Afterthoughts from EAHIL june 2008 in Helsinki, Finland.

Just some following up to my speech at EAHIL and other EAHIL thougths. You’ll find my 15 minutes speedtalk at Slideshare: “Is there a mobile challenge for the libraries?“:

I was told afterwards I did a “american failure”. I didn’t discover it myself you see. In Sweden at least our view of americans are they do not know anything about geography outside the States. It refers to a documentary TV clip from the late 70’s or early 80’s at the swedish DDR-public-service-television (at that time we just had two channels) where a middleaged lady pointed out Sweden on the map, but pointing to Iran.

I apparently pointed out Austria Czech at slide 5 and saying Germany and making Oliver Obst confused. It wasn’t one of my “Borat way of jokes” ;-) Maybe it was the light, maybe it was that I’m colour-blind, they have problems with light green and dark green I think. No, I’ll stop with finding excuses here.

It felt like I was running 100 meters trying to hold the time of 15 minutes and also trying to say something at least half-clever at the end. With that stern but justifying look of EAHIL-evalutor of Eva Alopaeus keeping track on me and my statements or whatever that gang of evaluators are happen to evaluate ;-)

Thanks to you listeners. The interaction from you during and after my talks are one the most important parts for me. I will try to keep on as long as you don’t throw tomates at me. (Implicit: It’s the only way to get rid of me).

And, Elisabeth Husem, chairman for that track of the Mobile Web, I will strive to hold the time in the future also. I also just happened to find som new figures on PC:s existing in the world 2008 and mobile subscribers in the world August 2007, rather than that older figures mentioned in my abstract.

Well, I maybe hadn’t that exhaustive answers to your questions afterwards, but I didn’t want to infer on my followers time and I was just exhausted in that bunker. Next time I will demand for a microphone attached at my ear and not like that singsong microphone. I mean I’m no singer as you may did discover. It’s not that I don’t like microphones, I just like similar to italians to wave my hands freely. In a non-typically northern Sweden-way.

We did chat some at the check pub near the railway station saturday afternoon and “Eureka”, I had my new title for the call of papers of some cosy librarian conference: Could men get pregnant? – information use and critical appraisal in medical librarianship. If you steal the title I already have a patent licensed as number 6,7677678688768,876876768768,76767868,76876786 in Über States.


Oliver Obst on “Marketing virtual services” at Eahil 2008

Today Friday 27th June 9.00 Oliver Obst was talking about “Marketing virtual services” at the EAHIL Conference 2008 in Helsinki, FInland. He talked about the libraries and the loss of information monopoly, loss of face-to-face interaction and need for a ROI-philosophy. “How much money is the library saving with their efforts?”, he thought was an important question in this case. He also said libraries are in competition with free resources like Google Books and other services. Some librarians see for example companies offering free resources as a truly cooperating partner like free is always good. I don’t agree with that and as I understood Oliver he has a critical eye of that also.

Oliver showed an investigation of the Münster Medical library products and customer satisfaction with them. The homepage, the teaching and the opening hours as the worst and document delivery, e-journals and handheld computers as the best.

Then he showed all the ways they used to market their library. Let me say it was impressing. They have a blog maintained since 2003. An e-newsletter maintained since 1997, sent out every friday. It has 800 subscribers and they have produced 520 Issues. They have a 3-monthly journal, each issue about 12-16 pages and 45 issues published this far. He also showed how they worked with the content of the articles. Often it’s interviews with user statements and in the text they promote extra-ordinary library services. They also have an URL near the article content to the blog.

They have what he called a knowledge wiki, where the users can get answers of the library services. Their own toolbar for webbrowsing and -searching at: They also produce a podcast irregulary but he said nothing more about that experience during the talk so I asked him afterwards.

Tell me more about your podcast?

-The podcasts are 3 minutes but unfortunately it takes about 2 hours to make. It takes time to cut and read same parts over again. I usually audio record my speeches at conferences and publish it as a podcast. The audio recorder I have with me is excellent. I also have jingles in my podcast. For example I use the sound from a pinball computer game.

Can anyone edit in your knowledge wiki? For example me? :-)

-You have to register and I decide who’s allowed to edit the wiki.

Do you see the wiki as a replacement of the usual textbased web pages?

-Something like that in the future maybe.


Oliver’s talk at EAHIL recorded by Guus van den Brekel and uploaded at

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Buset and Kvale on increasing information literacy

Information literacy has been a buzzword in the library world for a while now. One thing to increase information literacy has been to produce if I translate it directly from swedish: search guides or search guidelines.

Karen Buset and Sigvor Kvale, from Norweigan University of Science and Technology (NTNU), has produced an e-learning tool similar to search guidelines called VIKO. Maybe a bit broader because it includes also academic writing guidelines. The title of their talk was: “Increasing information literacy at NTNU and St.Olavs hospital – Implementation of an e-learning tool”, presented at the Parallel Session II , Thursday, 14 Sept, 14.00 – 15.30, at the EAHIL conference in Cluj-Napoca 2006.

NTNU in Trondheim is the second largest university in Norway with 20.000 students. In contrary to many other search guidelines NTNU has put a lot of effort in the integration of the guide into the user education at NTNU library. Like distributing promotional material to all branch libraries, demonstration of VIKO to all reference and subject librarians, trying to find key persons at the institutions to get it implemented at variuos programs, help teachers linkt to VIKO from their courses hompages, integrate it at the regulary library training classes and courses at the hospital deparments.

VIKO has improved student papers and the use of VIKO has also increased, said Buset and Kvale. Students and teachers has confirmed that VIKO is useful and meets the users needs and is a product that meets an important demand that can enhance collaboration between library and academic staff.

They have planned an evaluation survey in 2007 and they have also planned an update of VIKO. Will be interesting to see that evaluation. In many swedish research libraries it exists search guides and Else Nygren did an evaluation of them as BIBSAM project 2004: Evaluation of search guidelines [PDF]. The result was depressing. Users preferred trial-and-error instead of help texts. The best search guide in Sweden is the guide produced bu Blekinge Technical University: The big search guide – an interactive course on how to search, assess and treat information.

As a nitpicking librarian I checked that part in VIKO about searching the Internet. As Buset and Kvale said they have tried to write in a manner that won’t make the information out of date that fast. I agree they’ve done it quite good in the Internet search part. Though when calling Scirus a scientific search engine they should compare it with Google Scholar and Window Live Academic. They all have different approaches but call them selves all scientific. But I know search guides must be brief. Though I believe more in interactive search guidelines than text-based, when it comes to search in different interfaces at least.

But why doing all these guidelines at every university? Why don’t cooperate all libraries and make translations and adjustments for local needs instead?

Now I see that all power point presentations has been put up on EAHIL conference web site. Thanks for that!

Guus from Netherlands on the importance of being user-focused

When I saw the title of Guus van den Brekels speech I thought this guy must be on the same line as I. The title was: Into the user enviroment now!: How the users have changed and how the libraries can adjust, presented 9.30 Friday 15 September at Plenary Session III at the Eahil conference in Cluj-Napoca, 2006.

And sure he was. I’ve been around Sweden and Norway talking about the effects of the Googlification and the new user behaviors. I also had a column in swedish mag Internetworld with title (title translated to english): The challenger of Google is there in your municipality. Guus had some solutions on this, so let’s hear.

Guus described the new user as a person who is fascinated by new technolgies, want to be interactive (not isolated), no tolerance of delay, want to stay connected, learning by doing and not by being told, trial-and-error approach, actions more important than knowledge, multitasking as a way of life.

A really good summary of the new user as I see it.
-Students say: Why do I need the OPAC, Google gives me enough, meant Guus.
-We have to know that we’re not the only one for the user. The user demands more today. People like web 2.0 services so we have to keep up with what they’re doing, meant Guus.

So what to do Guus?

On short term he meant we have to use web 2.0 social software, open standards and protocols, evaluate log file statistics, modular web-based library services etc

He suggested LiveTrix instead (if I understood LiveTrix functions right?) of proprietary library portal Metalib to metasearch several sources.

Guus had 10 top technologies for the library to embrace:Weblogs, RSS, Wikis, Instant Messaging, Podcasting, Open source software, SMS, Social software, User-created content, Mashing-up services.

In the end he showed us the QuickSearch Library Toolbar. Search toolbars have been common for a while now and a lot of users know about them as I experienced it. Guus and his library in Groningen, Netherlands, has made their own toolbar that gives the user fast access to a lot of sources from the library. Just install that toolbar into your webbrowser. The QuickSearch toolbar is built upon Conduit toolbar. The toolbar he showed the audience made a lot of them very interested.

-My boss doesn’t like when I say problems, he calls it challenges, said Guus.
I had a two minutes chat with him afterwards and asked him if it’s not better with Firefox extensions and their embedded serch toolbar where you can add your self-built search engine?

– You should use all options if the medical students like it, not just toolbars. Younger students like things like this and I think even older users will discover web 2.0 services, said Guus diplomatic.

Nice talk! I read in his e-mail afterwards when sending us the link to the power point that he already got some offerings on doing more talks in different places. Good luck! Spread your thoughts in the library world.

Read also Guus blog Digicmb. Here’s an interview with Guus by Oliver Obst.

Summary of EAHIL in Cluj and farewell

Well, it’s not an easy task to summarize such a splendid conference without missing someone or something and though not boring you with an Oscar Award-speech of thanks.

I must thank you everyone who I talked to less or more or who rather came to talk with me. I hope even you who didn’t agree with my opinions in my talks or how I present them would talk to me because I think different opinions and discussion among different librarians are healthy in our field.

My main aim in this profession has always been to lift up the importance of our professional role and to extend the cooperation and exchange in the library world and specially among medical libraries. Of course in the end I hope it will promote our health care worlwide. That’s why I think it was something extra to come to Romania.

One example, as I said when I got a question, is that some people who never knew me before (a greek professor of surgery at my hospital once did) asks me if I’m a computer engineer or something like that? I don’t get irritated of that, but I think it says something of the view of the librarian profession. That’s why I really try to establish: No, I’m a librarian and it’s possible to be very computer literate and male if you’re librarian.

Well, the Gala Dinner was tremendous and as some of you may recognized I even liked to dance as many of you did. I even met more colleagues at the Gala. Some of you who planned this conference, Sally and Iona, I hadn’t so much time or occasions to talk with but I thank you for the great work you’ve done.

Even though the WLAN didn’t work properly all the time I think it didn’t disturb me that much as a laptopblogger. Though I had a cable connection at my hotel which worked splendid all the time. Thanks hotel Agape!

My only real complaint is the one of putting up power point slides on the conference website. It’s a nightmare for a blogging conference visitor if you don’t get the slides fast. Instead you must take time to ask the speaker to put them up or send them to you and if you want to blog the talk during the conference and not when you get back at work or even later it’s not satisfying. I rather do my documentation when the talk is still fresh in my head and not three weeks later. I often here from colleagues if the slides isn’t published within a day or to they don’t get back looking. Much of our findings presented on our conferences are “freshware”, that’s why it’s important to put it up in time also.

Now I read on Guus (conference speaker from Netherlands, nice meeting you) blog he suggests EAHIL to start a blog and Open Access repository for all publications, presentations, posters etc. I’m the first to sign his petition.

Well, I don’t think this will be my last time at the EAHIL conferences and of course it depends on my employer’s willingness to send me. Thanks, Umeå University Library for lettting me go there! And thanks my boss Ingrid for your care in that little aeroplane from Buda to Cluj. You know I’m afraid of flying, though I’m nearly cured nowadays.

At last to the audience at my talk on interfaces. It wasn’t my first time travelling outside nordic countries, but talking ;-) outside nordic countries. And I will try not to twist that laser eye to much at next talk.

And at really last: I hope to meet you all sometime in future at future conferences: Filip, Herve, Christina, Ingela, Katja, Artemis, Patrice, Ann, Tiina, Oliver, Guus, David, Michael, Henrik, Birgitta, Marie, Eva, Thomas, Donna, Tuulevi, you Moldavians, Arne, Benoit, retired lady from Manchester, Cambridge librarian who helped the Moldavians come to the conference etc.

On career development for librarians

Tuulevi Ovaska, library course director chief medical librarian of medical library at Kuopio University Library, talked about Possibilities of horizontal career development and changing roles of librarians afternoon 15 September at EAHIL conference in Cluj.

Are really librarians in control of the changes with in their profession?, she asked. She mentioned three types of career developments(CD): task rotation, job exchange and international mobility to improve horizontal CD. Instead of getting vertical career from staff to supervisor or head of library you should be able to develop horizontal on the staff level.

Examples are to rotate in the library or change tasks or change to other libraries, maybe also go abroad. CD requires creativity and interest, but some people just like daily routine work. Kuopio made a survey to find out the attitudes of staff members and the management of Kuopio University Library. General attitude to task rotation showed 68% were interested in it.

But all CD changes needs leadership management and support, says Tuulevi, and organization culture is not easy to change. There was a potential in Kuopio for internal task rotation in the libraries from 3 to 6 months and internal exchange for short periods less than 3 month. Though, the libraries and their management must stay in charge of the changes in our profession.

A question from the audience claiming this was a survey but have Kuopio implemented this CD possibilities in Kuopio library?

– Just in small scale some implementation in our library has been done, says Tuulevi. It’s up to the supervisors to take the opportunity, its starting but it’s going slow. Three librarians has changed job in the library.

My talks at Eahil conference in Cluj

I will have two talks today Friday 15th September at the EAHIL conference in Cluj-Napoca. First one about 10.50 in the conference hall for 20 min. Here’s the power point for it: Critical assessment of Web of Science, Scopus and Google Scholar [PPT].

At 11.30 I will have my empowerment session in the same conference hall and here’s the power point: The hunt for the perfect interface in a Googlified world [PPT].

Oliver Obst tallking on blogs

I listened to the talk by Oliver Obst Thursday September 1 10.30-11.30 about “Use of weblogs by libraries and librarians”. He asked the audience how many knew about blogs and maybe half didn’t know anything.

He made an brief, easy explanation of how to start a blog with the blog web service Blogger owned by Google in just three steps. How to choose temple, write blog entry title and content, how you could choose fonts and font-size easily, similar to a word editor. Also showed how a set up of a blog in WordPress blog service just will take 5 minutes. Gave credits to WordPress for all plugins you can use and the category function which means you can subject index your blog entries, just like subject indexing library books. Something librarians should like, said Obst. He thought WordPress was bit better than Blogger because it’s easier to use for example the function with Categories, otherwise Blogger is easier.

He also told us what a blog is: organized chronically by date, updated somewhat regulary with relatively short entries, use unique URL called permalink for all entries, filtering the information universe for readers, self-archives, provides an RSS-link.

So what do blogs do for you according to Obst? For example they repack info and keep you alerted with what’s new.

He further showed a lot of examples on library blogs.

Pro’s with blogs according to Obst were: don’t need to know HTML or editing program, update from everywhere, helps stay current and con’s were of course information overload. He finished also to explain what RSS is and what it’s good for.

After the talk we meet outside on the steps and I got an interview.

German librarian Oliver Obst

Do you have statistics on how much library blogs is used by non-librarians?
-No, but my german Medinfo blog are used heavily by scientists because I write about OA. We don’t have many german blog sources like Medinfo.

But what do your boss say about your blogging during work?
– I can blog if it just don’t eat up my other duties. Medinfo was put up because the german medical libraries association thought we should have one.

So you think library bosses should promote librarians to blog during work to filter information?
-Yes, for library news to inform clients of what’s happening for example. Our library though have no blog. I asked my user if they wanted a blog with RSS and they didn’t know what RSS was and they said: No please, we rather want same email newsletter as before.

So how do you use your blog?
-Often I go back to my blog just finding the information I didn’t remeber. It’s like a backup memory!

Update: A then a little bird whispered in my ear: he is a boss ;-) of medical branch Library at ULB, Münster, since 1996. BTW here you find Olivers talk in PDF.

Walking tour of Cluj

I already learnt from my travellings that England has a pub in every corner. During today’s walking tour in the city of Cluj I realized Cluj nearly have one church in every corner.

We learned about the minorities living in Cluj and Transylvania. There are a german population with about 65,000 Saxons living in Transylvania. There are also about 1,7 million Hungarians living in Romania. Our guide Rita was one of them. She is a student of archaeology. I asked Rita about the Gypsy minority which she called “Romanj”, and told her some of them go to Stockholm to beg for money in the underground. She said it was a problem all over Europe and finished the conversation. I read in my Lonely Planet book the government estimate they are about 420,000 gypsies in Romania.

She showed us the modern part with the National Theatre where the opera resides and she also showed us the older parts. Nice walk but where was that walk uphill as the conference programme promise?s: …”be prepared to walk uphill”. Though I saw in the horisont the hills. I went down to river med french Herve to see the river after the walk. Thanks Rita!