Archive for the ‘Libraries’ Category

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:


Twitter users at SCLA 2012:


SCLA 2012 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:


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.

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?


Categories: Assessment, Libraries 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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Library Day in the Life, Day 2: Professional Development

January 26, 2011 Comments off

The continuing saga of Library Day in the Life, Round 6…

Activities ran the gamut yesterday (Tuesday). From report writing, to planning for library instruction sessions, to dealing with the scanner (don’t ask), to budget work, to checking the building for leaks (it rained all day yesterday, and when that happens there are places that we need to watch…sigh), to evaluating gift books, to helping a student find that particular book in the collection–it was a typical exercise in a key skill of the trade: flexibility.

With that said, I did notice one theme was most pervasive and continued on and off throughout the day…

Professional development.

I didn’t plan it, but much of what I had my feet in yesterday was in some form or another related to growth or improvement in the profession. Activities serving as a sharpening stone or kiln, if you will. Shaping. Strengthening. Some examples included:

  • Professional reading (I always encourage students nearing graduation to identify professional publications in their area of study/soon-to-be-profession and READ. I took my own advice.)
  • Signing up for an upcoming webcast on Google ebooks (The topic of ebooks should be on every librarians radar.)
  • Following and engaging in Twitter conversations about things of relevance to my job and library services (I even learned about the Google ebooks webcast in my twitter stream.)
  • Planning for a special library staff forum (later this week) where we will talk about our library and try to get to the heart of who we are and how we go about doing things. (I plan to write more about this after we meet. It has the potential to be revolutionary for us.)

A closing word to library school students and others considering the profession:

Yes, the day may be filled with book-finding, leak-checking, and scanner-wrestling, but there is always a place for professional development. Don’t just be content with the bag of tools and tricks that you carry away from library school. Use them, yes, but build on them. Drag yourself over the sharpening stone. Get into the kiln. Continue to develop yourself professionally. Don’t find time for it. Make time for it. (That’s another post.)


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Library Day in the Life 6: January 24 (or, Just another manic Monday)

January 25, 2011 Comments off

It’s that time again. Round 6 of Library Day in the Life is underway. This week librarians from all walks of life, working in different types of libraries with various job responsibilities, will be sharing just what it’s like to be in their shoes during a typical work week. There are several reasons I have chosen to participate (this marks my 2nd year).

Day 1…yesterday…was Monday…and manic. It was…well, see for yourself:

5:30 a.m. — 6:30 a.m.

Wake up.
Drink coffee.*
Quiet time. (This is important. Our days are so full of images, sounds, actions, demands, etc. that time for silent reflection is hard to come by. Well, here it is before the house awakes.)

Take out the dog. (The cat is self-reliant, of course.)
Feed the dog…and the cat (self-reliant? yes, but pampered? even more so.).
Wake the rest of the house, get ready, and head to work.

* I will mention this only once, but you may rightfully assume that it will occur throughout the day.

6:30 a.m. — 7:00 a.m.

Drive time. (Yet another useful time to turn off the radio and prepare mentally for the day. And, boy, did I need it.)

7:00 a.m. — 8:00 a.m.

Arrived at work.
First on the scene, so collected newspapers from delivery box, turned on lights, fired up computers, yadda yadda.
Checked email and sent some follow-up replies from the previous evening.
Morning scan of the social sphere (Twitter, Facebook, Google reader).

8:00 a.m. — 10:00 a.m.

Prepared and sent a library update report to the academic dean. This was requested last week in preparation for an upcoming February meeting of the school’s Board of Trustees. I used it to focus (yet again) on continued support for our statewide academic library consortium. With state funding the way it is these days, some things can never be said enough.

Communicated with a sales rep and a music department faculty member to iron out some decisions and details concerning a database trial for the spring semester. Negotiator. Liaison. Mediator. Roles worth being prepared to do in the business.

10:00 a.m. — 12:00 noon

Monthly meeting of campus VPs and directors with the president. This is something new the president has started in an effort to improve communication among the leadership. Lengthy, but informative. Open, cross-connected channels are good.

12:00 noon — 2:00 p.m.

More work with a fellow faculty member. This time, planning library instruction sessions for two literature classes this spring semester–World Lit II and a 400-level course on Twain.

Activated IP address recognition access for three new reference e-book resources and added links in the library website database list for a soft launch. (Drafting a promotional news post will have to come later in the day. Need to move on now.)

Switched hats from ‘local librarian’ to ‘board member’ of our statewide academic library consortium. Reviewed a draft letter the board is planning to distribute to all the library directors. Feedback and discussion via email with other board members. (Skype would have been helpful. Maybe next time.)

2:00 p.m. — 2:15 p.m.

Something resembling a quick lunch.

2:15 p.m. — 3:30 p.m.

Final prep work for a library orientation session scheduled with a group of new distance ed students. They are from the New York area; they are on campus this week for some intensive courses to begin their enrollment in a graduate program; they are Korean. Part of my prep work was some final cramming to learn how to say “hello” and “I am John” in Korean. A southern boy attempting to speak Korean can be…uh…painfully comical. This is going to be good!

3:30 p.m. — 4:00 p.m.

Time for the library orientation session with the Korean grad students. I began with “ahn-nyong-ha-se-yo” (“hello”) and made a connection with them that drove the rest of the session. Meeting people where they are: Priceless.

I am going to enjoy working with these students this week. So full of life and eager to learn. (Sorry for the quality of the picture. The camera on my phone could never get stabilized because we were all so pumped!)

4:00 p.m. — 6:30 p.m.

Worked on some book orders for the library.
Created the promotional news post for the 3 new reference e-book resources mentioned earlier.
Got out from behind the desk and helped a few library users needing assistance. (If you don’t already do it, I highly recommend walking away from the desk and into the places where the users are scattered throughout the building. Many librarians have figured this out, and it works.)

6:30 p.m. — 7:00 p.m.

Headed home for the day. Again, the drive time is cherished time. I call the drive home the “decompression” phase.

Very late evening:

Worked on an ongoing project compiling results from a library survey.


It was just another manic Monday. But a productive one, for sure.

By the way, remember to check (often) the Library Day in the Life wiki to see what other librarians are doing. You can also follow LDITH activity on Twitter (hashtag #libday6), Flickr, and Facebook.


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Library Day in the Life project and why I’m in

January 21, 2011 7 comments

Next week (Jan 24-30) marks the 6th round of the Library Day in the Life project–an ingenious creation by Bobbi Newman. For those unfamiliar with the project, it is a way to share and learn what a typical work week is like for those who work in libraries. I participated in round 5 last year, and I plan to be back for more. Here are the main reasons why:

  1. It is a great resource for those considering the profession. If you were interested in a particular career, wouldn’t you like the idea of being able to read the activities and thoughts of people already in the trenches of that type of job? I would. If that’s you and your career interest is libraries, Library Day in the Life is for you. Go to the Library Day in the Life wiki, and check back often.
  2. It can help those questioning their place in the profession. Are you already a librarian? Have you ever had doubts or low points in your career/job? If you’re like me, you’ve been on the roller coaster and the answer is ‘yes.’ Here’s a thought: The contributions coming out of this project could be of value to those already in the profession and currently wondering if they made the best choice by becoming a librarian. Sometimes it helps to see the bigger picture in order to find your place. For example, you could learn from other librarians what it is like to work in other areas of the profession or in other types of libraries. You just may discover something that you connect with. At the very least, it can be a source of encouragement or motivation.
  3. It forces me to reflect on what I am doing as a librarian. By reporting on my daily activities, I can’t help but see a snapshot of my day-to-day efforts in a typical work week. It’s an opportunity for professional self-assessment. Granted, it only records one week of activity out of the year, but it is real activity nonetheless. Are there things that I can improve? (Time management? Goal adjustments? Priorities?) Can I validate my contributions to the profession? (I really accomplished all that today? I must have been on my game! Now that particular task was something I can feel good about and keep doing.)
  4. It can be an outreach tool. Let’s look away from the inside of the profession for a while. Library Day in the Life is an excellent “tool” for conversations with people outside the library who are wondering just what it is that librarians do or why we need libraries. Librarian and blogger Daenel makes this point very well in a recent video post. Collectively sharing stories about what we do in libraries has the potential to show others (to quote Daenel) “the lives that we touch and the impact that we have on communities.” Good stuff.

So next week, I will join many other librarians taking part in Library Day in the Life. You can participate too–whether as a contributor or an inquisitive reader. Follow all the Library Day in the Life activity on:



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I am ready to be a librarian again

December 17, 2010 2 comments

Challenging. Time-consuming. The first semester of this academic year has been…well, just that. I can’t remember a more busy time in my career as a librarian since 1998/99. (That’s another “perfect storm” story altogether.) And most of what I have been entwined with recently comes from outside my typical sphere of duties. Our institution is currently involved in the re-accreditation process, and I have landed on several self-study committees either as a chair or a resource person. Anyone who has been through the re-accreditation process (this is my 2nd go-around) understands what that means.

Honestly, most of my work energies over the last 3-4 months have been devoted to something outside of the library, and I kinda miss my job. (I should also note that I lament being socially MIA on Twitter, etc. with my peeps.) Special activities like re-accreditation are beneficial and much-needed. Nevertheless, at times I feel like a school kid wandering the streets in the middle of a weekday looking over my shoulder for a truant officer. (Am I abandoning my post?) Other times, I feel like Cinderella must have felt to be left scrubbing the floors while her sisters went out to the big event. (Am I missing the fun?)

I’m ready to be a librarian again…and in more ways than one. I’m ready to get back to what I know and love best. At the same time, I have been reflecting on just what it is that I know and love best.

Perhaps one of the benefits of this time away from my normal duties has been the ability to step out of the mix somewhat and reflect. I have been doing some soul-searching, or–more precisely–some mission-searching. Actually, I’ve been reflecting on “mission,” “purpose,” and the like for about a year now. Maybe this semester was the match to throw on the charcoals that I have been soaking in lighter fluid. When I heard from some of the library staff that they had a good conversation this week about the library’s purpose and identity, I knew that I was onto something.

So here’s what we as a library staff are going to do. In January we are going to hold an informal library staff forum to talk about our library and its role in our institution and higher education in general. We will reflect on:

  • Who we (the library) are.
  • What we do.
  • How we do it.

A family meeting, so to speak. Who knows? We may even invite the academic dean and the president. (Open communication is golden.) The plan is simple: Talk, listen, and respond and then see what happens.

New year resolution. Spring cleaning. A first step. Utter nonsense. Call it what you will. We’re going to talk and listen, and hopefully we’ll come out on the other end all the better for having done so.

Time to go. I’ve got more re-accreditation work to do before breaking for the holidays.


Reaching Across Campus for Collaboration

October 29, 2010 Comments off

I love the idea of collaboration. It broadens the creative knowledge base, creates a richer planning environment, provides opportunity for improved productivity, and fosters a broader sense of ownership.

CC image via flickr (by woodleywonderworks)

Lynne Bisko and Rebecca Pope-Ruark (Elon University) have published an excellent article in the October issue of C&RL News entitled “Making the Video: Tips for Successful Library-Class Collaborations.” The article describes a collaborative effort between Elon’s Belk Library and a class supported by the University’s Center for Undergraduate Publishing and Information Design (CUPID). Bisko and Pope-Ruark conclude the article with some practical advice for other librarians considering similar collaboration with students. This is worth the read.

Opportunities for collaboration abound. Most recently on our campus, the library…

  • Worked with some students in graphic design on logo concepts
  • Coordinated with Student Services during the 2010 Census to educate students about the U.S. Census and provide information about Census jobs
  • Also with Student Services, shared information about career-related resources and will be crafting a plan for embedding library resources on the Student Services website
  • Is considering a collaborative effort between our library and a marketing class
  • Has begun a conversation with the Art Department about a partnership involving the creativity of some art students, paint, and library walls. The students are loving the idea. I’ll be walking through the library with an art professor later today. Exciting stuff.

Does your library have any stories of collaboration across campus? Successes? Learning experiences?


From Blog Post to Newsletter: Sharing a Story

October 28, 2010 Comments off

About 8 months ago I wrote a post offering kudos to one of our library staff members. It struck a cord with a fair number of readers. Now, with some new introductory material, it has been re-published in the October issue of OCLC Cooperative eNews.

Article title: “Success Story from the Back Room”

I did not agree to this because it would be something to add to my curriculum vitae and pat myself on the back. Rather, I did this because I saw an opportunity to use an available channel to cheer a well-deserving library staff member AND spread the word about the value of libraries and those who work in them.

May we all continue to collect our “success stories” and use them to advocate the value of libraries every chance we get. Whether it’s in a newsletter, newspaper, board meeting, YouTube video, or on the street corner, talk it up with anyone who is willing to listen.