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Student Shadow Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno on Spring Conference: Take the Opportunity to Attend Regional Conferences!

Student Shadow Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno on Spring Conference: Take the Opportunity to Attend Regional Conferences!

Kristen Thornton-De Stafeno attended UNYSLA’s Spring Conference as a student shadow and authored the following post commenting on her experience. Kristen received her Bachelor’s Degree in History and English from Binghamton University. She worked in the Pleasant Valley Free Library for two years before starting coursework for her M.S.I.S. at the University at Albany, State University of New York, where she is currently employed as a student assistant at the Dewey Graduate Library. After graduating in May 2017, she hopes to go into public libraries.

I had the pleasure of attending UNYSLA’s April 22nd conference, “Career Development, Plan Your Future” as a student shadow. Such a topic seemed perfect for my first professional conference as I knew the variety of guest speakers would address various issues relevant to my interests such as perfecting your resume and CV, managing projects early in your career, and interview advice. As a first-year Graduate student, I knew such input and an opportunity to network with various information professionals would be highly beneficial.

Our first guest speaker of the day, Lisa Norberg, Principal at K | N Consultants and co-founder of the Open Access Network discussed her career journey and she touched upon how career planning very rarely goes according to plan. As someone who has already experienced a shift in my original career plan, hearing someone such as Norberg – with a compelling wealth of experience – speak to this issue was reassuring. Norberg spoke more on the skills you can put to use to ensure your success, such as “copping a positive attitude,” playing well with others, giving change a chance and occasionally leading that change.

Following Norberg’s presentation, Susan Kendrick, of Cornell University, reviewed some common mistakes to avoid, and areas to highlight when creating and submitting a resume. This portion of the conference was both comforting and informative as I realized that I had managed to avoid mistakes such as “boilerplate” cover letters and the “hard sell” while I succeeded at focusing on experience relevant to the specific positions I applied to.

After a short break I got to introduce the next guest speaker, Tyler Dzuba, Head of the Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library and Interim Program Coordinator for the Carlson Student Research Space at the University of Rochester, River Campus Libraries. Dzuba’s positivity even when addressing issues such as ‘Saying No” to tasks was both uplifting and inspiring as he explained that some projects aren’t worth the effort you will put in and that the mindset that we can’t afford to say “no,” to new assignments and tasks isn’t always true. Dzuba’s tips on achieving your goals through gradual steps were the perfect advice for anyone who has difficulty visualizing and putting a plan into action.

Continuing with the theme of job applications and interviews, Susan Kendrick returned with advice on what questions interview teams will likely ask, and how to respond. As someone who in the past didn’t have questions of my own prepared for interviews, Kendrick’s suggestion for questions the interviewee could ask the interview team is advice I know I will apply to my next interview.

Following a lunch where we split into groups of corporate, public, and academic libraries, I had the pleasure of introducing Jenna Mayotte, the Associate Director of the Portland Public Library in Portland, Maine. Mayotte gave a presentation titled “I Do What I Want!” in which she discussed how you can change careers as long as you plan well. Some of her planning tips included keeping track of your roles in various topics to assist you in telling and selling your “story” in future interviews. Mayotte noted that you don’t have to stay in a bad job forever, but that you should learn skills and lessons from every job you have.

Our last topic was a panel on “The Art of Negotiation” with Linda Galloway, Allison Perry, Jenna Mayotte, Zari Kamarei, and Elaine Lasda-Bergman. The consensus among the panelists was to always push for a pay increase prior to accepting a position as that is the time to get your largest pay increase. As fellow student shadow Laurie Dreyer pointed out, we often think about these negotiations in terms of salary, but there should also be attention paid to what the benefits will be. A great tip Kamarei and Mayotte gave was to ask for different types of increases if your salary can’t be raised: two examples were a one-time payment for re-location or a laptop. Finally, Allison Perry’s suggestion that applicants who decline health insurance coverage from a tentative employer – due to being covered under a spouse’s policy – negotiate for a pay increase was a thought that never crossed my mind previously.

Aside from the variety of guest speakers and topics covered at the conference, getting to sit down and have one-on-one conversations with public library directors and other students interested in the same field was extremely eye-opening. As someone who only has experience with working in New York State libraries, I had little knowledge of how unique our Civil Service requirements were in comparison with other states such as Connecticut and Maine. Jenna Mayotte was quite helpful in explaining how the job application process differs when library boards are not restricted by test scores.

Even if the day’s presentations hadn’t touched upon topics relevant to my career, getting the opportunity to network with information specialists from a variety of backgrounds would have been motivation enough to attend such a conference and I would highly recommend others take the opportunity even if they are unsure about their interest in the conference’s topic.

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Student Shadow Laurie Dreyer on Spring Conference Lessons: Encourage a Love of Learning

Student Shadow Laurie Dreyer on Spring Conference Lessons: Encourage a Love of Learning

Laurie Dreyer, a graduating MSIS student, attended the UNYSLA event “Career Development, Plan your Future” on Friday April 22, at the University at Albany’s Science Library as a student shadow and authored the following reflection. Dreyer hopes to join an academic organization in an instructional or reference capacity upon her graduation in May.

The day started with keynote speaker Lisa Norberg, a principal consultant at K|N Consultants, emphasizing the non-linear path that library careers often take. Norberg laid out eight steps that early and mid-career librarians can take to help plan the course of their careers:

  1. Define Success. It is important to define success for oneself – how do you want to spend your time? It is also important to help others succeed too, as this will add to your own feeling of success. This definition will likely change often.
  2. Do your job well. Don’t lose focus on what your key tasks are. Instead, take responsibility for your work and do it well. It is important to pay attention when you start to get bored. It can be an opportunity for change, but don’t use that as a reason to stop doing what needs to be done.
  3. Cop an attitude (a positive attitude!). Much of your success at work is based on your positive attitude, even more so than your skillset and knowledge.
  4. Play well with others. Being nice at work is going to make everyone’s life much easier. Learn how to disagree amicably. This skill alone will make you a valuable employee.
  5. Fear no data. Rather, collect the data, analyze the data, and act on the data. Don’t forget the act part; it is the most important!
  6. Give change a chance. It is the one constant of the information world and can take on many forms, so learn to expect it.
  7. Better yet, lead change. This can be done from any position, not just department/organization heads. Leadership and management do not mean the same thing and it is important to learn the difference.
  8. Work unafraid. Explore new areas of your discipline, speak your mind, and research what interests you.

Many of these themes were repeated throughout the day, illustrating to attendees how full of opportunities the world of information can be. Norberg was followed up with some practical advice from Susan Kendrick, a Business Research and Data Librarian at Cornell University. Kendrick reminded us that applicants have very little control over the pet peeves of those hiring. She emphasized that being ‘boring’ was the smartest thing an applicant can do in their application packet. The ‘wow factor’ comes more from the things you have done and the types of opportunities you have sought out, rather than the font that you use to tell people about it.

Tyler Dzuba, the Head of the Physics-Optics-Astronomy Library at the University of Rochester, graciously pointed out the career strengthening that joining professional organizations, like SLA, can do for those early in their careers. Jenna Mayotte, Associate Director of the Portland (ME) Public Library, dispelled the myth that it is impossible to move from academic to public libraries, and even showed us how doing so can make one a more appealing applicant. Four guest speakers agreed during the last session’s Q & A that salary negotiation is one of the most difficult things you can do and shared some valuable tips.

Here are some of the lessons that I took away from this event:

  • If you aren’t excited about the position being offered, don’t apply. When you find one that you are excited about, emphasize what part of the job you are excited about in your application.
  • Figure out what about librarianship makes you LOVE what you do and then find a position that allows you to do that (it might take a while, so have a plan for how to pay your rent in the meantime).
  • Keep reevaluating what your goals are and how you define success for yourself.
  • Don’t accept the first salary offer, it is not going to hurt to ask for more money even if the answer is no, you’ll still get the job (if you want it) and you will be happier that you asked.
  • Pay attention during interviews, you are going to get a very good idea of the culture in the place you are applying to during the interview – use that as your opportunity to interview them!

I walked away with a sense that careers in librarianship are constantly evolving. That the trajectory for library careers is not the same as it was a couple of decades ago. Finding one job and working there for 30 years is no longer the ideal. The ideal now is to affect change, to foster and bring new ideas into the world, to encourage a love of learning, and to spend as much time learning for and about ourselves as we can.

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Student Shadow, Will Sheppard, Summarizes “A Look at Library Spaces”

Student Shadow, Will Sheppard, Summarizes “A Look at Library Spaces”

Will Sheppard attended UNYSLA’s most recent conference as a student shadow. Here is his tale:

I recently attended UNYSLA’s spring conference “A Look at Library Spaces” at the University of Rochester. The changing nature of libraries is something that concerns information professionals of all types and the large, diverse group of attendees hammered home both the importance and universality of the topic.

Mary Ann Mavrinac, Vice Provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of the River Campus Libraries at the University of Rochester got things started with her keynote speech discussing her vision for transforming the iconic Rush Rhees library into a hub for innovation on campus. She noted that with the growth of collaborative spaces in the business world it is becoming critical for academic institutions to prepare students to function in group environments post-graduation, and that libraries have an opportunity to fill this need.

Mary Ann’s proposed master plan for Rush Rhees is an innovative approach – instead of focusing on renovating one area of the building, she approaches it much like cities do when creating redevelopment plans, designating broad usage categories but not specific contents (a ‘technology space’ instead of a computer lab, for example). This approach allows the plan to be implemented sequentially while allowing flexibility down the line, something that is particularly critical as technology and user expectations continue to evolve.

Terry Buford, Director of Irondequoit Public Library, and Pete Wehner from Passero Associates spoke regarding the challenges they faced in designing and constructing the new Irondequoit Public Library. One of the key design challenges they faced was how to create a building that both satisfied patron desires for interactive, collaborative spaces while preserving the rows of books and quiet spaces that other patrons feared losing. They designed the new building to provide spaces for both communities, using the bulk of the building (including sections of the stacks) as a physical buffer between spaces built for louder and quieter purposes.

In spite of all of this talk of dramatic change in the way libraries are physically constructed, Mary Ann’s remarks contained a reassuring note, emphasizing that accommodating user needs for collaborative and innovative spaces is something libraries have been doing for centuries. As Mary Ann said, the Great Library of Alexandria served as a hub of scholarly activity of all types – both the preservation of knowledge and collaboration leading to the creation of new knowledge. Libraries changing to incorporate more innovative and collaborative spaces aren’t abandoning their past – they’re getting back to their roots.

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Students, do you want to attend “A Look at Library Spaces”?

Students, do you want to attend “A Look at Library Spaces”?

Become a UNYSLA Student Shadow and attend A Look at Library Spaces for free*!

Student Shadows

Apply now to be a student shadow and attend the next UNYSLA event! (Note: Student shadows will be reimbursed after the event.) We are looking for students who would like to introduce our presenters and write a short article for the UNYSLA website.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 9th at 5:00 PM.

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Unlocking Open Access: Conference Re-cap from Student Shadow Jessica Bellini

Unlocking Open Access: Conference Re-cap from Student Shadow Jessica Bellini


UB graduate student Jessica Bellini shares her experiences as a student shadow at UNYSLA’s fall conference: Unlocking Open Access

On October 17th I had the pleasure of attending the UNYSLA Fall Event, Unlocking Open Access: Making it work for publishers, authors, and institutions. I signed up for this conference because open access is a hot topic in my courses at UB and a special interest of mine. It was enlightening and fun to spend the day with professional librarians who share this interest in open access. While most presenters at Unlocking Open Access discussed open access from an academic librarian’s perspective, all of the presentations offered insights on the implications of open access publishing for a wide variety of information agencies.

Jim Del Rosso started our day with a brief introduction to open access models and the history of open access. He stressed that open access is not a business model, but rather a set of principles to avoid charging the reader. Del Rosso presented many resources of interest to those who want to educate themselves on key aspects of the open access debate, including Peter Suber’s Very Brief Introduction to Open Access and Beall’s List of Predatory OA Journal Publishers. Del Rosso asserted that Beall’s List may cast too wide a net and include some legitimate OA publishers. Just as open access journals and repositories have a strong commitment to peer review, perhaps Beall’s List needs a peer review process.

Ben Wagner’s enthusiasm for Federal open access directives was tangible throughout his presentation. Recent laws mandate open access scholarly publishing for virtually all publicly funded research. This affects not only the librarians who work for federal institutions such as the Department of Education or NIH, but also anyone who works with researchers or students that access articles produced by such institutions. I was especially interested in Wagner’s musings on the role of librarians in creating and implementing standards for open metadata that will accompany this open access push.

Next, Jaron Porciello spoke about institutional support for open access. Porciello discussed the differences in support for open access among students and faculty. Graduate students and new faculty members are more likely to publish in open access journals, while older professors are often skeptical of OA journals and prefer to publish in traditional, well-known journals with high impact factors. I was enthused to learn that many graduate students eschew traditional journal metrics and instead ask that their peers read their research to determine its credibility and contribution to the scholarly literature. There are many reputable, high-quality open access journals. Perhaps it would be easier for librarians to convince professors of the benefits of open access publishing if we could point to a list of credible, important open access journals based on traditional and alternative metrics.

Rachel Burley shared with us a publisher’s perspective on open access. Burley serves as VP and Director for Open Access at Wiley, a publishing company that has experienced tremendous growth in the number of authors who publish in their OA journals. In 2012 only 32% of Wiley authors published in an OA journal, but in 2013 that number rose to 59%! Wiley hopes to continue this trend by increasing author services, and adding an online author’s resource center, article promotion tools, and comprehensive metrics.

Our final presenter was Kate Pitcher, one of the principal investigators of the Open SUNY Textbooks project. Open SUNY Textbooks is a collaborative project in which librarians, faculty, and students from several SUNY campuses work together to publish textbooks and promote open educational resources. The high cost of textbooks impacts student learning. This project shows that SUNY can effectively publish open educational resources, and thus ameliorate the effect of financial concerns on student success. I have some firsthand experience with Open SUNY Textbooks – I used one of the freely available textbooks (The Information Literacy User’s Guide) during a library instruction internship I completed over the summer. It’s not just me; the seven textbooks published by Open SUNY have received more than 19,000 unique views and a great deal of positive feedback so far. I’m excited to see what the future holds for Open SUNY textbooks!

One final note: As a Library Science student I think it is especially important to attend local events to stay informed about current issues and innovations in Upstate New York libraries, and meet librarians and information professionals who may one day be my co workers. I am admittedly a rather reserved person, but all the attendees at Unlocking Open Access made me feel welcome. I enjoyed talking with several librarians about their career paths and received a great deal of advice that should prove very valuable in my own job search. I encourage all MLS students from Upstate New York to attend a UNYSLA event-you will be glad you did!

Written by: Jessica Bellini

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“Competitive Intelligence is a Mindset”

Student Shadow, Sarah Bratt, reflects on UNYSLA’s spring conference.

Janis Whritenor, Paychex, Inc.

At this year’s 2014 UNYSLA /SCIP conference, Janis Writenor proposed a fascinating paradigm shift in the way we think about the context of our business. There’s widespread agreement in the corporate world that the best approach to a business task requires a wealth of vetted information. However, this claim is belied by the recent rash of “Big Data” hype. So what now for librarians? What now for competitive intelligence professionals?

In the chiefly data-driven, highly networked landscape where the concept of data-driven-decision-making isn’t new, there’s still a persistent need to develop tools and techniques to grapple with emerging business intelligence and market research challenges.

With over 20 years of strategic market research experience, Whritenor’s talk provided valuable insight into “why CI is critical for business today.”  Her career began in printing and evolved once she completed her MBA. Whritenor then created her own position at Paychex, Inc. dealing chiefly in payroll and business support. Feet wet, her interest in competitive intelligence and business intelligence grew and she began managing teams to fulfill requirements for market research at Paychex. Her business savvy led to “transform[ing] data into insight.” But the nitty gritty of market research is a mystery without a concrete example of a success story at Paychex.  To answer “What makes for successful CI?” Whritenor spoke from her experience as a manager at Paychex, Inc. in the company’s move to open an office in an emerging market.

Paychex in Brazil: A Case Study

Whitenor focused on a case study she worked on at Paychex where she used a CI mindset in a project. Paychex was doing a global scan assessing new markets for expansion. Explosions of questions arose in the new venture: Which country do we choose? What’s the business climate like? Is the market large enough? Is the government pro-business? Anti-business? And once you’ve asked these questions, how in the world do you find out the answers? To narrow down the questions, Whritenor advised finding “the long pole in the tent.” Paychex’s decision to expand into a new country was ultimately dependent on the “long pole” of regulatory requirements and the burden these requirements placed on business.

In the end, Paychex weighed their options and ultimately decided to open a foreign operations office in Brazil. As one of the “BRIC” emerging markets (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), Brazil’s economic situation differed from Paychex’s previous endeavors. The move last fall 2013 proved successful owing in part to the background research performed by Whritenor and colleagues. Market research paints a predictive picture for a company looking out at a 5-10 year horizon. Whritenor also suggested concept-testing, asking other companies about their “pain points,” and hiring a local company to do what their business isn’t expert at (e.g. payroll). Whritenor argued that the success of the decision required CI continuity.  Generalizing her experience with Paychex’s changing priorities, she concluded the case study by asserting that CI must be seen as a lifecycle, which iterates as the dynamics of systems, economies, and priorities change.

CI as a Mindset

Data-driven decision making is not a new idea. But as a mindset, CI requires that you think bigger and that you think global. Every library, every small business, every mom-and pop road-side stand sits enmeshed in a global context. CI as a mindset means you and your business are nested in a network of linked entities that compete and collaborate. Total isolation from modern marketplaces is extremely rare (I’ll grant you the South Pole and deep space as economically out of reach places, as far as global economics goes). The norm for managers of a business or organization of any size, market, niche, or location is deeply embedded in markets.

The implications of Whritenor’s statement that “CI is a mindset” are impactful across organizations and industries. As the centers of information collection, organization, and access (and the details that come with information management), libraries are central to an organization’s competitive intelligence conception. Librarians conduct research not only by amassing credible sources, but also synthesize and analyze findings and build a foundation for managers to make decisions with the rich view of the SWOT landscape. Granted, libraries and corporate environments differ. For example, the lifecycle of CI is not as static. There’s a higher premium on currency of information in fast-paced, bottom-line driven business than you’ll usually find in traditional academic research in the social or natural sciences.

Libraries and CI

Where there’s a question of website authority, document authenticity, or information currency, so too are there librarians (or should be!). An information professional is well-poised to assist the research process no matter the library or community he serves.  Whritenor’s Paychex example underscored the central role of source evaluation in CI. Her experience was a case study in the importance of navigating vast collection of data to support solution-building, especially by understanding known and unknown sensitivities of the new business climate (e.g., a country’s time zone, policy-making process, and cultural norms). These sensitivities influenced the ultimate decision to open an office in Brazil.

In the end, we can agree with Whritenor: CI is best thought of as a mindset rather than a particular lineup of tools and strategies. And a public or academic library would do well to leverage this mindset. Traditional libraries are well-adapted for CI not to vie against competition, but in the context of goals different from corporate community engagement and information evaluation, and research needs but rather to take the temperature of the business and educational landscape.

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Student Shadow Nancarrow Brown Recounts her Recent Conference Experience!

Student Shadow Nancarrow Brown Recounts her Recent Conference Experience!

I had the privilege to be selected as a student shadow for the UNYSLA fall workshop: The Librarian’s Toolbox: Reopened. I met many interesting local professionals at the event and heard a number of presentations everything ranging from marketing through Pinterest to using citation makers. These workshops provided information about tools that I need to work on adding or developing within my toolbox. Each will be beneficial to me in the future and to my members. As a student shadow, I had the opportunity to introduce two local librarians, Sarah Thiemer and Sarah Young.

Sarah Theimer is the Principal Cataloguer and Metadata Librarian at Syracuse University Library. Her presentation on “Using Knoodl for Ontology Creation” discussed why ontologies are valuable to librarians. According to Ms. Thiemer, ontology is a “definition of concepts and the relationship between concepts within a domain.”  She stated that words mean different things to different people and using ontology creates a shared understanding between participants.

Ms. Thiemer focused her study on the use of Knoodl, which is a free software used for creating and managing ontologies. According to Ms. Thiemer, it is easy to use and has many useful capabilities and formats including RDF and OWL (web ontology language). However, Knoodl needs more documentation for improved access and development. She also utilized Protégé, which was created by Stanford University’s Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research. The software on Protégé can also be used for free as well in RDF, OWL, and XML. Protégé had more documentation which allowed easier use of the site and creating ontology.

In order to facilitate her use of Knoodl, Ms. Thiemer used documentation from Protégé. First of all, she consulted the “Ontology Development 101” Tutorial found on Protégé. First, you determine the domain and scope of the ontology you want to create. You need to know the topic and audience for the ontology before you begin. Second, ask yourself two questions about your topic. What concepts need to be included? What questions need to be answered? Third, search other ontologies to find existing ones that can be imported and reused as you are creating yours. Finally, define the classes (concepts) and hierarchies of your topic including the properties (attributes) and instances (specific entities). Overall, Ms. Thiemer concluded that while Knoodl was quicker to use when creating ontology she would use Protégé when creating ontology for professional and work related projects.

 Sarah Young is the Health Science and Policy Librarian at Cornell University and the chair elect of SLA’s division of Food, Agriculture, and Nutrition. Ms. Young presented about “Faculty Use of Online Social Networks: Toward Supporting Collaborative Research on the Web.” She believes that “embedding the library into the university’s virtual space is as important as the physical collaborations.” They conducted a survey at Cornell University to research what social networking tools are being employed by the faculty.

Social media tools are increasingly important for sharing research, finding collaborators for studies, tracking the activities of other researchers, and in developing a presence online. The Cornell survey showed that Google Scholar Citations, Research Gate,, and Twitter were most commonly used. The faculty was also using several discipline specific tools such as, Ideas, NeuroTree, and ZFIN.

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