>TLA Transforming Libraries: General Session

>TLA Transforming Texas Libraries Summit
Monday, Dec. 3rd, 2007
(opening General Sessio

President of TLA, opening remarks and introductions; (Joan and George)

faciltator, L. Weatherby
– goal is to take advantage of the talents/knowledge here to make changes in libraries
– goal for each of us to leave this room inspired, enthusiastic, and feeling responsible to personally make the changes needed to transform libraries in our state
– ask yourself during this talk, “what am I going to do about this? how can I contribute?”
– there are a variety of ways for people to contribute
– this room is “the idea lab” –paper posted on walls around the room
– some ideas have already been posted there; more will be added as the summit goes on
– absorbing info will be critical for us; we all come from diff. backgrounds and perspectives
– as you listen, have an open heart and inquiring mind to what they have to stay
– suspend your judgement about what you might hear
– carry an in terest in the question they raise
– may be provocative and challengning–we’re allowed to disagree
– step outside your personal frame of reference and perspective, say as a librarian
– put on the hat of a library user, of a different role in the library, of an IT person
– as you listen, make notes on words that trigger really strong reaction from you, whether negative or positive
– what comes to mind? what words are important to you?
– after the general session, we’ll quickly move into the small group sessions

George —

“Transformation Starts at Home”
transf. starts with individuals, not institutions
transf. is also about how you see yourself
some “inconvenient truths” about the library world and the way we work today

Joan —

librgaries just get what everyone else had, five years later
easy to be a libvrary futurist
questions are good and pragmatic
but we need to broaden our focus/vision
not just how we should tackle the job of running a library, but what does it mean to be a library, and what relationships should th elibrary have with people around it?
— Who are we supposed to serve, and what do they value? —
OCLC data is very helpful for this
we need to think about what people value, period — not just what they calue in their library
— how do we contribute to our constituents’ quality of life, work, and learning on their terms? —
how do we get credit for caring about what they need?
peopl value real-world things — how do libraries contribute to them realizing their desires?
“constituents” = other terms describe people who alreayd amde it into a library (user, customer, patron)
we need to think in terms beyond the library, to those we need to serve that don’t come into the library
“civilians” =anyone who doesn’t have library training/background
people who think it’s weird to alphabetize your spice cabinet
students and faculty are civilians
think about where they’re coming from
this question tells the quality of life from *their* perspective


“It is not necessary to change. Survival is optional.”
most of us entered this field not to be change agents, but because we loved books or we wanted to help people.
most of us are conservative–conserve materials and ideas
to serve, bring enlightenment to the masses
conservation : the balance btwn. attention and resources has turned 180 degrees
librbaries used to be the place where all the resources were held
we expected that people would take the time to learn classifcation systems.
info was scarce and expensive, and time was unlimited–now that’s the complete opposite
info is now ubiquitous and constant
but time is limited, and it’s become the new currency–save them time, you’ll have their attention
we still expect them to register and navigate OPACs and master A/Is, and to phsyically come into the library to get the good stuff


calls for a shift in our roles as librarians
info is hard to find; the library is complex; we like it that way
it makes our users need us to bail them out–we’re the heroes
we think of librarianship as a helping profession–that’s almost a colonial view “enlighten the ignorant”
librarianship is overrun with A students
are you convinced that the faculty also don’t get it?
do you think that all non-librarians need our help?
this is how our constituents see us: as *serving* them, making them free of the librarian
most of our students don’t see the rel. as need or dependency — so we should stop thinking of it as a helping profession
most people fail to see any linkage btwn. living full productive lives and following library procedures
given the level of confidence people feel in info seeking, most people would feel insulted that we feel they need our help


book: “Pattern Recognition”
five areas that describe places where OCLC could have an impact:
research and learning
three trends\

self-service: most people feel confident online
what’s changed is the variety and opportunities people have to manage tasks previously done by experts, like travel agents, stockbrokers, insurange agencies, pharmacists, and librarians
– decline and fall of the expert –
– “cult of the amateur”
– “
main difference btwn experts and civilians is access to info


in denial that our reference desks are declining
civilians don’t use subscription db’s because they aren’t designed for civilian users
google is designed for civilians
most info-seeking now is self-service
we will never control discovery again
self service is not the same as no service
don’t abandon them; just do a better set-up job
puts the constituents in the driver’s seat
enables them to retain their feeling of self confidence
once someone is using the library and has succeeded at basic activities, they are more than twice as likely to engage staff for help in further work.
— how can we set up the library to make it easy for our constituents succeed? —
most people start “i know this is a stupid question, but…”
but what we should be hearing is “your set-up just made me feel stupid, incapable, ashamed.”
we shouldn’t insist on proving that people are stupider than we are.
all library use is essentially voluntary–people have choices.
they want ways to use th elibrary that doesn’t conflict with their own idea of themselves; let htme achieve success on their own terms.
make it easy to find stuff! way too much clutter in libraries–esp. signage
use civilian termonology, not “microforms”
we have to have directions for people that don’t make them learn a second language
look to retail, the way they lay out their space, “power paths” and “nodes”
why aren’t we borrowing ideas from people with the R&D money?
consti. need to know that we are laying out this place for them; some of them think we like the complexity and being needed
zone staffing: (roving, etc.), open your mind to responsibility for help/problems (not just “on desk”)
think of our job not as individual tasks, but as a whole experience for civilians
there aren’t a lot of experts in this staffing model
everyone knows the basics; don’t just refer to another person
anything that we set up for civilians to do themselves, then all of our staff people need to be able to help with that task
resistance to enabling shelvers, etc, to answer questions
new descriptions, “manger, 1st floor” not “head, adult services”
success insurance: info at point o fuse, focus on how materials are consumed, not just delivered
provide a place where we aren’t thought of as gate-keepers
don’t make people jump through hoops–const. are treated like we assume they are criminals (locked-down)
design for what usually happens, not what might happen
take analogies from other people/idustries
set it up in a way that people are familiar with; make bibliographic instruction unnecessary–where else do you have to take a course in order to use the building?


disaggregation and recombination —
what are we as librarians, if we aren’t aggregators?
google instantly delivers — not just website, phone number, map, address
iTunes; no longer have to buy an entire bundle of info that you don’t want; you also get better browsing/discovery features
over 600 million copies of iTunes software has ben downloaded (2 for each adult/child in the US)
eBay allowed individuals the power to widen your market, own retail
now can sell to the entire world
reaggregating info (“mashups”) –the other half of the equation
people are becomign their own librarians
creating their own stuff out of provided content chunks
personal iTunes library = reaggregation


conflict for traditional libraries
control for how collections are created and consumed away from librarians
— how can we make library info more exportable and re-mixable? —
“edgelessness” = we’re very edgey in the library world
is it okay to do that? will it dilute our role?
recombinat resources: library data must be fit to use outside our library systems – mainstream formats, gadgets, APIs, import/export, open up tagging to enable user input
don’t get rid of the catalog–but open to tags
enhanced discovery: make it easier for civilians to find info
usually civilians don’t start with library
change some of the things we do–quit thinking of the OPAC as the primary way in: search engines are the primary connection
put things out where people will find it, where they already are
undersatnd how people like to receive their info — small bits of info
download call numbers to your cell phone to wander stacks with
digitize and caption what we can, and if we put library out in the non-library sites, we are more likely to be discovered


last of three dominat threds: collaboration
this is the librarians’ biggest untapped asset
“Collaboration is an unnatural act commiteed by non-consenting adults.”
on the other hand, libraries have had years to work on library collaboration like ILL
we learned that it’s possible
we like to reduce redundancy
spread beyond our own institutional borders


— how can we extend the library’s reach via interdiscplinary collaboration? —
we read about action happening anywhere
we mistrust the political system
need to identify places where librarians and politicians can collaborate
we play nicely with librarians, but not anyone else
don’t “educate” civilians, collaborate with institutions that have constituents in common with us
abundance: if we want to collaborate with people just like us, we need to stop bad-mouthing
other people hear us talking about what we don’t have
we need to talk about our abundance of things to offer
allocate the resources we have where the demand it
deliver things quickly where we can, to have a positive to point to when we want to partner
rations at the library — restrictions on what you can have, the more you want it (length of time at computers, etc)
we focus on the “just in case” and the deficiencies
if you’re a partner that says “yes i can make that happen” you’ll get more partnerships
radical trust — NPR/museums/libraries report “partnerships for free choice learning”
single descriptor of libfrarians in that study: “defensive”
we don’t focus on building relationships
we also think of collaborations as lifetime committments
you don’t start a partnership with a MOU
everyone needs to participate — don’t say “partner” when you mean “sugar daddy” – “give me money and then go away”
there are ways to play nicely; quit being the victim in the process


many speaking engagements after the report came out
the one Q they got was “What next?”
followup: “OCLC perceptions”
result of a survey of 3,400 people
in six countries, online, only in English
logical question: why? why do this kind of survey?
heard a lot of comments from librarians that it’s interesting, “but our users are different”
“their users trust the library more than Google or other websites”
no way to prove any of this true
many libraries perform their own surveys — some good, some bad
OCLC decided to do something different–to ask people what they think
an international study, to test some of the things they heard
covered perceptions of libraries and other info services/providers
compared libraries and search engines
(give stats from the OCLC report)
96% have visited a public libgrary
57% use libraries several times a year
72% hold a library card
90% of students have library cards
–a lot of lying may be going on, like flossing and drinking
ratings of information from various sources
ratngs of which sources they have used — dramatically different
— 5% use the “ask a librarian” service
**do you stop at the very best supermarket, or the one where you don’t have to make left turns?
convenience is key to our lives
“in this world, convenience will always trump quality. it’s our jobs as librarians to make quality convenient.” ***
this is not the way to build customer loyalty
we’re in the zone of mediocrity; people aren’t passionate about us one way or the other
book challenges are at least an indication that someone cares about the library and their materials
do I really believe that the info from the Medco website is better than from a pharmacist? no, but I don’t have to wait in line, it’s there 24/7, and it’s private


the customer is not broken.
it’s a bad strategy to create a whole service on the notion that people need to change their minds.
— how can we highlight and reinforce librarians’ status as professionals? —
why do librarians insist that the best use of our time is looking things up for people?
how do we highlight our status even when we’re not used to look things up?
get the pros off our desk. there is no other profession that puts its best and brightest people at the front desk.
we are deploying ourselves like entry-level clerks
not a big fan of roving reference, either–librarians hounding people
also promotes the “you’re helpless” idea
dispatched service for medium to large libraries
the person at the desk assesses which part of library services is appropriate to help the person
librarians “on call” — see Stamford’s model
working on-call–you can get actual work done, keep your head down
the rule of “don’t hold up the line” — don’t tell people when you can’t find something
it’s the wrong way to get people to be forthcomign about their needs, to ask in a line
redeployed reference — where do you put those ref. librarians?
pre-mediating and pakaging info, creating FAQs–setting up the library (candy store)
doing real reference with someone, sitting down (appointments)
working in an expert setting, not a front desk
homework insurnace — spelling, etc. “check your work”
learning specialists — understand how people learn and use from info
consti. specialists — target audiences and know how they do their work and services that would support their process **
outreach!!! underut. because we’re on desk too much *****
“upselling” – approach how we use this time differently
empower everyone in the lbirary to help with basic tasks, close every engagement with suggestions for more info or get intro’d to one of our pros (librarians) — const. feel well-taken care of
need to introduce people to the new idea of librarians, professionals
not people who answer the “where’s the bathroom” questions ****


roles of libraries — worded in non-library language
provide these services in a language that people can understand–this is a good basis


enough with “info place”
info is not the primary industry we should be in–those jobs are being outsourced overseas
if we are a learning and reading place,
— how can we enourage, stimulate and support learning and reading? —
our role is to facilitate the const. productive experience–thjey do the work
libraries are not set up as inspiring destinations
should be clean–many libraries are not–look with the eyes of a first-time guest
it has to be nicer than home
hospitality– not as big a problem in TX, but signage is still “Don’t” and “no” heavy
word things helpfully and positive
a lot of learning happens in a n improved setting
need th eability to make stuff up
not all things can be solved with the procedures manual
need a view, something pleasant to look at; outside is best, interior can work
many libraries are obscured by stacks
create an opportunity for users to create their own pleasant experience
image of Google–pleasant space to think in
needs to include the element of surprise — much learning circulates around the alteration of expectation
kids are sent to the library for detention — their view hasn’t changed
a place where you actively *do* stuff
we are a “rule-ish” culture in libraries — focus on creativity processes, desired outcomes from the perspective of the constituents
if we don’t change our approach, we have no right to be surprised when there are views of mean old broad librarians
encourage libraries to try new things: UK is calling libraries “Idea Stores”
“comfortable and friendly surroundings”


a new OCLC report–sharing privacy and trust (Oct 2007)
more than 6,000 people surveyed, in foreign languages as well
included six counties again
included pool of 372 library directors for comparison
compare librarian views to civilian views
not even on radar in 2003: social networking
sites where people can post extensive personal info and interact with people (share ourselves)
social media is where people can contribute and view content (share content)
how have these sites got people to participate?
*why* do people use these sites?
“my friends use the same site” – 80%
second reason: “the website is fun”
— is the library website fun?
things that people share: primary is subjects of interest, b-day, personality attributes
library directors less willing to share info than the public
“what do you consider important to keep private?”
social security number is #1
library director levels almost double importance on privacy
we must become less dogmatic about this
we are engrained in the days of paper records; we don’t do data mining on what we have–we don’t look at our own statistics
Walmart is successful because they have what people want in correct quantities, when they want it
we should stop making privacy decisions for people


thnking of th elibrary as a closed system–our const. put info in, but we don’t use it
we need participation
social network data
technology supports participation
const.want to part. out in the open
— how can we strengthen our const.’s involvement withtheir libraries?” —
people are willing to take blogs as authoritative just like national news broadcasts
the people’s voice in a democatric society should be a good thing
7 million products, just one score–all reviews aggregated together ***
individual perspective can make info more valuable and credible in some cases — finding out the real recooperation from those who have been through a surgery
we don’t have to publish everyone’s overdue list
2.0 services: FUSE (yahoo’s description), find, use, share, expand
libraries neglect share and expand, as if it has nothing to do with us
supporting this as a process is important
help our const. engage with us in the ways they benefit
virtual outreach — non-libray blogs, youtube, wikipedia, delicious, secondlife — non-library online spaces, with value added
people really look in WIkipedia
usually the #1 link from Google
real-time activities buzz: people check social websites hourly,
“right now” what is happening?
live circulation activity: “book Feed” at Yorba Linda — most frequently used thing on their homepage; confidential ***
serve up what’s going on in ways people can engage with it
put things related to NPR up on the webpage where people can see it right now
podcast part of your activities
where can you go to get a good wireless signal? “right now”
parking camera to show available spots (web cam)


we feel the need to overcome the past–
library brand — we tried to distance ourselves from “books”
but this is what people see about us and what people will always think. this isn’t a bad thing
there is not a corporation that wouldn’t kill for that kind of brand identification
we’re bored with the idea, but hte public isn’t
what kinds of things can libraries do on social networks? “create bookclubs”


— how can we leverage the books brand? —
“‘ing’ the ‘thing'” books = reading and learning
a lifestyle association with books = successful in life
clearly affiliated the notion of success with libraries, books, reading
book setting, “i’m smart, i have this lifestyle”
people think of books as sociable — discussion groups
books as artistic objects
a lot of aspiring writers that want the library to support their writing efforts
want to post their content for others to share — we’ve put this on the side
reading maintains your brain
“power your body, power your mind”
tie to pop culture and media — poopooed in the academic library in particular
many people expect librarians to look down on pop culture
evangelists for reading and learning, recommend books/media


one big wildcard: what happens when technologies kick us in the listserv?
ebook readers
this is not going to change the world right now, but there will be a 2.0 and a Google version–are you just counting down to retirement?
survey about finding info on four key topics: library was last in every one; in 1947
the library did not even then have a franchise on information
so why are our problems not insurmountable?
what do you want in your library? these are now services/materials that we provide
how can we get there today? –listen to users–
Google focuses on the user
must become user-centric institutions
“…we must build as if the sand were stone.”
create new missions and services

Q/A time
how do you reach people that are not online in the OCLC surveys?
direct field work supports these results with real-world people; 75% of Americans are online somewhere; people who use info in one format use it in other formats; if they chose not to use online, they might not be using other forms of info

are we going to address the digital divide?
what about social responsibility in a democratic society?
if we “dumb down” our systems for just in tume info, what about people who want to do more research or don’t have online access?
there is a role to serve all your consituents, including non-online users. but when you talk to someone who is on the far side of the digital divide/literacy, and ask them what they look for, they say give more computers/access, not ignore that side.
rationing this access is a big mistake.
when you talk to constituents, they want help to get a piece of it–check out laptop. they want to be a part of the mainstream.
just because something is simple and easy doesn’t mean it’s stupid. “hard is not smart.”
we need to make more and more things available for handhelds–these are less expensive than a laptop or PC and have greater penetration in the world. we can have print and electronic.

did i hear faculty referred to as “civilians” and not “constituents?”
use those words somewhat interchangeably. const. is the community you serve–but civilians are not librarians.
each of those words have their own connotations.

you said it’s not a good idea for shelvers to not answer questions, but it’s not a bad idea for librarians to be in the back room. could you talk about that a bit more?
we’re afraid that someone without our pro background will mess it up–we don’t train them, we control. that’s not the best way to leverage a professional. quality-check, but don;t do it yourself. “this will go to hell unless I do it myself.” treat yourself as if you’re a precious resource, and train those around you to realize your vision. we don’t have enough time to give good service–we limit our reach. one way to increase pay is to be clear that your vision informs everyone around you.

i agree. but the reality is that much of our profession is stuck on how we were taught how to do it in school 25-20 years ago. i work in a univeristy. there is the fresh, new idea people and then the poeple who have been there 30 years and know everything. i need to bring those two camps closer together. our constituents are those not just at the university, but outreach is a huge part of what we should be doing. we have a huge stake in educating our public, making sure they are literate. we need to connect the dots. how can i bring them together?
there are two things about change that we forget. we start with the idea, but you need to start earlier than that: 1) honor the past. 2) create a sense of crisis. people change because there is osmething in their way or some disaster.
also, when we evaluate employee performance, we seldom include “have you learned anything new lately?” team fresh young with an older person and make each learn something from the other–their job is not to convince or convert each other, but to learn from each other. accountability issue: training need = performance is poor. articulate training around learning from the people around you.

didn’t hear the world “school” mentioned much?
in teh school environment, the faculty and library need to be organized as if they are in the same business (they are). they are stil sending kids into library for detention–shouldn’t be a penalty box.
we’ve expanded what a creative learning strategy looks right now. very much teaching toward the test at the moment. we need to articulate outcomes in ways that the state and teachers care about. all you can do is re-set the arguement to “i will improve your outcomes.” tell the kids: “save time, get better grades” and “hang with your friends” if the library is cool. homework insurance works well in school libraries.


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