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Transportation Division Bulletin
Kaleidoscope: News of TRN Members

July 2008


From the Chair: SLA 2008 Productive and Fun!

Minutes of the Transportation Division Business Meeting

GTRIC 2008 A Big Success

Bonnie Osif Receives 2008 Professional Achievement Award

SLA Conference highlights

SLA Conference Sessions


Library School Graduation

In Memory of Bob Ford


From the Chair: SLA 2008 Productive and Fun!
by Connie Field, Chair, Transportation Division

SLA 2008 was a highly successful conference—over 5,000 attendees—and saw great participation from Transportation Division members. Bravo to our Division for its enthusiasm, input of ideas, and willingness to pitch in and help with division projects and planning for SLA 2009! I am proud to be a member of this dedicated group!

Saturday’s no-host dinner at Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, organized by Seyem Petrites, was great fun and had a wonderful turnout. Retired, almost-retired, midcareer, and newcomers all joined together and got acquainted or reacquainted over a fine buffet dinner and drinks.

Several newly-retired or more “seasoned” members including Jerry Baldwin, MaryAnn Ward, Sandy Tucker, and Bob Sweet offered personal reflections on what the Division has meant to them over the years. Visit our web site for photos from the occasion (http://units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattlephotos.html).

Rita Evans has briefed you on Sunday’s GTRIC session in a separate article. I would just like to say thank you to the fine speakers, to the attendees for their engagement and thoughtful remarks, and of course to our corporate sponsor Scopus!

One of our major sessions this year was “Alternative Fuels: Technologies for a Healthy Planet,” held Tuesday morning. This was a fascinating session and certainly a timely topic, given the soaring prices of gasoline and other products, and the current focus on issues such as sustainability, environmental impact, and recycling. Co-sponsored by Transportation, Food and Agriculture, Chemistry, and Science and Technology Divisions, the session featured two fine speakers, Dr. Richard Nelson, a biofuels research specialist from Kansas State University, and Ms. Alvetta Pindell, Head of Information Research Services at the National Agricultural Library in Washington.

The objective of the session was to explain how alternative and biofuels can provide energy solutions for our future, as well as to learn more about both the major players and information tools that we as librarians can use for researching and monitoring this area. Dr. Nelson provided attendees a clear and comprehensive understanding of both the technological side of alternative fuels as well as the economic and political aspects. Ms. Pindell’s presentation offered not only a host of information resources about alternative fuels but a picture of the world’s largest agricultural library and the truly impressive accomplishments of a library that has suffered severe cutbacks in funding and faces further cuts.

During the follow-up question and answer period, attendees were urged to write their congressmen to support adequate funding for the National Agricultural Library. (You can still protest the proposed budget cut by going to http://www.capwiz.com/sla/issues/alert/?alertid=11350566.)

Please see both Dr. Nelson’s and Ms. Pindell’s PowerPoint presentations at http://units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattle08.html#altfuel.

Finally, we are grateful to vendor sponsors Thomson Reuters and CAS for this fine session
On a personal note, after Dr. Nelson’s presentation on biofuels, I contacted my director at the Portland Cement Association recommending Dr. Nelson be invited to speak at PCA’s Fall Meeting, to discuss the potential that biofuels have for the cement industry in reducing energy consumption in the cement manufacturing process. Dr. Nelson has kindly accepted the invitation, and will now be presenting to PCA’s member companies at our August 28 meeting in Chicago. I must thank Betsy Aldridge, Materials and Manufacturing Section of the Chemistry Division, who initially recommended him for the SLA session, and of course my SLA membership, for this connection and now the opportunity to help my own organization!

Minutes from our Division’s Business Meeting are presented in a separate article in this issue. I believe one of the most important results of the 2008 Conference was the establishment of two new or expanded committees, the Electronic Communications Committee and the Special Projects Committee. There is clearly widespread interest in further development of transportation information tools using available information technologies such as wikis, blogs, Facebook, and RSS feeds. Thank you to all who have volunteered to work on these committees, and, for those of you who were unable to be in Seattle, there is room for more participants! Please send me an email if you are interested. You’ll be hearing more about such projects as development of the Division’s web site and wiki-based Sources of Information in Transportation very soon.

We had a wonderful Open House on Tuesday night, thanks to our own members as well as the cosponsoring Government Division, Petroleum Division, and Solo Librarians Division. After a busy day of meetings and sessions, it was truly relaxing to socialize and enjoy a fine layout of food and drink with colleagues. Many of us continued on to the “wilder” Open House sponsored by the Information Technology Division, with live rock band and light show--more than a few Transportation Division members were caught on camera doing some pretty fancy footwork… very cool!

On Saturday, I attended the first SLA Global Information Ethics Summit, partly out of curiosity and partly because I thought our Division should be represented. It was quite interesting—somewhat vague, as one might expect, but also thought-provoking and, yes, even fun. The session was led and facilitated by Dr. Chris Bauer, an expert on the impact of ethical behavior within organizations. SLA’s goal is to launch a Global Ethics Initiative at the 2009 Conference in Washington, and has been examining the ethics statements of many other organizations. About 30 SLA Chapters and Divisions now have Ethics Ambassadors. The objective is to create a set of core values that express the values of librarians within their respective organizations. This should consist of 1) 4-10 values, which are 2) easy to apply in real-life situations and 3) express what, as an SLA member, our customers can expect from us, and are 4) substantive rules of conduct that can be presented to potential employees. At the Summit, we broke up into groups, and each created draft statements of core values that were then submitted to SLA’s staff. We discussed types of situations at work where ethics come in to play and our role as ambassadors for our organizations. You can read more about the Initiative at http://www.sla.org/PDFs/boarddocs/2007/O-B07-28-StudyResultsEthicsCode.pdf.

No sooner do we return to our respective homes and catch our breath than it’s time to plan for SLA 2009 in Washington, DC. Whether you are on a Committee or not, mark your calendars for June 14-17, 2009! You’ll be hearing lots more in the next few months from 2008 Chair-Elect Rita Evans and 2009 Program Chair/Chair-Elect Arlene Mathison.

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Minutes of the Transportation Division Business Meeting
by Dale Steele, Secretary, Transportation Division

17 June 2008, Seattle Convention Center Room 303

Chair Connie Field called the business meeting to order at 11:17a.m. following lunch.

Rita Evans moved that the minutes of the previous Business meeting be approved as amended. Arlene Mathison seconded. Vote to approve was unanimous.

The Chair reviewed the Division’s goals and activities for the year. The Division was involved in organizing three main events for the Conference this year: GTRIC, the session on Alternative Fuels, and the Open House, in addition to the Board and Business meetings and the successful no-host dinner on Saturday evening. Hosting of the Division’s website was successfully transferred this year from Northwestern University to SLA, and Joe Ellison was recognized for his help with that. The Chair noted outreach efforts on her part with international transportation librarians, and recognized Rita Evans’ work in sending invitations to members to help them get support to attend the conference. Matt Barrett created a Division wiki, which became operational in March. A new SLA listserv for the Transportation Board was also established. The Chair also announced that the Board had approved creation of an expanded Special Projects Committee and a new Electronic Communications Committee. The Division has been a cosponsor along with AASHTO and TRB of the Transportation Libraries Roundtable, for which TranLib has provided a useful medium for feedback and further discussion of the topics presented.

The Chair then recognized the achievements of members:

  • Danelle Pollock received the Innovative Researcher award from the Missouri Department of Transportation.
  • Hank Zalatel received extensive television and other coverage of his digitization project involving an Iowa historic roads collection at the Iowa Department of Transportation
  • The Minnesota Department of Transportation Library received great press in a recent article on MinnPost.com.
  • Mike Wendt created a customized Google search for all 50 state departments of transportation.
  • Ken Winter developed a new federated search tool at VDOT.
  • Matt Barrett published two books on historical transit in LA using digital sources in his collection.
  • Roberto Sarmiento was recognized as member of SLA’s Board of Directors.

Goals for the remainder of the year include: 1) Increasing membership, including international representation, 2) Preparing a “Top 10 Reasons to Join the Transportation Division” for promotion, 3) Developing the Sources of Information resource into a more interactive online document, 4) Enhancing the Division’s web site with additional links, photos, etc.

Dale Steele, Secretary, presented the minutes from the Board meeting.

The Chair reviewed the financial report submitted by Lisa Pogue and indicated printed copies of the spreadsheet were available.

Vendor Relations. Bob Sweet, Vendor Relations Chair, reviewed his work in soliciting donations from vendors. He noted that the vendors had donated over $2000 to the Division. He added that they expect to be asked and are willing to provide funds, but that the Division needs to build on-going relationships with them. Bob asked that members let him know of the vendors they use so that he can contact them. It was also noted that it is important to thank them for their sponsorship by stopping by their booths at the conference or by sending them thank-you notes.

Nominating Committee. Jennifer Boteler presented the report submitted by Martha Soneira. She announced that Arlene Mathison had accepted the position of Chair-Elect for 2009.

Membership Committee. Ruth Letson reported that the Division had 155 members, including 6 corporate members. She noted the names of several long-time members who had retired, and also recognized new members in attendance.

Web Master. The Chair summarized Joe Ellison’s report. In addition to regular maintenance activities, Joe is looking ahead to several enhancements for the Division’s web page, and welcomes ideas from the membership.

Awards Committee. Kay Geary reported that the Awards Committee had received several nominations for the Professional Achievement Award, and that the Board selected a recipient who would receive the award later in the meeting.

Newsletter. The Chair summarized Rosalyn Alleman’s report, indicating that 4 issues had been published, and that contributions are welcome and encouraged. 

Paul Burley, Northwestern University, then reported on recent cataloging developments. He announced that the Library of Congress intends to focus its cataloging efforts on its unique collections and rely on vendors and others to catalog general material. Resource Description and Access (RDA) will replace AACRII, but RDA does have problems. He noted the importance of cataloging and its cost (ca$100 to do original cataloging). He asked TKNs and the pooled fund to look into cataloging and also asked to have the catalogers begin informal discussions among themselves on how to deal with the issues of providing accurate cataloging quickly.

Rita Evans then presented the Professional Achievement Award to Bonnie Osif, and read the text of the original nomination recognizing her various achievements and their significant benefits to the transportation library community.

The Chair then thanked Matt Barrett for his work as 2007 Chair of the Division, presenting him with a framed certificate.

A comment was offered that it would be helpful to clarify acronyms such as GTRIC and DTRN in future communications so it is clearer to those who are newer members.

Arlene Mathison announced that planning for next year’s conference was underway. Rita Evans is organizing the GTRIC session. Arlene solicited ideas regarding the Open House and tours, and indicated she is looking for volunteers to help with planning.

The meeting adjourned at 12:30.

Respectfully Submitted,

Dale Steele, Secretary

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GTRIC 2008 A Big Success
by Rita Evans, Transportation Division Chair-Elect

The Transportation Division held a very successful GTRIC (Government Transportation Research Information Committee) session on Sunday, June 15. Fifty-five division members were in attendance, a marked increase from the 35 who participated last year. Jerry Baldwin observed that the 18 librarians representing state DOT were likely the largest gathering of state DOT librarians ever. Also represented were federal agencies, transit agencies and MPOs, the private sector, associations, and academic transportation libraries.

Presentations from GTRIC are available at http://units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattle08.html#gtric.

Self-introductions opened the session, during which a number of our colleagues indicated they are evaluating integrated library systems for their operations. Digitization projects, report distribution, interlibrary loan and difficult budget situations also were mentioned by a number of participants.

Transportation Libraries: A Guide to the Players - Bonnie Osif

The first presentation, Transportation Libraries: A Guide to the Players, was designed to illustrate the interconnections among the various entities involved in transportation information. Bonnie Osif of Penn State presented a series of slides developed by Rita Evans and Kendra Levine at UC Berkeley. Links among SLA’s Transportation Division, TRB and its LIST Committee, the regional Transportation Knowledge Networks, state DOTs, federal agencies, AASHTO, NTL were shown. NCHRP projects involving knowledge networks and the Transportation Research Thesaurus were described. A timeline for the development of the regional TKNs was presented.

This presentation is envisioned as the starting point for a larger effort at capturing information about the players in transportation information. Guide to the Players, Part 2, is a likely topic for GTRIC in 2009.

TRB Update – Barbara Post

Barbara Post, TRB’s Information Services Manager, described the results of the TRIS user survey conducted earlier this year. Initiated by Ken Winter of VDOT, the objective of the survey was to understand who uses TRIS Online and how they use it. TRB technical committee members, students attending the TRB annual meeting, RAC listserv members and the TranLib listserv members received the survey. One significant finding is that TRIS users are library users. 86% of respondents said TRIS is extremely or usually relevant. User want more – more citations, full text links, environmental impact statements, theses and dissertations, international coverage, etc. An eCircular will report the survey results and Barbara will use those results in developing the TRIS strategic plan.

Barbara introduced Bill Brembeck of OCLC, who described the addition of links to WorldCat records in TRIS. Users can quickly determine whether an item is held in a library in their area. Bill noted that OCLC’s research indicates that 84% of searches begin with search engines while only 2% begin at library portals, so they want WorldCat links to be highly visible.

NTL as a Digital Repository and the Transportation Librarians Roundtables – Amanda Wilson

Amanda Wilson, director of the National Transportation Library, announced that NTL and the US DOT library have merged. The resources of the combined staffs present opportunities such as NTL’s initiative to begin serving as a permanent secure repository for transportation research documents. Amanda noted that distributed digital preservation, such as that advocated by the LOCKSS (Lots of Copies Keeps Stuff Safe) initiative is protection from natural disasters such as floods, and unnatural disasters such as IT departments that move servers without warning. She described preservation projects NTL is involved in including Virginia DOT’s digitizing its research report backfile, and work with NHTSA, the ITS Joint Program Office, and FHWA’s digital library. Anything that NTL catalogs will be sent to TRIS.

Questions were asked regarding whether submissions should be sent first to TRIS (bibliographic database) or NTL (archive/preservation). DOTs are required to send their research results to TRIS, which may be a logical starting point. Submissions to NTL can be sent to librarian@bts.gov, and Amanda will make a checklist of standards for submissions available.

The Transportation Librarians Roundtables, begun in summer 2007, were suggested by Bob Cullen of AASHTO. Held monthly, the web conferences have provided a forum for conversations on a wide basis. Amanda described a series of three roundtables for the summer which will focus on marketing the library. Among suggestions for topics for future roundtables were an expansion of the discussion of NTL’s role as a digital repository; information from federal agencies outside of DOT such as the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife, and the Bureau of Land Management; choosing and deploying integrated library systems; transportation planning reports; knowledge management; and 508 compliance tools.

Cataloging an Online Technical Report – John Gallwey

John Gallwey, cataloger at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportation Studies Library, demystified best practices for cataloging electronic technical reports in a presentation that was an engaging combination of instruction and humor. He listed the MARC record fields that require attention, such as 856, where the URL is recorded, and 300, the physical description field, where it can be noted that the item is a digital pdf file. John recommended using the Technical Report Documentation Page for authors, performing and sponsoring agencies, and subject keywords.

John noted that Library of Congress Subject Headings for the transportation field can be oddly constructed and often not as specific as we’d like. He suggested supplementing the LC headings with terms from the Transportation Research Thesaurus, which is approved for that purpose.

John also described OCLC’s digital archive which Berkeley is using as a repository. OCLC recently moved this service to CONTENTdm with an improved, streamlined interface. Several people asked about options for paying for such a service, and it was suggested that DOT libraries contact their state library, or look into forming a small consortium with other libraries.

Regional Transportation Knowledge Networks

MTKN – John Cherney
The first regional TKN, MTKN held its 8th annual meeting in September. They are working on a resource sharing network research project that they hope to introduce this summer. Hank Zaletel is working on identifying performance measures that could be used by all members in collecting statistics on ILL, reference, cataloging, circulation, etc.

ETKN – Bob Cullen
Outreach efforts are being made to those outside of transportation libraries. MPOs, transit agencies and other institutions besides state DOTs are encouraged to participate. Public Roads had a news item about ETKN in the May/June 2008 issue (http://www.tfhrc.gov/pubrds/08may/alongroad.htm).

WTKN – Kathy Szolomayer
WTKN is working on its governing documents and has modeled them on those of ETKN and MTKN. Monthly meetings are held using GoTo Meeting software and it has facilitated a “Show and Tell” segment each month. They hope to have a website and the group planned a face-to-face meeting during the SLA conference. (A website has been set up by Kendra Levine at http://wtkn.org/.)

Transportation Librarians Toolkit – Maggie Sacco

The Transportation Connectivity Pooled Fund Study produced the Transportation Librarians Toolkit. Maggie said the idea grew out of conversations with transportation librarians, many of whom were nearing retirement and wanted to capture what they knew for use by new transportation librarians. The focus is on services rather than collections.

Maggie noted that many GTRIC attendees want more information about integrated library systems and the toolkit contains a section on that. She also pointed to the section on performance measurement as means of effectively communicating with management in a language they can understand. The Pooled Fund hopes to have a more dynamic second edition published online.

Singing the Tune Management Wants to Hear – Matt Barrett

Matt Barrett of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority outlined how we can align our libraries with our parent organizations’ goals and objectives. Matt asked if it is obvious how our libraries support the organization and if our management is aware of that. If you’re not invited to the table when critical decisions are made, show up and be prepared to offer solutions. Your strategic plan should include performance measures that go beyond simple counting of transactions. “We made new material available to users within five days of receipt” conveys something very different than “We acquired 20 new reports.”

Among the other actions Matt advocated were:

  • Develop a website that generates traffic and buzz
  • Be an early adopter and advocate of new technology
  • Provide annotated Hot Topics bibliographies for working groups
  • Use an ROI (return on investment) model in talking about your funding level
  • Show how you help others in the organizations do a better job
  • Leverage your historical resources – Matt has published two books with Arcadia Press, Hank in Iowa has received grant money for a book
  • Build a digital social media empire using Facebook, websites, blogs, RSS feeds, etc.
  • Develop guidelines, policies and procedures for social networking that can be adopted by your entire organization

A big point Matt emphasized was leveraging your budget. He encouraged us to know the exact source of our funds and other funding to our organizations. Find out who is using library resources and whether they’re paying for it. He’s found management reports, not administrative reports, to be excellent sources of information. Spend all your money every year, he advised, and spend other people’s money, too, if you can. That’s the only way to demonstrate to management that you need more resources every year. In closing, he reminded us that politics is nothing but allocation of resources, so make sure you cultivate political power.

NTIS Reports, Access and Preservation – Roberto Sarmiento and Rita Evans

Roberto Sarmiento, head of Northwestern University’s Transportation Library, and Rita Evans, head of the Transportation Studies Library at UC Berkeley, described how the two academic libraries have worked together for more than 30 years to improve access to transportation information. The collaboration continues today with work on cataloging, collection development and access to transportation materials.

Both libraries subscribe to the NTIS reports on transportation and have a reciprocal agreement whereby all reports are cataloged into OCLC. Both libraries will waive ILL fees in providing electronic copies of these reports.

TRB LIST Committee – Sandy Tucker

Sandy Tucker of Texas A&M University is chair of TRB Library and Information Science for Transportation Committee. She briefly described the committee’s focus and programming it will sponsor at TRB’s Annual Meeting in January 2009. Anyone who is interested in the committee’s work can contact Sandy. You can subscribe to the LIST email list at https://calmail.berkeley.edu/manage/list/listinfo/lis-trans@lists.berkeley.edu.

GTRIC 2009

With a great turnout in Seattle and lively presentations, we already are thinking about content for the 2009 session in Washington, D.C. Plan now to join your colleagues for an interesting and informative exchange on transportation information at next summer’s SLA Annual Conference.

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Bonnie Osif Receives 2008 Professional Achievement Award
By Connie Field, Chair

At Tuesday’s Division Business Meeting, we were delighted to present the 2008 Professional Achievement Award to Bonnie Osif, engineering reference and instruction librarian at Pennsylvania State University. Congratulations to Bonnie on this well-deserved recognition of her many contributions to our professional community!

The nomination form submitted for Bonnie expresses it best:

“Bonnie Osif has made unique contributions to the body of research on using information in the field of transportation. She has collected data and analyzed the behavior of transportation researchers in response to online information and revealed the benefits in disseminating research electronically. Her work in collecting and analyzing data on international resources in transportation libraries has contributed to our understanding of literature needs and the need for a collaborative environment. Her research has contributed to our community’s efforts to deliver information and has helped to focus on the importance of performance measurement.

Bonnie has been an active member of the Transportation Division and served on the board as Secretary/Treasurer from 1995 to 1997. In her role as editor of Sci/Tech News from 1999-2004, where the Transportation Division’s newsletter was published, she accommodated the needs of the division and was effective in highlighting work of our members which could serve as a model for those in other divisions. She also has chaired the division’s International Relations and Membership Committees.

Bonnie’s paper, “The Value of Information” (2003), outlined the tangible and intangible benefits of the work we do and cited examples from the transportation field. She also served as editor for Using the Engineering Literature, a handbook that included chapters on Aviation and Transportation Engineering which received the 2007 American Society for Engineering Education’s Engineering Libraries Division’s Best Reference Work Award. In addition, Bonnie has presented papers and talks at many transportation conferences such as her report on information availability and accessibility to the Federal Highway Administration’s International Symposium on Transportation Technology Transfer in 2001.

Bonnie has served as a mentor and valuable colleague to many division members. Her ability to understand the needs of researchers as well as practitioners and to act as a bridge between those two communities serves as a model for other transportation librarians. Bonnie’s many and varied contributions to the division, the field of transportation information and the Transportation Division make her an ideal recipient of the division’s award for Professional Achievement.”

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SLA Conference highlights
by Qin Tang, Librarian, Minnesota Dept. of Transportation Library

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This year marked the second time I attended the SLA conference. The first and last one was in 2001 in San Antonio. I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn, to network and to visit Seattle. I would like to highlight and share two events from my conference experiences.

1. Selling yourself and your skills

One of the sessions I attended was “Selling yourself and your skills.” Not that I want to “sell” myself, I was just interested in learning some new marketing skills.

Many things talked about in the session are common sense that we all know, but it’s still good to hear them and get them deeper into our minds:

  • Offer new employee orientation and library tours
  • Make personal contacts and connections
  • Make alliance with and get support from outside of the library, especially the marketing and business development department
  • Be proactive, and get out of your comfort zone. Volunteer for things and get involved in special projects/events outside of the library; never say “I don’t do tha.”
  • Ask for opportunities, and be open-minded
  • Have active listening skills
  • Take initiatives, offer solutions. Don’t whine; take charge. If you whine, you blame others, if you take charge, you are in charge
  • Learn to take criticism constructively; turn negative into positive. Don’t burn bridges
  • Create a unique selling point, your brand is different from others; a strong statement. Identify the special need that your services and products can meet
  • A high profile is hard to kill, so create a high profile for your library
  • Reach upper management and get them on your side
  • Have a one-minute (or 30-second, or 2-minute) story line for who you are, what you do, where you are going, what you like to do, what you have done, what you can do, etc. So when the opportunities appear unexpectedly, you are prepared. For instance, if you meet someone you always wanted to talk to in the elevator, you can get your message across quickly
  • When you write your resume, write accomplishments rather than the tasks and processes
  • Have a personal file and save accomplishments, comments, statistics, andconferences/seminars attended for continuing education for future reference

2. Seattle Central Library

Seattle Central Library is within walking distance of the convention center in downtown Seattle. One afternoon after the Transportation Division Business meeting, John Cherney from WisDOT and I went to visit the Seattle Central Library.

According to the most recent America’s Most Literate Cities study done by the Central Connecticut State University, Minneapolis, Seattle and St. Paul are the top three most literate cities in America. In the last few years, the top two most literate cities have been either Minneapolis and Seattle or Seattle and Minneapolis.

The rankings compare the country's 69 biggest cities in terms of libraries, bookstores, educational levels, newspaper readership, locally published magazines and Internet resources.

I was interested in visiting the relatively new Seattle Central Library, to experience the library environment that makes Seattle such a literate city.

The 11-story, $165.5 million library opened in 2004. The glass and steel building was built with environmental sustainability in mind. According to the report “The Seattle Public Library,” natural lighting is available in 90 percent of the space in the library through thousands of glass panels encased by a steel grid.

The library has about 400 public computers with Internet access. The public terminals are equipped with screen protectors that allow only the person in front of it view the content. About 250 people work in this library.

The library has a large collection of world language materials located conveniently on the first floor.

The auditorium, designed for small performances, lectures, and speaking engagements, seats 425. The children’s story room seats 100.

As you can see from one of the pictures, the Dewey Decimal numbers (100, 200, etc.) and collection code (Doc, Mag, etc.) are marked clearly on the floor. John and I marveled at such simple yet very effective signage.

I was very impressed by this huge and magnificent library. I was also impressed by Seattleites’ forward-looking attitude when it comes to environmental sustainability and green living. Seattle and some other places in the state of Washington have a city-wide yard and food waste recycling program.

No wonder Seattle has topped the most literate cities list more than any other city in America.

As librarians, we wish we all have literate and open-minded people like Seattleites and big companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Nordstrom’s, etc. in town to help build better libraries and provide better services.

Photos of the library:

Seattle Public Library, interior

Ground floor with shop, café, circulation, and a reading area.

Seattle Public Library, signage

Signage on the floor

For more photos of the Seattle Public Library, see the photo gallery hosted by the Seattle Times at http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/local/library/photogalleries/spl1.html

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SLA Conference Sessions
by Danielle Pollock, MoDOT Transportation Library

1. Leadership: Building On Your Natural Abilities and Strengths

In this standing-room-only session sponsored by the Solo Librarians Division, Susan Gebeline, Executive Vice President of Personnel Decisions International, outlined four steps for leading and influencing others, even when working in roles in roles outside of the organization’s traditional management structure.

The first step involved identifying and understanding your own goals in a given situation. Gebeline emphasized that this is not always as simple as it sounds, and may require significant reflection. Next came understanding the goals of others in your organization, and adapting your message to others’ worldview and style of communication (using the Myers-Briggs model) in order to successfully convince them to embrace your ideas and initiatives. The third step was understanding your organizational environment and being able to place goals in a larger business context. The final step involved the importance of developing and maintaining credibility in our roles as information professionals through a combination of building trust and establishing our expertise.

Ms. Gebeline’s presentation can be found on the Solo Division’s website at: http://units.sla.org/division/dsol/Presentations/Leadership2008_SGebelein%20.pdf

2. Alternative Fuels: Technologies for a Healthy Planet

Dr. Richard Nelson, Director, Engineering Extension, Kansas State University and
Alvetta Pindell, Head, Information and Research Services Branch, National Agricultural Library

In the first presentation of this two-part session co-sponsored by the Transportation, Chemistry, Food, Agriculture & Nutrition, and Science-Technology Divisions, Dr. Richard Nelson, biodiesel expert and Director of Engineering Extension at Kansas State University provided a brief overview of the science behind the production of biodiesel, then went on to discuss biodiesel’s benefits, as well as some of the pressing economic and environmental concerns. He ended his presentation by detailing the electronic and print resources he commonly uses to find biodiesel information.

Dr. Nelson’s PowerPoint presentation, Biodiesel: Benefits, Issues and Opportunities is available on the Transportation Division website at http://units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattle08presents/NelsonBiodiesel.ppt

In the second part, Alvetta Pindell of the National Agricultural Library highlighted the resources available from the NAL and USDA on alternative fuels, including a proposed digital information portal for research on bioenergy and biofuels. She also provided us with a bibliography of currently-available resources and institutions involved in biofuels research. She discussed the possibilities for library partnerships for interdisciplinary research fields such as alternative fuels, and the challenges the NAL is facing trying to meet information needs in the face of significant funding cuts.

Ms. Pindell’s presentation, Alternative Fuels/Renewable Energy -- An Emerging Area of National Concern is available on the Transportation Division website at http://units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattle08presents/AlternativeFuelsSLA.ppt and the bibliography Alternative Fuels: Where to Look on the Web can be found at http://units.sla.org/division/dtrn/seattle08presents/BiofuelsElectronicResources.pdf

3. Keeping Found Things Found: The World Is At My Doorstep…And the House Is a Mess: Putting Our Information in Its Place in a Digital Age

In a session co-sponsored by the Solo Librarian and Social Science Divisions, William Jones, Associate Research Professor at The Information School, University of Washington and author of the book Keeping Found Things Found: The Study and Practice of Personal Information Management, discussed the concept of personal information management, or PIM, and the problems of keeping information organized in the physical world (piles of paper, overflowing inboxes) and the digital one (even larger amount of digital data that is neither organized nor backed up, chaotic e-mail in-boxes).

A successful PIM strategy tends to integrate information management into the ways we already use information, and takes into account how we keep, re-find and organization information. The factors include:

  • Visibility (Out of sight, out of mind)
  • Integration (Can it be used with things we do anyway?)
  • Scalability (What works on a small scale often doesn’t work on a large one.)
  • Return on Investment (Is it worth the effort?)
  • Co-Adoption (If others that we know use a strategy, we are more likely to use it.)

One of the difficulties of information management involves information fragmentation. The tools that help us manage information also mean that we often keep it in so many different places it takes checking several sources (email inbox, calendar, websites, desktop, etc.) to answer a single question. Also, different tools may meet different needs. The project explored people’s use of and preference for folders vs. tagging as systems of information organization, which can impact the tools they use. Those who prefer folders may prefer an email system such as Outlook, while those who prefer tagging may find a system like Gmail easier to use.

Toward the end of this session, Dr. Jones demonstrated the KFTF Personal Project Planner, the beta version of which is available for download at http://kftf.ischool.washington.edu/planner_index.htm.

The study of personal information management could be a useful one for librarians looking to manage their own information, or for those looking to gain a deeper understanding of the information management practices of individuals or groups within their organizations. Some online resources are listed below:

KFTF website: http://kftf.ischool.washington.edu/index.htm
Tales of PIM discussion forum: http://talesofpim.org/
PIM Resources: http://pim.ischool.washington.edu/

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by Barbara Post, Manager, Information Services, Transportation Research Board

TRIS Records are now linked to WorldCat

Through the joint effort of TRB, OCLC, and NTL, about half the records in TRIS Online are now linked to WorldCat. Users can now click on "Find a library where the document is available" and they will be taken to WorldCat for a listing of the libraries that own that document.

Contractor selected to add definitions to the Transportation Research Thesaurus

The panel for NCHRP Project 20-79: Expansion of the Transportation Research Thesaurus (chaired by Sue Sillick and containing many members of the Transportation Division of SLA) has selected a contractor. A contract has now been awarded to CDB Enterprises, and the team of David Batty, Gail Batty, Michael Kleiber and Jeanne Thomas has begun work on developing definitions to be added to the TRT.

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Library School Graduation
by Lisa Haakon Pogue, MSLIS

Lisa Pogue graduates from Drexel University iSchool

This June, like tens of thousands of other young and not-so-young people, I sweated in a cap and gown in a sweltering university basketball arena, listened to commencement speakers talk about my future, and finally walked up on a stage, shook the hands of people dressed in outfits worthy of Hogwarts, received a fake diploma, and switched my tassel from one side to another. In other words, I graduated!

Graduation was the culmination of a journey of about a year and a half of working on an MSLIS from Drexel University’s iSchool. I transitioned from being a busy professional to a full time online student. I found it harder than classroom learning as I had to constantly monitor and participate in projects and discussions throughout the week instead of sitting in class daydreaming.

I worked on a specialty in the management of digital information so I took a lot of classes with the information systems students, which I enjoyed as much as the traditional library classes. I was surprised that the IS instructors could have such as sense of humor and even liked to see my creativity in class and papers, such as designing a database about Buffy the Vampire Slayer or deciding which new iPod to purchase for human-computer interaction. I also learned new ways to interact in my learning, through Facebook, online chats, podcasts, wikis and Web sites.

What did I like least? For one, I now had to provide my own IT support. It was also hard to take time off, even though I spent time in Ireland doing Dialog searches for class. I also didn’t get to take as many of the electives as I wanted. I missed the opportunities to meet with students and faculty over coffee after class.

 What did I like best? I liked the more “practically oriented” rather than the “academic” instructors. I learned more when I could directly relate what I learned in class to what I did and hopefully will do professionally. I loved the discussions in library classes and the way students shared their insights and resources freely. It was also great to get to visit Ken Winter at VDOT for a class project in library management. I enjoyed stretching myself by taking several IS classes and exploring different areas of library science such as legal research.

So, with my new fake diploma and a Drexel business card case I walked off the stage, greeted some of the students I had only known online and celebrated both an accomplishment and an incredible opportunity to become a real librarian. Thanks to all of you who gave me advice and encouragement.

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In Memory of Bob Ford
by Nelda Bravo, Team Leader, Western Hemisphere Programs, FHWA Office of International Programs

The transportation library community lost a good friend when Bob Ford departed this world on Sunday, July 13, 2008 following a brief illness. A civil engineer, Bob joined the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in 1967 and helped build the Interstate Highway System. Later in his FHWA career he directed the International Highway Program and fostered collaboration between the United States and other nations. He loved the people and cultures, and helping developing countries. Bob also loved libraries. The FHWA Scan, “Acquiring Highway Information from Abroad” documented improvements needed for better international information exchange. Bob convinced the Transportation Research Board (TRB), the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and others to sponsor a number of seminars that brought transportation librarians together from Europe, Canada, the United States, and Australia to discuss methods for improving information exchange. The first of these, the International Transportation Information Resources conference and workshop was held in 1995, hosted by TRB at the National Academy of Sciences building in Washington, D.C. The OECD conferences in Prague and Mexico, as well as the FHWA international seminar in St. Petersburg, Florida and the DTRN international sessions owe much to Bob Ford and his belief that libraries and librarians played a large role in technology transfer. You can read more about some of the international exchanges at the following site:

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