Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Here’s a cool thing- they are working closely with Nancy Pearl. She spends a week each month with them, training their staff on reader’s advisory and conducting programs for library customers!
I came away from this session (and the entire conference) feeling pretty lucky to work for CML, mainly because what other library systems consider innovation, we consider business as usual. Not to minimize the accomplishments of Cuyahoga County, but almost everything they mentioned, we already do! They stressed that ideas can come from all levels of the organization, and they’ll try anything, as long as it fits in with the library’s mission. This culture of nurturing innovation is something that I see everyday. For example, when I got back to work from the conference, I found that Dragana Pjevac, one of our CSS’s at Whetstone, had created a staff wiki! Immediately staff members started jumping in, adding documents, and collaborating. Learn & Play has given our team the confidence to create, share, and help one another without hesitation.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Dr. Brad Mitchell of Battelle spoke about a lot of things besides the STEM program during the opening address, but the items I wrote down were thought provoking (for me): “Are we up to the thrill of our days?” and “Strategy of re-invention”. He was speaking too fast for me to take notes, but I figured I get the notes off the website when they were posted. I also figured I’d visit the STEM site (http://www.osln.org/about-osln/faces-of-osln.php). This led me to the term Systems Engineering which is an interdisciplinary approach and means to enable the realization of successful systems. It focuses on defining customer needs and required functionality early in the development cycle, documenting requirements, and then proceeding with design synthesis and system validation while considering the complete problem.
While touring the STEM site, I decided to visit the lounge and thought this was really a great use of transparency. Here you have the opportunity to weigh in on what they are doing. They want you to. We could do this for the 20/20 vision and levy projects.
Anyway, this was a great example of how one thing leads to another.
Stephen Abram’s Trendspotting: Weak Signals for the Future talk was seeded with things I knew and things I did not know about. I had to check out Now Public, Mozes, Webkinz, TechCrunch, and he reminded me to check to see what’s happening with Bibliocommons. He also talked about Google-caching.
Google-caching is their new service. You may notice when you do a search on Google it now says “customized for the Columbus region”. If you did the same search in LA or NY you would probably get a different mix of hits. I thought this was great for us because they left the door wide open for us to find those nuggets that they decided our region would not want, or for us to show customers how to navigate the web better – beyond Google.
(An aside – it strikes me funny the number of PowerPoint presentations I’ve seen at a conference on innovation. I guess I expected to see new applications of Flickr or Slideshow.com or other new technology. I think I may tie innovation to technology too much). Innovation can incorporate attitudinal change – CHUH (Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library) suggested the BUS concept. The bus is headed in the right direction because the passengers are the staff and the driver is the customer. That’s an attitudinal shift.
*Have a drive up pickup window.
*Are using the lockers for retrieving reserves 24/7. These are also drive up.
*Have phones on the wall for customers to use to page staff on that floor (Georgetown U. had this back in the early 70’s. I guess this is the renew part of the definition of innovation).
I heard the term Search Ohio and I thought it was some sort of alliance between 23 public libraries and OhioLink, so I tried it as a web site. I discovered two new sites, neither of which had anything to do with libraries, but may be good to know about – www.searchohio.com and www.searchohio.org.
Priority Design. I’m glad I stayed for the entire program because in the beginning it was hard to understand what his goal was. I thought his message was to provide the appropriate environment to get the results you want. Don’t worry about conventional or traditional themes. Do what your customers (internal and external) want – aka the ends justify the means. In this case, this is physical space design 9rock wall, foose ball, the latest tools of the trade, etc, ability to personalize work areas). The cultural aspect of business is also different. Roles change and the staff s pretty equal with project based design – today you are the leader and tomorrow you are the doer, but it all works well as everyone shares responsibility. This reminded me of the Geese V formation culture.
· Mistakes are learning opportunities
· Everyone is a salesperson – they find clients and own them
· Life balance is important
He also spoke about the Universal Archetype (Jung) and its applications to define the categories for each type of product or where your company fits into the categories. This helps you fine a niche in your market. For instance in the Hero category you will find Nike, the U.S. Army, etc. We, like them, fall in the Caregiver category. “Build your reputation by helping others build theirs”, was one of his quotes that made me think of us – we do this everyday.
1. Passion: people have to have a fire in their belly
2. People who are willing to get outside of their box.
4. Personal persistence---you have to know that your idea is truly the right thing to do
5. Creativity: indispensable in today's world. Kids also need to practice creativity in order to be innovative in tomorrow's world. The power of our brains is what will get us out of the mess we're in today.
Several speakers said the same thing: "Innovate or die!" Or as Stephen Abram said, "How quickly are librarians marching toward irrelevancy?" when they choose not to participate in the Library 2.0 revolution. He scoffed at librarians who create a Facebook account and then choose to remain anonymous and only become friends with their kids or family members. These same librarians then complain about not being taken seriously as a profession. His sarcastic comment, "That's what I want my lawyer or my surgeon to be: anonymous."
With all the new technologies (Blackberry, cell phone, Kindle, Ipod, etc.), people have to find an excuse to visit a library. Otherwise, the library has little relevance to a technologically-connected person.
Change, or innovate. That is the question. What are we really doing? Changing or innovating? I found several definitions of change all of which implied to alter or modify something that already existed. Innovate was a little different. Initially it meant to renew or alter. Now, it means to introduce something new; make changes in anything established. There’s that change word again.
I think because we are pretty innovative we do not realize it. For us, maybe innovation and change are close cousins and whereas change may generate fear and uncertainty, maybe innovation generates giddiness and impatience (which may lead to fear and uncertainty). What’s next? When is next coming? Why are we still here? How come others are just now trying things we’ve pretty much perfected? Who can we learn from? What else should we be looking at? Are all questions that could be exciting (leading to impatience and giddiness) or scary (akin to fear and uncertainty). Innovate or change.
Maybe we should avoid using either word and just do it – let’s not refer to “it” as being innovative or making a change – staff and customers can come to their own conclusions – if it’s good, they may just call it a great idea and if it’s not, well, they may call it something else.
Which leads to the other key thing I took away from the conference. The traits that are critically needed for innovation to happen:
- Personal persistence
Finally, "Innovation is a means to re-invention; innovation is not an end." I think someone said something like, "all things have been done before, innovation is about doing it differently." That makes innovation less overwhelming to me. We just have to make good things fit in the current context of our society. Hmmm. DREAM BIG
Friday, November 7, 2008
Thursday, November 6, 2008
1. Kalamazoo Promise. In a nutshell, graduate from the public schools in Kalamazoo, Michigan, get a free college education at a public university or community college. This program is funded by anonymous donors, but the whole community has become involved in one way or another, supporting these kids, 65% of whom live below the poverty level. Many help with mentoring, tutoring, food, medical care, etc. The city, in the middle of an economically depressed area, has experienced 10% growth in schools, 7,000 new jobs in the three years of the program.
2.Google Book scanning project at Ohio State University. Google works with libraries, publishers and authors. Google picks up books, scans them, and returns them two weeks later. Out-of-copyright books are available online fulltext; copyrighted books are available only in snippets. The library gets back a scanned copy of out-of-copyright works.
Google has very recently reached a settlement with publishers. Soon, in the U.S., individuals will be able to pay to download copyrighted materials (fee to vary depending on market value of the book). Universities and libraries will be able to get institutional subscriptions. Libraries will offer terminals where readers can access out-of-print books full text for free (no downloads or prints, view only).
Some attendees seemed skeptical of the advantages to libraries of participating in the scanning project. However, I see some wonderful possibilities.
First of all, Google has taken care of all of the legal settlements.
Secondly, about 7 million books will be available immediately. Some of these books may be rare items or items otherwise difficult to obtain by means such as Interlibrary Loan.
Finally—and this is the part I really love--every word of every book scanned is searchable. Anyone who has worked with indexing (as we in SBN have) immediately understands the value of this kind of access. CML could not hope to index and digitize a whole collection with Google's speed and cost. What if we could get some of our genealogy collection scanned, for example?
I think that Google Books might well alter the way libraries collect, preserve, and access materials.
I feel my neurons firing now. And that's the point of the conference, right?
The organizations and companies I heard about made a deliberate effort to foster a culture of innovation. This involved a time commitment, tolerance for mistakes, and participation of staff at all levels. Priority Designs designed common work spaces conducive to conversation and a project-based organizational structure rather than a hierarchical one. Cuyahoga County Public Library encourages all ideas in alignment with their goals.
Yesterday, after the opening session and World Cafe, I attended Managing Print Collections in a Digital Age, with Joseph Branin, Director of the Ohio State University Libraries and The Kalamazoo Promise with Janice M. Brown, Executive Director.
Today, I attended Priority Designs with Paul Kolada and Nurturing Innovation with Sari Feldman and Tracy Strobel, Cuyahoga County Public Library as well as the second World Cafe and closing session.
We had some really nice food, but, alas, no swag (sorry, ilikeswag). ;-)
I had some great conversations with table mates from other libraries as well as with my own colleagues. I'll include some highlights, impressions, and thoughts. Handouts and Powerpoints with more details will be posted on the OLC website.
The second Gathering of Leaders conference is scheduled for Nov. 19 at Columbus State. Peter Block will be keynote speaker. His book - Stewardship - provides a unique approach to empowerment. If you have any conference funds left, you may want to attend this conference. Attendees are from many central Ohio non-profits, social service and educational organizations. See www.thejeffersoncenter.org
One of my favorite quotes was that you should build your reputation by helping others build theirs. Very cool. What if we all looked out for others before we looked out for ourselves. He also stressed playing nice together. They form their project teams from their pool of engineers and designers. Anyone can be a project lead. If you play nice and pull your weight, it's likely other will want you on thier team. If you don't......
We were challenged to think about what we are going to go back and DO as a result of this conference. I'm still struggling with that. I haven't figured out yet what I can personally do differently do help facilitate a culture of innovation at CML. If you have any ideas let me know.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Helene and I (and a couple others I don't know (yet)) are tweeting during our sessions. Go to twitter and search the hash tag #ie08 to see what we're saying. You may need to request to follow me and Helene first to see what were saying. Go to the Learn & Play list of followers on Twitter to find us.