No Time, No Money, No Problem! Getting Your Research Data Services Program Off The Ground

If you’re like most of us, you’ve been watching the proliferation of data or research data services spread like weeds at institutions big and small and in staggering permutations. To begin with, let’s establish a working definition (or at least MY working definition) of data services. To me, they comprise a wide swath of programming and infrastructure related to all things data: management, storage, curation, discoverability, use, visualization, and access with a dash of impact and a pinch of attribution. And by data I mean anything that is textual, numeric, visual…you get the point.

This is a good thing-so many models to choose from! Now your library wants to start a program-this is a bad thing! If you’re also like most of us, you really don’t have the luxury of hiring more people or adding yet another duty under the “Other duties as assigned” category of your job description. But your mission is clear, and you have to “make it work” in the immortal words of Tim Gunn.

Here are a few lessons I learned as the Oklahoma State University Library (OSU) began to explore these issues.

Continue reading No Time, No Money, No Problem! Getting Your Research Data Services Program Off The Ground

Things to Tell My Newbie Self

I’m a noob. by simplebitsdan, on Flickr


Depending on the day of the week, I don’t really know what I am. Am I a librarian, who has a strong interest in tech? Or am I a techie who happens to work in the Library field? What I have come to realize is that it doesn’t matter. Whatever it is that I am, I enjoy it, so I should focus on that.

Now, it took me about 5 years to come to that realization. But when I did, I immediately thought “I wish I could go back in time and tell myself about this!”

This got me to thinking: “What other things would I want to tell myself throughout my early career in libraries and library technology?” Shortly after asking myself this, an old friend of mine, who is a budding future librarian, asked me something along similar lines. So, here it is: the top 4 things that I would tell my younger self given the opportunity.

  1. The vast majority of your job will not be anything you learned in grad school (and that’s okay!)
    I remember my first quarter at UCLA, walking into the largest lecture hall I’d ever been in (it wasn’t really that big, I had just gone to a small college for my undergraduate studies) and being shocked with how “high level” the lectures were, wrestling with such existential questions as “What is documentation?” (it’s antelopes, by the way). I instantly thought back to all of the librarians I had come to know throughout my life and was suddenly much, much more impressed with them, assuming that all of these philosophical thoughts about information and documentation were constantly swirling around their heads too.

    Flash forward to today, and students at my university were seeing “reached maximum virtual host limit” as they tried to access the library databases. “Thanks a lot, SAGE,” I muttered to myself while bumping up the MaxVirtualHost limit yet again. “The things they don’t tell you about in school,” I thought to myself.

    I know, I know. It’s a pretty common refrain among practicing librarians that most of what they do on a day-to-day basis is informed more so by experience than by education. I certainly don’t see this as a problem though. It’s never a bad thing to know more about something than less. Sure, you may never catalog a single item in your life post-grad school, but because you took that course you probably have a ton of respect for people who live for cataloging. And who knows, the little bit of knowledge you happened to have held on to may prove useful to you or someone else coming up through the ranks.

  2. Keep in touch with your classmates — then keep building your network
    This is one I certainly could have done a better job on. I got to know some of my classmates during my degree program, but I was commuting from about 80 miles away, so I missed out on a lot of social gatherings. That being said, I owe an incredible amount of gratitude to those I did manage to keep up with, as they have proven to be constant sources of support, advice, and (perhaps most importantly) job leads.

    Building your network may require you to take a closer look at social media if that’s something you’ve been avoiding. You don’t have to let it take over your life, by any means, but I would recommend at least having a LinkedIn account (especially if you’re on the job hunt). If you’re in a tech role, roll the die with Twitter for a little while. I never really “got” Twitter at first, but the way in which the tech industry seems to have pretty much adopted it as a primary means to share knowledge has totally changed the way I look at it. There’s another hugely important way to build your network as well:

  3. Go to conferences (and do not skip the dine-arounds)
    I couldn’t decide whether or not to include this one, simply because many people don’t have much of a choice as to whether they can attend conferences or not ($). I would recommend to do whatever it takes to get to one — and try to find one that’s more along the lines of the area of librarianship you’re interested in. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed the ALA Annual Conferences I’ve attended, and while they are certainly high on the “amount of free books” scale, the programs tend to be directed toward a broader audience than I would prefer. So, if you can only make it to one, get the biggest bang for your buck! If you’re interested in library technology, you have quite a few options (ER&L, Code4Lib, Internet Librarian, Computers in Libraries, and of course LITA Forum, among others).

    Also, go to the dine-arounds. I’m totally guilty of ignoring those for my first three years of conference going. The thought of meeting up with people I didn’t know, to go to a restaurant I’d never heard of, to talk about who-knows-what and then awkwardly split a bill pretty much sounded like my nightmare. What you’ll find out, though, is that even though you don’t know the people you’re dining with, you know them. They are you. You are them. It’s almost magical. You will have found “your people”. Go!

  4. Impostor syndrome is real and everyone has it (so stop worrying)
    Impostor syndrome, for those who may not be familiar with the term, basically means you’re constantly afraid of being found out as a fraud. David Walsh wrote a blog post that looks at this from a coder’s perspective and it pretty much hits the nail on the head for me. Having self-taught myself almost all of my tech skills, I always felt like my skills weren’t real. Real developers don’t have to Google things. Real programmers are fluent in JavaScript, C#, Ruby, and Python. For me, this stretched into librarianship as well. Real librarians publish in peer-reviewed journals and speak at conferences. Real librarians are featured in American Libraries and appear on trading cards. All of these were ideas I put into my own head.

    I was talking to a software developer friend of mine recently, and he was asking me what I was interested in learning over the next year. I told him I wanted to get better at JavaScript, learn Node.js, get comfortable with MVC frameworks, learn Ruby (on Rails), start using GitHub, get better at responsive web design, and, if I have time, learn about ASP.NET Single Page Applications and AngularJS. He said I was crazy. It still exists in my head, though: “if I want to be a real “whatever the heck I am”, I should know these things”. Obviously, this isn’t true. Ambition is a good thing, but left unchecked it can wreak havoc on your psyche. Just remember, no matter what, you are real. True, you may never know everything about everything, but neither will anyone else. Enjoy your own journey, and remember to have fun.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’d love to hear what other bits of advice other practicing librarians have for their younger selves!

Jobs in Information Technology: February 10, 2016

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

Penn State University Libraries, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Knowledge Commons, University Park, PA

Penn State University Libraries, Diversity Residency Librarian Program, University Park, PA

Brown University, Senior Library Applications Developer, Providence, RI

Reaching Across Illinois Library System, Systems Supervisor, Burr Ridge, IL

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

Quid Pro Quo: Librarians and Vendors

I joked with a colleague recently that I need to get over my issue with vendors giving me sales pitches during phone calls and meetings. We had a good laugh since a major responsibility of my job as Assistant Director is to meet with vendors and learn about products that will enhance the patron experience at my library. As the point of contact I’m going to be the person the vendor calls and I’m going to be the person to whom the vendor pitches stuff.

The point was that sometimes it would be nice to have a quiet day so you could get back to the other vendors who have contacted you or maybe actually implement some of the tech you acquired from a vendor—he says as he looks wistfully at a pile of equipment in his office that should out in the public’s hands.

Just last month my fellow blogger Bill Dueber talked about the importance of negotiating with vendors in his post “There’s a Reason There’s a Specialized Degree.” Because I work hand in hand with vendors on an almost daily basis there’s a number of things I try to do to hold up my end of the bargain. There’s an article from 2010 on LIS Careers that talks about the Librarian/Vendor relationship. While not everything is relevant, it does have some good information in it (some of which I’ve pulled into this post).

  • Pay bills on time
  • Reply to calls/emails in a timely manner
  • Be clear about timelines
  • Say no if the answer’s no
  • Be congenial

I find it helps if I think of the vendors as my patrons. How would I treat a member of the public? Would I wait weeks before answering a reference question that came in via email? We’re all busy so not responding the same day to a vendor is probably ok but going more than a day or two is not a good idea. If I don’t want the vendor emailing me every other day I need to communicate. And if things are really busy or something’s come up I need to be clear with the vendor that I won’t be able to look at a new product until next week or second quarter, whichever the case may be.

I can’t speak for other libraries, but our board approves bills so we basically do a big swath of payments once a month. The more time it takes me to sign off on a bill and hand it over to finance, the longer it’ll take for that bill to get processed. Trust me, the last thing you want is for your computer reservation license to expire so you end up scrambling fifteen minutes before you open the doors trying to get a new license installed.

If I’m doing my part, then there are some things I expect in return from vendors (this list will look similar):

  • Send bills in a timely manner
  • Don’t send email/call every other day
  • Take no for an answer
  • Don’t trash competitors

It’s very frustrating to me when a vendor keeps pushing a product after I’ve said no. I know the vendor’s job is to find customers but sometimes it can be beneficial to lay off the sales pitch and save it for another visit. Only once have I actually had to interrupt a vendor several times during a phone call to tell them that I no longer will be doing business with them and do not want them to call me any more.

It’s one thing to say that your product does something no one else’s does or to claim that your product works better than a competitor. That’s business. But I’ve sat in vendor demos where the person spent so much time trashing another company that I had no idea what their product did. Also, sometimes I use similar products from different companies because they’re different and I can reach more patrons with a wider variety of services. This is particularly true with technology. We provide desktops, laptops, and WiFi for our customers because different people like to use different types of computers. It’s not always economically feasible to provide such a variety for every service, but we try to do it when we can.

I also have a number of things I’ll put on a wish list for vendors.

  • Look over meeting agendas and minutes
  • Check our website for services we’re offering
  • Provide a demo that you can leave behind
  • Try to not show up unannounced; at least call first

It shocks me when vendors ask what our budget is on a project, especially something for which we’ve done an RFP. This might pertain more to public libraries, but everything we do is public record. You can find the budget meetings on the city website and see exactly how much was approved. That attention to detail goes a long way towards showing me how you’ll handle our relationship.

Maybe we use iPads in our programming. Maybe we just replaced our selfchecks. Perhaps we already have a 3D printer. Maybe the head of our children’s department took part in an iLead program with the focus on helping parents pick early literacy apps for their children. Our website is, for all intents and purposes, an ever-changing document. As such, we make every effort to keep our services up to date and tout what our staff is doing. This can help you frame your sales pitch to us. You might not want to downplay iPads when we’ve been having success with them.

Where technology’s concerned, being able to leave a demo device with me is huge. It’s not always possible, but any amount of time I get where I can see how it would fit into our workflow helps us say yes or no. Sometimes I have a question that only comes up because I’ve spent some time using a device.

If you’re seeing a customer in Milwaukee, my library is not that far away and it makes sense that you can drop in and see how things are going. Totally fine. If you can, call first. The number of times I’ve missed a vendor because I didn’t know they were coming are more numerous than I’d like. But I can’t be available if I don’t know I should.

I get it. Companies are getting bigger through acquisitions, people’s sales areas are changing, the volume of customers goes up and up, and there’s still the same number of hours in the day. But there are vendors who do the things I mention above, and they’ll get my attention first.

What are some of the things you would like to see vendors do?

2016 Election Slate

The LITA Board is pleased to announce the following slate of candidates for the 2016 spring election:

Candidates for Vice-President/President-Elect

Candidates for Director-at-Large, 2 elected for a 3-year term

Candidates for LITA Councilor, 1 elected for a 3-year term

View bios and statements for more information about the candidates. Voting in the 2016 ALA election will begin on March 25 and close on April 22. Election results will be announced on April 29. Note that eligible members will be sent their voting credentials via email over a three-day period, March 15-18. Check the main ALA website for information about the general ALA election.

The slate was recommended by the LITA Nominating Committee: Michelle Frisque (Chair), Galen Charlton, and Dale Poulter. The Board thanks the Nominating Committee for all of their work. Be sure to thank the candidates for agreeing to serve and the Nominating Committee for developing the slate. Best wishes to all.

Call for Proposals, LITA education webinars and web courses

What library technology topic are you passionate about?
Have something to teach?

The Library Information Technology Association (LITA) Education Committee invites you to share your expertise with a national audience! For years, LITA has offered online learning programs on technology-related topics of interest to LITA Members and wider American Library Association audience.

We deliberately seek and strongly encourage submissions from underrepresented groups, such as women, people of color, and the LGBT community

Submit a proposal by February 29th to teach a webinar, webinar series, or online course for Summer/Fall 2016.

All topics related to the intersection of technology and libraries are welcomed. Possible topics include:

  • helpkeyboardResearch Data ManagementCC by
  • Supporting Digital Scholarship
  • Technology and Kids or Teens
  • Managing Technical Projects
  • Creating/Supporting Library Makerspaces, or other Creative/Production Spaces
  • Data-Informed Librarianship
  • Diversity and Technology
  • Accessibility Issues and Library Technology
  • Technology in Special Libraries
  • Ethics of Library Technology (e.g., Privacy Concerns, Social Justice Implications)
  • Library/Learning Management System Integrations
  • Technocentric Library Spaces
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Intro to… GitHub, Productivity Tools, Visualization/Data Analysis, etc.

Instructors receive a $500 honorarium for an online course or $100-150 for webinars, split among instructors. For more information, access the online submission form. Check out our list of current and past course offerings to see what topics have been covered recently. We’re looking forward to a slate of compelling and useful online education programs this year!

LITA Education Committee.

Questions or Comments?

For questions or comments related to teaching for LITA, contact LITA at (312) 280-4268 or Mark Beatty,

Jobs in Information Technology: February 3, 2016

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

City of Sierra Madre, Library Services Director, Sierra Madre, CA

Concordia College, Systems and Web Services Librarian, Moorhead, MN

Depaul University Library, Digital Services Coordinator, Chicago, IL

Loyola / Notre Dame Library, Digital Services Coordinator, Baltimore, MD

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, Metadata Librarian, Washington, DC

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.

Self-Publishing, Authorpreneurs & Libraries

“Self-publishing represents the future of literature.  Its willingness to experiment, it’s greater speed to market, it’s quicker communication with the audience, its greater rewards and creative control for creators, its increasing popularity all augur for the continued expansion of self-publishing and its place as the likely wellspring for our best new works” (LaRue, 2014, para. 13).

The self-publishing movement is alive and well in public libraries across the nation, especially within the fiction genre. In a recent American Libraries magazine article, “Solving the Self-Published Puzzle,” Langraf lists several public libraries acquiring self-published books to develop their collections with local authors and with works of regional interest.

I think of how this movement will grow among other types of library communities, and most importantly, how self-publishing technology has made it possible for all of us to publish and access high-quality digital and print resources. Will academic librarians assist teaching faculty to publish their own digital textbooks? Will creative writing classes add an eBook publishing component into their curriculum?  Will special library collections, archives, or museums use these online platforms to create wonderful monographs or documents of archived material that will reach a greater audience?  The possibilities are endless.

What was most interesting to me while reading the American Libraries piece is that libraries are including independent publishing advice and guidance workshops in their makerspace areas.  The freedom of becoming a self-published author comes with a to-do-list: cover illustrations, ebook format conversion (EPUB, MOBI, etc.), online editing, metadata, price and royalties, contracts, and creation of website and social media outlets for marketing purposes.  These are a few of the many things to think about.  Much needs to be learned and librarians can become proficient in these areas in order to create their own creative projects or assist patrons in self-publishing.  It is refreshing to see that an author can trespass the gatekeepers of publishing to get their project published and that our profession can make this phenomenon more accessible to our communities.

We can convert writers into authorpreneurs, a term I recently discovered (McCartney, 2015).  The speed of publishing is awesome – no waiting.  A project can appeal to a particular audience not accessible through traditional routes of publishing. If the author is interested, indie writers have platforms to get picked up by renowned publishing houses and agents.  Traditional authors may also make a plunge into self-publishing.  The attraction for librarians is that the published books can be distributed through platforms like Overdrive currently being used by libraries.  In addition, eBook publishing sites make it possible for users to view their item on several mobile devices through apps or eReaders.  The file type conversions to become readable in all devices are done by many of the organizations listed below.

I have recently become fascinated by the self-publishing movement and plan to write more about the ongoing developments.  I have yet to read my first self-published book and plan to do so soon.  For now, I leave you with some resources that may help you begin thinking about how to use self-publishing to serve your communities and create innovative ways to expand your library services.


The Self Publishers Association

52 Novels:

Amazon Resources:
Tools and services that help you complete your book and make it available to millions of potential readers

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)

Textbook publishing

KDP Kids:
Children Books

and many more genres…

Apple iBookstore

Apple Pages

Barnes & Nobles Nook Press


The Book Designer:



EBook Architects:

Inscribe Digital:


Kobo Writing Life:

Ingram Spark:




Project Gutenberg Self-Publishing Press:






Indie Title Reviews
Libraries struggle with indie market collection development.  It is not readily available in the usual book review sources heavily used for mainstream titles– so the librarian is left to search within blogs and other social media outlets to learn of new worthy titles for purchase.  Please find a list of self-publishing collection development resources for libraries/readers below.biblioboard



Indie Reader:

PW Select:


SelfPublishing Review:


Friedman, J. (2015). Helping indie authors succeed: What inde authors need to know about the library market. Publishers Weekly, 262(39), 52.

Gross, A. (2015). Digital winners in the bay area. Publishers Weekly, 262(24), 18-20.

Landgraf, G. (October 30, 2015). Solving the self-published puzzle. American Libraries Magazine. Retrieved from

LaRue, J. (2015). From maker to mission. Library Journal, 140(16), 41.

LaRue, J. (2014). The next wave of tech change. Library Journal, 139(16), 47.

McCartney, J. (2015). A look ahead to self-publishing in 2015. Publishers Weekly, 262(3), 36-38.

Peltier-Davis, C. A. (2015). The cybrarian’s web 2: An a-z guide to free social media tools, apps, and other resources. Medford, NJ: Information Today.

Palmer, A. (2014). What every Indie author needs to know about e-books. Publishers Weekly, 261(7), 52-54.

Quint, B. (2015). So you want to be published. Information Today, 32(2), 17.

Scardilli, B. (2015). Public libraries embrace self-publishing services. Information Today, 32(5), 1-26.

Staley, L. (2015). Leading self-publishing efforts in communities. American Libraries, 46(1/2), 18-19.

Jobs in Information Technology: January 27, 2016

New vacancy listings are posted weekly on Wednesday at approximately 12 noon Central Time. They appear under New This Week and under the appropriate regional listing. Postings remain on the LITA Job Site for a minimum of four weeks.

New This Week:

SIU Edwardsville, Electronic Resources Librarian, Asst or Assoc Professor, Edwardsville, IL

Olin College of Engineering, Community and Digital Services Librarian, Needham, MA

Great Neck Library, Information Technology Director, Great Neck, NY

Art Institute of Chicago, Senior Application Developer for Collections, Chicago, IL

Visit the LITA Job Site for more available jobs and for information on submitting a job posting.