Friday, December 28, 2012

Just Give Me A Smile

The mere act of smiling may cause you and the people around you to be happier. [fn 1] The Declaration of Independence stated that all people “are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights … life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” No one is guaranteed that they will be happy, but we have the opportunity to actively pursue happiness.

When we see a smiling happy baby, we are immediately cued to be happier ourselves. Two days ago I was traveling by train back to Chicago. As soon as we walked into the train station, we heard a toddler crabbing, not the cry of pain or discomfort, but the cry of “why in the world are we waiting in this line?” We saw a big line of people waiting to get to the track for our train and so we went to the end of the line. The crying toddler was directly in front of us. I was thinking, “I wish that the toddler would shut up.” I wondered what I can do to save the crowd from suffering. The father was trying to comfort the child without success. I was not sure if the mother was there or not.

The poor father was not succeeding. Then my librarian-teacher training kicked in. Many times on in shul (synagogue) I have found children with sour faces and asked them if they cold smile for me. It usually works. They sometimes just give “fake” smiles and sometimes even laugh and have “real” smiles. I approached the toddler, being careful not to undermine or excite the father and said, “Excuse me, excuse me, I don’t have enough smiles. Would you please give me a smile?” The child was so surprised that she stopped kvetching. She stopped annoying her father and those waiting in line. I reached into my bag and gave her a copy of my colorful business card and told her, “I don’t have enough smiles, please send me some of your extra ones.” She played with the card as if it was a toy for the next five minutes until it was time to go on the train. I told the people in line, “It’s OK I used to be a children’s librarian.”

I have no idea if their final destination was Chicago. I did not hear any crying on the train. No one said anything to me including the parents.

It is always better to wear a smile, than a frown. I only wish that I could have steered her to a book.


1. Articles that deal with smiling.

Philippen, Philipp B., Frank C. Bakker, Raoul R. D. Oudejans, and Rouwen Canal-Bruland. 2012. "The Effects of Smiling and Frowning on Perceived Affect and Exertion While Physically Active." Journal Of Sport Behavior 35, no. 3: 337-353.  In this study Phillppen et.el. demonstrated that physical facial expressions of smiles can help be a motivator in physical (sports) activity.

Baumgardner, Jessica. "Try These Two Minute Stress Solutions." Prevention 64, no. 12 (December 2012): 100-107.  In this article Baumgardner say that smiling can reduce stress.

Kraft, Tara L., and Sarah D. Pressman. "Grin and Bear It: The Influence of Manipulated Facial Expression on the Stress Response." Psychological Science (Sage Publications Inc.) 23, no. 11 (November 2012): 1372-1378.  Kraft reports that smiling helped reduce stress.  Subjects had lower heart rates.

Nagle, Jacklyn E., and Stanley L. Brodsky. 2012. "Good Witnesses Don't Smile (Much)." Jury Expert 24, no. 5: 18-20.  Nagle talks about the proper time and circumstance for a smile in court room.    Inappropriate smiles will make the testimonies less likely to be believed.  A polite smile shows sincerity and credibility.   

Comments received

Dec. 30, 2012
Good, smiling is a healer.
Posted by Lillian Oats 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Memory, Music and Beans : Judging a Science Fair -- 4

On Tuesday December 18 I was a science fair judge for the fourth time. By now I have grown to expect what a high school student can do for science fair experiments. Many of the experiments were variations on a theme. I still can’t understand what kinds of guidance the teachers are offering. No one teaches these students how to design experiments that can have good statistical results. I said to myself that I did not want to see another experiment on growing beans.

Cuneform tabletAs I walked in the aisles looking at exhibits one impressed me, but since I was not judging that exhibit I did not even read his board. What impressed me was the picture of cuneiform tablets. The tablet similar to the one illustrated here was a commercial document. I should have examined the experiment more carefully. Some of the story boards just had paste-up of sections of their papers. Some had hand-written titles; while others were computer printed. Some had pictures; other just words. Last year I remembered some presentations included realia connected to their experiments. This time I don’t remember anyone with an exhibit that included realia.

25% of the scoring rubric is for how well the students orally present their experiments and results. One 10th grade girl was very good given that she only arrived from China three months ago. Most of the other 10th graders had exhibits based on research they did in 9th grade. Her name started with and “X” and so I asked her to pronounce her name. Sorry, I can’t remember it and I’m sure that I did not pronounce it correctly. Some of the students had well rehearsed presentations and others were more conversational.

Several students did experiments on music and learning. They wanted to know if background music or even a single tone could affect memory or learning. This could have implications for classroom and individual learning. This is not a new query. In a Winter 1985 article “Background Music and Context-Dependent Memory,” published in The American Journal of Psychology (Vol. 98:4) Steven M. Smith writes:

Background sound is a ubiquitous characteristic of our everyday living environments, ranging from industrial noise to public noise to relative quiet. Background music, for example, can be heard in stores, restaurants, office buildings, homes, and automobiles, even by those who do not use the type of portable music-playing devices that can be taken virtually anywhere. Such background music often plays a part in our everyday memories; for example, people are often reminded of long-past events when an old song is heard on the radio.

These students should have read Smith’s article in order to learn that the musical genre (classical, rock, hip hop, etc.) should not be a variable but rather, music and white noise should be tested against a control consisting of quiet. Most of the students using music labeled soft, calming music as classical. They never heard of full active, orchestral music. One experiment tested a single pitch as a way to improvement memory. One tested age as factor in memory with all of the older subjects related to her.

All of the experiments used too few subjects and trials to obtain significant results. For example one student wanted to test whether to size of a parachute affected the time for descent. He used three different sized parachutes and dropped a weigh from a second floor deck of his house. He concluded after three trials of each size (total of 9) that the bigger the parachute, the slower the descent. He couldn’t complete more trials because the parachutes wore out after three trials. He did not time the descent time for no parachute.

Since the scoring sheets did not have much about the experiment other than the titles, I had no idea that the students investigating road salt use and use of grey water in irrigation were testing growing beans. They concluded that salt was not good for plants and grey water would kill the plants.

I asked all the students about their use of library resources. Several reported using the databases from their school or public library. Very few used books and most had poorly formatted bibliographies. Even those who claimed to use a citation generating program such as Easybib ( ) for help with citations had significant errors. The program is flawed; frequently it reports, “n.d.” or “n.p.” for no date or publisher when the data is quite clear. When I use Ebsco and other academic databases they give citations in several styles. I warn the students that any citations are merely advice. The students still need to make sure the citation is correct according to the style guide and their teacher.

A student investigated the absorptive properties of paper towels, cellulose sponges and a Sham Wow. ShamWow is a super absorbent towel promoted in infomercials. The student never explains what the ShamWow is and spelled it as “Sham Wow.” He carefully cut the experimental materials and measured how much canola oil each absorbed. He found out counter to his hypothesis that sponges were best. Jokingly I asked, “Did you have to get up oily in the morning to do the experiments?”

At the end of the day I was tired and I hope that some of the students learned something from their efforts.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New President Interview -- Part 14

Where Has the Leadership Gone*

Q: I just heard that a friend of yours in another college has resigned his presidency. You were appointed at about the same time and you worked with him on several strategic projects. Do you know what happened? 

A: I can’t tell you the details because we have not discussed them. Mr. LP grew up in the same city as the college. I met him after I moved here and we served on some community projects. He and I are alumni of the same undergraduate university, but he started several years after I graduated. His masters degree was in business and has worked in many aspects of higher education since then. He did not hold a doctorate. This was his first position as a college president. He was and still is dedicated to improving education and offering more opportunities. He has the mind of an entrepreneur and has strived to push aside the mishugas (craziness) in educational higher administrations. He tried to build a team, but had the rug pulled out from him when the board forced the vice-president to resign a few weeks earlier. The vice-president had worked for the college for more than 40 and was a great source of leadership and institutional knowledge. While the official messages said that she was retiring and moving to New York, at beginning of this term she said that her long term plans did not have retirement scheduled until the summer of 2014. I can only speculate that the board had a different idea of how to run a college than the administration.

Q: Does the college have a plan for a transition?

A: According to the public information, they have made plans for interim administrators. I can only speculate as to their effectiveness. Interim administrators are usually caretakers with little incentive for innovation or long term improvements. I hope the faculty is still able to do their jobs and the students don’t notice any disruptions in services.

Q: Why does someone with such great promise resign after such a short time?

I don’t know what went on behind closed doors. I know that the president of that college’s board came from the business world, not higher education. Business people and government leaders have a different idea of success than educators.  The college has a lot of pressure to increase graduation rates without sufficient analysis on the reasoning behind the statistics. The statistics did not control for students who take a course or two for self-improvement or just to transfer to their home university. Those students never intended to graduate, yet the accounting system calls them credit students. In our college they would be “non-matriculating” students.

I can only tell you why some people resign after only 18 months in a job. There are usually pressures that are private and not discussed wit the public in order to allow the parties to save face and not air the “dirty laundry” in public.
1. They are not a good match. That means the personal vision, experience, or temperament does not fit the organization.
2. The supervisor or administration is toxic. In a job I had early in my career I found out the dean was having IRS trouble with how he filed his tax return. The IRS was took him to court. That was just one sign that the administration was toxic. Every one of the administrators had serious flaws in the way they dealt with students and the supervising authorities. They even stopped payment on a payroll check after I deposited it. I left before the school year was over.
If one sees illegal or unethical behavior, run for the exit and don’t look back.
3. Lack of vision. The job of a president is to set the stage so that the organization can move as a team. If the faculty refuse to work as team, sometimes a leadership change is required. You see this in sports. If the team is losing too many games, then the manager or coach is fired so that the team can take a new direction.This is not the right answer for education or business.  When the academic team is not working, the workers have to change.  That means leading and educating them toward better performance or changing the personnel.

If you can’t build a team, take drastic action to turn the efforts back on the team and institutional goals.
4. An offer one can’t refuse. Sometimes lightning strikes and president gets a call to community or national service or another college makes an offer that can’t be refused. When this happens the board should feel proud and honored that someone else recognizes their treasure.
5. Health, personal or family reasons. These are totally beyond the control of the college and we have to respect them. The college should do whatever they can to make the transition easier and perhaps leave the door open to return when the situation is resolved.
6. Lack of good judgment. If the president has breached their contract, committed a crime against the college, or did something seriously wrong against the college, the board should ask for an immediate resignation. I have heard stories of deans who made public negative remarks against their institutions and the next day they were asked for their immediate resignation. One must always act professionally and watch what you do and say in public. Presidents are the public face of the institution. They must set an example of their actions and words.
Human behavior can be difficult. Much of the time the president needs to make the needs of the organizations more important than personal concerns. Sometimes there is just a line that you can not cross. The president’s job is to build consensus and create the atmosphere for team work.

Q: What is team work?

A: Team work is the action of working as one to get the job done. Teams don’t just happen. Individuals need training and guidance to work together. They need goals they can believe in. While the individual and his/her rights must be respected, the needs of the organization must take precedence. However, the needs of the organization must include ways to help the individual prosper. If the individuals are respected and rewarded, they will work harder for organizational success. When the organization succeeds, all the members succeed. Every member of the organization's team needs a role they can be proud of. The accomplishments of the individual are shared with the team and the accomplishments of the team reflect on its members.

Q: Thank you very much.


*Part fourteen of an imaginary interview with the president of the College. Note this is just for your information and edification. Any connection to a real college president is strictly coincidental.

Note: Based on comments and further investigations,  this article was revised on Dec. 16, 2012.

 Comments received from Don Metzer-Smith on Decemebr 15, 2012. (Included with permission.)

Thanks for sharing this incredibly pertinent blog on leadership in academia.
Of course, the conversation applies to all facets of our society, and not just the scholarly ranks. I particularly liked the part where it was acknowledged that leaders of industry and public policy making (I might add) are not always a good fit for a university. Being from Indiana, "I am holding my breath" regarding the presidency and ascension of Mitch Daniels to Purdue's leadership. We shall see, won't we? 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Stuhlman and the iPad – 2012 Follow up – 2

Since last week’s article on the iPad I had an opportunity to attend a class given by Apple on using the iPad in the education market. While most of the consumer marketing for the iPad is aimed a making the iPad a fun computer, the educational uses for the machine are huge and generally not reported in the general or computer media. During the class we learned about many kinds of applications including, productivity (ex. KeyPoint and word processing), media (ex. Electronic books and periodicals), educational games (such as exercises and learning activities) and communications (such as e-mail, web browser, and Web-Ex)

Educational uses in the classroom from elementary school to the college include educational games and text books.  Text books could be interactive and include audio, video and Internet connections. 

There are some great  uses for the iPad.  I love reading e-mail and using other programs that only require a hand gesture or taps to navigate. This is much easier that using a mouse and a click. However, typing and sending e-mail is harder than typing on a full sized keyboard.

No machine is perfect. The reason Apple or any other company has multiple machines is that people have differing needs. Many desktop computers are made to be multipurpose machines. Portable machines from the earliest Compaq luggables to the smallest handheld computers of today, computer makers have to compromise on something. Sometimes the compromises are tradeoffs made to save space or costs. Sometimes the smaller size means the computer costs more than a similar desktop. That means the consumer has to decide what they want to live with when purchasing a machine. Computer makers decide if they offer more features, ports and buttons and hope to encourage sales or save money? Use an expensive material to make the machine more rugged or a less expensive alternative? Sometimes a company will add extras such as multiple USB ports, an Ethernet connection, or HDMI ports in hope that the consumer will be encouraged to buy their machine. I can not fault a computer for leaving out those ports, but it does make a less attractive package. I also have no idea how much adding a USB port increasing the cost. I do wonder why a $300 machine has the extra ports and the $400 or $500 Apple is missing them. Why is the Apple power cord a mere 40” in length when my mouse cord and headphone cords have much longer and convenient cord lengths? Since at retail a one meter USB cable costs less than $0.74 from a Chinese supplier, Apple should be able to double the cable length for less than 50 cents.

Consumers like to get extras. Extras help convince them to spend money and feel like they are getting a bargain. Netbooks and laptops frequently offer VGA, HDMI, USB, and Ethernet ports as well as card readers and sometime optical drives. If an iPad owner wanted to connect the iPad to an external monitor or projector there’s Apple TV, a $100 black box. The other computers come with that connectivity. Ok, I’m probably comparing unequals. Laptop computers may cost as little as  $200 to more than $1200. The $1200 computer is not in the same league as the iPad. The Samsung Galaxy, an Android operating system tablet, is in the same price range as the iPad and it has a memory card slot and one USB port. They weigh about the same. They are going to compete on the operating system features, screen size, look and feel, applications, and how well the make the consumer feel about the purchase.

In an article published online last month, “iPad Mini Reality Check: 10 Reasons to Not Buy This Tablet” Don Reisinger [fn 1] gives his reasons for not buying the iPad Mini. He could have used similar arguments to not buy any limited function machine. He did not say that the machine is poorly made or the customer service was poor. He didn’t say purchasers would regret wasting their money. I agree that for the features Apple products are overpriced and have too many proprietary connectors and features. I feel uneasy using an operating system that only runs on one company’s machines. It is as if there are no checks and balances with company specific systems and hardware. Apple’s iStore which requires Apple’s approval for applications is both a good and bad point. While approval insures the products will work, I have no idea if creativity is limited to the kinds of products that Apply wants the market to sell.

Reading e-books on the iPad is easy both as a procedure to find the book and for the eye to view. The Retina display is stunning.
The illustrations above are screen shots of books. I had to search the Internet for instructions to make the shots. The instruction book on the iPad that I downloaded for free does give instructions for saving screen shots, which is a built-in feature, but they misspelled “screen shot” making the search fail.

The bottom line is – if someone would give me an iPad to use, I would use it. If I had to buy a portable computer I would weigh the options and features that I want and need in a machine. However, I would probably buy a non-Apple product if I had to spend my own money.

Dec. 16, 2012  -->  I just discovered a serious flaw with the iPad.  I have some video files on my PC.  I wanted to transfer them to the iPad.  I can't just plug in the iPad to a USB port and copy.  The only ways to transfer the files involve uploading the files to cloud service or use a wi-fi transfer utility.  Those processes would take several hours.  With my Android based under $70 machine all I have to do is plug in the thumb drive and start viewing.  I don't even need to copy them to the computer.

1. Reisinger, Don. “iPad Mini Reality Check: 10 Reasons to Not Buy This Tablet” Posted in eWeek Nov. 15, 2012 Retrieved on Dec. 10, 2012.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

This week in reference Dec. 7, 2012

Since I have moved to mostly doing cataloging, I’ve had very few reference questions that are amusing, challenging, or otherwise worth writing about. Most of the questions are quite routine; however, last week provided some reportable incidents. It’s too bad that when you read this you can’t hear the tone of voice and therefore will not be as amused as my audio audience.

The College has the only physician’s assistance (PA) program in a community college in the area. It is a rigorous program that requires incoming students to have basic education course work of almost as many credits as an associates degree, some prior health science work (such as medic, nurse, etc.) and dedication to complete the program and serve the public. A potential student came in for advice concerning what to read. Since it was not immediate clear why she wanted the basic science books and how I could help her, I asked questions to try and get her to focus her search. As part of a project to catalog medial books and work with the health science faculty I have been reading their departmental web sites and talking with faculty. I knew that the PA program is highly selective. Most of the programs at the College are open enrollment. Finally the potential student asked, “Does the Library have any medical books?” I answered, “Thousands.”

A staff member came to the Library office suite looking for some pictures. First she went to an office of someone who not only does not work for the Library, but has never even said hello to any of the Library faculty or staff. I didn’t even know he could talk until he attended as a guest a meeting of the assessment committee. On course he knew nothing about the picture. Overhearing the conversation I went out of my office and offered help. She wanted pictures from the College president’s office. Not knowing exactly which pictures, I showed her the place we had pictures. She said, “Oh no, I wanted the big pictures that were on the wall.”

I suspected that the pictures were in the storage room. I offered to take her there. She asked, “How far away is the room?” I told her that the room was on the other side of the Library. She said that she was not wearing “flats” and couldn’t walk that far. I immediately looked at her feet and saw shoes similar to ones in the picture. She said that she would some back the next day. As far as I know she has not yet come back. I related the story to a fellow library and he couldn’t believe someone would be working in such impractical shoes.

The public relations person from the College sent an e-mail on Thursday after I left wanting some pictures for a College retrospective. She was sent a reply that I would be able to help her on Friday. On Friday I sent her an email telling her the library is only open until 2 PM. Since she was at another College,17 miles away and using public transportation, she would need about 1.5 hours to get to the Library. I told her that the archival pictures are in unorganized boxes and it would take several hours just to get them in a condition for her to examine them. I couldn’t even choose them for her, because I didn’t know what she was trying to accomplish and what ideas she had and because the scanner only took memory cards that that Library did not have. She said OK and would see me on Monday at 9:30. I said, “Sorry, the Library will be closed on Monday and no faculty will be in the building until January 7” She wanted to speak to the department chair. I answered, “Sorry, we don’t have one. She resigned her chairmanship.”

Another example of not having the staff time to do all we are asked for.

It’s winter break. I’m going to be spending my time studying and writing about management. If any of you have examples of how organizational management that works well, please share the stories with me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Stuhlman and the iPad – 2012 Follow up

Tablet or not to tablet is not the issue.  The issue is how to we want to receive or deliver content.  In December of 2011 I had a chance to use an Apple iPad and wrote two blog articles about how I felt about the computer.  This weekend I had the opportunity to try an iPad 4 with 32 GB of memory.

Some of the issues that I had last year disappeared when some readers guided me and I had a chance to experiment with the machine.  I am still disappointed with the lack of included documentation.  Sure many of the features are simple and intuitive, but why should I have to experiment with every feature/  Why should I have to guess what the settings mean and the result of one choice or another?  For example I wanted to see it I could type in Hebrew.  In the settings I tried "General"  In the first screen there are 10 choices; none were were for other languages and there is no clue that other choices exist.  Since I know this is the game Apple plays, I scrolled to find 7 more choices.  I selected "International" then "Keyboards."  Under "Keyboards" I added another keyboard from the choices that included several versions of English and several non-Latin alphabets.  Chinese, Japanese and Korean are included.  I choose to add Hebrew and German keyboards.  It was easy only if one knows what to look for.  Returning to my e-mail program to type a message I found the keyboard had an icon shaped like a globe.  Tapping this icon allows easy switching between keyboards and languages.  The iPad has voice recognition software for dictating an e-mail  Some of the results are great, but the lack of a non-destructive backspace makes editing tedious.   Voice recognition worked with German, but had more errors than English.  

Security is very tight on this machine.  One has to enter the Apple ID and/or password for  installing any app and for Facetime.  Every time I wanted to read an issue of Time Magazine, which I own a subscription, I had to enter an ID multiple times.  It was hard to tell if I made a typo or the system was having problems.

I still have questions as to whether a tablet computer of any kind is a tool or a toy.  If I wanted to walk around the library or campus and access the library catalog or databases, it would be a powerful tool.  If I wanted to make a presentation to show on a larger monitor or projector, it would be useless because there is no way to plug in another device.(However, I read that Apple iOS has the ability with a program AirPlay to transmit a signal to other devices.I did not see this option on my device.) I have seen lots of people use the iPad to take notes at a meeting.  I used it to take notes and check my e-mail during a meeting, however, that does not convince me this is more than a toy.  Some companies even market tablets for their ability to play games, view videos, read books, and other diversionary activities.

I can view video from Internet sources, but not from any plugin device.  The pictures are stunning and very clear.  When I read a magazine with pictures or see a video, it is almost like being there.  However, several video sources, such as Hulu and CBS) that I can get for free on my desktop PC are not available on mobile devices.   

Apple does seem to create an emotional connection to its users.  People stand in line to buy their new products and people feel good while using their products.  For me Apple products are over priced, over hyped, and still in search or a sweet point for serious use in the library, academia, or business..


Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Question of Ethics

New President Interview -- Part 13

A Question of Ethics*

Q> Ethics training both at the college level and the state level are very important for employees. Even with all of this vetting and training outsiders still think the procurement of goods and the hiring of upper management is full of corruption and cronyism. When you were in the hiring process did anyone discuss these issues with you? 

A> Part of the process included asking me what connections I have to vendors and potential vendors of the College. It was made clear that family members can not have preferential treatment in the awarding of contracts.

Ethical behavior consists of both professional standards and legislation. The Illinois the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act may be found in the state code 5 ILCS 430/.  All employees of the public college and university systems are covered by this act even though most of their funding is from non-state funds. They fall under the provision of "Governmental entity." The act covers political activity of employees, accepting gifts, what can and can be promised,  Ex parte communications with potential vendors, and more.

For the most part we are very careful to be fair in the procurement procedures to save the college money and limit bureaucracy. When multiple vendors are competing for our business are careful in our interactions before and public requests for proposals (RFPs).

Q> I talked to a friend who is an attorney for a large corporation and she said that every publicly traded company is also careful in the procurement process to make sure it is fair.  Why do we still hear about deals made to cronies?

A> I read the same news stories.  The reason the stories make the news is that people have done something underhanded or perhaps criminal.  At the College we are very careful to stay away from those kinds of deals.  However, hiring a vendor for a long term relationship requires trust and respect.  Very often we are very friendly with the vendors we need to work with on a daily basis.  We seek to understand each other’s needs and create a mutually acceptable relationship. 

The state ethics laws do prevent us from accepting or giving gratuities in expectation of business.  A vendor can’t give us gifts valued at more than $100 during a calendar year or pay for travel when not discussing business.

While the giving of food worth less than $75 is permitted, I was personally uncomfortable when a vendor appeared in the office with lunch for the staff.  I tried to tell the vendor that no one would eat it.  That was true since it was not
within my dietary restrictions and no one else was around, but the vendor insisted on leaving the food for when someone returned who could eat it.    We gave the food to some students since no staff member would eat it.   While the food was within the statutory limits, I felt it was not right to come without an appointment with lunch.  If the vendor would have made an appointment to discuss business and then offer to bring lunch, I would see no ethical problems.

Q> What then is the definition of “ethics?”

A> Ethics is intertwined with actions and thought to do what is right and fair for the community and the organization. “Right” means that rules are applied fairly to the parties involved.  We have written rules so that everyone is on the same page. Ethics is also doing the right action when no one is directly supervising.  Ethics is answers to a higher authority.  The antithesis of ethical behavior is thinking only of one self.  Babies think only of their immediate needs.  As people mature they learn about society and need to learn behaviors that delay gratification for a greater good.  Maturity is a process of balancing the needs of the individual versus the group and delaying gratification for a greater good. Ethics are involved when the statute says, "XYZ" and you have to choose to obey the letter or spirit of the law.

In a religious context people were created in the image God and they must at all times strive to live out their lives with this knowledge.  That means we love and respect everyone because each human being has part of God inside.  The Latin term for the image of God is “imago Dei” and the action of performing virtuous acts is “imitation Dei.”  While the Latin terms may sound Christian, they are based in the idea that we are on a journey to search for the ultimate good in ourselves and the world. In both Christian and Jewish thought repairing of the world (tikkum olam in Hebrew) is a part of using our power, wisdom and resources to work toward constant improvements.

Q>  Wow!  The academy is not a religious community.  How does this translate to a college?

A> First we need to create a culture of trust.  We must create an institutional culture that shows respect for everyone.  We must learn from each other --from the youngest freshman to the most senior professor emeritus.  Second we must higher faculty and staff who are dedicated to making this institution, our community and the world in general a better place. Academic preparation is important, but also belonging to a community is important.  The concept of community is one of the reasons we join professional organizations and publish papers and books.

When I trust my staff and they trust their staff we can work toward the creating of common goals.  The rules of ethics are external to the organization and make sure we are on the path to the greater good.  If someone does not how the belief demonstrated by actions to a greater good, I don’t want them here because they will not be good team members.  People who are respected, listened to, and compensated fairly will make the best employees.  If we have great teachers and staff the students will learn not only the subject of the classes, but how to be better human beings. 

Ethics are the basis for creating better teams. Teams work on common goals. Teams need leaders. In the next article I’ll talk more about leadership.


*Part thirteen of an imaginary interview with the president of the College.   Note this is just for your information and edification. Any connection to a real college president is strictly coincidental


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Executive Communications

Executive Communications  -- New President Interview -- Part 12

Q> It’s been a little more than a year since you took office.  Now that you made experience one full academic year, are you ready to give some advice to other new executives?

A> Thank you for asking.  In the past year we have had some challenges to colleges in our city that were totally unrelated to academics.  One college had a flood, another had a vermin infestation,  a third had a sink hole open in the street in front of the school’s entrance and the mayor announced plans to build a new campus for a fourth college.

I continue in my effort to keep the lines of communication open to my fellow college presidents.  We meet monthly and other groups such as vice-presidents, department chairs, and deans meet monthly.  These meetings enable us to share best practices and wisdom from people who share similar job responsibilities.

Q> What happened to cause a flood?  I never heard that the city experienced a flood.  Was it in the neighborhood or just the College building?  Tell us more about the communication challenges.

A> The city had a thunderstorm that was very concentrated in the central area.  The north side barely had any rain.  The building had a flat roof and a drain got clogged.  The water went down the walls and later a pipe broke in the walls.  The college sent out a message via their emergency notification communications system.  One or two inches of water were on the floors of most of the first floor offices and the basement areas had several feet of water.

The challenge was two-fold removing the water and insuring the classes and business of the College. The College communicated with the students, faculty, staff and public as well as the restoration vendors who would help.   The next morning, the administration talked with everyone and reassured all will be repaired and the College would remain open.  

Q> It sounds like it was a very difficult time.  What does this have to do with communications?

A> Communications with students, staff and faculty were very important.  The process of telling people the story and what to expect helped make them feel valued.  Thomas J. Peters in his 1982 book, In Search of Excellence, tells us the customer is first.  A wise leader knows that every organization has both internal and external customers.  The wise leader knows that at any given moment the roles of customer or supplier can flip for anyone in the organization.  The supplier has to understand the needs of the customers. Too many organizations ignore or consider customers a nuisance. The truly excellent organization treats everyone as a team member.

Q> Do you mean everyone is a customer even the faculty and staff?

In some businesses internal departments compete with outside organizations. Colleges don’t work that way; we don’t outsource instruction.  We are all information suppliers and consumers.  We prepare studies and reports for our co-workers and superiors.  Each report is a type of communications.  Keeping the communications accurate and abundant is the way to keep the “customer” close people part of the team.

Q> Thank you very much.

*Part twelve of an imaginary interview with a president of the College appointed in 2010. Note this is just for your information and edification. Any connection to a real college president is strictly coincidental.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Visit to Three Libraries in Israel

Report on the Visit to Libraries in Israel  August 6-8, 2012
When I was planning a trip to Israel for a family bar mitzvah, I want to do something that tourists wouldn’t do.  As a librarian I love to visit libraries.  On a visit to New York three years ago, I visited a school librarian who was having difficulty with her administration.  Amazingly  after my visit things changed for the better.  I was given a task by my fellow librarians to learn about how systems work in large research libraries and to gather information to support the purchase of a new library management system. The CCC district librarians were concerned about the relationships the libraries have with the vendors of library management systems and sources of continuing training.   All three libraries I visited use the Aleph system was originally written by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Now it is part of the ExLibris family of products which include Voyager and Alma.    All the Israeli Universities and the National Library use Aleph, though they are not all on the same version.

 The Israel National Library 

The National Library [fn 1] and University libraries act as a group for the purchase of database services and they co-operate in other areas of common interest. During my visit I did not investigate all the areas of co-operation.  Each university is free to choose its own classification system is very autonomous in most administrative areas.  There are college libraries in Israel  that have their own system separate from the universities.

The entrance plaza to the building.  This looks exactly like it did when I was a student at the Hebrew University, except the sign “Hebrew University” was removed.

On August 6 I visited the National Library1 in the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem [fn 2].  The National Library ( used to be part of the Hebrew University.  In 2008 they started the process of separation.    The National Library Law of Jan 02, 2008 defined the new role of the library and regulates its status and objectives.   This law granted the National Library independent legal status as of January 1, 2011, and extended the National Library's responsibilities to include the documentation of Israel's cultural oeuvre.  By 2016 the Library will have a new building outside of the Hebrew University Campus, but in the same neighborhood.  A generous donor has agreed to pay for the building under the condition that the government maintains and pays for the staff and other continuing expenses.   (see: The National Library of Israel: Master Plan for Renewal 2010-2016:

The major collections of the National Library include Judaica, Islam and the Middle East, Israel, science, geography, and the Humanities.  As the nation’s library, the Book Law of 2000 stipulates they get deposit copies of all materials print and non-print published in Israel. The program is under the supervision of Legal Deposit Department. Legal deposit is required whether or not there is a formal copyright application3. For more information see their web site:  As with Library of Congress and other national libraries this is a way to preserve the nation’s literary output.  The collection has about 5 million items.  They are working hard to digitize their music, rare book, and manuscript collections.   As a national library they are showing leadership for the libraries of Israel.  They prepare digital exhibits for browsing on the web and exhibits on the premises.  Like the Library of Congress, the National Library promotes the use of original sources in the classroom, sponsor lectures and other cultural events, and has an active preservation program.  Some of the materials are stored off site for cost saving and security purposes.  The National Library creates several databases including RAMBI ( for Jewish studies articles) and Kiryat Sefer, (  the national bibliography of the State of Israel and the Jewish people.  These are free databases searchable on the Internet.

I met with the head of cataloging, Rini Goldsmith and Esther Guggenheim, the Bibliographic Systems Librarian.  We had a very nice discussion about their library and how they work with systems.  Esther has been working with Aleph for about 9 years and has an intimate knowledge of the how the systems work.  Rini is very knowledgeable about all aspects of cataloging and technical processing.  The Hebrew University/National Library was among the first Aleph libraries.

They are currently in the implementation phase of Ex Libris' discovery tool Primo, which will is also an integral component of Alma. They have been using Digitool for digital resources for the past few years but will replace it in the near future. All of these programs are on library servers and fully maintained by their staff.  They have SFX as link resolver; however it is hosted by ExLibris.

All the libraries in Israel have to deal with multiple scripts, Hebrew, Arabic, Latin and Cyrillic.  Subject searching is still mostly in English using Library of Congress Subject Headings.  However, Bar Ilan has a Hebrew Language version of Library of Congress Subject headings that they use for Hebrew books and may eventually use it for parallel headings for materials other languages.    Since Alma does not yet support Hebrew and Arabic, Israeli libraries have not yet started to test it.  They are in contact with ExLibris concerning the development of Hebrew support.

I toured the building which is an interesting combination of new up-to-date rooms, areas under renovation, and rooms that haven’t changed in 40 years.

Part of the reference collection in the Jewish Studies Reading Room.
Large books in the cartographic collection

The reading room for the history of science collection.

Rare Book room closed shelves

One concern of our committee was training and ongoing support.  The National Library has their own IT department.  They were able to hire a couple of former ExLibris technical people for their staff.  They can use some of this intimate knowledge of the system.   That means they can get the system to do pretty much what they want.  ExLibris is responsive to the needs of its customers and if a feature is helpful to many customers, they will create it.  If the feature has only a local need, the library may need to pay for development.   Since Aleph has more than 700 customers the voice of Israeli libraries is smaller the time they were the only customers.   ExLibris offers several kinds of support including initial training, newsletters, users groups, conferences, etc.  While our committee is concerned about initial training and training for new users,  Rini and Esther pointed out that because of the significant amount of options and choices a library makes, each library will have to train their staff in local practices and procedures.

Bar Ilan University  August 7

On the morning of August 7 I took a bus from Jerusalem to the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan to visit the Wurzweiler Central Library, of Bar Ilan University.  ( Bar Ilan is a comprehensive university with a main campus in in Ramat Gan and regional colleges in Jerusalem,  Safad, Ashkelon, Acre, and Bnei Brak.  They have more than 32,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 2700 faculty members, and 24 libraries.. I met with Chaim Seymour, the head of cataloging.  Bar Ilan University departmental libraries and research centers have all their collections cataloged in the central library.  The law library is cataloged and operates independently of the central library.   Security for the University is very strict.  At the gate I had to show my passport.  My Illinois State ID and Malcolm X College ID were not sufficient for Bar Ilan, but ok for The Hebrew University campus. Briefcases, purses and other bags are also subject to search.   I had to show ID again to enter the library.

Since Bar Ilan is a major research university their purpose is different than the National Library.  They have about 1 million items in their collections in every discipline taught by the University.  Bar Ilan is deemed a religious oriented university and so they have a special interest in Jewish studies [fn 4] materials and how they are used.   Bar Ilan uses a variation of Dewey Decimal Classification Dewey called Scholem (which was named after the first Head Librarian of The Hebrew University/National Library,  (Gresham Scholem).    This system revised the 296 numbers to accommodate the Jewish studies materials [fn 5].  In contrast the National Library once used  Scholem  classification and now uses Library of Congress classification.

Half the visit was smoozing about library procedures and sharing some common interests.  Bar Ilan as a university shares some of the same fiscal limitations that we have.  They can’t afford to buy all the books they want.  Their costs are much higher because they are outside of the United States.  Science books are particularily costly.   One problem they share is computer access.  Their department got new computers.  The labeling program was on an old computer.  A month later they are still waiting for the IT department to transfer the program to a new computer.  I was also taken on a tour of the building and met with the head of the library, Rochelle Kedar.  She, like other administrators, is concerned with staffing, resources, and other juggling acts to keep the library running.

Back in Jerusalem I talked with a retired Bar Ilan professor.  He said the library is not open enough hours.  Commuter students who want to study late, avoid heavy traffic, and go home after doing their home work were out of luck  The professor said that after the  tremendous investment in the collecting and cataloging of materials, the staffing to keep the central and departmental libraries open should be minimal.   Since he told me that after my visit I did not ask the people at Bar Ilan about this.  The web site: has their hours.  Notice most libraries close before 7 pm.  I asked another current profession and he said no one ever complained to him about the limited hours.

After eating lunch I headed to the campus of Tel Aviv University to visit the Museum of the Jewish People  (  I didn’t meet with any of their staff, but I want to share this picture.  It is Torah scroll unrolled.  I don’t know why they did this, but this is not the best way to preserve a parchment scroll. You can see the wrinkles.

After the Museum I headed to the train station to travel to Haifa. 
University of Haifa Library August 8

In 2006 the University of Haifa Library (
was awarded a grant by the Ima Foundation  to renovate the existing library and to build a new three-story wing.  The building was completed in 2011. The new wing now houses offices and study rooms.  This enabled the previous office space to be repurposed for information common areas and to move around the stack areas.  The library took on the name of the donors, Younes and Soraya Nazarian [fn 6].  The library has more than 3 million items, the largest holdings of any academic library in Israel and serves a diverse population of Jews, Christians, and Arabs.  The University of Haifa is much more secular and diverse than other universities in Israel. 

The way they use space is beautiful.  The library looks very open and inviting.  Staff office areas include meeting rooms with computers and digital projectors, kitchen/break rooms, and study rooms for faculty and students.  They use Library of Congress Classification except for Hebrew periodicals.  They add an “X” before the letters of the class for Hebrew periodicals so that all the Hebrew periodicals are separated from other languages.

I met with Yosef Branse, Database and Programming Coordinator and two others in the cataloging department. 

Information commons area.
Stack area

General comments

One of the significant challenges they face is getting new librarians.   The library school of The Hebrew University closed.  Bar Ilan University has a department of Information Studies that grants, BA, MA and PhD degrees [fn 7].  There are programs for school librarians at David Yellin College of Education and Bet Berl (  If someone from Israel wants other kinds of library education they would either have to enroll in an online program or travel abroad. 

The libraries are tuned into all the concerns that we have here such as space, fiscal limitations, and support.  Their computer infrastructure is very robust.  They have Wi-Fi throughout the campuses and offer on-campus and off-campus access to databases.    Security is very strict on all campuses.  If you remember on July 21, 2002, nine people (four from the United States) were killed and 85 injured in an attack on the cafeteria of Hebrew University .   Hopefully we never have any problems like that.  We do have to be concerned about other kinds of security. 

The people I met with were very friendly and willing to share their knowledge and expertise.  It helped to visit during the summer when the pressure of students and faculty was low.  I met these people through the listserv HaSafran.  While this is the first time I met them in person, I have met them “online” and felt I was meeting with friends.  This is the kind of exchange of ideas that cannot take the place of a convention or conference.   I hope that I am able to return the favor if we have international guests.  It was very worthwhile to visit these libraries and I hope we continue to share our knowledge and expertise.  

This is the library in the Museum of Underground Fighters.  During the British Mandatory period this was the Central Jerusalem Prison.  This was the prisoner’s library.   The sign says that if you want to open the door, return to the museum office. I was not able to visit this library.

This is a view from 10 miles to the north of Haifa.  The arrow points to the 30 story tower on the University of Haifa Campus. The distance by highway is about 23 miles.


1 The current building dates from 1960.  The library was established by Eliezer Ben Yehudah in 1892. 

2  Many other cultural and government institutions are in this neighborhood including: The Knesset, Israeli government offices, Israeli Supreme Court , Israel Museum,  Bible Lands Museum,   and Bloomfield Science Museum,  .

3 The Israeli copyright law of 2007 (  is almost the same as the American copyright law because of international treaties. 

4 They claim to have the most Jewish studies faculty of any academic institution. 

5 For more information about the Sholem 296 extensions visit:

6 They are Jews from Iran who moved to Los Angeles in 1976. 

See for more information.  The program teach several kinds of information professionals including librarians and knowledge managers.

All pictures were taken by the author.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Trip to Beit El

View from the observation area of Beit El looking toward Jerusalem.
I should have read my Tanah (Bible) before my visit to modern Beit El because this journey begins with the story of Jacob’s dream.  On August 15, 2012 I visited the Beit El[1] Winery in the town of Beit El, Israel.  

The modern town is about 10 miles from Jerusalem and has a large military base just outside of town. Many soldiers were on the bus with me and I conversed with the one who sat next to me. The bus journey took about 2 hours because of the wait for connections and a circuitous route.

When Ya’akov went from Beer-sheva toward Haran he rested for the night and that was where he had his dream of angels going up and down a ladder.  When he awoke he called the place, Beit-El (Genesis 28:11-21).  Beit-El is mentioned 67 times in the Tanach.[2] My tour began at a place called, “Jacob’s Dream.”   The area was occupied before the time of Jacob.  Today there is evidence of threshing floors, homes, a commercial olive press, and commercial winery.  Based on the size of the vessels in ruins, farmers from a large area brought their produce for processing.

The olive oil factory.  The ceiling has a black stain which could be soot or mold. 

This area was a crossroads for travelers from Nablus on their way to Jerusalem.  The modern town of Beit El started in 1977[3] and in September 1997 was granted local council status.  In 2009 they had 5300 residents. Beit El is just east of the Arab town Al-Bireh (population 39,000)

In 1838 Edward Robinson a Bible scholar from Union Theological Seminary identified the village of Beitin as the Biblical Beit El.[4]  Robinson had no doubt that Beitin and Beit El are the same place. He said that distance from Beitin to Al-Bereh was about 45 minutes and to Jerusalem about 3 hours on horseback.[5]   Robin claimed the site was 12 Roman miles (11.04 U.S. miles) from Jerusalem. Until Robinson reported this site, the tradition of the connection to the ancient Beit El and the current site was lost to residents and scholars.

In 1927 William F.Albright made his first archeological dig at Beth El and reported his findings in “A Trial Excavation in the Mound of Bethel” in  Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 29 (Feb., 1928), pp. 9-11.  Albright wanted to prove with archeological evidence that the Israelite town of Beit El was
indeed the site of the Arab town of Beitin.  Albright dates the first occupation of Beit El before 1800 B.C.E. (ibid.. p. 10)

In the summer of 1934 Albright returned to Beit El for a more comprehensive dig on the site.  He reports on this dig in “The First Month of Excavation at Bethel” in Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 55 (Sep., 1934), pp. 23-25 and “The Kyle Memorial Excavation at Bethel quick view” Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research, No. 56 (Dec., 1934), pp. 1-15.

It is clear from Abright’s pictures and descriptions that I did not see the site he excavated but I was very close.  Albright (ibid p. 11) states that Bethel and the city Ai fell into Israelite hands in the late 13th century B.C.E. about the same time as Jericho.  This is very close to the dating from internal Biblical evidence and the excavations of Jericho reported by John Garstang[6] in 1941.  My guide showed me the native trees and said that the same trees existed in Biblical times.  I was viewing a site with a direct Biblical connection.

These are grape vines owned by the modern Beit El winery.  They are remainders that the grape industry is very old in this area.

Fermentation tanks.

The finished product of this journey is this bottle of wine from the Beth El Winery[7].  I thank my guide, the owner of Beit El Winery, Hillel Manne, for his hospitality and for showing me an aspect of Israel that intimately connects present day  to the Torah.

[7] Visit their home page for more information:  This is a small winery that produces about 12,000 bottles per year.  They frequently sell out very quickly.  Bottles are sold in the New York/New Jersey area, but I don’t think they are sold in the Chicago area.

[6]  “The Story of Jericho: Further Light on the Biblical Narrative” in The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures , Vol. 58, No. 4 (Oct., 1941), pp. 371

[3]  Since the town didn’t exist when the Encyclopedia Judaica (1971) was published, the article just deals with the archeology of the place.  This is a prime reason to keep old reference books.

[4] .Robinson’s trip was the basis for his book, Biblical Researches in Palestine and Adjacent Countries (London : Crocker and Brewster, 1841) for which he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1842. Robinson's Arch in the Old City of Jerusalem is named after him.

[5] Biblical Researches in Palestine and Adjacent Countries vol. 1 page 449.   (electronic copy:

[1] I use the English spelling that is on the town’s signs.  Bethel and Beth El are used by other authors.  All pictures were taken by the author.

[2] Only Jerusalem is mentioned more times.  However, Jerusalem is not mentioned in the Torah.