Thursday, November 29, 2007

Annoyed Librarian, or, where's that cuppa??

I know that we here at ASIS&T are very very pro technology and innovation, and I am too. But I wanted to take a break from that to mention, for a moment, the Annoyed Librarian. Have any of you read his site? I guess recently he was unmasked, after months, (or years, I'm not really sure) of speculation in the blogosphere, as Michael Gorman. Some people think he is snide and snobbish, but I think he can be quite funny and a good reality check at times. His latest blog is about putting the MOM factor back into libraries (as opposed to the WOW factor). I think he makes some very good points about remembering the library's mission, in a tongue and cheek kind of way. Although, the last line of the blog made me think of a relatively new library phenomenon - the library cafe. When I was an undergrad the thing that kept me from studying in the library (besides that it was quiet and I always fell asleep on top of my books) was that there was no way to easily access caffeine! Of course I snuck in thermoses and bottles of diet coke, but it just wasn't the same as the university's cappuchino bar, on the other end of campus. I wish we could have a cappuchino bar in Mullen and I'm wondering how many other people feel the same. My Mom's never made a cappuchino in her life but on her first trip to Europe she got hooked on them the first day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

YouTube Tuesday

Turn On Lights
Discover what it means to be information literate.

Coming Soon To a Theatre Near You
Concessions are not available...

Friday, November 23, 2007

Impress Your Professor: Keep on bloggin' on

On a quick note, I've been home to visit my parents in northern Illinois for Deep Fried Turkey day and imagine my surprise when, on the train, I overheard one couple talking at length about "HCI" (Human Computer Interaction), yet another couple talking about usability testing and a group of teens discussing the viability of the Facebook model over Myspace. It was as if everyone was discussing just about everything I've learned in the last year at SLIS and the relevancy of my degree hit me right square in the face! Very exciting and at the same time a little weird.

Anyhoo, at the last event it was announced that the Potomac Valley Chapter of ASIS&T has started a blog as well so I thought this a great opportunity to plug that AND to point everyone to this nice little slideshow on the topic of blogging communities from the ASIS&T Annual Meeting. It's short and to the point for all of us OD'ing on tryptophan!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Event! Event!

What: Social Networking: Information Professionals Meeting other Information Professionals When: Thursday, December 13th at 6pm-?
Where: Zack's Taverna, 305 Pennsylvania Ave, SE (Capitol South-Blue or Orange line)
Cost: Pay for your own food or beverage

RSVP: via Survey Monkey by December 6, 2007

For menu information, please click here.

To learn more about ASIS&T, ARL Diversity Initiatives , and REFORMA, please read below.

ASIS&T has been the society for information professionals leading the search for new and better theories, techniques, and technologies to improve access to information. The local professional Chapter, the Potomac Valley Chapter of ASIS&T, has members are primarily located in Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Southern Maryland. To learn more about PVC-ASIST, please contact Jeff Prater at

ARL is a nonprofit organization of 123 research libraries at comprehensive, research-extensive institutions in the US and Canada that share similar research missions, aspirations, and achievements. The Association's importance and distinction is born from its membership and the nature of the institutions represented. ARL member libraries make up a large portion of the academic and research library marketplace, spending more than $1 billion every year on library materials. To learn more about ARL Diversity Initiatives, contact Jerome Offord Jr

REFORMA is committed to working toward the recruitment of bilingual, multicultural library personnel; promoting public awareness of libraries and librarianship among Latinos; advocating on behalf of the information needs of the Latino community; developing Spanish-language and Latino-oriented library collections; and acting as a liaison to other professional organizations. REFORMA is an affiliate of the American Library Association. If you are interested in learning more about REFORMA, please contact the DC-REFORMA Chapter Secretary, Michelle Hinojosa Melencio, at

Whoops Wednesday

What happens when Meghan forgets to update on YouTube Tuesday because she's home for the holidays? Whoops Wednesday occurs.

Also, I apologize for the links instead of the regular format. My computer at home apparently doesn't like to embed videos.

One Way To Scan Your Reading
Ever wonder how printed books are scanned at so high volumes... here ya go!

One Thing to Be Thankful For
We love our library.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Impress Your Professor: We Are All Lab Rats

First of all, I wanted to apologize to everyone for the tardiness of this submission. Due to confusion on my part, I did not know it was my turn to write the weekly “Impress Your Professor” piece. For some reason, I thought my turn was in December. So please forgive me if, despite my belated publication, I fail to impress any of you.

This week, I decided to read Characterizing Web Users’ Online Information Behavior. It appears in the November 2007 issue of the “Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology.” Now, I will be the first to admit that this article was not the most entertaining read. However, it is an extremely useful article for those of us who haven’t realized just how scientific information science can get.

The authors of this article are particularly interested in one thing: Is it possible to characterize individuals and their underlying motivations for seeking information on the basis of their activity on the web? Can you tell if someone is an experienced web user or if someone is just browsing or searching just by looking at the web pages they visited and seeing how long they spent on each of those pages? These guys seem to think so.

The authors gathered the clickstreams of 2,022 users and broke down the data primarily on the basis of three dimensions: number of categories of websites explored (width); number of sites visited per category (length); and number of pages downloaded per site (depth). They then analyzed the data to see if they could find any discernable relationships. They did.

The three dimensions are positively correlated. The more categories of websites a person visits, the greater the number of websites within a category they will visit, and the greater the number of pages within a website they will visit. Did you get that? It’s not supposed to be poetic. It’s supposed to be scientific.

The dimensions are negatively associated with the tendency to use search engines. Roughly speaking whenever we use search engine sites, the set of websites we look at tends to be less diverse, the number of websites for any particular category we look at tends to decrease, and the number of pages we look at for any particular website we visit also tends to decrease. The theory seems to be that when we use search engines we have a better idea of what we’re looking for. Once we find our answer, we tend to not look any further. When we’re browsing we’re more likely to explore a little deeper.

The study also seems to suggest that people who use the web more frequently (i.e. those who “consume more information”) are more likely to explore more website categories, navigate more sites within a category, view more pages within a website, not use search engines, and spend less time viewing each page. Experienced users, it seems, know how to glean information more quickly from web pages and don’t depend as much on Google or Yahoo! to find websites. Just so you know: I used Google to navigate my way to this website. Now, is that because I’m an inexperienced web user or because I happened to be searching? I guess I’ll have to analyze my clickstream.

Finally by comparing overlapping usage between different individuals, it was possible to identify a set of “core” websites (i.e. popular websites) and a set of “peripheral” websites (i.e. unpopular websites). It seems that typically the majority of people visiting these “peripheral” websites are browsing rather than searching the web. The periphery tends to attract users whose web usage has greater scope and greater depth (typically heavy web users).

If you’re curious why anyone would be interested in this sort of thing, other than librarians, consider that there’s a lot of money to be made in the online advertising business. Internet advertising earned $15.2 billion in the first 9 months of 2007. Based on the research from this article, you could conclude that banner ads are generally better for reaching heavy web users than light web users.

Why don’t we have banner ads on this web site?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

YouTube Tuesday

Turn the Page
See a brief clip on the British Library's digitization project.

More Ninja Librarians?
Of course!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Presentations Posted!

Thanks to everyone who came to our event this past week-you all made it very successful and I love meeting people from around school! As requested, and also for those of you who couldn't make it, here are the presentations in .pdf. Enjoy!

Youngok Choi, "Searching for Books and Images in OPAC: Effects of LCSH, TOC and Subject Domains"

Ken Fleischman, "Digital Libraries and Human Values: Human-Computer Interaction Meets Social Informatics."

Paul Jaeger, "Social Capital and Information Science Research (SIGS IFP, SI, CRIT, HFIS)"

Christina K. Pikas, "Personal Information Management Strategies and Tactics used by Senior Engineers"

Nancy Roderer, "Introduction: I am an Information Professional"

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Impress your Professor: I am an Information Professional!

I have a friend who is very wise. She has a Masters degree in Social Work, but in the course of talking about grad school she gave me a new definition. She says that her degree is actually in people, and mine (as a MLS student) is not in Libraries but in Information.

This Wednesday at our event "Brining it All Back Home" with the Potomac Valley Chapter of ASIS&T we heard many presentations from the National Meeting. For me one of the most memorable was a talk by Nancy Roderer who is now the National President. Her presentation implored all of us to take the title of Information Professional with pride.

We live in an economy that is slowly being taken over by service and information professions. But the titles of Information Professionals are still looked at with a bit of mystery. Are we the IT guys, CIO's, knowledge managers, or librarians. Nancy Roderer stated that all of these people should consider themselves as information professionals. And we need to dialog with all the people involved in information professions and work together to promote our profession.

This will be one of the goals of Nancy Roderer's tenure as President of ASIS&T and we here at CUA - ASIS&T wish her luck and can't wait to see what happens!!

There is more information on the other presentations on the PVC website. These include presentations by our own Dr. Choi!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

YouTube Tuesday

Caught In Your Web
Social networking online explained.

Defender of Books!
Ninjas make great librarians.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Register Now Before It's Too Late

Come and learn the latest in information science research!

Please join the Potomac Valley and Catholic University of America Chapters of ASIS&T for our next exciting program!

"Bringing it Home: Highlights from the ASIS&T National Meeting"

WHEN: Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Light supper and snacks provided 6pm, the program will run 6:15 - 8:30pm.

WHERE: May Gallery, John K. Mullen Library, Catholic University of America

Click HERE for registration and more information

See you on Nov 7th!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Impress Your Professor: There's No "I" in "Team"

Google is like The Blob out of one of those early horror movies. It just grows and grows and grows, consuming everything in its path. Soon, nothing will be safe from its evil clutches. The Google Blob will just continue to grow until it covers the planet in its amoeba like form.

Or at least that's what most people think. And, with Google's current efforts to scan every book known to man, that is what many librarian's think.

What does Google think about all this: Meh. They're ambivalent.

In this month's Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, author Sawne D. Miksa breaks down the Googlization of the world (or at least how it impacts libraries) in her article "Them! Google’s Ambivalence toward Library and Information Science." She states that, "It is a bit extreme to paint librarians and Google locked in the same battle." When Google set out to create their Book Search, they were not seeking to put libraries and their caretakers out of business. In fact, Google does not even consider libraries their competition. Google states, "We consider our primary competitors to be Microsoft and Yahoo."

So why the disconnect? If Google is not trying to swallow up the job of libraries, why are librarians so afraid?

It looks like another case of popularity versus relevance when it comes to cataloging material. Librarians have typically relied on human judgment to create a top down hierarchy of classification for their materials. Google, on the other hand, churns everything through an algorithm that spits out which pages are most popular. Google's theory is that "a page is important if it is pointed to by other important pages."

Librarians fear that such a popularity contest is not the best method of information organization. Just because a page is popular does not mean that it is the best resource available.

So we've found the disconnect, now what are we going to do about it?

Google is not going to disappear anytime soon. Libraries are not going to disappear anytime soon. Instead of butting heads, the two groups should work together. Cooperation would be beneficial to both parties.

Google writes: "Much of the highest quality information in the world may be found in tens of millions of books tucked away in libraries and on publisher's shelves. These books can be tremendous assets - but only if people know that they exist."

As an example, I've been looking to get my hands on Paul Watson's Where War Lives. The university library does not have a copy, the WRLC consortium does not have a copy, my local library system does not have copy. But, I know where to find a book (at a library!) thanks to Google books. Google has worked with OCLC WorldCat to offer a "Find this Book in a Library" feature. Now I know that I just have to go through the Prince Georges' County Library system to get my greedy little hands on Watson's book.

Google is not "out to get us." Libraries should work with Google to make their materials more widely and easily accessible. And maybe, find a way to incorporate some good ole classification rules to the material while their at it.