5 Why Nots

Tony Tallent over at Yes to Know offers up a great list to get a new meme started, 5 Why Nots - small (or big) ideas to try in your library. Here's my additions off the top of my head. Take 'em for what their worth and ditto to Tony's sentiment if your library is already doing these.

My 5 why nots? Here they are:

Why not...
  1. allow multiple renewals on checked out items and keep books in the hands of your users rather then on the shelves.
  2. use the PA system to share friendly announcements and promos at the top of each hour. Record them in advance, add music and make them sound appealing.
  3. showcase local artists work (including school art) 365 days a year.
  4. do storytime & puppet show birthday parties (for a fee too!). Make sure every kid attending gets a library card and show them how much fun a library can be.
  5. offer a mylar cover wrapping service for a small fee. I think there are tons of booklovers out there who adore this service.

OK, that's my 5 for the evening ... what's yours?

Filed Under - Food for Thought

I've become a big fan of Hugh Macleod's cartoons drawn on the back of business cards --It's the simple & clever ideas that make it, don't they? -- Anyway, since this one offers food for thought on so many levels, I just thought I'd share.

It reminds me of a thought I heard expressed recently by a respected colleague. I'm parphasing here a bit, but ... "It's annoying to be asked to think outside-the-box and come up with all sorts of great ideas, just so someone else can use the ideas to create a new box for me."

Yup, changing the system from within can be difficult to do. But one thing is for sure, it doesn't happen from merely falling in line with the status quo and doing things as you've always done them. :)


RSS in plain English

As a trainer by heart, I'm always on the look out for great sutff that can aid in learning. Here's my latest stumble... a little video from Lee Lefever of the CommonCraft Show that is called RSS in Plain English.

PS: The technique is ketchy. I may just have to borrow it sometime. :)


The CE Litmus Test

Reading Sarah Houghton-Jan's post on how to allow change in your library institution takes me immediately to an internal question I have asked myself repeatly over the past year. Every time a staff member has submitted a request for technology project, policy change or helpdesk ticket, etc., here is the question that I've run through my head... "Is what I’m being asked (or doing myself) to approve/ fund/ support/ decide, something that will empower or control?"

If it empowers the patron or the staff, I've found myself rubber stamping it almost every time. If it controls the patron, I’ve found myself rejecting it almost exclusively or asking the staff member who submitted it to try an approach the problem from another angle. And if it controls the staff, I’ve often had to ask for more clarification in order to find out if it’s just a departmental need or something that could affect the entire system.

This question has become my own little litmus test. And as a result of asking it continually to myself I have found that it’s been more easy for me to say to “yes” to those things that will make a difference to users and staff and more likely to say “no” or send the idea back to drawing board to see if there’s better way to handle or achieve the desired effect.

So when Sarah asks “What can you do to empower change in your institution? How can you move things forward?” Here’s my simple answer… try the CE (control vs empower) litmus test. It can't cure budget woes, but boy does it make a difference in policy and management decisions.

BTW: In decisions that require a choice between empowering users or empowering staff - users trump staff every time. :)

Related Post: On Control & Empowerment


NJLA Presentations

Well I finally got around to trying Slideshare and I must say I’m impressed. Uploading my slides was cinch and the flash player can be embedded into my blog with ease.

Since I have two presentations at NJLA conference tomorrow, I’m opting for the easy route and just linking to both presentations from here. I have to thank Lori Reed and Julia Lanham, PLCMC staff trainer extraordinaires, for developing such a great staff program and for assistance in working up a 45 minute talk for tomorrow. Ideally it would be great if they could delivered the program themselves. But being one of the champions of the program, as well as PLCMC’s first staff trainer, I feel I'm in a pretty good position to share all their excellent work as a runner up. :)

As for Learning 2.0, I am always happy to speak about encouraging staff to explore and play. Listed below are links to the slides (in SlideShare) and supporting stuff. For those in attendance at either of my talks tomorrow, please be sure to say "Hello".


PLCMC Core Competencies
Learning 2.0

Lots of supporting stuff (links to pdfs, etc) for both presentations can be found from the post I did about my CIL talk last week - which was a greatly condensed version of both presentations.

PS: Yay! for Charlotte Douglas airport, who has free wifi - even all the way down terminal B. :) Pah! to USAirways, who's delayed my flight for over a hour. :(


Libraries are participatory networks

"Knowledge is created through conversation. Libraries are in the knowledge
business. Therefore, libraries are in the conversation business."

Participatory Networks: A Library Conversation


CIL Wrap Up -- Thoughts

My CIL experience this year was bittersweet and I find myself personally leaving with a lot more unanswered questions and frustrations than new ideas and inspirations. Sure there were a lot of great take-a-aways and ideas, but after giving my talk about Learning 2.0 Tuesday morning I had conversations with so many passionate and motivated librarians that were just so disheartening. One lovely woman even burst into tears. “You don’t know how much your talk meant to me and gave me new hope. I’ve been trying to get our management to look at these things for years, but ... I’m sorry to cry. My tears aren’t because of you. They’re just from all my frustrations.”

This type of frustration I heard echoed in almost every conversation (but thankfully not all) I had over the past three days. And given that this is about the 3rd Computers in Libraries conference highlighting the same tools and trends (wikis, blogs, user-generated content, the long tail etc), I’m beginning to wonder if what the profession really needs is just to give some administrators a good swift kick in the head. Those that I spent my time talking with clearly got all the 2.0 concepts, in fact they were apostles. But after trying to move their libraries forward for the past year or so, they felt stippled and oppressed by stale management and old world politics.

My heart melted a bit every time I heard a story from a passionate librarian whose gallant efforts to provide new and fresh services were crushed by the old guard. Clearly things need to change… but I’m struggling even myself with exactly just how?

The answers I know aren’t simple, but my sense is that these woes can be summed up in one question … Is your library, your management, your leadership culture built around policies and practices that “control” or are they open and flexible to “empower” both employees and your customers?

The answer to this question from all the conversations I've had is obvious. The hard part is trying to figure out the answer to the next logic question … how do we help libraries and management make this critical transition?

To all those I spoke with at CIL who can relate to this post. Thanks for keeping up the “good fight” and doing all that you are to move your organizations forward. It’s hard to fight battles through small change, but with enough small battles, it creates some erosion. And the thing about erosion is ... that if it continues long enough, it eventually leads to an avalanche of new opportunity!


CIL 2007 Talk

Helen Blowers on Learning 2.0
Originally uploaded by madinkbeard.
For those of you in the audience for my CIL talk tomorrow, here's some links to the slides and follow up references:

CIL 2007 talk: From Core Competencies to Learning 2.0 (slides)

Core Competencies:

Learning 2.0:

Technorati Tags: ,


Worth a view

I've often said that the best career move I ever made was waiting to have my children until late in life; it forces me daily to look at things through a younger generation's eyes. It's true, your perspective changes instantly the moment you give birth, which is probably why I find this video so poignant and refreshing.

Although it's aimed at helping educators take a fresh look at the classroom, I think there's many thoughts here that can also be applied to the stacks.

PS: Thanks Aaron for the recommendation.


Abram on Change

I just finished reading Stephen Abram's opening article in this month's SirsiDynix OneSource newsletter and I just gotta say that I'm a) floored ... and b) IMPRESSED!!

It's not often you see a company putting the human side at the top of their corporate-speak publication. But Stephen's thoughts, insights and openness are saying a lot to me personally about the new SirsiDynix. I know that transparency is hard to achieve - even in the good times! Which makes me appreciate even more the honesty in his words. View the full article here: Change – Arrghhhhh!

As my library system is undergoing change ourselves with a pending reorganization, I can relate even more to these words of wisdom:

The Final Stage: Commitment

When we commit to the change, we start focusing on the future instead of dwelling on the past. We develop a clearer sense of our roles – and where the future is going – and how it empowers and enlightens our own visions of where we want to succeed in supporting learning and communities. In this stage, our success is dependent on consolidating the change and cutting the strings to the past. If we stay in two camps too long, we damage our ability to invest in our future. We must ensure that we recognize and reward people who are responding well to the change. We also need to recognize some change resistance as positive, if it’s able to be turned into good feedback on how to implement the changes more effectively. Seeing all change resistance as “bad” empowers the resisters as negative contributors, instead of as critical thinkers.

Thanks Stephen.


2007 Technology Summit - An Invitation

Wow! It's hard to believe we're only a few weeks away from our 2nd Technology Summit. Last year's summit was such a hit with staff, that I envision that year's will break record attendance. The theme this year is Virtual Worlds, Gaming & Beyond and I'm please to announce that we have two of the hottest speakers out there, Stephen Abram and Lori Bell.

PLCMC 2007 Technology Summit
Tuesday, May 15, 2007 1pm - 5pm
Wachovia Theater @ ImaginOn
Charlotte, NC

The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County is pleased to extend an invitation to staff from neighboring libraries to join us for afternoon of thought provoking conversation featuring Lori Bell and Stephen Abram.

More info here.

If you're in the Charlotte area, by all means please join us. :)


365 days of libraries

The invite from Flickr was in my Inbox this morning and in logging on I see the group is already 115 members strong.

“365 Library Days Project: A tool for advocacy and inspiration

Here's the idea:

Let's get as many libraries as we can to sign up for a customized, library friendly version of the 365 project. That would mean that if you decide to participate, you would commit to downloading at least 365 pictures from in, around or about the library you work in, for and/or with. Uploading a picture every day for 365 days in this case wouldn't be practical, but committing to 365 images in a year could be done fairly easily. It could also have HUGE value for your library.”

Wow! I love this idea. Thanks Michael Porter for creating and coming up with it. Pictures definitely do say more then prose ... and just think how exciting it would be to also invite members of your community to participate. :)

PS: The tag for the flickr pool is "365libs"

Just some thoughts on customer service ...

Over the past month I’ve found myself in the middle of several discussions about how to improve customer service. It’s not that the customer service we provide at the library is bad – on the contrary, our patron polls consistently give us high marks in customer friendliness – but as we strive as an organization to become more customer-centric, there’s always room to make improvements.

In comparing notes with colleagues that have worked in other highly customer-focused industries (most notably the high-end department store retail market and 5-star hotel industry), I’ve been thinking a lot about some of the basic tenets of libraries and have found myself wondering this ...

... if in striving as an organization to treat all library users equally, do we miss the opportunity to treat them special (as individuals) ?

I know there’s a fine line between these two ideas and many might argue differently. But as we look at continually improving our customer service I have to ask … shouldn’t we really give up concentrating on improving overall customer service, and instead focus our energies on making sure each individual user walks away from the library feeling special ?

Obviously I don't have all the answers. But I think it's good to ask the questions. What do you think? Are these ideals the same or can they contradict ?

PS: Stephanie, I know this doesn’t quite address your question about the definition of customer experience, but I think it does make a stab in the right direction. And if you'd ask me to pinpoint the goal in creating great customer experiences, I think the answer is simple; it's to help customers feel good about themselves. :)



Just a few thoughts read recently that stuck with me ...

"You can create IT faster than you can create mental acceptance of it." - Greg Wyler

"The blogosphere is the kitchen of educational research and writing, and traditional journals and publications are the living room." - Scott Schwister.

"People grow in the direction of the questions they ask” — David Cooperrider, PhD


Podcast thoughts ...

I recieved an email today from someone who had heard about Learning 2.0 from the New York Times podcast. Before the email, I didn't even realize that the NYTimes had podcasts, but in looking over their list, they have many.

Anyway, Tech Talk comes out on Thursday and today they talked about social networking tools. And as I listened to the friendly chatter, I thought to myself... this is exactly the type of podcasts we should be doing in libraries. Current topics, current events, current culture ... our libraries support all these. So instead of podcasting about all the great resources and services we offer, why not just talk about a current issue of the week? Surely this would be more appealing and also position us better as a community resource for fresh ideas and new information.

PS: On side note, our first Wiis for the library arrived today -- Yay! I got wholloped in Wii doubles tennis. But that's OK -- at least I didn't damage or break anything. :)


Filed Under: Sticky

I've been intrigued by the "sticky" factor lately. It seems to have also become one of the latest buzz words for great book titles (& subtitles).

Anyway, here’s an example of something that's "sticky" - at least to me.

What makes this site's flash header so captivating is how well it spins a story. From the opening frames (and sentence), I find myself glued to the screen just to see what happens next. And guess that's what "sticky" is to me; a memorable experience that makes me want more.

Don't ask me where this post is going. To be honest I haven't a clue. But what I do know is that there is something very "sticky" about good storytelling... and I can't think of better place to benefit from this glue then libraries. :)

PS: I'd love to see what NTI Upstream could do with a library marketing campaign. How about you? :)