Tuesday, 27 October 2009


I have carried out a quick survey of my followers on Twitter to see if I am reaching my target audience. My core purpose in using Twitter is to communicate with Library and Information workers and organisations in the SINTO region, which is Yorkshire and the East Midlands. Beyond that I am happy to be followed by any LIS workers and organisations wherever they are.

The breakdown is as follows.:
Individual LIS workers in the SINTO region = 33
LIS organisations in the SINTO region = 8
Individual LIS workers not in the SINTO region = 62
LIS organisations not in the SINTO region = 30

On the whole I am happy with this. Obviously there are many more individual LIS workers and organisations in the SINTO region who are not following me on Twitter but presumably the vast majority of these are not Twitter users. I hope that I am communicating with these non-users through other means and if they feel that they are not getting the information about SINTO that they need then Twitter is there as an option for them. I am gratified that so many people not in the SINTO area are interested enough to follow me (or should that be not bothered enough not to follow me!)

SINTO can always add you to one of our direct mailing lists if you would prefer to receive information by e-mail rather than Twitter.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Emotional Intelligence

Camila Alire, president of the American Library Association, yesterday gave a talk to SINTO on Leadership and Emotional Intelligence.

Camila began by quoting President JF Kennedy: "Change is the law of life". Her presentation would be in the context of Transformational Leadership - a leadership style that creates valuable and positive change in the followers.
Camila pointed out that "change happens". Both the USA and the UK are facing an economic downturn. Budget cuts will inevitably have an effect on people and services and leaders have to be able to manage this process.
The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) was developed in the mid 1990's with the publication of Daniel Goleman's book Emotional intelligence (1995). When Camila read this she recognised that the book reflected her own style of leadership. EI suggests that leaders can deal with emotions. This involves both understanding and managing your own emotions and being mindful of other people's emotions.

Camila illustrated this with an example from her own career. She was appointed as Library Dean in a US university. A few days later community was hit by severe flooding and library was under water for several days. The library staff, who had built up the collection over many years, were badly affected and they looked to her for a lead. Camila recognised that she had not only to sort out the practical issues of a flooded library but also to recognise and manage the emotional response of her staff. Every morning on her drive to work she had to deal with her own emotions and then provide a positive role model for her staff. The essence of EI is to recognise emotions in others and to have the ability to use emotions effectively in reasoning and problem solving.

The following traits of EI can be recognised:
· Knowing when to show or suppress emotion as appropriate
· Knowing how to read emotions
· Knowing when to deal with emotions - at once or later
· Taking time to deal with issues

An EI leader will show the following abilities:
· Ability to perceive emotions in facial expressions and in music & art
· Ability to understand & reason about emotions
· Ability to manage emotions

At a practical level this meant that in a meeting where change was being proposed the leader should position him or herself so that they can observe everyone around the table and asses their moods. Feedback should be invited but staff expressing negative emotions should be followed up after the meeting as they may not respond in public.
Camila emphasised that individual staff members can develop and use EI with their co-workers and clients. EI staff should be able to deal with their own emotions and help their colleagues cope in periods of change.

Camila ended with another case study where she was recruited by a university to transform a library service perceived as not customer orientated. She developed a plan for major change in close consultation with library staff at all levels. Despite this she experienced extreme hostility from one individual aimed at herself. Her response was to be cognizant of this emotion but not to regard it as a personal affront and not to react in a vindictive way. Eventually the member of staff came to recognise that the changes had been necessary.

Camila made reference to a recent book Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion byRichard Boyatzis and Annie McKee. She finished with a quote from Winston Churchill:
"Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself believe."

Monday, 5 October 2009

Communicating scientific knowledge

As Information Managers our main concern is with managing the information in our libraries. But we should also be interested in where that information comes from. The Research Information network has published a report Communicating knowledge: how and why UK researchers publish and disseminate their findings. This starts with the assertion that researchers are driven by a desire to enhance our knowledge and understanding of the world we inhabit, and to communicate their findings to others. However, they are pulled in different directions in their choice of how to publish their findings: through formal publication in books and in learned and professional journals; through conferences and their proceedings; and through a variety of less formal means, now including web-based tools for social networking. The choices they make are underpinned by a number of motives; the desire to disseminate to a target audience; the need to register their claim to the work; the requirements of monitoring and assessment (e.g. RAE); peer esteem; requirements from funders; etc. Publication in scholarly journals or monographs and edited volumes (especially in the humanities) provides status and can be easily measured but it might not be the quickest or most appropriate method for a particular piece of work. Only a relatively few researchers make much use of open access repositories, or of blogs, wikis and other web-based tools to publish and disseminate their work. The report concludes that researchers are receiving unclear messages from funders and policy makers. It recommends that these bodies need to give a stronger and more positive message about how these channels will be valued when it comes to assessing researchers' performance if they wish to encourage researchers to publish their work through these channels.

Of course, a shift to new and more diverse channels of communication for research findings will pose a challenge for information professionals. We are on the whole very good at location and obtaining specific published papers but tracing information published in less formal ways is more difficult.

On a related theme, Ben Goldacre's book Bad Science looks at how journalists are on the whole very bad at understanding, evaluating and reporting scientific research. Most people get their understanding of scientific (particularly medical) developments not from scientific papers but from news stories in the media. Goldacre points out that many journalists do not understand the scientific method and cannot interpret or evaluate a scientific paper. Even worse they fail to distinguish between findings based on published papers and claims made without any evidence. Public Libraries have to provide access to material on homeopathy, herbal remedies and detox but they should balance this by promoting Goldacres's book and web site.