Welcome to Online Insider ...
... the editorial blog by Marydee Ojala, Editor of ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals. ONLINE Insider intends to extend the reach of the print publication, presenting a more timely commentary on the products, people, and events that shape today's online world. It explores new technologies as they impact the working lives of information professionals, explains resources for specific topic areas, and expounds on information management tools and techniques.

Happy Retirement, Judi!

Marydee Ojala @ 6:09 pm

Judi Schultz, who has helped me time and again over more years than either one of us are counting, in my coverage of her employer LexisNexis , retired today. There were days when I cursed her for not being more forthcoming and days when I could have hugged her for cutting through Dayton red tape to get me an answer I needed. In short, she did her job and she did it to perfection. I’ll miss you, Judi; have a restful retirement and don’t work too hard. Remember — you’ve retired!

Some Google News Out of Beta

Marydee Ojala @ 3:27 pm

The English language portion of Google News is finally out of beta. However, it still claims the same number of sources, 4500, that it’s had almost since it began in beta. The non-English Google News, which has expanded to 34 countries/languages, still has the beta moniker. The source counts are by language, so regardless of whether you pick Google News for France or French-speaking Canada, the source count is identical (500). German, whether for Germany or the German-speaking part of Switzerland, clocks in at 700 sources. Spanish, which now includes Spain, Spanish in the U.S., Chile, Venezuela, and even Cuba, has 700 sources as well. There are 200 in Portuguese and 250 in Italian. I found 1000 in Chinese, but I can’t read the numbers for either Japanese or Korean. What differs in the news presented is the national component. Although the Spanish language sources, for example, may show almost the same stories for International, the national news will be in Spanish but cover news from the country selected.

What’s missing that surprises me? All the Nordic countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden) and anything in Africaans from South Africa.

It’s All About the Membership

Marydee Ojala @ 6:46 pm

If I took away anything from the many sessions today, it was the dedication of SLA leadership to providing a quality experience for members. From Anne Caputo’s excellent explanation of how chapters could raise money (sponsorships, auctions, even grant money!), to Patricia Cia’s description of the responsibilities of office (OK, this was a little dry but contained very useful information), to the presentations of John Crosby, Kate Arnold, and others on the public relations functions of SLA and its individual units, and ending with Jill Calabria’s very entertaining take on the value of membership, it was an exhilarating afternoon, one that should have revitalized chapter and division leaders and sent them off with enthusiasm back to their chapters and divisions, ready to share the knowledge from the Leadership Summit and re-enthuse their unit membership groups.

I just didn’t appreciate the bum’s rush the hotel gave us, causing the meeting to end 15 minutes before its stated ending time.

SLA’s President and Its CEO Review Accomplishments

Marydee Ojala @ 12:42 pm

President Pam Rollo’s speech started off the second morning of SLA’s Leadership Summit. This day is devoted to SLA issues and the running of the association. The talks today are all given by SLA members and association staff. Plus there are business meetings for the Chapter and Division Cabinets.

Pam says she often uses fireworks as metaphor. That segued into her explanation (“clarifications and comments”) about the title change of the top association officer from Executive Director to CEO. She stresses that the move to using this title is not change in governance; it’s just a change title. AOOC have been considering this change for over 2 years.

Everything remains the same. The CEO continues to report to AOOC. The president remains the chief elected officer; the role hasn’t changed. Pam reiterates that the AOOC has responsibility for personnel decisions, which is what this is. There are no new or expanded powers for the CEO. The CEO doesn’t’ replace the president; the duties are complementary. Neither can move the goals of the association further without the other

“So if this isn’t changing governance, why are we doing this?” she asks rhetorically. The title change occurred to make title more understandable to others in the association and corporate world.

However, the announcement, as it was communicated in an e-mail to the leadership weeks after the decision was made caused confusion, distraction, and consternation. She apologizes. The delay was partly due to some documents that needed to be prepared and to executive travel schedules. Pam’s not making excuses. She says she takes responsibility for the delayed announcement. She felt it was natural to involve leadership during this meeting and delay announcing the title change until during the Leadership Summit.

Now she’s on to talking about the task forces. Last June, she outlined her goals. A variety of task forces were formed and their accomplishments:

Research Now Task Force is pairing corporate and academic members for research endeavors.

New Visions Task Force assembled into teams and is ready to be targeted.

Chapter Modelling Task Force is identifying other associations with a local presence and surveyed them to find out how we could learn from them. The task force also surveyed SLA chapters to learn how to make the chapter experience more rewarding and easier

The Recognition Task Force is looking at the current impact of our awards and investigate the possibility of new rewards.

Allies and Partners Task Force is seeking out others who share our values. It organized itself into teams. It will identify other associations with which we could partner, identify and reach out to broader base of information-intensive users. Expand the focus on non-traditional jobs. How to recruit new members. Determine what is the attraction to new members, and use those values to recruit other

The Natural Disaster Task Force was very active because of hurricanes and earthquakes. It created new communication mediums, such as blogs and links to other resources. IPanda taskforce will be repurposed and reused as platform for lessons learned.

Professional Values Task Force is seeking to compose a statement of values that is scheduled for completion this month.

To improve SLA’s visibility outside North America, Pam worked with SLA Europe to get more members during Online Information show. SLA Europe has identified a new role for SLA in continental Europe and is looking for marketing opportunities.

The conference we’re at now is to explore leadership techniques.

She warns that there’s a risk of people losing confidence as job picture changes for the worse.

Google partnerships and digitization of materials: Copyright laws are different from one country to another. The argument about first use and fair use will impact all of us in the future. We still need more curricula for special libraries in graduate schools of library science. Programs need to be aligned with new environment, need to make changes.

She announces some of the award winners, the ones who’ve been notified.

Now it’s Janice Lachance’s turn to give her “state of the association” report. On the tables is a handout titled “Performance Highlights December 31, 2005.” The full report is online at the SLA Web site .

Some highlights: The full Task Force reports will be presented in June. She expects that they will confirm some beliefs and shake up others. E-voting was a success. The dues increase went through. The audience applauded here, prompting Janice to adlib that she’d never heard applause for a dues increase before. She was selected to represent the five major U.S. library associations at the World Summit for the Information Society in Tunisia last November. The association is fiscally sound, with a surplus.

Open mike time: What are the concerns of the membership?

Concern about Click U Web site: There was no dialog in the Student Lounge when it opened. It should have been pre-populated with discussion before it was announced to the association and it should have been communicated to leadership first.

Concern about professional development: How to have deep discussions across the membership. How do we get beyond task forces to have a broader discussion? How to bridge among the various silos out in the field. Pam suggests a matrix organization for the task forces. Maybe use a wiki or open sourceware for a collaborative workspace.

Thanks from Minnesota Chapter for getting people involved. Janice comments there will be plenty of opportunities going forward, particularly in implementing the programs suggested by the task forces, not to mention committee assignments.

Concern about value of membership. Would like to see value of sponsors investigated. Make sure we understand the value of sponsorship.

Would love to see joint command on library issues, collaborative working among library associations. Misperceptions of Google Book Search in general press. Got better response from Doug Newcomb than from NCLIS or ALA. Janice explains the Library Alliance, which works collaboratively on intellectual property issues affecting libraries.

More details on WSIS: What is the impact of information on developed and developing countries? First half of conference was in Alexandria, Egypt. SLA was competing for voice at the table. To do this, SLA had to have a presence at every meeting, so Pam went to Alexandria, which wasn’t easy because she had to get a visa during Ramadan and there aren’t very many flights. The experience was overwhelming; she was completely surprised. Janice went to Tunisia as Pam was returning from Egypt. WSIS developed into a big fight over what country would control the Internet. “We have a dog in this fight.” Her final assessment of the experience: “Better than West Wing.”

Other SLA Bloggers

Marydee Ojala @ 9:25 am

I’ve found two other blogs covering the SLA Leadership Summit. Catherine Lavallée-Welch is blogging for the Blogging Section of the Information Technology Division here and Laurel Kristick is blogging for the Physics-Astronomy-Math (PAM) Division here .

SLA Leadership Summit Afternoon

Marydee Ojala @ 4:37 pm

The afternoon session extended the leadership training started in the morning sessions. The group broke into two sessions. One, aimed at helping members become better leaders at their place of work, was called “The Triple Whammy: Change, Communication, and Conflict.” The other, primarily for SLA members who want to improve their leadership skills in terms of their chapters and divisions, was called “Cracker Jack Membership Strategies and Volunteer Involvement Techniques.” Happily, the handout included the slides for both sessions. Leadership Outfitters, Inc. prepared the sessions, as they did for last year’s Leadership Summit.

I went to the Cracker Jack session and, yes, Jill McCrory, the presenter, had boxes of cracker jacks and rewarded attendees by handing them out. Since last year, the Leadership Outfitters people have obviously studied up on SLA structure. Although some of what Jill got us thinking about was generic, and I thought she relied too much on Lions Club examples and social/charitable organizations rather than the professional association that SLA is, she was able to relate some of it directly to chapters and divisions. The handouts, however, only used the word chapter, never division.

Jill, who is a very energetic speaker and excellent at involving the audience in the learning experience, started with the Cracker Jack theme by asking “What’s the ‘Hidden Prize’ in your chapter?” We considered why people join and why they don’t. How do we brand the association, as well as chapters and divisions, and should we re-brand, repackage, revamp, reformulate? Now it’s on to finding new members and replenishing the chapter/division. It’s not just what new members want from us; it’s what we want from them. An interesting question from the audience, “Why do we want new members?” Answers, also from the audience, included replacing those who leave (retirement, change jobs, who knows why) and getting new ideas from new members.

Keys to motivation include expectations, success, contribution, and skills. Jill quoted from a Lions Club survey that indicated volunteerism was increasing.

Jill led a group exercise of sending a marble around on sticks. It required teamwork and was designed to demonstrate that each one of us is responsible for the success of everybody else.

Comment from the audience: It’s easier to promote membership in a chapter because it’s based on geography and people can actually meet each other face to face during the year. At the division level, it’s harder to get involvement and keep peoples’ interest because divisions meet only once a year are geographically dispersed. Responses from attendees: Pharma does its own conference. What about blogs to help form community? Insurance/Employee Benefits is a very strong, cohesive division. The more continuity of leadership the better.

Why do people turn you down when you ask them to get involved, head a committee, or work on a chapter/division project and how can you ask so that they say yes? Reveal all the information and your expectations; Identify resources and whether they’re available or limited; get the person to share expectations; help make the job or task work for them; and tell them why they’re suited to do this.

Jill wrapped up the day with lots of information about different mindsets, how to involve younger members, suggestions for recognition and motivation.

Feedback from SLA members in the session was positive, with everybody I talked with taking away several good ideas that they plan to use in their chapters/ divisions. More than that you really can’t ask for.

Keynote, Part 2

Marydee Ojala @ 12:21 pm

This is supposed to be the more interactive portion of the morning, but I’m finding that Doug Lipp is much less dynamic for this part. He’s given us a handout, talked about the differences between being a leader, a manager, and a dictator. He advises that sometimes one style is appropriate and sometimes another is. He now says we should use the common sense of our customers not of ourselves. Continental Airlines switched the serving time for lunch on its Latin American flights to 3 p.m. instead of noon (I’m wondering how old this example is — food on flights? Wow!), P&G changed its packaging and advertising based on differences in Europe and Japan, a Starbucks store learned how to cater to its deaf customers.

Now he’s asking us to assess our leader-manager source of power. He points out how a balancing act is necessary.

SLA Leadership Summit Keynote

Marydee Ojala @ 11:16 am

I’m in Houston for the SLA Leadership Summit. The opening keynote is Doug Lipp , author of Even Monkeys Fall From Trees. He’s using examples from when he worked at Disney. Picture Snow White encountering some small children with her wig pushed back, smoking a cigar, and complaining that the Seven Dwarfs haven’t showed up for work today. This was one way to convince Disnetyland employees to be pleasant and to distinguish Disney from the competition. Mini-mantra: “Be willing to change to remain the same.” Now he’s doing a handwriting exercise: Write your first and last name as many times as possible in 30 seconds. Score it quantitatively and qualitatively. Now do the same exercise using your other hand. (This is why I use keyboards not handwriting, although I do understand the point he’s trying to make.)

How much control will you have over change? The market around you changes. If you don’t control change, change will control you. Learn to do business with your non-dominant hand. Organizations that continually reinvent themselves will dominate their market. You can’t let the “sacred cows” rule. Don’t get stuck in a rut. Don’t fear failure or what the boss will say. Then there’s arrogance, complacency, and the one-trick pony. Don’t rest on your laurels. We need to become ambidextrous. You need to change the approach. Another challenge is blaming those around us. It’s always someone else’s fault is a non-productive approach. Skimping on employee education is the fourth obstacle he mentions. Risk taking is to be encouraged, but you need to provide enough training so they don’t crash and burn.

Now he’s on to opportunities: Number One is communication. (I’ll bet this one surfaces later on during the Leadership Summit.) Lipp says we should live the vision, practice consistency and discipline, and recognize that words + actions = execution. Information silos can be joined together by organization’s vision and values. At Disneyland, it was creating the happiest place on earth. Second opportunity is innovation and learning through teamwork. Good interactive exercise on counting squares to show how we can back ourselves into a corner if we don’t look creatively at a problem. Creativity as calculated risk is part of teamwork. You can create new products without giving up basic values. For Disney, that was G-rated movies. That’s one reason Disney created Touchstone—to create profitable movies that wouldn’t be confused with Disney’s “OK for kids” films. Hire contrarian thinkers is Lipp’s advice. He’s on to opportunity three: Create customer loyalty. Don’t make your data cumbersome to use. Prove your value. Watch for patterns. Think for your customer. What is the real question? Find the essence of the question. “When is the 3:00 parade” really means “When does the 3:00 parade pass the place I’m standing.”

We must aggressively plan for change. What things are you willing to start, stop and continue, both short and long term.

Open Access Journals

Marydee Ojala @ 11:07 am

In beginning some research into current developments in Open Access, I noticed that the Directory of Open Access Journals now (per an announcement dated January 13, 2006) contains over 2,000 journals. Wow! DOAJ has also updated its selection criteria to make the process more understandable.

Clarification of SLA CEO’s Role

Marydee Ojala @ 8:50 pm

One clarification about the change in title from Executive Director to CEO from Pam Rollo, current SLA president: It is a job title change only; the reporting structure hasn’t changed, association governance hasn’t changed, and the job description hasn’t changed.

But why wait so long to announce this change if, indeed, it’s such a simple change? I could swear, although I wasn’t paying that much attention to the introduction, that at the SLA Europe breakfast meeting in December, Janice Lachance was introduced as the association’s executive director. Anybody want to refresh my memory on that?

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