Saturday, March 30, 2013

Joys and Pains of Middle Management

March 19, 2013
Presented by:
Janet Vogel (Frederick County)
James Kelly (Carol County)
Morgan Miller (Cecil County)

Much of this workshop was refresher for me.  Identifying and relating to personality types was similar to other tools I am familiar with. A few years ago I was introduced to “True Colors” by Carolyn Kalil which I found very similar.   This workshop got me thinking about the importance of communication, and how to effectively communicate- with my co-workers, my peers, and my boss.   An aspect of management that could be explored more is how to get people to do what you want them to do when you have no “managerial” authority over them. Another management workshop could be more on managing your boss and managing your peers.

One of my favorite Middle Managers

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Joys and Pains of Middle Managemant

I have been so busy that this is the first I can write about this workshop.  Since I am only a year in to being a supervisor ( who once was everyone's co-worker)  I was having a hard time with "supervising."  This workshop was great in that it gave me some ideas into how to better resolve some problems.  I also am getting all my co-workers to take the Social Styles Inventory-so I will better be able to communicate with them.  They are finding this fasinating - and we are having lots of discussions about this.  I think the number one thing that I will take away from this workshop - is to not let things go- don't let things fester- talk it out and get the problem solved!  I am an amiable personality - so conflict of any kind - I run from.  I just have to find my voice and things I hope will fall into place.  I really liked this workshop and found many ideas I hope to use.  Great presenters- really helpful.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Joys and Pains of Middle Management seminar, March 19, 2013

I really appreciated this seminar!  As a "newbie" to a supervisory position, it was very helpful for me to learn from others about various personality styles and how to interact effectively with others who are different from me.  I learned to consider these individual traits when I am addressing issues so that I can help them to assimilate the instructions easily and without undue tensions whenever possible. 

Other suggestions that were helpful were to look for ways to assist my supervisor and to make a set of core values for myself personally which will help me in my decision making.

Thanks to the presenters for doing an excellent job!
Suzanne Bonser
Ruth Enlow Library
Circulation Supervisor

The A-B-Cs of Great Non-Sales Salesmen: Attunement

This is a continuation on the two previous posts on libraries/librarians as non-sales salesmen as the concept of non-sales selling was introduced by Dan Pink in his ASTD webinar last week. In this post, I want to study and apply the A-B-Cs, as explained by Dan Pink, to libraries and librarians and I'm also interested in exploring on whose shoulders these traits fall or are they (should they be) on every single library employee's shoulders?

I look forward to reading your thoughts in the comment area provided.

The A-B-Cs of non-sales selling are:
  1. Attunement: perspective taking, being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes
  2. Buoyancy: resilience in the face of rejection and/or failure, being able to stay afloat
  3. Clarity: the ability to curate information and make sense of it, to sift through the superfluous to find the truly important pieces
How well, and in which situations, do librarians (aka anyone working in a library) put ourselves in the shoes of 1) our customers, 2) our competitors, 3) our colleagues?

Since I can only speak for myself, I will speculate that every single library employee should be attuning themselves to our customers and our colleagues. There isn't a single role in the library that I can think of that doesn't impact either group. Attuning to our competitors is a different story. I think most people reading this might say that our directors and department heads are probably (or should be) the ones who have our competitors at the front and center of their minds. These are the big-picture folks, right? These are our colleagues who are watching for trends and niches where libraries can fill needs as well as niches where libraries are no longer needed.

However, I will go out on a short limb here and say that if the directors and department heads continue to be the only ones thinking about our competitors, libraries will be destined to close up shop. Maybe not today or tomorrow but eventually. Dan Pink made a good point in his webcast about how access to information has changed from a model of information asymmetry to one of information parity. He illustrated this using car salesmen and the act of buying a car: back in the day, car dealers held all the information which made buying a car very tricky for the buyer. Today, consumers have an equal amount of information as the dealers which puts them on even ground which makes it more difficult for the dealers to gain the upper hand on a sale.

This model could also be applied to library administrators and the non-administrative staff: everyone is pretty much on level ground when it comes to access to information. I believe that in order for libraries to succeed and thrive, the big-picture-takers (those attuning themselves with our competitors) need to still be the directors and the department heads but they also need to be the building maintenance staff, the circulation staff, the children's specialists, the IT staff, the archivists, the catalogers, etc. In short, everyone who works in a library is responsible for its success and therefore needs to be aware of the environment in which it exists, including its competitors.

How well are we currently attuning? This depends on how we define success. If we take the low-hanging fruit and simply look at which libraries have closed in the past couple of years, then some libraries are doing better than others. But that's a very skewed and narrow approach. We could also look at budgets and number of library card users and the frequency with which they use those library cards. Maybe those measures aren't even what we should use to operationalize our attunement proficiency.

What are your thoughts on this? 

Coming up in the next two posts, buoyancy and clarity.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Libraries as Hubs of Non-Sales Selling (pt.2)

In pt.1 of this series of posts on libraries as hubs of non-sales selling, I explored the idea of how libraries rely almost exclusively on the success of non-sales selling. In pt.2 of this series I want to continue on that train of thought but I want to apply the non-sales selling model to myself as a librarian and my day-to-day work.

Originally, I was tempted to analyze different departments within the libraries I work using the non-sales selling model but I figured I would rather leave that to the readers. I hope you take some time to think for yourselves about how you try to convince others to pay you in time, effort, attention, money, etc. in exchange for whatever it is you do. Please post your thoughts in the comments!

Here we go.

I'm a trainer, formerly known as a staff development coordinator, less formerly known as a champion of learning (Joe, if you're reading this, I would like to request that my job title be changed to Champion of Learning). Titles are actually quite silly because even though I have a title it really doesn't begin to describe most of what I do. Yes, I train and develop staff and champion learning but it all sounds so nebulous. However, given the nature of the topic at hand, I would not want to have the title of Non-Sales Salesman.

Sales sounds dirty. As Dan Pink shared with us in his webcast last week, he found out in his survey of approximately 7000 people, most everyone thinks sales sounds dirty. In fact, they thought sales sounded like this:

I don't know about you, but I certainly do not want to be associated with any of those connotations except for necessary, fun, cheesy, and essential.

But I have come to recognize my non-sales selling nature.

Hello. My name is Julie and I'm a non-sales salesman.

But don't take my word for it. Well, ok, maybe you do have to take my word for it but let's look at my non-sales salesmanship a little more closely. Do you remember the question Dan asked to explore non-sales selling? He roughly asked the question, "What percentage of your time do you spend convincing or persuading others to give up something they value for something you can offer?"

Those somethings of value could be time, effort attention, or money, or even something else not yet listed. In my last post I crudely broke down libraries as a whole into these four groups. Now I'm going to break down myself, or rather my staff development role, into these four groups in order to recognize the non-sales selling that exists.

Time: I spend a lot of time trying to convince my colleagues to spend their time (which is already in high demand); in meetings with me (i.e. Wave eNewsletter planning meetings); in trainings with me (i.e. TED & Skills Tuesdays); in workshops with outside presenters that I facilitate (i.e. Sound Advice with Charlie 'Noiseguy' Williams); helping me with outside projects (i.e. Leadership Washington County); talking with me about projects or problems (i.e. how to decide which magazines the Database Committee should buy for our Zinio subscription); and taking online surveys that I create (i.e. the Training Needs Assessment). As far as non-sales selling performance goes, I think I'm doing pretty well in this arena.

Effort: I spend a lot of time trying to convince my colleagues to put effort into their learning by asking them to post learning reflections to the Blog - if you look at the posts on the blog you might be able to tell that I need a lot of work in this department. I also try to convince them to put effort into their learning by asking them to participate in planning teams like the Summit 2013 #makeithappen Team. By asking them to spend their effort on me by participating in these activities, I'm actually creating more effort on the other end by causing them to have to make up their regular duties at another time. For example, when my WMRL colleague, Susie, spends time working on the Summit Team, she is not spending time on her tech processing responsibilities. This means that when she is done working on her summit activities she potentially has a larger tech processing to-do list than when she first started.

Attention: Sometimes when I'm giving a presentation or leading a workshop and I need to bring the attention back to the whole group I will joking plead, "look at me!" It's silly but effective and it's probably not the type of attention we really care about in this context. The attention that I most often seek from my colleagues is via email. I want them to read my emails and respond. I want them to pay attention to me in meetings or in workshops, which essentially is asking them to find value in the activity in which I'm asking them to partake. I think this is the most valuable form of non-sales selling 'currency' because if someone gives a damn about X then the other currencies (time, effort, and possibly even money) seem to come more easily. That said, I think getting someone to pay attention and to care is also the most difficult dough to get them to cough up, and therefore probably an area in which I need more practice. Perhaps, this is why the art of storytelling is so important...

Money: I enjoy being paid for my work as the Regional's staff development coordinator. In fact, I am even be open to getting paid more for my work if that's an option. Aside from negotiating my salary when I was initially hired, I only have to convince colleagues (mainly Joe, my boss) to give me money a few times a year and those times are only when I want to go to a conference or a workshop and I need to convince Joe to let me use some of my training budget to pay for my registration fees, lodging, travel, etc. Plus, I could argue that the time off I need to attend these events equates to money since I'm still getting paid while I'm in attendance.

If this exercise has proven anything, it proves that I try to sell a lot to my colleagues but I don't feel dirty. And I like to believe my colleagues receive a lot in return. Measuring ROI on non-sales selling seems a tricky endeavor and it's something that I want to think about as a possible topic for pt.3 in this series of posts. There's so much more to write about but I think I'll end this post here and I'll eagerly await your thoughts.

Libraries as Hubs of Non-Sales Selling (pt.1)

I just re-watched Daniel Pink's webcast on To Sell is Human, as he presented it  to ASTD (American Society for Training and Development) members and it wasn't difficult to take the sales principles he was applying to trainers and apply them to the wonderful people who work in libraries.

First of all, if you haven't read any of Dan Pink's books I enthusiastically say, "go get them now!" If you're reading this and you live in Washington, Allegany, or Garrett counties, then I can tell you with 100% confidence that your libraries own his books (I checked). What are you waiting for? If you're not sure which one to start with, I'd recommend reading Drive first, then A Whole New Mind, then read To Sell is Human.

Getting back to the webcast - which you can watch for yourselves by the way by clicking on this link - Dan Pink's thesis for his book and for the webcast is that everyone is in selling.



Yes, you.

Now, we aren't selling cars or clothes or furniture, which are classic examples of sales selling But we are engaging heavily in non-sales selling. Dan differentiates between sales selling and non-sales selling by asking this question,

"What percentage of your work involves convincing or persuading people to give up something they value (attention, effort, money, time, etc) for something you can offer."

Let's think about this for a moment. We who work in [public] libraries rely on other people giving up their time, effort, money, and attention to patronize our services and resources. How does this break down?

Time: we want our community members to spend time in our buildings browsing our collections, using our computers, attending our programs. We want them to spend time on our websites using our electronic resources, liking us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, and re-pinning our Pinterest boards.

Effort: we want our community members to make an effort to advocate on our behalf by contacting their local representatives and telling them how much we need libraries and to please not cut their funding (oh, yeah, and that takes time, too). We want our community members to make an effort to find parking spaces (sounds like money, too) so they can, in turn, spend their time utilizing our spaces. We want our community members to make an effort to be our volunteers (hello again, time).

Money: we want our community members to pay their fines, of course, but even more so we need our community members to donate funds to special projects like capital campaigns that lead to new buildings or building renovations or service enhancements like hardware and software upgrades for the computers which are in such high demand. Sometimes this take more effort and time than just writing a check; attending fundraising events can vary in the amount of time and effort requested from someone.

Attention: we want our community members to pay attention to us, to recognize the value we bring to the community, to recognize the services we offer - mostly for free - to anyone who can either walk in the door or who can click on our website. We want the community to pay attention (which takes effort) and spread the word (more effort) about why we're valuable and should continue to exist.

So, what's the answer to Dan's question? What percentage of our work in libraries involves convincing or persuading others to give up something they value for something we can offer?

Given the four paragraphs above, my first thought is that we must spend at least 80% of our time engaging in non-sales selling. But what do you think? 

In my next post, I'll explore the notion of non-sales selling by how I view the departments and/or roles that exist in public libraries.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

WebWise - Who's Learning is it Anyway?

The keynote presentation took place on the final day of the WebWise Conference in Baltimore on Friday, March 8, 2013.  Audrey Watters of the blog Hack Education addressed the question, "Who's Learning is it Anyway?".  Specifically, who owns student data? Who owns our education data after we’re out of school?

The learner's voice can often be left out of what's happening in education.  However, the recent open educational movement has made available an enormous variety of learning opportunities to huge audiences through MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses).  Audrey related the MOOC movement to improv as a collaborative, innovative, remixing endeavor.  MOOCs work on the idea that if we have enough data, that we might be able to build algorithms that will personalize education and make education adaptive.  It leads to self-directed learning.

In formal education environments, who owns learners' data?  The student?  Institution?  Government?  Software provider?  Opinions vary widely.  We also need to consider, who has control and who has access to the data?  We are now creating situations where we have very limited access to our student content.  It's locked away in content management systems and apps.  Compare that to the manila envelope that your mom kept your 4th grade art and report cards.  Is that data portable?  Is it secure?  In some ways more, in other ways less.
Is there safe digital place to keep all of our data for posterity?  One recent solution has been put forward by the University of Mary Washington, the Domain of One's Own initiative.  When they enroll, students are given an electronic portfolio and control their own domain. They take it with them when they graduate.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) states that the school is a steward of the record, that's it.  Do you what data is being collected by your school?  Think about all of the data available that potentially could be collected:  Times that you checked in and out of your residence hall, food you purchased in the dining hall, visits to the health center, pages that have been read in course management systems, login and forum comment history. Are students even aware that all of this data is being collected about them?  What if you would be able to review your education data as it was being collected?
Students data is of major interest to education companies and venture capitalists.  There is lots of buzz right now about financial opportunities that big data presents.  Audry attended SXSWedu last week and heard this again and again.  Data is the new oil.  As far as these companies are concerned, our lives are to be mined and extracted.  One example: inBloom intends to build a new education database for K-12 education.  They want to build one giant database for all of our students' data.  It would also contain health and behavioral records.
Can we build personal data lockers?  The QuantifiedSelf is a recent movement that promotes empowerment through self-tracking.  Within education this implies personal ownership and control over your data.  It requires your own personal definition of learning.  You decide what you want to track and why.  It requires that students understand how to retrieve their data and get it out of systems.  It requires that students build their own data visualizations.  It also requires that we pay more attention to terms of service.
What if all of a student's data could not be tracked and mined without a student's consent?  How would students benefit from this shift? The Locker Project is an initiative that serves to give the owner the ability to decide how to control, protect, and share personal data.
Terms of Service Didn't Read is a project built on the notion that terms of service are too long to read.  It started as a kickstarter project to give a rating to companies.  They look at how these applications handle copyright, transparency, if there's been a government request for your data, if company gives you advance notice of changes, etc.  It also highlights positive traits, such as Google letting you download your own usage data.
We need to make sure that the learner is central to these discussions about how owns their data and how it can be used.  We need to make sure that the learner's data is not simply mined for profit.
Something for us to consider in the context of public libraries:  How much control over personal data do our ILS/catalog systems allow our customers to manage themselves?  What about our online subscriptions?

In Search of Freedom

In Search of Freedom: African Americans and the Civil War  was a workshop held at the Catoctin Center at Frederick Community College in March 2013.  In terms of content and the knowledge and reputation of the speakers - this was outstanding.

Cheryl LaRoche from UMD introduced the "balance principle", that there was a balance of free and slave states from the beginning of the Union. Vermont was cut off from New York. Florida had to be a slave state, even though for 200 years it had been a place for slaves to escape to, when in 1845 Iowa joined the Union as a free state and Florida was its pair, and therefore slave.

Chandra Manning-from Georgetown University spoke of  "contraband", the term used to describe slaves who ran from their masters when the Union Army entered the south. They assisted the army by digging, washing etc and often lived in squalid camps.See Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
James McPherson from Yale spoke about "black men in blue". After the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln permitted African Americans to join the army, though they had been in the navy from the early days of the war.  African Americans received inferior pay, had white officers and were often garrisoned, guarding forts, railway lines etc, rather than be actively fighting.  When they did encounter Confederate troops they were often harshly treated, when captured sold back into slavery or, in the case of Fort Pillow in Mississippi, killed when they surrendered.  The Confederates refused to exchange black prisoners, leading to the overcrowding and abuse at places like Andersonville.  The African American troops fought to free the slaves in the south and also to gain acceptance as more than second class citizens.

Barbara Krauhamer from Amherst introduced photographs of African Americans during the Civil War. They ranged from pictures of slaves with scarred bodies in degrading situations, to photographs taken of United States Colored Troops in uniform, to slaves caring for white children, and finally to photographs of African Americans taken by African Americans. It was a very moving presentation.

Barbara Fields of Columbia University's topic was "Was Emancipation a War Crime?" She dealt with whether slaves were people or property.  And if property how could they be responsible for running away?

Lincoln's view was along the lines of "I do not want a negro woman to be a slave, but nor do I want her as a wife." He seized slaves from the south because they were rebel property.  Emancipation, in Field's view, was a war choice.  The language of the day was that slaves wanted their freedom because of outside agitators, not that they were unhappy with their situation.

Should slave holders be compensated for losing their property?  This may seem an absurd question now,  but it was a significant one at the time. A slave holder paid for his slave, and had fed, house and clothed this person, even if he were property. And the Federal government expected the south to give up their slaves without compensation. But to some, this seemed unreasonable. Hence the title of the talk - "Was Emancipation a War Crime?"

When the slaves in Barbados were freed, huge sums were paid to British slave holders - see Britain's colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition  The slaves themselves received no compensation. Even indentured servants received freedom dues at the end of their term, but freed slaves were given nothing.

Summit 2013: Survey

What do you want to learn about at the Summit (Nov. 11, 2013)?

Take our survey by April 15th:

Ignore any areas that don’t apply to you and feel free to write in other ideas you may have.

What is Summit 2013?
The Tri-County Summit is a one-day collaborative learning event that happens every other year on Nov. 11th. It’s a day when all four library systems (Allegany, Garrett, Washington, and the Regional) come together to develop our relationships, to feed our brains and our hearts with new skills and ideas, and to enjoy each other’s  presence! It’s intended to be a day of growth, rejuvenation, and fun!

Summit 2013: Logo Contest

Deadline: April 21st!

Monday, March 18, 2013

WebWise - Digital Public Library of America

The third and final workshop I attended on the Preconference day at WebWise in Baltimore on March 6th was about the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA).  I'd vaguely heard of this project, but really had no idea what it was about previously.  If I were to have guessed, I'd have supposed that it was something like the existing Internet Archive (which it's really not).  I felt much more informed by the end of the session.  The presenters were Emily Gore and Amy Rudersdorf, both of the DPLA.

Emily opened with an overview of the project. What is the DPLA?  It's goal is to build our national digital library. DPLA will make cultural and scientific heritage of humanity available, free of charge, for all.  The focus is on materials from the United States.  They are currently in the planning phase, led by the Berkman Center at Harvard University.  It's funded by the Sloan Foundation an the Arcadia Fund, with a goal to transition to independent 501c3 non-profit in 2013.  The new Executive Director, Dan Cohen, was announced the previous day, March 5.  He'll begin work in April. DPLA will add additional staff, but will remain small.  A new board is now in place, replacing a Steering Committee.  The initial launch will take place in about a month, on April 18-19 at the Boston Public Library.

Elements of the DPLA: Code - Where possible it will make use of existing free and open source code, built on open standards.  Metadata - Sharable, available under CC0 license to allow for unrestricted reuse, goal to operate as part of the global linked data environment, resolves to digital objects.  Content - Incorporate all types of content beginning with "green lighted" & public domain content that resolves to digital objects. Tools & services - Provide tools and services for enhanced use of content and content creation.  Community - Participatory platform - WE are the DPLA.

Metadata: Board Statement:  1. The vast majority of Metadata is not subject to copyright restriction.  2. The DPLA's Partners share the DPLA's commitment to open, sharable metadata.  3. The DPLA asserts no rights over its database of metadata and waives all claims for infringement thereof.  4.  Free and unencumbered access to metadata.
The content will come from various cultural heritage agencies including libraries of all types, archives, museums, historical societies etc.  Content will be wide ranging, including photos, manuscripts, books, scientific collections, art & artifacts, scholarly works, newspapers, government documents, records and more.
Tools & services:  Being built on top of the API. Some apps that have been created to date from their AppFests and Hackathons.  A web portal is being built.

Community:  Workstreams include: audience participation, content scope, financial business models, legal issues, technical aspects.  Listservs and other ways to stay involved can be found at They're also offering lots of sessions and workshops. They have a tradition of using a graphic artist at all meetings to illustrate imaginative images based on the ideas being generated.

The Digital Hubs Pilot Project was launched in Sept. 2012.  The goal is to take existing collaboratives and aggregate the content.  The approach for the pilot is to work with 6 states and 1 region.  The service hubs are Mountain West Digital Library, digital libraries of MA, GA, KY, MN, OR, SC.  Maryland Digital Cultural Heritage (MDCH) could potentially become a digital hub in the future, but is not signed on at this time.  The advantage to this approach is that they are using existing infrastructures, existing aggregation and existing metadata services.

As of April 2013 the Digital Hubs will offer a full menu of standardized digital services to local institutions, including digitization, metadata consultation, data aggregation, storage services, locally hosted community outreach programs bringing users in contact with digital content of local relevance, and exhibit building.  Each service hub will coordinate an exhibition around a topic. You can hear John Butler of the Minnesota Digital Library discuss their role as a Digital Hub on YoutubeEach Digital Hub is taking a topic and building an exhibition around it.  See Europeana exhibitions - The Homeland of Migrating Groups for an example exhibition.

Content hubs are currently being finalized.  Harvard was announced as first Content Hub.  Other large cultural heritage organizations are to follow, such as NARA and Smithsonian.  These are organizations who have a lot of content.

Timeline: There is a two-year timetable that began in October 2012.  In March/April 2013 the preparation of metadata and content previews for harvest is taking place. They will harvest the existing metadata from Content Service Hubs and make it available as part of the initial launch of DPLA.  They'll develop exhibitions for April release.  Throughout the two years there will be new digitization and metadata, aggregation, new services, including for many Service Hubs the addition of new partners, and targeted engagement programming.

The process for hubs is to harvest metadata via OAI-PMH (a protocol for metadata) led by DPLA technical staff. They'll perform quality control on the big metadata soup and send feedback regarding metadata quality to the content hub.  Reharvest if needed.

How will people access the DPLA content?  There will be multiple ways, including a web portal and an API.  They are contracting with iFactory to build a new web site for the DPLA, to launch in April.  Open API will provide access to all of the metadata tools.

If you think you're interested in contributing your content to the DPLA in the future, complete the form at
Amy then talked about how to prepare your data to be a part of the DPLA.  No rights are reserved for the metadata.  This allows for maximum use and reuse and allows for interoperability on a global scale.  Open, raw data, is required to operate in a Linked Open Data environment.  The discussion got pretty technical here, with lots of discussion about metadata, aggregators, and open data.

Standard rights statements can be found at

More on DPLA can be found at

So from the presentation I learned that DPLA is not what I thought it could have been.  DPLA is about stuff.  It's not about e-reading or audio bestsellers.  At its core, it's not really about what most of us would consider to be the primary focus of public libraries.  Could our WHILBR contribute it's content to DPLA?  Maybe, but I'm not ready to jump in so early.  Let's see if MDCH participates in the next couple of years and decide how to proceed based on their experience.


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Taking a Preservation class at Clarion University

While I am currently enrolled in four courses through Clarion University, I decided to make the focus of this particular blog post the ideas and concepts I have been learning in my Preservation and Conservation class (which began in January and runs through May). I originally enrolled in the course because of my interest in archives in special collections, and I assumed it would be beneficiary in that respect. However, as the course continues this semester, I am learning there are many benefits for any library collection to be aware of basic preservation techniques.

My instructor, Professor Susan Frakes, first made clear to us the distinction between preservation and conservation. Conservation typically refers to repairing the aftermath of damaged library material (either through mechanical or chemical means). Preservation covers this too, but also encompasses the idea of preventative measures to prevent library material damage in the first place. It includes not only steps taken to prolong the life of library materials through proper environmental measures (keeping consistent temperatures, filtering out UV light from the stacks, proper air filtration and ventilation, etc.), but also the instruction and education of staff members to be made aware of ways to increase the longevity of library materials as well as implementing policies on food and drink within proximity to the stacks. Even simple shelving techniques (shelves are neither too full nor allowed to fall slack, overly tall books should be shelved flat, not with the open pages faced downward) can prolong the life of any collection. 

Much of the material in this course seems self-evident at first glance, but in reality, many simple steps to preserve library materials are often ignored. And while the more specific topics of this course, such as learning the proper pH level of paper to be considered "acid-free" and how to measure it will come in handy if I ever find myself in an archival environment, I believe that the more basic aspects of this course have made me more aware of the steps I personally can take in the circulation department to help maintain our collection.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

LWC: Business & Economic Development Day

On Friday, March 8th I participated in Leadership Washington County’s Business and Economic Development Day. Like the previous program days, it was bursting with content, new people, new ideas and new surprises. This post is mostly to share my most poignant take-aways, thoughts, and ideas, as well as any lingering questions that weren’t fully answered. Remember, I’m not a business major, minor, or even dabbler so, please take all of this with a grain of salt.

Did you know?
Downtown Hagerstown is home to quite a few high-end small businesses?
Anderson Photography, located on the square, offers premium custom photography services across the whole county and has seen profits rise steadily since 2008 (the heart of the economic downturn). Melanie Anderson is the woman behind the lens and she specializes in family and school portraits. She donates a lot of photography to the schools and to local businesses and organizations.
d’Vinci Interactive, located above 28 South, offers high-quality web & app design, eLearning, and graphic design, and has a client base that spans the nation. d’Vinici is taking advantage of the City’s PEP (Partners in Economic Progress) program which offers financial perks in the form of rent relief for 2 years, parking benefits for up to 5 years, plus tax benefits as well.
Beachley Furniture, located at 227 North Prospect Street, has been in Hagerstown since 1887 and they specialize in making custom seating for businesses – not for private consumers. They have strong relationships with national and international customers.

One thing that concerned me was
… that I got the impression that the aforementioned businesses aren't attracting foot traffic - something that seems to be a big concern for some members of the City Council - and they aren't being proactive ambassadors for the downtown area. I can understand the lack of foot traffic – that’s just not their target audience. But what about being better city ambassadors? For example, when d'Vinci Interactive brings in their clients from out of state they don't take them downtown to experience our restaurants for lunch. More often than not, they just have lunch catered to the office. I wonder if these businesses could give back to the downtown community (maybe they already are) by offering free workshops that are open to the public and take place in downtown spaces. For example, Anderson Photopgrahy could offer a class on How to Photograph Your City. Beachley Furniture could offer classes on woodworking or How to Make Toy Furniture at Christmastime. d'Vinci could offer classes on How to Design Your Own Free Website. Perhaps it could lead to something similar to Mesh Baltimore?

The most brilliant idea I heard…
… was the idea of our downtown being our community's elevator speech. I heard many speakers share experiences of bringing potential employees in for interviews only to have them not accept job offers because they drove through the downtown and then decided the community wasn’t for them – for whatever reasons: no shopping, too many vacant properties, too much homelessness, security, etc. This might seem less than revolutionary to most but for me this idea of downtown being a community’s elevator speech really drove the importance of revitalization home because of all the states (4) I’ve lived in, the conditions of the communities/cities I was moving to didn’t play a big role in my decision making process. Each time I moved I was moving for a specific reason: college, grad school, job, etc. I was going to relocate regardless of the number of shops, number of vacant buildings, number of homeless I might pass on the street. None of that mattered. Plus, I’m not the type to hangout downtown anyway, and I grew up in Frederick with the thriving downtown that Hagerstown covets. Bottom line: I’m not a city girl. But I do believe in succinct and eloquent elevator speeches and I appreciate a well-formed metaphor.

Some other thoughts I had were…
I feel like the majority of local officials and probably even the residents, too, are risk averse and I worry that by playing it too safe, the city and the county as a whole will continue to flounder – even though there are pockets of local risk-embracing businesses and organizations. As a result, I don't get the impression that the local officials are looking in the right places for ideas for solutions, or even in the right places to gather data to help them make decisions. It bothers me that Hagerstown keeps looking to Frederick. We aren't Frederick and we'll never be Frederick. We are Hagerstown. I understand the allure of Frederick; it’s a wonderful downtown and I think we should look at other communities to see how they've succeeded but let's look at communities that are more representative of our situation. Frederick is not a representative case study. Unfortunately, I would like to have been able to throw out a couple of cities I feel are representative of Hagerstown but I haven’t had time to make my way through the Census Bureau’s American FactFinder, but I will…or maybe you will beat me to it?