Archive for the ‘library 2.0’ Category.

Smart swapping

Catching up further, I saw this on in AL Direct — this guy stretches his library’s tiny collection development budget with sites like Paperbackswap and BookMooch. Smart!

On the same day, Clark had packaged seven books to ship out — paying all the postage personally — though he said both the incoming and outgoing stacks were smaller than average. Web sites make it possible. Clark has 800 books listed on www.bookmooch.com, 1,500 on www.swaptree.com and 2,500 on www.paperbackswap.com. He keeps a wish list of items he’s looking for, as do librarians and individuals all over the world. Computers do the matching.

In an era when any publicly funded institution has to spend wisely, Clark manages to make a lot out of a little. His annual buying budget of $4,400 comes from donations, grants, and proceeds from the library’s endowment. His salary and other operating expenses are covered by contributions from the towns of Hartland, St. Albans and Palmyra.

While he said the library has enjoyed steady public funding in recent years, it still operates on a bare-bones budget. Clark is the only employee, paid for 34 hours a week. There are situations like that all over Maine, said Stephanie Zurinski, the Maine State Library’s central Maine liaison.

Why the heck not? Especially for a smaller library that needs to maintain a tight and very current collection — what a great way to make use of weeded items and donations. And check this out:

Since Clark took over at Hartland Public Library four years ago, the collection has grown from 16,000 to 24,000 items and the formerly meager DVD, audio book and music collections now fill numerous shelves, according to Clark. Circulation has tripled to about 75 books a day and the patron list has grown from 700 to about 1,250

I’m darn impressed that he pays for the postage himself out of that 34-hour-a-week salary, too. I don’t know what he’d call it, but I’d call this Library 2.0 in action.

The Library Latte Factor

If you’ve read any articles or books on personal finance or America’s dismal savings rate over the past few years, you’ve probably seen reference to the “latte factor.” If not, here’s the nutshell summary: We don’t tend to think about how small things can add up and about the opportunity cost of spending money on one thing instead of another. So, you may pick up a Starbucks latte every morning on the way to work (yes, let’s pick on Starbucks again…), thinking “It’s only $4.00.” Over the course of a year, 5 lattes, or $20, a week adds up to $240. If you instead put that $240 each year into a higher-yield account, or contribute to your IRA, or up your 401k or 403b contributions, you can play with the math and be suitably amazed by how much more you would earn over time.

The idea here is that all these little things add up — yes, maybe you don’t feel the pinch when you buy lattes (or whatever your personal vice may happen to be), but add lattes, to lunches out, to having to have that iPhone the week it comes out, and eventually something has to give. If you buy lattes, or lunches, or iPhones, that’s money you now don’t have to spend on something else.

This comes to mind when reading David Lee King’s recent Answering the What Do I Have to Stop Doing Question, on how to answer library folks who ask what they have to stop doing in order to do new things with technology. David’s answer focuses on reframing the question in terms of library priorities. He explains:

Will your daily work change? Maybe. Will some things that you currently do not get done? Maybe – but that’s ok. Because you’ll be focused not on “doing stuff,” but on moving the organization forward.

So yes – the less important, non-prioritized stuff will either get done or get forgotten – and that’s ok. Because you have reframed your question.

That’s a good answer, which fits right into the latte factor idea of determining your priorities and where you want to spend, whether it be money or time — but I’m not sure it goes far enough in answering the question. (Read the comments and links as well for more perspectives.)

Some of the commenters point out ways in which Web 2.0 technologies help save time in the long run, which is another piece of the puzzle here. In smaller, less well-funded libraries than David’s, the time issue is a more major concern: every bit of the day can be filled up with serving organizational priorities, especially if you are the only one there. The “that’s OK” answer also carries the danger of how we define the “smaller, less important” stuff — it’s easy to get sucked into Web 2.0 things instead, defining these as more important because they’re, well… FUN. But, someone still has to sweat the small stuff and keep those library wheels turning.

I think that we need to acknowledge that answering “what did you have to stop doing in order to start doing these new things?” question involves true opportunity cost. At home, the answer may very well be “watching so much TV.” At work, though, it’s not always as simple, especially if your organizational (or administrative) priorities don’t as easily translate to “take time to try new things.” Sometimes taking time to try new things means not taking the time to do “old things” that are useful to or cherished by some segment of your population. If you can make the argument that both reflect organizational priorities, how do you choose? How do you make sure your choice reflects your library’s and your patron’s needs, rather than your own preferences? That’s a piece of the conversation I’d like to see extended further.

Of shoes and CIL

A recent post at Get Rich Slowly on “What do you Splurge on?” got me thinking about my cute and comfortable new conference shoes. (Yes, I realize that for some people $90 shoes aren’t a “splurge,” but it’s all in the context… And never buy something on shoebuy.com w/o searching for discount codes first. Just saying.) This is the first time I’ve tromped around a conference for a few days without limping my way to the airport later; I liked these shoes so much I went and bought another pair in black.

But enough about the shoes, except that “wear comfortable shoes” is one of those conference tips to always take seriously. I’m just back from this year’s Computers in Libraries conference, where as you can see I did some very serious work.

I also saw some useful and inspiring presentations, but kept thinking: how can we translate these ideas to libraries that don’t have the resources of, say, a PLCMC or TSCPL? I’d like to see a conference track on innovation in smaller libraries, and was wondering if you all concur — and what types of topics you’d like to see there? Are you doing cool things in your library without a lot of resources? Who else do you know that’s doing so?

Denied!

On the “what is your library’s signage/verbiage/catalog saying about you” thread, I just tried to order a newish book on CD from another library:

No items requestable, request denied.

Denied! In red! Let’s think of some ways we could make this message more friendly, shall we?

(And while we’re wishing: please let me store my login on my personal PC so I don’t have to type name, number, and PIN every time I want to access my account…)

Children and Change

I’ve been reading Ann Crittenden’s If You’ve Raised Kids, You can Manage Anything. (Her The Price of Motherhood is also pretty interesting, in the Feminine Mistake vein.) When I do accidental library management workshops, I always mention raising children as one way people gain management experience without necessarily realizing it, so I’m finding this pretty entertaining.

To wit: this bit about managing change:

Marshall was teaching her baby to eat solid food when it first hit her that her two jobs — as a bureaucrat and as a mother — had a lot in common. In both instances, when trying to introduce something new, it was better to start with something bland — not too hot, not too cold. And definitely not with anything spicy the might irritate the system.

With both babies and bureaucracies, the unfamiliar must be tried slowly, or mixed with something already known and liked. With both there is also a tendency for certain flavors to be popular for a brief period to the exclusion of all else. With a small child, this might be macaroni and cheese; with an economic development bureaucracy it could be a fad such as microlending. This is not good — a balanced diet and balanced programs are better.

Babies and bureaucracies can also balk at something that is good for them, be it vegetables or diversity. If you try to slip this unpopular item in on them, they may notice immediately, and spit it out with gusto. Screams and tantrums are not unheard of. Whether nurturing an infant or a bureaucracy, you first have to spoon the food in and, when they spit most of it out, you have to scoop it up and push it back in. As a rule, the faster the food goes in, the more will eventually reach its ultimate destination. A pause will give a baby or a bureaucrat time to think and play and spit even more out.

If you’re already familiar with management books, pick up a parenting book or two and prepare to be amused at the way the material’s repackaged. Crittenden describes attending a 3-day management seminar where the well-known presenter confided over lunch that a good chunk of his material came from the field of child psychology, although he knew better than to mention this in front of a group of high-powered executives.

When we talk about implementing change and moving toward Library 2.0, it might be interesting to use a bit of child psychology to help make the transition more palatable.

We Don’t Need No

Library Journal has a short news story up about “Burger to Appoint LIS Task Force” — yes, we’re back to discussing the state of library education, with the interesting note that, at the ALISE Forum on Professional Education at Midwinter: “With some 80 percent of those present educators and 20 percent practitioners, there were too few students or new librarians to offer their immediate perspective—a limitation that has also been the case in previous forums.” Meanwhile, Michael Stephens points to a blog from San Jose State University, slis21 (SLIS Associate Director: Discussions on a Curriculum for a 21st Century Library School). A post on “skills for the 21st century librarian” is garnering some particularly interesting comments, both in- and outside the SJSU community.

Our ongoing discussions about the state of library education and accreditation are a further testament to the “fuzziness” of our field. While many agree that changes need to be made, there are real fundamental disagreements on the types and scope of changes that are necessary. Those envisioned by Michael Gorman, for instance, may not resemble those desired by Meredith Farkas.

The LJ squib points out that the discussions on accreditation beg the question of “whether the profession retains sufficient commonality” around which to build a core curriculum. This is a larger question worth pulling out for examination. My gut feeling is yes, but I think we need to build that core with an understanding of the very different environments in which people will work post-graduation, and an agreement of what we need to know to both build the foundations of that work and understand the importance (and basic idea of) our colleagues’ work — of librarianship in all its variations.

I’m also interested in hearing what the rest of you feel is core to a 21st century library education. Can we update our curricula to build a common — and relevant — center?

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was

Meredith Farkas posted a link to the Library 2.0 Meme Map on Web4Lib that got me thinking about the subject again. Specifically, that I’ve seen a lot of objections to the “fuzziness” of Library 2.0 as a term, but we seem perfectly willing to accept similar fuzziness in other aspects of our profession.

Take the word “librarian” itself. We hold onto that self-definition, regardless of whether our work includes telling stories, overseeing large-scale digitization projects, answering reference questions, or managing repository projects. My most recent career as a reference librarian at a public library, for instance, doesn’t necessarily help me wrap my head around the day-to-day work of colleagues engaged in projects we didn’t even have names for when I went to library school.

So, if we’re willing to expand our professional horizons and definitions to encompass people doing such different, yet somehow related, work, why can’t we similarly accept the varied foci of people exploring the different, yet somehow related aspects of Library 2.0? Is it simply because it’s new?

And yes, some will define “librarian” as simply someone who holds an MLS, but I think this is an oversimplification, given both the diversity of fields in which we work and the number of people who do the work and call themselves/have the title of librarian, without having earned the degree. Not to mention the fact that we lack standardization in library education and schools, so we come out with the same degree, having learned very different things.

Language and Labeling

Just some random thoughts about labeling and language. A number of blog and list posts I’ve run across recently seem to center around the ways in which we bring our preconceived notions to various terms and concepts (which is something I’ve also tried to emphasize whenever writing and speaking about generational issues). So, I thought it might be interesting to bring a few examples together here to see if there might be some connections.

While catching up on much-belated blog reading over new year’s, for instance, I ran across this post from Creating Passionate Users on Why Web 2.0 is More Than a Buzzword. Much of what she talks about there has been said, unsurprisingly, about Library 2.0 as well, but the distinction between “jargon” and “buzzwords” is worth thinking about. Some of the objections I’ve seen to Library 2.0 seem to center around “why do we need a special term for this, anyway” — here’s one answer.

Meanwhile, I was also having fun reading people’s posts on the “five things you don’t know about me” meme. Over at her response, Jessamyn pointed to the Autism Spectrum Quotient test — which notes that “Eighty percent of those diagnosed with autism or a related disorder scored 32 or higher.” I’m an online quiz junkie, so I had to take it. I scored a 36. Hmm. My guess is that this points more toward the introversion I’ve mentioned before than anything else, but if you’ve ever met me at a conference and thought I’m a little odd, you now have a label to use to cut me some slack :) .

As far as labels go, in my spare time, I also read a couple of Yahoo! Groups for parents of gifted children. One recurring conversation here focuses around whether to get kids tested for giftedness, how people’s conceptions of them change if they are (or aren’t) labeled “gifted,” and how sometimes kids are resistant to pull-out classes and other activities for fear of their classmates’ reaction to the label. (I remember this one well from my own horrendous grade school days!) The kid’s the same kid whether they’re two points too low to make the cutoff/having a bad test day, or whether their mom finds out their IQ is higher than hers, but somehow just the knowledge of a number can change people’s reactions and expectations.

When we use specific language and jargon in libraries, especially when we’re talking to decision makers, it’s useful to step back to see what we might be implying through the words we choose to use. This is also another reason to familiarize ourselves with the language that resonates with said decision makers. Terms like ROI might tend to set your teeth on edge, but you can always repeat the “libraries aren’t businesses” mantra on your own time. Acknowledging the inherent resonance of the “protect our children” chorus can help us craft effective and equally heartfelt counterarguments to DOPA-like rules and regulations.

Lastly, while we’re having fun with language, there’s always A Mighty Fine Reason to Read Your Spam, where “Birdmonster” notes the one factor that makes cleaning out my junk mail box nearly bearable:

“I love the nearly poetic intext gibberish (“And if de bees wake, it doan matter for her her”), the wonderful email titles (“intrinsically regimental” or “lumpy connote”), and, especially, the names. They read like a list of distinguished hobos:

- Faulkner T. Rasmus
- Ty Coon
- Lestat Crownover
- Crabtree S. Stella
- Milligan Peg
- Lavonne Negronne
- Barrera Fanny
- Eduardo Watches
- Gonzales B.B. Bertram
- Septimus T. Stevenson

Expectant parents: throw away those two dollar baby-naming periodicals. Faulkner T. Rasmus YourLastNameHere is better than anything inside.”

If I ever turn to writing fiction, I know where my characters’ names will come from.