CIL 2011: Thinking Strategically & Critically

Speaker: Rebecca Jones

She’s a librarian who started in corporate libraries and went on to human resources and organizational development. Working in different types of places has given her a perspective on different kinds of thinking.

We have gotten ideas at this conference to take back, but there a people at home who haven’t heard them yet, so you need to plan how you will approach this to not fail.

Strategic planning is not about the document — it’s about engaging people in the planning process so that everyone can see where they are making a difference. What are the implications for everyone? Consultants should not be doing the environmental scan — everyone in the library should be doing that.

Any time we have to do something differently, even if we know it is for good, it is uncomfortable to adjust to it. Viewing situations and solutions strategically will result in different types of decisions. Talking it through with others will suss out new solutions. It is too risky to not think differently in this economy.

Strategic thinking is as much about emotions as it is about finding out what the right questions are. What is the real problem that we are talking about? It is not about being critical. It is about opening up all of the possibilities.

It is our responsibility to have critical optimism. No librarian or library needs to play devil’s advocate. Have some fun planning! If we can’t see a better world, how will our stakeholders and users?

Be flexible and adaptable. Question the status quo — we tend to perpetuate what we already know. Focus on the future and don’t let the past stop you from moving forward. If you are already in a hole, stop digging. Gather the right facts in order to understand what is really happening.

Standing in the future is a planning strategy that has planners talk about the dream they have for the future as if it is in the present. By having all staff involved, you can get a clearer picture of how to get there. Buy-with is more effective than buy-in.

Some people will never like the change. Don’t listen to the 20% who are still whining — pay attention to the 80% who have moved on.

Consider following up with Rotman’s Business Journal for more of this kind of stuff. Also, Seth Goddin, Futures magazine, the Futures conference, Roger Martin’s work on design thinking, and what your community is reading. We have to be listeners. Be self-aware — you need to know what your assumptions are.

Why aren’t we at non-library conferences? We need to be aware of what is happening out there.

CIL 2011: New Alignments, Structures, & Services

Speakers: Janel White & Hannah Somers (NPR)

They started by playing some clips from NPR broadcasts in which librarians had a role in fact-checking or researching the content. The library is in the digital division, along with the folks who manage the website and API. It is innovating, but also aware that they need a lot of development.

They have begun showing up at divisional product status meetings in order to increase the visibility of their archival project. They have become embedded in other project as experts as a result of this visibility. This is an intentional shift from being viewed as only a service used when their clients needed them.

They used a pilot to both determine which product to use and to get buy-in from their stakeholders. They used Agile to develop the new website and have since adopted it across the board. The team meets daily to talk about what they did the day before and what they plan to do that day. This allows for flexibility and making sure that deadlines will be met. Agile is like baking a new recipe for the first time. You might burn a few, but you know what goes into it and can work to improve it for the next time.

The result is that they were able to redirect and focus their roles away from the ones that were slowly dying. The reference librarians are dispersed across the newsroom to be available at the source, and others are embedded into projects.

Speakers: Jodi Stiles & Greta Marlatt (Homeland Security Digital Library)

After 9-11, the Naval Postgraduate School was asked to come up with a homeland security program, and since then there have been a variety of distance/online masters and certificate options developed.

Five years ago, they had proprietary educational and research support systems that did not talk to each other and were often complicated or duplicative. They got to the point where their servers were crashing every 30 minutes, with each vendor pointing the finger at the others.

To get around the hassle of contracting services, they have adopted open source solutions. Drupal, Moodle, Solr, MediaWiki, and osTicket are their main solutions, and the folks that work with them actually understand what is going on. However, they found that they couldn’t build a whole out of open source parts. After trying to build connectors, they eventually wrote their own tools.

As a result, their stakeholders and the librarians get what they want. They understand how it works and can respond quickly to enhancement requests. However, they have found that they need to be careful about reinventing the wheel.

CIL 2011: EBook Publishing – Practices & Challenges

Speaker: Ken Breen (EBSCO)

In 1997, ebooks were on CD-ROM and came with large paper books to explain how to use them, along with the same concerns about platforms we have today.

Current sales models involve purchase by individual libraries or consortia, patron-driven acquisition models, and subscriptions. Most of this presentation is a sales pitch for EBSCO and nothing you don’t already know.

Speaker: Leslie Lees (ebrary)

Ebrary was founded a year after NetLibrary and was acquired by ProQuest last year. They have similar models, with one slight difference: short term loans, which will be available later this spring.

With no longer a need to acquire books because they may be hard to get later, do we need to be building collections, or can we move to an on-demand model?

He thinks that platforms will move towards focusing more on access needs than on reselling content.

Speaker: Bob Nardini (Coutts)

They are working with a variety of incoming files and outputting them in any format needed by the distributors they work with, both ebook and print on demand.

A recent study found that academic libraries have significant number of overlap with their ebook and print collections.

They are working on approval plans for print and ebooks. The timing of the releases of each format can complicate things, and he thinks their model mediates that better. They are also working on interlibrary loan of ebooks and local POD.

Because they work primarily with academic libraries, they are interested in models for archiving ebooks. They are also looking into download models.

Speaker: Mike (OverDrive)

He sees the company as an advocate for libraries. Promises that there will be more DRM-free books and options for self-published authors. He recommends their resource for sharing best practices among librarians.

Questions:

What is going on with DRM and ebooks? What mechanism does your products use?

Adobe Digital Editions is the main mechanism for OverDrive. Policies are set by the publishers, so all they can do is advocate for libraries. Ebrary and NetLibrary have proprietary software to manage DRM. Publishers are willing to give DRM-free access, but not consistently, and not for their “best” content.

It is hard to get content onto devices. Can you agree on a single standard content format?

No response, except to ask if they can set prices, too.

Adobe became the de facto solutions, but it doesn’t work with all devices. Should we be looking for a better solution?

That’s why some of them are working on their own platforms and formats. ePub has helped the growth of ebook publishing, and may be the direction.

Public libraries need full support for these platforms – can you do that?

They try the best they can. OverDrive offers secondary support. They are working on front-line tech support and hope to offer it soon.

Do publishers work with all platforms or are there exclusive arrangements?

It varies.

Do you offer more than 10 pages at a time for downloads of purchased titles?

Ebrary tries to do it at the chapter level, and the same is probably true of the rest. EBSCO is asking for the right to print up to 60 pages at a time.

When will we be able to loan ebooks?

Coutts is working on ILL.

CIL 2011: Three Keys to Engaging Digital Natives

Speaker: Michelle Manafry

It doesn’t matter how cool you are, at some point you will find yourself sounding like your parents. “In my day, we had to look things up in the catalog.” That’s okay — there differences in the generations.

Tara Hunt says, “Andy Warhol’s saying, ‘everyone will be famous for 15 minutes’ has changed to ‘everyone will be famous to 15 people.'” This did not start with the internet. It was already heading that way from the therapist’s couch to Jerry Springer. It’s no surprise that reality TV is so popular.

It might seem dangerous to be sharing so much information, but it also provides the opportunity to crowdsource for good.

One way libraries can blur the lines and bring the social aspect to their communities is by using social sign-on instead of anonymous browsing or a lengthy registration process. This allows them to integrate the users’ social community into the website and take it back to their social networks. They can become your advocates out in the world.

This generation is interested in knowledge sharing, not knowledge hoarding. For example, the trend of haul videos on YouTube shows a very engaged user base. This is innovation on their own terms. Quirky is an organization/site for social product development. Users submit ideas and the community decides on which one will be created and sold. Not only do the inventors earn money, but also the people who were involved in deciding on the product, because nothing gets made if no one will buy it and the selection process is a huge part of the product development.

Knowledge alone is not power. Knowledge shared is power. We ignore this at our peril.

This generation has more faith in the things it is involved in creating. This generation is interested in interactions, not transactions.

Social capitalism is an emerging economy based on ratings and interactions. We need to be aware of and involved in this new economy. Many libraries are adopting ways to engage with users, from resource guides to chat services.

CIL 2011: In Pursuit of Library Elegance

Speaker: Erica Reynolds

Elegant solutions/designs are often invisible to the user. Observe what is happening, and look at what could be removed (distractions/barriers), rather than what needs to be added.

Simple rules create effective order. The more complexity in an equation, the more doubtful that it is true.

Another aspect of elegance is seduction. Limiting information creates intrigue. Libraries could play more on curiosity to draw users to information. Play hard to get, in a way. Don’t be so eager to dump information in response to user questions.

Restraint and removal can increase impact and value. Encourage people to use their brains. Why do we act like they are so stupid that they need signs everywhere in the library?

Limited resources spark creativity and innovation. The creative tension at the center of elegance: achieving the maximum effect with the minimum of effort.

The path to elegance begins with: resisting the urge to act; observe; ensure a diversity of opinions and expertise are heard; carve out time to think and not think; get away from your devices; get some sleep; and get outside.

Speaker: John Blyberg

The primary intent of our website may not be about getting you from point A to point B. It could be about building community and connection.

They found that when they removed the fortress that was the old reference desk, it was much more popular and approachable. Like Apple not including a manual with the iPhone, your library should be intuitive enough to use with minimal signage or instruction. Digital signage can evolve and be interactive, which will spark curiosity and inquiry.

becoming a better me

I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. As a kid, I was heavier than most of my peers, and gym class was my least favorite time of day. I played some softball in my early teens, but by the time I got to high school, I had dropped that and was headed into 10 years or so of sedentary behavior and avoidance of all things athletic.

Over that time period, I allowed myself to gain 100 pounds, mostly through a love of carbs, fats, and sugars. I wasn’t actively choosing to be fat so much as I was actively choosing to indulge myself with food and my inherent laziness.

A few years ago, I decided that enough was enough. I joined a recreational softball team and started going to the gym more regularly. However, I was never able to stick with a strict diet, so all I’ve been able to do is maintain my weight. It wasn’t going up anymore, but it also wasn’t going down.

In December, a friend asked me to be her partner in a Biggest Loser-style competition at work. At first my inherent laziness and fear of the unknown made me hesitate, but I went to the information session anyway, and that sold me on it.

The participants (about 20 of us) are working with two trainers who run at least one group workout session five days a week. The sessions are a mix of strength training and cardio, and they vary the activities with every session. In addition, I’m taking a cycle (spinning) and tone (weights and crunches) class two days a week and walking several miles on the weekend.

I’m also meeting with a dietitian as a part of the program, and she has made helpful suggestions based on the food diary I turn in every week. I have been making small changes to my diet over the past year, and I found that works best for me. I’m also learning to make conscious decisions about food. Sure, I could have that doughnut from the box in the staff lounge, but I’d rather spend those calories on a tasty Belgian quadruple beer later that evening.

Right now I’m six weeks into the program, and so far the scales haven’t moved much, but I am slowly shedding the pounds. Meanwhile, I’m seeing muscle definition that I haven’t seen in a long time, and my endurance is increasing. I don’t look forward to the hard work, but seeing how much I’ve gotten stronger in such a short period of time keeps me coming back.

Aside from having two enthusiastic trainers, the other thing that has kept me going is the team spirit that has settled on those of us who are regulars at the group workouts. Theoretically, we’re competing, but I mostly forget that it’s a competition, in part because everyone encourages each other to push beyond what we think we can do. I need to have some internal motivation to keep pressing on, but having an external accountability means I still show up, even on days when I would rather be anywhere else but the gym.

It’s never too late to change your life. Whether it’s something as simple as drinking a glass of water instead of soda or something more challenging like committing to an intensive workout routine. And there’s no better time to start than today, because I’m sure you can find an excuse to not start tomorrow, either.

Whatever you do, remember to be kind to yourself. Making one bad choice doesn’t mean you have failed or should quit. Just do your best to make the next choice a good one, and take it one moment at a time.

Article first published as Becoming a Better Me on Blogcritics.

dreaming about the future of data in libraries

I spent most of the past two months downloading, massaging, and uploading to our ERMS a wide variety of COUNTER and non-COUNTER statistics. At times it is mind-numbing work, but taken in small doses, it’s interesting stuff.

The reference librarians make most of the purchasing decisions and deliver instruction to students and faculty on the library’s resources, but in the end, it’s the research needs of the students and faculty that dictate what they use. Then, every year, I get to look at what little information we have about their research choices.

Sometimes I’ll look at a journal title and wonder who in the world would want to read anything from that, but as it turns out, quite a number of someones (or maybe just one highly literate researcher) have read it in the past year.

Depending on the journal focus, it may be easy to identify where we need to beef up our resources based on high use, but for the more general things, I wish we had more detail about the use. Maybe not article-level, but perhaps a tag cloud — or something in that vein — pulled together from keywords or index headings. There’s so much more data floating around out there that could assist in collection development that we don’t have access to.

And then I think about the time it takes me to gather the data we have, not to mention the time it takes to analyze it, and I’m secretly relieved that’s all there is.

But, maybe someday when our ERMS have CRM-like data analysis tools and I’m not doing it all manually using Excel spreadsheets… Maybe then I’ll be ready to delve deeper into what exactly our students and faculty are using to meet their research needs.

HarperCollins & the future of ebooks in libraries

I’ve been thinking about the whole debacle over the past few days, and imagining what living models would work best for libraries, publishers, and authors. I am thinking specifically of popular works, as they are a different breed and have different uses than academic works.

The problem is that we keep trying to treat ebooks like they are the same kind of scarce as paper books. They aren’t the same thing at all. The scarcity is manufactured, and unnecessarily so.

I think the best solution for popular ebooks and libraries is a subscription or lease model. Give libraries unlimited simultaneous access to ebooks. Let the libraries regulate who can access them. Charge a flat rate or per use rate or whatever will make a profit on the whole without breaking library budgets.

I realize that authors are paid based on how many volumes sold, and I will leave it up to the lawyers to determine how many subscription uses are equivalent to a sale.

The benefit to libraries is that as the popularity of titles wane, they aren’t stuck with a bunch of unwanted ebooks. The benefit for publishers is that their entire catalog, front and back, is readily available to readers, lengthening the long tail of sales.

And that’s the aspect of library books that isn’t given as much weight as it should. Granted, I am a book person, so perhaps my experience is skewed. However, there a several series and authors that I collect in hardcover now that I was introduced to through my library. I am a cheap reader, so buying in hardcover is something I reserve only for things I really enjoy and plan to hold onto for a long time. I’m not going to buy a hardcover of something unknown, particularly not at list price. I think too often publishers don’t take advantage of the marketing opportunities that libraries provide.

Edited: Wrong publisher. D’oh.