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It's staggering how much we've learned.

2 min read

Earlier this month I was asked to put together a timeline of the technology my library has introduced since 1995. We want to get a clearer picture of all the things library staff have had to learn, absorb and incorporate in their daily work lives. I've been able to put a basic timeline together that shows a lot of library initiated technology. Things like introducing public access computers, teaching computer classes, introducing an online public access catalog and much, much more.

I'm running into a problem though...

I’m not sure how to show all of the things library staff has had to learn because of the introduction of public access computers.

The different versions of Windows and Microsoft Office would be a lot by themselves. Add to that the changes the internet has introduced and it’s staggering how much library staff has had to absorb. Changes in search engines (remember AltaVista?), and email to the social web (blogs, Facebook, Twitter etc.) have progressed very quickly and library staff has had to keep up in order to answer the most basic questions (How do I sign up? etc). These are all changes we didn't institute. They are changes that came from outside the library. The items listed on the timeline are all initiatives launched by the library.

So, what's a good way to reflect the knowledge library staff has gained and shared by the introduction of public access computers in 1995?

 

Library Bot 1000

1 min read

My friends were asked to make a few videos for my library's recent staff day. They asked me to help...and I did. Here's the video.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/OuOwuP7-MUw]

 

My friend has mastered time travel

1 min read

My friend Chris has mastered time travel!

He went back in time earlier this week, kidnapped Edgar Allan Poe and brought him to the library FOR THE CHILDREN. Here's the proof!

Grab some popcorn and enjoy the wonders of modern science!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/MSdnwZnlgSI]

 

Notes from 2012 LITA National Forum

1 min read

I've finished writing up my notes from this year's LITA National Forum (October 5-8). I don’t think they do justice to the amazingly smart people who presented. I've tried to include links to the speaker’s slides and any relevant links they mentioned. I've also grouped all of the available online slides and keynote presentations into one place so they should be easier to find.

It was a great weekend. I learned a lot and met some very smart/funny/nice people. I left with my head full of ideas that I’m still trying to process. Being surrounded by people smarter than me is always a treat. Especially when they are willing to share their knowledge.

I am very thankful to the Friends of the Library for financing this expedition and hope to do it again.

Notes can be found here.

Links to slides and keynote presentations can be found here.

 

My eBook Clinic Experience

3 min read

I wrapped up my first round of eBook Clinics last night and it has been quite the experience. I went to all of the libraries in my library system (8) and over the past 4 weeks to try and help people in my community learn more about eBooks, eReaders and our digital collection. I think it was pretty successful.

98 people attended the 8 sessions. The attendance varied by location, 27 was the most and 3 was the fewest. The people that attended were mostly retirees. There were some younger people and I even had one father and son (5th or 6th grade) attend at one location. Some had devices, most were looking to buy one.

The people with devices asked a lot of questions about how to use our digital collection. I was able to help most of them become more comfortable with the process of browsing the collection, checking something out and getting it on their device. I also did a bit of troubleshooting.

The people looking to buy a device were looking to learn more about the different devices available. We spent a lot of time talking about the difference between eReaders and tablets. We discussed Kindles, Nooks and the other options. There was a lot of talk about how Kindles are different from other eReaders.We adapted some information from here into a handout that I think was kinda helpful for people looking to buy a device.

We also talked about how our digital collection is controlled in large part by the publishers. Many of the people who attended the clinics had no idea that we are limited in what we can purchase and provide to them. I hope I was able to explain (nicely?) that there will be some titles that we will be unable to provide no matter what. Why? Because the publishers won’t let us. I got the impression they understood this and accepted that we are trying to provide the best collection possible.

It was a good experience! I enjoy getting out of the office, visiting our libraries, seeing some friends and meeting new people. It's also good to be able to help demystify something for people. I'm not an expert but I know enough to help most of the people who attended the eBook clinics.

I’ve got a post Christmas round of eBook clinics scheduled for January/February and will start preparing for it very soon…like today.

 

Friday Reads - Nothing Edition

2 min read

It's been a busy couple of weeks. We are finally going to offer eBooks to our public via OverDrive beginning next week. It only took 18 months from 'Yes we want it' to 'It's ready to go'. That took a little too long for my liking but it was above my pay grade and I wasn't involved.

Now that a launch is imminent I have become intimately involved with the process. I have visited (or will visit soon) all of our libraries in an effort to raise the staff's comfort level with OverDrive. It's supplemental to the training they provided. I think/hope it has helped the people who have come to the sessions I've hosted.

I've learned a lot about how this service will work and hopefully will be ready to fulfill part of my new responsibility (support for staff and public for OD). I'm not really looking forward to this new aspect of my job but someone has to do it. I'm not the only person doing the support. We've got people at each library who should be able to handle easy questions so hopefully I will only get the tough ones. We will see. Wish us luck.

One thing I like about visiting all of our libraries is seeing everyone. I like just about everyone in my library system so getting out and visiting the branches is always fun. I get to hang out with people I rarely get to see and I enjoy that. I also get mileage reimbursement so that takes the edge off driving all over the county.

Do I have anything for you to read this week? Since I missed last week I should but honestly I've been so busy with OverDrive (and other stuff) that I haven't had much chance to read and process anything. My Google Reader is overflowing and I know there have been lots of really interesting things going on. I just haven't sat still for the last two weeks and I probably won't for the next few weeks either. Plus I'm totally hooked on the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin so when I do get a chance to relax I'm reading that. Maybe next week...

 

Friday Reads - Challenges Editon

5 min read

It's been a challenging week. Both of my kids are sick and that means a serious lack of sleep. On top of that, my father-in-law and his wife visited us the first half of the week. That's a good thing but there was no time to rest. But enough of the whining.

The real challenge for me this week was trying to stay positive professionally. I'm generally an optimistic guy who tries to see the good side of things. Lately I've been thinking about the future of libraries and it's been depressing. I want libraries to succeed and thrive because I believe that we are the only institution of government that is truly open to everyone. We have the potential to assist every member of society regardless of age, gender or economics.

The thing that has gotten to me this week is the realization that our future is far from certain. I'm lucky to be in a county that values its libraries. Will that always be the case? How can I justify our existence to someone like this without sounding whiny and/or angry? What I need to do is work on my 'elevator pitch' about the value of libraries. Maybe focus on:

  • how the library is more than books
  • we are about people
    • helping them improve
  • by helping individuals improve we are improving our communities

It's a start. I'll work on it.

The posts below have helped me this week. While I don't think libraries are quaint I appreciate Cooley's response. McGuire has given me a lot to think about and I'm still trying to sort out his post. I really like P.C. Sweeney and his optimism. Andy provides a funding option that I hadn't really considered.

On to the reading:

The post isn't nearly as good as the comments. There are lots of people defending libraries and getting mad at Mr. Cooley but his response is very interesting. The part that hit me the hardest was his take on the library brand. Here's the entire quote:

Brand: Libraries, first and foremost, have a major brand issue. They span physical books, digital books, public search, proprietary search, research assistance, career counseling, literacy development, computer skills training, free internet access, movies, games, lectures, reading groups of various demos, community forums, book sales and more. Sliced another way they offer news, history, data, entertainment, elder services, children’s' services, entertainment, training and more. Either way, it’s a broad offer best summed up as "making society better". Unfortunately, like "saving the environment" you get more lip service than traction from consumers on that one. (re)Focus your brand as an industry and good things will happen.)

Short version: we're doing too much to do anything well.

Hugh McGuire has written a great post at In the Library With the Lead Pipe (which is a very good site for library ideas, theory and philosophy) about what libraries are for. He raises many good points and questions but basically it boils down to this: our business model is changing and we need to change with it. The value of a library as place full of books for people to check out will decline and we should start focusing on the other things that make us important to our communities if we are going to be funded and relevant in the future. I think this quote is beautiful:

A world of ubiquitous free or near-free ebooks is coming, in 5 or 10 or 20 years. And when that happens, a library that defines itself as “a place where you can get free or near-free books” will no longer be an institution providing a service deemed important enough to be maintained by its community. But libraries have never been solely about free books. They are about something deeper, about information, about access to knowledge, about providing a public space where citizens can interact with each other, all within the context of an exchange of knowledge. Libraries are at the core of our understanding of civilization, and if we are to keep them healthy, we’ll have to make sure that they continue to answer deep needs in our society, rather than provide particular services because they’ve always done so.

I like this post and have been thinking about it most of the week. Sweeney also thinks libraries are changing but the core service of libraries doesn't have to.

What I’m saying here in a round and about way, is that we need to continue what libraries have always been, and that is to be enablers to those who want to learn and provide the resources that enable our communities to learn. It’s not reference, its enabling our patrons to live more fulfilling lives. After all… By answering reference questions wasn’t that the real goal anyway?

Andy always writes thought provoking posts and this one isn't any different. He proposes that libraries be open to the idea of corporate sponsorship. I'm not against this idea. I actually think it could work in some cases. Would it fly here? I doubt it.

 

Friday Reads - Birthday Edition

3 min read

This was an interesting week.

[caption id="attachment_2353" align="alignright" width="224" caption="Yes. Henrico Libraries DO Rock!"][/caption]

The big event was our All Henrico Reads on Tuesday with local boy done great David Baldacci. He was born and raised in Henrico county and everyone is very proud of his success.

The event was great! Over 1200 people came out on Tuesday night to see him speak and sign books. He's a great speaker and a very good sport. He stayed until 10pm and signed every book put in front of him. He also spoke to hundreds of students in two separate assemblies during the day. I can only imagine how tired he must have been. I've got a lot of respect for him and hope he continues to produce bestselling books. You should check out his literacy foundation and consider giving them some money if you can.

Today is my birthday so I will be helping the local economy by eating out for every meal. My oldest daughter and I went to IHOP for breakfast. She loves the Create-A-Face Pancakes. Lunch will be with the wife and youngest daughter. Location is yet to be determined. Dinner will be pizza. I will not cook today!

This week's links are less focused on technology than most of my past posts. I like the idea of gamifying the library but I don't know how we can do it here. It is something to think about though. There is good news/bad news and on the eBook front. And some creative people in Spain have come up with a novel way to make souvenirs.

This is simply cool. You'll have to look at the video to get the full effect. The people who thought this up are very creative and smart.

Bad news on the eBook front. It looks like the State Librarian for Kansas is balking at increased rates proposed by Overdrive. It looks like a complicated issue. I wonder what will happen. It will probably affect us at some point.

Good news on the eBook front. Harper Collins is willing to negotiate with libraries. I hope they mean it and we can use this as a way to find a good/fair model that works for libraries and publishers.

Brian Herzog discusses gamifying the library. The idea is to reward people who follow the rules. It's an interesting idea and one that we should think about. What to reward? How?

Andy discusses gamifying the library. He asks some questions that should be asked when deciding whether or not to make a game and proposes one of his own. I don't see his game working for us but maybe we can come up with one that will.

 

Jack and the Wonder Beans!

1 min read

Last Saturday I took my kids to a great Library program!

Some students from Theatre VCU put on a great show at the Gayton Library. It was an Appalachian rendition of the classic fairy tale Jack and the Bean Stalk titled Jack and the Wonder Beans. They did a great job and all of the kids in attendance seemed to really love the show! A lot of the adults did too.

It was very fun. There was a lot of crowd participation, singing, dancing and loudness. It was perfect for kids! They are doing another show at the Twin Hickory Library this Saturday and we will probably attend it too. My kids liked it THAT much. It didn't hurt that my oldest daughter was asked to be in the show. The director asked her to be the cow that was sold for the beans. She absolutely loved it!

[slideshow]

 

Time Travel, History and Fun

2 min read

Last Saturday the Department of Recreation and Parks hosted the first Hunt for Henrico History. The event was held at the Deep Run Recreation Center at Deep Run Park. Over 800 people came to the day-long event to learn more about the history of Henrico County. This was the kick off to a year long celebration of the 400th anniversary of Henrico County's founding.

It was a fun day and I'm proud to say that we were part of the fun. My friend Chris Holliman from the Twin Hickory Library was asked to revisit his Time Traveling Librarian role and bring Patrick Henry to the children at the event. He graciously accepted and we set about producing a new video for the day.

Due to a scheduling conflict our previous Patrick Henry was not able to attend this event. Luckily, Chris was able to convince a historical reenactor from St. John's Church to play Patrick for us. He did a great job! They performed two shows and were able to entertain many kids and adults. The video below is of the second show. It's about 20 minutes and is very entertaining. Hope you enjoy it.

http://vimeo.com/19405849