ER&L: Library Renewal

Speaker: Michael Porter

Libraries are content combined with community. Electronic content access is making it more challenging for libraries to accomplish their missions.

It’s easy to complain but hard to do. Sadly, we tend to complain more than doing. If we get a reputation for being negative, that will be detrimental. That doesn’t mean we should be Sally Sunshine, but we need to approach things with a more positive attitude to make change happen.

Libraries have an identity problem. We are tied to content (ie books). 95% of people in poverty have cable television. They can’t afford it, but they want it, so they get it. Likewise, mobile access to content is moving to ubiquitous.

Our identity needs to be moved back to content. We need to circ electronic content better than Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc.

Electronic content distribution is a complicated issue. Vendors in our market don’t have the same kind of revenue as companies like Apple. We aren’t getting the best people or solutions — we’re getting the good enough, if we’re lucky.

Could libraries became the distribution hub for media and other electronic content?

ER&L: Amy Sample Ward – The Oldest New Frontier for Innovation

We need to work with our communities more than working for them. Regardless of who the library serves, there is no reason why it shouldn’t be the heart of the community.

When working with a community, you can’t just listen for the sake of learning. You have to be prepared to act on what you hear. In order to do that, you have to have the capacity for change. And, you can’t do all the work — you must collaborate with the community. Communication and transparency will further the collaboration and integration of the community with the work.

Identify your community. It sounds simple, but it’s more than just demographics. What do they use outside of the library? What services are they needing? The sweet spot is where the community and the library overlap in their wants. Innovation and iteration come from where those wants don’t overlap.

Identify technologies to support the work. Use the tools that your community will use, not just the shiniest.

Identify the roles. Leave the fun planning to the community leads, and be prepared to take on the cleanup work.

This sounds simple, but there are barriers that prevent success. Fear of failure prevents many things. Assuming that the differences between institutions mean we can’t learn from each other. Assuming that every member of the community already uses the library in some capacity.

Why collaborate at all? For example, freelance workers gain ideas and experience from working in shared spaces, but libraries haven’t provided those kinds of spaces as well as others. Libraries could be a social network hub. Libraries could be the repositories of community generated media.

Our work is not our goal. Our work is how we reach our goal.

Let the community drive. Stay in the sweet spot. Share the spotlight. Operate in loops. Think big.

recommended reading: Tinfoil + Raccoon is back!

Rochelle Hartman, one of my favorite people in libraryland, has written a new blog post on Tinfoil + Raccoon, the blog she declared dead some time ago. If you’re thinking about buying an ereader and are drawn to the idea of being able to check out ebooks from your local public library, you should read this. If you’re a librarian who is getting lots of questions from patrons about checking out ebooks, you also should read this for some excellent tips and talking points.

Personally, although I have a Sony Reader and theoretically could be borrowing books from the library, the only library system in my area that has the appropriate Overdrive license is Chesterfield County, and I haven’t made it down there yet to get a library card. Having occasionally browsed their collection online, I’m not particularly motivated to do it anytime soon, either.

recommended reading: The Loris in the Library

No, it’s not a new children’s book. Rather, it’s a wonderful essay by Sarah Glassmeyer that was recently published in VoxPopuLII. Here are a few tasty quotes that I quite enjoyed:

…if an overly cautious, slow moving, non-evolving primate that responds to threats by a poison tongue or hiding and pretending the threat isn’t there didn’t remind you of anything, well then I guess you haven’t spent much time around librarians.

and

…librarians don’t cling to print materials out of some romantic notion of the superiority of books, nor do they make repeated demands for stable, authenticated archives of electronic materials just to make you crazy. When one is tasked with the preservation of information – on behalf not just of those looking for it ten years from now, but also of those looking hundreds if not thousands of years from now – and no one else is really in the information distribution or storage business, it pays to take one’s time and be cautious when determining what container to put that information in, especially when what you’ve been doing for the past 1,000 or so years has been working for you.

and

…with librarians this risk aversion has grown like a cancer and now manifests itself as a fear of failure. This fear has become so ingrained in the culture that innovation and progress are inhibited.

and

As it stands now, librarian participation in a multidisciplinary project is often regarded as more of a hindrance than a help. If librarians don’t change, they will eventually stop being invited to the conversation.

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: 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.

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.

Internet Librarian 2010 is just around the corner

Monterey is awesome! #il2009
from Internet Librarian 2009

I’m heading off to Internet Librarian later this week, and let me tell you, I’m pretty excited about it! There will be lots of sharing of ideas, both in sessions and later over beers. I’ll also be giving a presentation on Wednesday morning on electronic resources workflow tips & tricks, along with my colleagues Emily McElroy and Bonnie Parks. I’m not sure if I want a large audience (yikes!) or a small audience (*sad panda*), as both come with their unique panic moments.

Here are the sessions I’m planning to attend, which will likely change while I’m there, and some are double-booked, so I’ll have to make an on-the-spot decision about which to attend:

Sunday

  • Gaming & Gadgets Petting Zoo

Monday

  • Adding Value to Your Community
  • Dashboards, Data, and Decisions
  • Managing Your Library’s Online Presence
  • Next Gen Discovery Systems OR Beyond 23 Things: For Staff & for Patrons

Tuesday

  • Adding Value: CIO Insights
  • Personal Content Management
  • Failcamp OR Applying User Experience (UX) Design
  • Augmented Reality & Libraries OR Patron-Driven Ebook Acquisition
  • Videocasting, Innovating, & Creating New Ideas
  • Rip Van Winkle’s Libraries in 2510

Wednesday

  • Planning & Designing for Attention
  • Tips, Tricks, & Workflows for Managing Digital Resources <– that’s mine
  • Best Free Web Stuff for Broke Libraries
  • Digital Librarianship: Open Access & Web 2.0
  • Adding Value Through Visualization

RALC Lightening Round Micro-Conference: Afternoon Sessions

Laura Westmoreland and Donna Coghill: “Walk-In Research & Writing Clinics: A Progress Report”
More in-depth than the library service desk, but less than what they’d get at the writing center, with the option to work with a librarian or writing consultant. They do it in two hour shifts that are regularly irregular, and each shift includes one librarian and one writing consultant. Last fall, they saw over two users an hour, but they weren’t coordinating with the writing center. In the spring, they coordinated with the writing center and reduced hours, which resulted in a decrease to under two users an hour. It might be seasonal, or something else about the service that wasn’t clicking as well with the students.

Erin White: “Mobilizing your library website”
Used analytics to determine the popular pages hit by mobile users. They paid close attention to what other libraries were doing with their mobile sites to avoid reinventing the wheel (i.e. NCSU Libraries). They also included a mini feedback form at the bottom of every page of the mobile site, and the message sent includes details about the device used. The most popular pages tend to be information pages like hours, events, and computer availability.

Olivia Reinauer: “Creating SLACers: The Formation of a Student Library Advisory Committee”
In 2006, a think team put together a recommendation to create a standing library advisory committee populated by students in order to have a better idea of the needs of current students. They copied liberally from VCU’s student advisory committee to create the charge and structure. One thing that VCU that was different was actually paying the students an honorarium, so they did that, either as cash or in the form of a gift card. They meet once a month to discuss ideas gathered from colleague’s work and go through the suggestions from the suggestion box, using the students as a sounding board. They also have guest speakers come and talk about things happening in the library, which the students like because it makes them feel engaged. Some issues involve getting them to do things outside of the meetings and providing more enticing compensation.

Abiodun Solanke: “Did you find my…?: Lost and Found Issues at UR Library”
Students leave physical and electronic materials all over the library, from books and clothing to unsaved documents on public computers. When we find the items, they are happy, and of course disappointed if not found. The student activities also keep lost and found items. If the item is not financial or an ID, they take photos and display them on the lost and found cart, along with “safer” physical items like clothing and books. If the items are never claimed, we repurpose them for use locally or send them to other organizations. Before that happens, several attempts are made to locate the owners and contact them.

Carrie Ludovico: “LibGuides for Foodies”
Using LibGuides to engage with the community. The campus has a strong green emphasis, from bikes to hybrid parking to a community garden. The newest benefit is a CSA option for employees from June – September for full and half shares that are delivered on campus, and it has been more popular than the organizers expected. So, they created a LibGuide to highlight interesting and supportive resources. The most used tab is the scholarly and government resources, more than books, cookbooks, and recipes.

Betty Dickie: “Read This!”
Anything by Christopher Moore, for certain. David Maine tends to take Bible stories and rewrite them in interesting ways. A Canticle for Leibowitz – the library plays an important role. Alessandro Boffa’s You’re an Animal, Viskovitz! is small but mighty. Louise Penny has gotten good reviews for good reason – recommended for murder mystery fans who like good stories and character development.

Carol Wittig: “Boatwright Knitters”
They meet one day a week at lunch. It encourages home/work balance, improves morale, addresses the whole person beyond the job, increases cross-campus outreach, and builds bridges to reach diverse groups. You can involve the whole staff by “sponsoring a knitter” to pay for the yarn. They have a Ravelry group, a blog, and a set of Flickr photos of projects. Right now, they are a student organization, but don’t have enough student participation, so they’re working on outreach in that area. They’ve done charity projects like Knit One To Save One and caps for chemo.

Travis Smith: “The End”
There are many negative connotations about “the end,” so he wrote a poem. You’ll have to ask him for a copy.

NASIG 2010: Serials Management in the Next-Generation Library Environment

Panelists: Jonathan Blackburn, OCLC; Bob Bloom (?), Innovative Interfaces, Inc.; Robert McDonald, Kuali OLE Project/Indiana University

Moderator: Clint Chamberlain, University of Texas, Arlington

What do we really mean when we are talking about a “next-generation ILS”?

It is a system that will need to be flexible enough to accommodate increasingly changing and complex workflows. Things are changing so fast that systems can’t wait several years to release updates.

It also means different things to different stakeholders. The underlying thing is being flexible enough to manage both print and electronic, as well as better reporting tools.

How are “next-generation ILS” interrelated to cloud computing?

Most of them have components in the cloud, and traditional ILS systems are partially there, too. Networking brings benefits (shared workloads).

What challenges are facing libraries today that could be helped by the emerging products you are working on?

Serials is one of the more mature items in the ILS. Automation as a result of standardization of data from all information sources is going to keep improving.

One of the key challenges is to deal with things holistically. We get bogged down in the details sometimes. We need to be looking at things on the collection/consortia level.

We are all trying to do more with less funding. Improving flexibility and automation will offer better services for the users and allow libraries to shift their staff assets to more important (less repetitive) work.

We need better tools to demonstrate the value of the library to our stakeholders. We need ways of assessing resource beyond comparing costs.

Any examples of how next-gen ILS will improve workflow?

Libraries are increasing spending on electronic resources, and many are nearly eliminating their print serials spending. Next gen systems need reporting tools that not only provide data about electronic use/cost, but also print formats, all in one place.

A lot of workflow comes from a print-centric perspective. Many libraries still haven’t figured out how to adjust that to include electronic without saddling all of that on one person (or a handful). [One of the issues is that the staff may not be ready/willing/able to handle the complexities of electronic.]

Every purchase should be looked at independently of format and more on the cost/process for acquiring and making it available to the stakeholders.

[Not taking as many notes from this point on. Listening for something that isn’t fluffy pie in the sky. Want some sold direction that isn’t pretty words to make librarians happy.]