Saturday, December 10, 2011

Librarian's Rules Doughnut

The idea from this comes partly from the Medicare Part D prescription coverage "doughnut hole" 
In short this is a problem many seniors find themselves in when they lose drug coverage because they've met a coverage limit. However, if their need is serious enough coverage will start again, thus a doughnut hole description.

How this relates to library rules:
I often hear or read or am told about rules in a library that make no sense at all. Sometimes there are rules that say things like, "No Stealing in the Library." My reaction to these is always something along the lines of, "Really, you mean otherwise it was perfectly legal to actually steal in the library?" Other times these might be rules that when I ask around for a reason the response is something like, "What the #@!* does that even mean?" If you want a few good examples of this go see Warren Graham or read his books the Black Belt Librarians.

Now for how this is a doughnut:
I hope this makes sense, but many libraries currently have a situation where there is a "doughnut hole" in that what is permissible to do in the library is caged within the rules of what one is not allowed to do at the library. This means that sometimes we have to tell patrons what they are allowed to do since we have created an artificial set of rules and expectations that do not exist in the normal sphere of what is allowed in public. This is partly what causes confusion and anger with patrons over what we understand to be basic library rules.

I understand fully that this is partly an issue with library culture, but I think a good visual always helps show the obvious shortcomings of our approach. What we need is to change our thinking from the doughnut to simply the doughnut hole. We need to think about the fewest number of rules that are needed for the library. Not only does this help staff better assist patrons, but we would have fewer run-ins with our patrons too. I know that there will always be people willing to push the limit, but why create rules and regulations to deal with those few.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Dude, where's my ebook server?...or a suggestion for a new ebook distribution model

In my reader this morning there was an item pointing to a post about the conversion of movie theater projectors from 35 mm to digital...I'll wait if you want to take 10 to go read it:

Obersvations on Film: Pandora's digital box

OK, glad you're back. What'd you think? A method of kick-starting the digital conversion of movie theaters and making everyone happy at the bank (which I hope you noticed were at the top of the pyramid in the money flowchart). The Virtual Print Fee (VPF) and third-party integrators sounds similar to an idea I've seen batted around related to ebooks for a while now. I know that there are big differences between how movies are shown in theaters and how libraries lend books (one-to-many versus a one-to-one). What really got me is the model. If you missed it here it is:

So to put this in a library context we replace studios with publishers, exhibitors with libraries, and movies with ebooks. I would propose, however, that instead of the equipment perhaps being reading devices that it be servers. This could be servers with existing hardware and specification or even newly developed standards that the publishing houses would trust to be housed within libraries.

The post mentioned too that the actual files are currently delivered on hardrives via FedEx or UPS. Libraries already have experience much like the theaters with handling large volumes of physical manifestations of information objects. Libraries, however, have the advantage in that we already have staff well-versed in the technical side of uploading files to servers and authentication.

Publishers, such as Penguin (see: Overdrive, removing of books from) at this stage of the game are concerned about pirates and security to the point of cutting off an entire market. The important question for this plan is whether or not they would trust libraries to house their ebooks behind our own firewalls? So far publishers are generally more interested in creating their own systems or partnering with one of the big players like EBSCO or Gale to hop on existing systems. This new system would force any creator selling content to take the risk that the library can keep content safe. The movie studio-theater model already has a rigorous, highly-detailed specification for security that most likely addresses many publisher's concerns.

Being able to bring the data in-house has incredible advantages too for collection development and patron services. For the first time librarians would have access to the kind of ebook usage data that some have complained is available to Overdrive or Amazon but not to libraries. Think of the power of knowing which books or genres are not just checked out but for how long and to which devices!

I am sure that this won't solve every problem with ebook distribution, and there is also a significant way to go until publishers will entrust their content directly to libraries. A good, long discussion and equal treatment between publishers and librarians, though, could go a long way.

I'd really like to know what you think. Leave a comment or shoot me a message @libgroves

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tenn-Share Datafest

I had the chance to attend the Tenn-Share DataFest a few weeks ago.

The main thing I got from Datafest is that the ebook market is currently kind of like the wild west. Each vendor and publisher is trying to figure out how to not only make money, but how to just plain survive the changes caused by ebooks. The large vendors like Ingram and Ebsco are trying to get the best of all possible options by selling ebooks but also providing subscription services with a number of concurrent use-multiple download-always available options. More academic-specific vendors like MUSE and JSTOR and just now venturing into the ebook market, but they are working with publishers to make available backlist titles and possibly offer ILL for ebooks. I was also intrigued by an entirely different model called Freeding being offer by the company that created Freegal . This new service gives each patron a number of "tokens" to spend on ebooks each month so copies of everything are always available to everyone for a price.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Need a HERO or be a HERO

This is the first of some more belated blogging of my notes and observations from TLA..that would be the Tennessee Library Association conference.

First this was one of the better programs at TLA because it was equally geared towards those who want to achieve as well as those looking to encourage achievement within the library.

The session began with this video:

This session was about building HEROes/leaders from within the library. The emphasis, luckily, was not only on how to bring people up to a more professional level, but also how to do it yourself if you work in an environment where there is no established method for growing and improving yourself professionally.

As a supervisor/manager:
H-hire forward thinkers
E-encourage training
R-reach out (network)
O-organize training

What this comes down to is pick good people and continue to push them once they are on board. Push them by finding training through established routes and bringing in people you know who can teach a certain skill or provide guidance on an issue that you would like to grow within staff.

As an employee:
H-honor training
E-educate “higher-ups”
R-reach out
O-overcome obstacles

We can be heroes ourselves pretty much by trying and taking it all seriously. So when sent to training realize that it is because it is a skill that managers above you believe you need or believe can benefit the library. The self-directed hero also needs to be sure to tell those higher on the ladder that you have an interest/desire/opportunity to learn a new skill that will improve your job performance. We need to be sure to share what we learn and let others know that we've learned something, rather than keeping our skills & ideas to ourselves. Overcoming obstacles means that there might be something you really want to learn or a conference/workshop you really want to attend, but work won't send you or pay for it...well then you need to take the day off or pay for it yourself if it is really that important.

Some other take-away ideas for the self-directed hero:
Always send a thank you to the person who arranged for you to go to a training event

Apply for scholarships and grants

Remember to invest in yourself

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Giving the Tin Man some oil I said I was going to get started again. I guess that means actually sharing something. Right now I feel like I'm the Tin Man standing on the side of the road with clenched jaw asking for oil. In this case, though, I need to add my own oil. I'll get started in the coming days/weeks by sharing some of the things I've found recently and also sharing some notes from the TLA (Tennessee Library Association) conference I attended last week.


The first thing here is am image that I took off a site (I think Harvard Business Review) a few months ago. I know it is a bit small, but if you look at the image in a new tab or window you'll be able to read what it says. The title is "The 12 Elements of Great Managing"

After reading this again I think it is something that I should print and post right next to my computer screen. As a manager am I working toward each of these 12 elements every day? Sadly, the answer is no. Am I working toward each of the 12 elements at some point in my interaction with those up and down the chain? I hope so. I think just a rewording of these 12 elements would be a wonderful self evaluation for any manager. It goes so far past the traditional library measures of performance, however, that I can see few libraries using such an evaluation tool. That reminds me that I need to find my notes from the training all of us attended on employee evaluations last fall...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Back in business?

I might continue this blog again...just throwing this out there.