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 Tutor.com; 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.