smashwords. They are adding new titles frequently.

Continue Reading

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Thinking of creating a Facebook page for your library? Consider these important details.

This was originally posted on the UNYSLA blog  by Jeremy Cusker and is reposted here with permission.

Many otherwise well-informed, technically savvy librarians can miss important details when it comes to Facebook. This is especially important when librarians consider setting up Facebook pages for their institutions. 

1.) Not everything (perhaps not even most things) you post on Facebook will reach all subscribers. This is especially true for a page with many followers. If your whole experience with Facebook is communicating with friends and family, this fact can take some people by surprise. It simply is not possible for a Facebook page with many, many followers (perhaps more than 50 or 60) to receive every update made to a given page. The sheer volume of data would be unmanageable.

Instead, Facebook’s algorithms determine what makes it through to each user based on a joint consideration of that users’ expressed interests, the nature of the post (see below), and the volume of posts made by your page (also see below).

If you want all posts to be seen by all subscribers, every time, then what you want is either Twitter or a blog with RSS, not Facebook.

2.) It is especially unlikely that your posts will make it through to the majority of users if you do not make regular updates. When deciding whether or not to start up a Facebook page for your library, be advised that for it to work well, it will need to be constantly updated–at least once every day or so. As described above, failure to regularly post content will cause updates to your Facebook page to become that much less likely to make it through to individual users. Facebook’s algorithms will ‘de-privilege’ your updates and posts to appear in the feeds of fewer and fewer of your followers.

3.) If you do not regularly interact with followers who like or comment on your updates, it becomes more unlikely that your posts will make it through to your users. Again, if you are looking for a way to merely make announcements about what is going on in your library, then Facebook is probably not the tool you want. Facebook’s algorithm improves the likelihood of your updates appearing in people’s feeds based not only on how often you update, but on how often you interact with your followers. Do you ‘Like’ their posts? Do you respond to comments?

Again, it bears emphasis: Facebooking is, if not a full-time job, then certainly not a light time commitment.

4.) It’s better to post or re-post things from within Facebook itself than from ‘outside’. Want to pass along an interesting news item to your followers? Go to that news source’s own Facebook page, find that article and cross-post it from there. Facebook consciously de-privileges posts of content that come from sites outside of Facebook itself, making it that much less likely to show up. It does this both because such cross-posts eat up more memory and also because it adds more clicks and fractional revenue to Facebook itself.

5.) Overall, consider what you want your Facebook page to accomplish for your institution and how much effort you want to devote to it. It’s easy to create a Facebook page, hard to keep it going on a daily basis, reaching users. A Facebook page is not a perfect analog for a traditional organizational website, nor as a straightforward means of publicizing news and events. Consider Twitter and/or a traditional site with RSS tagging if those are your goals.


Have questions? Contact Jeremy Cusker at Cornell University Library, jpc27(a)

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Prepare Yourself for the Knowledge Development/ Knowledge Sharing Framework Your Management Is Asking For

From guest blogger Guy St. Clair, subject matter expert and lecturer for Columbia University’s Information and Knowledge Strategy master’s program, and president, SMR International.  Guy is an instructor for the KM/Knowledge Services Certificate program offered by SLA in cooperation with SMR International.

In a post this past June, Dale Stanley had thoughtful observations about how companies and organizations are getting serious about knowledge management (KM) and knowledge services. Dale, SMR’s senior consultant and marketing and operations manager, offered good advice to people we know who work in specialized libraries.

Dale’s message? That many enterprise leaders now expect their companies and organizations to observe KM/knowledge services principles in the workplace (even if the leaders themselves sometimes grapple with what we “mean” when we speak about this critical discipline). As Dale noted, it’s been a major change in the way some organizational leaders think, “and it affects every information and knowledge exchange that takes place in every functional unit of every company and organization.”

So how do people who work with information, knowledge, and strategic learning content – the knowledge services specialists – deal with this change in the workplace? We have the answer: to learn as much as they can.

In that post last June, part of our purpose was to encourage specialist librarians to join us in our strategic learning programs at the SLA Conference, and among those programs was KMKS 101 Fundamentals of KM and Knowledge Services. Formerly offered only for SLA’s conference attendees, the course is now available online for the first time, beginning on September 9.

One of six special strategic learning programs making up SLA’s highly regarded KM/Knowledge Services Certificate Program, KMKS101 provides an introduction to the overall subject of KM and establishes the connection between KM and knowledge services, the convergence of information management, KM, and strategic learning into the company’s primary management and service-delivery methodology for successful knowledge development and knowledge sharing (what we like to refer to as “KD/KS”).

Here’s what some of our past participants have had to say about Fundamentals of KM and Knowledge Services:

  • “Is there ever really enough time? I found the course to be so helpful I could have continued for another day, just to get everyone’s feedback.”
  • “The personal discussions with both professors and other attendees was very valuable.”
  • “I found the courses to be very valuable and helpful. I returned to work with an understanding of the road ahead and a lot of positive ideas of how to implement the concepts.”
  • “This was a great introduction to KM/Knowledge Services.”
  • I found it very valuable to understand exactly what KM is and where it fits into my daily routine and how I can make it more of a priority in what I do. I would recommend the class to anyone who wants more information about KM/Knowledge Services.”
  • “With this course, I’m now better able to explain what I do for the company and why KM/Knowledge Services is so important.”
  • “The course gave a complete understanding of KM/Knowledge Services, with a chance to question the experts.”
  • “It was important for me to learn how KM/Knowledge Services differs from other traditional/non-traditional library perspectives in the use of the information.”
  • “I was happy to learn that the project I have been undertaking falls totally under the heading of KM/Knowledge Services and that I was given tools to expand my knowledge and incorporate KM and Knowledge Services more deeply into my work.”
  • “I liked getting a definition of KM/Knowledge Services and how it fits into my company.”

More information about KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy is available from SLA, with the six courses in the KMKS Certificate Program now all available online, beginning with – as noted – KMKS101 (Fundamentals of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Services) in September. Other upcoming courses in the program include KMKS105 (Change Management and Change Implementation in the Knowledge Domain) in October, KMKS104 (Networking and Social Media: Technology-Enabled Knowledge Sharing) in February 2014, and KMKS106 (Critical Success Factors: Measuring Knowledge Services) in April 2014, all offered online.

For more information about the KM/KS program or individual courses, please contact Click University staff.

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