Interview with Professor Valerie Forrestal about her new book Knowledge Management for Libraries.

Knowledge Management for Libraries 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.



iPads Now Available at the CSI Library

5494900_sd.jpg;maxHeight=550;maxWidth=642iPads Now Available at the CSI Library

by Professor Valerie Forrestal, Web Services Librarian

Currently enrolled College of Staten Island students may borrow an iPad for use in the library for a period of two hours. iPads can be checked out from the Library Technology Support Center in room 109A on the 1st floor of the library.

Aside from the usual apps on the iPad, they are also pre-loaded with the following additional apps:

  •     Dropbox
  •     Google Earth
  •     Google Translate
  •     Kahn Academy
  •     Microsoft Word
  •     Microsoft Excel
  •     Microsoft Powerpoint
  •     NY Times

Users are welcome to download apps with their own iTunes account, but these apps will automatically be removed from the device when it is checked back in.

Please feel free to provide us [at the Technology Support Center] with suggestions for apps that you find useful for courses that should be one of the pre-loaded apps. Any app that will increase efficiency and productivity are welcome.

Borrowers must have a valid CSI ID card to use one for either 4 hours or 3 days. iPads must be returned in the same condition as when it went out. Users assumes all responsibility and will be liable for any damage to iPad while checked out in your name.

Please note that if a borrowed iPad is damaged or lost, the borrower will be held responsible for the repair or replacement cost of the iPad. For example, if an iPad is returned with a cracked screen, the borrower is subject to a $49 screen repair fee. Unpaid fees will result in loss of library privileges at CSI and CUNY.




CuPL – CUNY Libraries Branch Out!

CuPL – CUNY Libraries Branch Out!

by Professor Mark Aaron Polger, First Year Experience Librarian



CuPL: CUNY Libraries Branch Out is a collaborative effort between librarians at the City University of New York, and librarians in the public libraries throughout NYC. The goal is to enhance use of systems across institutions and make current, former, and future students aware of local resources for academic research success as well as lifelong learning.

cupl-sept2016In celebration of September as “Library Card Signup Month”, staff from the Richmondtown Branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL) system came on September 27th to promote their branch, give away free swag, provide information about NYPL services, and sign up new library cards.  Library patrons who sign up will have access to branches across Staten Island, Manhattan, and the Bronx. Brooklyn and Queens have their own public library system separate from NYPL.

The event was festive as over a hundred people signed up for  library cards and there were many giveaways. Photos were taken and posted to Facebook and Instagram and many students were very happy. Moving forward, the CSI Library hopes to continue the tradition of having the NYPL branches on Staten Island visit the library rotunda more frequently. This public library partnership is very important since so many of our students are unaware of the differences between academic and public libraries and how they complement each other.

The NYPL first came to visit the CSI Library in Spring 2016 and after this September visit, we have decided that they will be making regular visits twice a semester promoting library cards and public library usage. We look forward to seeing them back the second week of December.



When They Are One: Inclusive Language Practices at CSI

When They Are One: Inclusive Language Practices at CSI

by Professor Anne Hays, Evening/Weekend Instruction Librarian

On May 3rd, 2016, the Library participated in an event created by Professor Christine Martorana of the Writing Program, and Jeremiah Jerkowitz of the LGBTQ Resource Center called “When They Are One: Language Practices at CSI”. The event invited participating departments to create an interactive activity designed to engage students in language inclusive practices, and the tables were set up in the 1P atrium. The stated goal of the event was to “prompt a dialogue on campus regarding the ways in which our written and spoken language can better reflect and respect the diversity of our community” and also to “give students the tools to be more critical, reflective, and purposeful language users.”


CUNY Librarians take Havana

IMG_6425CUNY Librarians take Havana

by Professor Maureen Garvey, Evening/Weekend Instruction Librarian

In January 2016, I was very fortunate to be a part of a 10-member delegation of CUNY librarians to Cuba. The week-long visit included a mix of just the right balance between social and community projects and 8 professional visits to large, culturally important institutions; Universidad de la Habana (University of Havana), Casa de las Americas (Latin American art museum), Biblioteca Pública de Rubén Martínez Villena (the central public library in Havana), Biblioteca Nacional de Cuba José Martí (the national library), Biblioteca Médica Nacional (the national medical sciences library), Museo Nacional de la Campana de Alfabetización (the museum for the campaign for literacy), Archivo Nacional de la República de Cuba (the national archives), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes- Arte Cubano (the fine art museum).

Never have I heard the word patrimony used so often. Cubans take the preservation of their cultural heritage very seriously. It was a wonderful thing to see such value placed on the kind of work that we do. Of course, even with this high regard, they face challenges too. What was most striking to us were the similarities in our professional lives, despite the very particular working conditions in Cuba. Everyone we visited was gracious in sharing a glimpse into their organization. They too were dealing with competing for limited funding, persuading state officials of their budgetary requirements, providing broad access while preserving resources, and supporting the needs of their users amidst inadequate infrastructure.


The central library of the University of was very recognizable to us, as academic librarians. They were undertaking a large project to digitize 90k catalog cards to create an online publically accessible catalog (OPAC). They also have an open access institutional repository where they encourage (and sometimes must persuade!) faculty and students to deposit articles and theses. They have a social media presence. They provide information literacy programs. Just as we observe, their students are technologically adept but require help with research and adapting to the demands of academia. (Of course, all education is tuition-free. Students must do 3 years of work placement upon graduation in exchange for their undergraduate degree. Post-graduate degrees do not require further service.)

At the public library in the old town, we met dedicated and inspiring librarians who have created a warm and welcoming public amenity. They have a well-equipped room for users with special needs, a fantastic children’s library and a well-used open circulating collection of literature from North and Latin America, Western Europe, and Russia. The public library is also in the process of digitizing their card catalog to increase access. Currently, public libraries rely tremendously on the expertise of librarians and their deep knowledge of their collections to aid in resource sharing. Regla, the head of adult services, had wanted to be a doctor as a child. Possibly influenced by a childhood friendship with Ernest Hemingway, she became a librarian, ‘a doctor of the soul’, as she saw it. Adrian, the children’s services librarian, was a Cuban Mr. Rogers, honored by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) for his incredible service.


Card catalogs were in use almost everywhere, along with ongoing efforts in various stages to digitize them and provide access online. Mostly, that computer access is available onsite only. Which brings us to the main impediment to modern library and information services in Cuba- the lack of technological infrastructure. Whether it is a server issue, bandwidth, or simply not enough hardware to give users access (only 2 scanners at the national library for their newspaper digitization project, no OPAC anywhere, 1 computer terminal with the catalog at the university and the public library) the lack of technology is holding back Cuban organizations from preserving and sharing information. Whatever one’s politics, it’s undeniable that the blockade has had a devastating impact on Cuba in all facets of life. It was evident at every institution we visited. Cubans are proud and dignified, the library professionals we met no different, but they were candid in sharing how this impeded their work and their mission. There are humanitarian projects to help them and they rely on their few allies but it was fascinating to see geopolitics playing their part in academic database subscriptions. The national medical sciences library has to find amenable Latin American neighbors to provide banking services to allow them to make purchases from US companies like Wiley, Springer and Ebsco, so their students and working professionals can have access to the latest scholarly research.

Just like in the US and elsewhere, we saw how STEM subjects attract funding. The best-equipped and most recognizable facility was the national medical sciences library. And it’s no wonder, as Cuban doctors abroad are the countries number one source of income, above tourism. The medical library provides a fantastic service, including publishing 23 open access scholarly journals, a well-developed portal for medical specialties, with content created by medical professionals and information infrastructure overseen by information professionals, and also a conference hosting service.


The national library had just undergone a long term renovation and the 1957 building was beautiful, including restored original furniture. They produce a striking monograph series showcasing prints in the collections. They also are undertaking several major digitization projects, of newspapers, the card catalog, and other archival materials. Again, technology was an issue. They do not yet have the capacity to put online what they have digitized.

Other highlights included a visit to the National Literacy Museum, which houses artefacts from the 1961 nationwide, year-long, and highly successful campaign to eradicate illiteracy (which was then at 23%, now .2%); the mosaic-covered village of Jaimanitas created by the artist Josè Fuster; the Fine Art museum holdings and special library; and the national archives.

Without exception, the information professionals we met were proud, dignified, passionate, and warm as well as resilient and resourceful. It was reaffirming to see such value placed on patrimony and higher education, and to witness others nobly struggling to provide equitable access to resources.