2013 SCLA/SELA Joint Conference is coming!

November 1, 2013 Comments off

The South Carolina Library Association 2013 annual conference is right around the corner. This year it will be a joint conference with the Southeastern Library Association and held in beautiful downtown Greenville on November 13-15. The theme is “Local Roots, Regional Reach.”

SCLA_logoThe 2013 SCLA/SELA Joint Conference promises to be a great opportunity for librarians throughout the Southeast to attend informative sessions, network with professional colleagues, enjoy the company of old and new friends, share and learn from libraryland, savor the great city of Greenville, and much more. The joint conference should encourage a healthy attendance with librarians from all library types. I’m really looking forward to it.

SELA logoAnd, fellow conference attendees, let’s make use of social media! Yes, avail yourself of the face-to-face opportunities (attend the sessions/keynotes/meetings, visit the exhibits, and mingle at receptions and other social events), but let’s also take advantage of social media to expand the sphere of engagement. Twitter users, let’s wear out the hashtag #scla2013 to share and interact from the conference. I know @sclanews will be there along with myself (@jkennerly) and a number of others. Connect with other Twitter users who are attending/following the conference (and likely make some new connections along the way). Share your insights. Share your conference pics. Share, share, share!

twitter_logo_large   #scla2013

In closing let me share some interesting graphics. Below you will find a couple wordclouds showing Twitter activity at the 2012 SCLA Annual Conference as well as an infographic showing demographic data of attendees. (A special shout out to Donald Wood for providing the attendance data.) Enjoy!

Will you be attending this year’s conference? What type of library will you be representing? Hope to see you there!

Most-tweeted words at SCLA 2012:

SCLA2012_twittercloud

Twitter users at SCLA 2012:

SCLA2012_twitterusers

SCLA 2012 attendance infographic:

SCLA2012_attendance_infographic

A Key to a Successful Workplace

October 22, 2013 Comments off

You can find many tips, strategies, techniques, etc. to employ in the workplace with the staff in mind. All are designed to bolster a staff’s productivity and yield positive results. Depending on your particular work environment, some can be successful; others, not so much.

While I don’t consider myself a guru in staff ascendancy, allow me to share one key to a successful workplace that I have found to be rewarding for the staff environment where I work (a library).

The key? Laughter.

If you walk into the staff break area at our library, you’ll be greeted by the following sign:

crazytoworkhere

This sign represents the way in which our staff interacts on a regular basis. Laughter. Humor. Playfulness. Bufoonery. Whatever you want to call it, lightheartedness helps to keep things in perspective and make all those hours we spend together something to look forward to each day. Don’t get me wrong. We can set our nose to the grindstone and focus on serious productivity with the best of them. However, a shared perspective of we’re-in-this-together-cheerfulness flows beneath it all. In a nutshell, we are a family. We laugh together, cry together, rant together, struggle together, succeed together, fail together, get tired together, celebrate together, endure together. And through it all, the smile keeps us going.

A shared family-like joy in the job goes a long way. Skills can be taught over time. A smile can be shared during a quick pass in the hallway. Both have their benefits.

New Year’s Revolutions

December 31, 2012 Comments off

No, it’s not a typo or a victim of autocorrect. That’s a V instead of an S.

revolutionI’ve never been one for creating New Year’s resolutions. I do, however, like the idea behind the concept. At the heart of the whole exercise is a desire to change something for the better (usually about ourselves). And the resolve to embrace change is not for the sake of change itself, but rather for the sake of improvement. We can envision a better us and desire to be in that place. The problem with a resolution (particularly of the New Year’s type) is that it is an act of the mind that often stays in the mind. A revolution, on the other hand, moves one beyond thought to action. I suppose we could begin a protracted philosophical debate at this point, but I see enough merit here to run with it.

And so, here are my (first ever) New Year’s Revolutions:

1. Laugh every day. (Overdose acceptable.)

2. Actually do something that I keep telling myself I ought to do. (Insert visual of me kicking myself.)

3. Complain ONLY if I am willing to identify and offer possible solutions. (Take that, John, and take it to heart.)

4. Don’t just say that every day is a new day. Believe it, and act accordingly. (Enough said.)

5. In my actions consider not only my interests, but also the interests of others. (Our planet is not the center of the universe, and neither am I.)

And another thing, John. Why reserve the initiation of such actions only for the beginning of a new calendar year? Any day is as good as January 1. Start your revolution now.

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

Waypoints

December 10, 2012 Comments off

For the past few days, I have temporarily placed my primary hat of librarianship on the rack and taken up the Stetson hat of assessment to attend the 2012 SACS Annual Meeting in Dallas with some colleagues. With assessment firmly on the brain, I am finally getting around to a post that I have been meaning to share for some time. My institution completed a reaccreditation site visit this past spring, concluding a lengthy, two-year self-study process. Or so one might think. The site visit does bring a sense of finality to a self-study, but there is another way to view the assessment activity that drives the self-study process.

waypoint symbolAt the initial meeting for the site visit, the following statement about the reaccreditation process was offered: “It’s not a destination; it’s a journey.” Off and on since that time, I have reflected on that statement. And I consistently end up thinking about one thing:

Waypoints.

Anyone who has ever played a flight sim game or actually flown an airplane is familiar with the concept of the waypoint. In flight navigation, a waypoint is a specific point along a flight route that serves as a marker or guidepost to help keep you on your correct flight path. One dictionary defines a waypoint as “the co-ordinates of a specific location as defined by a GPS.” Another dictionary offers this definition: “An intermediate point on a route or line of travel.” In other words, it’s not an (ultimate) destination, but rather a (point along the) journey.

Waypoints. Yes.

The reaccreditation site visit is typically seen as the “capstone” event of a self-study process, bringing much-needed closure to a long-suffering process that includes massive amounts of data collection and review, many sleepless nights, more meetings that you can shake a stick at, a few more sleepless nights, hours upon hours of writing, and even more sleepless nights. Our minds need some finality to the whole process. We need time to breathe. To quote Jack Nicholson from “A Few Good Men” [with some translative license]: You WANT this to be the end! You NEED this to be the end!

And yet.

There is an ongoing nature to the whole process. Even after the site visit, for example, there still remain those follow-up reports in response to recommendations of the visiting team. In many ways, today’s accreditation process never really ends. It shouldn’t end. The end-game for assessment is improvement and effectiveness, and I believe we will never reach the bottom of the jar of improvement and greater effectiveness. Yes, the site visit could be seen as a singular event in time. Underneath that event, however, flows a steady stream of ongoing activity–a river of assessment. Assessment is an ongoing process of identification, collection, measurement, and review followed by a determination of what level of success is reflected in the outcomes and a plan for using what is learned to benefit and guide going forward. And that is followed by another round of identification, collection, measurement, review, and so on.

So on the return flight back to South Carolina tomorrow afternoon, my colleagues and I will be in a plane that will (hopefully) be hitting its waypoints in order to effectively reach the GSP airport. Likewise, when we get back to campus, we will be aiming for waypoints to guide us through the continual journey of assessment. Happy flying, everyone.

Categories: Assessment, Education Tags: ,

I use old technology

September 8, 2012 Comments off

CC image from Wikimedia CommonsEarlier this week, one of the storage closets at my library was given a (late summer) spring cleaning. It was like an archaeological dig. We re-discovered things that caused us to pause, think hard, and have to ask, “What is this? What was it used for?” Some things we figured out. Others? Well…we just gave up and moved on. Put simply: It was a blast. Forget the fact that we had a library to run. We had hidden treasures to find!

Two particular items that we unearthed from the shadows of the closet were an 80’s-era touch tone phone and what had to be one of the first laptops ever used at our library (a circa-1996 NEC Versa 2435CD notebook). I’m a librarian, so I immediately knew what we needed to do. Make a joke, of course. I proceeded to take a picture of the equipment sitting on my desk and posted it to Facebook with the following caption:

I couldn’t resist, and it provided some mid-week comic relief for a number of my friends to boot. (The ever-helpful librarian after all) OK, so it was a tongue-and-cheek reaction, but it got me thinking about how much I actually DO use “old” technology on a regular basis.

We live in a disposable society–particularly when it comes to our technology. When I walk out of the store after having bought a shiny new mobile phone, I’m already planning for when I will be back to retire it for an even shinier new phone with an improved data plan. When it begins to take more than 120 seconds for my laptop to turn on and let me double-click into my virtual world, I want to start window shopping. If I’m two software upgrades behind, bless my heart.

Before you label me a Luddite or technophobe, hear me out. I love new technological toys and advancements. How liberating it is to cloud store my files and be able to access them from anywhere with an internet connection–even if I don’t have my laptop or a folder stuffed with paper documents with me. And I was immensely thankful last week that I was able to use FedEx overnight delivery to send a time-sensitive document to Pittsburgh and did not have to settle for the Pony Express. Long live the growth of advanced and improved technologies! What I am recognizing here is the fact that alongside the new technologies, I still use and depend on many things that have to be considered old technologies. Cases in point:

  1. I used a hammer last weekend to hang a framed picture on the wall.
  2. A needle — one of the most ancient of technologies — was my tool of choice this summer when I discovered one morning that my shirt was missing a button.
  3. At my house we keep a classic and seasoned pocket calculator in the junk drawer for quick access (the thing is far older, by the way, than this year’s college freshmen).
  4. Every day I trust my life to not one but four of a millennia-old device — the wheel — on my way to work and back.
Actual artifacts I still use

So, yes, I use old technology, and that makes me ponder: Why do some technologies remain timeless while others become so quickly outdated? One answer: Usefulness. Let me bring this back to the library world for an illustration. Many library catalogs now offer the ability to send a catalog record to a mobile phone via text message.

The “Send via Text Message” feature is a handy way of bringing the book’s call number with you to the shelves to retrieve the book without having to engage in a cram session of memorizing the call number (which I often forget before I get to the book stacks). With that said, the classic golf pencil and scrap paper also remain effective tools for this. Not so much, granted, if I have to leave the computer to locate a pencil (and a sharpener because, of course, it would need it) and then run around looking for a scrap piece of paper in every trash receptacle I can find. But strategically placed next to the computer, yes, the pencil and scrap paper work beautifully. Effectiveness trumps age. (Not to mention the fact that the 4″x4″ scrap paper stack provides a way of recycling paper left abandoned at the copiers.)

So as society continues to develop and use (rightfully so) new technologies that improve our ability to accomplish tasks, let us give thanks. But let us also remember to pay homage to those technologies that are “long in the tooth” but continue to serve us well.

How do you blend the use of old technologies with the new?

Categories: Technology Tags: ,

I need a horse!

October 10, 2011 Comments off

One of my favorite scenes in the movie, Thor, is the following one.

Ever found yourself in a situation of looking for something only to discover that you’re in the worst place possible to be looking for it? Me and Thor–we can relate. Or how about this: Ever been hit with an idea that you were convinced would have a genuine shot of making a real difference where you are? But when you attempted to put it into action, all the wind left the sails because of the environment or surrounding factors. Insufficient resources. Lack of excitement, support, or shared vision among a supporting cast. The right idea at the wrong time. The necessary pieces simply were not there. In other words, it was like looking for a horse in a pet shop.

When we realize that we are in a pet shop looking for a horse, we can do one of several things:

  1. Quit and give up the idea of having a horse. Defeat is deflating. But if the idea has merit, let’s not give up. Not yet.
  2. Find a horse auction where we can take our money and have a better chance of leaving with a horse. That’s quite practical and reasonable. There certainly would be times when this would be the best course of action.
  3. Try to convince the pet shop of the value of selling horses. Less practical, yes. But for the more passionate and entrepreneurial, this may be worth the effort. That’s how great ideas are born after all.
  4. Modify our need for a horse. So all the shop has are dogs, cats, and birds? Fine. Do they have one of those big enough to ride? Particularly if the ultimate goal is not horse ownership but a mode of transportation, can our idea be adapted to the resources at hand?

Anybody remember the movie Urban Cowboy that helped give rise to the popularity of the mechanical bull? Most of that movie was filmed in a real Pasadena bar (Gilley’s) co-owned by Sherwood Cryer and Mickey Gilley (country music singer). It was Cryer who dreamed up the idea of bringing a mechanical bull into the bar for entertainment. (The mechanical bull was not a new invention of Cryer’s, but its use as an entertainment ride was.) The “bull” caught on with the local cowboys, Urban Cowboy placed it square in the national spotlight, and a legend was born. Sherwood Cryer walked into a bar one day and said, “I need a horse!” (or “bull” actually, but you get the allusion) When there were none in the stock room, he improvised. And at the end of the day, there was a bull in a bar.

Great needs and great ideas are often confronted with challenges. That’s a fact of life. So whether you’re a hammer-wielding Norse god trapped in a mortal body and needing to get from point A to point B, a business owner with an innovative marketing concept, or just an individual with an idea on how to better the people and things around you, keep at it. Expect obstacles, but keep chasing the vision.

By the way, if you’re ever looking for something to do one weekend, try walking into a pet shop and saying, “I need a horse!” With the right kind of person behind the counter, it can make for some great entertainment. Just saying.

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Categories: Uncategorized Tags: , ,

If surveys were to disappear…

August 12, 2011 Comments off

OK, it’s time to come out of hiding and re-enter the blogging world. It’s been an extremely busy summer, but an experience today has motivated and called me out. So here goes.

Source: stock.xchng (Dominik Gwarek)This morning I read an article on survey fatigue in The Chronicle and shared a link to it on Twitter along with another post asking the twitter-peeps if–outside of surveys–they use any creative ways of collecting feedback data. Almost immediately, I was engaged in a Twitter conversation with Ned Potter (@theREALwikiman) about a real interest in hearing how folks might respond to such a question. (Once again, evidence of the power of social connections)

Anywho, Ned suggested that writing a blog post on the subject might help to solicit responses. And he did just that. In the post, he asks:

I’m really interested in how to get feedback – not just from students in academic libraries, but from all patrons for all types of libraries.

And later in the post:

So what are you doing to ascertain what your patrons are thinking? Is there something more reliable than surveys? And if you’re asking them via social media, how did you find out what social media platforms they used in the first place…?

I share his interest, so I ask: If people are burning out on surveys, what are some other ways of gathering feedback from those we serve? Are you using any creative/innovative ways of soliciting feedback that is working and giving you a healthy response rate?

And I, too, am thinking of libraries–those of all types–and their engagement with library patrons. But I would extend the question to areas outside libraries. Do we see non-survey feedback strategies being successfully employed in other places that could be ventured perhaps in the library environment?

So let’s hear from you! Respond to this post. Respond to Ned Potter’s post. Share your creative solutions. Yes, the irony is thick with a feedback solicitation on the topic of feedback fatigue. But, hey, it’s Friday and comic relief is good for everyone, right?

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Categories: Assessment, Libraries Tags: ,

Following the Computers in Libraries Conference Online

March 21, 2011 Comments off

Computers in Libraries 2011Once again, this year, I will not be attending the Computers in Libraries (CIL) conference in D.C. Bummer for me, really, because it is such a great conference for libraryland.

For those who may not be familiar with the Computers in Libraries conference, the website describes it this way:

The conference program is filled with ideas, innovative practices, tips, and techniques for identifying community needs and opportunities as well as designing and delivering strategic and creative services that are of primary importance to our communities. The emphasis is on creating strategic value for our user communities and using new web tools to build innovative and priority services.

CIL 2011 kicked off this morning. If you are like me and (1) are not at CIL 2011 and (2) wish you were, there is hope thanks to online connections. Here’s a quick rundown of 4 ways that we can follow CIL 2011 online:

  1. LibConf.com – A very handy blog provided by Information Today (who organizes the conference). It provides access to a lot of great information and resources about/from the conference (especially in the Computers in Libraries section). Some of the goodies you will find there are listed below.
  2. Twitter – Following tweets with the hashtag #cil11. This can be done several ways. You can follow the tweets feeds at LibConf.com or TweetChat.
  3. USTREAM Computers in Libraries Channel – Live streaming (complete with live chat) of the 3 keynote addresses. If you miss the live streams, the videos are usually archived at USTREAM for later viewing. I imagine that will be the case for CIL 2011 live streams. (Note: The Monday morning keynote speaker, James Crawford from Google Books, is MIA due to a flight delay. However, Information Today stepped up and did a great job of putting together an impromptu panel, and it is being live streamed.)
  4. Blogs – Quite a number of librarians in attendance at CIL 2011 will be blogging from the conference.

These are some good ways to begin connecting online with the conference. (The nice thing is that a number of these resources move beyond simply stalking the conference to interacting with those in attendance.) Other ways will surely surface as the conference continues. Many presenters, for example, will likely post their presentation slide decks at SlideShare.

Go quickly and enjoy. The conference is already underway!

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The Myth of Finding Time

February 23, 2011 Comments off

Ever heard yourself saying something like:

“I need to find time to…”
“I wish I could find time to…”
“That’s a great idea! We need to find time to explore that.”

If you’re like me, the answer is “yes.” The problem is, it rarely seems to get any further than that. Why? Different reasons, I suppose, but here’s what I’m learning:

The truth? You will never find time.

Our lives are so overly busy–our schedules so full–that it is astonishing we even have time to breathe. With our multi-tasking and technological ubiquity, we are perhaps more productive and agile but also…well, busy.

Finding time is a myth. Here is what I am realizing. Instead of trying to find time to do things, I need to make time.

I suppose we sometimes use “find time” and “make time” interchangeably, but there is a significant difference between the two. “Making” time is active. If I make time for something, the implication is that it is important enough for me to actively set aside time for it. “Finding” time, on the other hand, can turn into a passive approach. (If an opportunity presents itself, great. If not? Oh well. Nice try.)

Try making time and see what happens.

By the way, I wrote this post with my phone and WordPress app while sitting in line to pick up my girls from school. That was not whimsical; it was intentional. I knew I would have a modest wait, so I planned to use that time to get this post out of my head–where it has been for a while with me saying, “I need to find time to write this”–and into words. I made the time.

Categories: Personal Tags: ,

Call me and we’ll meet: Library Day in the Life, Days 3 and 4 (and counting)

January 28, 2011 Comments off

The second half of this week has been all about one thing really. Meetings. And more meetings. Some people love them. others detest them. But one thing is certain: They are inevitable.

The calls and emails began in earnest on Tuesday and spilled into Wednesday. “Mark your calendars.” “Would you be available to meet on…?” “We need to schedule a meeting.”

So Wednesday became the day of reckoning scheduling and rescheduling. All these meetings needed to be coordinated like an elaborate dance, and everything was converging on the backside of this week. It was amazing how much time I spent on this on Wednesday.

And then came Thursday and the beginning of the meet-a-thon. As a result, I spent much of the day in meetings (and the same will be true for Friday).

That pretty much sums up my Library Day in the Life activity for the rest of the week.

How do you feel about meetings? Do you run to them with enthusiasm or do run away screaming, “My name is Neo!” Whether you like them or not, meetings are a part of life. And there’s a smorgasbord of types:

  • The long-planned, well-crafted agenda type
  • The hastily-called
  • The marathon
  • The speed meeting
  • The “all hands on deck” variety
  • The one-on-one
  • And everything in between, including my personal favorite

If it sounds like I am not a fan of meetings, that’s not really the case. Meetings are not bad in and of themselves. They can be productive and even enjoyable. Indeed, one of Wednesday’s meetings was time with the library staff that I have been looking forward to for a while. Our opinion of and reaction to meetings has a lot to do with our perceptions and attitude. When I enter a meeting with a negative preconception, I usually leave that meeting feeling the exact same way and pining the loss of time. Not good. On the other hand, when I go into a meeting expecting to accomplish something valuable with others, there is a much better chance that I will walk away with an upward attitude about the whole experience. “Upward attitude” doesn’t always mean that I will have enjoyed the experience, but it does mean that I will have valued the experience. I genuinely dislike going to the dentist, but I do it without complaining because I understand the value of doing so. Upward attitude.

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