“Movers & Shakers”: Metro Transportation Library Receives National Honor For Innovative Services

Library Journal, March 15, 2013This week, we received some great news.

I have been named a 2013 Library Journal “Mover & Shaker”!

Each year, just a handful of individuals are selected from thousands of information professionals to be honored as the nation’s most innovative and accomplished. (There are more than 120,000 libraries in the United States, and U.S. public libraries alone employ over 46,000 professional librarians).

First of all, I consider this award as an honor for the Library itself, and none of this would have been possible without the vision and leadership of Library, Archives and Records Administrator Matthew Barrett.

Matt has created and sustains an environment in which his employees can grow, thrive and succeed.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to join him in providing access to a world of information and knowledge surrounding transit and transportation issues.

His commitment to excellence has allowed me to explore new tools and resources that build on our previous accomplishments in providing excellent service to our staff while continuing to inform the public, reach new users, and promote the importance of transportation in our community.

I also have to wholeheartedly thank our other staff and interns who have helped us realize such great success.

Now in its 137th year of publication, Library Journal is the oldest and most respected publication for information professionals.

The “Movers & Shakers” Award, one of the most prestigious in the profession, recognizes those who are shaping the future of libraries and the services they provide:  “Librarians and others in the library field who are doing extraordinary work to serve their users and to move libraries of all types and library services forward.”

We are the only government agency library in the United States to receive the honor this year.

I have served as our Digital Resources Librarian since August, 2008.  Since joining Metro, I have developed a digital asset policy framework, assumed responsibility for our website, deployed and managed a platform of several social media sites and launched a collection digitization program to provide 24/7 access to our resources.  Additionally, I took over materials cataloging functions for the library following a staff reduction.

The Movers & Shakers Award recognizes several Library contributions to our organization.  My work includes the collection, distribution and publication of the Los Angeles Transportation Headlines each work day.

Nearly eight years old (ancient history for social media),  Matt began publishing the Los Angeles Transportation Headlines way back in 2005. It continues to grow in size and readership every year.

This aggregated news content is disseminated to thousands of transportation employees, contractors, consultants, educators, transit advocates and other enthusiasts, driving the water-cooler conversation about transit in Los Angeles.

In 2010, I launched our highly regarded Primary Resources Blog which lends a voice to our collection, highlighting and providing context for lesser-known resources important to today’s transit and transportation planning in Southern California.  These posts have been repurposed in several news sources and transportation-oriented blogs.

An important component of Primary Resources is our “This Date In Los Angeles Transportation History” calendar.  This feature serves multiple functions:  reminding users of our local transportation history on a daily basis; promoting our rich array of documents, photos, video, maps and other assets; building a tool that captures the context of where we have been and where we are going; serving as a foundation for a knowledge management tool to tie all of our resources together.

I have also been incredibly fortunate to become involved in and assume leadership of LA as Subject, a network of more than 230 archives, libraries, museums and historical societies who collections pertain to the history and culture of Southern California.

I have served as the Executive Chair of the organization since 2011, leading the organization to develop its first strategic plan in its 16-year history.  The plan’s three-year goals include online exhibit and gallery space, development of a research portal related to our collections, exploring the possibility of a “Los Angeles Summit” for researchers and new new events and participatory experiences for both members and the public.

I am now focused on several forthcoming projects in addition to my other duties.

I am working with Library, Archives and Records staff to coordinate the systematic digitization of our collection to provide greater access to the Library.

The increase in our digital assets provides even greater content for our social media properties and users’ needs.  (Already, our work in digitizing historic Los Angeles traffic plans has led to our participation in a landmark joint exhibit between the Getty Museum and Getty Research Institute and another prominent exhibit at Los Angeles’ Architecture and Design Museum this year).

I am also working with staff to create a Knowledge Base for transportation resources.

This “wiki” for Los Angeles transit and transportation information will not only bring together disparate resources on complex topics, but will also capture archived previously-answered requests for information to serve as a “search-here-first” option for Library users.

I am also looking forward to presenting an all-day pre-conference workshop at the Society of California Archivists next month as well as a session at the Internet Librarian conference in October regarding our challenges and successes with digitization and social media.

As Los Angeles continues to pursue the most ambitious mobility agenda in the nation, access to information is more important than ever before.  I am so excited to work with Matt and the rest of our staff to champion our valuable collection while advocating for a “24/7” library that informs, educates and inspires.

The interdisciplinary nature of transportation puts me in touch with not just transit and transportation every day, but engineering, finance, urban planning, sociology, local and national politics, architecture, geology, demographics, law, and emerging technologies as well.

I also have to thank our collection itself.  If it weren’t so interesting, we would not have racked up over 2.5 million views on our online Flickr photo-sharing site, and thousands of more views on YouTube, Tumblr, Historypin, our Tiki-Toki timeline of local transportation history and other sites that allow us to respond to the huge appetite for transportation information and history.

Finally, I want to thank all of our users for making this job so much fun.

Knowing that we have so many Headlines and Primary Resources readers, Flicker viewers, YouTube watchers, catalog searchers and others out there who appreciate what we do makes it a labor of love.

You can read my Library Journal “Movers & Shakers” profile here, and learn more about this year’s honorees here.

–Kenn Bicknell, Digital Resources Librarian