IL 2012: Engaging & Inspiring Staff

“Leadership” by Andrew Becraft
Speaker: Michelle Boule

Crowdsourcing without a purpose is like unleashing a horde of zombies.

There are three things you need to do to engage staff with crowdsourcing: give them a goal, let them choose their own weapons (technology and methods used to accomplish the goal; group organizational structure), and celebrate both their successes and failures.

The easiest way to get staff engaged is to involve them in the process, and listen/respond to the input they provide.

Keep in mind that this only works if your organization is not so wedded to hierarchy that they can’t set that aside to get the work done. A way to handle that kind of work environment is to have a moderator to keep those staff involved, or remove from the group the managers that cause the problem.

Speaker: Lisa Hardy

About four years ago, they put together a team of eight to plan for leadership development, board engagement & strategic planning, and staff engagement. One of the keys to the group’s success was that it had closure — it was not an ongoing committee, but rather a task force with a specific goal and timeframe.

One of the outcomes was a “Future Action Think Tank,” which was not mandatory for all staff, unlike other events of that nature. The staff had to submit an application/essay explaining why they wanted to attend, and almost all attended. If they didn’t submit an expression of interest, they were turned away.

They started the day with a futurist faire, where staff talked about the things they were doing in a poster session style setting. The biggest part of the day was the field trip. They had several different location options around the city, and each of the places visited talked about their particular challenges and what they were doing to meet them (university digital library, zoo, science center, immigrant serving agencies, youth serving agencies, volunteer agencies, etc.).

There were other events that happened after it, and the second one actually came directly from administration. They had staff come and pitch their ideas to the administrators, and one was given funding to go ahead. Kind of like an entrepreneur TV show in Canada.

20% of staff are always open to change, and are willing to follow/lead anywhere; 20% of staff will stand in the way of change; and 60% will go either way. Where will you focus your energies?

Audience member suggested using Belbin for assessing potential roles when forming a group, and this may help avoid some of the issues of organizational hierarchy impeding staff involvement.

IL 2012: We’re in the eBook Business: Douglas County Libraries’ Adventures with eContent and ePublishing

Reading my Kindle in the hammock
“Reading my Kindle in the hammock” by Joanna Penn

Speaker: Hutch Tibbetts

Background: Ebooks and ebook readers (and tablets) are increasing in use in the US. E-only publishers are giving authors a much larger percent of sales than the traditional print publishers, and the percentage is (of course) even higher for self-published authors. How can libraries manage these types of ebooks? DCL is seeing a decline in circulation in all categories except for digital downloads.

Overdrive is a solutions, but it has problems. We lose ownership of the books. We lose discounts on list prices. We lose the integration of systems for discovering and accessing books. We lose used books and ILL rights.

We have no control over what we don’t own. While libraries directly promote the publisher’s bottom line, we are still treated by publishers as a loss in sales, with ebooks priced accordingly.

The DCL model uses their own Adobe Content Server that assigns DRM so that only one user can check out an ebook at a time. They have an HTML5-based online ebook reader that works across most devices, as well as an eReader app for iOS and Android. They use VuFind as a discovery layer for their collection, including their home-grown ebook platform.

They’ve added links to local and online booksellers for patrons who don’t want to wait on a book’s availability. They’re also experimenting with demand-driven acquisition. They also use the Strands Recommender, with those recommendations appearing in various places in the user’s experience (checkout, my account, etc.).

Much like the display of new or featured books, they wanted to have something like that for their ebooks. They created similar power wall kiosks near the physical items using touch screen interfaces.

They’ve learned that talking directly to publishers produces better results, and they can incorporate publisher concerns in their system design. Independent publishers are very interested in participating. They’ve streamlined their eContent acquisition and management processes. They’re still missing an acquisitions system, a Kindle solution, and the big 6 publishers, but they have hope that these problems will solve themselves by the success of their ebook program.

IL 2012: CULC and eBound

Holbeach e-book marker [old photo]
“Holbeach e-book marker [old photo]” by Paul Stainthorp
Speaker: Ken Roberts

Background: Canadian Urban Libraries Council (CULC) member libraries serve 70% of the Canadian population, and 98% of the circulation of materials. eBound is the Canadian eContent distribution arm for more than 100 Canadian publishers.

Publishers really needed a purchase model, not a licensing model, because their contracts with authors talked about sales. Libraries, on the other hand, preferred a license model. There was also some concern from the publishers that rights would be implemented in the way they were intended. And, they needed a third party partner to find a vendor who could handle the responsibility of housing and mediating the circulation of the ebooks, which is where eBound came in.

The purchase model seems a bit complex, and focuses primarily on the publisher’s back catalog at a very low rate per title ($10) sold in large blocks to the entire system. This addresses the publisher’s concern that the midlist authors aren’t getting exposure in libraries. And, if the circulation is low, the price drops after a period of time. The titles have a “worn out” rate of approximately 40 circulations. Some titles can be purchased at a higher rate for preservation purposes and would be DRM-free.

They expect to roll out the vendor side systems next spring, and once that is settled, then it would be rolled out to CULC members.

IL 2012: Transforming Knowledge in the Age of the Net: Library as Platform

Flickr Tag Mapping
“Flickr Tag Mapping” by Toby

Speaker: David Weinberger

When you are thinking about ebooks as digital, you are reproducing the limitations of print books in that they are disconnected media. It’s not just the commercial enterprises that approach it that way, libraries do it too in the way we digitize our materials.

The revolution isn’t in digitizing, it’s in the networking of content.

Libraries as platform provide some unifying framework for thinking about ___.
Libraries as platform enable us to take social networks seriously.
Libraries as platform increases the perceived and real values of the library.

A platform is not a portal. They allow networks to arise, beyond the simple portal-based access to resources.

Internet-style knowledge networks are really, really big. There is no known limit, and they are highly interconnected (linked).

The traditional-style knowledge networks has been paper, books, and libraries. We have accepted the inherent limitations of this model, and the filters (selection) that come with it. For example, footnotes are stopping points and a hassle to follow-up on. Peer review doesn’t scale.

Knowledge now lives in the network, in the connections.

If you go on the ‘net for more than a few minutes, you will discover that we don’t agree about anything. It should be concerning to us that the knowledge we have now is based on disagreement. On the positive side, we are discovering ways to disagree fruitfully, such as the way that linked data allows scientists to talk about the platypus without dissolving into arguments about whether it is a fish or a mammal.

Software developers now live in the fastest, most effective and efficient ecosystem for learning ever.

The power of iteration is that we can’t comprehend scale, so with small changes we get to scale without having to think the whole process through first. This system only works with humility and generosity, and holding back is sometimes considered to be an act of aggression. Public learning is also an important component of this.

We think of the Internet as this incredibly diverse space, but in reality, we humans tend to group together with like individuals. This can result in an echo chamber environment, which can make us more confirmed and stronger in our beliefs. There are flaws in the echo chamber argument, but it is something we need to be aware of. For libraries, this means we should also steer people to the resources that argue with what we consider to be the most authoritative.

Reddit, for example, is an echo chamber. It is atheistic (assumes all rational people are atheistic). It loves Neil Degrasse Tyson. It loves cute animal pictures. It loves altruism. It has it’s own language and memes. These are tests of whether you are part of the community. However, there is a function of Reddit that allows for a respectful engagement of different perspectives (IAMA), and this can only happen because the community has figured out how to open some windows within the echo chamber.

The range of services libraries provide is HUGE. These are things that we can develop as networked platforms.

Successful social networks are successful because they allow people to connect through social objects. The best example of this is a puppy on a leash — walk around with one of those and you will form social networks.

Open innovation allows us to create tools and services for our users.

The data & metadata distinction doesn’t work very well anymore. For example, if you know the name of the author and can’t remember the book title, then the author name becomes the metadata used to find the book. Metadata is the thing that you know, data is the thing that you are looking for.

Define your back-end systems to support the needs of the users. If you don’t know what that will be, open it up. Share your work. And this means we need to rethink privacy (balance risk & benefit).

Some suggested edits for Ranganathan:
Books are for use.
Every reader his [or her] book.
Every book its reader.
Every book its network.
Improve Save the time of the reader.
The library is a growing organism.