Interview with Professor Valerie Forrestal about her new book Knowledge Management for Libraries. It was published in August 2015 by Rowman and Littlefield Publishers
by Professor Mark Aaron Polger, First Year Experience Librarian
Valerie Forrestal is the Web Services Librarian and an Assistant Professor at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York. Her education includes an MA in Media Production from Emerson College, an MLIS from Rutgers University, and an MS in Service-Oriented Computing from Stevens Institute of Technology. Valerie is very active in the New Jersey library community as she has presented at many conferences on technology, user experience, and mobile services. Valerie specializes in web development, social media, technology planning, and innovation in libraries and higher education.
MAP: What is your book about ?
VF: Knowledge Management for Libraries is about how libraries can use different kinds of software to collect and share information among staff members. It gives step-by-step instructions on how to implement tools for communication, collaboration, and file sharing, along with best practices for planning, design, and promoting usage. The book not only talks about technology solutions, but also discusses the ways in which applying knowledge management techniques in an organization can vastly improve efficiency and decision making by streamlining access to a department or organization’s collected knowledge.
MAP: What were some of the challenges involved in writing the book?
VF: The book series (Library Technology Essentials) that Knowledge Management for Libraries is a part of was dropped by the publisher at the last minute. Luckily the editor decided to pitch the series to another publisher, who decided to pick up all 12 volumes. The new publisher decided to keep the original publication date though, so the timeline for writing was quite brief (7 months to be exact). When my book came out, it turns out the publisher had used the wrong type set in printing, so it was riddled with typos, and subsequently got pulled from Amazon. Thankfully everything was sorted out and the book was available again in about a week, but I was still pretty embarrassed about all the messed up copies that were shipped out to readers.
MAP: What did you learn in the book writing process?
VF: Honestly, with any sort of long-term project, like writing or getting a degree, you just have to keep at it. There will be many days when you don’t feel like doing the work, but you have to force yourself to just get something done every day so you at least keep moving forward. To me, the hardest part about writing is getting words on paper. You have to make yourself write, and if you’re not having a stellar inspiration day, you can always edit it later. Speaking of editing, I have some advice on that too: don’t take it personally. Some of the comments I received on my first draft made me break down in tears. But I picked myself up and forged ahead, and the book is better because of those edits. It’s pretty much impossible to write an entire book and have every word be perfect. There will always be room for improvement, but those suggestions will only make the final product (that bears your name) even better.
MAP: What could other web / systems librarians take from your book and apply to their library web sites/ library intranet web sites?
VF: Besides the step-by-step guides, there are also case studies and best practices that could be applied to any technology implementation project. I tried to pepper in a little project management and software engineering basics so the concepts could be applied outside the world of knowledge management software. There are also handy references for assessing different kinds of software, and delving deeper into any of the systems mentioned in the book.