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Friday 28 September 2012

Links of interest - 28th Sept

Linkspam! I won't even attempt to arrange these into some kind of thematic grouping this time, just throw them all at you:

Running the Library Race "draws a parallel between fatigued runners and overworked librarians, proposing that libraries need to pace work more effectively to avoid burnout. Through an exploration of cognitive science, organizational psychology, and practical examples, guest author Erica Jesonis offers considerations for improving productivity and reducing stress within our fast-paced library culture".

LIANZA 2012 was held this week and the conference proceedings are now online.

Aaron Tay rounds up 6 presentations/posts on librarianship that impressed me.

Elyssa Kroski has put together a list of 100+ law librarians on Twitter.

Jessica Olin writes about how she handles reference on chat - including a question on "Who would win in a fight? A bear or a tiger?" - in Chat reference is a weird beastie.

Meredith Farkas writes on Living our values, pulling together thoughts on a variety of events in the general "ownership vs [increasingly-expensive-]access" debate.

Speaking of which, I've particularly been following the saga since Jenica Rogers from SUNY Potsdam posted about her library's decision to cancel subscriptions to ACS journals - not an easy decision for either the library or the faculty, but she's been communicating transparently with the faculty about all the issues for some years so has been getting their full support both on the decision and on the backlash from ACS against the attention and support her post has been getting from librarians and chemists alike - ChemBark (with all the comments) has a good summary of a large part of it from a chemist's point of view, as does Walt Crawford from a librarian-ly point of view; and Catherine Pellegrino focuses on how other libraries and chemistry departments should step forward and stand with SUNY Potsdam on this.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

My tips for vendors training librarians

In theory, I love the idea that vendors will send a rep halfway around the world to visit libraries and give us a training session on their products. In practice, I kind of dread these sessions.... Because - and I don't know how to say this without sounding like I'm Grouchy McHyperbole so I'm just going to say it anyway - the number of such sessions I've found both useful and enjoyable I can count on one finger. Maybe two.

These are products I'm interested in and need to know about for my work, so I'm already hooked and I'm not asking for whizzbang presentation skills. I just don't want my time wasted. I'm pretty sure vendors don't want to waste their time either, so I'm not sure what sort of global communication snafu between vendors and libraries is preventing mutually useful meetings. But in the interests of maybe untangling it a bit, here are my personal tips for folk who visit libraries on behalf of vendors, on ways you can immeasurably improve at least my own experience.

(And note that these aren't just things that I saw once. I've got plenty of those stories, too - doesn't everyone, in any context? - but these are things that I wish for regularly.)

Teach what your audience wants to learn.
I want to know about your product - what it is, what it costs, what its features are, what its limitations are (don't try to hide or justify them, just give it to me straight), and how I and my users can use it to best advantage.

I don't care about the history of your company or where its headquarters are, unless support vs timezones is an issue. If you merged with another company very recently that might be useful information if it affects your product, but anything more than a few years old, save it for a handout.

Teach at the right level.
If this is a brand new-to-me product, then go ahead and start from basics. Just be aware that I'm an experienced information professional; I can figure out how to do a basic keyword search in pretty much any product.

If it's a product we've had for several years, you can safely assume I've known the basics for several years and am coming along to hear about advanced features or features you've released in the last year.

Know what you teach.
If you're going to demonstrate a function to me, make sure you've practised it yourself. A lot. If you spend several minutes trying to remember how something works it makes me impatient, makes you look unprepared, and makes your product look badly non-userfriendly.

Let us know what you're going to teach.
You can't please everyone all the time. Lots of people will want different things than I do. So ask us!

And/or when you've worked out what you're covering, email us in advance and say "I'm going to demo X, Y, and Z" - then people who already know that stuff, or who don't care about that stuff, can stay away and save their time.

Yes, this means you don't get face-time with them. On the plus side, it means you don't get face-time during which they get increasingly irritated at you. On the whole, that's a win-win. :-)


Any other library folk got tips for vendor folk?

And if any vendor folk are reading this, I'd love to hear from your point of view - are there factors I don't know about that mean you don't have the resources needed to be as prepared as you'd like? Or are there ways library folk could help the situation?