my presentation for Internet Librarian 2010

I’ve uploaded my presentation to SlideShare and will be sending it to the ITI folks shortly. Check the speaker notes for the actual content, as the slides are more for visualization.

IL 2010: Dashboards, Data, and Decisions

[I took notes on paper because my netbook power cord was in my checked bag that SFO briefly lost on the way here. This is an edited transfer to electronic.]

presenter: Joseph Baisano

Dashboards pull information together and make it visible in one place. They need to be simple, built on existing data, but expandable.

Baisano is at SUNY Stonybrook, and they opted to go with Microsoft SharePoint 2010 to create their dashboards. The content can be made visible and editable through user permissions. Right now, their data connections include their catalog, proxy server, JCR, ERMS, and web statistics, and they are looking into using the API to pull license information from their ERMS.

In the future, they hope to use APIs from sources that provide them (Google Analytics, their ERMS, etc.) to create mashups and more on-the-fly graphs. They’re also looking at an open source alternative to SharePoint called Pentaho, which already has many of the plugins they want and comes in free and paid support flavors.

presenter: Cindi Trainor

[Trainor had significant technical difficulties with her Mac and the projector, which resulted in only 10 minutes of a slightly muddled presentation, but she had some great ideas for visualizations to share, so here’s as much as I captured of them.]

Graphs often tell us what we already know, so look at it from a different angle to learn something new. Gapminder plots data in three dimensions – comparing two components of each set over time using bubble graphs. Excel can do bubble graphs as well, but with some limitations.

In her example, Trainor showed reference transactions along the x-axis, the gate count along the y-axis, and the size of the circle represented the number of circulation transactions. Each bubble represented a campus library and each graph was for the year’s totals. By doing this, she was able to suss out some interesting trends and quirks to investigate that were hidden in the traditional line graphs.

IL 2010: Adding Value to Your Community

speaker: Patricia Martin

[I took notes on paper because my netbook power cord was in my checked bag that SFO briefly lost on the way here. This is an edited transfer to electronic.]

She told a story about how a tree in her yard sprang up and quickly produced fruit, due in part to the fertilization that came from some bats living in her garage. The point being is that libraries are sitting on hidden assets (i.e. bat shit), but we haven’t packaged it in a way our community will recognize and value it (i.e. bat guano fertilizer).

She thinks that the current conditions indicate we are on the cusp of a renaissance generation that will lead to an explosion of creativity. Every advanced civilization gets to a point where there is so much progress made that traditions become less relevant and are shed. We need to keep libraries, or at least their role in society/education, relevant or they will be lost.

Martin says that the indicators of a renaissance are death (recession), a facilitating medium (internet), and an age of enlightenment (aided by the internet). We are seeing massive creativity online, from blog content larger than the volumes in the Library of Congress to Facebook to the increase in epublications over their print counterparts.

Capitalism relies on conformity, but conformity won’t give us the creativity we need. Brands/companies who are succeeding are those who provide a sense of belonging/community for their users, who empower creativity among them, and who manage the human interface.

The old ways have the brand at the center, but the new way is to have the user at the center. This sounds easy, until you have to live it. When the user is at the center, they want to build a community/tribe together, which creates sticker brands.

Jonathan Harris wants us to move forward towards creating a vibrant culture online that’s not about celebrity tweets. He is studying the things that people yearn for and creating a human interface to explore it. It is projected that 80% of data generated will come from social networks – how will we make sense of it all? Why would the RenGen (renaissance generation) still use libraries if the traditional book is our brand? We need a new story about the future where libraries are present, in whatever form they become.

A president of a cloud computing company is quoted by Martin as saying that in the future, screens will be everywhere. The return on transaction (faster) will replace the return on investment. He saw the cloud storage demand grow 500 times in 2009, and expects that rate will only continue into the future as we generate more and more data.

Story is the new killer app – the ultimate human interface. The new story of the future will be built around preconition.

Libraries can create value by leaving the desk and going into the community to provide neutral information to meet the needs of the community. We add value by putting users at the center, letting them collaborate on the rules, and curating the human interface.

IL 2010: Failcamp

speakers: Krista Godfrey, Char Booth, & Jan Dawson (moderated by Amy Buckland)

Buckland: Librarians seem to like reinventing the wheel. We only share our successes and not our failures (so that others may avoid them).

Dawson

AskON is an online chat reference service created by Knowledge Ontario. They wanted to integrate VOIP into their chat service so that they could add in vocal cues to clarify/focus the reference interview. They first used LivePerson, but the click-to-chat call button didn’t work, so they looked into Skype. When they were looking at feedback, they found that the data gathering portion was incomplete (forgotten or misused). However, they were able to follow-up on the feedback and found that staff preferred the workflow of text to vocal chat. Also, often both staff and users didn’t have proper equipment for vocal chat.

Godfrey

Fell into SecondLife and it snowballed from there. This snowballing is often the source of some fails. She was offered a chance to be on a panel talking about SL and then also some free space within it. So, her library began to explore how they could use the space in SL.

At one point they had six librarians covering shifts in SL, but after a while, participation dropped due to increases in traditional reference services and busy schedules. Fewer and fewer students were already active users, and they weren’t likely to start using it for reference services. They still have the island and hope to do something with it someday, but have stopped trying to do reference services there.

Booth

Don’t focus so much on the cause of failure. Figure out your contingency plan, then implement it if necessary.

Her library created a kiosk with a live image of a librarian’s face. The idea was to create a virtual reference space, but no one used it that way. In the end, they found it was more of a humorous PR tool.

Fake it like you’re making it. You can have self-doubt, but don’t show it. Your success will be more likely.

Audience

Are there any library initiatives to record and share failures? Not yet, but Kendra Levine offered to start one.

Library wanted to have a subject guide as a wiki, but it failed. How do you deal with a failure that you really wanted to work?

How do you process the failure as a group? If something does fail, assess it. It’s easier to walk away and ignore it, but you can’t learn from that.

Sometimes failures can turn out to be wild successes, but not in the way it had been originally designed. Tweak with purpose. And stop trying to control the user – learn what they need and how they want it, and you’ll have more success.

You need to know what resources you have from admin. You can’t go in to fix something if you don’t have the tools you need to fix any problems.

IL 2010: Personal Content Management

speaker: Gary Price

Giving generalities about mobile devices is challenging because there are so many options. If your library doesn’t already have a mobile website, go for a web app rather than something platform specific.

The cloud can be a good backup for when your devices fail, since you can access it from other places. But, choose a cloud service or backup service carefully – consider reputation and longevity. If you see something you want to preserve for future use, save it now because it could be gone later. Capture it yourself and keep it local.

Backup your computer (pay now or pay later). Price recommends Mozy and Carbonite. Also, pay attention to the restore options (internet vs. DVD).

[I kinda zoned out at this point, as I’m pretty sure he’s not going to talk about much of anything I don’t already know about or will read about on Lifehacker. Unfortunately, choosing a seat in the front row prevents me from politely leaving to attend a different session.]

IL 2010: Adding Value – CIO Insights

speakers: Mike Ridley, Donna Scheeder, & Jim Peterson (moderated by Jane Dysart)

Ridley sees his job as leveraging information and economics to move the institution forward. Scheeder combines information management and technology to support their users. Peterson is from a small, rural library system where he manages all of the IT needs. (regarding his director: “I’m the geek, she’s the wallet.”)


Ridley

“I just want to remind you that if you think my comments are a load of crap, that’s a good thing.” Mike Ridley, referencing yesterday’s keynote about the hidden treasure of bat guano in libraries.

Information professionals have ways of thinking about how we do what we do, but our user populations have different perspectives. The tribal identities can be challenging when it comes to communicating effectively.

The information age is over. We’ve done that. But we’re still hanging on to it, even though everyone is in the information business. We need to leave that metaphor behind.

This is the age of imagination. What can we do differently? How will we change the rules to make a better world?

Open organizations are the way to go. Command and control organizations won’t get us to where we need to be in this age of imagination. We need to be able to fail. We are completely ignorant of how this will play out, and that opens doors of possibilities that wouldn’t otherwise be there.


Scheeder

It’s challenging to balance the resource needs of diverse user groups. You can add value to information by deeply understanding your users, your resources, and the level of risk that is acceptable.

There’s a big movement towards teleworking in the government. This can change your culture and the way you deliver services. Also, the proliferation of mobile devices among the users creates challenges in delivering content to them.

There’s a constant push and pull among the disciplines to get what they want.

Finally, security requirements make outside collaboration difficult. They want to be open, but they also have to protect the assets they were entrusted with.


Peterson

We all have computers, servers, and patrons, so under the hood we’re all the same.

The ability that IT has to cut power consumption costs can really help you out. Technology upgrades will increase productivity and decrease energy costs. In general, if it’s generating heat, it’s wasting electricity. Open source software can save on those costs, particularly if you have tech support that can manage it.

IT is more than just the geek you call when you have a tech problem. We’re here to help you save money.

Dysart’s questions

What’s the future of libraries?

Scheeder: The screen is the library now, so the question is where do we want the library. The library should be where people have their “dwell time.”

Ridley: The internet is going to get so big that it will disappear as a separate entity. Libraries will be everywhere, no matter what you’re doing. The danger is that libraries may disappear, so we need to think about value in that sphere.

Peterson: Libraries of the future are going to be most valuable as efficient information providers.


Tips for financing resources?

Peterson: Show a solid business model for the things you need.

Scheeder: Figure out how the thing you want to do aligns with the greater good of the organization. Identify how the user experience will improve. Think like the decision-makers and identify the economic reality of the organization.

Ridley: Prefers “participant” to “user”. Make yourself visible to everyone in your organization. Bridge the gap between tribes.

Anything else?

Peterson: If we don’t talk to our legislators then we won’t have a voice and they won’t know our needs.

Scheeder: Information professionals have the opportunity to maximize content to be finable by search engines, create taxonomy, and manage the digital lifecycle. We need to do better about preserving the digital content being created every moment.

Ridley: Go out and hire someone like Peterson. We need people who can understand technology and bridge the divide between IT and users.

IL 2010: Beyond 23 Things

presenters: Louise Alcorn, Christa Burns, and Jennifer Koerber

The 23 Things program was designed to introduce library staff to explore and discover new and emerging technologies. Many libraries have taken it and adapted it to their own organizational needs, and some are starting to experiment with doing it with users as well.

Alcorn’s first attempt at doing this was a bit of a failure, in part because her incentives weren’t strong enough, and in part because there wasn’t enough buy-in to self-motivate the participants. Nudging became nagging, which didn’t help.

NWILSA’s 13 Things is done with different instructors online. The participants were given “homework” assignments to keep everything in check. The instructors had dress rehearsals to make sure the tech worked, and it was all through the same Adobe Connect room. The participants were also given a Google Site to keep all the info together, and chat pods to discuss the side conversations that sprouted.

But, there were problems. There needed to be ongoing marketing (not nagging) that promotes each presentation/session. The participants were reluctant to get a headset with a microphone rather than just participating in the text chat. Also, due to staff constraints, they weren’t able to effectively turn the feedback into new programming.

When Nebraska Learns 2.0 ended, many of the participants commented that they were sad to see it end and wanted to do more. So, the organizers looked around to find a way to maintain it as an ongoing project.

However, they noticed that participation and new joiners dropped over time. The problem was, they promoted it initially, but didn’t continue the promotion beyond that until recently. Now, every month, at least one new participant joins and a thing gets done.

Koerber wants to bring the 23 things to the users wherever they are (home, work, library, etc.). The scalability is challenging, particularly for incentives and interaction. It can get a bit unwieldy. The program itself needs to be open-ended and self-driven.

One possible model has WordPress at its core and uses social networks (virtual and physical) to connect the participants. Promotion can be done through bookmarks, flyers, Craigslist, etc. Rather than everyone winning something, participants could be entered into monthly raffles for prizes.

i am not an expert (and neither are you)

I’m sitting on an airplane, headed off on a vacation that I have been looking forward to for months followed by Internet Librarian (IL). The past few days have been a whir of travel preparations and finalizing my presentation.

The process of creating this presentation has been an interesting one for me. I’m a consummate procrastinator, working best under the pressure of a deadline, but with two co-presenters, I felt a sense of guilt over not finishing up sooner. But, it’s done now, and except for a few tweaks based on recommendations from people I respect, all I have left to do is deliver it next Wednesday.

What am I going to be talking about, you ask? Workflow tips and tricks for electronic resources in a small library. Sounds impressive, right?

I must admit, it seemed like a much better idea back when we proposed it six months ago. Not many people have been talking about this at IL/CIL in recent years, so I thought we could bring a fresher topic than ebooks and mobile reference services. And, maybe it will give the non-ER librarians at Internet Librarian an glimpse at what we do, much like the reference and instruction related sessions that I’ve attended in the past have given me a better understanding of that aspect of librarianship.

I have a tendency to learn a new process or workflow and then incorporate it so fully that I forget others may not be familiar with it. It seems so obvious to me now that breaking it out and highlighting the things that create efficiencies is a challenge. I went through several versions of notes and outlines before finally settling on a few broad strokes and listing out some of the successes and failures I’ve had in creating efficiencies within them.

In the process of creating this presentation, I also managed to squash the bug of “but I’m not an expert!” that plagues me every time I think about presenting to my colleagues at the more electronic resources focused conferences like ER&L and NASIG. It made me see that we’re all swimming through this together and learning from each other as we go. Some process that I’ve taken and modified might trigger a colleague to take it and tweak it even more. If I didn’t share that with them, they may never have even realized it was possible.

So, it’s not that I or anyone else who presents or writes on a topic are the “experts” so much as we’re just the ones willing to step out there and share what we know. Honestly, I’m hoping that the feedback or questions I get from the presentation will help generate the projects I’ll be taking on in the next few years.

simplifying and organizing, one t-shirt at a time

Monday night I finally put together the cheap bookshelf I bought for temporary storage and organization. Living in a one-bedroom apartment with limited closet space has taught me how to stack, organize, and reduce the clutter of nostalgia and maybe-somedays. This bookshelf is the latest edition to my never-ending quest to maintain clean and organized surface spaces.

In the process of rearranging that corner of my bedroom, I ran across a small box that was the start of a “remove one thing every day” project a while back that never went anywhere. I seized upon this opportunity and inspiration to sort through my ever-expanding t-shirt collection (curses upon you, shirt.woot!) and withdraw a few from the “don’t fit and probably won’t wear again” section. I added a few unused kitchen utensils and promised myself that as soon as I returned from Internet Librarian, I would take it to the local charity shop.

We’ll see.

get off my lawn…er…library

Going back to some idealized vision of the way things were won’t solve the problem.

The librarian community (at least, those in higher education) is all abuzz over a recent article in The Chronicle by social science and humanities librarian Daniel Goldstein. He makes several damning statements about the trend in libraries towards access over ownership and “good enough” over perfect.

Before reading the byline at the end of the article, I had a sense that the author was a well-meaning if ill-informed professor, standing up for what he thinks is what libraries should be. Needless to say, I was surprised to learn that he’s a librarian who aught to know better.

Yes, librarians should be making careful decisions about collections that guide users to the best resources, but at the same time we are facing increasing demands for more and expensive content than what we already provide. And yes, we should be instructing users on how to carefully construct searches in specialized bibliographic databases, but we’re also facing increased class sizes with decreased staff.

There is no easy answer, and going back to some idealized vision of the way things were won’t solve the problem, either. If you do go read this article, I highly recommend reading the comments as well. At least the first few do an excellent job of pointing out the flaws in Goldstein’s either-or argument.