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Transportation Division Bulletin
Kaleidoscope: News of TRN Members

February 2008


A Message from the Outgoing Transportation Division Chair

Greetings From the 2008 Chair

Transportation Library Menu Collection

More NTL Cooperative Improvements: NHTSA’s Behavioral Safety Research Collection

WiFi in the library and Web 2.0 tools

Building a Transportation Archive: A Graduate Student’s Reflection

MN DOT’s New Library Director

Membership News
New Members
New Member Profiles:
Bryan Campbell, Rebecca Christie, Jane Minotti, Andrew Poultridge, Kathy Szolomayer


A Message from the Outgoing Transportation Division Chair
by Matthew Barrett, Administrator, Dorothy Peyton Gray Transportation Library & Archive, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

My years as Transportation Division Chair-Elect and Division Chair have come to a close. It was an interesting time and valuable leadership development opportunity. I enjoyed getting to know many of our Division members better and am impressed by your accomplishments. I also got to know fellow SLA members in a variety of other divisions and forged new friendships. We had a great time in Denver and I am certain that both Seattle '08 and DC '09 will be even better. You are being left in the highly capable hands of Chair Connie Field and Chair-Elect Rita Evans. They will both be at SLA's Leadership conference in Louisville Kentucky later this month to put the finishing touches on programs for Seattle and to kick off program planning for DC.

With the change in SLA's fiscal year to a calendar year, we've had to move up our usual nominations cycle. If you are interested in program planning for DC and chairing the division for the 2010 New Orleans annual meeting, or would like to nominate a colleague for the honor, please contact Martha Soneira martha.soneira@fhwa.dot.gov, or 202-493-3468 as soon as possible. Other committee chair positions are also open, and while we traditionally fill positions for bulletin editor, webmaster, membership, international outreach, fundraising, secretary, treasurer, archivist, and awards, our by-laws do allow for a number of additional committee chairs. If you feel you have a unique and valuable contribution to make in areas such as diversity, mentoring, strategic planning, or government relations, please don't hesitate to step forward.

In short, if I was asked to take on the Chair role again at some future time, I wouldn't hesitate to do it again. My deepest appreciation to everyone who contributed to making Denver a well-sponsored, well-attended, solid programming success. I would also like express my thanks to the incoming officers whose volunteered time is what makes our division a success.

My best wishes for an excellent 2008!

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Greetings From the 2008 Chair
by Connie Field, Manager, Information Services, Portland Cement Association

Greetings, Transportation Division members. I am delighted to be your Chair for 2008. We have a busy year ahead and an exciting annual Conference in June to look forward to. I won’t take much of your time now, but first, I’d like to make sure everyone knows who makes up our Division’s Board this year. They are:

Connie Field – Chair
Rita Evans – Chair Elect
Dale Steele – Secretary
Lisa Pogue – Treasurer
Matt Barrett – Past Chair

On to my second point: What a dazzling array of transportation-related programs and initiatives we have going on these days! Not too many years ago there was no MTKN, no TLCat, no Pooled Fund Program, no Transportation Librarians Roundtable, and so on. The benefits of these collaborative efforts are great for our entire community. But all this information-sharing can get a bit overwhelming as well. As we dive into the activities of one group, what are we missing from another? There is not time in a day to keep track of everything! That is where I see the SLA Transportation Division serving a very important role. Yes, we have our own projects and initiatives, but, just as importantly, I believe we provide a ‘global forum’ for all these groups, and for the entire international transportation library community. Our Division’s GTRIC event on June 15 is one important place for that ‘meeting of the minds,’ and I hope you all plan to be there! In addition, the broader SLA entity provides a truly incredible assortment of professional learning opportunities that no organization of smaller scope can possibly claim!! More on that another time.

One other point I’d like to make today. As last year’s GTRIC presentation by Birgitta Sandstedt, Sweden’s VTI, demonstrated, we have much to learn from our colleagues abroad. One of my personal goals this year will be to significantly increase the international membership in our Division. We are, after all, the International Special Libraries Association, and SLA’s International Membership Initiative encourages us to develop that presence because we can learn so much when we hear different points of views. Next time you send an email to a librarian at a foreign transportation-related organization to inquire about a paper or report, ask them if they are SLA members and, if not, to consider joining. We would love their input, and we have much to offer them. One of my related goals this year is to work with the entire Executive Board in developing a ‘Top 10 Reasons to Join DTRN’ document, which we can post on our Division’s web site. You can help us get started—what are your top 3 or 5 or 10 reasons?
Looking forward to working with you all!

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Transportation Library Menu Collection
by Roberto A. Sarmiento, Head, Transportation Library, Northwestern University Library

The Menu Collection of the Northwestern University Transportation Library currently includes more than 400 menus from 54 national and international airline carriers, cruise ships, and railroad companies, with coverage from 1929 to the present. U.S. airlines predominate, but European, Asian, African, Australasian, and South American companies are also represented, with particular strength from the 1960s to the late 1980s. Visit the collection at http://www.library.northwestern.edu/transportation/digital-collections/menus/

This collection is multi-disciplinary in scope: it touches art, history, economics, sociology, culinary, and transportation topics. Because of its strength in mid- to late-20th century air transportation, the collection presents an invaluable picture of the history of commercial air travel. This collection would be of interest to transportation researchers and historians, culinary historians, sociologists, and travel aficionados.

The collection began as a gift from Northwestern alumnus George M. Foster who donated his extensive menu collection to the Transportation Library in 1997, where it has since been expanded from other sources.

During his seven decades as a pioneering anthropologist and consultant to international agencies including the World Health Organization and UNICEF, Mr. Foster traveled the globe by airplane, train, and steamship. The menus he collected on his trips preserve a glimpse of an era—now presumably forever past—in which fine dining and fine wines were considered an essential aspect of passenger comfort, and in fact constituted a significant aspect of travel’s mystique and allure. The value of Mr. Foster’s collection resides not only in its volume, but in the number of his hand-written comments regarding flight dates, airplane types, and food and wine ratings and descriptions.

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More NTL Cooperative Improvements: NHTSA’s Behavioral Safety Research Collection
by Joyce Koeneman, Digital Librarian, National Transportation Library, US DOT

The National Transportation Library (NTL) released the NTL’s new “Collection View” capability at TRB. Tracey Schut, NTL Web Editor and Librarian, and John Seigler, of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), introduced NTL’s first Collection View: the NHTSA Behavioral Safety Research Collection. The collection of NHTSA’s Office of Behavioral Safety research documents were digitized by USDOT, transferred to the NTL, and included in the NTL Digital Collection and TRIS. The Collection View model is a custom search interface based on the NTL Integrated Search platform which allows NHTSA to provide a new search/browse service to their customers from their website that searches only this set of materials. This collection view may be accessed from NHTSA’s website at

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WiFi in the library and Web 2.0 tool
by Matt Barrett, Library Administrator, Metro Transportation Library & Research Center, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

After a couple of years of prodding Metro’s ITS department, we finally have free WiFi access in the library for visitors. The CIO’s initial concern was “network security”, which was code for “we haven’t had a chance to think about this issue”, and as time went by, the concern changed to what-ifs about visual harassment, which was a good sign. The porn question was an issue that public and university libraries had dealt with for a long time, so I knew that ITS was taking my request seriously. One day, without notice, a technician showed up in the library one day holding a laptop and showing me the signal strength. He gave me the password and disappeared. Even though it was a long time from my first request to implementation, I called the CIO and thanked her for listening. Now that we have WiFi, visitors to Metro’s headquarters building are able to use their wireless-enabled laptops and gain unfiltered access to the web. Our employees are still subject to the network’s Websence filtering software when using the Library’s computers. Having WiFi has translated into more traffic for the library and more positive public regard. It’s been almost a year now, and we haven’t experienced any of the concerns raised by ITS.

Any library in a non-library organization can face major challenges in working with their agency’s ITS department, which is one of the many reasons why Web 2.0 tools are so attractive. When I was given an assignment by the TRB Library and Information Science in Transportation (LIST) Committee to give a presentation on blogs and blogging, I knew it would be a challenge to create an effective presentation without blogging myself. I also knew that if I asked our ITS department to purchase and install blogging software on our network, I’d still be waiting today. As with many government agencies, our ITS department matured during the mainframe era and today remains uncomfortable with the web. Blogger.com, a free Google owned product, made it easy to get a blog going, the set up took five minutes.

So why blog? In our case, it was to build a community that is not necessarily comprised of in-person library visitors. I wanted a barrier-free fan base for the library. My goal was to increase the volume and audience size for transportation issues in Los Angeles by aggregating information. Mission accomplished – since its inception both major daily newspapers started transportation blogs. The Los Angeles Times called my library “very cool”, and the Los Angeles City Nerd blog named me an official “transportation nerd”. Other transportation blogs popped up supporting the “transit lifestyle” and I still get thank you emails from new bloggers. I even get sheepishly written email admissions of guilt for stealing my link lists.

The Los Angeles Transportation Headlines blog site experienced 10,815 page loads its first full year, and 53,443 page loads the next, a quarter of which were returning visitors. While not massive, I’m happy with the numbers for this specialized subject. Just about every transportation consultant, elected official’s office and media outlet in the area subscribes to the daily email version of the content we post. We also have some fans in DC, at other transit agencies across the country, and even some mysterious anonymous subscribers. The email version translates into nearly 200,000 emails going out annually with the library’s name on them. We’ve continued to add information content and links to research resources from the blog page. Just this past weekend, I hacked the Blogger template to create a three column layout (nervously following the instructions posted on a “blogger.com tweaks” site). We also added free email subscription management through another free tool, also owned by Google, Feedburner, which means no more manual management of email mailing lists via Outlook; it can be done automatically.

Other free tools that the library maintains are a presence on are Facebook and Myspace, Twitter, and YouTube. Each of these tools allows the library to continue building a fan base, organize information in new ways, and provide information services to users at low or no cost. Contrary to popular belief, these tools are not all pick-up sites, teen oriented snippets, or juvenile journal entries as your agency’s network filtering software might lead you to believe.

A library YouTube channel is our newest project. We have over 1,000 VHS video tapes of mostly Metro produced material spanning thirty years of construction, grand openings, safety outreach, and more. We’re working on converting the tapes to DVD format to extend their useful life, I’m afraid to use the term “preserve” here, and have decided to also select VHS material for conversion to YouTube’s preferred MPEG4 file format. Files will be posted on YouTube for easy access. YouTube has no limit to the number of videos you can post. The only limits they impose are a 10-minute running time per video, breaking video into parts is not uncommon to get around the length limit. With this kind of free storage space, it seems like the most efficient way to provide access to VHS video fast approaching the “archival” definition. Metro’s Communications department also maintains a YouTube channel for their current video press releases and promo material. YouTube allows channels to add subscriptions from other YouTube channels, and we see that we’re not alone among transportation agencies – Rhode Island DOT, Washington DOT, Georgia DOT, CalTrans, and others have transportation related channels.

I sat through a number of presentations at conferences about Web 2.0 tools these past few years and I am convinced that the best way to consider how to use these tools in your particular library setting is just to begin using them. Any of these online tools can be easily deleted if your trial period does not add value to your services. The main investment is your time in doing something out of the ordinary, with the possibility of extraordinary results.

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Building a Transportation Archive: A Graduate Studentís Reflection
by Gabriel Henderson, archival assistant for the Iowa DOT

It was June 2007, and I was entering foreign territory, filled with a mix of exhilaration and anxiety. My supervisor showed me around the library in which I would spend the next year of my life: where I would enter into the sweat, frustrations, and excitement only a historian can experience. Thousands and thousands of old photographs, contact sheets, articles, books, boxes, artifacts, and film were stacked on top of one another, with very little order, smelling of old cardboard and dust. My hear rate accelerated as I realized the enormous tasks ahead of me. I did what any self-respecting historian would do; I imagined their origins and significance. Thus began my journey in discovering the history of Iowa, one road at a time…one transportation photograph after the other.

The goal of the Surface Transportation History Archive project is simple; organize the entire history of Iowa transportation. Blessed with an intense curiosity, my partner and I began the process. First came the moving and sorting. Then we attempted to interpret and comprehend what the DOT had given us. It didn’t take very long to realize how lucky I was. They had handed over their entire history, trusting us to value it. Virtually the entirety of Iowa transportation history rested in our archival white gloves. Soon we began the tedious task of numbering the thousands of photographs and creating a simple finding aid to help any interested researchers. The real archival work and my entrance into worlds past had begun.

After the finding aids were completed, we scanned the original photographs into an online portal for public viewing. Other projects have included re-housing and storing old maps from the 1910s, creating a designated archive room with climate control, re-housing all correspondence from the early road associations and updating a public website dedicated to their history. Smaller projects have been commonplace, ranging from creating Iowa DOT chronologies, conducting primary research using historical IDOT publications, and placing photographs within their particular historical contexts.

Now, why should anyone be interested in this story? Well, it wasn’t the white gloves and it wasn’t the seemingly endless photographs detailing old bridges and roads. The thought foremost in my mind most was of the hard work of highway builders of the past to construct the modern infrastructure of America. As a historian, combining the elements of archival preservation with an eye to their historical significance has been fascinating.

From the Good Roads Movements of the 19th century to the contemporary issues of infrastructure maintenance and government funding bureaucracies, at least one state’s transportation history will be preserved, ready to satisfy even the most ardent transportation buffs.

For those interested in learning more about the Iowa DOT archive project, please visit http://historicalphotos.iowadot.gov/ermsportal/historicalphotos_home.aspx.

For more information related to Iowa’s old road associations, please visit

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MN DOTís New Library Director
by Jim Byerly, Systems Librarian, Minnesota State DOT Library

photo of Sheila Hatchell

On Monday December 17th Sheila Hatchell, formerly a librarian with the Minnesota Historical Society, became the new director of the Mn/DOT Library. Hatchell succeeds Jerry Baldwin, who served in the post until his recent retirement.

During her tenure with the Minnesota Historical Society Library, Hatchell served as manager of cataloging and document processing.

After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a bachelor’s degree in music, Hatchell earned a master’s degree in library science from Dominican University in River Forest, Ill.

Hatchell began her career as a librarian in 1986 when she joined the staff of the Mn/DOT Library. She worked at the library until 1999 when she accepted a position with the Minnesota Historical Society.

In her new position, Hatchell will represent Mn/DOT in the Transportation Division of the Special Libraries Association.

She will also represent the department as a member of the Midwest Transportation Knowledge Network, http://www.mtkn.org, a group that fosters collaboration among the region’s libraries to better serve agency staff.

Hatchell said she plans to continue the library’s leadership role in information technology and customer service.

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Membership News

New members of the Transportation Division

Rebecca Christie
Washington State Dept. of Transportation
1655 S Second Avenue
Tumwater, WA 98512-6951

Pamela Nila
6520 Hillcrest Road
Downers Grove, IL 60516

Bryan Campbell
Research Library
Virginia Dept. of Transportation
530 Edgemont Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Kathy Szolomayer
Managing Librarian
Washington Dept. of Transportation
WSDOT Library
Olympia, WA 98504-7425

Michel Wendt
Reference Librarian
Washington Dept. of Transportation
WSDOT Library
Olympia, WA 98504-7425

Andrew Poultridge
Resource Sharing/Collection Specialist
Washington Dept. of Transportation
WSDOT Library
Olympia, WA 98504-7425

Ming Jie Lee
Economic Development Board
The Knowledge Center
250 North Bridge Road
Raffles City Tower, 179101

James Byerly
Systems Librarian
Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Library
395 John Ireland Blvd. Ms 155
St. Paul, MN 55155

Jane Minotti
New York Dept. of Transportation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12232

Cheryl Pfeifer
(no affliation given)
Brighton, MI

New Member Profiles

Bryan Campbell started working at the Virginia DOT Research Library in July 2007. He divides his time between cataloging and reference work. Brian is currently enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, School of Information Studies, in a distance learning program. His area of concentration is organization of information. Prior to joining the VDOT Research Library, Bryan worked in the Peabody Library at Vanderbilt University. When not working or studying, Bryan enjoys hiking and biking with his wife, reading, and playing Tangrams and Mancala games

Rebecca Christie is the librarian at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) Materials Laboratory library. The library is a branch of the WSDOT library, and focuses on pavement and geotechnical engineering and materials testing, inspection, and documentation. Prior to joining WSDOT in 2002, Rebecca worked as a private researcher/writer and as a librarian at the Washington State Library and the Washington State Geological Survey library. She received her MLS from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa and a BA in Studio Art from the University of California at Davis. She's an avid gardener and lives in a restored 1938 Tudor cottage.

Jane Minotti was appointed Librarian of the NYS Department of Transportation's Research and Development Bureau Library in October, 2007. She received her MLS degree from the University at Albany in New York. Most of her career has taken place in public libraries. Prior to coming to the NYS Department of Transportation, she served as Director of the Sand Lake Town Library from 1999-2007, a medium-sized suburban library. She was also a Children's Librarian in a former life. In her spare time, she is active in a community orchestra, and enjoys browsing in yarn stores, knitting, reading, and outdoor activities.

Andrew Poultridge works at the Washington State Department of Transportation’s WSDOT Library. WSDOT also has libraries at their Materials Lab, where Rebecca Christie works, and two more at the Washington State Ferries division, one for Terminal Engineering and one for Vessel Engineering. Andrew has worked at the WSDOT Library 3 ½ years, and worked as the Circulation Supervisor at the local community college library for almost six years prior to that. He’s in his second quarter with the University of Washington's distance Master of Library and Information Science program and hopes to graduate in 2010. With school and work, hobbies seem like a distant memory, but Andrew likes to cook, bake and eat, hike and ride bicycle, and listen to loud, twangy music, preferably performed live.

Kathy Szolomayer got her MLS in 1985 from the University of Washington. She currently manages the WSDOT HQ Library at the Washington State Dept. of Transportation. Since 1985 she has worked as a cataloger and/or reference librarian (sometimes both) in community college libraries, a state college, a public library, WLN (a bibliographic utility), and the Washington State Attorney General's Law Library for 12 years before going to the DOT in June 2007. Kathy has found it very interesting to participate in the transportation community's efforts to collaborate, network and push its services forward to better assist all of the varied stakeholders who need transportation information. She’s looking forward to helping those efforts along in the coming months and years.

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