Category Archives: 2006

Coverage and discussion on ALA Midwinter 2006

OCLC Symposium – Part 3

Patricia Martin – Marketing
Libraries: Defending the Brand
Libraries are in the best of times. Disruptive competition drives innovation.

Behold the rise of the second renaissance generation – the RenGen. They live in a knowledge economy. There is a formal delivery system for the knowledge of culture and there is also an informal system that is growing faster than libraries. The RenGen ignore the formal system on a daily basis. They have created their own information system. They are generation that does not see libraries as essential.

The preference for learning is visual and narrative for the RenGen and they do not get these things from libraries. In 2003, 23% of all mall shoppers browsed compared to 37% in 2002 – PEOPLE DO NOT LIKE TO BROWSE. For some people being well informed is social currency and libraries can give this to them.

Do we have something special for them?
We are local, engaging, and have the right price. You cannot defend a brand by promoting your features. You have to get emotional. What is at the heart of why people use libraries?
Ex. FedEx they are in the “peace of mind” business – delivering clean service – clean is part of the brand.

Does the experience match the brand

How do we tell people about libraries?
Libraries are in the desire/fulfillment business. A brand is a relationship, the look and feel of things. The RenGen wants things labeled, not a closet of stuff. They are too busy to browse.

3 simple acts that can make a difference: a friendly frontline, work the floor (seek people out in the stacks), and improve physical space.

For more information and presentation notes, visit – click on the green room (left hand side)
username/password: library

OCLC Symposium – Part 2

Jennifer Rice is the owner of a marketing company and she focuses on the 6 major consumer trends that effect everyone. A brand is reputation, an idea formed in the minds of your constituents. What you say is marketing and what you do, reputation, is brand

What can you do that people desire that is deliverable and distinctive?

Convenience – too many choices and not enough time
brands include 7-11, Netflix, Goole, Amazon, Southwest Airlines
Libraries should be concerned about Netflix, because they are teaching people that they do not have to wait, they can keep things as long as they want, and they can get it delivered to their door. The expectation level is going up.

Community – grassroots economy
The most effective brands hit somewhere on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Libraries should view ourselves less as a provider and more as a host. You could offer comfortable seating, internet access, educational classes, beverages, and the idea of “stay awhile.”
community brands: wikipedia

Control – empowerment, people want to do it themselves
We do things online that we used to need a professional to do: travel reservations, home improvement, and stock trading. Our users want this professional joband they like it as long as they are having fun.
Brands: Home Depot (you can do it, we can help)

Choice – people want options
We love choices but they are overwhelming so we outsource to experts or get recommendations. People are willing to pay for convenience and choice. Free only matters if you can not afford it to pay for the service.
Brands: Google, eBay, Amazon, Netflix

Experience – people want to be wowed
WOM (word of mouth)– Being buzz worthy is often the most valuable tool. The internet can not commoditize experience because experience is sensory: sounds, smell, taste, sight, service
Brands: Starbucks, Dave and Busters, Borders (creates an experience around books), Niketown

Trendy – the greatest brands are trendy

OCLC Symposium – Extreme Makeover: Rebranding an Industry Part 1

I took about 6 pages of notes during the presentation, so this is a highly condensed version of a very wonderful session. To make it readable, I am going to post it in four parts, separated by speakers.

The title implies that this session will be about libraries as industry, as business, and from the beginning, Cathy De Rosa makes it clear that this is the intent. I like that they do not shy away from discussing libraries as business.

Omar Wasow – Library 2.0?
“Libraries must both inform and transform.”

There is a break in perceptions from what librarians think and what our users think.
The brand “library” stands for books, but our facilities are high on the list of what users think about. They are unhappy with the surroundings of the library: parking, signage, building rude staff, etc. The library is not just about technology; it is about the experience of the library.

How do libraries go from service to transformation? The business of libraries is to change people. Libraries feel elevated. It is a place to think. Many libraries have stairs at the beginning, signifying that the user is about to enter into an elevating experience.

Libraries are challenged by the quality of experience in the industries around us. They are arranged to do material management and not as a reading experience or a place for elevating oneself. We have to get better at merchandising what we do. Libraries should offer tools to help people have transformative experiences

ETIG – emerging technology interest group

Emerging Technologies IG (*very brief* I was a tad late). Free wheeling discussion – Michelle B sounded like she got good notes…

Mentioned Emory podcasting prof & Boilercast at Purdue.
FRBR-ized displays
Draw knowledge from external (non-library) vendors for easeof applications?

<5% library virtual users start at a library catalog – user defined pathways need to be explored, modeled, and incorporated into search structure

Changing focus from “search” to “find” Ambient Findability – book with which to follow up


Switch from DVD/VHS to streaming & synchronous/asynchronous downloads – which can be placed in ot linked form online exhanced classes or placed in syllabi.

Search interfaces, NCSU, Grokker, 3D/spatial representation of search results

[Re-phrasing]ETIG/LITA is starting to be more aware of PLA technology discussions[/re-phrasing]
PLA is starting technology discussions – there is not much, if any, LITA involvement – we need to get into and help inform their discussions. Infiltrate all the ALA silos.

ALA Council II — Dues proposal status

After much discussion (1.5 hours), Council voted to place the proposed dues increase on the 2006 Spring Ballot for member consideration and voting. As soon as a link to the approved proposal is available (and found) I’m sure it’ll show up in the comments. Exec Summary: 30% increase phased in 10% increments over 3 years.
[edit - adding]
There was also extensive opining about the dues structure, there are pockets of support (including SRRT, rural & low income state councilors, and a few well-off councilors) for a graduated dues structure, based upon salary. The membership committee (I’m an electronic member of that group) closely examined a graduated structure and concluded, in the end, this was an undesireable option. An interesting factor in this discussion was the early 1970′s graduated dues structure and comments in Council minutes about the perception of the existence of a “class structure” based upon the amount of dues individuals paid (or said they paid). Embedded in the minutes, sometimes between the lines, was also a perception that many people felt others were not correctly reporting their income, hence the flat dues structure was adopted.

The LITA Town Meeting

Well, first of all, if you were at the conference and not at the Town Meeting, you missed a great food spread. There was real food, folks — breakfast tacos, yogurt, fruit, bagels, pastries, AND a variety of juices.

While we ate, we got to view a photo montage of past involved LITA members who hadn’t ponied up when the LITA Office offered to destroy all negatives.

Pat Mullin, LITA President, addressed a filled room (we know the value of free food) to note the launch of the LITA 40th Anniversary Celebration and to present a plaque to Pat Harris in recognition of her long stint of excellent service at NISO. She’s retiring after 20 years, and those of us who have worked with her can hardly imagine information standards work without her. I bet she has no trouble imagining it at all.

Bonnie Postlethwaite, President-Elect, took over to provide a brief history of LITA’s educational program, in preparation for a facilitated discussion of how LITA can better meet members’ educational needs in future. This is the part of the strategic plan the Board chose to focus on in the regular Midwinter Town Meeting.

Aaron Cohen and his son Alex Cohen of Aaron Cohen Associates facilitated the discussion. Each table formed a de facto small group for discussion — we were asked to discuss what the current situation is and what the opportunities are for LITA in the next few years as far as education is concerned.

Some of the ideas that came up:
A LITA Wiki — to share expertise, what people are working on, what they’re familiar with, share the knowledge of LITA members, what products they work with.
It was noted that attendance at regional institutes had dropped. One idea was to plan some around other organizations’ conferences.
Webcasting seems like a good way to go — the kind of thing where someone can pay to receive a feed and have other people view/listen to it. This would be especially good for hot topics where quickly-produced, timely coverage is needed.
Tap into the educational needs of public library people. If someone started a Public Library Technology IG, they could have a focus for programming, education, liaison, etc. As a follow-up note, Mary Anne Van Cura is now working on this; contact her if you’re interested.
Use the blog as a vehicle to make LITA-L conversations, announcements more permanent. (BIGWIG is already working on this.)
LITA programming at conferences should have clearer audience indicators — maybe distinctive logos.
LITA needs to identify programming gaps from the top down. Our programming comes from the grass roots, which is great, but it means some important topics don’t get covered.
LITA does well at serving the library tech world, but we need to become more nimble and effective at reaching out to the tech world — those working in library technology who are not librarians. It was noted that maybe LITA should be LEAD-A. (Get it? Get it? Aw, c’mon, it’s cute.)
LITA needs to use many forms of communication to find out what people need in the way of educational topics.
LITA needs to educate technology beginners as well as advanced people.
LITA should be providing feedback to library schools about what new librarians should know about technology.

More will appear on the blog and elsewhere about this, but if you want to add an idea, feel free to comment!

Top Tech Trends: The Trends

Sunday, January 22, 8am-10am, Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 3/4
(This runs a bit long, so it’s been broken into two parts: the business meeting dealing with the TTT events and the Top Technology Trends discussion.)

With a little bit of time left after the business meeting, the discussion moved to the juicer topic: Top Technology Trends. Here’s a quick overview of what was discussed:

1. It’s nice to experiment with high tech, but low tech can be good, too. Simple answers are good. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. (Okay, that really came from the discussion of the event, but it played into some of the TTT discussion as well.)

2. Is the promise of FRBR going to flesh out? Are we going to start seeing it for our libraries soon? The discussion pointed out that FRBR assumes that records have been prepared for FRBR. OCLC does have an algorithm that approximates that for the database, but cataloging would still need to be done differently to take advantage of FRBR. The Trendsters discussed how librarians often make things complex that are simple. For example, we were using expensive chat software when all we needed was IM.

Andrew Pace said that one of his maxims is, “never change data to fix what’s a display problem.” He suggested using an algorithm to fix the display problem; there’s no need to change the data. Tom Wilson said that his proverb is, “sometimes you don’t have the time to wait until there’s consensus for how to do things and a product comes along.” One of the problems is that we always assume that the library community needs to invent items for the library community. But really, there are other industries that create some things that do what we’re looking for in the library catalog. If we look into these other options we can save limited resources. He used Endeca as an example of that. It’s not a library technology; it’s technology that is being used for library purposes.

3. How can we make it easier to get materials to users? People are looking for simplest way to do things, why should we fight that reality? The discussion around this topic centered on InterLibrary Loan. Why not shorten the trajectory? Maybe we could set up ILL for users straight from WorldCat. ILL costs are going up right now, some express concern that this step would make it more expensive. The group discussed the trend to buy less and borrow more, but some asked why not have ILL act more like circulation? Collection management from different libraries could work together to develop collections across campuses or systems to facilitate ILL and save costs of cataloging, shelf space, etc. However, it was also pointed out that some studies have compared costs of ILL to running down the street to buy extra copies of the latest best seller and found that ILL might not always save money. A few libraries have started a direct to buy program. If someone wants something on ILL, and it meets a certain number of criteria, they just buy the book and lend it out.

4. It’s not a trend so much, but there was a discussion of taking the user’s cost into consideration as well. The user pays in time. We force them to wait for ILL or to learn library lingo. How come we don’t just ask them what they need and when and we figure out how to get it to them in the most cost-effective way? The user shouldn’t need to know there’s an ILL department, just that they can get books. They shouldn’t need to know the vendor of a database; they should just be able to get useful articles. People start with Google and find things that are already paid for by their library. How can we fit into how people work? Another strand of this is that we won’t get everyone into the library for library instruction when their cultural context tells them to go online; we need to make finding information online easier.

5. Other ideas were mentioned in brief:

  • considering using web services for micropayments
  • building more services on top of the existing digital collections
  • xml web services
  • mentioned in both halves of the meeting: the trend of users in the participatory web and how blogs, chat, etc. are good for that

Top Tech Trends: The Business End

Sunday, January 22, 8am-10am, Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 3/4
(This runs a bit long, so it’s been broken into two parts: the business meeting dealing with the TTT events and the Top Technology Trends discussion.)

The agenda for the Top Tech Trends meeting this midwinter was “more of a traditional business meeting than a discussion of trends.” The Top Tech Trends committee members and experts (or “Trendsters” as they came to be called) discussed the exciting increase in participation in the TTT events over the last few years, and evaluated how to make sure these events don’t lose due to their size.

Karen Schneider posted some of her take-away points from the meeting, and I’m doing the same here.

Top Technology Trends events (for those, like me, who haven’t been able to make them) have centered around experts who identify some trends to examine, discuss, and then they open the floor for audience questions. The audience has grown significantly over the last few years. This growth has led to a loss of “discussion” and now sometimes comes across with a talking-heads feel. The Trendsters talk more, the audience less. The group agreed that it would be better to have a more interactive environment and brainstormed how to work on this.

Everyone agreed that there is a need for a strong moderator who could enforce a time limit and synthesize discussion. This super-facilitator would be able to facilitate discussion with the panel as well as the audience.

Seating was also discussed. People really liked the idea of the panel sitting in either a circle with concentric circles for audience members or in a semi-circle to encourage more discussion. The hope is that this would allow for more discussion among members, but also bring back some of the participatory feel for the audience.

Everyone agreed that the audience questions are an important part of TTT, but that they take a lot of time. One proposal was for the audience members to write comments down on a provided card, give them to designated people, and the questions could be combined if similar and chosen to fit the flow of the program. The moderator could then read the questions to the panel.

Karen Schneider recommended another option: a backchannel method that she’s at other conferences. A projected screen could show chat that audience &/or panel members could participate in. This way people could ask questions as they’re most appropriate or add to the discussion of they want. Participation could even occur from people outside the room. Of course, if this method is used, the panel couldn’t be expected to watch it all the time, as they’ll be busy following their fellow Trendster discussion. Discussion of this method revolved around first trying it out at next midwinter to see if it would work for TTT purposes.

The blog was discussed as a way to continue the discussion. Trendsters could post to the blog ahead of time and that would give the moderator content from which to pull questions. If members were reading the blog, they would have context for the discussion ahead of time. The blog is also nice because people can post comments and become part of the conversation. It was recommended that there be an informal poll to see how many audience members are also members of LITA and who checks the blog. This would give the committeee more input for how to use the blog in future TTT discussions (and at the very least, raise awareness of it).

The last part of the TTT event that was discussed was the tenure for being an expert. Wouldn’t it be cool to see “guest” experts, or experts who cycle in once every few years? It’d be good for members to see that they, too, could be a Trendster. It’s also good for the expert/Trendster to know that there are people working on the issues, even when they’re not there. The guest Trendster might be someone outside the library community, too. Maybe even someone from the industry dealing with youth and mobile technology.

Heads of Library Technology (HoLT) Interest Group

The Heads of Library Technology Interest Group (HoLT IG) meeting began (1/22 @ 10:30AM) with an introduction and announcements by Sue Thompson, Chair. The mission of this interest group is “Established in 2001 and renewed in 2004. To provide a forum and support network for those individuals with administrative responsibility for computing and technology in a library setting. Programs and discussions will explore issues of planning and implementation, management and organization, support, technology leadership and other areas of interest to library technology managers and administration.“

The meeting proceeded with brief introductions [Blogger comment – I may not have heard some of the names or institutions correctly – humblest apologies]. Sue Thompson – Chair, Carlos Rodriguez – Vice Chair, George (maybe Byron?) – Temple University, Frank – Northwestern, Allen – Purdue University, Scott – Eastern Michigan, Lynn – Appalachian State University, Richard – UT Southwestern (blogger), Scott -University of Colorado at Boulder, Mandi – University of Delaware, Sara – University of Oregon, Paul – University of Arizona Health Sciences Library, Phyllis – University of Michigan, Jim – a Library Technology Consultant, Mark – VP of Small Company, Alice – Cataloger @ NLM, Michelle – Anne Arundel CC, Patricia – Columbia, Howard – Brooklyn College, Bill – NYU, Mary Ann – ? public library, – John – Virginia Commonwealth Libraries.

The next section of our meeting was HoLTalk and the discussion question was “What technologies do library system departments typically support and how do we manage them?” The topic was introduced by Sue Thompson. Another attendee suggested that perhaps we can spend our HoLTalk discussion time by answering some of the questions that came up in the introductions. This was received well all around so we proceeded down that path.

We started with desktop management issues. A few libraries use Centurion Guard to protect their desktops. DeepFreeze is another option. You can also simply re-image a PC if it’s not easily fixed. Some of our libraries don’t lock staff PC’s down with security. Wyse or Citrix thin clients were suggested as security options.

One attendee mentioned that they track licensing using AuditWizard. Another asked “Why is there a licensing issue anyway? Usually you need a registration key or to pay for the software after 30 days.” Another attendee explained that it’s because people bring their home copies into work. Nobody has actually been audited by the software police [yet].

Every system department represented supports desktop software. A few only support library-centric desktop software. One library mentioned KeyServer for licensing. Staff are responsible for what’s on their PC’s. They and we and our institutions can be held legally liable for unlicensed software.

Brooklyn College has a faculty technology training area led by a non-student technical person. Some libraries use Para-technical professionals to assist with faculty training. There is also a faculty training area at NYU.

What about print charging? Is it really cost effective? One suggestion was to encourage patrons to use email. In one library, printing went down 60% after print charging was implemented. Duplex printing was used by several libraries. There were several comments about print charging dramatically cutting down on waste.

Anger and frustration has been growing with one attendee’s system department. Library staff ask “Can you do this project?” If it’s not a priority, it may never get done. They developed a project plan methodology. However, he doesn’t like the project police mentality. But he doesn’t like a free form system either. Michigan uses a collaborative system of project management. They publish their project list. The system is very open and projects are discussed quite a bit in committees. Another library does collaborative prioritizing for projects, bug fixes, etc. also.

What help desk packages are being used? FootPrints software is used at several libraries. Remedy and HelpStar were a couple of other help desk packages mentioned. They are quite high-end and can be hard to learn and use.

What are the specific projects that we are working on? How do they get prioritized? One library systems department tries to do projects and tasks with the greatest impact. Another attendee mentioned that projects get prioritized within the context of the strategic plan. One library usually tries to follow up on new, hot things no matter how busy they might be.

A LITA Business section of the meeting followed. LITA membership is down. Can we open this interest group up to non-LITA members? Can we open it to non-ALA members? In another (LITA, non-HoLT) meeting, one Co-Chair scared off a non-LITA member yesterday one attendee reported.

HoLT IG business was the final section of the meeting. Our Annual Program will be “Core Competencies in Library Technology: What IT is and Where IT’s going.” The program is currently listed at 8:00 AM to12:00 PM on Sunday. We agreed upon a 2 hour presentation followed by discussion and a business meeting. The target audience is library managers and also anybody interested in staff technical training issues. The size of the potential audience was estimated at 200. Finally, we discussed some potential publicity venues such as listservs, the LITA blog, and email announcements.

Carlos Rodriguez is the incoming Chair. We need candidates for Vice Chair for the next cycle. Michelle Robertson submitted her name for consideration. Please forward ideas for programs, publications, etc. for next year to Carlos.

Since we ran out of time, other items will be discussed on our listserv. Member names will be published on our HoLT IG website unless Sue is directed otherwise (by individual attendees). Some pictures from the meeting will follow.

HoLT Attendees - I

HoLT Attendees - II

HoLT Attendees - III

HoLT Attendees - IV

HoLT Attendees - V

Town Meeting notes (table 1)

Notes from LITA Town Meeting

A & A Cohen did a nice job facilitating our table discussions.

“My” table’s notes:
[edit - adding]Ranti Junus[/edit], Philip Sherman, Joe Ford, Michael Bolam, Maurice York, Susan Coleman, Aaron Dobbs (any errors or oversights are my own, my tablemates were excellent and prolific. These are my table speaker notes which do not reflect the details of our intra-table discussion.

Topics brainstormed: LITA Education mission

1. Given / Environmental scan
- There are 2 general audiences for LITA educational programs, which can be described as “techies/users” or tech-oriented implementers and end-result users
- We also identified an important group that doesn’t really fit in either (and generally do not participate/attend LITA programs on their own) group: the money holders or decision makers (sharp pencil people?)

2. Seeking
- Need to better address each audience with an eye toward not oversimplification for a tech-savvy attendee and not over-jargonizing for the new / novice / user experience focused rather than nuts and bolts focused attendee.

3. Define
- Specify target audiences in program description (LITA logo for the ‘advanced’ and ALA general logo for ‘regular’ level programs?)

4. Construct
- Get out into the non-LITA communities (in ALA and in Real Life)
- Use existing institutional resources (academic libraries, Hies, etc.) plus grants perhaps (ALA-based resources are next to impossible at current funding levels – the dues increase is a separate issue, of course)
- Use more online delivery, continue Regionals, continue with ALA meeting & conference programs (podcast the audio and perhaps slides from the programs – ALA Conference Services no longer records programs at conferences & meetings.
- Infiltrate the other ALA Divisions to become better aware of technology mis-perceptions and clarifications needed.
- Limitations:
- - Money, organization/de-duplication of effort, awareness of external organization needs