Saturday, June 30, 2007
The most important to me was to show up in Walt Crawford's Cites and Insights (corrected) for July 2007.
It is in the section titled Making it Work - Commentary on personal balance and library service balance, p. 14 and 15 (mentions my post about libraries, good cheap, but not fast)
civ7i8.pdf (application/pdf Object
This was personally important since I remember reading Walt's analysis of blogs before I began blogging. I always wondered if once I started blogging, my blog would show up there. It was very exciting to read that this week, thank you Walt!
The next important was This Week in LibraryBlogLand. Again, I remember reading this blog as a connection to other great blogs. I wondered if my blog would ever show up. A few weeks ago, it did.
(Under Librarian Education for my post on What I learned in Library School)
I also contributed to a technology "cookbook" for rural libraries. This was from my technology handbook I created for my library I mention on this post.
The Joy of Computing
Last, I was included in David Free's Presentation on Twitter at the ALA Unconference. Unfortunately, I have never been able to go to ALA Conference, so to have my library mentioned for my twitter efforts was very exciting. Thank you to David for the mention.
So a big thank you is due to all those who think this blog is relevant. I am indeed honored.
Don’t Blame Me: It’s the Phone’s Fault!
Many Internet and Cell Phone Users Find Devices and Applications Too Complicated or
Hardly Worth the Trouble
Finally, it is important to remind ourselves of a truth understood by scholars of technology: It
takes a long time for new innovations to diffuse deeply in society. As Paul David has noted,3 it took 30 years for electricity to truly transform modes of production and begin to impact people’s everyday lives. Historian Carlota Perez points to the lengthy phases of technological revolutions, with as many as 30 years passing from invention to the beginning of a stage of widespread installation in society. With the dot-com bust of the beginning of this decade, we are still early in the installation phase of ICTs in society -- a stage that may take years to complete.4
Our past research has shown that those who do not use the internet perceive it as a place with
inappropriate content and carrying other risks. Non-users are less aware of worthwhile online
applications, such as educational opportunities, health care information, and ways to pursue
hobbies.2 Programs where clients receive a large dose of one-on-one attention are likely to have
the most promise in breaking through to these groups.
I have stated before that libraries provide good services cheaply, but not fast. This graph best illustrates how technology trickles down to public libraries.
1% people. Those who are always on the cutting edge. Playing in realms where technology for technology's sake is a fun venture.
From Church of the Customer Blog:
What they do is beyond the norm. Sometimes there is little recognition, but they are dedicated to and protective of their work and the community they're involved in. They excel on the edges of culture even if their percentage as content creators is little more than a rounding error to some companies. Numbers-wise, they are not huge, but the impact of their work can be.
The sticky stuff trickles down to the rest of us in stages.
First, the idea goes through the major industry players and through the blogger echo chamber. Then it catches on to the regular tech people and teens.
Next the mainstream media picks it up. The rest of us experiment and catch up.
Finally, that population tells the library they should have it. After some meetings, the library will implement.
It isn't such a bad thing that libraries operate in this way. Their funding comes from the general public. If you are a library that can decipher all this change and technology and make it digestible for the general public, you are indeed creating a great service.
Technology can come faster to libraries by raising it's importance in the budget. Having a technology plan tied to a dedicated budget in a general way.
Also to consider setting money aside in that budget for new technology experimentation. I know Pima Public Library has a break box to test new technology.
Lastly, a great tool is using techatlas. You can take a survey, enter your inventory and what you you are doing technology-wise. It will also incorporate best practices from other libraries and top tech trends to remain relevant in technology.
One thing when trying to sell technology. Don't use the techie terms. Explain what it is in lay terms. A blog is a newsletter, youtube is a way to put programs and psas online, on myspace is an ebranch. Your idea will immediately be shot down because someone who still watches mainstream network television have heard of these terms in a negative way. It just works against you.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
In the article, he wonders why we need public libraries, a typical bait-type article. However, his issues have already been mentioned by other bloggers at Library Revolution: It's an asset for the community as a whole, but not for me and at Library Nation: Seeing yourself at the Library
The first article wonders why we need public libraries anymore. He states that most people prefer Barnes and Noble or go on the internet to get their information. The latter state that people don't see themselves at a public library because they are, in general, dirty and smelly, or that they are for the poor, children, and the elderly. Apparently, all three have suddenly become independently wealthy.
Public libraries have always served a simple purpose, cut through the proprietary layer that exists between reading and information and provide it to as many people as possible. Could I fund books for my children every time I go to Barnes and Noble, no way. Who can? If I couldn't get books for my children it would hurt them, they would fall behind academically. The exposure to books for young children is such a critical need, anyone who would question it doesn't have children, or doesn't care about them. The writer's viewpoint typically comes from an anti-tax perspective. I don't want to pay for education or libraries, I just want to sit in my cave and avoid taxes (even though the Ben Franklin tenet stands the test of time, you can't avoid it).
Furthermore, library use has not gone down because of the computer. 99% of libraries in the United States have computers in them, mostly with T-1 connections, thanks to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Computers are just as essential to getting information as a book, libraries have them. They also have an even higher proprietary layer to them, buy a $500 computer AND monthly internet access, not cheap. Marc Fisher has apparently not darkened the door of a library in some time, so apparently doesn't see the value. Too bad he decided to write an op-ed piece about it.
I feel that the latter two articles on Library Nation and Library Revolution don't understand the basic impact of libraries on the community. A library to them is often seen as visiting an HMO filled with people who need affordable help. Apparently, libraries have all this windfall of money to keep their facilities completely clean and looking new all of the time. Even grants-in-aid money for construction tops at $100,000, that doesn't renovate much of the library.
Libraries are free and accessible to everyone. The average working adult doesn't have time to sit and read at the library, they place their hold from home, pick up their book and leave. That's great, convenient for them. However, my library is in the downtown area and is in need of a renovation. We have transients; we have the poor; we have children, and we have the elderly. We also have young professionals coming in on their own, checking out our materials and using our computers. The perception that libraries are run-down is often a true statement, it is not a perception issue.
However, most people would prefer to feed their reading addiction or get their information in this affordable way. No one can afford to pay for all of the information they need, or buy all the books they want to read. It seems that people who complain that libraries are unneeded and undesirable don't really go into a library and see what they are all about. At least, not more than a cursory walk-in to fill up their article and sound like they know what they are talking about.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
The process of hiring a director is performed by people who often know nothing about how a library works. Management is a different career field. A director may know little about the day to day operations of his or her library. They are not selected for their technical ability. This is often the biggest complaint from frontline staff. It is also why staff prefer to have their say in the hiring process of a new director. They would like to see the candidate through the prism of their own jobs and if they know more about them, they make the better candidate. This is not a true statement.
Management is about dealing with people. It doesn't deal with a collection, or the few minutes handling patrons, but the long term dealing with staff and making the library a growing organism. Everything is viewed in macro terms. What are the big needs of the community, how can we reallocate staff and resources to meet those needs. People on the front line will wonder why this is happening, why these changes are being made, and how much better things were before the change.
Frontline staff, middle managers, and directors can be viewed in different ways.
Frontline staff are like a triangle, heavy on technical expertise, but don't require staff management and are not required to look beyond the day to day. Often the viewpoint is, if it's not broken, don't fix it.
Great to have technical expertise. It is critical for the day to day. However, these particular skills don't translate into management. You might be able to order great books, catalog fast and efficiently, or think of great programs, but none of these particular skills translate into management. Hence, a particular library skill doesn't translate into management. Often this is the case as someone gets promoted based on excellent technical ability. Once they move up, they don't have quite the effectiveness since they are unprepared to go into a different managment field.
Middle management is the diamond shape. Deals more with people and managing the frontline staff.
Usually, dealing indirectly with the technical piece and more dealing with people on how to do something. Managing people resources to accomplish a major library goal.
The Director, the upsidedown triangle.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
On the other end, you have librarians frustrated that libraries are not moving fast enough. Some people seem to be always unsatisfied.
From an administrator's position, I would prefer someone else take the lead I can follow rather than go it alone. The problem is that if we try something drastic with our budget or staff, and it goes badly, then it can affect the general progress. A
llowing someone else to experiment and explore is what is great about blogs. Look at someone else, how are they doing it, how are they implementing it. Too often we hear how a library is doing something great, but not details on how they got there. Then we hear too many people saying, look at this neat tool, we can use it somehow let's do it. This is what you should do:
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
It pointed to a post by Michael Gorman ranting about 2.0 thought is the sleep of reason. It is a blog post in two parts, and a third related one on wikipedia due out soon. Here are some of the highlights:
Part I here:
These reference works were not only created by scholars and published by reputable publishers but also contained the paratextual elements (subject headings, indexes, bibliographies, content lists, etc.) also created by professionals that enabled me to find the recorded knowledge and information I wanted in seconds.
This small example typifies the difference between the print world of scholarly and educational publishing and the often-anarchic world of the Internet. The difference is in the authenticity and fixity of the former (that its creator is reputable and it is what it says it is), the expertise that has given it credibility, and the scholarly apparatus that makes the recorded knowledge accessible on the one hand and the lack of authenticity, expertise, and complex finding aids in the latter.
and Part II here:
Publishers, developers of publishing projects, editors, fact-checkers, proofreaders, and the other people necessary to the publication of authoritative texts are all mustache-twirling villains to the digital collectivist. Such people see “gatekeepers” as antidemocratic agencies that stunt human development rather than as persons or entities seeking to promote intellectual development by exercising judgment and expertise to make the task of the seeker of knowledge easier.
The flight from expertise is accompanied by the opposite of expertise—the phenomenon that Andrew Keen has called, in his new book of the same name, “the cult of the amateur.” This cult, says Keen, “worships the creative amateur: the self-taught filmmaker, the dorm-room musician, the unpublished writer. It suggests that everyone—even the most poorly educated and inarticulate amongst us—can and should use digital media to express and realize themselves.” He is referring to the impulse behind Web 2.0, but his words have a wider resonance—a world in which everyone is an expert in a world devoid of expertise.
I have my own opinions (of course) on this topic. I agree and disagree with what Michael Gorman is saying and understand where he is coming from. However, there are some very true statements here and very false statements and assumptions here.
The hive mind may not always be the best mind.
There is a subtle difference between the crowd shouting that you are wrong, or just shouting.
Expertise is lost
This is true; someone who thinks they are an expert can become more popular than the actual expert. This would be the difference between a Google search and a librarian. You can come across any old site and the information may or may not be true; the average person doesn't know the difference. A librarian will make sure the information is as accurate as possible. There is a difference.
You are not an expert, artist, whatever because you say you are.
These items are proven. There is an undeniable level of what good is. This can be found in looking at a library's collection. People can pick good books from bad. The good ones circulate without any promotion or attention; good is good, and most people can determine that. Bad is bad and most people can determine that.
Our current society is undergoing a sleep of reason from web 2.0 concepts.
We may have a sleep of reason due to other things (depending on your politics), but 2.0 is not doing that. 2.0 is awakening the minds of many who may have thought something, but have never expressed it. This is good; more opinions and thought provide a great dialogue. One could also find a "diamond in the rough" within all the cacophony of 2.0 tools. Individuals posting their opinions is healthy for a democracy. Sometimes they are wrong. Well, we all are at some point, even "experts."
Wikipedia is inaccurate.
This is strange, but the more I look at articles on Wikipedia, the more amazed I am. At first I thought, it's not verifiable, you shouldn't trust it. I still think that. However, every piece of information is cited, just like any encyclopedia entry. There is a source to every statement; it is footnoted and linked to the bottom. If nothing else you can find great resources you wouldn't even find, even if you knew what you were looking for. The information is fast, not necessarily 100% accurate at first. The point is to get it up fast, then hone its accuracy later. Often times for the latest news, Wikipedia will have the quickest information (on major news stories).
Our society is a one-dimensional society
I still subscribe to Herbert Marcuse's theory on society. There are trends that come which would seem to change the whole make-up of our society, but they don't. These ideas become absorbed and part of the culture. Think of someone with a mohawk; in 1982 they were changing our culture. Now, it doesn't really surprise anyone. Think of how many times people said "this will change our society," or "this will destroy our society." It didn't. It just became absorbed. Not even revolutions really change our society; it helps spark a slow evolutionary change, usually for the better. Think about the 1960s; it brought about great change, but not overnight, and not due to the protests.
Today you can take youtube for example. People were creating their own videos and putting them up there. Now big companies are figuring it out and putting up their own content on their websites. Before you would not see tv online as much; now it is becoming part of the mainstream. Many blog writers are being picked up by the big industry; these are the diamonds. They are being absorbed; it is a natural evolutionary process. You have a revolution, people react, it changes nothing at first. Later, it is slowly absorbed into our society, making it better. That is our society today, in my opinion.
Monday, June 04, 2007
Hey someone figured out another good use for twitter. This is essentially the same thing my library is doing with twitter. Sending out notices for events, sales, new information to the public. Whenever a new book is released, twitter knows about it. Amazon and organizations like Woot are doing the same thing, releasing information and sales through twitter. This is about marketing people!
Take a look at this:
This is a great example of how instant communication tools like Twitter are being used for commercial means. Basically the Amazon and Woot deals are feeds of offers, pushed out via Twitter. These kind of feeds could also be received in your RSS Reader, or email.
The next step for Amazon and Woot is to allow personalized Twitter feeds - e.g. you could sign up to an Amazon Twitter feed of just music deals (if music is what you want to buy). This would equate the "followers" of Amazon's Twitter feed to leads for the company - very fine grained ones, because Amazon knows what their "followers" want, based on which e-commerce deals they sign up for via Twitter.
The next phase for Amazon is EXACTLY what I am trying to do with twitter. Establish customized feeds so that specific patrons can sign up for their particular interests. Parents can sign up for new kids books, kids events, and other information. There is so much more that can be done with this. Very cool stuff.
Saturday, June 02, 2007
In Life as I Know It, she laments the lack of library 2.0 education and discusses some of the rigorous coursework she has so far endured:
"So, the basic building blocks have been covered. What have I learned beyond that? I have been taking as many management classes (and classes relating to academic libraries) as possible. These classes have focused on managing resources - including people. I sometimes find these classes painful because so many of the case studies and discussions reflect my real world experiences. However, they are vital classes - and I think they are making me more confident about my ability to make managerial decisions (I do have a job where I manage a department).
Technology is a big problem - one that I don’t think we have dealt with successfully in the work environment never mind in the education environment. Everyone who works in library-related fields needs to be technologically competent. It isn’t going away. We will only continue to become more dependent on systems, on the internet, on computers and portable devices. With new operating systems that continue to lock down computers and impose stricter restrictions to fight spyware, viruses and intrusion, people need to know how their computers work - and how to configure them. I am concerned about how we teach this to people. We do not do a good job of it. This isn’t something that happens at library school."
She takes a realistic approach when looking at library school. She knows that she will learn practical things on the job and is taking classes to help her in what she is doing now. However, she laments that there is not enough technology training incorporated into the library school curriculum. In fact, many of the students are resistant to this training. This is no surprise. I remember when I went to library school how many of the students had unrealistic expectations on what the library world is like and that their coursework involved training for jobs in which few exist. I have always been an advocate for public libraries and had wanted to go into public libraries since I worked in an academic library. I had a realistic expectation that public libraries would have more jobs, they would pay better, but that their resources would be scarce and the patrons would need much more basic assistance. Most students will need to realize that technology will permeate all of their job functions, but it is not necessarily the library school's job to teach that. Some schools are developing a joint MLS/MIS curriculum where librarians are both information providers and information technicians. This is the future.
However, most of what a library school education does it to prepare your mind for the rigorous activity of being a librarian. I learned to do things you would never think you would learn in library school. I learned to:
Predict the Future
It came in the strangest of classes, Epistemology, Economics of Libraries, and Public Administration. All of these classes were not taught by librarians. In epistemology, I learned how people think, why they thought what they did, and how best to use this information to get down to the real problem. If a patron had a question, I was better able to extract what they REALLY wanted based on the information given. By understanding exactly what the patron wanted and being able to get that information quickly, I appear to be a mind-reader. It is not a difficult trick.
In Economics of libraries, I learned all about statistics and how to apply it to all things libraries. This has allowed me to predict when our collection will run out of space and what that will mean for library operations. At this point, our library is out of collection space, so we will need to weed as much as we buy. Knowing that a year in advance of the action that we need to take allows us to rearrange our service levels to make time for additional weeding (or to find ways to better market the collection so that there are less books on the shelves :)). Using simple math, one can begin to justify why we need staff now, that our library provides $10 or service for every $1 provided by taxpayers (or $8million of service for $800,000 worth of taxes), and why we need to build a branch in a particular based on business trends, demographic, and socioeconomic trends.
Lastly, I learned how to battle bureaucracy. One needs to understand how an organization works, and learn how to work with it to turn the ship in the right direction.
I never learned anything about technology in library school. The only technology class I have ever taken was a basic computer class in college on how to use a Mac. Yet, I was able to teach technology classes, understand computer systems, and train library staff on complex technology issues dealing with an ILS, public access computers, and the various ins and outs of a library's technology needs. Technology cannot always be taught, those who see its value will learn on their own, and those who don't will not be dragged to a computer class. Everyone finds their own path and it's never the same path. That is a good thing for librarianship.
Slow Leadership has an excellent analysis of this rule.
Slow Leadership: How useful is the Pareto Principle
- How do you know which 20% is producing the results? Can you ever find out at a time when the knowledge might be useful? I suspect you can usually only find the answer—if there is one—after the event. And if that’s so, it leads me to a second question.
- Is it always the same 20%? If it’s not (and I suspect it isn’t), maybe the whole 100% will be in that magic 20% group sometime. And if that’s true, the Principle applies only to a specific time period (if it applies at all).
- Are the beneficial results caused by either single actions, or small, readily identifiable groups of actions? If they come from complex patterns of linked causes and effects, it may be impossible, in practical terms, to identify the “magic 20%” under any circumstances.
Performance is often hard to measure and repeat.
Bob Sutton: Learning from “Positive Deviants:” Pitfalls to Avoid
2. Watch the correlation is not causation problem. Everyone learns this in statistics, but a lot of leaders forget it when they benchmark. Just because something is associated with performance, doesn’t mean it causes performance.
5. Winners may succeed despite, rather than because, of some practices. This brings me to my favorite example. It is very well-documented that Herb Kelleher, who was CEO of Southwest Airlines during an unprecedented run of growth and profitability in the industry, smoked a lot of cigarettes and (according to multiple reports, including his own) drank about a quart of Wild Turkey whiskey per day during this period. If mindless imitation of successful companies is the key to success, this means that you need to get your CEO to start smoking and drinking a lot – or to keep it up if he or she is already doing it. Sounds absurd, doesn’t it? But it is no different than the arguments that armies of consultants are making right now about GE, Google, and P&G – you should do it because they do it, and are successful.
Slow Leadership: What do businesses and Las Vegas have in common?
"The same is true for individuals. The solid, hard-working, cautious, risk-averse person who always does the obvious isn’t going to make it to the top—especially in competition with those willing to take bigger risks and flaunt their successes more openly.
These make-or-break decisions are bets on an uncertain future. Get a few right, and you’ll look like a genius—even if what won you that acclaim is almost entirely luck, or other factors outside your control. That’s why you often see high-profile leaders with a track-record of recent success suddenly run out of steam and appear clumsy and incompetent. They haven’t changed. They’ve just run out of their lucky streak, or found themselves in new circumstances unfavorable to their way of thinking or doing things."
Like the gambler in Las Vegas, the Hamburger Manager usually believes that he or she can somehow win over the odds consistently, even if no one else does. The result is the same in both cases: repeating the same behavior that once (supposedly) let you win big, until it causes you to lose even bigger. Organizations fail because they rely more on repeating past successful behavior than risking failure by trying anything new. Individuals do the same. It takes a long-term view to see the truth, but that’s something few people or organizations seem to possess.
So in the end, you have no idea if you will be successful. Furthermore, you will be credited for a great success that may have likely happened by accident. It is almost impossible to detect what happened and what led to a successful program, especially one that deals with marketing.
For instance, I recently built a lattice on my home using fence tops that are usually sold for a gazebo or a wooden fence. In Arizona, no one builds a wooden fence, much less needs a top for it. The business that supplied it must of thought, these will never move. However, with monsoon winds in this state coming soon, a simple lattice would be shred to pieces. These fence tops were triple-layered and framed, much stronger. I purchased 10 of them. Now the person at this business would have never of known that I needed to build a lattice and that I would use the fence tops. Seeing that so many were sold, he would think, "Woo! I am a genius, let's buy more." Later, if no one else picked up on the idea, he would be stuck with a whole bunch of fence tops. He would then wonder what happened.
My library is very similar. It is hard to predict, or even look in hindsight, why something was successful. Unless you shake down every patron who walks in the door, you would have no idea why you were successful. It is a moving target. So if you don't know what made you successful and don't know how to continue it, what do you do? Well, if you keep asking yourself that question, it will put you in the right frame of mind to continue the success. Begin to think how to make things better, move resources to items and programs that are getting heavier use, and you will see that success is not one thing, it is a state of mind.
There is only so much change, automation, and efficiency one can develop before you get into high octane mode. I don't have any other tricks up my sleeve, no more aces in the hole. I have developed a strategic plan, reallocated staff, resources, and won several grants. I was awarded over $70,000 in grants last year and I could get almost twice that this year, but I need bodies not projects. It comes to a point where I desperately need more people and there is no way I can get them. My last two grant proposals included grant workers. I am hoping that they are awarded.
I know granting agencies, and organizations for that matter, do not like creating grant jobs because once the grant runs out, the person is jobless. That is very backward thinking. We need to have innovative people doing innovative things all of the time. They should be working on grants, and while employed, working on grants to keep their positions going. There is so much talent in the library world, I have so many projects, I even will have a branch and will be expanding the main library, but it seems that the staffing comes much more slowly than I would like. It feels like you have to break down the brick wall with your head to get it across. It is very frustrating.
Friday, June 01, 2007
Libraries across the country are making efforts like these with fantastic results. I remember reading his post about the poverty simulation and what libraries can do to transients. and our Adult Literacy program Libraries are often on the front line dealing with poverty issues. It is fantastic to see that recognition. I applied for the Excellence in Rural Development Award for the state of Arizona. I will keep my fingers crossed.
Pawlenty veto puts library merger in jeopardy
"When the county, city and the city library boards agreed to the merger earlier this year, they drafted a set of guidelines which dictate that in the absence of state funding, the three bodies would split transition costs.
But officials felt confident they wouldn't have to do that -- that the state request for funding would pass and be signed by the governor.
So the governor's veto is particularly troubling for the Minneapolis Library Board. It's already on shaky financial ground. Budget problems forced the library board to recently close three of its 15 branches.
Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak has been critical of the governor's role in reducing state aid to cities. He says cities like Minneapolis have had to raise property taxes and cut other services in order to compensate. And Rybak the city's library system has also suffered. "
These types of mergers are always messy. I remember when Tucson-Pima Public Library System went from joint to all county. Many people were upset. It began when the city said, we are not going to pay for the service anymore, and the library had to get creative in staying operational. I hate when politicians like to sandbag library operations on a whim. I know they will prevail, but I guess you can never count your chickens before they are hatched. Never assume someone will give you the money, especially a politician. Yikes!