Category Archives: SLA Europe

SLA name to stay SLA

The last few weeks have seen what must be the most hotly discussed library profession related topics since the (UK) Library Association changed its name in 2002 to CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

The results of the electronic voting was finally announced on 10 December on the SLA Blog SLA Name Will Stay: Alignment of Association to Continue. The vote against the new name was fairly convincing with 2071 voting yes and 3225 voting no.

Although I initially felt a bit deflated by the result after all the efforts those in favour, I was all too aware that the proposed new name was not particularly engaging. Although I wonder if we could ever find one that would be. At the previous failed name change vote in 2003, the choice was Information Professionals International, which to my mind is equally anodyne.

Perhaps the biggest mistake in the campaign was to give the impression we were moving away from the ‘L’ word rather than creating a bigger ‘tribe’ (to quote Seth Godin) in which librarians would be a big and welcome part. Many traditional librarians in the United States seemed to feel it was something of an either or situation.

Also the heat of the discussion has shown that although the stereotype of information professionals is of a shy and retiring middle aged woman wearing a bun, if they feel strongly about an issue, they are prepared to ‘storm the barricades’. I am reminded of the acknowledgement from Michael Moore, after librarians saved his book Stupid White Men from being pulped in the wake of the 9-11 attacks in America:

“I really didn’t realize the librarians were, you know, such a dangerous group.
They are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them. You know, they’ve had their budgets cut. They’re paid nothing. Books are falling apart. The libraries are just like the ass end of everything, right?”

Hazel Hall wins Information World Review Information Professional of the Year 2009

Dr Hazel HallAs the fortunate recipient of this award in 2003, I was very pleased to see it go to Hazel Hall this year. I have known Hazel for many years and always been impressed by her support and enthusiasm for her students, and at promoting the potential of the information and knowledge profession.

She has published and presented widely in international journals and at conferences including keynote presentations, plus numerous publications in the professional press and books.

She has also been in the vanguard of adopting social media activities such as Twitter, and trying to persuade  resistant information professionals of their benefits.

Hazel is Director of the Centre for Social Informatics in the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University. She is also leading the implementation of the UK Library and Information Science Research Coalition.

The awards are organised by IWR magazine and Online Information Conference organisers, Incisive Media.

Peter Williams, Editor of IWR magazine, described Hazel during the presentations as an energetic and enthusiastic information professional whose work invigorates the professional landscape, both within and beyond the UK.  2009 has been an outstanding year of achievement for her and one on which future success will be built for the profession as a whole, as well as on a personal level.

TFPL Connect International – Monday 30 November

I managed to force my flu wracked body along to this Monday evening pre-Online Exhibition discussion organised by TFPL. As well as the impressive panel listed below, I noted the room was full to bursting with 80 of the great and good of the information world. Many had flown in early for the Online show from the United States and Europe to be able to attend this event.

As something of an old stager at these kinds of events, I recognised quite a few faces around the room. These including three previous winners of the SLA Europe Information Professional Award (which was previously called the European Special Librarian of the Year); the current holder Gimena Campos Cervera , Annabel Colley and ex-Surrey Policeman Kevin Miles who I nominated for the award way back in 1999.

http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/42459000/jpg/_42459482_natarchine_203.jpg

Natalie Ceeney

The panel consisted of Natalie Ceeney (NC) the CEO of The National Archives, Doris Springer (DS), Manager Information Services at Bain & Company in Germany, and Morten Nicholaisen (MN), the Executive Director of Dialog.

Although I enjoyed the evening, somehow it didn’t quite live up to it’s billing. I think part of the problem may have been that it was a Monday night. Also, although Natalie was as controversial as her reputation predicted, the other panellists were not able to match her, and so the sparks did not fly.

The questions for the evening included:

How can we improve Britain’s economy?
NC. By making more effective use of knowledge. We should treat it as the third big asset after money and people. We should encourage mashups and innovation, and allow public access to the data and let them work out what to do with it, and to question its accuracy. She pointed out that the Welsh government already has a policy covering every document and how which element they will make available on the web.
MN. We should encourage better and more creative use of published information.

How can we improve personal use of information as exemplified by the Scandinavian countries?
MN. Recent surveys have shown that part of the reason why Scandinavians are statistically some of the happiest people in the world, is because they are happy to share personal information. The older generations do not understand how the younger generation think and works with online information. For example the fact they don’t look beyond Google when searching for information. He finds showing a product like Dialog to young consumers is difficult. It does not look cool compared to free web products. And this is coming from the boss of Dialog.
NC. Felt the culture was different in Britain and the public would not accept sharing of personal data. We draw the line between private personal data and public access much closer to home in the UK to compared to Scandinavian countries. She thought that UK citizens are coming increasingly concerned about how much personal information is open via social media sites such as Facebook..

Victoria Ginnetta – we have seen much more flexible working as a way of responding to the recession likely. How likely is this approach to carry on in the future?
DS. Full time workers are still key to Bain in Germany.
MN. This recession has been the worst he has seen in forty years. 2010 will be better, but perhaps not by much.
NC. The UK public sector will see a delayed response to recession, they are now heading towards a spending recession. The result will be more outsourcing, the growth of long delivery chains. We won’t be able to rely on long term employees.

Liz Blankson-Hemans – What attributes does the profession need to help break out of traditional roles?
MN. Info pro’s in corporates need to be better at sharing critical information with more people in their organisations. Desk top info does solve this problem as it leads to information overload. An info pro can determine what information is critical.
NC. By being the people who are best at getting the most out of information.
DS. Info pros have not been good at internal marketing.

Steven Philips – Given the pressures on publishers income streams can we expect to see a divergence in Business to Business (B to B) and Business to Consumer (B to C) revenue models. Will the B to B begin to subsidise consumer access?
MN – Not much experience of publishers selling directly to consumers. Currently very protective, but need to be less risk averse.
NC. Admitted she had not successful when at The British Library, but felt it is happening in Government publishers such as in Met Office free public information is used to get people to trade up to charged content.
SP. Publishers may have shot themselves in the foot by giving too much away for free. This makes life difficult when trying to charge corporates.

Is Stephen Fry a social media saint or sinner?
None of the panel are users of Twitter and admitted that they didn’t really get it.
Hazel Hall felt they were missing out on something important and explained how it took her eight weeks to really get Twitter. If Facebook is suburbia then Twitter is the city centre. She reminded the audience that when email first came along we had much more time to get used to it than with these new social media technologies.
Mary Dee Ojala pointed out that even if you don’t Tweet you must be monitoring what people are saying about your organisation on Twitter.

Free vs Fee – the Future of News – SLA Europe meeting 3 November

Another successful SLA Europe event this evening, this time at the swanky venue of the Crowne Plaza Hotel, five minutes away from Blackfriars station.

The hot topic was Free vs Fee – the Future of News. And stemmed from the fact that most newspapers have offered their content via the Internet for free with the expectation that display advertising would create enough revenue to cover the cost of creating and distributing their content. However, with the continuing decline in physical newspaper sales and the softening of the display advertising market, news organisations are exploring new ways to charge for their digital content.

On the panel were Jeremy  Lawson  VP Sales, EMEA, Dow Jones & Company, Andrew Hughes – Commercial Director for the Newspaper Licensing Agency (NLA), Laurence C. Rafsky Ph.D. – CEO of Acquire Media and Laurence Kaye – Principal at Laurence Kay Solicitors. The panel was excellently moderated by Donald Roll – Managing Director, Europe for Alacra.

Here are my notes from the evening:

Don Roll introduced the evening by talking about the steep decline in newspaper circulation, the recent arrival of the first free quality newspaper in the form of the London Evening Standard, and how the NLA wants to ensure newspaper publishers receive payment for web content.

Andrew Hughes – NLA initiatives

NLA are moving towards creating a set of licences for commercial use of newspaper websites.

UK newspapers spend £1b a year in creating this content, which is quite different from paper published information. For example 31% of newspaper websites has never appeared in print.

The plan is that for those who charge for access to newspaper content will be charged by the NLA, who will also charge end user clients for access to content.

Existing licences will be extended and new ones created where necessary

e-Clips Web – Working to improve access to content by using newspaper CMS systems.

Laurence Kay – The legal view – 10 key points

1. Professional journalism, ‘trusted content’ and UGC (user generated content)

2. Change takes time! Business models and culture takes time to change.

3. Global Media / local copyright?

4. If content is going to be free, why does copyright matter? Provides the framework for access and usage rights.

5. B2B versus consumer copyrights

6. ‘Effects-based’ approach to copyright. Helps to work out how to apply rules to the real world. Look at the commercial impact of activities.

7. ‘Legal’ versus ‘Illegal’ content. When to take action or technical measures over infringements.

8. Who are the ‘intermediaries’ in the value chain? E.g. Where does Google fit in? Searched for or ‘scraped’ conent?

9. ‘Fair Use’. Big variations across Europe. United States has a broad definition. If the use is commercial is that no longer fair use?

10. We are still lacking 21st century infrastructure to cope with licensing and payments for use.

Laurence C. Rafsky – What do we mean by free?

Once freedom has been tasted there is no going back.

Value chain –

  1. professionally produced but given away selectively – e.g. advertiser supported
  2. Non-professional content
  3. Gifted professional content. E.g. Stephen King novel
  4. Free to some but not others
  5. Content that should not be free.

Two enemy camps

  1. Information wants to be free – the hippies
  2. Corporate suits who want to charge for everything

The solution will need to be  a compromise.

A question for the NLA to consider:

Do you use copyrighted material for commercial gain without payment to content owners?

Do you use copyrighted material for commercial gain without permission from the content owners as we understand it?

The crux of the debate is between these two viewpoints.

Can we separate business use from personal use? Google don’t distinguish between the two.

Jeremy  Lawson – Supporting publishers and their right to monetise their content.

Questions from the audience:

Did the newspaper industry start digging its own grave by giving away content?

New York Times started with some free and mainly fee access. They ended it because when compared pay per click ads versus pay for access would give ten times the revenue. But as ad revenues fall they may go back to first model.

Should be driven by economics.

Do you think news aggregators are a serious threat to publishers?

Links are fine, but extracts complicate the issue as readers may not link through to content. But as web content grows and newspaper content becomes a smaller fraction, increasing hits to newspaper sites lose their economic value to the publishers.

85% of newspaper traffic comes via Google. So should Google pay the majority share?

Is the Kindle from Amazon a potential future model for subscription access to newspaper content?

Disagreement – ability to break news up into selected streams for readers counts against Kindle model.

When will paper newspapers die?

Laurence C. Rafsky predicted that by 2030 newspapers would cease to exist in paper form as a  mainstream product.

He compares their future to candles today – they will become a decorative only production.

As he pointed out, if you had a choice, why would you use paper for something that only has a value for a few hours, and then you need to scan it to create a digital version which can be archived.

B2B vs B2C

Issues about consumers within a business environment – now that the genie is out of the bottle, how do you get individuals in a corporate environment to accept paying for information.

The event was kindly sponsored by Dow Jones.

The Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals

I had a feeling my last post (Would a librarian by any other name smell just as sweet) might not be my final word on the subject.

What I hadn’t anticipated was just how much heat the name change vote would generate. It is quite rare to see information professionals in ‘passionate mode’, but this issue has brought plenty out of the woodwork on discussion lists, blogs, facebook and twitter. Here are links to a selection; Am I a Strategic Knowledge Professional, ‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy

As I mentioned before, the membership of SLA contains 2,000 different job titles, what I wasn’t aware of was the fact that only 25% of members use the title librarian. So already the term is a minority within the organisation.

Amongst the passionate comments attacking the new name have been a few calmer rational ones which I include below:

  • If we were not called the Special Libraries Association I believe many more people who are in the information profession would find a professional home with us.  The new name is meant to be broadening and inclusive.
  • But I want to be fair: it’s easy to criticise and far harder to take a leadership role and come up with alternative ideas which pedantic old cynics like me might take a shine to and approve!
  • SLA leadership has been between a rock and a hard place on this issue for some time and it’s to their credit that they have been trying to do something, even if I don’t hugely like the result.
  • I think the old name is life-expired and something new is indeed needed.
  • Imagine trying to find one name to cover everyone who works in the medical profession. Doctors, consultants, surgeons, nurses, secretaries, hospital managers. All quite different jobs all supporting patients either directly or indirectly.
  • As a member, I wouldn’t feel that we’re obliged to call ourselves Knowledge Professionals.  That certainly doesn’t describe what I do, it would sound a bit pretentious – for me.
  • Having read up, I realised that “new-SLA” wants to embrace folk like KMs and CIOs, not just the librarian/info. pro community.  So the focus is broadening, but not changing to exclude librarians.
  • My feeling is:  if that’s the case, well so be it, “librarian” won’t do for a KM or CIO.  The natural response to that is, of course, well “knowledge” won’t do for me!
  • I wouldn’t mind being a librarian member of a “strategic knowledge professionals” association.  It doesn’t mean I have to change what I call myself or what I do, in fact it would probably send the message to anyone reading my CV that I’ve a broader remit than might be implied by the title “librarian”.
  • Being Europe-based, if I’m going to be a member of another professional body it’s easier to justify and better for my career and CV if it has a less CILIP-duplicating slant.

Hopefully the excitement will calm down as we move towards the name change vote in November, and we can start planning for the next 100 years of the association confident in the knowledge that knowledge (sorry couldn’t resist) will still have resonance and meaning in 2109.

Would a librarian by any other name smell just as sweet

Many apologies for taking extreme liberties with Bard again (To Blog or not to Blog? That is the question). This is all part of my attempt to come up with magnetic headlines to bring in readers.

Anyway on to the meat of this topic. The SLA (formerly The Special Library Association) has just (10 minutes ago) proposed a name change for the one hundred year old association.

I should immediately declare my hand and say that I was involved in (perhaps scarred by would be a more appropriate description) a previous re-branding task force which ultimately led to a name change vote at the Annual Conference in New York in 2003. Needless to say the name did not get changed on that day, although it was a close run thing, falling short of the two-thirds majority required by just a few votes.

Since then the information world has become even more fragmented with all kinds of information roles that don’t have the ‘L’ word in their title. Knowledge Manager, Intranet Manager, Competitive Intelligence Manager, Information Resources Manager are just some examples of the 2,000 different job titles held by SLA members. This new breed of information professionals need to feel that the SLA is a suitable home for them as well, of course, librarians working in specialised organisations.

Even more import are the research findings of a two year project lead by Fleishman Hillard (a leader in international marketing and communications). They tested a range of information profession related concepts and words and showed conclusively that anything with the ‘L’ word such as librarian or library were not perceived as valuable by senior managers. To quote Janice Lachance from her recent Sticks and Stones article in the latest issue of Information Outlook ;
Like detergent, the word ‘librarian’ is an accurate description of function, but not a value proposition. It says what you do for living, but it does not say what you can do for your organisation. Moreover, the research shows that ‘librarian’ is perceived as being dusty and antiquated-two words that should not be connected with either a profession or a professional association that prides itself on being ahead of the curve.

Working as I do at the British Library, which under the leadership of Lynne Brindley has established itself not only as a forward looking organisation engaging with cutting edge technology such as the award winning Turning the Pages, but has also proved itself to be of significant cultural and economic importance for Britain. To which the Business & IP Centre by supporting new businesses has contributed in its own small way.

However, from my previous sixteen years managing a specialist information service in a corporate environment, I recognise the problem of using the ‘L’ word in a commercial and business context. In my experience senior managers and directors are far more impressed with colleagues who are providing insights and identify trends, creating competitive advantage, anticipating industry changes, facilitating good decision making, providing value-added intelligence, sharing knowledge and using innovative technologies. Needless to say these were all terms which tested positively in the Fleishman Hillard research. And although in many many cases this is exactly what specialised librarians are actually doing, unfortunately their senior colleagues are likely to be judging them on their job title instead.

Below is the full text of the email anouncing the proposed name change:

Dear Neil:

John Cotton Dana, who founded SLA a century ago, wrote, “The name Special Libraries was chosen with some hesitation, or rather in default of a better…”  We, as special librarians and information professionals you have elected to SLA’s Board of Directors, believe that validated research has identified a better name, one that will help all of us communicate our value in the workplace.

We are excited to propose that SLA change its name to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals, or ASKPro.  We encourage all SLA members to voice their opinion on this proposal by casting an electronic vote in a special referendum that will begin on 16 November and end 9 December. The result will be announced on 10 December.

The choice of this proposed name began when the board concluded in June that the alignment research conducted over the past three years revealed a clear challenge posed by SLA’s name:  executives who make hiring decisions and allocate budget dollars do not understand what it means.  Furthermore, they do not recognize or appreciate the contributions that special librarians and information professionals are making now or the potential they hold for building more successful organizations in the future.  This disconnect endangers the jobs of our members, and we are determined to act.

The proposed name is the result of the same rigorous process used in the Alignment Project research .  We began by compiling words, terms and critical concepts that both information professionals and executives agree best articulate the value and potential of the information profession and the association.  We also received and considered input from members around the globe via Twitter, blogs, e-mail, FaceBook and listservs after the annual conference.  The result was a long list of potential names. We then began eliminating names if they caused confusion, were too close to names already in use, posed legal difficulties, or could have different meanings in various countries. We also eliminated names that did not have good acronyms or shortened versions associated with them.

We feel that the name that emerged, the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals, strongly ties special librarians and information professionals to the strategic goals of their organizations, increases the perceived value of their services, and stresses their professionalism.  We also want to emphasize that by changing our organization’s name, we will not change the name of our profession.  It is important to note, that in fact, SLA members have more than 2,000 different job titles.

Before settling on our proposed name, we subjected it to a survey of U.S. and U.K. information professionals and executives in  human resources, marketing, information technology and strategic planning in the corporate, academic, healthcare and government sectors.  The results prove that the proposed name will help us accomplish some important objectives:

  • It was well liked, fit well with a description of the association, and was judged relevant and credible.
  • Executives felt it promotes our members as invaluable assets to their organizations; information professionals said it made them more likely to join the association.
  • The abbreviated form, ASKPro, was very well received and also fulfilled the desire frequently stated in member discussions for a name with a meaningful acronym or shortened form.

The topic of changing SLA’s name has been much discussed in recent months in a variety of SLA chapter and division listservs and other forums, and board members have heard individually from many members.  We have compiled a list of some of the most frequently stated questions and opinions and responses to them.  In some cases, we have borrowed heavily from the words of members, and we thank all of you for your input.  We hope you will take the time to read this document before continuing the conversation.

You will receive notification on 16 November that the e-vote system is open and have until 9 December to cast your vote.  Please note especially that when and if the new name is approved, it will be a matter of months before the association can put it into use because of various legal requirements, the need for a new “look,” and other technicalities.

As your representatives, we are dedicated to your success, and we firmly believe that adopting a new name for SLA will further that goal.  Ultimately, however, it is up to you to vote on a new name for SLA– the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals (ASKPro)–and launch us into our second century.

Sincerely,


Gloria Zamora, President, and the SLA Board of Directors

To view this email as a web page, go here.Dear Neil:

John Cotton Dana, who founded SLA a century ago, wrote, “The name Special Libraries was chosen with some hesitation, or rather in default of a better…”  We, as special librarians and information professionals you have elected to SLA’s Board of Directors, believe that validated research has identified a better name, one that will help all of us communicate our value in the workplace.

We are excited to propose that SLA change its name to the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals, or ASKPro.  We encourage all SLA members to voice their opinion on this proposal by casting an electronic vote in a special referendum that will begin on 16 November and end 9 December. The result will be announced on 10 December.

The choice of this proposed name began when the board concluded in June that the alignment research conducted over the past three years revealed a clear challenge posed by SLA’s name:  executives who make hiring decisions and allocate budget dollars do not understand what it means.  Furthermore, they do not recognize or appreciate the contributions that special librarians and information professionals are making now or the potential they hold for building more successful organizations in the future.  This disconnect endangers the jobs of our members, and we are determined to act.

The proposed name is the result of the same rigorous process used in the Alignment Project research .  We began by compiling words, terms and critical concepts that both information professionals and executives agree best articulate the value and potential of the information profession and the association.  We also received and considered input from members around the globe via Twitter, blogs, e-mail, FaceBook and listservs after the annual conference.  The result was a long list of potential names. We then began eliminating names if they caused confusion, were too close to names already in use, posed legal difficulties, or could have different meanings in various countries. We also eliminated names that did not have good acronyms or shortened versions associated with them.

We feel that the name that emerged, the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals, strongly ties special librarians and information professionals to the strategic goals of their organizations, increases the perceived value of their services, and stresses their professionalism.  We also want to emphasize that by changing our organization’s name, we will not change the name of our profession.  It is important to note, that in fact, SLA members have more than 2,000 different job titles.

Before settling on our proposed name, we subjected it to a survey of U.S. and U.K. information professionals and executives in  human resources, marketing, information technology and strategic planning in the corporate, academic, healthcare and government sectors.  The results prove that the proposed name will help us accomplish some important objectives:

It was well liked, fit well with a description of the association, and was judged relevant and credible.

Executives felt it promotes our members as invaluable assets to their organizations; information professionals said it made them more likely to join the association.

The abbreviated form, ASKPro, was very well received and also fulfilled the desire frequently stated in member discussions for a name with a meaningful acronym or shortened form.
The topic of changing SLA’s name has been much discussed in recent months in a variety of SLA chapter and division listservs and other forums, and board members have heard individually from many members.  We have compiled a list of some of the most frequently stated questions and opinions and responses to them.  In some cases, we have borrowed heavily from the words of members, and we thank all of you for your input.  We hope you will take the time to read this document before continuing the conversation.

You will receive notification on 16 November that the e-vote system is open and have until 9 December to cast your vote.  Please note especially that when and if the new name is approved, it will be a matter of months before the association can put it into use because of various legal requirements, the need for a new “look,” and other technicalities.

As your representatives, we are dedicated to your success, and we firmly believe that adopting a new name for SLA will further that goal.  Ultimately, however, it is up to you to vote on a new name for SLA– the Association for Strategic Knowledge Professionals (ASKPro)–and launch us into our second century.

Sincerely,

Gloria Zamora, President, and the SLA Board of Directors

Send questions or comments to the SLA Board of Directors.  You can also follow the discussion on Twitter or Share your thoughts in the Express section of the Alignment Portal.

——————————————————————————–

If you have any questions or comments about this communication, we would like your feedback. Please share your comments with nsansalone@sla.org.

This e-mail was sent to neil.infield@bl.uk.

This email was sent by: Special Libraries Association 331 South Patrick Street Alexandria, VA, 22314-3501, USA

©2009 Special Libraries Association. All Rights Reserved.

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SLA Europe event – The Google-isation of [Re]search

I’m just back from one of the most popular events I can remember in my many years membership of SLA Europe. I’m not sure if it was the catchy title, the interesting speakers or the recent sad closure of the City Information Group that resulted in nearly 100 information professionals gathering in the Balls Brothers rooms at Minster Court this evening.

Kathy Jacobs the Library and Information Manager at Pinsent Masons,  Professor David Nicholas Director of the Department of Information Studies at University College London and Professor Roger James Director of Information Services at University of Westminster talked about how Google is influencing our research behaviours, the challenges this brings to information professionals, as well as the opportunities new search technologies offer.

I should point out that as a rather hastily appointed Chair for the event, my view of the evening might be somewhat skewed. For a more balanced view from the audience I recommend you check out the Organising Chaos blog review. Melanie Goody has also written a short review on the TFPL blog. Sara at Uncooked Data has a more in depth review which I recommend reading.

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/infostudies/images/dave_n.jpg

Dave Nicholas was as controversial as I remember from way back when he was my lecturer at North London Poly (as it was then). He concentrated on the ‘D’ words of dis-intermediation and de-coupling caused by the Internet in general and Google in particular. He pointed out how we as information professionals can’t see what is going on in the digital space. Which has led him to monitor how researchers behave in cyber-space. His evidence shows that consumers want to dive in and out quickly, snatching bits of information. They want everything short and bite sized, preferring abstracts to full content. They scan web pages vertically, zooming past headings and sub-headings, instead of reading horizontally taking in the full text of every paragraph.

One of his most memorable points (which I have only just remembered four days later) was the views of consumers of a health information screen located in a Tesco branch. People seemed to assume that the information came from Tesco and were happy with that trusted brand as a source. However, when informed the content was actually coming from the National Health Service their confidence plummeted. As David put it, Tesco don’t make mistakes, wherease the NHS regularly lets its customers die.

Kathy Jacob reported on her real life experience of going from a meeting with a new manager who wanted to know why they needed a research library when ‘everything could be found with a Google search’, to building a federated search tool for her current firm. The lessons learnt were that the new system must have an equivalent usability, design and speed to Google in order for staff to even try it out. Kathy had the advantage of working in the legal sector, which enabled her to scare researchers with horror stories of cases which had collapsed due to relying on Google searches. In some cases the cost to the law firms involved and subsequent negative impact on the careers of the lawyers concerned were high.

Roger James

Roger James began his session by asking the audience some provocative questions such as ‘who does the work for Google’? And ‘what is the next big search technology coming down the line’. The answer in both cases is ‘we are’. Every time we click on a link in Google we help them refine their search capability. He wanted to know how many members of the audience were applying this approach in their workplace. Or were they still relying on the old fashioned concepts of surveying their customers? His view was that unless we all join the Google ‘arms race’ we are doomed.

The speakers were followed up with a lively question and answer session from the audience. Which was followed by some intensive networking aided by tasty food and wine sponsored by EBSCO Information Services.

(which Sara at Uncooked Data also picked up on – incidentally I’d highly recommend reading her summary of Wednesday’s event, it’s a lot more considered than mine!