All posts by Sarah

#libfaves15 and the “Best Books” phenomenon

At the end of the year there are a lot of “best Books of” lists (and others of course), a chance for people to catch up on titles that they might have missed during the year. This seems to be a time when people want to show how smart they are, how many critically acclaimed books that they can mention in a post. But, no one should feel bad about not reading enough, or not enjoying the books that others are reading.

Or, like with movie lists, try and make sure that the list writer’s tastes match the reader’s tastes. Because I’ve known for years that what I like in a movie has very little to do with what a newspaper film critic enjoys in a movie.

There was an excellent tweet that I came across when working on gathering a list of all the books published in 2015 that I’ve read and enjoyed this year (spoiler, I only managed 5).


This reminder should bring you back to Raganathan’s 5 Laws of library science or more specifically the 2nd and 3rd laws.

“Every reader his/her book” and “Every book its reader”

Don’t judge a person by their request, don’t tell them that it is a “bad” book, and it isn’t your job to educate someone on better reading.

People read for different reasons. From entertainment, escapism, to learn, to be able to participate in conversations with their peers. People also read for different reasons at different times. I don’t work with Readers Advisory all that much and even I have had countless interactions with people sheepishly confessing, “well I’m going to be travelling so I want something a bit lighter to read”, like I might judge them on their favourite author or genre. (On the flip side there are also the super explicit requests for “cozy mysteries about female detectives by british authors, no violence, no bad language, no sex”).

Sometimes you start books, but can’t finish them until you are in the right headspace. Sometimes you just start and never finish a book.

And this is why I try and participate in projects like #libfaves15 , in my own small way, I can inject some non-typical titles into the “Best Books” arena, so that those who don’t see their reading tastes reflected, can see a bit of diversity. Scrolling through the list now I see graphic novels, romances, and lots of fantasy in additional to the expected favourites. Efforts like this help illustrate how diverse our reading habits and tastes are.

Book Review: Sorcerer to the Crown

Do you ever read a book that you really, really want to love, but can’t? Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown is that book for me.


There was a lot that I loved about it: the characters – fully formed, complex, flawed, and clever, the world (most important to me)- alt-England where magic is real, if fading, and fully part of society, and the plot – see fading magic.  With more to love, like the discussions of gender and race politics, and class.

I knew from reading the blurb before it was published that this should be a book that I should love, and was eager to read it. But, I didn’t.

Over the last two months I’ve struggled to put into words why I didn’t like it. Why it was a book that I might recommend to some, but would never re-read, and there are a lot of people that I wouldn’t recommend it to. And since no one I know has read it, it has been a solo struggle.

But, I’ve figured it out. There are 2 reasons that the Sorcerer to the Crown wasn’t for me, and might not be for you.

  1. “Alt-Regency” this book, in additional to the other aspects, is an imagined alternative to the Regency genre. I have never read any regency fiction as the prose is written very densely, and is distracting from the story. Also, boring.
  2. This book is literature, and reads like an intellectual exercise. A little bit like why I really, really disliked Grossman’s the Magicians, it doesn’t feel like a story, more like a bunch of component parts (I want my book to have ingredients A, B, and C, but not D – make D the opposite!) and less about building a compelling story. And, because of that it feels elitist which turns me off immediately.

tl;dr despite looking on paper like a great addition to the fantasy genre Sorcerer to the Crown is actually literature, which isn’t my cup of tea.


So many meetings.

They are an essential part of the modern working life. Some people hate them, and others only mildly dislike them. But, I would hazard to say that most recognize them as absolutely necessary for communication and successful project completion.

I normally wouldn’t have thought of meetings a topic that might be of interest for anyone who might take a look at my site, but over the last few months I’ve been told that I run some good meetings and I thought it might help others to share my process.

For someone who is only a couple of years post-MLIS, and isn’t in a management position, I’ve been very lucky through committees, and the like to chair and organize meetings for a variety of groups. Internally at my library I tend to chair meetings around digital content and staff training and have for a few years. Externally for the last year and a half I have chaired a local sub-group of an organization that consists of public library staff who work with digital resources and this summer I was made chair of a small group made up of mostly Academic librarians.

  1. Know your audience
    • This is probably the hardest for many, and the most important part. No matter how long you’ll be meeting together, you have to learn how the members communicate, as well as how they feel about the topic at hand.
    • There is a fantastic model about team formation “Forming Storming, Norming” that has helped me approach this issue.
    • I struggle with this, but find by listening a lot for the first meeting or two, and giving myself time for reflection, I can think about tactics that will ensure effective meetings.
  2. Have a plan
    • Often known as an agenda. I often have two versions, one with all of the topics for the meeting that is shared, and a second with notes for me about my speaking points. It might also include questions to ask the group for discussion topics and notes about extra information people might ask for.
    • Your agenda should only enough content than can be covered in the meeting time. Don’t put too much on, you don’t want to rush or run out of time.
    • Give the option of others submitting discussion topics for discussion.
    • I also really like being able to use a basic template (updates, roundtable), but also have a topic of note for a meeting. This means with planning you can prevent having too many meaty topics on the agenda.
    • The agenda should also include what decisions need to be made a the meeting.
    • This is something my boss does really well, and I’ve learned through observation and practice.
    • Some tips from the Harvard Business Review
  3. Have a timeline
    • Not only should you map your agenda points to a timeline, but also set timelines for different activities such as when to send out the draft agenda, when to have the draft minutes ready for review.
    • Also useful to mention is having a plan for how often to meet and when, ask what days and times work for group members and then making sure you work with those times.
    • Know what to do if the meeting looks like it might run over. Have a “parking lot” for later if time, or table for the next meeting.
    • Staying on time, and ending on time shows respect for those in the meeting with you.
  4. Encourage participation
    • Confession: I don’t allow for small talk at the beginning of a meeting. Any chatting, catching up, or sharing of cool stuff waits until the end when people can stay late if they are able, or if we end early we can chat together as a group.
    • But really, participation is key. This is looks like ensuring you have activities where all members can have input on a decision, not chose those comfortable with speaking. It could look like going around the table ans saying one thing each, or brainstorming and then voting with a set number of stickers that each member has, or using an electronic voting tool.
    • Leave at least 8 seconds of dead air for people to speak when you ask a question. Don’t follow-up right away.
  5. Set clear actions and deadlines
    • Make it clear in the meeting and after what tasks various people have agreed to. It might be as simple as “Sarah will send out a doodle poll for the next meeting date” to “Sarah and Jane will create a draft evaluation document and circulate it to the group by June 3”.
    • Volun-telling sometimes works, other times you just ask “can someone from —- help out with this?”
  6. Follow-up
    • If others are helping out with things, or haven’t completed something that they offered to do, talk with them. See how they are doing with tasks. Usually they have forgotten, but sometimes something came up and they didn’t know how to tell you.
    • Also, make sure minutes are circulated before the next meeting, and give people an idea of what is happening next.
  7. Thank people
    • People have given you time, either for 3 minutes or 3 hours. They have prepared and participated, making sure you are able to complete your task, project, or role.
  8. Admit when you’ve made a mistake or not met a deadline
    • This builds trust if it doesn’t happen too often. Don’t just let it fade to the background. It can be hard, but prevents an awkward question and answer interaction later on.

Things I need to work on.

  • Making sure that if I’m chairing, that I’m not also taking the meeting minutes. This prevents good notes from being made.
  • Don’t volunteer to take on too much yourself. I don’t like to feel that I am asking more of a group than I am able to give myself, but sometimes there are no volunteers. But it means over-committing myself, and making mistakes or not making deadlines.
  • Setting guidelines and expectations at the very beginning. This has only been an issue once, but I hopefully won’t forget again.
  • Finding participation activities that work when there is both an in-person and phone-in contingent.

And overall, just remember that the meeting you’re in is about ensuring communication and teamwork, things we all love, and doing our best in whatever role we’re in makes everything easier, and our communities stronger.

cover of the artocity arhives

Recommendation: The Laundry Files by Charles Stross

It’s been awhile since my last post, and it is mostly because I feel overwhelmed by the thought of posting something interesting, or “good”. So, instead of worrying about that, I’m going to post things that work for me.

A book series recommendation is on the docket today.cover of the artocity arhives

Do you like science fiction? Fantasy? Do you like the idea of reading about an IT nerd mired in bureaucracy and Lovecraftian horrors?

If so, the Laundry Files by Charles Stross are here for you.

Starting with the Atrocity Archives, you are introduced to Bob Howard, part of IT support for the Laundry – a British organization here to save us from unknown horrors. He is looking to become a field agent, but then things get complicated. The plot is complex, but not overly complicated, and any clichés are included with tongue firmly in cheek.

These books are scary, funny, and riveting. All told from Bob’s perspective, you get to enjoy terrifying events

And if you are interested, I’d highly recommend trying the audiobooks, they are what I’ve been “reading” and the reader, Emery Gideon, is great.

On idealism and bravery

The 2015 BC Library Conference was beyond fantastic. Every session that I attended was amazing, and I am inspired in numerous ways. Two sessions I attended, and the panel that I sat on had a real impact on me.

These sessions really focused on reflective practice, sticking to our ideals and that living authentically is valuable. I want to contribute to honest discussions and becoming the best person, and therefore member of the library community.

So, here are three things that I am insecure about:

  1. Getting older. I am getting close to thirty, and while I know that I have accomplished much professionally, I haven’t met many of the “social” goals that many of my peers have. And I haven’t reconciled how I feel about that.
  2. Writing. I am very insecure about my writing skills. Which is troubling because I love to write (see: this blog), but I don’t write creatively as much as I once did.
  3. Not knowing myself well-enough. Something I try not to think about too much, which isn’t healthy. But I have surrounded myself with goals that education and career focused and haven’t reflected on the rest of me.

By writing these items out, I hope to find opportunities to work with them, and be a better me.

But, to balance it, here are 5 things about myself that I like:

  1. My own. I am an ebook expert. I also hold a lot of knowledge about the publishing industry.
  2. My love of instruction and sharing information helps me be effective in what I do.
  3. I believe in what the library community can accomplish, and that hasn’t diminished over time.
  4. I deeply value my library technician diploma, am happy about my MLIS, and those years of education and immersion in practice.
  5. My relationships with family, friends and colleagues help me out immensely.

I know what I do, but I need to better learn who I am.

Here’s to personal growth!

Experiments in modern note-taking

One of my first tasks upon taking my taking my current position was to keep less paper. Over the last 2 and a bit years, I have managed to rein in my papers to a drawer and a bit. But I do create a lot of temporary paper. Notes, to-do lists, documents for meetings, etc. They get recycled but I still would like to cut down on the waste.

Every so often I attempt different paper-less methods of work. The one technology I try and avoid is laptops.  Laptops are great for certain tasks, but they’re bulky, and you need space to use them. So my experiments mostly revolve around tablets and phones.

At conferences (like #CILDC) I have been using a bluetooth keyboard along with a tablet. This time, due to speed issues, I primarily used the keyboard with my phone. Which was a hilarious feeling -phone tucked away, just tying on a tiny keyboard. Writing into nothing. It works well but there are a couple of drawbacks:

  • Spelling – either auto-correct doesn’t work at all and no spelling checks occur, or
  • Jumping around – something with how the keyboard works with apps sometimes causes the input to jump around, which is incredibly frustrating.

But, that is what I have been most successful with so far.

For keeping the words in one place I tend to use:

  1. Google Docs (personal docs, and those that don’t need sharing)
  2. WordPress (blogs)
  3. Citrix (work related documents)

There are other options; an app that I have just started testing with moderate success is Google Handwriting Input.


This app allows you with stylus or finger to write text and converts it very well into text. It was very successful in converting my scrawl, including discerning capitals from lower case.

What I did have an issue with was device speed. My tablet, which has the screen size suited to writing with a stylus, is not fast enough to convert the writing. This lag make it very difficult to take notes. It is quick to work with on my phone, but the screen size isn’t big enough for a fast scrawl.

It is promising, taking notes just like you would on paper, but without having to transcribe them later.

If anyone has any suggestions for paperless working – I’d love to hear it.

#CIL Day 3

Last day of the conference! And I am a bit sad that flight times mean that I’ll miss the last 2 sessions.

2015-04-29 08.44.05

Keynote: Technology & Libraries: Now & Into the Future

Mary Augusta Thomas, the Deputy Director of the Smithsonian Institute Libraries gave this talk. She notes that people are a bit afraid of the future of libraries. There is an increasing amount of information and discovery available to us, and we are needed to help store, parse, and connect. You need to have the history of the institution to use as a tool for planning and it is a key to your community. We should keep our publications. Profiles of staff help make connections to build knowledge, and will help us learn more about ourselves. Our systems should support our goals. Our mission will not change, but the way that that we accomplish our mission will change. We are partners in processes, more than tech and books. Future librarians will highly developed skills to collaborate and cooperate. We need these skills because we need to learn who our users are and what they need. Act of discovery is not tied to local collections. Have descriptions that contain lots of entry points to an object in order to make connections. Reference interview skills are vital. Where we locate ourselves as staff is different because our community is changing how it looks for works. We should want to be better than we are now, to use our skills and technologies to better serve our communities.

They found whale bones on top of a mountain, used 3D scanners to digitize the sites, researchers can now look at the bone scans and even replicate the bones for research.

Designing Spaces for Staff: Innovation & Integrated Services

Sharon Bostick and Bryan Irwin, University libraries. We are a change environment, which needs space change as well. There are lots of challenges. They have a rolling re-org. Staffing and space. Flexible adaptable spaces and people. Need to collaborate. In a lot of places where staff spaces are rigid and tucked away. Are your staff roles relevant? They their space needs change as well as their roles. Staff wanted to be together, with alone space and collaborative space. 3 general categories of spaces, concentration, collaboration/creation, and conversation. These spaces should be fluid and user-centric. What do your service desks say about you? Barrier? Friendly concierge? Don’t forget that patrons need help and don’t care about titles or departments. Have staff embedded in the public staff, have consultative spaces not transactional spaces. Try ideas, but don’t commit to any idea, which can lead to issues. be concerned about the first impressions that you give to patrons. There are solutions where you can re-arrange desks as needed (raised floors for power solutions). The corporate would is a place to look for learning about how people work best, and how space works with that. Change your modes throughout the day, and change those spaces. Create a large plan with an implementation plan. Make incremental progress on that plan. Allows to self-correct and test ideas.Think about library mission not about library staff personalities.

Liz McGettigan , UK Library Design. Need to create mind-shifts and makeovers for changing existing spaces. Make your interior match the changes outside the walls. We have a modesty problem, also publicity and leadership issues. Think about self-service, and mobile accessibility. Pull out the front desks and have staff at open desks. Idea: touchscreen walls for quick transactions and way-finding. Linger, learn, and have neat tech. Have meeting spaces that are both open and private. Have the youth design their own spaces. SOLUS have small spaces that are modern and pre-made. Make sure you are training on technology for the people who don’t otherwise have access to education. Use your imagination and you will succeed.

Transforming Tech Training Services

From NYPL’s TechConnect crew.”One Team, One Goal.” Brandy McNeil and Steven Deolus are the speakers. (won a prize). Glass technology study, 8/10 people need technology skills in their everyday lives. Need to have a blended lerning model. Everyone, everywhere needs some sort of training. Focus on everyday skills, and have a standardized curriculum and management. Also advertise. Started by branding. They have 100 different types of classes. Have virtual training (self-help via google hangouts), one-on-one, online tutorials, series based classes, and use seasoned instructions. 3 minute snippets on YouTube. Created of an advisory council of older staff and audited offerings and successes as well as what didn’t work. Key: get buy-in!! Meet often with key stakeholders, know what is going on with them, and let them know what you are doing. Maintain relationships. Staff need to know various things, all types of tech, a/v expertise, and prefer bi-lingual staff. Have regional managers, have field trainers and lab trainers, and lab assistants (open lab time). Open lab time has to be productive. OpenTank: the department purchase and play with technology, figure out how to use and what it can be used for in training. Monthly train the training sessions. Keep instructors and training up to date on their skills. Award staff for performance. Have quarterly tech meetings for all branches, learn something and work together. Have focus groups for staff and patron groups. Create project teams. Moved away from cubicles, have shared spaces. See your brand in your work-spaces to inspire staff. Have a website just for the program. See what paid organizations look like. Provide skills testing. Focused on adults first, and only now are working with kids and teens. Work with IT in order to tell them why software is important. Offer both Photoshop and Gimp classes. Arrange class to allow for eyes on the computers at all times, and use laptops for bigger classes and collaboration. For equipment, keep it state-of-the-art and includes charging stations. Website includes handouts and tutorials, and survey forms. They do also partner with organizations to offer programs. They have interactive testing. Includes “Are you ready for the next level?” (Yes yes yes!). “What’s your tech profile?” after the test they know what classes would be most useful for them (curious, job seeker). (used Articulate Storyline 2 to make the quiz). Created a workbook for the coding program. Students of the project code program create websites for local small businesses. For marketing did ads on transit and ATM toppers, and TV ads, radio, newspapers, and promotional materials.


I had a great time at #CILDC and am thankful that the conference had such a great line-up.

#CILDC Night Panel on Tech

2015-04-28 19.44.47

First a spin through ’80s technology. Lots of nostalgia. Amazing how little some things haven’t changed. But how much better library work is.

Sharing of favourite tools and technologies. More nostalgia.

Sharing of least favourite tools and technologies. Some disagreement.

Then the panel.

Meg B.  From Anchorage. About how we were promised jet packs. A disappointment in what we have achieved. Or possibly a disappointment in our culture.

Jason Griffey, entrepreneur. Disappointment in that libraries don’t create what we use. Moore’s law.

Jan Holmquist,  global librarian. When we talk about technology we should talk about how we got here by making mistakes. Local,  community efforts,  wisdom of the crowd. Tracking things,  and when we are online all the time we need to be offline. Have places to be quiet. We now create together and make things together.

Darlene Fitcher, government librarian. Interactive demo.

#CILDC Day 2

Opening Keynote: Creating a New Nostalgia

2015-04-28 09.20.28

Talk given by David S. Ferriero, AOTUS, and John Palfrey, author, on the future. “Do we still need libraries?” Yes! Even though there are more ways to get information and knowledge we need them more than ever. John is not a librarian, but has worked in libraries. The argument in BiblioTECH, the book, is aimed at regular citizens. There is a sense for some people that the purpose that libraries once served is no longer necessary, but that is not true. Dealing with format proliferation but no additional resources. With more investment, we can increase relevance. Don’t rely on the nostalgia factor going forward, but create new experiences, especially for young people. Combine the physical and the digital. Take the time to ask patrons what they need, ask hard questions. Relate back to yesterday’s talk ‘human-centered design’. The digital divide s now also about a digital literacy gap. Very key. There is a need for social space, quiet space – where information is consumed and content is created. Speak to your funder’s needs, like job creation. Co-creation space, social, study, create all together. Kids creating knowledge. Recommend going the way of an education centres not community centres. Plug for DPLA. How do you sell ‘delight’ to funders? Plug for Knight Foundation. People remember being delighted, helping create nostalgia. Libraries as open, neutral space, and can serve as a keystone of democracy. School libraries and public libraries don’t have a history of collaboration. Need to wok together to offer digital literacy training to teachers. There is a need for copyright and contract law reform. There is a need for professional development to build the skills needed. The people with the skills exist, but might be 1 in 100 in the profession. But have all libraries working together, in order to make a huge impact.

Introduction to Customer Development

2015-04-28 10.49.57

M. J. D’Elia, University of Guelph spoke about customer development frameworks.  There is a lot of jargon in this topic. Examples “customer” and “development”. A four step framework, from idea to execution. The process for testing assumptions, and validating your learning with facts. Speak with customers throughout the entire process. Start by speaking with people. It is about applying entrepreneurial thinking.

Book Rec: The Lean Startup by Eric Ries

Identify when you are solving a customer need, don’t build things that patrons don’t want. This will help us acquire new customers, as well as help with scaling the resources needed to expand/contract. Use this when you are building something new. “Fall in love with solving a problem, not with a solution.” Challenge assumptions, and when you want and need feedback from the community.

His example is Guelph’s Virtual Learning Commons (working name). There is a need, and need to get real feedback to ensure success.


  • Customer Discovery- Find a product that solves that solves a problem for an identified group of users (problem-solution fit). Talking to people, finding out what the current work-arounds are: testing assumptions, do interviews, build prototypes. Key term: Minimum Viable Product – High or Low Fidelity. This product is aimed at early adopters. This is a difference from current practice. Be hungry for feedback and willing to accept change.
  • Customer Validation: identify the ‘market’.  Is there a big enough need for this? Have a target market, a project plan, and a business plan. How will you grow a user base?
  • Company Creation: Find the audience and use, and start expanding the service. This is the ‘sales’ stage. Also where you devote more resources to this successful product.
  • Company Building: This is the step where you have the successful business – create processes and expansion, and when the product is mature.

There is also the ‘Pivot’ – this is when the customer base doesn’t like the product. What you do when the solution doesn’t work. You have to be able to recognize that sometimes assumptions are wrong and we need to change strategy.

BiblioCommons working Lunch

Full disclosure I love, love, love BiblioCommons and will be talking briefly at this lunch. Their product is awesome, and they constantly improve. Plus their staff are friendly, patient and amazing.

What’s new from Erica Reynolds (who is wonderful):

  • working on the user interface this year
  • shared code and shared investments
  • BiblioCMS is a WordPress based website structure [Chicago/Calgary] a card-based system.
  • VPL uses the events module! Includes real facets
  • One-book-one-community platform (serialized reading adventure) see Chicago. Uses BiblioDigital
  • Summer Sites and Online Badging. Mozilla Open Badge Compliant, and is mobile-responsive. Can feature badges on profile. Looking to expand Summer sites to use year-round programs, such as read local (Johnson County). Looking for beta-sites.
  • New in the Core: Profiles (which are fun and amazing), List Liking, Feature in Catalogue (easy and also fun), featuring staff content, better display of series and awards, new list types, FRBR, permalinks for community activity – like sharing reviews or videos. Improvements to reporting bad stuff.
  • Plug for the Partner Portal (very useful)
  • Coming soon: responsive design (2-column), and list improvements (faceting, sorting, more items, featured image), While you wait. Changes to feature in catalogue. Real read-a-like lists.
  • Lists can help drive up popularity of older titles. (Deliah’s lists, JoCo)

St. Joseph County Public Library spoke about launching BiblioCommons.

Social Media & Community Engagement

All about the tips.

See more: #CILSM #CILDC

  • Use Meetup to reach out about programs. Very useful.
  • Pay for ads
  • Know who the central nodes are in the community and foster connections with them.
  • Post comments on more popular pages
  • Cross-posting Instagram to Facebook leads to more hits

Building Community Partnerships

2015-04-28 14.50.06Melissa from Chesapeake Public Library, head of Reference. Works with workforce development. Job help at your library, resume assistance and creation, job searching, and job applications. Also, computer classes, notary services, and proctoring services. Use video conference equipment, and use to help with partners. Some classes aren’t great for staff to offer, but use partners instead. Have mock-interviews for teens, worked with a youth centre to offer these. Leverage Starbucks who need to do community service. Partner with Community College to offer a certificate program at the library. Be where the people are. Library supplies the space for the partners, the partners do classes. Knoow your capabilities, create a “Memorandum of Understanding” it is important. Share your experiences and say “Thank You”. And you will get more opportunities from this.

Nancy, from Baldwinsville, Outreach librarian. She reaches out to the community to engage. Slightly smaller than our library. All librarians have to do outreach abilities. Near everything. Have a history of outreach. Mix PR with outreach.  They count going to care homes as outreach, and have rotating collections. Find groups to donate titles to. And these organizations can then create new opportunities for the library. Help out Friends Group with Social Media. Takes time to build an audience. Have an audiobook club for dementia patients. Get booklists  from local movers and shakers.

Makerspace: Community, Partners & Impact

2015-04-28 16.01.21Sue Considine, Executive Director, Fayetteville Free Library.  Building on the themes of making, and assessment. She also brought handouts! Fablab, makerspace, and digital creation lab. It is about building community not the technology. Started with maker open houses. Have tools to capture conversations, and a volunteer applications (great idea!). These volunteers have replaced their program budget, and ensuring relevant topics. Share skills: 1-on-1 appointments, monthly clubs, weekly clubs, and more. This a community-centred approach to making. Learning from one another. Put out a call for volunteers, and then got supplies and teachers that way. They collect stats and stories. Sewing club also makes things for local charities. Hold an interest meeting first. Great approaches to reporting. Before and after Geek Girl camp asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” There was an impact. Have a certification programs for all tools. Collect video stories of big successes. Found that they were helping local businesses, and helping kids learn skills. Have no departments, just have 4 topical meetings per month for all staff. Programs, collections, outreach, etc. Director then looks at proposals that are created and then approved. They only charge for materials for 3D printers. They are about accessibility, free and open access. Libraries are about discovery and initial inspiration.

See more:

2015-04-28 16.22.45


#CILDC Day 1

Happy 30th anniversary Computers in Libraries!  You are (slightly)  older than I am!

From the intro two nice quotes

  • “Technology to help communities”
  • ” Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. ”  –  Stephen Hawking

Opening Keynote: Continues Innovation and Transformation

Keynote cil2015Steve Denning was the speaker,  who has experience with knowledge management and is a writer on leadership and Storytelling.  Also writes for Forbes.

To delight your user base,  have managers who enable their staff. But,  there is a need to be managers of the Creative Economy.  Our current technologies are hugely disruptive and are impacting various industries hugely. “the computer age is about the change in mindset brought by computerization.”

New management styles are emerging,  now we have managers as coaches,  with self-organzing teams,  where they are enabling their teams and encouraging  continuous improvement.  Now we are focused on users,  with a horizontal ideology which is a all about adding value to the user experience,  and make sure everyone in the organization can see how they add value to the user.

Principles of New Management of the Creative Economy

  1. Delight customers,  move to outcomes (not outputes)
  2. Role,  managers as enablers
  3. Coordination of work is now iterative,  sprints,  short cycles. Be Agile.
  4. From value to values, be about continuous improvement and transparency.
  5. Interactive communication,  have horizontal conversations.

This system fits together and is self-reinforcing. Need to move to this system completely to be successful. This change is being driven by economic and expectations of the users. This paradigm shift is not going to be easy for many organizations.

Writing for the Modern Web

David Lee King on improving your website writing. 2015-04-27 10.58.49

People: write for your users,  look at community and Web analytics to know who your audience and write for them.  Also realize that you have 8 seconds to hook them.

Product: Writing is your product,  and you are also writing about your product.  So it is important.

Process: Titles should be 5-6 words,  and have them filled with keywords. Use the inverted triangle of writing.  Most important details at the top (think sports articles). Use lists,  keep things short. Including sentences.  Heading are also useful.  Think scanning. Only think about 1 or 2 ideas per page. Edit away the “blah blah blah” such as welcome paragraphs and transitions. Get to the point. Sentence fragments are great! Don’t put essential items in a sidebar,  because responsive design will drop that content to the bottom of the screen.


Don’t use non-browser pages.  Such as PDFs,  Word docs,  Excel docs. If it is one the website,  use HTML.

Write conversationally. Read it out loud to yourself as a test. Use “i”  and “we” and use second person. Think like social media.  And use active voice. And use (relevant)  pictures. It is important to use keywords,  and hash tags when relevant. Check for errors! Share and re-use your content.

Where to start?  Do a content audit. Look into consolidating pages,  look for duplication,  and get rid of it. For databases tell people what they are going to get- what is in it for them. Use analytics to show what pages aren’t  working.

Web Redesign for better UX

2015-04-27 12.02.23

With Elaine Meyer of MCLS. Need: way finding,  help,  and marketing/communications. Treat your website like a beach,  same care and thought and revision. [find and insert link to slides].

She interviewed 5 libraries about website redesign. For user research,  look at content (what is important),  and look at other libraries,  interview patrons,  and test before launch. Use search terms to help know what your users are looking for or what they think you are offering.

Building Ebook Platofrms: By and For Libraries


IMLS has been purchasing ebooks,  most are using Overdrive. Concerned about Overdrive purchase. “AWE Stations” for young children.  Funds are also used to train staff.

Douglas County Libraries

4 years since launch,  and have seen an impact.  3 things drove them to create their own platform,  content,  pricing,  and lack of platform competition. Also wanted integration. First steps were to go after small,  mid-list,  and self-published material. 45 publishers and 45,000 titles through their platform.  Using open source software. This then was scaled to the state-wide project,  funded by the IMLS grant. Partnered with Odilo and VuFind,  hosted in the cloud,  and own their own Adobe Content Server. Launched in 2014. Called E-Voke.

3 Things to keep in mind; you  need people,  technology,  and processes (project planning).

It is very expensive,  don’t go alone!  Consortia are the way to go. Would need at least one person who can negotiate with publishers. And the time commitment on-going is significant. They get to keep all their patron data.  Tip,  outsource the development needs- otherwise,  you you become a software developer.

Resource: Aspen Report

Suggestions: who owns content (Library or consortia)?  Partnerships are very important.  You need to balance ownership and access.  Patrons have expecting of content,  which is important. Establish success metrics. Go beyond circulation, customer feedback,  industry impact. For MARC records,  they developed a program to create the records.

Califa enki platform


Based off of Douglas County,  have people working on it 6-10 who have other jobs as well. Launched in beta in 2013. Shared collection,  hold ratio of 4:1, epub format of choice. Have teired pricing. Still working on getting the bonus content,  such as book covers.  Content includes self-published materials.

Resource: ebooks are forever 

Goals: national ordering platform,  and ILL

Douglas County has workshops “Library as Publisher”  to create good ebooks.

E-voke platform can handle ebooks, audio,  video,  music.

The Ebook Effect: Three Community Experiences

2015-04-27 15.29.33

Liz Philippi, School Librarian.  School Library Media Specialist. Capstone books,  MyON  approached them about a free pilot for ebooks for kids. Ask the kids to read 5 books. Focused on the Lexie levels,  tracked number of books read,  and minutes spent reading.  Easy to work with,  a based. Launched with the Summer Program,  imported student data (login info),  and sent home flyers,  and had contact info.  Shared also with Public Library systems.  Successful uptake,  and worked with the nor reps,  and advertised one-to-one as well. Some kids read 500 hours over the summer.  Really loved the data, which helped make the argument to keep n the program. 

Monica Babaian,  Elementary Librarian,  pilot school.  Low reading level school. They wanted to motivate kids to read.  She wrote a post on her experience.  Offered orientation during Library visits,  trained teachers as well.  Guided kids through interest inventory and reading level assessment. Included recommended reads,  creating own lists,  reading journals,  and review and rate books,  also there are book quizzes. Teachers can also add in lessons. 

Robert Cagna from West Virginia University. His slides are at He discussed how a classic book has thrived as an ebook,  as well as possible impacts of the format.

New Catalogues: From Scratch &  Social

2015-04-27 16.31.42

Amy &  Amy,  Hennepin County Library, Senior It specialist and Systems Services spoke about the catalogue that they created.  Used to developing their own content,  their discovery layer is responsive and accessible.  Launched in October 2014. Focus of presentation is on search. Their search includes ISBN, Call Number, and barcode.  It is an iterative process. They do not use the label “catalog”.  They prompt to keep search limits.  Work with relevancy and indexing. Includes popularity books- number of copies and holds on a title.  People expect forms a work to be together.  Cross-references are good. Colour-coded formats with no covers. Most people do not go past results page.  So,  they added a hover-pop-up. Constantly working to improve labelling and removing jargon. Call numbers only show up in-house. You can se on results page what you have checked out and on-hold. Have a customer support plan I place effort launch. 


 Abby,  launching their OPAC product . They have the metadata and get to use it. This product is for tiny libraries (churches,  law firms,  etc.).  $10 a year.  Needed a way to track circulation,  hard for patrons to search. They are building an OPAC layer.  Will be available summer 2015. Will not have a patron database. Will be mobile friendly and FRBR-ized. And will have stable URLs. IIt will be simple and familiar,  and use the existing bonuses that Librarything already has. The users will stay within their catalogue.