Managing to have it all

Marcy and Dad

By Marcy Winkler

“You can have it all. You just can’t have it all at once.” -Oprah

My mom died unexpectedly a little over a year ago, on August 10, 2015.

Keeping a promise to my mom, as soon as we heard the news, my sister and I flew down and relocated my then 90-year-old father who is blind and suffers from Alzheimer’s from Florida to New York to live near my family. And so began one of the most challenging years of my life so far. A year that involved adding even more balls in the air to my constant juggling act involving my family, work and volunteer lives. Continue reading


Sponsored Post: Why Our World Would End if Legal Librarians Disappeared


There is a common misconception that, as the online information age ploughs on everstrong, libraries are going to disappear forever. This sits in line with the perception that librarians require books in order to be needed and we are seeing the existence of print books steadily decline. Libraries and books are not one and the same. This concerningly common misconception is a manifestation of the lack of understanding of what a law librarian actually does – where they source their information from, how they manage and curate it and, ultimately, how it is delivered to their end users.

“Law librarians manage the risk within the organisation they serve, ensuring the organisation’s mission is met through the acquisition, management, distribution, and analysis of legal information needed for the organisation to perform its mission in a timely manner and at an appropriate cost”
Greg Lambert

The value of a law librarian is far more than meets the eye. A law librarian must know, at the click of a finger, what sources are most reliable and relevant for their lawyers, who needs what information when, how to access said information, and manage the library collection. All this must be done at and under budget. This is no mean feat.

end of the world

Of course anyone can type a search term into Google and receive a whole host of results. But few people will know the exact search term needed to be entered, the specific sources to rely on, or where to access the best quality content (often behind the gates of premium paid publishers). Few are able to interpret the results given in a manner efficient enough to fit with the demands of the information consumer. Legal librarians make up these few.

Yet, despite all this, there is a concerning tendency for the value of law librarians to pass by unacknowledged. There are countless stories of lawyers and legal professionals who utilise the library department appropriately, as indeed one should, and subsequently progress further at work as they are able to quickly and easily access the information they so urgently require. It is this information that makes one firm stand out over a competitor; knowledge is the most valuable form of capital in our society today. However, law librarians still continue to be hidden away in the foundations of the law firm. One must not forget the importance of solid foundations, for without them the whole building would crumble.

When asked by a AALL study how to best assess the value of the library one interviewee responded, quite simply:

“Send all the library staff home for a day. Lawyers’ dissatisfactions with service do not remain unnoticed for long”

Whilst such an option might be a little extreme it certainly goes a long way to suggest the dependency that lawyers have upon legal librarians, even if they do not know it. To put the value in clearer statistical terms, the Australian Law Library Association found during one research piece that the ROI (return on investment) for information resources and services is $5.43 for every $1 invested. A 500%+ return on investment? That is value right there, clear and simple. Plus, they state that this is a ‘conservative estimate’. Their real contribution could well be exponentially higher.

Whilst the means by which law librarians work is continuing to evolve, the requirement for the product of that work will continue to exist. In 1930, George S. Godard, writing about “The Past, Present and Future of the Law Library” predicted the development of a form of book that was consumable anywhere at anytime. Today we know this as the ebook. The book still needs to be written, edited and so forth, it is still read but just in a different format.

In line with this, when considering the future role of law librarians we must emphasise the importance of evolving and enhancing one’s value in a new manner. Roles will develop in the same way that books have, and we should work within and around that. Indeed, law librarians are increasingly frequently being asked to analyse competitors, opposing clients and so forth. Law librarians will continue to source, create, curate and deliver legal resources. It is simply that the tools there to assist them in doing so will continue to develop.

So, would our world end if legal librarians disappeared? Absolutely.

linex_no_systems_300dpi-300x59Join Linex Systems and SLA NY at a happy hour on September 21st – full details and registration at


The liminality of a graduate student at SLA

by Ashley Candreva, SJU & SLA NY

LiminalityAttending the SLA 2016 national conference in Philadelphia is a very interesting process for an attendee still working on his or her MLIS. More often than not, one doesn’t know anyone else in attendance and comes to the conference alone. I was excited to attend my first conference, nervous about networking events, interested in the sessions I was planning on attending, and a little uncertain about how the whole process worked.

As an undergraduate I studied archaeology, classics, and maybe most importantly anthropology, where we learned about the liminal period and the term liminality. The liminal period is the in-between, where a person or group of people moves from one distinct position, rank, class, or status to another. Halfway through completing my master’s degree and a graduate assistant/paraprofessional working as both an archivist and reference librarian in the St. John’s University libraries, I truly am in a two year liminal period. Attending SLA during this period of liminality means feeling like I belong as a special librarian but with a sense of being an underqualified student without the connections to other SLA members others may have. Continue reading


SLA Philadelphia: Impressions from a Second Career First Timer

SLA BadgeBy Alexandra Gil

Thanks to the generosity of SLA-NY, I had the opportunity to attend my first SLA Conference this year in Philadelphia. As a recent library school graduate in the process of a major career change, the experience was eye-opening. Everywhere I went, there was someone to meet and something to learn. People were incredibly warm and welcoming, especially to someone wearing a “First Timer” ribbon, and were generous with their time and advice. For me, this began even before I had left New York, at the SLA Happy Hour downtown. I got to meet a lot of people, some of whom I would see again at the conference, and received a lot of helpful tips (including making sure to wear that “First Timer” ribbon!).

Because of my educational and professional background, I am entering the library profession with different experiences and expectations than many of my peers. Continue reading


Adventures in Librarianship During SLA at Philadelphia 2016

By Coral Salomón

I started library school in the fall of 2014 and subsequently joined the student chapter of SLA at Pratt Institute during the Spring semester. I was fortunate to attend the 2015 SLA Conference in Boston where I met a lot of wonderful people and attended very interesting sessions. I wanted to repeat the experience this year and registered for the 2016 SLA Conference in Philadelphia.

I have always enjoyed visiting Philadelphia and throughout the conference I also realized that it’s an excellent location for librarians and archivists to meet given its rich history.

During the annual meeting of the Archival and Preservation Caucus, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania presented on its Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. This project aims to assist and increase access to important archival collections held at Philadelphia’s many small, primarily volunteer-run, museums and historical sites/societies. The organization discussed a few of the exciting collections they had identified during the course of this project, from big names like the Civil War naval engineer John Ericsson to nearly unknown individuals like Dr. Hiram Corson, an abolitionist and prominent advocate for women physicians. The group dispensed useful advice for archivists in small organizations, from posting Finding Aids online to creating a donation scope in order to outline what material can be accepted from donors. As a library reference and archives research assistant, I found their advice very helpful and illuminating, especially when they discussed the importance of not getting bogged down by item-level descriptions and focusing on the big picture. More information about this initiative and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s guide on how to create archives for small institutions can be found their website.

Continue reading


Let’s Get Social at the 2016 Annual Conference & Expo!

Attending the SLA Annual Conference in Philadelphia? Interested in some great social opportunities? Here are a few of the many after-hours events planned.


Dine Arounds

5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Hosted by the Philadelphia Chapter, these informal pay-your-own-way dinners are a great way to meet new people. Head here for details and registration.


LMD’s 40th Anniversary Party

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Join LMD for food, drinks and fun at Time Restaurant. $20 gets you dinner and 2 drinks. Head here for details and registration.

Karaoke Party

9 p.m. to Midnight

Sing your heart out, or just come to marvel at SLA’s musical talent.


East Coast Chapter Reception

7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

This event is co-sponsored by SLA NY. It will be held at Field House (1150 Filbert Street) and we hope to see you there!

IT Dance Party

9 p.m. to Midnight

Also co-sponsored by SLA NY. Come dance the night away at this unmissable event.


Dine Arounds

6 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Hosted by the Philadelphia Chapter, these informal pay-your-own-way dinners will be a great way to close out the conference and say goodbye to all the new people you’ve met. Head here for details and registration.

There are many other great social events planned for SLA 2016; this list is just a quick preview! Check out the full conference schedule here.


3 Reasons You Can’t Miss the 2016 Annual Conference & Expo in Philadelphia!

SLA’s Annual Conference is coming up fast. Since it’s in Philadelphia this year, we hope to see lots of New Yorkers there! In case the fantastic program isn’t quite enough to persuade you, we asked a few SLA NY board members why you should attend. Here’s what they had to say:

“Number one reason to attend the conference: expand your network of information professionals. By attending SLA Boston last year, I expanded my network of information professionals in NYC and connected with others who work throughout the US and internationally. I chose to attend professional development sessions that were interactive, allowing for discussion with those sitting near me. I had numerous opportunities to chat with fellow attendees over lunch, coffee or drinks. I even got to network with individuals from other planets—my personal favorite was meeting and dancing with Superman at the superhero-themed IT dance party.”
-Marcy Winkler, Past President

“For me it’s the social sessions and networking; the camaraderie found at SLA is the strongest I’ve seen across association conferences. Attending evening socials as a new librarian introduced me to colleagues across the country who continue to anchor me to the profession. Professional networks are crucial, and they are much more productive (and fun!) when shared among friends.”
-Kelly Johnson, Treasurer

“The best part of the conference is getting people from all different divisions and locations in one place and letting serendipity take over. I enjoy the chance to meet and learn from people who work in different kinds of libraries. When I went to SLA in San Diego, this was especially valuable because I was still in school and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with the profession. I got the most fun and the most use out of conversations and workshops that didn’t have anything to do with what I thought I was going to do professionally. I had dinner with taxonomy librarians, breakfast with food and nutrition librarians, and great conversations throughout by seeking out people in all kinds of libraries at different stages of their careers. I’m looking forward to more of the same in Philly…with less jet lag.”
-Elizabeth Willse, 2016 Board Mentee

Learn more about the 2016 Annual Conference here. Early Bird rates end April 30, so register today!



“Where Do You See Yourself in 10 Years?”: Thinking Critically About Interviewing for Librarian Positions

By Robin O’Hanlon

Book coverAlong with “Tell us your strengths and weaknesses,” “Where Do You See Yourself in 5 (or 10 or 15) years?” has to be one of the most clichéd interview questions of all time. Yet the question does demand self-reflection and contemplation on one’s professional goals and desires. Interviews exist within a transitional space, a place in between, and they force us to think about our futures. Transitional spaces can be very hard places to negotiate – they make us feel vulnerable and unsure of ourselves.  I wrote my book, Ace the Interview, Land a Librarian Job (Libraries Unlimited, 2016) to tell all librarians who are about to embark on the interview process – from recent MLIS grads to seasoned professionals – that interviewing doesn’t have to be scary. Interviewing well consists of a set of skills which can learned, refined, and perfected. Continue reading


Down but Not Out: Rebuilding the NYU Health Sciences Library


By Ashley Curran

The stairs leading to the library post-Sandy.

The stairs leading to the library post-Sandy.

In October of 2012, when all seemed right with the world and the New York University Health Sciences Library was in the midst of strategic planning to develop new data management services and prepare for a much needed renovation, disaster struck in the form of Hurricane Sandy. The Health Sciences Library along with the entire NYU Medical Center was hit with a fourteen foot storm surge that completely flooded the lower level of the library and partially flooded the upper level. Virtually everything was destroyed in the library and in prioritizing patient needs the library came fairly low on the list of renovations, which explains why the expected opening is spring 2016, three and half years after the closing.

Almost immediately the faculty and staff set up shop across the road from the medical center and in order to maintain continued service, librarians went online. Within the space of two weeks the library became a virtual library, expanding already robust online resources and offering most if not all of the services it had been providing. Continue reading


Reaching Out: Tools for Student Chapters’ Distance-Learning Members

By Molly Kuramoto

Words from Outside New York contributor

sla kentucky

At the Mid-Winter Meeting of the SLA Kentucky Chapter, one of the topics of discussion was the status of the Kentucky Student Chapter. In recent years, membership in the student chapter gradually declined until it became inactive. As the librarians of the Kentucky Chapter try to re-establish an active student chapter, they will face an increasingly common challenge: a growing number of distance-learning students.

Continue reading


President’s theme for 2016 is “Your Future is a Moving Target”

By Emma Davidson

Can you say for sure that you know exactly what this year will hold for you? I know I can’t. Even the best-laid plans can go awry, and unexpected obstacles lurk behind every corner. Change doesn’t have to be bad, of course, so please don’t think me unduly pessimistic, although even good change can bring adjustments of its own. How about if everything stays on track and you successfully meet your goals – what then? A new set of goals of course, and the target moves once again. Continue reading


Transitions through the Years: A History of the Pittsburgh Chapter

By Carrie Wardzinski


First published Bulletin of the Pittsburgh Special Libraries Association, from 1933. From the SLA Pittsburgh Chapter archives.

The Pittsburgh chapter is the fourth-oldest chapter of the Special Libraries Association in existence. Founded on December 5, 1922, it is only surpassed in age by the Philadelphia, New York City, and New England chapters. With such a lengthy history, the Pittsburgh chapter has come through a number of transitions over the years.

Even from the beginning, the librarians within the Pittsburgh chapter faced an extreme transition within their professional lives – the abrupt change from the Roaring Twenties to the single worst economic downturn the United States has ever experienced. Pittsburgh was widely considered to be the industrial center of the nation at that time. Companies such as Westinghouse, U.S. Steel, Koppers, Alcoa, and PPG headquartered themselves in the western Pennsylvania region. These companies, and their associated libraries, were operating with somewhat limited budgets due to the Depression. Despite these financial constraints, business and research and development continued as usual, which meant that information resources were still needed. One small way that the librarians within the Pittsburgh chapter overcame some of these constraints was by creating their first duplicate exchange list in 1932. This list facilitated the exchange of usable materials within this regional network. Another way was by updating and expanding their Union List of Periodicals, which was originally published by the chapter in 1924. The updated and expanded list came out in 1936, and allowed the librarians within the area to share resources widely and freely. These two efforts would not have happened without the Pittsburgh chapter, particularly since the Union List was funded by SLA’s headquarters.
Continue reading


A Whirlwind of Transitions

WillseTabletsAppsLibrariesBy Elizabeth Willse

I squeaked this submission for the Bridge to Excellence in just barely on deadline (thanks to the editors for being so understanding!) I had trouble getting it written, but not for any lack of material. The chance to write about transitions couldn’t come at a better time. It’s been quite a year so far!

The sheer number of transitions this year has included doesn’t feel huge until I have the chance to catch up with friends and fellow librarians I haven’t seen in a while. Or until I have to write them all down for a B2E article about transitions. Here’s a brief recap: Continue reading


Social Media in Libraries: An Interview with the Social Media Managers at the Morgan Library and Museum

by Stella Sigal, MSLIS Candidate and Themis Brown Reading Room Intern at the Morgan Library and Museum

“If it can’t be found on the Internet, it doesn’t exist.” As we move into the Twenty-First century, industries have transitioned to a social media platform to promote their products. With a click of a button, users can easily access information. Traditional cultural institutions, such as the Morgan Library and Museum, have embraced this revolution. Online social media platforms offer institutions an unusual opportunity to interact with patrons outside their physical walls. This facilitates educational dialogue and offers institutions a chance to showcase their programming to a larger audience.

The Morgan’s social media managers, Moriah Shtull and Michelle Perlin, offer their thoughts on promoting the library’s collections and educational programs and its transition to social media.

Q: The Morgan Library and Museum has made its transition to social media. What are some of the benefits?

A: The mission of the Morgan is “to preserve, build, study, present, and interpret a collection of extraordinary quality, in order to stimulate enjoyment, excite the imagination, advance learning, and nurture creativity,” and social media presents an unparalleled opportunity for outreach to a global audience. Continue reading


Transitioning from One Library into Another

A Conversation with DaTransitions Word Cloudvis Erin Anderson and Raymond Pun

Davis Erin Anderson and Raymond Pun are co-editors of the upcoming volume titled Career Transitions for Librarians: Proven Strategies for Moving to Another Type of Library to be published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2016. This conversation piece explores how they both decided to work on this edited volume that is focused on library career transitions. They will also share some insights they found in the chapters that were submitted for this volume.

Hello Ray! Thanks for conversing with me regarding our project to edit and publish a book featuring stories from librarians who are making transitions within the field. I remember when you and I met for coffee in June 2014 to talk about partnering on this project. How did you conceive of this project in the first place? We know from our publishers that a book of this nature hasn’t been produced before; how did the idea come to you? Continue reading


Letter from the Editors

Fall Foliage by fabfotofx licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Fall Foliage by fabfotofx licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the Transitions issue of Bridge to Excellence (B2E). In this issue we encounter individuals, organizations, and professions in transition as they face the challenges and opportunities that accompany all change.

Davis Erin Anderson and Raymond Pun chat about how they both decided work on editing an upcoming volume tentatively entitled Career Transitions for Librarians: Getting A Job in Another Library. (It is to be published by Rowman and Littlefield in 2016.) Thanks, Davis and Raymond, for inspiring the theme of this issue of B2E!

Stella Sigal interviews Morgan Library and Museum social media managers Moriah Shtull and Michelle Perlin about how this classic institution has bridged the transition into a new era for library outreach by connecting with people around the world via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms.

Elizabeth Willse takes us through a year of career and personal transitions as she networks her way from library student to academic librarian and author of Using Tablets and Apps in Libraries.

Rina Krautwirth, a 2014 Ellis Mount Scholarship winner, shares her experiences learning about medical libraries’ transition into the world of new technology during her thesis project at Queens College.

Finally, we are introducing what will be a regular column, “Words from Outside SLA New York,” featuring an SLA member from another part of the country or world. Marcy Winkler and the 2015 SLA NY Board wrote in an open letter that local chapters serve as laboratories for innovation, and we want to learn from our colleagues in other regions.

This issue, Carrie Wardzinski from SLA Pittsburgh takes us on a historical journey through her chapter’s long history of succeeding despite economic downturns, changes in technology, and even war. She discusses how we can all learn and take inspiration from that history during our current transition as an organization and profession.

To welcome Emma Davidson as SLA NY’s incoming president for 2016, B2E is proud to announce that our next issue will match her theme for the year: “The Future is a Moving Target.” We’ll leave it to Emma to explain what this means to her in the upcoming issue, but this is what it means to us as the editors of B2E: Continue reading


Transitioning Technology in Today’s Medical Library

By Rina Krautwirth

Research Project on Medical Libraries

Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

Photo by NEC Corporation of America with Creative Commons license.

For my thesis project at the Graduate School for Library and Information Studies (GSLIS) at Queens College during a required course titled Research in Library and Information Studies, I chose to research and study medical libraries and librarianship in order to learn more about how a modern-day medical library operates. In particular, I looked at how a medical library utilizes emerging technology, a phenomenon currently progressing rapidly, and gained valuable insight into best practices for medical libraries. Moreover, I saw how a medical library can serve as a vital resource and pillar of support for its surrounding community. I also learned of the current challenges faced by medical libraries and librarians. These challenges stem to some degree from the recent rapid growth in the field of technology and from the vast amount of medical research taking place, two positive contributions to society that at the same time require adaptations and accommodations for their successful implementation. As librarianship continues into the twenty-first century, medical librarians continue to work to meet new challenges and to bring about improvements in medical and scientific knowledge.

Synopsis of Findings from Research Project Continue reading


SLA New York is delighted to announce the winners of the 2015 Chapter Awards! 

Please join us in celebrating our winners at the awards ceremony on Tuesday November 10th – register now at

Committee Member of the Year
Daniel Barron

Edge Award
We Need Diverse Books

President’s Award
Kara Masciangelo
Eileen Rourke

Outstanding Achievement Award
Vida Cohen
Sarah Davis
Rebecca Hahn

Ellis Mount Scholarship
Hannah Sistrunk

Congratulations to all our winners!

We will be announcing the Dana Gordon Librarian of the Year at the awards ceremony, so you’ll have to be there to find out who won the Chapter’s highest honor this year!

I would also like to recognize our many unsung heroes – as ever, so many Chapter members have put in a huge amount of time and effort to create an excellent series of events and programs throughout the year. We couldn’t achieve any of this without you, and we are so grateful for all that you do.

Sincerest thanks are also due to our valued business partner Leadership Directories, for their generous sponsorship of this year’s awards.

I look forward to seeing you on November 10th!

Best wishes,

Emma Davidson
SLA NY President-Elect