News Library News Online
Vol. 19, No. 4/Summer 1997

NLN Summer 1997

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Regular Features

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SLA News Division Home

The Best of the Rest of Conference: A News Librarian Steps Outside the Division

by Ellie Briscoe

Internet Search Engines

Greg Notess, Montana State University, compared Web search engines. He compared size, overlap, and features, and showed that Magellan, Opentext and Webcrawler are pretty small; Lycos is midsize; AltaVista, Excite and Infoseek are big, and Hotbot is the biggest. He did 11 searches on four systems; between 24% and 54% of hits were found by only ONE of the search engines; and NO hits were found by all four.

Jian Liu, Indiana University, compared metasites, which search more than one search engine, such as Metacrawler and ProFusion. They provide a common interface, but no content of their own. None contain all the search features of the search engines themselves. Consider how many search engines they use, whether or not they can use Boolean or phrase searches, whether they integrate results and eliminate duplicates. Dogpile is the biggest.

Mary Ellen Bates, information broker, discussed trends in searching~. Traditional vendors arejumping in; for example, Dialogweb. She would like to see something that integrates Internet and commercial searches. She likes the power tools like Excite's "get more like this" and AltaVista's live topics and related terms. 125 metasites are listed on Lycos, but most don't search simultaneously; she mentioned Dogpile, Highway61 and Cyber 411. She mentioned subject-and topic-specific catalogs, like Medsite, Excite's subject channels and Webseer, a search engine for images only. She pointed out that structured approaches have worked well for 25 years, partly because we know the size of the "information universe" and knew what expectations were reasonable. The search engines are ways of coping with the overload of information, and they mimic how we find information, using related terms, selected areas.

Many new metasites aren't really any good, but the good ones will survive and make money by adding value. Remember what is NOT there to be found: pdf file contents, variables, database contents, sites which are too busy to let the search engines in.


Amy Zerman, Russell Reynolds Associates, and Holly Bussey, EBSCO, led a discussion group. Of all libraries, 93 percent use outtasking, using individuals or specialized vendors for one or more services, most commonly technical services like cataloging, and for document delivery. Only three percent of libraries use real outsourcing, which is full service. Many vendors have declined to do this anymore, since it requires them to put people on site. Outtasking can be seen as a threat, or access to extra manpower. Five years ago, the most highly valued library skill was online searching, ranked #1 by 78 percent of respondents in a survey. Now, it's still ranked #1, but only by 48 percent. We may see a rebound as users discover they don't have time to wait for their own searches, that only 2 percent of what's wanted is on the Internet, and they find the library does it better and faster. So, outsource the tasks that get in the way of service. Concentrate on connecting customers and content.

Caution; one library found that overflow requests that were sent outside cost three to four times more than the library cost, and there was a lack of industry knowledge and corporate confidentiality.

Information audits

Ronald Peters, consultant, says, use an audit to connect to knowledge workers in your organization - who they are, what they need, and how you can help them and deliver information to them. Use it to map how we can reinvent work to increase speed and confidence, improve accessibility of knowledge and increase the speed of change. Become the "information store." People now spend an hour a day finding information, in an average corporation.

Information audits relieve information anxiety for executives don't know what it is that they don't know. They help with global competition, assuming the library has access to the company's strategic plan so it can help the business units. The focus is on the customer; the audit sets the scene for that. In organizations there is an increased demand for desktop or laptop access and more resistance to traveling, even to walking to the library. Audits help the library be part of the productivity loop. It helps cut costs and increase revenue by managing information, getting key information to those who need it. Remember you can't do that you don't know who needs it. It reduces the cost of overhead, allows the library to show return on investment by measuring success. It encourages people to see the library as the place to shop for decision-making information.

Things to find out during an audit: How are people working together now? What is changing the corporation? How does information support that change? Who are the library's advocates in helping deliver that? Who would be willing to be in a pilot project? What alliances are in place now? What are the politics? Who's buying into the idea of an audit? What services could be handled differently? What are the low-impact things you could abandon?

Capture the testimonials; the value/impact of the library is often driven by them. Don't bother with the old numbers: items circulated, number of patrons. Look at tangibles and intangibles, hours saved, number of decisions affected.

Ellie Briscoe is a librarian at National Geographic. This article is adapted from the excellent notes she takes at conference.

IRE Meeting in Phoenix Follows Seattle Conference

By Jennifer Small

Where were all the news librarians at the Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) conference (Phoenix, June 12-15)? Sure, Seattle was probably cooler. Yes, IRE, with its sessions on writing and interviewing, traditionally focuses on the reporter. But the IRE conference is no longer the sole domain of investigative journalists. Anyone involved in training and research in the newsroom can gain valuable information from the sessions offered.

The IRE conference reinforced the notion that computer-assisted reporting is being practiced with energy and creativity in newsrooms across the country. Large papers, like the Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, and Newsday, all had representatives in Phoenix who outlined the research and database work behind their CAR stories. Even more impressive, however, was the presence of a wide variety of smaller media organizations. Reporters at The Virginian-Pilot, The Kansas City Star, and The Columbus Dispatch are pursuing CAR with equal levels of enthusiasm. As the tools of computer-assisted reporting become more accessible, the popularity and need for in-depth reporting will augment. News librarians can play a crucial role in bringing the skills of computer-assisted reporting to the newsroom.

When a news organization does not have a department or individual dedicated to developing CAR, the responsibility for training the newsroom often falls to the news library. Nora Paul's three-hour session on Training the Trainer provided useful guidance for this enormous task. According to Paul, trainers must first develop a mission statement that succinctly states the purpose and philosophy behind the newsroom's computer-assisted journalism program. Make the mission statement fit into the company's mission as a whole. This will make justification to management a little bit easier.

After a mission statement is enunciated, trainers must analyze the situation in the newsroom. What kinds of hardware and software are available? Do you have management support? If not, what will you do to gain this support? What is the knowledge level of the newsroom as a whole? Diane Weeks of The Washington Post and Debbie Wolfe of the St. Petersburg Times brought examples of the skills surveys and training questionnaires that they had developed for their newsrooms. Weeks recommends that surveys be as short as possible. Ask questions about the current situation but also solicit views about the future. Run the survey by a reporter before you distribute it to everyone. After identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the situation in the newsroom, you can begin to define specific goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish? When do you want to accomplish these tasks? Who will be doing what?

Jennifer LaFleur of the San Jose Mercury News and Stephen Miller of The New York Times also had tips to offer on training and encouraging participation in the newsroom. LaFleur emphasizes the importance of structure in training. Make sure people know the basics before you move to more advanced skills. Start small. Instead of trying to conquer the whole newsroom, start with a particular beat. Use examples of CAR work at your own organization to encourage others to experiment. Remember, good training potentially breeds good teachers. Reporters who are particularly skilled at a certain task should be recruited to teach a class. How do you get reporters more involved? Miller uses "creative naming" to get people to come to his classes. Instead of offering a class on spreadsheets, Miller will offer a class on analyzing the city budget. Focus on what the reporters need to do. How can you, as a trainer, make their jobs easier?

In addition to offering training advice, many of the sessions at IRE provided valuable information about researching. Reporters and researchers considering CAR often focus on the mechanics of the process - the manipulation and subsequent analysis of information. Learning spreadsheets and databases becomes the primary goal. These skills are important. The reporters and researchers behind award-winning articles like "And Justice for Some" from The Los Angeles Times or "Safety at issue - the 737" from the Seattle Times relied heavily on advanced software capabilities. But newsrooms, and news researchers in particular, should not lose sight of the driving force behind CAR - information retrieval. Both reporters on the daily beat and those pursuing investigative projects need to have quick access to information. One thing is apparent from IRE. Reporters from large and small papers, from broadcast and print mediums are turning more often to the Internet. The increased use of the Internet in the newsroom provides both opportunities and challenges for news librarians.

From a researcher's perspective, the Internet provides easy access to a wide variety of information. Conference participants pointed time and again to the accessibility of government reports and statistics, company profiles, and backgrounding sites on the Web. Other Internet tools, like listservs and e-mail, are also extremely popular among the members of IRE. Mark Schleifstein of The Times-Picayune explained how he used a wide variety of listservs in his Pulitzer Prize winning reporting on the world's fisheries. Schleifstein used listservs to gain immediate access to a host of experts on a topic that was, at the time, unfamiliar to him. By contacting the list moderator, Schleifstein was also able to get a subscription list that detailed members' affiliations.

While the Internet offers a wide variety of information and services, it also presents an interesting challenge to trainers in the newsroom. Reporters on deadline will not use the Internet if they must wade through thousands of hits before locating the appropriate information. Stephen Miller, therefore, proposes that reporters and news librarians learn to control the Internet by developing customized lists of sources. Someone in the newsroom should bookmark appropriate sites or build web pages.

Miller also suggests that reporters using the Internet should be trained to focus not on a "topic" but on a "task." What kind of information does the reporter need? To background an individual, people-finding resources are key. Alan Schlein of the Schlein News Bureau suggests Petersons (http://www. to find faculty or the power search in Dejanews ( to read someone's postings to a newsgroup. Looking for experts? Try Profnet ( Some of the most important corporate records can be found at the SEC-EDGAR site ( or, even better, NYU's Filing Retrieval Kit (

Further information about the IRE conference in Phoenix is available at the IRE web site ( Handouts should be posted within the coming weeks.

If anyone has the opportunity to attend IRE next year in New Orleans, I highly recommend it. By becoming more involved in the use of computer-assisted reporting, news librarians can only augment their position in the newsroom.

Jennifer Small can be reached at She is Assistant Editor Information Services at the San Antonio Express-News.

The Aside Bar

My favorite session at the Seattle conference was "Expanding the Horizons of the News Library to Corporate and New Media Clients." All three of the presenters, Lisa LoVullo, Paula Stevens and Gary Lance had vastly different stories to tell but they all had at least one common thread. Increasingly news librarians are reaching outside their traditional base, the newsroom, to provide better service to the whole company.

All three of the presenters had change thrust upon them. I was amazed Gary Lance, Research Library Manager, San Jose Mercury News, still manages to make it to work every day. His research library merged with the market research division to form the new Information Unit which is part of the Marketing Division. In addition to that radical change of mindset, there were a myriad number of physical library moves, database and equipment moves, etc. I don't think the final word is out on how all the changes have effected the library, nor does it seems like all the changes have stopped, but I admire Gary's Buddha-like handling of it so far.

Paula Steven's publisher The Arizona Republic asked her to find a way he could get a summary of what happened in the publishing industry in the lastest 24 hours on his desk every morning. She admits she resisted the request initially (it would blear the lines between editorial and the rest of the paper), but now produces a product that goes to over 89 executives at Central Newspapers. It covers items on advertising, publishing, new media, human resources and items specifically related to her customers.

Lisa LoVullo and her colleagues at the Baltimore Sun were asked by their publisher to do an information audit of the whole company. Lisa detailed some of the pitfalls they encountered (not doing one general survey limited their ability at the end to quantify the information they learned from interviews) but the results certainly opened their eyes on how information is being used and misused at their paper.

At BNA, where I work, we do not accept advertising so helping the "business side" is less of a problem than in many newspapers. I do a fair amount of research for the sales and marketing departments and in the process have learned new sources that have helped me with my searches for editorial. Specifically, I am much better business searcher than I used to be.

The good news in these cases is, I think, that we learn much more about our business doing these kinds of requests. It's a little like the old story of the journalism professor asking his first class of journalism students to name the most important thing that a newspaper does. The students naturally talk about muckraking, exposing corrupt politicians, and all the other noble ideas associated with journalism in the last 25 years. The journalism professor finally stops the discussion and states that the most important thing the newspaper does is make money. I know most news librarians are not in news librarianship for the money (if there is someone who is, I'd like their paycheck) but for other idealistic reasons. I would be the last to belittle those reasons, but I also hope I have expanded my vision enough to realize how important that bottom line is. It's what your publisher worries about and having your vision and your publisher's vision being the same is not a bad thing.

Silent Auction Again is a Success

The 1997 News Division silent auction provided a $2,300 boost to the treasury, bringing the 3-year fund-raising total to more than $5,500. "We're very fortunate to have an excitable membership," auction coordinator Chris Hardesty said. "Folks are willing to make great contributions to the auction and they're equally willing to open up their wallets."

More than 60 people made contributions to the auction. The merchandise was primarily made up of promotional items from news organizations and was sold over a two night-event. T-shirts, ball caps, coffee mugs and other customary items were sold tag-sale style on Tuesday night. The more unusual donations were displayed in the hospitality suite on Wednesday for the silent auction.

Five donations generated winning bids of $50 or more - a weekend stay at Anchorage Daily News librarian Sharon Palmisano's bed & breakfast; a Bangor Daily News sweatshirt; an autographed copy of Katherine Graham's Personal History; The New York Times crossword puzzle umbrella; and a wooden box from The (Toronto) Globe and Mail.

Bidding was heaviest on an Elvis Presley Boulevard street sign, which was donated by Rosemary Nelms of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. After 16 escalating bids, Sue Christie of Television New Zealand came out ahead of The Orlando Sentinel's Judy Grimsley with a $38 offer.

People helped make the fund-raiser run smoothly included Charlie Campo, Alyce Diamandis, Jody Habayeb, Mona Hatfield, Sperry Krueger, Teresa Leonard, Lisa Peterson, Leigh Poitinger and Barbara Rodriguez. This was the third News Division silent auction. The first was held in Atlanta at the 1994 annual conference. Concern over problems with customs prompted organizers to skip the event at the 1995 conference in Montreal. Plans are underway for a similar event at the 1998 conference in Indianapolis. Jenelle Stadstad, Information Center Manager at the flood- and fire-damaged Grand Forks Herald, will have her 1998 SLA membership dues paid from funds collected at this year's News Division silent auction. A group of division members, who felt that Ms. Stadstad's tenacity should be rewarded, came up with the idea while dining on the night of the fundraiser. Ms. Stadstad's auction donation - two Grand Forks Herald commemorative T-shirts - sold for a total of $72. That money, combined with a $20 contribution from Lovelle Svart of The Oregonian in Portland, almost covers SLA's membership fee. The Herald made national news this Spring after the Red River spilled its banks in North Dakota and destroyed much of Grand Forks. The paper's library lost its clippings, photos and microfilm in the disaster. (see Jenelle's story in this issue.) For more information on the auction and how to participate next year, contact Chris Hardesty at The News & Observer at

New Role for News Librarians As Internet Trainers

By Michael Jesse

The News Division's Continuing Education course this year was an indicator of how far news librarians have come in embracing Internet technology in recent years. The all-day workshop was divided into two sessions. The morning session, led by Nora Paul (Poynter), D. Scott Brandt (Purdue University) and Teresa Kiely (Newsday), was on the topic of the Internet as a news research tool.

While that may not sound new, there was a notable difference between this session and the Internet sessions we've had at past conferences. Not long ago news librarians were struggling just to learn how to use the Internet themselves. Now, they're focused on teaching it to others. For example, Teresa Kiely talked about her role as an Internet instructor for reporters at Newsday. Many other news librarians are probably finding themselves in that role. Teresa stressed the importance of hands-on training with each reporter working at a separate machine (rather than having a crowd of reporters watching a projection screen) and she suggested picking sites to show them first which would interest them personally, such as a local train schedule or neighborhood maps.

Nora Paul invoked the mantra "think small" in suggesting that sometimes the best way to interest a reporter in using the Internet is to find one or two sites which would be of interest to that reporter, rather than overwhelming him with long lists of websites. Nora also note that today's search engines are sophisticated enough that even a novice can search for websites. Evaluating their value is another matter, however, and one area where librarians will find their services especially needed.

At the afternoon session, Sperry Krueger (Raleigh News & Observer), Pete Basofin (Sacramento Bee) and I led a workshop on how news libraries can create their own "intranets" of in-house information available only to their newsrooms. A year ago this was a new idea which only a few librarians dabbled with. But at this year's session when I asked for a show of hands of those working on intranets dozens of hands went up. And when I asked how many already knew how to write HTML there was another impressive show of hands.

My role in the workshop was to teach HTML, and I found myself skimming through the "basics" so my seasoned audience wouldn't doze off, and moving ahead to advanced page layout, use of images and backgrounds, and the versality of the table tag as a page design tool.

While I talked about how to do it, Sperry talked about what to do with it. She gave examples of how intranets can be used to convey library information to the newsroom. Those can include: lists of recommended websites; cheatsheets on using the electronic library or other newsroom sources; library-prepared bios and backgrounders, etc. Pete followed this with a presentation on how to use library intranets to link to other databases. For example, it's possible to put a search form in HTML page which lets the user run a query on one of the many databases a newspaper may have, such as voter registration, campaign finance, etc.

Some of the material from the CE course if available on the News Division website and a video can be purchased from SLA.

The Grand Forks Herald's Librarian Tells Her Story

By Jenelle Stadstad

Dikes were breaking. People were being evacuated. The Herald was flooded. It was around 6 a.m., Saturday, April 19 when I turned on the radio. They mentioned the location of where the water was that time. I knew that meant the Herald was flooded. I ran into my sister's room. I yelled to LoAnn, who also works at the Herald, for an agricultural magazine call AGWEEK, "The Herald is flooding." I started calling editors Mike Jacobs and Jim Durkin to find out what was going on and what we were going to do. I could not get an answer anywhere. I finally called my friend and co-worker Brad Dokken. He was being evacuated by the National Guard when I called him. So he came over to my house and we began calling again. We finally gave up about 9 a.m. and decided to go over to my parent's house. Roger and Veronica Stadstad live in Manvel, ND a town of about 400 people, 10 miles north of Grand Forks. Little did I know I would be working in Manvel for the next three months.

By the time I got to my parent's house I already had 7 messages, 3 from the Editor, Mike Jacobs. The message read: We will be putting out a paper tomorrow. I thought "This man is crazy. We have no presses and no buidling and he wants to put out a paper." Little did I know that this manueuver by the phenomenal duo of Mike Jacobs and Mike Maidenburg, publisher, could possibly win us a Pulitzer. When Mike Jacobs finally got ahold of us he said we would be meeting at the University of North Dakota at 2 p.m. to put out a paper. He would have something on the radio at noon letting employees know. I had left a message on my recorder at home that said I was at my parents and left the number. After 3 hours contacting co-workers, I left for UND to make a miracle.

Putting Out a Paper

I can not describe the feeling when we got there and saw 15 to 20 employees there. They set up in a roon with computers and had phones put in for us. There was only one phone line. Every time another employee walked in the room we all cheered and clapped. One employee was on his way to South Datoka when he heard the announcement on the radio and immediately turned around and came back. Tony Lone Fight, our Web master and graphics artist, had carried his modem with him from the Herald to his apartment to UND. This is how we sent our stories to the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Around 4 p.m. we got word the Security Building in downtown Grand Fords was on fire. The building was located at the end of the block where 2 of the 3 Herald buildings were. You could walk outside and see black smoke in the sky from the fire. At this time the Herald was not on fire and we were optimistic it would not catch. We sent copy editors to St. Paul to design the pages for the Herald and a photographer to take a photo of the fire. The Pioneer Press then printed the paper, which was 12 pages, on its presses and we flew the papers back on Northwest the next day and distributed the papers free.

We could not stay at UND because there was fear of more flooding. I contacted the principal of Manvel Public School to find out what kind of computers they had. He welcomed the paper with open arms, for as long as it took to find another location. (The principal is the same principal I had when I attended school, kindergarten through 8th grade, at Manvel.) We continued to give away the papers for 3 weeks until we were able to print on presses closer to us in Grafton and Fargo, ND.

Fire Again

On Sunday morning the editor called me to say there was a small fire at the Herald but the firefighters were sure they could contain it. The fire proved to be too much for the courageous men, who were also fighting high water, debris and the threat of hypothermia. Around 1 p.m. we got word that the Herald had burned. The second floor, were the newsroom and the library were located, was totaled. Circulation was also totaled. Finance and classified were able to retrieve some stuff.

We needed supplies and the only place that was close to us and open was in Grafton so a few us took off. It was then I realized what was lost. The very first thing I thought of were the papers we keep every day for the reporters to enter contests. (Of course I always think of the reporters first.) Then I realized all the microfilm was gone. The new microfilm machine we had just bought in December was toast. Clips, some dating back to 1920, gone. Photos, thousands and thousands, gone. The new computer system we just purchased back in August, up in smoke. All the research and reference books, gone. the book Ryan Bakken was writing about the blizzards and the Division II National Championship Women's basketball team and Division I National Championship Men's hockey team, gone. The new hard drive I had just purchased for the SAVE system, gone. I had not even taken it out of the box. And a beautiful historic building we purchased 3 years ago and remodeled, gone. I have never cried so much in my whole life.

We knew the adrenaline rush keeping us going would not last forever. Knight-Ridder sent us reporters, photographers, artists and employees to staff other departments. This allowed Herald employees to take time to care for themselves and their houses. They also made sure there was food sent to the Senior Center in Manvel, and hired cooks to feed us every day. They also found trailers, hotel rooms and other housing for employees who were homeless.

After 3 weeks, almost all the Herald employees had returned to work. We had taken over 4 rooms in the school and had 4 trailers at the back of the school. The students, quite a few of whom I am related to, thought it was real cool to have the Herald working side-by-side with them. Each class had a page in the paper in which they wrote poems, stories and drew picture. They learned what it takes to put out a paper and what a deadline is. The school cook, Vickie Lieberg, made us cookies, which we love her for, and made us coffee, even on her days off.

The decision was made that July 1st we would move into a new temporary building until the one remaining building was remodeled. The presses would be built away from the Herald in a location that will never flood, we hope. Wonderful Librarians

The librarians at the St. Paul Pioneer Press saved our stories every day on their SAVE System and Ann Headrick and I flew to St. Paul to enhance them. We will not get another SAVE System until mid-August. By then we will be three months behind. The Washington Post and ABC News have sent me reference material and readers have given me more papers than I ever thought possible.

What I thought was our job and just an everyday thing gave us national recognition. We not only represented Knight-Ridder, we also represented the city of Grand Forks as a business and as a city that could stand up to a flood that damaged nearly the whole town and a fire that destroyed 11 historical buildings.

When Bob Jansson, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, called and said I should attend SLA in Seattle I never thought I would learn so many things and meet so many people. I can not even begin to thank the people that have helped me through all of this, except Chris Hardesty for giving up his room in Seattle so I had a place to stay. I tried to keep track of the many things people did for me and the Herald but it was impossible. The one paper that stands out most in my mind is the Daily Oklahoman. They were the first to send us food and money. I remember saying to my editor "They're not even a Knight-Ridder paper!"


Alot of people at SLA asked how I fared personally. I did not lose my house or have any water damage except for a hose in my central air conditioner that had to be fixed. I actually felt bad that nothing happened to our house when so many people lost their homes. That was until the Herald burned down. Then I felt like all those people. I worked many hours the first four weeks before things finally settled down. By 2 p.m. I was usually shaking and felt like I was having a heart attack because I was trying to get everything done at once. I also lost my grandfather, Gervase Devine, on June 16th.

Sometime after all this had happened I saw the movie "Independence Day." There was a part that made me think of the Herald and Grand Forks. It went like this: We will not go quietly into the night. We will not vanish without a fight. We're going to live on. We're going to survive.

Tony Ridder has said that Knight-Ridder will rebuild bigger and better. But when the building burned down, part of me went with it. The new building will never be the same. It may be bigger and better but it will never be the same place I spent my first 10 years.

What I have experienced in the last few months is something I will never forget. It is also something I hope never happens to anyone else. I also hope I can use my experience to help others.

Jenelle Stadstad is the Information Center Manager at the Grand Forks Herald.

Seattle Librarian Sums Up the Experience

By Lytton Smith

The cloudy gloom that has settled over Seattle for the past several months parted for just a few days as the long-awaited Special Libraries Association annual conference hit town June 8-12. Normally a vibrant city, Seattle takes on a special gleam when the sun finally does arrive. Many local librarians were eager to share their city out here on the West Edge with our 7,000 or so colleagues from across the country. The scenic days and nights added to a very busy and successful conference.

The News Divison program scheduled by Program Chair Tom Lutgen of the Los Angeles Times and his team continued the division tradition of long days of relevent sessions, then raised the ante with a couple of 7:30 AM programs. This year's program hit all the bases: computer-assisted reporting, information stores, news research and newspaper archives on the web. The most successful sessions were our colleagues simply sharing their successes and a few failures at their news organizations.

If you really want to make money with an information store, Lisa LoVullo of the Baltimore Sun explained in her presentation, you need to have a serious business plan and approach. Plan on getting a real-life MBA the hard way. LoVullo listed the products that made money for the Sun and those that bombed. One testimonial: Don't expect to get ahead selling newspaper reprints.

More therapy than lecture, a session led by Tom Boyer of the Seattle Times on how to enlist the help and sympathy of systems departments produced helpful tips on how work with techies. John Sinclair of the Edmonton Sun explained his more subtle tactics to conquer his computer room, some downright mischevious.

One of the last, yet most intensive sessions was Getting Your Archives on the Web. Virginia Everett of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and Jody Habayeb of the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette detailed the steps of putting library files on the internet. The audience of this session filled notebooks, scribbling to get down all the tips and pitfalls.

The Sunday continuing education course, programmed by Education Chair Ron Larson of the Wisconsin State Journal, laid out how to design your own intranet and what you need to know about the Internet.

The best part of all the sessions were lots and lots of handouts.

Web browser products were the big story on the exhibition hall floor this year. The rush to the World Wide Web seems to emboldened many smaller information companies to shy away from the big database companies. Meanwhile, the big database companies were eagerly showcasing their WWW search sites which they hope will to turn searching over to the end-user.

Ironically, one of the key points of Bill Gates' keynote speech was for a strong company library. Why, he asked, do you want to have lots of people in your company making the same inefficient searches? Have the library do the research, then share the results around after buying the license. Gates' speech was the stock Microsoft line, but after helping with countless articles and a couple of books on Gates, I was intrigued to finally see the richest person in the world.

The high-point, literally, was the annual News Division awards banquet at the Columbia Tower Club, 72 stories up Seattle's tallest building.

All-in-all this year's conference started a lot of conversations that hopefully will continued on the NewsLib listserv through the year.

By the way, since all you wonderful people left town, it has been cloudy and rained nearly every day and we have had a couple of earthquakes, one that shook our building pretty good. You missed it.

Lytton Smith is Chief Librarian for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. He can be reached at

Minutes of the News Division Business Meeting

June 9, 1997
Westin Hotel, Seattle, Washington

The meeting was called to order at 7:35 a.m. by News Division Chair Teresa Leonard.

Leonard thanked Lexis-Nexis for their sponsorship of the breakfast meeting and their continued support of the division. She introduced Mary Marshall of Lexis-Nexis, who introduced several colleagues who were present.

Donna Scheeder was introduced as Parliamentarian and board proctor.

The agenda for the meeting and the minutes from last year's meeting were both accepted by the membership.

Teresa Leonard talked about the good year the division has had and the infusion of new members. She asked for board and committee reports, asking that they be approved after all reports were given.

Tom Lutgen, chair-elect, explained the reason for so many 7:30 meetings this year. Lutgen noted that though the early sessions are unpopular, they are necessary in order to get the volume of programs that the membership wants. He encouraged all to attend as many sessions as possible. In addition, he asked that all remember to pay "suite fees" to help underwrite the cost of refreshments.

Jody Habayeb, treasurer, said that the division was able to pay its expenses up front and would be in good shape after the conference. Copies of the treasurer's report were distributed to all in attendance. She thanked everyone for their support over the past two years as she turns the reins over to the new treasurer.

Ron Larson, education committee, said the primary focus over the past year had been planning and coordinating the '97 continuing education course.

There were over 100 attendees at this year's course, "Internet to Intranet: What News Librarians Need to Know." Plans for having a videotape available were being worked on. Education was planning a program for Oct. 2, in Milwaukee, as part of the Great Lakes Regional Library Conference. Although the committee wasn't involved in the following workshops, Larson said it was important to note the large number of regional programs involving division members: July 17-19 -- Mid-Atlantic News Librarians, August 22-23 -- Northern California News Libraries, October -- New England Newspaper Assn. He also mention recent meetings by the Florida and Washington, D.C. News Librarians and noted that all regional groups should feel free to contact the Education Committee for guidance or resources when planning local meetings. Leonard added that details of regional activities can be found the division Web Page.

Pete Basofin, director of publications, thanked Barbara Semonche, Catherine Kitchell and Carolyn Edds for their hard work at keeping communications flowing. He reported that electronic communications among division members were thriving and that the Web Site was an excellent repository for long-term and current information. He also announced his intention to make a motion to have the division look at making News Library News exclusively an electronic publication. He noted all the difficulties at having the publication printed. His intention was to suggest that over the next three years the board examine the state of the Internet and state of the membership's interest in reliance on the Internet.

Charlie Campo, awards committee, invited those without tickets to the Awards Banquet to come to the UMI-sponsored reception before the banquet. He announced the recipients of this year's awards and his pride in the number of applicants for the Student Stipend Award, which has become very competitive.

M.J. Crowley, archive committee, announced the intention of Mary Lou Whitman, of MediaStream, to have back issues of News Library News on Vutext converted and searchable on SAVE. Crowley has been working with Lany McDonald, providing materials for the upcoming 75th Anniversary celebration in Minneapolis.

Linda Chapman, automation committee, requested direction from the board on how best for her committee to proceed. Chapman noted that the needs of the membership have changed over the past year. Because of the popularity of the Listserve, where information can be posted and is available immediately, some of the special interest groups haven't been active and are not necessary. The special interest groups are: Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR); CD-ROM; Digital Imaging; Text Archiving; Internet; Keywords.

John Jansson, keyword subcommittee, said his committee has been dealing with re-opened communications with some members of Newspaper Association of America wire service task force with the primary goal of contributing a list of recommended enhancement terms. Three years ago the task force was unwilling to consider our suggestions because of objections from the wire services. Since then a proposal came up in the group to use numbers instead of words for some of the terms -- numbers would not be adequate for photos and not good for text. Jansson contacted some committee members who were more open to considering a list that the division would offer. The chair of the committee, Judy Willner from the editorial department of The New York Times was very supportive. He recommended that members take a copy of the proposed list of keywords and see how they work in our workplace. The second area of interest is an immediate standardized list of fields for photo archiving. NAA IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council) has a standardized list of fields, but there are many fields that aren't included -- particularly those involving post publication (published caption, date used, number of uses, section, zone, page, etc.). Jansson says different fields are needed for archiving purposes. The committee proposed a starting point of 50 fields that have value for a photo archiving operation. The lists were made available in the division suite for perusal by the membership.

There was no report from the nomination and elections committee, but Leonard thanked Mona Hatfield for nominations and Mike Meiners, elections with the help of Barbara Hijek. She introduced the new officers: Carol Campbell, chair-elect; Sperry Krueger, director of education and Bill Van Niekerken, treasurer. Barbara Hijek also headed the membership committee. Hijek wasn't present, but sent word that the membership directories were in the mail.

There was no committee report from Publicity/Public Relations, but Leonard made note of the auction and sale.

John Cronin, strategic planning committee, has been recruiting members for the committee. After the conference, names of committee members are to be posted on the Web site with a tentative agenda. It was moved and seconded that all committee reports be accepted.


M.J. Crowley moved that the division archives be relocated to the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where Barbara Semonche offered a space in her new library. The motion was seconded and passed by the membership.


Pete Basofin presented a proposal to discontinue printing News Library News in favor of exclusive publication on the World Wide Web, citing the inexpensive distribution and avoiding killing trees. He noted two issues to consider -- those who don't have access to the WWW, and not having a physical copy of NLN for archiving. He made a motion that the organization in 3 years consider stopping the print publication and that every year until then, the issue be revisited -- polling the membership, watching the Internet pricing scheme, etc. There was a great deal of discussion on this motion. Jody Habayeb, as a point of reference, noted that the division is currently paying $3,000 per quarter for publishing costs. She also suggested seeking bids from around the country asking members to seek pricing from printing companies in their areas. Donna Scheeder applauded the motion saying that the association at large is moving more toward virtual association and that chapters are being encouraged to go electronic. Acceptance of this motion would put us in the forefront. There was a question about the number of members who have access to the WWW. Basofin said that although there was no definite figure, but that about 1/3 of the membership had subscribed to Newslib, therefore probably had access to the web. He also suggested a survey to find out. Concerns were voiced about the costs of web production; smaller librarians; those not in attendance and informing management. Charlie Campo said he felt we weren't ready to proceed, but we are ready to do a study -- which he endorsed. The motion was defeated by a 29-25 vote.

Sharon Ray, new librarian at NAA, informed the membership that the media/technology director of NAA had offered to provide funding and research for brand new archiving/clipping guidelines. He would like to have a committee work with him on those guidelines. Ray said that would like to make the announcement at NEXPO.


Lany McDonald asked for volunteers to attend a brainstorming and planning session on the 75th anniversary celebration in 1999 in Minneapolis.

Tom Lutgen acknowledged all those who had worked on this year's convention.

New officers were installed new officers: Carol Campbell, chair-elect; Bill Van Niekerken, treasurer; Sperry Krueger, director of education; and Tom Lutgen, chair.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,
Jeanette Brown

Tom Lutgen called a board meeting.

News Librarians Tour Microsoft In Redmond, Wash.

By Pete Basofin

"Convergence" was the message of the day at the News Division tour of Microsoft headquarters June 12. In carefully orchestrated presentations, librarians learned about the software giant's vision of the future merger of broadcast, cable, computers and the Internet. In addition, they got a quick look at the corporate library serving the 20,561 employees of Microsoft.

The tour was organized and hosted by Doug Conner, a librarian specializing in research for Microsoft's burgeoning journalistic efforts: MSNBC and Slate.

Andy Beers, Executive Producer of MSNBC online operations, led off the day's events. The MSNBC website supplements the 24-hour cable news channel with links, maps, charts, audio clips, and original stories. Readers can even vote on current issues and rate the value of stories. A search engine helps users navigate through the site that features an archive of previous material. The MSNBC online venture is the precursor of the full-fledged merger of television news and the Internet, said Beers.

Reporting from the trenches was Barton Crockett, MSNBC Business Writer who covers technology industries. Crockett, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and other print publications, explained the subtle differences of writing for the web. The trick is to grab the reader's attention with prose that "jumps off the screen" accompanied by useful and relevant infographics and sound clips.

Workbench is Microsoft's experimental software for managing the construction of MSNBC's web pages. With eight regular "editions" (and many specials) throughout the day, MSNBC needs a robust multimedia publishing system that would generate pages quickly without much HTML fiddling, said Editor Alan Boyle. Boyle demonstrated Workbench by converting raw wire copy into a good-looking page punctuated with links and photos.

A quick tour of the MSNBC studio showed some of the 200 journalists and technicians who toil 24 hours a day updating the website. Lined with banks of monitors displaying both web sites and cable news programs, the studio is a cross between a TV and print newsroom. While librarians watched through a window, a local writer delivered a live-remote report for the MSNBC cable studio based in New Jersey. The online news service is said to be totally integrated into NBC's broadcast and cable TV news programming.

After a scrumptious buffet lunch, librarians were free to wander the small Microsoft museum and bookstore. Vintage personal computers (including an old Apple II), interactive games, as well as displays on company history, dazzled the eye. Meanwhile groups of librarians took turns visiting the research library. Founded in 1983 with one employee, the Microsoft Library is now staffed by 43 people in five branches. The collection consists of 17,000 books, 1,100 periodical titles, 8,800 market reports, and 5,600 software packages. Over 1,300 research requests are handled in an average month, most of them sent by e-mail.

But most impressive is MSWeb, the large, state-of-the-art corporate intranet created and maintained by librarians. MSWeb is the digital gateway to the vast information holdings of the corporation. As Bill Gates explained in his keynote address to the 1997 SLA conference, the Microsoft intranet exists to distribute personnel information and forms, internal and external news, market research, and other critical material generated by company divisions. Although massive, MSWeb makes use of the latest software to effectively organize and index all the information in the intranet. The LibraryWeb component, which provides essential information about the facility and electronic access to the catalog, gets 122,000 hits a month.

Clearly the Microsoft Library is a dynamic, service-intensive model of how researchers will function next century. Gates paid his librarians the best compliment when he reported that the Microsoft Library gets more unsolicited praise than any other department in the corporation.

The Microsoft tour ended with a Q&A session with Michael Kinsley, formerly of the New Republic and the Atlantic Monthly and now Editor of Slate, Microsoft's online journal of ideas. Slate updates once a week and covers politics, arts and culture. Though a serious, print-intensive product, Slate has found a niche in the multimedia world of cyberspace, said Kinsley. Slate is second only to HotWired in e-zine readership.

Pete Basofin is Library Director at the Sacramento Bee. He can be reached at

In Case You Missed It...

Trying to figure out which is the best search engine on the Web? Try some of the following articles or (naturally enough) Web sites for evaluations of Infoseek, AltaVista, Excite, Lycos, etc. Most of them give general search tips also.




Carolyn Edds was awarded a $6,000 SLA Scholarship. Edds recently attended the SLA annual conference in Seattle. She is a member of the South Carolina Chapter of SLA; the chair-elect of the Online Users Roundtable of the South Carolina Library Association; and a student at the College of Library and Information Science at the University of South Carolina. She works for the Herald-Journal in Spartanburg, S.C.


The San Antonio Express-News has hired Stacy Gilbert, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona Library School. Gilbert attended the conference in Seattle.


Carol Kasel, Assistant Director of the Rocky Mountain News Library in Denver, Colorado, and husband Doug welcomed their first child, Kathleen Anne Kasel, into the world on May 29, 1997. She weighed 9 pounds, 4 ounces. Carol will be on leave until late August.

Stephanie Willen, the Library Director of the Springfield (MA) Union-News and a Simmons library student, got married. Her new name is Stephanie Willen Brown. Instead of going to the SLA conference in Seattle, she went on a wonderful honeymoon in Maine.


Cynthia Radcliffe-Smallwood has changed jobs at Lexis-Nexis. Formerly the Manager of the Information Center and Technical Library, she has traded in her office for a cubicle and "great new job" as Product Manager. She is working on data enhancement which includes linking sites electronically and indexing.

Since February, Colleen Allen has been at the Washington Post as a Research Librarian. Formerly she was an Information Center Support Consultant for the D.C. area with Lexis-Nexis. She is having a "fabulous time with tons of new resources, especially the World-Wide Web."

Theresa Kiely is Library Director at Newsday. Send news to her at

Public Journalism: The Research Center's Role

by Victor Greto

What's the big deal about public journalism? And why should news librarians care? Public journalism has consistently raised controversy since its inception during the late 1980s. It began after several editors and scholars were disappointed over the negative media coverage of the 1988 presidential campaign which resulted in much voter apathy. The essence of the controversy seems to lie in the way one looks at the role of journalism: Should it act as it has traditionally, playing the role of a disinterested bystander, looking out at the action as though from a pressbox? Instead of the pressbox, the new school says, journalism should be out there on the field acting more like an interested and involved referee. As a recent article in the American Journalism Review put it, public journalism's goal is to "reconnect citizens with their newspapers, their communities and the political process, with newspapers playing a role not unlike that of a community organizer."

Public or civic journalism occasionally uses focus groups and surveys to ascertain the pulse of the public. It also seeks to "frame" stories differently, away from polarized viewpoints and toward the middle. For instance, before public journalism, many journalists would more often than not cover the abortion issue by pitting organizations such as "Operation Rescue" against "Planned Parenthood." In public journalism, however, the idea is more: What makes the story pertinent, interesting and, most importantly, challenging for the community? There is a place for the extremes and the conflict polarized opposites engender, but how does that help and reflect the community as a whole? Not only conflict, it insists, but essence and community relevance drive the story.

Now, all these words, such as "framing" and "essence," reverberate vaguely and dissonantly for many. Some have also argued that it's just "back-to-basics" journalism. Maybe it is. But it seemed, at least to advocates of public journalism, that these basics were not being practiced enough.

One of public journalism's strengths is its assumption that a newspaper partially exists to invigorate debate and "democracy," that is, community involvement in all aspects of society. There are a lot of traditionally great newspapers, it implies, but how are their communities doing, and do those papers watch them fall apart from the pressbox while preserving their "journalistic integrity?"

So what's this have to do with libraries or the research center? In many ways, it is researchers who have access to the resources that can most help reporters and editors frame their stories in increasingly different and compelling ways. Here at The Gazette, before the inception of public or civic journalism, the Research Center had often been relegated to filling in the blanks of reporters' stories, whether it was through fact-checking or filing a research request that provided the writer with a general sketch of the issues involved. Now, The Gazette Research Center's personnel attend every important story meeting, including the morning meeting, which both critiques the previous day's paper and looks forward to the next day's.

As part of the structure of this new way of doing things, we are also involved in reporting teams, which discuss the germination, evolution and slant of stories. The Research Center is becoming an integral part of the newsroom, and the opinions of its personnel are respected as much as anyone's. We affect the direction of some stories by our different points of view, as well as by researching early and thoroughly. Nothing is perfect, and resistance and flaws abound, but the process for me has been invigorating. Just as photographers are photo-journalists, as artists are visual journalists, so we are research journalists. It's not just a name game. It is respect and involvement in all parts of the process of making a newspaper the best it can be. Call public journalism a fad or what you will, for Research Centers and libraries it can mean the difference between involvement in all aspects of the newsroom and fact-checking and archiving marginality.

Contact Victor Greto at the Colorado Springs Gazette at

News Division Students are an Outstanding Group

One thing is clear from this year's conference - the News Division has no cause to fear for the next generation of news librarians. Each of them seemed to be bright and goal-oriented people who were also having a lot of fun.

Leigh Poitinger was this year's Vormelker-Thomas Student Award winner. Her essay was titled "The Ubiquitous URL: The Internet and Intranets in News Libraries." In that essay she states that "As ubiquitious as the web seems, it's helpful to remember that in the end it is still merely a tool. Without people to tap into and expand on its applications, the Internet is just another pile of stuff. As my grandmother reminded me, it's always a good idea to keep in mind what it's all for. For news libraries, the point is hopefully to find better ways of doing the job they have always done." Leigh recently started a job at the Baltimore Sun. Jill Arnold was Student Award Committee Chair.

Lisa Peterson was asked to write the traditional "first-timers" article for News Library News. It's always interesting to see how the conference is viewed by someone who's never attended before. She is a student member of the News Division from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She graduated from Stanford University in 1989 with a degree in Human Biology concentrating on Decision Making in Education. After teaching severely emotionally disturbed children in San Francisco for two years, she took advantage of an opportunity to skate with Walt Disney's World on Ice on a world tour spanning five continents. She plans on doing a field experience at the Raleigh News & Observer next spring.

Finally the rest of the students attending the conference were no less impressive. Their statement to the members follows:

The students who attended the SLA conference in Seattle would like to thank the News Division for its generosity and warm hospitality. You helped us feel at home among professionals whose ranks we all hope to join soon. Thanks to your support we all learned and grew tremendously from the programs you sponsored. The Newcomer activities and the mentor program were especially valuable and helpful for students just beginning careers in news libraries. We also gained friendships that will grow and blossom as we advance in our professional lives. Thank you for making this conference so special.

Rachel Berrington
Jason Colantonio
Stacy Rebecca Gilbert
Lisa Peterson
Leigh Poitinger
Barbara Rodriguez

Student Award Winner Begins Job in Baltimore in July

By Leigh Poitinger

I hail from northwestern Ohio and received my undergraduate degree in anthropology and geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After traveling to Turkey and living in Minnesota for a few years, I decided to attend library school at the University of Texas at Austin. Pursuing an MLIS seemed like a perfect way to combine my love of knowledge, learning and technology with helping other people find the information they need.

I became interested in news libraries after touring a local newspaper and seeing the library in operation. I had worked previously for a newspaper and loved the atmosphere, and news librarianship seemed like the most interesting and fun library environment in which to work. After deciding this I focused my class projects on news libraries and last summer I interned at the Morning Call in Allentown, Pennsylvania to see if news librarianship was indeed what I wanted to do, and it was. Through my internship I gained excellent experience in photo and text archiving, online searching, internet training, and all the other tasks in operating a news library. I was hooked after that! I just completed my MLIS in May and will be joining the library staff at the Baltimore Sun in July. I am eager to put my skills to work as well as resume a normal, post-school life.

Attending the SLA Conference in Seattle was a wonderful experience. Not only did I get to meet all sorts of friendly and interesting people, but I also liked going to the sessions and hearing some of the real-life projects and problems of news libraries. I look forward to attending more conferences in the future and being an active member of the News Division.

North Carolina Newcomer Makes Friends

by Lisa Peterson

I arrived in Seattle just in time to drop off my bags and rush over to the Seattle Times for their open house and tour. A room full of people I did not yet know were enjoying coffee and baked goods while sharing lively conversation. Then I saw a familiar face, Chris Hardesty from the Raleigh News and Observer. Knowing I was a newcomer, Chris grabbed me and started introducing me to others in the room. I started connecting warm, smiling faces with names I had become familiar with through the NewsLib listserv and News Library News. Everyone was very friendly, and I began to relax and enjoy the convivial atmosphere where I was beginning to feel more at home.

Following the open house, a group of us went to dinner at a seafood restaurant overlooking Lake Union. This was a somewhat smaller gathering where people from different backgrounds and geographic locations could share their common enthusiasm for news librarianship. I loved hearing their stories and listened eagerly for any advice or words of wisdom I could glean from the conversation. It was a wonderful evening, but as the sun descended and the last cappuccino after dinner was almost gone, I realized this eventful week would pass all too quickly.

Newcomer events throughout the week provided additional forums for exchanging views and meeting new people. The mentor program helped orient new members to the conference and made it easier to meet other division members. The Sunday newcomers' night in the division suite was a big success and provided a comfortable atmosphere where members could become acquainted. Finally, the informal meeting following the conference, led by Lovelle Svart and Carol Campbell, provided a great opportunity to reflect back on the week and to think of new topics for future division programs.

I was also grateful to have the support and assistance of members from the North Carolina Chapter of SLA such as Barbara Semonche, Teresa Leonard, Chris Hardesty, Sperry Krueger, and Carolyn Edds. Their enthusiasm and leadership spurred my initial interest in news librarianship, and they each inspired and encouraged me in different ways throughout various North Carolina chapter events. These local contacts also helped me at the conference to meet additional members and to feel more at home within the division.

The programs themselves were fantastic. There were inspiring stories of success as well as equally thought-provoking stories of frustration with suggestions for how to learn from what others had already tried and ideas of what to do differently in the future. Library Researchers in the Newsroom, Expanding the Horizons of the News Library to Corporate and New Media Clients, and Computer-Assisted Reporting are just a few examples of the exciting programs offered by the News Division in which panelists from different backgrounds and viewpoints presented information on timely issues in news librarianship. These panel discussions, in turn, led to lively discussion from audience members that allowed for an even broader perspective on the issues.

The normally elusive Seattle sun graced us with clear skies and beautiful views of the surrounding areas for most of the conference, but the most spectacular evening was Monday, the night of the awards banquet. Thanks to Charlotte Kohrs, I had the opportunity to attend the News Division Awards Banquet at the elegant Columbia Tower Club. The culminating point of the evening was the presentation of the awards. The speeches ranged from humorous anecdotes to beautiful analogies. Stories of achievements far above and beyond the call of duty lit up the banquet hall even as the sun was setting. Tales of camaraderie demonstrated how the collaboration and support of other professionals can move us all forward in a field that is ever changing. The well deserved recognition of these extraordinary individuals in this exciting field moved me and made me feel even closer to this unique group of people.

It was at the awards ceremony that Barbara Semonche asked me what I liked most about the conference. I replied that the programs were fascinating, the exhibits were interesting, and the city was beautiful, but the best part of the conference was, by far, the people. I still hold to that. I met wonderful people at the conference, who shared their stories with me, and who were willing to answer my incessant questions about newspaper librarianship. For me this is the most valuable resource - people getting to know each other and sharing information. I hope the people I met and the friendships I made will last well into my professional career, and I hope that someday I will be able to repay the division and its members for all it has offered to me and taught me.

Notes from the Chair

By Tom Lutgen

Eugenie Prime, Hewlett-Packard librarian, said it first and perhaps best in her rousing "Practitioner's Perspective" at the Seattle conference when she told us that change is on our side. Change is not an enemy. She said we should embrace change as our greatest friend and warned that the heart of the issue is who defines what we are. We must not let others do this for us. She cautioned us not to believe what others say when they try to limit our possibilities. She urged us to create a new and large vision for ourselves and our professionone which dismantles any imaginary barriers and which may need to transcend our conditioning.

The critical role of librarians in organizational change and strategic planning was emphasized over and over in Seattle. Bill Gates, in his keynote address, launched the conference with a tribute to the Microsoft librarians who are responsible for the content and organization of the company's Intranet. We all could envy the easy access to Web development tools which allowed the library staff to create the well-organized and rich desk-top resource which we saw demonstrated by a Microsoft librarian during Gates' speech. But we must also have been inspired by the credit the Microsoft librarians receive from their CEO for providing the single most important service of any unit of the company: Retrieving and organizing timely, pertinent information and delivering it intelligently and in an easy-to-use manner.

The challenge I heard both from Eugenie Prime and Bill Gates was echoed in several of the News Division sessions: Be all you can be. Accept the fact that as an information professional you have a unique opportunity to help management see the importance of your skills and insight and therefore to help guide your department and company forward. Who better than a librarian to look for ways and to create products to add to the company's bottomline? Or design and implement information systems? Or to provide competitive intelligence data to decision-makers? Or to create a Web presence? Or to lead the computer-assisted reporting effort?

From my first day in Seattle and the informative tour and demonstration of online tools developed by the Seattle Times librarians to the last day and the equally inspiring tour of the Microsoft librarians, the vitality and creativity of news librarians was continually reaffirmed for me. We have such a rich supply of role models and risk takers to inspire and guide us. It was great to hear Barbara Newcombe once again urge us to assert our role as information watchdog as she received the Joseph F. Kwapil Memorial Award.

I want to thank again all the program planners who with their speakers contributed to the theme of "Change as Opportunity." As any program planner will tell you, organizing and coordinating more than a dozen events over 4 or 5 days can be a logistical nightmare, but the program planners this year made my job easy. They always met deadlines and were endlessly flexible and creative. I an indebted to each one of you. Special thanks to the members of my staff who were at the conference and helped at each session and to the energetic Raleigh News and Observer team of Sperry Krueger and Chris Hardesty who made the division suite a welcoming place and who carried off another successful auction of memorabilia. Thanks also to all who contributed items for the auction.

If you missed the conference or simply need to know more you should contact these planners. They all have seen the future and are well on their way, and as all news librarians they are dependably generous. Much of the content and notes are, or will be, available on the news division Web site through the courtesy and hard work of our Webmistress, Carolyn Edds.

There is always much more to accomplish and I welcome any ideas or comments you might have about the direction of the division. What should we be doing that we are not or not doing enough of, which would help you?

Tom Lutgen is Los Angeles Times Editorial Library Director. His e-mail is

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