Tips for Wanna-be Librarians

Few years back, a reputed librarian shared her from the exhibit halls at the ACRL ( Association of College and Research Libraries) Conference in Denver. At these time these tips seem invaluable, practiced and proved. Though changed in nature over the time. She shared- a modern perspective (for that era), highly selective, completely subjective list of what’s new and what’s cool in library technology – in quite informal fashion culled from her visits to the exhibit hall at the ALA Annual Conference in Atlanta.

Lets Hear the experience for her Perspective: as, these are some tips some wannabe Liberians should be benefited from:

I have rules for visiting exhibit halls at conferences:

  • Wear comfortable walking shoes and a backpack containing a bottle of water, money, and a stack of business cards.

  • Limit each visit to the exhibit halls to 1 hour, and no more than 2 visits per day.

  • Do not pick up more than 1 sheet of literature from any one vendor – you can usually find what you need on the web.

  • Leave the pens and mouse-pads alone – go for the toys.

These rules have served me well, and I haven’t yet left a conference without having walked past every vendor’s booth at least once. If something catches my eye, I’ll stop to chat. If not, I keep moving. It works well for me, and allows me to see what’s being offered at a somewhat leisurely pace.

I tend to be most interested in products for academic libraries (go figure!), especially “cool” technology products. Not necessarily the bells and whistles variety, but technology that is useful, that allows us to do things better or in a different way, or that accommodates other ways of thinking. So, given all this, here are my best picks from the ALA exhibitors in That June.

First Place Systems, located in Vancouver, B.C., deserves top prize for its Visual Net for Libraries. We know from learning theory that some people are textually oriented, while others learn best through visual stimuli. Visual Net allows users to browse your library catalog using spatial relationships and visual cues to guide their search, but also allows traditional search and display methods. And since it can represent the relative sizes of collections, it doubles as a handy collection development tool.

Second Place

The National Library of Medicine just keeps adding cool new features to its customized database named- PubMed , features that are equal to or better than the ones for which we pay big bucks. One of the latest: development until then was, a “jumping-off point from PubMed citations to relevant resources on the web, such as full-text articles, library holdings, commentaries, author biographies, practice guidelines, consumer health information, and research tools.” (Yeah, I know, there are other products out there, but the point is that this one didn’t forced you to mortgage the ranch to pay for it.)

Third Place

The Association of Research Libraries’ (ARL) Scholars Portal project is still in the developing stage till then, but generated great promise. Remember reading about the idea of a Scholars’ Workstation waaaaaay back in the 1990s? This project updates the idea for the 21st century, using the power of the web portal – a “single point of access on the Web to find high-quality information resources and, to the greatest extent possible, deliver the information and related services directly to the desktop.” ARL is hoping to make it happen with the help of Fretwell-Downing Inc.’s ZPORTAL product.

Honorable Mention

The following products didn’t make it into the top cut, but they still deserve mention here:

  • RefWorks

    Bravo to RefWorks for creating a web-based citation manager. A lot of the same functionality as EndNote and ProCite, but much more affordable for campus-wide use. Import citations from databases, format a bibliography according to a particular style, and integrate citations into a research paper.

  • AGent

    Auto-Graphics offers a search tool that can search multiple databases at once (from different vendors, as well as locally-developed databases), offers deduped and detailed result sets, has a flexible, customizable interface, and searches repositories of documents in a variety of standard formats, including MARC21, XML, PDF, Word documents, and SQL. It can also offer remote patron authentication via several industry standard protocols.


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