SLA Holiday Party 2014: Learning about Wine

By Senteara M. Orwig

Holiday partyThe 2014 SLA-PNW Holiday Party this year was held at the Seattle Wine Outlet, and was themed appropriately! Senteara M. Orwig, a 2nd Year MLIS Student who hosts tastings and sales at local farmers markets for Wilridge Winery was kind enough to lend her own expertise and give her experience of the event:

The recent SLA Holiday party provided students with an excellent networking opportunity and had the big perk of being held at the Seattle Wine Outlet. The party featured Jon Haupt fromthe Sonoma County Wine Library and a wine tasting led by Richard Kinssies. This was perfect for the wine geek in me, especially because I want to apply my MLIS skills to the wine industry. The world of wine is an information gold mine if you care to take a dip in it. GoJon Haupt interviewing to tastings is the most enjoyable way to start wrapping your mind around everything wine has to offer. If you get overwhelmed the first few times, don’t worry, it is very common to only retain about 10-20% of the information from a tasting, it is how you slowly learn about the world of wine. I really enjoyed the tasting because Kinssies didn’t just tell us about the tasting notes, instead, he told us delightful stories about each wine. My nugget of fun wine knowledge from the tasting: Old World wines (European, mostly France) name wine based on the region it comes from, while New World wines name wine based the grape it comes from.

Senteara Orwig and Jon Haupt

Senteara Orwig and Jon Haupt

Here’s to a happy end of the quarter, and keep an eye out for the exciting events the SLA-UW has for the winter and spring!

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Wine and Special Libraries: SLA Holiday Party

The SLA-PNW will be holding its annual board meeting and holiday party on Tuesday, November 18 (two weeks from today!)

The event, which will have a heavy buffet of hors d’oeuvres and wine tasting, is $20 for students. SLA-UW will be sponsoring scholarships to the first 20 students to register for the event! These scholarships will take place in the form of reimbursements. These scholarships will take place in the form of reimbursements. However, if a reimbursement is tricky for you, contact SLA PNW treasurer directly to see if you received a scholarship and do not need advance payment.

More information can be found at the SLA-PNW website, but the basics are here:

Register Here:

Date: Tuesday, November 18, 6-9 pm

Seattle Wine Outlet
946 Elliott Ave. W
Seattle, WA 98119

How: You can easily take the #32 from the University District, or sign up to carpool here.

Why: This is an excellent opportunity to learn more about how the PNW Chapter of SLA works, as well as having some tasty food and wine tasting with Richard Kinssies at Seattle Wine Outlet.

Jon Haupt, a Sonoma County Wine Librarian and UW iSchool alum, will also be attending the event, either in person or virtually. So not only is this event a great way to connect with your colleagues in the SLA, it is a great way to learn about some of the interconnections between wine and librarianship.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. SLA PNW Board Meeting
6:00 – 7:00 p.m. Networking and heavy hors d’oeuvres buffet
7:00 – 7:30 p.m. Wine tasting with Richard Kinssies
7:30 – 9:00 p.m. Networking and wrap-up

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SLA Library Tour: EPA Region 10 Library

By Lydia Bello

EPA Region 10 - image1On Wednesday, October 8, almost 20 iSchool students from SLA-UW joined the Pacific Northwest Chapter for a tour of the Region 10 EPA Library.

Created in the 1970s, The Region 10 library holds an interesting position in the EPA. Contractor operated since the 1980s, the library has moved between the public affairs, IT, and Infrastructural and Operations Departments before recently moving back to IT. Liz Doyle, the supervisory librarian and current SLA-PNW President, works with a staff of two other librarians to serve both the employees of the EPA and the general public. The library materials were barcoded in 2000, and the library uses Inmagic’s DB/TextWorks catalog for the local database.

Two months ago, the Library moved from the 10th floor into a beautiful new space on the first floor of the Park Place Building in downtown Seattle. The staff of the library is currently focusing their efforts on weeding, digitization, and creating the idea of “library as place.” Three fourths of the known collections are digitized and online, and the library maintains a collection of Region 10 documents. The library is in the process of encouraging EPA staff to use the library as a collaboration space, with places to work and monitors that can be hooked up to libraries, similar to the UW’s own Research Commons. The library has already gotten more foot traffic as passers-by see the stacks and other materials from the ground floor windows.

Although the quantity of reference questions have declined over the years, Liz notes that they have become increasingly complex. These questions often include background research for enforcement projects.

EPA Region 10 - image2If you missed this tour but are still in the Seattle area, the EPA library is a great place to visit. And as Liz said during her presentation, like with all special librarianship, “everything you do is with the help of your colleagues,” and there are some pretty fantastic ones here in the Pacific Northwest.

Have you seen or worked in any neat special libraries as of late? Want to share your experiences with the SLA UW and the iSchool? Write for the blog!

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How to present yourself at a conference while still figuring out your career path

By Stefanie Ramsay
Images courtesy of Lydia Bello

Vancouver Conference CentreMy first year in the iSchool was full of uncertainty about where I fit within the vast field of librarianship. I felt very fortunate to find a niche in special libraries by the end of the year, and luckily enough, the Special Libraries Association annual conference was being held in nearby Vancouver, BC this last June. This was my first professional conference and I enjoyed so many events, from the First Years and Fellows meeting to a session on geofencing to a discussion of working in museum librarianship. But one of the biggest challenges I faced was how to answer the inevitable question: “So, what do you want to do when you graduate?”

As students, we have to strike the tricky balance between keeping an open mind about potential career trajectories while also working towards narrowing our focus, and honing particular skills that complement this intended career path. Juggling this in our own minds is difficult enough, however, when those in the field, whom we are hoping to impress, ask where we see ourselves in a year (or three, or five), this question becomes particularly challenging to answer. I didn’t want to box myself in by mentioning a specific organization I was interested iSLA Badgen working for, but I also didn’t want to be perceived as indecisive if I rattled off a few areas of interest (e.g. “Well, I like working with rare materials and enjoy interacting directly with users. But I also want to know how to build systems that house information. And I see myself special libraries, like a museum, or historical society, or special collections. Oh and I like American history too! But I am still open!”) I also didn’t want to be left out of an interesting conversation about, say, taxonomies just because I didn’t mention it as a particular career goal. What if it is and I just never knew it?? These thoughts filled my mind during and after the conference, so I began to reflect on what I could do at the next conference to present myself in a way that felt authentic while also avoiding painting myself into a corner.

While I do not necessarily have the perfect answer to this question (this was only my first conference, my friends!), I did draw upon a lesson from the Special Librarianship course I took this last spring quarter. In this course, we were tasked with writing an “elevator speech” to describe our fictionalized role in a particular library as part of a larger assignment. An elevator speech is designed to be a succinct but memorable way of discussing your role and responsibilities to colleagues, administrative staff, or future employers (here’s a great link that describes this further: Using this concept, spend some time before your next conference (or meeting, or interview, or family gathering) and write down a list of areas in which you are interested, particular classes you’ve enjoyed, past job experience, or a defined path you’ve already discovered. Maybe you see some common themes you can combine or notice a pattern you didn’t see before. Then write your elevator speech! This is a great way of collecting your thoughts before presenting them to others. Keep your speech in your back pocket if you need a refresher or to make some edits. It’s also a good exercise in reminding yourself what you are passionate about—and, really, that is what people want to hear from you.

SLA Vendor HallI would also advise that you ask many questions when you find yourself in conversation with others at conferences. The people I met at SLA were warm, friendly, and all too eager to discuss their careers with me, while also inquiring about my interests. Though I took time to answer their questions, I concentrated on inquiring about their career paths or past experiences. Not only did this give me insight into a colleague’s background and potentially a new facet of librarianship, but I also paid attention to how they presented themselves in a professional setting. This gave me a better sense of what topics to cover and how best to present myself going forward (and in some cases, what to avoid talking about, too!).

Lastly, whenever I doubt myself or feel uncertain about where I’m headed in this field, I remind myself that I am hardly the only one who has felt this way. I brought this particular topic up with several classmates after the conference and found that many others empathized. It helped me to hear how my colleagues have handled this situation. Of course, most people respond differently to issues and not every solution will be right for you, but knowing you are not alone is helpful on its own, isn’t it?

Anyone else have tips to share on how to answer this question? How do you present yourself while still in school or after graduating? Any other lessons learned from your conference experiences?

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Welcome to SLA-UW

Hello everyone!

It was wonderful to see so many new and returning faces at the SLA-UW events during iWelcome Week! We’re excited to work with you and explore the different aspects Special Librarianship can take over the next academic year.


But what makes a “special library” special? Special libraries are a diverse, broad group containing any information setting that has a highly specific user group and/or focuses on a particular collection or subject. Special libraries often exist inside other institutions, from aviation museums to zoos, and there are special libraries as from law to engineering and technology, health care, business, advertising, government, and more! The possibilities are endless.

As to us, we are the University of Washington Student Chapter of the Special Libraries Association. We are a student chapter of the global Special Libraries Association, and we work closely with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the SLA (SLA-PNW) to put on library crawls and other events.

With that in mind, we’re pleased to announce the next SLA-PNW Library Crawl on October 8, 2014 at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Library. Library Crawls, or tours, are events where we tour a special library and get to ask questions about how that library operates with our hosts. This Crawl is being hosted in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Special Library Association. Here are details from the SLA-PNW website:

EPA Library Crawl
October 8, 2014, 4:30 to 6:30 pm
Register Here: www.surveymonkey/s/8XFM3M7

The schedule:
5:00 – 5:30 pm Social hour
5:30 – 6:30 pm Tour of EPA Region 10 library collection, with a presentation on the EPA Desktop Library content, Region 10 Library page, and digital EPA publications
EPA Region 10 via Google:

Special instructions about entering the building: Enter the building on 6th & University. You will need to go through security before being directed to the library on the 1st floor.

We hope to see you there! Library Crawls are a great way to meet your fellow classmates and professionals in the area, network and to learn about all the different career opportunities available in the world of information professionals.

On a closing note, we asked everyone who stopped by our table during the iWelcome Fair to name their favorite special library. Here’s what everyone shared, and we think this is a great list:

The mini free library in my neighborhood
Suzzallo-Allen Library, University of Washington
Seattle Public Library, Central Branch
Huntington Library
Library of Congress
Museum of Natural History
Amsterdam’s public library
New York Botanical Garden Library
Swem library (college of William and Mary)
UW Engineering Library
Too many to list here
Burlington Public Library
Edmonds and Everett Public Libraries
Bellevue College LMC
MIT science library
King’s College, Cambridge
LBJ Austin forever
Seattle Central/Rainer Special Collections
Folger Shakespeare library
Any Pacific NW library!
Bibliotheca Alexandrina, Egypt
Vancouver, BC public library
Reading Room at the British Museum

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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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