Federal Librarian, Vol. 30, No. 2, Winter 2012
Greetings from the President
Court of International Trade Library Staff Wins NYC Federal Executive Board Award
George C. Marshall European Center
Winterfest at the Library
Madison Council Honors Three for Contributions to Library
Military Library Workshop (MLW) 2011, From the Eyes of a First-time Attendee
As we each end the current year and look forward to a new year, the FAFLRT Board would like to ask the Membership to help us set our goals and priorities for the upcoming year by answering a brief survey. We’ve posted the survey on Survey Monkey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2012faflrtsurvey, but if you prefer, you can fill out the copy included in this issue of Federal Librarian, and scan-and-email or snail mail it to the FAFLRT Secretary, Kathleen Hanselmann, at AISO Library, Presidio of Monterey, 543 Lawton Rd, Suite 617a, Monterey, CA 93944-3214 or email@example.com.
We’d appreciate your responses as quickly as possible and before the end of February, so we can include them in our planning for FAFLRT’s direction for the upcoming year. But, your input is always welcome, either through posting to the FAFLRT discussion list http://www.ala.org/faflrt/socialnetworking/discussionlist or using the Feedback form on the FAFLRT website, http://www.ala.org/faflrt/feedback.
Although FAFLRT isn’t sponsoring programs at the ALA Midwinter Conference, several Board members will be attending meetings and reporting back to the Membership. Preliminary plans are well underway for our programs for the 2012 ALA Annual Conference in Anaheim, as well. Stay tuned to this newsletter and Vol. 30, No.2, Winter 2012ISSN 1940-3534the FAFLRT Discussion list for details! If you’d like to participate in planning and organizing these programs, please contact our Programs Coordinator (and Vice President, President-Elect) Anne Harrison, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s also that time of year to elect FAFLRT board members. There are several positions to be filled for the upcoming term, but names must be submitted by early February. If you’re interested in running for an office, please contact Helen Sherman, our Nomination Committee Chair, at email@example.com as soon as possible. Responsibilities of each position are described in our bylaws, posted at http://www.ala.org/faflrt/governance/bylaws. The biographies of our current Board members are posted at http://www.ala.org/faflrt/governance/officers.
Thanks again for your interest in FAFLRT. We look forward to hearing from you!
The New York City Federal Executive Board (FEB) recently honored a group of United States Court of International Trade (CIT) Law Library employees for a research project that documented the lives of 28 judges who served on the United States Customs Court — the predecessor to the CIT. The team volunteered to take on the project in lieu of using an external research service and completed it within a very short time frame, thus providing the Court with significant savings. The team included Library staff members Dan Campbell, Herb Crenshaw, Rosemarie DiCristo, Anna Djirdjirian, Mary Finnegan-Hurley, Fred Frankel, Glenn Johnston, and Mildred Randle, Executive Assistant to Senior Judge Thomas J. Aquilino, Jr.
The project’s goal was to locate various biographical materials for each judge and to assemble them in a way that provided a detailed and consistent overview of the judge’s life. These materials were then used to assist the profile author with creating an individual life story for each judge. These profiles, along with a photograph or other likeness, were then framed and will be displayed in the Courthouse. The research materials will be made permanently available to historians and other researchers upon request.
Congratulations on a job well done!
Submitted by Anna Djirdjirian, Deputy Librarian, US Court of International Trade
Mr. Keith Cogdill is the new Director of the Division of Library Services, National Institutes of Health Library. He joined the NIH Library on October 9, 2011.
Mr. Cogdill comes to the NIH from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio where he served as the Director of the South Texas Regional Information Services. In this role, he was responsible for leading four branch libraries, the circuit librarian program, and the interlibrary loan and community engagement initiatives.
He also serves as an adjunct professor teaching online courses in the area of health sciences libraries and informatics for Drexel University in the College of Information Science and Technology. Prior to his work at the University of Texas and Drexel University, he worked for the National Library of Medicine as an outreach librarian for five years.
Mr. Cogdill was also an NLM Health Informatics Fellow at the University of Illinois at Chicago, College of Medicine and a librarian at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Library of Health Sciences.
Mr. Cogdill received a Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Master’s degree in Information and Library Science from the University of Alabama, School of Library and Information Science.
Ms. Kathleen Hanselmann, formerly Library Director at RAF Lakenheath Library in the United Kingdom began her new position as Chief Librarian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, CA on 19 December 2011.
Ms. Aimee Babcock-Ellis, has been recognized as a 2012 ALA Emerging Leader sponsored by ASCLA. Ms. Babcock-Ellis recently graduated from the University of Maryland library science program and was both a 2007 ALA Spectrum Scholar and a 2010 ARL Career Enhancement Fellow. She started her first professional position as a librarian at the Drug Enforcement Administration in November 2010 and has also been instrumental in initiatives to reach out to other new federal librarians, such as the NewFeds Facebook group and the FLICC NewFeds group.
Mr. Jeffrey B. Conner, currently Library Director, Yokosuka Naval Base Library, Japan has been selected as the Library Program Manager for the USMC Butler Library System on Okinawa, Japan. He will begin his new position on 3 January 2012. Previously he served as Library Director at Yokota AB Library, Japan, Vogelweh AB Library and Sembach AB Library, both in Germany.
Mr. Andy Wheeler, Engineering and Computer Science Librarian and reference bibliographer left Nimitz Library, US Naval Academy December 31, 2011 for another position in DoD. His new employer will benefit from his knowledge and dedication.
Ms. Tammy Garrison, Librarian at the Combined Arms Research Library, Fort Leavenworth, KS, had her work featured in Chicks Dig Time Lords: A Celebration of Doctor Who by the Women Who Love It_ edited by Lynne M Thomas and Tara O’Shea. The book won a Hugo Award for BEST RELATED WORK. Ms. Garrison wrote a comic featured in the collection of Dr. Who related materials.
Earlier this year, Ms. Elizabeth Merrifield and Mr. John Dubuisson, also Librarians at the Combined Arms Research Library, were married. Elizabeth is Archives Librarian, and a certified Archivist and John is a Reference Librarian, specializing in government documents and military doctrine questions.
NewFeds is proud to announce that Ms. Michelle Chronister is their nominee for the 2012 Library Journal Movers & Shakers Award. Ms. Chronister is a Web Content Manager at the U.S. General Services Administration. Her passion for helping the public find government information is evident in all aspects of her work as content manager of USA.gov, the U.S. government’s official web portal. During her two years at USA.gov, she has been instrumental in directing a large social media outreach initiative that fielded close to 1,000 English and Spanish questions in 2010.
Dr. Robert O. Ellett, Catalog Librarian, Ike Skelton Library, Joint Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA and Ms. Sylvia Hall-Ellis, University of Denver, have edited Vol 49, Issue 7-8, 2011, Cataloging and Classification Quarterly on RDA testing. It is now available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/wccq20/current It will be published as a monograph in January 2012.
Ms. Renate Hannaford received the Air Force’s Exemplary Civilian Service Award for her service from June 2008 to Dec 2010 at the Base Library at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Renate was recognized as being “A strong advocate of library services, she not only provided outstanding reference and research services to many Aviano airmen and their family members, but constantly sought ways to promote and increase the love of books and reading.” Ms. Hannaford returned from Aviano in June and is currently a Reference Librarian at The D’Azzo Research Library, Air Force Institute of Technology, Wright Patterson AFB. She was presented with the award, by AFIT’s Commandant, Timothy Lawrence, at a ceremony on 18 November 2011.
Ms. Annette Sheppard, the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Lead Librarian received the Civilian Achievement award for her service from September 2010 to June 2011 at the AFRL D’Azzo Technical Library at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Ms. Sheppard’s “dedication to duty and “can-do” attitude ensured a successful contractor to civilian in-sourcing transition for 10 positions and single-handedly continued to provide exemplary customer service to site customers during a 2 month break in service.” She received her award on 30 November 2011 from her director and supervisor.
Ms. Deborah Balsamo, the EPA Library Network’s National Program Manager, was honored by the North Carolina Chapter of the Special Libraries Association (NC-SLA) at their annual awards ceremony on 1 December 2011. Ms. Balsamo was presented with the “Meritorious Achievement” award. This award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding or notable contributions to the Chapter and to the library profession.
Congratulations to Ms. Katie Gillen and her staff of the Luke AB Library, AZ. The installation library won the Best Library Program award in Air Education and Training Command — 2nd year in a row!
Ms. Karen Shea began as an Access Services librarian at the US Military Academy Library, West Point, NY on 15 November 2011. She worked as the librarian for the Hastings Center in Garrison, NY (a not for profit institute concerned with bioethics issues) for four years prior to her position at West Point.
Mr. Mark Colvson, the Associate Director for Systems Management at the US Military Academy Library left in August 2011 for Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY to take a position as Associate Library Director.
Ms. Christine Bassett has accepted the position of Associate Director for Systems Management at the US Military Academy Library. She comes to this position from the Army Knowledge Leadership program managed by the G6/CIO out of Army Headquarters and will start in early 2012.
Ms. Kristin Padilla, is the new Library Director at the ‘new’ library at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, TX. The library just reopened in April of this year after being closed for over a year. The old name was Books n’ More and is now the Library & Resource Center. Ms. Padilla recently graduated with her MLIS from the University of Washington in December 2011. Before becoming the Director at NAS Corpus Christi, she worked at the McChord Library at Joint Base Lewis-McChord as a library technician from January 2004 until August 2011.
Ms. Alta Linthicum retired from her job with IMCOM G9, Soldier and Community Recreation, Library Program on November 16, 2011. She had worked with the General Library Information System (GLIS) for 5 years both as a contractor and as a NAF civilian. During her tenure she provided onsite training for over 20 libraries as they migrated data to GLIS. She traveled to Hawaii, Korea, and Puerto Rico as well as less exotic spots such as Fort Hunter Liggett and Fort Polk. Alta began her government career at the Fort Dix Post Library (now closed) and ended it as a part time employee working from her home in Del City, OK - again supporting post libraries. She also worked at the Special Services libraries in Berlin Germany, Plattsburg Air Force Base Library, National Defense University Library and as a contractor for the Librarian of the Navy. Now Alta will be spending time with her family and volunteering.
Ms. Carolyn Eaton, Library Director, Patuxent River Naval Air Warfare Center Library retired 27 October 2011. Ms. Eaton had a long career in Federal Libraries also serving in the Naval General Library Program in Pensacola, FL. Her dedication to the Navy has been outstanding. She willingly shared her knowledge and contributed to Navy General Libraries, the Consortia of Naval Libraries, the Special Library Association, and the Military Libraries Division. She will reside in Los Angeles, CA in retirement.
Mr. Bill McQuade, Reference and Government Documents Librarian at Nimitz Library, US Naval Academy retired December 31, 2011. Bill’s dedicated service to the midshipmen and faculty at the Academy began in April 1973. In recent times he has posted newspaper clippings of interest to the midshipmen on a bulletin board on the first floor; this has been a helpful service, especially to those who are not in the habit of reading printed daily newspapers.
Ms. Manuela Hannah retired from Kadena Base Library, Okinawa, Japan where she served as Reference Librarian, on 30 November 2011. She now resides in Baguio City, Philippines.
Ms. Carolyn Turner, Senior Reference Librarian at National Defense University Library retired 31 December 2011. Ms. Turner has worked at the National Defense University Library for 16 years and also 6 years for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She has enjoyed being a Reference Librarian and having the opportunity to do research for many clientele over the last 22 ½ years. She can be reached in retirement at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Al Butcher, Library Director at the Fort Sam Houston Library, died on December 7th at the age of 74. He served in the U.S. Army from 1956-59. He worked for the US Government Civil Service for over 40 years as a longtime Librarian. He was a vital part of the Fort Sam Houston community for over 40 years, and shared his talents with his church and with the Boy Scouts for decades. He took quiet pride in certain accomplishments: for his military service in Lebanon, for hiking the trails in Philmont with his son’s scout group, and for his fine culinary talents. We remember his special secret-recipe chili, his quick wit and joke-telling ability and so much more.
Mr. Richard A. Evans, director of Nimitz Library, US Naval Academy from 1967 until his retirement in 1991 died November 1, 2011. Professor Evans oversaw construction of the Nimitz Library building. The new library brought together staff and collections from multiple locations. Under his stewardship the library embraced the digital age with the transition from the card catalog to the online catalog and adoption of online database searching.
— Cynthia Shipley
For the past seven years, I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of working as a librarian at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. This is a unique German-American partnership that functions primarily as an educational, but also as a diplomatic institution — all of whose activities are intended, ultimately, to facilitate palpable positive regional changes. The Marshall Center operates in three languages: English, German, and Russian. As an American citizen born and raised in the Soviet Union, with a degree in library and information science from the University of Texas at Austin, I’ve been well-placed to perform a variety of functions at the Marshall Center library: from cataloging, to reference services, to information literacy training, to public presentations. In addition, as part of my professional development, I have obtained a second master’s degree, in Eastern European Studies, from the Free University of Berlin and have completed the Marshall Center’s flagship resident course, the Program in Advanced Security Studies. I am leaving this position now to return to the United States, and I’d like to share some of my thoughts and impressions about librarianship in a multicultural and multilingual environment, with particular emphasis on working with Russian-speaking students. I’ll structure this article along the three primary nodes of the information cycle: collection, organization, and dissemination.
The main purpose of the Marshall Center library is to support the educational activities of the college. This means that materials in all three languages must be available, on a variety of topics ranging from terrorism, to weapons of mass destruction, to security and stability operations; in all formats: books periodicals, and electronic resources.
Collection development in Russian presents two particular challenges: finding any relevant resources at all and ensuring that the resources that have been found do not overwhelmingly contradict the ideas and points of view that the Marshall Center strives to promote. The first challenge is addressed through such standard library work as perusing various bibliographic catalogues and a monthly approval plan from EastView, a prominent Russian vendor whose services we’ve been using for a number of years; book reviews in journals and magazines, bibliographies in the books already purchased, and publishers’ web sites. A few interesting problems present themselves in this regard.
The first and most obvious is the problem of scale. Although Russian publishing is by no means small, its output, especially on specialized subjects that are of interest to the Marshall Center, simply cannot compare to the combined American and European English-language production. The imbalance is much worse in the field of electronic databases and full-text electronic books. So, no matter how hard we try, there remains a fundamental informational asymmetry between those students who can at least read an English text with the help of a dictionary and those who are limited to working exclusively in the Russian language. Although the number of the former is definitely growing, I am convinced that the latter are and will remain, at least for while, numerous enough for this issue to be taken seriously.
At the Marshall Center, the main solution is to translate required course readings into Russian in-house. In addition, despite the existence of the asymmetry mentioned above, the library’s Russian-language collection is extremely impressive on its own terms. On many occasions students were literally astonished and overjoyed to find various books and periodicals which were either completely new to them, or of whose existence they were aware, but access to which they couldn’t easily — or at all — obtain back in their own countries.
The second, somewhat less pressing problem, is the preponderance in the library’s Russian-language collection of the materials from the Russian Federation. There are good reasons for this, mainly logistical. It is often next to impossible to locate publishers from post-Soviet countries that publish serious academic works in the Russian language on the subjects addressed at the Marshall Center. Although they exist, many of them don’t have any Internet presence, do not have resources to publish and distribute free catalogs, and generally engage in minimum to no marketing activities. Even if one sometimes identifies such a publisher, purchasing products can be difficult because of the technical issues: most often non-standard, from the American federal government’s point of view, modes of payment and unreliable shipping.
The two biggest exceptions at the moment are Ukraine and Kazakhstan, and over the last few years we have purchased a number of books from these countries, especially from the former. Also, EastView offers some Russian-language publications from several other countries, for example, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. However, this still amounts to a fairly limited and less than systematic coverage.
Sometimes, the students coming to the Marshall Center bring with them books and periodicals to donate to the library, but this can be a mixed blessing because of the materials’ content — something that I will address in more detail shortly. Here I simply note that under the conditions of limited resources, we have found it the best strategy not to invest too much time and effort into specifically seeking publication from outside of the Russian Federation. Yet, this is a limitation to be aware of.
Third, some technical purchasing issues that I have just mentioned in relation to non-Russian publishers apply as well to some smaller specialized and academic publishers in Russia.
However, as frustrating as the inability to find materials on a certain topic can be, a far more challenging situation arises when the materials are there — sometimes even in great numbers — but the absolute majority of them express points of view diametrically opposite to the various ideas of democracy presented at the Marshall Center. Or, they are obviously intended not only, or even mainly, to argue a point or present facts, but to solicit specific, very strong, and highly negative emotions against a particular country, ethnic group, or a person — the situation that comes up sometimes with students’ donations to the library. The general librarianship ethos is to be as nonjudgmental as possible, to eschew anything that reminds even slightly of censorship, to present the diversity of viewpoints, to always champion the freedom of speech, and to select materials based on their quality and relevance to a library’s target audience, and emphatically not on their conformity to some “party line”. In addition, in the purely academic environment, even the most overtly one-sided, offensive, and propagandistic materials have their place — as objects of study. After all, one cannot research 9/11 conspiracy theories without knowing what they are.
But here is the rub. The Marshall Center is not a purely academic institution. In fact, this duality of functions, the ever-present tension between the educational and diplomatic aspects of the organization
merits a discussion all of its own. Suffice it to say that the fault lines are fluid and that the dichotomy can play itself out even within a single person.
For the purposes of the library’s collection development, this means that we cannot, for example, set up an automated system with EastView and simply buy books that have been tagged with particular keywords. It also means that it is essential to have librarians who are fluent in Russian and have in-depth knowledge of the regional events and developments, who understand the sometimes very subtle keywords in short book catalog descriptions that can alert one to the unacceptable content, who have a thorough familiarity with the library’s holdings and possess a high professional self-awareness.
The latter is important because there are no easy answers. There is no policy that one could formulate once and for all, no algorithm one can follow, no unambiguous procedure one can rely upon. There is, in fact, no “unacceptable content” as such. It always comes down to a professional judgment, based on some explicitly articulated factors, a lot of tacit knowledge, and, yes, intuition (itself based on experience), on whether this or that book’s capacity to work at cross-purposes with the Marshall Center’s mission of promoting peace, mutual understanding, and cooperation outweighs the book’s informational usefulness. These judgments are inevitably partly subjective, highly time- and situation-dependent, and not necessarily consistent.
So, why bother? Our students are all adults, professionals, already accomplished in their fields, and possessing leadership potential — surely, some book somewhere on the library’s shelves can’t do any harm. Yet one needs only to think about a number of frozen and active conflicts in the Marshall Center’s primary region of interest, or some of the rather sharp and intense differences of opinion — among the countries in the region, or between Russia and the U.S — to realize that there exists a rather high potential for awkward diplomatic moments. If adding the “acceptability of the content” as one of the factors during the material selection process can help us avoid spending taxpayer dollars on something that could provoke one of such awkward moments, I think it fully justifiable and worth the effort. Of course such prudence can actually exacerbate the information asymmetry between the English- and Russian-language resources on certain subjects.
The foregoing discussion was based mainly on the library’s books and, somewhat less, the periodicals collections, but it also applies to the field of electronic resources. The library subscribes to two Russian commercial databases, EastView and Integrum. Although fairly large — especially Integrum — they pale in comparison with ProQuest and EBSCO. Yet, it is a true wealth of information for many of our students and alumni, to whom both databases are currently available through the password-protected Regional International Outreach network.
One of the great equalizers of the information asymmetry I have mentioned is the Internet. In the course of my work with Russian-speaking students at the Marshall Center, I have multiple occasions to regret the fact that such institutions and entities as the U.S. State Department, NATO, EU, IAEA, various think tanks and international NGOs dealing with security issues relevant to the countries of the post-Soviet space do not invest more into providing at least summaries and abstracts of many of their research papers, as well as translations of various data, into the Russian language.
Still, I would like to conclude on an optimistic note. There is a great amount of high-quality information in Russian available today, in all formats, representing many points of view, including ones amenable to the goals of increasing freedom, security, stability, and democracy in the primary region of the Marshall Center’s concern, as well as globally. For the last several years, my colleagues and I have worked hard to make sure that our library provides our students and alumni with such information, in the service of their personal and professional growth, interpersonal dialogue and professional communication, and, ultimately, long-term networking and cooperation. I believe that we can reasonably judge our efforts a success. One hopes that the new budgetary constraints will not roll back what we have been trying to achieve.
The centerpiece of the Marshall Center library’s effort to make the books and periodicals collections more accessible to the Center’s Russian-speaking students is something that we refer to as the “enriched Cyrillic cataloging project”. Since this is a case of, I believe, a picture being worth a thousand words, here is a sample bibliographic record that vividly illustrates both main features of this project.
The project’s name is largely self-explanatory. When cataloging a Russian-language resource — in this
case, a book — we enter the content of the MARC fields 245 (Title and Statement of Responsibility) and 520 (Summary), or 505 (Table of Contents) in Cyrillic. The transliterated version of 245 is, of course, still there, but it is put in the field 246 (The Alternative Form of the Title).
Ina Ruchmann, a contractor who has been with the library prior to the creation of the Marshall Center on the site of its institutional predecessor USARI (Untied States Army Russian Institute), came up with the idea in 2002. She made a simple observation — many of the Russian-speaking students were not comfortable enough with the Latin alphabet to take advantage of the recently automated library catalog. Ergo, to facilitate the student’s use of the catalog, the essential information had to be in Cyrillic and it had to be searchable.
When I came to the Marshall Center, the project was already underway, yet many old records were not yet available in Cyrillic — it took several years to convert them retroactively — so I was able to observe first hand the difference it made for the students. Having since answered many reference questions and conducted numerous information literacy classes, I can state with confidence that the availability of bibliographic information in Cyrillic is the single greatest factor responsible for the effective use of the online library catalog by the absolute majority of the Russian-speaking students.
Some challenges remain. The ILS vendor we are using has not been able to solve the technical problem of field-specific search in Cyrillic, so it only works for the general keyword search. Neither have we been able to get a Russian-language interface for the online catalog. The encoding issues surface once in a while as the software interacts with different browsers, leading to the display of random symbols in place of Cyrillic characters. A couple of cataloging software updates during the last few years have resulted in loss of some Cyrillic data or required additional time and effort to ensure the data’s integrity and availability.
Despite such minor setbacks, our Russian-language book circulation has increased dramatically since the inception of the project, and that means more successful reports, more high-quality research, and more books that have found their readers.
Dissemination (Information Services)
A library can have impressive holdings and a state-of-the-art ILS, but in the end, it is at the circulation and reference desks where library visitors come to ask for assistance, as well as in various “push-side”, librarian-initiated interactions with patrons — whether physical or virtual — that a library succeeds or fails. Over the years, we have experimented with different approaches and projects to make sure the maximum number of students, alumni, faculty, and staff benefit from what our library has to offer. I am not going to review all approaches and experiments, though I will make a few observations concerning our work with Russian-speaking patrons.
I have come to the conclusion that, in order to successfully work with the average contingent of the Marshall Center Russian-speaking students, a few things are necessary in addition to mastery of the Russian language: cultural knowledge and sensitivity, more than a basic acquaintance with the region’s history and current events; familiarity with some particular aspects of the region’s educational and library systems, and diplomatic facility. In terms of specific services we provide, I’ll single out the information literacy component. It currently consists of a mandatory one-hour walk-through library tour and an overview of electronic resources for all the students and a two hour hands-on training session on the use of the library’s electronic catalog and subscription databases for the students of the PASS, the longest resident course. We also provide tailored individual and group training sessions on request. Full disclosure: information literacy is one of my personal soapboxes, something that I see as becoming more and more important part of the librarian profession. Of course, it is equally beneficial for all the students, but we have discovered that there are certain factors that make it particularly important for Russian speakers.
One of these is that many of our Russian-speaking students are likely to have a different concept of a research or academic library than the one most educated Americans and Europeans would take for granted. The devil is in the details: the open stacks, the general purpose and function of the LC classification system, the scope of help a librarian may provide — we have found out that the more explicit and detailed we were in explaining all these things to the students during the tours, the higher was the chance that we would see them again. And then, it was more than likely that we would have to do the explaining a few more times.
This gap stems, in part, from the students’ different academic backgrounds and partly from the differences between the academic systems of the U.S. and those countries and regions from which most of our Russian-speaking students come from: Central Asia and the Caucasus, Afghanistan, Mongolia… The open stacks access for the patrons, for example, is very unusual for the research libraries in many of these countries. So, some of the students need extra encouragement and a couple of individual mini-tours through the shelves until they are truly comfortable exploring the book collection on their own. The same, only to a much larger degree, applies to facility with electronic databases and the level of comfort with computers, as such.
The complicating factor is that we are dealing with adult learners, many of whom, in addition, work in positions of responsibility and authority and acutely feel, on their arrival at the Marshall Center, that they represent their countries. So, such elements as pride, reluctance to ask for additional help or clarification, fear of embarrassment — all come into play. Or, the pendulum can swing in the opposite direction and a student may attempt to treat a librarian more as a personal research assistant, editor, and all-around helper — something that needs to be dealt with politely, but very firmly as soon as possible, lest the situation deteriorate to a painful level of awkwardness.
To navigate these shoals successfully takes more than knowledge of Russian. In my interactions with students, I found myself drawing heavily on my years in the Soviet Union, on the wealth of specific cultural references I shared with those whom I was helping (even though some of them were a decade younger than me and grew up after the break-up of the USSR), on the kind of understanding of physical and verbal clues that would be difficult to articulate explicitly and which must remain outside the purview of this article. And colleagues who also had immigrant roots were doing the same.
I do not want to overplay this point. I am not advocating immigrant background as one of the requirements for the kind of work I was doing. I have seen Americans, Germans, Canadians, British, and Swiss whose combination of personality, formal studies, and exposure to other cultures enable them to serve as perfect “bridge people” — flexible, sensitive, and adaptable in their communication with the Marshall Center’s international students, whether Russian-speaking or not. And I have seen people whose immigrant background proved a hindrance. Professionalism, openness, curiosity, willingness to learn, facility with languages, and expertise in the region are key. At the same time, having the kind of knowledge that can only be derived from growing up — or, at the very least, being immersed for years — in a particular culture is undeniably a great bonus.
I would like to finish this article with a brief description of a service that was never intended to be anything but a rare exception, but that exemplifies the highly non-standard situations that arise because of the multilingual nature of the Marshall Center and the kind of creative solutions we have to come up with to address such situations.
This particular story harkens back to the discussion of the challenges of Russian-language collection development. On two or three occasions, we had Russian-speaking students, who committed to a particular research topic and later, when it was no longer possible to change it, found out that some of the seminal materials or pieces of data were simply unavailable in Russian. So, at the special request of both the students and their faculty supervisors, I went over some relevant English-language materials myself, made a short summary of the essential points in Russian, and then sat down with the students and conveyed some additional information to them in Russian, orally, while they took notes. The last is important, because the time and effort that would have been required to put that information in writing would have made the whole project non-feasible.
In some ways this was a very exciting and exhilarating experience for me, but, obviously, this is not a kind of help that any library could routinely offer. It does give me one more chance to reiterate what I said above – despite all the globalization, continuous Internet growth, and information glut, when it comes to non-English speakers, one should not assume that the information we take for granted is out there for them. If we want to make sure that it is, we have to expand additional resources to make it so.
Working as a librarian in a multilingual and multicultural environment is a unique challenge and a great opportunity for personal and professional growth. I hope this article succeeds in providing a glimpse at some of the specific ways this can occur.
Submitted by Andrew AdaryukovGeorge
The Altus Air Force Base Library in Altus, Oklahoma, is getting ready for its second annual “Winterfest at the Library” on the 24th and 26th January, 2012. When the cold winter wind comes sweeping across the plains of southwestern Oklahoma, Altus AFB Library patrons can warm up at the base library during the two night event which includes special story time readings with winter-themed books. (Last year’s readings took place in igloos made of recycled milk jugs and in a cozy cave with a faux campfire!)
In addition to special evening story times during this winter event, young participants and their family members can watch a special puppet show, try their hand at special crafts like making their own special snowflakes, and participate in chilly, cool activities like the “Scoop the Snow” race using cotton balls and “ice fishing” through Styrofoam with magnetized fish.
During the event, special displays of library resources related to everything chilly and wintery are set up to provide easy patron access to materials. Resources highlighted include books/DVDs/audio books such as cookbooks, craft/activity books, winter recreation books, and fiction books- just to name a few.
This year, the library staff will also have an information area using their interactive white board in order to highlight electronic resources popular with parents and children such as Searchasaurus, Kids Search, Tumblebooks, Overdrive, and Tutor.com.
Last year, more than 60 patrons, young and old, participated in the Quality of Life support event, enjoying the readings and decorations that transformed the library into a winter wonderland. During the two evenings, patrons could often be found curled up with a good book in one of the library’s igloos or in the reading cave. Here’s to a warm winter full of books!
Altus AFB Library
Cheryl Smith Cook, Supervisory Librarian
109 “E” Ave., Bldg. 65
Altus AFB, OK 73523
A blind reader listening to a talking book benefits – likely without realizing it – from the work of Michael Katzmann. The efforts of Susan Morris make a complex institution like the Library more understandable for employees, users and members of Congress. The work of Yasmeen Khan helps ensure the survival and accessibility of irreplaceable, centuries-old texts.
Katzmann, Khan and Morris last month were named recipients of the Madisonian Award, an honor given by Dr. Marjorie Fisher, a member of the Library of Congress’ private-sector advisory group, to staff members in recognition of distinguished service.
“The Madison Council appreciates the dedication and skill of the Library staff,” said Sue Siegel, director of the Development Office. “These awards are given in recognition of the extraordinary contributions these employees have made to the institution and their work in build ing, sustaining and providing access to the Library’s collections.”
Katzmann’s work in the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) made books easier for the blind to acquire and use. He helped develop and refine the digital players used by blind readers to listen to books: His innovations, for example, allow readers to more intuitively use the players, listen to books at higher speeds without losing fidelity and navigate among multiple titles. He also developed an open-source duplication system that allows network libraries to easily copy books to cartridges; software that allows libraries to create custom braille labels; and a YouTube channel for NLS. He currently is working on the development of a smart phone app capable of reading NLS books created for the digital player.
Khan, of the Preservation Directorate, serves as the Library’s senior conservator of rare books for digital projects. She oversees the stabilization, housing and treatment of the large number of items scanned each year – more than 48,000 pieces for more than 48 projects. She developed new techniques for treating Middle Eastern book bindings and Middle Eastern and South Asian illuminated manuscripts, applying Western conservation approaches to the craftsmanship of other traditions. Her research also has led to the publication of important work: She wrote, for example, the chapters on washing and alkalinization treatments for the “Book Conservation Catalog,” the basic text on book conservation.
Morris, of the Acquisitions and Bibliographic Access Directorate, played a key role in the reorganization of the directorate in 2008. She serves as a statistical expert for the Library, compiling, editing and interpreting the large body of data that details the directorate’s complex work. She organized “Be a Book” tours designed to help members of Congress, donors and new staffers understand how Library materials are received and processed. Morris has been active in the U.S. RDA Test, a collaborative effort of the Library and partner institutions to evaluate cataloging produced according to new Resource Description and Access instructions. She also serves as the Library’s liaison with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
Katzmann, Khan and Morris received cash awards and certificates at an Oct. 19 meeting of the Madison Council.
The Madisonian Award was first given by the Madison Council in 2006, then continued by Fisher in 2009 and again this year. The Madison Council is the first private-sector advisory body in Library history, serving as the primary link to the business community. Established in 1990 by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington, the Council is comprised of prominent leaders who serve as advisers and ambassadors on the Library’s behalf.
Submitted by Mark Hartsell
A first rate line up of engaging speakers brought out applause, laughter, enlightenment and generated plenty of enthusiasm for a full house of eager MLW attendees in Norfolk this past week. There was no doubt that this meticulously planned event went off without a hitch. In short, there were shoulder bags filled with cool vendor swag, light chatter around refreshment areas and tightly scheduled events that allowed for thoughtful question and answer periods after just about every workshop. Very well done.
However, it wasn’t until SLA President, Cindy Romaine, met with our group when I took a second look at the real reason we all took time from work and family to come together in Norfolk. “What is future ready?” she asked. I thought, ‘What are we, as information professionals, doing to prepare ourselves for the impending joys, struggles and challenges that the information influx will be sure to bring us in the coming years?’ I wondered what great responses to this question were being quietly generated by colleagues around me.
As I looked around at what were now familiar faces seated around the many tables within the banquet room, it dawned on me that there is a deeper purpose to this workshop. I’d compare it to a time tested recipe. In my (albeit rookie) opinion, I’m convinced the recipe is a dash of professional development, a pinch of service obligation and, well, a pound of... camaraderie.
Truthfully, the greatest take-away from MLW 2011 is buried in the background, that intangible place where the casual observer wouldn’t find it. It’s in the meet and greets, where we find camaraderie. It’s in the lounge, or bar, or awkward standing tabletops where conversations often lead to camaraderie. By listening to both new ideas and old experiences during face to face discussions around round tables, we create that camaraderie. And, quite frankly, camaraderie will make us future ready. Without being too ethereal, I’ll say this: If military library division provides this opportunity year after year, we’ll be armed with the confidence, tools and friendships to implement those pilot projects and wildly innovative ideas. We will be slicing through tough future ready tasks with a butter knife.
Written by: Eileen Schnur, Librarian at Naval Postgraduate School and SPAWAR Pacific.