Sunday, June 29, 2008

Branch Library Closings

Reporting (barely) live from the American Library Association conference in Anaheim:

Yesterday I was a very minor part of a panel discussion on public library branch closings. Christie Koontz, Dean Jue, and Wade Bishop from Florida State University reported on their study, "Public Library Facility Closure: An Investigation of Impacts on Library Customer Markets." (Full disclosure: the reason I was on the panel is that OCLC helped underwrite the research.)

The discussion was lively and covered a wide range of topics, but the important point is that this study begins to provide a framework for making conscious decisions about how to go about making decisions about moving or closing branch library services. Christie Koontz has been a leader (maybe THE leader) in encouraging libraries to use GIS data in the decision making process, and this paper extends that reputation.

The paper will be available after August 1 through WebJunction. We may even put together a message board and discussion around the paper and its findings.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

OCLC Symposium part 3: David Lee King on the Mashed Up Library

David Lee King.

Web stuff—RSS feeds, Meebo widgets: new audience. The people on the public access computers use the Meebo widget to ask questions. Placed the widget at the “no results found” page.

Physical library-Digital library—“travel neighborhoods”

Patron-generated content—patrons can add sticky notes throughout the library experience. MySpace page, Flickr account, YouTube channel. Original content by patrons. Sometimes the content is outside the library’s walls.

Outside the box—Go outside the library—take your message outside the library. (Bookmobile, go online). Set up alerts to make sure you’re there when people ask questions. Be Comfortable with 2.0 technology. Computer is a way we connect with people/
Community requests—being a consultant to small businesses, be where people are. Be there at hubs, mobile areas. Set up shops in coffee shops, the mall, the State Fair. )(Be out of the building a lot more.)

OCLC Symposium part 2: The Mashed Up Library

True Story about a Horrible Business meeting where "we already do that" killed all innovation ideas.

*Intelligence is wildly overrated as a virtue.* What holds us back is not that we’re not smart enough. “Yeah yeah yeah, we do that”—self-delusion is a big obstacle. If we talked about it, it’s happening?

Internet designed to be a network of networks: exchange and share information (interoperable). Exchange, sharing and interoperability.

Real big potential win for libraries: on an organizational level: which partners, colleagues and peers should we interoperate with? For us as an organization (not just as a creator of technologies.)

The most important product of the Mines… (Obligatory Profound Design Quote) is the Miner.
(Not the stuff they did out of the ground. It’s the people. It’s the system. It’s the human capital.)

The most Important product of the network is the networker. The kinds of networks we build…depend on what kinds of networkers we really want people to be.

What’s the most Important Product of the Library?

Mission statements, public documents that answer this question.
(Readers) and (Research)
“A Scholar is a Library’s Way of Creating Another library.”
What SHOULD the most important Product of the Library be?

What institutional innovations and adaptations best boost your chances of getting there? (And who owns the keys?)

“Competition” –like “innovation"—is a means to an End.
Frenemies/Froes? Are people a competitor or a co-marketer?
Spectre of competition—Institutions seek protection, instead of rising to the challenge.

“Competition” is about Perceived Value from Choice.
Newspaper circulation has stayed flat since 1950. Average reader age: 56.
Newspapers don’t know how to compete. Reluctance to creatively compete.
Rupert Murdock always buys the 2nd best—he competes. It’s the perceived value.

Libraries as physical spaces that house books and artifacts= no competition. We’re great.
Libraries as information=huge space to compete in.
Libraries are creatures of subsidy rather than market forces.

How do your uses and user communities brand you as a competitor?
“Serving the community” “Serving the underserved”
Permit Competition
Permit Subsidy

4 particular things as suggested actions
1. Learning from our Lead users. (What is the segment of users that we learn the most from? Not just segments—but segments we learn from.)
2. With Whom Do we want to collaborate to Create value? Why?
(Collaborative—who creates value…what are our organizational protocols?)
3. Nurturing our Best Internal Arguments/Disagreements (be transparent—make your user know what’s going on. Don’t seal off the complexity
4. Establishing “Liberatory” (a mash-up of library and laboratory) that best attract talent and inspire hypotheses.

What does the institution itself stand for? Provoke new thinking and new value.
Success comes not from taking the path of least resistance but the path of maximum advantage.

OCLC Symposium part 1: The Mashed Up Library

Alice's note: Once again, hotels are not willing to provide widespread wifi access without paying through the nose in the 4 digit range. So Beth Gallaway and a few other library bloggers sat on the sides and took notes to post later.
These are them...

Full house! Lots of people here. In fact, the hotel staff started bringing in more chairs…

Andrew Pace kicks off the Symposium
Creativity Exercise:
What is your Greatest Resource?
What is your Greatest Challenge?
What if…(dangerous ideas)
*We stopped cataloging?
*We participated fully with the FBI? (Sienfeld’s Library Cop)
*We mased up Connexion x WoW=WorldCat of Warcraft…

Michael Schrage (keynote)

The Content of the Audience is more important than the Content of the Talk.
The economics of innovation:
How do organizations use models and prototypes and manage risks and innovation?
Emphasis: Managing the challenge of institution innovation. (immovable bureacracies?)
Is it harder for a good library to be innovative than an entrepreneur?

Definition: Innovation is the Conversion of “Novelty” into “Value”
Whose novelty? Whose value?

Innovation is a means to an end. (Not an end unto itself.)
Is innovation a spice? Or the whole meal? Forces the organization to address what it really does.

*Innovation isn’t what innovators offer, it’s what customers, clients and users ADOPT.

Mobile phone: How many of us know how to use more than 20% of the features of our phones? (This isn’t being innovative for phone companies to create new, little used features…it’s being wasteful.)

We need a different paradigm: Move away from “creation of choice” and toward “Value from Use”
Make the center of gravity= Value for Use. Measure THAT.

Ask your users: “What’s the most Innovative thing you think we do?”

Thursday, June 26, 2008

tweetle e-deets

I am very sad that I haven't had time to prep or show myself or my plans online. As it turns out, I'll be lucky if I get there, get my bags there, and remember my name once I arrive. But I'll be there at ALA in person for some good, old fashioned, face-to-face community building just the same.

And if you're really dying to know "what I'm doing" at ALA - I probably won't ever get to completing the profile or sharing my whereabouts. I guess you'll have to send that "follow itgirl" text message to 40404. C'mon, you know you want to.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mundaneum and ALA madness

The mundaneum idea has captured at least some of the public's imagination lately. I should say, I've seen more than one article about it...
**other news**
But I am not going to tell you my ALA schedule, because, well, because. But suffice it to say, all of us at IAG look forward to our revels and conversations throughout the weekend. Especially on Sunday in the Palisades room for the Blog Salon. If you are shy, come in anyway because we want to meet you. I bought a new camera this weekend in honor of the event. (It turns out, you can let a baby chew on a mobile phone or blackberry without a problem. But digital cameras are not so lucky.)

I'll be blogging as always when I can. Maybe I'll even post up a few tweets!

Oh, and no, this is not my child. This is not me, either.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Reading with WorldCat

The Summer Solstice is upon us this weekend. The longest day of the year! Hope you have a fun weekend planned or already beginning, if you're across the pond. We're coming into prime strawberry season here in New Hampshire. Finally!

So in honor of summertime and reading everywhere, we designed a few WorldCat bookmarks. 8, to be exact. The idea is that whatever your summer reading programs are, you can add in the online component with WorldCat. Download and print more at a moment's notice. Enjoy!

I realized I might not have told you about this little effort, when I read Katie's recent post. And she's got a great book list going for summer reads. Check it out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

WorldCat Challenge

Speaking of Challenges (see George's post, below), we've got the WorldCat Challenge game coming up at ALA. We'll be playing it in in OCLC booth 1448 and at the meetings. It's going to be a fun game that pits expert searcher against expert searcher to determine the most savvy librarian-user around. The best part, George determined, is that you get to yell, "WorldCat!" when you're done with your round, just like when you play Bingo.
I think the best part is going to be giving the Overall WorldCat Challenge Champion their very own iPod Touch. It's even engraved.
Brush up on your searching skills and come have some fun with us.

And...I was on the LITA ALA site this morning, to remember where all of us--the whole IAG gang--are supposed to be on Sunday afternoon for the LITA President's Program. (Hilton Anaheim, California Pavilion D, 4:00 - 5:00 pm). And then we'll all happily go straight to the Blog Salon in the Avila Room, same hotel.

Is it just me? Is it just this year? Seems like everyone is gearing up for a wonderful but action-packed time in California. See you there!

Kindle Tips

I don't know how I became the go-to guy for Kindle topics, but Fiona King just sent me a great list of 104 useful tips for getting the most out of your Kindle. The best part? The list of places where you can get free or cheap downloadable materials in acceptable formats.

Enjoy, fellow Kindlers!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

OCLC Syposium, and a Challenge for IAG Readers!

Andrew Pace wrote about the upcoming OCLC Symposium at the ALA Conference in Anaheim. One of the things the speaker, Michael Schrage, is planning to do is to ask attendees what they think is the one greatest challenge and the one greatest resource facing libraries today. He wanted to get some ideas about what librarians might be thinking on this topic ahead of time.

So, the gauntlet is thrown. Please use the comments function of IAG to tell Michael, Andrew, me, and other readers what you think are the great challenge and resource. And we'll see you in Anaheim, and the Symposium and at the annual Blog Salon.

Heroic Work at the University of Iowa

Did you hear the report on Saturday's All Things Considered about the way the Iowa City community pulled together to rescue the special collections at the University of Iowa Library?

You can also see a collection of photos here on flickr that document the process.

People care passionately about their cultural heritage, an important and bracing lesson to all of us in our profession.

A Great Conference for Library Support Staff

The Ohio Library Support Staff Institute is holding its annual conference next month. It promises to be another interesting and informative event, aimed at an audience that bears most of the front line library burden while garnering little attention, respect, or (ahem) continuing education funding.

This year's conference has a pirate theme (near and dear to my heart, mateys), but the topics are no joke: downloadable media, web 2.0 implications for libraries, using Facebook, and much more.

Side note: Several years ago, your original IAG bloggers, Alice, Alane and I, were speakers at this event and Alice created a blog for the conference on site. Blogs had a higher "wow" factor then, but still---a very pleasant memory!

The conference will be held on the campus of the University of Toledo, July 27-29. Registration is amazingly reasonable ($225 includes tuition, meals, lodging, and conference materials). The conference is not limited to Ohioans, so this would be beneficial for support staff from nearly any type of library from nearly any geography.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

i feel honored

The very good people at We Feel Fine sent me a letter to my personal flickr account. I finally caught up with it last night and here's what it said:

Hi, I'm contacting you today because I'm working with Sep Kamvar and Jonathan Harris on a book about feelings on the web. We found an image on your blog that we found beautiful, and we wanted to get your permission to use it in the book. The book is based on the website We Feel Fine (


Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been studying human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 - 20,000 new feelings per day.

Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? Do women feel fat more often than men? Does rainy weather affect how we feel? What are the most representative feelings of female New Yorkers in their 20’s? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? What were people feeling on Valentine's Day? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.

At its core, We Feel Fine is an artwork authored by everyone. It will grow and change as we grow and change, reflecting what's on our blogs, what's in our hearts, what's in our minds. We hope it makes the world seem a little smaller, and we hope it helps people see beauty in the everyday ups and downs of life. (emphasis mine)

Thank you very much for your time,


I feel very honored to be included in this community project and in the book. I feel lucky that they found me and this post because it so exemplifies the work I do and the things I care about. The "I feel..." text (and image) that they picked up on is here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blogging is good for you

Sent by the long-suffering Val, this new article from Scientific American reveals the truth we in the blogosphere have known all along--blogging is good for you. It boosts dopamine, helps people make connections with other like-minded people, and yes, even fosters a sense of placebo catharsis that someone else is listening to my troubles.

If you're feeling blue, then it's time to blog. Would THAT be cool? Your doctor writes out a prescription: 3 tablets, 2 walks in the sunshine and 1 blog post and call me in the morning.

DID anyone else hear David Sedaris on Fresh Air last night? That guy cracks me up. Here's on a book tour for his new book, When You Are Engulfed in Flames and was talking about Hugh, his long-suffering but always heroic boyfriend who can do anything. And random association time. Sedaris's being on a book tour reminds me of Patricia Martin's inspiration for Ren Gen--David Sedaris reading to a sell out crowd.

All of this is probably, as my friend and colleague Kate says, "fascinating, but irrelevant..."

Happy Tuesday.

Friday, June 06, 2008

WebJunction sneak peek

You may have heard about the new WebJunction, coming later this summer.

It's true!

We did a sneak peek with our WJ Advocates yesterday and (1) I was extremely proud of the staff who put the program together and (2) I was extremely thrilled with the initial feedback from a few of our most active members.

Thank you for waiting patiently, libraryland, for the new version of WJ to come around. You won't have to wait much longer, and I think you'll find that you like what we've started. It's a very nice place to build from, together.

If you're interested in the details, we're doing blog posts on the new site features (Next WJ tag over at BlogJunction) and we'll be highlighting the new services at ALA. First week of July, we'll do a virtual preview of the site in beta for a full release in late July.

Stay tuned...

Legacy Librarianship, and Upcoming Programs

Joan Frye Williams and I just did an extended version of our PLA program, "It Ain't Necessarily So: Challenging the Assumptions of Legacy Librarianship," as a webcast for Infopeople. The recording is now available on the Infopeople archive.

Next week, we're taking our show on the road. On June 11, we're presenting "Update Your Service Mix" at the Hilton Garden Inn in Twinsburg, Ohio, for the Northeastern Ohio Regional Library System (NEO-RLS). On June 12, we're doing a different program, "The Community Centered Library," at the Morley Public Library in Painesville, Ohio.

A good friend of mine, John Gardner, used to be the director of the Morley Library. He's a great storyteller, and one day he told me and a table full of friends a hysterical story about being a speaker at an Ohio Library Association conference. He had back-to-back programs to deliver and he needed to avail himself of the restroom in the few minutes he had to spare. He said he walked in, situated himself in a stall, then looked down to see that the next stall was occupied by someone wearing a pair of open-toed pumps. It was at that moment that he realized he had slipped into the ladies' restroom. The punchline to his story, which I'll remember until I'm gumming my Ensure, is, "It's really easy to walk into the wrong restroom. It's really hard to walk out." How many things in life does that bit of wisdom apply to?

See you on the road!

Share this with your local politicians

An excellent article in the current issue of Governing magazine titled "Revolution in the Stacks." It's an upbeat, non-condescending look at the ways public libraries are attracting teens. There is a heavy emphasis on the terrific things going on at the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, but other libraries are also included.

This would be a very effective tool to open a conversation with your mayor, county officials, or school board about the role of libraries in the new environment.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Blog Salon at ALA Annual 2008

I have about a million interesting ideas rumbling around in my head. Everything from the wifi in libraries being blamed for health problems to the inclusion on the Web for Change list to how many WorldCat t-shirts do we need at each WorldCat Challenge session. If you have already heard about the WorldCat Challenge and suspected I was one of the culprits behind the madcap mayhem, you were right! George has kindly agreed to lead the antics for at least a few of the rounds, too.

But the one session you don't see on the list is the one most near and dear to our hearts as bloggers and blogreaders: the Blog Salon. Here are the long-awaited details, as I hope all of you can come say hello and join in some of the best, most fascinating conversations at conference.

OCLC Blog Salon
Sunday, June 29, 2008
5:30-8:00 PM
Hilton Anaheim
Avila Room Palisades Room

We'll have food and fun, lyrics and libations. Come enjoy some hobnobbing and nibbles with fellow bloggers and blogfans.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Karen Calhoun's Report from ACURIL

Posted on behalf of my colleague, Karen Calhoun:

For the last 2 days I've been attending the annual conference of ACURIL, a library association of all the academic libraries of the Caribbean. It's the association's 38th conference, so this meeting and the professional network of attendees is well established. I had the chance to participate to do a presentation on the state of e-resource discovery and delivery, and the potential role of wider collaboration in improving the user's experience with these materials, while at the same time lowering library costs. In preparing the talk I learned a good deal about the impressive progress that's been made in Caribbean libraries to provide e-resource access, as well as to build digital collections about the Caribbean region.

This lively and fun meeting, featuring many sessions, will continue for the remainder of the week. By request of some of those I met, my presentation is here. Please watch the ACURIL site for many other excellent talks by librarians of the Caribbean, to be put up over the coming weeks.