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Preview: It's all good

It's all good

PLEASE NOTE: This blog ceased being updated on August 30, 2010. A blog from five OCLC staff about all things present and future that impact libraries and library users. A conversation that starts with the Environmental Scan and wanders around from there.

Updated: 2018-03-06T21:39:51.872-05:00


IAG, we hardly knew ye!


Today, we bid adieu to "It's All Good." It has been an exhilarating six year run, but now it's time for us to move our blogging focus elsewhere.

Alice Sneary, Alane Wilson, and I started "It's All Good" when we hit the road to talk about the OCLC Environmental Scan back in 2004. We used this blog to share ideas we'd heard, interesting articles we'd seen, or soapboxes on which we wished to climb. Alane says IAG was the first corporate blog in the library world, and I have no reason to disagree with her.

Alane left OCLC a few years ago to return to Canada (*sniff*), and Chrystie Hill stepped in as our new writer (yay!). Our colleagues Eric Childress and Matt Goldner also did a few cameos here. But now, we're trying to consolidate places where OCLC-related content might appear, and some of the outliers are being brought into the fold.

Chrystie manages BlogJunction, part of her WebJunction work, and she'll continue to blog there.

Alice contributes to The OCLC Developer Blog and the WorldCat Blog.

I'll be contributing to the The OCLC Cooperative Blog, and given my other work role, to the blog Viral Optimism with my consulting partner Joan Frye Williams.

Before we sign off, there are two people who need a big thank you, people without whom there would have been no "IAG."

First, Alane Wilson gave Alice and me the gumption to move forward on this idea. Someone who never saw an envelope that didn't need pushing, Alane convinced us that there were enough ideas worth sharing that we would never run out of material. She was so right.

And a big thank you to OCLC President and CEO Jay Jordan. Jay reads the blog, sends us comments, and has supported us right from day one. In fact he found the blog before I even let him know we were doing it, and even so, he didn't fire my sorry tail.

Check us out in our new digs, and we'll see you down the road!

Last chance to register for OLSSI


Registration closes July 6 for:

The Ohio Library Support Staff Institute: Libraries ROCK!
July 25 – 27, 2010, at Baldwin-Wallace College
Berea, Ohio, just outside of Cleveland

This will be the ninth annual conference, and it's still the same low price of only $225, for three days and two nights of outstanding classes, programs and lectures, along with evening entertainment and activities.

There's a FAQ here for information on lodging, parking, meals, and other logistics.

The full class and instructor list, and the registration form can be found here.

Free consulting at ALA


Joan Frye Williams and I be participating as a team in "Consultants Giving You," a new project offered by PLA and coordinated by our good friend and colleague Paula Singer. We'll be available for half-hour blocks of free consulting on just about anything you want to talk about on Saturday morning, June 26, from 9 to noon in the Independence Room of the Washington Hilton, during the upcoming American Library Association conference.

If you want to sign up for one of our time blocks, just email us.

Ohio Library Support Staff Institute 2010


Registration is open for the Ohio Library Support Staff Institute 2010. The Institute will be held July 25-27 on the beautiful campus of Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. This is one of the premier continuing education events for library staff each year, and this year should be no exception. (Full disclosure: I'm speaking at the Institute on Monday, July 26. You have to take the bad with the good, right?)

This also has to be one of the best deals in library continuing education. Registration is $225, and includes two nights' lodging, meals, all course materials, and even a T-shirt! But, as Ron Popeil might have said, if you act before May 1, registration is only $200. Who could ask for anything more?

Congratulations to LJ's 2010 Movers and Shakers


Congratulations to all the 2010 Library Journal Movers and Shakers. Being just back from a quick-but-much-needed long weekend vacation, I had forgotten that March 15 was already hereand the announcement went out today.

So hooray for innovation and librarians who are making things happen in their respective communities. And full disclosure: yes, OCLC is sponsoring the microsite, which of course is why I suddenly remembered the timing.

using social media v. building online community


I've been working with a large cross-functional team at OCLC that's looking across all of our content management needs and thinking through what we need (functionally and otherwise) to evolve and improve our websites. Perhaps not surprisingly, I've come to the process with a strong desire for seeing systems that support interactive features, anything that shows the personality, the humanity and the voice of our cooperative.So far, the process has helped me sort through what, exactly, I mean when I say that. I've already seen one vendor demo where they checked "yep" on a RFI response to "web 2.0 stuff" (don't worry, we were more detailed than that) but in the demo they showed us what they really meant is that a user can click a star rating or share/post this content to their facebook profile. And that's what they mean by 'interactive capabilities.' I'm not disparaging the vendor, because what they did offer in the way of personalized content management and other critical features seemed incredible - and you can't have it all. But I was surprised that their definition of web 2.0 capability was so much different than mine. On reflection, I should not have been so surprised. There is a difference between "building online community" and "using social media" and therein lies the differences between me and Mr. CMS Vendor.To help me out with the rest of our demos happening later this month, below is a short list of capabilities that I think are useful for facilitating community with your web-audience. * I'll be looking for each of them as we move through the rest of our exploration of the current CMS world.Site visitors can:find content, conversations, and people through search and browsesee the images and names of real people wherever users have contributed contentsubscribe to and see new and most recent content from site authors and usersregister as a member of the siteSite members can:create and edit a user profilecreate and edit threaded comments or discussions add tags, ratings, or other user-contributed metadataselect interests and see personalized or private content based on those preferenceswith permission, add or manage content (such as moderating a group or adding new content to a section)Site admins can:extract visitor, member, and author activity for site management purposespush and pull web-content via extensions, plug-ins, or widgetsestablish private content and assign permissions to view contentOn the other hand, if there's anything that I've learned at WebJunction (an online community for library staff) it's that none of the tools we use make or break the online community. It's the people who spend their time "at WebJunction" (which is now a lot bigger than our website) and their willingness to share and support one another there. So, I remind myself again to not get attached to any one function or space.Most certainly, these are not all the elements we'll need in an enterprise CMS. In fact, I wouldn't prioritize some of these things over the other things we're looking for. But in terms of interactivity and community building with our web-users, I'm hoping this gives us a good start. And I'm very hopeful that I'm able to check off a few more of these items as we proceed through the rest of our selection process. Even though I know it's not about the tools, I know that some of these features will certainly help us along.I share this with you because I'm curious if you think there are things that I've missed, or things that I have here that you don't think are important. What have you learned in designing your websites and selecting your content management tools? What have you learned in using other websites that you'd like to see more prominent in library services?* My list is based on a group process started by Deb Lewis, a group discussion facilitated by Sharon Streams, and a "success criteria for online communities" working document contributed to by a number of my colleagues[...]

Technology Essentials


When economic times are tough staff or professional development can be one of the first things to go. It's a bummer because just when many library staff most need new skills or support from their colleagues, resources just aren't as readily available to ensure that they have what they need to meet new challenges in their work. It's so important to find cost-effective ways to connect - to share what we're facing, what we're learning, and how we're coping.

WebJunction's first online conference is happening next week on February 9 & 10. The conference theme is "Technology Essentials" and there are five sessions with fabulous speakers lined up for each day. Recently, ALA TechSource interviewed our conference organizers, the incredible Sharon Streams and Jennifer Peterson. I tell you these people that I work with are crazy awesome, btw. In their interview, I was struck by their perfect description of the goals and purpose of the conference:

The goal is to provide an affordable and accessible venue for library staff to share practical and timely solutions for their needs! Now more than ever, we need to band together to solve problems, and that we recognize that attending an in-person conference is completely impractical for many library staff. Looking at how online programming has changed over the past five years, I think we’re in for an exciting time of online conferences!
The full interview is great - exploring trends and topics in online conference planning and attendance, but also the reasons why we might be seeing more of these down the line. I don't ever think that online connections will take the place of the benefits of in-person meetings or face-to-face interactions. But when we just can't get to see each other (for whatever reason, but cost is obviously a big one) this is one way we can try and connect anyway.

Please pass the word on to anyone you think might enjoy or benefit from these free online sessions. We look forward to sharing how our first online conference goes.

Will Eisner Week, 2010


As a kid, I loved comic books. My favorite artists were Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Steve Ditko, and the greatest of them all, Will Eisner. Eisner created one of the best comic heroes ever, The Spirit, a cocky detective who was assassinated by gangsters and came back to become a vigilante. The stories ranged from noir to humor, and the Spirit had some of the sexiest sidekicks and enemies ever created. The Spirit started in the newspapers, went on to comic books, then graphic novels, and even a movie. Eisner created amazing splash panels, frequently covering a whole page or two. The panels had multiple layers that reward repeated viewing, like a broadsheet Bosch.

Beyond newspapers and comic books, Eisner was one of the fathers of the graphic novel, as his later work took on autobiography, theology, and even urban history. He wrote a seminal work on comics as art, Comics and Sequential Art.

I met Eisner's niece and nephew at the ALA Midwinter conference earlier this month. We had a nice talk about Eisner’s work and the impact he had on visual storytelling.

The family was at Midwinter to showcase Will Eisner Week, an annual celebration of graphic novel literacy, free speech awareness, and, of source, Eisner's legacy. Libraries across the US and around the world will offer book and visual displays, book group discussions, and discussion programs. Will Eisner Week 2010 will be celebrated February 28 to March 6. This would be a great opportunity to focus on your collection of graphic novels; after all, without Will Eisner, you might never have had that collection!

No comment needed...


From the annals of censorship gone awry, this from today's Inside Higher Ed:

Board Confuses Authors of 'Brown Bear,' 'Ethical Marxism'

The Texas Board of Education, worried that a scholar's book about Marxism might infiltrate a portion of the state's third grade curriculum, accidentally has banned work by the author of the popular children's book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Dallas Morning News reported. The intended target of the ban was Bill Martin, a professor of philosophy at DePaul University, who offended some Texas board members with his book Ethical Marxism: The Categorical Imperative of Liberation. But the board accidentally banned work by Bill Martin Jr., author of Brown Bear.

TEDx Columbus


I have been shy about publishing this, but not for the reasons you might think. Last October I had the huge pleasure of speaking at TEDx Columbus, a local TED event organized by local folk. I was invited, at least one of the reasons, because I work at OCLC and they were interested in highlighting ideas and work from local organizations. This was my first time talking with a non-library audience about some of these ideas and I had a great time.

You can decide for yourself how you think it went - the whole 18 minutes are posted here. But the reason why I have been shy about showing it has less to do with the content of my actual speech and so I'll just come clean...

I had this very cute little skirt and top to wear for my speech. When I arrived the day before, the organizers shared that I should not wear black. Seriously? I almost died. And so here I am on a TEDx video wearing boring pants and a sweater. (And now you know real the extent of my vanity!)

If you have a chance to review, I would love to have your feedback. This experience definitely drove home for me that we need to be out in the communities we serve talking about our work (and not just talking back and forth to each other). I hope to have more opportunities to talk to non-library audiences ... this was such a good time. Note to self: always pack a cute color dress, just in case!

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OCLC Update Breakfast



OCLC Symposium ALA MW 2010


It's taken me longer than expected to get this post up...busy day today with lots of interesting conversations going on. But these are the scattered notes (along with tweets from @itgirl and @alicesneary) from the Symposium speaker on Friday, Michael Brown:Loretta Parham kicks of the OCLC Symposium. We all do PT *physical training*!Michael Brown, CEO of CityYearHis first library—Belmont, Massachusetts. He remembers his early experiences with the public libraries.Boston loves its libraries (source of pride for the community).Widener Library, his introduction to philanthropy. (The appeal is around something to do with leaving a legacy and personal concerns.)--We’re in the same business, CityYear and libraries: Citizenship and democracy. Libraries help underscore what it means to be human.“Getting my library card was like citizenship; it was like American citizenship.” –Oprah WinfreyWhy did he start CityYear?Born in 1960—the civil rights movement, the moon landing, Star Trek—feeling of intense engagementHe became Passion-Struck. He worked on Capitol Hill for Leon Panetta,HR2500—Study the commission of volunteer national service: tapping the civic power of youth.• Life changing benefits (access to college, fulfilling the American dream)• Needed Services• Civil Rights• Rite of Passage• Inspire to ActionAction Tank – “National Service or Bust”--Most Americans get excited about the idea of national service, once you explain it--This isn’t a voting issueEvery meeting had to be inspirational.Core member handbook: every member of CityYear has to register to vote, pay taxes, and have a library card.Entrepreneurship: Timberland supplied the boots: boots, brands and beliefs. Timberland outfits the corps. Timberland provides 40 paid hours of volunteer service for employees.Had to have uniforms—Promoting the concept. This is about service and idealism.We did calisthenics in front of Boston Public Library every morning.We had to engage the public sector. Wrote to all Presidential candidates.Clinton said it was his trip to CityYear that inspired the development of Americorps.Time magazine wanted to do a cover story on national service. (You never know who is going to be your next champion.)Edward M Kennedy Serve America Act. Idealism of Young People, showing they can make a difference.Now they’re focusing on the High school dropout crisis. Every 26 seconds a child drops out of school. Goal is to reach 50% of the potential drop outs.6 Major lessons learned along the way:1. Mantra: COME VISIT! All commitments are experiential.2. Find a sponsor for it: Get a sponsor for everything (Timberland for Boots)3. Build partnerships on Reciprocity and Engagement—even when it doesn’t seem like there’s a fit. (CareForce One: CSX has a truck full of rakes, shovels, etc. and it goes to small communities where CSX drives through and helps them clean communities, graffiti, etc.)4. Every institution has unique assets. (CityYear has young people’s energy)5. Give a role for citizens in your institution. Serve-A-Thon (One-day where everyone else gets to do what CityYear does.) Create alumni—make people feel like a part of your institution6. Build a Movement. Be part of something larger than yourself.Carnegie completed 1,689 libraries. He did challenge grants—the communities had to support the library, once built. Women’s organizations took up the challenge and gave us America’s libraries. A great example of movement building and democracies. (All of this was done before Women had the right to vote!)Connect your needs to other institutions’ needs. Then you can really get some interesting things going.Then Loretta Parham gives some examples from her library [...]

Americas Regional Council in full swing


The Americas Regional Council is in full swing here in Boston. Roy just posted a photo of the session, and you can follow his tweets (@rtennant) for bite-size snippets of the discussion. There will be video of the session available after ALA MW for everyone on the OCLC Web site.

Simultaneously gearing up for the Symposium this afternoon at the Westin Boston Waterfront, Grand Ballroom A/B. The discussion this time is about building influence. Here's the description:

OCLC Symposium: On the Radar: How Libraries and Other Nonprofits Can Increase Their Influence

Gaining attention and funding among nonprofit and community entities has never been more critical. Join OCLC and Michael Brown, CEO & Co-Founder of City Year, for a discussion of this vital topic. How can libraries build influence in their communities to improve sustainability? What groups see your library as a vital and essential resource for their success and survival? Building effective partnerships is essential to instilling a sense of urgency when questions of support arise. Michael’s experience in developing and growing an entrepreneurial nonprofit will bring a valuable perspective to this discussion. Loretta Parham, CEO/Director of the Robert W. Woodruff Library at the Atlanta University Center, will moderate the session and provide her thoughts on building influence from within the academic library setting.

Look for notes, ideas, photos and more from the session this afternoon. Even if you haven't RSVP'ed yet, there's always room for more. And same as the Americas Regional Council meeting--there will be video of the session available shortly after ALA MW.

Blog Salon moved!


Heads up! The OCLC Blog Salon has moved locations.
Now we will be in the Westin Waterfront, Stone Room.
The full info:

OCLC Blog Salon

Sunday, January 17
Not just for bloggers anymore! The blog salon is open and welcome for anyone interested in "Web 2.0" kinds of stuff--from blogs and tweets to APIs, mash-ups, mobile apps and more. It's your chance to rub shoulders with other technically and social-media savvy folks, and make some new friends in a relaxed, social setting.
5:30 - 8:00 p.m., Westin Waterfront, Stone Room

See you there!

Fewer libraries, more locations?


Eric Hellman has an interesting post on his blog "go to hellman" (great name, incidentally).

He postulates that by 2020 "the number of public libraries in 2020 would be half of what it is today. (And) the number of public library locations would increase by 50%." He goes on to describe a world with smaller, cheaper to run library outlets in different locations, and shuttering of some of the larger edifices. He thinks that the e-content revolution and the need to consolidate public services in times of restricted funding will help bring this about.

Hellman makes a pretty good case. We have already seen a lot of constriction in library budgets during the past few years, and given the state of the economy and the big black holes in government budgets, things aren't going to be rosy for a while.

So is the big box library a tool or a principle? If the building is a way to create a hub in your community, any space where people are willing to gather and share could work as a tool. If the building is a secular monument, a tourist attraction, or a way to keep a small town from sliding into oblivion, then the principle is a lot different.

Jeff Bezos Interview


I would strongly recommend the interview with Jeff Bezos in the current issue of Newsweek (December 20, 2009-January 4, 2010).

Given how much Amazon influences the way the public sees the book and media business, many of the comments he makes have impact on the library business as well. My favorite quote is in response to the question, "How do you define what Amazon is today?" Bezos replies, "We start with the customer and we work backward."

Blog Salon at ALA MW 2010


While you've got visions of sugarplums dancing in your heads (or you are up to your elbows in pre-holiday task lists), wanted to give you the scoop on this year's Blog Salon at ALA MW 2010. We're going Old School.

That's right. You asked for it, we delivered: We're back to the suite in Boston (!).
Here are all the details:
OCLC Blog Salon at ALA MW 2010
Sunday, January 17
5;30 pm-8 pm
OCLC Red Suite
Westin Boston Waterfront (connected to the convention center)

Can't wait to see familiar and new faces in Boston. All library bloggers/tweeters/mashers/readers welcome! And while you're planning your dance card for the weekend, be sure to sign up for some additional OCLC events at ALA MW 2010, too. You could have breakfast AND cocktail hour with OCLC on Sunday!

* Reminiscing? Previous Blog Salon photos on Flickr works well for that!
* Not attending this year? Leave us your comment and we'll post them for everyone in the room...

With apologies to Clement Clarke Moore...


Joan Frye Williams and I have just released a new podcast for the holidays. Check it out here.

And happy holidays. Things will get better!

Four stars for "The Customer-Focused Library"


The Customer-Focused Library: Re-Inventing the Public Library From the Outside-In, by Joseph R. Matthews was published September 30 by Libraries Unlimited. In this outstanding work, Joe persuasively lays out the case for re-imagining what the library does from the point of view of the customer.

One of my favorite quotes is from the introduction: "Remember---The world is going to change with or without you...and If you don't like change...GET READY! You are going to like irrelevance even less." (This is the formatting as it appears in the book.) Joe lays out what we lose by being shackled to tradition, and offers ideas that can make the library future much more positive. He's optimistic in the face of the resistance of traditionalists. In fact, he quotes Lewis Mumford, who wrote, "Traditionalists are pessimists about the future and optimists about the past."

The book isn't perfect; the black and white illustrations don't do justice to the subject, and there's one chart on page 84 that you need a microscope to read. But these quibbles don't detract from the value of the title. It's not too early to be thinking about holiday gifts for those public librarians on your list...



Just heard a story on NHPR's Word of Mouth about a very cool project called PieLab. You might have read about it in Fast Company recently. It's basically built on the premise that when conversations start happening in a community--and young people/designers are involved, good things will come out of it. It's another idea to come out of Project M, which is a really interesting workshop group of people who come together to envision a better world through design. And they're making it happen. Sort of like a Rural Design Studio for graphic design/creative thinkers. (And you remember when I swooned after I read Rural Studio, don't you? That was after Frank Lloyd Wright but before Room to Read).

I am so taken with this idea, I want to drive to Greensboro, Alabama right now and visit PieLab. But at 1500 miles away, I guess I will have to wait for the t-shirt. Or give PieLab investments as Christmas gifts. Applaud this idea wholeheartedly.

Maybe we should start serving pie once a month in our libraries? Here's a video to help you get in the spirit:

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PieLab Promo from Project M on Vimeo.

What sorts of inspiration might we draw from this for our own community spaces within and around the library?

Stretching Out


I freequently talk about the need for librarians to look beyond our professional organizations and journals to discover new insights about the world around us.

Alison Circle, one of my favorite LJ bloggers, just did a wonderful short piece in her blog, Bubble Room, about her experience as a member of the American Marketing Association. She makes the case for stretching out beyond our usual stomping grounds better than I ever could.

WorldCat Mashathon underway


Originally uploaded by Alice Sneary
Here in Seattle at the WorldCat Mashathon Seattle. Great ideas and questions coming out. This morning we're building some lightweight apps with Yahoo Pipes and most of us are finding success!

Ruminations on Leadership


Last week I had the honor of serving as a mentor at the Eureka! Library Leadership Institute, sponsored by Infopeople and the State Library of California. Led by my two favorite leadership and organizational development gurus, John Shannon and Becky Schreiber, this was an intense six day program designed to help newer members of the profession understand their own attitudes and aptitudes for leadership.

One of the themes that came out repeatedly during the week was the importance of the role of the directors and managers of these new library workers (some with MLS degrees, others without). The people who felt they had some level of control over their work, who felt like they were using all their talents in what they do, and who felt supported by upper management, tended to be much more optimistic and much likely to want to continue in the profession.

This idea was borne out in a recent study conducted by Education Week, Public Agenda, and Learning Point Associates, and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Joyce Foundation. (Full disclosure: I'm the current chair of the Learning Point Associates Board of Trustees.) The report showed that fully 40% of America's classroom teachers are "disheartened." One of the leading characteristics of these disheartened teachers is the lack of support they feel from their principals and administrators.

Do we want 40% burn out --- or worse --- in the library profession? I don't think so, and I know the people who use our libraries don't want to see that. (I'll let you insert here the places you are forced to visit where the staff are less than enthusiastic about their work, and how that experience makes you feel.)

Joan Frye Williams and I did a program for the ASCLA President's program at ALA in Chicago about "Revitalizing the Library Experience." In fact, we'll be doing a slightly revised version of this as a webinar for Infopeople next month. But somehow, I think we may also have to think long and hard about revitalizing the library worker's experience. How can we get beyond empowerment to creativity? How can we be focused on getting to "yes," instead of defaulting to "no?" Where are the opportunities to allow every library worker to shine? How can branch managers, department heads, and directors support their staff when they're right, and help them learn, productively and without recriminations, when they're wrong?

Tough questions, but if this stuff were easy, they wouldn't have to pay us, right?