Features - Librarians and Technology: An Interview with Julie BozzellBy Mark Schwartz, Published on February 15, 2002
Mark Schwartz graduated from Cardozo Law School in 1981 and embarked on a career in small business. He went back to school in 1993 and earned an MLS in 1997 from Rutgers. He worked at White & Case in New York for 6 years, as a reference librarian and then Assistant Law Librarian. Last June he joined West Group as Manager of Librarian Relations. He has taught legal research for the Law Library Association of Greater New York and the Greater Philadelphia Law Library Association, and is the Vice President of the Board of Trustees of the Englewood New Jersey Public Library.
Julie Bozzell is a Research Applications Specialist at Greenberg Traurig in Miami, Florida. She is primarily responsible for the installation, training and support of over 150 different specialized research and practice area programs used in her firm's 18 offices. She received her MLS from Catholic University in Washington, DC and last year acquired MCSE certification.
My understanding is that you were a librarian first and then became Microsoft Certified. What made you decide to obtain that certification? Were you able to pursue it while working?
Yes, MLS (Masters of Library Science) first and then MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer). I first started taking the tests toward the certification when my firm upgraded the old Novell CD-ROM server that I had been responsible for to a Citrix server. It was suggested at the time by someone in our MIS department that I take the time to study some NT Server materials which would help me become an administrator of that server for our department. After studying a few books on the subject and taking one NT server administration class at Executrain, I decided to try to pass the exam and thankfully did. What a feeling! After that I spent a few months considering an attempt at the MCSE certification, which involved taking 5 more exams. Finally toward the end of last summer I decided I just had to do it. I studied about 8-9 hours each Saturday and Sunday for about 4 months along with many hours during the week and reached my MCSE status at the end of the year.
It was very exhausting to try and do this and work full-time, but I felt it would be worth it in the end. Not only did I get a nice raise for my efforts, I also was finally able to understand a lot of the tech talk I ran into with MIS when trying to get things repaired, like Westlaw and Lexis router connections. Once I immersed myself in these exams, terms like bandwidth, proxy servers, static routes, RIP routing, IP recognition, file and folder permissions and much more all became clear. Once I picked up some lingo, I found MIS stopped talking so down to me and more things seems to get fixed, or I now actually found I had more knowledge to just fix things on my own.
Were you always proficient with technology? Were you building computers in your garage while your peers were trying out for the cheerleading squad?
No, technology was never my thing. When I started library school in 1995 I had a Macintosh background, which meant I could use Microsoft Word and was comfortable with American Online for email, but I knew next to nothing about PC's. The one thing I seemed to have that others around me in library school didn't was a lot of curiosity about PCs. Second semester in library school I took on a job as computer lab manager, so that I would force myself to learn the PC to prepare for the job market and from there I was hooked.
I have heard it said that while librarians must understand technology and how to use it, they don't have to know how to do that which the IT folks do. Can you respond to that?
Yes, I think librarians to various degrees understand technology because they have to now, as it is so critical these days to what we librarians do in the process of gathering and organizing information. I don't necessarily think librarians all need to rush out there and become MCSE's or go and get Master's in Information Technology to know how the IT folks do what it is that they do. What I do see is that they do need to do some more reading and get much more familiar with the terminology so that they can work more effectively with their IT staffs.
Even though I have an MCSE, I still don't know what exactly the members of the IT staff at my company do on the job all day. But now I can speak much more proficiently with them about technology, especially in reference to my department's computer based resources and needs. Many of people that work in the IT department here, as is probably the case elsewhere, specialize in various areas of technology and they too don't know exactly what their coworkers do, but they do all have the basic knowledge of how their position fits in their firm's overall information systems structure. I think librarians must take more time to learn about where they fit as well into this structure and understand the requires behind the resources that they depend on in their work.
You mentioned that prior to enrolling in the Microsoft certification program, you read some books, studied some vendor authored materials and attended a networking class. For a librarian who wants to know more but is unsure as to what she needs to know, and is not inclined to pursue matters as far as you did, what would you recommend, networking, programming, applications etc.? If you could be specific as who titles of books or courses, that would be swell.
For networking I came up with these very good looking options
For a librarian who wants the total basics:
How Networks Work Millennium Edition
by Frank J. Derfler Jr., et al (Paperback) / Paperback / Que / September 1999
For an Intermediate level interest I found:
Absolute Beginner's Guide to Networking (3rd Edition)
by Joseph W. Habraken, Mark Gibbs, Joe Habraken / Paperback / Que / June 2001
For a more advanced look at networking here is another
Complete Guide to Networking by Peter Norton, David Kearns, Dave Kearns (Introduction) Paperback / Sams / September 1999
On the subject of Internet/Intranets I also found...
Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity
Jakob Nielsen / Paperback / New Riders Publishing / December 1999
Homepage Usability: 50 Web sites Deconstructed
Jakob Nielsen,Marie Tahir / Paperback / New Riders Publishing / November 2001
How the Internet Works, Millennium Edition
Preston Gralla,Sarah Ishida (Illustrator),Mina Reimer (Illustrator),Stephen Adams (Illustrator) / Paperback / Que / September 1999
On the subject of programming...
This is hard because it really depends on the software used in the workplace. I guess many would use Microsoft products so Microsoft Access guides appropriate for the version in one's workplace would be great.
Along with Access guides or other database software guide books on Cold Fusion would be excellent. Cold fusion can be used to web enable many different types of databases and is in use by many library. Some book could be:
Essential Cold Fusion 4.5 for Web Professionals
Micah Brown / Paperback / Prentice Hall PTR / March 2001
Cold Fusion 5 : A Beginners Guide
Usually Available in 1 - 2 weeks .
Dan Benjamin / Paperback / McGraw-Hill Osborne / December 2001
Some useful web sites too...
ZDNet which has many great how to guides on just about anything computer related.
Usableweb.com great for tips on improving website usability
It seems from your responses and our conversations that you always had a comfortable relationship with the IT folks at Greenberg. Many librarians find that working with the IT department is very challenging. Can you offer any suggestions as to how to make relations between the library and IT more productive, assuming good intentions on the part of all concerned? What should we be saying that we are not? And perhaps more importantly what are we saying or doing that is making them roll their eyes?
Yes, I would say that librarians need to understand when going to their IT departments that librarians are viewed by their IT staff as users, actually in most companies or firms I would think as very demanding users because we work with a lot of specialized technology. To try and change this mentality it can't hurt to work on your relationship with this group. Try asking them what is going on in their department and what projects that are working on. They like to share even if those who they share it with don't fully understand all that they are talking about. Being interested in what they are up to as well can help with your relationship with this group and you never know you might just learn something from such a discussion. You may find a way through such discussions to offer your departments assistance with research for their projects. I find it very helpful to speak with IT people not just about my department technical problems all the time. It is helpful to maintain a relationship where sometimes you just stop by and ask "What's up?"
In addition to establishing a friendlier relationship with their IT staff, I think librarians need to read up some more on technology. It is helpful to learn some of the IT lingo or at least look like you're trying to learn it. Reading a book on networking basics is a great way to get started here. Because the library world is so tied to technology these days, librarians should work at on keeping up with the basics and especially what is involved in getting their online resources to work.
Julie congratulations, you've just been named Dean of the Mark Schwartz School of Information, Communication and Library Studies. Can you suggest a course of study for a new library student who would eventually like to work in a law firm or business library?
Critical core library course work:
- Information Sources and Services
- Cataloging or an Organization of Information Class (I never took one and really regret it now, just like they had warned me I would)
- Management( Legal and Business libraries are so small generally that before you know it you will end up in a supervisor or managerial position and it is important to be ready for it)
- Online Research (to learn all that there is to know about Boolean)
- Marketing of Information Services (few schools I think offer this, but it is very important for librarians to learn how to sell what they do)
- User Education (to learn about how to train patrons to use library
Technical courses would include:
- Computer Networking Course
- Information Systems Design or Database design course
- Internet/Web Applications course
- Records Management
- Library Automation
For the Business and Legal focus: Business or legal research to learn some the core resources in the field
Internship(s) would be highly recommended in my school.
This School of Information, Communication and Library Studies will offer its complete program online as well as in the classroom. For students who choose to be on campus they will still be required to take some of their course work online rather then in the classroom. Several library school programs are doing this now and it teaches librarians some very useful technical skills when they have to learn how sign online to take their classes and work in a complete online environment to pass the required courses for their degrees. Learning to participate in online chat discussions with other classmates and professors as part of this process I think can help prepare librarians for today's work environment. This type of program will offer more flexibility in schedules for these students and help them fit in the highly recommended internship(s). The courses can be taken at any time of the day or night since they are all online.
The New York Times recently ran an article in which it stated that librarians are trying to shed their image as bookish, spinsterish individuals. It went on to profile several who don't fit that description. You run the risk of being doubly stereotyped as a librarian and a computer nerd. O.K. Julie here's your chance to debunk the myth. Tell us what you do when you're not working?
Well this is a hard one. I am a librarian that loves the opera. Not exactly that hip, at least not at the current time. I am also learning golf now because I love to be outside. Again not that hip, but golf is everywhere here in Florida.
Of the nontraditional librarian things I enjoy I would have to say, top on that list would be sailing/boating. I moved to Florida 4 years ago to be closer to the water. Unfortunately I can't afford a boat yet.
My other favorite hobby is travel. I have visited 23 different countries including: Japan, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Russia, Egypt, Israel, Turkey, India, Venezuela, Costa Rica, several countries in Europe and the Caribbean along with Mexico and Canada. Places I dream of going to include Australia and New Zealand, South Africa and Kenya, an Amazon trek in South America and the Taj Mahal in India (missed it when I was there a few years ago). If I only had a better foreign language skills I would be out searching for a job abroad.
Beyond those top two hobbies I also love yoga when I can find the time to go to a class. Each weekend I love to spend several hours trying out a new recipe I've found on the Internet or in one of my many cooking magazines I get in the mail each month. Beyond Opera I do enjoy many other kinds of music including: pop, jazz, classical, swing, and blues.