Thursday, July 30, 2009

ALA Scholarship Bash

On Saturday night, Nora and I were fortunate to attend the ALA Scholarship Bash which was held at the Art Institute of Chicago. The bash started at 7:00 p.m. and I can tell you that the two of us arrived back at our hotel shortly before 11:00. It was such a wonderful event and the museum was only open that evening for ALA attendees. If you remember our morning fiasco with missing the kickoff breakfast for the empowerment conference... our lunch was store made yogurt and fruit at a little coffee shop in the Hyatt conference area, so by the time we arrived at the Art Institute we were starving. They had at least 3 areas set up for food service. We gravitated to the outdoor area and joined a very friendly librarian from Phoenix (who ordered teen books for the Phoenix Public Library System- Nora did get her email for tips) for finger foods, sandwiches and drinks. Wandering the art exhibits was amazing. But don't point too close to the paintings or alarms go off, trust me, they do.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

ALA Empowerment Conference, 2009

When my copy of American Libraries arrived and I scanned the information about the upcoming ALA conference in Chicago, the Empowerment Conference caught my eye. Sponsored by the Library Support Staff division of ALA, of which I have been a member for the last several years, the "mini conference" for support staff who supervise others appealed to me immediately. As both a Branch Manager at our Main Library Branch and the Circulation Supervisor for our Library System, I felt this could directly affect my day to day activities both in my branch and in my duties system-wide. I mentioned the Empowerment Conference to our Public Services Coordinator, Lisa McKenney, and she invited any Branch Manager who was interested in attending ALA this summer to let her know how the experience would benefit them and the Library System.

Nora Drake also responded to her inquiry and the two of us were selected to attend the conference. We arrived in Chicago Friday afternoon and were on our way to McCormick Place early the next morning, sans breakfast. After criss crossing the complex we finally arrived the Welcome Breakfast and conference kickoff at the HYATT REGENCY McCormick ( geesh!) only to find nothing left but coffee and crumbs of the breakfast. We did get to hear most of Prof. Gini's keynote address about "Lincoln's ten critical tasks of leadership"

The first session I attended was "Leadership = Vision + Communication + Empowerment: an overview with Alexis Sarkisian, who is a Library Marketing consultant. She discussed communication models and explained how leaders need to make sure that the message you are sending out is understood. It is the "senders" responsibility to get feedback from the "receivers" to elminate misunderstandings and assumptions. You don't "push" a message out, it is your responsibilty to be sure it is being sent in a way that people can understand or "hear" your message. She makes the point that leaders have vision and while leaders can be managers, not all managers are leaders.

The second session was Leadership for Library Support Staff lead by Kevin Dudeney from Austrailia. It was interesting in itself to learn a little about the Australian system, they take a 2 year required course to become Library Technicians. He began by talking about how we manage stuff, but lead people. He developed this course himself and focuses on the 5 practices of exemplary leadership:
  1. Model the way - earn the right and respect to lead, people follow the person, then the plan.
  2. Inspire a shared vision - express enthusiasm for the vision and it will spread to the team.
  3. Challenge the process - step into the unknown and look for opportunities to innovate.
  4. Enable others to act - make it possible for others to do good work.
  5. Encourage the heart - show appreciation of the teams contributions, teams can become tired, frustrated and disenchanted.
We saw his list of the differences between leaders and managers, a long list I might add, that most of us furioulsy scribbled away to copy since there were no handouts for this session. There was a discussion of the different types of power, such as legitimate power; reward power; coercive power; expert power; charismatic power; referent power; and information power.

After scrounging up some lunch and a chance encounter with Joe outside the building, Nora and I attended "Leading from any position: opportunities to contribute to your Library's success" with Maureen Sullivan who happens to be from Maryland. She also mentioned the communication issue, i.e. "What I think I said may not be what you heard" and the notion that even leaders need to know how to be effective followers. She focused on resonant leadership and how that is based on the relationship between the leader and those who work with them. Resonant leadership depends upon emotional intelligence which can be intuitive or developed. Emotional intelligence is based on the competencies of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. She points out that we must listen to the negative but don't focus on it. Focus on the people who are doing what needs to be done. Don't let negativity hold the organization back.

And we're just gettin' warm!

ALA in Chicago

What fun and what a great city! Oh, but this is the learning journal...

I had a very good first ALA experience in Chicago, I went to lots of interesting programs, spent time perusing the vendors, and met interesting library folks from all over the country. Although I have to say, the vastness of ALA was a bit over-much for my introverted self and it was a challenge to strike up conversations when I just wanted a bit of quiet between one program and the next. Nonetheless, Chicago was packed with librarians and it was fun to walk down the street and guess whether someone was or wasn't...

Friday July 10 Pre-conference: Customer Service from the Best
This was a great program from the training manager at Trump Properties in Atlantic City. She has done a lot of training for NJ Libraries and it was surprising how many parallels there were between casinos and libraries (still looking for an exciting library version of a comped drink ticket - somehow forgiving fines doesn't seem as glamorous.)
  • ACT Customer Service
  • Acknowledge - smile be pro-active, friendly verbal greeting
  • Connect - Use names when you can, give info, solve problems, listen!
  • Thank - invite a return visit, express appreciation, share info about upcoming programs, give a fond farewell
Aha! Hire for Attitude, Train for Skill.
Start a volunteer greeter program
If there is a negative experience at any point on someones library visit, other staff have to work twice as hard to make the overall experience better. If you can't do good customer service for the customers - do it for your fellow staff!
Saturday, July 11

Redesigning Tech Services (OCLC presentation)

Redesigning Technical Services Workflows, Saturday morning, July 11, 2009:

NISO OCLC study looking at metadata standards - how do we leverage and collaborate to get better metadata and have everyone do less work in publishing and libraries (Not so much my cup of tea so I can't recall who this presenter was - interesting but not as engaging as the next two speakers for me.)

Arlene Klair, Adaptive Cataloging & Database Mgmt Group Leader, University of Maryland Libraries

  • UMUC has directed their attention to streamlining their processing and copy cataloging sot that catalogers can spend their time on cataloging special collections
  • Shelf-ready processing with their main book vendor - UMUC can do it cheaper but they cannot do it faster
  • They use Connexion for batch loading (as does WC)
  • They download full-records and take them without fussing so much
  • They've started using 100% cataloging option from OCLC called Promptcat which catches any records that aren't up to standards and OCLC finishes the record based on their profile (at least this is what I understood - need to look into this further.)
  • They use a commercial service called Bibliographic Notification to upgrade bibs (especially CIP) lag is somewhere between 2 and 3 months.

Rick Anderson, Associate Director for Scholarly Resources and Collections, J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah

Rick acknowledged that anyone who had heard him speak before would find his remarks repetitive, but thought it was all worth hearing again.

There are 4 areas where “Technical Services needs retooling.”

  1. Books
  2. Serials
  3. Cataloging
  4. Collection Development
  • Consolidation — put serial and monograph staff into one organizational unit
  • Simplification [of processes] — use shelf-ready, don’t examine every book, duplicate call numbers don’t cause the patron to fail in retrieving the right book
  • Simplification — drop check-in, binding, and claiming for print journals and focus on doing things that get the patron access when the patron needs it
  • Their orders are shipped to OCLC to be cataloged and sent to them shelf ready - "they will do it well enough" there aren't enough problems to warrant inspecting each item
  • Simplification — Catalog is not about completeness it is about Connection. He suggested looking at the catalog logs to see if known item searches are the most frequent type of search
  • Subject headings should be thought of as opportunities for keyword searches - suggested not worrying too much about punctuation or beauty
  • Set up processed for the bulk of items not the exceptions
  • “Patrons know; librarians guess.” use ILL as a selection tool - suggested looking at circ rates, 50% of librarian selected items didn't circ Pay extra shipping to get books from Amazon overnighted. Also purchased an Espresso Book Machine to do print on demand

Champagne Dreams on a Beer Budget: Cost Conscious library space designs
(All three presentations are available through the above link.)

Norfolk Public libraries have done a phenomenal job of improving every library branch. Each has a kidzone and 30 Internet terminals, new carpet, paint. $123.605 per branch
Terrific customer service to give the same treatment to every branch - rich and poor alike.

Brooklyn Public - new Teen center in a storefront staffed by a youth counselor. Computers and magazines but no other collection - down the street from the library so there are runners. Interesting idea. Met someone the next week at RWA who was from this system and when I commented on what a neat idea it was she grimaced mildly and did a tiny eye roll - I guess innovation always looks different from the outside than from the inside! :)

Library 2.0 buildings: Creating Zones with Heart

was packed and I got there too late to get a good seat - the usual thoughtful and visual presentation - don't put up nasty signs or make it clear that the director is the only valued member of the community by putting up a parking sign reserving their space - lots of slides.

Here is one presenter's blog posting pre-ALA regarding the program
And an article about the panel discussion in LJ

Sunday July 12

2.0)verload: What a small, understaffed library really needs by Michael Porter of WebJunction
  • Meebo - staff of 7 at Freemont Library in CO has chat on their site
  • Twitter - can be another tool for pushing library programing
  • Someone mentioned KGB - text a question paid service (why isn't library land doing this - can Question Point provide this service with AskUsNow?) Gates grant to publicize it?
  • Flickr - put it all out there...
Re-purpose everything you do so that web page announcements also go to the newspaper, twitter, flickr and vice versa. There was a lot more to this, but that is enough for now. Basically there was no solution to overload but there was the strong suggestion that we need to be where our users are.

With Respect and Dignity: Serving homeless people in library communities
  • Michael Santangelo, OLOS presenter, said that ALA will have a toolkit on this topic coming out soon (Dec 09?)
  • There is also an OLOS listserv on poor and homeless patrons
  • OLOS can help find resources and connect folks who are looking at similar problems but Michael emphasized that no two situations are the same - based on environment, community, administrative attitudes, etc...
  • Suggested getting buy-in from whole staff and networking with other institutions
  • Start from a place of professionalism - we didn't create the problem
  • know your library's policies and be sure that they are applied across the board - bad body odor and too much perfume should both be addressed same for strollers and suitcases
  • Document the advocacy process (programs, pictures, etc.) so that you can determine what works and what doesn't
  • Preventative librarianship - local social services, programming with govt agencies on filling out paperwork, handling debt, foreclosure and landlord issue assistance and legal resources, etc.
  • Again there is more - really neat librarian from Lexington, Kentucky, Ruthie Maslin, has done some tremendous programming - she surveyed her potentially homeless folks and asked what they wanted in the way of library services - it was all very reasonable and doable. Seeking input instead of assuming
  • LPL issues library cards with limits on # of items - individuals can use the shelter address
  • She listed 5 steps to success:
  1. involve all staff
  2. involve customers you hope to connect with
  3. set achievable goals
  4. measures of success
  5. budget for it
Catalog Use and Usability Studies: What do they show and how should this affect our decision making?

OCLC Report titled Online Catalogs: What users and librarians want
Presented by Karen Calhoun and Janet Hawk - presentation available on Slideshare
  • Users expect catalog to look and work like popular web sites (summaries, abstracts, TOC, google search)
  • users want context - excerpts from books, music and video clips and ideally full-text
  • Delivery is as important or more important than discovery
  • How do we delivery books? More links to online full-text
  • Improved search relevancy is important
  • Evidence based cataloging
  • Digital online accessible materials are important to users - especially global users (Can a public library justify spending $ on traffic that doesn't pay taxes? Can we afford not to have that traffic?)
  • Cornell does 80% of their cataloging as fastcat in acquisitions - accepting the full-record with few if any changes. They accept that fast and conveniently available are essential to quality library experience
  • Align resources with effort - media and digital collections
  • Consortial cataloging could be a good option for getting the regular stuff out of the way and focusing on special collections
WOW - lots of ideas!

Monday was taken up with packing and taking a boat tour of Chicago architecture (it was my director's idea - honest!). A very worthwhile trip. Thanks WMRL!

Friday, July 24, 2009

ALA/YALSA: Creating and Building an Effective Committee

As a new committee chairperson this year for YALSA, I got to be a part of training about building and belonging to effective committees. I thought there were several tips and suggestions worth passing on from the session.

Committees can sometimes not work well. It is a good idea to approach committee meetings like board meetings with an overview at the beginning of each meeting, focus for discussions, agendas, calendars, and evaluations of committee meetings.

Six Elements of Committee Effectiveness:
  • There should be a written committee description and/or charge
  • You need to have an effective committee chair.
  • Members should be thoughtfully appointed.
  • It should have accountability to the board.
  • The meetings should be well-run.

Sample Format: Committee Meeting Agenda

I. Call to Order

II. Roll Call

III. Approval of the Minutes of Last Meeting

IV. Members' Reports

V. Old Business

VI. New Business

VII. Announcements

VIII. Adjournment

How to Get Things Done

  • Write things down
  • Set alarms or block things off on the schedule
  • Clarify your projects/seek clarification

Successfully Managing Others

  • The role of a manager is different than that of a leader
  • A Poor Manager is often seen as a bureaucrat
  • By default a manager often becomes the leader as well
  • You must create a shared vision, get feedback, provide ample timeframes, invite discussion and set expectations for communication with deadlines
  • Set expectations early
  • Must use and accept input of committee members to create a shared vision.
  • Be sure to say thank you!

Develop Buy In

  • Pay attention to what people are saying-take their input and use it.
  • It's in how you manage communication
  • Listen and don't shut people out or shout over them or insert yourself
  • Operate with enthusiasm and energy
  • Send Thank you notes!

Implement Your Vision

  • Set time limits and stay on task
  • Take an organized approach
  • State your expectations up front
  • Share open work
  • Let people know if they missed a deadline
  • Take nothing for granted
  • Send reminders
  • Keep things straightforward
  • As a chair, you still need to be a team player because you are also a member!

If you are in a committee hopefully, some of these tips might help!

ALA Annual: YA Coffee Klatch

During Annual, I had the great pleasure of attending the YA Coffee Klatch. This might just sound like a casual morning session, which it is, but it is a casual morning session with about 30 different YA authors that rotate to your table and you get to talk to!

Featured authors at this event were: Libba Bray, Jim Benton, Elizabeth C. Bunce, Stephen G. Bloom, Michael Buckley, Janet Lee Carey, Sarah Dessen, Simone Elkeles, Margarita Engle, Garret Freymann-Weyr, Lorie Ann Grover, Julie Halpern, Silas House, James Kennedy, Stephanie Kuehnert, Margo Lanagan, E. Lockhart, David Lubar, Melina Marchetta, Lisa McMann, Christopher Myers, Kimberly Pauley, Richard Peck, Sara Ryan, S. L. Rottman, Lisa Schroeder, Yasmin Shiraz, Andrew Smith, Jeri Smith-Ready, Kristina Springer, Maggie Stiefvater, Pamela Todd, Todd Tucker, Jacqueline Woodson, Patricia Wrede.

Due to timing, I did not get talk to all of these authors, but I did get to talk to a few and here are some things I learned:

Andrew Smith is the author of Ghost Medicine has been commissioned to write four more books. His most recent book involves two brothers during the Vietnam War taking a roadtrip. It is told from 5 differing perspectives.

Jamie Kennedy is the writer of The Order of Odd Fish which is a comedy/fantasy that is a cross between Roald Dahl and Monty Python. It deals a lot with dubious/impossible knowledge. The basic plot is the child has been born to destroy the world and they hide her away until she becomes 13 and realizes that unless she stops this, the prophecy will come true.

David Lubar is probably most known for Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie and his Hidden Talents series. He will be releasing a new book in August called My Rotten Life. He also has 4 short story collections with 35 stories each and does school visits.

Todd Tucker is the 2009 Alex Award Winner for his first novel Over and Under which is a "boy book" about two 14 year old boys in 1979 in a factory town haboring two fugitives. it contains some autobiographical elements. For example in real life and in this book his mom ran a secret shelter for abused and battered women. He has four other books about 20th Century American History.

Kimberly Pauley wrote It Sucks to Be Me, a humorus vampire story with no vampire slayers as characters. The plot is that the parents are vampires and upon her birthday the main character has to decide whether or not she wants to be a vampire before time runs out. The new Sucks to Be Me sequel will be released in August of 2010.

Margarita Engle wrote The Surrender Tree, The Poet Slave, and Tropical Secrets. She writes primarily historical fiction with the topic of german/jewish refugees in the 1950's that were turned away from New York and sent to Cuba. Cuban volunteers taught the refugees Spanish and provided safe habors and showed the kindness of strangers. The Surrender Tree is being re-released as a bilingual book.

Pamela Todd has wrote The Blind Faith Hotel with environmental themes and characters with relationships to the natural world. In this novel, the reader will see a family in crisis with issues such as home, freedom, and belonging, as well as approaches to sibling relationships.

Sara Ryan has brought The Rules for Hearts to us. It has to do with that transitional summer between high school and college with a bohemian environment, a shakespear environment, and librarian all playing a part. Currently, she is working on a graphic novel called The Empress of the World where a boy helps his mom run estate sales and falls in love with a girl who's mom is a hoarder. There is a website showing the beginnings of this novel. It deals with addressing the objects of significance in our lives and how writers can give value to objects by writing stories about them. The website has various stories about different objects found at flea markets and rummage sales. Do these stories change an object's value? Read the stories and find out!

And the last author I had the chance to meet was:

Yasmin Shiraz wrote Retaliation, which is inspired by a true story dealing with girls and violence. A documentary about this issue is being released in September by Follett called "Can She Be Saved?" She is also working on a new book called The Hive which is about teen HIV infection in the high school setting.

There was a lot of information all at once, but well worth it!

ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, July 10th-14th, 2009

I was privileged to attend the ALA Conference in Chicago with my co-worker, Maryland Appel. We are both from the Allegany County Library System. We arrived on the afternoon of July 10th, after driving to Pittsburgh from Cumberland, and left Chicago to return home on the morning of July 14th. I say it was a privilege because I attended the Empowerment Conference sessions, and feel it was a benefit to me particularly since it was geared to library support staff, like branch managers. I became a branch manager in January, and feel that the sessions on personnel management and encouragement were the most help to me. On our first day there, Saturday, we intended to attend the Welcoming Breakfast and Empowerment Kickoff Breakfast which featured Al Gini. His session was on "Lincoln's Ten Critical Tasks of Leadership". Unfortunately, because we received the wrong directions from several of the security staff at McCormick Place, we arrived after the session began, but we were able to sit in for part of it. The second session I attended on Saturday was "Feeling Good, Becoming Healthier, Increased Energy and More". The speaker was Jill S. Popovich, a physical therapist. During that session Ms. Popovich shared easy effective ways that library staff could improve their posture while working, stretch obscure muscles that we all use every day but not enough, and increase our energy while at work. As a consultant, she visited many libraries to observe the normal working day of library staff and developed her own program for assisting staff. The next session I attended was, "Leadership for Library Staff." The speaker was Kevin Dudeney. He had many good points in his presentation, including, "Stuff can be managed but people must be lead", supported with the following main topics: Model the way for your staff, Inspire a shared vision, Challenge the process, Enable Others to Act, and Encourage the Heart. All of these were supported with more information and examples of leadership among staff, including being visible and and the differences between being a leader and a manager.
There was lots of food for thought, and I hope I can put into practice some of his suggestions. The next session I attended was, "Leading From Any Position: Opportunities to Contribute to Your Librarie's Success". The speaker was Maureen Sullivan. While I was familiar with the Leading From Any Position term, I had not been to any workshops about it. Basically, Maureen discussed desirable leadership qualities, and gave some guidelines for empowering staff with confidence to become leaders based on; emotional intelligence, self awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills as a leader. After that session, Maryland and I went to the exhibit hall for a short period of time prior to returning to our hotel to freshen up before we had to be back at McCormick Place to take the shuttle to the ALA/Proquest Scholarship Bash which was outstanding. More later!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Michele Gorman Workshop Survey

For those of you who will be attending the August 28th Michele Gorman survey, please take a few moments to complete the survey by clicking on the link below. Thank you for your feedback!
Click Here to take survey

Wednesday, July 1, 2009