Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Librarian mention on NPR's All Things Considered

Was driving back to the office from a quick trip to pick up my shiny new passport--in preparation for Thursday's trip to Ottawa--and heard a snippet on NPR's All Things Considered about the Patriot Act Gag order being lifted for Connecticut librarians.


(And harumph because the gag-order option remains available...)

Mapping Travel Time

I am a fan of the visual presentation of information and am intrigued by this mashup of mapping travel time to contour maps--although here the contours are "isochrones" not isobars.
mySociety.org has examples (lovely to look at) of maps they've made of the UK showing the time it takes to travel using public transport, with the warmest colours being the shortest and cooler colours being the longest.
Overlaying this travel time info over maps, it's easy to see where it might be best to live if you relied on public transit.
I wonder if mashing library data into such a system would be interesting? How about circulation data to see if there is a correlation between availability of public transit and circulation? How about ILL and time to delivery?

Link courtesy of boingboing.

OCLC Symposium in New Orleans

I will admit right up front that the title of this Symposium is lamish. It's Preserving Library Core Value and Envisioning the Future.

Wendy McGinnis (OCLC's Director of Communications and Public Relations) and I decide on the topic of the Symposia together which is fine....the hard part is naming it, months before the event, long before we actually have speakers booked and before ALA's deadline. I wonder, now, if we meant "Libraries' Core Value" or "Library Core Values"? Whatever.....the title is just a title. The symposium will not be lamish at all.

I don't know if regular symposium goers see the theme but this upcoming one is part of the Big Picture series we've done since the publication of the Environmental Scan. So far, we've had wonderful speakers address social and technological trends beyond those identified in the Scan, gaming, the phenomenon of The Long Tail, and the brand of "the library." All these have built on ideas and issues as a way, we hoped, of bringing attention to things we think are and will be important to librarianship and the running of libraries.

While the speakers at this Symposium will definitely tell you about kinds of "sausages" you won't have heard of, they are also going to tell you a little about making sausages ("laws and sausages are great, but you don't want to see how they're made"). We've asked the speakers to do some future-gazing, but also to reflect on the process and why such work can stimulate revolutionary change rather than incremental change. Libraries have a great deal invested in the past, need to retain the best of the past, and yet, need to make huge changes. Hard stuff.

The Speakers.
Derek Woodgate, founder and president of The Futures Lab .
Wendy L. Schultz, Director of Infinite Futures.
Stacey Aldrich, Assistant Director, Omaha Public Library

Derek and Wendy are professional futurists, and Stacey is a librarian-futurist--one of the few librarians I know who is a member of the World Future Society and the Association of Professional Futurists. All three have spoken to librarians before at ALA and SLA.

In the introduction to his 2004 book, Future Frequencies, Derek has a quote he credits to the movie Magnolia "You may forget you past, but your past never forgets you" which is relevant to the topics of the Symposium--and perhaps to New Orleans as well.

But it was his description of himself that made Wendy McG and me laugh, as we too "...stand up to be counted when no one is counting..."

ADDED BONUS SESSION! On Saturday, June 24th, Stacey and Wendy Schultz are going to give a workshop on one of the tools futures researchers and practitioners use--scenario building. Come build scenarios!

Registration for all OCLC ALA events is here. Lots to choose from.

Happy Anniversary, Eric!

Please join me in congratulating our fellow blogger Eric Childress on his 10th anniversary with OCLC. The child labor laws must have been weaker when he was hired here...

Friday, May 26, 2006

And now, to Istanbul

To leave you on a high note for the week, check out these benches from Istanbul.

Here's a shot from Flickr, too.

The city has place the book benches around to promote reading, and there are poems from 18 famous Turkish poets on them.


Now, how long before the libraries start to leave post-its on the benches? "Get this poem and so much more, for free, at the library!"

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Vote Early, Vote Often

I have no idea how much longer the polls will be open, but the Christian Science Monitor is running a survey on its web site about whether library fines should be abolished. At this point, preserving fines is winning by a large margin. *sigh*

Get in there and make your voice count!


Thanks to Peter (by way of Lorcan), I present another nation's cool program for drawing attention to libraries. This time it's from the Canadians, and the site is called Info*Nation.
A very cool site, geared for millenials that shows some youth-culture things about living and working in the information industry. Like text messaging, getting tattoos, listening to music--you know, all the things you wanted to do (or did) when you decided to join the cool kids here in libraryland.
(What? You didn't do those things? Hurry up! Get going!)

They chose Info*Nation as their project name because "it sounds better than www.choose-a-career-in-libraries.ca."

Which of course cracks me up to no end. These people are not afraid to mix humor in their professional lives. Or admit that smart people surround them, that could enhance the profession in innumerable ways--and they don't necessarily have to hold a library degree to do it.
Rock on.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Love Libraries campaign

The Love Libraries campaign is in full swing in the UK. And it's way cool.
Read through the comments left on their site, by library users. Wow! This is like the Perceptions report, in 3-D. (Side note: I see that the College Perceptions report is now available.)

Check out the 150 writers who have publicly pledged to support the campaign, including J.K. Rowling and Salman Rushdie. Read their quotations! Be Inspired!

Also, someone has taken our Library Makeover cover story to heart: The Love Libraries campaign has identified 3 libraries in the UK to receive makeovers. All in 12 weeks. But not just makeovers--the library staff are attending workshops to help them transform into something akin to the Idea store-inspired spaces that Alane was talking about last week. Certainly, the transformation is planned to be more than skin deep for these three libraries.

Here's a cool thing about the campaign, too: it wasn't created by librarians. It was created by publishers and a charity. It got buy-in from the government and by that point the ball was rolling--and fast. Apparently the site got 36,000 hits within the first 3 days of launch.

I love the fact you can leave comments and read other people's comments. It's repeated little pushes like this that can start a Movement!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Four-day week?

Can you hack it? I'm not sure if I could. But Ryan Carson over at A List Apart takes it on and reports a great experience.

Think your Director will mind if you inform the children queued up for storytime this Friday that you are movig to a four-day work week? :)

Because of course, if we *could* get corporate America to move to a four day work week (slanted but interesting viewpoint here) (maybe it could be like Daylight Savings Time or something?), then all the service places--like libraries--would still need to be open.

Because everyone who is enjoying their Friday off, will need something to do besides lay around the house. (Although the Beeb reports, it may be good for you to lay around the house...)

Sometimes I think for a lot of people, being at work is easier than being at leisure. Spending money seems to be the easiest leisure activity, sometimes!

Presenting--and Eating--in Madison, WI

Tomorrow I will be in Madison to speak to the attendees of the WILS (Wisconsin Library Services) Spring Peer Council Meeting about the Perceptions report, making this the eighth presentation on the topic in two months. What will set this visit apart from others has nothing to do with the formal parts of the day (well, at least as far as I can tell in advance....for all I know, George Clooney could be in the audience).

It's food, glorious food.

Deb Shapiro teaches at the library school at UW Madison and I've known her for several years now. She has been involved with LITA for years and was recently elected to LITA's Board of Directors. You can read a summary of her professional experience here by clicking on her picture. What you don't know from that summary is that Deb is a cook--a real one. Before she became a librarian, she was a professional foodie, working in restaurants and cooking in a co-op dorm. She has a blog called "Deb's Lunch...and dinner and breakfast too" that will make you hungry reading it.

And I will be fed tomorrow evening by Deb--extremely well, according to the menu she's posted here and here. When I travel, I often dine at a restaurant with the hosts which is always pleasant. But this dinner will be a real treat...for the food, and for the company. And thanks to Debbie Cardinal of WILS for organizing and hosting the event.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Fellows at LC

The 2006 IFLA/OCLC Fellows had a terrific visit to the Library of Congress on Friday. We heard from leaders in the acquisitions and bibliographic access division, the NDIIPP program, and the scanning unit. We also had a quick tour of the Jefferson Building of LC, the pilgramage every librarian should make in his or her lifetime.

Friday night, we took a "DC by Moonlight" tour, visiting the Lincoln, Jefferson, and FDR monuments, the Vietnam and Korea memorials, and the Iwo Jima statue.

Tomorrow (Sunday), the Fellows will attend the May Members Council meeting. From left to right in this photo, the Fellows are Festus Ngetich (Kenya), Salmubi (Indonesia), Roman Purici (Moldova), Janete Estevao (Brazil), and Maria Cherrie (Trinidad and Tobago). Nancy Lensenmayer and I have been having a wonderful time with the Fellows, and we were commenting on the ride home from the airport on how quickly the month has flown by. Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 19, 2006

Peering through the Telescope

I'm gonna leave it to stargazers,
Tell me what your telescope says.
(“Through the Dark” – K.T. Tunstall) [Web site 2 ; Wikipedia entry ; Myspace]

I discovered Scottish chanteuse K.T. (“Katie”) Tunstall while I was in Madrid last September. One morning I put on the German music video channel to serenade me as I penned a few postcards in my hotel room post-breakfast, and pre-museum-opening-hours. Amidst the annoying advertisements for ringtones – the channel’s sole advertising base apparently – and a mostly forgettable mix of U.K. and German pop songs, one artist caught my attention: K.T.’s expressive and engaging voice rendering her very listenable “Heal Over.” I looked for her album, Eye-to-the-Telescope, at the local FNAC (Wikipedia entry) and have been spinning K.T. ever since.

I mention this back story because I borrowed – OK, well in truth expropriated – K.T.’s excellent album title (for the story of the title, listen to her World Cafe interview) as title to my own presentation recently offered in two versions in two cities on two adjacent days. The presentations were by-request (most flattering to yours truly! ;-) reprises of a presentation I’d given to RONDAC (i.e. directors of OCLC’s regional networks and regional service centers) earlier this year (see earlier post) about key trends and library-land implications of same.  

Some tidbits from the presentation: the future is not evenly distributed (to paraphrase William Gibson), but where it appears, the future seems to include:
  • High volume - The "world churns out new digital information equivalent to the entire collection of the U.S. Library of Congress every 15 minutes. Such a proliferation of information in digital format, occurring almost 100 times a day, adds up to approximately five exabytes (five quintillion bytes or five billion gigabytes) a year.” (NIST)

  • Evidence of coopetition – Commercial consolidation, global brands, and digital channels are making competition and alliances complex and nuanced. For example, Wal-Mart alone can account for up to 20% of total sales of a popular book in the U.S. (USA Today) giving its choices about what to stock – or not to stock – significant influence over publishers’ title selection and development.

  • Micro content – Ringtone sales will rise from US$68M in 2003 to a projected $600M in 2006 in the U.S. market (BMI). Ringtones currently enjoy $3B revenue worldwide, and new sales modes (e.g., alert tones) are forthcoming. Note also that 9.8B text messages are sent each month. (Reuters)

  • Portability – Portable music players sales will grow from 140M units in 2005 to a projected 286M in 2010 (PC Pro)

  • Social dimensions MySpace has 70M registered users, had 47M transactions in Feb. 2006 & is the second most-visited destination on the Web after Yahoo (Arizona Star) [And, gentle readers, notice that I reference K.T. Tunstall’s MySpace page at the top of this posting – many a popular-media and other celebrity now maintain their own MySpace pages. As Alice notes (post), libraries are starting to emerge in MySpace as well.]

  • Not only text YouTube provides 30M video streams daily (endgadget) ; Apple boasts 2.5M iTune downloads weekly (CNet)

As to details about the events...

In Dallas I presented “Eye-to-the-Telescope” (ppt) as part of the 2006 Amigos Conference, a very early part – i.e. the sun was up, but it hadn’t been up long – and it was flattering to have a good-sized audience including several folks who had made special effort to attend such an early session. Andrew Pace, the keynote speaker for the day sat in and kindly referenced some of my presentation in his own, excellent keynote presentation. I also enjoyed Andrew’s other presentation, a first-rate talk about E-Matrix, the innovative electronic resource management system at NCSU. But Andrew’s were not the only techie sessions I attended – Louise Schaper, the Executive Director of the award-winning Fayetteville, AK public library, provided a remarkably thorough introduction to RFID technology (Wikipedia entry) and related the real world experiences of FPL in adopting RFID (tip from Louise – there may be plastic shelves in your future (RFID does not play well with metal furnishings)). I also enjoyed having the chance to chat with so many nice folks from Amigos-land including my former colleague, Marda Johnson, several Members Council delegates, and the remarkably calm and collected Amigos staff who seemed to execute everything with aplomb (including a Mardi Gras-themed reception/vendor fair, and providing yours truly a custom tour of Dallas after a delightful Mexican meal at Herreras). My sincere thanks to Bonnie Juergens and Laura Kimberly for arranging for me to be part of this wonderful Amigos event.

In Atlanta I presented “Eye-to-the-Telescope” in a streamlined version (ppt) at the SOLINET Annual Membership Meeting (SAMM) as a member of a panel that included David S. Ferriero (NYPL) who spoke about NYPL’s experiences as one of the “Google 5” libraries (with references to an article by OCLC Research staff,  “Anatomy of Aggregate Collections: The Example of Google Print for Libraries”) and Sarah Michalak (UNC Libraries) who spoke about UNC’s work on digitization and the Open Content Alliance. Their presentations were fascinating, and I hope my own proved as engaging. As I was only able to attend the final half-day of the conference I regrettably missed most (including George’s presentation – see his post) of what was, by all reports, a very fine conference. Luckily, I did have a little time to chat with a sampling of SOLINET members (including several Members Council delegates and a member of the OCLC Board of Trustees, Jerry Stephens, University of Alabama at Birmingham) and the ever amiable and talented SOLINET staff. My sincere thanks to Kate Nevins for the invitation to speak and her most amusing & flattering introduction, and to Laura Crook for cheerfully seeing to arrangements.

I should also note that I took advantage of the free afternoon in Atlanta to visit the Georgia Tech Libraries nearby – an unannounced and unscheduled visit (beware the unattended IAGer with free time!). The library staff very graciously received me, and provided an impromptu tour and interesting conversation about a wide range of topics. Georgia Tech is doing an amazing job of building out advanced, user-friendly computing/media production infrastructure front and center in the library with dedicated staffing and top-flight learn-on-your-own training materials. And the library is also working very successfully to bring not-administered-by-the-library writing/learning and related support services into the building to make the libary the go-to space for outside-the-classroom learning work. After leaving the library I stopped by the nearby Barnes & Noble @ Georgia Tech which is the largest, most impressive college bookstore I’ve ever visited – the usual coffee shop & bookstore (with stock skewed to college age interests) + textbooks + media/computing/audio shop + mini-grocery. And from there, it was a simple subway ride to the airport, but, sadly, a telescoping trip home (I missed my connection, the last of the day, in Chicago due to weather).

So, gentle readers, when you press your eye to the telescope, what do you see?

The Idea Store

"...the public library can no longer imagine itself as a sanctuary from the demands of the marketplace."

This is how a recent article in the Boston Globe ended a story on four London libraries--which are not called "libraries". They are Idea Stores, a merging of library services and learning opportunities. The first Idea Store was opened in 2002, and the most recent one in March 2006. There are three more to be built.

Here's some excerpts from the strategy document [pdf].

"Following one of the most comprehensive library consultation exercises undertaken in this country, a new concept was born. People wanted a quality library service but they would use it even more if they could combine a visit to the library with a visit to the shops. They also wanted to be able to have education support in the library as well as information."

"98% of the respondents, both users and non-users, believed the library service was important or very important. Of the 98%, over 80% felt the service was very important. There was also very positive feedback on the help and customer care offered by staff.
However, most users and non-users felt that the service was run-down and old-fashioned. Most interesting were the responses of non-users - particularly since over 70% of the population are not regular library users. People either didn’t have the time, felt the opening hours were inconvenient, found little of interest, a poor selection of books or didn’t like the atmosphere. When asked what would make a difference, non-users wanted:
• Longer opening hours
• Access to shopping
• Council information services
• Sunday opening
• Art and exhibitions
• Video lending
• Better book stock
There was a very strong demand from both users and non-users to be able to combine a visit to the library with other activities, particularly shopping."

"Our conclusions confirmed that time is precious, that people often cannot or do not want to make special visits to libraries even if the library is close at hand. If we want to make libraries and lifelong learning a part of everyone’s life, we have to compete for their time and attention.We have to fit in with modern lifestyles. However, this does not mean that the traditional strengths of the library movement can be cast aside. Investing in IT was people’s second priority. People’s top priority for libraries was books and increasing the bookstock. Despite the interest in IT and the Internet, books are likely to remain central to libraries for many years to come."

And all I'll add is, read the whole report. Even if you aren't keen on the name, or dislike this new hybrid library, you will perhaps note the similarities between their market research and the data we collected for the Perceptions report.

Here's what a blogger said about her Idea store;
"I have actually been grocery shopping, made cakes and pikelets and visited the local idea store- an east london library service which encourages all the things I love about libraries: they have internet bays, lounges to people can sit all day and read, cafe, learning/meeting rooms, large childrens area and self service areas distributed throughout the library to stop queues!! Love it. I knew that this was the perfect flat for me, even before I discovered that there was an idea store 5 mins walk from my flat. Now I have even more reason to believe I am where I'm emant [sic] to be."

Technology merchandising: take a play from the Apple playbook

A friend just sent me the NYT's article about Apple opening a 24/7 store in Manhattan. Cool. 6 hours to go! Check out the zen-like glass cube. But what caught my eye in the article was the discussion of technology merchandising and creating a digital experience. And Apple has completely done that with it's physical stores. Here's a snippet:

At first glance, some of the company's moves seem, in stark financial terms, to be costly indulgences. Almost half of the store staff is there not to sell but to provide free help on how to use Macintosh computers, iPods, software and third-party accessories like digital cameras. Nearly all of the computers have Internet access, and the stores are crowded with people checking their e-mail, browsing the Web or listening to music on the iPods.

...stores are organized around different uses of computing technology: organizing music, editing digital photos or movies, creating podcasts and blogs — all done with Apple's software.

"The Apple stores are selling digital experiences, not products," said Ted Schadler, an analyst at Forrester Research. "Its stores can be seen as solutions boutiques. And that's the direction that selling technology to consumers, from cellphones to HDTV's, has to go to be successful."

This approach is totally about branding--how to create the brand promise and then follow through with a good customer/brand experience. How to fulfill the brand promise throughout the customer journey.

Gateway tried to do it with its physical stores--but the Gateway brand wasn't strong enough to persuade enough people to interact with them in the stores. It didn't make enough of a brand promise. Apple, on the other hand, is practically kid-in-candy-store for Mac users, and hip-designer-y feeling enough to entice PC-users (potential "Switchers") in to take a test drive. Plus, it's all organized around what YOU as the customer want to do, instead of around product lines, etc.

So now I pose the question to us, library people: How can we create enticing digital experiences for people, without changing our library locations, without totally remodelling, and without totally changing our staffs?

What plays can we take from the Apple playbook?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Blogger Salon at ALA

(For those of you who don't read Greek, this means "hello" and sounds sort of like "ya sou") Yes, here I am, back from sunny, amazing Greece where I finally was able to use my knowledge of the Greek alphabet to sound out--very badly--printed Greek. I can't speak it or decipher spoken Greek, but I can figure out some words and so could spot a pharmacy or a bakery in each town we visited. Supermarkets were easier because this is what appears on signs for these stores: "super market." I learned a few important words, such as hello, thank you, and wine, red and white. For the brief stay in Athens before flying home, we stayed at the St. George Lycabettus hotel and paid a bit extra to have the view of the Acropolis that you will see rotating through the banner on their web page. Breathtaking indeed.

But back to Libraryland. About six weeks ago, Alan Gray from the Darien Library in Connecticut emailed me to let the IAGers know that President-Elect Leslie Burger was planning to have a Bloggers' Bash at ALA in New Orleans. He asked if we'd mind....heck, no, I replied after conferring with Eric, Alice and George (Chrystie hadn't joined us yet). OCLC and It's All Good definitely don't own the concept and we were very pleased that the current Presidential disdain for the biblioblogosphere will end. We started the bloggers' salon because there wasn't a gathering place for bloggers and we thought it was important to have one, not because we wanted to own the event.

So, this is the official notice that there will not be a bloggers' bash hosted by OCLC at this forthcoming ALA. We hope all the bloggers, blogger-wannabees, and bloggers' pals will drop by Leslie's salon on Saturday night. Library Garden has the info, RSVP there too. We'll see you there.

MyLibrary in MySpace?

Earlier this week at MPOW, we were talking about WorldCat. We tried to think of all the various ways we could get the word out to a broader "general public" audience about the richness of library resources in WorldCat. 65 million records, after all.

And what came out was MySpace. Now I know that Wired has labeled it Tired already (and possibly dangerous for young teens), but another colleague just sent me a Chronicle article (reg required) on how the CUNY Brooklyn College uses MySpace and has attracted 1700 friends. 1700! (I couldn't find it in a quick 3-minute sniff session, but I did find Georgia Tech Library.

We've been talking a lot lately about being where your users are--instead of the traditional approach of trying to attract users to you. MySpace seems to embody this 2.0-ness.

Is your library in MySpace?
*If yes, did you get a lot of approvals beforehand, or did you just *do it?* (Ask for forgiveness, not permission.)
*If no (and consciously no), why did you decide not to be there? Is it not befitting of a prestigious academic library, etc?
I'm just curious what the zeitgeist is, on libraries in MySpace...

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Chicago Public Library 2010

As promised in an earlier post, here's the link to the Chicago Public Library's new strategy, Chicago Public Library 2010: A Vision for Our Future. It will be valuable reading for anyone who thinking about where libraries, especially public libraries, could be going in the next few years.

Thanks to CPL's Amy Eshleman for the tip that this was ready!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Changes in the Zeitgeist?

Yesterday, I did a 45-minute version of the Perceptions Report presentation titled "The User Driven Library" at the SOLINET Annual Members Meeting in Atlanta. The second last slide in the presentation made some suggestions of what a "user driven library" might look like:
  • Clean, uncluttered, well-lit facilities
  • Self-directed service
  • "Free range" learning
  • Education, not just information
  • Listening, not just hearing
  • Acting, not just planning
In the Q and A session at the end, someone suggested that many librarians are already doing a lot of these things, and so I asked for a show of hands on whether people were, say, conscientiously weeding appropriate collections to make them more attractive and accessible, or recreating reference services to get away from place-bound or desk-bound service. About two-thirds of the audience said yes to the first question, and about half said yes to the second. There was somewhat less agreement when I asked if people were reformulating their budgets and facilities to support independent learning with more public programming or group study space.

When we first started talking about the environmental scan and then the Perceptions report, there was a lot of pushback about some of the ideas, especially the ones around self-service and rethinking user expectations. Have we started to reach a tipping point? Have enough libraries started to go down this path that we can start to see some real progress? What's your experience in this?


I've mentioned the newsletter/web site trendwatching.com several times in this blog, but the May 2006 issue deserves special notice for anyone who is thinking about the future of libraries.

This newsletter is written from a world view of consumerism, about how cutting edge companies think about marketing and selling their products today. Many of the references are to products in Asia and Europe, that will make their ways across the oceans in the months or years to come. But if you make the translation from a retail online environment, to an information online environment, you can mine this source for some pretty impressive nuggets. Is it all gold? No. But there's enough there to make it more than worth your investment of time.

This issue is an update of a previous study called "Customer-Made." Their theme is that it's time "to tap into the GLOBAL BRAIN." The report features stories of consumer products and services that have taken consumer input to create a whole new level. Honda sponsors a blog, "2TalkAboutHonda," that lets people who are interested in cars share their ideas not only about Honda autos, but about all things automotive. But it also can be used to create any "2TalkAbout" topics. Why not a "2TalkAboutMyLibrary" blog?

The Lego Factory is a way for people who are enthralled with the little interlocking toys that have lacerated millions of unsuspecting bare feet in the middle of the night share ideas for creating massive, Lego-based structures. And Lego used the most prolific contributors to that blog as a super secret focus group for the next generation of toys. (If you haven't seen this article in February's Wired about the Lego Factory, "Geeks in Toyland," check it out.) Have you ever considered using the library's most exacting and frequent users to be a focus group when you want to make changes? Or do you write them off as the whiners and constant complainers?

And the ultimate in open source: Vores Øl, or "Our Beer," is the first commercial beer to be brewed and sold under a Creative Commons license. You can download their recipe and create a duplicate or a derivative and do whatever you want with it. Somehow, I can't see the folks in St. Louis or Golden, Colorado, jumping on that idea, but the folks in Copenhagen seem to have gotten it!

Anyway, you get a sense for the kinds of ideas that come out in each issue of trendwatching.com. The subscription is free, and it's a great tool for keeping up and maybe even getting just slightly out ahead of the curve.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Great Read in the Park

I saw this in the NYT Sunday paper...the 2nd annual Great Read in the Park. Heralded as "an extraordinary literary celebration for book lovers of all ages."

Sunday, October 15 in Bryant Park.

There will be well-known and new writers, a children's area, panel discussions, book signings, and a used book sale with net proceeds donated to the Brooklyn Public, New York Public, Queens Library and the Fund for Public Schools.

I'd love to see more open-air celebrations that include libraries. Something about having green grass underfoot intuitively makes me think the event will be refreshing, authentic and charming. That it is something I could pack a picnic for...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Google movie

Submit stories of how you used Google tools in your library and you may be in the Google movie, premiered at ALA Annual! Only 500 words stand between you and your library staff's stardom...

My Kind of Town...and Library

As mentioned earlier, the IFLA/OCLC Fellows visited the Chicago Public Library for its All Staff Institute Day last week. The Fellows joined the Mortenson Center for International Librarianship's Associates from East and West Africa to do a breakout session presentation called "The World Comes to Chicago."

I had the good fortune to attend a breakout session on "Chicago Public Library 2010 - A Vision for the Future," led by Amy Eshleman, the Assistant Commissioner for Planning (I may have mangled that title beyond recognition, and if so, I apologize). The Chicago Public Library really seems to get it!

The plan is the result of a fairly quick project coordinated by the Boston Consulting Group through a steering committee and a working group, each of which had staff, consultants, board members, and CPL Foundation members. From the outside, this is a process that seemed remarkably free of "analysis paralysis."

The plan lays out a plethora of goals, but the owners of those goals had already been identified by the time the plan was released. Someone is already responsible for nearly all of the ambitious goals that have been laid out. This avoids a lot of "pie in the sky" planning.

This is one of the first public library plans that I've ever seen that recognizes that in our networked world, there are stakeholders beyond the political borders of the community. The second stakeholder of the Chicago Public Library listed is "Global users of the ... Library." How refreshing is that?

The Chicago Public Library is a sterling example of what can happen when intelligent leadership, strong political support (Mayor Daley and Board President Jayne Carr Thompson in particular), and a willing community come together to create future-looking services. In the 15 years since the Harold Washington Library Center opened in the South Loop, CPL has built or renovated 52 branch libraries around the city. Their circulation is solid, their programming is outstanding, and their facilities are busy. This is a library that takes the digital divide very seriously, and works to address this gap in the city.

We can all learn from the City of the Broad Shoulders! As soon as the Library puts the plan on its website, I'll post the URL here.

Plans Behind Me, Patterns Ahead

The middle of the road is trying to find me.
I'm standing in the middle of life with my plans behind me.”

(“Middle of the Road” – The Pretenders ; composed by Chrissie Hynde) [Wikipedia entry ; web site]

I was very pleased to have had the opportunity recently to reprise my presentation of “Pattern Recognition for Technical Services” that I originally presented [ppt] during the 2005 Ohio Library Council Annual Conference & Exposition (October 2005, Columbus, Ohio). The OLC organized the Ohio Library Council 2006 Technical Services Retreat (April 2006, Mohican State Park Lodge, Loundonville, OH) and sessions included several OCLC staff members (myself, George Needham, Glenn Patton, and Chris Grabenstatter) as speakers on varied topics.

Sheila Intner opened the Retreat as keynote speaker with her always insightful, always engaging vantage on libraries – with a special focus on technical services, of course – and had so much of interest to say that her opening presentation alone was worth the price of admission. I’ll mention in passing only one insight from Sheila – something that’s stuck with me, and I’ve shared with colleagues – to wit: when libraries discovered that users were not finding our catalogs useful, we didn’t change our catalogs, we invented bibliographic instruction (i.e. we decided our products were obviously without fault so therefore the users must be defective). Pogo was right (“We have met...”)!

George spoke about strategies for keeping up (see his post), Glenn about FRBR, and Chris joined me as co-presenter for a much improved revisit of the “Pattern Recognition for Technical Services” session I’d done solo in October.

My portion [ppt] of the session was similar to my previous offering, and once again I tried to touch at least briefly on trends in domains-of-interest for technical services including:
  • Publishing (mega publishers, media giants, digital everything, the decline of old media, and there’s money in the long tail)

  • Consumption (disaggregation is in, and consumers love their portable devices)

  • Copyright (“permission needed” - corporations want more control and maximum billing vs. “permission granted” – the building open content/source movement).

  • Collections (physical, “First Sale Doctrine” library vs. the digital, “who-knows?-we’re-leasing” virtual collection. And libraries need to explore systematically cataloging and stewarding that “other” stuff – research files, web resources, etc. These classes of resources present great opportunities for libraries to enhance their roles as the institutional repository of choice for the communities they serve)

  • Cataloging (we build great metadata, but we’ve got to do it faster, better, cheaper, and take advantage of new tools like FRBR to fully leverage our good work in library resource discovery tools)

  • Terminologies (controlled vocabularies are “out” ; controlled vocabularies are “in”)

  • Library systems (monolithic systems are gonna make like Legos – i.e. get modular – or be at risk of fading away)

Chris Grabenstatter was tasked to talk about OCLC product and service directions in light of these various trends and developments, and her presentation [ppt] was a great update for me and of keen interest to the very attentive audience of librarians at the session. Things OCLC is doing/pursuing [see also OCLC ProductWorks]:
  • Automating processes (PromptCat & Cataloging Partners; working on integrating selection/acquisition processes and cataloging)

  • More scripts, more languages, more OCLC members, more records in WorldCat

  • Supporting e-content: a re-engineered metadata extractor (to be a Web Service as well as a part of Connexion), building support for new metadata schemes, enriching WorldCat with e-serials records and holdings (OCLC’s e-serials holdings pilot), and adding support for a new catalog-and-submit-digital-content feature (OCLC’s Content Cooperative pilot)

  • Terminologies Service: an it-came-from-Research, now soon-to-be-production service that will provide access to selected, highly-used controlled vocabularies in a sidebar that can be conveniently used alongside Connexion when creating/enhancing bibliographic records.  

Thanks to the good folks at OLC for inviting us and allowing us be part of yet another wonderful OLC conference. And a special thanks to my colleague and former boss, Chris Grabenstatter, for letting me enlist her for our session. Hopefully, those attending are no longer mulling the plans left behind, but rather pondering the patterns before them.  

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Lucky Me Too

(Cross posted at Libraries Build Communities and elsewhere...)

In the morning I'm headed out for a ten day trip to Estonia where my sister is studying jewelry design on her Fulbright scholarship. Yes, she is fancy! I am hoping to visit libraries, museums, galleries, and shopping districts during my time there, but mostly want to spend time simply relaxing, reading, and wandering the streets of Eastern Europe for my first time.

[overstatement] The entire country of Estonia is apparently a wireless hotspot [/overstatement] and so I do plan to take my computer with me - we'll see if I actually turn it on. If not, see you all in a coupla weeks!!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

What Would You Say? Re-engineering?

Rip away the tears,
Drink a hope to happy years,
And you may find,
A lifetime's passed you by.
...What would you say?
(“What Would You Say?” – Dave Matthews) [Wikipedia entry ; web site]

It was a great pleasure to have Cyril Oberlander, Director of Interlibrary Services, University of Virginia, visit with OCLC Research in conjunction with his attendance at the recent meeting of the OCLC Resource Sharing Advisory Committee. Alane and Cyril met at a conference this past Fall, and Alane put Cyril in touch with me to arrange for some quality time with OCLC Research while he was in Dublin.

(As an aside, OCLC is very fortunate to have several advisory committees. Three of the committees are composed of respected experts in various operational areas of library services and are selected through a process of nomination/consultation with OCLC’s Regional Service Providers, and a fourth, the Research Advisory Committee, is composed of invited scholars and researchers. These advisory committees provide valuable input into OCLC products, services, OCLC community guidelines, and research directions.)

Between Cyril’s own research, his innovative ideas about how libraries should leverage technology to enhance operational efficiency and better meet the needs of users, his interest in work underway at OCLC, and our interest in return in his work, we built a very full days’ itinerary for him. The day also included a rich and thought-provoking, wide-ranging presentation [ppt or speaker notes] from Cyril that merits a more capable distillation than yours truly has managed to do, but with due apologies, here are the high points in more my words than Cyril’s:
  1. Surface to succeed: Users will naturally seek to save their own time – the library is frequently only one option among many for discovering and acquiring satisfactory content. Our services need to visible and desirable vis-à-vis alternatives like iTunes, etc.

  2. Harness non-library sources: ILL traditionally networks the existing stock of library collections, but the Web makes extending the ILL network’s resource base to include the stock in online bookstores, online music vendors, etc. very feasible and desirable.

  3. Streamline delivery: Library approaches to delivering sought content must evolve. Often it’s cheaper – and faster – to buy used rather than borrow. We can significantly re-engineer the “delivery” piece of the discovery-to-delivery chain to automatically identify multiple options (e.g., buy e-book, buy physical book, borrow) and then based on cost, desired delivery window, etc. automatically supply via the cheapest, acceptable option.

  4. Sweat the small stuff later: While our traditional just-in-case inventorying processes made a choose-acquire-catalog workflow libraries’ approach of choice, just-in-time delivery patterns are better served by an acquire-choose-catalog workflow. Collection decisions can be made post-fulfillment for most lower-cost items – if the library doesn’t want to keep the item, buying and then selling or discarding is still faster and less expensive overall than traditional roundtrip ILL for a significant part of ILL traffic. It means some process adjustments for libraries, but the benefits can be large.

  5. Bend to win: Referencing a post by Lorcan, Cyril concurs with Lorcan that libraries must move from our longstanding expectation that users will modify their work-/learn-flows to interface with libraries’ delivery mechanisms. Rather libraries must meet the user where the user is by building library services that interface gracefully with users’ preferred discover-to-delivery patterns. This may well require reshaping traditional library operational boundaries and processes.

  6. Collaborate, educate, and innovate: Libraries in concert are powerful change agents and form impressive delivery networks, but they must evolve. We must invest in continuous improvement of staff skills, expanding and updating our own and our colleagues’ professional knowledge, and be willing to try the new and unfamiliar. Innovation is often best accomplished by empowering the many to make a few changes on a frequent basis. In short, encourage experimentation by staff. And be willing to throw some money at trials of promising but unproven technology that your staff is championing.

  7. Intelligent business requires business intelligence: Although not an explicit point in Cyril’s presentation, his extensive use of carefully compiled and analyzed data point up the value of good data to building evidence-based cases for change. So my observations from his observations: good numbers yield truth, and truth can drive constructive change.

Our thanks to Cyril for the excellent presentation and for his various conversations with various OCLC staff  – it was a very engaging visit for all concerned. If you have a chance to hear Cyril speak, do so (BTW he’ll be speaking at the PALINET ILL Conference 2006 May 11-12, 2006).

So, gentle readers, what library processes would you re-engineer?

(P.S. A special note of thanks to Matt Goldner and his staff for helping to arrange an extended trip for Cyril, and also to Bob Bolander for working to make the PowerPoint and speaker notes available. And my thanks as always to my colleagues in OCLC Research who trustingly assent to meetings-with-visitors I volunteer them to attend.)

Friday, May 05, 2006

Group 1 concentrates on the task at hand: a Deep Dive. Posted by Picasa

We split into groups to practice thinking through the "Deep Dive" process. Group 2 is in the foreground, group 1 is in the back. Posted by Picasa

Key texts we recommend for further reading on marketing and branding for library staff members... Posted by Picasa

Alane models one of the "funny hats" from the NOLA workshop we did on Library Marketing and Branding. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006


David Sifry (CEO Technorati) just published a two-part "State of the Blogosphere: April 2006." Part one is all about growth.
  • The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months.
  • On average, a new blog is created every second.
  • 55% of new bloggers are blogging three months later.
Part two is on language and tagging. I perked up about the tagging.
  • Technorati now tracks more than 100 Million author-created tags and categories on blog posts.
  • The rel-tag microformat has been adopted by a number of the large tool makers, making it easy for people to tag their posts. About 47% of all blog posts have non-default tags or categories associated with them.
Am I going to get in trouble (as a librarian, I mean) when I say that I'm not doing this? True confession: I tag a few things on Flickr, my other blogs use categories sparingly, and I have a del. account that I'm literally afraid of. I feel extremely, um, incompetent in my use of these tools. I think the fact that I know I'm not a cataloger - that "Controlled Vocabulary" was my most painful course in library school - keeps me from being a regular-person sort of tagger. I can't just put a word down that I think describes something without being like "this is so incomplete!" or "what if this is wrong?" And then there's the fear of discovery - that I am actually not any sort of 'IT girl' - but instead 'the derelict librarian'. I can hear my cataloging teacher's voice in my ear: And you call yourself a librarian? An information professional? Everyone's talking about radical trust. I'd like to radically trust myself!

Don't get me wrong - I do appreciate how "easy" it is, technically speaking, to now add a tag to my blog post. I have marveled at how tagging has changed the way we think about organizing & retrieving information over the last few years, not to mention its obvious connection to my favorite subject: online community. Seriously, some of my best friends are taggers. Strangely, being a librarian seems (so far) to prevent me from actually becoming one.

Any tips for the tagophobic?

Lucky Me

IAG readers, I am off on vacation beginning tomorrow--and I am not taking a computer. I know you'll miss me...actually it's more likely you won't notice I'm gone now that we are rich in IAGers. Five of us means five voices telling stories.

On the drive home yesterday, Alice remarked to me that she thought my presentation about the Perceptions report was better than it was the last time she'd seen me make the presentation, about two months ago. Well, good, I said...how come? She replied that I'd made it a story this time. This was great to hear. Talking about the results of our survey means talking about a lot of data, a lot of numbers, and I had a tough time finding the story in this data the first few times I gave presentations on the report. I had said as much to Jane Dysart after she'd listened to me speak at the SirsiDynix SuperConference as I felt I should have done a better job of presenting.

Story-telling is powerful, much more so than presenting facts, and yet, in business settings--libraries, offices--we rarely weave a "story cloth" out of facts as a way of helping people find meaning in those bare and cold facts. "Circulation rose by 27% last year." "Reference questions dropped by 8% last semester." OK....but what does this mean? Is there a story behind the numbers?

Stephen Abram's Personas project is interesting for many reasons, but one good reason is the story-making potential of the personas as you'll see towards the end of this presentation Stephen gave at CIL in March--the link to the slides is in the post. Much more powerful and useful to make a story about people using libraries than reducing them to percentages. Jane Dysart has some additional resources on personas here.

See you around May 16th. Oh, no secret decoder rings here either.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Hello from NOLA

Alane and I are here in Warren, Ohio...celebrating libraries, branding, marketing and funny hats at NOLA.

Full report later...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Better Late than Never? Or, sorry, Chrystie...

I should have welcomed Chrystie Hill to the blog last week. Somehow, it didn't happen and Alice picked up the ball. But I do want to add my two cents.

Chrystie was one of the first people hired to work on WebJunction, and she helped create the wonderful sense of community that permeates the site. She's funny, irreverent, smart, and she wears the coolest glasses you'll ever see. As a relatively new member of the library profession, her outlook is "can do" rather than "been there, done that," and this attitude shines through everything she does.

She's a wonderful writer, with articles published in Library Journal, American Libraries, Computers in Libraries, First Monday, and Public Libraries. (For links, go to her personal site.) She also contributes regularly to WebJunction's BlogJunction.

Chrystie is passionate about libraries, community, and technology, but most of all, people. She pursues what she does with focused intensity while maintaining a sense of balance and proportion. And over a couple of beers after a WebJunction Advisory Council meeting, she can passionately debate the nature of reality. And win.

Welcome, Chrystie, and thanks for being part of the "It's All Good" team!


The 2006 Class of IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellows began their residency yesterday (May 1) at OCLC. We have five librarians from five continents this year, and I can already tell that we're in for a spirited month. The Fellows this year are:

Ms. Maria Cherrie
Trinidad & Tobago National Library and Information System Authority
Port-of-Spain, Trinidad & Tobago

Mrs. Janete Estevão
Head Librarian
O Boticário Franchising S/A
Sao José dos Pinhais, Paraná, Brazil

Mr. Festus Ng'etich
Kenya Institute of Management
Nairobi, Kenya

Mr. Roman Purici
Information Resource Center, U.S. Embassy
Chisinau, Moldova

Mr. Salmubi
Head of Library
The State Polytechnic of Ujung Pandang
Makassar, Indonesia

In a few minutes, we leave for Chicago. We will participate in the Chicago Public Library's All Staff Institute Day and visit ALA's headquarters on Wednesday; tour the city on Thursday; and spend a day at the University of Illinois's Mortenson Center in Urbana-Champaign on Friday. We also have trips to several Columbus area libraries, an Ohio Library Council conference, a day at the Library of Congress, the Members Council meeting, and a few parties, picnics, and bull sessions planned. Pictures will be forthcoming soon!

How Do You Keep Up, Part 2

Last week, I gave a presentation called "Getting to the On Ramp" at the Ohio Library Council's Technical Services Retreat. The talk focused on how librarians, especially those in small libraries and remote areas, could stay connected with what's happening in the library world and beyond. I posted about this, and asked for advice on how you keep up. I got some great suggestions, and I want to thank Judith Siess, Steve Bell, and Genevieve Foskett for their most valuable input.

The talk was pretty well received, and if you'd like a copy of the PowerPoint slides and/or my one page handout, drop me a line at needhamg@oclc.org, or in the comments below.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Friendshop at SPL

Once again, I fawn over the Seattle Public Library. Yet one more example of smart thinking, good design and a culture of creative innovation...

As they explain on their site, the Friendshop is
"the public face of the Friends and represents our longstanding commitment to serve The Seattle Public Library. Shop revenue supports programs, services, events, and special initiatives of The Seattle Public Library."

Who knew the Friendshop slid open and closed? Cool!
Watch the animation.
This will be my design inspiration for the day. If even the shop can be engaging at the library, just think what they've done to the experience of actually using the library!?!