May 26, 2006
Perceptions. Libraries. Salesmanship.
If you haven't read the Perceptions of Libraries report conducted by OCLC (which analyzes and summarizes findings of an international study on information-seeking habits and preferences)then it might be the thing-to-do. I say this because with all this talk about libraries, technology, web2.0, social software etc. and librarians trying to stay on top of it, the whole idea may not take off if we don't make our libraries a more visible part of the communities we exist in.
The report is really long. I won't say I actually read the whole 290 pages but I did scan it. I also did the next best thing. I attended a very excellent presentation by George Needham (OCLC VP for Member Services) at the SJRLC 2006 Spring Membership Program and Meeting. Bruce highighted the main points and summarized the findings and got my psyched about some things I want to start thinking about.
The report surveys "information consumers" about their library use and their awareness of information resources. When people were asked about their information-seeking behaviors, libraries were not tops on their list. In fact libraries were often down at the bottom. When asked about visiting a library, 96% said that they had visited a public library in person. I am guessing this can be translated to mean--visited a public library --ever-- in person. Should we be encouraged? No. The picture is more dismal when looking at the numbers of people who have visited an online library web site. Only 27% had. When asked where they typically start their information search, not surprisingly, 84% said they start at search engines. 1% used the library web site. OMG.
So what good is all this work to take advantage of pricey databases, ebooks, RSS, podcasts and social bookmarking, when a huge percentage of users couldn't place us online? It's not so good. I think before we start creating all these great new add-ons to our sites, we need to create a presence first. An online presence and a community presence.
People associate libraries with books. And just books. This is not my observation. This is a finding from this study. The good news is that we have a solid message. We have market penetration. Libraries=books. We need to take advantage of the branding that already exists and take off on it. Librarians need to start reading books on selling. We need to be in the business collection more and less in the 000's.
At my library (The Burlington County Library System), our business librarian goes to local rotary club meetings, economic development offices and chamber of commerce events to talk about what we can offer the business community. She sells the library by telling people how we can make their jobs easier for them. Our children's librarians go to back-to-school nights to sell the library to parents and teachers. Our outreach coordinator sets up booths at local fairs and festivals. Outright selling is not in our genes but it is so necessary if we want to stay relevant.
And relevancy isn't just for search engines.
May 25, 2006
In Brief: Publications Sub-Committee Meeting
A comprehensive overview of the business attended to at this meeting will be available once the minutes I compile are approved & posted online (we'll blog a link to the minutes -- never fear!), but here are some high points to tide you over:
- Look for online classifieds at NJLA.org starting in September!
- NJLA.org will debut a password-protected Members' Only section (content TBD) in September!
- Future Newsletter topics include:
- Fall 2006: Libraries As Place (content deadline August 23)
- Winter 2006: 21st Century Reference (content deadline November 23)
- Spring 2007: Professional Development & Training (content deadline March 23)
- Summer 2007: Recruitment & Retention (content deadline June 23)
- The NJLA.org homepage received a whopping 17,410 hits in the last week! You can keep track of our fiery hot statistics at our stats page.
- Coming in March 2007: online voting! The bylaws were recently amended to alllow for online voting (to be supplemented with paper ballots for those members who do not share their e-mail addresses with NJLA). We are looking for a vendor to provide this service.
Watch this space for an update when the Publications Sub-Committee minutes are posted to track all the details.
NJLA is officially Library 2.0-friendly!
Some of you may know that ALA is offering an online course on Library 2.0 technologies led by Jenny Levine of The Shifted Librarian and Michael Stephens of Tame the Web. (Their course blog is really informative, even if you are not offially enrolled!)
Jenny invited Sophie Brookover and the NJLA IT Section to record podcasts about the creation of the NJLA Blog and the NJLA Conference 2006 Podcasting Station. The recordings are posted to the Library 2.0 blog as course material. Check them out!
May 24, 2006
Recommended Reading: Some Homegrown Blogs
There must be something about Spring that makes people start new projects. Spring 2006 has seen the flowering of some excellent new library blogs here in New Jersey.
Library Garden is a collaborative blog full of the smart, thought- and action-provoking musings of such NJ library luminaries as Janie Hermann, Pete Bromberg, Marie Radford, Robert Lackie, and Kimberly Paone (and the number of contributors is growing!). Looking for a blog that covers it all, from time management to adult programming to chucking the rulebook? Look no further.
The M Word is all about marketing, and is written by Nancy Dowd of the State Library. In Nancy's introductory post, she writes, "I wanted to create a forum where we could all start to share our ideas and thoughts and help each other to find answers to problems we are encountering in journey to tell the public about our libraries." That sounds pretty essential to me. This blog is a wonderful supplement to blogs like Creating Passionate Users and Library Marketing: Thinking Outside The Book. It's brand new, and I can't wait to see where Nancy takes it!
Finally, I recommend Pop Goes The Library, which I co-author with Ocean County Library's Liz Burns, and Melissa Rabey of Cecil County (MD) Library System. Our blog's motto is "Better Libraries Through Pop Culture", and we write all about how libraries can leverage their popular materials collections into displays, programs, and events that will catch the public's eye and help transform the view of libraries as warehouses for books into community centers for everyone.
Here's an opportunity to practice some self-promotion skills: do you write a library-related blog? If so, don't be shy! Post a comment about it and enlighten your colleagues!
May 14, 2006
Keeping up With the Next Generation Web
Like many of you, I've been tracking the web 2.0 (and by extension the library 2.0) phenomena. When a new phenomena hits the waves, it takes a little while for the hype to settle. I think the hype has settled and we need to start using/incorporating web 2.0 in to our libraries.
Still not sure about Web 2.0? Take a look at these facts/figures. About 70 million folks are now using myspace.com. The Los Angeles Police Department has just launched a blog. The White House currently has 5 rss/news feeds and 4 podcasts. Blogs have caught up to newspapers. Technorati tracks 39.4 million sites/blogs and 2.4 billion links. Why would this be important? It's a good way to see what people are buzzing about online. What a great marketing tool.
Ok. So web 2.0 is everywhere. What exactly is it? Let me back-track a little to the "rise" of the internet in the mid-late 90s. The first generation internet was all about posting information online. Sites were going up at a phenomenal rate during the late nineties. Remember the days when you discovered "xyz" organization had a site and you wanted to tell everyone about it and statements like "You mean we can look up that information on the web!" were pretty common. SEC filings became easily accessible to everyone. THOMAS made it easier to look up legislative information. Weather information was as easy to obtain as entering a zip code and hitting the "search" button. You didn't have to buy maps anymore... The first generation web was all about companies and organizations making their "stuff" available to everyone. Content hidden in stuffy offices and research centers were hitting cyberspace like never before.
Web 2.0 is just the next-generation of the internet. Web 2.0 is all about regular folks. It's all about "us" as creators of content; making our knowledge/experience available to everyone. Here is an example. I create a bookmark list of all my favorite and useful-to-me sites and share it with everyone. You decide to see my list [go ahead] and take the ones that are useful to you and share it with others. I like a link on another person's list and want to see who else has linked to it. This leads me to discover more sites to use for myself and to share with others and so on.
Web 2.0 is participatory. It's about sharing and collaboration. It's about creating forums where we perfect something using our collective wisdom. What are some other examples of this trend? Wikipedia is one. eBay was before that. Amazon.com saw the importance of ordinary wisdom and started allowing customers to write reviews. Other ventures include YouTube (videosharing and commenting), Givezilla (create a fundraising store), MySpace (communicating with & sharing content with your friends), Bloglines (Feed reader & news aggregator), Myhomepoint (calendar tool to collectively share with family or project members.)
Want to see more? See Sacred Cow Dung for a pretty good list of "All Things Web 2.0". How you use them in your library, is up to your creativity and imagination. Of course, I'd love to hear about the great ideas that are being vollied around in your libraries.
May 9, 2006
YA Services Section Meeting & Potluck
We played host to several members of Kimberly Paone's YA Literature & Services class at Rutgers/SCILS, and we hope they will join us next year when our meeting schedule begins anew.
The business meeting portion of the day included a lengthy and lively discussion of the rules regarding elections and ascendancy within the Executive Board of the Section.
Previously, when the Section was a smaller body, one would automatically ascend from Member-at-Large to Secretary and so on up to President and then Past President. This was a nice, homey way for the Section to operate, but it involves a 6-year commitment of time, which is not always practical or feasible. We hammered out some language allowing for a more flexible and fairer method of electing Executive Board members, which will work out better both for EB members and for the Section membership as a whole.
Other topics were covered, such as the Section's proposed workshops at the NJASL Conference this Fall, and a potential statewide Web 2.0 training workshop, to be co-sponsored with the IT Section.
For those interested in the full details of the meeting, you'll be able to read the meeting minutes once they've been posted to the YA Section's page.
We hope to see more non-Section members at next year's open house, and of course, all NJLA members are welcome to attend our business meetings anytime. The next meeting will be Friday, September 22, 2006, from 10-12 (coffee & snacks at 9:30). See you in September!
May 8, 2006
John Iliff, We'll Miss You
Update: Ty Rousseau, IT Section member extraordinaire, had a great idea to honor John that we know he'd love. Ty has set up a podcasting blog for those of us who knew John to record & listen to podcasts about him. The URL is http://iliff.podomatic.com, and you can call in your podcast (literally! John loved this!) to 206-339-7322.
May 5, 2006
First Vice-President/President-Elect: Michele Reutty, Hasbrouck Heights Free Public Library
Second Vice-President: Heidi Cramer, Newark Public Library
Secretary: Nicole Cooke, Montclair State University
Treasurer: Keith McCoy, Roselle Free Public Library
Member-At-Large: Pamela Holmes, East Orange Public Library
Member-At-Large: Karen Klapperstuck, Bradley Beach Public Library
Member-At-Large: Mary Romance, Roxbury Public Library
Congratulations to all!
May 4, 2006
Garden State Book Awards Luncheon
Mr. Zelinsky, a Caldecott Medal winner and three-time Caldecott Honor winner, gave a talk on the subject of how changes in technology have changed the way he illustrates books.
Liberally peppered with self-deprecating humor and full of beautiful slides of the many iterations of artwork from draft to published book, this was one of the best lectures I have ever attended on any topic.
Technological advances have helped Mr. Zelinsky refine and improve the process of illustrating books, but just as these new tools have added layers of depth and sophistication to his work, they've also added layers of complication to the process.
For his first books, published in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr. Zelinsky would painstakingly match up his watercolor and gouache illustrations with Pantone color sheets so that the printers could get the mixes of red, blue, and yellow correct.
Eventually, he moved on to photocopying his pencil drawings and using them as underdrawings for tweaks and changes over the course of drafting and perfecting the illustrations.
Soon, he purchased a scanner, and would scan the hand-drawn illustrations into Photoshop and manipulate them to get the color exactly right or change the size of certain elements, and then print them out on large sheets of watercolor paper to add to them.
The illustrations I photographed for this post are examples of the work Mr. Zelinsky created for the triumphant and giddily worded book Doodler Doodling -- it's worth noting that the reader reading and the flyer flying were both drawn live, while Mr. Zelinsky held a microphone in one hand, speaking all the while.
In spite of the complications arising from using increasingly sophisticated technology to create his artwork, sketching and perfecting the artwork digitally is very useful for correcting errors, like the time Mr. Zelinsky miscalculated the position of the book's gutter or left a distinguishing feature of a character out of a handful of illustrations.
The Shivers In The Fridge, forthcoming October 2006
Knick Knack Paddywhack
Awful Ogre's Awful Day
The Wheels on the Bus
More photos from the GSBA Luncheon are available at NJLA's Flickr Photostream.
Print vs. Online Resources
Many thanks to Lisa Coats of the Burlington County Library System for her notes on this session!
At this session, there were three panelists who spoke on various aspects of the future of online reference resources.
David Lisa, Director of West Long Branch Public Library (http://www.wlbpl.org/), detailed the trends explaining that reference resources are increasingly being delivered electronically. He says that electronic versions of popular reference sources are often cheaper, easier to update, and can be more effectively accessed by customers. Remote access is also a plus since a patron can use these resources any time of day or night, not just during library hours. He referenced Q and A NJ (http://www.qandanj.org/), a virtual tool that brings reference services directly to the customer via a live chat session, and said that this sort of resource will prove to be more popular in the future.
Jennifer Druce of Camden County Library System (http://www.camden.lib.nj.us/) spoke to the cost effectiveness of electronic resources. She asked some very good questions about what users want and need, implying that we should be listening to them to help guide us in our reference choices. She pointed out that often distributors do not even offer the print versions of sources anymore (asking: are print directories dead??), but stresses that it is important to make sure the electronic versions are stable before tossing the print out. Also, does the library have room for all those volumes in print? Space considerations may move us toward electronic resources, as well.
Karen Parry of the East Brunswick Public Library (http://www.ebpl.org/) said that we need to say good bye to print! Our users are changing constantly, and since good service is in the eye of the customer, and that they are requesting the quick access that electronic sources can provide, we must abide. She says that even older patrons want to learn how to use these online sources. Parry suggests we also move off the desk and help customers in the stacks and at the computers, a theme that was echoed in several other sessions this NJLA: Off the desk, out into the library, and definitely on the computer!
Eventually, of course, conversations took a turn towards non-blogging topics, but the experience as a whole was so pleasant and interesting that there is now a plan afoot to propose a blogger's discussion group as a conference session next year, and possibly to establish a bloggers' roundtable within NJLA.
More NJ Blogger Luncheon photos are available via NJLA's Flickr photostream.
May 2, 2006
Advocating for LGBTI Programs At Your Library
Co-presenters Corrine O'Hara of HiTOPS, and Carol Watchler of GLSEN facilitated an excellent discussion of ways (large & small!) in which library staff can support and provide a safe space for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and intersexed teens.
According to one of the many information-packed handouts from the program (which I hope will be posted online soon) HiTOPS is "a peer health education/support organization in the Princeton area." GLSE, or the "Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network is a national organization working for a future in which every child learns to respect all people regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression. Their site has a detailed annotated bibliography of up-to-the-moment library resources."
Corinne O'Hara explained that HiTOPS runs a teen health clinic, and that in her role there, she trains high school seniors to be peer educators in health and human sexuality. HiTOPS also runs support programs for sexual assault victims, and its 1st and 3rd program (so called because it meets on the first and third Saturdays of each month) is a comprehensive community program designed to jumpstart Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) at high schools.
Carol Watchler explained that GLSEN's goal is to make K-12 schools safe for all students regardless of gender or sexual identity. GLSEN chapters in North and Central NJ collaborate often with HiTOPS. One of GLSEN's main projects right now is public policy work at the municipal, county, and state levels, helping to develop anti-bullying legislation and legislation against race, gender, and national origin bias.
For those of us interested in co-supporting a GSA at the schools where you work or collaborate with, it's important to note the following:
1) Sometimes GSAs will not be terribly active, but that doesn't mean they aren't needed. Often, the students who might want to join can't, because they're out to their parents, but nobody else, or they're out to some friends, but not the whole school. Both Carol and Corinne have been told by these teens that just knowing that a GSA exists (even if it's dormant) makes these teens feel better about their school and safer while they're there.
2) The teenage years are all about finding out who you are, and learning to be comfortable in your own skin. GSAs help LGBTI and questioning teens by providing a space for them to develop relationships with their peers and friends.
3) Offer to host the GSA at your public or school library. This way, interested students can go to the library, and possibly, maybe, just happen to drop in on the GSA meeting.
A viable alternative to a GSA is a Diversity Club -- this would be an umbrella club for all different sorts of kids with all different sorts of differences -- multiracial kids, immigrant kids, kids with disabilities, and LGBTI kids, too.
Diversity Clubs also appeal to all teens who are interested in human rights in general, and to those who have family members or friends who are LGBTI or questioning.
The group also discussed how librarians can help LGBTI and questioning teens see themselves reflected in the society around them:
1) Booklists and book displays of LGBTIQ literature
2) Create a bulletin board of names of famous LGBTI people, asking "What do all of these people have in common?" -- leave the bulletin board up for a week or so, and then provide the answer.
3) Post Safe Zone stickers (available through HiTOPS, these stickers show the pink triangle surrounded by a green circle) in your Teen Section.
4) Challenge homophobic language when you hear it.
5) Call for faculty and staff training in LGBT youth issues.
Presentations from the Conference
I imagine some of you wished you could be in two places at the same time during this year's conference. I know I did. There were so many great presentations but how was one to see-them-all?
Here is the next best thing: Many of our presenters have shared their presentations online at the NJLA site. All presentations have been converted to pdf. So far, the following are available:
Emerging Technologies for Library Managers (Tuesday, April 25)
John Iliff, PALINET
Technology Innovations Forum (Tuesday, April 25) Four presentations:
Integrating the Library Website within the College Website
Cumberland County College, Vineland, NJ
WMS: Democratizing Data
Workflow Management System for Rucore, Rutgers Community Repository
Information Literacy Outcomes Assessment, County College of Morris
Library Outreach and the Course Management System: Using RSS Feeds to Advertise New Library Holding [The College of New Jersey]
Developing a Compensation Plan for you Library (Tuesday, April 25) by Paula Singer, The Singer Group, Inc.
Build it Right: User Centered Design for Library Web Sites (Pre-conference) by Jerilyn Veldof
Digital Audiobooks @ Your Library (Tuesday, April 25) [The NetLibrary/Recorded Books Model, Bob Wetherall & Michael J. Ciccone, Head of Acquisitions Branch Libraries of The New York Public Library]
Feeding the World Information: RSS, Podcasts and More (Tuesday, April 25)[Blogs & RSS Basics, Sophie Brookover, Camden County Library & Barebones Podcasting, John Iliff]
Please check back as more are added. If you would like your presentation posted, email it to the NJLA webmaster.
Statewide Children’s & Young Adult Author Conference
Meet the Authors is a Statewide Children’s & Young Adult Author Conference being held at the Monmouth County Library. Meet E. R. Frank, David Lubar, Elizabeth Mann, Nancy Springer and David Rapkin (Listening Library) at this all-day conference on Monday, May 22.
Please visit the NJLA site for more information and a registration form.
May 1, 2006
What’s Hot, What’s Not: Publishing Trends from Industry Insiders
With thanks to Heather Craven, Nutley Public Library, for her notes!
Readers are becoming more savvy, books are in the news, cable TV has increased promotion of books, circulation is on the rise. Readers seek smart, sophisticated, but still accessible reading.
Chick lit and lad lit are declining. The hip, fresh books that made the trend popular are being followed by derivative, formulaic, less interesting books. It’s not known what will replace this genre for women in their 20s and 30s; possibly memoirs with a chicklit feel.
Some up-and-coming genres: erotica (steamy sexy romances for female audience), “fratire” (non-fiction humor for men, often based on websites), urban fantasy, narrative non-fiction exploring subcultures (ex. Eat This Book, about competitive eating), food and fashion narrative.
Publishers are seeking ways to draw attention to books. Media attention has been largely scandal-driven.
Publishers like to release their biggest titles in the fall. This summer and fall will see many books by brand name authors, several rock memoirs, and several political books – more serious political and economic books are becoming popular. There is no one big blockbuster book predicted for this fall, so there may be room for some new authors to emerge.
Current trends for children’s and YA publishing:
The Harry Effect – fantasy genre, high page counts, adult crossover interest, series, release date events.
Graphic novels and manga, esp. for girls.
Edgy content for older teens.
Paper Engineering (artistic pop-up book, like those by Robert Sabuda).
Fairy and pirate themes.
New takes on old classics.
Interactive websites for authors.
College & University Section Luncheon
With thanks to Heather Craven, Nutley Public Library, for her notes!
ACRL-NJ Chapter awards were presented, and incoming Chapter President Nicole Cooke was welcomed. Pam Snelson of Franklin and Marshall College spoke on Ammunition for Advocacy. She spoke on the importance of advocating for library services from the point of view of those who determine library funding. For example, a provost at one college might be most interested in how the library contributes to retention rates, while another might be more interested in knowing that the library fosters diversity by being a welcoming space for minority students. Snelson stressed that library advocates must find out the core values of stakeholders (usually provosts for academic libraries) and tailor messages to those values.
Web Usability: User-Centered Design in Libraries
With thanks to Heather Craven, of the Nutley Public Library, for her notes:
Presenter David Lindahl, of the University of Rochester, described how to develop and maintain a user-friendly website. (He noted that this method took several years to implement at U of Rochester!)
1. Start with “key tasks” – ask users what they want to do/accomplish at the library’s website (find a book, check library hours, find an article?)
2. Dedicate ongoing staff time to user testing. Staff will need training or research to learn to do this. User testing must be regular and ongoing.
3. Do not have web design determined by committee! Design committees result in websites determined by conflicting staff agendas rather than by user needs. Assign or hire one person to be the designer. Make sure the designer has training and ongoing dedicated time.
4. Assign staff groups to give content to the designer. Groups should be determined by key task, not by library department.
5. The designer should develop prototype designs, have them tested by users, and re-design. Expect to go through many prototypes before publishing, and then to tweak on an ongoing basis.
With thanks to Heather Craven, Nutley Public Library for her notes!
The key to resolving conflict is focusing on a positive outcome that accommodates the interests of everyone involved. Focus on underlying interests, not surface positions.
Negative behaviors can be addictive! Watch your behavior for patterns such as repeating old stories, ignoring or discounting positive changes, assuming the worst about people you don’t like, or insisting on winning/being right.
Use “words that work.” Focus on the other person, their desired outcome and what CAN be done to achieve that outcome. Replace negative language – “ We can’t do that” – with positive language – “What I can do is. . .”
Give criticism in private, keep it specific, and solicit the other person’s perception of the situation. Accept criticism by separating the message from the way the message is delivered, asking for clarification, and setting specific criteria for resolving the problem.
NJLA Podcasts Posted!
The NJLA Podcast recordings are almost all posted.
You can refresh what you learned about podcasting and get more info on how to subscribe to the NJLA podcast at the IT Section's Links of Interest page. Remember that most podcasts are ongoing, which is why you 'subscribe' to them. At this time, the NJLA podcast was created just for use during the 2006 conference, but who knows? Maybe we'll keep posting more!
A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who recorded a podcast! It was a blast!
Joan Bernstein at New Leaders: http://www.oceancountylibrary.org/podcast/leaders/bernstein.mp3
Burlington County's Bookmobile
Burlington County's bookmobile is a converted bus, complete with wheelchair access. The bookmobile houses books, movies on VHS & DVD, and CDs, and makes the rounds of a host of communities in the County.
Monroe Township Library's bookmobile is a bit smaller than BCLS's, and has room only for books, although the bookmobile staff do deliver requested items of all kinds to its users on their bi-weekly rounds of the more rural areas and retirement communities in the Township.
You can see more photos of the Bookmobiles and other wonders of the NJLA conference at NJLA's Flickr account.
Documenting Their Lives: LGBTIQ Identities
This program featured compelling and thought-provoking clips from two documentaries about LGBTIQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed, and questioning) teens and families.
The first was a trailer for a forthcoming documentary by Chas Bennett called The Sakia Gunn Project, about a Newark teen who was stalked and murdered in 2003 for being an out African-American lesbian. In spite of the unusual circumstances surrounding her death, Sakia's murder received a tiny fraction of the media coverage accorded to Matthew Shepard's murder in 1998.
Although The Sakia Gunn Project is about Sakia, her family and friends, it also encompasses issues such as segregation within the gay community, poverty, gender bias, race and ethnicity, all of which Bennett and several of his subjects view as contributing factors to the lack of media coverage of Sakia's murder.
The second film showcased was No Dumb Questions, about the responses and reactions three girls have when their Uncle Bill comes out to the family as a transgendered person on the cusp of sexual-reassignment surgery. Each of the girls, ages 11, 8, and 5, responded differently, and were full of wonderful questions about their soon-to-be Aunt Barbara: How would they feel when she came to their house? Would they still feel the same about her as they had about Uncle Bill? Would they be "freaked out", as the oldest girl put it? How would Uncle Bill get rid of his beard and all the hair on his arms, one of them wondered.
The parents handled all questions with aplomb and truly admirable skill. They provided a space for their children to ask any question, and they answered them honestly and openly.
The Sakia Gunn Project is still in editing, but Mr. Bennett hopes to release it by May 2007. You can track his progress at The Sakia Gunn Film Project online. No Dumb Questions is available on VHS from NoDumbQuestions.com.
The LGBTI Roundtable prepared many excellent handouts, included a transgender filmography, a webliography of transgender-related websites, a booklist of transgender nonfiction, and perhaps most useful of all on a daily basis, a glossary of LGBTI terms. I'll post again when they are available at njla.org.