Category Archives: Librarian 2.0

Taming Technolust: Ten Steps for Planning in a 2.0 World

I am the guest columnist for RUSQ’s Accidental Technologist this summer. The very cool thing is the full text of the piece is up and online at the RUSQ blog. Please take a look and let me know what you think. I wrote this last January while the snow and wind were raging outside my window – I’m glad it doesn’t seem super dated by now.

Here are some of my favorite parts:

A fact: new technologies will not save your library. New tech cannot be the center of your mission as an institution. I’m still taken aback when I hear of libraries spending money for technologies without careful planning, an environmental scan of the current landscape, and a complete road map for training, roll out, buy in, and evaluation. When the latest technology hits, are you keen to add it to your library, boosting the coolness factor? For example, buying every librarian on your staff an iPhone as a way to improve reference services is probably not going to be a wise solution. You may have some happy librarians, but that type of technolust does not well serve the organization.

Some of the Ten Steps:

3. Be transparent. Communicate and make decisions via open meetings and weblogs. Michael Casey and I advocate for transparent libraries based on open communication, a true learning organization structure, and quick and hon-est responses to emerging opportunities. “Transparency–putting our cards on the table–allows us to learn and grow, and it lets our community see us for all we are, including our vulnerabilities.”4 This is incredibly important for management and administration. You are the ones that need to set the standard for open communication within your institution—walk the walk and talk the talk. I’m reminded of a talk I did at a larger, well-known library system, where five minutes in the director stood up and slipped out the back door. The staff took me out for drinks the night before and one said “we hope she stays to hear you. We can’t do anything without her approval and everything we put out on the Web is vetted through three departments.”
Pilots and prototypes are great if they are just that. Don’t call it a pilot project if it’s already a done deal: signed contracts, “behind the scenes” decisions to go forward, or a “this is the way it’s going to be” attitude will crush any sense of collaborative planning and exploration for the library. It’s a slippery slope to losing good people to other institutions.

5. Spot trends and make them opportunities. Scan the horizon for how technology is changing our world. What does it mean for your AV area if iTunes and Apple are offering downloaded rental movies? What does it mean for your reference desk if thriving online answer sites are helping your students? What does it mean when Starbucks or Panera Bread becomes the wi-fi hangout in town for folks looking for access? Read outside the field—be voracious with tech magazines like Wired and Fast Company. Monitor some tech and culture blogs. Read responses to such technologies as Amazon’s Kindle, and ponder if it’s a fit for your users and your mission. Being a successful trendspotter is one of the most important traits of the twenty-first-century librarian. Be aware, for example, that thriving, helpful virtual communities, open-source software platforms, and a growing irritation with what integrated library system and database vendors provide libraries could converge into a sea change for projects like Koha and Evergreen. Who knows how close we are to that tipping point, but trendspotting librarians will be far ahead of the game.

8. Plan to plan. Instead of willy nilly emerging technology projects, plan to plan. Create timelines and audit progress. This takes project management skills, something LIS educators (like me) should be teaching in depth! We need expertise in bringing projects to completion. Your “Digital Strategies Librarian” or “Director of Innovation and User Experience” should have impeccable management skills and be able to see the big picture. How do you find that person if you don’t have one? Evaluate current jobs and duties of your library staff. What can be done to streamline workflows and free up hours for new duties and new titles. Find who is suitable, then guide projects and people well. Have effective meetings with action items and follow up. I spent more time in meetings when I became a manager in my former job than practically anything else. Planning projects focuses creativity. Meandering meetings sap creativity.

CeLIBration Time Again at Georgia Tech

Brian Mathews writes:

Yes, it is CeLIBration time again. Our annual welcome event for freshmen the Saturday before the Fall semester starts. Past CeLIBrations

I have to be honest– I wasn’t really feeling it this year. Don’t get be wrong, we’ve had some great events over the years, but with the wedding and book deadline in September, my heart wasn’t into it. But then I looked at the line up and we have a lot of cool games. This might actually be our best one yet. I am totally in now.

  • Dodgeball Tournament
  • Rock, Paper, Scissors Tournament (there are actually leagues: video)
  • Speed Dating
  • Poker (not one, not two, but three tournaments this time!)
  • Team Trivia
  • Project Runway
  • DDR & Guitar Hero
  • Pizza, Soda, Popcorn

That’s just a taste. Other activities we’re still pulling together include the student Improv group, a live band, student radio station DJ, board games, and a logic competition. Of course I’ll have a full recap later, but I am getting hyped for next weekend.

An interesting note—when this started many years ago it was all about the LAN Party concept—all about video games. We’ve evolved from that. There will still be some videos games, but that’s a very minor part of the attraction. Those appealed to a particular niche but we aim for the whole pie, not just a piece.

What we’ve arrived at is that students enjoy interacting with each other in the physical world too—throwing balls around, laughing, playing cards, etc. A lot of librarians out there are geeked on gaming, but don’t forget about real world games as well.

Skokie PL: Virtual Services Coordinator

Under the direction of the Director, and in cooperation with the Website Coordinator and Manager of Public Information, the Virtual Services Coordinator develops strategies for implementing and delivery of virtual services to the public. The Virtual Services Coordinator works to integrate the Library’s web offerings and to guide the Library’s virtual services efforts toward user-centered services, incorporating new creative approaches that optimize the customer experience, manage content, and provide customer support.

Duties and responsibilities:

  • Ensures that all our web services and virtual resources are integrated and designed for ease of use and convenience of patrons
  • Provides leadership to engage the user in effective interaction with the Library’s resources. Considers the Skokie Public Library website, SkokieNet, the catalog, databases, eBooks, other online resources, opportunities for Library 2.0, social networking, and enriched content
  • Serves on the executive team to develop and integrate virtual services strategies into the overall strategic plan of the Library
  • Works in project management capacity in support of Library virtual service objectives
  • Works with Library Director and Department Heads to organize workgroups to accomplish objectives
  • Assesses use of virtual resources
  • Utilizes analytical tools and accesses research to understand customer behaviors and increase the number and length of visits to virtual library resources
  • Provides service at public desks
  • May promote and participate in staff and patron training for new virtual services and strategies
  • May develop content for the Library’s websites

Not Hidden Behind the Desk

library patron? no., originally uploaded by aaron schmidt.

Aaron writes:

a library employee. everyone i saw minus one was on the OUTSIDE of these desks, not hidden behind.

I am so happy to see this. It’s a perfect example of the evolving library and evolving reference desk. Three cheers to this forward thinking library in Holland.

I’m reminded of recent retail experiences where I stood beside the person helping me as we designed our new front door. I’m reminded of checking into a hotel where the check in desk had been replaces with individual kiosks/stations, where I stood beside the hotel staff checking me in.

Have you tried this in your libraries? Do you want to? Is there resistance to new ways of thinking? Have you “always done it this way.” Look to other countries folks. Look to other businesses and organizations.

Please comment if you are trying this user-friendly, open model at your library.

Sarah Long’s 100th podcast with Michael Stephens

On May 6th, I presented “The Hyperlinked Library” at North Suburban Library System. After the session, I was invited to record a podcast with Sarah Long, the director of NSLS. We also spoke a bit in interview format for her weekly column in The Daily Herald.


Daily Herald column:

We talked about transparency, what the hyperlinked library could be, and where libraries might be going. Thanks to everyone at NSLS for making it such a special day!

TTW Mailbox: Emerging Technology Committee at Monroe County Library System

Patricia Uttaro, Assistant Director, System Services at the Monroe County Library System in New York, writes:

I’ve been meaning to write to you for awhile to fill you in on activities in the Monroe County Library System since your visit here in 2006.  The system now has an Emerging Technology Committee that just celebrated its first anniversary. At our last meeting, I asked if anyone was ready to drop off the team after a busy year, and the response I got from one and all was “No Way! We’re having way to much fun!”


The ETC has produced three Technology Camps for system staff in the last year that have been extremely well-received. We’ve covered gaming, music and audio book downloading, web-based applications, and social bookmarking so far. Creating and using video in the library is our next topic. The ETC meets monthly in various coffee shops in Monroe County (caffeine boosts the creative process, after all!), but we sometimes move from the coffee shop to places like Radio Shack, Best Buy, the Apple Store and other places where we can discover new toys. The Tech Camps have been so successful that we’ve been requested to produce two Camps for Library Trustees in June.
We also just finished up a training series based on Helene Blowers Learning 2.0 and I can say it was a resounding success. The 8 week series was extremely popular with system staff and resulted in the creation of a network of people who are using various web 2.0 tools and also connected via Meebo, which makes them available to other staff who are interested in learning more about the Learning 2.0 training.
During April & May, the MCLS has produced a Big Read grant program funded partially by the NEA. We chose Fahrenheit 451 for our Big Read, and have incorporated some web 2.0 concepts in the our programming. One that I thought would interest you is a book burning and discussion that will be held in Second Life at MCLS Amphitheater in Cybrary City II. We thought it appropriate that we hold at least one event in SL given the theme and imagery in F451. We’re hoping for a good turnout and a lively discussion.
Patricia – Thanks for the update and information about the ETC. I think you described the workings of a model ETC. I especially appreciated the off-site meetings – we used to do this with our team of internet trainers at SJCPL. It always made the meetings more interesting to get everyone together somewhere different.
Please let us know how the Second Life event went!


Meme: Passion Quilt or What I Want for New Librarians*


I owe Kathryn Greenhill an apology. She tagged me in this meme while I was in Australia and I’ve been catching up ever since we got back.

The meme: Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.

If you’ve heard me speak in the last year or so, you know I always end with three of the statements in the picture. I usually say that “in a nutshell” what I want for my students at Dominican and for any of librarians I talk to is for them to realize what great opportunities there are for libraries and librarians in this ever-changing world:

If we learn to learn, it doesn’t matter that this week’s shiny new tool is Twitter and next week’s even shinier tool is something else. We can still figure it out, use our foundational knowledge to make sense of it and decide if it works in our situation. I teach blogging sure, but the real skill I want my students to get is that they can master any technology/system I put in front of them or their new employers may put in front of them and make it work. Blogging is just the vehicle, like using any of the tools we cover in LIS768.

If we adapt to change, we aren’t thrown every time the world shifts. There’s no knee-jerk  “I don’t need to know anything about that” or  “That doesn’t really have anything to do with me” response. Or some other excuse that essentially means “I can’t think about the future” so I’ll point out some more reasons it just won’t work.  We use point one and dive in and figure it out, and then get ready for the next change.

If we scan the horizon, we’re trendspotting for the future. Pondering, for example, what the popularity of a certain technology might do to library service. Or what bigger trends will mean to libraries in the next 10-20 years. 

If we make sure to be curious about the world, it makes all of the above super easy. My friend John Blyberg turned me on to this idea and I think it’s a perfect fit for my philosophy of teaching.

Finally, please remember to bring your heart with you. Yes, it’s touchy-feely but it’s pretty darn important as we move into a more emotion, experience focused world. Social networks even enable us to extend the heart across cyberspace. What happened to some of us in our careers in library land that we lost sight of the heart?  I think getting to bring your heart to work is one of the reasons many of us got into the profession in the first place, and it hurts my heart when I hear some of the stories I hear about the way we work with each other and with our users. . User-centered planning, engaging, exciting spaces and a chance to share, keep or make a story are all part of the heart of libraries – you know, the library should encourage the heart. David Warlick, who I’ve only met once and who made a big impact on me in that short time, turned me on to this idea. 

If my students leave my classes as curious librarians ready to figure out the next big thing and make it work in their libraries, then I am doing my job.

Kathryn, I hope it’s not too late to add to the meme and to pass it forward.

Please see:

I’ll tag:

*and everyone else in LIS too!