Thursday, November 14, 2013

Free Webinar: Life After Desk

Presenter:  Joan Frye Williams
Format:  Webinar
Date:   December 4th, 2013
Start Time: 3PM Eastern

For more information and to participate, go to
  • Are you wondering how a new service model might work in your library?
  • Do you wish you had more information about what it really takes to transition to these new approaches?
  • Are you in the middle of implementation and looking for practical tips and suggestions from other libraries?
  • Or are you just curious about how library work is changing?

We’ve all heard how progressive libraries are experimenting with new ways to deliver service. Recent years have brought news of shrinking circ desks, roving reference, virtual branches, after-hours lockers, unattended kiosks, information neighborhoods, zone staffing, imbedded librarians, and other service innovations.
In this timely webinar, library consultant and futurist Joan Frye Williams will bring us up to date on how new service models are performing in a variety of settings. She’ll share lessons learned about how to succeed with these new techniques, including practical advice for:
  • Training and redeploying staff
  • Revising job descriptions
  • Rearranging library spaces
  • Rethinking library collections
  • Introducing the new model to your community
  • Measuring success and productivity

This one-hour webinar will be of interest to library staff at all levels looking to increase their understanding of what’s working well, what still needs tweaking, and what just might be coming our way in the future.
Webinars are free of charge, you can pre-register by visiting:  

If you are unable to attend the live event, you can access the archived version the day following the webinar. 

Check our archive listing at:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wave Newsletter: Spooky Staff, Freaky Phishing, and Braaiins

The latest edition of WMRL's Wave newsletter is hot off the press. Read it here! 

What treats might you get, you wonder? Only the best and we promise no popcorn balls or toothbrushes!

Spooky Staff Spotlight
Click the link above to see Dennis McPherson (WMRL) as he interviews Angie Garcia and Jewel Braynt, the new teen and YA librarians for the Alice Virginia & David W. Fletcher branch of the Washington County Free Library. Angie and Jewel talk about their new positions and the fun plans they have for the Smoovie app and the Scratch program. 

Braaiins! Help Now! (Powered by BrainFuse)
Click the link above to view the screencast created by Tracy Carroll (WMRL). Tracy writes, "BrainFuse might not save you from zombies (nor nourish you if you are one) but it is the perfect resource for living students looking for homework help, looking to sharping their academic skills or to prepare for a test. Brainfuse also provides resources for adult Learners, helping them to connect, learn and succeed."

Did You Know? New DVDs are Treats!
Click the link above to view Sally Hull and Susie Poper as they talk about newly released DVDs that the Regional has purchased for the three counties coming soon to a deposit collection near you!

Tri-County Treats
If we were to go trick-or-treating in the western Maryland libraries we'd find in our goodie bags: AlleBucks from Allegany County; STEM programs from Garrett County; a new logo from Washington County; and grant updates from the Regional. This article explores all four in more colorful detail. But you gotta go to the Wave newsletter to get these treats! 

Freaky Phishing
Phishing is, "a scam by which an e-mail user is duped into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly." (Merriam Webster Online)

Visit the Wave newsletter to learn 5 ways to protect yourself from freaky phishing attempts! 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Free Webinar: Cloud Computing

Title:  Cloud Computing: Impact on Library Services
Presenter:  Rita Gavelis
Format:  Webinar
Date:  November 19th, 2013
Start Time: 3PM Eastern

What is Cloud Computing?

Do you know you’re probably already using the cloud?

Want to learn how your library will benefit from using cloud services?

Cloud computing has been around for a number of years. It has become more than just a trend but a dynamic service that has changed not only how companies conduct business, but the services they provide to us, the computer user.

In this webinar, we will discuss what Cloud Computing is, how it has changed the way we use the Internet, and how our libraries might benefit from it.

At the end of this one-hour webinar, participants will:

  • Be able to identify 3 types of cloud computing.
  • Know 3 security risks involved with cloud computing.
  • Be able to calculate approximate costs of using cloud services.

This webinar will be of interest to staff from all types of libraries interested in benefits and risks of cloud computing, including IT staff, managers, and those making budget decisions.

For more information and to participate in the November 19th, 2013 webinar, go to

Webinars are free of charge, you can pre-register by clicking on the Join Webinar button now or go directly to the webinar by clicking on Join Webinar within 30 of the start of the event. If you pre-register you will receive an email with login link and a reminder email the day before the event. If you did not preregister and you can register in the 30 minutes prior to the event and directly enter.

If you are unable to attend the live event, you can access the archived version the day following the webinar. 

Check our archive listing at:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Design Thinking Action Lab provided by Stanford University

A life-changing course. This summer I completed the free online class, Design Thinking Action Lab provided by Stanford University through NovoEd at This six-week experiential course focused on the skills and mindsets of design thinking, a methodology for creative problem-solving used by companies and organizations to drive a culture of innovation. The class was set up to help students learn the design thinking process by tackling a real world innovation challenge. The challenge was to help someone who has a stake in the school-to-work transition, and defining a need related to the challenge. I explored the main design thinking concepts through short videos, each paired with brief activities to practice relevant methods and approaches. With participants from around the world we shared our experiences and exchanged feedback. The process helped to develop self-reflection habits through peers reviewing each other’s submissions. By the end of the course, I learned through experience the mindsets and basic tools for each stage of the design thinking process: 1. Empathize: understanding the needs of those you are designing for (ask the right questions, really listen, survey). 2. Define: framing problems as opportunities for creative solutions. 3. Ideate: generating a range of possible solutions (before I usually stopped at about 10 ideas, now I am encouraged to think of many more, like a goal of 50!). 4. Prototype: communicating the core elements of solutions to others (be sure to create the right solution and if you get it wrong, then try again and prototypes help creators & stakeholders to visualize ideas better). 5. Test: learning what works and doesn’t work to improve solutions (this helps to reveal if the solution is what is really needed).  In conclusion: empathizing, defining, ideation, creation of prototypes, and testing will cultivate my creative solutions in my personal life and with our library marketing challenges. How was it life changing? With every challenge that comes up I realize that there can many ways to perceive the challenge and many ways to satisfy a need. If you are interested, Stanford offers free classes at

Monday, September 30, 2013

ARSL Conference 2013

 “Empowering Small Libraries”
Omaha, NE 9/26/13-9/28/13

Day Three Highlights
Finishing the conference this morning, I attended “The Future is Now” presented by Andrea Berstler, director of the Wicomico Public Library System. She challenged us to spend time now to prepare for the future of our libraries.  Instead of thinking outside the box, what if there was no box? There is no box. There are no rules. We need to think beyond the limitations we perceive- they are only limitations in our minds. I was especially inspired and empowered by this quote:

 “Yes, I think it's okay to abandon the big, established, stuck tribe. It's okay to say to them, "You're not going where I need to go, and there's no way I'm going to persuade all of you to follow me. So rather than standing here watching the opportunities fade away, I'm heading off. I'm betting some of you, the best of you, will follow me.”
― Seth GodinTribes: We Need You to Lead Us

Ms. Berstler and I will be presenting more about ARSL and more about the sessions I attended at next year’s MLA/DLA conference. If you are interested in learning more about ARSL, please email me at or visit

Marilyn Pontius

ARSL Conference 2013

  “Empowering Small Libraries”
Omaha, NE 9/26/13-9/28/13

I forgot to mention this in yesterday's entry, but it is so timely for the conference:

“This report is a must read for policymakers who are concerned about the health and vitality of rural America. Whether the issue is education, economic development, or access to broadband, small and rural libraries are important communications hubs for people in small towns and rural locations.”

Susan H. Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Press Releases Use of Small and Rural Libraries Grows in the Digital

Day Two Highlights

This morning’s General Session keynote speaker was author Joe Starita, the Nebraska author of “I am a man”. An investigative reporter by trade, now a journalism professor, Mr. Starita presented a moving, compelling argument for the need of humanity for good stories. The story of Chief Standing Bear and the need to bury his son in his ancestral home unfolded as one of universal appeal, a story of injustice and injustice culminating in recognition of human needs and rights. Chief Standing Bear and his tribe was driven from his ancestral home in Nebraska to the new Oklahoma Indian Territory. One third of the tribe died within the first year of malaria, including his teenage son. On his death bed, the son made his father promise to bury him with his ancestors.  The Chief returned to Nebraska with his son’s remains, only to be arrested. During his trial, the Indian-hating federal judge was compelled to declare American Indians were, in fact, human beings. Wow. A powerful and moving story, told in a powerful and moving way. Of course, I bought the book.

The first session I attended this morning was “Excel at Rearranging Your Library”, presented by Chris Rippel from the Central Kansas Library System in Great Bend, KS.  Libraries can l learn much from the retail sales models for store arrangement, putting the most popular items at the back of the store, and creating obvious paths leading past other items to get to the most popular. He presented two free tools he has created to help with collection management and floor arrangement, both using our old friend Excel.  The Collection Manager is a spreadsheet template that allows you to look at your collection objectively, using ILS reports. By manipulating collection numbers, circulation numbers, and new items added, you can quickly see where you need to weed and where you need to add more items. The Shelf Shuffler is an Excel template which you customized to your library’s floor plan. After the initial setup and creation of furniture/shelve objects, it is simple to create different floor plans to maximize circulation. Among the many tips offered, I thought placing castors on chairs was brilliant, allowing the chairs to be left in the stacks for patrons to use while browsing lower shelves. They can easily be moved to accommodate wheel chair access. But most of our library patrons are not in wheel chairs, but have difficulty standing and kneeling. I know this would be greatly appreciated by many of our patrons.

The luncheon speaker was another author, Craig Johnson, the creator of the Longmire novels. I had never heard of the Longmire novels, nor the Longmire TV series based on these novels-modern day westerns, following Walt Longmire, the sheriff of a fictitious Wyoming county. Boy, did I feel out of it! Apparently, this is one of the most popular book series and TV series throughout the US. Mr. Johnson is by far the most entertaining speaker I have ever heard. He spoke of his real life inspiration for the books, which he picks up from local newspapers, the real life Wyoming sheriff who is his reality checker, and the many close Native American friends that help him create the complex characters of his series. Excellent speaker. And as an added bonus, by chance I sat next to Terri Farley, the author of the children’s Phantom Stallion series. Her advocacy for wild horses is genuine, and she encouraged me to hand out her book marks to her fans. I have extra book marks if anyone would like some. She loves hearing from the children.

The afternoon sessions I attended were “Innovation on a Shoestring” and “Super Hero Leadership”. “Innovation on a Shoestring”, presented by Christa Burns (Nebraska Library Commission) and Louise Alcorn (West Des Moines  Public Library, Iowa) presented several free applications libraries are using to keep up with online technologies. Some I was familiar with (Pinterest, Wordpress. QR codes), but using Skype, Animote, and Zoho Chat were new. “Super Hero Leadership”, presented by Lisa Lewis, director of the Huachuca City Library, Arizona, was a fun reminder of what it takes to lead your staff in serving the community. Comparing librarians to Spiderman, Superman, Batman, and Captain America, Ms. Lewis reminded us of those qualities necessary to serve our communities.