Conference Advice from “Grandma Beth”

My mind is still reeling (in a good way) after attending Computers in Libraries 2011.   So I wanted to get down some tips & tricks for conference attending since I’ve been dubbed “Grandma Beth” by a certain person who will remain nameless.  It is a fun, inside joke but I’m embracing it and hopefully I can pass along some wisdom.  To be honest I wish someone had told me some of this all those years ago when I attended my first CIL.  Some of these are especially important for those not staying in a hotel nearby but are commuting each day like I was.

  • Pack light. I didn’t heed my own advice this year.  I swear my backpack was at least 50 lbs.  Bring a netbook, tablet, or iPad instead of a laptop.
  • Bring a small digital point and shoot camera instead of a DSLR body, several lenses and flash.  That alone would have made what I was lugging around a lot less.
  • Charge your smartphone fully before you leave home.
  • Turn your smartphone off if you don’t get service in a certain room or during a certain session.  I found out that my phone was working overtime trying to reach the network and it drained the battery even faster than normal.  Once I learned this and turned my phone off in session where I didn’t have a good signal my phone lasted all day.
  • Bring your USB cord to charge the phone.  There is usually someone who will let you hook up to their laptop to charge your phone.
  • Introduce yourself.  I found that I was horrible and introducing people because I lost track of who knew who from Twitter, Facebook, etc.  To me it just felt like everyone already knew everyone but that wasn’t truly the case.
  • Get on Twitter! Even if you don’t use Twitter the rest of the year make sure you do at conferences.  Follow the main conference account because they will often tweet updates about wifi, room changes, speaker changes and more.
  • Setup a conference account if you are already on Twitter.  Don’t inundate your main stream (especially if people besides library folks follow you) instead tweet from there that they should follow your conference account to learn more about the conference.
  • Setup a search for the conference’s hashtag(s) in Twitter.  Take some time to read what others are tweeting.  You can’t attend every session and this is a great way to get a feel for what you are missing.
  • Get in as much as possible if this is your first time attending a conference but don’t over do it (see two bullet points above).
  • Read the program ahead of time to get an idea of what you think you might like to attend.  But be flexible and allow yourself to change your mind later.
  • Look at who is speaking.  The titles can be catchy and description can be deceiving.  I’ve found that if you know anything about the speaker it can help.
  • Talk to people if you don’t know anything about the speakers.  They can give you a feel for who is good, bad or indifferent.
  • Do Not hesitate to leave if you feel unsure about a session.  Also sit towards the back so it is easier to leave.  You are there to learn, to be inspired, to be provoked not to be bored or hear something that doesn’t pertain to you.
  • Do Not hesitate to leave even if you are sure about a session and it doesn’t turn out to be what you expected.  Slip into the back of another session, visit the exhibits or a cybertour.  Or take the time to let all the other great information you’ve heard process.
  • Lobby-con, bar-con, dinner-con or whatever you want to call it is one of the most important parts of any conference because of the networking that happens outside of the actual sessions.   These groups of like-minded people are invaluable.  You will learn a lot from these networking sessions so don’t hesitate to participate in them.  I can’t stress this one enough.

I’d love to hear from other “grandmas and grandpas” out there to see what other tips or tricks they would recommend.

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CIL 2010 Where Did the Time Go?

Here I am on the last day of #CIL2010 wondering where did the time go?  I’ve managed only one other blog post other than this one, I’ve taken several photos but haven’t finished loading them on my pc let alone editing them and I haven’t even begun to upload them to Flickr or Facebook?  So what the heck have I been doing with all my time?

1.  Commuting.  Getting up at 4;30 or 5:00 so I can hopefully make it there in time for the keynote speakers takes a good chunk out of my day.  Trying to coordinate Marc train and metro schedules so I’m not stuck in VA then figuring out the best time to drive down or back to Northwest Baltimore County has convinced me that I could never work in DC/VA.  3 hours or more to get somewhere, work 8 hours there and then 3 hours back home – how do these people have lives?!

2.  Attending.  Been trying to get in as many sessions in as possible.  For some reason this year it seems like I’ve barely had a time between sessions to pack up my stuff and move to the next session let along blog.  Thankfully I’ve been able to Twitter some of the sessions (wifi has been spotty at best).  Several sessions I was able to Tweet the first speaker but then the wifi craps out so the second or more speakers only got notes taken which I haven’t had time to transfer to this blog.

3.  Networking.  One of the best parts of conferences but somewhat frowned upon by the folks who pay for it , is the networking opportunities that arise.  Be they table-con, lobby-con, exhibit-con, floor-con — all of these are important.  Having a chance to speak the same language with someone in your field, to learn new ideas, to challenge old ones or just simply make a new friend can’t be measured.  Those networks associations can blossom into speaking engagements, contacts, or resources that will help you in your job.  I even stayed late Tuesday night to participate in the T is for Training podcast.  It was a historical episode as it was the longest one we’ve recorded for 90 minutes.

So I’ve been a busy girl just haven’t had a moment to play catch up.  Problem is when I get back to work I’ll have to dive right back into Polaris training – here’s hoping I find a moment here and there to post some more or upload pics.

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Lost In Migration

I was going to say that I’ve been MIA but felt that would be disrespectful of the real MIA‘s from our military and others around the world.  So I thought a nod to the Scarlet Johansson-Bill Murray movie was a better title.

Life has gotten in the way of my blog.  Once things settle back down I will hopefully resume a more regular schedule.  So what’s keeping me so busy?  One word – Polaris!  We are in the midst of migrating from our current Sirsi-Dynix ILS (Horizon) to Polaris.  I’ve been given a great opportunity to coordinate all the training for over 240 FT and PT plus all the on-call staff.  This means fitting all these people into 3 rounds of training in less than two months.  This comes at one of the busiest times of the year for our library – just before Summer Reader!  Children’s staff will be book promoting in the schools, then sign up of kids and summer reader begins about a month before we go live.  I have to thank everyone who has been so flexible and understanding – we have a great library staff.

I’m enjoying the challenge and it wouldn’t be possible without Rachel Rappaport’s guidance.  She is our training coordinator but she is about to have her hands really full with her latest project – a baby boy (she is due the end of this month)!  Congrats ahead of time to Rachel and Jonathan – don’t worry about us just enjoy your new bundle of joy.

So if nothing new is posted here for awhile you’ll understand why.  I will be attending Computers in Libraries 2010 this year and I will be blogging from there but after that it will be back to all Polaris all the time.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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Use Me, Abuse Me, Make Me Test Your Web Site

Day 4 of Library Day in the Life project

Not the best day of the week – I woke up at 2am with a nose that suddenly turned into a faucet.  Not a dripping one but one that was on full force.  So not to wake hubby I took my tissue box and myself nose into the computer room.  Blow, blow, wipe, blow, wipe…..went on for about an hour.  I have no idea what caused that.  Finally took some allergy medicine but by then my nose was as red as poor ol’ Rudolph.

Did all the normal morning stuff to get ready and out the door.

Get to the library.  Checked in with Foursquare, yep still the Mayor of Central 🙂

Unlocked the office door and did my morning routine of swapping out the tapes for Horizon and Authority Works and unforwarding the phone.

Caffeine was a must today.  Went down to the vending machine in the staff lounge (on the hopes they had filled it) only to find they had not.  So over to the expensive vending machines in the lobby.

Back upstairs with 2 Diet Cokes to fortify me I booted up my Ubuntu and Windows machines.  Fired up Tweetdeck, Thunderbird and Firefox on the Ubuntu machine and Horizon on the Windows machines.

Moved a bunch of photos I had taken over to my Dropbox account.  Love me some Dropbox!

Noticed that one staff member had found the new staff Intranet and had registered for an account there.  She had recently left so I deleted her account on the new Intranet which wasn’t really up and working yet.

Decided to tackle my Inbox a bit.  Noticed I had an email that I remember entering as a helpdesk ticket.  It drove me  nuts – I couldn’t find the helpdesk ticket and I didn’t want to delete the email until I knew it was recorded somewhere.  Finally figured out that I hadn’t use the subject line I thought I had – deleted email (along with a bunch of others).  I tend to use my Inbox as my to-do list.

Sent two emails to OverDrive support regarding two helpdesk tickets that had been assigned to me.  I still find this such bad customer service – customer has problem – has to fill out form on OverDrive site – which then gets sent to someone here in MD – then they forward onto us – then staff here enter into helpdesk – I then get it assigned to me – I contact OverDrive – they write back – I write customer – usually problem is solved.  But the path it takes and the time it takes is just so wasteful.  I must admit their support team is pretty helpful but still this path is not the best way to serve our customers.

Logged into my blog and wrote post for yesterday’s fun filled day.

Our network admin came and showed me one of our old colleague’s, Mike Ricksecker, latest endeavor – Ghosts of Maryland.   He was so sweet – he named each of the IT members in his acknowledgement section.  Gotta buy me a copy and visit all the cool sites he documented.

Sadly removed my old boss’ photo from our Intranet and put it in the “Gone but Not Forgotten” section of our gallery.

Edited more of the photos I had taken with Julian in regards to the scan feature on the copiers.

Took a call from our PR dept. regarding a change on the web site.  Made the necessary change.  While on the phone we also established that I would be listed as the donor of my services so I would actually appear as a donor on the web site. I’m being auctioned off (silently at our fundraiser Evening in the Stacks) as a social web/Intranet consultant.  Hope someone takes me up on the offer and raises money for the library.

Our ILL dept. submitted a helpdesk ticket regarding an system error when trying to print the pick list in Marina.  Did a little digging and called Enoch Pratt since they are the first point of contact.

Ah the first usability test of the day – drove to our East Columbia branch.  Went very well.

Quickly grabbed some lunch.

Then downstairs to Customer Service for the second test of the day.  Again good feedback.

Came back upstairs and made a few tweaks to the new Intranet.

Then we drove over to our Miller branch for the third test of the day.  She was a ringer – got everything right off the bat and quick too!

Came back to Central.  Responded to a customer via email about their OverDrive problem.

Called Pratt again and got some more information about the problem with printing and ILL.  They will have to contact SirsiDynix.

Linked new blogger to the Contributors page on our blog, Highly Recommended.

Answered a staff member’s question about screen savers.

Started to make some changes to the MAILL (Maryland InterLibrary Loan) web site.

Played telephone tag with our HR dept. all day – tried one more time, she is now it.  (every time she called me I was on the phone – every time I called her she had stepped out of her office – maybe tomorrow?)

Home to crash – I NEED SLEEP!

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White Houses of Wilde Lake

Day 3 of Library Day in the Life

I got to work plenty early so I decided to swing by Wilde Lake to see if I could snap a few shots.  The white houses along the lake front caught my eye and I liked their reflection.  I try to participate in Momentile each day so this was my ‘Tile of the day yesterday.  After about 15 mins. I was sufficiently frozen so I hopped back in my car and drive down the street to the library.

Realized when I pulled into the parking lot that Wilde Lake was a venue in Foursquare so I cheated a little and checked in (well I had been there – have the photographic proof).  I waited until I got in the building to check in as the Mayor of Howard County Central Library.

Unlocked the elevator and office door.  Unforwarded the helpdesk phone and swapped out the tapes on both the Horizon and Authority Work servers.

Gave into the Diet Coke addiction once again but alas the staff lounge soda machine was out.  So I had to run back upstairs and get my keys so I could unlock the front grate and get some from the vending machine in the lobby.

Back to my desk – booted up both my Ubuntu and Windows machines.  Per usual opened Tweetdeck, Thunderbird and Firefox on the Ubuntu machine.  Checked our helpdesk tickets on the Staff Intranet and assigned it to one of my co-workers.

Had realized on the drive in this morning that our interim boss wasn’t part of the IT alias so I made sure to add her to it so she could be on top of things.

Checked my Gmail and approved a comment for my blog so while I was in there I blogged about Tuesday.

Noticed that my Windows machine needed a java update so I let that run.

Registered for a Zemanta account and updated my preferences on my blog.  I really have to thank John LeMasney for introducing me to Zemanta.  I love how it finds Creative Commons only images so I can put them in my blog.  I go back and comment on that person’s Flickr account thanking them for using creative commons license and letting them know I used their image for a blog post.

Got a call on the helpdesk line that one of the new info desk computers wasn’t working.  It was flashing red instead of having a solid green light.  Wasn’t booting up to the desktop.  Don’t know why it was doing this because when I went out there I turned it off – counted to 10 turned it back on and it booted up fine.  Guess we’ll have to keep an eye on it.

Edited and uploaded the above picture to Momentile.

Had a short but interesting conversation via Twitter with @librarianbyday and @GMLGeek about using Foursquare in libraries.  I had sent info about Foursquare to our PR dept as well as the Teen Programmer (thought it could be a fun tool to use with Summer Reader at some point).

Checked in my overdue (*bad library worker*) items via Horizon.  Checked out reserve that had come in for me via Marina (our statewide ILL system).

Ran an errand (the bank) across the street and of course checked in via Foursquare.

Updated the usability testing sheets to reflect the changes I had made at the end of the previous day to our new Staff Intranet.

Worked with @Julian2 capturing photos of the scan feature on our new copiers.  We are putting together instructions for staff/customers.

Started editing the photos I took of the copier.

Observed the first usability test of the day.  As always such an interesting process – everyone is so different.  However, we are getting a sense that 90% of the site is spot-on just need to tweak the remaining 10%.

Got an IM from staff member in Admin asking if our network admin was in the UK (he does have family there).  No, he was standing right behind me.  Got 2 phone calls from other staff asking about our network admin.  Turned out his old Facebook account had someone gotten reactivated (not by him) and someone was scamming people with this old scam.   Posted information including the video to front page of our Staff Intranet, as well as, my Facebook page and on Twitter just to let people know that this wasn’t our co-worker scamming folks.

Gobbled down a quick lunch before our first IT meeting with our new interim boss.

IT meeting – went over a few loose ends from our old boss, she had plenty of questions regarding projects we were working on and we each brought her up to date on the projects.

Got a call from HR to update Intranet and web site to reflect old boss’s position being vacant.

Off to our Glenwood branch to do the second usability test of the day.  Our web programmer and I sat down afterwards and discussed what changes we thought might need to be made, how we should move forward considering his work schedule.

Went home but stopped by Food Lion (again checked in with Foursquare) to pick up some nuts for my husband (one of his favorite snacks).  Picked up an extra jar as a small thank you to our web programmer for all his help on the Intranet (and for putting up with me in general).

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It’s a New Dawn, It’s a New Day

Don't let the sun go down on your grievances
Image by kevindooley via Flickr

…it’s a new life (or at least a new work life).

Arrived a bit early – unlocked the office.  Even though I didn’t have morning duties I still am the first person here so I unforward the helpdesk phone and swapped out the tapes from the Horizon and Authority Works severs.

Went downstairs to get my huge purple mug full of ice from the staff lounge.

The sun coming over the trees and the apartments next to the library caught my eye out the window of my ex-boss.  So I went into her empty office and snapped a shot.  Wasn’t my best but took it anyway.

Fired up by Ubuntu and Windows machines.  On Ubuntu I opened Tweetdeck, Thunderbird and Firefox.  Checked both work and Gmail – looked at the helpdesk tickets on our Staff Intranet.  Assigned them including two to myself.

Luis our network administrator called to say he was out today.  Had completely forgotten he had volunteered to chaperone his grandson’s field trip to Montpelier Mansion.  Emailed the rest of IT because invariable I was going to be asked at some point during the day, “Where’s Luis?”.  I suppose since I am mainly stationed at my desk I seem to know most people’s coming and goings.  I’ve become the unofficial IT secretary.  I joke about it being a pain and sometimes it is but I also like being reliable and knowing the answers to the whereabouts of my co-workers.

Approved a comment on my blog than updated my T is for Training Meme by including links to others that had answered the same questions I had.

Read email from Read/Write/Web and tweeted a few interesting bits.

Worked on the morning bounceback emails.  I often find these amusing since customers often hit reply instead of forward.  I wind up getting love notes meant for spouses or kids saying “Hey honey, do you still have this the library needs it back”.

Schedule another staff member for the usability testing or our new Intranet.  Think we have everyone set now.

Blogged about Monday’s Library Day in the Life.

Then the IT department met with Director of HR and our Deputy Executive Director.  They assured us that Amy’s departure would not effect our jobs, that they’d be posting her position ASAP as they knew with our new ILS migration coming we’d need someone to lead that and told us who our interim boss would be.  A familiar face – Holly Johnson who had been my boss when I was part of the Automation department.  Then Holly came and let us know she wants to make this as smooth as possible.

I went to her office and spoke with her privately about all the things that had gone on in our dept. over the past year.  It’s been a topsy-turvy one for us.  I told her she is getting a great team but maybe not at the best time.  We will recover, we will come together and get through this it’s just we are still a bit in shock at the moment.  I think she understands.

Worked on tweaking the usability tasks and survey.

Grabbed a quick lunch before the first usability test of the day.  Went quickly and if all our staff was like this person my job would be done.  She found almost everything with no problem.  However, I know that won’t be the case but she gave us good feedback.

Our web programmer and I went to our Savage branch to do the next usability test.  Results were interesting.  He also gave us good feedback.  Danny, our web programmer, and I got to talking about all the results so far (4 by then) and decided we wanted one more person before we made any changes to the site.  This would give us another round after the changes to see if the change helped or not.  So we made an unexpected stop at our East Columbia branch.  We asked the Customer Service supervisor to recommend one of her staff.  This helped to make up our minds about one change we had been waffling on.

We came back to Central Library to make the change and then it was time for me to head home.

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What a Weird Strange Trip It’s Been

The brain child of Bobbi Newman (aka LibrarianbyDay) is going on again this week.  Library workers all over the world are recording their days so people can understand all the different duties we do.  So let the fun begin with round 4 of Library Day in the Life (via blogs, Twitter, Flickr and other social web sites).

Monday January 25, 2010

My day started way too early for my taste.  Maryland was under a flood warning due to heavy rains during the night.  Since our basement tends to flood when we have flash floods (ground water levels rise too quickly and spill into our laundry room) I was waking up every hour and checking the water levels.  So my day actually started around 3am – considering I didn’t go to sleep until 12 midnight this didn’t bode well.  Luckily we didn’t have any flooding problems and I didn’t have to turn on the sump pump.

Crawled back to bed around 4:30 only to have the alarm go off at 5am and then the patter of 8 legs and 2 wet noses assured me that I wasn’t going to snooze the morning away.

Went downstairs and let the 8 legs out (Lab mix and an English Springer Spaniel).  This was a bit funny to watch as the Lab mix hates to get wet (sure she’s a Lab??) and the wind didn’t go over with her either.  She basically did her business real quick and came back to stand right next to the door.  Had to hunt down her sister who doesn’t mind getting wet but hates the wind.  Had to force her outside and she wouldn’t go unless “big doggie” was out there too.

Turned on my Wii to weigh myself and found I had lost 3.3 lbs for a total of 10.2 lbs in 3 weeks!  So I immediately ran upstairs to my computer to log into Weight Watchers and record my progress.  Happy to know my indulgent night out on Friday hadn’t hurt me as much as I thought it would.

Let very sad-looking dogs back in.  Went downstairs to check the water levels again.  We dodged a bullet this time!

Upstairs to shower, dry and set hair in curlers (thinking that it will be pointless with all the rain and wind but what the heck).

Back down to feed dogs, watch morning local news WBAL-TV, and fix breakfast.

After several attempts of trying get hubby out the door (he forgot his cell phone and couldn’t find it) finally saw him off.

Upstairs to do hair, makeup, brush teeth and get dressed.  Away we go – took back roads which was littered with debris from trees because of the high wind gusts.

Reach the library parking lot at 7:25 am and checked in as Mayor of Howard County Library Central on Foursquare.

Unlocked the elevator, rode up to unlock office door.

I had morning duties which included  putting in the cleaning tapes and swapping out the backup tapes on 2 servers, unforwarding the helpline phone (goes to one of IT’s cell phones for nights and weekends – we answer it in person during the day).  Fired up my 2 machines (running Ubuntu and Windows).

In desperate need of caffeine but with only a $5 bill I went downstairs to see if the only two other people in the building had change so I could get a Diet Coke.  Alas no luck so back up one flight to get ice from the ice maker and Diet Ginger Ale 😦

Back at my desk I log into Tweetdeck, work email via Thunderbird, Gmail and open Firefox which loads Staff Intranet, iGoogle and Meebo.com.  Check the IT helpdesk to see if there were any tickets over the weekend that needed to be assigned.

On to the rest of the morning duties which include checking Day End in Horizon, checking servers remotely to make sure backups had completed, making sure that notices from Unique and AquaBrowser arrived.

Tweeted a reminder to participate in Library Day in the Life round 4.

Started working on the bounceback emails.   A lot from the weekend so Mondays always takes a while.  Have to remove email account from Horizon record, put a block on their account asking for new email address and forward any hold notifications to our ILL dept. so they can force a printed notice which would then be mailed to the customer.

Then the bittersweet part of the day really began.  Previous Friday my boss let us know that she had resigned her position at Howard County Library and would be working for PTFS.  She was asked to come in Monday for an exit interview.  Her kids wanted to stop by and visit one last time with us all.  Nice to get my Hannah and Darren hugs.  I am happy for her as I know this new job will use her skill set better than her old one but it was still a shock to think of her not being here.  I feel like I lost a boss and a friend.

Reviewed my RSS feeds but found nothing earth shattering for the day or maybe the weird mood and lack of sleep just made me feel blah towards things going on in the world.

Ran to the bank across the street to get money for our lunch – we took our now ex-boss out to lunch to wish her farewell and good luck.  Food was great but our mood in general was just dismal – guess it matched the weather.  While eating lunch we laughed some (seemed when the sun poked its head out) and were contemplative about what this all meant for those left (seemed to happen when the skies clouded up again).

Back to work.  Worked on an open helpdesk ticket that was assigned to me (removing my boss from email aliases) not my favorite helpdesk ticket to work on.  Then assigned another ticket that came in to the appropriate IT staff person.

Updated the IT blog on our staff Intranet which the latest entry was my boss’s resignation (she asked that I change some wording for her).

HR came over to speak with each of us.  Just wanted to know how we were doing and to let us know that things would be okay.

Hugged our now former boss goodbye.

After the password to her email address was changed, I went about moving over shared emails to my account (that I needed) and moving a shared folder she had created to the Admin account so that all of IT could link to these shared files again.

I left to go home with a heavy heart.  I’ll find out tomorrow what the plan is for my department during the time of transition.

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T is for Training Meme

Our illustrious leader, Maurice Coleman aka baldgeekinmd, challenged the cast of regulars on the podcast T is for Training to answer these 27 questions.  We had to limit our answers to one sentence.  So here are the questions with my answers bolded.

1.) Your One Sentence Bio

Coordinator Software Support and Training for Howard County Library, social web aficionado, budding photographer.

2.) Do you blog? If yes, how did you come up with your blog name?

Yes.  A variation on the name of my blog from Maryland’s 23 Things.

3.) What is your professional background?

Jacquelynn of all trades, mistress of some regarding work in the library (Circ[past], ILL [past], IT and training [current]).

4.) What training do you do? staff? patrons? types of classes?

Yes, yes and technology/social web based classes for both.

5.) What training do you think is most important to libraries right now

Technology based training – anything from social web to word processing to apps for mobile phones.

6.) Where do you get your training?

Pick it up where I can.

7.) How do you keep up?

TisforTraining podcast, Twitter (trainers group), blogs and RSS feeds – especially from the cast of regulars (they rock)!

8.) What do you think are the biggest challenges libraries are facing right now?

Funding and getting the respect they deserve as part of the education process within the community.

9.) What are biggest challenges for trainers?

The students, seriously you can teach almost anything but if the person is resistant….well.

10.) What exciting things are you doing training wise?

Nothing really other than using Jeopardy as a way to access if the class got it – they have fun and so do I.

11.) What do you wish were you doing?

List is too long to put here.

12.) What would you do with a badger?

Release it to the wild or give it to a wildlife sanctuary.

13.) What’s your favorite food?

Food!  Literally I love all kinds and they are my favs (but big on carbs and sweets unfortunately).

14.) If you were stranded on an island, what one thing would you want to have with you?

My cell phone because it would keep me connected to the world (assuming that I’d have coverage there).

15.)  Do you know what happens when a grasshopper kicks all the seeds out of a pickle?

Umm, it curls up inside and goes to sleep???

16.) Post it notes or the back of your hand?

Big Post-It note fan here.

17.) Windows or Mac?

LINUX!

18.) Talk about one training moment you’d like to forget?

My Twitter class for the public when within 10 mins of starting 2 people left which rattled me for the rest of the class.

19.) What’s your take on handshakes?

Firm has to be firm because wimpy just doesn’t do.

20.) Global warming: yes or no

Sadly, yes although if you judge by this winter you wouldn’t know it.

21.) How did you get into this line of work?

See blog post for how I got started in library biz – I feel into the role of training and discovered was good at it and people enjoyed/learned from my classes.

22.) Why is the best part of your job?

That I honestly learn something new every day!

23.) Why should someone else follow in your shoes?

Because they love to help people, love that ah-ha moment and love to learn themselves.

24.) Sushi or hamburger?

Sushi, definitely.

25.) LSW or ALA?

LSW without a doubt.

26.) What one person in the world do you want to have lunch with and why?

Hmm, would have to be some of the brains that work at Google because they are innovative and rate a high cool factor 😉

27.) What cell phone do you have and why?

MyTouch 3G (running on open source Android OS) because I love to stay connected and informed.

My fellow T is for Training folks and their answers to the questions:

Nicole Engard – The T is for Training Challenge

Polly-Alida Farrington – The T is for Training Challenge

Bobbi Newman – T is for Training Meme

Alison Miller – A T is for Training Challenge

Maurice Coleman’s Getting to Know All About Me Post

Betha Getsche – I Like Sushi & Libraries

Laura Botts – “C is for Challenge” at “T is for Training”

Heather Braum – T is for Training Challenge Meme

Jill Hurst-Wahl – Me. Coffee. Morning.

Pete Bromberg’s 23 things (minus 3): A getting to know ya post

Stephanie Zimmerman – A Get to Know Me Meme from TIFT

Marianne Lenox – 27 Questions (Supplemental Pictorial Essay)

Paul Signorelli – Paul’s Getting to Know Me Post

Lauren Pressley – 23 Questions with Lauren Pressley

Buffy Hamilton – 27 Questions with Buffy Hamilton

Jay Turner – 20 Questions for Just that Guy

Julie Strange – T is for Training Questionapalooza v 1.1

Angela Paterek – Getting to Know Me

Sorry Mr. Dewey, I Am For Real

Savage Non-Fiction section
Image by mlibrarianus via Flickr

Yesterday I did something I haven’t done in the last 15 years or more – I shelved a cart of non-fiction books.  A call went out for help in getting the large amount of non-fiction carts out to the shelves.  Since I’m usually chained to my desk and computer screens I thought it might be nice to have a change of pace.  It’s good to step out of your normal routine and try on someone else’s shoes for a bit.  I started as a page shelving materials so it was fun to get back to my roots.  Also it turned out to be a Mother and Son two for one deal – my son who is also a shelver at my library was in the non-fiction section yesterday.

There is something soothing about shelving non-fiction and getting the shelf in perfect order.  But after about 1 section of the cart done I started looking at things from a different perspective.  It started after doing one section of the cart and not having one single shelf was in order.  Things really changed perspective for me when I was in the computer section.  I was puzzled to see that Linux, Mac and Windows books were interfiled.  Hmm, why wouldn’t all the books in this particular section on Linux be filed together, and then the Mac ones or the Windows books?

As I continued to shelve I got to thinking about the Dewey Decimal system and whether or not our customers really use it.  How many people outside of the library profession can tell you what the call number is for cookbooks, computer books, or even financial books?  Has Dewey seen his day?  What about Library of Congress classification?  Yes, I understand we need some sort of system to file things so everyone can find them but is 005.4469T really the way to go?  I mean does it really mean anything other than a cataloger?  Would perhaps 005 T do just as well?  I can tell you most customers when returning something to shelf don’t seem to see the cutter numbers.  Why do I spend all this time trying to get a shelf perfect if the customers aren’t doing the same?

Book stores don’t use Dewey or LOC and people seem to find the books they want just fine.  So why are we still in this day and age insisting that our customers follow our rules instead of finding out what works for them and providing an easier way to find our collections.  My apologies to all the catalogers.  I’m not trying to make you redundant but I do think it is time we rethink call numbers and how we shelve our materials.

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Library101

3883707406_7b0bd34066I was excited, honored, thrilled and other adjectives that end in “-ed” to be able to contribute to Michael Porter and David Lee King‘s Library101 project.  It first started out with a call (via Twitter) from Michael asking for pictures of library staff holding up a giant 1 or 0.  At the time I wasn’t sure what this was all about but I was game.  Anything to help me hone my photography skills I was able to get many of my fellow co-workers to pose for me.

I was then surprised, elated to help Michael beta test his Zazzle store for the Library 101 merchandise.  The final surprise came when Michael asked me if I’d like to contribute an essay to the web site he was creating to launch the Library 101 project. Here it is in the original unedited version:

New Library 101

So what exactly does the New Library 101 need to be part of the future? In my opinion there is one very important piece that needs to be there for the library of the future to stay afloat – customer service. Without our customers we won’t be here no matter what fancy words we use, what new fangled gadgets we have, what exciting programs we offer. Now customer service is nothing new to libraries, however, my version of customer service includes three aspects. If the library of the future will focus on these aspects they will grow and stay relevant.

Technology

Recently I got a Tweet from Jimmy Willis (@katannsky2) asking me if I had any career tips for a future librarian. My words of wisdom where “to learn technology. Embrace it. It will be a very big part of your job.” Be current. What are the latest trends? Adopt them, learn about them and use them. If you don’t you’ll be left behind because your customers are using this technology. And more than likely they are coming to you for help with it

Technology means not only the hardware/software we use in our branches but includes your presence on the web. Whether it is your web site, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr or other social web sites – remember that not every customer walks through your physical doors. Make sure you have a presence out there in the digital world. But don’t limit it to just a Facebook page or a bunch of pictures on Flickr – engage your customers, start a conversation with them, bring them back to you (whether it is into your physical building or your catalog or one of your programs).

Education

I understand that funding doesn’t always allow every library to have tons of the latest and greatest hardware or even software. However, you can still educate yourself about technology even if your library can’t afford a Kindle, a new fancy web site or you don’t have an iPhone. Use what technology you do have to your benefit. Get out on the web and socially network. So many of your fellow librarians are on the social web, network with them and find out what they already know. Ask questions or use your searching skills so when that customer invariably asks you how do they do ___ you can use your network as a resource.

Please, don’t ever tell a customer you don’t know and let that be the end of the conversation. That is not an acceptable customer service response. Sure, it’s okay to say you don’t know but continue. “You know I’m curious about this too. Let’s research this together so we can both learn.” Customers come to you for help and hey would much rather have a real human admit they don’t know but work together to find the answer than some cold response that boils down to “go away I can’t be bothered”.

Audience

Above all the library of the future must remember who it’s audience is and what they want or need. As Thomas Brevik (@Miromurr) tweeted from the Internet Librarian International 2009:

* #ili2009 Stop insulting the user by guessing what the user want!

* #ili2009 start with the question: is this what our users want?

Once you have figured out what your customer wants not only meet that need but exceed it. But how to find out what the customer wants. Don’t rely on surveys on your OPACs or your web site, you have an opportunity every single day in every single interaction with your customers (via email, chat, face to face, or phone). Just go that extra step and see what need isn’t being met. Keeping in mind that meeting someone’s need doesn’t always require a big budget – sometimes just listening to them makes all the difference in the world and you’ll have a lifelong return customer.

Is it a guarantee that if the library of the future follows these three aspects of customer service they will survive? Well nothing is a sure beat but I would put good money on the library of the future (if it focuses on customer service) will be around for all of us to enjoy.

So here is to the future of libraries.  Long may they reign.