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TLAconf2008-GeneralII

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 7 months ago

General Session II: Transforming Texas Libraries Panel

Thursday, April 17, 4:00 - 5:50

speakers: Roy Tennant, Joe Janes, Karen Schneider, Stephen Abram

 

"What keeps you awake at night?"

  • a major challenge
  • or a real opportunity you're excited about

 

Karen:

  • reemergence of reference
  • traditional reference is over (population of Alaska), but students won't go to library as first place, but they will go to online reference, etc., when they have specialized needs or get stumped

 

Joe

  • trad. reference isn't over, but it's a smaller fraction of what people will come to us for; internet search engines will win out
  • if you convey to people that you specialize in ready reference, they won't think of you as a deep, specialized resource
  • there's so much more to what we do; we shouldn't tell them our main job is ready reference
  • your skillset is far better used when people get stuck, when Google isn't helping
  • position us as the conduit to richer information
  • what keeps me awake: we seem to fight about what a librarian is. we've been doing this for a hundred years
  • it will never be answered--our nature will change, always
  • what i'm not okay with, is that the temperature of that conversation has risen, and people want to lock down what it means to be a librarian, in very specific terms
  • this is the worst time to do that, when it's up in the air and there's so much change
  • bad to do to our students, as well (LIS students)

 

Stephen

  • I agree--when people complain about LIS students, I ask when is the last time you were at a LIS?
    • these people are different, and I'm tired of people ragging on them
    • it's damaging to our profession, and it worries to me that people are trying to plant this idea of a librarian from 1965
  • what keeps me awake at night: are our colleagues capable of making the necessary changes
    • I meet tons of people that don't have a Facebook account, but have a strong opinion about them--I call that an uninformed position
    • we need our names on nametags, websites, and promote ourselves as professionals--do you go to an anonymous surgeon?

 

Karen

  • we are not an evidence-driven profession
  • irks me when librarians say "my users don't use Facebook" but "we're blocking it in our library"--then why do you need to block it?
  • the dogma is that "we can't use this tool" -- lots of dogmas, and they aren't evidence-based

 

Stephen

  • blocking these things in schools--did this work by banning smoking and drinking for kids?
  • we're a social institution, but we're going to block social tools

 

Joe

  • it makes us look dumb, when you see librarians saying "you can't use Wikipedia for a school assignment"
  • complicit in this "we're not going to use this tool because of they way it's built"
  • we know that there are different assumptions and authorities in Wikipedia--but it's about how you use and engage with the tool
  • "if you don't like Wikipedia, fix it!" -- similar to voting

 

Karen

  • the many brass rings that have come and gone
  • Wikipedia and Yahoo could have been ours

 

Joe

  • the web was classified and subject oriented, but it wasn't us--a shame
  • we could take Wikipedia--there are more of us than there are of them

 

Stephen

  • few search engines left
  • their rankings are determined by special interest groups and advertisers
  • we won't cooperate and put a campaign together at a national level
  • can we get there from here?

 

"If you could change one thing, what would it be?"

 

Stephen

  • the big picture confidence of our colleagues
  • training advocates
  • try not to fill out small grant applications because we value our time and we want respect
  • we've been getting large grants--talk to the prime minister, etc.
  • we need the confidence to think way, way, way bigger
  • need to be more coordinated

 

Karen

  • put a software developer in every library
  • "we can't afford that" -- well show me your library
  • on a Manhattan Project scale, we could take on big issues in libraries
  • even if it was per county, instead of per library
  • we'd be able to write our own brilliant applications
  • we'd have OPACs that didn't suck

 

Stephen

  • need to invest in our users
  • most borrowed books are different than the bestsellers--why don't we know that?
  • if we don't put our own meat in the game, locally, and develop real stuff, can we develop a real local experience?
  • driven by context, not content
  • not every community is the same

 

Joe

  • would like to go into the collective mind of the profession and switch the default from "no" to "yes"
  • or "i can't" instead of enthusiasm

 

Karen

  • everytime I hear user tagging in an OPAC--"how do we control that?"
  • we squeeze any life or vitality out of it
  • then we say "look, tagging doesn't work!"

 

Stephen

  • talk about inter-generational mentoring
  • they know an equal amount of stuff that is different: management vs. technology
  • too many of the older people say "we tried that and it didn't work" so the younger people are frustrated
  • "we tried that in 1972 and it didn't work"

 

Joe

  • directors that are trying to innovate, and it's the people in the middle that are just like this
  • your response is, "how can we work together?"
  • you can try to outlive them... Stephen--"those people aren't leaving!"
  • if we offered a session at ALA about the "Good Old Days":and then locked them all in...
  • it would save us all time!

 

Stephen

  • back in the day, the argument was against phone reference

 

Joe

  • where users start is up to them--where they finish is up to you
  • let them choose their starting tools--you'll show them new ones

 

S

  • yes, there is risk, but there are many different people/libraries to try things

 

J

  • when you try stuff, it's important to fail, and tell the rest of us about it
  • the fail blog

 

K

  • 1 branch in a large system used the bookstore codes
    • what happened? (negative reaction)

 

S

  • we don't support people who try something new

 

K

  • if they had failed, it would have "proved" everyone was right--instead of us choosing to learn from it
  • you learn that things happen iteratively (user assessment)
  • we need a few more celebrated failures in this profession

 

S

  • we're trying to invent a future that is very different (digital books, etc.)
  • 1995, they finally changed subject from "suffrage" to "feminism"

 

J

  • scholarly journal: move toward open source
  • new world of serials
  • having all this stuff digital won't just be a mess, but it will be hard, people won't be used to it
  • it will be like the early days of the internet, when you had to get used to the idea of being out there, new ways of searching, writing (not natural language)
  • it will be difficult to predict in advance what people will want this stuff for, and what they will do with it
  • we're surrounded by enormous amounts of text--who knows what we'll make of this
  • this is a change in the way we think, a different kind of scholarship, creativity, etc.

 

S

  • thnk about real creativity-- movies, podcasts, recordings, outsell any print object = valid formats
  • can text-search podcasts
  • are our colleagues ready to integrate all formats in a world where we know about learning style differences?
  • how will we archive and make searchable this full range of info?

 

K

  • exciting opportunity for librarians = libgrarians are the curators of the world
  • we can think beyond the building with the books
  • we can be out there working with people, LOCKSS, NDIPP, etc.
  • we have to see and sieze opportunity

 

S

  • put coaches out there
  • our stock in trade is dealing with questions
  • assessing that people with the same Q may have different needs

 

K

  • gone to a lot of non-librarian conferences
    • info architects on improving tagging-- they talk about giving tagging more structure
    • talking about subject classification
  • we already invented this stuff, and we did it well in many cases, but people don't know and they're reinventing it
  • "free the authorities"
    • why don't we show our candy more? show LC authorities

 

J

  • notion of inventing a partnership
  • almost every person in the profession is in some kind of community
    • you're able to engage this community--use your membership to be able to support this

'* create things that work for your community

  • local public library blog that no one read
    • community members already write blogs--so the library began reading them and posting to them about "did you know..." and it was far more noticable
  • be able to reach out and engage people where they are
    • you know where they are, because they're your community

 

K

  • "remote user" = it's not the user who's remote, it's the librarian--we need to close that gap

 

J

  • you don't have to use every piece of technology

 

S

  • what is wrong with libraries that we have a diffusion problem?
    • why don't new good successful ideas at one library turn into hundreds of libraries doing that
  • libraries still have hierarchies, not team-base mgmt.
  • if we want to get libraries to make decisions faster, we'd better reorganize and get rid of this 18th-century structure

 

K

  • i will disagree--I don't think it's the mgmt. structure; i've been in hierarch. that were vital, and teams that were dead
  • it's the people that need to change
  • need to change mindssets

 

S

  • how do we do that?

 

K

  • start with the young people--teach them to negotiate and collaborate and work
  • i've seen those innovative administrators--it's the middle mgmt. that blocks things

 

J

  • they are different in the way they interact, think, steeped in technology
  • they are also the same in many ways
    • they are us, just slightly different
    • they want ot do go in the world, fight for access, etc.
    • just want to go about it in a slightly different way
  • before we give up on the people we locked up, i've tried to engage folks like this--try to think about the world they inhabit
    • they had a certain set of expectations about the world and the profession--that they wouldn't change much
    • thru no fault of their own, their world has been knocked out from underneath them
    • they wound up in an environment and profession they didn't sign up for--they feel mad, betrayed, and unhappy
    • it's not surprising some people get sullen, etc.
    • some decide "I can be a better librarian" -- that's the most successful way to engage them; know what they got into the profession to do
    • to help people, work in communities, etc.--the case can be made that this can be done more effectively today, in different ways
  • it's different, but it's the same
    • that can start to thaw the ice a bit
  • mutual mentoring is a great idea, and it does work
    • great example from Cornell: vodcasts, 90-seconds, about how to do research
    • produced by cooperation between older and younger people

 

K

  • also don't want to categorically dismiss everything that group says
  • not all technology works well, cell phones aren't a huge advantage in all libraries

 

S

  • we disgrace ourselves when we look like we think noise is the only issue--can use phones as computer devices
  • can we create a 12-step program for librarians?
  • admitting you have a problem is the first step
  • why are new librarians treated like children instead of colleagues?
    • they haven't had new gen in years--need better mentoring
  • 65% of survey said older librarians didn't seek upper-mgmt. positions
    • what jobs do they think there are in libraries?
    • we need to be doing the policy and advocacy work
  • we're recruiting people in some sort of denial that they will ever reach supervisory or mgmt. position

 

J

  • part of that is making the mgm.t position attractive
    • you graduate, get good at reference, and the next stpe is dept. head--different set of skills
    • but they want to be a good cataloger, reference librarian

 

K

  • we don't need to build another search engine
  • there are interesting things going on
    • we need to know more about them, and celebrate them, encourage them to take risks
    • finding aids that will be great tools for discovering informational resources

 

"What one thing would you want to know more about?"

 

S

  • information becomes knowledge through seven ways, reading is just one of them
  • some people learn better from other methods--how do we get better at creating those community experiences that turn info into knowledge
  • what behaviors do we want to create?
  • need to understand the dynamics of learning

 

K

  • most technology companies rise and fall--we don't know where they will be next year or in 10 years
  • we're signing restrictive agreements with them, but what's the future? when will their time pass?

 

S

  • the Google antitrust is coming
  • the Micro-who keeps them up at night
  • try to turn this merger into an antitrust case

 

J

  • I want to know what happens... we could imagine a future where libraries are a vibrant force in our communities, successful, etc.
    • it's not difficult to imagine the opposite future
    • i want to live long enough to know how it's all going to happen--i'm optimistic, but realistic
  • this moment could go either way
  • there's a realistic likelihood that things could go either way

 

S

  • Disney-- you get what you dream, you have to dream the positive dream
  • i think we can do it, we don't have to be the majority to do it

 

K

  • i want to know how we get through the transition from paper to digital
  • i love books... the small literary journal is quickly moving online
  • how willing we are to embrace a world where we don't necessarily own what we curate
    • take care of these collections
    • community spaces full of ideas, not about local collections
  • want to know what we're like and how we survive

 

J

  • natural outgrowth of this: the library isn't the building; the concept of the library is that anytime people engage with information, they are in the library
    • the idea of the library has always been bigger than the building--that was just a necessary container when the collections were physical
    • but the building now is far more permeable--bookmobiles, branch libraries
  • we have to be better online, particularly services
  • people who come to the bldg. have made a committment; if they come to us online, they can go much quicker, and they will because they are that kind of people
  • so our digital services have to be that much better

 

S

  • we need to have a vision of future libraries and be pulled forward by it
    • bricks, clicks, and tricks
  • majority of your use is virtual now: those people are different than the physical users
    • demographics, everything is different
  • tricks: professional skills, specialization of librarians
    • we are in an informational economy--we need to get the message out there about our skills
    • we are the last nonpartisan space in our communities
  • save the time of the user
  • library is a growing organism: we have to change to survive

 

J

  • notion of a vision that pulls us forward: vision is a rudder for change
  • if you know where you're going it's easier

 

"Final thoughts?"

 

K

  • I go to a lot of conferences outside of librarianship--we have a lot of trust and respect in our culture
    • we need to take advantage of that
  • it's that kind of impression that we need

 

J

  • terrific library education in this state: talk to the people in those schools
  • in a professional and constructive way
  • partner educational and professional communities--you can learn from each other
  • mentor their students, pass it along, and recruit for us: find us the next generation of librarians

 

S

  • be open to open source, working collaboratively with vendors
  • we have to work collaboratively
  • let's try a couple of new risk-challenged environments so that we can move forward

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