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Event Recap: Happy Hour/Taco Tuesday at RFD

Event Recap: Happy Hour/Taco Tuesday at RFD

More than 20 DC/SLA members and guests networked and socialized during Happy Hour/Taco Tuesday at RFD in Chinatown on July 29th. The event was organized by Jon Fiencke.

Are you interested in hosting a happy hour, dine around, or other social event? Please contact Jon Fiencke at social@dc.sla.org

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Event Recap – SLA Annual Conference Recap & Visit by SLA President-Elect Candidates

Event Recap – SLA Annual Conference Recap & Visit by SLA President-Elect Candidates

by Jan Zastrow, DC-SLA Communications Team

Sipping wine and noshing on tasty appetizers from the rooftop of Drexel University’s DC Office (and what a view of the White House!), DC-SLA members and friends (38 onsite and 17 virtual attendees) convened the evening of Monday, July 14, to hear the best of the2014 SLA Annual Conference in Toronto and to meet SLA President-Elect candidates Jim DelRosso and Tom Rink. Jim and Tom kicked off the evening with their respective visions. Jim’s theme is “move forward,” every day, every year, leaving things better than we found them. Tom’s vision is sustainability. Despite a downward trend in membership and annual conference revenue, he wants SLA to provide continuity and transparency.

Anne Caputo discussed the SLA Competencies document, saying we’ll be doing more in the way of collaboration, providing decision support (analysis and synthesis) and developing data management skills, i.e., extracting meaning from Big Data. Our skills are highly valuable but we need to be more proactive and entrepreneurial.

Sharon Lenius’ takeaway from Dave Pollard’s presentation on “How Not to Run a Meeting” was the importance of room layout. Not surprisingly, round tables are much more effective for eliciting group participation. The Military Librarians Division will be sponsoring a workshop on this and other topics such as leadership and training in Arlington, VA, Dec. 6-9 (details TBA).

Barbie Keiser reviewed the session on “Borderless CI: Researching International Intelligence.” She reported that the trend is to look at the global aspect in emerging markets: Brazil, Latin America, India and South Africa. How to do this? Partner with locals, and learn what the ethics and legalities are in different countries.

Richard Huffine gave a whirlwind summary of the Opening Keynote speech, the Annual Business Meeting, and the Closing Session. He recounted the moving experience of having an elder from a First Nation conduct open ceremonies with a chant and blessing. The theme of the conference was “Crossing Borders” and keynote speaker John Wilbank urged conference-goers to “think of borders as intersections, not divisions.” Huffine reported that the business meeting had a “distinct lack of information” but to make up for it, the Closing Session offered four “TED-style” talks that were inspiring—so much so that he felt they should have been at the beginning of the conference!

Last but definitely not least, Chris Vestal reviewed Mary Ellen Bates’ presentation on “Information Alchemy: Adding Value Where It Counts.” Bates explained that our perception of our value is more generous than our funders’ perceptions of our value. Executives want librarians to provide insight, not just data. Know your audience: senior executives prefer to reduce risk rather than save time. Sales staff, on the other hand, want quicker and better answers. Bates urges us to “ask for complaints.” Ask, “Did you get what you needed? How could it be better?” BYOD—Build Your Own Data—when there’s no database for your query. Use Google Auto-Complete to see what others are thinking. Try “[search term] vs.” and see what comes up. Use Google Trends; try datamining government sources. Finally, provide visually valuable results by using InfoGraphics. Bates admonishes us to: “Be brave … try new stuff!” Bates’ slides can be found at http://www.batesinfo.com/extras/files/sla-2014-information-alchemy.pdf.

Recording of the recap

Thanks to Safari Books Online and Drexel DC for sponsoring this great professional development opportunity!

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Event Recap: Communicating through Infographics: Visualizing Scientific and Engineering Information

Event Recap: Communicating through Infographics: Visualizing Scientific and Engineering Information

By Suzanne Grubb

This July 10 webinar was presented by Christa Kelleher of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and sponsored by the Transportation Librarians Roundtable along with DC SLA.

The amount of data being generated every two days as of 2013 was equal to the amount of data created up to 2003. We need to simplify that information to better communicate it to the public.

Here are three key takeaways from the webinar on how to present clear, effective charts and graphs.

 1. Don’t rely on defaults. For every aspect of your charts and graphs, think about ways to maximize effectiveness and reduce clutter.

  • Rule 1: Choose an effective plot type.
  • Rule 2: Remove “chart junk”.
  • Rule 3: Display the same number of dimensions as the dataset
  • Rule 4: Consider the use of color
  • Rule 5: Maintain axes when comparing subplots









2. Understand human strengths and weaknesses in interpreting visual information.

  • Some “encoding attributes” are easier or harder for people to assess: Color saturation, shading, and area are harder to perceive more effective for highlighting patterns. Length and position are more effective for highlighting details.
  •  For bar charts: Reference the y-axis to zero, rotate the chart (to horizontal) if there are too many categories, and be aware of scaling issues. For line charts: Choose an aspect ratio that banks to 45 degrees.
















3. There are a lot of tools available to help you get started.

The presentation recording and slides are available on the Transportation Librarians Roundtable website. Make sure you download the PowerPoint slides, which are a wonderful resource with detailed examples of each rule in action, along with an extensive list of resources.

 Suzanne Grubb is a digital librarian/instructional designer and all-purpose info-geek, currently building a Clinical Research Education Library for a DC-based association.

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Event Recap: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War: Author Book Talk and Dinner

Event Recap: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War: Author Book Talk and Dinner

By Jill Lynch
On May 14, 2014 the DC SLA Military Libraries Group hosted an author talk with Kayla Williams at Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro in Old Town Alexandria. Kayla was invited to talk to us about her newest book, Plenty of Time When We Get Home: Love and Recovery in the Aftermath of War over an intimate dinner with a small group of 16 librarians and guests.

The dinner was located on the second floor of the recently opened, Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro on King Street in Old Town Alexandria. We had the entire space to ourselves and it was elegantly decorated for our event. The upstairs facility had a view overlooking King Street, a private bar and restrooms. DC/SLA member and CUA library student Elizabeth Lieutenant was posted downstairs at the entry to the Bistro to hand out name tags and direct attendees upstairs.
Guests started arriving just after 6:00 PM for cocktails, appetizers and networking. While sipping on drinks and enjoying bites of spanakopita, fried calamari and triple dip on pita bread slices, we caught up with old friends and new acquaintances. Kayla arrived early and socialized with us before the talk started.
Time quickly carried us later into the evening and everyone settled into their seats close to 7:00 PM. Salad was served as Kayla was being introduced. She told us all to enjoy our meals, as she had no problems with talking over clinking forks and plates.
Kayla started her talk by giving us some background information about how she met her husband, Brian McGough, during her year-long deployment to Iraq during the early years of the war, which is documented in her first book, Love My Rifle More Than You: Young and Female in the U.S. Army. The remainder of the talk centered on the years that take place after she returned home from war. Kalyla shared details of the many challenges she experienced as a female combat veteran and new wife including the lack of care returning war veterans receive, the difficulties of reintegration into civilian life, and the strain of caring for Brian during his rehabilitation from traumatic brain injury he received during an ambush in Iraq. Kayla also described how energizing it is for her to advocate for better care for future generations of returning warriors.

Dinner was a choice of Chicken François or Eggplant Parmesan and was served just before the end of the talk. Kayla is a vegetarian and her first book details how difficult it was for her to find healthy meat-free meals while on deployment. It was a blessing that Vaso’s gave us a vegetarian option.
Kayla sat down to eat as most of us were finishing up. She sat in the center of the “T” shaped table and entertained questions while dessert and coffee were served. She answered all of our questions with a combination of directness, allegory, and wit and she left us laughing frequently with a point well-illustrated through clever humor. Once again we found ourselves short of time and unfortunately the fellowship couldn’t continue as long as we might have liked. The dinner was scheduled to end at 8:30 PM but we were still chatting well past 9:00 PM. Before leaving for the evening, Kayla reminded us that she would be more than happy to speak at any of our libraries.
The DC/SLA Military Libraries Group is grateful that Kayla Williams spent an evening away from her family to share her story with us. We were also pleased with Vaso’s Mediterranean Bistro and would like to thank the management and staff for facilitating this wonderful and informative event.

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Event Recap: Libraries Fostering Learning & Innovation

Event Recap: Libraries Fostering Learning & Innovation

by Marcy Carrel and Leia Dickerson

The DC/SLA International Relations Committee (IRC) hosted an evening program on April 17th to celebrate National Library Week and showcase a few of the innovative library activities that cross international boundaries. “Libraries Fostering Learning & Innovation” included speakers from a global publisher and an international development organization.

The program began with networking and refreshments in the beautiful and historic U.S. Department of Commerce Research Library. Participants then settled in to hear Liesbeth Kanis from Brill Publishing and Norma Palomino from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) share their experiences.

Ms. Kanis is the Development Manager-Asia for Brill’s Developing Countries Program. In this role she participates in initiatives that support training and access to research resources in developing countries. Research4Life, for example, is the collective name for four public-private partnerships –HINARI, AGORA, OARE, and ARDI – that provide free or low cost access to thousands of peer-reviewed journals and databases for libraries in developing countries. Brill has been working with INASP – an international development charity that works with partners around the world to improve access, production, and use of research resources. Specifically, Ms. Kanis related her experiences working in Tanzania with INASP and the volunteer organization VSO to facilitate capacity building activities for scholars and librarians at St. John’s University.Ms. Kanis concluded her presentation with a discussion of Global Online Access to Law (GOAL) – a new proposed initiative that would expand the Research4Life program to include legal research resources in addition to the existing health, agriculture, and other disciplines.


Norma Palomino, Chief of Library Services at the Felipe Herrera Library at The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), focused her discussion on two areas of innovation. Ms. Palomino first discussed the library’s involvement with IDB bank publications. Knowing that clients often turn first to Google when locating publications, the library worked with publication metadata to raise IDB publications to the top of Google Scholar results lists. Ms. Palomino then discussed the challenges of providing access to external publications for a client base that is global and constantly on the move. Her library team worked with responsive design to create an internal mobile app that provides IDB clients with access to selected external resources with a single sign-on. As attendees asked questions, they expressed awe that the library was able to accomplish so much on their own and in such a short time frame.

Following the two speakers, Karen Krugman, Director of the U.S. Department of Commerce Research Library, led a tour of the library’s historic features. She also discussed her initiatives for increasing the Department of Commerce staff’s use of library space and services.

The DC/SLA International Relations Committee is grateful to the speakers Liesbeth Kanis and Norma Palomino and the venue host Karen Krugman for making the event possible. Appreciation also goes to IRC committee co-chairs Leia Dickerson and Marcy Carrel; committee members Barbie Keiser, Victor Monti, and Lynora Williams; volunteer Jessica Fomalont; and the SLA Executive Committee for their support. The IRC plans to host additional events in 2014 – stay tuned!

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