The death of the printed Newspaper; thoughts & Clay Shirky

Confession:  I haven’t subscribed to my local newspaper since I moved from Charlotte in 2007 & even then I only subscribed to the weekend edition of the Observer.  Truth be told, I didn’t seen the value, beyond browsing local section for community/human interest stories and scanning the circulars for deals, since all my immediate news and information needs came in pixel format. Once I moved a new city, I didn't have the immediate sense of a connection to the community (that took time), so even then the weekend edition wasn't appealing.  Once I finally felt that connection, I had developed a new Sunday morning ritual that no longer included leisurely reading the local paper.    

In a presentation I did several years ago, I highlighted some of the parallels between the newspaper industry and libraries.  Both lend their origin to the invention of the printing press; newspapers for the sharing and distribution of information about current events and happenings (primarily in the loose leaflet format) .  Libraries for the sharing and distribution of stories and the world’s formalized knowledge (primarily in the book format).     

The parallels between these two industries/institutions is easy to see when comparing the distribution center, the distribution agent and the distribution format.   Here’s the two slides extracted from my talk titled From Libraries to Lifebraries

Clay Shirky  published a piece on Medium this week that reminded me of this talk.  Titled Last Call: The end of the printed newspaper, it’s definitely worth a read.    


Web Literacy Map

It’s been a long time since I posted anything here.  Quite frankly, I’ve been busy and swamped with life.   But this little gem of find is worth dusting off the blogging keyboard and sharing …

The Web Literacy Map, created as a commons project by Mozilla, is  a set of  “competencies and skills that … are important to pay attention to when getting better at reading, writing and participating on the web.”     Yup. totally up the learning in libraries alley.

Anyway, I don’t need to highlight much here, other than say… take a look at it.    The site brings together all sorts of great tools and resources that libraries can use to explore and help community member develop skills and new knowledge.   What I especially love is the easy to follow framework chunking digital literacy’s into  three easy to understand categories:  Exploring, Building and Connecting.    Take a look for yourself.

There's even a wiki to contribute the conversation yourself.  


What are you doing at the Library?

That's the question that NYPL has been recently asking of their visitors at two of their locations.  However, rather then the usual customer survey or informal poll, they're using a photobooth.  :)


Love this idea and application of the photo-booth  that NYPL has installed.   What a great way to celebrate your users, promote the value of the library and enable your customers to have some fun? 

More info:  Snapshots from NYPL
Flickr pool of images


Informal Learning – Taking it to the Badge level

I’ve been intrigued and loosely following the developments of the informal learning community since the MacArthur Foundation announced its support  for Digital Media and LearningCompetition for Lifelong Learning Badges     YALSA received an award from the initiative to “develop a virtual badge program that helps library staff gain skills related to the Competencies for Serving Youth in Libraries.”    You can find a series of blog posts and updates about the project here.   The project looks like it’s set for an August 2013 completion.  I’ll be very interested in the end results.  Libraries are a natural to lead the way in acknowledging lifelong learning pursuits, especially around informal learning.

In the meantime, I’m also thrilled to see this summerlearning initiative for teens launched by a city wide partnership of over 100 organizations, among the most prominent the Chicago Public Library.  Why I didn’t hear more about this when I was ALA just last week is beyond me.   Even mayor Rahm Emanuel neglected to share or highlight it when he spoke at the opening event.    

Anyway,  kudos to CPL (who obviously is a key player in this project)   Check out this video(which features several clips captured at CPL’s YouMedia center) and then take a look at


Could this be a library?

In my travels this week I found myself delayed at LaGuardia for three hours due to mechanical issues. Travel delays are never fun, especially when you’re on a tight time table. But this time, I didn’t seem to mind so much because I was at Delta’s terminal D and this was the site around me…

Literally hundreds of free access ipads available and attached to every visible area of counter space. The traditional rows of seating near the gates were replaced by workspace counters and ipads that provide free internet, the ability to order have food ordered to your station (credit cards swipes were also at every seat), purchase merchandise from concourse stores and keep up to date on your latest flight information. When you first touched the screen you were prompted for your flight info and altering throughout your browsing session of the status of your flight and time to boarding.

I explored the experience a bit and of course did a lot of people watching. In the just the 8 gate area that I was in there must have been 400 ipads accessible. Lots of people playing checkers and/or solitaire (two of the standard apps loaded) while others browsed the WSJ or caught up on FB or Twitter (three other standard apps on the intro screen). A big button for full internet access was also provided along with info on the iPad lounge pilot project. If weren’t for the presence of roller bags, a few passenger transport vehicles and of course, frequent boarding announcements, one might easily mistake the environment for a busy library.

Here’s a few articles with more info:


IPL Talk - From Libraries to Lifebraries

Visiting innovative public libraries and talking with passionate library staff are among my favorite “professional extracurricular” activities.  I always come away inspired by what I see and proud to work in such a honorable profession.   Two weeks ago, my travels, afforded me the opportunity to speak with staff from the Indianapolis Public Library on their annual Staff Day.   I had heard so much about the Central Library expansion that has happened several years ago, but had never had the chance to see the space in person.    The Learning Curve, with its dynamic collaboration spaces, rich media centers and interactive tech/qr codes kiosks was my favorite. 

My talk for IPL centered on making the shift from consumption to knowledge production activities.   After visiting the Learning Curve, it was clearly apparent that IPL was a leader in this service philosophy.     My talk is archived here:  

Sorry IPL that it took me so long to get this posted!


Moving News

Ok, so I’ve been holding onto this information for over a week now and busting at the gut to share the news more publicly.   After 5 years here at the Columbus Metropolitan Library I’m moving onto a new chapter in my career – helping libraries continue to innovate services in  a) a position that aligns more closely to product development and strategy and b) in a role that will allow me to work with and be a stronger active advocate for the library community.   

I won’t be moving far, since OCLC's corporate headquarters is physically located in Ohio right in my own back yard.  But I will be realigning my efforts to continually evolve library services in a new role that will provide impact and leadership beyond just the community of central Ohio.  

Curious about what I’ll be doing…  here’s the short announcement from OCLC  :-) 



Measuring Social Media

My column for this month’s Computer in Libraries magazine  on measuring digital media is available this month as a free html.  Since this doesn’t happen very often, I thought it was worth noting :-)

  • Measuring Social Media and the Greater Digital Landscape

    Remember the good old days of the internet, when the measurement of your organization’s digital landscape was merely tracked in page hits, site visits, and unique visitors? The tools used for tracking and reporting website usage were simple and straightforward then. Data always came from the same primary source, the server’s log files.

    If you were into detailed analytics, you could extract a huge mountain of data from these files—everything from tracking what sites provided the most traffic through referrals (i.e., links) and what pages were the entry points to the most popular content pages and average time per session. Keeping track of the digital world was definitely easier back then, before Facebook, Twitter, and an explosion of new mobile apps ripped through this simple-to-measure bits and bytes landscape. Today, understanding your organization’s digital impact requires analyzing multiple sets of analytics from a variety of sources. With measurement rulers seldom the same, it’s a challenge to pull it all together.



International Young Librarians Academy

It’s been a fast few weeks since I flew to Latvia to participate as an instructor in the International Young Librarians Academy.  Although my schedule didn’t allow for me to stay for all of the weeklong event, my time in Yentspils with over 50 young librarians from all over Eastern Europe was memorable and enlightening.  So much enthusiasm, fresh ideas and energy! I was indeed sorry to leave when I had to.

Anyway,  here are the slides from my main presentation on modern libraries.  As one young librarian from Prague commented afterwards…  “what I like most about your message from you talk was that it isn’t technology that makes a library modern, it’s the philosophy”

PS:  Thanks Dara for blogging this summary of the talk.  You hit the key points well. 



6 Years of 23 Things

It's been six years ago this month since I created and launched the 23 Things program while I was at Charlotte Mecklneburg Library.   Although the time has gone by fast, it still blows my mind away at just how far and  vast reaching this program has had on the library community world wide.   Even now, years later I still get emails almost weekly from library staff requesting permission to duplicate or asking questions about the program.   This past week I heard from a colleague that the program has been highlighted at IFLA and through another program done by the Oxford University Libraries in England. 

I've long lost the ability to track the number of programs replicated worldwide.  For a while,  I had unknown benefactor who kept up with the program for the first year or so via a google map. But once Minerva Shelved (the alias for someone I still don't know who thank or attribute to) stopped adding links, I only had a rough Delicious tag to keep up with the global growth.

Occasionally, whenever someone sends me an email or link to a new program, I still tag in my old Delicious account.  The tag is up to 487 individual programs at the moment, with many of the programs designed to support multiple libraries and/or multiple library systems.   At  one time I  had officially counted that the program had been replicated in 15 different languages and if I tried to count all the national and state library run programs done all over the globe, the impact was easliy somewhere around 700+ orgnaizations.

Here's a few links about IFLA programs that talked about 23 Things:

Yup, even after 6 years, the impact of this program worldwide still amazes me !


Innovation Conference Keynote

This past week I had the pleasure to speak on a topic that I'm pretty passionate about at the Innovation Conference hosted by FSU & PLAN.    For those in attendance, here's my slide deck as promised:

Side note:  I think the funniest compliments I've ever recieved as a keynote speaker came out of this conference...  while standing in the foyer area of the conference center, a young man approached me to thank me for my keynote and told me  "Your the quite the talk of the men's restroom"  to which he added   "I mean you talk that is... all in a good way"   :)


YouMedia Centers for Teens

Picture source
For the past 6 months I've been working with an awesome set of creative poeple (from also very creative institutions) as we tackle the planning for network of Learning Labs across the city to ignite teens and help them discover and explore their passions through digital media.  

With five cultural insitutions coming together, its been an interesting process.  I've added a tom to my knowledge about creating and merging logic models, connected learning theory and informal learning environments for teens.  All great stuff, really inspiring that actually makes me sometimes wish I could go back to being 15 again :-)

The MacArthur Foundation is the catalyst for this huge informal learning movement aimed at connecting teens and digital media.  YouMedia in Chicago, was among the first successful programs, but there are others that are equally exciting.  Here's the latest MacArthur piece worth reading:

YOUmedia Expansions Offer Teens Student-Centered Learning Opportunities with Digital Media

Can't wait til we get to the pilot stage in our planning.  With institutions partnering on our planning, there will definitely soon be some new amazing places for teens in Columbus.


When Values & Behaviors Collide

I discovered this downloaded image in a forgotten “pictures” folder tonight and though I can’t remember where I pilfered it from, I found my response to the message just a strong as when I first encountered it and was influenced to save it in the first place. 

Over the past years, I heard a lot of rants and arguments against the creation of “rules.” This image (&message) does a great job of nailing the rub and root cause – the conflict between behaviors and values.

Think about it… instead or creating rules to curtail unwanted behaviors,  how can your organization use and promote values to encourage positive interactions.  It's got me thinking, how about you?

PS:  If you know the source of this image, please let me know.  I need to provide them appropriate credit.


Supply & Demand in the "Just Because"

“The 20th century was all about sorting out supply. The 21st century will be all about sorting out demand”Gavin Potter

This quote written on the whiteboard in my office has been haunting me in a way for over year.  Not in a scary or bad way “haunting”, but rather in the sense that it’s continuously occupied my thinking about service delivery -- especially in a world that has become dominated by a supply and demand chain that has become predominately driven by the “just because”    NetFlix and Amazon were really among the first to capitalize on the digital (& not neccessarily physical) longtail by creating and pairing massive universal catalogs with a robust user recommendation engine.  The result is a profound shift in supply chain model, that eliminates the need to physically create “supply”  first for a service model that is merely triggered  by a “just because demand.”      
For the past century, supply model economics (including those in building library collections) have effectively shifted from “just in case”  (creating and building inventories for a future use)  to a “just in time” (acquiring inventory to meet forecasted and actual demand).  But in a world, where inventory and product can literally be manufactured on the fly,  the supply chain process becomes less and less important to having systems and processes in place to react and provide on demand transactions for services that are trigger by a  “just because.”

Here's a simple slide from my  Big Things talk that I delivered at CIL this past year that adds a bit more to this thinking.

And just last week, this thought came up again in an interview I did with Dquarium's Bibliotech webcast, also appropriately titled "Just Because"