Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Computers In Libraries #cildc Reflections

I attended the Computers In Libraries meeting at the Washington Hilton last week.

This year’s CIL theme was “Creating Innovative Libraries”.  Each morning we had a keynote speaker talk about innovation and how it might apply to the Library environment.  In addition there was a program track on the first day that focused case studies and resources to Inspire Innovation.


Keynote Speaker
Jeffrey Phillips, OVO Vice President, started the conference sharing his thoughts on why innovation is important and how to shift the workplace culture to value & incorporate innovation as a normal operation.  He challenged us to think of innovation less as a concept and more as a discipline/methodology.  He shared how the balance between efficiency and innovation started out balanced in the 1970s, but processes like LEAN, Six Sigma and outsourcing turned the focus on efficiency more and less on innovation.  

Jeffrey claimed that middle managers are the key to innovation because they are tasked with getting the business as usual tasks done and often have to sacrifice the innovation activities.  Three factors are needed to turn innovation into a business as usual task: 1) communication and commitment while doing annual planning, 2) rebalance of skill sets to allow for trend spotting and customer insights and 3) modify compensation and recognition policies to include innovation activities.  Check out OVO’s Innovate on Purpose blog for more on sustainable, repeatable innovation.

Inspiring Innovation – Learning to Dream Big
Kateri Abeyta from Denver Public Library and Jason Clark from Montana State University Libraries talked about their Think Tank type groups they started.  Kateri’s group is called TIGers, Technology Interest Group.  They chose a less formal approach meeting after hours outside of work with staff-led sessions. These informal discussions have helped inform the overall 3-5 year technology plan.  Jason’s Think Tank is more brownbag focused and serves as a way to talk and learn about emerging technology on a monthly basis.   Other examples of Library Think Tanks are Harvard’s Library Lab and UVA’s Scholars’ Lab.

Navigating Information Overload – Super Searcher Secrets For Success
Every conference you have some sessions that are your “guilty pleasure.”  At ALA, these sessions tend to be author and/or publisher book buzz related.  At CIL, it is sessions done by a speaker that always have something new to share. 

Mary Ellen Bates’ session on search tips fell into this category.   She talked about creating higher value searching by taking time to think about your search before you start.  What will the user use the search result for?  What format is the user expecting? What is “good enough” outcome versus a “perfect” outcome? She suggested that as you perform the search give yourself a deadline on the research and check-in every 15 minutes.  Librarians are “information pitbulls” and “we want to keep searching.” One of my favorite quotes from her talk was “Searching on the web is like walking down the candy aisle.”  Mary Ellen encouraged us to provide context around the search results we provide back to the user.  What did we find as well as what we didn’t find.  If possible, try to visualize the results.   

Search Websites to Check out
Yahoo Clues – similar to Google Trends, still in beta but has good visualization tools
Samepoint – social media search, can capture negative and positive tone
Social Mention – social media search, include analytics

Inspiring Innovation – Creative Ideas, Insights & Trends: Innovation To Go
Fellow DC/SLA members, Chris Olson from Chris Olson Associates & Barbara Ferry from National Geographic Society shared their thoughts on innovation. Chris shared some websites to collaborate and read about innovation.  Check out her presentation for a full list, but here are a few that stood out to me.  Ideascale is a collaborative space to have staff suggest and vote on innovative ideas.  SmartPlanet focuses on innovation in the world around us.  Barbara shared how the National Geographic Library is reinventing themselves in light of a major cut in staffing.  She shared an S-Curve graph of the shape of change created by Dr. Peter Bishop who teaches Future Studies at the University of Houston.  The S-Curve shows a progression of “No problem” to “Some kind of change” happens to “What is going on Here” to “Whew.”   Sometimes in order to adapt to change and move into the future, you have to let go of the past.  Barbara encouraged her staff to look for new opportunities to integrate with other areas of the company knowing that they didn’t have to provide new services completely themselves just help to facilitate the information sharing.

Web Presence – Getting to Know HTML5 & CSS3
This session was another “guilty pleasure” in the sense that it allowed my programming self to get a quick fix on some new techniques. Also I know that at NPR we are trying to integrate HTML5 & CSS3 into our product development work.  Jason Clark from Montana State University Libraries gave this presentation.  In his view, HTML5 is really moving the web browser from a document display engine to a software development tool.  Highlights of his talk can be found here.  If you are curious to see a example website using CSS3 (styling of elements of a webpage) check out Things We Left On The Moon.

Inspiring Innovation – Strategic Decisions For Insourcing & Outsourcing Innovation Projects
My colleague Hannah & myself put together a small panel to talk about the competing challenges of needing to reinforce our own competencies to innovate with those of consultants. Mary Talley, from TalleyPartners, shared why you might consider bringing in outside expertise to staff your projects.  Angela Titone, shared her experience with using consultants over at the Consumers Electronics Association.  Hannah shared examples from our new archives database Artemis & Elections database project work.   


Keynote Speaker
Susan Hildreth, Institute of Museum and Library Services Director, shared how IMLS’ strategic plan is fostering innovative libraries through many different grant programs. She also spoke a bit about the Digital Public Library of America project which IMLS is a funder.

Services With a Twist – Who Let the Dog In?
Julian Aiken & Femi Cadinus from the Yale Law Library shared their case study of implementing a service dog as a library service for the Law students.  NPR’s story of this new service was actually played during the presentation.  Check out the story – it has some great audio of Monty, the therapy dog. 

Ebook Evolution & Revolution – Ebook Trends: Info Pro Perspectives
While ebooks don’t play a huge role in our library services at NPR, I was curious to check out a few sessions just to get a feel for the latest issues.  Plus I wanted to support some fellow Twitter librarians whom I knew were passionate about this subject.  Check out the video archive to see the full talk. Andy Woodworth, who co-authored The eBook User’s Bill of Rights, summarized the ebook world right now as “everything is amazing and no one is happy.”  Sarah Houghton, from San Rafael Public Library, compiled the different lies that publishers, library ebook vendors and librarians tell about ebooks.  Michael Porter, from LibraryRenewal, defined libraries as content plus community and shared LibraryRenewal’s vision for creating a sustainable and practical solutions for sharing electronic content.

21st-Century Library Systems & Operations – Open Source Trends & Migrations
Marshall Breeding, from Vanderbilt University, shared the latest trends on open source ILS systems.  Irene McDermott, from Crowell Public Library, shared their experience with migrating to an open source ILS LibLime Koha in just over 3 months.  There was an interesting dynamic in this session as the Koha tool is offered in different versions – one open source and one proprietary via LibLime.  In the time that we started to investigate open source options for NPR, there has been a lot of press for Koha & Evergreen two open source ILS systems.

Services With a Twist – Creative Computing on Campus: Digital Media Production
This session focused on two case studies of academic libraries setting up digital labs within their Library to support media production needs of their students. Danielle Whren Johnson, from Loyola/Notre Dame Library, shared how they were able to plan for a Digital Lab as part of a Library redesign in 2006 - 2008. Their biggest challenge is the location of the lab is not conducive to walk-by traffic and it requires additional marketing.  Rhonda Moore & John Maclachlan, from McMaster University, shared how their Lyons New Media center was established and the services that they offer.  

Battledecks – Innovation … Now what?
If you’ve never seen a Battledecks session, I would encourage you to check one out in person.  Basically there are a group of “competitors” who give a “presentation” on a “topic” based on totally random slides.  The winner is the person who gets through the allotted slides in the allotted time and can deliver a consistent message.  Here is CILDC 2012’s Battledecks champion Andromeda Yelton’s first win at Battledecks at ALA Midwinter 2010 in Boston.


Keynote Speaker
Michael Edson, Web & New Media Strategy Director at the Smithsonian, challenged us to Go Boldly Into the Present.  He feels that strategy should be a physical tool that makes something happen and innovation is an endurance race.  Innovation is likely to happen somewhere else not within an organization.  He challenged us to find a way to get ideas and volunteer labor into our organizations.  Innovation happens at the edges, but we need to bring that innovation into the core activities.  Michael ended his talk with the message of Think big, start small and move fast.  This keynote was one of the best I’ve seen in the past year.  Very inspiring, with a good mixture of humor and seriousness.

Reaching Out, Engaging & Marketing – Leveraging Your Social Media to Gain Friends & Influence People
Julie Theado, from Columbus Metropolitan Library’s Social Media Manager, shared their usage of social media tools to help pass a levy to support Library services as well as engaging their community of users.  She encouraged a usage of an editorial calendar to generate weekly features and consistent postings on Facebook and Twitter.  Posts on Facebook should follow a 70-20-10 rule; 70% promotional items, 20% engagement with community and 10% about the Library.  Look to create quality experiences and have measurable objectives.  While NPR’s Library users are internal, I would like to see us start to share our stories and experiences via social media as well.

Reaching Out, Engaging & Marketing – No More Excuses
Janie Hermann, from Princeton Public Library and Nancy Dowd, from EBSCO’s NoveList shared their strategies for Library marketing and engaging your community. Most libraries don’t have full-time marketing staff, but yet we are tasked with having to promote services and a brand. Research your customers’ needs and find the gaps between those needs and your libraries services.  From the gaps – create a plan to new products and/or services. Listen to your customers on social media and respond.  Library As Incubator Project, started by a group of LIS students, is a collaborative space to share advocacy & marketing ideas for libraries.

Ebook Evolution & Revolution – The Future of Ebooks
I attended this ebook session because it was a panel of library vendors and I was curious what their perspective was compared to Thursday’s session.  I felt that Andromeda, from Gluejar, and Ken from EBSCO brought the best perspectives to the conversation.  The Overdrive rep was too much on the defensive and the Ingram/Coutts rep just lost me completely.  I’m curious to see how the ebook world & policies change over the next year. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

CBR4 #11 - Murder of a Bookstore Babe - Denise Swanson

When school psychologist Skye Denison discovers a body crushed by a toppled bookcase in Scumble River's new bookstore, she has to read the clues before she becomes the killer's next work-in-progress.
I received this book as part of one of my Secret Santa packages this past year.

After the last couple of books, I was in the mood for a quick and light mystery book.  This book hit the spot right away.  While the bookstore was the location of the murder, it didn't play too much of a part within the plot.

While this book was part of a series, I did feel that it was readable as a stand alone book as well. It probably would help to understand the background of the characters more if I had read other books in the Scumble River series.

I would equate this author's style to Mary Higgins Clark or Janet Evanovich.  She is able to capture small town life well with a nice mystery to be solved.  

CBR4 #10 - The Mirage - Matt Ruff

A mind-bending novel in which an alternate history of 9/11 and its aftermath uncovers startling truths about America and the Middle East

11/9/2001: Christian fundamentalists hijack four jetliners. They fly two into the Tigris & Euphrates World Trade Towers in Baghdad, and a third into the Arab Defense Ministry in Riyadh. The fourth plane, believed to be bound for Mecca, is brought down by its passengers.

The United Arab States declares a War on Terror. Arabian and Persian troops invade the Eastern Seaboard and establish a Green Zone in Washington, D.C. . . .

Summer, 2009: Arab Homeland Security agent Mustafa al Baghdadi interrogates a captured suicide bomber. The prisoner claims that the world they are living in is a mirage--in the real world, America is a superpower, and the Arab states are just a collection of "backward third-world countries." A search of the bomber's apartment turns up a copy of "The New York Times," dated September 12, 2001, that appears to support his claim. Other captured terrorists have been telling the same story. The president wants answers, but Mustafa soon discovers he's not the only interested party.

The gangster Saddam Hussein is conducting his own investigation. And the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee--a war hero named Osama bin Laden--will stop at nothing to hide the truth. As Mustafa and his colleagues venture deeper into the unsettling world of terrorism, politics, and espionage, they are confronted with questions without any rational answers, and the terrifying possibility that their world is not what it seems.

I received an ARC copy of this novel from Harper Collins

The premise of this book really caught my attention as an ultimate what if scenario and interesting to explore.  9/11 stories and movies have been hard for me to read/watch as images of that day are too easily remembered. Because of those overall emotions I did have a hard time reading this book at times.

The author works in both politicians from 2001-2009 as well as religious fanatics as characters within the book.  The reimagining of Saddam, Osama and even Middle Eastern politicians was very clever.    At first the wiki type articles before each chapter were helpful to set up the background and/or the scene in a creative way.  But by the end of the book I found myself scanning through them more and more.

I don't want to give away how the mirage was "created", but I was glad it wasn't some drug induced state. This book is a very creative take on the 9/11 events and how our relationship with the Middle East has changed and evolved since that day.  It is also a good thriller/sci fiction type book as well.