Google Maps

I’m pretty sure I’m not the last to notice that Google maps now offers directions by both public transportation and walking. But the clarity of the street level view is really what blows me away...

Just wonder how long it will take to include how many calories I’ll burn by walking or calculate how much metro/bus fare I need to make the journey?

8/1 UPDATE: Sometimes it's kinda scary how like minded people in organizations think...

Last night after I blogged this, I discovered a twitter message from Sam (aka CML Code Monkey) that he was working on incorporating Googles new directions options into our library site. I didn't blog that idea last night when I noted the new features, but I was thinking about it :) ... and then here it is less than 24 hours later and Sam has made it work on the locations page our site. Check it out...

Public transportation directions to the library are awesome!!! Thanks Sam!

"Gaming is storytelling for teenagers"

Luv this quote from Julie...

"Gaming is storytelling for teenagers," said Julie Scordato, a teen-services specialist for Columbus' libraries. "You get to mingle, play and talk, and you get to really know them. Then when you suggest a book, they listen."

Full story at Dispatch, Libraries Video Games are Teen Magnet.


Join us August 12th for a conversation with ...

Tonight I'm really excited on two counts because ...

  1. Michael Stephens will be here at CML on the 12th to help us kick off Learn&Play@CML for staff.

  2. if you're in the Columbus area and would like to attend, we have limited number seats available for other libraries and library staff to join us.

Michael Stephens

The Columbus Metropolitan Library is pleased to extend an invitation to neighboring area libraries and library professionals to join us for a conversation with Michael Stephens, renowned library speaker, author and Dominican University Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Columbus Metropolitan Library
Main Library Auditorium
96 S. Grant Avenue

View the online invitation for more details.



My communication channels today have been all a buzz about Cuil (pronounced “cool”), a new search engine. From emails from colleagues about its privacy features and google-like simple search appeal to Twitter blasts about its broken messages from being overloaded already on launch day, I couldn't help missing that there was a new player on the net.

The jury’s still out for me, but for those you whose channels weren't flooded (at least like mine) here’s a bit about its claims announced today...

“MENLO PARK, Calif.—July 28, 2008—Cuil, a technology company pioneering a new approach to search, unveils its innovative search offering, which combines the biggest Web index with content-based relevance methods, results organized by ideas, and complete user privacy. Cuil ( has indexed 120 billion Web pages, three times more than any other search engine.

Cuil (pronounced COOL) provides organized and relevant results based on Web page content analysis. The search engine goes beyond today’s search techniques of link analysis and traffic ranking to analyze the context of each page and the concepts behind each query. It then organizes similar search results into groups and sorts them by category.

Cuil gives users a richer display of results and offers organizing features, such as tabs to clarify subjects, images to identify topics and search refining suggestions to help guide users to the results they seek.”

It will be interesting to see if Cuil can pull it off. The privacy claims are a big deal ... at least IMHO :)


Strategy … Tactics … and pizza delivery?

Strategy and tactical planning is something that I’m sure every library and organization to some degree struggles with. Trying to balance priorities and opportunities with budget constraints and organizational capacity is a never easy task. The challenges associated with having to make tough decisions can often lead to a lot of heartburn, both figuratively and literally.

For the past few weeks I’ve gained a tremendous appreciation for all planning and effort that goes into building a tactical plan as I’ve worked alongside colleagues to lead this year’s annual planning process.

Right now we’re in phase 4 of a 6 step process, which we’ve call our Tactical Camps. The tactical camps provide an opportunity for all staff to participate in the planning process and creates a clear and direct channel for staff to submit ideas for consideration.

I really like the video that our communications team did with Pat Losinski, CML Executive Director, to kick-off this effort. The video covers all the critical points of strategy, tactics and even a little bit humor...

Yup, I’m learning a lot in my new position at CML under Pat’s leadership. And high on this month’s list is

a) strategy
b) tactical planning
c) the fated partnership of a pizza & book reserves delivery service. :)

oh, and most importantly...

d) our staff have great ideas.

Don't forget the Invitation...

Totally *heart* this thought left by the Type A Librarian a few days ago in response to this post about Google's 10 user experience principles.

"I'd like to add principle #11...(so much for keeping it simple.) #11-Send an invitation. I think every time we interact with someone in person or otherwise, we are provided a brief opportunity to send an invitation...To discover something new or to appreciate the familiar-to have an unexpected experience (wow them!)-to build a relationship-to learn our value-to come back again...I wonder how many opportunities like this we miss?"

Thank Jennifer! Your 11th item is so spot on. There is so much to gain when you to take the extra step to surprise your customers with the unexpected and offer them an "invitation."


Iceberg Thoughts on Succeeding with Change

One more than one occasion within the past two weeks, I’ve pointed people to this small (& extremely easy to read) book that I read well over a year ago which address the big question - how to succeed in leading change.

I won’t spoil the storyline for those who might be reading. It really is an easy read. You can tackle the whole thing it just under an hour. Anyway, in thinking about the title, it got me wondering if anyone out there had made a slide adaptation* of the book... The Slideshare (I love this tool btw) community didn’t let down…

But don’t stop at viewing this slide adaptation … read the book. If you don't have a copy in your library, you can also view it online. But I mist tell you that Google's version is missing the images...

... and IMHO that's half the appeal. :)

*Bonus: This adaptation also focuses on "green"


50 ways to ...

Last week I had the pleasure to participate in a Columbus Metropolitan Club panel conversation on social media tools. My co-conversationalists were Walker Evans founder of the Columbus Underground and Tim Eby, WOSU Radio Station Manager and social media guy extraordinaire. During the session, we fielded lots of great questions, but one that stuck out in my mind was the question from an ad exec who asked how do you decide what to do and how to get started?

Tim had a great reply (you can watch the video if you're interested in his exact response). And, when a colleague forwarded me this post yesterday, I couldn’t help but think that this would have been a great list of suggestions to get her started.

50 Ways to Use Social Media Tools, listed by Objective

PS: Thanks Cat for the link :)

Planning Paradoxes

Perhaps it’s because I’m helping to lead my library's annual strategic planning process this year that I find this slide set on business planning paradoxes so interesting…

It’s so true, there are so many contradictions to balance whenever your trying to plan and determine the best course of action to follow. The decisions are never easy and from my past experience I can attest... that it seems that the harder it is to move forward, the more paradoxes there are to address.

How about you and your library? Do any of these planning paradoxes sound familiar?


#3 is the give-a-way...

Jason Hyatt over at posted some good thoughts about some certain company’s guiding principles for creating user experiences. Here are the principles…

1. Focus on people- their lives, their work, their dreams.
2. Every millisecond counts.
3. Simplicity is powerful.
4. Engage beginners and attract experts.
5. Dare to innovate.
6. Design for the world.
7. Plan for today’s and tomorrow’s business.
8. Delight the eye without distracting the mind.
9. Be worthy of people’s trust.
10. Add a human touch.

Now here’s the questions…

a) What principles here do you see that relate to customer experiences in libraries? (like Jason, I also see several)

b) Can you guess the company? (guess before you click)


Homepage Preferences

Homepage preferences? Everyone has an opinion. Some people prefer the Amazon approach with lots of content to choose from. Others prefer the Google approach, the simpler the better.

In my recent travels I stumbled across Queens Library new(ish)* home page which allows visitors to select their preference, “full homepage” or “simple”. What a brilliant way to satisfy both preferences

* To be honest, I don't know how long Queens' site in this format has been live, but I like "simple" option. Now how I do I set this as my default... [off to peruse the site some more]


Conferences – The dozen business card challenge

Stephen Abram posted his a recent Information Outlook column titled Getting the Most out of Your Conference Experience and it made me reflect a bit on the value of conferences and the advice that I often also give first-time conference attendees. Great article BTW with lots of great tips.

It took me two major conferences before I figured out the secret to making at a conference like ALA truly valuable. The real value in attending isn’t found anywhere within the program guide itself; the real value is found by closing the guide, looking around and saying hello to the person sitting next to you.

Last fall when I took two former colleagues to their first Internet Librarian conference (and also first library conference of any kind) I jokingly told them I would only expect one thing from them when they returned … “a pile of at least a dozen business cards or list of names” of colleagues in other libraries that they talked to. In a big way I was serious. I wanted them to know that I expected them to use their first conference experience for more than gathering information ... I expected them to also make connections.

The truth is most of the program stuff that you find at conferences, you can actually read about in trade journals or online. Sure it’s valuable to get it all in one place and hear from the source in person. But if that’s all you do when you go to a conference is sit silently and listen to programs -- Seriously, that's what nearly 90% of newby attendees do. I've watched them. -- then you’re missing out on the most important reason for attending - people. Making connections, comparing stories, and learning about different library approaches to solving familiar problems is definitely the biggest return on your travel value and attendance. It’s these type of conference take-a-ways that will serve you and your library best whenever you need a different library’s perspective on a policy change, a new program idea or just an outside colleague to bounce idea off of. And it’s also these type of take-a-ways that make the next conference even more valuable then before, because now you have the opportunity to reconnect with an old acquaintance.

If you’re not getting much out of the conferences that you attend (or sending a staff member off to their first conference as well) I might suggest the 12 business card challenge. It will change your/their whole conference experience... for the better! :)

Learning 2.0 Interview

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of speaking with Sarah Long, director of the North Suburban Library System and former ALA president, as part of her Longshots podcast series.

>>> Longshots #109 (17 min)

Download [17:25]

The topic won't surprise many of you ... yup, Learning ! :)

SLJ launches Learning 2.0 !

When I ran into Brian Kenney at ALA I was excited to hear that the School Library Journal was launching their own version of Learning 2.0 and that it would be open to anyone. :) Today Brian blogged it.

"For a while now (and prodded by our Technology Editor, Kathy Ishizuka) I've realized it would be a great idea if all of us here at SLJ went through a "23 Things" like experience. After all, we are always writing about different 2.0 applications, shouldn't we experience them as well? Walk the walk, talk the talk, and all of that...So I resolved that we'd do it this summer.

Then I got to thinking: if we're going to do it, why not open it up and invite everyone to join us?

So that's what we are going to do. But we're not going it alone; we've asked 2.0 guru, Dominican faculty member, and season trainer Michael Stephens to join us for the ride. Beginning Monday, July 21, Michael will author a blog here on that will lead us through the different exercises, offer guidance, answer questions, and even provide a little hand-holding. We're calling it "All Together Now: A 2.0 Learning Experience."

As you might guess, I'm personally thrilled to see SLJ pick-up and support this program. I'm also thrilled that Michael Stephens (aka 2.0 guru*) will be leading the effort -- a great choice !

And for my fellow CML colleagues who might be wondering ... Yes, we will be launching our version of the program for staff very, very, verrry soon (look for announcement shortly). And I also might add that Michael Stephens, himself, will be joining us to kick it off. :)

* sorry Michael, I couldn't resist :)


Digital Services' Passion Quilt

Since joining CML, I’ve always felt that there was an incredible amount passion among the staff for the work that they do. So when I asked my team last month ago to indulge me in a little exercise for our next departmental meeting, I didn’t quite know what to expect. Nor did I know what they might think about creating a square for own department’s version of the passion quilt.

Click on image to view slideshare of images

When Kelly (aka dept. asst. extraordinaire) compiled the results that were shared during our last meeting, I just have to say that I was blown away. In fact the images have left me with a lasting impression. I feel blessed to work with such an incredibly passionate, dedicated and talented team. And all I think is that as we continue to growth as a department (and tap into each others passions) we’re going to seriously rock!

Those of us that have chosen to work in libraries no all too well that a career in this field is rarely motivated by money. It’s the passion for what we do … either for helping people… or enriching lives … or making a difference … or whatever … that is really what drives us to work in libraries. I believe our “passions” are among our greatest assets. And, when we can align these to our work and skillset, well... it's quite simple, really ...amazing things happen !

PS: Thanks team again for indulging me with this exercise and also for allowing me to share your incredible passions that continue to help CML shine.

[Reposted from The CML Digital Services Department blog. Sorry, that blog is internal only]


An open letter to Maggie

At the LITA President’s session this past weekend I sat next to young woman who was obviously an exceptional multi-tasker. As she listen and took notes during the session, she kept toggling back and forth to coding a style sheet that seemed to be for an online resume. Before I got up to leave, I passed her one of my cards and asked if she was job hunting. She indicated that she was still in library school, but one day hoped to land a job as a web developer.

Fast forward to yesterday and a follow-up email I received from Maggie* -- a smart girl. So many people forget to follow-up on simple things that spark a future opportunity. Anyway, thought I’d openly share my reply to her for anyone else out there who might also be considering a career in the digital side of libraries.

Hi Maggie,

Thanks for your email and follow-up. It was good to meet you, even if briefly during the session. Working in libraries within the digital space, I couldn't help but look over your shoulder a bit as you worked on your project. I hope I didn't seem nosey.

As you continue in your studies at [the University] -- and especially with a desire to work in web development -- I would encourage you to begin to actively develop your online presence. It will serve you well when you start to look for that first position in libraries to stretch and build your skills.

Again thanks for the email and best of luck to you in finishing your studies. I know you indicated that you were mainly interested in working an academic setting. Having worked 15+ years in the public libraries, a dozen or so specifically in the web services, I might also recommend public libraries. In comparing notes with colleagues from academic libraries, many have been envious of the greater freedom that public libraries often have to innovate and try new things. And, in the digital space that can be a huge benefit. :)

Take Care,

Helene Blowers

If you're in library school and are looking for a career in libraries (or any organization for that matter) within the digital space, nothing IMHO demonstrates your knowledge, capabilities or interest more than a strong digital presence. If you don't have one, get one! And if you do, then... continue to strengthen it. :)

* Note: Name has been changed to protect the “interested” :)

PS: Thanks "Maggie" and best wishes.