Friday, October 23, 2009

Ruminations on Leadership

Last week I had the honor of serving as a mentor at the Eureka! Library Leadership Institute, sponsored by Infopeople and the State Library of California. Led by my two favorite leadership and organizational development gurus, John Shannon and Becky Schreiber, this was an intense six day program designed to help newer members of the profession understand their own attitudes and aptitudes for leadership.

One of the themes that came out repeatedly during the week was the importance of the role of the directors and managers of these new library workers (some with MLS degrees, others without). The people who felt they had some level of control over their work, who felt like they were using all their talents in what they do, and who felt supported by upper management, tended to be much more optimistic and much likely to want to continue in the profession.

This idea was borne out in a recent study conducted by Education Week, Public Agenda, and Learning Point Associates, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Joyce Foundation. (Full disclosure: I'm the current chair of the Learning Point Associates Board of Trustees.) The report showed that fully 40% of America's classroom teachers are "disheartened." One of the leading characteristics of these disheartened teachers is the lack of support they feel from their principals and administrators.

Do we want 40% burn out --- or worse --- in the library profession? I don't think so, and I know the people who use our libraries don't want to see that. (I'll let you insert here the places you are forced to visit where the staff are less than enthusiastic about their work, and how that experience makes you feel.)

Joan Frye Williams and I did a program for the ASCLA President's program at ALA in Chicago about "Revitalizing the Library Experience." In fact, we'll be doing a slightly revised version of this as a webinar for Infopeople next month. But somehow, I think we may also have to think long and hard about revitalizing the library worker's experience. How can we get beyond empowerment to creativity? How can we be focused on getting to "yes," instead of defaulting to "no?" Where are the opportunities to allow every library worker to shine? How can branch managers, department heads, and directors support their staff when they're right, and help them learn, productively and without recriminations, when they're wrong?

Tough questions, but if this stuff were easy, they wouldn't have to pay us, right?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Register now for the WorldCat Mashathon

If you're at all interested in Web Services or library-related APIs, the upcoming WorldCat Mashathon in Seattle is the place for you.

To be held on Thursday and Friday, Nov. 5-6, the Mashathon offers a place for library developers (and non-developers who simply want to learn more) to get together and create some cool stuff. In other words, if you're curious about Web Services, APIs or how to create a mash-up, this is a great opportunity for fun, learning and collaboration. Here's a quick run-down of the details:

WorldCat Mashathon Seattle
Sponsored by the OCLC Developer Network and the University Libraries of the University of Washington.
Thursday-Friday, Nov. 5-6, 2009
Odegaard Undergraduate Library, University of Washington campus
Register now

You bring your laptop and ideas, and we'll take care of everything else.
There's a US$ 30 registration fee, but there may be assistance if that's the only thing keeping you from mashing...See you there!

Friday, October 16, 2009

LITA 2009, very quick thoughts – (Better late than never)

The LITA forum earlier this month was one of the best conferences I have ever attended for thought provoking presentations and terrific conversations between sessions and over meals. There were many presentations worthy of speaking about but I have pulled out two here which can be linked to for more information.

First is Kenning Arlitsch and Kristin Antelman on The Future of Libraries is IT (and some people just don’t get IT). They surveyed 240 future library leaders with 72% responding. At a very high level summary they found that these librarians prefer more flexible and externally focused culture. Those interviewed often felt thwarted by current organizational cultures in their academic libraries. The entire presentation is here.

Another very interesting lightening talk was by Jim Muir. He showed a new service he created called Carmen Library Link. Carmen is OSU's course management system. Library Link is a web service Jim created that allows librarians to easily create resource guides which are then linked to from specific courses. He plans to make this open source – more here

If the LITA forum continues to be this good more librarians need to add it to their must attend list.