Harnessing the Data Whirlwind at WMLA 2014

By Liz Morris

WMLA logoConfession of an aspiring librarian #1: I love a good conference. Meeting new people, working through innovative ideas together, and exploring topics that may not regularly come across our radars makes me excited about the future of information. As the iSchool representative for the Washington Medical Librarians Association (WMLA), I was thrilled to represent our community at their annual conference in Ellensburg, WA on July 18, and am happy to share some of my learning here.

Copyright, Knowledge Networks, and Data Visualization…Oh My!

WMLA serves the needs of health information professionals in Washington State. Like information professionals in many fields, health information specialists and organizations are rapidly evolving their capacity to use digital content and data in a way that leads to more informed decision-making and end-user engagement. The theme for this year’s conference was Harnessing the Data Whirlwind, and in addition to beautiful sunshine, great networking opportunities, and yummy food, provided stellar context for emerging strategies to make information meaningful for diverse audiences.

Rachel Bridgewater, a faculty librarian at Portland Community College, presented on Copyright Basics for Librarians, and shared the fascinating insight that “copyright is the story of technology outpacing policy and law.” As we think about the very complex machines of policy and legislation working to keep pace, the role of information professionals to influence these shifts is clear.

iSchoolThe iSchool’s own Jevin West shared current perspectives and research on emerging systems for Mapping Knowledge Networks. We know that turning information into action requires much more than access. Tools and competencies to encourage data literacy and decision literacy must be able to operate in real-time, with often “noisy” inputs, and in support of complex inquiries. Collaborative efforts like the University of Washington Information School Data Lab seek to create the infrastructure to make high-level analytics useful for organizations of all types, building off of the fundamental principle that all information is ultimately connected.

One of my favorite take-aways from a presentation by Nate Wilairat of EMI Consulting  was the great distinction that infographics are explanatory, while data visualization is exploratory.  Through his presentation on Data Visualization: What’s the Big Deal?, I learned about the power of visual imagery to convey compelling stories, using information on the spectrum of very basic to incredibly complex. Cost effective tools like Piktochart  are available for those among us (myself included), who may not have a natural talent for graphical creation, but believe in the power of data to inspire ideas and new ways of thinking, doing, and being.

Library of HealthConfession of an aspiring librarian #2: I’m still figuring out what “type” of librarian I want to be, and relish the opportunities for self-discovery that the iSchool provides. A personal commitment to public service and previous professional experience in that area led me to librarianship. I truly believe that social equity requires more than equality, and that knowledge drives social change. The more I learn about the field and the varied professional paths that people navigate in their careers, the more I appreciate the roles all types of libraries play in making information meaningful for diverse individuals, professionals, and communities.

For example, the University of Washington is home to the Pacific Northwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, and provides excellent resources for health professionals and the public to support community well being. Public outreach and engagement is core to their mission, and they are a great resource to explore for Directed Fieldwork opportunities. The UW student chapter of SLA provides many opportunities for you to learn more about this and other unique library organizations and resources. As the upcoming academic year approaches, let’s keep the conversation going about what we’re discovering in the infinite world of information!

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Rijksmuseum Research Library: A Special Library

By Jennifer Lam

RijksmuseumThis past Christmas break, I vacationed in Amsterdam and had the opportunity to visit the Rijksmuseum and its supporting library, the Rijksmuseum Research Library.  It’s a special library because it’s neither academic, school, public, or national in nature. It is, rather, an art history library and the largest of its kind in the Netherlands.

The Rijksmuseum Research Library has been collecting items since 1885, including catalogues, museum collection-related books, annual reports, and periodicals.  Among its many special collections, it houses the A.N. Godefroy collection of architecture books and periodicals and Frits Keers collection of museum catalogues. Altogether, the four storeys of the library contain one kilometre of items, and its underground storage facility houses a further five kilometres of items.

Rijksmuseum Research LibraryThe library has many employees, including a head librarian, a library coordinator, a library application manager, and multiple library assistants and volunteers. Imagine working in Europe for one of the most renowned art history libraries in the world–a library that’s in the same building that houses great art from masters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Vermeer. The Rijksmuseum Research Library is truly special, especially with its cast-iron spiral staircase and brick-red and gold polychromed colonettes. Who knew special libraries could be so grande?

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Recent Events with the SLA-UW!

SLA_panelOne of the goals of the SLA-UW is to provide professional development opportunities for students interested in Special Librarianship. The past week and a half has seen a flurry of activity!

The SLA Student Night was a great introduction to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Special Library Association. It was a fun night of meeting peers and colleagues old and new, and getting to know the local chapter. We also got to hear from a great panel of professionals in the field currently working for library vendor companies. The panelists, representing companies such as LexisNexis, ProQuest, Smartlogic, and Softlink, described what it’s like to work for a vendor company and the many different career paths the MLIS can take you!

The following Thursday, SLA-UW partnered with sALA to host a Conference Prep Panel for the upcoming SLA Conference in Vancouver, BC, and ALA Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. The panel of four spoke about their experiences as both professionals and students at both SLA and ALA, and provided tips for having a great conference experience. You can watch the entire panel here through Adobe Connect https://ischool.adobeconnect.com/p20phfc98zb/ or take a look at the top ten pieces of advice to take with you to your next conference:

  1. Attend any and all conferences you can, especially when there are volunteer opportunities available! Conferences show you the breadth of the field and are a chance to discover new interests.
  2. Conferences are all about meeting new people and making connections. These connections happen anywhere, from sessions to happy hours to the line for the bathroom.
  3. Branch out! Attend a session you may have not previously considered. You can go to any session that isn’t marked “closed,” so go ahead and try something different. You may find your next career, or at least learn some new fun facts to share with your friends and family.
  4. Not enjoying a session? Leave! Your time is valuable, and if you are not getting the most of your experience, try something else (see lesson #3!).
  5. Follow social media, especially Twitter and Tumblr, to hear the latest buzz around popular sessions, speakers, and social events. Conferences often create a particular hashtag, Google Doc, or Facebook group for attendees to follow (see sALA and SLA’s Facebook pages for more info on this!).
  6. Having trouble picking a session? Find a speaker you’ve heard good things about, or professionals from a library system you’re interested in (see #5 for more info on how you can keep up with other sessions).
  7. Don’t just talk to people you came with or know. Chat with new people; you never know where it could lead! You will get the chance to meet a wide variety of people you might not otherwise get to meet. Side note: SLA’s “First Five Years” group and ALA’s New Members Round Table (NMRT) are great places to meet recent grads/alums who surely have great advice to share.
  8. Notice the set-up of session rooms. Round tables mean you’ll be conversing with those around you while rows of seats mean it will be a lecture-style session.
  9. Its okay to take a half-day or day off from the conference. You may need some time to process all of the information coming your way, plus you may want to explore the city in which the conference is taking place. There will be librarians everywhere you go, so you never know who you may meet outside of the conference walls.
  10. Unsure of what to wear/bring? Comfort is key! Our panel recommended “comfortable business casual.” Think of how you want to present yourself. Bring a bag, but consider what you would want to carry all day. Lastly, take your conference badge off at social events. A different atmosphere calls for a different way of introducing yourself.

Hope these tips come in handy in your professional development endeavors!

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Update: SLA’s Student Night, Thursday, May 8

Get ready for the SLA Student Night on May 8 from 6 to 8:30! The event is a great opportunity to hear from a panel of information professionals working with vendors in the area, as well as network! There will also be the SLA PNW board meeting from 5:00-6:00,

The event is $20 for students, and includes wine, beer, and heavy appetizers.You can pay by check or PayPal when you register or pay in cash at the event. SLA-Pacific Northwest Chapter will be covering the registration fee for the first 20 iSchool students to register (you will be reimbursed at Student Night).

Sign up here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T3P6KV3

More details about the event can be found below, and at http://pacificnorthwest.sla.org/archives/1655. Hope to see you there!

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SLA PNW Chapter Annual Student Night: May 8th

Waterfront Activity CenterThe Special Library Association Pacific Northwest Chapter will be hosting their annual Student Night on May 8, 2014 from 6 to 9 pm at the UW’s WAC (Waterfront Activity Center). This is a great opportunity to mix and mingle with information professionals from the area and pick their brains on jobs, career paths, etc. It’s a tough job market out there, so for students hoping to stay in Seattle this is a great opportunity to network with possible future colleagues (and employers!). This is also a great event to attend if you are at all curious as to what it’s like to work for a vendor, as there will be a panel discussion with representatives from several companies that have a presence in the Seattle area.

There will also be delicious (heavy) appetizers.

Detailed information about location and registration is below. The event is $20 for students. You can register here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T3P6KV3

Hope to see you there!



UW Waterfront Activities Center
3701 Montlake Blvd. NE
Seattle, WA 98195
The WAC is SE of Husky Stadium and is accessed from Montlake Blvd. using the same entrance as the stadium. Note that there is light rail construction in the area, but the WAC is still accessible.
Map: http://www.washington.edu/maps/?WAC

Paid parking is available directly in front of the WAC for $3.00 per hour. There is a pay station that accepts credit cards.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. SLA PNW Board Meeting
6:00 – 7:30 p.m. Networking and heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet
7:30 – 8:30 p.m. Panel discussion and Q&A with professionals on the topic of working for library vendor companies. Panelists represent a variety of companies that have a presence in the Seattle area, including LexisNexis, ProQuest, Smartlogic and Softlink.

Register for the Student Night event at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/T3P6KV3 ($20 for students/unemployed/retired, $35/SLA Members, $50/nonmembers, $45/corporate paid attendance).

Note that you will have the option to pay by check, PayPal, or at the door. If you choose to pay via PayPal, make sure to select the PayPal option on the SLA PNW website once you have completed the registration survey.

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USC Archives Bazaar!

The 8th Annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar
by Jennifer Vanoni

On Saturday, October 12th the University of Southern California (USC) Libraries played host to the 8th annual Los Angeles Archives Bazaar, organized by L.A. as Subject, an alliance of libraries, museums, and other archival and cultural organizations. The annual event was held in the landmark Doheny Memorial Library and was free and open to the public. The Archives Bazaar was for everyone including, “scholarly researchers, journalists, history buffs, and those simply interested in exploring the stories of Los Angeles” and featured public exhibitions from organizations such as The Writer’s Guild Foundation, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Center for the Study of Political Graphics.

The event ran from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and in addition to the wonderful exhibits of Los Angeles history some other programming highlights included an Antiques Roadshow inspired session where attendees were able to bring in “historical materials like documents and photographs, get them assessed by the Los Angeles Preservation Network and then digitized and placed on a USB drive to take home” and a session dedicated to craft beer brewing in L.A.

My first stop upon arrival was the Writer’s Guild Foundation exhibit where I chatted with Joanne Lammers, Director of the Archive. She was extremely friendly and thrilled that the event would be covered by SLA-UW and shared with students at the University of Washington. She was eager to connect with us via Twitter (@WritersGuildF). The Foundation’s Archive houses an unbelievable collection of scripts, both current and rare, and the absolute highlight of their artifacts at the Bazaar was the handwritten draft of The Empire Strikes Back script laid out on the table. The Foundation had also taken the opening scroll portion of the draft and turned it into postcards for visitors to take with them.

After browsing around many of the higher profile exhibits from media and historical organizations I made my way to an eye-catching exhibit in the far end of the hall where the Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG) had set up their space. The “CSPG is a non-profit, tax-exempt educational and research archive that collects, preserves, documents and circulates domestic and international political posters relating to historical and contemporary movements used for social change.” This was my favorite stop of the day. Not only were they very charming but had a really eclectic collection of posters on display and offered me an internship! Score.

Center for the Study of Political Graphics – http://www.politicalgraphics.org/home.html

Writer’s Guild Foundation – https://www.wgfoundation.org/

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – http://www.oscars.org

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Digital Archives Assistant at the UW Library Media Center

Digital Archives Assistant at the UW Library Media Center
by Rachel Price

It’s bitterly cold across the country this fine January so I have decided to reminisce on memories of my summer just a little bit more. My last post discussed the internship I did at Sub Pop Records, so this time around I’ll discuss one of the other fun jobs I had this summer, as a digital archives assistant at the UW Libraries Media Center.

I spent part of my summer doing all sorts of activities around the Kearney Barton Collection, which is a collection of thousands of analog recordings engineered by local Seattle audio recording legend Kearney Barton. Together with Light in the Attic Records, the media center has been sorting through boxes upon boxes of analog recordings, digitizing them, researching the bands who were recorded (which range from local garage bands to the Beatles), and working towards making them accessible through the library. This is a fascinating collection that really provides a window into the heart and soul of the Pacific Northwest’s music scene from the 50’s through the 80’s. It’s been said that Kearney Barton is responsible for shaping the “Seattle Sound” and paving the way for Seattle’s thriving music scene.

As part of my duties, I worked with John Vallier on a variety of tasks around the collection. I learned how to digitize analog recordings from their original tapes to MP3’s and WAV files using special equipment and audio programs. I also did a lot of sleuthing on the bands represented on the recordings and even contacted any band members I could find to let them know we had their recordings! There were a few happy emails back and forth from band members who did not think their recordings even existed anymore. Finally, I worked on designing LibGuide pages for the Kearney Barton collection and getting samples from the collection up on the media center’s SoundCloud page. For this particular aspect of the project I designed standards for the media center’s SoundCloud metadata practices, which was a great experience! Working within such a system designed for commercial use, it was a challenge to try to incorporate useful archival metadata within SoundCloud, but designing best practices was a great first step in making sure that as we utilize more and more tools that allow access, we retain the level of information necessary to make the collections truly useful to users.

Working in the media center gave me unique insight into the ins-and-outs of working with unique media collections, from metadata concerns to archiving practices, licensing issues to access rights quandaries. I loved my time at the media center and got a lot out of it, and recommend it if you are curious about media or unique collections!

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