Rolling with the punches while doing research

I recently picked up Allison‘s journal article because I was excited to read about the completed research project of one of the IRDL Scholars. Her project used the mechanism of vignettes to solicit feedback from library patrons about the words they use to describe the services that libraries provide. I wanted to look at the vignettes she ended up using, as well as read through her entire research design. She’s a good writer and it was an easy read, but that’s not what I want to draw your attention to: it’s the transparency of her process.

As I was reading through, I was nodding along during the introduction and literature review, and then arrived at the section on research need. There she states, “To reach faculty who were too busy to schedule focus groups …” and that’s where I thought, “Uh oh, something’s gone wrong.” My guess is that her original intent was to conduct focus groups with faculty but had no luck scheduling them. I understand, everybody’s busy. She didn’t throw in the towel, however, she came up with an alternate plan that she details in this section. Excellent.

I kept reading and ended up in the sub-section of methods, about sampling procedures. Again, “Uh oh.” Here she states that, “it proved more challenging than anticipated to find common times when dividing the groups by student status, so the author decided to mix the statuses in favor of getting more students in each session.” Wow, that could have totally thrown a researcher off her game, but in the article she stated the problem and how she resolved it. Now I’m really impressed. I read on.

In the results section she notes variation in her desired size of the focus groups (“due to illness and no-shows”). Yep, real talk. In the discussion section she states, “At the outset of this project, the author had hoped that user-centered design could help determine the best terms to use across a variety of demographics and disciplines.” So yeah, her original intent didn’t pan out. She continues, “While these results may not provide that, they do serve as a useful guideline when considering how to market and name services.” Heck yes, they do. She comments throughout the discussion about the stated preferences of the focus groups (preference for specific terms rather than general), and how that can affect decision-making in the future. She rolled with it, and we’re all the better for it.

She concludes by saying that, “While the results do not reveal an exact glossary or menu of terms, they do indicate some words to avoid, highlight principles to employ when naming and marketing services, and serve as a guideline for improved advertising and outreach efforts.” That’s actionable. Thanks, Allison, for being transparent in this article about your research design and thought process throughout the project.

Benedetti, Allison. 2017. “Promoting Library Services with User-Centered Language.” portal: Libraries and the Academy. Volume 17, Number 2. 217-234.

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Creating Quiet

When I do deep thinking or writing I have to have a certain environment for myself, or it’s just not gonna happen. I’m not one of those people who can have the radio on in the background, or be in a coffee shop environment where there are visual distractions. My best work is done in a still, quiet work space. Creating this work space for myself has been a challenge since I work inside a bustling academic library on a university campus. This post is to share with you how I’ve organized my sound set-up for thinking/writing.

First: I close my office door. Office doors that close are a luxury, I know. Shoot, even having an office is pretty great. I’m lucky.

Second: I close my email. I’ve already blocked the time in my Outlook calendar, so nobody is going to try and schedule a meeting with me during my reflective time.

Third: Sounds. This is my favorite part to tell you about. I have a Marsona white noise machine (the DS-600A model) that creates a great sound baffle for my office. That machine kind of blocks the background noise in the library. On top of that I wear noise cancelling headphones and tune in to one of three resources, depending on my mood:

  • Calm. I have a subscription to the service for meditation purposes but you can listen to a variety of nature sounds for free on the website.
  • FM3 Buddha Machine. I have the app on my iphone and you can listen to a sample at
  • Rain. I’m still experimenting with this newest edition to my collection of neutral sounds. They also have an app you can download.

Once I’m locked in sound-wise, the environment is perfect for me to just drift away with my thoughts or writing.

I’m interested to learn if you have sounds or an app that you like to listen to in your own writing environment. Please share in a comment below.

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Celebratory organization looks a little different these days

The other day in the office I opened the wrong file cabinet and was confronted with so many hanging folders. I hadn’t been in that file cabinet in a while and looking at those folders reminded me of the way I used to celebrate finishing a project. When I finished writing an article I would print out a copy of the final version and slip it into a file folder and put it in the front of a hanging folder. I’d then print copies of the articles I had cited in that article, and put each in its own folder, with the author’s last name, first name, and date of publication. I alphabetized by last name and put all those articles in the hanging folder, too. I’d put a label on the hanging folder with the title of the article. Gosh, so organized. Gosh, so much paper.

Over the last few years, without intending to, really, my celebratory organization has migrated itself into an online format. I’ve been using EndNote for this purpose. Now when I write an article I’ll create a group with the title of the article, and drag into the group all the references I cited in the article. To each reference I’ve been attaching a clean PDF of the article, and if I’ve marked up a copy with notes or highlights I’ll attach a second PDF with the marked version. I’ve also got a group called “Marie’s writings” where I’ll make a reference for each article, and to that reference I’ll attach a PDF of the publication agreement and a PDF of the final published copy. All neat and tidy, and gosh, no paper or hanging folders.

Also, if anybody needs hanging folders, I have a few empty ones now.

yellow hanging folder

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Need some e-resource marketing inspiration?

Over at I’ve been curating a collection of examples of how libraries are marketing their electronic collections. Do you need some inspiration for how to market e-resources at your own library? Take a look at The content there is chronological, with the most current finds up top. I’ve been working on this since 2011 so there is bound to be something there to get your creative ideas flowing.

Your feedback about the collection is most welcome!

Scoop It screen shot

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Second edition of Marketing Your Library’s Electronic Resources is on the way

book coverWhat’s New Since the First Edition [this text is taken from the preface of the second edition]

We have learned so much from you since the writing of the first edition of this book and are grateful to those of you who took time to write to us about your experiences with the book, and to those who wrote reviews of the book. All of your feedback has been folded into this edition.

One of the things we heard from you is that it was helpful to see marketing plans from libraries, so that you didn’t feel like you needed to reinvent the wheel while creating your own. We agree that viewing different approaches to developing marketing plans can be valuable and so have included three more marketing plans in this edition. One of the marketing plans uses the brand new marketing plan report template we’ve created for you (download it as a Web Extra), to help you get to your own final marketing plan faster. Let us know how you like the template, and what tweaks to it you may suggest for a future edition.

Looking outside of our own home libraries, the world of e-resource management continues to move forward. The usage statistics standards group that we all rely on to compare the usage of one e-resource to another, Project COUNTER, is currently working on a draft of a new Code of Practice (and related SUSHI protocol), Release 5. To engage librarians in the development of these standards, and to provide a mechanism for asking questions about the use of them, the website has been developed. Take a look for yourself to see how you may want to participate with this online community.

The TERMS (Techniques for Electronic Resource Management) group is in the process of reconvening to revise their work on the steps involved in managing e-resources. Their facebook page is at, if you want to stay up to date with their progress.

There are lots of options to stay engaged with e-resources and marketing. As you find new opportunities you think we should know about, drop us a line! We enjoy observing and learning how to interact with the changing world of electronic resources right alongside you.

*** Can’t wait? Pre-order a copy of the book at ***

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