Saturday, April 12, 2014

Daily Thoughts 04/12/2014

Young Woman Reading an Illustrated Journal, Pierre Auguste-Renoir, 1880

Daily Thoughts 04/12/2014

On the way to work, I read a little more of Smarter.  I am reading about intelligence in mice.  I also liked that the author, Dan Hurley, writes about how first person shooter video games can improve attention, that nicotine can enhance memory, and coffee also increases memory and attention.

This morning, I checked the Twitter and Facebook for the library.  I also checked the displays.

I did a writeup on the Urban Librarians Conference.

Web Bits

Where are America’s Librarians

Cool Bookish Places: Stockholm Public Library

Urban Librarians Conference 04/11/2014

On Friday, April 11, I went to the Urban Librarians Conference at the Stevan Dweck  Center for Contemporary Culture from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  The keynote speaker was Matt Delaney who is now the director of the Manlius Library. 

He spoke about the nobility of the profession and how it was an antidote to the increasingly competitive, fractured world.  He saw librarianship as an antidote to working for large impersonal corporations.  His view was that he was spending a lot of time in libraries so why not become one.

I felt his talk was very much a counter to the negativity which people have had in the profession lately.

The initial part of the talk was about his work in the Tulley Library where he introduced STEAM science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics programs,  had a book buggy built for the beach, and helped found a farmers market at the library.  I rather liked how he described the library as about innovation, knowledge, and information in the general sense rather than just library materials.

Part of his talk was about the concept of change and technology.

 There were some excellent analogies and quotes.  He cited the famous story, The Library of Babel by Borges as well as Metcalfe’s law about how telecommunications networks expand exponentially, and quoted Andrew Carnegie and Lewis Mumford.

The Keynote ran from 9:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

I went  to the second panel which was also run by Matt Delaney.  It was from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m..  The title of the discussion was Policies, punchcards, and other annoying buzzkills that threaten to derail us daily.

This was more of an open discussion about everyday things.

It was refreshing because a lot of it seemed to be problem solving focused rather than procedure focused.  I rather liked his statement that we should stop being library property evangelists and focus on our communities.

People talked about how advocacy was often simply about customer service.

  We talked about how to keep things fixed.  One of the things which was discussed was the importance of having a weekly hour long staff training in technology to answer basic troubleshooting questions.

There were some reminders about how we should use less library jargon and speak to the patron directly.  Programs thrive because of individual people.

There was a bit of talk about how library school did not really cover advocacy and many of the daily needs of librarians.  A new librarian should try and intern as much as possible or even work part time in the library while they are getting their degree.  There are some sights that are helpful like Hack Library School,  for going to school.

Some people had questions about how to get technical training.  Webjunction and Metro New York were mentioned as sources as well as

I saw Tamara Stewart at the beginning of the  conference.  She liked it tremendously.  I also spent a few minutes talking to her at lunch time.

I had lunch with the New York Librarians Meetup at the library cafĂ© which was quite good.  I have not been to a meetup in a very long time.  I will probably see them again when I go to Book Expo America.

After lunch,  represented by John Chrastka gave a presentation on advocacy.  Everylibrary is a 501 c 4 lobbying organization for libraries.  He reminded people that libraries are limited in how they can lobby.  He does not just lobby for budgets, he also includes lobbying for legislation that impacts libraries ability to function.

He focused on a specific document as part of his talk.   The document is called From Awareness to Funding.

I read this document.  The information is useful.  It gave some ideas about who supports libraries that are very different from when I first read it.  I like the description of the five characteristics of the ideal librarian library advocate for the public: 1) They are a true advocate for lifelong learning. 2) Passionate about making the library relevant again. 3) Knowledgable about every aspect of the library. 4) Well educated. 5) Knowledgable about their community.

He cited the statistics among voters that :

37% will vote for the library

37% will probably vote yes for the library.

26% will probably vote no.

His job is to find out what will get people to yes.  These percentages are irregardless of party lines, democrat or republican.  They are more affected by an anti-tax stance than party affiliation.  The people who view any tax as a bad tax are the most likely to cause problems for libraries.

People view the librarian as an advocate for lifelong learning.

The public does not understand the difference between a librarian and other library staff members, they see most people who work in a library as librarians.

In his view the librarian is the candidate who represents the library.  This is the reason why people vote for the library.  Peoples viewpoints are tipped by human contact.  Personal contact through messaging, phoning, talking in person, and social media will tip the balance.

Requests for funding should be a personal value proposition.  Let me tell you about my colleague.  The most important thing is to be friendly and improve customer service.

John Chrastka did a second presentation where he talked face to face with librarians.

He talked about how stories are what motivate in a bad economy, and statistics are what motivate people in a good economy.

There were some anecdotes where politicians often would not read their email, but would read personal letters.  Each politician is different.

There was a lot of audience participation.  One librarian said that he would go to the pizza parlor twice a week because that was where the politicians who funded the library often liked to hang out.

I mentioned that we would often go to the budget hearings each year at city hall in Mount Vernon, both the Friends of the Library and the staff.

There was also a gentleman who talked about his outreach program for reading to children in hospitals at the Brooklyn Public Library.  John Chrastka reminded us that it isn’t always about the statistics, it is about the human side of an institution as well.

There was a reminder of how important it was for branch librarians in New York Public to go to community board meetings.  This was simply so the politicians would know who you are.

I asked him about Mount Vernon.  What he told me from his impression of following our campaign is our job is to improve the gate count.  That is get as many as local people from our immediate area to vote  as possible

He described the Friends Group  in public libraries as a lobbying group as well as the Foundation as a lobbying group.  He even said there are situations where the union also lobbies in behalf of the library.

It was a quite informative session.

The Final Session I attended was on Web Design for Libraries

The focus was on Drupal versus Wordpress as a content management system.

Val Forrestal who is a web services librarian at the College of Staten Island chose Wordpress over Drupal.

Her view was that Drupal was overly complicated and had a steep learning curve for the line staff to give her information to put into a website.  Wordpress was much easier to use.

Most of what she did was HTML and CSS with some Jquery and PHP.  She was hired to redo their website.  The version of Wordpress she used was where she hosted Wordpress on her own server.  She modeled her site after the Harvard Library Website.   Her system was also compatible with Dreamweaver so she could easily build a site.   She used a modified version of the Leaf Template.

There were questions on how to stay on top of technology.  One of the first things people said is that you have to be constantly reading about new technology, especially if you are going to hire technical people even if you are not going to be programming things.

People once again mentioned Metro New York for training as well as the W3 school which is from the world web consortium.  There was also a mention of Youtube videos for training.  Some people talked about how there was recent demand for people with backgrounds in librarianship and computerized instructional design.  Some people even said they went back to community college to get the training they needed for computers.

Overall, I found the conference to be useful.

I went to the afterparty and had a drink which I have not done in a long time.  It was an interesting experience.

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