Friday, December 19, 2008

Andrew Jackson

Yes I'm writing about Andrew Jackson. The reason is that I'm right in the middle of H.W Brands' enormous, yet very readable, biography of Old Hickory.

Some background here- my parents live in Nashville where I went to high school, so I was surrounded by Hickory this, and Jackson that. Even though I lived there longer than anywhere I never really learned much more about Jackson than his part in the Trail of Tears.

Really what I'm getting out of the Brands' very personal narrative about Jackson --as much about the climate of the times he was living in-- is how so many of our decisions are made based upon past experience. I don't mean simply how we learn about what works best in a situation to manage people, but rather, how our entire lives both personal and professional really affect our decisions. (You get a lot out of an HW Brands book because the numerous, constant, highly-detailed tangents to explain an antagonists' point of view.)

We all have some experiences, although hopefully not like Jackson's of being orphaned at 13 and assaulted by British officers, that will influence our entire lives. Some of these experiences will prejudice us toward a certain group or point of view, while others will make us more affectionate to a certain cause or argument. I often try to understand why I might be instantly given to an immediate reaction toward an individual or way of thinking. It usually goes back more to the emotional level rather than the completely rational mind.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pop Culture

One of the interesting things about working in a public library is that one can clearly follow the waves of pop culture. I just pulled off the fiction shelves armloads of recent bestsellers that have quickly been replaced by the newer, currently popular book.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Here is something that I really like from The Carrot Principle- a book on improving employee performance through recognition. I should let you know first that the authors say there are four key areas of leadership: Goal Setting, Communication, Trust, and Accountability. This is a statement on accountability from CACI:

At CACI, we hold ourselves accountable for being honest, in all our dealings. We don't make excuses; we make it RIGHT.
Of course, that doesn't mean that we never make mistakes. Every organization does. And we are not different. We know er are not perfect, and we take ownership when we are in error. (After all, if you can't admit a mistake, you certainly can't fix it.) Then we correct our mistakes, and we correct them quickly. We do this even when it hurts.
When it comes right down to it, accountability means that if you or I make a promise to a client, we fulfill that promise. We make every effort to ensure that the client receives exactly what they expected to get, as a result of our agreement. And we don't just do this because it's on paper. We do it because it's the right thing to do and because it is just good business.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Convenience is king

From a Washington Post article on Japanese Convenience stores today:

"Americans invented the chain convenience store in Dallas in 1927, and it is still going strong. There are 146,294 of them in 50 states with annual sales of $577 billion, or about 4 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Association for Convenience and Petroleum Retailing."

We know that people will pay more for a convenient experience that saves them time (insert cliche here). In most cases people are already paying for the library either through taxes or tuition. So, besides time what else that is important to everyone can the library provide? Some, like my library, have gotten into the coffee shop business too, should we instead be putting 7-11's in our libraries?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hadn't thought about that...

From the NISO Blog:

" John Sack, Highwire: Today, readers and browsers are technology applications. A decade ago readers and browsers were people."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Walk the Talk

"The Centrality of Leadership

Taking all the above-mentioned factors that influence the library environment into account, I want to forecast the future relating to assessment in libraries. Effective implementation of data-driven and evidence-based decision-making requires vision, leadership, and risk-taking. This leadership depends on character, understanding of economics, changing technology, and expected impacts. Without focused, effective, and supportive leadership, assessment and evidence-based management will not scale. Without direct and consistent support from the library director, assessment activities lose traction and do not penetrate the local library culture. Local assessment frameworks cannot succeed without continuous support from library directors. Leadership needs to demonstrate purpose, consistency, and determination in the use of evidence-based management. Leaders need to walk the talk."

This a quote from the award winning portal article by Amos Lakos

Evidence-Based Library Management:The Leadership Challenge portal: Libraries and the Academy 7.4 (2007) 431-450

Monday, November 3, 2008

Do Schools Today Kill Creativity?

This is Sir. Ken Robinson talking about creativity and society more than schools themselves.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Stanley Wilder article

Chronicle article from Jan 2005 by Stanley Wilder on information literacy

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Brief Summary

From the back of the of the paperback of "Peanut Butter and Jelly Management"

Management theories come abnd go, but they all boil down to a few simple ideas: communicate openly, encourage growth, and independence, give people the tools they need, evaluate their work constructively and honestly, and always let them know they are valued." just to implement all that

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Two-types of librarian?

The more librarian blogs I begin to follow the more I think I am discovering two subsets of librarians...there seem to be those who are patron-focused and those who are item-focused.

I am continually shocked at the number of librarian blogs that exist for no other purpose than to rant about patrons. It might be called venting in another environment, but most will not put their own name to their posts. Ananimity in this respect is not responsible and I think not even ethical. If the hostility toward patrons is too much to handle, perhaps the librarians in this situation should consider changing their field.

I will also admit that I fall into the category that leans to patron-focused rather than item focused. I am much more concerned about our customer service than I am about a broken spine or torn page. I think my library is a good example of this and the documented results are that we have one of the highest percentage of non-resident patrons bases in the state of Texas.

Are you patron-focused or item-focused?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Institution Types

I've been working on and off, here and there on how to best make a visual chart that works like those used for personality tests for individuals, but for an institution...since I am creating this thinking about libraries it might apply more in the library setting than in other settings. Here is what I have so far to differentiate between High/Low service and egalitarian/bureaucratic institutions:


item/task based

Strict adherence to jobs

High service


Business-based model

Low service



Equal share of responsibility