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What Info Pros Are Grateful For
by
Posted On November 3, 2020
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Iris L. HanneyIris L. Hanney

president of Unlimited Priorities, LLC

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

Unlimited Priorities is a small company that serves small to midsize companies in the information industry and supports activities of the academic research libraries. I am very grateful that we have managed to stay afloat, maintain most of our team, work with companies worldwide, understand worldwide challenges because of COVID, and remain viable for doing business, forming partnerships, and surviving this insanity. I am especially grateful to all of our customers for their ongoing trust, and we are committed to never disappointing a client ever—even through this wild ride.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

I bit the bullet after 5 years and bought a new laptop. While I was petrified of learning a new operating system—old dogs, new tricks—I am now thrilled that I did it. The efficiency of the new software and the speed of the new computer are amazing. Yes, old dogs can learn new tricks!

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

Many of this year’s challenges, we are hoping, will support growth going into next year. There are new products being built, new ways to market being created, a new respect for co-workers who are hanging on. Resilience is a fabulous trait—I have witnessed it in many and hopefully in myself.


Valerie HawkinsValerie Hawkins

manager of content and community at Skilltype

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I was most grateful for the formal launch of a company I’ve been working with for the last couple of years, the Skilltype talent management platform. Skilltype, in connecting those who work in libraries with the available professional development resources online, introduces solutions concerning accessing continuing education, which earned greater urgency with the arrival of the global pandemic. In-person conference events vanished overnight, with no choices but for library leaders to communicate new opportunities in knowledge management and for companies to communicate new product features virtually. Skilltype provides an environment to collect your existing skills and products experience and presents ways for you to build on the familiar, as well as gives you introductions and ways to explore the unfamiliar. 

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

What I most appreciate are the tools that allow for compiling easily collectible—and so therefore easily retrievable—information. I’ve really enjoyed using Wakelet to collect continuing education resources for Skilltype—articles, videos, podcasts, webinars, slide presentations, etc. 

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

For nearly two decades, I was library reference specialist of the library of the American Library Association (ALA), doing a lot of online work, including updating and creating new ALA Library Fact Sheets, a section on the ALA website with national library statistics. My focus was always on how the information helped other people and that it was vitally important that it was correct. And so I never saw it from the other side. Skilltype founder Tony Zanders sought me out because he was using the ALA Library Fact Sheets in his research on libraries, and my name was on all of them. I’m glad I’ve been able to contribute a wealth of information on libraries, library workers, and library organizations to Skilltype, with the goal of helping library workers acquire the knowledge needed to move libraries forward into the future.


Shawnda HinesShawnda Hines

assistant director of communications in ALA’s Public Policy and Advocacy [PPA] Office

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I am grateful for my hardworking colleagues, who were flexible enough to change directions and lead advocates to win $50 million in emergency funding for libraries to support digital connectivity in the CARES Act in March. There have been some long hours throughout this roller-coaster year of uncertainty, but my boss (ALA associate executive director Kathi Kromer, PPA) has been supportive in the transition to a work-from-home situation. I prefer being in an office to interact closely with people, but this hasn’t been so bad.

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

I began using MS Teams this year, and it has been a lifesaver, especially because I prefer phone calls to email. I can call up a colleague in Chicago or nearby Takoma Park, and there they are! I also began using Airtable as part of ALA’s COVID-19 relief advocacy for the Library Stabilization Fund Act and for ALA president Julius C. Jefferson, Jr.’s Holding Space virtual tour of libraries around the country. Now our in-house information manager is helping me integrate Teams and Airtable to keep track of the increasing communications workflow in PPA. I’ve upskilled significantly by working more closely with PPA’s social media manager. I love the challenge of crafting, timing, and coordinating social posts strategically—there are so many options! PPA advocates with and for so many different stakeholders—members of Congress, advocates, coalition partners, journalists, and of course, ALA members and chapters. It’s exciting when we can highlight a great article quoting an ALA leader and a local librarian, and at the same time, draw attention to a project (like #FundLibraries) and tag a member of Congress on a strategic committee.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

I’m working with a team tasked with planning ways to recognize PPA’s 75th anniversary, which we’ll be celebrating throughout 2021. COVID-19 has limited traditional celebrations, but it’s an opportunity to be creative and to engage people who are part of library advocacy, and that goes far beyond ALA membership. It inspires me to think of the many ways ALA’s office in Washington has lifted up libraries in the past 75 years.


Olga KozDr. Olga Koz

associate professor and education research librarian

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I am grateful to my colleagues at Kennesaw State University. I am fortunate to be a part of two teams: a team of librarians who provide services to graduate students and faculty and a team of researchers from the College of Education. The collaboration and mutual support made the stress of learning new ways to teach and research and the budgeting issues associated with the pandemic bearable. I can list some of the teams’ achievements in the middle of the pandemic and economic and political turmoil: creating Interactive Research Methods Lab (virtual and physical) and developing a course, an interactive tool, and a series of webinars on conducting a literature review (libguides.kennesaw.edu/LRDesign).

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

My doctoral degree and research interests are in emerging media areas, so I am always on the lookout for any applications that improve communication, knowledge sharing, and learning. I prefer to serve as a beta tester or co-develop [tools]. This year I connected with Dr. Tony Russell-Rose, the creator of 2Dsearch, a new type of search engine that allows creating queries on a two-dimensional canvas. I have created searching strategies worksheets that include searching using traditional discovery tools and alternative search engines like 2Dsearch, Dimensions, and Trip.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

We (my co-author, Dr. Anissa Vega, and I) finished a research case study on the development of the community of researchers in the U.S. university and are looking for a journal to publish this study that might benefit anybody who tries to support researchers or create the research infrastructure.


Michelle KraftMichelle Kraft

director of Cleveland Clinic Library Services

What in your professional life are you most grateful for this year?

I am most grateful for the hard work and innovative research support my colleagues provided at Cleveland Clinic Health System Libraries to support the information needs of our doctors, nurses, and researchers as they treated patients and battled the coronavirus. In the beginning of the pandemic, many research libraries temporarily closed, the National Library of Medicine was not providing ILLs to items in their print collection, and it was extremely difficult for us to get needed articles to our biomedical researchers and hospital staff. At the same time, we were one of the few medical libraries able to access and interlibrary loan our print article collection. Our library staff met the increased needs of our patrons while also helping to serve the needs of other medical libraries. My library staff is directly supporting those who are working to solve this crisis. My staff rocks!

What new tech have you learned and/or enjoyed this year as part of your job?

I would say LibKey Nomad is a new tech that I am most excited about this year. It is a browser extension that works with Chrome, Edge, Brave, Vivaldi, and Firefox that will provide one-click access to articles from your library collection (from publishers, aggregators, OA, etc.) or your ILL request system. No matter if you are searching Google Scholar, PubMed, or other search engines and databases, once you land on a publisher page or citation, the LibKey Nomad library branded icon displays and the patron clicks on it and automatically gets the PDF or ILL form. It helps break down the full-text silos that are a persistent problem to ejournal access.

Are there any other positive things about your work life this year that you’d like to share?

We launched LibChat about a year prior to the pandemic. At the time, it was not used heavily, perhaps 3–4 answered chats a month. With many people working remotely, or unable to physically come into the library, our LibChat sessions have exploded. Since March 16, 2020, we have answered over 2,100 chat sessions. 


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Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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