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: 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.