This time on the SLA Europe podcast, an interview with Lorna Candy – head of content for the Online Information conference at Incisive Media. On the podcast, Lorna explains the process how the annual Online Information conference in London is put together, most of it done virtual. She also shares tips on how to get the most out of the conference and an anecdote about a keynote speaker with stage fright.
In the second of her reports from Internet Librarian International, Jane Macoustra discusses people, service providers and professional relationships, mash-ups and collaborative data sharing.
I’m reflecting on an important topic for every single person in our industry: Relationships.
We all strive to build good relationships with our management and colleagues, and professional bodies such as SLA Europe, not forgetting those whom we purchase our services from and vice versa. As my Info Pro hat ages I reflect upon the relationships I have built over the years, and what strikes me is the strength and longevity of the relationships and the trust that builds and continues long after the requirement for it to continue is gone, because we are no longer purchasing their services. These unique business relationships evolve into professional friendships.
I walked into the hotel for the registration at 8.45am on Thursday, and the pleasant man behind the desk who greeted me said “we have met before – at least once – I recognise your face”. I explained to him that ILI 2010 was actually my 6th attendance, but previously I attended in various capacities working with either the pre-conference Master classes or speaking or both. He thought we’d met at Online. Oh well, I go there too!
When you turn up at a conference and a long term contact makes a very enthusiastic beeline for you to shake your hand and say hello, that’s a long term ongoing professional relationship. I too was looking for a certain SLA colleague to say hello to, and I kept seeing this person across the room, but before I got there I found they had vanished. We finally met up though, much to our delight, and plan another meeting at Online in December. It was great to see so many people that I knew from my personal professional world.
What a lovely bunch the service providers were. They were all friendly without being pushy, and they offered the visitors a friendly delve into their products. What they had on offer was explained so that the potential client could gain maximum insight into the vendor products. It is especially important to take the time when your delegate has travelled from overseas as there could be a slight miscommunication if the delegate didn’t quite understand what the vendor was saying. I know this because I was on the SLA-Europe stand and could clearly see the ease at which our overseas visitors were placed when asking about different products. The service providers were also generous in handing out goodies to all delegates. Emerald stands out for a particular mention for this, because the SLA-Europe was opposite their stand, and I could clearly see their popularity with the delegates.
There appears to be a global consensus that academic libraries are currently fragmented and work with no standard processes in place that can be mapped easily to another institution. Another general consensus is that continuing professional development for the info pro is crucial – everywhere. It is suggested that an international blog could provide a cohesive voice in the industry that would allow the library and information profession to take a more vocal stance with the publishing world. I say – “bring it on”.
All over the world information professionals are constantly looking for ways to exploit new technologies and enhance their professional environment. There was much to learn at this conference regarding the cleaning up of bibliographic records and then deciding what tech to use to harness the data and transform or mash it with another format. One speaker suggests we should be engaging with the user community with regard to content, and we/they should be submitting documentation online via the use of widgets. We were shown a demonstration of how to successfully mash content using tools such as Yahoo Pipes. They make it look so easy...
We can see organisations are willing to open up their data to other external influences of like-minded professionals. This would create international standards, mashable catalogues and open programming that would allow others to play around with your data. Open Source is the widely recognised media to facilitate peer collaboration between organisations, which can add value to the collection/project. It is recognised that the use of tagging to enable others to comment on particular records does not interfere with the original integrity of the record because the citation remains intact.
It was also brought to the attention of the delegates that whilst peer collaboration is a good thing, there are other issues to complicate matters. Three little words can alter the whole collaborative project, unless in the first stage of the project they are addressed: REGULATORY COMPLIANCE CONSTRAINTS. So, how do we track documents that are matched to a copyright issue, regarding global use? This is an info pro’s nightmare, as it is almost impossible to work around the legislative jurisdictional copyright laws on a global scale.
At the risk of causing upset, 23 Things raised its head again at conference. I cannot ever condone the use of 23 Things in the corporate sector. A corporate colleague of mine expressed my exact thoughts on this issue, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear my view aired by another. (I’m not mad then…). However, I am also not totally intolerant of 23 Things if they are put to use in educational environments, schools etc, where the capacity for learning them is available. So there you are – I have said it. 23 Things ain’t that bad after all.
Jane Macoustra has written a series of blog posts from Internet Librarian International. In her first post, Jane discusses the background to the conference and the keynote speech.
This ever-growing conference is lively and thought provoking. It is only just small enough to enable regular goers of ILI to meet and connect with friends, colleagues and renew the professional relationships with vendors without having to queue for their attention. While this professional “intimacy” still exists, it is on borrowed time as ILI gets ever more popular with each passing year. The proof of the growing popularity of this conference was demonstrated in their need to move to a larger venue, the Hammersmith Novotel 3 years ago, and the ever-growing international presence of the delegates. Before the first keynote speech, Mary-Dee Ojala reads out where the delegates have flown in from to attend this conference, and every year the list of countries gets longer. The diversity of the delegates is strong and creates a good grounding for informal discussions in the breaks.
The keynote speaker, Robert Rowland Smith (“RRS”), talked about Information Professionals and their relevancy and relationships with the philosophies of Buddha, Socrates, Freud, Darwin, Zeno, Plato, Einstein, et al and how their thoughts and writings connect with us and our work.
RRS started by reading an excerpt from “Dropping Ashes on Buddha”, in particular zoning in on the things we want in life, and the meaning of Buddhism (live in the moment). He described memory as living in the past and imagination as living in the future.
RRS went on to tell us that Plato’s philosophies were idealistic, and that knowledge – implicit knowledge is to know something is to know what’s true. He said that Plato used cloud technology because it represented a bank of knowledge.
RRS then muddied the waters (for me) by discussing why Plato thought that lying is useful, and that Zeno’s Paradox meant “I Lie”. Plato is described as saying that lying is useful and that based upon those lies there is a hierarchical divvying up of people - just like “divvying” up gold, silver or bronze. Lying is therefore useful because as we classify ourselves, we are telling “Noble Lies”. Our understanding of taxonomies compared with simplified classification is a distortion and by classification methodologies, you lose accuracy. Hence the lying philosophy.
Further on RRS spoke of the psychology of being placed into simple categories and that where you are, reflects on how you think. He was coming at this statement from the angle of telling one person they were a manager and another they were a subordinate and the resulting behaviours that people adopted when placed into these categories. The behaviour was adopted automatically by each person and their role. Hypnosis through suggestion was schematised by Freud who wrote about how we are influenced by others.
Another of Einstein’s dislikes was the phrase “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Under a classification of Virtue and Ethics, he didn’t like this statement because of its subjectivity.
He also addressed areas of madness (what is it, and suppose someone shares your ideas and views – is it still classified as madness?), the cult of Scientology and its relevance in society, the Cold War, and George Bush in the context with 9/11 and Weapons of Mass Destruction (Noble Lies). RRS finished by questioning the transfer of responsibility back into our own hands.
Question and Answer Session:Mary-Dee asked if we can alter the distorted knowledge in the Information Profession. The response was that ours is another field in which people think like this and we have the capability to take information from another field.
Final Comment:The Information Professional is not an innocent party, and that by using the internet we are outsourcing our knowledge to “Brands” creating the simplification because we become lazy and expect the brands to do the work for us.
Scary Moment: When I got home in the evening, my son asked me for assistance with his homework. Buddhism – The Noble Truth. I nearly fell off my chair.
The first in our series of reports from Internet Librarian International 2010 comes from David Ogden, Senior Librarian at the Ministry of Justice.
Subtitled The Innovation and Technology Conference for Information Professionals, I spent a useful day at this conference at the Novotel London West hotel on 14 October 2010.
Keynote speech on the day was What Would Socrates Say? by the author of Breakfast with Socrates, Robert Rowland Smith. Basically this involved how can philosophy help librarians?
Robert told us “There is nothing outside the cow” – an old Chinese story about a cow who eats everything in the world. Plato and Socrates believed in a similar structure for the world, i.e. that there is a higher truth, or more ideal world too in addition to the world we live in. Robert discussed the notion of a lie and how it can be a good or bad thing! Plato calls it the noble lie. An example is George W Bush’s war on terror which distorts the complexities of 9/11. Another example is the Cold War which simplified the fact that all the eastern European countries were very different. Staff appointed to specific roles e.g. sales or Marketing Director will act according to how they believe staff in these roles should behave.
Next up came a choice of three parallel sessions – I chose Track C Resource Management.
First session was “Relating Value to Price and Budget”. Making content decisions within budget has always been important, but with today’s economic situation, it’s become critical. In their presentation, Ulla de Stricker, Armand Brevig and Anja Chemnitz Thygesen examined the complexity of value assessment and the justification to management.
Another book selling plug came at the end – it was like watching the One Show! Ulla told us about her new book “Business Cases for Info Pros: here’s how, here’s why” 2008 which did sound very useful. The social capital you can build is priceless was her war cry. She doesn’t dismiss Google as an information source – if you’re getting 95% of required information from it, that’s not bad. We have to be realistic!
Anja told us don’t fall for a “once in a lifetime offer” – it will be on offer again six months later! He described three key strategies:
Armand was enthusiastic about outsourcing, of journal collections and reprint orders for example. His firm have saved a lot of money. No one in the audience was very positive about outsourcing, much to his dismay. He emphasised the need to find a suitable partner.
The social web permeates our information departments and our personal lives. But how to measure the effectiveness of our use of the social web?
Brian Kelly is the face behind UK Web Focus. He said the social web is becoming a accepted as a valuable tool for use by information professionals. He examined the Gartner Hype Cycle – this features a peak of inflated requirements, then a trough of disillusionment, finally a plateau of productivity.
Statistics are essential – its not enough to just think you’re doing a good job. Your users may indicate that services are no longer being used or alternatively the evidence may indicate that services are very popular and need extra resources.
Twitter is rapidly surpassing Google for many website hits. Twitter has already replaced mailing lists as a way of updating your audience. Twitter is a significant driver of traffic. Where would blogs be now without Twitter?
Joy Palmer examined how benefits drive engagement aka sales. She advised us that it is essential to analyse your audience’s use and perceptions of your services. She recommended the Guide to Researching Audiences (concise edition) , a JISC publication. A useful question to ask your users is “If the service didn’t exist, what would you do? “. She described how Mimas performed quantitative and qualitative research, with minimal resources, to bring a new understanding of how the services impact research and the knowledge economy.
All in all it was a very stimulating conference and in particular it will make me take Web 2.0 applications more seriously. The location was excellent as was the catering. The conference name, Internet Librarian sounds very outdated to me however – there must be something more modern and appealing!
Last week, SLA Europe and Information Today held an evening of networking drinks at the start of Internet Librarian International. Photos from the evening are now on Flickr. Many thanks to Infotrieve for sponsoring the evening.
Keep an eye on the blog this week for reports on ILI from SLA Europe delegates.
In our previous podcast Geraldine and Dennie shared their thoughts about the recent discussion about the fragmentation of the information profession, especially how important it is to address the issues to ensure our profession survives and thrives. In this podcast, Dennie talks to Mark Field who originally started the discussion on LinkedIn. We hear how Mark was surprised by the responses and how this discussion will now be taken to the next level.
The complete discussion was held on the CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) LinkedIn group, which requires (free) registration.
SLA Europe and Information Today are pleased to be presenting networking drinks on the eve of Internet Librarian International, kindly sponsored by Infotrieve. If you're not familiar with Infotrieve's services, here's your chance to find out more.
Infotrieve, the global leader in document delivery and business service solutions for information centers, just released the newest addition to our award-winning suite of content management software – the Mobile Library™ – making enterprise e-content available anywhere at any time through one secure gateway.
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To facilitate fast and intuitive information access, Mobile Library users can create and organize personal collections containing virtually any type of content including PDFs, videos, images, audio and MS Office files. The Mobile Library automatically organizes and cross references these files based on user defined tags, and allows users to search against these personalized tags to quickly locate all content of interest. Users can conveniently capture, tag and organize citations, abstracts and other items for future research, review or purchase.
To ensure up-to-the-minute awareness and discovery of newly published research, the Mobile Library offers a variety of automatic alerts using Infotrieve’s vast collection of more than 50 million citations, along with unlimited RSS feeds for monitoring other key content sources. The Mobile Library also supports other forms of discovery including recommendations, browsing and sophisticated searching.
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SLA Europe board member Laura Woods has written an article for the most recent Information Outlook on the value of new professional networks. If you are an SLA member, you can view the article on the SLA website. If you are not a member, Laura has also posted the article on her own blog, Organising Chaos.
If you are a new professional, or interested in talking to new professionals, why not talk to our Early Career committee? Early Career Chair Bethan Ruddock is always interested in ideas for how we can better support our New Professional members.
Last Tuesday Suzanne Wheatley from Sue Hill Recruitment ran a professional development seminar for SLA Europe on "Maximising Your Personal Impact". The event was well attended and due to popular demand will be run again in October.
You can see photos from the evening on SLA Europe's Flickr page, and Virginia Henry kindly recorded some VoxPops with attendees:
A few people who attended have written up their impressions of the evening on their blogs:
Sara Batts - Uncooked Data
Tina Reynolds - Tina's Library Related Stuff
Many thanks to Suzanne for leading such an interesting seminar, and to Perfect Information for their sponsorship.