Some Unrelated Thoughts and Commentary

January 27, 2007

Inspired by a post by Sarah Clark over at The Scattered Librarian, I decided to clean up my saved posts a bit. Some are things that I have been meaning to write about and some are things that I have found important.

Helene Blowers, from Library TechBytes, discusses the concept of project management in libraries in a post called Explaining the napkin . . . (aka project management & libraries). Helene discusses a visual project management tool which has three points. The points represent three concepts that control every project – the resources, the time and the scope. She writes:

When the triangle gets out of balance, it’s the PM’s responsibility to make adjustments. For example, if the scope changes and additional deliverables are added, you’ll need to either adjust your resources (as in add more bodies to the tasks) or increase the the project duration (using existing resources) to keep the project on track. Each of the three constraints always has an effect on each other, and good project managers know how to juggle these constraints well in order to achieve the planned results.

What a great way to think about project management – and the role of an effective project manager. More accurately, however, she explains that within the library world “I have come to the conclusion that for the most part we really don’t [do] projects . . . but we do have a lot of initiatives.” I think she has an important point. I agree that we don’t really do much project management in the library world – and that is one of my big frustrations.

Karen G. Schneider wrote a great post, IT and Sympathy, over at the ALA Techsource Blog. Often times, there is a tension in the relationship between the library and IT. Librarians and techies don’t seem to speak the same language. I think part of the reason can be explained by the fact that systems people (whether they work in the library or in IT) feel the need to protect their resources (hardware and data) from the users while librarians believe that the only reason to have hardware and data is to help the patrons. These goals can be seen as diametrically opposed. I believe that a big part of my role (even though it isn’t officially part of my job description) in library systems is to bridge the gap between our library needs and goals with the tenets and principles of our IT department. In this vein, so many of Karen G. Schneider’s points are right on target. She suggests that librarians talk to IT and find out about their plans, schedules, etc.; that they do their own IT planning (see information on project management above); that everyone remember nothing is ever “free”; and lastly that it helps to share plans with IT. I agree that all of these ideas will help develop a good working relationship with the tech folks. Schneider doesn’t specifically say it, but open lines of communication with IT departments are invaluable. After all, similar projects may be in development in other departments. Nobody needs to waste time reinventing the wheel. Techies are people too. Sometimes they may talk in overly technical terms, but they generally appreciate people who show interest in their concerns.

In a post entitled My Top-ten Library 2.0 “No-brainers” for Public Libraries, Ryan Deschamps lists 10 simple ways to start implementing Library 2.0 in public libraries. The ten ideas are

  1. Install Mozilla Firefox
  2. Add extensions to Firefox
  3. Use RSS feeds for library news and programs
  4. Have straightforward blogging guidelines
  5. Use content management system for staff information sharing
  6. Have a public blog and encourage participation
  7. Collaborate with partners using Google Docs and Zoho
  8. Have a Flickr page
  9. Allow all popular social software on public computers
  10. Engage teens with technology

This a great post that focuses on practical suggestions to bring Library 2.0 into the library. We are at the point where we need to start moving beyond the debate and acting on these things. I think it is worth noting that most of these suggestions can be adapted to any type of library, not just public ones. Ryan writes:

All in all, there are a wide range of Web 2.0 applications that are not risky or costly to implement, and at the same time they are bound to be effective. Even a “costly” web 2 service such as creating a video blog is not that costly in the end (a few thousand for equipment & software and some time to edit the movies). The point here is that you do not have to blow people’s minds to be L2.