Monday, December 20, 2010


“Turning Customers into Champions: Marketing as a Team Sport” featured not one, but two, enthusiastic supporters of the WOMM concept. For the uninitiated, that’s Word of Mouth Marketing. The idea is to encourage your staff and patrons to spread the library message by talking to others. Word of mouth is the most effective (and cheapest) way to pass your message along. One study found that WOMM is 10 times more effective than TV ads.

Key points made by the presenters:
The old way of traditional advertising is not as powerful as it used to be.
Getting people to talk about your business favorably is the best way to market
The average person is exposed to 3,000 messages per day and finds it hard to focus on anyone’s message
Word of mouth marketing is spontaneous and intentional (how you surprised and delighted your customer)
Most libraries have strategic plans but not marketing plans
Social Media is word of mouth on steroids
It’s a good idea to develop customer advisory boards (seniors or business people)
Have a good product, but have great customer relations
It’s good to have a plan, and a clear, memorable message

Friday, December 17, 2010

Disney Institute- December 7, 2010

Disney’s Approach to Leadership Excellence and People Management

When I heard that Baltimore City Community College was sponsoring the Disney Institute at the Baltimore Convention Center, I was excited. The day was full of ideas and perspective that helped me to think about things going on in our organization in different ways.

Disney is known for excellent customer service and innovation, so it was interesting to learn some of their secrets. Anyone who has ever visited a Disney Park knows how courteous and professional their staff is, from those working food areas, to those at the hotels, to those in key management positions. Disney has thought about quality and how to maintain it over the decades. I wanted to hear some tips. After all, libraries are a service organization, all about treating our customers well, helping them find what they need, whether informational or entertainment.

Specifically there were these ideas that I came away with:

• A leader is anyone who influences change, no matter what their position in the organization. (Sounds like Leading From Any Position).

• If you want to be a leader, forget about things, and think about people. A story was told about how Walt visited the park on third shift, where his custodial staff were cleaning late into the night after the park was closed. Walt shows up and treats the men to an orange juice, and chats with them. He would always ask his staff, “how are things going?” He said, “you never know where my next idea will come from”, so he respected the opinions and input he received and sought it out. People must have a personal connection with their leader.

• Seventy percent (70%) of Disney’s customers are return customers. This is a main focal area for them. Repeat customers have the intent to return and the intent to refer, or share their experiences with friends and family. Disney knows that it is critical that the experiences customers have are quality, so that they will return and refer others to them. What is our percent of return business in libraries?

• We judge ourselves by our intentions. Others judge us by our behaviors. Be cognizant that your team is always watching you. Do I exhibit passion and interest for the work we do? One story told to illustrate passion in leadership was about Walt Disney “selling” his animation staff on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Back in the 1930s, no full length animated film had ever been made. Disney gave his animation staff money for dinner, and asked them to return that evening for a meeting. When they returned and gathered, Disney proceeded to act out the story, complete with character impersonations, for 2.5 hours. His staff could see his passion for the project, and came away inspired, so much so that, decades later, one of the animators, then elderly, remembered the experience vividly. The project to make the film took 3 years, and it is believed that it happened because the team believed in it. After all, if they were captivated by Walt Disney for 2.5 hours, they felt they could captivate an audience with the story. (Although the animator said that what ended up on screen wasn’t half as good as what Walt acted out)

• Change and commitment: Change happens for three reasons: A. because you’re desperate, B. to keep up with the Jones’ or C. to stay at the forefront of excellence. The third is Proactive Change, where the organization is re-energized, improves to meet customer needs, and to position it for new growth.

• Have a dream, not a strategic plan

• Do I do the right things? Do I do things right?

• Connect with your team and make sure they connect with each other. “We expect Cast Members to treat each other the way we treat our Guests”

• Disney constantly scopes out what is a hassle for their customers. Taking a look at whether our processes are effective was of great interest to me. I have also recently read an article about “Counting NOs to Get to YES” in Public Libraries magazine (Sept/Oct 2010, pg. 16). The idea there is to keep track with a log of how many times we tell people NO about things. I like this as a possible way to assess our processes. The presenters mentioned that the Disney Fast Pass system was a direct result of examining a process that was not working for their customers—waiting in long lines. So they devised the Fast Pass system as a way for customers to set up a specific window of time where they would get on the ride when they show up for their time.

• There was a lot of talk about culture—values, beliefs that an organization holds that drives our actions and behaviors and influence relationships. Disney says that the organization needs to define/design the culture, else it will be defined for you at the water cooler.

• Disney treats job applicants like guests. After all, they are future employees possibly, but they are potential customers.

• Hire for attitude vs. aptitude

• State non-negotiables up front. i.e. Disney lets people know in an orientation video about their expectations for Culture, Appearance, Schedule, and Transportation. The rules of conduct are presented in a non-threatening way, giving the applicant time to opt out before they even get to the interview process.

• Disney knows exactly how much money they use to train a “cast member”. (They did not divulge this) The presenter said “how much does it cost not to train someone? It is worth the investment to get the right fit. They take their time, and the trainee is identified as such with a button that says “earning my ears”.

• Disney trains for everything: they even have a mock restroom set up where they train custodial staff how to properly clean to their satisfaction. Maybe we should have a formal system of training custodial staff?

• Priorities for Disney Cast Members are: Safety, Courtesy, Show, Efficiency. Safety is their number one priority.

• With all of the stories used during the presentations for the day, I realize I should use more stories to communicate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

McCormick: Building a Performance Improvement Questionnaire

Staff Name: Julie Zamostny
Training Title: Building a Performance Improvement Questionnaire
Date: December 7, 2010
**Note, click on the photos to view a larger version.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Becoming the Greatest Trainer

Staff Name: Julie Zamostny
Training Title: Becoming The Greatest Trainer: 7 Strategies For Adding Value And Making A Difference In Turbulent Times [webinar]
Date: November 23, 2010
**Note, click on the photos to view a larger version.

Monday, November 8, 2010

TedX MidAtlantic: What If?

Staff member: Julie Zamostny
Original event date: November 5, 2010
Original event time: 7:30AM-7:00PM
Speakers: Too many to count but here are some of particular interest:
  • Storm Cunningham
  • Steve Case
  • Saras Sarasvathy
  • Bill James
  • Diana Laufenberg
  • Iyeoka Ivie Okoawo
  • Otis Rolley

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

iPad – Apps vs Bookmarks

I love my iPad, my kids love my iPad. Its pretty darn nifty-keen. But, it is a device for consumption of content, not producing content. I am still fastest at sharing or producing at a desktop or laptop.

When I first bought it all my iPhone apps synced up to it. I tried to use them but they were all sized for the smaller iPhone screen. So I looked for a better way.

Since the apps were created to connect me to web content, I saved all the web addresses as bookmarks on the iPad screen. I figured I could access them via Safari on the web.

I hit the snag that the iPad is seen as a mobile device by most browsers and will therefore show you the mobile version of websites and not the laptop/desktop version. For me this is a snag because functionality and the richness of the website or service is lost in the translation to the mobile layout. The safari mobile browser will display the desktop layout of a website, but stutters and cannot handle the embedded frames or “widgetized” sections of modern websites. For example, you can see Google Reader in the desktop version with the expanded display, but if a post is longer than the current screen, you cannot scroll down to see the bottom of the post with the space bar. Your only option is “next post” or clicking the post title to open in a new window. I had similar issues with Hootsuite on the web. I tried a new browser Atomic Web, which added tabbed display as an enhancement over safari, but pages are still rendered for the mobile device.

The lesson is that when possible, download and use the app for the service to get the maximum functionality (Hootsuite, Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Pandora, etc). For Google services, (reader, mail, calendar, youtube) they continue to enhance their mobile versions so I recommend sticking with the bookmarks to their mobile versions. Or the google app that directs you to their optimized mobile versions.

Let me know if you discovered a better way.

Friday, October 29, 2010

TEDx and Libraries: A Perfect Partnership for Community Engagement @ PaLA

The fabulous librarians of NJ strike again... Peter Bromberg (Assistant Director, Princeton Public), Janie Hermann (Program Coordinator at Princeton Public) and John LeMasney (Manager of Technology Training at Rider University)

TED=Technology, Education, Design. TED talks are described as the talk of your life and TED has become a global classroom of smart people who are changing the world

3 things I learned
1. TEDx is an independently organized TED event
2. TEDx is completely scalable. You can do it with all videos of TED talks or with live speakers and videos - TED requires that TEDx events contain 25% TED talks on video. You can show one video and host a discussion or do a full-day event like NJ did
3. TEDx speakers have to be video-taped and uploaded. No TED speakers are paid. The organization gives out free licenses that don't expire, but you must apply and follow extensive guidelines designed to maintain the spirit and intent of TED.

1 thing I squared away
Yes, indeed TED talks on Leadership would make an excellent topic for a Library Management Division meeting (or a staff day, or department meeting)

Something I need to work on
Start small and integrate into a LMD meeting or a department meeting. Who would I want to work with on a larger event???

60 Gadgets in 60 seconds at PaLA

This program was exactly what the title promised, there were 60 slides of gadgets in about an hour in a host of categories: home, office, pets, travel, kitchen, etc... Contrary to my expectations, the gadgets were not necessarily applicable to Library Land and no parallels were drawn from the technology that was being highlighted to the future of libraries and customer expectations. Oh well, something to ponder for another day!

Some of the cool things that were highlighted:

Sensource - thermal imaging door counter tracks in and out, data is available wirelessly

Steel series shift - gaming keyboard has interchangeable keysets and even adjusts its shape

Interactive LCD projector
turns any surface into a collaborative smart board

scratch and scroll mouse pad

Taxco phone - $70 phone, no contract, all you need is a sim card, has all the bells and whistles -- text or call me in x minutes - gets you out of sketchy dates or boring meetings

laptop kitchen stand - for viewing recipes in the kitchen without fear of slopping on your keyboard

RDA for Beginners at PaLA

I was really impressed with the 3 presenters from the PA State Library. They are one of the RDA test libraries and did a very good job of explaining how RDA is different and where the testing process is now.

3 things i learned
1. A good way to explain the biggest difference between RDA and AACR2 is that RDA provides more access to the people who affected the item being cataloged. Instead of just the author and illustrator, for a graphic novel you will also see the series editor, the colorist, the letterer, some other editor whose role I didn't catch -- ah the complex world of comic books! In short, everyone who had influence on the item gets mentioned in the record in a meaningful way.
2. RDA will take more time (see #1) at least at first, but it will definitely make records more search-able
3. testing ends at midnight on December 31, 2010. We may know by ALA annual in New Orleans whether RDA is being adopted.

Building Organizational Resiliency to Stress

This workshop with Andrew Sanderbeck (who has presented at MLA in the past) was excellent. He is very engaging. He knows libraries. He knows leadership and management and how to play well with others.

3 things I learned
1. Celebrate successes -- if your organization does something good - celebrate it. Dessert is stressed spelled backwards after all...
2. Improve communication -- even when information isn't available (and I thought this was key) be as timely as possible in delivering info and say you don't know when you don't know the answer. Create a sense of trust when it comes to communication. Make it friendly and efficient -- which means fewer emails and more conversations. Andrew's email rule is that if it is more than 2 paragraphs, it isn't appropriate for an email.
3. Talk with staff about issues regarding scheduling and work rules -- everyone needs to have clear expectations -- make those clear and work together on how to 'make it happen'

1 thing I squared away
I've known this, but Andrew make it a quick sound bite -- Get your mind off the problem and onto the solution.

My aha moment or something I need to work on/research
Stress points are the places that we are stuck. This applies to individuals and organizations. Where is the organization stuck? Where am I stuck? A good question to ask when we are stressed by change is, "How will this change benefit you?"

Monday, October 25, 2010

Future-Proofing Your Libraries: Planning to Enable Your Library to Respond to the Needs of Today and Still Remain Relevant in the Future

This was a program presented by Randy Hudson of Hayes Large Architects

3 Things I Learned:

1. Shopping has colonized the world - patrons want solitude and social interaction in the same place, preferably with food oriented retail opportunities (especially for students and Mom's with fussy hungry children)
2. Library as a place to make things - create things (art and design programs)
3. Touch screens increase usage - what if the library catalog was as easy to use and interactive and VISUAL as the MTO screen at Sheetz?!

1 Thing I Squared Away
Patrons in general and younger users in particular want a good space to work/study/collaborate in and they want self-check but they also want help to be available if it is needed. "alone but not lonely" spaces

Something I need to work on or explore more:
U Penn has video software and equipment for practice interviewing - you can watch yourself and get feedback (from a librarian?)

1 Odd Thing in my notes:
The 70's were bad economically, but great for music. Be a punk rock librarian (loud, cheap, fast, fun and fearless) I don't think that this was an actual learning objective but I think we could work with it

President's Program and Public Library Division Breakfast at PaLA

The highlight for me of the President's program at PaLA here in Lancaster, was that Margie Stern introduced Brad Rutter Jeopardy champ to us, but she also introduced the audience to him, which I found charming and really smart.

The Public Library Division breakfast gave me a chance to preview Marilyn Johnson, author of This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All! I won't spoil your fun, come to MLA in May and you can hear her for yourself on Thursday evening. :) Best part of that event was having Venditta point out Susan Pannebaker, who is with the Commonwealth Libraries - PA's DLDS. We had a nice conversation even though it turns out she couldn't tell me much about the PALS program except that they help pay for it. ;-)

Thoughts from PaLA: Take one

I'm in Lancaster, PA at the Pennsylvania Library Association Conference observing and gathering good ideas to bring back to Maryland for MLA where I will have the pleasure of being the conference director in 2012.

Marylanders spotted/chatted-up: John Vendittta, former associate director of WMRL, Bob Baldwin, director of Allegany Community College, and Laura Greenlee who used to work in adult reference and is now at the head librarian in Greencastle.

Conference 101

3 Things I Learned
1. Start on time and proceed as though the room is packed, even if there are only 10 people there
2. PA has a new member reception -- what if we have a non-member reception and use it as a way to recruit new members? I think that might be an idea that is best not thought too hard about...but the idea of not inviting non-members to the party seemed wrong, if non-members can't see why the association is fun and worthwhile, why would they join?
3.Since PA has a much longer conference, every meal is not booked at the hotel and accompanied by a speaker -- they do dine-outs, some with speakers/authors and others with interest groups at area restaurants.

Great side benefit-- Had a chance to talk with Paula Gilbert, their conference chair and hawker of PA illustrator raffle tickets, Rob Lesher, their 1st VP, and Glenn Miller their exec director.

Something that I Squared Away - my AHA! Moment:
PA also does a raffle for vendor prizes, but instead of giving everyone one ticket in their registration packet the way we do in MD, they give tickets to the vendors who can give them out to people who stop and talk to them. It's another way of encouraging interaction with the vendors which is rather brilliant. In MD we collect stamps from the vendors, that can be entered for a prize, but I like the raffle tickets, it's pretty straight forward.

Something I need to learn more about:
PA has something called PALS - Pennsylvania Academy for Leadership Studies - track down the chair of that program, Tina Hertel and see what can be learned and turned into a MLA pre-conference

Monday, October 18, 2010

MASL (Md Assoc of School Librarians) Annual Conference

I attended the best MASL conference on October 14 and 15 - because I need an on-going connection with the schools and to be knowledgeable of the kinds of activities to which we can make a connection. The theme was " The Future is in Your Hands." Jamie McKenzie, International known Writer/Publisher, Speaker, Trainer, Technology Specialist. After opening with "why do I need a librarian or books?" he launched into what we are doing and how - he went to the Internet and what we are using there and how are we using it and with whom. We can become the experts in choosing really good things by clarifying, thinking, problem solving, redefining what we do and and how well we do it. It is also time to educate key decision makers about our roles. He was very thorough and left us with many challenges.

I think that he would make a good staff training day presenter here at WCFL or at a tri-county day. Naomi Butler

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Budget and Finance: A Librarian's Guide to Effective Budgeting: Day One

When I saw the announcement for this PLA course I knew that it was just what I needed for my own staff development. Even though I had the experience of managing the AskUsNow! Grant budget for several years, and now have had the great learning experience of coordinating the WMRL budget process through two cycles, I knew that it would be very useful to get a better understanding of the types of budgets that are used by organizations and determine how to most effectively relate the budget to the programs offered by the WMRL (especially as we launch into a new strategic planning process). So yesterday I drove up to Saratoga Springs, NY and spent today (Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2010) in the community room at the Saratoga Springs Public Library with instructor Sandra Nelson and a group of about 40 participants ranging from NY, MA, NH, CT, OH, two of us from Maryland, and even one person from Missouri. Most people are library directors or assistant directors, and there are even a few trustees in attendance.

The part of the day that I felt was the most insightful was about the different types of library budgets. There are four types, and each has benefits and drawbacks.

Line Item Budgets (#1) are most commonly used (as at WMRL). Many libraries are required to use line item budgets by their county or other funding agency. They are familiar and in common use and serve as the first step for most other types of budgets. The drawback is that they don’t show you the cost of specific programs and tend to reinforce the status quo, since libraries tend to simply increase or decrease budget lines as funding varies. Stuff tends to collect that may no longer be priorities.

Program Budgets (#2) takes a line item budget a step further and shows you subsets. It informs you about your investment and shows you the relationships among programs since it links the priorities of the strategic plan to the budget. It can show you how expensive a program is that you hadn’t realized had a very high cost (such as having 2 staff take 2 days to create up a bulletin board display). A drawback is that it’s more time consuming since it adds a step. Doing a Program budget may make some staff uncomfortable if they interpret that you don’t trust them, when in fact you really just need to be able to make data-driven decisions. You’ll want to use a Program budget to develop a cost-benefit analysis. It is useful when you are seeking funding for a specific program. Grants are a common example of a Programmatic budget. Most libraries go as far as selective program budgeting.

A Performance Budget (#3) starts with the Program budget, but goes to the next step and prescribes outcomes, which are expected to be achieved. It encourages accountability and forces the library to take the program budget seriously. The lead drawback is that this type of budget can be very time consuming and if the plan isn’t good it can result in something that just doesn’t make sense.

A Zero-Based Budget (#4) is really the complete opposite of a Line Item Budget and starts out with no funds being authorized for anything in particular. Every cent must be justified every budget cycle and every moment of staff time is developed programmatically. The benefit is that you know how much every single thing costs and it allows you to let your funders know exactly what you do. As a new director, applying some of the zero-based approach to your own planning can help to force you to do the math. The drawback is that it’s a brutal process: It’s extremely time consuming and barely any organization stays with it after going through it once. Staff of course feel highly threatened. Very few people know how to do this type of process properly and generally only organizations that have been specifically asked by funders to take part in the zero-based approach do it.

Useful points made during the day (some are simply affirmations of what we’d already expect):

1. The projection for libraries isn’t good. Libraries need to embrace the greatest good for the greatest number of people. We can’t be wimps about getting complaints from one or two people, whether they be members of the public or staff members. Don’t be afraid to reallocate resources!
2. Budgets are data-driven, defendable, and defensible.
3. The most important part of the strategic plan is the implementation.
4. Don’t take a crisis to your board/funder. Give them a solution. A budget that is monitored appropriately gives you the forewarning to solve a potential budget problem before it’s a crisis. For instance, if you’re spending a lot more on heating during the winter than usual, don’t wait until the spring to try to resolve it.
5. Use budget as a tool for accountability and make the adjustments as necessary.
6. Sooner or later you need to figure out how long it takes to complete a specific activity. What does it cost to deliver a specific service? That leads back to the programmatic budget.
7. The current reality is that the public is not willing to pay for the services that they receive. As long as that dynamic remains, special tax districts are doing better than libraries receiving a line item in the general fund.
8. Each of us is always talking about our own unique library situation, which makes is very hard to compare apples to apples. However, thankfully you can compare budgets year within your own organization.
9. Libraries are moving in the direction of greater public/private relationships – that’s why foundations are becoming increasingly important. Libraries will be unlikely to be able to maintain current levels of service without developing these relationships.
10. It’s usually better to have a board member present the budget to the county than a library employee. They have more authority in the funder’s eyes. Board president and library director presenting together would be fine, but you want to avoid having the library employee seem to be in a self-serving role.
11. In some library budgets, Personnel must be totally separated from Operations and other expenses. Usually this is due to a county requirement to control increase/decrease of FTEs.
12. Some place in the budget you need to show that you have planned for capital maintenance: replacement for the roof (20 years), HVAC (10-15 years), carpet (5 years), etc.
13. Training is the last thing that should be cut from library budgets, although it’s often the first to go (Sandy’s opinion, which I agree)

That’s all for Day 1. More tomorrow! I may not get a chance to post until the weekend though, since I plan to drive back tomorrow evening. Thanks for reading. :)


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Introduction to RDA (ALCTS webinar)

Staff member: Carrie Willson-Plymire
Original event date: September 22, 2010
Original event time: 5:00-6:00pm
Speaker: Robert Ellett

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Train the Trainer

Staff member: Carrie Willson-Plymire
Original event date: September 21, 2010
Original event time: 9:30-4:00pm
Speakers: Gail Griffith

Highly recommended! This program will be offered again, so consider attending if you do any sort of training.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WCFL/WMRL Book Club Meeting #1 Minutes

The WCFL/WMRL staff book club met for the first time today from 12:00-1:00PM in the B/C meeting room to discuss the first part of the book, Switch: How to change things when change is hard, by Dan and Chip Heath. Here are some of the highlights from that meeting. Those in attendance and those who are participating but couldn't attend today's session are encouraged to add comments that elaborate on any of the issues noted below.

A-Ha Moments
  • The idea that will power is limited; it doesn't mean we are lazy; and it's nice to know that we aren't alone in this feeling (everyone experiences this from time to time)
  • The examples illustrated in the book are true (i.e. BP, the Brazilian Railroad, the Vietnamese children)
  • It's refreshing to know that in order to make a change we don't have to address everything. We just have to make baby steps--Like with the 1% milk example.
  • Challenge: would the 1% milk campaign have worked in other locations such as California which is vastly different from West Virginia? Or would they have experienced decision paralysis because of soy vs organic vs 1% vs no milk at all. What do you all think?
  • Several folks brought up an outside example. Jamie Oliver tried to revamp the quality of food that was served in schools as a way of getting West Virginians to improve their diet and at first he failed miserably - as the group deduced, it was probably because of his approach. He started out by coming in as this expert and the notion of why wouldn't anyone not listen to him? FAIL. But try, try again he did and was more successful with his food revolution which appealed to several individuals' elephants. He brought in truckloads of fat in order to illustrate just how unhealthy the food was that was being served at the schools. He showed people a mortuary where there were coffins for obese people, specially designed hearses that are equipped to fit the over sized coffins, and the issues people encountered when trying to transport these coffins. (To those who shared this story, please help me clarify this example a little better!)
  • It was interesting to read about the Brazilian railroad's goals as they seemed to be contrary to what the norm is (quick fixes vs. long term fixes).
  • A couple parallels were drawn between this section of the book and the renovation of the Hagerstown branch library. Why tear it down and rebuild when it seems like we could simply re-purpose/recycle what we already have access to and only make small additions to the portions of the building that need them.
  • Another parallel was made between this section and the Longmeadow shopping center. One one side of the street is a rundown strip mall but instead of renovating it, a newer shopping center was built on the other side. Is this the best use of Hagerstown resources?
  • One reader interpreted the first section of Switch in political terms where the Rider is President Obama, the people are the elephant, but the problem with the political process is the path. For example, the health care debate. The President more or less charged congress with figuring out a way for all Americans to have health care but he didn't outline the steps to get there. He didn't script the critical moves which seems to have lead to paralysis in the face of ambiguity.
Real-World Example (to be carried through the next 3 book club meetings)

Problem: Dirty dishes are left in the sink in the staff lounge on a daily basis. How do we change staff behavior so that each person washes his/her dirty dishes rather than leaving them in the sink?

Goal (postcard view): There will be no dirty dishes left in the sink or on the counters. They will be washed and placed in the drainer to dry and then put away in the cupboards.

Why do people not wash their dishes?
  • Time
  • "I don't do dishes"
  • Monkey see, monkey do
  • "It's not my job" or "It's someone else's job"
  • Plan on doing it later and then forget (or maybe they don't)
  • Water doesn't get hot enough
  • The soap isn't the kind that softens my hands
  • I'm a sponge user and there are no sponges (vice versa w/wash cloths)
  • Someone else always washes my dishes so, I figured it was ok
  • There are no consequences for leaving the dirty dishes in the sink
Why do some people wash their dishes (and in some cases, wash others' dishes)? These are the bright spots:
  • A sense of personal/professional responsibility
  • It's the right thing to do
  • Courtesy
  • Reducing health issues (bugs, germs, etc)
How are we going to change behaviors?
  • Modify the environment by providing a dishwasher
  • Modify the environment by providing a sponge/soap combo gadget
  • Take the dishes/silverware away thereby causing staff to provide their own dishes/silverware. The idea behind this is that people will be more responsible with their own personal belongings than with community belongings.
  • Reinstate housekeeping committee?
  • Build this topic into the ethics discussion at staff day (ethics) and use in conjunction with the move to Phoenix Color/North Pointe/Susquehanna
  • Make an video in order to communicate and motivate
  • Advertise: Will work for dish money. Either pay me to do your dirty dishes or do them yourself for free!
To be continued on Oct. 14, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Web Resources for Children's Librarians

This workshop highlighted quality web resources to be used by children and/or adults working with children. Most of these recommended sites utilize human editing or reviewing as opposed to machine selection (e.g. Google search).

The recommended web resources included child-friendly directories, reading resources, image searching, film guides and reviews, and reference tools on the web. Sites specifically geared toward parents and public librarians were also showcased. A full listing of these websites can be found here.

My favorite sites were DAWCL, Author Name Pronunciation Guide, and NCES Search for Schools.

The Database of Award Winning Children’s Literature, aka DAWCL, is a searchable database of 8,300 award winning books. Ninety-one awards across six English-speaking countries are included. Searches can be conducted using the following criteria: suggested age of reader, format, setting, genre, historical period, multicultural, ethnicity/nationality of protagonist or tale, gender of protagonist, languages, publication year, keyword or phrase, author/illustrator/translator, and award. An explanation of awards and calendar of awards is also provided.

Author Name Pronunciation Guide is a fun, yet useful, tool. How many times have you needed to tell a patron about an author only to feel uncertain about the pronunciation of his or her name? Jon Scieszka? Shirley Hrdlitschka? Genevieve Simermeyer? This site is a collection of brief recordings of authors and illustrators saying their names. As someone who has her name butchered on a near-daily basis, using correct pronunciation for other people’s names is of great importance to me.

The National Center for Education Statistics’ Search for Schools [and public libraries] offers a wonderful resource for parents, educators, and librarians. Parents can obtain valuable information about schools when considering a move to a new area. Educators and librarians can use this same information when applying for grants. Some of the information to be found includes student/teacher ratio, enrollment by race/ethnicity, enrollment by grade, and number of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

It was helpful to have someone else do the legwork of selecting quality web resources for children, parents, educators, and librarians. I have already added a number of these recommended sites to the Kids portion of our webpage.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Brainfuse Training, 8/26/2010

Posted on behalf of Keela Pfaff (Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County).

Brainfuse Webinar
Thursday, August 26, 2010 will soon be replaced with Brainfuse. Brainfuse appears to be a user-friendly database with features for students of all ages. In particular, this resource could be of great benefit to older homeschoolers who may need additional assistance with advanced topics..

All tutors have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and are subject to a background check. Tutors must also pass Brainfuse tests in the subject areas for which they would like to specialize; these are the only subjects for which they may provide tutoring. Live chat sessions with these tutors are offered from 2:00 PM until 12:00 AM each day.

Students can receive answers to specific questions or tutoring for a specific skill set via a live chat session. By creating a username and password [no other information is required], patrons can view past sessions which never expire from their account.

Students may also submit writing samples for review; tutors will respond with comments and/or other feedback within twenty-four hours. The “24/7 Help” feature allows students to send specific questions on any topic to a tutor outside of normal operating hours.

Brainfuse recognizes that learning does not end with high school. The “Adult Skills” portion of this database offers assistance with the GED, US Citizenship Test, resume writing, and Microsoft Office, along with standard subject areas.

Practice tests are offered in a variety of subjects. Users may also select “Standardized Tests” to practice taking the SAT or ACT.

Brainwave is a function which allows the user to create movies. For example, you can record a multi-stop math problem which can then be viewed any time you wish and/or sent to others via e-mail.

I am glad to have participated in this webinar. It was easy-to-follow, brief (under 45 minutes!), and very informative. I look forward to sharing this resource with many of our patrons.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Building the Digital Branch

Staff member: Tracy Carroll
Original event date: August 3, 2010
Original event time: 2:30-4:30 pm
Speaker: David Lee King, Digital Branch & Services Manager at the Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

Building the Digital Branch with David Lee King provided lots of insight on how to approach redesigns, which are coming up soon for a few libraries. One thing that he suggested in usablity studies is to make it short and sweet, no more than 5 minutes to complete 8-12 questions and to ask questions like "where would you go to find..?" to see if patrons can find stuff. He even suggested special computers (like the lab) to take the survey.

In focus groups try to "weed" out what can be combined or just removed from the sites. He suggested going to the public to find out what they call stuff and rename parts of the site based on what they call it, which was a great idea! Like what do patrons or students call the "databases" page? Making things that patrons are looking for more prominent, like a "Fee Information" bright and bold on the front page.

I also found out that I'm not the only person who is doing it solo, there are a lot of libraries where there is only 1 person doing the web, if they even have a web presence. He suggested getting a good CMS (Content Management System) to make life easier. After my Drupal class I'm convinced that I need to carve out more time to get to know more about Drupal.

I have to go back and review the webinar again because between the instructor and the chat, there was so much information being passed around I need to go back and catch what I missed.

Looking forward to the next redesign and will definitely implement the suggestions from this webinar. Here are some notes and handouts that I will be using for my next redesign.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

ALA 2010: Staff Development Discussion

Staff member: Julie Zamostny
Original event date: June 28, 2010
Original event time: 1:30-3:30pm
Speakers: Sandra Smith

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

ALA 2010: Library Trainers as Leaders

Staff member: Julie Zamostny
Original event date: June 27, 2010
Original event time: 10:30AM-12:00PM
Speakers:Paul Signorelli, Maurice Coleman, Sandra Smith, Louise Whittaker

ALA2010: Purple Crayons, Random Dots, and PB Sandwiches

Staff member: Julie Zamostny
Original event date: June 26, 2010
Original event time: 4:00-5:30PM
Speaker: Frances Yates, Director at IU East

ALA 2010: Librarians Just Need to Have Fun

Staff member: Julie Zamostny
Original event date: June 26, 2010
Original event time: 10:30AM-12:30PM
Speakers: Teresa Doherty, Erin Davis, Patricia Van Zandt, Frances Yates

ALA 2010: Beyond F2F: New Methods for Staff Training

Staff Member: Julie Zamostny
Original event date: June 25, 2010 (ALA Preconference)
Original event time: 8:30AM-Noon
Speakers: Jay Turner, Maurice Coleman, Mary Beth Faccioli

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Building with Competencies at ALA

Staff Name: Jennifer Spriggs

Learning Event: Building with Competencies at ALA 2010

Library System: ACLS

Date: June 26, 2010

Summary: I was so pleased that I was able to attend this session, which was sponsored by the LearningRT. The two presenters were excellent - Betha Gutsche of OCLC and Sandra Smith of Denver Public Library. They engaged the audience by giving everyone a two-sided sign with a smiley face on one side and a frown on the other. They continually asked questions and asked the group to respond to their answers with their signs. Competencies can be a scary word - the presenters suggested that skill set might be a less intimidating term. The outcomes for session attendees were:
-A basic understanding of what competencies are
-A basic understanding of potential employee and organizational benefits to utilizing competencies
-Examples of how libraries are utilizing competencies to enhance their operations and missions
-An increase in willingness to explore the use of competencies in their work

The presenters walked through 6 case studies that showed how competencies were used in a practical way to benefit library systems and individuals. I took away quite a few good ideas, especially in regards in how to tie competencies to performance reviews, which I hope to implement in the next review cycle.

Aha! to share: On average, approximately 60 to 70 percent of library funding goes to staff - salaries, benefits, etc.

You can view the session resources at:

Marketing Seminar with Matt Hackett

Posted by J. Zamostny on behalf of M. Fuller.

I learned to detail why our customers choose to do business with us rather than our competitors, i.e., we're free, better searches, and provide online info by subject

I learned to detail the one thing we do better than anyone else, i.e., provide free books and DVDs.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Booklist Webinar - Trends in Literature

On May 18 I viewed the Booklist webinar with the speakers Andrew Wooldridge, publisher of Orca Books, Rick Wilks and Susan Siptoe of Annick Press and Firefly Books, and the wonderful Michael Cart of Booklist and YALSA president. Each of them discussed current Teen/YA books, specific titles, and the changing scene with authors and publishers and most of all - the interests of young people. Much of this discussion sumarized what we already know about from our reading and awareness of the teen requests but the views from them were quite informative and interesting. I trust that the webinars will be an on-going activity for us.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Assess, Prioritize and Manage

I recently attended the National Archives and Records Administration Preservation Conference in DC entitled Plan for Preservation: Assess, Prioritize and Manage. A pretty daunting title, and an impressive list of speakers, including the head of Collection Care at the UK archives, as well as the Archivist of the US, who was formerly the chief executive of the research libraries at The New York Public Library, Duke University's librarian and had worked for 31 years before that in the Massachusetts Institute of Technologies libraries. This bio in itself was interesting - former Archivists had been historians.

Topics that raised interest:
Do you perform mass deacidification to reduce the ongoing decay of organic matter, or do you fix the younger items first so you will have fewer problems in the future - along the lines of a stitch in time saves nine
Do you just deal with the paper and other artifacts you have, or should archivists also be concerned climate change, fossil fuel reduction, and the need to reduce CO2 emissions? (This raised issues that I believe WCFL should address for the Western Maryland Room in the new library, as well as the history room in George's Creek).
Should the Archives/history rooms be a cataloging agency or is their role to consider vulnerability of objects?

Useful to know organizations
EGOR - Environmental Guidelines, Opportunities and Risk
The Centre for Sustainable Heritage
Heritage Health Index

Besides issues like these, some statistics put me in my place -
Only 2% of government records are selected for permanent preservation at the National Archives.
The UK National Archives has 80 million documents on line
The Library of Congress has 12 million photographs and 4 photograph conservators

Monday, May 3, 2010

LOEX: Library Orientation Exchange

I'm going to hazard a guess that many of you have never heard of LOEX, the Library Orientation Exchange primarily made up of instruction librarians at academic institutions.

Now you can say that you've heard of LOEX and that you know someone who attended and presented at the 2010 annual conference: me, Julie Z.

You might be asking yourself, why did she attend such a conference when she's no longer affiliated with an academic library and does not do as much instruction? That's a good question, and the answer is two-fold. Firstly, I attended the conference in order to deliver a co-presentation with 4 colleagues of mine on the topic of non-traditional methods of instruction. Secondly, I attended the conference because although few public librarians attend LOEX, there is still much that can be applied to the public library world--especially from a staff development point of view. For example, one session I attended was on the learning cycle (how to make learning stick) and this is a very real concern regardless of whether your workshop participants are first year college students or twentieth year library employee veterans!

So, if you teach in a public setting, you might want to look into some of the materials LOEX makes available online to help you freshen up your instruction skills. Eventually, the proceedings of this conference, complete with reports and slides of each presentation, will be available online. Until then, you're welcome to look at the clearinghouse materials and past-conference materials.

Of course, if you have any questions, I'd be happy to talk with you!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's your sign...I mean, style?

This is the first of many installments on the MLA 2010 Annual Conference that the western Maryland library staff (this means you!) will be posting to our learning journal and I am definitely excited to hear about all the adventures everyone had in Ocean City.

The first learning adventure that I'm going to share with you is the preconference I attended on Wednesday, April 21 entitled, "What's Your Style? 9 Paths to Personal and Professional Development" with facilitators Peter and Suzanne Bromberg.

This workshop centered around The Enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram), a personality inventory that describes one's primary motivations, outlook on life, and how and to where energy and attention are focused. There are 9 Enneagram styles:
  1. Style One, aka: perfectionist, reformer, principled teacher
  2. Style Two, aka: helper, giver, pleaser, caretaker, mentor
  3. Style Three, aka: achiever, performer, motivator, producer
  4. Style Four, aka: individualist, romantic, creator, artist, poet
  5. Style Five, aka: investigator, observer, thinker, scholar, sage
  6. Style Six, aka: questioner, loyal skeptic, troubleshooter
  7. Style Seven, aka: adventurer, enthusiast, fun lover, cheerer
  8. Style Eight, aka: challenger, leader, boss, confronter
  9. Style Nine, aka: peacemaker, mediator, acceptor, connector
I am a Seven and my core motivation is to experience life to its fullest. But knowing which characteristics I borrow from other styles during periods of stress is actually the most beneficial piece of information I took away from the preconference. Each style is fluid and in times of stress and in times of security will morph into other styles. For example, when a Seven is feeling secure and stable she morphs into a Five and becomes more thoughtful, deep, and serious about ideas. Under stress however, a Seven starts to take on qualities of a One and becomes rigid, angry and controlling. Knowing this will help me become more aware of my energy and if I see myself becoming angry all the time I will know that I'm showing my One side and that I need to stop, take a deep breath, and reevaluate my situation.

Whew! It's a good thing we have some stress management programs scheduled in May!

On the other side however, if I notice my Five qualities starting to show I can take advantage of them as well, but for good instead of evil.

This is a topic that I'm very interested in and could probably blog all day about but, I won't, and instead I'll share one last take away.

In the afternoon we split up into groups by style to answer some questions about ourselves like:
  • What do we like about being Sevens?
  • What annoys or stresses Sevens?
  • Sevens are needed in our library because we...
But even that wasn't the most eye-opening part. The eye-openers came from listening to the other groups of styles share their answers to these same questions and making the connections between things they said and real examples from my own life (i.e. John Doe might be a Three because in meetings he's always saying, "get to the point" or "just spit it out.") which will help me modify my behaviors in the future in order to foster better relationships because I realize now that certain behaviors like in the John Doe example, are linked to core motivations and that they shouldn't be taken personally. If John Doe is a Three then it's important to him to be efficient and me spending time to give him background that I think he needs is just slowing him down so, in the future I can always let him know (after I've gotten to the point) that I have background information available and if he wants it he can ask me for it.

If anyone is interested in learning more about The Enneagram just let me know. The Bromberg's said it was OK to share their materials with anyone who's interested. In the meantime, you can take the brief, free version of The Enneagram inventory and learn more about your style at The Enneagram Institute's web site.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

New Jersey Train the Trainer

About three weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend a four-day Train the Trainer seminar in Eatontown, NJ. Although the program was designed with New Jersey librarians in mind, they were kind enough to open registration up to the surrounding areas. Alicia Hyre from Harford County Public Library was the only other Maryland library employee who attended--and like all of the other Maryland librarians I've met thus far, she's totally awesome and is doing great things for her library! I met several wonderful NJ librarians to whom my heart goes out during their current budget crisis. There were folks from public libraries, academic libraries, the State Library of NJ, special libraries; it was awesome!

The program was pretty intense. The first three days consisted of jam-packed schedules of 9AM-9PM classes with scheduled breaks and meals in between. We covered everything from adult learning principles, how to plan effective trainings, how to use training aids appropriately, ways to incorporate technology into training, group facilitation, and evaluation.

Then we had one week to put what we had learned to the test. We were tasked with writing an instruction plan and training guide for an upcoming course that we will actually be executing at our library system and we had to come back on March 26th to present a select portion of that training to our peers so we could receive feedback and so we could practice with a captive audience. This was an extremely valuable exercise. I was able to write my instruction plan and training guide for the self-defense program I'm presenting to the Washington County branch staff at their meeting on May 10th. I received some useful feedback that allowed me to edit my plan and guide to make the training more participant-friendly!

As I start to get ideas for home-grown continuing education/professional development (whatever you'd like to call them) courses, I will most definitely continue to write up instructional plans and guides for each one. These will come in handy as well if the libraries across the state move forward with the idea to form a staff development coop. The instructional guides and plans will be posted electronically for anyone to download and edit to suit their needs!

A couple of fun NJ facts:
  • The bartender at the hotel I stayed at worked as an extra for the TV show, The Sopranos.
  • You cannot pump your own gas at NJ gas stations. They are full-service only.
  • You cannot make left turns off of most NJ highways; instead, you have to use these things the natives call Jug Handles...they're like sideways horseshoes.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Klickatat and all that

PLA in Portland and the home of the Quimby family.    Lots of new ideas to think about and its always good to wander amidst people who have the same interests as you so when you suggest something wacky, at least they have a context.

One idea that struck me in these tough economic times was if we have to limit our collection spending than we need to be as fast and efficient as possible getting items back on the shelves.   The session on "leaning your library " covered this area and reminded me of Frederick Taylor's  time and motion studies, plus the recently in vogue ISO 9000 certification.  Ask at your library, how many people touch an item before it is back on the shelf?  Can you get it back to the shelf in less than 5 touches?

Unfortunately the LITA top ten tech trends was not their best work.  If you think about time, convenience, and independence as the new currency, how can libraries assist our patrons make the most of their daily lives?  Can technology help?    Can technology help us form better relationships with our patrons?

Some good and reasonably priced stuff in the vendor areas as well.  I was pleased to find web based scheduling software for our whole system would cost about $330.  What do you think, would you like centralized scheduling of all staff?

Also thanks to some good questions, it dawned on me that if patron reviews of books is to succeed (be used by other patrons) in our catalog, we need a lot more reviews and multiple reviews per item.  Which brought me to chilfresh a company that can insert those reviews and comments from patrons around the work into our catalog.

Visiting vendors also helped clarify the path so that our patrons can pay their fines by credit or debit card from within the library and from home.  

Thanks for the invitation to post on the WMRL Learning blog.
Please share your comments and ideas here or my blog.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

PLA Conference March 2010

The Public Library Association (PLA) Conference was held in Portland, Oregon March 23-27th. The city of Portland has a wonderful transportation system that enabled conference goers to easily travel from area hotels to the convention center, not to mention area shopping and restaurants, for free. The system even went to the airport for a small fee.

The workshop highlights for the conference for me were Book Buzz with Nancy Pearl, What's New in Fantasy, Paranormal, and Science Fiction for Teens and Adults (a gift to myself :), and oddly enough, I Have These Statistics--Now What? Getting Started on the Path of Collection Analysis. Other highlights for me included hearing the keynote speaker, Pulitzer Prize winning speaker Nick Kristof and listening to a short concert by Natalie Merchant prior to the keynote. These two individuals started things off on an inspiring and positive note, as they each spoke of the impact libraries had on their own successful lives. They also provided critical reminders of the great difference librarians can make daily in the lives of our customers and in our communities, things that go way beyond the collections and walls of the buildings to the heart of libraries: the interactions of the customers and the library staff.

In addition, a lot of my focus for the conference was on collections and collection development, so I also took the opportunity to visit the booths in the exhibit hall. I picked up a couple of galley copies of Fang by James Patterson and The Passage by Justin Cronin. I also spoke with some vendors like BWI, discussing their services and discounts; checked out Brainfuse to compare it with; spoke to our ILS vendor TLC to ask some questions and make some suggestions; and scoped out some library card vendors for our upcoming First Library Card project. (I may have picked up a free cookie here and there along the way!)

I've come back with some definite ideas and action items: First, I am running reports to get relative use figures for our collections to help us better identify where our weeding needs to go deeper and what areas of our collection are successful and need to be expanded. My goal is to complete these reports and present findings within the month so that we can move forward with next fiscal year's collection budget allotment with accuracy. Next, I am going to follow up with some other collection vendors to see if they offer competitive pricing, convenient services, etc. Finally, I've got some good information to use for my proposal/plan for the First Library Card.

Thanks to Western Maryland Regional Library for supporting the trip to the conference.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Learn How to Learn Online (LHTLO)

Staff Name: Julie Zamostny

: Learn How To Learn Online (LHTLO)

Library System: WMRL

Date: January 19, 2010

Aha! to share: The whiteboard is a great space to use to encourage participation. I never had an instructor use the whiteboard area in a collaborative fashion before!

Questions to ask yourself:
  • What barriers do I have to synchronous learning?
  • How can I overcome those barriers when I'm learning and when I'm teaching?
Rating: 3 stars; There was nothing terribly wrong with the course but the topic is something that I'm fairly familiar with and would have preferred to participate in an asynchronous course in order to get up to speed with Wimba.

Additional notes: I made a contact with Trina Panagos at Frederick County Public Library and we are hoping to work on a synchronous training project involving Google Wave in the future.