Saturday, October 22, 2011

ILA 2011 Bold Brilliant and Brave

Great Conference!
I've been to several ILA's over the years and this one had the twin benefit of being close to home and far enough away that the center was really the only place to be.  Lots of learning, bonding, a great sense of library community, free lunch, and even a video contest (see below).  

So, that learning...George Needham and Joan Frye Williams told us all about The Hopeful Workplace and when to let go of things that aren't working in Embracing the Cycle.  Duane Bray brought a refreshing outsider's perspective in Guerrilla Innovation.  But it wasn't just about the big us.  It was also about Oak Park Public Library.  Bursting with pride, I cheered on as we nailed over a half-dozen presentations ourselves and picked up a few awards as well.  

What follows is notes from the sessions I attended in reverse chronological order.

Making a Connection: Library Services for International Students
Applicable to understand our local internationals.

Unique Needs – Listening difficulties, strong accent, need time to translate words into own language first.

Cultural Differences – Library cultures, classroom culture, writing styles, plagiarism (in China, can copy?!), references (cannot make them up).  Never take “common sense” for granted.   

Speech accent Archive at George Mason University!

Speak normal, clearly, 10-15% slower (not louder!)  Focus on the last 2 sentences, often will get the point.  Nonverbal communication, many foreign cultures avoid direct eye contact—especially mixed gender.

The Known Face: Situations and Discussions
Situations/skits from the Library World!

Frontline staff should not be engaged in unfriendly confrontation, give benefit of the doubt, they brought it to the library.  Give best service possible.

Unattended child – Ban people?   Explain why.  Let it happen once.  If it continues, send along to the manager, director, etc.

Reports from the Front in the Battles to Protect Free Expression on the Internet

Tom Burke, National Committee to Free Ricardo Palmera and this moderator’s Facebook page were shut down due to being “violent,” but maybe because the FBI trolls found it and told them to take it down.  Threatened with multiple indictments, can lead to 7 years in jail.  23 have been subpoenaed.  Homes raided.

Mary Dixon, American Civil Liberties Union – Filtering bill applies only to schools, and students can disable the filter upon request.  Gay-Straight Alliance , Chick Fil-A’s anti-gay practices, Harvey Milk, these were all filtered.  It Gets Better also.  Surprisingly.  The equal access act was violated here.  URL Blacklist is being sued, with some success.

Al Kagan, SRRT ALA – Wikileaks.  Patrick Henry, our liberties are not ensure if our government conceals.  All European governments disbelieve that Afghanistan can become a credible government, a gov’t contractor has paid for child porn here, we have held 150 at Guantanamo who were not a threat, we overthrew Tunisia, we trained Egypt torturers in Virginia, Saufi Arabian arms trading kickbacks, we’ve opposed min wage in Haiti. 

Daniel Ellsworth linked releasing 9/11 papers to Wikileaks.  “I was Bradley Manning.”  ALA supported him.

Access, democracy, the public good, and social responsibility.  These are the ALA codes we uphold. 

OMB Memo 11/28/2010 “Wikileaks – Mishandling of Classified Information.”  ALA supports Wikileaks, and wants Bradley Manning freed. 

“When people think what they’re doing is subject to open view, their behavior generally improves.”

Releasing classified information that should not be classified possibly prevents our government from doing anything they want to do.

Filters are not effective, they’re just censorship tools.  Why don’t they die?  These bills effect sex offenders and children, and are why they’re regurgitated…

Guerilla Innovation: Changing Libraries from Within
(Or ways to create change from within) by Duane Bray

Human Multitasking – The technology we use may be rewiring our neural pathways.  Mediated conversations, engaging network to make decisions.  People text vs. talk even when next to each other.  Worlds blend. 

Self Quantification Datam allows you to quantify yourself.  Can track anything, understand behavior.  Food, money, films we consume.  Otherwise, we’re being tracked all the time.

Collective Intelligence – We gain info from humans and non-humans we encounter.  Yelp. 

What is the role of the library as physical space?
As more content becomes digital, should libraries become more virtual
What might some future library services be?
How do we help people understand the difference btw good and bad info?
How do we engage librarians in thinking about the future?
How do we convey the unique value of libraries?

A set of tools and processes to enable organizations to create change from within using their own people and resources rather than relying on outsiders.  Helps with:
New/expanded roles, changes to physical space, new customer interactions, digital tools.
Requires: Leadership buy-in, curiosty & optimism, benefit of the doubt, willingness to make change, and perseverance.
Key elements: inspiration, empathy, storytelling, collaboration, spaces for change, rapid prototyping, formalizing.

Inspiration – NASCAR prepares fix kits, loyalty (military, marriage) and how it is fulfilled.  CPL has best practices (eMedia space + digital)…cultural institutions (American Museum of Natural History using digital tools to enhance physical space)…competition (Google, Wikipedia)…Like Minded Folks (Voyurl…human ability to locate and find good info)….Disruptors (Amazon, Small Demons – aggregates book content, presents as an engagement tool.)

Empathy – Seeing the world through our patrons’ eyes.  Day in the life…shadowing…cultural exchange/critique…get on social networks.

Storytelling – Sharing insights in a meaningful way.  Diary of insights, personae and behaviors, storyboard the library!

Collaboration – Understanding roles.

Spaces for Change – Need to signal change in a physical manner.  Destroy the cubicle.  Pixar has wooden cottages.  Google has T-Rex & Flamingos and in Sweden, a twisty space.  Create an idea zone.  A board.  For patrons to see as well.  Here's one from a university in Texas.

Prototyping – Getting tangible.  Give familiar things as provocation to create a final solution (Rosetta Finances)  Build a team, align on challenge, brainstorm, build & pilot, gather feedback, etc.

Formalizing – finishing up.  Try it out, improve it.  Throw away bad ideas, improve those with potential.

Closing/Things to Try – 7 steps, include telling a story, seeking inspiration from other settings, experience other roles first-hand, create human centered view, try it on for size, prototype together, introduce/encourage experiments.  Concept prototypes can be drummed up as a form.

Multi-Type Library Cooperation & Local Content Creation
The mission of librarians is to improve society through knowledge creation in their communities.

Under the Influence – 2009 Springfield, big read program, 5 libraries.  iLEadU (Multiple types of libraries) initiative led them to want to target 18-24 year olds.  The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.  Music was gateway theme.   Video’d survey of what all students thought book was about.  “How has music inspired you?” any artwork/mixed media was posted to website from contest.  30 entries.  Public voted for favorite entries.  Contest winners announced at launch for big read.

Buy in, employer support, how does it fit mission?  Identify goals.  Establish relationships.  Timing.

Used skills & resources of others to reach different people.  Found the tribe, used technology (wordpress to create, facebook, twitter to promote), but also used print.  United effort, when asked, people almost always helped.  Hootsweet and Tweetdeck can populate Twitter throughout a period of time.

Timing is everything.  Keep on schedule.  For flip cameras, training sessions didn’t work out because of lack of staff.  Collaborate.  Learn CMS.  Promote! 

Wordpress class can be offered.  iPads and Flip Cameras can be lent out.  Can make promotion easy with all of these tools & relationships, achieve the mission!

Underestimating Complexity: Creativity in Libraries as Loose Systems, Troy Swanson

Karl Weick – KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) denies the complexity of any workplace situation.

Mountain Bikes – No one “invented” one….disc brakes from motorcycle added to regular bike…inventors had to be aware of innovation & have ability to add to them.

The Power of Loose Systems
Adaptability – ability for local actors to make discoveries and communicate that back to the group…or…potential!  Requires: easy communication, understanding rules, oversight to keep rules working, and support for variability.  Can your people share ideas?  Is bottom-up innovation spread?  Do ideas spread?  We need to talk!!

Info Literacy Programs as Loose Systems
What is the looseness?
*Needs of students
*Relationships between sessions poorly defined
*Outcomes difficult to measure
*Relationships between individuals constantly shifting
*Highly creative as librarins & instructors to meet local, time-sensitve needs
*Creativity released into space, never to be captured…answers very local needs.

Too tight: What types of creativity can NOT happen because of your system?  Where is the line you won’t cross and why?
Too loose: What types of creativity are lost into the ether?  Has to be some boundaries.

Tightening a loose system with outcomes!

Each librarian observes four other librarians’ sessions, writes reports, summarize, share, discuss best practices.  Feedback from students important.

Do people see hey are part of a system, need to share?  Do people value discussion enough?  Get people to share their stories…these create meaning.  Assessment is a formal version of feedback.  Need to have enough structure to support creativity.  Experimentation needs a few rules.

“Just let go,” “I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”  Tyler Durden

ILA Shootout 

This is the submission my colleague and I put together for the contest.  What follows is the presentation, a pretty good brush-up on how easy it is to get started, how to shoot, edit, and even some equipment tips.
Everything is Changing – Arlington Heights service desk.  Much smaller.  More self-service.  Ready reference was killed by Google.  eBooks, streaming, etc. vs physical collections. 

Everyone’s a Producer – There are 48 hrs of video uploaded to Youtube every minute.  We can curate collections as well as create.

Getting in on the Action – Video creation is much easier than it looks.  Tools you might need:
Home or Consumer Entry Level Camcorders: Kodak Z18, Playsport, Sony Bloggie Touch, Flip Mino HD—great to check out for patrons to use(!), standard camcorders ( reviews).  Canon S95 camera shoots HD video. iPhones, androids, etc also have great cameras, where you can buy a $35 zoom lens, connectors are important for better sound, etc.

Mics – Desktop, Blue Yeti mic can be switched by direction.  Lavalier, clip on.
Lighting – Well-positioned halogen lamps from Target can help.  Plan for natural light.  Pro kits are pricey.
Tripods – Must be fluid, pan, tilt, cascade.  Gorilla Pods are cheap and can be wrapped around solid surfaces.  Can buy them for phones.  Monopod is just a stick, good for the field.  Can make a DIY shoulder rig.
Editing Software – iMovie, free with every Mac.  Windows Movie Maker and Youtube Video Editor are both free.

Pre-Plan to Make Your Movie Shine!
*Try some different genres on the idea.  Parody already popular film.  “Blab” write down 5 minutes of ideas, the more ridiculous the better, about the program, service, etc.
*Consider tone/mood/intended audience.
*Half the film is sound.  Plan a song that might work.  FX, dialog, voiceovers, etc
*Cast the film…there is always an actor in the library.
*Hold a pre-shoot meeting.  Show care, organization, impress colleagues for buy-in.
*Storyboard, shoot list, and script.   Can just do one.  Many free script templates online.
*Bring props.
*PANTS (power, accessibility, noise, traffic)

Shooting Tips
Zoom sparingly – consciously.
Rule of Thirds – Never just the center.  Four inner corners are best for principals.
Count Down – From five, silent on last three, drop index finger.  Consistent.  Gets actors ready.
Soundjay can be a good resource for sound effects.  iMovie is fun –n- easy.  Transitions, titles, etc!

The Hopeful Workplace – Joan Frye Williams and George Needham

Ingredients: Meaningful goals, the will to get there, the way to get there, some level of control, reasonable expectation of success, connection to others.

Meaningful Goals – Positive outcomes for end user.  What do you do?  “I change people’s lives.”  I get people jobs, literacy, solve any number of problems…clarity.  Has to mean something to you.  Need to be able to articulate the goal.  “Save time, get better grades:” Oxford Brooks University slogan.
Prepare for Success – We ration success, limit computers, DVD’s, etc.  We more often prepare for failure.

The Will to Get There – You need to know you’re not the only one working towards this goal.  Support your colleagues.  The 2nd person on-board is a crucial vote of confidence otherwise you’re a “lone nut.”  You can say “tell me more,” then say “sign me up” later.  Consensus is also important – the process was fair, decision criteria clear, opportunity for input, and even if you don’t fully agree with it, you can still support it with positivity.  Not well-done in libraries, generally.

The Way to Get There – Get off the fence, act.  A well-thought-out plan that is hopeful & flexible.  Stonewall, natural pushback; answer with “how can we?”  Take good objections and work them into design criteria.  Add “Yes, and” vs “Yes, but.”  Appreciative inquiry – starting from strengths…what do we have to work with? What are we really good at? What is uniquely ours?  Don’t focus on what you don’t have.  Learn from mistakes, don’t necessarily stop, but tweak.  And answer questions: Will it show (value)?  Can it grow (scalable, flexible, deliverable by nonprofessionals)?  Does it flow (match the patrons’ lives—equitable, usable, compatible, in demand)? Check out this sustainability checklist, customer walkthrough and other tools here.

Some Level of Control – People want to be able to work it themselves.  Not too little or too much.  Clear role expectations, who’s accountable.  Defined by outcomes, not tasks.  Open communications, no “gotchas.”  “Tell me what you need, I’ll tell you what I need.”  “It’s your day to be right.”  Constructive feedback that focuses on technique, not intentions, or person…helps people understand how they stand vs the expected outcome.  Also, recognize & give rewards, routinely.  Allow authority, give tools for success rather than rules…there are many ways to get there.  Plan B, C, D = hope.

Reasonable Expectation of Success – No pie in the sky, 100% literacy, top of Hennen rankings.  Focus on attainable goals, 10 you can hit vs 40/50 you can’t.  Focus on results, even if you got there ugly.  We make changes in the communities, make a difference, but all we talk about is the backlog.  Support from successful role models, can be casual.  Official mentoring is great for the mentor, mentee, and profession.  Not all surprises are bad, leverage these, celebrate them.  Neutralize the pit-dwellers and deal with the naysayers.  Give the pit-dweller one more chance, then ignore, isolate, and stop wasting time on them.  Don’t argue with people who have already given up.

Connection to Others – Hard to be hopeful when you’re alone, social creatures need support.  Choose generosity.  Choose yes.  Focus on abundance, share it.  “I think we can strengthen this work if..” is better than “that sucks.”  Libraries tend to be over-critical.  Be flexible, bounce back when you’ve been slammed against a wall.  Traditions don’t help here.

Other Tips 4 Hope –Take care of yourself to keep your spirit and those of others up.  Be civil and set that example.  Trust people and let them trust you.  Earn it.  But don’t expect to be let down, disappointed, betrayed.  Be open.  It is a joyful and hopeful way to work.  Teamwork is essential.  The human condition is funny; laugh.  Express gratitude.  Show and share the passion, this is what gets support at levies.  Citizens notice.  Let's all get work-related tattoos like the employees of Harley Davidson?!  Contact George & Joan

Staff Rewards and Recognition, Jim, Dee, Rick, Kelly, Dee, Rory
Unsurprisingly, they rocked it.  Calm, cool, informational, yet professional.  Very proud.  They impressed outsiders as well, earning  star on the wall here for an inspirational program.  Many other stars were put up, including one for Lori, just for being Lori...

Embracing the Library Life Cycle – Joan Frye Williams and George Needham

Information Cycle – we need to preserve context, work across formats, we need to work on the application and help in the organization of info.  Only librarians like searching, everyone else likes finding.  We need to think of the end product, what the patron is looking for.  A book on resumes vs. a job.

Technology Cycle – Product, demand for product designed.  Steve Jobs did this.  Technology is consumer driven rather than top down.  They often teach us.  We need to ramp up access and licensing expertise.  DRM must be understood.    Lots of different learning styles require lots of different tools.  We want to empower people, add value for that 2nd question.

Economic Cycle – Times are tough, the memory of which will be similar to the Great Depression.  Doing more with less is impossible.  Do different with less.  What can we do differently.  Measure the results rather than the workload.  Like how firefighters became EMT’s after houses were built more flame retardant.  How do users become successful from our work?

Government Cycle – Public is asking more as we are getting less.  Interagency cooperation may be a solution.  ILL has existed since 1919…evidence that we are way ahead of other government organizations.  Must be more grassroots, rather than top-down.  How do we play nicely w/organizations that aren’t just like us?  ALA made common cause with the NRA against the Patriot Act.  Privacy vs. big brother.  Inspiring. 

Convergence – The difference between a library and community center is eroding.  Note: malls have disappeared/diminished.  We can and should step in.  How do we crawl out of OCLC Silo, “cylinder of excellence?” 

Environmental Cycle – Transumerism (Zipcars, etc,) staying local, and reducing reusing recycling.  Libraries are the original environmentalists.  We should position ourselves as such.  We could go solar, lots of libraries have.   What is a library’s carbon footprint vs. other organizations?  This should be determined.  We generate a carbon credit.  Invest in us!

Education Cycle – Lots of group work.  Now extreme teaching to the test, for “No Child Left Behind.”  Leaves intellectual pleasure behind.  We can coach, bring this back.  Unsticking people.  Help with FEMA forms, job applications, etc. 

Anticipate the Cycle – Beyond training to co-creation.  Create and propagate new knowledge.  We are contributors to the learning team. No longer anonymous or neutral.  Hyperlocalism, why not specialize in the local community?  We can help the historical society with technology.  Fix Wikipedia pages.  Rather than advocate, we need to demand.  We’re either at the table or on the menu.  We know more about community assessment/engagement, economic development, customer-focused IT, and so much more.  We need to sell this, not beg for pennies.  Leverage our value!  We can’t hunker down.  Look for what’s on its way out.  How is behavior changing?  Solid materials are on their way out.  Jump on trends, answer to them. 

Social Cycle – People long for community. Boomers want to give back.  Community service is part of a young person’s life.  Hard to fit it in.  They can do this at the library, with friends groups.  As a gathering space, we can do more facilitation, convening.  We can host the potluck vs. cook the dinner.  We need to be the safe home of community conversation.

Political Cycle – Factionalized.  Little common ground for discussion of important issues; our neutrality is a benefit here.    

What’s on Its Way Out:
OPACs – Freerange discovery.
Subscription Databases – Except at academic libraries.
Hard copy audio and video – Downloadables.
eContent that can’t be used on multiple devices
Wired Connections.

80/20 – Refresh frequently.  Keep 80 percent regular, change 20% and make it show.  Think of grocery store end caps.  Show we are a changing organism.   Techniques change, not principles.  Consider routine sunsetting…if we stop doing something that’s no longer used, we make room for the future.  Move those VHS users to DVD’s.  Celebrate what you’ve done well and give it a fine retirement. 

Keep Learning and Laughing – Every day, learn something new.  Make it fun.  Never lose sight of your motivation for fine, noble work worth doing.  Honor the people you serve.  George and Joan's website here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Will Libraries Die? Yes, in parts.

In the New York Times, an archivist discusses that due to our increasing societal reliance on data, libraries won't die but parts will.  Like we shed our skin, we lose our card catalogs.  Maybe someday, we'll lose the ILS in favor of something better, who knows.
Article here.
Lost library ephemera slideshow here.