Sunday, October 30, 2005

IL 2005 Redux

After letting the sessions, after-hours discussions, and workshops all simmer for a few days, here’s what I’m thinking about post IL 2005.

1. Patrons don't need to know the words Blog and RSS (unless they want to).
Sarah (Lib in Black) mentioned that patrons don’t have to know you have a blog on your page. Call it library news, or something else. I couldn’t agree more. It’s easy to get caught up in the jargon, and isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to move away from? You have a blog on your page, big deal. The things that matters are that a. you’re creating a space for patrons and library staff to interact; b. it’s a quick, easy to communicate what’s happening and why; c. through the authentic voice of you and your colleagues, you’re showing that the library is about people: real people, ready to help; and d. built-in feeds let patrons bring library news into their own worlds.

Of course, we should also be the place for patrons to learn those words as well as be a "safe" place to play and learn tech in general. We're all things to all people: we're librarians.

2. What are we doing, and why are we doing it?
Tech plans matter. Not just for the tech, but for the people. Not only is it important to have a living, breathing tech plan, but it needs to include how you’re going to constantly work to create buy-in from staff. Also, don’t just talk. Act. Every meeting needs to end with action steps (which we do pretty well), and every action step should be follow-up (which we don’t always do so well—a good goal).

3. Online communities affect and create face-to-face communities.
The flickr stream of librarians with giant calculators is a perfect and amusing example.

Things I hope happen at IL 2006:

1. We pick the right fight.
Although I thought the discussions about Google were interesting, I can see other "threats" that are closer to us (at least for public libraries). If we really want to pick a fight with someone, it should be the vendors who are hi-jacking our Web pages, and forcing our patrons to bounce around to various interfaces, through various authentication processes, all the while making us pay not only for their so-called services and content, but for the release of our own data with additional pricing for API.

I don’t think vendors are evil. But they are in business, and we should all get together to ensure that if they want our business, they will provide interfaces that can be visually integrated with our own (with style-sheet headers and footers, not just “letting” us place our logos in little corner), free access to our own data, and standards for authentication.

2. We get rid of “tracks.”
At first, I was a little disappointed that there wasn’t anything new in the Public Library tract. I mean, the information was really good, but it wasn’t new. I read all their blogs, I know what they think, and while I’m truly grateful that all these folks write blogs that help keep their colleagues up to date, I’m really disappointed that John Blyberg’s session on the totally amazing things they are doing at Ann Arbor District Library wasn’t included in this tract. He did speak for a just a few minutes as part of a what’s new with library Web sites, but it was his full-blown presentation that everyone really, really needed to see.

Here’s what I think would be oh so cool for next year: instead of “tracks,” just post each one of the presentations on the IL06 site, and let us all tag them. Then, we’ll self-organize, and the coordinators will know which sessions have the most buzz, and likely the most attendees so they can plan the room size. But, it’s not really about buzz as much as it is letting the attendees self-select, and show (not just tell) the coordinators and presenters what it is about the presentations that they’re interested in. So all I want for IL06: tags, baby, tags.

Post-IL focus and action steps

It’s the people, not the tech
Ok, ok, I didn’t learn this at the conference, but over and over again it was reinforced as I was reminded about how important it is to stay focused on the people, on the emotional attachments between people, and how to build those emotional attachments within and through libraries.

Abram said “know your customers better than Google.” We need to know our customers, our communities, and our colleagues. We need to tell our library’s stories, and we need to learn what stories our communities have about our libraries.

My action items to get out from behind my screen and talk to more people:
a. Go to lunch with a different person from work each week.
b. Get involved in at least 1 community organization or effort.
c. Improve community engagement on our Web site by encouraging patrons to share stories about the library, library locations, and staff.
d. Once our Web survey is completed, post the results and answer any common questions and alert patrons to services they might not know about (as evidenced by the survey results).

We need to be doing I.M. reference
We’ve already been kicking this around, but only from a tech-side, and I don’t think it will get enough staff buy-in if the reference staff isn’t driving the ideas.

Action items:
a. Talk to Monique (I.T. director) about the tech issues with I.M.
b. After things shake out a little with reference, work with the powers that be to find some money and see if we can’t persuade Aaron from Thomas Ford (and walkingpaper) to come in and discuss why and how they have implemented I.M., and how we can do it, too.
c. Find some staff members who are most interested to pilot reference I.M.—maybe as a start we can focus on Homework Help.

Gaming in the library
Again, it’s somewhat of a staff buy-in issue. It’s somewhat a techie/librarian co-project (good for building internal relationships), and it’s just another way to show y.a. patrons that the library wants to provide experiences they are interested in.
a. Talk to Tricia (teen services librarian) and Atabong (Web Services Coordinator) about how best to get started with gaming at the library.
b. Assemble a project team of librarians and techies.
c. Let staff know what we’re doing and why.
d. Launch a pilot project.

Encouraging staff buy-in and tech planning
And speaking of buy-in, obviously we all know that staff buy-in is important, Michael’s session with 10 tips for encouraging buy-in was really good. This is also tied to our tech plan, which needs to be listed on the Intranet as a living, breathing, interactive document.
a. Complete our internal communication needs assessment so that we can better implement a practice of encouraging staff buy-in and make sure they actually receive the information we’re trying to share and encourage their engagement.
b. Find our tech plan and post it to the Intranet. (Do we have one, or do we just use the annual work plans for this function?)
c. Post the notes and information about on-going tech projects to the Intranet and encourage staff input.
d. Work with L.I.T. and Web Content Team to develop a staff-buy in plan/check list for developing and rolling out new-tech (this needs to include the development of a staff playground and recess time).
e. Talk to Coordinating Committee about a staff buy-in plan for developing and rolling out new tech.

Figure out how to bridge the gap between tech and content.
Everyone involved with our Web has to be relentlessly focused on what is best for patrons (ok, I guess that’s true for everyone who works in our library, but I’ll bite off what I can chew for now). It can’t be a matter in which the content team says what we want, and having the programmers and tech folks respond to our “business needs.” We all need to be on the same page, and in some way, share a brain to provide seamless, slick basic functions as well as cool tools and experiences for those who are interested. Also, we need to work with other libraries to collaborate and share applications, ideas, and code.

a. Focus on improving the functionality, usability, and ease of use of our ILS.
b. Get the spell-checker for Sirsi catalog
c. Look into the EPS system for Sirsi, look at Sirsi-provided APIs, or think seriously about converting to a new ILS.
d. Ensure JoCoWorld 3.0 is clean, crisp, and super-easy to use

a. Increase interaction between patrons and library staff online
b. Encourage patron-created content
c. Provide intriguing experiences for all ages online

Action steps:
a. Find an answer to the staffing concerns: how to ensure everyone is focused on the same goal and has the time to commit to the goals.
b. Develop Complete S.W.O.T. analysis of the Web and all Web-based products (e.g. databases and the ILS) with patrons and staff.
c. Develop tactics and action steps for 2006-2007
d. Talk to Web Junction about encouraging usability document sharing and regional usability consortiums
e. Implement, implement, implement

Take more time for in-depth analysis and thinking
It’s ok to think about Web pages and library stuff all the time, but I shouldn’t be so focused on the daily minutia. Take time to read more, write more, and unplug.

Action steps:
a. Complete 1 book a week.
b. Write article on glass.
c. Be completely unplugged at least one day a week.


Blogger whitneydt said...

"My action items to get out from behind my screen and talk to more people:
a. Go to lunch with a different person from work each week.
b. Get involved in at least 1 community organization or effort."

Erica, I've also been thinking that the metro area needs a bimonthly or quarterly "librarians' binge" where we get together across our institutional boundaries for food, drink, and chat. What do you think of that? Too square?

Also, I think your goal of one book a week sounds ambitious. You should do a "What I've Read" list, that would be great.



1:01 PM  
Blogger Erica Reynolds said...

Great ideas! Oh, and I will totally take you up on the usability thing…I just haven’t gotten back to all my e-mails/posts since IL…(which was fantastic… there aren’t a lot of perks in the lib world, but hanging out in Monterey with a bunch of smart, geeky people who like to drink beer has to be one of the big ones)

I love the idea of a librarains’ binge, and I know of more than a few people who would be happy to attend. And of course it’s square. We’re librarians ; )

I think bimonthly sounds good—and if it was a set thing, we could go ahead and mark it on our calendars. How can I help make it happen?

4:10 PM  
Blogger The Shifted Librarian said...

Much food for thought and some interesting ideas - thanks, Erica! BTW, if you're interested in following up on the gaming thing, see if you can send someone to the MLS Games, Learning, and Libraries Symposium we're sponsoring on December 5-6. :)

8:16 PM  
Blogger Erica Reynolds said...

Ah--thanks for the reminder! I just sent information on the gaming symposium to our Youth Services and Tech folks.

4:51 AM  
Blogger Michael Stephens said...

Great post and excellent ideas. Please keep posting about how your action items go!


7:38 AM  
Blogger Meredith said...

I love the tags instead of tracks idea! If you haven't already, you should check out this article from Educause Social Software and the Future of Conferences Right Now. It has a lot of neat ideas about how we can leverage social software to make conferences collaborative experiences that last longer than just a few days.

12:29 PM  
Blogger elev8 said...

Having a vacation is really fun especially if you are already that stressed out from your job, you will really have to go out and have fun and have some time by your self.key west vacation rentals

6:05 AM  

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