Using Old Tools to Create New Opportunities

Advances in technology have opened doors to many new opportunities for librarians and information professionals. The rise of the Internet, for example, created roles for librarians as intranet managers and user experience specialists, while the development of visualization tools allowed info pros to get their foot in the door on complex data projects.

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In some cases, however, special librarians have forged new career paths for themselves by using existing tools and technologies in new ways. Such is the case with Sarah Davis, who works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Central Library in Silver Spring, Maryland. Sarah uses two common library tools to perform bibliometrics, which is a way of measuring the value of an organization’s collection or the impact of its researchers.

“The bulk of the bibliometrics work we perform . . . is accomplished with two products I’ve been using since I entered the profession in 2004; we’re simply using them from a different vantage point and engaging different skill sets,” she writes in the July-August issue of Information Outlook. “For example, before I began working in bibliometrics, I would use Web of Science to find references to help patrons with their research. As for Endnote, it’s simply a bibliography builder—I had taught some of my patrons how to use this tool, too.”

While getting a bibliometrics program up and running isn’t difficult—“you can start small with basic metrics, such as publication counts and citation rates,” Sarah writes—keeping it going over time requires a commitment of resources. Money, staff time, software, assistance from researchers, and marketing are essential elements, while managerial support is critical.

“One way to get a manager’s buy-in for a bibliometrics project is to present it as a way to figure out where your organization’s money is going,” Sarah writes. “Tell your manager that bibliometrics can determine how researchers are using what your organization produces. A manager able to report on these types of things will earn not only bragging rights for what his or her employer creates, but also a valuable financial measure for gauging output.”

To learn more about bibliometrics, including the “rules of the road” and the four steps to starting a bibliometrics project, read the article.

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