Thursday, July 5, 2007

Transforming Your Staff (ALA)

The Transforming Your Staff program at ALA was my favorite program. I found something valid in what each of the speakers had to say. This program was part of the Libraries Transform Communities track and was presented by Maureen Sullivan, Consultant; Tom Galante, Queens Library; Stanley Wilder, University of Rochester; and Pam Sandlian-Smith, West Palm Beach Public Library.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Transforming with Technology (ALA)

The session Transforming your Library, and Your Library's Future, with Technology was part of the Libraries Transform CommunitiesTrack organized by ALA President Leslie Berger. The speakers were Lori Ayre, Galecia Group; Casey Bisson, Plymouth State University; and Roy Tennant, OCLC.

Lori Ayre:
  • Use physical spaces differently; use physical technology to create the best environment for our patrons
  • Take advantage of technology whenever possible
  • Different spaces for different people (e.g., teens, seniors)
  • Build the Library IT department--no more "accidental systems librarians"--become tech savvy from within the library in order to get things done.
  • Good ideas for physical technology: central sorting systems; self check kiosks; automated check-in; compact shelving for staff access storage areas (now available with automated retrieval systems); University of Chicago compared costs of storage options and publicly accessible shelves--public shelving is the most expensive; adequate space for staff with ergonomically designed furniture.
  • Strive to provide the patron a productive (convenient) experience: home delivery of materials.; more library outlets: kiosks in malls, bookmobiles with computers for public use, book drops around town (not just at the library), option to return materials through the mail.

Casey Bisson:

  • Challenges to catalogs: usability, findability, remixability.
  • Google calendar can be used for events listings
  • The library website is NOT a marketing tool, it is a service point. The patron is looking for information, often self-service resources.
  • Commenting is essential in digitized, online collections and in the catalog.
  • Don't let the library staff size stop you from trying to change things to benefit the patron experience.

Roy Tennant:

  • Technology is a tool used by people to accomplish goals.
  • Decision-making for application of technology: understand the needs of your users; consider your mission & priorities; get advice; how new is the technology? is it proven yet?; pilot or prototype is a good way to test something new.
  • Hire the right people: ability to learn constantly (self-learners); flexible; project management experience; excellent communication skills; critical thinking skills about technology.
  • Project: institutional support is essential to succeed; training and documentation; market new services.
  • Every technology (except toilet paper) eventually dies. Run the numbers to analyze if it is time to end something.
  • Create agile organizations: use standing committees for communication--use task forces to get work done.
  • Be a change agent: being knowledgeable and connected is essential; read outside the profession; strategic partnerships (like with IT); exploit and create opportunities.
  • Good characteristics for change agents: ability to think cautiously and critically about technologies; ability to listen and to empathize; ability to communicate simply and well; work to find solutions to valid objections; great sense of humor.
  • Strategic learning: learn enough to get by; learn when you have a problem to solve--learn it just in time, not just in case; find someone experienced to show you 3 important things; find and use a good reference book or website.

The presenters offered some excellent advice. Technology can provide libraries with opportunities to present the communtites we serve with better service by instituting more self-service points and removing barriers from our traditional methods of service. Use Netflix as a model for delivery--I think this is a fantastic idea. I like the idea of being a change agent to implement technology and to provide the best service to our community. The bottom line is that our patrons are becoming more and more self-service oriented and the more libraries adapt to this change, the more viable we will remain as a source of information.