In a Google world, information is a commodity: free, fast, and good enough for the casual seeker. How do librarians become known for providing a superior product? We can be the caretakers and guides for the unsophisticated; for sophisticated users, we can provide the kind of product that independent information professionals charge hundreds of dollars an hour for. We can personalize information, contextualize information, add value to information, reformat information, create information, and continuously update information.
SERVICES TO UNSOPHISTICATED USERS
Who aren't going to go away any time soon. See the Pew Internet & American Life Project Report, Digital Divisions http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/r/165/report_display.asp and other Pew Reports on internet demographics http://www.pewinternet.org/PPF/c/2/topics.asp
Serious handholding, live or virtual.
Training: formal, through classes and tutorials; informal, explaining our thought processes as we go about answering questions.
Questioning the validity of data; asking, "How do you know that?" - see "The Ongoing Vitality of Mythical Numbers, http://www.slate.com/id/2144508/; "The Baloney Detection Collection," http://www.physics.smu.edu/~pseudo/baloney.html; "Information Counterfeits," http://www.library.jhu.edu/researchhelp/general/evaluating/counterfeit.html; Election result maps http://www-personal.umich.edu/~mejn/election/
Mobile -- taking reference to where the public is: in subway stations (Skokie PL, Miami-Dade PL, etc.) dormitories (the Live-In Librarian at the University of Oklahoma), in academic departments, like the Clinical Pediatrics Librarian embedded within the Pediatrics Department, University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, and the University of Michigan Libraries' Field Librarian program (read about it at http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6407750.html serving Katrina victims in the emergency shelters, on widely used web sites like Metafilter - see Jessamyn West's post http://www.librarian.net/stax/1779 and "On September 10, Librarians Will Be a Presence on Answer Sites http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6473249.html special event reference: Burning Man), Radical Reference http://www.radicalreference.info/; embedded in courseware (see John Shank, Blended Librarian, http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA510559.html. the "book(cart)mobile," MIT libraries wandering laptop librarians, as at Brandeis, Harvard; roving reference at Cerritos Public Library For a round-up of some ways of taking the library to our users, see "Beyond the Building," http://www.dartmouth.edu/~biomed/services.htmld/OctCon2004/
Reference in advance through web site: put info up front on important local news, events, anniversaries.
Houston PL and Harris County PL did extensive pages on assistance for all the problems of Katrina victims; voter information (see Minneapolis Public Library's outstanding "Your Vote, Your City, Your Choice," http://www.mplib.org/elections2005/votersguide.pdf); guides to local issues, like Springfield-Greene County Library District's "Informed Decision" http://www.thelibrary.org/informed/index.cfm; Oklahoma State University Library Documents Department's Hot Topics http://www.library.okstate.edu/govdocs/hottopics.htm; conveniences for your users: Traverse Area District Library Hotspots Map http://www.tadl.org/wireless/map/, mapping nearby restaurants, etc.
More effective Googling: the power of AND (yankees AND "mickey mantle" AND "Roger Maris" AND "Clete Boyer" AND "Elston Howard" AND "Whitey Ford"); plugging in what you CAN remember from books or movies or songs whose names you can't remember (orchids and Archie and Fritz).
Answering the unGooglable. Co-evolution of weeds and power mowers? Are koalas parasites on eucalyptus, or do the eucalyptus get something out of the relationship? What percentage of the population REALLY is left-handed? How do you know? http://handedness.org/research.html. One solution: catalog your local experts
Providing community information and referral service:
Memphis PL's 211 service http://www.memphislibrary.org/linc/comminfo.htm; Pasco County Library, where librarians are part of the county's emergency response team, www.ii.fsu.edu/announcements/e-gov2006/ric_emergency_preparedness.pdf; by phone, e-mail, VR, and through online community information databases (see Queens Library's Queens Community Resources Database, http://queenslibrary.org/index.aspx?page_nm=Community+Information)
SERVICES FOR SOPHISTICATED USERS, or Reference as if somebody's paying $200 an hour for your time and your results
UNDERSTANDING THAT EVERYTHING HAS USABLE INFORMATION CONTENT
and being knowledgeable enough and willing enough to go beyond standard reference sources and arbitrary format categories to find it in places like cartoons (http://www.cartoonbank.com/), social bookmarks http://del.icio.us, blogs http://blogsearch.google.com/">, letters to the editor, gov docs, children's books, merchandise catalogs, news groups, print indexes, social media, etc.
multilingual; language level, sophistication level, degree of interest, type of knowledge required (general, academic, legal) tailoring of results to desired usage for the information. See Colorado Virtual Library - for Teachers http://aclin.org/
MINING THE INFORMATION:
Go directly to the datasets, mine them and combine them.
Effect of File-Sharing on Record Sales: an Empirical Analysis http://www.unc.edu/~cigar/papers/FileSharing_March2004.pdf compares a dated dataset of downloads with US weekly sales data; What is the effect of New York Times Select on its influence? http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/10/11/154544/44; Polarized Readers http://www.orgnet.com/divided.html, a "social network" map of political books based on purchase patterns from major web book retailers; Some dataset sources: American FactFinder http://factfinder.census.gov/; Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/; Long Time-Series Data http://www2.lib.udel.edu/subj/godc/resguide/long.htm; The Data and Story Library http://lib.stat.cmu.edu/DASL/
Illuminating facts and factoids (see the Daily Digit, http://governing.com/digit.htm) with background information like
Historical maps (see http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/, Trend data, Has this been done before or elsewhere, and if so, with what results, Filling in information that tends to get left out of the discussion, e.g., social security reform, number of people killed in the Iraq War. Evaluating sources of conflicting data, Factual glosses like Footnote Fahrenheit http://www.newsaic.com/f911index.html; Footnote TV http://www.footnotetv.com/ (something you could do in your blogs)
ADDING VALUE TO INFORMATION
Submittal summaries, synthesis, analysis of search results, pointing out differing perspectives and additional questions that might be pursued.
Spreadsheets Mashups: see http://vielmetti.typepad.com/superpatron/library_mashups/index.html; Talis Library Mashup Competition entries http://www.talis.com/tdn/forum/84; Cool Tools and Mashups for Webmasters <http://library2.usask.ca/~fichter/talks06/il/2006il-cooltools.pdf>
See the Megapenny Project http://www.kokogiak.com/megapenny/default.asp; What Does 200 Calories Look Like? http://www.wisegeek.com/what-does-200-calories-look-like.htm; Cornell University Library: Sticker Shock http://www.englib.cornell.edu/exhibits/stickershock/; The Political Spectrum http://www.govtrack.us/congress/spectrum.xpd Making Visible the Unvisible http://infosthetics.com/archives/2005/09/making_visible_the_unvisible.html
Resources for learning effective visual presentation:
A Periodic Table of Visualization Methods
The work of Edward Tufte. Envisioning Information; The Visual Display of Quantitative Information.; Visual Explanations
Use search engines that present results visually Grokker (Visualizing search results) http://www.grokker.com/applet.html; Kart00 visual meta search engine http://kartoo.com/; Quintura http://www.quintura.com/ Chart your information:
How Much Information http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/research/projects/how-much-info-2003/execsum.htm#summary vs. How Much Information: Charts http://www.sims.berkeley.edu/research/projects/how-much-info/charts/charts.html. Libraries: How They Stack Up http://www5.oclc.org/downloads/community/librariesstackup.pdf.
Flow-Chart Style (If this, then this):
Copyright Term and the Public Domain in the United States http://www.copyright.cornell.edu/training/Hirtle_Public_Domain.htm; Copyright and Fair Use Guidelines for Teachers http://www.mediafestival.org/copyrightchart.html Map your information: Google Maps - create your own http://maps.google.com/ - try Vancouver Public Library, "Search nearby" for restaurants Cool Uses of Google Maps http://www.cyberjournalist.net/news/002626.php; Google Maps Is Changing the Way We See the World http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/15-07/ff_maps?currentPage=all "The State of Job Growth" http://images.inc.com/bestcities/2006/job_growth_map.pdf UFO Maps http://www.ufomaps.com/; Worldprocessor, http://worldprocessor.com/1988-2000.html
Use Geographic Information Systems:
See images gis1, gis2, gis3, gis4 GIS for Libraries and Museums - Case Studies http://www.esri.com/industries/libraries/success-stories/case_studies.html Normative Data Project for Libraries http://www.libraryndp.info/ndp_casestudies.html
Showing relationships between data by:
Concurrent timelines -- World History: HyperHistory http://www.hyperhistory.com/online_n2/History_n2/a.html
Conceptual linking: Music-Map: the tourist map of music http://www.music-map.com/ StoryCode http://www.storycode.com/ and AllReaders.com http://www.allreaders.com/; Visualizing Emergent Communities of Interest http://www.orgnet.com/booknet.html;
tutorials and research guides: "Uncover the History of Your House" http://multcolib.org/guides/house/; Dewey Research Advisor http://faq-libraries.mit.edu/recordList?library=mit_business&institution=mit Using Primary Sources on the Web http://www.lib.washington.edu/subject/History/RUSA/; Assignment Calculator http://www.lib.umn.edu/help/calculator/; Reporter's Desktop: Who Is John Doe? http://www.reporter.org/desktop/tips/johndoe.htm
Simulations, games, interactive tutorials that allow users to understand information by manipulating it:
National Budget Simulation http://www.budgetsim.org/nbs/; Understanding and Avoiding Plagiarism http://www.lib.sfu.ca/researchhelp/tutorials/interactive/plagiarism/tutorial/introduction.htm; Virtual patient simulations at University of Iowa's Virtual Hospital http://www.vh.org/welcome/tour/patientsimulations.html
Congressional Research Service Reports; High School Debate Topic 2005: Civil Liberties http://www.lib.umich.edu/govdocs/debate05.html; BNA's WebWatch http://www.bna.com/webwatch/
Recommendation systems: MatchBook at the Morton Grove Public Library, http://www.webrary.org/RS/matchbookabout.html;
Wikis Library Success Wiki http://www.libsuccess.org/index.php; Stephen Francouer http://www.teachinglibrarian.org/weblog/2005/10/our-reference-wiki-and-online.html So You Want To Build a Wiki? http://webjunction.org/do/DisplayContent?id=11262
Interviews and oral histories: Hamilton Public Library's Youth Oral History Project, http://www.nzdl.org/ohist/intro.html; New York Public Library's Louis Armstrong oral history project http://www.nypl.org/research/sc/scl/MULTIMED/JAZZHIST/jazzhist.html; Nashville Public Library's Veterans Oral History Project http://www.library.nashville.org/localhistory/his_spcoll_orhist_vhp.asp, etc.
Reviews of the Literature; summaries of information; See Greg Notess' Search Engine Features Chart, for example http://www.searchengineshowdown.com/features/
Keeping Things Found Survey http://kftf.ischool.washington.edu/surveys.asp; ALA's Most Frequently Challenged and Banned Books List http://www.ala.org/ala/oif/bannedbooksweek/challengedbanned/challengedbanned.htm
Tacoma Public Library's Buildings Index and Shipping Index, http://wwwv3.tacomapubliclibrary.org/Page.aspx?nid=7; Cities and Buildings Database http://content.lib.washington.edu/buildingsweb/index.html
CONTINUOUSLY UPDATING INFORMATION with:
new site announcements, see ElDorado County Library's What's Hot on the Internet This Week, http://www.eldoradolibrary.org/thisweek.htm, and Neat New Stuff http://marylaine.com/neatnew.html, which I originally created as part of the St. Ambrose University Library website.
blogs, see Blogging Libraries http://www.blogwithoutalibrary.net/?page_id=94
RSS for blogs and/or individual web pages:
Kansas City Public Library, http://www.kclibrary.org/guides/, Georgia State University Libraries http://www.library.gsu.edu/news/. See Librarians' Internet Index's backgrounder on RSS http://lii.org/cs/lii/print/htdocs/understandingrss.htm
SDI and automatic search updates from databases
Marketing All of the AboveWhat do these people have in common? Cecil Adams, "The Straight Dope," http://www.straightdope.com/; Slate's The Explainer, http://www.slate.com/id/2127976/?nav=tap3 .
What do these people have in common? Jeanne Duffey http://www.news-leader.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070211/COLUMNISTS08/702110383/1078; Sarah Long http://www.sarahlong.org/ourlibraries/archives/. Chris Dodge, Street Librarian, http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Cafe/7423/columns.html; Brad Barker, aka "Mr. Library Man" http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/54059.html
How else do librarians market reference services?
Wherever you are, in person or online. See a reference question asked at Metafilter and answered by a librarian http://ask.metafilter.com/mefi/25714 On your web site: see the revolving "Good question" feature on Cleveland Heights/University Heights Library's web site http://www.heightslibrary.org/ community challenges to stump the librarian, a la Central Michigan University Libraries, http://www.lib.cmich.edu/libraryweek/answers.htm. Special events that show off your collection and your expertise: Library Jeopardy http://www.uwlax.edu/murphy/nonweb/searchsoup/jeopardy/; treasure hunts, as at the Fletcher L. Byrom Earth and Mineral Sciences Library at Penn State http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-10/ps-nth101405.php Radio, as at Springfield College -- http://www.dartmouth.edu/~biomed/services.htmld/OctCon2004/. Library cable programs. See Iowa City Public Library, http://www.icpl.org/librarychannel/ and Central Rappahannock Regional Library's program, http://www.librarypoint.org/subpage.asp?category_id=114 Podcasts and Videoblogging: See Jenny Levine, The Perfect Podcast for Librarians, http://www.theshiftedlibrarian.com/archives/2005/06/17/the_perfect_podcast_for_librarians.html ; "Teenlibrarian" Miranda Doyle's podcast interviews http://www.teenlibrarian.com/blog.html; Kankakee Public Library, http://www.lions-online.org/Podcasts.html Arlington Heights Memorial Library Vlog http://inn0vate.blogspot.com/index.html Analyze and use your statistics for marketing purposes Get a great logo, mascot, motto advertising your service, and put it on magnets, calendars, pens, scratch pads, t-shirts, mouse pads, you name it. Market to the people using your meeting rooms