Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Meganiche: Revisiting the Long Tail

Chris Anderson's Long Tail is well known; however, it wasn't until the Alexa search engine & Google Analytics hit the open market that we mere mortals could see the long tail in action.

The interesting article "Tiny Slice, Big Market" by Clay Shirky brings the long tail into perspective in today's internet world, and, with a little bit of imagination, it demonstrates how libraries can be successful in a climate of fiscal hardships--not being everything to everyone.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

OSU's History of Art 415

Thank you Dr.Groseclose and the students of OSU's autumn HA415 class for inviting Michelle, Justine, and I to speak to you. I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion, and hope that each student proactively looks for opportunities in order to forward their careers. Here are some suggestions to do just that.

  • Network

    • Get to know your peers—they’ll be the next generation of professionals.

    • Get to know respected leaders within your field of interest. If you are genuinely interested in their research, it will show. In most cases, successful leaders want to promote and develop future leaders.

    • Get to know people outside of your field. The cross-pollination of ideas will create the opportunity for new partnerships, new knowledge creation, and possibly employment in a sector that you’d never thought of.

  • Try New Things

    • Not sure what you want to do with that History of Art Degree? Try internships in various fields. Here are some places to look.

      • Art Galleries (there a ton in the Short North and throughout Columbus)

      • The Columbus Museum of Art hosts an average of 19,000 on-site hours from 1,400 volunteers, ranking the museum in the top 5 volunteer corps in all US museums. For volunteer opportunities, call Nancy Johnson, Volunteer Manager, at 614.629.0307 (tell her that one of curator Annagreth Nil’s former volunteers sent ya’).

      • Help a professor. Former student Mara Colasante worked with Dr. John Huntington on the Huntington Archive. She was able to work with a world-renowned art historian, and she gained important technological skills (she learned how to use FileMaker Pro).

      • Volunteer at an art library. OSU’s Fine Arts Library has utilized the help of volunteers in the past. Volunteering at the Fine Arts Library will show you the inner workings of what goes into providing resources to a divers, art-oriented group. Furthermore, volunteering will open up direct communication channels with librarians, art historians, etc. (see my bullet on networking).

  • Know yourself

    • Take a hard look at your priorities and shape your future accordingly. Do some research and look at what it takes to meet your goals. There are typically pros and cons to any decision we make. Do the pros outweigh the cons? Only you can ultimately decide. Use your instincts. If you’re wrong, use the experience as something to be learned by. For every success, there are thousands of learning experiences. They are truly experiences to learn from—not failures!

    • But what if my priorities are constantly changing? As humans, we’re consistently in a state of flux. If you feel like you’re not sure where your interests lie, pick a profession that utilizes your background and your personality. I would suggest that librarianship would be a perfect match for this scenario. As a research librarian, you would have the opportunity to help research a multitude of different subjects—often learning a little about each.

  • Be Flexible and Ready to Accept New Opportunities

    • Avoid tunnel vision (e.g. one can only be a professor with a History of Art Degree). Actively look for new opportunities. Professional organizations are a great way to key you into these opportunities. For example, the College Art Association consistently highlights new work within the visual arts and the culture that surrounds/informs it.

    • Being ready to accept new opportunities means sometimes stepping outside of your comfort zone. Say you work for an employer that sees in you the ability to be transformative in an available position. The HR director knows that you do not have all the qualifications that they’re looking for; however, they see that your attitude and willingness to learn new skills as a viable asset to the firm. You’re offered the position. Do you take it even though you are not completely qualified? I would suggest being the person who takes it. By being that person, you will continually grow and evolve. Moreover, your work will be meaningful because you will continually challenge yourself. If you don’t accept new opportunities or if you don’t consciously look for new opportunities for growth, I guarantee you that you will soon become bored and maybe even angry with how you make a living. So, having a satisfying or meaningless career ultimately rests upon you.

    • The choices we make do not necessarily come without sacrifice. I do not mean to gloss over in the last bullet how difficult it is to sometimes reach our goals. More often than not, we must do without in order to gain what we really want. Sometimes that sacrifice is too great and we must revise our goals. From my own personal experience, I have had to give up a social life for nearly four years. Working typically 50 hours a week at 3 jobs while going full-time at OSU & KSU, I did not
      go out, and I had little sleep. However, I was determined to continuously evolve and become the best person I can be. That evolution will continues as long as I am living.

Again, thank you Dr. Groseclose & the students of HA415.

If you would like to know more about Fitch, a global design agency, please visit our Web site at http://www.fitch.com/.

If you would like to know more about art librarianship, please visit Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS/NA) at http://www.arlisna.org/.

Finally, if you’d like to know the perspective of art library students & recent graduates, please go to Art Library Students & New ARLIS Professionals (ArLiSNAP)’s Web site at http://www.arlisnap.org/.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Now here's a CEO that gets it. Jack McNerney, Boeing CEO, embraces continuous change and considers himself a value-added facilitator (basically someone who creates opportunities for employees to do their best). I highly recommend checking out the CNN Money article by clicking my entry's title "Leadership".

Sunday, October 15, 2006

VRA Great Lakes Chapter Fall Meeting 2006

It was my first time to a Visual Resource Association (VRA) meeting of any sort. As somewhat of an outsider (a corporate librarian), everyone made me feel very welcome.

Highlights of the meeting included presentations on OSU's Web Media Collective [WMC] (including highlights on OSU's VRL, the Harvey Goldberg Program for Excellence in Teaching, & the Knowlton School of Architecture's Digital Library) as well as copyright and copystands.

The meeting was held in the beautiful Knowlton School of Architecture’s Library.

Diane Dagefoerde, Director of the WMC, started the meeting describing the benefits of the WMC. Particularly appealing is the ability of the WMC to act as a liaison between the content producers as well as the end users and IT. Specifically, the WMC creates an atmosphere where the content producers can focus on what they know best--the content, and backend applications (backups, data migrations, database integrity, etc) are managed by technology experts. Speaking of which, George Abraham, Web Applications Developer, was particularly insightful on how the technical structures of the WMC integrated across different departmental resources.

Diane described one very interesting component within the WMC called The Colleges of Arts & Sciences Media Manager. The Media Manager provides faculty a centralized location to store their research images and other digital objects. However, by helping faculty collaborate, OSU's Media Manager provides much richer, value-added resources such as semi-formal collection development. Furthermore, if assistance with creating a formal collection (appropriate cataloging standards, etc.) is needed, the folks involved with the Media Manager can also help connect the faculty members to the appropriate resources.

The next speaker, Stephanie Bernhardt, Curator at OSU's VRL, described the visual resource library and its connection to the WMC. Stephanie spoke about how it was not feasible for OSU's History of Art department to purchase an off-the-shelf image database system. So, they built their own. Stephanie also introduced the VRL's Assistant Curators, Nora Kilbane and Michelle Maguire. Nora handles the digital operations including online courses, and Michelle handles the analog side of things.

One interesting point was brought up by Stephanie. She said that their data was still dirty after migrating from a 4D system, but the users have not seemed to complain. This reminded me of many discussions at KSU's SLIS. Specifically, a presentation by OCLC's George Needham drove home the point that most users are looking for good-enough. We [librarians] are in constant pursuit of accurate & detailed catalog records/metadata (or at least an acceptable balance given budgetary, time, and commitment constraints). Idealistically, I would like to see completely perfect records that are catalogued at a level three; however, I know this is logistically impossible. Yet, those who argue that our records should be just good enough are much more willing to forgo greater access. Then again, do people really search by DOI's and other obtuse descriptors?

The following speaker, Chris Aldridge, OSU History of Art Department's Web Content and Database Manager (and, interestingly enough, an alum of Sarah Lawrence like my family's good friend, Deena Fontana), spoke about the Harvey Goldberg Program. Because the collection is for a relatively small user group (around 160 faculty & grad students), there is no curator. Instead, Chris is the program's content manager. The same database has tiered levels of access--university-based and public. On the public side, E-History is an open access area which specializes in Civil War content.

Jane McMaster, Knowlton School of Architecture (KSA) Librarian, followed Chris. Jane briefly spoke about the specific limitations of ARTstor's collections for architecture libraries (currently ARTstor does not provide the necessary information for scholarship within architecture). Jane indicated that Archivision does a much better job meeting the needs of her constituents compared to ARTstor & Saskia. Jane also spoke about recent activities including her collaboration with Lorrie McAllister, KSA Visual Resource Curator, in order to obtain collection rights from the AIA, Columbus Historical Society, etc. Finally, Jane highlighted the excellent John H. Herrick Archives.

After Jane spoke, we headed over to OSU's Faculty Club and had a great lunch provided by OSU's History of Art Department. Directly after lunch, Joseph Romano, Chair of the Great Lakes chapter, conducted the organization's business meeting with Astrid Otey as "treasurer for life", Lesley Chapman as secretary, and the rest of the Great Lakes chapter members.

The first afternoon presentation was Carole Pawloski's summary of Peter Jaszi's Copyright Law, Image Policies & Guidelines for VR Collections. After a quick history of copyright, Carole discussed various sections within U.S. copyright code. Section 110 (exemptions) includes the TEACH Act which includes fair use for distance education, something I didn't know about. Carole also indicated that the Library of Congress' 108 Study Group (a committee of copyright experts who are particularly interested in digital copyright issues) will be hosting a roundtable January 31, 2007, and Carole indicated that the American Society of Media Photographers is resisting lenient copyrights laws in regards to orphan works. Finally, Carole said that if VR librarians continue to follow VRA guidelines and best practices they will be in little danger of litigation. One reason why non-profits (e.g. Universities, etc.) are not targets of litigation is because they have conservative policies; however, Carole indicated that VRL's should have their own guidelines reviewed by respected lawyers (per Jaszi). Carole also suggested the book Permissions, a survival guide : blunt talk about art as intellectual property.

The final presentation of the day was Michelle Maguire's summary of James T. van Rensselaer's Digital Copystand for Dummies: A Real Life Workshop for the Rest of Us!. Michelle had been placed in charge of photographing various objects within the OSU History Department's Museum of Classical Archaeology. The workshop Michelle attended helped her select and purchase a mid-priced camera (Cannon 5D, 12.8 megapixel, $3,300 [body only]). She indicated that the camera's body was like an analog 35mm camera--which meant that the camera did not feel foreign to her. Michelle reported that traditional copystands should have a 4' column and be sturdy up to its tallest height. She also reported that van Rensselaer suggested finding copystands on Ebay (specifically the Polaroid MP4). For lighting, Michelle said van Rensselaer suggested strobe lighting over anything else and that one should not use 150-watt photofloods because they are too hot and change color temperature. Finally, Michelle found that using a white backdrop worked much better than a black one (the black backdrop affects the image's color accuracy).

Again, the VRA Great Lakes Chapter Fall Meeting was a great success. I am so glad I was able to attend, and I look forward to becoming more involved in the VRA. If you would like to know more about the VRA or join the VRA's Great Lakes Chapter please visit the following links.

http://www.vraweb.org/ - Visual Resource Association (VRA)

http://www.oberlin.edu/art/vra/vragl.html - VRA Great Lakes Chapter

Monday, October 02, 2006

Embracing Change

So, over the past month I've been listening to Mr. Godin's
various works by means of audio tape.  After getting a healthy dose of
Senge's Learning Organization in library management, I'm totally convinced that
having an organization that learns to adapt quickly to change (and even create
change) then sharing that knowledge through completely open communication
channels is optimal.  Moreover, an organization that embraces change by
giving its employees latitude to experiment and receive immediate feedback
(fast feedback loops) is key.  At first I thought Don Barlow's philosophy
of always being beta was irresponsible.  The added stress upon his
employees to embrace yet another tweak in the ILS, I thought, would drive his
employees mad, but then I realized listening to Godin's Survival Isn't Enough
that you hire & weed for that type of employee--an employee that embraces
change and looks forward to the new challenges that await them.

Check out Godin's Blog at http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

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