May 28, 2008

Work your Wiki Magic

I cannot say enough about how Sachi & Lee Lefever's Common Craft Show has enriched my start as an embedded librarian. It takes a genius to explain things so simply! I don't think anyone had ever even whispered the word "wiki" before I came and now the office is abuzz with ideas on to integrate this very simple technology into our daily routines to manage even the most complex of federal grant projects. Wiki-wiki! It's all happening so fast.

Next week I get to present this and other Web 2.0 tricks to our Association's membership at our annual conference. To all those who said this place would never let me do more than "shake people's hands," beware...I am taking Louisiana by storm and changing the world one wiki at a time!

Don't worry, I will definitely send a postcard! Keep smiling and get those wikis up and running...

May 21, 2008

Embedded, for Better or Worse

Has being an embedded or solo librarian got you down? Try using your natural personality and characteristics to enrich your performance. I find that so much of how to do this job comes from how I can do it differently from how anyone else would do it. Not better or worse, but it's a strange phenomenon to be a librarian sans library, so figure out what it will mean for you and be that.

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting many young librarians, some of them solo and/or embedded, at DC-SLA's new member reception. We compared notes on what it means to be embedded with the content people but not be one ourselves, and on the challenge of getting to know each staff member's individual needs to be able to deliver appropriate results. Although it is cliche, it is always good to remember that one size does not fit all, and probably never will.

I imagine there is another way to do the job I am doing, but the longer I stay and the better I fit, I find it hard to imagine doing another job quite so well. The likelihood of there being a better fit for me is waning. And while I know that lunchtime euchre and practical jokes are not in my job description, I cannot imagine doing this job quite so well without those daily opportunities to enrich office relationships.

Take advantage of outreach opportunities - however informal - so you can be YOU where you are, and in so doing, hone the most important skill you bring to your job. As Andrew Pace posted yesterday, "Knowing others well has always served me better than being well known." And smile!

May 13, 2008

Meeting of the Minds

Three tips for running an effective meeting:
  • have an agenda with a goal printed at the top of it;
  • have a time limit for the meeting, if not for each agenda topic;
  • make sure all attendees are clear on the action items they are leaving the meeting with.
Three tips for being an effective participant:
  • limit your notes to your own to-do items unless you are the designated notetaker;
  • if you are one who tends to say too much in meetings, limit your contributions to three comments or questions; if you are one who tends to say too little, try to make at least three contributions, however small, before the end of the meeting
  • listen! listening is a form of participation that counts twice as much as speaking if you do it well; as an active listener you may be called upon to restate what has or has not been said if the conversation goes in circles.
Three tips for being an effective meeting observer:
  • listen! be aware of the group dynamics;
  • be aware of where the conversation is going with regard to the stated goals or agenda for the meeting;
  • take detailed notes from a "stranger's" perspective; make sure your notes are clear with regard to what has been decided, what action items were assigned and to whom, and what issues remain unresolved.
Planning and running a good meeting--even a short team round-up or regroup--is an art! Running a bad meeting is SO EASY. Have your meeting be a good one!

May 9, 2008


It's been a delicious week! After feeling that my lack of hardware and networking knowledge were keeping me from making a significant contribution to our tech team, I offered some training on the "softer side" of technology, the human-computer interactions that I feel more confident talking about than server interruptions....and they bought it! Our webmaster got very excited about social bookmarking and added the following tools to each page of our website:, digg, reddit, and StumbleUpon. We are also planning to do staff training on next week, and I was asked to give a training about search tips and Web 2.0 basics at our annual conference. In just my fifth month here I have been able to share my skills and win the respect of the major players. And I smiled throughout!

I am only really one step ahead of everyone on using, but taking that first step--especially for some of our staff and partners who may not be very comfortable with technology--is the most important step so I can help them along the way, provide support, and empower them. So far I have been tagging as many sites as I can, which is easy since I probably access upwards of one hundred sites on a typical work day. I started with the basic categories one might expect, but I am also finding it useful to tag sites with staff members' names so I can later go back and find the sites I used for a particular research request. I am also going to suggest to staff that they tag sites with the date they are using them in case they work better by thinking chronologically. Another good tip is to tag a site by the format of the document, such as PDF or PPT.

By tagging sites with how YOU will be most likely to try to retrieve them later, you are in essence creating your own search engine. Tags are not the only way to create your own search engine, though. Google actually has a tool that allows you to do this. Stay tuned to learn more about it!