Celebrating Our Legacy, Anticipating Our Future

 2014 TRB Annual Meeting Spotlight Theme

"Celebrating Our Legacy, Anticipating Our Future"
Key Research Achievements

Committee on Library and Information Science for Transportation (ABG40)

Roberto A. Sarmiento, LIST Chair

Northwestern University Transportation Library

August, 2013

  • The one-to-three top research breakthroughs in your topic area over the past 20 years. Please limit each breakthrough description to 250 words or less. Include weblinks to additional information, if available. To the extent possible, please summarize the research, the deployment, and the benefits.

1)      Transportation Information Networks

The creation of transportation information practitioner’s networks had a significant impact on the development of a coherent strategy for the delivery and access of information at the national level. During this period, we saw the establishment of one (1) TRB committee related to transportation information (AGB40). Other networks include the National Transportation Library and the subsequent development of transportation library consortia (Transportation Knowledge Networks), the FHWA Pooled Fund StudyTPF-5(237) and the AASHTO RAC-TKN. These brought to the forefront never before experienced emphasis on transportation information and its practitioners.

These groups promoted and conducted transportation information-specific research; lobbied agencies for better understanding of library functions and its librarians; helped promote sound policies for the development of better practices for cataloguing, interlibrary lending, indexing, digitization, knowledge management, partnerships at the regional, national and international levels, etc. These networks also lobbied agency’s management for the development of better understanding of its own research information, publications and data management plans.

These networks provided at a broader visibility, understanding and support within organizations towards its own librarians and information professionals. It highlighted the interconnectivity of the transportation library community and the added value librarians can and do provide the agencies and the nation.

These networks also made available to a much broader research community large collections of information previously hidden (un-accessible) or only available to its local researchers. This broader access and democratization of information has made our national and international research community much stronger.

2)      The World Wide Web (WWW)

Prior to the development and explosion of the web, access to library catalogs, books/journals and databases was restricted to in-house use. Speedy delivery of journal articles/documents was either through a fax, document carriers or by “walking it” to the researcher. The delivery of information, videos, training, etc. was restricted, in person and slow. You, the reader, most likely remember the pre-1995 world and can compare your own personal and professional experience pre- and post-web.

Once the web reached its tipping point in which economics, hardware, software, telecommunications, security protocols, vendors/products, public/users, etc., aligned to make the web a ubiquitous appliance, the volume and access to information, exploded.

The interconnectivity and access to remote resources has forever changed how researchers search, acquire and disseminate information. This revolutionary step – taken in less than a generation – irrevocably changed human existence.

The transportation library community, by virtue of its long standing practice of embracing technology - a little ahead of the curve - benefitted immensely of the now forgotten “information superhighway”: by converting our “card” catalogs into machine readable formats and then providing web access to the world; by making TRIS freely available on the web and making it an international product; by electronically requesting and providing interlibrary loans substantially reducing the time needed by researchers to get to the information needed; etc.

There is no doubt that the use and management of this technology by transportation librarians has and will continue to benefit our community.

3)      Collections Digitization

The confluence between the development of high resolution document scanner technology and reliable optical character recognition software (OCR) opened the door to large and small documents/books digitization projects at the local and global levels.

The library community in general - and the transportation library community in particular - discovered that there was a latent need and a “long tail” for books, journals, reports, etc., only available in paper format.

Large initiatives, such as, Project Guttenberg, Google Books and HathiTrust blazed the trails for developing smaller, focused and subject specific projects to make available inaccessible materials. Now we have all types of transportation libraries working among themselves or partnering with their agencies to digitize agency-specific materials or research materials with broad appeal and making them available to everyone.

However, this technology has yet to fulfill its full potential due to legal issues related to copyright law (both in the US and abroad.) Although the issues related to fair use, archival and educational purposes, orphan works, interlibrary loan, etc., are slowly grinding their way through the US legal system, the courts are leaning towards a less restrictive interpretation of copyright law which will benefit librarians and researchers.

Regardless of how this is ultimately resolved (if ever), the digitization of archival or historical collections and the subsequent access by researchers, will make previously unknown research available thus strengthening the collective transportation knowledge.

  • A short (250 words or less) summary of the vision and research advancements anticipated in your topic area over the next 10 years.

During the next 10 years, the library world may perhaps experience some easily identifiable evolutionary developments and perhaps, some quantum leaps which the transportation library community will incorporate for the benefit of its organizations and researchers.

Reliance on paper will drastically diminish. The exponential production of born and published digital materials will accelerate to the point where only a small minority of documents will be distributed in print or become available as “print on demand.” Not quite the end of paper, but certainly on its way to a very small market. Smarter search engines will make access to information easier.

Delivery of information will be through mobile devices; tablets (declining), eye-glasses (full development) or, perhaps, 3-D holographic projections (starting). Devices will become smaller, faster, and more powerful, with longer battery life. The need for hard drives will be non-existence since all data will be available “in the cloud”, while Wi-Fi access will become ubiquitous.

The trend towards smaller governments may force the merger of agency libraries, archives and publications units into one “research and information” department. Contiguous state DOTs may pool their libraries into one unit serving several states; easily done since most of the information, resources and services will be available “in the cloud,” while consultations will be accomplished through live web-based video.

The increase of electronic publishing and digitization of archival/historical/special collections will require a national strategy for maintaining a collection of “copy of last resort” for posterity.

Something out of left field will come out and make everything obsolete!

Survey Results: TRID and Reference Management Tools

In July 2013 Ken Winter (VDOT Research Library) and Bill McLeod (TRB Library) conducted a 10-question online survey to gather information on citation management tool usage and preferences by transportation information professionals.  The total survey population was approximately 300 members of the TRANLIB listserv.  There were 45 responses, a response rate of approximately 15%.  Of all respondents, 42% self identified as personnel at state DOT libraries.  Respondents reported they work primarily (40%) with “engineers or technical practitioners.”  Of all respondents, 62% said they had not used any citation management software in the last 12 months and 46% said they did not think their patrons had either.  Of respondents who thought their patrons had used citation management tools in the past 12 months, 56% reported they believe their patrons had used Endnote or Endnote Web, 31% said Refworks, and 22% said Zotero.  Two “other” references mentioned the tool Mendeley, which was also mentioned multiple times in open response options. When asked what they thought their patrons used “most often” the respondents said Endnote (33%), Refworks (26%), Endnote Web (6%) and Zotero (4%).  About 69% of respondents said the library where they work has not supported the use of such tools (either formally or informally) in the past 12 months.  When asked what citation management tool they would use as information professionals (if they could pick any tool), the majority (49%) said “other” and their open responses indicated that many respondents do not feel like they know enough to make an informed decision right now, but would like to learn more about their options.  Some respondents did express a preference for specific tools.  Top ranked was Endnote at 17% (N=8), then Zotero at 15% (N=7), then Refworks at 13% (N=6), then “I would not use any” at 11% (N=5), and finally Endnote Web at 7% (N=3).  Of the 36 respondents who answered the question: “Why would you select that citation management tool?”  47% said “because it is affordable or free.”  Final comments seemed enthusiastic about learning more on the topic and a few respondents expressed specific ideas about what they’d like to know more about.  Overall response for the general subject as the topic of a TRB Webinar seemed positive with the demographic surveyed.

To see the full survey results go here: http://trblist.org/sites/default/files/Reference_Management_Survey_Responses.pdf

Job Posting: VDOT Knowledge Management Office

Today VDOT’s Knowledge Management Office (of with the VDOT Research Library is a part) posted this opening for a full-time salaried position:


Working Title: Knowledge & Information Program Coordinator

Description: VDOT's Knowledge Management Office at the Virginia Center for Transportation Innovation and Research is seeking a Knowledge Management professional who will manage, direct and evaluate effective content and document management, knowledge management programs, knowledge sharing, knowledge research, and business process management. This position will serve as a technical expert for KM tools and techniques and provide expertise and guidance for program evaluation. The primary objective of this position is to ensure that effective information architecture is developed to support the availability and transfer of business critical knowledge and information and expertise.

Minimum Qualifications: Extensive experience in information architecture, content and document management, program evaluation; development, implementation and evaluation of knowledge management programs; project management; business project management; communication; adult education; change management; knowledge risk forecasting and research. Knowledge of taxonomies, portals, management principles, knowledge management, organizational behavior, change management, communications, risk assessment, strategic planning and performance measurements. Advanced interpersonal and written communication and analytic skills. Demonstrated ability to work independently and as a member of a team and to function as a highly effective leader and change agent. Graduation from a college or university with a degree in management, business, library science, information science, communications, organizational development or extensive experience in any of the above disciplines; extensive experience in information architecture, content and document management, developing and reviewing programs, knowledge management programs, public organization culture; master's or other advanced degree preferred.

Preferred Qualifications: Master's or other advanced degree in management, business, library science, information science, communications, or organizational development.  


To view the complete online job posting follow these steps:

  1. https://jobs.agencies.virginia.gov/applicants/jsp/shared/search/Search_css.jsp
  2. In “Working Title” field insert these words: Knowledge & Information Program Coordinator  

Questions?  Contact:

Jeff S. Fowler

Central Office Human Resources

1221 East Broad Street, 1st Floor Central Hwy Bldg.

Richmond, Virginia 23219  


Survey: TRID and Reference Management Tools

This Fall TRB will hold a Webinar related to TRID and reference management tools (like Endnote or Zotero), and Bill McLeod and I are working on our presentation materials for that event. 

To better understand how personnel who work at transportation libraries and information centers use citation management tools, we are conducting a brief survey. 

Please respond by going here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/29DMT8B

The introductory Webinar will provide brief demonstrations of how TRID users can save time, reduce duplicated effort, and maximize search results through the use of reference management software.

You may have heard of this kind of software referred to as “citation management software” or “bibliographic management software” and you may have heard of or used one of the more popular systems (like Endnote, Refworks), or one of dozens of other citation management tools: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_reference_management_software

We anticipate a broad demographic for the Webinar, including researchers, students, library personnel and TRID users of all types.

Responding takes only 1-2 minutes, is a anonymous, and will help ensure the Webinar addresses your needs along with those of other TRID users.

The survey will close at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, July 31, 2013 and summary results of the survey will later be posted to TRANLIB.


We welcome multiple responses from an organization, but request only one response per individual.


Thank you!

Bill McLeod (TRB Library)

Ken Winter (VDOT Research Library)

SLA International information Exchange LinkedIn

The SLA International information Exchange Caucus has set up a linkedin group designed for discussion of international information events and opportunities.  Please promote this to your members  who are "international" or interested in international information exchange and networking.    http://www.linkedin.com/groups/SLA-International-Information-Exchange-Caucus-4336688  


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