Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape

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1 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape CONSTANCE ARD PUBLISHED BY

2 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape is published by Ark Group UK/EUROPE/ASIA OFFICE Ark Conferences Ltd 6-14 Underwood Street London N1 7JQ United Kingdom Tel +44 (0) Fax +44 (0) NORTH AMERICA OFFICE Ark Group Inc 4408 N. Rockwood Drive Suite 150 Peoria IL United States Tel Fax AUSTRALIA/NZ OFFICE Ark Group Australia Pty Ltd Main Level 83 Walker Street North Sydney NSW 2060 Australia Tel Fax Online bookshop Junior Commissioning Editor Knowledge and Information Management Fiona Prowting Reports Publisher International Fiona Tucker UK/Europe/Asia enquiries Ken Fitzgerald US enquiries Daniel Smallwood Australia/NZ enquiries Steve Oesterreich ISBN: (hard copy) (PDF) Copyright The copyright of all material appearing within this publication is reserved by the authors and Ark Conferences It may not be reproduced, duplicated or copied by any means without the prior written consent of the publisher. ARK2749

3 Chapter 1: The promise of technology Bold innovations or disappointing reinventions? SINCE THE Industrial Revolution the speed of change in technology has exploded. Keeping pace seems nearly impossible. Take a look at Apple in the age of igadgets. The first ipod was released in In 2005 Apple released the 5th Generation ipod, the ipod Shuffle, the first generation ipod Nano, and the 2nd generation ipod Mini. 1 In 2013 we saw the 3rd generation release of Apple TV, ipod Touch 5th Generation, the iphone 5, 2nd generation ipad Mini, and the ipad Air. Just keeping up with the latest release of your favorite gadget can be difficult in the span of a year. As the technology changed so too did the creation, collection, and distribution of information. The road from paper archives to cloud synced storage and back up has been rich with opportunities and fraught with potential missteps. Many librarians and information professionals cringe when they hear the phrase just make it like Google. The complexities of making search work are lost on the end user. The man behind the curtain delivers good enough results on the first screen of a seemingly endless supply of answers. Knowledge workers who use a system with precision, still ask for the Google experience, as described by the Alcatel Lucent use of InfoView in A Corporate Library s Single Search Box Solution. In this article, Robert Waldstein describes the library s transformation of their internal website used to discover information resources within the corporate library into a Google-like experience. As an internal website, InfoView provides our employees and researchers with the ability to browse and discover information resources such as databases, content collections and other information services. 2 This approach to federated search of enterprise content, internal databases and content sources, external licensed content, and external open resources through tools such as InfoView is the expressed desire of most users. The complexity of delivering satisfactory results in an instant requires consideration of usage rights, security and privacy issues, and other access issues. The mechanics behind the scenes are difficult enough; displaying the results in a manner that satisfies those complexities and the user s preferences adds an element of user interface design that warrants consideration. It is interesting to note Waldstein s comments about exact matches and the decision to provide exact matches when the user enters three or more words: Guessing the user s intent when she enters a single word such as apple or mobile or relation, while feasible on Google, is not yet something for which we have an appropriate approach. It could be argued that users are beginning to be dissatisfied with Google results that presume to know what the user wants. Often users express frustration with the inability to access the results they are seeking because Google is making 3

4 Chapter 1: The promise of technology Bold innovations or disappointing reinventions? presumptions based on the device, location, and the closest advertising matches. These presumptions often miss the mark of precision that made everyone fall in love with the simple but accurate Google search of the early days. Retrieval of quality, accurate results is gaining prominence. Knowledge workers are beginning to recognize the fact that they are spending more time searching and less time analyzing valid results. While the convenience of searching on mobile devices is attractive, savvy users are realizing the limits that go hand in hand with the use of mobile devices for search and retrieval. Last fall two colleagues and I traveled to Washington DC. We were planning a dinner with a potential client and were seeking to locate a restaurant. We were within three blocks of China Town and who knows how many restaurants. When a search was conducted on a smartphone we were delivered exactly three restaurants. A walk down the street for exactly half a block revealed a great choice, but that choice was not in the results of the local, mobile search we conducted. As more users become aware of the discrepancies between what is available and what is found, more questions arise about the validity of the results. The promise of reliable local results on the go is one limited by information provider business models, device capabilities, and application nuances with which the average user is unfamiliar. In addition to mere frustration by the casual user, those with specialized information needs are beginning to understand the costs and consequences of the modern search environment. The plethora of misinformation and inaccurate data is revealed in simple search activities where the search engine pushes forward data matching results more related to ad content than the relevant answers. As explained by Jalees Rehman, identifying the websites with the most accurate and relevant information are critical skills that are necessary for navigating our way in the digital information jungle, but unfortunately, these skills are rarely taught or perhaps more accurately, not often learned by the average searcher. 3 Moving away from the promise of making all information available and retrievable online that seemed to be the dream back in the early days of the world wide web, let s dive deeper into the promise of technology. Enterprise search has been evolving since the days of mainframe computers, but in the past 30 years few innovations have occurred. Commercial vendors of rich content provide search features that run the gamut from Boolean operators to full-text search and include filtering options for date, subject, author, and more. The reality is that while there is much hype about easily retrievable electronic information, the hype rarely lives up to the promised fast, accurate, and timely results. The resources to make this happen still complicate the delivery as envisioned by the technologists working on the systems and the users who want search to be simple. These search functions have been translated into discovery services and federated search applications. For some, federated search seems to have worked well, for others (see Case study: AbbVie library Using basic skills to stay strategic for customers ) the promise fell short of what was delivered. This does not mean one should despair of having a rich search experience with existing systems: there is hope. The promise can come true as long as enough resources are dedicated to the care and feeding of the systems, both human and technical. 4

5 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape Discovery systems are the next iteration of the fast delivery of content no matter where the source resides. Stephen Arnold argues that it is not just law firm employees or intelligence personnel who have to assemble and synthesize information from different systems and sources. The problem is universal and the discovery approach is a major trend in information access. 4 Confusion exists between information professionals and information technologists in exactly what discovery services are. One view is technical and one is related to application. Both views must converge to actually deliver actionable data. The backbone of good information systems is related to the index, also referred to as the taxonomy. Many search systems abandoned that backbone for a web-style index and the accuracy and relevance of results suffered. Arnold discusses how he took the EBSCO EDS for a drive. Through a single interface, EDS fused information from multiple high-value sources. The single search box EDS hides a sophisticated service that combined the depth of available metadata to return extensive results. Arnold concludes that data fusion and discovery systems deliver what users want: actionable information, not a laundry list of not-too relevant links. While Arnold seems optimistic about this fusion and discovery approach, alternate views are valid when considering the promise of technology. One search box, federated results and accuracy, reminds me of the old saying, fast, cheap, and good pick two. Perhaps the most important point made by Arnold is that without date limiting, my screening of results takes longer. In an age where information offers the critical competitive edge, time is a high value commodity. Using technology solutions to save time needed to locate and ultimately use data is a big promise that, without structure, planning, and usability, will not be kept. Another promising technology in today s high tech, information rich environment is related to big data. It is interesting to note that there is not a lot of published library literature about the use and application of big data. It seems that for now big data holds the most promise in the fields of intelligence, political campaigns, and retail marketing. However, the potential is often not achieved due to such a simple concept as cultural barriers. Various consultancy reports show that virtually every campaign can be improved with big data analytics and on average it can be improved by 25 per cent. Despite this potential value, a study involving approximately 1,000 brands revealed that only 10 per cent of them were using big data analytics to make decisions more than 50 per cent of the time. 5 Big data applications are being explored for their potential use in information delivery. Big thinkers such as Greg Lambert of 3 Geeks and a Law offer an interesting suggestion about how big data can be deployed in the legal field. Lambert suggests that taking raw information, such as primary law, and applying big data principles could provide innovations in the basic activities of collecting, indexing, searching, recalling and interfacing with the information in a way that captures the attention of the user, and gives them the ability to take action based on that interaction. 6 Having worked on a few projects related to big data, I am a bit skeptical about what the big things can and will deliver. But that is the joy of promises and technology; if you can dream it, build it and scale it, then the possibilities are worth exploring. 5

6 Chapter 1: The promise of technology Bold innovations or disappointing reinventions? Visualization goes hand in hand with big data. Stephen Arnold is one of the few authorities writing about these topics independently. In a November 2013 article he ponders the role of visualization in the future of search. Perhaps it is a generational issue. Arnold questions the usability of Hollywood style visuals. 7 The applications for visualization tools can be seen creeping into education and information presentation. Infographics are a visualization of content, as are timelines, charts, and maps. Search has relied on text inputs and thus information retrieval has remained a mostly text driven activity. As applications and technologies develop, the potential for visualization of information is growing. The use of visual techniques is moving beyond the sometimes confusing, often incomprehensible displays first developed by intelligence contractors, to simpler visual synopsis of data. For a compare and contrast viewpoint, visit Digital Reasoning and take a look at some of their images that capture the displays of data they use. Then go over to the Visualization for Lawyers site to see what is being developed there for improved communication. 8 The anecdote about Washington DC restaurants discussed earlier highlighted some of the shortcomings experienced by what was once the holy grail of search: mobile, personal, and local. The ability to work from anywhere is one of the driving forces of mobile technology development or perhaps it is just the ability to do more with tinier and tinier devices. Paul Levinson alludes to this in his 2004 work Cellphone: The Story of the World s Most Mobile Medium and How it has Transformed Everything!. Invented at AT&T s Bell Laboratories in 1948 and independently, a few months later, by two German physicists-the transistor triggered the start if not of the electronic information age (that distinction belongs to the telegraph, more than a century before), at very least the era of electronic media portability. 9 The cellphone truly has impacted the way we work, live, and interact. The capacity to receive any kind of information at any time (this was the breakthrough of the web) anywhere you may be (this is the special contribution of the cellphone) turns the whole world into a responsive environment responsive, at least, to what you want to know. The ease of doing amazing things with a lot of content with ever smaller devices at ever increasing speeds has made technology vulnerable. But there is wisdom in the advice offered by Levinson to plan, refine and improve our technologies and the way they operate. Technology A blessing and curse for corporate libraries It is not to say that all the promises are empty or even unsatisfactory. But in the context of corporate information services, the promise of technology is fraught with ups and downs. Consider the golden age of corporate libraries. These information centers were mostly print but began using computing power to deliver improved access to those collections. The libraries soon were enhanced by the external sources that improved productivity and allowed for quality service with fewer staff. The technology delivered vast improvements on many manual processes, for instance, clipping services. It also influenced the sometimes short-sighted view of valuation of the corporate library. James Matarazzo and Toby Pearlstein explain this phenomena: There is no question that the availability of data, information, and knowledge at a 6

7 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape customer s desktop has upped the challenge of what information professionals must do to add value to their organization. 10 The ever evolving landscape of technology requires corporate libraries to be ahead of the curve, to be inventive, and to be adaptive. As we look at corporate libraries in the context of the promise of technology over the past 40 years, it is apparent that information services and technological innovations go hand in hand. In Kelsey and Porter s Best Practices for Corporate Libraries, a history of corporate libraries is offered. It seems 1954 was the year of adoption for the UNIVAC with companies such as General Electric, Metropolitan Life, and Westinghouse acquiring the mainframe computers. This integration of mainframes into process oriented functions such as accounting and sales transactions was the beginning of integration of computing power into timeconsuming, routine, and less intellectual tasks. 11 With the growth and development of computing power came the evolution of library systems and services. The card catalog went from the pretty wooden box of author, title, subject organization, to computer generated and managed systems. As the technology was enhanced the catalog system became integrated beyond a finding aid to a processing system that could be used for acquisition management and item circulation. This development was useful in terms of helping to centralize library functions and provide cost reductions. What had once been duplicated across offices could now be identified and used by other offices. This contributed to a reduction in the library staff but it also created an opportunity for enhancing collection and dissemination services. As OPACs evolved the capabilities evolved and now these OPACs not only provide access to information about the physical collection but also the digital resources. In fact many of today s discovery systems offer federated search and integration with licensed materials. The continual development of OPACs is a great illustration of the value delivered through technology that enhances corporate library services. Electronic databases (from terminal to cloud) A natural progression from OPAC is to electronic information. As corporate libraries moved from distributed physical collections to centralized management centers, the need to support the information needs of remote users grew. In conjunction with this evolving workplace challenge, information publishers were undergoing a transformation in their delivery options. While the systems certainly looked different, the mission, at its core, remained unchanged: to deliver content to users through an electronic means. Let s take a look at one information vendor that is still in operation today LexisNexis (their timeline is available online). 12 LexisNexis benefited from the developments that occurred through military research and development projects. (Most of today s promising big data and visualization vendors are using that same proving ground for their own developments.) The computing power drove acquisitions and developments on delivery. In March 1969 the first demonstration of the computer assisted legal research system that would become LexisNexis occurred. To make sure customers could access their information, the company created its own private telecommunications network in Then, in 1979 came the UBIQ terminal; a red terminal with autodial to deliver the 7

8 Chapter 1: The promise of technology Bold innovations or disappointing reinventions? dot commands used to deliver content across telecommunications lines. From there the iterations, developments, and improvements exploded. Now companies such as LexisNexis and DowJones Factiva deliver content in an instant through web platforms that are accessible on mobile devices and desktops through wireless internet connections or wired connections. This snapshot of terminal to cloud really highlights how technology has enhanced the information and content delivery options available to corporations. What it does not highlight are the skills needed to evaluate and decipher options to find the best fit for their organization; that is the opportunity for the information professional. Enterprise information management While commercial information publishers were growing and expanding their delivery of electronic data, corporations were beginning to see the first wave of the volume and velocity of information. As desktop computers made their way into the corporate halls, paper research reports and other written work products transformed from paper to digital. While many predicted the paperless age early on, the reality is that even with today s cloud-enabled digital workplace, paper is still prevalent and the need to manage an organization s information is filled with complex tasks and considerations that stretch across print and digital formats. Many information technology vendors have touted the promise of easy access to all information for a company. Skeptics and realists will usually balk whenever all is used as a selling point. All, when applied to information and technology, is difficult to execute, and all information created may not be worthy of applying the resources of storing, indexing, and disseminating. Information professionals are an important resource when vetting the right enterprise information management system. These professionals understand user behaviors both in creating and retrieving information. They know the corporate language and cultural nuances that should be implemented into organizational taxonomies. When one examines the systems and takes a close look at the features and their solutions, there is much similarity to be found in the capabilities. While the marketing language may be updated, the system functions and applications are not much different than they have been for a decade or so. The interfaces change, the administrative modules perhaps get more sophisticated, but all in all the systems are legacy systems that get updated with nicer packaging. The author follows Stephen Arnold (and on occasion works with him). He has been consulting in the enterprise search field for 30 years or so. His knowledge of the system capabilities and the use of marketing to sell new developments is well documented. As he relates in a recent post: I enjoy reading documents about search that address decades old methods as if they were today s inventions. 13 After attending the Enterprise Search Summit in Washington DC in November 2013, a few attendees and I discussed the frustration that the speakers were not discussing new things. There was a realization that, beyond facets and Boolean search, few search innovations have occurred since the early days. The promise of predictive search and the ability to meet a user s anticipated information needs is one that has been under-delivered. Search still requires precision, review, and analysis to be certain of having the right information needed for the task at hand. Essential to obtaining precise results, is the work done 8

9 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape to collect, organize, and make available the best information assets. ediscovery and risk management A natural progression from enterprise information management is towards ediscovery and risk management applications. Here too the technologies are similar, although the use of the search engines are different. Due to this similarity it is easy for ediscovery technology providers to expand services beyond the collect, review, and produce stages affiliated with the EDRM. You will note on Figure 1 two sections: information management and identification. ediscovery vendors are starting to work with clients to apply their solutions to information governance activities. These are activities designed to ensure security and privacy of data, as well as the overall organization of data. The regulatory compliance measures that govern record keeping policies and more are sometimes better facilitated with the implementation of technology that promises to make the management of those compliance tasks easier. Often, due to legacy systems and other internal challenges, a solution that promises easy information management and risk mitigation, needs more than the out-of-the-box solution to make the technology work. Plug-ins, third party connectors, and more are required to navigate the myriad systems used to collect, organize, and disseminate information. It is important not to underestimate the nature of the information either. ediscovery systems are often deployed to seek specific data from unstructured content, such as . In today s environment, vendors are working to incorporate technology solutions that will include social media content and chat conversations. To understand the potential consequences consider a new app that was recently released. It works similarly to Snapchat, an app popular with teens because it allows the easy sharing of ugly and quick deletion of content from a user s smartphone. In the corporate world, a new app has been developed called Confide. Confide s founders say their service is aimed at professionals who want to speak candidly about delicate personnel or legal matters without leaving a trail Figure 1: Electronic discovery reference model 9

10 Chapter 1: The promise of technology Bold innovations or disappointing reinventions? that exposes proprietary information. 14 The promise here is fabulous, but there is potential for trouble. Companies face heavy regulatory pressure to preserve not destroy business s, financial records, and other documents. Services such as Digify allow users to send documents that can be set to delete themselves after a certain period of time. 15 While it sounds a bit like Mission Impossible, the reality is that companies need someone who understands the importance of regulatory compliance and information management practices that will mitigate their risk and keep relevant information available and usable. Faced with today s velocity of information, technology is important to the collection, organization, retention, and dissemination of organizational data. For a time, the best new promise of technology was the one for access anywhere, anytime. While we work in a seemingly always-on environment, the ease of accessing information anywhere, anytime is not as simple as one might imagine. There is an important ongoing debate related to bring your own device, aka BYOD. This too is related to risk. Security is a concern. Protection of intellectual capital and the protection from exposure for non-compliance are just two of the considerations when personal devices are used to access corporate information. Ulla de Stricker addresses the issue in her recently published work: As organizations must react to pressures from technology development consider a travel industry entity having to deal with less than positive social media commentary, a research based entity having to address the security implications of employees using mobile devices in public places, or any organization operating on aging technical infrastructure it is natural for decision makers to concentrate on projects addressing immediate and serious risk. 16 In addition, accessing data on mobile devices has its own set of challenges. What is easily rendered through a web browser can be difficult to deliver through a multitude of platforms (android, ios) on mobile devices. When one considers the personal options for devices, i.e. smartphones (Windows, ios, Blackberry, and Android) vs tablets (Android, ios, and others) it is easy to question how a company can effectively standardize delivery across so many options. Content curation and dissemination for current awareness services Technology has influenced the delivery of current awareness services too. Long gone are the days of the clipping files that were often the humble beginnings of corporate libraries. In today s environment, vendors provide products to curate current awareness through their databases; corporate libraries create and deliver their own using a simple technology known as RSS. This delivery of relevant current information about an organization s industry, competitors, and themselves is an essential function in corporate libraries. Technology has certainly delivered solutions that made the process easy beyond the dreams of those who used to use scissors and glue as the first step in delivering content. For an in-depth look at how one New Zealand information professional uses RSS to deliver this service, see the case study in Adding Value in Corporate Libraries and Information Services. 17 Since the development of the world wide web, the demand for fast, free information has increased. 10

11 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape Perhaps it is because I learned the hard way early in life that nothing is free, I never quite bought into the information should be free mantra. Just because the medium of publishing content has changed, does not mean that the cost associated with making information available has disappeared, or in some cases decreased. Now more than ever, the options for content collection require an understanding of the sources and the delivery mechanisms. Vetting the sources is essential to ensuring that users rely on quality, accurate data. While print has not disappeared, there is a growing interest in ebooks. The percentage of adults who read an ebook in the past year has risen to 28 per cent, up from 23 per cent at the end of While it is known that ebooks are becoming popular with the general public, they are growing in importance in corporate libraries as well. Sometimes referred to as digital libraries by the vendors, these collections allow for electronic access to what may have previously been collected in print. Take for instance a very specific industry: the law. One vendor, LexisNexis and their subsidiary Matthew Bender, are well known for their collection of intellectual property titles. These titles can be purchased as epubs via the digital library. This new collection option requires technology. One of the best known vendors of the necessary technology platforms for ebooks is Overdrive. Overdrive has offered platforms for library use of ebooks since Of course, along with the delivery options to be considered is the need to manage the digital rights, licensing, and copyright protection for these titles. Overdrive focuses on the ease of digital rights management through their platform as an important feature. Technology alone cannot manage licenses and digital usage of content. Technology can be deployed in very creative ways to provide access to content. Doing it legally requires management, not necessarily of the technology but the use of the product itself. Is it really fair to expect the end user to know, understand, and apply this type of knowledge when they are responsible for specific duties? No. This is the role for the corporate librarian in collaboration with IT professionals and their information vendors. Open source technology and open source access to information are two additional driving forces influencing today s corporate environments and their use and retrieval of information. Open source solutions for enterprise search and information management applies similar technology and a different business model to solving the problem of storing, indexing, and making available via search technology an organization s information as commercial enterprise information management vendors. The promise for this technology is that it will be more cost effective. The challenge is truly evaluating the costs, hidden and known, against the costs of proprietary systems. The evaluations can reveal surprises. Archives/digitization Corporate libraries have always been a space for special collections. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to call them specific collections. These collections are niche, often technical, and they directly support the mission of the organization. Technology has influenced these niche collections in a major way. The scanning and digitization of historic archives specific to the company is just one example. The promise of technology for this corporate library function may not be 11

12 Chapter 1: The promise of technology Bold innovations or disappointing reinventions? delivering all that it could, but it is certainly shining a light on the archives of the organization, making it easier to store, preserve, and use. The search and discovery systems deployed internally often index specific repositories and these archives are stored, indexed, and categorized to be included in the repository. Thus a single search can bring out data specific to a problem that may have been otherwise missed due to its special paper format. Summary When reviewing the capabilities of technology you will discover many overlaps, tried and true functionality, and a desire for continuous development. The promise is that technology applications, whether they be deployed through the cloud or on-site, using desktops, or even personal smart phones, will make finding information easier and better. Technology certainly contributes to making the execution of a search easier for end users. However, depending upon the quality of the sources being searched, more time may be wasted finding the right information than using it. Corporate librarians are critical to the steps needed to keep the promises of technology. Collaborating with vendors, information technology colleagues, and end users is an essential process in vetting content sources and implementing the technical solutions that make that content accessible at the point of need. The technical landscape changes rapidly. Information professionals who understand the company s strategic goals and who deliver high value services aligned with those goals through the wise application of technology offer a competitive advantage that applies to two of the most valuable assets: personnel and information. That is better than a promise. Back to basics Vetting technology solutions; Collaborate with providers and colleagues; and Connect the right technology with users. References 1. See: Apple_Inc._products. 2. Waldstein, Robert. A Corporate Single Search Library s Box Solution: Since Our Users Want a Single-Step Search, We Present It to Them in the Context of Our InfoView Service, Computers in Libraries, June See: guest-blog/2012/08/02/accuracy-of-medicalinformation-on-the-internet/. 4. Arnold, Stephen. Data Fusion, Discovery, and the Next Big Thing in Research, Information Today, April See: article/ thinking-about-big-data-go-for-bigoutcomes-instead?goback=.gde_60739_ member_ See: commoditizing-legal-research-or.html. 7. See: wordpress/2013/11/24/the-future-of-searchincomprehensible-visualizations/. 8. See: 9. Levinson, P., Cellphone: The Story of the World s Most Mobile Medium and How It Has Transformed Everything!, Palgrave Macmillan, Interview answers prepared by Toby Pearlstein and Jim Matarazzo, January 24, Kelsey, S., and Porter, M., Best Practice for Corporate Libraries, Libraries Unlimited, See: timeline_fulltxt. 12

13 Corporate Libraries: Basic Principles in a Changing Landscape 13. See: wordpress/2013/12/20/hp-autonomymarketing-collateral/. 14. See: /confide-a-snapchat-for-thecorner-office#. 15. See: 16. de Sticker, U. Getting Started with Social Media for Knowledge Management in de Stricker, U. (ed.), Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations: The View from Inside, PA: IGI Global, Ard, C. Adding Value in Corporate Libraries and Information Services, Ark Group, See: Reading-Update/Overview.aspx. 19. See: 13

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