Archive for July, 2006

Movin’ on Up

Nope, not to a deluxe apartment in the sky … but I did get a promotion today and feel the need to share my news. I am really excited about my new position and am looking forward to having some new challenges and projects to tackle. Here is the announcement that came from Leslie Burger to our staff this afternoon to make it official:

I am pleased to announce that Janie Hermann has been appointed as the library’s program coordinator. During the next few weeks Janie will be working side by side with Sue Roth to ensure that we make a smooth transition when Sue retires. Janie brings a great deal of experience to the programming position not only with the terrific work she has done here with the technology programming but also from her work in planning several NJLA conferences. Please join me in wishing Janie all the best in her new position.

I have some very big shoes to fill in accepting this position. Sue Roth has done an outstanding job as our program coordinator for the last 7 years and there are literally very few areas that Princeton Public Library has not yet covered in the breadth of our programming efforts under Sue’s guidance. She is a woman of endless ideas with the ability to transform her ideas to reality. As well as a good steady offering of traditional programs such as book discussion groups and author events, we have had everything from a “summer dance blast in the stacks” to opera performances — we even had a “librarypalooza” one year. I will miss working with Sue, she has been my unofficial mentor for the last several years, and I wish her all the best as she embraces new opportunities and roles in retirement.

I will still be supervising the technology training program in addition to my new responsibilities. My time at the reference desk will be cut significantly, but I will still be out on the floor at a public service desk connecting with the community for 8 hours per week. Exciting times ahead as I make this transition. Now I am just waiting on Leslie to post the Chief Innovator position so I can apply 😉

July 12, 2006 at 9:46 pm 5 comments

World Cup Final @ PPL

World Cup Final @ PPL
Originally uploaded by janielianne.

I have finally found the time to upload the photos from Sunday’s final game of the World Cup to my flickr account. It was an amazing afterrnoon with a capacity crowd , lots of loud cheers, collective groans and a sense of community.

I tried to do a few head counts, the numbers varied over the course of the afternoon. We had somewhere around 100 or slightly more for the better part of the game, but during the final 30 minutes later in the afternoon we had well over 150 if you count those watching the flat screens in the lobby.

I did some informal “investigative reporting” while I was at the game. I spoke with 10 people and 7 of the 10 were hoping for Italy to win (and this was likely indicative of the crowd given the big cheer at the end of the game).

1 older man told me he read about it in the newspaper and thought it sounded like a great place to watch the game.

2 younger men said they heard about it from a friend and came because their apartment didn’t have air conditioning.

1 woman said she came because her husband wanted to watch and she wanted to get out of the house. She floated in and out of the game with the kids (taking visits to the other parts of the library and downtown) and was mostly there to see the final winning moments.

The crowd was diverse in gender, ages and nationalities. It was a true slice of the community we serve.

After the game ended and the crowd was dispersing I watched to see what happened. About 1/3 left almost immediately, another 1/3 hung around, mingled and talked about the game, the final 1/3 went to check out materials, use the computers, or engage in some other library activity.

I am not a big soccer fan but I had a great time at this game. Maybe we should consider a Super Bowl party…

July 12, 2006 at 8:01 am 2 comments

Soccer + Serendipity = Success @ PPL

Princeton Public Library has recently discovered that the axiom “the best plan is no plan” can sometimes be applied to outreach and programming at public libraries. We have had a unique experience for the last several weeks surrounding the World Cup — it is a story of serendipity, an unintentional buzz campaign, and common sense — it also has elements of a smart mob and lots of use of the old-fashioned grapevine method of communication.

In the early June Chris Ducko, our building manager, had a request from a patron if they could watch the afternoon match of a World Cup game somewhere in the library. Our high-tech community room was not being used, so Chris turned it on for him. The next day he came back with a few friends and from there the crowd continued to grow through word of mouth around town. We had suddenly become THE place in town to watch soccer! In fact, by the time we reached the match between France and Brazil we had a large crowd of about 70 who had gathered to watch and cheer on their team.

We had done no marketing and we had no plan to do this … but it was making people happy, so why not do it? I was at the reference desk on Thursday afternoon on the 2nd floor and I could hear the cheers coming clearly from our first floor community room.

We have a great community room with a large movie size screen of about 16×16 feet, a state-of-the-art surround sound system, air-conditioning, clean bathrooms close by and a great library cafe that offers coffee, soda and scrumptious food that can be eaten while you watch. For many people, our “community living room” offers better ammenities than their own homes, plus you get the excitement of watching with others.

This afternoon is the finals between France and Italy and we are expecting it to be packed to capacity. Our word of mouth phenomenon even got some press this past friday in an article that appeared in the Princeton Packet — an article that also occured by serendipty. A reporter was in the library interviewing Leslie Burger for a different article, one about her upcoming term as president of ALA, and noticed the crowd watching the game. He talked to a few staff members and we got a front page story as a result.

To highlight a bit of the article:

“There’s a good distribution of genders, nationalities — it’s exactly what the World Cup is about,” Mr. Keith said. “It’s very indicative of the shift in libraries.” He said Princeton Public Library’s goal is for the library to embrace all forms of media. “Why preferentially treat one type of media?” he asked. Mr. Keith described the soccer tournament as “the world getting together” and, he added, “This is our little piece of it.” Reader Services and Programming Librarian Sue Roth said the spontaneous gathering for matches has been “amazing.” She added, “It really is a sense of watching it with the community.”

Princeton Public Library has been called a “programming machine”, we offer over 1,000 programs on an annual basis, and yet one of our bigger success stories of this summer is something that we did not plan… makes you stop and go “hmmmmm”.

I am off to the library in a few moments. I will take some pictures to share… and write the final update on soccer mania at the library.

p.s./ We have also been showing Wimbledon matches between soccer games recently and we may try to cover the Tour de France as well… stay tuned.

July 9, 2006 at 10:42 am 9 comments

International Live Chat Study finds 30% Ready Reference Questions

Although many folks have declared Ready Reference to be dead in this Googleized reference environment, our research reported preliminary results of a large international study that found 30% of the live chat questions to be of this type! Another interesting finding, users were inappropriate (rude, impatient, goofing off, inappropriate questions or language) in less than 1% of the transcripts!

Since returning from ALA in New Orleans I have been scrambling to get caught up (OY!) & have been wanting to post these finding and others reported in 2 presentations that Lynn Connaway(of OCLC) and I gave at the conference. The PowerPt. slides have just been posted to the “Seeking Synchronicity” grant website and can be viewed by clicking on the links below. Both presentations provide preliminary results from our 2 year grant project, supported by IMLS, which is now 3/4 through the 1st year of a 2 year study.

The 1st presentation was for the QuestionPoint User’s Group Meeting on 6/25/06 and was called “Seeking Synchronicity: Evaluating Virtual Reference Transcripts”

This presentation discussed the results of our analysis of 256 live chat transcripts (selected randomly) from QuestionPoint and conduct of 7 focus groups (live chat reference users, non-users, and librarians). As can be seen in the ppt, we did the following analyses of the chat transcripts (& here’s a glimpse of some of our results, see ppt for more).

Geographical Distribution (the most questions were received by California, Maryland, and Australia; the most questions referred/answered were by California, Australia, and Maryland)

Type of Library Receiving Question (most by Consortium, Public, University, Medical, Law, State)

Type of Question Asked (using Katz/Kaske/Arnold categories) (Subject Search, 37%; Ready Reference 30%; Procedural, 25%; Inappropriate <1%)

Subject of Question (using Dewey Decimal Classification (Social Science, 42%; History & Geography 21%; Science 11%)

Service Duration (Mean 13 min. 53 sec.; Median 10 min. 37 sec.)

Interpersonal Communication (found dimensions that facilitators or were barriers to positive chat interactions, see ppt for more detail).

The 2nd presentation was for the Library Research Round Table forum on 6/24/06 and was called “Face-Work in Chat Reference Encounters.” We’ve analyzed an international sample of 226 live chat transcripts from QuestionPoint using a framework from the work of the great sociologist Erving Goffman (yes, Erving not Irving!). Results of this research provide us with a way to help understand how import ritual behavior (like greetings, closings, apologies, polite behavior, etc.) is in live chat as well as in face-to-face reference encounters.

Hope the above tantalizes you enough to take a look at the ppt slides. Handouts will also be available soon at the grant website!

July 8, 2006 at 8:23 pm 2 comments

Seeking Advice and Tips for Blogger Wannabes

I am preparing to teach a mini-course called Become a Blogger in PPL’s Technology Center in August. It will the first offering of this course and (if it is a success) it will be the cornerstone of a new Web 2.o category on our class calendar. In the last few months PPL has offered one-shot sessions on RSS, Wikipedia and “Fantastic Freebies“, but this our first concentrated effort to bring Web 2.0 to the masses in a meaningful and in-depth fashion. Next up is flickr and a repeat of the RSS session.

The course will be taught to the general public and I suspect that the students will have a wide-variety of skill levels and I also suspect (or should I say hope) that they will have an even wider variety of topics and interests that they will be using as the basis for new blogs.

I have much of the course outline prepared in terms of the technical aspects and am now working on “filling it out” to give it a more human touch. I was driving to work this morning and thought “Hey, it would be cool if I could include some advice from current bloggers to my class of blogger wannabes”. I want to create a collection of tips, quips, quotes that I can use to create a post for the Become a Blogger blog that I have set up to use as the course teaching tool.

I came across this great tip that I love, but I am sure I will have to tame it down a bit in order to include it in my class 😉 I also found this advice on How To Become An “A” List Blogger that was posted way back in 2003 on A Networked World that I will include on the class reading list. And of course I will include Eric Kintz’s recent article Why Blog Post Frequency Does Not Matter Anymore — an article that I am sure brough a collective sigh of relief across much of the blogopshere.

Still, I would like to compile a comprehensive list of lessons learned, advice, tips, quips, … well, you get the idea. Reply to this post with your pearls of wisdom and I will compile them for my class — and give you and your blog full attribution and a bit of “link love”, of course!

July 6, 2006 at 9:59 am 5 comments

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