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.

ER&L: Evolving Organizational Structures — are we keeping up?

Speaker: Glenn Bunton

He’s not a eresource person, and he doesn’t have the answers, but he hopes this will provoke some thinking. Users drive the libraries, not the other way around.

Organizations can’t change on a dime. You have to plan long term.

We are changing from the keeper of the materials to a service organization. Our organizational structure needs to change to match that. We still have the same old technical services and public services. [I disagree. The titles may be the same, but what we do is vastly different in many ways. He did not appear to have looked very closely at functions beyond titles.]

The paradigm is shifting. First with the advent of the iPhone, and now with the increase in ebook readers. Paper books are going away, like it or not.

He definitely doesn’t know anything about what he’s talking about. He’s observing the changes, but doesn’t understand or respect them.

ER&L: Individual eJournal Subscriptions — some assembly required

Speakers: Kate Silton, Ann Rasmussen, & Quinghua Xu

Ideally, one begins a subscription to an ejournal, the publisher turns on access, and then you set up the linking. However, that doesn’t always go so smoothly for single titles or small publishers.

Just because you have a tool doesn’t mean you should use it. For activating single titles, she recommends a combination of your subscription agent reports and Excel for filling in the gaps.

When the next step in the workflow requires a response from someone else, setting up reminder triggers, either for yourself or for the other, ensures that it won’t get forgotten.

ERMes is a free alternative to commercial ERMS. It has some limitations, but it can be used to generate collection development reports.

Assume nothing. Document everything. Check in periodically.

ER&L: Innovative eResource Workflow

Speaker: Kelly Smith and Laura Edwards

Their redesign of workflow was prompted by a campus-wide move to Drupal. They are now using it to drive the public display of eresources. They are grouping the resources by status as well as by the platform. On the back end, they add information about contacts, admin logins, etc. They can trigger real-time alerts and notes for the front-end. They track fund codes and cost information. In addition, there are triggers that prompt the next steps in workflow as statuses are changed, from trials to renewals.

Speaker: Xan Arch

They needed a way to standardize the eresource lifecycle, and a place to keep all the relevant information about new resources as they move through the departments. They also wanted to have more transparency about where the resource is in the process.

They decided to use a bug/issue tracker called Jira because that’s what another department had already purchased. They changed the default steps to map to the workflow and notify the appropriate people. The eresource order form is the start, and they ask for as much as they can from the selector. They then put up a display in a wiki using Confluence to display the status of each resource, including additional info about it.

Speaker: Ben Heet

The University of Notre Dame has been developing their own ERMS called CORAL. The lifecycle of an eresource is complex, so they took the approach of creating small workflows to give the staff direction for what to do next, depending on the complexity of the resource (ie free versus paid).

You can create reminder tasks assigned to specific individuals or groups depending on the needs of the workflow. They don’t go into every little thing to be done, but mainly just trigger reminders of the next group of activities. There is an admin view that shows the pending activities for each staff member, and when they are done, they can mark it complete to trigger the next step.

Not every resource is going to need every step. One size does not fit all.

Speaker: Lori Duggan

Kuali OLE is a partnership among academic libraries creating the next generation of library management software and systems. It has a very complex financial platform for manual entry of information about purchase. It looks less like a traditional ERMS and more like a PeopleSoft/Banner/ILS acquisition module, mostly because that is what it is and they are still developing the ERM components.

managing electronic resources

Longing for the perfect ERMS….

In 2003, I attended the ACRL conference in Charlotte. One of the sessions I sat in on was about home-grown electronic resource management tools. After having dealt with digital and manilla folders of stuff, constantly searching for info, and not having any sort of long-term archiving plan for getting at the information, the idea of having a system that did that for me seemed miraculous.

Fast-forward five years. I’ve now had the pleasure of working with two moderately functional commercial ERMS, and neither are the miracle solution I had hoped for.

Now that I’ve had the opportunity to get under the hood of “traditional” ERMS, I have an idea as to why they are flawed — they’re approaching electronic resource management as a metadata storage problem, rather than a workflow problem. Creating a system that includes all the fields recommended by the DLF ERM Initiative is a good start, but it’s only a start. We need something that goes beyond that to creating a workflow that can include input and required actions from various different people similar to the workflow outlined in the DLF document.

My ideal ERMS is one that make it easy to input licensing and acquisitions data, automatically triggers alerts for follow-up, and provides relevant license information to users and staff. I’m currently managing more electronic resources than ever. I need a tool that makes keeping track of them as simple and painless as possible. Unfortunately, I don’t think the commercially available products are at that point yet, and as far as I know, no one is working on an open source solution.

tsunami

I’ve been thinking about the tsunami and what I can do to help the people affected by it.

I’ve been thinking about the tsunami and what I can do to help the people affected by it. There’s been a lot of talk about donating money to your charity of choice, and even more one-upmanship among world leaders over which country can promise the most per-capita. A lot of this has turned me off of giving, but I’m trying not to let it.

I don’t have money budgeted for a charity this month (my first utility bill arrived – oy!), but I am budgeting it for next month. This gives me more time to decide where to put the money. My first thought was to give it to Mennonite Disaster Service. MDS is staffed mainly by volunteers, and the emphasis is on clean up and repairs, rather than evangelizing. Your faith is shown by your works. I like that about MDS.

However, I changed my mind after I heard a story on NPR yesterday about grassroots aid organizations for tsunami victims. Groups of people are getting together to send money directly to the people who need it. Business owners in some industries are sending supplies to help their counterparts get their businesses running again. To me, that sounded much more enticing than just helping with the cleanup and repairs, which so many other aid organizations are already doing. So, I set out to find a charity that helps libraries, and I came across Book Aid International. I’ll probably send my aid money to them, unless I find out that they aren’t a reputable organization after all.