October 29, 2007

20071029-06 Internet Librarian PL Track: Stump the Panel of Experts

Aaron Schmidt, Adina Lerner, John Blyberg, Carol Bean, Allan M. Kleiman, Glenn Peterson, Marilyn Turner

question: bookspace page is great, looks great; I wonder about these lists, because blogs are self-correcting, but the lists seem to be more static; how do you know the lists are doing their job and accomplishing what you want them to accomplish?
answer: glenn – recently noticed that on one of the lists, someone said “here are the titles that I like about such and such and if you have favorites, comment below,” but we don’t have offer comments on the lists; so there are ways we can make the lists more organic and dynamic
Marilyn – there’s a list called “all pink book covers,” so you can’t really correct everything

question from allan: we haven’t been very successful to get our staff to adapt to 2.0, although we’re playing with sites; how did you actually motivate your staff – with or without a stick – to blog? reference staff don’t see this as part of their job
answer: Marilyn – can’t pretend we haven’t had people kicking and screaming, but feels that if you can snag new librarians who aren’t afraid of doing these things and see this as part of their job, try to harness them; had trouble getting people to contribute content for the web back in 1996; saw that staff started to rely on resources their colleagues were maintaining, which helped; something collaborative finally happened, but not sure it can be described easily; they use statistics to show usage of the web resources; staff will update their blog if you tell them you are going to feature it on the home page; something is making it real for them, but it didn’t happen overnight
Glenn – have had their intranet for a long time, which helps, because they were able to start their in a controlled and safe environment

question: why did you use coldfusion instead of php?
answer: we selected CF in the mid-1990s, one of the few developmental languages at the time; rapid development environment, can use dreamweaver with it, easy to learn, similar to HTML in the way it uses tags; might have made a different decision of making it later

question: when I go home, my coworkers will ask the “what if” about user-generated content – how you deal with the bad stuff, who deals with it, etc.
answer: john – it’s a good question; need to understand it could happen, but can have a plan for how to deal with it; you won’t get a flood of participation to begin with; aaron – noted that you can moderate comments so that they have to be approved by the person who is worried about this happening
glenn – comments go live on their site unless they get trapped by their “naughty word” filter (eg, “title” gets blocked because of the first three letters – about one of these a day gets trapped and has to be approved); trapped comments are sent to a group of employees via email every couple of days – can click on a link to follow-up

question: NJ library where user-generated comments are approved before going live; has never seen a problem; if anything, people think they’re reserving a book; have a home-generated chat room for book discussions, staff meetings, etc.; can see the number of lurkers, which is pretty high – they don’t have anything to say; in the web 2.0 world, really likes the SOPAC, how do you get the lurkers to participate? he recently put up a “suggest a new title” box on their website, and it’s been a flood; thinks all of these people never thought to participate or contribute until they saw that box
answer: john – by lurkers, you’re really talking about people who are not predisposed to using those types of services; no better way to get someone to participate than to make them mad, but in the end, you really need to create incentive for them to participate; eg, if you put in 10 reviews, we’ll waive your fines; the end game is to build a community around the core elements of the social software, get that network effect rolling
allan – one of the issues that came up a few years ago is that the ILS vendors looked at 2.0 and were going to incorporate all of these features, but that’s come and gone so we have to implement it; it’s the vendors who really need to be the ones working on this, rather than us recreating the wheel

question: how do you measure and report value? we can all agree that there is inherently good value in these things, but how do you measure that value and report it out so that it is useful for decision-makers who are not librarians?
answer: aaron – at a very basic level, you can take your website statistics and look at hits from other sites where you have a presence
john – it’s also important to remember that you can look at metrics but your ultimate goal is enhancing the user experience in a way that changes the face of librarianship
allan – has been doing workshops around the state about the value of libraries using a web-based calculator that highlights the value based on your usage; gives annual reports to customers
Marilyn – it’s important to put modesty aside and send comments up the chain; she is constantly surprised how many users leave positive comments on the site; leave modesty aside and promote those comments

question from Michael: can each of you tell us a challenge you’ve faced and how you overcame it?
answer: aaron – he’s the director of a small public library with a small budget and limited staff, and the social software they use has been of immense help to them; was able to get a decent website going using free blogging software, staff collaborates with google docs, etc.
adina – is trying to find ways to bring more people into the library and offer more challenging classes, so at the end of next month, she will be offering a new class on web-based image editing software
john – oftentimes, we reach for the stars and we climb the highest peak we can find, and that leads to failure because we’re not focusing on the bedrock of our services (the backend, the foundation), so recognizing that fact we can’t innovate for a year because we need to lay the foundation and put the groundwork in is a way of acknowledging our limitations; so when you present a project that really works (like SOPAC), that’s a culmination of not just that project, but also laying the foundation
Carol – when she was first hired, she was the only one who understood the problems of having to get a mouse to teach how to use one; she just went out and did things (buying a mouse); when other staff didn’t like what she did, other staff pitched in and did something different, which helped move things forward; if others aren’t doing it, just do it yourself
allan – the biggest resource we have is our staff, and the biggest hindrance to going to the next level is our staff, so our biggest challenge is to get our staff to realize that their jobs have changed and they are all now technology specialists; he himself has this challenge because he tries to stay out in front of his staff, which seems impossible; the challenge is what we are as librarians to keep up with technology
glenn – our biggest challenge is with staff, not the public; patrons don’t have high expectations for library technology; it’s a great challenge to have when people figure out what technology can do for them, but then we have to manage expectations for what we can do; they see the magic in front of them but they don’t always have an understanding of what it takes to make that happen; so emphasizing communication (what projects they are working on, what information they need to make something happen, etc.)
Marilyn – her biggest challenge has been to be at the table of system-wide planning; because they’re not in each building, people plan without considering the web services components; her staff goes to a lot of meetings in order to contribute to these discussions and be part of things


5:59 pm Comments (5)

5 Comments

  1. >>question from allan: we haven’t been very successful to get our staff to adapt to 2.0, although we’re playing with sites; how did you actually motivate your staff – with or without a stick – to blog? reference staff don’t see this as part of their job
    answer: Marilyn – can’t pretend we haven’t had people kicking and screaming

    Comment by Emily Lloyd — October 30, 2007 @ 8:52 am

  2. Whoops–this didn’t post, for some reason:

    I’ve been with HCL since last January, and one of my issues with the system is that we are seen as such a cutting-edge leader in public library systems, but that most staff have been very limited in what 2.0 resources we can use or explore. I can’t imagine, for ex, “23 Things” coming to HCL any time soon. When I asked IT if I could download Google Earth (and, at other times, Second Life–this refusal I do understand–and Silverlight, so I could look at Tafiti) to become familiar with it, not only was the answer no, but they CCd my supervisor as if to “tell on” me for making such a wacky request. Staff are not encouraged to explore or play, as far as I can tell–not on work time, at least. Control is tightly reined. As for people “kicking and screaming”–I bet more of us are kicking and screaming to be allowed to use some of these tools than are kicking and screaming in reluctance.

    I do love working for HCL, but this has been discouraging.

    Comment by Emily Lloyd — October 30, 2007 @ 8:53 am

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