Thursday, May 31, 2007

Now *that's* edutainment!

Had enough of your iPod yet? Me neither. However, now you can get something new through the ubiquitous white buds: an education.

In a news release dated May 30, Apple announced that they will be making lectures, lab demos, language lessons, campus tours, and other information available on iTunes U, a dedicated area within the iTunes store. Stanford University, UC Berkeley, Duke University and MIT are among the universities involved at the outset.

Maybe I can slide a little Lester Thurow between 5 Chinese Brothers and the original Broadway cast of Avenue Q and finish learning what I should have studied 30 years ago in college!

Saugus closing

You've probably heard it already: the public library in Saugus, Mass. is closing. Close on the heels of the Jackson County public libraries closing... Media coverage includes:

An April tax-override vote failed, and now apparently the city council must approve a trash fee in order to keep the library open and funded.

I wonder what the larger story is, behind the April vote. Did citizens not understand what was at stake? Or were they using the only poker chip they had--the vote--to send a clear message to city council that they did not approve of the way the city's funds were being handled?

In hearing from citizens who live in Medford and surrounding towns, the library's closing didn't seem quite *real* to people. Even as the doors were already closed, many people expressed an optimism along the lines of "some how, some way, truth, justice and rightness will prevail (and the library will re-open)."

I hope this is true in both of these communities. Situations like these are exactly what we're working on, with the Gates Foundation marketing grant.

Speaking of library marketing, have you read the Worth Their Weight report from ALC yet? I've sent away for it--still need to read it. It's all about demonstrating library ROI. Some comments from Brian about it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

May's a Blur

May is the busiest month of the year in OCLC Member Services. Over the past four weeks, we've hosted the IFLA/OCLC Early Career Development Fellows here in Dublin (and in Chicago, Urbana-Champaign, and Washington DC), a Members Council meeting, a meeting of the OCLC US network and service center directors, and the first meeting of the new Governance Study committee, and I had a couple of speaking engagements just to keep me off the streets. We also had a delightful social worker from Belarus staying with Joyce and me at our home for three weeks in May, but that would need to go into a personal blog, not IAG.

This year's Fellows were an absolute delight. We shared a lot of information about libraries, children's services groups, museums, and inter-agency and international collaboration, but it is the Fellows as people I will treasure most when I reflect on this class.

Kodjo Atiso, from the Animal Research Institute in Ghana, is a natural leader. He arrived in Columbus first, and assumed the mantle of unofficial tour guide. He spent hours talking to us about the wildlife and domesticated animals of his homeland, and his program for the staff stressed the beauty of Ghana.

Alicia Esguerra, from Bulacan State University in the Philippines, (everyone calls her "Alice") developed a love of garage sales and scared the heck out us when she disappeared just before a van pick up one afternoon. She just got interested in a tag sale and lost track of time. Her quick, disarming laugh leaves everyone around her feeling refreshed.

Pauline Nicholas, from the University of the West Indies' Mona Campus in Jamaica, has the soul of a poet and the voice of a singer; she regaled us at several gatherings by breaking out just the right poem. My guess is that she'll be a Members Council delegate from OCLC Latin America and the Caribbean some day.

Elisangela Silva (whom everyone except me called "Liz") was the cinematographer I took to calling "Spielberg;" her video camera was never very far out of reach. She's the librarian for the Abrinq Foundation for the Rights of Children and Adolescents in São Paulo, Brazil, so she and Elena, our Belarusian social worker, bonded instantly.

Nevena Tomić, from the University of Belgrade's Student City in Serbia, was the Fellows' thoughtful, insightful and calm presence. She asked great questions wherever we went. She's also a part-time theological librarian, working on restoring historic religious collections in Serbian church and synagogue libraries. Needless to say, she was the hit of our visit to the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) office in Chicago. (ATLA has been a co-sponsor of this program for several years, and we include a visit to their offices and discussions with their staff on our visit to the Windy City.)

Every year, at the beginning of the Fellows program, we tell them that we are going to learn more from them than they are from us. And every year, this is true. We now have 33 graduates of the program in 23 countries. Several are working on Ph.D.s. Others are moving up in their institutions and will be leaders in their national library and information communities in the years to come. The Fellows are becoming a cadre of men and women who will shape the future of library services around the globe.

If you, your state library, your library association, or some philanthropist of your acquaintance would like to sponsor a Fellow and be part of this exciting program the way ATLA has, give me a call (800-848-5878, ext. 5173) or drop me a note ( I'd LOVE to talk to you!

Touch Screens on Steroids

Have you heard about Microsoft's new Surface project? Imagine a coffee table with a built-in 30" horizontal screen that lets you manipulate data by touch. Then imagine that you can put a physical object on the screen and that the system will be able to incorporate that into the data. Then start thinking about ways you could use this in a library: Gaming? Digitizing local information? Space planning?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Al Gore at SLA

If you're headed to Denver next week, you're in luck!

Al Gore opens the general session on Sunday, and Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) closes it on Wednesday. (Watch the Al Gore video from TED on SLA's site for a warm-up.) Lots of great sessions and conversations planned for in between those presentations too, I am sure.
The marketing and advertising division has events going on through Wednesday, as well. Check them out--it makes me wish I was going.

Speaking of conference events, make sure you've got the Blog Salon at Annual on your dance card for DC! Remember, it's at the Congressional Suite at the Grand Hyatt on Sunday, June 24, 2007 , right after Robert F. Kennedy (5:45pm - 8pm).

With all these political names appearing at library conferences of late--at least in the US, you'd think there was a movement afoot to align the profession with some powerful forces for national change...same movement going on globally?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Not-so-sunny CA

Here in Monterey, CA today. Have been in Southern and Central California all week and have realized that just because you pack like it's going to be sunny and gorgeous, do not mean mother nature will make it so. Cloudy, cold and chilly. It's warmer in New Hampshire!

But have been enjoying the West Coast, regardless. Am here as supportive companion for significant other, as he meets with researchers about his Ph.D. dissertation ideas. Luckily, with a laptop you can usually work from anywhere.

EXCEPT when there's no internet connections in your hotel room. "What?" you exclaim. "Are you staying in coastal monasteries, where they feed you only bread and wine?"

No actually, a really nice place in Marina, right on the ocean. But it turns out, this place is new enough that they haven't figured out how to relay the wifi signal out to the outlying buildings. So I am camped out here in the lobby for the past 7 hours. But you should have seen significant other's face drop, when he ascertained that no indeed, there was NO WIRELESS in the rooms. At the very least, they should put a sign up that explains they are working on it. Right now it looks like they remembered the fluffy bathrobes, the fancy folded towels and specially printed coffee napkins but forgot one of the mainstays of traveling life these days.

I had decided to go to the library to get online, but the branch closest to me did not have wifi enabled. The library was smart enough to let me know that upfront, so I didn't waste time driving around to find the location.

Will post photos of snoozing elephant seals, majestic redwoods and other novelties when I download the camera this weekend. For the time being, enjoy this article about the Four Habits of Highly Effective Librarians from Todd Gilman, a couple of days back in the Chronicle. His post reminded me of an insight I gained on Wednesday:

Many librarians do not feel qualified to do marketing activities, even when they know they'd like to (or need to) do them. My takeaway was to create more programs to help staff try things with little to no risk, to see successes and to devise ways to build on them. It's not so much a teaching and education thing, as a doing thing. I can read books about gardening all day long. It's no replacement for someone giving me a shovel, some seeds, and a pot to plant them in.

Just add sunshine. (Even in California in late May...)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Farewell, Alane

Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone,
And she’s always gone too long.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” – Bill Withers (Website ; WCid ; Wikipedia ; Soultracks)

Alane Wilson’s final post on It’s All Good noting her departure from OCLC exhibits what IAG readers have come to expect from her posts, Alane’s audiences from her presentations, and her colleagues from her interactions – an admirable eloquence, openness, and irrepressibly forward-looking view.

Alane, we shall miss your insights and voice.

I suspect that Alice, Chrystie, George, and I singly and collectively are at best only partially aware of the full scope and value of Alane’s dedication and hard work at OCLC, but first to mind is her work on the award- winning The 2003 OCLC environmental scan : pattern recognition : a report to the OCLC membership, and her follow-on work on later OCLC reports along with her many presentations about key trends and the future of libraries in so many settings. Indeed, this blog arose from the process of following up on the 2003 report. Alane has also been pivotal in the organizing and delivering of the well-received OCLC Symposium event at ALA Annual meetings, and our popular Blog Salons.

Alane, we shall miss your organizational skills and counsel.

As Alane notes in her post, Alane, Alice, Chrystie, George, and I have had more collegial contact in the last few years than we did prior. This has definitely been a good thing, and though we’ll keep the IAG co-blogger fires burning, Alane’s absence will be keenly felt – I fear the sun will shine a little less brightly on our all too infrequent gatherings.

Alane, we shall miss your comradeship and humor.

And if Alane’s work has been instructive in no other way, she has taught us that transitions are opportunities, and transitions are also needful things. Moving a continent’s width away to try something new is exciting and invigorating. Bravo for you, Alane. We’ll look forward to reading what you have to say about what you learn perched as you will be on the Pacific Rim.

Alane, dear friend, we send our best wishes to you and yours.

And so it goes; in the end, it all changes, but ultimately it’s all good.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Members Council

We shall all miss Alane, here at IAG. Especially me! But we do wish her the best and I am sure she'll have a blog of her own set up in no time.

Those of you attuned to the OCLC universe know that today (Sunday) was the opening session of the May Members Council meeting. Members Council is such a rich tradition and I won't go into it here, but I love the fact it gives us all time to reflect on what we're doing as a group, here in libraryland and beyond.

And it's the beyond that was the main topic of conversation this evening.

As you may know, OCLC set out a few years ago to move beyond libraries and include all sorts of information, knowledge and culture-related industries under the umbrella of "furthering access to the world's information." Cultural heritage institutions such as archives, museums, historical societies were the sorts of groups we (as librarians) wanted to fold into the knowledge-seeking experience of using a library.

You may also know that OCLC has been making great strides to put some significant emphasis on the "world" part of "A worldwide library cooperative" and "WorldCat, the world's most comprehensive bibliographic database." In other words, we've been working on being more global and less US-centric.

The discussion this evening centered around these topics, among others, as delegates contemplated what the organization's values were. What are they now? What do we want them to be in the future?

It was eye-opening to remember that words such as "nonprofit" connote very different things in different parts of the world. In the US, the fact that OCLC is nonprofit is a large part of our identity. When the word means something different in South Africa, for example, how do we describe it? How can we be flexible enough to make room for local variation while being defined enough to stay unique?

Dinner was delightful. I sat down with Jean, a NYLINK librarian from Cornell and found that she had grown up in the next town over from me! Small world. As we always seem to discover when international librarians get together...

Friday, May 18, 2007

And so it goes, and so it goes*

This is my very last post for It's All Good. It also happens to be my last day as an employee of the House That Fred Built where I've spent ten years. My husband and I are relocating to Vancouver, British Columbia (which is where I lived while I did my library degree twenty years ago) and I am going to take the summer off, and decide what I want to do next. I could have kept my OCLC job, because OCLC is a very flexible organization with regard to where employees do their work, and my boss is a flexible person who would have supported my move, as she has supported other changes over the past several years.

But I like change. I like the feeling of embarking on a new adventure, of starting things, and of new challenges. So, it just felt right to step through this particular door and close it gently behind me, as different ones open up.

I've had a terrific ten years at OCLC and had opportunities that I thoroughly enjoyed and from which I learned a great deal. I have worked with great people at OCLC and got to meet many more great people through workshops and presentations I've participated in. And my co-bloggers Alice, Eric, George and Chrystie have been a large part of my last few years at OCLC, and have been the best co-authors and pals a person could hope for. Thanks. And thanks to all of you in the biblioblogosphere, who have become friends and colleagues through this not-so-new publishing medium.

I am not going to write my final thoughts on libraries and their futures because I will be starting up my own blog as soon as I have a chance to do so, and I am sure one of my IAG buddies will blog about it when I do and so provide a link. Also, it would be sort of anti-climatic as I will be at ALA in June, stage-managing the OCLC Symposium and making sure there are anough pretzels at the Blog Salon. I hope to have a chance to see many of you there.

I am going to leave you with a quote from Miss Gratia Alta Countryman's 1905 address to the Minnesota Library Association because I think it's as "web 2.0" as anything written this week and so is a fitting coda to my IAG career.

“Many of our libraries are now housed in beautiful buildings, in which case, the building as well as the books become a means of social influence. The whole building at all times should be managed in the broadest spirit of hospitality…do away with all unnecessary restrictions, take down all bars, and try to put face to face our friends the books and our friends the people. Introduce them cordially, then stand aside and let them make each other’s acquaintance.”

*And so it goes, and so it goes. This is the title of a Billy Joel song (although my favourite version of the song is by Jennifer Warnes on The Well) as well as the phrase Kurt Vonnegut used like a litany in Slaughterhouse Five to denote transformation

Thanks for the fish.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Twitterverse

I am not a Twitterer (yet?) but many people are, almost against their will, viz our own IAGer Chrystie who wrote recently, "I am as surprised by this as some of you. Me? On twitter? I checked this out as an experiment. I am the last person I ever thought would move into mobile online community. I like to read about such things, sure, but do it? And here I am."

And if you are like me, wondering why the heck you might want to get into "micro-blogging", here is "Your Guide to Micro-blogging and Twitter" from Mark Glaser at Mediashift.

There's also a Q&A with the UberTwitterers, founders Biz Stone and Jack Dorsey.

OCLC Symposium in Washington, DC

As we have done for many years, OCLC will be hosting a Symposium at ALA Annual in DC. It will be June 22, 1:30 – 4:30 pm, at the Grand Hyatt Washington, Independence Ballroom A and registration is here. The topic of this one is related to our forthcoming report Sharing, Privacy and Trust in the Age of the Networked Community.

Title: Is the Library Open?

Hear from three experts on the issues of information privacy law, copyright, digital communication, intellectual property and patron privacy rights in relation to library policies.

The speakers are:
· Marc Rotenberg, Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and professor of privacy law at Georgetown University Law Center. "EPIC is a public interest research center in Washington, D.C. It was established in 1994 to focus public attention on emerging civil liberties issues and to protect privacy, the First Amendment, and constitutional values. EPIC publishes an award-winning e-mail and online newsletter on civil liberties in the information age – the EPIC Alert."

· Siva Vaidhyanathan, a cultural historian, media scholar and an associate professor of culture and communication at New York University. He blogs at A journalist before he became a professor, he has written several books (including The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System) as well as for many periodicals. And he's been on The Daily Show, but you can't see that clip on YouTube anymore because of the Viacom copyright claim.

· Mary Minow, a library law consultant with, coauthor of The Library’s Legal Answer Book and a public librarian for 10 years. She is the coauthor with Tomas Lipinski of The Library's Legal Answer Book (ALA Editions: 2003). She blogs at LibraryLaw.Blog and says this about herself, "I studied library law, that is the combined study of First Amendment, Copyright, Local Government Law, Disability Law, Negotiations etc. Now what I care about is sharing the most practical parts of the law that I learned, the good, the bad and the ugly, with my former colleagues, the librarians of the world."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Blog Salon at ALA Annual in DC

Although it feels to me like mere weeks since our last Blog Salon, it is time to tell you about the next one. If you came to the ALA Midwinter Salon in Seattle, you can't forget it was very crowded, noisy and hot--all signs of a ripping good party, but not great for comfort.

So, we are holding this Blog Salon in a larger room, that isn't beside the bedroom of one of our conference managers who won't, then, be kept awake by carousing bloggers into the wee hours. We've chosen a time right after Leslie Burger's President's Program featuring Robert F. Kennedy which means you should be able to cross the street to the Grand Hyatt hotel, attend the Salon and still go for dinner afterwards.

Where: Congressional Suite at the Grand Hyatt
When: Sunday, June 24, 2007 , 5:45pm - 8pm
Who: Libraryland bloggers, pals of libraryland bloggers, bloggers-to-be
Why: Because it's such an interesting group of people
What: light snacks and adult beverages

See you there!

PS. I know this conflicts with the GLBTRT Social and I apologize to those wanting to attend this and the Blog Salon...maybe start with us and go on to the Social?

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Prototyping the Future Library

Thanks to Darlene Fichter for pointing out* this really excellent video from the Aarhus Public Library in Denmark. "When everything is available online, why come to the library at all?" The video attempts to answer this.

It is in English and reports on a project they called The Transformation Lab that included the Literature Lab, the Music Lab (which included an Inspiration Zone), the News Lab, The Square, and the Exhibition Lab.

They present five lessons learned (and shown):
- flexible spaces are necessary
- open events are a good idea and well received
- the physical library needs to be augmented with interactive technology
- networking is critical among users, IT specialists, library staff, architects etc
- users need to have a more visible role inside the library

Simple techniques produced the greatest impact...the users like to become involved "as long as it was not too much trouble and providing it brings about an instant result."

The narrator comments that users have been forced to dismiss the book as library brand (makes me wonder if they've read The Perceptions report) and that they are co-creators of a new library space.

And reading the credits, I see the project was supported by the Danish National Library and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. So, are libraries in North America making grant applications for such projects?

*Darlene has other good videos noted at "Blog on the Side".

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Warm summer days

We are having such a gorgeously warm day here. I couldn't resist taking a break from the task list to say hello and check in with IAG readers. Like everyone lately, I've been on the road.

I did a presentation on "How to Market the Archives" at the MAC/SOA conference in Columbus, OH last week. It was really fun to think about archivists for a bit (as opposed to my usual dominant thought-audience, librarians). Note to self: Archivists Do Not Necessarily Identify with Librarians.

The Brand is not necessarily the same, and the public's perceptions of the Archives are not necessarily the same. It sparked a really good conversation about what IS the Archive Brand, and how is it differentiated from libraries, museums or historical societies. And how is it relevant to today's users (esp. if the original source materials are NOT digitized!)?

Any archivists or would-be archivists, chime in here.

What else have I been doing? I spent about a week and a half crossing the country from east coast to west for our National Library Advocacy project, listening to people talk about libraries, their library experience and what they think about library funding.

The results have been very very interesting. We did indeed go to Jackson County, Oregon, to hear what people had to say. We also went to Minneapolis, Minnesota--because the library funding there has been a hot topic for the community and community leaders. We went to small towns, big towns, and many places in between.

In reflecting back on it, many people in this country deeply value what the Library has to offer, and the richness that librarians bring to their knowledge-seeking endeavors. Of course, many people wonder what the right answer is, for library funding in their communities, too.

Next week I am off to Dublin and then Maryland, to talk about DataSPIKE and more DataSPIKE with the UpCounty Libraries. Should be fun!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Lovin' the Legal Stuff

Am I the only one who hears the screams,
And the strangled cries of lawyers in love?

Lawyers in Love” – Jackson Browne (Web site ; WCid ; Wikipedia)

In an thoughtful column, “Librarians and Licensing,” [excerpt] in the March 2007 issue of InfoToday, K. Matthew Dames (of CopyCense) discusses the surprising absence of offerings in library science programs of formal coursework in content licensing.

Dames laments “another yawning gap in contemporary information professional education: the lack of training in licensing electronic content.” (The “other” gap being a paucity of copyright education). Acknowledging that in the course of teaching independent content licensing seminars and a graduate seminar at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies Dames has never met a single librarian (other than those attending his seminars) who “has completed a class or seminar on licensing or content procurement as part of his or her library science education,” Dames asks:

Assuming that the procurement mechanism for electronic content is a license, how can librarians fulfill the fundamental role of collection development in the 21st century if they can’t read, understand, and negotiate those contracts?

Overall he presents a well-rounded development of his theme, “Buying econtent is serious business.” Key points Dames makes:

  • It is common for agencies to spend $ millions annually across their econtent portfolio
  • Econtent procurement competence requires a varied skill set in privacy law, copyright law, digital rights management, and a grasp of the ever-changing publishing landscape and much more
  • Expertise in e-content licensing is unusual as a procurement competence outside the information profession: for many institutions and companies, in-house counsel will not have this expertise – the responsibility for the institution’s legal and financial investment and risk exposure will often rest squarely with the econtent procurement staff member(s) at the library
  • The position tasked with econtent procurement may have many names, but if “called a librarian, chances are it will not command the organizational respect, compensation, and resources it deserves.”

Dames offers suggestions for introducing the topic of procurement in far greater depth in library and information studies. I certainly commend the full article to your attention.

Thinking back on my own MLS, I had little graduate training in the legal end of librarianship. Yet looking forward through my professional work even unto now I have had to read, understand, and even help craft licensing agreements. Indeed, management of electronic products was assigned to me as one my first “duties as assigned” extras on my first day in my first professional job. From that point I have found myself studying and learning on my own by necessity, and I also have been fortunate to have persons with genuine expertise to coach me.

I think one might reasonably argue that librarians have long been “technicians of the intersections” – perhaps what distinguishes Librarian 2.0 from Librarian 1.0 is less the new tools applied and more the mix of new stuff. Econtent licensing expertise is surely one of the more richly textured intersections librarians must master. Are we giving the econtent procurement competency its due with respect to preparing professionals, or – as Dames asserts – is it something library science and information studies programs are failing to give the emphasis such deserves in a Web 2.0 world?