Before you answer the question … ask a stakeholder

I read with interest Will Sherman’s 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important. And while I might agree with almost all the points noted, I walked away with a feeling that these 33 reasons, from the stakeholder's viewpoint, weren’t nearly anywhere near enough.

Today I spent the morning, along with approx. 100 other members of our staff, listening to four community stakeholders speak about the importance of the library to our community as we embark on Imagine 2010..

  • Peter Gorman, Superintendent to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools talked about the library as the school’s key partner in literacy development and the challenges that we face. It’s true CMS has a great challenge ahead of them, but it’s not only the school’s challenge, it’s all of ours.

  • Harry Jones, the County Manager, spoke about the importance of partnerships and the changing dynamics of our community which, with limited land areas, is in the process of revitalizing itself from the outside in. The need for services using new models will be paramount in the future. And with cultural changes and the influx of new immigrants, we will need to embrace innovation and flexibity to meet the needs of our constantly changing community.

  • Jennifer Roberts, County Commissioner, highlighted the foundation of love of learning, books, and the library as vital place of civic activity for our community.

  • And finally Bob Morgan, Chamber of Commerce President, spoke to (among many other interesting things) the needs of community development and the library’s role in workforce development.

Not once among the stakeholder’s talks (all of which were exceptional btw) did I hear that the library was important because we improve the information retrieval process or can offer excellence in digization. Our value to our community goes far beyond just being an alternative to Google. We need to learn to voice our importance in terms of community value and impact; not merely services/products. And I think Harry Jones said it best when he said libraries are important because they help citizens “thrive and prosper.” It's not what we do or offer that makes libraries & librarians important. It's how we improve quality of life and change lives that matters most.

If given the time, I’d think it would be interesting to ask members of our community to come up with 33 reasons of their own. From the conversations this morning, I know one thing for sure… it definitely would look a whole lot different.

So here’s a start at a new list of reasons that I gathered from what I heard…

  1. A literate society is import for our community to prosper. Libraries provide vital services and resources that assist in the literacy development.
  2. Our school and education systems are challenged and the need to raise our student’s achievement levels is important to the entire community. Libraries are the most important community partner to achieving this goal and with stakes this high this is perhaps our greatest legacy.
  3. Community demographics are changing fast and new citizens need a trusted institution that can assist them with navigating the territory. Libraries serve as a vital community resource in helping both “newcomers” and “lifers” find their way through the forest.
  4. Workforce development is paramount to a thriving community. Libraries provide learning resources, computer skills training classes and access to online resources for job applications, resume creations and career development.
  5. As a knowledge rich society, people need a place to exchange ideas. Libraries are community gathering places that encourage conversation, dialogue and the exchange of free ideas.
  6. … it’s your turn

So how about it? I’ve started off the first five. What can you add to this list? Why not join me in asking a stakeholder in your community why libraries are important … you just might be pleasantly surprised. :)


What's in your Emerging Technology Toolbox?

The topic on the discussion list for my library's Emerging Technology Committee meeting for next month is "What should staff have in their technology toolbox?" This could include both skills and comfort level with new online technologies as well as gadgets and peripheral devices.

Anyway, in preparation for this conversation, I thought it might fun to survey not only PLCMC staff but also other libraries out there. So if you have a minute or two, please share your thoughts.

The results of this survey I promise to publish here the week of Feb 19th. In the meantime, do tell ... What emerging technologies or skills do you think should be in the toolbox?

PLCMC Emerging Technology Toolbox Survey


Explaining the napkin … (aka project management & libraries)

The Theory:

Before my jump back into libraries over ten years ago, I used to teach project management to system developers and business analysts - Yup! as you can guess this was very challenging! Since that time, I know I’ve long forgotten the finer points of calculating critical path, activity dependencies and creating drill-down ghant charts. The tool I received certification on took me several weeks to master and at time was known the “Cadillac” of PM tools (perhaps it still is). I don't really keep up the project management tool race anymore, and found that I'm happiest myself managing projects with a good old solid plan, a pencil and a calendar. But in looking back on all the training in PM that I did, it’s the day and half theory class that I had to teach employees before the 3 days of software instruction that has stuck with me most.

Mark, from Gwinnett County Public Library, grabbed a photo of the visual (a folded napkin) that I shared at lunch the other day (he still hasn't posted the image yet, so I've borrowed an image from this additional image borrowed from PM consulting site.) to explain a bit of the theory. It’s the project management triangle that defines the 3 constraints that effect every project: resources (dollars or people), time (project duration) and scope/ (what must be done to meet the deliverables). And it is the goal of good project management to balance and organize workflow to constantly meet these constraints.

When the triangle gets out of balance, it's the PM's responsibility to make adjustments. For example, if the scope changes and additional deliverables are added, you'll need to either adjust your resources (as in add more bodies to the tasks) or increase the the project duration (using existing resources) to keep the project on track. Each of the three constraints always has an effect on each other, and good project managers know how to juggle these constraints well in order to achieve the planned results.

PM in Libraries:

Whenever I think about this triangle as it relates to many of the “projects” (and I use this term loosely) that I’ve seen initiated in libraries, I have come to the conclusion that for the most part we really don’t do projects (Note: true projects have end dates & resources) but we do have a lot of initiatives.

Where we fail the most at is in acknowledging and planning for constraints. Our “projects” (again used loosely) don’t have defined budgets and/or dedicated resources and often we even forget to assign an end date. Instead we just heap additional responsibilities on already stretched staff members and neglect t provide them with time off the desk to get things accomplished. Our time frames are loosey-goosey and we seldm assign end dates - for the most part it’s “whenever we have the time to get around to it.” And our scope? Well it may be defined at first, but without a well written project plan, we often experience creep and redirection. The bottom line is that the end result is rarely what we set out for.

What we do really well is set priorities and determine and define initiatives. But without addressing constraints and accounting for resources, time and scope of work, all we really have is great thoughts, good will and lots of frustration - sound familiar ?

PS: Michael and GCPL Emerging Tech team - we enjoyed the visit. Hope we can do it again soon, but this time at your place.


It's this kind of critical thinking that makes me smile ...

Tony takes on "nubby leads" and asks the question... is there a better alternative than golf pencils? Read Where's the Point?

As Tony says, "I think they are a perfect little example of old ideas or practices that aren't really serving us any more in libraries. "

How many other library practices can we apply this type of thinking to? Think about it. Does your library go through a lot of nubby pencils too?

Best thought of the week ...

From Seth Godin:

"99% of the time, in my experience, the hard part about creativity isn't coming up with something no one has ever thought of before. The hard part is actually executing the thing you've thought of."

How true! Innovative thinking really isn't hard. It happens all the time in libraries - in staff meetings, brainstorming sessions, and even around the watercooler or in restrooms. The great ideas are there ... it's just the implmentation or "how to" part that seems to constantly hang us up.


Fascinating! I wonder if PBSKids will be next?

Things are moving so fastly with all this virtual world stuff, that I guess it shouldn't be surprising to see the BBC making this announcement.

"A virtual world which children can inhabit and interact with is being planned by the BBC.

CBBC, the channel for 7-12 year olds, said it would allow digitally literate children the access to characters and resources they had come to expect.

Users would be able to build an online presence, known as an avatar, then create and share content."

If you haven't taken a look at Second Life yet, Do! It's fascinating stuff!

Hmmm... I wonder who'll be the first to enter this domain state-side... Nickelodeon, Noodle or PBS?

Rock The Future Invite

"The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County is pleased to extend an invitation to staff from neighboring libraries to join us for an afternoon of thought provoking conversation on the future of information services featuring two renowned library speakers, George Needham and Patricia Martin."

Rock the Future: Insights on Libraries & Information Services
Monday, February 26, 2007 1:00 – 5:00pm

If you're in the Charlotte area, please consider joining us! :)


A case of serious OPAC envy ( or congrats AADL )

Wow! Congratulations John Blyberg and AADL on your new social OPAC (or SOPAC). New features that John has added include the ability to add and view user tags, comments, reviews, as well as rate catalog items and grab RSS feeds!

John has lots of screen shots and has even created a screencast about these cool enhancements on his blog. But to really check out these features, you need to take a look for yourself. (Note: You'll need to create a login for yourself under My Account to see all the new cool features).

Congrats John. This rocks!

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SD Sponsors Second Life Projects

This is one of the reasons* I wish I had been able to make ALA Midwinter this year:

"SirsiDynix, the global leader in strategic technology solutions for libraries bringing knowledge to people and communities, announced today its 2007 sponsorship of the two main islands in the Alliance Library System/Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County partnership project on Second Life and Teen Second Life."

* The other reason being so that I could see Kelly Czarnecki flying around the tradeshow floor in her blue wings :)

Thanks SirsiDynix! It's exciting to have your support!


Library Spaghetti Sauce

I just discovered this long lost post (originally dated 06/11/06) perpetually stuck in draft status and thought "why not free it", so here it is... My library spaghetti sauce theory. Note: I may get virtual tomatoes thrown at me for this one, but that's ok. I don't mind eating vegetables. :)


In my wanderings around the NetSquared Conference site, I stumbled across remote conference session from Superpatron Ed Vielmetti. Although the conference was aimed at social network/web 2.0 technologies for non-profits, Ed and Corey’s conversation about innovation, niche markets and the need for different perspectives ring home my thoughts on libraries and spaghetti sauce.

Here’s an except from their archived chat …

May 31, 16:50:50 PDT> *Corey*: Edward, I personally think in the past, much inovation travelled with the professionals between jobs and organizations, I think that is changing some now

May 31, 16:51:33 PDT> *Edward Vielmetti*: ah, corey, so individuals took their tools with them from job to job and brought their innovations with them as they went

May 31, 16:51:53 PDT> *Corey*: That why much technology develops within niche markets

May 31, 16:52:09 PDT> *Edward Vielmetti*: the phrase I guess I've heard is "capacity building"

May 31, 16:52:38 PDT> *Corey*: individuals tend to specialize within the sector and many will stick with the tools they know?

May 31, 16:53:29 PDT> *Edward Vielmetti*: so you go from being an executive director of a children's museum in one city to the same role in another city, but your niche of program ideas and foundations and funding sources stays the same

May 31, 16:54:05 PDT> *Corey*: I've seen that happen a lot

May 31, 16:54:31 PDT> *Edward Vielmetti*: what has been interesting about the superpatron blogging I've done is that as a library patron I bring in a totally different perspective than many of the librarians out

Now here’s my spaghetti sauce thought …

As an individual who has worked in libraries for over 15 years now, I’m always perplexed by the single mindedness that sometimes prevails among the library profession and wonder how it came to be that the only "professionals" that libraries seem to value are those with MLS/MLIS degrees? Lately, I feel like I’ve been reading and hearing all too often for the need of “marketing librarians”, “emergent literacy librarians” “programmer librarians” and I wonder why?

What’s wrong with just hiring marketing people who are passionate about libraries and have a degree and proven skills in “marketing”? Or hiring emergent literacy specialists who have a passion for libraries and a degree and proven skills in emergent literacy? Or hiring programmers that have a degree in the area and a passion for libraries? Perhaps it’s because the only way the profession has been taught to recognize and measure “passion” and “core values” is by three letters.

So how does this all relate to spaghetti sauce? Good question. Let me answer by asking a simple question … when you make spaghetti sauce what ingredients do you add? Do you just add tomatoes? Or do mix in some garlic, onions, basil and whole bunch of other complimentary ingredients in with it?

To me a library is a lot like a good recipe for spaghetti sauce -- If you only mash tomatoes (which BTW I do agree is the most important main ingredient ) together for your mix, you may have sauce but it’s definitely not going to be very appetizing. To spice a library up and make it an award winning recipe, you need to pepper your professional talent with many other degreed professionals - marketing specialists, project managers, early childhood educators, programmers, historians, etc… etc … etc. and stop thinking that only MLS degreed professionals offer the skills that today’s libraries need. Businesses and other non-profits don’t seem to think or operate this way -- so why do we?

Ed’s comment about the need for a different perspective is a very valid one “what has been interesting about the superpatron blogging I've done is that as a library patron I bring in a totally different perspective than many of the librarians out there.” Very True Ed. --and it's greatly appreciated! But as libraries, we need to do more than merely open our ears to our users. We need to also make sure that the "ears" we are are using to listen with come from a variety of different skill sets and backgrounds as well… otherwise we run the risk of interpreting what we hear from only tomato point of view.


Downloadable games from OverDrive

According to this, OverDrive is going to be adding games and interactive software to thier list of downloadable offerings.

"At the ALA Midwinter Meeting, OverDrive will demonstrate all of its download formats that can be downloaded and viewed on a single platform. Titles and publishers of OverDrive's latest format, games & interactive and educational software, include Sudoku, the wildly popular puzzle game from Global Software Publishing, North America; children's and interactive titles from Charlesbridge Publishing; and, arcade and card games such as Poker, Blackjack and Pool Hall."

Hmmm, sounds intriguing ... sorta. I can see the educational stuff for kids flying, but poker & blackjack? There's plenty of free stuff on the web, including my all time favorite - Centipede.

Yup, I know I'm dating myself by mentioning an Atari classic. But hey, doesn't everyone have a fondness for their first gaming addiction. :)

What was your first favorite video gaming addiction?

Summer Reading Teen Video

This is pretty cool ... 3 teens, aka the Rust sisters and patrons of our library, have created a film noir PSA for this year's National Collaborative Summer Reading Program titled YNK! You Never Know @ Your Library!.

It's pretty good, no? Hmmm, I wonder ... does the Oscars have a category for PSAs yet?

The DRM conversation continues ...

"The point of libraries is to make content freely available for the common good, I thought, so these restrictions are a little weird. Physical library cards don't require a certain type of wallet; why should the electronic ones only work on Windows?"

Read Public Libraries, Private DRM. The discussion chain is interesting too!

As for my 2 cents ... the problem isn't a DRM one, it's that neither of the leading library downloadable audiobook vendors, OverDrive & NetLibrary/Recorded Books seems to offer a solution that plays well with the most popular player. To me it just doesn't make smart business sense to build a service based upon only 28% of the MP3 player market share.

But then again, I'm not the vendor. I'm just a library staff member who frequently has to reply to patron inquries and frustrations about the service. :)

6 Pillars of web 2.0 design

Thanks to Karen Coombs for this excellent list of guidelines for developing websites that encompass 2.0 principles. She hits the key points right on ...

  1. Radical decentralization
  2. Small pieces loosely joined
  3. Perpetual beta
  4. Remixable content
  5. User as contributor
  6. Rich user experience

Read the full article, Building a Library Web Site on the Pillars of Web 2.0


The future of the record store?

From Chicago Sun Times: Keeping the music alive

"Music stores will be like the neighborhood bar, only we won't serve alcohol" Laurie said. 'It's a place to hang out and discuss music and discover something new. As long as people like music, there will be record stores."

Hmmm... reading this makes me think of libraries as "book bars", internet cafes and community chuckwagons. Anyone hungry for a a good biography or a bite of non-fiction? :)

J4F - Rebus Creator

A nifty tool that I'm sure will come in handy one day ...

This one's easy ... figured it out yet?



Tomorrow the folks at the Tampa Bay Library Consortium are kicking off their Learning 2.0 Challenge. It’s great to see more libraries jumping on board with these types of learning opportunities for staff and from the looks of it TBLC has put together an awesome program.

From those in attendance for my talk tomorrow, here’s a few links that will be helpful:


Try and say this three times fast …

Slide: Stephen Downes: Future of e-Learning

I’ve been doing some interesting reading lately on new learning theories… and stumbled upon a new word, connectivism,through a paper (and powerpoint) on e-learning by Stephen Downes.

Although the topic itself isn’t one that you can easily browse while soaking in a warm Calgon bath, it does make some interesting reading. More can be found on connectivism learning theory here.

Yup, try and say that three times fast. :)

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Does your reference desk promote bad posture?

Effective January 1, I inherited a new department under my area here at the library called the Virtual Village. This change energizes me and while I'm not actually be managing the department --That tasks falls into the capable hands of our new Emerging Technology Manager, Matt Gullett -- the thought of our library actually having a “laboratory space” (so to speak) for trying out new and emerging technologies excites me.

Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself in the VV talking with staff a lot and as I’ve stood by the “help desk” I’ve found myself oddly a little bit bothered by the arrangement of the desk design. This funny feeling isn’t really new to me, for we have many desks (reference, informational & otherwise) in our system that share the same attributes. But as I’ve thought about this uneasiness more and more and compared the desk setup to those of other retail & service-oriented businesses, I keep wondering … why are most of our information and reference desks designed to have the staff sitting down and the patron standing up? Why aren’t they designed so that both individuals can freely converse and have an information exchange on the same level?

In looking at the pool of reference desk photos found on Flickr, I’m happy to see that our library system isn’t the only one to adopt this type comfiguration. (BTW: There's also seems to be a lot of good examples that show desks that are designed put staff eye level with patrons). But when I compare it the service desks of other business related organizations that I’ve worked in (hotels and retail outlets) I’ve realize that most service point desks are designed to place the customer and service provider at the same visual level. Furthermore, it seems it’s only when the service asked for dictates a consultation (example: setting up a new account in a bank, seeking assistance from a hotel concierge with travel plans) that there’s a need to have information delivered from a sit down desk. And even so, when this does happen, the customer is usually offered a chair to place them at the same eye level with the service provider. I saw a few examples of this in Flickr, which is great! But these seemed to be out weighed by photos of low desks without chairs).

Anyway, I know that this is not anything new and in the great scheme of things it really isn’t anything to quibble over. But it does perplex me… why are so many of our service desks designed to place both our customers and employees at a disadvantage? Our customers have to constantly stoop and slump over our desks to get information (example here & here & here) and have conversations. And our staffs’ have to constantly crane their heads and turn screens at odd angles to converse and provide service.

In closing you can file this away as a mid January rant for really these are just my thoughts … :) But I have sneaking suspicion that this arrangement isn’t blessed by the American Chiropractic Association.

Flickr Pool: Reference Desk


Don't be shy ... say Hi!

I just discovered it's National De-Lurking Week which means ... if you stop by occasionally or read me often, please leave a comment and say hi. I promise, I won't bite. :)

PS: David King - how's this for inviting participation? :)

Big Week

As most staff members know, it's been a big week around here at PLCMC... most notably because of this. But my favorite part of the press release is 12 year-old Surya's reply...

"Surya spends a lot of time at the library’s ImaginOn Center, which she describes as “a place where kids can go to be kids.” In addition to just being with her friends at ImaginOn’s Teen Loft, Surya has taken several classes there in science, computer technology, and theatre. She also produced her own newscast at the center’s Studio I (Studio EYE) and recently made her first podcast. When IMLS asked Surya what she would do without ImaginOn, she thought for a few seconds before replying, “I couldn’t imagine.

Isn't it cool that she learned to create her first podcast (& newscast) at a library? And that she "couldn't imagine" what she do without ImaginOn. :)

Great quotes & other good reads ...

The latest copy of AL arrived in my mailbox today and I had the opportunity to practically read it cover-to-cover this morning while waiting for my 5 year-old to return from her kindergarten readiness test. The issue, newly designed, is just as sparkly and sharp inside as it is on the outside and in thumbing through the pages I was please to read several great articles.

Meredith Farkas' Balancing in the Online Life was excellent and I'll look forward to reading more of her contributions via a new column in the future. Also of note was Jenny Levine's column on gaming, Getting your Game On. She shares some great stats on players which indicate that that I fit the profile of a gamer more than my 15 year-old skateboard-fanatic neighbor. There's also an offering on 20 Tips to Inspire Innovation from Steve Abram -- this one needs a whole post in itself -- my favorite of which is #10, Have vision and dream big : "When the vision doesn't have enough stretch in it, things seem mediocre." How True.

And last but not least, I discovered a great quote from Miriam Pollack in an article titled In the Company of Friends: Learning through dialogue ...

"I think the key to learning is not the format, the medium, nor the message; it is the quality of the dialogue among peers that really matters."

I'll definitely be using this one sometime soon. :)

A serious reason to consider Cingular

And a BIG ONE at that! ... The iPhone is hot!


Just my thoughts - Leadership

I’ve been doing a lot of reading and thinking about leadership, specially around the idea of “leadership potential”, for a small side project that I'm working on.

So how do you recognize a potential leader in your organization? In most cases I think it’s easy. Here are some of my thoughts …

A leader seeks support … not permission
A leader presents ideas as well prepared proposals … not unfinished thoughts
A leader champions projects … they don't just plan

What are your thoughts? How do you recognize leadership potential?

Relieved ... [wipes brow] ... :) (SDI Webcast)

I can't tell you how relieved I am to have today's SirsiDynix Institute talk on Learning 2.0 behind me. With my training background and all the hours that I've logged standing in front of group of people, it seems very rare for me these days to work up a good sweat about speaking in public. But for some reason this online thing really threw me for a loop. The main thing I find mind boggling about it, is that 1) there's no way to see the faces of the people you're talking to so you can judge their reactions, and 2) you also don't have audio (laughter, chuckles, moans) to go by. For 50 - 60 minutes straight, your voice just has to fill a dead space in the hopes that some of what you may be saying is making sense to your audience.

Anyway, I'm glad it's over and although I barely slept last night, I feel pretty good about the presentation and was happy to see I was able to cover all the material with just a few minutes to spare.

In a review of my comments, a co-worker did point out one glaring piece of miscommunication in my presentation. So for those of who you attended, let me correct this here. The budget for Learning 2.0 project was 10K, not 1K as I blunder in the online presentation. I'm hopeful that some of you did do the math as I suggested, because 226 mp3 players (one for every participant who completed L2) x 38/player definitely comes out to more than $1000. Add to this figure (roughly $8500) and a new laptop that was raffled off at the end and you get the actual budget of $10K.

With that one misquote aside, everything else I shared was pretty much on target. If you're interested in the slides, I'll try and post them tonight they're added below. In the meantime, thanks to all who joined me on the nerve racking adventure. In retrospect, it wasn't that bad and yes, I think I could do one of those again. I'm just incredibly relieved to have this first one behind me and now all I want to do is get home and recapture my lost sleep.

Slides: Make Play your New Year's resolution (pdf)

PS: Archive of the event should also be up in a week or two.


What matters most to users

Kathy Sierra, from Creating Passionate Users, has a great piece this week that prompts some thoughts about promoting services, products, etc. In it she offers a great exercise to do with your staff members to see how they think.

If you were asked to write a user review for something that your company library offered, how would you write it? Would you focus on the product/service? Or on the strength of the organization that offered it? Think about it… and then jump on over and read Kathy’s piece Reverse-engineering user reviews.
“We don't want our users talking about the company or the product. All that matters is how they feel about themselves as a result of interacting with our product. How they feel about us has little impact on whether they'll become loyal (let alone passionate) users. All that matters is what we've helped them do or be. “

NTS: File in the same folder as On telling “our story”


Blues School @ Broward County Library

Broward County Library Blues School Schedule of Events
- cool!

World Community Grid Project

World Community Grid's mission is to create the largest public computing grid benefiting humanity. Our work is built on the belief that technological innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can change our world for the better. Our success depends on individuals - like you - collectively contributing their unused computer time to this not-for-profit endeavor.”

PLCMC is one of the newest partners in this amazing humanitarian/technology project that harnesses unused computing power to fight AIDS, study and compare genomes and proteomes (human protein structures) and seek a cure for cancer. And in looking through the list of over 300 partners, it looks like we just may also be the first public library too – Could that really be true?

World Community Grid - How it works

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Lifestyle & Leisure Opportunities

From Springwise - Top 10 lifesytle & leisure business ideas for 2006

Being Spaces for Writers & Parents

"This third-room phenomenon (commercial living-room-like settings, where catering and entertainment aren't the main attraction, but are there to facilitate small office/living room activities like watching a movie, reading a book, meeting friends and colleagues, or doing your admin) continues to evolve."

Sound familiar?

Teen Second Life on cover of SLJ

I’ve known that SJL was going to feature the Teen Library Second life project for a couple of months now, but seeing the flying avatar on the cover just makes it better. :)

“A Web presence that helps teens develop positive identities, take charge of their lives, and assume leadership roles as world citizens? As librarians, we knew a good thing when we saw one...

So in fall 2006, PLCMC and the Alliance Library System (ALS) in East Peoria, IL, announced a formal partnership to create Eye4You Alliance, an island within the teen grid. By setting up shop in the virtual sphere, we hoped to establish a dedicated space for youth that was both informative and interactive and could function as a bridge to other youth organizations”

Read the full article, Meet the New You
And then check out more on the project at the Eye4You alliance blog.

PS: Congrats Kelly & Matt on a great article!

Library users – a stat that concerns me

Flipping through last month’s Public Libraries magazine, I came across an astonishing figure in Susan Hildreth’s column titled Public Libraries and Baby Boomers (sorry I can’t seem to find an updated link to either the magazine or article).

“By 2014, 65 percent of current library customers will be between fifty and seventy years of age.”

In reading this I had several reactions…

  1. - "Wow!" 65% percent over 50 years of age. If this prediction holds true, then libraries are in trouble.

  2. – "Yikes!" Although I hate to admit it, I myself will be a VERY early (note the emphasis on very, as in just barely) entrant into this category by 2014.

  3. – [fingers crossed] I’m glad I chose to have my children later in life & hope the old saying that “kids keep you young” rings true!

  4. – "Yawza!!!!" This is a seriously scary statistic and once you compare it to US population data, it looks even worse.

According to 2000 Census information only 22% of the population are Baby Boomers while nearly 43% of population fall into the Gen X category and below. If this is the case, then perhaps we need to worry more about redefining services to capture the attention of younger library users then focusing on retention of an already well captivated audience.

Please don’t get me wrong ... I’m not disagreeing with Susan’s article which articulates the need to keep services fresh for aging active adults. Library services should always be retooled to remain relevant to changing users needs no matter what the age or demographic. However, the fact that in less than seven years nearly 2/3 of all library users will be over the age of 50, when the population demographics swing the other way, simply means that we need to do more.

PS: Couple this thought with the recent decision from the Maplewood Memorial Library to close their doors every afternoon between 2:45 -5 pm in order to keep middle-schoolers from "congregating in the building to socialize with friends" and we’re really in trouble.

Michael Casey makes some great observations about this and demonstrates how libraries, Like Gwinnett’s Dacula branch have handle issues like these positively. And while I 'm sure there's a bigger story here then what's been shared so far, I sure hope Maplewood can use some of the public's backlash over this announcement to get the funding and resources they need to re-establish service and make the library a positive experience for ALL.


Do comments make a blog a blog?

There’s an interesting conversation happening over at TechCrunch today about the power of comments on a blog. The poll is still open, but with 2300+ votes already gathered there seems to be a strong feeling that comments enhance the content of a blog.

Poll results: Jan 1 9:05 pm est:

On a personal note, I find it annoying to read blogs that don’t encourage conversation. But that's just me. On the other hand I also think it's fine to use a "blogging tool" to merely publish time sensitive information, like press releases, library programs, etc. to easily create RSS feeds. But if you're gonna call it a "blog" and acknowledge it as such to your readers, then I think there's an inherit implication that you're interested in feedback and creating a conversation.

Anyway, there’s still time to weigh in – what are your thoughts?

On conversations & 2006 …

Like many people, every year around this time I enter a reflective mood and think back upon the events, accomplishments and challenges of the last year.

My husband gets a kick out of my January 1st “best book” ritual in which I record the best events (best date with the spouse, best vacation etc) and best things (best bargain, best laugh, best reason to contemplate throwing in the towel, etc.) of the year. The book sits on the corner shelf in our den and although it's plainly in sight, it is only opened once year - tomorrow being the 17th or 18th time. :)

Anyway, why this story? Well, with my first complete year of biblioblogging behind me, I find myself reflecting on “bests” in this area too! So to continue the trend, I thought I'd add a brief recap of the few posts,from among my year long rambles, that stand out to me as those that have generated the most conversation (both in and out of blogland):

And finally, the entry that has by far generated more hits, comments and conversation on this blog … MySpace Library Profiles – UPDATED

In closing this year (that being my first full year of blogging about libraries & technology) I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all those out-of-the-box thinkers and blogging colleagues out there who help not only to stretch my mind but to continuously challenge libraries to move forward.

Thanks ALL for a great year of conversation !!! Here's to more in 2007!