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Be Future Ready with Best Practices in Government Libraries

If you want to be Future Ready you have to know your Best Practices. That’s why the Future Ready 365 Blog is featuring a week’s worth of posts from the 2011 edition of “Best Practices in Government Libraries”.
Marie Kaddell kicked off the week with an introduction to best practices:
George Franchois wrote about planning for moving the Department of the Interior Library’s collection while it’s closed for renovations:

James King discussed examining the impact of scholarly research:

Current DC/SLA President Mary Tally posted about being an embedded librarian in a virtual environment:

Be sure to check out the Future Ready 365 blog all week long for more posts about Best Practices:

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Future Ready: e-Initiatives and e-Efforts: Expanding Our Horizons

Future Ready: e-Initiatives and e-Efforts: Expanding Our Horizons

by Marie Kaddell, Washington, DC Chapter, Government Information, Information Technology, Military Libraries Divisions

One of the high points of my year is editing the Best Practices for Government LibrariesBest Practices is a collaborative document that is put out annually on a specific topic of interest to government libraries and includes content submitted by government librarians and community leaders with an interest in government libraries and government information. The 2011 edition includes over 70 articles and other submissions provided by more than 60 contributors including librarians in government agencies, courts, and the military, as well as from professional association leaders and information professionals working outside of government libraries.

Best Practices for Government Libraries
As I put together Best Practices, I am always inspired by the energy, expertise, and forward-thinking perspectives that are showcased in the article submissions I received for the publication. This year, the topic was e-Initiatives and e-Efforts.  I broke down Best Practices into six areas that reflected some of the key trends that surfaced in the submissions:

  • Embracing New Avenues of Communication
  • Adapting To New and Evolving Technologies
  • Altering Our Places and Spaces
  • Tackling Changing Expectations, Resources, and Job Descriptions
  • Preserving What We Have and Preparing for The Future
  • Expanding Horizons

With authors writing on a suite of hot topics that included:  e-books, e-gov, embedded librarianship, library moves, mentoring, research metrics, social media, virtual reference, telework, and even virtual fundraising in Second Life, being future ready takes on all kinds of different dimensions.

Here’s a sampling of articles authored by SLA members:

  • Ten Scary Issues: Future Directions for Military Libraries
    Edwin B. Burgess, Director, Combined Arms Research Library
  • Utilizing Electronic Databases During a Library Relocation
    George Franchois, Director, U.S. Dept. of the Interior Library
  • Research Metrics: Measuring the Impact of Research
    James King, Information Architect, NIH Library
  • Embedded Librarianship and E-Initiatives: The Dynamic Duo
    Rachel Kingcade, Chief Reference & CSC Direct Support Librarian, USMC Research
  • Future Ready 365
    Cindy Romaine, SLA President 2011
  • Building a Framework to Embrace the New and Expand Your Horizons
    Bruce Rosenstein, Author, Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker‘s Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life
  • E-Gov Sites to Go Dark?
    Kim Schultz, Outreach Specialist at the NASA Center for AeroSpace Information, operated by Chugach Federal Solutions, Inc.
  • To Build a Virtual Embedded Information Role, Start at the Top
    Mary Talley, Owner, TalleyPartners, 2011 DC/SLA President
  • Web E-Accessibility to Reach Full E-Audience: “Expanding Our Horizon” to Better Honor Diversity
    Ken Wheaton, Web Services Librarian, Alaska State Court System Law Library
  • Podcasts Get Information Junkies their Fix
    Chris Vestal, Supervisory Patent Researcher with ASRC Management Services, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and DC/SLA‘s 2011 Communication Secretary

If you did not write for this year’s Best Practices, I invite you to submit an article next time around and in the meantime submit a guest post for the Government Info Pro.

Want more Best Practices? View the 2010 Best Practices:  The New Face of Value in PDF version.

Marie Kaddell is the Senior Information Professional Consultant for government at LexisNexis.  She is the Chair of the SLA Division of Government Information. She authors and maintains the  Government Info Pro blog. She compiles and edits the annual Best Practices for Government Libraries. You can follow her on Twitter @libraryfocus.

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It All Started with Dinner

It All Started with Dinner

From SLA’s Future Ready 365 blog. Originally published in 2010′s “Best Practices in Government Libraries”)

By Chris Vestal, Washington, DC Chapter, Government Information, Leadership & Management Divisions

It all started with dinner. I was at the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Issues Caucus’s (GLBTIC) annual dinner at the SLA Annual Conference in Denver 2007. I was about nine months into my MLIS program and this was the first conference I’d ever attended–but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

I was one of the students enrolled in Drexel University’s iSchool’s totally online program. One of the things that Drexel stressed was that being involved in a professional association was vital to staying on top of trends in the profession, furthering your professional development, and building a support network of colleagues so you could be in a strong position for an uncertain future. We were actually required to pick three different associations to research and then compare and contrast and see which ones could be the best fit for our interests. Most of the students that I talked to agreed that they could benefit from being a part of a professional association.

What set me apart from most of my classmates though was that I had no library experience. I’d never even shelved a book in my life and because I also worked full-time in an unrelated field I didn’t have the time to take a part-time job or internship that would give me that experience. So to me getting involved in a professional association seemed like the only way to get some real world knowledge about the profession. I knew I was interested in working in a special library so SLA seemed like the right fit. I decided that year I’d attend the SLA conference.

Like I said we’d already discussed the value of professional associations in one of my classes. Several instructors emphasized the impact that networking opportunities could have on our careers. But what we hadn’t talked about is what a shy person does at a conference where they don’t know anyone. All the faces were unfamiliar and the idea of randomly introducing myself to strangers was unthinkable–until I attended one session called “Networking for Wallflowers” and saw how many people felt the same way I did. After the workshop I did attempt to meet more people but it still felt awkward.

That changed though when I walked into GLBTIC’s annual business meeting. Here were professionals I felt totally comfortable around. I took advantage of the brief networking opportunities there and promised myself I’d attend the no host dinner later that evening. At the dinner I met more people and told them about my limited experience and asked what I should to position myself for job hunting when I finished library school. The answers varied but all contained one near universal nugget of wisdom–get involved in SLA.

A year went by where aside from reading Information Outlook I didn’t have time to be active in SLA. But I still had vacation time so I made a point of attending the SLA conference in Seattle. I found that conference was a much easier experience for me in terms of networking. Now thanks to the GLBTIC dinner and other events I recognized several faces and was much less hesitant to introduce myself to new people. I was closer to graduating at that point and was avidly seeking out job leads. At one dinner someone told me that the most valuable thing I could do would be to get involved with my local SLA chapter.

I took this advice to heart and started attending as many networking and professional development events as possible. I subscribed to the chapter listserve and read each message that came across.

An announcement about DC/SLA Young Professional’s and Student’s Happy Hour came across the listserv and I thought it’d be a fun event to attend. One of the attendees there told me about the company she worked for and I remember thinking it sounded like a really interesting job. A few weeks later I saw an announcement over the listserv about a federal government career fair for librarians at the Library of Congress. I went to the career fair and ran into a recruiter for the company I’d heard about at the happy hour earlier. Within days of chatting with the recruiter I’d been hired in my first library related position.

But that was really just the beginning of my involvement with DC/SLA. A few months later the DC/SLA President contacted me saying she remembered meeting me at function and wanted to know if I was interested in being the chapter Dine Around (networking dinners for members and friends at local area restaurants) Coordinator. I agreed and went to work recruiting volunteers to host the dinners and then marketing them to the chapter.

I was surprised by the enthusiastic response we received from the chapter. We had 22 Dine Arounds over the course of 2009. I met so many people I might not have otherwise. I got to know people who became friends, people who challenged me, people on the verge of retiring, and people just starting off in their careers–like me. There’s no question that I learned a great deal in library school but I learned so much more about the profession, the association, and about myself by having dinner with all those different people. It turned out that even people I never met at a Dine Around would “meet” me; they’d recognize my name from the promotional emails I sent to the listserv and then approach me at other events.

One Dine Around attendee told me about the DC/SLA New Members Reception and I decided to attend. There I heard Current SLA President Gloria Zamora and President-Elect Anne Caputo talk about the Alignment Project and what it meant for the profession. Recalling their presentation I signed up to be an Alignment Ambassador later that year.

As an Alignment Ambassador I responded to member concerns via Twitter, the listserv, Facebook, and at a Town Hall Meeting. While I was doing this I realized something about myself–that I really enjoy public speaking and writing. But maybe even more importantly is that other people noticed me and I was approached to take over the chapter’s newsletter, Chapter Notes. Working on Chapter Notes in many ways has been like an extension of the Dine Arounds–I get to meet many people with different views, experiences, and skills and learn from them all while doing something I enjoy.

So my point is I can’t possible overstate how important being active in a professional association is to being future ready. You get all the benefits you’d expect like networking and professional development opportunities, but chances are you’ll benefit in countless other ways too. Subscribing to an association listserv provides you with opportunities to get support directly from your peers (especially important for solo librarians) and invaluable information about what’s going on either in your field or location. By taking on different roles in the association there’s a good chance you’ll learn something about yourself–what you enjoy and what you’re strengths are. You can develop skills (like event planning) you might not get to utilize in your paid job which translates into increased marketability when job hunting. The people you get to know can help you grow in ways you’d never expect–like approaching you for opportunities you didn’t even think to look for. Talking with experienced people in the field can prepare you for issues in your work life and keep you from having to reinvent the wheel. For me, informal stories from Dine Around attendees helped me when I transitioned into my first position supervising other professionals. But perhaps most importantly being involved in an association gives others a chance to get to know you and see how you shine. And it can all start with something as simple as having dinner.

Chris Vestal is a Supervisory Patent Researcher with ASRC Management Services on its contract at the US Patent and Trademark Office. Chris is also DC/SLA’s 2011 Communication Secretary.

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Future Ready: It’s in the DNA

Future Ready: It’s in the DNA

By James King, Washington DC & Maryland Chapters, Government Information & Information Technology Divisions

Originally Published on the Future Ready 365 Blog

By James King

What do we need to do in order to survive and thrive in the 21st Century?  The most successful organizations are those that have come up with innovative ways of doing things, like Amazon, Apple, or Facebook.  Are we part of an innovative organization? What does it take to be innovative?

“The Innovator’s DNA” (Dyer, Gregersen, and Christensen; Harvard Business Review, December 2009 – http://hbr.org/product/the-innovator-s-dna/an/R0912E-PDF-ENG) provides an answer. The authors report on a six year study of the people behind some of the most innovative and disruptive business strategies in the world to see what makes them tick.  What they found are five discovery skills that seem to distinguish these leaders and can serve as a model for others that want to strive for that “critical thinking” that Thomas Friedman challenged us to in his keynote speech at SLA Annual.

The five discovery skills or “Innovator’s DNA” are questioning, observing, experimenting, networking, and associating.  Not only do I agree with their findings about these traits, but I also realize that we can learn and develop these, and that my involvement with SLA helps me strive towards each of them.

Questioning asking questions to dig deeper

Questioning often reveals sacred cows and entrenched traditions that are holding us back from improved ways of serving our customers or streamlining our back office operations.  Having well-researched facts about how other organizations operate and how executives view our profession (as is described in the Alignment report) I can be better prepared to ask questions about why certain practices or processes are still being observed in my organization.

Observing watching the world around us

By observing and studying our customers and other organizations around us, we can learn many valuable lessons and change our services for the better. Participating in the Annual Conference, local chapter events, reading articles from Information Outlook, following the Twitter posts from the Information Futurist Caucus, or reading blog entries from the Future Ready blog can all help us to monitor the rapidly-changing information industry.

Experimenting willing to try new things

Experimenting and risk failure is a critical trait of an innovative person.  Involvement in chapters or divisions can encourage experimentation by providing a “safe haven” without a direct risk to your pay or benefits. The article pointed out that one of the most powerful experimentations is to work globally. By having access to a global association like SLA, we are able and encouraged to build collaborations with fellow professionals around the world, which will undoubtedly broaden our perspective.

Networkingbuilding relationships with peers

Networking is probably one of the hallmarks of participation in conferences or attending local chapter events is the opportunity to build relationships with peers.  Those networks can provide a mentor, a friend, or even a future job prospect.  However, the digital world and social networking have also allowed us to better maintain those initial contacts and develop those relationships.

Associating creating connections

The final trait of their DNA pulls together the four actions (questioning, observing, experimenting, and networking) and creates connections.  Those mental connections are the spark of innovation and have spawned new business processes and changed the world.  Though this is ultimately a personal exercise, learning from others who have made unconventional associations to create new services for our customers will help and encourage us to do likewise.

Building a culture that allows and encourages these innovative traits at both the manager level and employee level will challenge traditional leadership and traditional librarianship but will result in a more relevant and innovative organization.  Whether we have the support where we are or not, are we taking advantage of the opportunities available to us through SLA to build these innovative traits or simply running the treadmill to retirement?

James King, SLA Fellow, was the 2010 President of the Washington, DC Chapter and is the long-time convener of the Information Futurists Caucus. He is currently serving at the national level as an Alignment Ambassador, chair of the Nominating Committee, and was on the 2011 Annual Conference Planning Council. View a fuller bio at http://about.me/edit/cmndr_king.


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Future Ready: It’s a Jungle Out There

Future Ready: It’s a Jungle Out There

By Cindy Romaine, 2011 SLA President

We all know, it’s a jungle out there on the FutureReady365 blog you’ll find post that’s all about finding the information explorer in you. Sit back and watch as Mia Finder, a fictional information professional, sleuths out high-value content for her clients—without going bananas.


As information professionals we know that if we use our wits and our high-tech analysis skills, we will find that we are indeed, Future Ready!

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