Category Archives: Professional Development

ROI of Information Services and Professionals: Mary Ellen Bates – The C-Level Suite and You

What's your definition of ROI?

CC courtesy of Beth Kanter

Mary Ellen Bates, in The C-Level Suite and You webinar sponsored by Springer last Thursday, spoke about how we, as information professionals, can show our worth to employers.  Ms. Bates started off by tackling the challenge of proving the human component is just as important as the resources and tools needed in performing research.  Computers and databases may be able to provide answers to your questions, but cannot offer insight or interpretations of those answers.  Humans bring perspective and non-linear thinking, and info pros know what questions to ask to get the best results, even if the client doesn’t.

We are curious, neutral, persistent, analytical and perceptive.

These skills enable us to assess information for its relevancy.  Resources and tools like computers are wonderful, but info pros function as high-end filters.

Explaining what we do can also be a challenge, but one important goal is to emphasize terms that show value, rather than just stating a fact:

  • “We search premium databases” -vs- “We bring perspective from the outside”
  • “We provide research services” -vs- “We enable better decision making”
  • “We are experts in finding and organizing information” -vs- “We make critical information findable”

In order to do this, though, we need to learn what’s really valued in our organizations by:

  • Questioning all assumptions we have about our organization and its informational needs to see what we’re missing.  Do I know my organization’s strategic goals?
  • Asking clients to describe situations in which they couldn’t find the answer they needed, in order to ascertain their research habits and better help them in their search and to provide the resources that will give them what they need.
  • Finding out if, after a trip to the information center, our clients feel like they have enough information, or maybe more than enough.  Were their needs met?
  • Listening for phrases like “I don’t know if you do this, but…” so we can help our clients to know that we’re capable of more than they may think.
  • Soliciting input by asking clients:

“If you could change one thing about the information center, what would it be?”

To make the most out of a reference interview and have your client feeling that they’re getting the highest quality service and information, Ms. Bates suggests asking yourself:

  • Do I understand the context and purpose of this project?  Why are they asking?  Why do they need this information?  What will they do with it?  How can I make it more valuable?
  • Do I know what will happen to my deliverable?  Will it be distributed to colleagues or used as sales or promotional materials?
  • Do I know when I can stop?  What is good enough?
  • If I can’t find exactly that, what would be second best?  Find out not what they think the answer should look like, but what the answer is.  What can I do to help my client accomplish that?  How can I make it more valuable?
The presentation wrapped up with some questions info pros can ask themselves in preparing to prove their personal value:
  • How am I reinventing myself?
  • How can I move my professional comfort zone higher?  —  Have you given a speech?  Led a group?  Initiated a project?
  • What am I to the bottom line?  Am I overhead to be controlled or involved in generating revenue as strategic decision support?
  • Am I selling what I have or what my clients need?
  • Do I focus on effort or results?
  • Do I track examples of my impact?  What has changed as a result of my work?
  • Am I visibly contributing to my organization’s goals?
  • Where can I strategically expand?  Who else in the organization depends on strategic information?  Who is expanding into new areas?  Who is on a high-level task force?
Last, but not least, Ms. Bates encouraged us all to:

Try new things… Just call it BETA!

Here are some resources for more information on Mary Ellen Bates and showing ROI of information services and professionals:
*Originally posted by myself on Wolper Information Services’ insight&outlook

From the Library 2.012 Keynote

“Primary motivation for librarians is job satisfaction and making a difference” – Maureen Sullivan, ALA President 2012-2013


Participation, NOT Representation

Defining our future is a task of participation, NOT representation

This is applicable on many levels in our society, but is from a post by Carl Grant summarizing his recent keynote at ALA Annual 2012.  Carl asks librarians to take charge of our future and help develop the very tools we use to serve our communities.

This is something I have been trying to do for just about a year now and have found it quite intimidating.  How do you become involved with something so large as a profession when just starting out?  I’ve tried to focus my interests in hopes of finding smaller niches in the industry where I can be of service.  I am following the dealings of LITA and have volunteered for my local SLA chapter.  I’m very interested in standards and have been researching participation in NISO working groups, which is something that would have more of an impact.

I’m starting small, but once I become more comfortable within my own professional skin hopefully I can help to make a difference and shape the future of librarianship.

ALA TechSource – Annual Tech Wrapup

ALA TechSource will be hosting a free webinar on Monday, January 30, 2012 from 3-4.30pm , The Annual Tech Wrapup.

From TechSource’s blog:

The ALA Midwinter Meeting provides a fantastic opportunity to reflect on how technology is continuing to transform the library world. Between the exhibition floor and the variety of technology-related events, the conference can provide attendees with an overview of where library technology is, and where it may be going. Of course, for various reasons, many librarians won’t be able to attend, and many who do will find themselves spread so thin that they cannot attend some of the technology-related events.

We’re happy to announce that we’re continuing our free, conference-wrapping webinars with The 2012 ALA TechSource Midwinter Tech Wrapup. Our expert panel will present their observations and analysis of the top technology trends from the conference, and what they see as the implications for libraries.”

I’m one of those that was unable to make it to Midwinter, so I’m very grateful for this free opportunity to get a bit of a summary.  I registered yesterday and am excited to hear what technology has been impacting libraries lately!

Two Upcoming ALCTS Webinars of Interest

There are two Webinars coming up in February from ALCTS that are of interest to me as a librarian working with electronic resources, licenses, and publisher relations:

Effective Subscriptions Management and Alternatives
February 15, 2012 2-3pm

“Libraries face opposing pressures of reduced budgets, patron demand for new content, and increasing costs. This webinar presents a method to collect and analyze cost and use data to evaluate your journal collection (including how to analyze that Big Deal). The presenters will discuss a variety of alternatives to subscriptions to enable patron access to needed content. Presenters will also discuss how to effectively communicate journal access changes with faculty.”

The Black, White, and Gray Areas of Licensing: A Review and Update for Librarians and Publishers
February 29, 2012 2-3pm

“Building on a preconference offered at ALA Annual 2010 entitled “Taming the Licensing Tiger,” the presenters will carry on the conversation around library licensing issues and answer questions submitted in advance by attendees. Using an interactive approach employing chat, audience polling and presubmitted questions, the presenters will cover hot topics and current challenges facing libraries in licensing digital content. The presenters represent the viewpoints of a publisher (Robert Boissy), an academic library (Becky Albitz) and a consortium (Tracy Thompson-Przylucki).”

WEBINAR: “Developing a Powerful Personal Learning Network (PLN)” with Richard Byrne

There are 9 webinars over the course of today and tomorrow that are part of the Washington Library Media Association’s “This is LIT”: WLMA/Lib2.011 Webinars for Teacher-Librarians.

Of specific interest to me is “Developing a Powerful Personal Learning Network (PLN)”  with Richard Byrne, taking place today (10/14/11) at 11:05am Pacific/2:05pm Eastern.

Richard makes the very good point that “You can learn a lot by observing and occasionally sharing with a network. But until you start to share, you won’t experience the full benefits of social media.”  Engage and get involved in today’s session if you can.  If you can’t attend, but are still interested in exploring the topic of PLNs, Richard shares the slide deck for today’s presentation on his blog.

Building Your PLN – Part 2

Last time, I started fleshing out ways to find sources for building your PLN (Personal Learning Network), and I would like to build a little more on that topic today.

One thing I would like to add on the topic of RSS feeds from my previous post, is that Google Reader has a wonderful feature where it recommends posts and feed sources based on those to which you have subscribed.  For example, if you are on a blog, click the “Subscribe” button, and choose to add the feed to Google Reader, Reader will give you suggestions based on that feed immediately.  If you do not choose any at that point, you can later go back and click the down arrow to the right of a feed or folder in your subscriptions list, and see suggestions on the pop-out menu “More Like This”.  There are also sections under the “Explore” heading, where Reader will recommend feeds and articles based on your subscriptions and articles you star.

If you belong to professional associations, checking their blogs and websites often (or adding their RSS feeds to your feed reader) is a great way to keep on top of important topics in your industry.  On top of the general association blogs, often the various sections and divisions will also have individual blogs and websites.

One of my favorite sources for finding new blogs and online articles is an iPad magazine app called Zite.  When you first use Zite, you enter keywords and topics that you are interested in, and this produces sections of the magazine.  You then have the option to thumb-up or down articles as you read and the app learns from your interaction with it.  The magazine will adapt to your preferences, and show you more articles on topic you like, and less on those you are not interested in.  Zite is also integrated with services like Facebook, Twitter, Read It Later, LinkedIn and email, to make sharing of articles all the more convenient.

There are quite a few similar apps about, generally they aggregate content from your social media accounts or other pre-defined sources, did a nice comparison of some of these apps.

One final resource I would like to share today is a website called is an aggregator, where you can enter feeds from sources such as Twitter, RSS, and Facebook, and it will send you daily digest “newspaper”.  If you do not want to create papers from your own feeds and wish do discover new ones, you can search and subscribe to people or papers, or just look at staff picks and popular topics on the home page. also has a web app for mobile use, so it is convenient to use on many devices.