Archive for May, 2007

World Cafe Power Point

At The Futures Conference, Peggy Cadigan and Barbara Cole stayed up all night working up this great powerpoint to capture all the great thoughts and comments that came out of the World Cafe that took place after a great day of presentations!

Take a look here!

(Great use of SlideShare.net too!)

The World Cafe was a chance for everyone to socialize and talk about what we had experienced throughout the day. We were in small groups and talked aabout a question that was posed something like, “If you die 100 years from now what will be different about the world you leave compared to the one you came into?” And one other one I can’t recall right now – help me out someone!

FYI if you look at the pictures, the World Cafe pics are the ones that show lots of glitter and stuff on the tables and tables named after books and/or movies, and all those newsprint papers hanging up with all our doodling, drawing and brainstorming on them! It was fantastic and excellently created, organized and run by Peggy and Barbara! Kudos!

May 19, 2007 at 9:51 am

The Ultimate Question and One More…

I just came across this article in OCLC’s NextSpace No. 5 (from Dec. 2006 – Yikes! Where was I!?) Are You Asking the Ultimate Question? which talks about a book by Fred Reichheld, The Ultimate Question.

This article talks about how the most important question to ask of your customers/patrons is “Would you recommend us to a friend?” In fact, the argument is made that this need be the ONLY question if you survey. Yes, a one-word survey!

I actually heard this recently when I toured a hospital in Paterson – they have this question stated explicitly as a goal – “Would you (in this case the employee) recommend this hospital to your friends or family members?” A pretty good question to keep in mind! I think it is a good thing just to ask ourselves to make sure we are providing a level of service that we would be proud to offer to our own circle.

Which reminds of something I heard recently about the bathrooms in some public libraries – the staff wouldn’t stand for having to use them and have their own bathrooms which are in much better shape, but they expect their patrons to use them all the time!? This is like a “home” and the patrons are a guest in your home – is that the bathroom condition you would present to your guests at home?

Anyway . . .

Fred Reichheld is saying that the answer to this one question could determine the future of your business or library.

With something that is this “old” (the book came out in January 2006) I always worry that someone else has already addressed this, but it is totally new to me and I think very important for libraries.

Nonbusiness organizations also have customers; they need to delight the people
they serve, and they too can benefit greatly from the use of one simple metric.
- Fred Reichheld in NextSpace No. 5.

Wow! DELIGHT the people they serve! What a novel idea! So how does this one question work?

You ask a question such as, “On a scale of 1-10 how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

Promoters score 9 or 10 – are loyally enthusiastic, keep coming and urging others to do so

Passives score 7 or 8 – are satisfied but easily wooed away

Detractors are the rest – UNHAPPY CUSTOMERS, feel ignored/mistreated, plot to get even!

Sometimes a follow-up question is asked to gain more insight. “If you would not recommend us, why not?” (Those answers might be hard to face!)

Ironically, customer loyalty provides companies with a powerful advantage – a
battalion of credible sales and marketing and PR troops who require no salary or
commissions. Yet the importance of these customer promoters is overlooked. -
Fred Reichheld, NextSpace No. 5.

We already know the power of negative experiences in stores or libraries and the studies that show that if a customer has a bad experience they are likely to tell (something like) 12 people! If they have a good experience they don’t tell nearly as many. It takes way more positive experiences to overcome one negative experience. We need to create as many positive experiences, and positive, PROMOTER-users as possible!

I recommend you read the article if you’re not familiar with this – it also contains information on the OCLC report Perceptions of Libraries and Information Resources. Steve Hiller also provides a lot of information in this article.

I plan to check this out some more and do some reading on the blogs related to this idea. I think it would be fascinating to do this type of one- or two-word survey and see what we get!

One other question I want to bring up here is “What business are we in?” I used this today when a volunteer came to me with yet another ripped magazine cover, very distressed. I told her that we aren’t in the business of preserving magazines perfectly forever. We are in the business of providing magazines to be read. True, if one person destroys a magazine they are obstructing others from having access to it, but some ripped and torn covers is not really the priority of our business.

So I say, ask yourself, “What business are you in?” and then ask yourself and your customers, “Would you recommend us to a friend or family member?”

EDIT:
Okay sorry I’m having trouble in the comments but the link for the new forum on Net Promoter is:

http://netpromoter.groupee.net/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/2731073251/m/6701054452

Sorry I couldn’t edit or delete those messed up comments b/c I didn’t install greasemonkey yet per Peter! :-)

May 18, 2007 at 1:23 pm 6 comments

NJ State Library is ‘On the Train!’

I’ve just come back from the HRLC Annual Meeting up at the lovely Parsippany-Troy Hills library (I really like the library’s “opening doors to the world” logo and mission). I went as an employee of an HRLC member library, and as the Chair of the HRLC Technology Committee, and also as a representative from the NJLA Member Services Committee. This is the first year I’ve been able to attend the annual meeting and I have to say it was great!

Norma Blake, the State Librarian, was there sharing about the State Library and what it’s up to and where it’s going. I just want to quickly share that everything that Norma talked about was very exciting and really “on track” from my perspective of what libraries in NJ need.

(Apologies if I’ve gotten anything incorrect here or misrepresent anything – please put me straight anyone if so!)

This presentation was similar (though much shorter) to the one presented at NJLA last month by the State Library and seemed very focused and more specific. It was also clearly influenced by the Futures Conference which was what I was so excited to see!

I heard things that came directly out of the conference such as the fact that they will have a position for Urban and Adult services – they already have teen services and now they want to focus on the needs of urban libraries and of the needs of the increasingly older population – Norma specifically said they will be working with Americans for Libraries Council which was what Mary Catherine Bateson spoke about when she did her presentation on “active wisdom,” and the importance of the relationships and value that the older generations bring, and their worth and place in society. It was also what the demography program showed us – the boomers are getting older (sorry guys!) and they are a large population! Clearly, the State Library is paying attention and responding!

Norma shared that they are “reworking” some positions – since they can’t afford to just create and hire new people. For example, Peggy Cadigan’s role is going to evolve into an “Innovations” position where she will be a member of a futures group and attend conferences and meetings about the future that are held by not just libraries and librarians, but by other fields too so that we will know what’s ahead “down the pike” not just for us, but in other areas – areas and things that will certainly impact upon us! VERY exciting – for Peggy and for NJ libraries and librarians!

They are also going to have a Technologies position and want to create a help desk and have assistance available for libraries. This is all of course in addition to the great marketing and pr work they are doing, the other initiatives and efforts they are pursuing. This is by no means a comprehensive list!

I also think the idea of creating pilot projects in each region to demonstrate the value for the constituents is great – the pilot projects also aim to attract new users.

I spoke to Norma during the break to tell her that I am very excited by everything she talked about – she even has a plan for how to proceed following the Futures Conference! The New Jersians who attended the conference will be meeting up for an “After the Futures” meeting to continue to talk about what we heard and saw and brainstorm how specifically to proceed in NJ. From this brainstorming meeting we will see what ideas shake out and then we will invite input from all and develop some plans around the ones that get the most support.

I am really excited (did I say that already?) to see ACTIONS coming out of the Futures Conference – after all, it was called Imagination to Transformation, and transforming requires action! I am really happy to see the State Library taking a strong, specific leadership role for the future of library service in New Jersey!

There was more of course, and the Strategic Plan for the Highlands Regional Library Cooperative was shared and voted on – awards were given out and food was had! Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to take any photos what with manning the Member Services station and attending the meeting, but I left there feeling very energized! Hopefully we will find out more about all of these things soon!

P.S. You can now blog and read about reactions to the Futures Conference on that blog and there is a new flickr page for the photos! I also see a video posted with Peggy in it but I haven’t viewed it yet! Still looking around for those slides from the presentations though ….

May 17, 2007 at 4:26 pm

Twittering about Second Life

Monday I got this e-mail from my director:

Those of us at the Futures conference heard about the increasing rate of change
and how technology is central to it. So, do any of you read the Sunday Star
Ledger? If you do, did you notice the articles on pages 2 and 3 of the first
section (not buried somewhere) – Twitter and Second Life. When things like this
become news that’s prominently placed, you HAVE to sit up and take notice.

True, this past Sunday’s Star Ledger carried articles about Twitter and Second Life (actually, there were two about Second Life, there was also this one). Well those are the ones I found online, I didn’t actually see the print paper.

While I’m certainly not a “Twitter celebrity” I have discovered that Twittering is kinda’ fun. The first time I heard about it I thought it was ridiculous and didn’t even sign up for it – even though I am a major “joiner”! ;-) However, when a friend invited me to join and be his friend, I did it and then found out that getting little messages about what he was doing was kinda neat and fun. Then I added another friend. It also became fun to post little tidbits about what I was doing (you are limited to 140 characters). I am by no means “addicted” or “obsessed,” but it is fun.

The article calls Twitter a “booming new social networking site,” “micro-blogging,” “addictive and may just be the future of communication.” People are using it to find like-minded friends and connections without all the “noise” of MySpace. Especially funny tweets become popular and their posters gain visibility.

One day when I checked the public timeline I saw people posting to each other who were at some kind of conference and checking-in to say when/where/what they were doing – making plans about where to meet up and when to eat, etc….

At the Futures Conference Ray Kurzweil talked about things doubling very quickly. Well, according to one of the founders of Twitter, its users are doubling every three weeks!

Check out Twitter Map and Twitterholic if you’re into it.

As for Second Life, the first article offers a sort of “travel guide” to it with tips and a warning that “sex is everywhere,” hence the second article about someone offering child pornography there.

Again, I am not a big user of Second Life. I did eventually sign up but have only been “virtual” once. I just fumbled and stumbled around and ended up getting stuck on a fence somewhere. However, Second Life has more than 6 million registered participants (according to the article) and I have seen some interesting things on useful applications and results from Second Life. Of course, there is a library there and many “real world” things take place there – concerts, buying and selling, advertising, building or creating things, meet people, own land, etc..

Maybe I should give it another try. If anyone knows how to get off that darn fence in Second Life, Twitter me!

May 15, 2007 at 8:36 am 6 comments

NYT online hotlilnks—WTF??

Lately I have been noticing that the NYT online edition makes some very, um, interesting choices when deciding which words in an article need to be hyperlinked to additional information. I guess my question to whatever unpaid intern they’ve assigned to the job is: “What are you smoking, and haven’t you read the latest research on what that does to you???”

When used sparingly and caringly, hyperlinks, the modern day equivalent of what my pappy called “footnotes”, can be our friends. (for more information on footnotes, see footnotes)

Take for instance today’s Science Times article, A Giant Takes on Physics Biggest Questions. My first thought was, “Oh boy, an article about giants! I KNEW they really existed, I just KNEW IT!!”

Guess what? The article’s not even about giants (I know, I was pissed too. I bet the same stupid intern who does the linking also writes the misleading headlines.)

OK, after I get over my disappointment that the article is actually about a bunch of fizzisists 300 feet below the ground trying to re-create the beginning of the universe by smashing tiny little particles into each other, I sit back and say, “hey, cool, I’ve been meaning to brush up on my particle physics. But I’m a little rusty on some of the basic concepts and lingo of advanced theoretical phenomenology. It sure would be helpful if the NYT would footnote — oops, I mean hyperlink — some of the hardcore scientific stuff to definitions, background information, biography, or further material that might enhance my ability to understand any of this.”

The NYT chose to go another route.

In their six page article on theoretical particle physics, this is what they thought was really important to hyperlink:

Page 1: On a page containing such terms as “European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN)”, “Large Hadron Collider”, “electron volts of energy”, “dark matter” and “dimensions of spacetime”, the only word they thought was important to hyperlink out to more information was…wait for it… Earth. Earth? EARTH???? I guess they chose to hyperlink it for those few souls who read the New York Times online that don’t know that Earth, ” is the third planet from the Sun and the only one in the solar system known to harbor life.”

Page 2: Unlinked go search terms as, “trillion-electron volt Tevatron”, “antimatter opposites”, “antiprotons”, “Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory”. And the hotlink goes to… Nobel Prize. And not even to a definition of Nobel Prize, just a link to random articles in the New York Times that mention “Nobel Prize.” Super! (a good a time as any to note that ALL hyperlinks, save perhaps paid ads, on the New York Times website only link back to—you got it— the New York Times website. Super!)

Page 3: Unlinked terms: “Cocktail party physics” (I’m guessing, not so much with the fun), “God particle”, “Higgs Boson”, electroweak force”, “Planck energy”. And the hotlink goes to… Nada. No hotlinks. Skippy the unpaid intern must have been checking his MySpace page for messages.

Page 4: Unlinked terms: “Quantum weirdness”, “supersymmetry”, “photons”, “glunino”. And the hotlink goes to… I guess Skippy’s busy twittering.

Page 5: Unlinked: “primordial fluid”, “quark-gluon plasma”, “Compact Muon Solenoid”. And the link goes to, “radiation.” Which I could actually let slide if it didn’t lead back to a bunch of random NYT articles, mostly about cancer, that mention the word radiation somewhere.

Page 6: Unlinked: “Fermilab Tevatron”, “CDF”, “UA1 and UA2″, “LHCb”. And the link goes to… Uh, nothing.

But wait! I now notice at the bottom of every page a little link that says, “Sphere: Related Blogs & Articles“. Yes! I knew the New York Times was just screwing with me! Now I’m going to click on “Sphere”* and get all sorts of related theoretical particle physics goodness. Here I go… I’m gonna do it… < CLICK! >

The good news: Sphere actually links to material outside of the NYT universe. The bad news: This is what it links to:

I’m speechless. I am without speech.

*Sphere: “Connecting Blogs and News”

May 15, 2007 at 5:27 am 10 comments

Pandora helps you find your favorite new bands

Although I do have a fairly respectable (read as: large) collection of music I am always on the watch for something new. The problem is that I tend to waste a lot of money on bands that “sound like” my favorites, only to find out $18 and an hour later, they really aren’t something I wanted to spend my money on.

Thanks to Pandora, that is changing.

Pandora is the fruition of the Music Genome Project. Each song entered into the site is subject to classification through genre, decade, musical composition, harmonies, keys, progression and much more. The result is when you put in a favorite song or artist in the search box, Pandora creates a station compiled with artists who closely resemble many of your favorite band’s qualities.

Furthermore, the station is always working towards making the ideal listening station for the listener. Each song can be given a thumbs up or down. Thumbs up will be used to first compare the qualities of your favorite band and your new song and then target even closer to bands of similar sounds. If you give a song a thumbs down, the station will skip past the song and never play it on that station again.

The result is quite impressive. I have five stations that are based off of my favorite rock with punk influence and, because of the thumbs up and down options, each one sounds different from the other. Now, I have several new bands to follow:

Pansy Division- Tired of being ostracized for being gay, John Ginoli and Chris Freeman created a gay-friendly punk band with unabashed lyrics and a good sense of humor.
Sanctus Real- A Christian rock band willing to break its contract with major labels in order to play songs they love.
Augustana- Young band rising on the charts and it’s no wonder. As they describe their own album, “its a young and scared record…and it’s real and from our hearts… “

May 14, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Change and Growth – Amendment

Immediately after I posted that bit about “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional,” right before the Futures Conference, I realized it needed an amendment. It needed me to add that I am such a hypocrite!

I am a huge advocate of using “2.0″ things for libraries – blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc… and not being AFRAID of CHANGE and of doing some different things. And here I am, NOT blogging really! I posted that post and then went off to take a shower and it was there that I realized that I have to admit and face up to MY fears and issues if I am going to be talking to others about CHANGE – FEAR – GROWTH and their issues.

My fear is of not being perfect; not being good enough – liked – accepted; etc…. That is why I have been avoiding blogging. This is a true soul-baring admission. I want to blog. I often think of things to blog. Yet, I allow my fears to hold me back.

Well, no more! I am realizing my fears, admitting them, and challenging them. Just as I want to be able to challenge everyone else to do! So, as I go forth and blog and challenge you (hopefully) you can know that I do so with a clear conscious having admitted this and having started to face my own fears!

At the conference Robert said to me that people appreciate honesty and that’s what is most important. Well, consider yourselves warned . . .

[Thanks to Robert and Pete for discussions surrounding this topic at the conference! It helped a lot!]

May 10, 2007 at 6:00 pm 16 comments

Library Futures Conference – some resources

Wow! How will I get the TIME to deal with all that happened at the Futures Conference? Time was one of the major themes throughout the conference: Time is “speeding up,” we have a “distorted sense” of time; etc…

Some of the other themes were:
Change (of course)
People – we need to focus on, not just books, information, etc.
Reflection – people need space/time to reflect on all the amazing experiences that new technologies allow us to have – the library could be the perfect place for that!
(I’ll add more later)

I am eager to get some of my notes and thoughts out there – I think Pete’s first post did a great job of capturing the “library spaces” program and I hope he’ll share more of his notes!

For now, here are a few resources, b/c I am eagerly awaiting the posting of all the presentations, podcasts, information etc. from the conference:

Ray Kurzweil’s site
Bob Treadway’s site
Joan Frye William’s site
Mary Catherine Bateson’s site

Those are the only ones I can put up quickly – I really can’t wait until all the materials are made available so that they may be shared as widely as possible with those who were not able to attend.

I also really love when different things start to “come together.” I found these things last night and they really relate to the conference:

Pushing Through The Dip and this via Helene Blowers on flickr
Google’s trend watch
Learning 2.0 Throughout the World and
Spring into Learning 2.0

Actually, I think all of those resulted originally from me looking at Helene Blowers’ flickr site!

I have already had to create a “futures” folder for myself for all the things that have been flying around today already as a result of the conference! That is probably one mark of an excellent conference!

May 10, 2007 at 2:39 pm

In Memory of Shel Silverstein

In 1999, I was working as a Surveyor. My coworkers were gruff men who enjoyed using their machetes to hack down site lines for their instruments. Sum’bitch was a popular word to use as both an adjective and noun. So, it was a bit suprising when, on May 10th, my crew chief took the morning paper, rolled it up, and told not to open it until I got home… he actually forced me to leave work and paid me for the day. When I got home, I opened the newspaper he gave me and saw that Shel Silverstein passed away the night before, I’d lost my favorite childhood writer. My chief knew that too and I guess he figured that news was enough work for one day. So I took the day off and wrote this song:

I’ll never forget that day May 10th, 1999
When I opened up the paper and saw my favorite writer
a mentor had died.
Now there’s no more kids in the tub
and the channels on the TV have become
boring and dumb.
Then I called up my best friend
and said “I think we finally found out where
the sidewalk ends.”

A Light in the Attic
can tell me how people
dream to get by.
I’d climb the highest mountain
to meet Baba Fatts
and find his perfect high.
But lesson number one,
I’ll never try to cheat the devil
like Billy Markham.
I guess what they say is true
People’d rather waste their life on dope
then hear the truth.

Well, someday, I’ll write a book
and it will be successful
overnight.
It will be called
“How the Giving Tree
Came to Change My Life.”
I’ve read it since I was four
and to a thousand other children when I was
a camp counselor.
And I laughed a lot
but not as much as I cried
the day that my mentor Shel Silverstein died.

May 9, 2007 at 7:32 pm

Library Futures Conference Roundup, pt 1

I had the mind-blowing pleasure of attending Imagination to Transformation, the Mid-Atlantic Library Futures Conference, on Monday and Tuesday. I have lots of notes notes notes, a swirl of ideas, and a pile of inspiration. In the interest of sharing the goodies, I’m posting my notes in a fairly raw form with limited commentary. Get it right or get it written, right?

Before I get into my notes, a big thank you to the New Jersey State Library (esp. Peggy Cadigan) , Palinet (Catherine Wilt, Ann Yurcaba, Diana Bitting), and all of the organizers for all their hard work and for doing a fantastic job! Great speakers, great space, great conference!

For those of you following along at home, conference materials and handouts will be posted on either the conference website and/or the conference blog.

OK, here are my notes from:

LIBRARY SPACE: IS IT THE LAST FRONTIER OF THE DIGITAL AGE
Jeffrey Scherer of Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle, Ltd.

(BTW, this is a highly filtered report. Scherer talked a lot about lighting, about environmentally friendly building design, and many other fascinating topics. I highly recommend you take a look at his whole presentation when it’s posted to the conference website.)

  • The library in 2030 will be as different from today’s library as today’s library is from the library of 1930.
  • The library as a central place is the only single political agent that can affect change at all levels. Our neutrality is an important tool for us to think about.
  • The library is an agent of these four elements of our lives: live, work, play, learn.

  • We are a service profession that delivers great content, struggles with technology and frets over cash. The real decisions are made around cash. If you reflect on the fact that Americans spend as much on Halloween candy as they do on library books, you see that the $$ is there.
  • We need to stop focusing on what is not possible, and focus on what is possible. It’s important to be optimistic. If you focus energy on what’s not possible, you’ll never create the possible.

Quotes:

  • “Our eyes connect our emotions.”
  • “Love is probably the central focus of great libraries”

Guiding principle: We need to create space for spontaneity and socializing: the library as 3rd place (agora)

Carleton college did a survey of alumni: 40% of graduates married other Carleton students; 40% of those people met in the library. Why? Because they were in a different social space than if they had met at a football game. Being in a library raises our commonality; transcends our boundaries.

Applying the lessons: How to create a 3rd space:

  • Reading nooks with back to wall (people love to curl up)
  • Daylight and views
  • Computer tables (missed some of what he said on this)
  • Offer a variety of options
  • Self-controlled lighting
  • Daylight and good views
  • Gossip corners that don’t interfere with others
  • Homelike features; fireplace, natural flooring
  • Group seating that can work with one to three people
  • Privacy (acoustic and visual): people want to get information in private
  • Visibility of service points and collection
  • Come out from behind the desk and greet patrons. There has to be a transformation in this area!

Other key points

  • “I want to do it myself” Trend to self service is huge.
  • “Help is on the way” but only if you need it. (Point of need service delivery)

May 9, 2007 at 6:28 am

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