Category Archives: TTW Guest Posts

Social Media Best Practices for Libraries: A TTW Guest Post

This post was written by Kasia Grabowska for last semester’s LIS 768: Library 2.0 & Networking Technologies class. Kasia has allowed me to repost it here.

After doing brand monitoring research for the past few weeks, looking closely at Skokie Public Library (and not so closely at several other libraries), I decided to put together a list of “do’s and don’ts” for librarians on successfully utilizing social media.

This is what I learned from doing brand monitoring and what I personally would recommend to libraries that are getting started with social media.

Tip #1: Learn how to monitor your brand

Join the RIGHT conversations at the RIGHT time. In other words, stay on top of what people are saying about you and make sure to respond, to let people know that you are listening and willing to join the conversation.

Tools to utilize for brand monitoring include RSS feeds, Google Alerts, Technorati, and staying on top of your Twitter, Facebook and other social media accounts. This is definitely the number 1 lesson I learned from this assignment.

Tip #2: Learn from your brand community

You’re already engaging in conversations, why not ask people for some feedback? There are plenty of quick and easy ways to get good information that will help you keep learning from what you’re doing and improving the process as you go along. Just make sure not to overdo it; remember to always engage in conversations as a person.

Tip #3: Have a game plan

Set goals, measure and iterate your social media efforts in order to continue to grow and improve your efforts. Make sure everyone who is involved in your social media strategy clearly understands the role and goals of this initiative. There’s nothing worse than joining a social network with no purpose, plan or a way to measure what you’re doing.

By using trackable links (like or to help track what your users are responding to, you will be able to measure your efforts and make improvements.

Tip #4: Promote, promote, promote

I noticed a lot of libraries who do wonderful things on Facebook, Twitter or Flickr yet they don’t include links to their social networks on their websites. Or libraries that use Twitter often but don’t follow anyone; that’s not a good way to start a conversation.

A library website should be an entry point to social media; you need to create awareness. People should not have to search for you on Facebook, or Twitter, you should reach out to every member of your community first.

Tip #5: Allow open, yet governed access for your employees

This is where a social media policy comes in. By making sure everyone who is involved in your efforts understands what to do (what they’re allowed to say, how they should respond in different situations, etc) you won’t have to monitor what each person does. Instead, you will be able to focus on making improvements.

One tip about your social media policy — make sure it’s succinct and to the point, otherwise no one will want to read it.

Tip #6: Stay relevant and be helpful

Use social media to build trust, credibility and awareness in your community. Instead of broadcasting information, try creating conversations. Remember, speaking doesn’t always result in being heard.

Be helpful, stay relevant and focus on your community’s needs. It’s also important to humanize your efforts; don’t hide behind your library’s logo, allow your users to get to know you as a person.

Tip #7: Give your community room to grow

Focus on small, consistent and ongoing change. Let your members decide how they want to use “their” online community. Listen to what they have to say and change your goals and objectives based on how your community wants to utilize social media.

Tip #8: Remember, you’re not alone

By building relationships with key people within your community who also utilize social media you can leverage your efforts and obtain better reach. People who are influencers, those who are natural communicators or leaders in your community can help your social media efforts immensely. Identify these people and ask for help. Word of mouth can be very powerful.

Tip #9: Go where your users are

Remember, you don’t have to be an early adopter. It is much better to wait for your community to start utilizing the technology before adding it to your social media arsenal. In short, go where your users are. It’s much easier for someone to join you on Facebook or Twitter if the person actually uses the technology.

Tip #10: Lead change

This is important, especially for libraries that can be very resistant to change at times: if you want to lead change, find one thing you said no to in the past and give it a try.

This is actually something I heard at a digital marketing conference I got a chance to attend last month, but I think it applies great to libraries and social media.

Kasia Grabowska is currently working on her MLIS at Dominican University. She is a website manager for Train Signal, Inc and the editor in cheif of a blog focusing on IT training and certification.

TTW Guest Post: Academic Librarians Participating in International Exchange

Working in a university library, as with any type of library, means a dedicated service focus which supports the goals and directions of the parent company or institution.  While each individual university will have their own priorities and strategic directions, there are some themes that seem to resonate across the board.  One such area is the recognition of the need for universities to internationalise.  Internationalisation benefits a university’s staff, students, research, and institutional profile and competitiveness, to just skim the surface of its influences.

I work at Flinders University in South Australia, which has established a number of ways to incorporate internationalisation.  One strategy is through strategic partnerships, including being a member of the International Network of Universities (INU).  Within this network, a Special Interest Group for University Libraries has been established, and stemming from this affiliation the University Librarians (otherwise titled Head Librarians) discovered that they had much in common with regard to their services and how they were attempting to deliver them.  The directions they were heading and their plans regarding negotiating future directions, looking at future concerns, issues, etc. also displayed close similarities.  From this beginning came the idea of establishing a staff exchange program.  Since that time, the library at Flinders has been involved with a number of staff exchanges, in particular with Hiroshima University Library, Japan.  Hiroshima staff member Tomoko Sammi has just finished a 2 month staff exchange to Flinders, and in the next 6 months there will be visitors from Malmo University Library in Sweden, as well as another staff member from Hiroshima.

For my part, I went for a 3 month visit to Hiroshima in August to October, 2008.  It was an amazing experience.  I started with being a ‘Facilitator’ in the INU Student Seminar on Global Citizenship and Peace in my first week in Hiroshima, which was a great learning experience in which I got to engage/ connect/ network with students and staff from the 11 Universities constituting the INU.  After this time, I worked for 11 weeks in the Central Library of the Hiroshima University Library service.  This involved both space for learning as well as hands-on work.  I was able to meet all of the different ‘Chiefs’ of the work teams at the library, and from this gained an understanding of the work conducted and the work flows of the system.  In terms of hands-on work, I spent a good deal of time with the Digital Repository team, the Special Collections team, had a set desk shift at the Reference Desk serving students and also conducted some presentations about the Flinders University Library and academic libraries in Australia in the name of information exchange.  However, substantively I was employed in the Academic Information Service Group of the library, and within this the major project that I worked on was constructing and conducting information literacy tutorials for international students with the Information Navigation Section.  Chief Sho-San and her staff were great to work with and being part of a project like that really did help me see and learn a lot about the service in a very practical, as well as theoretical, way.

While at Hiroshima I was asked many questions about different aspects of library services at Flinders, and was lucky enough to have the support of staff at home feeding me information from their areas of expertise as required.  The collaboration and teamwork that I was involved in on both sides was really positive.  This process continues to grow through continued connection and collaboration that grows with further staff exchange, and staff members from both services continue to grow their available network of people and support, a process that is positive for both the library services involved as well as for the professional development of individual staff.

With Flinders University as a whole focused on internationalisation, it is important for the library to be similarly focused if it is going to successfully support the needs of its university community.  On this university-wide level staff exchange helps this process.  It also helps attain a higher visual presence on the competitive international academic stage.  On a library service level we are able to learn much more about any number of areas of interest, one example being a greater understanding of the needs and expectations of international students studying at Flinders University.  On a personal level, it was an unforgettable experience, providing an opportunity that I could not have received otherwise.  In essence I feel that the range of benefits delivered through staff exchange programs such as I experienced is significant.  If you or your service is thinking about an exchange, then I hope this has given a bit of food for thought.

Chris O’Malley

Guest Post: Good to Great and Library 2.0, A Case Study

Claire Steiner
Dominican University


During my days as a MLS student, I have heard the phrase “running a library like a business” too many times to count. So many times, in fact, that I have decided to examine what exactly this concept entails and the effects it may have on libraries and the inevitable implementation of Library 2.0 technologies. The reality is that many libraries are being run like businesses these days, however, they are still not living up to their potential. So it begs the question, how does running a library more like a business make it a more successful institution? Also, what kind of business should a library be modeled after? There are a lot of businesses out there, some better than others, and so it is important to keep in mind that libraries should not only be run like a business, but run like a great business.

In 2001, Jim Collins revolutionized the way people think about business with his bestseller, Good to Great. Collins examined several key concepts that appeared consistent in his five years of research on mediocre companies and their “great” counterparts. With the help of 21 researchers Collins set to work examining thousands of pages of financial reports, stock returns, interviews, and articles of 28 carefully chosen subject companies. Of the 28 companies, 11 of them were considered great, 11 were considered good, and 6 were companies characterized by unsustained success. Each of the great companies were matched up with one of the good companies. The pairs were each from the same industry with similar backgrounds, challenges, and assets. However, one company made the leap to becoming great, while the other remained mediocre. The data supports that several principles and concepts were consistently found in great companies and lacking in mediocre ones. These concepts include:

  • Level 5 leadership
  • Getting the right people
  • Confronting reality without losing faith
  • The Hedgehog Concept
  • A culture of discipline
  • The Flywheel and Doom Loop

Each one of these principles proved vital to making a good company great. The concepts are supported by evidence pertaining to for-profit businesses and so would create the argument that libraries, being non-profit institutions, would not be subject to such parameters. The answer to this argument is addressed in Jim Collins’ follow up monograph, Good to Great and the Social Sectors, released in 2005.

The social sectors are thought of as being in a completely different world from for-profit businesses. This is simply not true. Non-profit organizations are still organizations that need good employees, discipline, well-envisioned goals, and leadership despite differing bottom lines. The Good to Great concepts can be easily adapted to any organization regardless of the organization’s specific goals. In Good to Great in the Social Sectors, Jim Collins stresses the fact that “thinking more like a business” is an incorrect approach to creating an efficient and successful environment within the social sector. These principles should not be thought of as “principles of business,” but rather, “principles of greatness” (Collins, “Social Sectors” 1).

Soon after its release, businesses all over the world began comparing their practices to Collins’ Good to Great principles. Some changed, some didn’t, but most became more aware of how details that may have seemed insignificant could make or break a great company. Collins’ monograph brought on numerous articles illustrating the results of incorporating GTG principles into schools, libraries, and other non-profit organizations.

In his monograph and the articles that followed, Collins and his admirers enlightened readers with how the GG principles could make any organization successful. However, most of the material I found on social sectors was focused on organizations that did not include libraries. In fact, none of the interviews or articles even mentioned libraries as a potential subject of the successful implementation of the GG principles. However, I heard about a public library that implemented the GG principles into its business plan and found a great deal of success in doing so. Marie Liang of the McCracken County Public Library in Kentucky, was more than willing to assist my research into effective implementation of the GTG principles in libraries. I spoke with her extensively on how the library administration adopted the principles and improved the functioning of the library.

In 2002, the McCracken County Public Library staff set out to explore new opportunities in effective library management. They scoured articles about award winning libraries and visited many of them in the hope of picking up new ideas. 2003 came around and the MCPL still had not implemented significant changes in any department. That is, until Joe Framptom, CEO of Paducah Bank, introduced the library board members and library staff to Jim Collins’ principles. Each week, the administration came together to discuss the principles of Good to Great and how they could be incorporated into the . They called themselves the “Good to Great Council”. After a year of discussion and the rise and fall of hundreds of different ideas, the GTG Council presented their plan to the Library Board. Upon approval, the Council set forth to begin implementing their research and ideas into the library.

I have reflected on each concept below through its context in the original Good To Great book followed by its interpretation in Good to Great in the Social Sectors. I then illustrated how the McCracken County Public Library incorporated each principle into its management practices and services. I sum up each principle with further elaboration on its importance to the efficient and effective functioning of a great library. Of course, there is a lot more to implementing useful services and managing an effective staff but Collins lays down some great groundwork and starting points for managers and employees to dissect, discuss, and tailor to fit their own work ethics and institutions.

Concept #1- Level 5 Leadership

Level 5 leadership in Good to Great was characterized by professional will and personal humility. Level 5 leaders have an unwavering determination to be the best and never settle for less. Level 5 leaders are intelligent, savvy, fair, decisive, and determined However, they lack the excessive ego and flash that can be attributed to many existing CEOs. Their ambition lies with the company’s welfare and not the amount of wealth they can accumulate for themselves. They recognize the attributes of their employees and never build themselves up as the reason for the company’s success (Collins,2001).

Good to Great in the Social Sectors backs up Good to Great’s description of Level 5 leadership but it also expands to cover the fact that many social institutions require a more legislative governance. That is, while for-profit companies usually put one person in the highest level of leadership, social institutions diffuse the power between the head of the organization and the other branches. There is no one in the company that has the power to make the most important decisions on their own (Collins, 2005). Great leaders in social sectors, however, are clever and persuasive enough to make the right decisions happen even if they don’t hold the power to do so on their own. The most important part of doing that is for a leader to be able to show those around them that their motivation comes from their desire for a successful institution and not their own glory or reward (Collins, 2005).

McCracken County Public Library is a great example of diffused leadership. There was a library director but each department had its own leader that made many of the decisions on their own. Dave Denton, Library Board Chairman, was the first to take the lead in 2003 and introduce GTG to the library staff. From there, Marie Liang took over in leading the library staff through transition to success. Ms. Liang had only the progress of the library as a concern when she began implementing changes. Her interest was serving the public to the best of her ability, and her dedication inspired the staff to follow suit.

Level 5 Leadership and Library 2.0

Making Web 2.0 a successful part of every library requires the hard work and dedication of a level 5 leader. Technology changes in a library are often slowed down by nay-sayers and tired employees that are only interested in keeping the status quo. My experience in libraries has shown me how hard it can be to progress to the next level of technological proficiency. Collins’ comment on how negative power can hold things up is apparent in many social institutions, especially libraries. Though this negativity is extremely detrimental to success, I have also seen the presence of a great leader provide the encouragement needed to overcome such negativity. It takes a strong leader to implement change in the social sector but when it is done the reward is that which makes a huge difference in quality of service. Library 2.0 is about creating that quality and improving a library’s ability to serve.

Concept #2- Getting the Right People

According to Good to Great, before any project can get underway there must be a complete analysis of employees. No system will become profitable if the right people are not involved. This could mean rearranging staff into different and more suitable positions, or hiring new people to take the place of those that are not proving themselves as invaluable to the organization. Collins stresses the importance of not hiring out of the fear of facing the possibility of more work for others due to an empty position. In the long run, hiring the wrong person will create more loss and difficulty for the company than waiting until the right person comes along (Collins, 2001).

When it comes to social sectors, “getting the right person in the right seat on the bus” may prove more difficult than with for-profit businesses. For-profit businesses are able to buy their talent or get rid of under-performing employees more quickly. Social sector institutions may run into more red tape when trying to weed out unproductive staff. They often do not have the budget to attract great people with big salaries or perks. However, there are other ways that the social sector can make an organization more desirable to a job seeker. Selectivity will make positions more attractive, while appealing to those who want to make a difference in their community will draw dedicated applicants. The more of the right people an organization has, the more attractive it becomes to potential fundraisers. Having an organization of disciplined and dedicated people can make up for lack of money but never the other way around (Collins, 2005).

The McCracken County Public Library recognized the importance of hiring great people right away. In 2004, Liang and her staff implemented frequent performance evaluations, revised job descriptions, and staff incentive programs. They revised their interview questions to include

asking the candidates as to why they want to work at the library, as well as, what they are most passionate about. They did not fill a vacancy just because it needed to be filled but took their time to make sure that they hired the right person. Liang also took early assessment seriously by hiring staff from temp agencies for three month periods. This allowed staff the opportunity to work with a candidate before bringing them on permanently. Liang created in-depth exit interviews for departing team members in the hope of improving the staff dynamics.

Getting the Right People and Library 2.0

Library 2.0 can be an overwhelming concept for many library employees. It is important for libraries to evaluate staff frequently to avoid problems that could face a staff adapting to change. Of course, there is never going to be a transition without set backs, however, if the staff is carefully chosen and made to be aware of the certainty of change beforehand, it will provide a smoother process and a happier, more well adjusted team. On top of being able to adapt to inevitable change, great library employees have a knack for seeking out change. Great librarians should always be looking for a way to improve their services. In this day and age, a great deal of library service improvement comes from taking on new technologies. Those individuals that seek library employment should be trained in innovation, and those employers seeking new staff should expect nothing less then candidates with a drive to improve and succeed.

Concept #3- Confronting Reality without Losing Faith

Reality can come as a blow to a lot of companies. Whether they are facing financial difficulties, impending layoffs, product failure, or hostile takeovers, it can be very difficult to stay positive. Even worse, companies that ignore reality and continue as if the outside world has no influence on their success will inevitably result in massive loss and the reality of a failing company. Collins takes on this issue in GTG, Chapter 4: Confronting the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith). The most important lesson in this concept is keeping the staff aware of the company’s strengths and weaknesses through honest questions, debate, and the ability to recognize red flags. Collins also stresses the importance of staying positive, even in a situation that seems hopeless. There will always be a company or organization that has faced worse and prevailed (Collins, 2001).

The most common issue facing the social organizations pertaining to this concept is the attitude that the entire system is broken and nothing can improve until that system is fixed. Yes, the system is often broken, however, giving up is not the answer. The system will probably not be fixed for years and people will continue to rely on social institutions despite such obstacles. This is an obvious roadblock in health care and public education but closing these institutions is not an option (Collins, 2005). Closing doors should not be an option for libraries either, whether they are facing budget crises, natural disaster, under-use, or irrelevancy. Facing the reality of the problem is the first step in overcoming. The second step is getting over it and moving forward. Cutting costs, cleaning up, promoting services, and getting in touch with the community and its needs are ways to stay dedicated to making a serviceable contribution.

The McCracken County Public Library began their Good to Great Journey in 2002. They were still working on implementing principles in 2006. Today, they continue to search for new ways to uphold Collins’ principles. The staff at the MCPL recognized the great things that would come from staying true to the concepts, and did not let the lack of immediate results waver their resolve. Instead, they held regular meetings to measure success and they never stopped believing that they could accomplish what they set out to do. Seven years later, the MCPL has won several awards for outstanding customer service.

Confronting Reality and Library 2.0

Library 2.0 is the reality of future libraries. For some, this would translate to the loss of faith in books and other print resources. However, this is not the case. The books aren’t going anywhere. 2.0 is about giving people the opportunity to reach out to others, overcome differences, and make the world seem a little smaller. There is no reason why 2.0 cannot coexist with other formats and media. The more people who understand 2.0 and confront the reality of its usefulness, the faster librarians can move forward and embrace all that it has to offer.

Concept #4- The Hedgehog Concept

Good to Great treats the Hedgehog Concept as the turning point in making a good business great. It can be tied into all of the other concepts and is a culmination of the core values, passion, and economic drivers. The HC is illustrated by three interlocking circles. The circles represent an organization’s passion, what the organization can be the best at, and what drives their economic engine. Ideally, an organization will function in at the height of where these concepts intersect (Collins, 2001). Collins further elaborates explaining that the HC is not a plan or strategy, but an understanding a great company has about its abilities and purpose (Collins, 2001).

The Hedgehog Concept translates to the social sector except for one fundamental difference. Social institutions do not have an economic engine. The root of their existence is not based on how much profit they make (Collins, 2005). Social institutions must recognize what they can be the best at, what they are passionate about, and what drives their resource engines in order to be at the top of their success. The resource engine is further broken up into three parts: time, money, and brand. While all organizations need money to pay the bills, social organizations also need the support of time from volunteers, and the ability to cultivate support and goodwill through an institution’s brand. All three of these aspects will build a strong engine to drive an institution’s ability to obtain its goals (Collins, 2005).

The McCracken County Public Library recognized the need for a Hedgehog Concept and, through committee collaboration, came up with one that they felt would drive their library to success. The MCPL recognized that their resource engine was driven by the community in which they served. They were passionate about giving the community a valuable personal experience, and felt that they could be the best at providing the best collection possible to facilitate that experience. The MCPL focused on collection building and service rendering within the boundaries of their HC. By 2006 they had built up enough community support to renovate their Adult Services department, reduce fine and card replacement costs to patrons, implement a new and innovative website, and increase the amount of pubic computers throughout the library.

The Hedgehog Concept and Library 2.0

Library 2.0 should be incorporated into every library hedgehog concept. This is because Library 2.0 is about providing better service to a community. It builds the library brand as more innovative and patron oriented while providing new ways for the library to fulfill its passion for service. Keeping libraries relevant is an important part of brand building and providing for a community of potential supporters. Social networking can grow a community base and open up new opportunities for a library to strengthen its ties and grow its collection of products and services.

Concept #5- A Culture of Discipline

The culture of discipline in a GTG company comes from the ability of its leader to stick to the Hedgehog Concept no matter what. Leaders must be able to say “no” to opportunities that present themselves if they don’t fit into the HC. Discipline also means having employees that can follow a hedgehog concept but still have the freedom to produce their own ideas and interpretations of the three key points of the HC. Great companies have employees that are able to govern themselves and take accountability. Bureaucracy is the result of undisciplined staff (Collins, 2001).

Social sector institutions can relate very easily to the for-profit culture of discipline. This concept is not necessarily about making money, but supporting an institution through hard work, dedication, responsibility, and accountability. If the staff of an organization is working to uphold their HC while “operating with freedom within a framework of responsibilities,” success will surely follow (Collins, 2005). The advantage that social sectors have with this concept is that there is less executive greed driving decisions. Most decisions stem from the desire to do good things for a community. However, the personal desires of donors should be managed appropriately and not allowed to overshadow the true purpose of the organization (Collins, 2005).

Marie Liang incorporated a strong sense of discipline in her staff. The administration rewrote job descriptions to elaborate on the responsibilities and expectations of staff while further training programs were implemented to help the entire organization become more disciplined in public services and team work. By 2006, 14 members of the staff were KDLA certified, and the library was able to significantly increase technical support for staff and patrons. Coverage was no longer an issue and the community was able to truly experience the valuable personal service that the library had been striving for.

A Culture of Discipline and Library 2.0

Remaining dedicated to a goal such as implementing Library 2.0 is part of creating a culture of discipline within a library. There will be times when tools become tedious or difficult to manage and staff must remain diligent in the effort to provide the best social networking opportunities to the public. Committees or groups of staff dedicated to the incorporation of 2.0 can build up enthusiasm and understanding of the benefits. Leadership is also important to sustaining discipline through times of struggle. Laying out plans of improvement and working out the bugs in 2.0 implementation can help those reluctant to change come around to seeing how their own work will improve and become more efficient.

Concept #6- The Flywheel, Not Doom Loop

Creating momentum for improvement is the last concept that Collins reflects on in Good to Great. One of the most important ideas within this concept is that great change does not happen overnight. Momentum is built one step at a time and increases as more changes are implemented. If an organization is implementing change according to the previous principles, the momentum will build up to a point of breakthrough where all aspects of the business will fall into place and continue to improve at a faster pace. For many companies, this breakthrough took many years to reach but the discipline and dedicated staff provided the drive to persevere through the slower years of progress. The Doom Loop can be illustrated by an organization that is too impatient to wait through slow and steady progress and opt for immediate and dramatic change. The result is usually a quick upswing in business and profit followed by a steady decline. (Collins, 2001).

In social sectors, there is not a financial bottom line to measure the progress of change, however, building the brand creates better support for more change and increased utilization of an organization’s products or services. Channeling such support will make the flywheel of change move faster and more efficiently. The profit mechanism isn’t there, but the progress mechanism and the resource engine is still in need of increasing amounts of fuel to sustain results (Collins, 2005).

The McCracken County Public Library understood that what they were taking on in 2002 would be a slow but rewarding process. They collaborated consistently and implemented changes that would provide an environment for more change. Their slow but steady progress became faster as the staff became more adaptable. Eventually their flywheel resulted in an abundance of awards and an organization that was truly dedicated to providing the best personal service to patrons. Their successes opened up new opportunities to build the brand which resulted in more funding for new programs. The entire process took several years, however, the library is still reaping rewards and passing the benefits on to the public.

The Flywheel and Library 2.0

Incorporating Library 2.0 into a library often requires smaller implementations while the staff is getting used to the idea of change. Once the staff is adapting more easily to technology, the flywheel can move faster and larger programs can be implemented without overwhelming the staff or the public. The momentum of change is dictated by all of the Good to Great concepts. There needs to be great leadership to start the drive forward, followed by dedicated staff that recognize the usefulness and necessary implementation of 2.0 technologies. The reality of the future of libraries and technology should be recognized as a force that will change the public’s concept of libraries. The hedgehog concept will provide structure for improvement while discipline will keep the focus on the best programs and most beneficial uses of 2.0 technologies. The flywheel culminates with the blending of all the concepts and can stop moving completely if any of them are taken away.

Running libraries like businesses is not the answer to how to create successful institutions. The success of an organization goes much deeper than such a simple concept. We must understand what makes a great business and adopt those principles into their own organization. Jim Collins created a great outline for success. We have yet to see these principles disputed by a great company or a great library. Library 2.0 technologies have brought the need for change management and project efficiency to the forefront of current challenges in libraries. Recognizing successful practices is important to being an invaluable addition to any type of organization. Library 2.0 is an ally to great libraries and should be utilized to the fullest possible advantage. Only then can libraries truly show their dedication to serving the public to the best of its ability.


  • Collins, Jim, “Core Values, ” Leadership Excellence (2009): 5. (accessed March 29, 2009).
  • Collins, Jim. Good to Great and the Social Sectors: Why Business Thinking Is Not the Answer. Topeka: Topeka Bindary, 2005.
  • Collins, Jim. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… And Others Don’t. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
  • Liang, Marie, telephone interview, March 27, 2009.

TTW Guest Post: KidLit ReOrg 2008 at Darien Public Library

by: Gretchen Hams-Caserotti
Head of Children’s Services
Darien Library


When I joined Darien Library Head of Children’s Services we were building a new library. An opportunity to reorganize a library doesn’t come very often. The Adult collection was already being rearranged and Louise Berry, our Library Director, encouraged me to explore some ideas I had about how Children’s Libraries are arranged. I took a leap of faith and committed to the idea of reorganizing the collection with a user-centered approach by considering Function instead of Format. Our KidLit ReOrg was a huge project!

In Children’s Services, we define the population we serve as children from birth to about age 12. Actually, we serve two completely different groups, children who are Readers and children who are Pre-Readers (including those learning to read). When planning the move into our new library, I considered the behavior patterns of people who fall into these two categories when they use the library and discovered two entirely different sets of approaches and needs. We realized that with traditional collection arrangements, the Pre-Readers aren’t actually served well despite being half of our population!

We began to explore how we could improve our service to this group of very enthusiastic library users.  Not just service to just the children who are in their First Five years, but service for the busy adults in their lives, too.

Pre-Readers – a First Five Years (F5) collection

This population is still dependent on the grown-ups in their lives to give meaning to those little squiggly black symbols on the printed page. Their caregivers have unique demands on their time and their approach to using the library is often different than that of parents with Readers. Small children are hard work to take care of. The Picture Book Area, where caregivers choose books for their children, is the area most difficult to use because it is a remarkably large collection arranged by author’s last name.  Since children ask for books primarily by subject, arranging them by author requires adults to spend extra time and effort finding materials, Most parents don’t bother foraging through. They take their chances with random selections or go straight to a Librarian for help.
The most common things parents tell us are their children’s age and interests (e.g. my son is 3 years old and he REALLY loves trains). The Librarians look through literally thousands of picture books to try to find the best match. I began using Free Mind open-source software to visualize the more commonly requested subjects and it was there that I discovered the broad categories that we have used to organize the collection. I laid out a new arrangement that makes our collection more useable for adults. Color-coding the sections enables the Pre-Reading children to be independent users as well.  We pulled out all materials from the Non-Fiction collection that are written for smaller children or adults and moved them to the F5 Collection.

Darien Library Mind Map using FreeMind

Instead of a Picture Books section of the library, we now have the following micro-collections called “glades”:

  • Celebrations – a year round sampling of holiday books including other celebrations like Birthdays, Mother’s & Father’s Day etc.
  • Concepts – books about the alphabet, counting, time opposites, colors, shapes etc.
  • Favorites – popular characters, series and award winners.
  • Folk/Fairy Tales – mostly pulled out from Non-Fiction, the introduction to classics like The Little Red Hen, Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk and Cinderella.
  • Growing Up – books about the child’s experience; emotions (e.g. anger, sharing) getting a haircut, losing a tooth, going to school, getting a “Big Boy Bed”
  • Nature – books about animals, seasons, weather
  • Rhymes and Songs – here Mother Goose can be found along with picture books told in verse or of songs themselves (Hush Little Baby, The Wheels on the Bus, etc.)
  • Stories – this section is for books that didn’t fit into any other category, but is promoted as a fun place to explore your imagination.
  • Transportation – books with Things That Go in them; trucks, trains, boats, bikes, cars, busses, etc.

In order to reorganize the collection according to this structure we literally pulled off the shelf and reviewed each of our 15,000 picture books so we could determine a classification. Then each book got a new color label and new call number to identify easily the item’s location in the library (e.g. F5 Concepts Hoban).

Our new library opened to the public on January 10th, 2009, and the positive feedback from our members has been overwhelming. Michael has already kindly shared the blog post that was written by a local mom blogger about our new Children’s Library. We have more new users than we’ve ever had before & our circulation has been up 25-30% from last year each month we have been open. Some of our members share their enthusiasm about the reorganization with us and others don’t.  They just come in use their new library. I am thrilled because we don’t want everyone to talk about the reorganization, we just want them to use it. Intuitively. Freely. It’s theirs, after all.

Children’s Services is, I think, the most dynamic and interesting area in public libraries at the moment. We are facing not just the issue of integrating technology into our services and way of thinking, but we must be mindful that those early Digital Natives are now becoming parents! How can we stay important and relevant in their lives when the world they have known has always been plugged in and connected? The conversation has to get serious and what we do has to extend much further than just providing storytimes.  In partnership with Linda Braun (LINK), Darien Library will be hosting a KidLib Camp, an unconference for children’s librarians to discuss and explore Redefining Children’s services in the 21st Century on August 13th, 2009.

TTW Guest Post: Love thy Luddite

The Importance of the Non-Techie or How I Learned to Stop Pulling Out My Hair and Love my Luddite
by: Mick Jacobsen

My wife mocks Twitter thoroughly, “You don’t even know these people,” she repeats. She thinks Facebook/MySpace is weird. She considers online gaming to be silly.  She wasn’t sure about this whole “Blog Thing” and renamed my Google Reader an RSS aggravator (which I still find hilarious).  She doesn’t want her images on Flickr.  I think it is safe to say she pretty much dislikes any 2.0 technology on contact.

Last week she started a LibraryThing account and loves it.  She is now using my Facebook account to talk to friends.  She uses Delicious to bookmark webpages.  She has her own RSS aggregator (Google Reader) and iGoogle page.  She even created and wrote for a special interest blog on

What does this have to do with librarianship?  Well, doesn’t that first paragraph (besides the wife part) describe a significant portion of your coworkers?  Wouldn’t it be great if you could move them to the second?

Here is how I do it:

1. Listen.  Never dismiss what your Luddite says.  You may not see how it applies, but it surely does in their eyes. When, and it is most certainly when, not if, they have misgivings about a technology it may be necessary to move on.  You might be introducing the wrong technology at that particular time or you may need to reexamine the technology.  The Luddite may very well have thought of something you haven’t and it may not be as useful as you hope (I can’t tell you how many times this has happened to me).

2.  Don’t push too hard (if you can avoid it).  Sometimes all it takes is talking to them at the right time.  Understand their schedule.  Some people are ready to play at the start of the day, some after lunch, some while eating lunch, etc. The first time I introduced my wife to LibraryThing she wasn’t interested.  A few months later she noticed me using it (looking at all my pretty book covers) and asked “What is this and why did you never tell me about it before?”  A minute or two of introduction and away she went. This also has proven to be true with a few of my coworkers in regards to the newly created blogs at MPOW .

3. Respect.  Their concerns are not generated from hate of tech. (well in most cases) or lack of intelligence; it is because they don’t see the point.  Show how you are personally using this new technology, how others are using it, and how they specifically could.  Hypothetical situations just don’t seem to work.

I am sure more techniques are available, but these three are the ones that have worked for me so far. What does everybody else do?

As a side note it is probably better not call anybody a Luddite.

Mick Jacobsen is Adult Services Librarian at the Skokie Public Library.

TTW Guest Post: The Little B


“The Little B” by Mick Jacobsen

Toby Greenwalt, a coworker of mine, came up with a great idea which I wanted to share and, hopefully, spread.  He created a simple, cool looking icon which symbolizes a blog on our website much like the orange box symbolizes RSS feeds.  With the mighty Photoshop kung-fu of Gail Shaw and Ruth Sinker this brave little B is proudly advertising our blogs.

Beyond making it easier for people to find and recognize the six brand new blogs (including the unique style and content of blogs) within the menu structure on the Skokie Library website, it also effectively brands them. The branding is being carried over from the virtual branch to the physical.  Pins were designed with the logo for blog authors of all departments to wear while helping the public, potentially creating opportunities for conversations about the blogs.  We are also planning on using the B on the various slide shows we use to advertise programs.

Best of all, we are making this little B available to everybody free of charge.  Do you have a blog or two as a part of your library’s web presence? Why not brand it with a little B?  If you can improve upon the little B, go for it and let me know.  If you do decide to use it I would love hear about it.  Hey, who knows, perhaps this will be a little online meme that libraries start.

The Princeton Environmental Film Festival – A TTW Guest Post by Janie Hermann

peff2009_logoThe Princeton Public Library is in the home stretch weekend of their 3rd annual Princeton Environmental Film Festival – an 11 day event that has touched upon many topics relating to the environment. What started as 5 day program in 2007 via an idea brought to the library by Kai Marshall-Otto (a student involved with the Environmental Club at Princeton High School) has grown in to an 11 day extravaganza with numerous films, panels, and speakers that touch upon many important topics. Close to 2,000 people have attended lectures, discussions and screenings in the first 9 days and some of the largest events are still to happen. In all, 36 unique programs will be have been presented over the 11 day period. Many of the films have included post-screening discussion with the filmmakers, with the filmmakers being flown in from as far away as Chicago. We were even able to secure an appearance by best-selling author Elizabeth Royte (author of the highly acclaimed Bottlemania) and a panel session with experts from Climate Central. It was our community-based steering committee that provided many of these important contacts.

Kudos go to Susan Conlon, Princeton Public Library’s Teen Services Librarian, as she has been the driving force behind the festival for all three years. Susan’s passion about this project is evident to all who encounter her and, as a result, Princeton Public Library has been able to assemble a community advisory group that has meant monthly since spring of last year to view and recommend films, give guidance and help locate speakers and funding. This year we were able to get significant funding both from foundations and corporations and, as a result, the only cost of the festival to the library is staff time.

It is heartening to see a packed house on a Friday during what some would still consider the holiday season and even more heartening to have 40-60 people showing up for noon time panels  each day during the work week. The amount of networking between sessions is amazing to watch – important connections are being made between people with common interests. Food has been donated by local merchants, environmentally-friendly products have been used throughout the festival and change is happening as a result of this festival. Each and every event has been met with enthusiasm and already plans for next year are being formed. When your community believes in what you are doing and wants to join in the planning then there are no limits to what can be achieved.

The schedule: 

Janie hermann is Program Coordinator and Technology Training Librarian at Princeton Public Library.

Library 2.0 In A Blink: A TTW Guest Post from Chris Oien

deck7743887In Michael’s Library 2.0 class, I had the opportunity to read Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, and I wrote up the lessons I thought libraries could take from it as they seek to better themselves in a Library 2.0 world. Here’s the condensed, bloggy version of what I took away.

Lesson one: The Aeron chair. This chair was break aesthetically from how office chairs had always looked, but despite some initial outside skepticism, the design team persevered because they knew they had created a great project; the chair came to be the company’s biggest seller. Similarly for libraries, it is important not to reject ideas for fear of disruption or anything being different. Maybe people will grumble about a new website design at first because the way they’ve always gotten to things isn’t there now. But if it adds more features, allows for more interactivity, gets captured better by search engines, etc., dealing with some short-term uncertainty is ok. You set yourself up for more long term success.

Lesson two: New Coke. The disaster that was New Coke came about in large part because Coca-Cola designed it to do well in taste tests where it was sipped. But people don’t drink Coke by the sip, they drink it by the can, and the impression after one sip is much different from the drinking a whole can. Libraries should also be careful about how they get feedback from patrons. Do your survey questions capture how patrons experience the library? If testing your site, maybe they can find the Help section on your website when you ask them to, but will they think about finding it when you don’t explicity tell them to?

Lesson three: The sculpture’s fingernails. They didn’t quite know how they knew, but several art historians could tell that a sculpture purchased by the J. Paul Getty Museum was a fake; one of them said something about the sculpture’s fingernails just didn’t feel right. They were right. Just like something can feel fake, it can also feel real, spot-on, exactly right. This post from Sarah Houghton-Jan is exactly what I mean. She says about the Vancouver Public Library front page, with pictures of library users and quotes about how they use the library: “Something about it resonates with me, and all I know is that I like it.” That’s just the sort of reaction we should be going for, with designs like that which immediately hit people and say, this is the essence of the library, this is what we do.

Chris Oien is a library science student at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Going to Google Apps: A TTW Guest Post

by: Robin Hastings

Information Technology Manager at the Missouri River Regional Library in Jefferson City, Missouri


This all started because the employees at the library at which I work, the Missouri River Regional Library, were complaining about all the spam in their email. As the Information Technology Manager, part of my job is managing the email server we had – which used to be a server in our server room running Exchange 2003 with Outlook Web Access enabled, so people could use both Outlook and web-based email, whichever they chose. Trying to keep spam out of an Exchange server is difficult and/or expensive – this was something we were really struggling with! As an option, I began looking at Google Apps For Domains, a service I use for one of my personal domains. Google’s spam controls are impressive, to say the least, and the service level has always been pretty impressive. The more I poked around in Google Apps, the more I liked it!

I started looking at the details of Google Apps and began working up a case to sell it to my director. I pretty quickly discovered that the library, since it is not an actual 501(c)3 entity, wasn’t eligible for the educational version of the service. Google offers 3 different versions, the free version (250 accounts, 6GB of email space, no service level guarantees, ads with your emails), the educational version (free, some ads on emails, 25GB of space, 99% uptime guarantee for email) and the premier version ($50/account/year, no ads, 25GB of space, 99% uptime guarantee, conference room/resource scheduling, postini email policy management and recovery, etc). The education edition is basically the same as the premier, except that it’s free and doesn’t include the Postini email stuff.

Google provides a handy chart ( detailing the differences between free and premier editions, one that I consulted frequently as I was working up my financial case to go to Google Apps. Once I realized we were going to have to pay for our version of Google Apps, I really hit that chart hard to make my business case for switching.

Since we were in a year that included a new email server and server software in the budget, I could show that Google would be just a few dollars ($80 or so) a year more expensive over a 3-year life span than Exchange 2007/Outlook with spam control software added on. After I made the budget/feature/begging case to my director, and he approved it, I started playing. I began by uploading all of our accounts to Google via a spreadsheet in CSV format. That was fun and got me started – until I realized that I couldn’t pay for all of our accounts at once because all they take are credit cards and all of our cards that are given to each manager have a $2000 limit. Our total bill was $3250. This meant that I had to delete about half of the accounts, pay for the ones I had still in the system and wait 5 days to pay for the rest of the accounts with another manager’s card and reupload them (after you delete an account name it can’t be recreated for at least 5 days). Big “oops” #1!

By July 24th all the accounts were paid for and all of the accounts were in place. I took a couple of days to get myself familiar with the system, create FAQs on our staff wiki and start working out the timeline for deployment. On July 25th, I invited staff to log into the system and start to “poke around” to get familiar as well. On July 28th I started face-to-face training sessions for staff to explain the system and answer questions – at least one every day. I scheduled 7 for the week of the 28th and one on Aug. 4th – the day we went live.

The staff were very receptive to the training – they showed up, they asked questions and they seemed to be very willing to change. I had one staff member who informed me that she didn’t like Outlook, but she didn’t like change, either. After the training session, however, she felt far more comfortable with the change and far more positive about it. Wiki-based FAQs and frequent emails updating staff on what is going on “behind the scenes” are critical – but nothing beats real-time, real-live training! In each session, I covered each of the Google services we’d be getting access to (Sites, Docs, Calendar, Email, Start Page and Chat) with a very quick tour of each of them. This took about a half-hour. After that, I opened the floor for questions about Google Apps, the process of the changeover or whatever else came up. Some of my sessions were 1/2 hour long – and that was it. One lasted for an hour and 15 minutes. Everyone had a chance to voice their objections and get answers to their concerns, though!

The actual changeover was fairly smooth – I used the feature that allowed me to use an administrator account that I sat up and then gave it read access to all the mailboxes. With that, I started the migration at 5:15pm on Saturday night, doing all of the full time folks first. When that finished (at 1am Sunday morning), I set the part time employee’s emails to go and went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, it was done. All of the email from all of the staff at MRRL was there… except for 3 staff members who were at the very end of the migration and hit up against the backup that I forgot to turn off for the night. This pretty much hosed the Exchange server and kept those 3 people from getting their emails immediately.

Monday morning, when I got to work, I sent my Computer Support guru, Nikki, over to the administration offices building to help folks who might need it and I started on a round of checking on staff in the main building. The changeover was pretty smooth. Most people chose to use the web-based email interface – very few required the Outlook program any more. Everyone logged on successfully and most people were very positive about the change. Since that first morning, I’ve spent some time sending out daily “tips & tricks” emails to the staff, uploading contacts and calendar data from Outlook to Google Apps and helping with contact management and other little issues that cropped up because of the differences between Gmail and Outlook. The responses from staff, however, have been very positive. I’ve had a couple of people tell me this was the smoothest technological change they’ve experienced (didn’t seem that smooth to me – 3 emails left off the migration and a few niggling issues with getting Outlook and Gmail to play nicely – but I suppose those were isolated incidents…) and almost everyone has mentioned how much easier Gmail is than Outlook to use and understand. The staff are enjoying the ability to chat with each other and are helping each other find new features and capabilities that are now available. And, of course, we are all enjoying the lack of spam in our inboxes!

Flinders University Graduate Trainee Librarian Program – Adelaide, South

I met Chris O’Malley in Australia. I was very interested to hear about the trainee program he’s in. I asked him to write a little bit about it for TTW:

Librarianship is a competitive profession to break into.  Getting that first professional role was a proud moment for me, which felt like the culmination of a lot of study, a lot of thought about where I wanted to be and what I wanted to do, and even dealing with a little rejection along the way.  This seems to be a reasonably common experience.  Of course, now I have broken through that barrier, there are many more that I have faced and am yet to face.  Maybe another story for another time.

My chance to enter into the profession came through a program run by Flinders University Library (Adelaide, South Australia).  Officially titled the ‘Flinders University Graduate Trainee Librarian Program’, it has been running for about 15 years now, and is still going strong.  The traineeship is 3 years in length, and is specifically targeted at librarians who are newly qualified or who have yet to have their first opportunity at a qualified role.  I’m currently about 15 months into my 3 years, and have recently started my second placement in the library.  My first gig was in Cataloguing, and although at times it seems to be a maligned art, I must admit that I liked it.  It gives a good foundation for a whole realm of librarianship, and has influenced me even when weighing in to debates such as the merits of folksonomical and taxanomical classification.

Non-librarian friends don’t quite get as enthused at times about such things, funnily enough.

Part of the program is that each trainee changes roles at least once in order to gain a diversity of skills and understanding, but some do change more than once.  I am now about 2 months into my second role, which is a dual role in the Law Library and the Special Collections.    

The Law Library aspect has a large reference component to it, amoungst other duties.  The Special Collections is part library, part archive, and if I don’t mention it too much I’ll be able to lure the curious of you out there to check it out at: 

The learning curve again is steep, and the dual job both interesting and rewarding. I’ve found that the traineeship has been a great way for me to enter into the world of librarianship.  The following is the link to the pages which show the history, philosophy and objectives of the program, as well as some past and current trainee experiences.

There are a number of different ways for organisations to think about new librarians.  It will be interesting to see if this traineeship resonates as an option for anyone out there reading this.

Flinders University Library