Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Kids Are Customers, Too

Kids Are Customers, Too took place on October 16th in Westminster MD. Several guests appeared to talk about the future of libraries and involving children as our number one customer. Some of these guests were FutureMakers, Gregg Pizolli (author of Watermelon Seed), and David A. Kelly (author of the baseball mystery series).

While I enjoyed the entire conference my favorite was guerilla storytime. A group of children's librarians shared ideas on certain questions posed at the event. Anything from how to deal with screaming to children to fun opening and closing songs. I'm now using some that were suggested!

It was quite special to hear authors read their own books and just how long it takes for them to publish even a short picture book. The amount of work, time and effort put into them makes you appreciate the millions of books we have for children in our libraries today. Go, authors!

Digital Media Storytime

Digital Media Storytime took place on October 6th and 7th at the Hagerstown central branch. A two day training focusing on the proper ways to give a storytime for young children and how to implement certain technologies.

As I am new to the field, even though I have the early childhood background, I found this training beneficial. Creative ways of using technology, such as e-books and popular children's apps was fascinating to hear about. Though, I use a lot of social media I wasn't too familiar with a lot of the popular apps they suggested.

It is my plan to eventually use the specifics of digitalization in storytime. I think this will draw in a certain age group and really get them interested in the library setting!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Six-Second Training Videos

Is it possible to learn something in six seconds? 

Yes it is and some companies are leveraging Vine, an app which produces six-second videos, to do just that. A great example of this is Lowes:

On Lowes' vine channel:
- You can learn how to use a cookie cutter to easily carve a pumpkin. 
- You can learn how to use walnuts to remove/repair scratches in a hardwood floor. 

Just a couple examples. But what I'm thinking about, of course, is what (content) can we teach through vines that is useful to public library staff? What (content) does it make sense to teach through vines? This mode of learning and training design is enticing to me as a staff development coordinator because who can tell me they don't have six seconds to watch a training video? And now with the statewide Learning Porfiolios, who can say they aren't going to watch vines because they aren't worth CEU credit?

But perhaps I'm thinking about it all wrong. Maybe the training should be on how library staff can utilize vine to the benefit of our customers in ways similar to those suggested here:

Possible topics for training Vines:

- WMRL staff and roles tour: to easily and quickly show who we are and what we do.
(To replace the explore and experience tour)

- advertising what we have in the emerging tech collection and how to get them. 

- WMRL staff orientation videos (since we don't have an orientation curriculum)

- others? My brain is stuffed from this conference so, I'm having a hard time thinking of ideas. Let me know - make suggestions in the comments. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Brain Engagement with Ann Herrmann-Nehdi

This first official workshop-y session I attended at Learning 2014 was about the mechanics of brain engagement and it was a fantastic and thought-provoking 60-minutes. I'm still synthesizing most of it but here are some highlights:

Examples of how our brains can be simultaneously disengaged and engaged.

The Invisible Gorilla. Even if you've already seen this example before, watch it again. 

The Stroop Test. Say the color of the word but not the text. 

What this makes me wonder...

How important is it for learners to be aware of this brain science? If they come into a workshop or some other type of learning moment and they are self-aware of their engagement levels, would that help them monitor their personal learning experiences or would it just increase distraction and disengagement? 

If it would be beneficial for learners to be aware of this, how do we make that happen effectively?

How trainers/facilitators can do to manage learners' engagement?

PROCESS acronym: 

P is for patterning. Our brains create patterns to enhance efficiency. See the Stroop Test above. It's hard to resist/break cognitive patterns once they're formed. Trainers need to work to be aware of the patterns we all have. I like to think mental models fall into this category and I'm doing a workshop on that very topic for the Ruth Enlow library of Garrett County on Nov. 11. 

R is for rest. Our memories are consolidated during the first 4 hours of sleep. When we are sleep deprived our brains function as though we are drunk. Point being, it is advisable to spread learning moments over time. Instead of having a 4 hour workshop, have two 2-hour workshops within 2-3 days of each other. This is what I'm hoping to attempt in January with our customer conversations workshop where we have a 3-hour session followed by a learning portfolio homework assignment which keeps the learning going at the learners' convenience over the span of two months. Staggering the learning is key. Someone said that effective learning is much like tending toy our lawn. You don't want to flood the lawn on Sunday and just let it soak. You want to water it a little bit each day depending on the weather, etc. 

O is for own through translation. This just means that for learning to stick, learners need to be able to synthesize and summarize the point. What's even better is when they can teach someone else what they just learned. If this isn't possible, then ask the learners to create a metaphor for what they learned. I love this idea! 

C is for context. This is the' "why are we doing this?" This makes me think of Simon Sinek's golden circle and starting with Why. If we aren't clear in our intentions, such as why we are offering a workshop on a particular topic, then hesitancy will increase among would-be participants. Build trust and build buy-in by communicating the context and motivation clearly. 

E is for emotion. Emotion hard-wires memory, especially strong emotions. Do you remember where you were on 9/11? That's what psychologists refer to as a flashbulb moment. It's been imprinted on our memories because of the strong emotions involved. For many baby boomers, the JFK assassination is a flashbulb moment. This is something I haven't considered much in the workshops I design - how to leverage emotion and create appropriately emotional moments...other than maybe frustration which isn't intentional but is something I know I've caused people to feel. 

S is for social by design. Brains are engaged when we are interacting and learning with other people. Jane Hart apparently wrote the book on social engagement which I'll need to check out. I like to think I do this pretty well by incorporating pair and small group learning moments in my workshops as well as meetings. 

S is for style. Learning styles, that is. I have to admit that I design workshops and meetings that engage my style preferences which are also my strengths. This is definitely an area of improvement for me. You can read more about this on the presenter's company's website. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Masie Learning 2014 Conference

This is the best conference I attend all year because it's saturated with ideas and people and workshops that are all about empowering others through learning: online learning, classroom learning, micro-learning, flipped learning, etc. Although the conference doesn't officially start till this evening, I've already gotten a few ideas for my vision of the library of the future. 

In my vision, library staff will be their own staff development coordinators because in the future, their personal and professional growth will be priority number one within their organizations and it will be priority number one within themselves. They will have their own staff development budgets and they will have dedicated learning time scheduled into their days and their learning goals will be tied to and monitored regularly through the use of social media or blogs, etc (annual reviews are not enough). 

My hypothesis is that the more library staff are empowered and encouraged and required to 1) self identify their learning needs - both personal and professional, and 2) to identify ways to meet and exceed those needs by being aware of how they best learn new things, then they will be more likely to empower and encourage library customers to do the same for themselves. 

Instead of being a purely quantitative process, certification will be based on demonstration of learning. In other words, it will be a more qualitative process with the staff leading workshops that teach others what they learned because nothing says, "I know how to do/be ______" better than being able to teach someone else how to do/be ________." Instead of counting how many workshops staff attend, we will instead count the number of workshops they facilitate/teach/lead or on a smaller scale, we will count the number of times they teach a customer how to do something new like how to set up a gmail account or how to use a library database. The details still need to be worked out for this section but you get the idea. At any rate, certification should be granted when you can show that you are a different person than you were five years ago, and that you pushed your profession or your library to evolve in some way. 

Just some thoughts as I begin to immerse myself in learning at Masie's Learning 2014 conference. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kids Are Customer, Too

The Children's Services Division of the Maryland Library Association presented its annual Kids Are Customers, Too on 16 October, 2104. 
FutureMakers guru Matt Baribholtz presented us with a baggie with batteries, sticky foam, straws, l.e.d. light, popsicle sticks, rubber band and foldable paper box.   We had to make something.
Amanda Roberson spoke of the new edition of Every Child Ready to Read.
The most enjoyable part is always the guest authors, winners of the Blue Crab Award.  This year was a humorously understated Greg Pizzoli and David A. Kelly.  I agree wholehearted with the respective picks of  The Watermelon Seed and Miracle Mud.
We finished the day with Guerrilla Story Time where questions for unusual situations and problems were answered by the experts, us!?!

New Media in Storytime

On 7 October, 2014, Cen Campbell gave a workshop on incorporating new media into storytimes.  Cen is the founder of and is at the forefront of using new media as emergent literature.
A media mentor will be essential to vet new applications for educators.
Apps were loaded onto ipads and are ready to be used.
This was an informative and enjoyable day focusing on the future of storytimes.

Transforming Pre-school Storytime: Plugged and Unplugged

On 6 October, 2014, Betsy Diamant-Cohen presented a workshop for children's librarians in the digital age. The most noteworthy point to take away is that the use of a device is just another tool,  and should be used with human interaction.
I've already used the Alligator, alligator finger play (with repetition) to the enjoyment of toddlers.
We did an exercise planning a program using one picture book for six consecutive weeks.  Each week would emphasis a different school readiness skill.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Kids Are Customers, Too

On Thursday, October 16, 2014, I attended the Kids Are Customers, Too workshop sponsored by the Children's Services Division of the Maryland Library Association.  I always look forward to this workshop, as it's nice to see librarians from around the state and have a chance to share ideas.  This year, guest authors were Greg Pizzoli (The Watermelon Seed and Number One Sam) and David A. Kelly (Miracle Mud and the Ballpark Mysteries).  I now have a new favorite choice for storytime- Greg Pizzoli's books are wonderful and I can't wait for Templeton Gets His Wish to come out early next year.  Be sure to visit his Etsy site and check out his adorable book buttons!  Other sessions were presented by FutureMakers, a mobile makerspace, and Maryland children's librarians.  I learned a little bit more about the maker movement in libraries and Every Child Ready to Read, a tool for librarians to use in teaching parents and other adults about early literacy skills.  I wish that both sessions would have been more in depth as there was so much more to share and learn.  The last session I attended was a Guerilla Storytime.  I've heard about this movement, but didn't know much about it.  Developed by a group called Storytime Underground, these storytimes and sessions are a chance for groups of librarians to get together and brainstorm ideas for how to handle difficulties that may occur during storytimes.  Librarians shared ideas for getting antsy toddlers to sit still, chatty parents to stop talking, opening and closing rhymes, and more.  My new favorite closing rhymes are:

We clap to say goodbye, we clap to say goodbye,
Hip hip hooray, we had fun today,
We clap to say to say goodbye (tune "The Farmer in the Dell")

After thanking the adults for bringing the children to storytime, sing:

Our hands say thank you with a clap, clap, clap.
Our feet say thank you with a tap, tap, tap.
Clap, clap, clap. Tap, tap, tap.
And we roll our hands together and say goodbye.

One librarian shared her ABC storytime rules.  A is for all aboard: it's time for everyone to engage in our storytime activities. B is for break- feel free to take a break if someone is fussy and then come back in to storytime when they are clamed down.  C is for chatting and cell phones, which are both distracting for little learners.

All in all, it was a great conference and I feel like I came back with practical ideas I can use in both programming and reader's advisory. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

PUG 2014

Lake Onondaga
Lake Onongada, Liverpool, NY
Event: Polaris Users Group (PUG) 2014, Syracuse, New York, October 8-10th.

So this was a bitter sweet Polaris Users Group (PUG) as with the recent acquisition to the Innovative Group this was the last PUG at Syracuse, New York.  So I thought that it would be fitting to take some time and venture out to see Syracuse a little.  I've added some of the pictures for your enjoyment. 

What I learned at the last official PUG meeting:  Well, being the geek that I am, this year's PUG did not disappoint.  It was like I was in code heaven, lol!  There were so many sessions on SQL (Structured Query Language) reporting and queries, I thought I was literally going to jump out of my skin!
Where Megatron lives...I think!

On day one it was the Polaris Day opening with lots of information about the company and where they are headed.  It was a little different atmosphere than in previous years, but that is to be expected when 2 companies merge together.  We also learned that Innovative acquired VTLS (Visionary Technology in Library Solutions) in the recent months in addition to Polaris.  VTLS is out of Blacksburg, Virginia; a ILS system initially designed by and for Virginia Tech.  Innovative now has several ILS platforms available which includes Sierra, Millennium, Polaris, and now VTLS.

The best part of Polaris Day was a training session called "Find Tool SQL Queries".  It was everything I ever wanted to know about how to get a better query inside the PAC client tool.  I've always struggled because my queries never seemed to work because my SQL structure didn't match what it wanted.  But then that was the day that I finally found out why.  Ah..oh...ah!  It was like the skies broken open and I could hear the hallelujah choir!  Seriously, lol, it was one of those moments! So if you're in the PAC and you are wanting better queries when searching, please shoot me an email and I'll send you the presentation. (I don't think I can share it in this public forum.)  If there is some kind of recordset that you're looking to create and haven't been able to achieve it, please give me a call and I'll see if I can help.

Another class that was most memorable for me was a class called "Reporting Outside the Box".  With the change to Polaris there were some reports that we used to get via email, but with the change to Polaris there was no way to do that, or so it seemed.  I learned that I can set up permissions for users to be able to see reports via the Internet and the reports could be set up to be scheduled and emailed to the users.  Say what!?!  Finally, I can set up reports to be scheduled for mailing!  Oh the bliss! :)  (Yes, I am excited to start using this!)

Syracuse and the Erie Canal
Downtown Syracuse banks and the canal
I also liked a session called "Online Catalog Design" which was a System Admin session that showed some easy work-arounds for customizing the catalog. 

Overall it was a very good PUG, but still bitter sweet.  We are unofficially going to be merging with the Innovative Users Group (IUG). There are still some things to work through before it all becomes official.  The next users group for IUG will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota in April 2015.  I'm not sure if I will be there, but I do look forward to what is next for Polaris.

Freedom Trail map
My history moment for Jill -The Freedom Trail
One of the other big things coming with Polaris is the new cloud-based LEAP platform as a client tool.  The first module that they will be rolling out is the Circulation module which is a cloud based client tool for checking-in and checking-out materials.  There is also a module that allows web-based Patron registration.  A cloud-based client tool basically means that you can be on an iPad checking books in or out from the stacks and/or registering patrons remotely without having the standard windows client tool installed on the device, it's completely browser based.  It's the next revolution for ILS systems and Polaris has a gem with their new LEAP platform.  It was part of the reason that they merged with Innovative.  The early adopters of LEAP and Polaris 5.0 will be in November 2014.   Baltimore County and Carroll County have been early beta testers and will be moving to the new platform in November 2014.

So overall, PUG 2014 was another great success, I always learn so much and it's always great to see friends that I've made over the years.  Although we wont be returning to Syracuse, New York again, we will all have fond memories of the previous users groups.  We've only been with Polaris for a few years, but over the years I've developed great relationships with other Polaris users across the country.  I look forward to the new adventures with the IUG meetings.  Since IUG is a global company with offices around the world serving 66 countries, I'm sure I'll be meeting and making new friendships from colleagues from all over the world.  :)

The pictures above:
1. Lake Onongada in Liverpool, NY (Polaris has it's office in Liverpool, a small community northwest of Syracuse.)
2. Niagara Mohawk Building (this art deco building was built in 1932, it was the headquarters of the nation's largest utility company Niagara Mohawk.  It is on the National Register of Historic Places. Cool building...still think that Megatron lives there, lol)
3. Clinton Square Park (red building is the Third National Bank building built in 1885; taller building is Syracuse Savings Bank built in 1875; the fountain was once a functioning section of the Erie Canal.)
4. The Freedom Trail (marks stop throughout Syracuse for the Underground railroad).

Monday, October 13, 2014

ARSL Conference

ARSL (Association for Rural/Small Libraries) Conference - Sept. 3 - 6

Libraries Reimagined –Breakfast address on Friday – Daniel Rasmus 

Daniel addressed the uncertain future that libraries face and the importance of navigating change as it occurs. Some points to think about:
  • What do we hire a library for? Why do people come to the library?
  • How will we represent knowledge?
  • Outside-in-thinking: Libraries talking about the world they live in and how they bring services to that world, and what services.
  • Plan for the future we want but also for the future we are given.

Marketing Your Library – Breakout Session – Beth Wheeler Dean 

A dynamic library director from Guntersville, Alabama, Beth was great. She said to be smart about marketing and get what you want. Her example: Her library went to Staples for tax-free days and helped people set up their tablets – and gave out library cards.

Libraries can no longer just sell their product, she emphasized. Small libraries need to be full service and the biggest part of marketing is the “things we do.”

“Everything comes down to people – staff, users/patrons, and people that never use the library. All combine to build your library’s image in the community. You will build invaluable relationships as you place your library before your public. Remember to listen, not just talk.”

Points I noted:
  • Market the service, not the product.
  • Market the benefit, not the features.
  • Market what they value, and continue to do what we value.
  • Market personality. If you’re helpful to patrons, they will tell others.
  •  Never ever market something you can’t deliver.
  •  Create and market differently to different groups.
  •  Understand the cost curve and how it applies to libraries. (Example, something could incur hours of staff time.)
  •  Use SWOT Analysis – strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
  • Advocacy is important on the part of library staff and Trustees, Friends of the Library, and patrons.Staff can inspire users, find partners, and tell the library story. Trustees, Friends, and patrons can lobby local government, tell the library story, volunteer, use the library, cook and give parties.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

On October 6th and 7th I attended training about "New Media in Storytime." The presenters Dr. Betsy Diamont-Cohen and Cen Campbell were fantastic. They really know how to give an exciting storytime. I liked some of the digital ideas that they showed us and I will probably try a few of them when I get my i-pad. Going into the training I thought that they were going to show us how to have completely digital programs. I was pleased when they showed us ways to enhance not completely change our programs. Some of the APPS they told us about are really interesting and interactive. Some not so much. Overall I really liked the training and am glad that I participated.

Digital Media in Storytime

On October 6-7, 2014, I attended the Digital Media in Storytime workshop presented by Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Cen Campbell.  Both days focused on integrating new media in storytime, as well as the idea of transforming storytime by repeating one book in different ways over a six week period so that children learn the book by heart.  As someone not comfortable with new media, I looked forward to two days of learning and trying new (to me) technology.

Since I was already familiar with the idea of transforming storytime, that was more of a review.  However, I learned lots of new information in regards to technology.  I learned about different sources for reviewing apps, such as (Cen Campbell's website), Common Sense Media, Children's Technology Review.  Kirkus, School Library Journal, and other typical book review sources also review book apps.  I also learned about various ways to include apps in storytime, such as projecting a book app to read a small board book (such as Moo Baa La La La by Sandra Boynton), showing a new flannelboard (using the Feltboard app), and playing a guessing game with an animal sounds app.  My other big take-away from the workshop isn't necessarily learning something new, but receiving confirmation that digital is not always the best replacement for a favorite book or flannelboard and that the entire storytime does not need to be digital.  I definitely gained confidence in starting to experiment with new media in ways that still feel comfortable to me.  It was nice to see it put into action by practicing during the workshop.

I am responsible for the infant and toddler storytimes and share responsibility for pre-school storytime.  While I would most likely not use technology in the younger storytimes based on the recommendation for no screen time under age two, I would like to experiment with technology in pre-school storytime.  New media is becoming a trend in libraries nationwide, so I appreciated the chance to learn and experiment over the course of the workshop.  Overall, this workshop was well worth attending. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

ARSL Conference Notes

ARSL Conference - September 2014

Here's more from the ARSL conference I attended in September.

Delivering Excellent Customer Service -Break-out Session – Lisa Lewis
This session included tips and ideas on how to ensure that our patrons have a wonderful experience at the library through great customer service. (I’m listing these tips and ideas here, but some may go against your own library policy, so you’d need to check.)

Signs and Displays
  • What is the first sign a patron sees when entering the library? Does this sign say “NO . . .”?  If it does, we should consider changing the wording. Negative wording hurts business and puts people on the defensive.
    Some examples:
    If the sign says No food and drink, change to something like “We love food, just not in the library.”
    No cell phones – Try “Thank you for not using your cell phone in the library.”
    Instead of No Loud Noise (etc.), try “Thank you for conversing in soft tones.”
  • How many signs/posters do we have? Less is more, so use as few as possible.
  • Weeding is important! Don’t overcrowd the shelves.
  • Wipe off dust jackets when the books come in. Replace damaged ones.
  • Change displays often.
  • Using a digital frame at the circulation desk is a good idea. Add events to the display along with the photos.
  • Suggestion: Set up maker-space tables with arts/crafts books and a craft for peopleto do.
  • Suggestion: Display a table of cookbooks and add cracker and cheese, etc. (I’m not sure how this would work if we don’t allow food in the main part of the library, though.)

How We Assist Patrons
  • Show people where things are.
  • Be courteous on the phone.
  • Don’t ever say:
    Are you sure?
    Wait, you’re confusing me.
    You’re wrong.
    Well, no one else has had that problem.
    Who told you that?
    Well, you’re gonna have to . . .
    It’s library policy. (Instead, explain why we have this policy.)

Fines and Fees
  • Ease up and give staff the authority to forgive a fine.
  • Chill out, loosen up, break the rules, compromise.

Tablet Slinging Librarians – Break-out Session – Leah Kulikowski
This session focused on practical and creative ways to use tablet technology to stay on the leading edge of customer service. A number of libraries are using tablets for:
  • Children’s programs (Storytime apps like Peter Rabbit pop-up book App)
  • Roving reference
  •  Checking out books (with a Bluetooth barcode scanner)
  • Credit card payment of fines
  •  Music during programs
  • Inventory (with a Bluetooth barcode scanner)
Leah said that her library uses an iPad as a Look-up Catalog Tablet mounted to the wall in the Children’s area. She also said that they took tablets to the park and signed up children for Summer Reading Club.

I thought these were innovative ways to bring tablet technology into the library.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Easy Patron Surveys

Easy Patron Surveys from Library Juice Academy
Instructor:  Jennifer Sweeney

Course overview
Surveys are one of the most useful and least expensive ways to gather information about your patrons! This course will orient participants on basic survey procedures, techniques, tips, and tricks. Topics will include sampling and response rate, question/response design, interpreting results, and ethical questions. The course provides readings, hands-on exercises, example survey questions and response patterns, discussion, and up-to-date online resources. Participants will finish the course prepared to collect and analyze survey data from library users on a number of different topics.
At the end of this course, participants will be able to:
  • Select and reach the most respondents for typical survey topics
  • Design relevant questions and useful response categories
  • Use a spreadsheet to analyze survey results
  • Understand basic ethical principles in survey design and use, such as protecting respondent privacy.
My summary
This course ran over four weeks. Each week covered a different topic: Overview of Survey Research, Sampling, Question Design, and Analysis and Reporting. I found the course to be a good balance between theory and practice.  This is a huge subject, and it is easy to spend a lot of time gathering information that isn’t really what you were looking for. Since I had done some patron surveys in the past, I think I was able to get even more from the class. I especially appreciated the methodology presented to assist in analysis (I was a math major after all).

How it fits in the big picture
I am interested in finding ways to measure the impact of the public library on its community beyond statistics and anecdotes.  This course has helped me start small, by developing surveys we can use after patrons attend classes or programs. I was also made aware of LibQUAL +, a suite of services libraries use ”to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users' opinions of service quality.” Perhaps it will be worth the investment at some point for WCFL to engage LibQUAL+ in order to focus and improve our services.