(Getting caught up on some posts here folks)
A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in Columbus, Ohio for the Ohio Library Council Management and Administration Conference. My Opening General Session was “The User-Centric Library: What OCLC’s User Perceptions Report Means for Public Libraries,” where we mined some of the OCLC data and discussed ways to impriove the library brand, break down those pesky barriers and adopt a 2.0 philosophy (some of my talking points I’ve used in other talks as well).
Another role I played was to move in and out of the various sessions and look for trends, “a-ha” moments and takeaways from the folks presenting an participate. I was scheduled to close the conference with a brief endnote, so at the end of the second day, I took a few moments to wrap up. Here are my notes from that talk:
Quotable Quotes from the Conference: From speakers, attendees and conversations at the happy hour after day one.
On Innovation in libraries: “Remain open to what is suggested.”
On policies and barriers: “We need to move away from being so policy driven and so hung up on order.”
On ideas and being open: “Everything here you can steal…it’s shareable!” (This was about an incredible ad campaign Columbus Public Library was launching. I can’t find any mention of it on their Web site or anywhere. Hey CPL, share the stuff online! Library folk need to see it. It truly is a perfect example of putting a face on the library.)
On managing our libraries: “This is not the pentagon…it’s the library!” (Here here!)
On Buying In with New Tech: “For these new technologies to fly, you must have buy in at the top.”
On guaging the health of your organization: “Watch who the director stops to talk to as he or she moves through the library, it’s very telling.”
On communication: “Do you have a consistent method to deliver consistent messages to your staff at the same time?” (Or is it piecemeal email, blog posts, paper copies, or the rumour mill?)
On creating a blog for the library to deliver content directly to the Web: “Excuse me, but why is the Web Committee giving me more work?” (Somehow there must have been a breakdown in the explanation of how blogging works: that librarians can write and directly publish content to the Web. I was surprised by this statement.)
On convening teams inm libraries: (oh how we love our teams, yes?) ” Teams work well in the well-managed library. Teams will not solve your communication problems. Teams will not solve your organizational issues.”
On asking your administrator to approve the use of a new technology that he or she knows nothing about: “If I don’t know what you are talking about, the answer is no.” (Educate first, offer to presenta a brief review of the tech before seeking approval…)
On participating in social spaces online: “You have to be real. They will know if you are fake.” (Be human, speak in a human voice, have a conversation.)
On cataloging in libraries and Amazon: “Our authority control is irrelevant in the world of Web 2.0.”
On spending a mountain of mney to have a company design your new flash-based web site: “The glitzy, overactive web site is done in a 2.0 world.”
This decoder wheel for “digital millennials” was a hot giveaway in the session High Tech Marketing by Mark Scholl and Scott Holley from Resource Interactive. I passed it around in LIS701 the week after the conference.
Experience the Social Spaces Online
One session included a demo of a walk through of an SMS-enabled “Pink” store. Young ladies could scan an item with their phones and message an image of the item and item details to friends’ phones “Should I buy this?” Couldn’t libraries do the same by enabling an interactive, collaborative collection?
Experience the social spaces so you know how things work. Create an avatar in Second Life. Vist the library – heck, stop in an vist my avatar in my office (once I get some furniture). And don’t be a fake. be yourself.
But remember social tools are just that — TOOLS
Use blogs for internal communication. Use IM for outreach and even another layer of communication inside your institution. But don’t think for a minute just turning on a blog or activationg an IM screen name will get you in anywhere. Make the commitment to use the tools that work for you and your library and be honest, transparent and direct. Technology and tools will never save your library from its problems but it just might be a good step toward the hyperlinked organization that will excite our users.
Be nimble..move quickly..try things out..in beta
“Oh! A blog, I like that idea,” you say. Don’t bog things down with an extended timeline of development, teams and discussion. Start one and work out the kinks as you go. Announce after a few weeks of posts to give people some room to get used to it, but don’t tie up the project for months while you “study it all to death!”
Engage the User
Look for the Stories in Everything we Do
Use stories to market the library and its services.
Use stories to create staff buy in for projects and change.
Use stories to illustrate the big picture, mission and vision of your library
I don’t care how many folks came through your door or how many books you buy, tell me what happens in your building and online! How are people inspired? Engaged? Changed?
I ended with urging the folks to trust their staff and trust their users. Thanks Ohio library Council for a wonderful experience!!