Things I Haven’t Had Time to Think About

September 4, 2006

The number of posts that I have saved in Bloglines is growing exponentially. Given that school starts in two days, the likelihood that I will have time to comment on them all is steadily wilting into oblivion. So, I thought I would give an abbreviated commentary on the following posts.

  • Is the Customer Always Right?– from Thoughts from a Library Administrator. Michael A. Golrick writes “We in Libraries are not in retail. We have two sometimes conflicting service imperatives: helping the public meet its needs and guarding the resources which have been entrusted to our care.” This is an interesting post in which Michael argues that keeping employees is more important than allowing that the customer is always right. Michael ends the post by noting that happy employees provide better customer service. This is very true.
  • Libraries Getting Real: Change and Libraries Getting Real: People– from ebyblog. I’ve had both of these posts saved in Bloglines for a couple of months. Ryan Eby writes “I personally think that trying to copy others will do nothing but produce another failure. Instead, it would probably be better to take on some of the other “web 2.0″ qualities that many companies have. In order to get a feel I suggest giving a read to 37signals’ Getting Real which I quote from below. It will give you an idea of some of the things you should keep in mind when working on a web presence or application.” Ryan has some great suggestions for creating a better web presence.
  • Serenditpitous Browsing: A summary and commentary of Thomas Mann’s “What’s Going on at the Library of Congress?”– from Subject/Object. Steven Chabot has a great summary of Thomas Mann’s paper. Steven writes “I think that this is the main point we have to remember. All of these things are not difficult to implement. Let us have Google-like searches, Amazon-like ratings and tagging alongside subject classification. We can gain much from folksonomies, and we don’t have to do so at the loss of traditional hierarchical ontologies. The digital catalogue is flexible enough for both.” I like this point.
  • Tagging– from TechEssence.Info by Jenn Riley – A great overview post that describes the concept of tagging. I often point people with questions about tagging to this post. This post can stand by itself as an introduction to tagging.
  • Usability through fun– from Creating Passionate Users by Kathy Sierra. I have long thought that people don’t often take into account that web sites can be usable and attractive and fun. Kathy contends that things may actually be usable because they are fun. Kathy writes “If something is made more memorable, more easily learned, and more sastifying… we’ve improved usability. What about efficiency and errors? Benefits of fun are more indirect here, but one connection is something like this: The more fun something is, the more likely you are to keep doing it.” I think we need to remember this!!!
  • Who are your users?– from OPAChyderm. I often bemoan the fact that it is difficult to figure out what are patrons want since we don’t have great data. In this post, the author points out that we need to know who are users are. From this post, “NOW tell me how much sense it makes to have the public services librarians be the sole voice for “the users” when making decisions. For most of us in university libraries, the vast majority of our patrons never make it in the door. If they do, it’s usually just to pick something up, or use a public computer or something. It’s not hard to do the math. If you look at how many people are on campus, how many librarians are on duty at any given time, how much time you spend on average with a patron…it’s pretty easy to see that a tiny, tiny percentage of patrons are being represented when we just ask the public service librarians what they think “the users” would like.” I agree that when any members of the library staff try to make decisions, they are basing those decisions based on contact with a tiny portion of the community.

BlogDay2006 Revisited

September 4, 2006

While I was taken unaware by last week’s Blog Day and had to scramble to write a post, I thought it might be fun to participate – and a great way to explore new blogs. It was both. First off, the number of visitors to my blog (due mostly to Meredith’s kind words) was a bit impressive – and the number of subscribers to my blog doubled. Secondly (and really more importantly), it was a great way to explore and read some blogs that I hadn’t been exposed to. This, naturally, led me to subscribe to several more blogs (a practice that I will not be able to continue indiscriminately).

Anyway, in the spirit of continuing the BlogDay love, I decided to compile the list of the BlogDay posts that I read, have been reading and am still exploring. Enjoy!

The “R” Has Finally Passed

September 4, 2006

After being away for the holiday weekend – and being computer/internetless – I was pleasantly surprised to find that my “R” grade for my summer class had been replaced by the real grade. While the professor had sent a nice email about the grade mixup and had included the real grade, it took a while for the paperwork to be processed and the right grade added to the school’s system. The summer class saga has finally come to a close. Yeah!

Library 2.0

September 4, 2006

I finally got around to reading Michael Casey and Laura Savastinuk’s Library 2.0 article in the latest issue of Library Journal. The article offers a great overview of Library 2.0 – it’s tenets, major concepts, a great definition and some excellent suggestions to move towards library 2.0. I think it is a must read.

In a post about her reaction to the article, Nicole Engard at What I Learned Today ponders how involved her patrons would want to be in transforming library services. Nicole writes “While you all know I’m supporter of Library 2.0 & new technologies in libraries – I sometimes wonder if our audience (lawyers) will ever want to participate in the creation of “both the physical and the virtual services” in the library.” This is a valuable point to consider in thinking about library 2.0 in any library – particularly special libraries and academic libraries. College students are often uninterested in participating in user groups, focus groups, taking surveys or offering constructive thoughts. They are much more likely to tell you what they do not like. As such, they are not necessarily thinking about how the library can serve them better – just about what doesn’t work for them. This presents an interesting challenge. Implementing new services just to get a reaction one way or the other isn’t a great way to make changes – actually, it is an awful way.

David Rothman, from davidrothman.netsuggests that medical libraries face the same type of questions. David writes that “I have come to believe that even the most technophobic clinicians served by my library will use new services if (1) they are easy to use and (2) it can be demonstrated to clinicians that the use of such services can save time, money, hassle, or professional mistakes.” I think that David is right. The problem (for me) is – how do we determine which new services our patrons will find easy to use and will help them with their information needs? Obviously patron input is critical. However, this isn’t always easy to get.

I think that before we can make these determinations about library services, all library staff need to be heavily involved in brainstorming about issues and problems that exist and ways that the library can work to resolve the problems. Ultimately, if there is not across-the-board buy in to the concepts of library 2.0, no library can possibly move forward to transform itself. This is really where I find myself presently. I don’t have patrons rallying for new services – they appear (through surveys, etc) to be content with what we offer. As such, library staff don’t see any particular need to try new services. Without patrons demanding some of these new library 2.0 services or engaged library staff, it is difficult to justify them to the administration. So, in the meantime, I keep watching all of the exciting things that are happening and making small changes one at a time.