Life Changes…Pursuing the PhD

I have not mentioned the biggest thing happening in my life yet because I wanted to give a little time to thinking about new directions and life changes.

My big news though, which came to me the day I got back from CIL: I have applied to and been accepted into the first distance independent PhD program for Information Science out of the University of North Texas. The program will begin in June with a few days on campus and then will be Web-based with cohort meetings a couple of times a semester for 2 years. I thought long and hard about this, sought the advice of colleagues and friends and am very happy with the outcome! I will be studying technology and its impact on public libraries — probably a lot of the things I’ve written about here for the past year.

For the last year or so, as well, I have been pondering further education with the ultimate goal of a faculty position in a LIS School. With my current situation, it would be impossible to pull up stakes and move to one of the towns that have PhD programs in LIS. While working with the Staff Development Team at my public library to evaluate how we develop future library leaders, I did some research into the various ways library employees could get their MLS here in Indiana or beyond. Online classes offered at the University of Illinois were intriguing, but only for Masters students. I pondered the virtually impossible commute to Bloomington or Ann Arbor from South Bend. I was also fact-finding and soul-searching to make sure I was ready for such a big step if an opportunity appeared. IM and e-mail conversations with library colleagues helped me decide I was ready for the challenge of doctoral pursuits.

Special thanks to Rachel Singer Gordon, who originally sent me the info about th program on 2/6 (the application was due right before PLA!). Other folks were so helpful as well with advice, gentle nudges and “big picture” views while I made the decision to go for something I have wanted to do for a long time. I will not be a name dropper here — You dear souls know who you are and you ROCK.

I always want to stay connected to the library technology profession so I will continue to work at SJCPL, although I some of my duties and responsibilities may change.

Here’s the Web page about the program, as an FYI:

http://www.txmike.com/imls/index.htm

I plan on blogging extensively my experiences with the cohort: the group meetings in Texas, the online classes, the process itself… so stay tuned!

Open Book Festival at SJCPL

Yesterday was our annual Open Book Festival at SJCPL. There were activities, authors and fun! The coolest thing was the appearance of spooky author Jonathan Rand, who resides Up North. He even wrote a book set in Traverse City!

This is an excellent example of what libraries can do to promote reading of course but also to promote the library as meeting place and social center. Well done Open Book Committee!!

Here’s Dana and Lori with the Man himself!

Steven Cohen: Mover & Shaker

I love this:

“Though Cohen has every intention of staying in a corporate environment, he remains an advocate of public libraries. ‘There is nothing in this country, including the right to vote, that transcends the right to walk into any public library, sit down, and read any piece of material in the building.”

I met Steven a year ago at CIL 2003 and we’ve been colleagues and, more impoortantly, friends ever since. I was so happy to see his name amongst this year’s list of Movers & Shakers at LJ.

Rock On Steven!

Preconferences at CIL 2004

One of the posts that got lost when my previous blog software crashed mid-conference was about Tuesday March 9, the day before the conference started when many of my colleagues and I were teaching preconference workshops.

I started the day by swinging by the Cabinet Room and giving my best to Jenny and Steven who were doing their Blogging 101 program.

Then, Scott Brandt and I spent the morning fine-tuning our 5-Star workshop I wrote about here.

Lunch was provided by InfoToday, offering a chance to have some good food and see old friends from previous conferences. A group of students for our afternoon session sat with Scott and I and we chatted before heading into our workshop space.

Fewer, Better Libraries run by Fewer, Better Librarians.

Barbara Quint’s wit and writing send me everytime! I was so happy to be on the panel with her at IL (even though she was just on a speaker phone, she captured the room with her words!)

Read this:

http://www.infotoday.com/searcher/feb04/voice.shtml

Looking forward, Quint theorizes that digital libraries (huge digital libraries..) will allow 24/7 access to huge amounts opf easily published materials. How do librarians fit in? “The trick for the future of the profession,” she writes, ” lies in finding new tasks that need doing, new ways to do them, and ways to convince clients everywhere that they need us.”

IM the Librarian

http://www.lib.unc.edu/house/im_a_librarian.html

I love this! (And I was quoted at CIL giving my opinion on Virtual Reference software so this just supports my idea that IM ref could work!) Why not get on a standard system that is deeply ingrained in our techno-culture instead of making our users wade through java-enabled Web pages and chat environements that sometimes do not work the way they should? Give em something they already know. How do we best serve our users? (the PEOPLE part)

MSG:Your hold items are in at the Library

Aaron discovers and moblogs a very cool thing:

http://www.thebizz.org/archives/001233.html and ponders “I wonder how many years it’ll be until libraries are offering text notifications to patrons. PC to phone messages are cheap or free…staff training would be the only issue, and probably not that big of one.”

Sounds good to me. Steven Abrams words at CIL keep coming back to me in various ways: are the young adults who are texting now going to want to get a e-mail from their librarians?

Organizations & Tech Training

Sharing the slot with Bob and I was Angela Ballard, Information Technology Training Librarian at NCSU.

Her talk was titled “Ahead of the Curve: Insuring Success of a Technology Training Program for Library Staff” and it really hit home some very important points.

To insure a successful Technology/IT Training program:

The library must take responsibility and devote time and resources
The library must provide a training reesponse to every library-wide technology implementation
The library must provide tools for on the job tech training
The library must distribute training responsibilities.

They do about 50 classes a year at NCSU.

AND adminstrators must do this:

Believe in organizational impact of a programmatic approach to training
Budget for technology training
Support continuing education for trainer(s)
Understand the nature of training work
Project-oriented approach to technology implementation
(From her PowerPoint at http://www.infotoday.com/cil2004/presentations/Ballard.pps)

Right ON! I may be preaching to the choir here but there can never be enough PLANNING for tech implementation in the library – especially where some training should occur. From rolling out new Zip drives at all locations on public stations (OMG, what is that thing??) to launching a new OS upgrade system-wide, it behooves those of us in project managemnt to make sure staff are informed. It’s simple communication!

Thanks Angela! It was great to present with you.

User Centered Instruction

Scott Brandt and I did our pre-conference workshop Tuesday afternoon. “Make Learning Stick: Creating 5 Star User Centered Training & Instruction”featured a DVD presentation about Bob, a harried trainer faced with training his entire staff on Web mail. We outlined 5 factors to insure training is user-focused and successful everytime!

We had 23 participants and a lot of fun. It was an afternoon session and I must confess by 3pm were were all a little bleary eyed but Scott provided chocolate and we sailed through the rest of the session. Thanks to all who participated!

Here are the workshop leaders hamming it up:

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens