Monday, July 1, 2013

ALA: Days 3 & 4

There have been lots of great presentations these past two days.  Here's more of the great work being done in libraries:

CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY IN LIBRARY SYSTEMS
I was most fascinated by the NYPL and Goethe Institut-New York German Traces New York App.  This app uses GeoStoryteller and Augmented Reality to give students, visitors, or anyone else who wishes to do a "walking tour" of the city's German influences.  At the tap of your mobile device, you can see the instant history behind a piece of architecture or landmark and see it both pictures of what the building/location looked like then and now.  NYPL created the platform and logos and have given it a Creative Commons licensing for any library to use and adapt the technology.

Orange County Library System is also doing great things with their Right Service at the Right Time kiosk and app. This program, in conjunction with local service providers ranging from healthcare, shelters, to immigration, quickly matches up the right service to an individual depending upon their needs.  OCLS developed the platform and it has since been added as a statewide program.

TRAINING
Not surprisingly, I attended quite a bit of training presentations and I took away a lot of information. Here's what's going on at these awesome library systems:

Notre Dame University
When the university library underwent a huge reorginization, the library had to do a lot a change management training for overwhelmed staff.  They developed a training model for this that I think could be adapted well for new hire orientation.  The training program utilized several different methods including retreats, followup activities, reinforcement, and one-on-one training. The training lasted over the course of one year and gave many opportunities for staff training and retention. Adapting this format for new hires allows you to keep in touch with your trainees after the initial learning period time. Maybe retreats are not in your budget, but face2face meetings after six months on the job (and again after 1 year) will give a forum for new hires to talk about their experiences and ask questions in a safe environment.

Idaho Commission for Libraries
The biggest take away from this presentation was the the critical role of supervisors assisting learners after training.  If you are a trainer, then you are aware of the three different roles of training: the trainer, the learner, and the supervisor.  In order to see that learners retain information acquired in the training, supervisors must be a part of the process.  Trainers can help supervisors by giving them a plan/course of action.  For example, after a training program, the training manager can communicate to supervisors what the learners were taught, what the learning outcomes were, what the expectations should be, and what supervisors should provide to their staff in order to solidify the training.  When learners return to their work after the training program, that is when the real learning happens - putting the training into practice.

Suffolk Cooperative Library System
If you've worked in any organization, then you are probably familiar with strategic plans.  There are strategic plans for the organization as a whole, plans for capital projects, technology plans, and collection development plans.  But a strategic training plan?  You may be lucky to have a blurb about staff development in one of these other plans, but a fully developed strategic training plan that aligns itself with the library's mission statement and vision is hard to come by.

Library Journal Mover & Shaker, Emily Clasper, spoke on the importance of a strategic plan to keep sight of long-term goals for the library, to bring consistency and complimentary training programs together, and training focused on the competency levels of staff.

Western Maryland Regional Library
Julie Zamostny is a great presenter.  The focus of her presentation basically boiled down to making training less boring by mixing up the asynchronous classroom.  Using Skillsoft* as the basis of the training content, she incorporated Ted Talks into the instruction as well as face2face meetings to discuss what the learners viewed online.

Some training buzzwords popped up in her presentation that are very important: learning fatigue and learning anxiety.  In order to combat these two unwanted effects of training, Julie suggests being surprising and being consistent.  Two seemingly juxtaposed concepts but, if worked correctly, can be highly effective.  For example, throwing something into your training that may be completely off the wall is memorable to learners but scheduling weirdness or rescheduling can be off-putting.

*Skillsoft is now available to Georgia Librarians through GLEAN

Siera Learn
Pat Wagner is a training professional who advocates that every supervisor be a trainer first because, in essence, after the training has ended it is up to the supervisor to keep learning a top priority.  But not only are the supervisors and staff learners, trainers are learners too.  Training should be equitable and if one needs to know something, then everyone should know it as well.

EVERYTHING IS BETA
Three different library systems presented on the the importance of idea innovation and implementation in libraries.  Fostering innovation is key to both library relevancy and staff morale.  Here's what these three library organizations have done:

Monroe County Public Library (IN)
In theory, there are two types of innovation:

  • Incremental - small improvements that bring better products to established markets
  • Disruptive - simple, low cost initiatives that appeal to a relatively small audience (these "beta" innovations are usually unattractive but have the ability to grow into wider markets.)
In order to understand the types of innovations your library may want to implement, you must consider where you may be with your three different types of customers:
  • Undershot Customers - the customers who want more and are frustrated when the library does not have the capability to provide that service.  These customers ask "why can't I . . .?"
  • Overshot Customers - the customers who just want the basic, incremental innovation. This customer may get upset over disruptive innovation because it "disrupts" the service they may be used to.
  • Non-Customers - the potential customers who currently lack the motivation to use the library and it's services.
By understanding the types of customers and the types of change innovation, as well as understanding the 6 levels of change -
  1. Awareness - participants learning of change that is about to occur
  2. Knowledge - gaining information about the change that will be occurring
  3. Skill - acquiring the new skill that comes with change
  4. Behavior - adjusting to the new skill that came with the change
  5. Condition - Using the skill and being comfortable with the change
allows a safe environment for change to occur

Indiana University
Robert McDonald added more weight to Sarah Laughlin's presentation by discussing the specific environment that needs to occur for innovation.  He mentions two specific types of innovation forums:
  • Discover Session - a group of people that focus on a "what" question.  This type of session usually has a scope and and must answer specifically "what do we need?"
  • Jam Session - a group of people that focus on a "who" question.  There may be no specific goal in mind but the question is "who are we designing for?"
Just the act of coming together to bounce ideas off one another can be a great way to get the ball rolling

Orange County Library System
I talked about this library system in ALA: Days 1 & 2 and it shouldn't have surprised me that they would be the forerunner of innovation.  Mary Anne Hodel, the director of OCLS, has based her organization on Marissa Mayer's (former Google Innovator, CEO of Yahoo) 9 principles of Innovation.  Just a look at their webpage will give you a sense of the innovation happening in Orlando.  But when I asked Ms. Hodel about the specific procedures in place to funnel staff ideas to the top level of administration for consideration her answer was very simple:

I visit every branch regularly at staff meetings and ask them directly for ideas

Ideas are often implemented in "beta" form with one branch trying it out to see if it succeeds before other branches adopt the initiatives.  This ensures that ideas are tried and allowed to either succeed or fail.  And if the ideas fail, it's nobody's fault.  It's better to try something and fail than suffer from the not knowing.













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