What are those corporate librarians up to?

I struck up a conversation with a corporate librarian.  I’m interested in the ways these professionals work.  Fortunately,  Eric Bryan, a corporate librarian for Boeing was game to answer some questions.  After we exchanged some emails about vegan related matters, I wondered if he would field some other questions. (And how did we get started on this? Through blogging.)
That sounds like fun!  I’m not sure if we have any staff photos because we are scattered all over the country (we do a LOT of online meetings).  We are dispersed throughout the country.  Pictures are hard to come by because cameras are highly restricted in our buildings.  We have about 50 librarians scattered around the country, but most are in southern California and Washington (Puget Sound area).  I’m going to ask my boss about a staff and library bio, which shouldn’t be a problem, I just want to verify what I can/should say (we have very tight security and have to jump through many hoops to get info to the outside world).  I’ll get back to you very soon with the bios though.  Web 2.0 technologies and concepts are a really big thing here, so I know the rest of the library will be excited about this. –Eric Bryan
Once we were both clear about what we could talk about and how, we exchanged some emails.  I learned some cool stuff about corporate librarians, librarians working in high security organizations and librarians working in a distributed knowledge organization.  All around, pretty darn cool what some librarians are doing in their careers.  Not because of the place they work at but because of the fact that they’re bringing in emerging technologies to do their job better.

Here’s the standard bio from Eric for the Boeing Corporate Librarians:

Library and Learning Center Services (L&LCS ) provides Boeing employees with information, research and educational services in support of Boeing’s vision, programs and projects. Some of the services available via the L&LCS web site include:
  • Access to internal and external information including reports, documents, journals, and a circulating collection of books
  • In-depth research on request, including Ask us! real-time, online chat reference
  • Online, full-text access to engineering, technical and business-related resources
  • Self-paced training and certification materials* Information organization and retrieval services including thesaurus, glossary and metadata development, add your collection to the library catalog, user groups and more

Whether employees need internal Boeing documents, industry, military or government specifications and standards, or parts catalogs; or if they’re looking for e-books, electronic journals, or are simply searching for information related to a specific piece of technical data, the L&LCS staff can help.

Our Conversation:
Anyone in particular use -blogs, rss, delicious, twitter?  Can you tell me what is used, who disseminates emerging technologies information (whether formally or informally)?
  • Many of the librarians here make use of the staff blog as well as the library services wiki.  Our blog is based on the movable type platform, and our wiki is on the atlassian confluence platform.
  • Many of us subscribe to feeds and check them on a daily basis, and  those are the people who tend to disseminate the tech news.  We have also created a “daily digest” feature on our blog in which one of our librarians is responsible for finding cool bits of news on the web and compiling it in a daily digest format.
  • My colleagues Josh , Robert and I are the main “web 2.0″ people here in southern California, and we both make use of blogs, rss, delicious, wikis, LibraryThing, and various social networks. We don’t use Twitter, although we are familiar. Josh and I are also the admins for the blogs and wikis that the library groups inhabit, and we also manage content development on the various library web pages. Josh recently conducted a workshop at UCLA on Web 2.0 applications.
Do the librarians specialize: web searching, teaching information management,  or aggregating information/ information analysis?
  • We don’t really have librarians who “officially” specialize in one thing over another, although of course we have our research librarians, catalogers, and the much smaller specialty, which I and a few others handle, is the technology side (including marketing of the library’s services, outreach, and web/blog/wiki maintenance).
  • Our most unique challenge in relation to other libraries is the very strict firewalls we have here, due to the sensitivity of many of the documents and information.  Because of that, we tend to be a few years behind the rest of the world in terms of software applications and technology
  • We do have a great group of librarians who have embraced the web/library 2.0 concept whole-heatedly, and are always coming up with new ways to implement these concepts.  Our current project is to develop internal podcasts and video tutorials.

How is internal information shared: internal wiki, dashboard, custom portal, or something else?

We share information in a number of ways.
  • We have a staff wiki, the development of which was my first project when I started here.  We have a great deal of participation in the wiki, and I think this is due to the fact that we got people involved by giving them specific areas they are responsible for (i.e. tech news, book club, calendars, announcements).
  • We have a staff blog which is updated at least 2-3 times per day but quite often more than that, by various librarians.
  • We all make a conscious effort to utilize these new tools, rather than sticking with the old and tired formats such as mass emails.
  • We are alpha testing a few different types of internal social networks that has been developed by our technology department.  One is rather similar to digg and stumble upon, and the other is fairly similar to LinkedIn and Facebook.  Both are seeing a good deal of success, and hopefully we’ll be able to merge the best of the two once the final product is released.

Are Boeing librarians doing more stuff like this?   Can we get a list or other places presentations have been done?

Boeing Librarians are definitely involved in doing presentations, especially through SLA.  I’ve attended several SLA meetings and conferences and Boeing always has a very strong presence at these events.  As I mentioned, my colleague Josh gave a Web 2.0 workshop a few months ago at UCLA.  Unfortunately, there is no list of other presentations that have been done, but you’ve given me the idea to create a spot on our wiki where we can share info and schedules of presentations.  I know that the Boeing librarians are fairly active in this type of thing, so I’m sure it’ll see plenty of use.
TTW: Eric Bryan and Lee LeBlanc

8 thoughts on “What are those corporate librarians up to?”

  1. First of all, Eric Bryan and his team, need to be thanked for doing such a great job. Most of us have been doing all these – but are there any real takers or appreciators.
    A professional gets into a job, with lot of new ideas and expectation, The urge to do something dies down as soon as he find that there not many real users. And most of our people seems to look like a bunch of dull lot. Most of the time, who do not visit Libraries and take any service from Library, comment about Libraries in negative.
    We need to run a library like a business enterprise – for which big cash rich organisations, to which libraries are attached, should support full throttle. This is an age when people say Information and knowledge are power …

  2. Eric is a coworker of mine, and you can’t imagine how excellent it feels to be featured on this blog! I’ve included many of your articles on my daily digest (yes I’m the one responsible for it at Boeing) and I’m sure this one will be a popular addition. ;) Thank you so much for your interest!

  3. I agree fully with what Suresh says. It is difficult to get people involved in these technologies, but once a user sees how great that library services can be, we usually have a fan for life.

    In doing a recent data mining project, I frequently saw our patrons refer to us using such terms as “awesome”, “super heroes”, and “the best resource in the whole organization”.

    It is my sense that, despite the changing landscape of information and librarianship, if we stay ahead of the curve, introduce users to new technologies, and continue to do what we do well, we will always have a place in society.

  4. Eric, thank you for the response. What I have mentioned here was the general trend in our profession. We talk too much – Even while our schooling days, we were taught that Libraries are the heart of any academic organisation – but we know where we stand. Nice work is appreciated always – but some how from my experience, I feel it doesn’t happen so in our field.
    Yesterday, I was attending a business excellence meeting – one of the participants commented that we at service point should provide what our users want – and also opined that it’s because users’ requirement is not met – he does not frequently come back. One thing I have noticed, in cases where one has support from the higher-ups, they are perceived as good professionals – others whatever great job they do – it doesn’t get the required recognition.
    As I told earlier, there are some elements in every organisation, they try to find some negative side of it. Don’t feel that I am scribbling this out of frustration.

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