3M/NMRT Travel Grant Winner Log

by Bryan Loar

FRIDAY, JUNE 23, 2006

The day went very well. I worked on my Web site and getting things in order with Blogger & the like. So, really, I didn’t get to the conference hall until 2. On the way there I met Jennifer who is a private school librarian in Dallas. It was great talking with her because she was the first librarian I’ve met here in New Orleans. We talked about the challenges she faces and the joys of working with high schoolers (seriously!). She also let me in on a little school librarian secret—teachers are fun!

When one walks into New Orleans’ Ernest M. Morial Convention Center, one is immediately greeted by its vastness. The convention center is really a hall of halls. The lobby is a massive, horizontal track that buttresses a number of halls with affectionate names like I2. At one end, there is a food court, and at the other there is a hotdog-like vending station. In between is where one main segment of content lies. We have registration, information, and numerous ALA program booths.

At the ALA International booth, I met two lovely academic librarians—one from New Orleans and the other from California. The Californian was very insightful in regards to IFLA and funding. She indicated that librarians within her system will consistently receive grant funds for travel if they are presenting. This is maybe a "Duh" moment, but it really drove home this concept to me due to my interest in international librarianship.

After circling the lobby multiple times, I decided to investigate the makeshift ALA bookstore. I was fortunate to participate in a demonstration of the ALA Read CD. The CD contains license-free materials to create your own READ posters—you know, like the ones in public libraries that feature celebrities with their favorite book. The workshop was lead by Tina Coleman and a very capable graphic designer. By taking a picture of a librarian in the audience, the designer created and printed an 8.5 x 11 "poster" of the librarian. Using Photoshop Elements the designer took less than thirty minutes to create a professional looking document.

I also had my résumé reviewed. It was a great process. I met with Ms. Koda, an employee of the Cleveland academic library system. She suggested tailored specificity. She said to make each individual résumé unique to fit the outlined position. She indicated moving items from chronological order to subject order, and she said that moving the most important information to the beginning for each individualized résumé would be a particularly strong strategy for applying to academic institutions.

In the evening, I met a number of ALA New Members Round Table fellow members. I met a gentleman involved with Pitt's Chartres DL project. He indicated that they used an application profile based on Dublin Core. He also said that their site has had some challenges due to using frames—which I found interesting, especially given accessibility issues, but he went on to say that the project went to such details with added metadata not only to say a single stained-glass window but to minute details of each window. Wow!

I also met three interesting librarians from Michigan. One works in academic, another as an intern and part-timer, and another who just recently began working for the company who sells the ILL program ILLIAD.

Finally, I met Brice who extolled the benefits of Cataloguing Cultural Objects (CCO). He had just finished a conference on CCO, and he was so excited by the opportunities within the field and the power that CCO offers metadata specialists that he purchased the seminar manual directly after the conference. To be honest, he spoke so eloquently about CCO and its connection with CDWA-lite that he’s piqued my interest as well.

I ended the night adding metadata to my photos, creating a short video, and writing my blog.


The Power of Personal Persuasion

Today was my first taste of seminars. I started off with ACRL’s The Power of Persuation lecture. The speakers included the following:

  • Camila A. Alire, ACRL President, 2005-2006 [provided introduction]
  • Dr. Robert Cialdini, Regents' Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Dr. Julie Todaro, Dean of Library Services (LS) and Head Librarian of the Rio Grande Campus Library of Austin Community College (ACC) in Austin, Texas

Dr. Robert B. Cialdini walked the program’s participants through various ways in which they may support their position. Simple presentation techniques such as word phrasing or sentence structure may have a huge impact on how others perceive one’s request.

Dr. Cialdini stressed that people are given opportunities to creating lasting relationships through reciprocation. He added that employees within service industries (e.g. librarianship, etc.) have been conditioned to downplay the importance of their work. For example, after completing a rigorous research request for a professor, one could say, "Ah, it was nothin," or one could say, "You're welcome. It’s what long-term partners do for each other."

I know. It sound a little corny, but I’m a believer. I believe that if one practices this type of communication one will have a much easier time finding support, and the support may come from a vast number of colleagues within one’s social network.

If you are interested in this approach, check out Dr. Todaro’s writing on the subject. Finally, you can buy Cialdini’s video from Kantola, but, if you’re not willing to cough up the $95.00, you can get a preview through Google video and/or Kantola or find it in a library.

Interestingly, after the lecture I was speaking with Dr. Todaro. After introducing myself, she said that she knew our new Columbus SLIS professor, Dr. Belinda Boon.

Shaking the Money Tree

The second program I went to was Shaking the Money Tree: Grant Writing for Librarians. The program was sponsored by the Education and Behavioral Sciences Section (EBSS) of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL).

The speakers included the following:

  • Elaina Norlin [e-mail], Senior Program Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services(IMLS)
  • Tom Phelps, Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
  • Marcia Keyser [homepage], Coordinator of Copyright Services, Instruction, and Reference Librarian; Drake University

Overall, it was a very interesting program. Elaina and Tom focused on pitfalls (which I’ll outline), and Marcia described her own experience applying for NEH grants while at Texas A&M.

Pitfalls: Reasons for elimination -

  1. Ideas that have already done before (stemming from a lack of research within the topic)
  2. Not calling the grant program officer to avoid costly mistakes at the beginning of the process
  3. Having a vague idea of what you want
  4. Having a vague idea of individual responsibilities
  5. Not consulting evaluation criteria (this is not always bundled with the grant guidelines!)
  6. Insufficient proof of commitment among collaborators.

Suggestions for winning grant proposals--

  1. Consult grant officer first
  2. The officer will help channel your preliminary ideas in the right direction
  3. Understand the funding structure (don’t shake the wrong money tree)
  4. IMLS & NEH are for competitive, large-scale proposals. If one is looking for funding for a project that is very localized, state funding through Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA)
  5. Tailor every proposal to the granting institution’s mission, vision, etc.
  6. Draft proposals should be completed no later than 1 month before deadline in order to receive feedback (both from reviewers and the grant officer)
  7. Have at least five people review your proposal, and one reviewer should be a non-expert

Marcia Keyser brought up an interesting point during her presentation. She indicated that even if she had not won the competitive NEH grant, she would have still found the process rewarding. Her interactions with various departments within Texas A&M allowed her to understand the university’s structure more clearly. Moreover, her quest became a kind of secondary outreach program for her library. Soon, other departments became interested in her library. Something to think about.

Finally, Tom Phelps presented the one place for all your granting needs— http://www.grants.gov/.

SUNDAY, JUNE 25, 2006

Open Source for the Reference Librarian

Bright & early Sunday morning, I had the privilege of going to Open Source for the Reference Librarian: ALA 2006 in New Orleans. The program was sponsored by the Library and Information Technology Association (LITA).

The program featured six different open source solutions. These solutions are the following:

  • iVia, an open source system for building Web-based virtual libraries and subject portals
  • LibX Firefox extension, an add-on to the Firefox browser that provides direct access to your library's resources
  • Jabber IM, instant messaging (IM) programs which allow the user to communicate with many other different IM programs (e.g. AIM, etc.)
  • Gaim, like Jabber + a commercial free interface to see other users
  • MediaWiki, open source software that allows for a user-editable forums (the same software that powers Wikipedia)
  • JabRef, citation management software

The program overall was very informative. I asked about whether or not iVia will harvest Dublin Core (DC) metadata. (Answer from the panelist = probably).

A sexier topic is the LibX Firefox extension. How cool is that--bringing your library to your browser! Instead of libraries waiting & hoping their users will search their Web OPAC first, initiatives like this one and Open WorldCat are meeting users where they find information. What a novel idea! User-centric strategies! Anyway, the LibX Firefox extension has some of the coolest features ever—seriously. My absolute favorite was an example given in the presentation. OK, say you’re at Amazon.com’s website, and you’re browsing a selection of books. The LibX extension will place your institution’s icon next the book’s title. The icon is hyperlinked back to your catalog through the OpenURL protocol—meaning that if you click on the icon & your institution has the book**BAM!**your patron now loves you. Go to the LibX website & click on Screenshots for visual examples.

Other websites of interest for open source include the following:

Technology of Outreach: How Technology Supports the Connection

The next program I went to was the Technology of Outreach: How Technology Supports the Connection presented by ALA’s Office for Literacy and Outreach Services (OLOS)

The program was moderated by Zora J. Sampson, University of Wisconsin-Barron County, and the speakers included the following:

  • Patricia A. Kreitz, Director, Technical Information Services, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University
  • Steven R. Pisani, Head, Cataloging & Interlibrary Loan Services, Westchester Library System, Ardsley, NY [interestingly, there is another Steven R. Pisani who is an actor, stuntman, musician, etc.]
  • Jacquie Samples, Serials and Electronic Resources Librarian, Metadata and Cataloging Department Senior Acquisitions Librarian, NC State University (Hilary Davis could not make it to the conference)
  • Ewa Barczyk, Director of Libraries, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries

There were two key highlights for me from this program. The first was the idea that face-to-face outreach is still valued in the age of push based technologies like RSS. While many libraries are beginning to use RSS, podcasting and blogs as a means of outreach, NC State University has a face-to-face program entitled the "CiNC Tour." CiNC, or Connecting In North Carolina, sends librarians out to places like Lowe’s Motor Speedway and the Village of Woodsong. With all the talk about what push technologies can do, it’s very reassuring that the human element is still being utilized to create personal relationships between libraries’ and their constituencies.

The second highlight of the program was the Ewa Barcyk’s entire presentation. Being quite interested in digital image repositories and imagebases, Barcyk offered attendees and overview of the University of Wisconsin’s digital image collections. One specific exemplary example was the Mark Avery Collection of the Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Little information was known about each photograph. The university called upon the retired theatre community to assist in the creation of additional metadata. The actors & actresses were said to have a fantastic recall of whom they worked with—even remembering the names of children actors & actresses. Another really interesting topic was working with donors. Like museum curators, Ewa and the university’s library staff courted Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert. The Bliffert donation and the resulting online collection demonstrate the libraries role within the community as a "safe haven" for cultural objects.

One final note. Kreitz described a repository of grey literature for the sciences that I thought sounded incredible. It provides open access to 374,421 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science and Quantitative Biology.

Publish, Don't Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors

The final program of the day was Publish, Don’t Perish: Helpful Hints for Authors. The program was sponsored by the ACRL New Publications Committee and the ACRL-CLS [College Libraries Section] Research Committee.

The programs speakers included the following:

  • Tony Schwartz, Associate Director for Collection Management, Florida International University
  • Mary L. Radford, Associate Professor & Library Consultant School of Communication, Information & Library Studies Rutgers University
  • Patricia Glass Schuman, president of Neal-Schuman Publishers [2 things of interest here--#1 she’s an alum of the Univ. of Cincinnati, and #2 this publishing house should sound familiar to you if you are part of KSU’s SLIS program. Why? Because our director’s book, Foundation of Library and Information Science, is published by none other than…[you guessed it!]
  • Steven Bell, Director of the Library, Paul J. Gutman Library, Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA

Tony started the program off by indicating the audience was in either one of two camps. The first camp was tenure track professionals who needed to publish to keep their job. The other camp was members of the academic library community that enjoyed researching and writing and did not have the peril of perishing. He said that understanding which camp one belonged in will determine the type of publishing that one should do. The first camp should look towards publishing in bulk. Furthermore, they should focus on making minor incremental contributions to an already well researched idea. On the other hand, the second camp should focus on highly original works which require large sums of time to complete. For both camps he gave the following suggestions:

  1. Always has a very strong first paragraph in order to pass the "so-what" test
  2. Innovation must be tempered by tradition. Going too far outside the mold may make your work unpublishable
  3. Match your subject with the appropriate journal. You can do this by looking at last year’s issues
  4. Fashion your manuscript style to emulate the journal’s style
  5. Don’t give your work to friends/family to evaluate
  6. Give your manuscript to someone who has already published in the specific journal of interest to you

Mary Radford was witty and energetic speaker who fashioned her own set of rules for publishing. They are the following:

  1. Find Time! Sharpen Time Management Skills
  2. Put 1st Things 1st (This is actually from Steven Covey’s book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People)
  3. Find Your Rhythm (what works for you?)
  4. Collaborate
  5. Synergize [if you’ve already started a project, see how it relates]
  6. Work to Strengths and Interests (Focus)
  7. Break into Incremental Steps
  8. Set Target Dates (personal deadlines)
  9. Capture Ideas (writing notebook)
  10. Create a Plan (get specific)

Besides these tips, what really stuck with me was that Mary emphasized writing every day—even if it’s just 30 minutes. Writing every day will keep the ball rolling. Your ideas will not be shelved and gather dust, and it will make you deal with any related issues in the present versus in the future when you might have precious sabbatical time.

The next speaker was Patricia Schuman. Schuman seemed very down-to-earth and pragmatic. She discussed how writing for her is a challenge, but one she’s conquered by "practice, practice, practice." She suggested to authors the following:

  1. Make sure you’re up-to-date on current literature
  2. Talk to publishers before starting down the long road of research. Problems of relevancy may be avoided and other ideas may come to fruition
  3. Have a clear idea of what makes your topic unique
  4. Give yourself 9 months to a year to finish your work. If you haven’t finished within this timeframe, you’ll probably never finish
  5. Use non-librarians to evaluate your work. This will help you reduce jargon
  6. Write 2 chapters and then propose
  7. Know your copyrights!
    • Do you have the right to reuse your material?
    • Do you have a right to know when your material is republished?
    • If & when a publisher may re-write your work [i.e. "editorial revisions"]
    • Do you still carry rights on your work after foreign translations?

Finally, Steven Bell gave a very brief description of Your Research Coach, a writing service for academic librarians. Not only will this service help you with the mechanics of writing a polished & publishable work, they will help authors find publishable ideas and even act as trainers to keep authors motivated. Furthermore, it’s a free service based on volunteers like Mr. Bell. As an aspiring academic librarian, I can’t think of a more useful service.

3M/NMRT Reception & Social

The evening began with the ALA NMRT Student Reception. Light snacks and drinks were provided, and several students and new members filled the meeting room. The University of Hawaii at Manoa accepted the ALA 2006 Student Chapter of the Year Award.

The reception actually had a dual purpose. One, it created an atmosphere conductive to meeting one’s peers, and, two, it provided a means for the various ALA section liaisons to pitch their services. I learned that the ACRL has an Arts section—I’ll probably join.

After the Student Reception, my wife and I went to the 3M/NMRT Social. There we met up with David Pointon, 3M's Government and Industry Relations Manager, and Rory Yanchek, 3M Library Systems Business Manager. The ballroom was decked out with New Orleans beads, and an elaborate buffet was set up on both sides of the rectangular-shaped room. We sat at the front-middle table with one of the other 3M/NMRT Professional Development Grant recipients (and fellow vegetarian), Jill Ratzan. During a conversation with one of Jill’s friends, I accidentally smacked Bonnie Holland in the face! She was standing right behind me. I was discussing self-censorship with animated hands. It was a mess—not the way I would like to introduce myself to Worthington Public Library's Associate Director of Support Services. Anyway, Bonnie was very nice about it.

The actual award ceremony was brief. David Pointon recognized 3M’s commitment to helping rebuild New Orleans. 3M has donated $925,000 to areas affected by Katrina like New Orleans. Rory Yanchek presented the award plaques to me, Jill, and Beth Heins (Supervising Librarian at the Sherwood Public Library). The moment of getting up, picking up the award, and sitting down lasted about 90 seconds, but they were a great 90 seconds.

After the awards, a pleasant woman addressed the crowd and began describing some recent accomplishments of libraries in partnership with 3M. Her closing was unforgettable. She said, and I quote, "I wish you good sex." Wow! What she had meant to say is success. The entire ballroom burst into laughter. It was great.

The rest of the night, my wife & I watched people dance. We mingled. And we headed out. It was a fabulous evening.

MONDAY, JUNE 26, 2006

Building the Ultimate Portal & More

I went to PLA’s Building the Ultimate Portal: Selection Secrets of the Librarians’ Internet Index (LII). Karen Schneider, Director of LII, was very engaging. The way she presented herself and how she spoke about LII—you could tell she is very intelligent. Although primarily for public libraries, Schneider indicated that some academics will use LII as a means for creating bibliographies. LII currently has 3 FTE’s and 1 cataloger. Schneider indicated that everyone comes from a library background, and she spent some time discussing faceted navigation. In all, it was an excellent program.

In the afternoon, I stopped by the vendor hall. I met Ohio’s regional sales representative for the H.W. Wilson Company, Lynda O’Connor. I also stopped by Casalini Libri. There I met the lovely Kathyrn Paoletti. She introduced me to a new line called DE@ARTE. DE@ARTE is a resource for art librarians with a selection of titles from Central & Eastern Europe. It looks great!

Of course I stopped by 3M’s booth. There I met several regional sales representatives as well as Fred Goodman, president of Public Information Kiosk. I was also given a tour of 3M’s products. Heavy emphasis was placed on RFID technologies. The first item was a moveable work station to add RFID tags—very cool. The next item was machine that 3M uses for RFID-assisted shelf reading. I’ve seen others which look like wands, but this one included a thin, yet sturdy, projection so that one can get in-between books or files. This would be very helpful to retrieve the signal from books that may have fallen behind. The entire sales staff at 3M was knowledgeable and cordial. Thanks to everyone I met at the booth.

The day kind of ended rather meekly. I felt a little worn down. So, I went to bed early.

TUESDAY, JUNE 27, 2006

This Is Not The End -- Only the Beginning

Well today was my last day in lovely New Orleans. I was scheduled to help rebuild the New Orleans P.L. Children’s Library; but, unfortunately, what started out as being run down turned into being sick. I woke up feeling awful, and I thought that I might still be able to go. Then I got out of bed. I knew at that moment of nausea there would be no helping to rebuild except for the $10 I volunteered to sign up. I really, really, really wanted to do this—to be a librarian who personally helped rebuild New Orleans. To say that I’m disheartened only begins to describe the way I feel. That said…

Looking back over the last five days, I’ve gained and learned so much. From the excellent programs that I attended to the numerous librarians that I spoke with, I am grateful to 3M and to ALA’s New Members Round Table for giving me the opportunity to learn and share this newly acquired knowledge. This experience has been pivotal in my professional development as well as my personal outlook on librarianship. Our profession sometimes struggles with its role within society and how to meet the true needs of our patrons. After visiting and talking with administrators, librarians, vendors, and anyone else who is somehow affected by the library profession, I know we are on the right track to truly be 21st century librarians. This is an extremely exiting time for us. We have the opportunity to reinvent. We have the opportunity to take quality information and make it convenient. We have the opportunity to be catalysts in the 21st century. And from what I’ve seen—we’re well on our way.