Category Archives: On the Library Cluetrain

A Big Mess at Kohl’s (or Corporations, Customers and the Cluetrain)

This fascinates me.


The Church of the Customer blog points out “The Not So Secret Shopper” who visited a Kohl’s Department store and found a mess. Cameraphone in hand, he documented the condition of the retail establisjment and blogged about it.

The folks at Church of the Customer state:

Here’s the thing: 156 million Americans use high-speed cellphone networks that allow them to take pictures like this and post them immediately to a blog where, naturally, they can spread.

Pew estimates that 41 percent of American cellphone owners use their phones as content creation tools. That translates into about 64 million people in the U.S. alone who have the potential to be not-so-secret shoppers.

Take a look at Kohl’s reply. Is this the human voice of the company sharing the concerns of its community? Probably not!

I can’t help but wonder how this could play out in our world. How might we respond if someone snapped a few photos, shot video or the like of something “not quite right” in one of our libraries. (And it has happened.) Has your library marketing/PR department/person developed a plan embracing citizen jounalists, citizen marketers and human communication? I hope so.

Also, this post at COTC details how CBS has embraced YouTube. Again, fascinating.

And, yes, the hype is real.

What a Year! 2006 in Posts, Presentations, Permutations, and … PARTICIPATION! (Updated)

A lot of folks have been looking back at 2006. I realized today what a year it’s been: more library and librarian blogs, RSS gains even more ground, Wikis rule the school (and ALA), IM is embedded directly in pages where our users may find themselves, YouTube offers a way to share a “Ray of Light” and other library content, comments in the catalog, and innovations such as the WPopac offer a view of a bright, open future… wowza…

Who knew that 2006 would shake out to be a year of “participatory culture,” to borrow a phrase from Henry Jenkins. Who knew how quickly these 2.0 changes would come at us? Who knew that the conversations about trust, collaboration and transparency would reach as far and wide as they did?

2006 was certainly a year of constant change in Library Land. It was also a year of personal change for many folks we know here in the Biblioblogosphere. How many people did I write “Reinvention” posts for or comment on their own “I’m changing jobs” posts? Did you change jobs? Go back to school? Sign a book contract? Write a dissertation? Get your PhD? Wowza is right.

My first semester full time at Dominican GSLIS has been incredible. The students are engaged, curious and passionate about libraries. I wish I could bottle all the disscussions we had about library futures, our foundations, and the skills needed to move forward — they were thought-provoking and, frankly, I learned a lot. A big shout out to the faculty, staff and, most of all, the stufents at Dom!

I also want to say thanks to all the folks that had me in to speak this year. I met a lot of great librarians and traveled to some cool places. I appreciate the hospitality.

Last year, I collected a few of my all time favorite TTW posts as a way to look back, re-evaluate and scrutinize my writing. This year, inspired by this post at Copyblogger, I’ll offer the best of TTW for 2006 as determined by YOU. These are the posts that were the most visited, trackbacked and commented on. More importantly, I also want to point to some touchstone blog posts from the Biblioblogosphere that spoke to me, moved me and inspired me.

TTW Favorites 2006

Five Factors for User-Centered Service: Born from hearing about a librarian-centered decision in a nearby library that put up a barrier between users and the services they use.

Ten Techie Things for Librarians 2006: My favorite part: We can’t forget to take care of ourselves and each other. No ILS, RSS feed, blog, iPod or Treo is going to take care of our physical, emotional and spiritual selves. That’s up to us and those we love. Don’t miss out on that part too. Just sayin’. I still believe this and hope that you all have that spiritual, emotional center to balance your lives and work.

Selling RSS to Medical Librarians: Thanks to David Rothman for allowing me to post his detailed email he sent to TTW here. I’m glad he started his own blog! Rock On!

Ten Ways to Lose Your Techie Librarians: How about those timelines? 7. Plan project timelines that extend so long the planned service or tech innovation is out of date before it launches. Folks carried the meme forward with more posts.

Weblogs & Libraries: Notes from a SirsiDynix Webinar: One of my favorite presentations this year took place with me in my loungewear with my dogs at my feet, talking to an assembled group in a SirsiDynix Webinar. This posts wraps up and shares some data from that talk.

An IM Reference Report: Facts and numbers from looking at my former library’s IM reference stats.

Five Phrases I Hope I Never Hear in Libraries Agaoin: So, “we’ve always done it this way?” I think it’s time to red flag any utterance of that phrase in our libraries and make sure it’s not just an excuse to avoid change. It may however, be the best way to do something… so if you say it, add “and we examined other ways, and this way is still the best!” If you are hiding behind that phrase because you’ve had enough new things or just want to keep things the same, it might be time to move on.

Ten Rules for New Librarians: Listen to the seasoned librarians you encounter. They know things. Good things. Listen and they may inform your future decisions and planning. Learn from every conversation, meeting or water cooler chat. (And seasoned folk, listen to your new hires! You do the same: listen, learn and share… break down the generational divide present in some organizations…you’ll be happy you did!)

Ten Signs I hope I never See in Libraries Again: That pesky cell phone sign post! Thanks to all of the photographers who let me blog their pictures. I was amazed at the range of comments, thoughts and opiunions about this topic. Here’s the post about the table at KCPL that got this comment: “This is a great picture that goes along with a current assignment that I have in library class, “How do your libraries look to your patrons” I included a copy of this in my blog. Thanks for sharing.”

Why don’t CEOs (Library Directors) Blog? An unintended benefit? According to Darien Library Director Louise Berry: “One of the unexpected benefits of the “directors blog”: the library staff reads it!”

Ten Things I Know About Libraries:#6 Libraries will benefit from the next wave of MLIS grads. I am invigorated by my students. By their questions — and some of them ask HARD questions. I don’t know they answers to all of them, so I’m learning too. I hope I always will be. I do know – when these folks hit the door of your library to interview, be ready! Versed in our foundations, core values and, hopefully, a good dose of technology, social tools and user-centered planning, these graduates will take your library farther and into spaces that might surprise you. Let the breathe. Let them play. And encourage them. Oh, and rememeber: it’s still up to us.

TTW Biblioblog Posts of Note 2006

Karen Schneider The User is Not Broken

The user is not broken.

Your system is broken until proven otherwise.

That vendor who just sold you the million-dollar system because “librarians need to help people” doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about, and his system is broken, too.

Most of your most passionate users will never meet you face to face.

This is a milestone. Excellent on all counts. The ripples in the Biblioblogosphere that this post created are still moving outward. I’ve used it at school and urged all the groups I’ve spoken with to take a look as well. Thanks Karen.

Helene Blowers Learning 2.0 Blog

This is more of an idea than a specific post but the launch of PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 initiative for staff — all library staff– is a huge step forward in creating an open, participatory library. Encouraging learning and the responsibility that goes with ot, a snazzy prize for those who finished, and the positive buzz surrounding this innovation is far-reaching as well. Hurrah for Helene and PLCMC and hurrah for those libraries adopting the same initiative for thier organizations.

Also: Six Trends Driving the Future of Libraries: A classic post that takes an article from the popular press and applies it to libraries. I’m fascinated by this type of thinking. I used this post and the article its based on for a trendspotting exercise just recently.

David King Making Time for Web 2.0: The classic 2.0 question when I speak: “How do we have time to do any of this new stuff?” is answered mist succinctly and with insight from David Lee King. David writes: ““We don’t have enough staff to do these new things.” When I hear this excuse (because that’s really what it is), I think back to the NEKLS Technology Day I attended. I was on a discussion panel with a librarian at a small library. She is the ONLY staff member at her library, and yet she has time for a library blog and console gaming nights. If a one-librarian library can do these things, then you can, too. Sometimes it’s not really a staffing change that’s needed; instead, a mental change, or a change in focus, is what’s needed.” Amen Mr. King!

Jessamyn West The A List (on Bibliobloggers Ethics): Rules to live and blog by:

  • be gracious with everyone
  • be consistent
  • lead by example
  • encourage, nurture, read and link to newer bloggers
  • meet bloggers in person whenever possible
  • keep pissing matches and whining off your blog, take grudges offline
  • read constantly, offline and online
  • know what you are talking about and admit when you don’t
  • make your content presentable and accessible and findable
  • don’t turn down other opportunities to get your message out and make a good impression
  • accept the power and the responsibility that comes with where you are, and use it for good

David King Are You Blogging This?”: Watch it. It speaks volumes about our participatory culture and the tools we use. :-)

Michael Porter on Netflix taking Libraries to School:

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Oh Netflix, why can’t you just be a library? Oh, wait…you ARE a library! Sure, you’re wrapped up in a company and a series of web services and efficient delivery, but your product really IS a library. An engaging and thorough look at the Netflix model and libraries from this summer that rings oh so true. Another reading for staff dicussion? Yes!

Michael Casey Evolutionary Technology and the Emerging Divide Casey writes: “Where does this leave an Emerging Technology Team? Clearly we need to remove the expectation that technology will always offer sensational new tools that can be inserted into library operations and result in exceptional returns. While the pace of new technology may increase again in a few years, for now it appears that both hardware and software advances will be more evolutionary in nature. We need to educate those in positions of power that this does not mean that these evolutionary tools cannot result in revolutionary outcomes.” Probably one of the most important ideas to ponder: it’s about people, not technology and it’s about buy in from up top. How many times this year did you say: “Why isn’t(aren’t) my director/board/trustees/school board, etc here for this presentation” at some Web 2.0 talk or another.

Jenny Levine Library 2.0 in the Real World: Introduced many readers to the incredible work of Casey Bisson and took the thinking about Library 2.0 to the real world. “One of Casey’s theories that resonates with me is a fundamental mistake librarians make: assuming that the OPAC has to be part of the Integrated Library System (ILS). In other words, if you buy a specific vendor’s product with which to do your cataloging, acquisitions, serials, etc., then you are stuck using that vendor’s online catalog. Unless, of course, you have one or more programmers to completely rewrite the catalog—and let’s face it, there just aren’t that many libraries with those kinds of resources.” This is a trend to watch closely. If you haven’t already, schedule a demo of the WPopac at your January staff meeting just as an FYI for your staff. Be aware. Watch what happens. It’s going to be big.

Also, following blogs outside of Libraryland was useful and thought-provoking. Take a look at edublogger David Warlick’s Information as Science & Why Libraries Are Important.

Update: Run don’t walk to Dion Hinchcliffe’s Web 2.0 2006 wrap up:

There were so many more wonderful posts and so many wonderful bibliobloggers, it’s impossible to note them all, but please keep writing and sharing.

Get a Clue! The Hyperlinked Organization at ALA Techsource

Where Library meets Cluetrain“To the librarian I once overheard saying, “It is my personal duty to make sure we have no typos on anything!” I must say: Don’t miss the forest for the trees, Dear Lady. Typos can be corrected, especially online, and focusing too much on those little details may lead to missing the big picture. You’re the one that staff may be e-mailing about, while they wait to launch the new wiki, you are still proofing the proposal for the wiki! A nimble organization can move quickly if not mired in proofing, re-proofing, and proofing one more time a policy change, FAQ, or other document. ”

Read it here…

Why Don’t CEOs (Library Directors?) Blog…

Director, are you Blogging??

Via the Church of the Customer Blog:

If CEOs blogged, they would save considerable time on hundreds of weekly emails that ask roughly the same types of questions. That’s part of Debbie Weil’s thesis in The Corporate Blogging Book. “Why not do it more efficiently?” she writes. “Instead of a one-to-one message, why not a communication from one to many thousands?” She describes the pro’s and con’s of corporate blogging with plenty o’ pointers on how to do it well and not screw up. I read an early copy of the book and it’s excellent.

So what about Library Directors? I know of a few that are blogging (see below), but I think it would be nice to have a few more — in fact, I’d hope that more directors will be inspired AND the next wave of folks that move into admin positions would welcome the chance to speak directly to their users!

How cool would it be if the local newspapers syndicated their headlines with an RSS feed so that you could subscribe to them? And blogged “live” from government meetings? And posted dozens of photos (all the ones that didn’t make it in this week’s paper) on a Flickr account, especially if there was breaking news? OK, we’re biased because we want them to do it so that we can feed the headlines, blog posts and photos onto our own Darien Community Matters blog, providing the most balanced, accurate and up-to-date information possible. And I guess that you could say that we’re becoming Web 2.0 missionaries….. because we (that’s me and Assistant Director Melissa Yurechko) invited Josh Fisher, editor of the Darien Times over to discuss it, as the first of a series of meetings with the local news media.

Louise Berry, Director, Darien Library, Director’s Blog


I wonder why many directors do not blog?

Could it be:

No Time?? Possibly, but wouldn’t being able to communicate library news and important details about the business of the library to the most people with an easy to use mechanism be a useful tool? It would also set an example, that top-down buy-in that is important for technologyyy projectss and organizational shifts. Here’s David King’s take on the Time thing as well — it deserves another link.

Fear? Are you afraid to put yourself out there? Afraid that a typo might slip through. It’s time to let that go.We certainly don’t have to publish our home phone numbers, but some human discourse from the top might be very welcome in many libraries, internally and externally. Folks don’t care about a typo or two these days — and heck, you can always go back and fix it.


I, as the administrator, and the one whose job is on the line, am willing to take a risk here. Why are others so risk averse? It costs us very little. Other libraries are doing it without problem, we are not first, and I’ll be blasted if we will be last!

Michael Golrick, City Librarian, Bridgeport, CT at his blog Thoughts from a Library Administrator


“I have nothing to say.” Oh, yes you do! Tell your story, your day to day adventures, your thoughts on the library and its collection. Blog your plans and strategies. This isn’t top secret work (well, yeah, some stuff is private), but blogging creates a level of transperancy that could benefit many libraries.

That’s what the marketing/PR Department is for. Well, I’d hope that PR was blogging too, in a human voice, not the language of marketing that people can recognize these days so easily, BUT the voice of library administration carries a lot of weight too. Here’s what the Cluetrain says oh so well: “But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about “listening to customers.” They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf.”

I spend an awful lot of time soliciting and then responding to feedback and suggestions from our users. Lately, the written suggestions in the box asking for “newer” and “better” DVDs have outnumbered the requests for specific books or authors by nearly 12 to 1. My response to the requests for newer, better DVDs has always been that we buy what Blockbuster doesn’t — the hard-to-find TV shows — the series, the old shows & films, the BBCAmerica & PBS films — and not the drivel (Oops. I’m showing my bias. Sorry) that appears in the theaters. However, when people request a specific title, whether book, music, movie, or magazine, we’ll usually buy it.

I’ve just finished a lengthy analysis of our collection, including what we buy, how much it’s used, and what our users ask for. The not-surprising conclusion I’ve come to is that DVD and Books on CD are used far more than our print collection. For example, one copy of a bestselling book by John Grisham got 59 circs during the period I was reviewing, while The Sopranos DVD recorded 354 circs. A Book on CD version of the same Grisham novel logged in 153 circs. Clearly, the format of choice is not print. In examining our reference questions logged in that period of time, requests for specific movies or Books on CD outnumbered specific requests for print materials by 5 to 1.

Patricia Uttaro, New and views from the Director of the Ogden Farmers’ Library…


Finally, and I am sure this is not the case in most places, what’s a blog? Directors, if you haven’t spent some time with the new tools and these new conversations, now is the time. Ask someone on staff to show you some blogs. Then ponder how you and your library might use the medium to further your mission, reach out to users, and give human voice to the library.

(This post has been cooking a long time. Don’t miss Jenny Levine’s post and the Blogging Directors Wiki page.)

ILS Vendors – Are You Reading Blogs?

Paul Miller posts about innovation, Abram and the Cluetrain:

I trust that our fellow vendors must (by now!) just about be sufficiently Participation Age-aware to read at least one of Panlibus or Stephen’s Lighthouse. Here’s hoping, for the sake of their customers, that they find Patty’s post via one of those routes, have a read, and get re-imagining their business and its interaction with the world around it. Oh, and while I’ve got their attention… have you finished Cluetrain yet?

A few months ago,I asked III to read the Cluetrain as well. Maybe it’s time for ILS customers to blog more, collaborate more and participate a bit more in creating a dialogue with the folks that they pay a lot of money to for a service. And if they don’t like what they hear — and if the conversation isn’t human – maybe it’s time for another vendor…

Cluetrain Manifesto #95: We are waking up and linking to each other. We are watching. But we are not waiting.

Attention Innovative: Get a Clue(train)!

I’ve been telling the librarians I’ve been speaking with to read the Cluetrain Manifesto and apply it to library services. Networked conversations are changing business, and I honestly believe, changing libraries. Look at the incredible discussion, conversation and kerfuffle around the ALA L2 course!

Into my aggregator comes Casey Bisson’s post about Nicole’s post entitled “Touched a Nerve.” Seems a staffer from iii was displeased with her blog post about the ILS…

Here’s what I might say, quoting the Cluetrain:

Markets are conversations! Here’s what your some of your market is saying:

In the meantime, I tell people not to purchase Innovative if they want to do anything, er, innovative.


They do have a good sales team though, we were hooked and reeled in. It wasn’t until later that all the limitations and roadblocks of the system became apparent (Comment from

If I was amongst the folks at this ILS, I’d grab a copy of the Cluetrain, start blogging, pull in some Bibliobloggers to do a focus group, take a close look at ILS vendors’ products that have the features folks are requesting and using, and LISTEN to our users. I’d also participate in the conversations playing out online!! Just sayin’

Nicole rocks my world with this comment to her post:

Well – I’ve said it before – I think they all need to take a step back and stop building onto old systems – it’s time to scrap the old and start fresh – with the help of librarians in the field. 15 years ago the system was all about the librarians keeping track of titles – now we need systems that do that and give the patrons what they’re looking for – but that’s a whole other post.

“We’ll have Second Lunch”

Check out Steve Lawson’s “A biblioblogger visits the local branch library”

My favorite bit?

BRANCH LIBRARIAN: We do have some online innovations here. We allow patrons to pay fines online via PayPal.

BIBLIOBLOGGER: You still have fines? I’m sorry, my friend, but the Cluetrain is about to pull into the station, and you are looking like Anna Karenina, if you get my drift.

BRANCH LIBRARIAN: Ah! A literary allusion! Yes, I understand perfectly, though I’m not flattered.

BIBLIOBLOGGER: Hey, don’t take offense. Tell you what, I’m doing a thing in Second Life tomorrow called Exhuming the Paleolibrary that is designed for people just like you. Have your avatar ping my avatar and we can have Second Lunch.