Friday, July 29, 2011

What Are You Saying? - Communication and the Need to Speak the Same Language in the Workplace

Having just come back from the AALL 2011 conference, I can't help but think about all the sessions that started off by defining the terminology and concepts being discussed. Kathie Sullivan and I did the same in our session on collaboration tools, explaining what sense of collaboration we were talking about.

Here are a few things I have been thinking about lately with communication and learning to speak the same language in the workplace:

1. It is important for senior managers to get an accurate vision out to staff.

This means a few things:
  • Make sure everyone is using the terminology in the same way. There are different ways to collaborate; are you talking about the same thing? Are you talking just about co-ordinating with one another, or actually creating something together so that the individual contributions (and contributors) will not be distinguishable in the final work product?
  • How will this collaboration happen? Who will lead? What are the ground rules?
  • If you want to see something "innovative", what do you mean by "innovative"? 
  • What is your risk tolerance and how open will this process be?
All of these things need consideration before people magically work together to make your vision a reality.

2. It is important for senior managers to communicate the vision directly to staff.

I see "broken telephone" taking place inside organizations: with communication being handed down from VP or Managing Partner to CIO to Director to Manager to staff. By the time it is handed down through the ranks, and questions meant to clarify go back up through the chain of command, everyone has a different picture in mind and is doing something different. How inefficient!

If holding a group meeting or a group call is too difficult, what about the senior officer with the vision putting the communication into a podcast episode for internal staff to listen to? Or have it video taped and post on your intranet or portal? And allow staff to submit questions in a way that everyone can see the answers to help with the understanding. Of course, ideally the senior person will speak to each individual on the project to ensure they are on side and on track. A periodic call around on important projects would be well worth the time spent.

3. If you are working on a project and are working from directions handed down through various chains of command, it is worth going directly to the source to ensure you understand what is being asked of you.

This was a rule of thumb when I was a reference librarian: if instructions on complex research had been handed down via an assistant or a junior, it is possible something was inadvertently missed during the transmission. It was always better to go directly to the person giving the research request directly to ensure the work was being done correctly and in the most efficient way possible. It was also an opportunity to ask questions and clarify.

4. Keep in mind culture and cultural differences.

If you are assigning work to someone or accepting work from someone with whom you are not familiar, keep in mind that the way in which you communicate may play a role at the outset. Emailing back and forth with people from different countries and of different cultures lately, I notice that in North America our communications tend to be direct and informal. Those in or from other countries may be less direct and more formal.

Think about how your communication may be received by the other person. Will you be seen as too formal? Will you be seen as too kurt and therefore rude? Speaking first by telephone may help alleviate some of this tension.

5. Are you using bad email habits to communicate?

Emailing in ineffective ways may mean that you are confusing others, and slowing down the process. Again, think about how you are communicating and what is most effective.

I love reading tips from my friend Bruce Mayhew since he has some great advice on how to communicate with email. I highly recommend his Email Etiquette blog posts. I have taken Bruce's email workshop and found it invaluable in communicating more effectively via email, and identified a few of my own bad habits of which I was previously unaware.

Your thoughts?

What kinds of communication breakdowns have you seen within organizations or teams? What would you recommend as a remedy? I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

AALL 2011 - E-books and the Future of Legal Publishing

These are notes are from a panel discussion session with Scott Meiser of LexisNexis, Dan Bennett of Thomson Reuters Professional, and Steven W. Sutton of YBP Library Services, A Baker & Taylor Company . The session was moderated by June Hsiao Liebert, Coordinator, John Marshall Law School. Note: these are my selected notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own. I welcome your comments and follow-up thoughts!

This panel discussion was in a Q & A format, with questions from the audience at the end.

What is the future of ebooks?

Meiser of LexisNexis:  People using ebooks in their personal life are expecting them in their professional life as well. There is a continued blurring of lines between online and paper content, also expectation of apps. Are of licensing will need to evolve, as will lending evolve.

Bennett of Thomson Reuters: They have taken an app approach: current ebooks standards are not satisfactory for professional level content. Current standards for ebooks are from the consumer side. Professionals expect things like footnotes and tabular material (sometimes works, sometimes doesn't). The ebook readers don't understand their updates; consumer grade ereaders just don't support this. This will be messy; different readers support different things.

Steven Sutton at YBP Library Services - Good future for ebooks based on current sales. Space is becoming an increasing issue. Also, patrons have changed; today's students expect access 24/7 and expect to have it on their computers.

Survey of audience: How many are academics who have bought standalone ebooks (as opposed to those accessible from databases)? - about 1/8 of the large audience.

They have launched demand-driven or patron-driven acquisitions. A whole new service, a new way to buy ebooks - part of the collection development strategy.

What kind of licensing models are you implementing; how are you implementing digital rights management?

Meiser of LexisNexis:  new ebooks start to look more like software than hard copy books. Start to look at unlimited access, pay-per-use, lending directly from the publisher. These are new options, and they will continue to explore. Customer demand will drive the model.

Bennett of Thomson Reuters:  He agrees. There will need to be different types of models for different content. You initially come at this from a print model, but it is constrained in ways that do not exist with ebooks. They have heard there has to be an archival version of the content, you cannot "rip it back" in the future.

They expect managing the rights "in the cloud" so you can see what you have access to.

Sutton of YBP: working with clients to understand the license agreements from their providers. They have to educate their customers on how to read the agreements so they can sign. They would ideally create one license agreement that would cover everything. Aggregators have the same problem - when you buy content from the aggregator, what are the implications of the agreement?

What difficulties are there in converting a book to an ebook?

Meiser of LexisNexis:  The technology part is easy for them to do; it is the adoption and working with it by libraries that is going to be the difficult to part. What makes sense in what format, and what licensing model is going to be difficult for them to figure out. Consistency is going to cause difficulties for libraries.

Bennett of Thomson Reuters: Page numbers are incredibly important to people, and even when you have content that cites to paragraph or section numbers, you still get people quoting page numbers. There will be a period of transition when some clients will be looking at print, and some looking at ebooks.

Sutton of YBP: They have to be better at describing the digital; the ebook may not be exactly the same as the print and need to be able determine and describe the differences.

The challenge of the Expresso Book Machine was just getting the files. They have a whole new division internally to look at the files and make sure they are formatting correctly.

If you had a crystal ball, how long do you think your companies will continue to produce print?

Meiser of LexisNexis:  He doesn't think ebooks are going to be even half their business in the near future. He doesn't see print disappearing.

Bennett of Thomson Reuters: High value books - there is a place for some of these in our world. There will be a "long long time" before the hard copy book disappears altogether.

Sutton of YBP: Turn the question around; how are you going to satisfy patrons who want print when you have bought ebooks?  You may want to print on demand, possibly just chapters as needed. There is a question coming up as to whether they can discount books if they buy the ebooks; this is a pressure they are getting.

What types of content do you plan to put into ebooks first?

Meiser of LexisNexis: Customers expect all of their content to be online. The expect all of it to be available by first quarter of next year; 75% done by end of this year. Some of their books they can't afford to reprint in paper which they can put into ebook, so there should be more varied content.

Bennett of Thomson Reuters: A lot of value to give books that attorneys use every day in a format they can use on their ipads. Textbooks - they are doing some casebooks already.

Sutton of YBP: Encourages publishers to make their content either in digital format or at the same time as print. Customers want the option, they want no embargoes. Embargoes means libraries are forced to choose. Make titles available in a timely fashion as ebooks. (Show of hands: everyone in the audience agree).

What platform will your ebooks use?

Meiser of LexisNexis: Are aiming to be device agnostic, publishing in both ePub and Mobi as long as both models are used. Readers don't have to learn a new platform. They expect there will be a faster evolution than they could ever support so they are not going to get into the eReader business.

Bennett of Thomson Reuters: Didn't want to dumb their content down to consumer grade level. Delivering a number of platform features. Notes and annotations need to move to subsequent versions. Full text search - they have the full text search of Westlaw sitting on the iPad. They have their own platform that they can't deliver to the level they want to their own content.

Sutton of YBP: They re-sell the ebooks as they are; they do not try to standardize. They try to help clients understand what they can do with the various platforms.


Q: Have you started working with your authors to introduce multi-media components?

Meiser: Yes, with their more tech-savvy authors who can see the need.

Bennett: Thinks they will.

Q: Is there a reason why books themselves can't be multimedia apps?

Meiser: need to look at whether it should be a book or an app

Bennett: for the volume of titles they have Apple would not let them put out that many apps, but they have done it for Black's Law Dictionary.

Q: How soon will things no longer be out of print.

Sutton: "About an hour." :)   - Google is doing a lot of this.

Q: But what about out of print in the future? 

Sutton: In the print world, "out of print" meant the publisher felt there was not enough business to continue it.

Bennett: There will be no incentive to throw it away, so it will not be a problem.

Blog post update August 1, 2011: The link to Dan Bennett's profile on LinkedIn has been corrected.

AALL 2011 - Coding Potpourri: A Survey of Programming Languages and Tools Used in Library Applications Today

These are notes are from a panel discussion session with Nicole Engard, Director of Open Source Education ByWater Solutions, Ted Lawless, Library Applications Developer at Brown University, Jason Eiseman, Librarian for Emerging Technologies at  Yale Law School Library, and Tom Boone, Reference Librarian, Loyola Law School. The session was moderated by Cynthia Bassett, University of Missouri Law School Library. Note: these are my selected notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own. I welcome your comments and follow-up thoughts!

The speakers gave us an introduction to each coding language, and we saw an example of each.

Nicole Engard on MySQL - presentation will be posted

MySQL = My Structured Query Language - relational database management system, usually accessed via a web interface. Licensed under the GNU GPL, meaning it is Open Source and used in a lot of Open Source applications.

Who's using it:
  • Wordpress
  • Drupal
  • Wikipedia
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Ebay
  • Google (not searches)
Using the code for Koha, she created a table and then inserted data into the table. It is not necessary to enter data into every field unless a required field. 

She then showed us how to query the table using the "SELECT" statement. Headings in query results can be created for combined fields with the "CONCAT" command. She showed us how to pull results from two different tables to give meaningful results. The most common use for reports is for end of month or end of year statistics, so date and time functions are used extensively in queries.

Ted Lawless on Python

a "power tool" that can do anything such as manipulating data, building websites and running libraries. The tools for this have become better over the years. 

"A little code can go a long way." - Eric Hellman at Code4Lib 2011 conference

Librarians' work is data oriented. It needs to be harvested from various sources, repackaged, and used in our systems so that our users can learn from it. We use tools such as Excel and MARCEdit; using Python is taking it to the next level; flexible and can be adapted quickly.

Getting started: 
  • start with a real problem
  • get an overview of Python with The Programming Historian
  • a computer
  • a good text editor e.g. jEdit, Notepad++
Data types - identifies and classifies types of data
Reads data from spreadsheets - .CSV files (his example was showing reading a Bluebook citation from a table)

He showed us querying a file, searching for records via Z39.50, creating MARC records, building reports from the ILS, and harvesting data from websites not already in a .CSV file or in MySQL.

More advanced: for reporting, they had a script that ran every night to pull ILS data, used MySQL to put it onto a little website. Built with a Python tool called django for building websites.

Jason Eiseman on HTML5

One of the design principles of HTML5 is to support existing content 

Some history

HTML 4.01 - 1999
XHTML 1.0 - 2002
XHTML 2.0 - 2006
Web Forms 2.0 - 2004 < focused on advanced web applications

2008 - HTML5 standard started
2012 - expected to be a candidate recommendation
2022 - expected to be finished

All standard browsers support HTML5 today; Apples, iPhones and Androids also support it; however the only browser currently supporting all of the elements is Opera.
  • HTML5 uses semantic tags to structure an HTML document;
  • good for accessibility for working with screen readers. 
  • a lot more support for additional microformats
He showed us some of the graphical changes allowed by HTML5 and some new form elements that look the same on the computer but look better with a mobile interface. shows all of the forms available.

Last year he used Javascript to draw on Canvas to map out carrels in their library. He thinks they will be able to use graphics, Canvas and Javascript to create interactive overlays. See and for examples.

Audio, similar. See for example. 

HTML5 can delivery functionality to off-web applications (i.e. when not connected to the Internet).

For more reading:

Tom Boone on CSS: Cascading Style Sheets

Without CSS, content is not unreadable. Tom showed us the, New York Times and Facebook websites without CSS - largely unusable to the human eye.

Cascading Style Sheets 

Cascading - the cascading feature has changed in the way it works over time
  1. browser style sheet (default styles)
  2. site style sheet(s) - overrides the browser defaults - this is what web designers work on
  3. user style sheet(s) - not used very often; users can overwrite styles e.g. he has a style that hides the comments on news websites
  • font size, type, colour, format (bold, italic, upper case)
  • linked - applies to more than one page - make the change once and it shows up in many places
  • embedded - embedded but appears in the head portion of the web page - has a CSS rule defined in the head. 
  • inline - property directly embedded into the page - almost impossible to override, so avoid
CSS Syntax (see also: )

{color: red;}

p = selector -
paragraph tag - everything within the paragraph tag will show up red. Could be

  • etc.

    {color: red;} = the declaration

    can be more specific using classes, IDs and descendant selectors

    e.g. p.summary{color: red;}only applies to paragraph tags that have been given a summary class

    Class and ID work very similarly, however ID can appear only once on a page; a class can appear many times.

    p#summary {color: red;} - an paragraph with an ID of summary

    Descendent selectors - a more hierarchical rule

    ul li {color: red;} < white space - any descendent of a list will get the red

    Classes/IDs can be combined with descendant selectors to create increasingly complex rules.

    New developments:
    • Adaptive Web Design
    • CSS3
    For more reading:

    Monday, July 25, 2011

    AALL 2011 - To Recover or Not to Recover: Trends, Solutions, and Alternatives for Taming Online Research Costs

    These are notes are from a panel discussion session with Joan Axelroth, Axelroth & Associates, Anthony A. Licata, CFO of Dechert LLP and Nuchine Nobari, Library Director of Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge, LLP. The session was moderated by Sarah Mauldin, Head Librarian of Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP. Note: these are my selected notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own. I welcome your comments and follow-up thoughts! 

    A panel discussion...

    Is it ethical to charge clients for online research?

    Axelroth: ABA put together an opinion on  charges other than professional fees - library, computer research, third party providers - should be treated differently. You can charge for computer services, paper, person running the searches, etc. You have to pass on any discounts received from third party providers.

    Can firms add a mark up to online search charges?

    Axelroth: The fairness factor: is it fair to the firm's clients and the firm's attorneys. Are paid clients subsidizing non-paid clients? (Are you non-paid clients your larger clients who have negotiated this?)

    Licata: Dechert model - most libraries have fixed fee contracts with the large providers and pay a retail rate for other 10%. There is risk to chopping up a fixed fee contract - they create a usage model, put all the usage for a month in and then "chop it up". They also look for trends; e.g. February has fewer business days than March, so individual searches that month cost more so they make sure they take a loss on every search. They actually mailed cheques back to their clients because they were able to reduce their online costs. "Usage swings wildly" so they track it carefully.

    What are the trends on recovering for services that firms pay a flat fee for, regardless of use?

    Axelroth: Percentage of recovery of costs by firms is going down. Indications show this is only going to come back a little.  "Slicing and dicing is getting so complicated" partners are not understanding it and cannot explain it to their clients, so they are writing things off.

    Does your firm attempt to recover costs for other services (especially local pay per use services) e.g. BNA, Bloomberg Law, Casemaker, CCH Intelliconnect, Fastcase, Hein Online, Loislaw, PACER, RIA Checkpoint.

    Licata: They have tried to take the discussion away from the billing partner. They don't expect partners to; they ask the client finance person talk to the firm's finance person to walk through it. They make the attempt to pass savings along to clients. Clients are welcome to discuss deals up front, but they are not comfortable just billing full cost to clients.

    Nobari: it is sometimes comparing apples to oranges. Lawyers would only go to alternative sources if they are as sophisticated sources as Westlaw and Lexis. Her only success is Fastcase; it has fewer bells and whistles for just basic reading of cases. They used this to manage use of Westlaw and Lexis. Lawyers are more reluctant to use Bloomberg Law, so they had less success with this service.

    What is the trend with regard to following up on online charges that are written off?

    Axelroth: 62% of firms track write-downs or write-offs of electronic research charges to see what can be billed back. The goal is to try to change lawyer habits. You need management to support this, and possible a reward/punishment system.

    Licata: library staff don't running around up front trying to figure it out; they put in a "fairly diligent budget process" a few years ago. If the lawyers don't put something on a client bill, it is put into that lawyer's departmental budgets. Budgets got a lot of attention; they looked at because there were other things they wanted to spend their budgets on.

    Nobari: spend 2 hours of staff time every week: letting the lawyers know if there is a better way of doing research because they may not know the most efficient way; they email aggressively to encourage lawyers to bill back to clients rather than charge back to office. They have decreased usage of Westlaw and Lexis by 20%. Start with your 20 least effective users and follow up with them.

    What is your firm's average rate of recovery for Westlaw and Lexis research costs?

    Licata: they recover about 70% of their contract spending. It is a line item everyone understand. Clients don't necessarily understand why lawyers need to have legal research, they expect the lawyers to know. You need better communication with the clients showing value. Help put clients' focus on their overall value from the law firm's work.

    Nobari: they fall pretty much within the same ranges. They work with consultants to compare, and they are comparable to others.

    What are the trends for using cost recovery tools like OneLog, Research Monitor, Lookup Precision?

    Licata: It gives them more data, but he's not sure it helps them recover more. He gives a qualitative "yes it does" because information helps you back up your argument when trying to change lawyer behaviour.

    Axelroth: using software for recovery is one reason, but you can use it for things like acquisitions decisions and others. Even if you are not charging back (rolling online charges into overhead), have attorneys input client matter number to get an idea of needs by individual clients.  Greg Castanias gave an impassioned talk at the PLL Summit asking us to put pressure on the vendors to give libraries what they need to get results.

    Nobari: a research tool to help you qualify and quantify are useful. Librarians are the ones who get calls when something is going wrong with the vendor databases. Make sure you are part of the conversation when your senior management want to change the research services the firm subscribes to.

    Are clients pushing back against paying for online research resources?


    What is the trends for firms no longer charging back?

    Licata: you need to understand what your base level of overhead is, and what $ is needed back to keep things going. Firms ultimately will not be recovering less, it will just be recovered in different ways. He thinks clients are asking the wrong questions. Clients who ask not to pay these fees are asking firms to be less transparent.

    Nobari: the lawyers' margins on specific work are so thin since they are now moving to flat fee and volume arrangements for clients.

    Axelroth: in response to Licata, says you can still track what research has been done for the client. You still want to track this internally.  (Licata's response: he was not saying they would be less transparent, he was just looking from clients' viewpoint).


    Audience comment: they blocked 1000 "mysterious" client numbers that did not get research billed back;  also, she is seeing dramatic shifts of "new guard" products replacing use of "old guard" products by tracking usage.

    Licata: doing what they do depends on the firm culture.; they try to run their firm more like a business than a law firm.

    Licata: library costs are less predictable than other firm expenses such as leasing space costs.  He puts the responsibility for recovery of costs on the shoulders of accounting departments, telling law firm CFOs with respect to working with libraries: "If you don't learn what they do and how they affect financial statements, how are you going to teach them about financial statements?"

    Q: fixed fees of attorney costs?

    Licata: varying levels of usage for all these tools. He encourages discussion around costs early. Sometimes it becomes a volume issue, so it depends on what the firm is doing.

    Q: looking at possibly rolling these expenses into overhead and want clients to know this is what they are being charged to.  Thinking of rolling it into a "research charge" charged to all clients equally. Are there ethical concerns?

    Licata: being transparent is the right thing to do; however, client doing 15 real estate transactions is going to question 15 research charges.   Law firms don't get all terms of arrangement into the agreements; don't have a handle on how we do research. Need more documentation in the arrangement letters.

    Q: Usefulness of the tracking services from the publishers?

    Nobari:  Neither PowerInvoice from Lexis nor Quickview from Westlaw provide you with enough information to be used in negotiations later. They are not research tools.

    Q: if they role the cost of the two flat rater contracts together and bill clients back according to that, are there any ethical problems with this? They are not looking to make a profit.

    A: No ethical problem if you are not making a profit. It is an interesting idea.

    Nobari: get an opinion on ethics from a lawyer so that you do not get caught in the middle. Let the lawyers decide how much they want to bill the client.

    Comments: Do we add value to the firm when we follow up with lawyers about expenses being written off? You need to also look at actual recovery as well. She asks  the lawyers "Was there a problem with the service? Did you not get the service you wanted?" The third party tools helps her see where someone needs more training.

    AALL 2011 - Barbara Tillett and John Mark Ockerbloom on Authority Control Vocabularies and the Semantic Web

    I am at the American Association of Law Libraries 2011 Conference in Philadelphia. These are notes are from talk by Dr. Barbara B. Tillett of the Library of Congress and John Mark Ockerboom of the University of Pennsylvania.  Note: these are my selected notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own.

    Dr. Barbara B. Tillett, Library of Congress

    DBPedia - example of a linked data, open data project

    • Community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available 
    • covers 3 million things that are interconnected
    • meant as proof of concept/prototype, but fully working now
    • linking Wikipedia to lots of other content on the web (videos, websites, etc.)
    • libraries got involved in the linked data network with University of Sweden getting involved first
    • Library of Congress Subject Headings now linked
    • Virtual National Authority File also linked
    All our data can be freely accessible on the web, or available for a fee; now we can share in the cloud via the Internet. Data can come from publishers, data sources themselves, libraries, and from anyone else who wants to help describe the data

    Bibliographic resources are available now, and vocabulary being added.

    Three projects the Library of Congress is involved in:

    1.  VIAF (Virtual International Authority File)

    • facilitate exposure of authority data
    • reduces cataloguing costs
    • simplifies authority control (creation and maintenance) internationally
    From the VIAF website:
    VIAF, implemented and hosted by OCLC, is joint project of several national libraries plus selected regional and trans-national library agencies. The project's goal is to lower the cost and increase the utility of library authority files by matching and linking widely-used authority files and making that information available on the Web.

    e.g. if bibliographic data appears in Japanese script, VIAF could be used to show this to users in Latin script. 

    Originally thought national bibliographic agencies in each country should be responsible for the authors in their own countries; however, this is problematic because different countries have different cultural needs.

    VIAF now has 18 participants with more adding on.  There are 21 different authority files as some countries have different languages.

    All of the terms in the VIAF data are represented by URIs and are linked data.  VIAF itself is using unicode so they can handle any script characters.  MARC 21, UNIMARC and RDF are all supported. 

    Usage of VIAF tripled last year.

    They are mining data from bibliographic records to create a derived authority record. All of the data is normalized (diacritics and capitalization removed). Subjects are group, material types are turned into a code; publication date turned into a decade; co-author pulled out. Take the author record and attach derived authority data to it to created an enhanced authority record.

    A lot of information can be derived from bibliographic records e.g. areas of interest of authors, for how long those people published, who they worked with, alternative names they published under, etc. 

    Tillett encourages us to use VIAF - "It's fun!"  VIAF shows us how we can more creatively (and graphically) represent data from our MARC records. 

    Next steps for VIAF
    • better searching
    • more "Linked data"
    • Participants beyond libraries
      • have Getty signed on
      • Rights management agencies, publishers
      • museums, archives
      • have been working with ISNI project to include their information
    • want to add more name types (beyond personal and corporate names)
      • geographic jurisdictions
      • family names
      • "uniform" work titles
    2. SKOS (Simple Knowledge Organization System)

    Have put the Library of Congress Subject Headings into SKOS. You can search e.g. "animated films" pulls back three entries. You can suggest subject headings (under the "terminology" tab) to them, even if you are not a member. 

    You can go to the "aquabrowser" display that visually shows headings into graphical interface (with circles).

    3. RDA (Resource Description and Access)

    RDA controlled vocabularies - currently free on the web at Open Metadata Registry (RDA element sets and RDA vocabularies available).

    Metadata includes the URI for every one of the terms. 

    Originally created in English: also in German, and Spanish and French being added (French so that Canada could use it).

    RDA Linked Data - all linked data can be displayed using linking URIs. Depending on the user's view, all of the linked data can be displayed in one particular language. 

    What is slowing them down: current ILSes (integrated library systems). "They are still working in 1970s technology mindsets. They do not take advantage of this."

    John Mark Ockerbloom, University of Pennsylvania Libraries

    Increased use of linked open data will improve discovery significantly

    Some definitions:

    linked data:  
    • data that you put on the web that has resolvable, persistent URIs.
    • creates a web of data that machines can be used

    open data:
    • data that welcomes reuse, with little or no restriction
    • may included linked data
    • people may reuse, remix, mash up data, and give results back to the community
    • if you open your data, make it easy to get in bulk

    • a coded format, easier for a machine to understand
    • once you have this information, you can do analysis

    Penn Libraries were able to pull the Library of Congress Subject Headings to pull down data and apply to their catalog to improve the quality of their own data.  Also, using linked data they can enhance the catalog so that researchers can find data e.g. movie An Inconvenient Truth was catalogued under "global warming" but not "climate change" so may not be found.

    The Online Books Page -

    They have used these technologies to created listings of 1 million books freely available on the Internet, and to let people to easily search the subject categories. 

    He talked about libraries pulling data from external sources and combining it with what we have in our own collections.  

    Another example of a project using linked data: Cornell and others are building VIVO - a network showing university scholars and what they are doing (publishing, where their funding is coming from, who is collaborating with whom).

    Getting started:
    • Don't jump in the deep end right away. "Make good data" and then make it available in one of these systems.  Adapt and improve your own data.
    • Consume and adapt others' data to create practical applications
    • collaborate with a growing community of collaborators

    Saturday, July 23, 2011

    PLL Summit - Larry Guthrie and Doug Malerba on Developing Collaborative Communities

    One of three sessions in the PLL Summit Administration concurrent sessions track. These are notes are from talk by Larry Guthrie of Covington & Burling LLP and Doug Malerba of McKenna Long and Aldridge on developing collaborative communities.  Note: these are my notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own.

    Larry Guthrie on Collaboration in Libraries

    Larry Guthrie says that libraries are all about collaboration; collaboration has a positive tone today. There is an emphasis on building a team culture. 

    6 types of collaboration by libraries

    • historical perspective - libraries were originally a collaboration e.g. most monasteries created one place to hold all their books.
    • through inter-library loan - "the more we share, the more we have" - libraries by nature are collaborative, helping each other as well as those inside our own firms. 
    • in various locations - telecommuting, embedding librarians in branches, face-to-face meetings are preferred
    • using various communication techniques - social media (wikis, blogs, Twitter, etc.), Harvard's 5 Tips for Better Virtual Meetings (purchase required), communication across generations.
    • over various disciplines - with other fields and specific areas of interest - the public library can be the hub for a number of communities, can facilitate this with social networks. New book coming out: Collaborative Governance by John D. Donahue and Richard J. Zeckhauser.
    • for activism on behalf of librarianship - library associations are partnering with other organizations to advocate on various issues. Librarians need to work with other information professionals to lobby on behalf of libraries.
    Doug Malerba on Virtual Teamwork: The Life of a Teleworking Law Librarian

    He now teleworks exclusively from his home in Connecticut. Teleworking is common; most knowledge workers work from home one day a week. However, it is still fairly rare in law firms.

    In his case, his wife was given a job opportunity in Connecticut so they decided to move. He thought he would have to find a new job. 

    Advantages - worker
    • cost savings
    • decreased interruptions in work day
    • improved work/life balance
    • geographic freedom
    Advantages - employer
    • cost savings (real estate, utilities)
    • employee retention
    • increased productivity
    • decreased absenteeism - people can still often perform their duties even if they might not have been able to go into to work (sick, family member sick)
    • business continuity 
    Advantages - society
    • cost savings (roads, infrastructure)
    • decreased traffic
    • lowered air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions
    • energy security
    He had to determine which duties were tied to his physical location and could no longer be performed:
    • shelving
    • periodical binding
    However, is primary functions could be performed virtually
    • reference desk
    • working with government affairs group
    • subject alerts
    • ILL
    • document delivery
    • e-resources management
    He was able to do most of the work. 

    His proposal to work virtually came at an opportune time: his firm was looking to reduce operating costs. Also management believed in telecommuting. He started by working 25 hours per week by telecommuting.

    The started using "unified reference", that allows expanded reference services provided by the librarians across the firm's offices. He noticed that communication between librarians in different offices improved; there was increased awareness of librarians in other offices. 

    During "snow-mageddon" requests from the attorneys continued to come in; he 
    was one of only a few librarians who was able to work meet the need.

    He has now regained his full-time status.

    Telework challenges:

    • It is essential the virtual employee create and retain a robust identity to be seen by other employees. It is essential to use all forms of communication in addition to email: voice, teleconferencing, etc. People need to see a living, breathing human being and a colleague.
    • Professional isolation is when an employee loses connection to the organization's employees and culture. This can lead to feeling less motivated.
    • Social isolation - working alone can be harder for some people.
    • Employee burn out is a risk - absence of distractions can be a double-edged sword if employees don't take breaks or establish boundaries. It is important that the employee "turn off." 
    • When you work remotely, there is an expectation that you can handle basic computer trouble-shooting issues. Also need to maintain connection with those who can keep you running remotely.
    • Need support from management - need solid support, need to feel connected.
    He is now collaborating with Joelle Coachman on uses of social media. They are also looking at other new tools, such as reference monitoring.

    Many of us are already serving clients remotely; we can now take advantage of telecommunications.

    Jack Niles - coined the phrase "telecommuting" - predicts this term will disappear as it becomes more common.

    A great compliment: one of his lawyers did not realize they no longer worked in the same office after a year of his telecommuting.

    People have to get over the psychological barriers - there is an idea that everyone working from home are in their pyjamas watching TV.  Comment from a manager in the audience: if you have a diligent employee, there is no need to expect their attitude to change when they start to telecommute.

    PLL Summit - Joelle Coachman - Resistance is Futile: Integrating New Technology into Your Library

    One of three sessions in the PLL Summit Technology/Tech Services concurrent sessions track. These are notes are from talk by Joelle Coachman, E-Resources Librarian at McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP and owner of Info-2Go Legal Research Services, on integrating new technology into your library.  Note: these are my notes from this session; any inaccuracies or omissions are my own.

    Joelle Coachman gave a lively talk comparing the law librarian profession and law firms with Star Trek.

    Note that different generations relate to different generations of Star Trek. Summer associates see William Shatner as the "Priceline Negotiator", not Captain James T. Kirk

    As librarians we are "Data", the data gatherers. Focus is on the vertical engagement, delivery of information up to those we report to. She encourages us to work more in the horizontal, which is more challenging.

    Social media is the "bad guy" in the room - you might miss key information if you are not searching in social media. Most of us see it as a research tool rather than an engagement tool. Most of us are private and do not want to share. It is the "monster" in the room; we don't view it favorably.

    The Borg - a lot like a social network - they have no thoughts of their own once assimilated. "Resistance is futile". It creates connection between people; be careful it does not become a negative for you. The way vendors are using data that is being collected. 

    How can we take a Borg-like existence in social networks to instead becoming more engaging and in control?  The information proliferated in social networks "is huge" and were "giving it all she's got, Captain". If you are following blogs, you have to make it a daily habit. Make your social engagement, whatever avenue you choose, part of your daily habit.

    Twitter is valuable, breaks news. But the trouble with Twitter is that it is prolific - too many tweets are not valuable.   Engagement is different than anything else we have done as law librarians. She has been following others for a long time, but has only recently started talking with others on Twitter.


    • When you first set up your Twitter account, watch it for a while. It takes a while to fine-tune it specifically.
    • You don't have to follow the world; it is your private domain; follow who you want.
    •  When you first start, know who you are following. 
    • If tweeting, keep in mind you cannot speak on behalf of your law firm. Keep in mind you are doing both personal and professional mixed together.  Know your purpose and know what you want to say. She personally tweets about library and personal topics "all mixed together."
    • People often take key phrases from speakers and tweet them, and then have "little spurts" of discussions. Mark those tweets with tags. 
    • You need to know the language of the interest group you are speaking to. Use hashtags to connect with those and other interest groups. So often we keep what we do in the back as "housekeeping" but if you share with the larger world, they will gain respect for what we do.  This is horizontal engagement.
    • Cultivate and share who you are. It gives you the opportunity to be individualistic.
    • Earn the right to tweet the link.
    • Organize your social house. She recommends using a third party dashboard such as Hootsuite to allow for following different channels of discussion from the broader community. Otherwise you have to actively build habits to go search certain hashtags. TweetCaster, Tweetdeck and others are available. 
    Other considerations:
    • Mobile devices help. If you are not mobile, you will have to work that into your engagement. You don't have to text message, but if you can get a device that allows you to follow conversations, it will help you be connected and be relevant in a fast-paced environment. 
    • LinkedIn - 2 billion people are using it; possibly 500 million are engaged day to day; it is growing and there is a definite change in the way people are using it.  Use it for external sharing - how many people shared that you are going to be at this event today? Don't just share with your peers, but share with others you are connected with to show you are active professionally.
    • There is nothing wrong with asserting ourselves and talking about ourselves. 
    LinkedIn tips:
    • Maintain an updated profile - it is like keeping your resume up to date, but easier since they facilitate addition of information in a standard format. You never know what opportunities will come to you. 
    • Use your custom URL
    • Join or create groups; there is not harm, you can un-join if you do not like it. Get into a habit to go to the group every day or set up email notifications to send to you every day.
    • By working with LinkedIn, it will help you answer questions about it later. 
    • Strategic linking: use the "share" button - share to LinkedIn articles you are reading. You never know who in your network will find it interesting as well. 
    • Don't hesitate to ask for recommendations. Lawyers cannot always have recommendations because of bar association rules, but law librarians don't have these rules. Even if your firm doesn't post your bio, you should have a bio on LinkedIn. It gives her the opportunity to reach those who would not have found her through her firm.
    • When you are sharing articles and links, send via LinkedIn, even to people internally. She found over time that people in her firm started to re-share links around to their followers.
    "Make it so!" We can sit in the Captain's chair and drive the ship where we want it, contribute to the enterprise with "happy eyes" rather than fear and trepidation. 

    She was also asked about use of Facebook. She uses Facebook personally but not as much professionally. The training she does now has forked toward LinkedIn. She encourages law firm librarians to make it personal rather than professional. If businesses want to be found, they have to be there, but think about your focus. If you are not using LinkedIn as a professional, you need to question why. It is where the professionals are.