Friday, May 16, 2008

Hidden patrons

DLDS funded several needs assessments around the state recently. They anticipate that requests to fund similar projects will increase as systems recognize the utility of needs assessments in learning about the particular populations they serve.

This panel discussion featured reports on four such projects.

Howard County Public Library
Speaker: Fritzi Newton

Cultural Connections project
DLDS awarded a $50k grant

1 in 9 Howard County residents is foreign born.

The largest populations are Chinese and Korean.

Hired a part-time community liaison from the targeted community.

Created native language surveys and conducted focus groups

Wrote comprehensive service plan and developed a model for other libraries to follow.

Drafted Cultural Connections updates and highlights of materials which ran in local ethnic newspapers.

Translated the systems FAQs into various languages and provided copies at all service desks.

5 steps:
Study community
Select 1 or 2 target groups
Recruit respected community partners
Hire a liaison
Build trust between community and library

Eastern Shore Regional Library
Speaker: Raineyl Coiro

Project Adelante (8 libraries) – a needs assessment for the Latino community
Project components: focus groups, ethnosurvey of 120+ participants, produced a marketing plan

To encourage participation in survey, respondents were given copies of a Spanish/English Picture dictionary.

Through survey discovered that many Latino males in their community possessed only a 3rd grade education.

Eastern Shore felt that they had to be cautious with outreach as some in their community felt that using tax dollars for service to possibly illegal immigrants was not appropriate.

Additional outcomes:
Developed "Spanish for Librarians" training.
More focused book purchases (health and law)

Final report available from presenter.

Washington County Free Library
Speaker: Kathleen O’Connell

Project Empecemos- needs assessment of Washington County Spanish-Speaking population

Conducted an ethnosurvey--which focuses on understanding a local population in broader socio-economic and political contexts.

4 focus groups; 2 with churches.

The Spanish-speaking population in Washington County is, itself, diverse.

2 Basic computer classes offered in Spanish at the Central Branch

Library committed $10k for materials in Spanish

Monthly series devoted to Spanish Language film

Have applied for a 2nd grant to fund a position focused on Spanish Outreach

Have also had to tread lightly due to local political climate

Baltimore County Public Library
Speaker: Susan Waxter

Grant funded project which:
hired a consultant (Cuesta Multicultural Consulting)
conducted a needs assessment
designed new materials and services by branch
enabled them to share skills and knowledge

Targeted non-users, rather than focus their assessment on a particular ethnic group.

Recommendations for other libraries:
Identify target
Interview community leaders (could be the owner of a salon or grocery)
Prioritize needs
Determine library responses to those needs
Build on relationships you establish

BCPL is currently developing best practices and decision making docs

Lessons learned:
Needs assessment can be easy and fun
Relationships are the key
Interview = conversation
Be flexible

Creating a technology petting zoo

Presenters: Annette Gaskins and Maurice Coleman

Slides for this presentation are available here.

The speakers developed a training workshop called the Technology Petting Zoo, so that Harford County staff could test drive various technologies. They also blogged about their experiences.

Staff were divided into small groups and cycled through various stations throughout the library. There were stations devoted to:

Wikis/Open Source software
Streaming media
MP3s and players

While Annette and Maurice offered some info about the success of the program and the staff response, the focus of their presentation was a how-to for other systems who were interested in developing similar programs.

They explained their planning process, logistics, corporate partnerships, staff responsibilities, signage, troubleshooting and the importance of scheduling on the day of the event.

I was excited to see five other FCPL staff members in attendance and I hope they left as enthusiastic about the idea as I did. I would love to host something similar for our staff--maybe at our newest regional library in August, right before they open to the public. It would be an opportunity for staff around the system to see the new building.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wikis in practice

Presented by Kathryn Sullivan and Danielle Whren
Full notes available here

Features of wikis include:
Recent history log (for back up and to revert to earlier copies)
Changes can be sent to email

Why wikis?
Dynamic Text
Thoughfully written
Topical arrangement
Eases info sharing
Easy to learn
Instantaneous updating (not reliant on one person)
Non-linear navigation
Well structured

Workplace benefits?
Growth in collaborative work
Simplified document management
Establishment of institutional memory
Increased staff feedback and voice
Improved customer service

On Wikis and other 2.0 tools: Libraries need to be present in spaces where people are.

Features and Considerations
WYSIWYG editors
Locally hosted vs. Externally hosted

Locally hosted:
no space limitations
requires time and someone on staff with technical expertise in MySQL and PHP

Free/open source examples include PmWiki and MediaWiki (This is the platform that Wikipedia uses, it has a WYSIWYG editor and lots of good documentation already exists. A stable platform.)

Externally hosted:
little customization available
space limitations with an option to purchase more
little technical knowledge necessary

Examples include PBwiki and Wetpaint.

Compare Wikis at wikimatrix
[Note: One of the presenters stated that her organization is moving to Confluence.]

Building a wiki:
Have goals
Get input from staff
Select projects to include
Create some structure as a base before staff populate your wiki
Determine access levels
Prepare documentation/help/guidelines

Internal uses:
To-do lists (track who is doing what on various projects)
Team and Committee collaboration
List logins and passwords
Directory and contact info
Policies and procedures
Document repository
Project work and updates

HINT: As with any new technology, libraries will experience mixed levels of staff participation. However, if you want staff to start using the wiki, begin by finding a fun use. One library provided space to their "Cheers Committee" and staff had to sign up for the next staff potluck via the wiki.

Uses of an external (for patrons) wiki:
Research guides
Collaboration on projects with patrons (giving them a voice)
Collaboration with other libraries and librarians

Real world example:
Loyola Notre Dame’s wiki

They added a meebo widget to their wiki, so that staff can IM; they replaced their old HTML subject guides with new ones on the wiki; added tutorials for databases and style guides; included a new FAQ.

Everything you ever wanted to know about IT

Panel discussion moderated by Scott Reinhart of CCPL

On working with Systems:
If you need anything from Systems, write a proposal for Administration. Have examples of what is lacking in existing equipment/software/service and offer an alternative.

On 2.0 Tools:
They are as secure as they need to be. If you’ve been told to use the intranet and there has been some resistance to update it, explain that the intranet is not currently enabled with features that staff want or need. Put together a proposal--here’s what we need, here’s when we need it, here’s a free service that does it or would you like to build something by the deadline?

The panel noted that there are very few ILS systems that work with Mac, but there is a movement afoot to produce OS-agnostic ILS systems. Evergreen was cited.

On Open Source ILS:
Howard County is moving to Koha in Winter 2008. Koha is better for single library systems. Kent County is moving to Evergreen by the end of this month. Evergreen is better for consortia.

Pros of Open Source= ability to tailor user experience, customer service, cost, web browsing with book covers (ability to electronically browse and see what’s on shelf via the catalog), the ability to work on problems now versus waiting for a release a year later which may or may not address the issue

On libraries’ aversion to Apple products:
Primarily cost, however as costs come down and ILS systems become more friendly and compatible, we may see more Macs.

On Instant Messaging:
Some Maryland Libraries have been doing this for several years, primarily as a internal communication tool (between staff themselves rather than between staff and patrons). It has worked well for shelf checks between branches. Libraries should continually be looking for better ways to communicate.

On real world tricks and tips:
Reimage computers at least 2 times per year.
Troubleshooting networked computers- First, can you see it on the network? Get IP from printer, then ping it.

On future issues:
Implementation of Windows Vista

Libraries will seek to creatively integrate 2.0 collaborative technologies

Library websites will move toward the Amazon experience to meet the patron expectation (Also, how long will it take slow moving ILS to shift toward that model?)

IT departments will work toward seamlessly integrating environments (making the many electronic products and services that we offer work together)

Life is a Relational Experience: Civility, Ethics and Quality of Life

Conference keynote by Dr. P.M. Forni, co-founder of the Johns Hopkins Civility Project

Civility is a search for gracious goodness.

The first half of our lives is a search for beauty; the second half of our lives is a search for goodness.

Civility and ethics = When we treat others as ends in themselves, then we are ethical agents.

Incivility often escalates into physical violence.

Causes of incivility
1. Lack of self-restraint
2. Anonymity and stress (When you believe that no one knows you, then you think that you can get away with anything.)
3. Pursuit of an individual identity in a society of equals

Neurochemistry of hostility and humor

Very often, we are rude to others because we are insecure, then we shift the burden to others through hostility and incivility. So think of yourself as an accomplished person instead of being insecure. Pretend you are being filmed and that the film will be used to train others.

Be prepared.
When we are caught unprepared, we get in trouble.

Visualize, reflect and plan
Be aware of your vulnerabilities.

Cool off and calm yourself
Deep breaths, count to 10
Don’t take it personally
Decide what to do
Pick your battles

By ignoring rudeness, you invite more. We teach others how to treat us by how much we’re willing to take.

When confronting others: state, inform and request
State what happened.
Inform the effect on you.
Request by making clear (I would appreciate it if in the future...)

The dreading is worse than the doing.

Deflect other people's deflections (excuses).
Stand your ground, defend your feelings.

Relational (social) intelligence is a better indicator of success than IQ.

Respect, restraint, consideration.

A leader = aura of power in repose

Howard County Public Library Civility Projects = Library programs and lectures

Manners are the training wheels of altruism.
Teaching children that our actions have consequences for others.

Organizational civility – crafting signs more gently, having staff talk to patrons. Train staff. Model civility in your libraries and in the greater community.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Booster Shot of Leadership

Presenter- Maureen Sullivan

are engaged in a common purpose
don’t shy away from conflict
are stronger than any individual member

A team is very different than a group (a collection of people who do not exhibit the aforementioned characteristics).

Libraries often use the word teams when most of the work is done by what would properly be characterized as groups.

When examining a problem, leaders should consider whether the problem is best solved by working alone vs. working in groups vs. collaboration toward pre-determined goal.

Rethink and redesign work:
Focus on what makes a difference for constituents
Let go of what they don’t want or need*
Redesign to enable greater work satisfaction

*Peter Drucker talks about planned abandonment
Ask, what do we do well?
Then ask, if it didn’t exist, would our library invent it?
This is often an easier exercise than asking What should we cut?

Clarify performance expectations and coach staff.
Reinforce and support new behaviors.
Counsel staff to let go of dated and irrelevant processes.
Promote a culture of learning, continuous improvement and mutual accountability.

Leaders should be able to reframe staff tasks (and their own), underscore value and tie tasks to the library's mission. If you can’t do that, perhaps the task is no longer relevant and is one that can be dropped.

Resonant Leadership is Emotional Intelligence in practice.
Its components are:

Use this model, when you need to make a behavior change.
First, identify what you want to change
(I want to be a more active listener)
Second, identify what tasks or behaviors prevent you from doing that.
(I don’t let people finish sentences.)
Lastly, model the behavior and reward it in others when you see it. This will be a good reinforcement.

Concepts of learning organizations and appreciative inquiry:
strategic planning, work redesign and a focus on changes in organizational culture are key.

Frames = how we look at things.
Think about how your experiences led to your frame.
What are the strengths and weaknesses of your frame?
Realize that this frame provides our first perspective when we encounter problems.
Consider frame flipping. Look at issues from above. Step up to the balcony.
If team members have other frames, you can rely on each other.

Robert Keegan’s idea of competing commitments.
How the way we talk can change the way we work.
What am I afraid of?
Why is that frightening to me?

Systems processes model (ideally circular, not linear)
Work processes->Outcomes->Customers->Mission, vision, values
Staff->Impact->Customers->Mission, vision, values
Structure/Systems/Needs of people->People/Skills/Culture->Mission, vision, values

Scattered notes:

Look for opportunities to say thank you
Be specific about what you are capable of
Check out Roland Barthes
When change is necessary, communicate to staff why the change needs to happen.
Define new aspirational values.
When people in your organization make surface assumptions, challenge those which are not relevant, reaffirm actual direction or propose a new one.
Before you act, reflect.
Leadership practice is never perfect; we are always learning.
Social entrepreneurship is popular right now.
Leadership is a capacity within each person and organization.

We should be fostering an environment of trust within our organizations so that ideas emerge organically from staff who are closest to an issue or problem.

Books referenced
Primal Leadership
Resonant Leadership
Becoming a Resonant Leader
Reframing Organizations
The Leader’s Handbook
Learning to Lead: A Workbook on Becoming a Leader
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There
Wizard and Warrior
The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook
Learning as a Way of Being