Monday, July 27, 2009


OK, so here's today. I don't have times written down, but things are in generally chronological order.
  • Skim e-mail, feed reader, twitter, facebook
  • Check voicemail, make list of call-backs (many branches aren't open on Monday, so most calls need to wait until tomorrow)
  • Touch base with my office-mates (there are 6 of us in a large space - 4 Managers, a Digital Services Librarian, and an Administrative Assistant)
  • Respond to weekly reports from branches via e-mail
  • Discover an office-mate has brought us home-made peach pie
  • Attend weekly meeting with fellow Branch Services Managers and our boss, the Assistant Director for Public Services - debrief re. recent supervisor training seminar
  • Have short discussion with my boss re. specific ongoing issues
  • Send agenda items to conveners of 2 upcoming meetings
  • Eat piece of peach pie
  • Discuss with office-mate the possibility of getting library cell plan to included texting, as we're using twitter and other text-based services more
  • Start article on success of new Saturday hours at one of our rural branches; realize can't write it until tomorrow, when supervisor of said library is in and can answer my questions
  • Write 5 brief reports for SPL's 27 Things project - the deadline for all 27 is July 31st, and I want my commemorative flash drive!
  • Look at mock-ups for invitations for a grand opening at the end of August, and wonder how to make all the stakeholders happy with the print pieces
  • Discuss the merits of using a Folkmanis pig puppet to ease difficult discussions in the workplace
  • Open mail - receive a catalog of purportedly indestructible AV cases from a vendor I met at ALA; pass along to Collection Manager
  • Play with a Dell Latitude 2100; we're considering using these for a "check out a laptop" program in one of our new branches; pass to other office-mates
  • Discuss a customer-education sign suggestion with Marketing director
  • Get call from boss re. lapse in customer service at a branch
  • Notice I forgot to eat lunch
  • Write up today's dayinthelife and go home

Five at one blow...

Things 22-26 of my 27 Things

22. "Check out" and download an audiobook from the Library's collection - I used the new myilibrary audio collection for this activity, as I've already successfully downloaded a bunch of material from our overdrive collection. My biggest frustration with both of these collections is actually in the cataloging (or lack thereof). I don't want to have to browse, or rather, I don't want to have to browse through a mass of unrelated materials to see what is available. The simple non-tagged keyword search both resources offer doesn't really work for me. As more and more of our users are using the library without setting foot inside of our buildings, I think we need to think hard about how we treat these kind of virtual services. Are they "add-ons", bells and whistles we include so we can be like the cool kids? Or are they materials as important to the collection as the latest hardcover? Right now, it feels like the two formats are living in separate worlds; I'd argue we need to integrate them better (and a lot more seamlessly) to be truly format-agnostic.

23. Peruse the new SPL website - I like the look and feel of the new website. They've made some improvements lately, most importantly substituting regular GoogleMaps for the GoogleEarth which had been the default map. Most of it seems pretty intuitive, though it's still tough to find JPA board documents, or contact info for the Friends or the Foundation. And it's still worlds better than what came before. In any case, it's a work that is now and forever in progress, and I've been pleased with the direction we've been taking it.

24. Learn a new language with Mango Language Learning - Oh, Mango, how do I love you! I included some straight from the trade show scoop on Mango in an earlier entry. Like audiobooks, this is a resource we make available to customers for use from anywhere. As I've said before, this kind of remote, format-neutral content provision is going to become more and more important. Once again, I think we need to figure out how to leverage this - people are willing to pay big bucks for similar programs, why is it so hard for us to get them to use our stuff for free?

25. Tweet on Twitter - I was a Twitter naysayer. I've been turned - I think it's a useful tool for publicizing the Library. While I've heard all the arguments about mediated relationships and fake intimacy, I also think it's a fun way to keep up with friends and colleagues. Yeah, and I like Facebook, too. I tweet as sarahdentan. If you're looking for ways to justify Twitter as a professional activity, Mashable offers lots of business applications (for Facebook, too).

26. What is Thingfo? Thingfo is invite only, so I'm substituting A Day in the Life of the Library.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Outsourcing collection development

Another report from ALA. Please note, my notes/thoughts/asides/etc. do not reflect policy directions, management fait accompli, or anything else. They're just my thoughts.

UNLV and PHX public, with their CDV partner vendors. I'm concentrating on the PHX experience here.


Started with completely decentralized selection [like SPL], selectors in branches with 4 hrs/wk to do selection. Selecting from reviews, they were only able to spend 25% of book budget, CDV manager was spending the rest based on customer requests. Opening collections were more current, more diverse, and better meeting customer needs. Even selectors saw that that was better customer service.

Now, vendors do selection (PHX moving toward more standing orders where feasible - approval plan time consuming). CDV manager maintains small, centralized discretionary budget for requested materials. Ex-selectors still manage collection, but differently - provide course corrections, refine profiles, speak to vendor biweekly. Time is freed up in branch for outreach, desk time, weeding and collection analysis (important and often overlooked CDV jobs).

Experience is showing vendors do a good job, even naysayers are starting to see that. In some case, vendor can be more on-track than librarians (fixing gaps in GLBT collections, recognizing aging knitting collection) and sometimes can be ahead of the curve. No problem with access to small presses. Ex-selectors are becoming converts because vendor selectors are good, and because it is faster - materials are often on the shelf before customers are looking for them.

Important to communicate the power of the approval plan. Focus should be - what can the vendor do that makes sense for my collection? It's still the library's collection, still needs to be managed, vendor is a partner [or a tool].

PHX using ILS system reports/stats to adjust profiles and budgets. Customer behavior is driving CDV. The customer is now the primary selector.

Complication, slowness of current process is a common reason for moving toward outsourcing. Vendors can also handle end-of-year funds in a way that maximizes your flexibility, bonus!

How to start:
  • Staff has to trust CDV manager and vendor, because the expertise on publishers, new books will shift out of selectors' hands.
  • Understand current process, where you want to be, before you sit down with vendors. It's still the library's collection - know what you DO want, not just what you don't want, from the vendor.
  • Approval plans provide opportunity to prioritize, re-prioritize, re-re-re-prioritize.
  • Expertise of (ex)-selectors important for refining profiles.
How do you train newbies on CDV if they're not selecting?
Lots of CDV to do besides selection: weeding (all new librarians should do lots of this) and collection analysis are and will remain key activities. [I'd add community analysis]

Alice Down the YouTube

A collection of videos created by staff for use in staff education on ethical issues:

Video List

King County Library System Training
KCLS Training – Michael Denton
Patrons Gone Wild
[Search YouTube/Google for "KCLStraining" to find more KCLS videos. Tips for successful training videos - use upper level managers to play "bad patrons" and "bad staff", front line staff for good examples; videos provide discussion starters, don't work in a vacuum; videos can support peer-to-peer learning, as in staff meetings]

Eric Faden
Fair(y) Use Tale
[Fascinating, provides an interesting meta-primer on fair use]

Art Institute of Washington
Goofus and Gallant in the Library
Part 2

Dan Conley
Part 1 – Intro
Part 3 – Customer Service
Part 5 – Where do patrons come from?
[Library student spoof of dated training films still used in his LIS program]

Additional Resources
Denise Raleigh – Gail Borden Public Library
Part 1 Privacy @ Your Library and Part 2 Privacy @ Your Library .

Libraries collaborating across the Academic/Public divide

Finally getting to a series of ALA reports for my SPL colleagues. I do 'em here, because then I can find them again.

"Our Town, Common Ground" - Academic Libraries' collaboration with Public Libraries

Academic Libraries often have as a stated goal some amount of programming for the community. Lends itself well to arts and humanities programming. Collaboration follows staged process: Determine shared/compatible interests; Determine shared resources (strengths/weaknesses); Seek funding (if needed); Balance responsibilities.

Lawton, OK programs:
  • Shared author visit - campus writing workshop, public library author visit program

  • Shared "one book" program - public programs at both campus and PL venues

  • "Oklahoma Chautauqua" - Campus workshops w/ scholars, evening PL public programs

  • Smaller projects - Lunch & Learn - brown bag programs w/ professors; professors doing programming at PL, e.g. archivist on archives v. scrapbooking, historian doing genealogy workshops.

Service Learning programs - Many schools have service learning opportunities or requirements. Service learners provide a motivated source of short-term volunteers, if managed appropriately. If school has good structure in place, even better. Need to work with school Service Learning Coordinator to set up, think about how to tie service to academic goals.
Projects included: Weekly tasks - shelving, computer help, event assistance, storytime prep; "Legacy project" (school requirement) - group planned and implemented daylong Narnia festival with children's librarian's guidance.

Places for SPL to partner with, potentially:
CSUS ; Cosumnes college (has extant programs in ECE, classroom support, might try tech partnership?).

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Report from "The Stacks"

I love the enormous trade show that comes with ALA annual. I love the hoopla attached to all things librarian, and in a country where your power can be measured by how hard vendors court you, it's nice to feel like they're still paying attention. While I now have a system (start from the left, up one row down the next, and never, ever, make eye contact with the conspiracy publishers in the small press aisle), I love watching the folks who stop to talk to everyone, who pick up tons of posters to take backs to colleagues at home, and most especially, the first timers who are blown away by scale of it all.

When I was living in England, I went to a library show in London that was billed as the biggest in the country. It made me long for ALA - there were a total of 8 programs the day I went, and the trade show was the equivalent of maybe 2 aisles of what ALA does. While I know a trade-show isn't the be-all and end-all of a professional organization's role (some might even argue it's a distraction), it's one of the many ways the professional infrastructure in the US is more robust than that in the UK.

Before I get in to what I actually found out, a quick impression - the effects of the economic downturn were clearly visible at the show. Fewer quick-and-easy giveaways - I can usually stock up on post-its and highlighters at ALA, and there were none to be found. Galleys were also in short supply, and less easily accessible. For first time ever, I had to wait in line to have face-time with the author to get a book (now that I've skimmed the book, it's clear they're hoping the author's star power will sell the book, which isn't very good, or even very readable).

Which is all an introductory ramble to this post, which is actually about cool stuff I learned and saw on the floor.

  1. Overdrive - Overdrive has started adding Chinese materials, both e-books and e-audio-books. You can see the official press release here; I didn't get much more from the salesperson. Currently, they've got about 300 titles loaded, and given our population in Sacramento, and our uptake of e-materials in general, this feels like a strong possibility for us.
  2. Mango - Mango Languages has been pretty popular amongst staff doing 27 Things. From the Mango staff, I learned they're spiffing up the interface a bit, and they've added a "where to find Mango at a Library near you" feature on their public landing page. They're also adding a bunch of new languages, including spoken Arabic (in the dialect spoken in Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine) and spoken Hebrew. I think Mango is a good example of something our customers use primarily in their homes, via our website, rather than in a library facility. This kind of delivery will, I predict, become more important for libraries in the future, and Mango provides a strong product for us to begin designing a new delivery model around.
  3. Furniture - Library furniture is getting more and more beautiful. I didn't take pictures, but I did grab a bunch of circulars. Boats and busses seem to be big themes in play furniture. And the deco and craftsman influences are still holding sway for adult stuff.

So, 30 some-odd aisles, 3+ total hours, and sore feet. I did end up taking a single totebag, from the folks at Bulldog Packaging. One is exactly enough.

ETA: For a sense of the scale of the thing, look at this picture. Though I have to say, from ground level it felt a bunch more croweded.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hazel Gay

Hazel Gay
Originally uploaded by Smithsonian Institution
"When she retired in 1961, Hazel Gay had served for 45 years as head librarian at the American Museum of Natural History in New York."

From the set Women in Science, posted by the Smithsonian Institution in honor of Women's History Month, March 2009. Your tax dollars at (good) work. Have I mentioned how much I love flickr Commons?