Friday, November 30, 2012

MLA Tech Meeting

I've become slack with posting about the meetings I attend so, in an attempt to rectify my lazy ways here's what went down at the most recent MLA Technology Committee Meeting on November 29th.

Any MLA members are welcome to join the Tech Committee. Just contact Stuart Ragland for more information.

In-house equipment for MLA 
The Tech Committee would like to get the MLA office their own laptop, projector, and screen for use during meetings and presentations at the MLA office (and potentially at off site locations like the annual conference). Some team members, including myself, were asked to gather some more information about the options available to us so we can make more informed decisions when we get the green light to buy, buy, buy.

Staff development meeting follow-up
There is a subcommittee of the statewide staff development coordinators that is headed by Joanne Trepp that has agreed to take on the task of coordinating online learning exchanges. The first event they are hoping to do is an online follow up to an LMD (leadershp and management division) event. Joanne wanted to check with Margaret to make sure it'd be OK for her subcommittee to hold an online learning exchanged fueled by the LMD event that is free. The concern here being that most MLA events charge a fee but Margaret said that due to past discussion and decisions made by the PDP (professional development panel) that MLA does not charge for discussion group events - regardless of whether they are held in an online or physical location). In the end, Margaret decided that she'll get back to Joanne and let her know that she indeed has MLA's blessing, zero charge and all.

Recording the annual conference
Stuart recommended considering live streaming parts of the conference in 2013 using such technology like Ustream. I let him know that there is going to be a Ustream test on Dec. 10th with some folks, including myself, from across the state. So, the committee agreed to wait and see what the Dec. 10th event finds and to go from there.

The committee also selected preconferences and programs that at-first-read sound worthy of being recorded. Margaret is going to compile a list of the programs we selected so we can check for overlap in the schedule and finalize our first picks. MLA will need to get the presenters' consent for recording in advance so, the sooner we make our decisions the better.

We also talked about the need to increase the amount of video cameras we have access to at the conference. Right now we have 3 which greatly limits our recording capabilities. If anyone reading this has a proper video camera and tripod that you wouldn't mind letting the Tech Committee borrow for three days in May, will you please let me know?

Praise for photocopier subcommittee
Yes, there once was a photocopier subcommittee and they did a fantastic job of hooking the MLA office up with a brand spanking new super scanner/copier extraordinaire. Yay!

More from MARAC - from a digital perspective.

I also attended the MARAC (Mid Atlantic Regional Archives Conference) conference in Richmond, but did not attend any of the sessions that Elizabeth Howe reported on.

Highlights for me -

The presentation by Edward Ayers, President of the University of Richmond.  Ayers has taken vast quantities of historical data and made it accessible and understandable by mapping it.  So for example on the Digital Scholarship Lab is Presidential Voting, which graphically shows how the country changed its allegiances over the years.  Another map that I found impressive was one mapping slavery’s end during the American Civil War -  Visualizing Emancipation. I can dream of making the information on Whilbr more visually attractive and meaningful.

The session on social media in archives/ history collections provided some new insights. Several of the presenters talked about History Pin, which has come a long way since I looked at it a couple of years ago -  History Pin It still has inaccuracies in my opinion (bridges on the Antietam Creek incorrectly identified etc. ) but is another way of presenting data graphically. Another presenter thought that Flickr was a useful way to present data in sequence.

A piece of software that I need to check out is Tesseract - a free OCR package.  Since I have a purchased program I have not had the need to look at it, but it might be useful for those who don't want to retype something that already exists in some other digital form.

For those who are bored with Powerpoint - check out Prezi

And the reminder that crowd sourcing is a possibility for transcriptions - see Australia National Library - Trove for example. We would appreciate getting help to transcribe documents writing in 19th century script to add to Whilbr. Any one want to help?

Maker Meet-Up

Towson University's 3D Printer

On Wednesday, November 28th I attended a statewide Maker Meet-Up at the West County branch of the Anne Arundel County Public Library. There is actually a ton of information and resources available to you if you click on the Maker Meet-Up link. There is also a Flickr (online photo album) of the event. You can also read the news article about the event.

With that said, I'll focus mostly on my personal take-aways and ideas I got relative to staff development in western Maryland.

I attended the event wearing two hats: 1) my "I-wanna-be-a-maker" human hat and 2) my staff development coordinator hat. Basically, I needed to reconcile the fact that I personally know very little about the maker revolution with the fact that I need to be able to take bits and pieces of it back to my colleagues in the western MD region. It turned out to be the perfect event to do just that. 

So, how did I do this? Well, the event kicked off with a round of lightning talks (5 minute presentations that just introduced the different maker spaces that were available to us in the room) and through listening to them I was able to get a list of possible collaborators/presenters for future staff development events and it helped to wake up my creative brain so I started thinking of other people/organizations I could reach out to. Such as?

Matthew Barinholtz with FutureMakers in Crownsville, MD. 
Gary Mauler with RobotFest in Linthicum, MD.

Attn: Children's Librarians. The two guys listed about would make knockout kids' programs.

After the lightning talks I got to feed the part of me that is Enneagram 7 by experiencing the maker spaces in the room. I immediately went to the RobotFest table and learned how to use the Scribbler program to make a robot do my bidding - bidding like playing a midi version of Beethoven's 9th Symphony, spinning around in a circle, and flashing its lights. I figure it's only a matter of time and money before I have my own Scribbler robot to do my important bidding like getting up at 6am and making me breakfast. I actually spent more than an hour playing with this robot and the software and it was so much fun. It took only a little explaining on Max's (RobotFest guru) part to get me started but after that, I was off and programming. 

A screenshot of the Scribbler program.

After I grudgingly left the RobotFest table (other people wanted to play, too) I had to find time to eat lunch and then attend an affinity talk. I didn't know it when I signed up for the talk but it was with the RobotFest guy, Gary Mauler. He talked about, "So you want to hold a festival for tinkerers?" He spoke a little about things libraries should consider if they wanted to hold a maker space event - particularly one focused on electronics and robotics - and other alternatives there might be for them to encourage creativity and the maker spirit in the community such as checking out DIY Inventor Kits like the ones sold by Sparkfun Electronics. The one less-than-attractive quality of checking out these kits is that you'd have to inventory every single itty bitty part that's in them. Or, you could just invest in buying a stash of replacement parts which are actually pretty cheap. He also says that it would help if the library subscribes to magazines like Make, Nuts and Volts, and Servo.

We ended the day with a keynote talk by Jeff Sturgis, founder of the Mt. Elliott Makerspace in Detroit, MI. Although the information and stories he shared were extremely captivating and energizing, they haven't yet sparked any ideas...more like a lot of best practices to keep in mind when trying to create a makerspace. Here's a hint: keep it simple, go slow, and don't do it alone.  

I know what you're thinking. So me the money. Right? As it turns out, DARPA offers grants for such projects (yes, DARPA) and Cognizant is offering similar funding opportunities. They have this crazy notion to help folks just like you create and launch 500 makerspaces in the country over the next 5 years. As you might imagine, they've been really active in the maker revolution. Just Google them and you'll find interesting articles. All you have to do is fill out the grant applications!

So what would I like to see happen in the western MD region? Well, here are a few ideas:
  • Have a makerspace component at the Tri-County Summit 2013
  • Start a library staff maker club (ala book clubs)
  • Compile a list of staff in the three counties who have awesome maker skillz. You know who you are!
  • Libraries subscribe to the maker magazines listed above and start to build up their collections with maker-type books and materials
  •  WMRL could start their own makerspace collection (much like we started the emerging technology collection) for staff from the three counties to check out maker-type kits.
What ideas do you have? How can we play more at work? What would you like to see happen as a result of this new and novel trend?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC), Richmond, Fall 2012

1.  An Enduring Profession - Reconstructing for the Next Forty Years (Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference, Fall, 2012, Richmond, Virginia).
2.  October 25 and 26, 2012.
5.  a.  In the day-long workshop "Beyond the First Year: Practical Advice for New Lone Arrangers," we were given an outline that summed up the most important things for lone arrangers (also applicable for librarians) to focus on.  These included: vision, mission, objectives, strategies, and action plans, publishing, volunteers, budgeting, understanding limitations/abilities, strengths/weaknesses, and being persistent.  
b.  Not as practical, but thought provoking, was the concurrent session "Continual Reconstruction:  Tracing Changes in the Archives Profession."  I learned about changes in a major archival journal, a leading professional organization and in archival education.
c.  The concurrent session "Put Your Archives on the Map! Using ArchiveGrid to Promote Archival Collections" was most informative.  ArchiveGrid was developed and is supported by OCLC Research, and is a tool that facilitates the discovery of primary source materials.  In the past patrons had to pay a subscription fee to use it, but now it's going to be free.  Right now there is a beta version that is usable while they change over.  
6.  Because this was an archives conference, what I learned is most applicable to archives, i.e., Western Maryland Room.  Our history library/archives can be improved by the information (free ArchiveGrid!) and pieces of advice mentioned above.  I hope to help implement them.     

Monday, November 19, 2012

Summit 2013 #makeithappen Team Announced

Mark your calendars:  
November 11, 2013 is WMRL's Tri-County Summit (aka staff day)!

Ok, so you probably don’t have to mark your calendars yet.

I do want to introduce you to the Summit 2013 #makeithappen Team. These folks will be working together over the next year to plan, organize, and execute our day-long tri-county staff day. Feel free to talk with them if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions for next year’s event.

Representing the Allegany County Library System
Chris McGee – Adult services and staff development specialist
Regina Spiker – Public computer specialist

Representing the Ruth Enlow Library of Garrett County
Georgie Dawson – Human resources specialist
Connie Savage – Circulation and interlibrary loan specialist

Representing the Washington County Free Library
Melissa Foltz – Boonsboro branch manager specialist
Aliceana Onley – Technical services specialist

Representing the Western Maryland Regional Library
Susie Poper – Technical services specialist
Myself – Facilitator of the #makeithappen Team

Take care and stay tuned for updates as the team makes wonderful and exciting progress!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Serving Your Customers Without Sacrificing Yourself

On Wednesday, November 14, 2012, I attended Rayna Schroeder's workshop Serving Your Customers Without Sacrificing Yourself at the LaVale Branch of the Allegany County Public Library System.
I was really looking forward to this workshop, as I deal with difficult customers on a daily basis, and while I always try to be polite, professional, and helpful, it's usually at the expense of my nerves!
I definitely got a lot out of this workshop.  I'm not sure why it came as such a shock to me, but the biggest thing I took away was that different people have completely different sets of triggers than I do, and that we can use each others' strengths and weaknesses to our advantage.
All of this also helped me recognize my own personal triggers, which is something I had never really given much thought to before. The workshop really gave me a lot to think about, and several self-improvement goals for me to work towards, which will help me stay calmer and more focused when serving library patrons.
In turn, I think this will help improve all of our patrons' library-going experiences, as it will create a friendlier, more welcoming atmosphere; if I can deal with difficult patrons without getting upset and feeling overwhelmed, then not only might I have helped that particular patron, but I may have helped everyone in the library at that time to avoid a much more unpleasant experience.
Storytime Extravaganza
The three new things that I learned at this class were new songs, activities, and transitions.  I hope to create the color bucket activites that were discussed during the class.  The teaming up of librarians to present a book or poem was very interesting and since we do not have two staff people available during our story times maybe we could enlist the help of some teen volunteers to do this on occasion.  Mo Willems, Eric Carle, and Eric Litwin (Pete the Cat) are authors we probably all use so I wished the presenters would have introduced us to different more obscure authors.  The tips on working with puppets were also helpful.  My favorite part of the workshop was the music and the movements.  Submitted by Tammy Gantz

Serving Your Customers Without Sacrificing Yourself

I attended Rayna Schroeder's workshop 'Serving Your Customers Without Sacrificing Yourself' at LaVale on November 14.  This sounded like an interesting topic for me, as I deal with customers every day, and some of them can be challenges to my good nature.  I learned that if I can identify my 'triggers', actions that will make me angry, I can learn how to diffuse the negative energy before I lose my cool.  There are tools that can help me keep calm and they include the SOSS model.  SOSS stands for Stop, Oxegenate, Strengthen Appreciation and Seek Information.  The more I can emotionally understand a person, the less negative energy will be directed their way.  I will try to encourage my coworkers to give our customers the benefit of the doubt and try to empathize with them and the library environment will be a nice place to be in!

LWC Education Day

On Nov. 9th I participated in Leadership Washington County's Education Day. The following is a brief and probably incomplete description of that day and some thoughts and questions I had throughout.

The thesis for the day was how does Washington County Public Schools prepare students for secondary education and skills development. To answer this question we visited 4 schools and heard from a variety of educators and administrators.

Our first stop was to the Marshall Street School which provides special education to students ages 3-21 who are in challenging cognitive and physical situations. Every student has a highly specialized IEP (Individualized Education Program). Most class sizes are very small and have at least one teacher and one assistant (sometimes a nurse) present at all times, depending on the needs of the students in the class. I was blown away by the amount of energy and compassion that the teachers, administrators, staff are required to bring with them each and every day.

Seeing this school and seeing how the classes were conducted and how the students were treated inevitably made me wonder: what if all students - not just those we label as having special needs - were given an IEP? What if all students got to take classes where the student:teacher ratio was 1:4? I know the immediate answer is most likely, "because it costs too much" but it's still something worth thinking about and I think it's something worth striving for, as well.

Our next stop was to another specialized school, the Washington County Technical High School. This school is home to some of Washington County's academic elite. I say "some" because in order keep class size low the Tech High can only accept a portion of the students who apply. I believe total enrollment is just below 500. We got to tour a couple of programs within the school - Biomedical Sciences; Computer Game Development & Animation; Digital Communications; Computer Networking and Repair. There are a couple of things I really loved about this school:
  1. Project-based learning
  2. Teachers as facilitators
  3. Focus is on learning not teaching/educating
One interesting tid-bit that I learned was that there is still quite a stigma attached to the idea of a Tech High School which causes parents to not encourage their kids to apply to the school because, "that's for kids who aren't college-bound..." As a result, the tech high faces recruitment challenges but they feel confident that word of mouth will help alleviate some of the stigma as time goes on - especially if those mouths are talking about how last year's biomedical class of 15 students were collectively awarded $1.6 million dollars in college scholarships (not including loans).

Our afternoon was spent in Boonsboro at the Elementary School and the High School. Our first stop was into a gifted and talented classroom where the teacher told us all about how the G&T program works, how students are labeled at G&T and then what kind of exercises they do in class - creative thinking, analogy building, etc. I loved it; it was like a mental playground.

At the high school we heard brief presentations from a variety of teachers and administrators. Mostly they talked about AP test prep, SAT/ACT prep, etc. The guidance counselor talked about % of students who apply to college, etc.

Then we walked back to the Elementary School to hear a panel of three gentlemen: the assistant superintendent of schools, a representative from HCC, and a representative from Kaplan University. I didn't get too much out of this portion of the day so, unfortunately, I do not have anything to report.

Some last thoughts/observations I had: I couldn't help but think of the poverty vs privilege debate from the Human Services Day back in October. For example, some folks might see the Marshall Street School students as disadvantaged but not me. They're receiving a huge benefit from the school; they've extremely privileged in terms of the education they're receiving. I'm not down-playing their life-situation but the Marshall Street School is an extremely admirable resource in the county. I also think of privilege in terms of intellectual privilege and the students who are accepted into programs at the Tech High. So, if the Marshall Street students and the Tech High students are the privileged ones, who are educationally impoverished? I guess I would say, in some instances, it's the students who fall in the middle, those who are not on either extreme of the bell curve. This could include students who do not flourish in a standard educational environment or students who aren't interested in attending college right after graduation. Does this mean we as a society place less importance or see less value in these individuals and members of our communities?

WCFL Staff Day - Enneagram

On Nov. 12th, the Washington County Free Library had their annual staff day. This year's presenter was Sandy Lundahl, a certified teacher of the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition.

What's the Enneagram?
The Enneagram is a personality inventory that attempts to gauge from where we get our motivation. There are nine types:

  1. The Reformers - they want to get it right and have integrity
  2. The Helpers - they want to help others and to be loved
  3. The Motivators - they want to succeed and to add value
  4. The Individualists - they want to complete themselves
  5. The Thinkers - they want objective information to understand the universe
  6. The Loyalists - they want to be save and to know what's really happening
  7. The Enthusiasts - they want exciting possibilities and an array of experiences
  8. The Generalists - they want to be in control in order to achieve results
  9. The Harmonizers - they want to maintain harmony and empathize with others
I've taken the Enneagram 3 times now and I've remained consistent in my top 3 types. I'm primarily a #7 - The Enthusiast. My 2nd strongest type is #5 - The Thinker. My 3rd strongest type is #9 - The Harmonizer.

Those who know me well might recognize how my type combos come to benefit me in my current role as Staff Development Coordinator for the Regional.

7s like variety and we like to plan fun things. Well, working with three different counties' worth of awesome library staff plus serving on committees statewide provides me with tons of variety, and then I get to plan fun staff development workshops and the Tri-County Summit. However, as a 7 I have some challenges I need to recognize. For instance, I do get bored pretty easily which relates to some struggles I have with seeing a project through - especially if I'm working on it by myself. I find I do much better seeing a project from start to finish if I work with other people.

5s like to be self-sufficient and left alone which shines the spotlight on my introverted nature and my daily meditation practice. I also pride myself on being very self-sufficient - much to the chagrin of my #2 Mom who wants nothing more than to help me. So, that's a struggle for me - learning to let others in and let them help because it's all coming from a good place.

9s want to keep the peace and avoid conflict which I feel I do on a daily basis; I'm a very skilled in the art of compromise. I do not thrive on conflict and I want everyone to be happy (another 7 tie-in). I sometimes strongly empathize with other people to the point of being able to physically feel their emotions which can be great for customer service and relationship-building but I'm no good at delivering bad news or saying no.

So now that you know all about what motivates me, please do not take advantage - unless you come up with a really creative way to do it because then the 7 in me will be very entertained. LOL

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Kids Are Customers Too

I once again attended Kids Are Customers Too.  I was not as pleased with the event as I had been in prior years.  Previously, the event consisted of breakaway sessions that allowed the participant to select sessions of particular interest.  This year everyone was kept together.  We had a session on a Cold Storytime.  Next was a session on healthy snacking for teens/kids.  This was an interesting concept.  The County Extension Office worked with the library to teach the concept of healthy snacking and its preparation in conjunction with an event such as gaming.  I would like to see something similar happen with teens at the Leonard P. Snyder Memorial Library.  Kate Riggs, winner of the Blue Crab Award, spoke on editing.  The remainder of our time was spent with reps from Baker and Taylor as they introduced us to upcoming releases, the majority of them YA books.

Storytime Extravaganza

Well it is about time I got around to blogging on this event.  This was a fun day filled with children's storytelling activities such as Hip Hop Tooty Ta.  There was a large portion that I was already familiar with as I have heard the presenters three times previously.  However, I was pleased to see they added a section on storytelling for elementary age children.  I also learned I need a ukelele, a parachute, and an updated music collection.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ABOS 2012 Conference

The Association of Bookmobile & Outreach Services 2012 Conference was a great learning experience.  Dr. Gary Fountain, Rector of Chatham Hall kicked off the conference with an inspirational speech of how he has integrated technology into the Chatham Hall curriculum and Library.  Attendees also had the privilege to listen to author Donald Pollock read a few excerpts from his book The Devil all the Time.  I personally don't care for murder mysteries, however Pollock has such a smooth voice I could listen to him read instructions on how to assemble a bookcase.

The workshops covered a wide range of topics that our department provides.  I chose to attend a few early literacy seminars, reaching seniors in assisted living and a marketing seminar.  Hands down Flaunt Yourselves: Using Outreach as Marketing was worth the trip alone. Chaundra Carroccio & Tameka Roby from East Baton Rouge Parish Library explained what works and what doesn't for their department.   This dynamic duo can energize a crowd and their charisma keeps their department running on all gears.

One of the many highlights of the conference is being able to tour the numerous bookmobiles from other libraries.  After touring the other bookmobiles I am thankful for our efficient layout and two laptops.   If at all possible the next time the conference is held near Maryland our bookmobile should be displayed.

Overall the conference was a great experience.  The seminars and speakers offered some new ideas. I meet and talked with other outreach workers from both huge departments to as small as one man show. We discussed schedules, staff sizes, and number of vehicles per department.  After speaking with my fellow comrades I felt confident that our department is doing a great job.