A Hectic Day in the Solo Trenches…06.24.08

24 06 2008

Today was a literal blur of activity.  Besides normal library and marketing daily work, our department had to create product mock-ups for several potential products for use on television with only a few hours of notice.  This included 3 paperback books, 2 booklets, 2 CD products, and a DVD product.  This is only the first stage in new product development.  But, of course, no stress :-).

We used our 2 in-house graphic designers along with an outside graphic design vendor for these projects.  Others involved included myself, our Department Director, our staff writer, staff proofreader, and our inventory control specialist.  All product mock up materials were created and deadline met.

PDFs, .jpegs, Word docs. and versions for each mocked up product, along with the final approved mock ups had to be monitored, organized, and filed electronically for future reference for the next stage in actually creating the new products and for posterity.


Circulation and the Special Library…06.23.08

23 06 2008

Today, I thought I would touch on the unique aspect of circulation in a special library, specifically the one in which I work.  My library is run under the auspices of the Marketing Department in our large, multi-state, multi-nation, non-profit organization with patrons from various departments but most frequently from my department.

The ILS software we use, Atriuum, has an adequate, automated circulation module.  The patrons here who have been assigned patron numbers are not issued library cards because they currently would consider it unnecessary.  Physical Items that are circulated must be input by the librarian into the system and directly provided to each individual.  In reality, follow-up on returning materials circulated in a timely manner is handled through email notification by the librarian by the end of a relatively arbitrary circulation period.

Unfortunately though, success at retrieving materials is low as there are no incentives to do so and the fast-paced, deadline oriented atmosphere of the organization places relatively low importance on returning materials after they have been used for their intended purpose.  This causes in increase in re-ordering items that are actually not lost but “in use” in someones office or department for a indeterminate amount of time to make sure library resources are available to others who may need to use them.

There are a variety of internal software parameters for circulation designation by patron and item class required by the ILS software which were selected when the software was configured.  However, determining the actual length of circulation and if & when to contact that patron to try to get the material(s) back requires a sense of the particular person’s relative importance in the department and/or the organization.  The longer I work here the easier it is to determine the status of individual patrons.  I am sure this is not unique to my special library but it is important to acknowledge in practice.

“Status quo, you know, that is Latin for ‘the mess we’re in.'”–Ronald Regan

Creating New Paths Presentation from Stephen Abram at SLA 2008…06.23.08

23 06 2008

I wish I could attend an SLA annual conference sometime.  In the meantime, it will have to suffice to read blogs from those who attended. 

Stephen Abram‘s session on Day 2 of SLA in Seattle, “Reality 2.0 – Transforming  ourselves and our Associations” offered the most thought provoking ideas – definitely the highlight of my experience at this conference.  Here’s a flavour of what I thought were key points that really gave me food for thought:

(1) What’s wrong with Google and Wikipedia? –It’s okay for librarians to refer to Google or Wikipedia. Britannica has 4% error; Wikipedia has 4% error, plus tens of thousands of more entries. It’s not wrong to start with Wikipedia & Google, but it is wrong when we stop there.

(2) Don’t dread change – This is perhaps the whiniest generation this century. The generation that dealt with two world wars and a depression did find learning new tools like refrigerators, televisions, radios, and typewriters. And they survived. Why can’t we? Is it so hard to learn to use a wiki?

(3) Focus! –We need to focus on the social rather than the technology. Wikis, blogs, and podcasts will come and go. But connecting with users won’t. We must not use technology just for the sake of catching up. There has to be a reason to use them.

(4) Don’t Be Anonymous –Do we give our taxes to a nameless accountant? Our teeth to a nameless dentist? Heart surgeon who has no title? If these professions don’t, then why are information professionals hiding behind their screens. Go online! Use social networking as your tools to reach out to users!

(5) Millennials – This is perhaps the 1st generation in human history that its younger generation teaches its previous generation. However, though there is much to learn from youths about technology, there is also much need to mentor and train for this profession to prosper and flourish.

(6) Change is to come! – Expect the world to be even more connected than it already has. With HDTV, that means more cables are freed up for telecommunications. Google’s endgame is to provide wireless accesss through electricity. There’re already laser keyboards where you can type on any surface. The world is changing. So must information professionals.

(7) Build paths, not barriers – When there are pathlines created by pedestrians, libraries commonly erect fences to prevent walking. Why not create a path where one exists already so that the library becomes more accessible? Librarians must go to the user, not the other way around. If patrons are using Facebook, then librarians need to use that as a channel for communication.

Stephen’s power point presentation is here as well for your viewing pleasure.”

21st Century Schizoid Man…06.20.08

20 06 2008

Mmmmm… The lyrics to the 1969 King Crimson song “21st Century Schizoid Man”:

Cats foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoias poison door.
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Blood rack barbed wire
Polititians funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man.

Death seed blind mans greed
Poets starving children bleed
Nothing hes got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

I guess it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments.

The “Information Experience”–21st Century Libraianship…06.20.08

20 06 2008

I found quite interesting and relevant the following submitted to the ALA TechSourc blog by Michael Stephens, Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University and bloger of Tame the Web ( in River Forest, Illinois.on June 18, 2008 at http://www.alatechsource.org/blog/2008/06/on-the-information-experience-an-ala-techsource-conversation-with-john-blyberg.html which below has been excerpted for this post:

“I find myself returning to John Blyberg’s post “Library 2.0 Debased”  …I applaud John for articulating so many of the thoughts I’ve been mulling over of late: has L2 been co-opted by vendors?  Is talking about “cool technologies” used in the library a solution to all of our problems – the be all end all? Or is it more of a cultural and ecological shift in philosophy, planning and engagement? 

John said some pretty amazing, and frank things: Second Life does sometimes seem weird, empty and a little scary. Throwing a wiki (or a blog or a meebo box or whatever the flavor of the day may be) at your users and congratulating yourself on how “2.0” you are is well and good, but I’ve come to realize of late that if a change in library services, technology-based or otherwise, isn’t well grounded in our core values and mission, it just looks funny. I am all for libraries being technology leaders and for offering access to emerging technologies and delivery methods, I am also eager to see what the true library innovators will do next. What’s next for the outstanding libraries many of us follow across the US and around the world? … What I really appreciated in John’s “debased” post was this: So we need to understand that, while it’s alright to tip the balance and fail occasionally, we’re more likely to do so if we’re arbitrarily introducing technology that isn’t properly integrated into our overarching information framework. Of course, that means we have to have a working framework to begin with that compliments and adheres to our tradition of solid, proven librarianship. In other words, when we use technology, it should be transparent, intuitive, and a natural extension of the patron experience. If it can’t be transparent, then it should be so overwhelmingly beneficial to the user that it is canonized not by the techies, but the users themselves. … the users should be creating the new library landscape…thought I’d give John a good ‘ol friendly virtual shout out and see if he’d want to talk about this further:

JB: Thanks for the shout-out Michael.  You said an interesting thing:  “I’ve come to realize of late that if a change in library services, technology-based or otherwise, isn’t well grounded in our core values and mission, it just looks funny.”  I posed a question to some of our peers on Twitter a few weeks back to the effect of, “how do we measure success in the library?”  Certainly, traditional metrics give us a frank indication of use, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the fulfillment of our mission. If it did, really successful libraries would be little more than fee-less hybrids of Blockbuster and Borders. 

Most of us agree that we’re charged with a deeper significance that goes beyond the distribution of popular materials and the provision of internet access. That’s because we exist within the context of the communities we serve.  The difference now, as opposed to even five years ago, is that we also operate within a global context that empowers us to quickly recall data and assemble it into our own personal nebulae. In other words, information use has become an expression of self–that’s not something libraries ever accounted for.  When I talk about this, I refer to it as the “information experience” because, for the growing number of us who participate in the hive, we build our own network of information and interaction that accompanies us through our lives.  We literally construct highly-personalized information frameworks and place a huge amount of personal reliance upon them.  Ten years ago, this wasn’t the case.

Libraries are ill-equipped to respond to this–we weren’t built for it.  Most librarians are not technologists; we’re saddled with integrated library systems that force us to into outmoded business processes; long-tailers like Netflix and Amazon underscore our inability to develop effective distribution channels; and DRM has effectively shut us out of an emerging and potentially huge media market. 

Library 2.0 is our attempt to redress librarianship for this new ecosystem by doing real work.  We can debate the semantic merits of the term all we want, but it won’t change the inevitability of things like the Open Source ILS, the emergence of collaborative reference platforms, or the fact that people like Marshall Shore have the courage to buck the establishment in favor of finding a better way to serve users.  You don’t take that kind of risk if you’re feeling ambivalent toward libraries.  It takes a deep-seeded passion and love for the industry to put your career on the line like that…

�� Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 American Library Association.

Current Additional Duties for Librarian/Historian blah, blah, blah…06.19.08

19 06 2008

I know I touched on this subject in a previous post but it needs clarification since the current additional marketing duties assigned to the librarian/historian position, which were emphasized as “only temporary” over a year ago, affect my librarian/historian job performance.   My “product production project management duties” are related to my librarian/historian duties on different levels.  The general types of products we produce are printed materials, i.e., booklets, books, posters, etc., audio CD products, and DVD products.  Occasionally, we produce gift items which are designed locally but produced overseas, usually in China.

All of these items involve working with writers who create copy to varying degrees depending upon the type of media.  Once copy is created, the editing stage begins.  There is a back-and-forth between drafts until an approved final version is ready to move to the next stage–typesetting if it is a book or booklet.

Approved, edited copy and reference data like ISBN, exact title, and some conceptual direction is passed along to graphic artists in-house and/or external vendors to begin the process of creating the art pieces, i.e. book cover, CD/DVD box insert/cover, CD/DVD label art, design for other product packaging, etc.  This art goes through an initial design approval process.  When a final design is approved, the art goes through another editing process for the text and the design components.

Audio and video editing is done separatedly.  Dub-masters are reviewed, approved, and sent to one of several duplicators/replicators.  Copies of dub-masters are kept for reference, cataloged and stored.

Once all approvals have been received, the product(s) move to production.  From this point, it is supposed to be the responsibility of the inventory control specialist to make sure orders are prepared, approved, and received. 

There are many pitfalls to avoid and additional tasks hidden within the above-described workflow but I won’t go into those details here.  I must constantly be multi-tasking at the same time in both the librarian/historian job and the product production project management job.

Suffice it to say, that I would prefer not to have to handle the product production area of responsibility but there is no perfect job so one must do the best you can with a positive attitude.  Life is too short to complain or do less than your best.  Additionally, doing the product production project management job well sheds favorable light on the library resource management area.

Hopefully, these additional duties will never eclipse the job for which I was hired.

“These words are razors to my wounded heart.”–Titus Andronicus

Wordle Tag Cloud Art of First Post…06.18.08

18 06 2008

Here is tag cloud art using Wordle for the first post I created for this blog:

Click on image for larger version…