Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One Year of Blogging/What's Next?

I have been struggling with this type of post for some time. I wanted to write one for my 100th post, then for the anniversary of my blog, but constantly became stalled. There is too much good stuff to write about.

Why did I start this blog?

I was inspired by ALA President Leslie Burger's call to transform communities. I was never going to try for the emerging leader thing and I can't get involved in ALA (can't dedicate the time). I thought I would start this blog to share what I was doing in that vein. I felt I was accomplishing a lot for my library and documenting and sharing was worth it alone. I have a bunch of ideas that I wanted to implement and even more now. This blog focuses on those ideas.

The first link came from Steven Cohen at Library Stuff, More Libr* Blogs on July 16, 2006

I originally sub-titled the blog, documenting the success and failures of a library manager. I backed off that sub-title because I thought it was a little harsh, so I just went with documenting the experiences. I am not afraid of failure. Failure is always a learning experience. It is a good thing to fail. If you click on the tag cloud in the side bar that states "Library Problems"
you can read all of the ways I made mistakes. I think sharing both success and failures help any reader since it can make them feel better about their own mistakes, it makes mistakes less scary (I didn't die, the library didn't burn down, I didn't get fired, etc. etc.), and hopefully it will inspire others to share their success stories.

Share success (or just share)

After listening to what Stephen Abrams said during the Do Libraries Innovate Debate, I found that I was on the right course. In fact, that probably should be sharing more about what I am doing. I feel that what I was doing at my library was innovative, I was not developing brand new things, but in implementing what already existed. I liked Karen Schneider's comment on innovation. To paraphrase, it is not so much inventing the wheel, but in placing the wheel on a cart and getting supplies from the town over. The next step is sharing how it was done.

Documenting that success was good for me since that success can go unnoticed. There is no public fanfare in transforming a library, people just notice better services and use them without thought. It is rare that a patron will leave a comment card to us about a compliment of services, but when circulation goes up 30%, computer use goes up 50%, when 80% of the community owns a library card, and a bond passes by 66%, that is how people let you know they like the service. Is the community transformed? I don't know.

What I learned from blogging

I have also learned a great deal from blogging. It developed into something very cathartic for me. My first six months I mostly focused on my library stories that I referred to as Fix It Fridays and Successful Saturdays. The purpose of setting up this template was to keep me writing and to keep me focused on my library's issues. Sometimes, just writing something down helps solve a problem. This blog is more of venue to think out loud and problem solve. So far it is working.

Why the Perry Tour?

The next year will focus on the lead up to a new library building, followed by the renovation of our main library. This was part of the reason I took my staff on a tour of the new Perry Branch of the Maricopa County Library District. It was more to get ideas and to satisfy my curiosity about the deweyless library. Thanks to Karen who provided the link from her ALA Techsource post Raising Arizona.

In that post, I wanted to provide an objective overview since this issue has people very passionate on either side. I also did the tour because the same furnishing company is doing the work for our new library. During an architect meeting, the rep laid out what Perry was doing and told us about it. I told him that we would like to stick with our layout and how we are doing things. Especially since public input helped design the exterior and interior of the library. The rep laid it out like it was the cool new thing to do, not unusual, and the response from another member of our team was "Why aren't we doing this?"

So, now I can reply to them that I have thoroughly reviewed the library and can make an objective decision on it. We are not going deweyless, but it would be easy to implement. However, the costs of making a small collection that is browseable goes against the need for our libraries here. In a rural community (that has no bookstore, no other way to access computers or the internet, or to even to access information), core library services are more important than a browsing collection. I also believe that library collections shouldn't be interfiled in a joint-use library. Patrons have a habit of not getting along. I have toured joint-use libraries where adults were literally running out of the building once school let out. One actually ran out of the library with the laptop still open. They didn't want to be caught in the library, stuck with a bunch of teens.

What's next?

Right now, I am in the process of marketing our library databases, training staff on competencies, and if all goes well, doing the Learning 2.0 beginning in January. This in the middle of building the new library, hiring staff for that library, establishing the opening day collection, architect meetings, furniture meetings, IT meetings, etc. etc.

These will take up a considerable amount of time. It will be difficult to sustain this blog during the process. I think it is worth it though, to write down my thoughts and to continue to document. I am definitely hooked on the process. Reading blogs and writing a blog help expand the capacity to think analytically and to frame thought in a way that actions will result. This, more than anything, is what I have gained from blogging.

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waltc said...

Excellent post. I appreciated your objective, detailed tour of the Deweyless library as well. I had originally included a comment about that in the current Cites & Insights, but it got cut for space reasons. Anyway, good work--keep it up.

jdscott50 said...

Thanks for the comment. It was probably best not to include it. I think everyone is a bit tired of the discussion anyway.

Thanks for the encouragement Walt.