Books, Love, and Librarians

This past weekend, I drove 5 hours Saturday and 5 hours back home Sunday with two small children to go to the wedding of a very good friend. The kids were great and it was worth the hassle to see my friend so happy. It reminded me that so many things in life are about friends, family, and the people you love.

Today, Mob Rule Learning is officially out. Like a debutante in a white dress, I am hoping it gets a lot of serious attention, but not just for its good looks. I think the book has some good things to say about some very exciting things going on in conferences and higher education.

Order the book or ebook today from Amazon or order the ebook from Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, or ebooks.com.

A book is about people you love because without them, you would just be a crazy person with a crazy idea. A lot of people I admire and love got me to this place. Today, I want to especially thank librarians.

Librarians are awesome. They are learned and hard working individuals who are underpaid and overworked. They struggle in a system that often does not appreciate their efforts and they do it all For the Greater Good. Thank you for holding me to high standards and for dreaming your big dreams with me.

–Jane, loves being a librarian

Curating A New Learning Experience

My local NPR station recently started playing talk radio all day (hallelujah!) and I have been wallowing in all the wonderful shows I used to listen to regularly when I lived in Dallas. Last month, I had Talk of the Nation on and Don Tapscott was talking about higher education. My ears perked up immediately and, though I had to stop listening to feed my toddler (pesky kids), I went back and found the transcript. It was a great interview with some fabulous comments from listeners. If you are at all involved in higher ed or education at all, you should read this interview.

Tapscott, author of, among other things, Wikinomics, Macrowikinomics, and Grown Up Digital said that our current education system is not only not meeting the needs of our students, but its failure to adapt since its creation will be its demise.

Tapscott said, “All these kids that have grown up collaborating and thinking differently walk into a university and they’re asked to sit there and passively listen to someone talking.” He goes on to talk about the new research that is beginning to show that not only do students learn different and multitask, but the very fact that they are multitasking and learning different is changing the way their brains function and grow. The students in our classrooms now learn different because of the world they live in and yet we are still teaching them the same way we taught people when the classroom was invented. We ask students to sit and learn, to be containers for information instead of creators.

It is not just that we are asking them to be passive, but we are also cramping a process that could be broad and more enriching than a lecture. Tapscott gave an example:

I was talking to a youngster at Harvard, and he said: Why would I sit there and listen to a TA talking to 300 of us, a teaching assistant. I can’t even ask a question – the topic is Peter Drucker- when I can go online and interact with a real-time Peter Drucker.

Social media allows us not only to study a topic but to interact with it. The student from Harvard correctly points out one of the major flaws in our education system. We often ignore a resource rich world and force students to learn in a resource desert: the traditional classroom. Tapscott goes on to talk about how the way we do everything has changed and evolved as our understanding of the world has changed and evolved, except the classroom. This is something I also discuss in the second half of Mob Rule Learning. We have a teaching pedagogy that has not changed in hundreds of years.

One of the callers, Mandolin, talked about her experience in college with professors that did or did not understand their students learning styles, but she goes on to talk about her subsequent experience in the work force. The problems with higher education do not stop when our students graduate. Unfortunately, one of the things that students are learning in our colleges and universities is that multitasking is not an acceptable form of hard work, even though the newest generation in our organizations works better as multitaskers.

Multitasking has had some negative connotations lately and arguments abound regarding if increased multitasking is causing the ruination of society or making us better, stronger human beings. For the sake of this argument, I want to define multitasking as a form of multi-learning. What I mean is a learner that pulls in information from many different sources and media at once, reflects on the information, and then creates new content based on that information that is then shared with other learners in an interactive way that often allows those learners to also learn and create. This is the way that true multitasking in learning works. It means using everything at your disposal to create something new in the discipline. This is what students do now and this is what our traditional classrooms are hampering. As Tapscott points out, a student can listen to a lecture on something or they can go interact with that something. They will choose the latter almost every time and so would I.

What kind of student would you rather have in your classroom? A student who comes and listens quietly to your lecture as a passive learner or a student who comes, uses their laptop to look up additional information on the subject, later corrects an error on that subject page in wikipedia, and develops understanding for the topic on their own?

Another caller talked about an interactive textbook that he helped create and Tapscott’s response was this:

…what we just heard was a teacher acting as a curator rather than a content creator. And imagine if we had this global network for higher learning, there was a platform where all university faculty and educators could cooperate together where we could reach out into the public Internet to curate a lot of this content, like some of it obviously won’t be good, but some of it is spectacular, as the caller just alluded to And you know, we can do this. It just requires some leadership.

As teachers, we should be guides and curators. This is also where librarians are essential to the process. Librarians are curators of information already. We pride ourselves on curating information so that is accessible to as many people as possible. In the learning process, librarians should be making themselves indispensable in the curation process. We can help both with the discovery of information and with the curation of the new content being created by students.

Librarians, who have experience in curating (like cataloging), can help colleges, universities, and educators to move into these new roles, roles librarians have been filling in other capacities for some time. If we are going to change the way higher education works, we will all, teachers, librarians, and students, have to work together, in true mob fashion, to make the changes needed to make the education system reflect our new understanding of the world around us.

–Jane, wrote this with a lap full of 5 month old

National Library Unconference Day

There are a lot of reasons why you, your library, or your library related organization should participate in National Library Unconference Day on Monday May 2nd at 1pm EST. It could be the amazing speakers lined up for lightening talks. Maybe it is because unconferences are always so darn fun. Perhaps, this is the perfect opportunity to try a small scale unconference at your library. Whatever the reason, start unplanning and get your library geared up for an amazing event.

The best thing about this event is that it is completely adaptable to whatever you would like to accomplish within your organization. Have events in the morning and then attend the virtual lightening talks at 1pm EST or attend the talks first and use them as a springboard for birds of a feather talks in the afternoon. Plan an all day event with the virtual talks smack in the middle. Whatever you choose, you are sure to be amazed at what can come out of a group of passionate librarians and library staff gathering to discuss our profession.

Planning an unconference is not as daunting as you might think. The unscripted nature of an unconference makes the planning a breeze because the content is controlled by the participants. All you need to provide is the time and space needed. (and maybe some snacks!)

To help with your planning, I made a Prezi with some things to keep in mind as you plan. Enjoy!

–Jane, loves unconferences

An Almost Streamed Meeting Causes a Ruckus

Something happened yesterday that I am still trying to understand. I am not talking about the shooting in AZ. This was much less tragic in the worldly sense, but more tragic to me personally.

An open meeting was closed to me because I could not physically sit in the room, though the means necessary for me to be “present” at the meeting were available and running; it was shut down for what I think are some shoddy reasons.

A disclaimer: I was not at the physical meeting, so my knowledge of what happened after the stream was cut off is limited to the Twitter hashtag #litabd11 and other backchannel discussions.

A word to the PTB, if you do not control the conversation and allow transparency, someone else will do it for you and the results will not be in your favor. I think the backchannels bore out the truth of that reality yesterday.

Briefly: Jason Griffey set up a Ustream if the LITA Board meeting so that members not physically present in San Diego could watch the meeting. This would also have ensured that members who were currently serving elsewhere at Midwinter could have watched the discussion later. The main speaker for the section of the meeting in question was a consultant who did an analysis of how the LITA leadership works and how we can make our organization better, at least that was what I gleaned from the tweets I saw from members in the room (which sounds a topic all the membership should have access to seeing). The board voted to suspend the live stream “during this portion of the meeting” (though for the record, the stream was never set back up). Jason has the recorded section of the meting up on his Ustream channel which shows the discussion of why the stream should be turned off. The sound is a bit wonky, but gets a little better. The discussion happens about 7 minutes into the recording.

For those not familiar with ALA or the processes of its meetings: The LITA Board meeting is an open meeting at ALA which means that any member of LITA is welcome to attend and participate. LITA stands for the Library and Information Technology Association.

There were three main reasons the board and other members present gave (in the video and on Twitter) for turning off the stream:

  • The board was not aware the streaming was going to happen and wanted a chance to discuss it first,
  • Streaming is a form of communication and should be discussed because a stream of the board would be seen as an “official” communication mechanism of the board, and
  • The information being presented by the paid consultant to LITA was copyrighted and he was paid to present to the board and not a large group (aka the entire membership).

The first reason given is valid, though knee jerk. I think (and this is speculation on my part) that Jason may have tried streaming this without warning the board to demonstrate the issue at hand, which it clearly did. The issue is that we should be streaming meetings and there is some disconnect about the why and how. People do not like to be surprised by things and will frequently reject the thing, good or bad, because the surprise factor is hard to get over. Jason got the knee jerk reaction he was looking for but unfortunately it was not in favor of streaming. The surprise could have given way to a, “What a great idea” discussion, but instead it was more like a “we want the opportunity to apply some red tape to this procedure so we’ll put it off reason” which brings us to the second reason given.

The second reason was that streaming constituted an “official” communication from the board and therefore should be vetted in some way. This argument reminds me of the discussions surrounding the LITA Blog when we first began that successful experiment. The same argument was made for not having a blog. We must get over this idea that everything that is produced should be polished to a high shine before being sent out to members. The internet is a beta platform. If you blog or tweet a meeting, people expect to see a meeting, not an “official” communication platform. If you wait around for “official” there will never be streaming of anything, including open meetings. Official communication methods from meetings, by the way, includes types notes that are out up somewhere, sometimes months after the meetings itself. This is not useful, though I think in the LITA Board’s defense their meetings minutes take less time to get the membership that want to read them. I think it is about time we got over this argument and accept the way technology works. I would expect that an association whose main purview is supposed to be about technology would inherently understand the meaning of change and flexibility in technology. Let us not forget this is an open meeting, but I will talk about that later.

The last reason given, while also valid, has some major issues as well. I do not know the exact rules about who owns copyright on material created by a consultant for ALA, whether the ALA body or the consultant is the holder of copyright for that material. For the sake of the argument, I will assume that the consultant retains copyright. If this is true, than the meeting, open or not, should not have been recorded in any fashion, including blogging and tweeting. However, there was more than one person in the room tweeting what the consultant was telling the board. Those tweets, while valuable, lacked context to some degree, as Twitter often does, so instead of a valid, whole picture of what the consultant was telling the board, we got choppy bits and pieces. In the world of the internet, streaming and Twitter are not that far apart except that one is better quality. Streaming would have given the consultant a better platform. If copyright was really an issue, a creative commons license could have protected the content of the message. After all the money we paid the consultant (I assume he did not do the work for free), should the members not be able to hear what our money paid him to do? Cindi Trainor did let us know that we could receive print copies of the consultant’s presentation if requested. I half wanted to request a copy just to put it up on the internet. I think that getting a print copy of the report is a waste of paper and postage.

My main issue with all this boils down to the fact that the LITA Board meeting is an open meeting. Open. Any member is allowed to attend and I think that should include me even though I can not physically be there. If the technology exists, and it does, for me to participate with the workings of my association, though other obligations and finances prevent me from attending, why are we not utilizing them? If the board is concerned that non-LITA folks might see the goings on of our association, then put the stream somewhere only members can access it. I would not advocate that route, however, since we all know nothing that secretive happens at board meetings. For actual secret stuff, we would have to record the conversations that go on in the halls after the meeting. Streaming meetings would open up opportunity for participation, which is what LITA is always saying it wants.

My secondary reaction is one of supreme disappointment. I love LITA, but I do not always feel that reciprocated now that I am not able to physically attend all the meetings. We are the technology group for the love of all that is holy, but we rarely act like it. Some of the tweets yesterday were arguing that the governing body should not be simply reactive to what members want and my response is “Why not?” Why can’t we experiment? Why can’t we try new things? Why does everything have to be official even when published on a platform, like streaming, Twitter, or blogs, that people know are not polished modes of communication? Why not test the newest technology (though streaming is hardly new) and show the other divisions how to do it? Isn’t that one of the things LITA is supposed to do with technology?

Lastly, and anyone with a shred on internet saavy knows this: If you do not control the message, someone else will. Yesterday, the LITA Board declined to try something new for reasons they felt were valid. As a result, other people, mainly members disenfranchised by the decision controlled the conversation via Twitter, and LITA did not come out the winner. They came out looking ignorant about the thing they are supposed to know about, technology.

I come away from this sad but unsurprised. LITA continues to be the thing I give my time and energy to in ALA because I want to make it better. I want to keep advocating for a technology association that actually is a leader in technology from inside the organization, even if I have to do so from miles away, on my blog, instead of on the live stream of the open meeting of the my board.

–Jane, this post is open for discussion

LITA Forum Presentation – Staff Training and the Mob Rule

I am presenting at 3:20 in room 205. It is going to be very interesting and FUN! I am going to talk about how to use the concept of an unconference to solve your staff training issues. There will be zombies. Participation is required. But not participating zombies. Sorry, no brains for afternoon snack time.

Here are my slides:

–Jane, braaaaaaiiiiiinsssszzzzzzzzzzzzzz

On the Road to LITA Forum

Today, I am getting ready to leave for LITA Forum. Leaving the house for a couple days and leaving Mr. Rochester, The Bairn, and The Dogs behind means a lot of extra preparation for me. I will leave them food and water so they should all be alive when I return, I hope.

I will be presenting on how to use the unconference concept for staff training. It should be interesting and very hands-on, so I hope if you are going to Atlanta for the conference, you will swing by Saturday afternoon.

Safe travels, LITA folks!

–Jane,

Librarians, they are good people

It is humid. The World Cup is on. Women in sensible shoes and cat vests are mingling with NextGens sporting tattoos and dyed hair, all vying for advance reader’s copies or a cold beer. It must be a librarian conference!

It has been a couple years since I was really in the swing of an ALA conference and I almost forgot the headiness of it all, the intoxicating sense of being with people who inspire you and drive you forward. Friday, I had a lot of moments that sounded like this in my mind, “I love librarians! I love being inspired by their will to face any challenge. I love talking about big issues with smart, funny, snarky, beautiful people!” Over and over all day.

For the first time Friday, I was able to attend the Library Journal Movers and Shakers lunch. This year it was at the National Press Club. As I sat listening to all of the fabulous things the new class of Movers and Shakers did to forward the cause of libraries, literacy, and knowledge I was truly, utterly humbled. It was amazing. They are amazing.

Besides sit in that room full of people that are doing astounding things, I serendipitously ran into my first boss after library school. She was the kind of boss everyone should have at their first job. She was encouraging and supportive. She fought hard for her team. She found my strengths and let me follow them, regardless of their actual relation to my job. She spoiled me for anyone else actually. Now, I am blessed that Clara is my friend still though professionally we have moved on.

I had an astounding first day and things only got better from there.

I felt that I listened more at this conference. I usually have a lot to say, but I felt more like a sponge than anything else. What I heard were the dreams and ideas of people that I regard very highly. I have some specific reflections on a couple ideas, but those can come later.

I think this marks the beginning of me being back into the midst of things and I am happy to be surrounded by the chaos of my peers.

–Jane, loves being a librarian

Notes from UnALA10

These are my notes on the presentations given during the Unconference at ALA. Here is how they came into being:

As a large group (we had over 50 participants!), we brainstormed trending topics in libraries. Topics generated during this ranged from the digital divide to services in libraries. Then, each person was able to vote 5 times for the topics they found the most interesting. They were able to use their votes in whatever manner they liked, all 5 for one, spread out or not at all. The top 8 made the final list and from there, we ended up with 6 groups.

The groups then had one hour to create a 7 minutes or less presentation, in the format of their choosing. Each group presented to the larger group after one hour.

The conversations that the groups had at their tables were wonderful. It was fun to observe and listen.

Below are my notes from the presentations. Each group’s topic is in bold:

Service in libraries
trending and service in libraries
pump it yourself (as in gas) generation – older who do not use technology and do not like it
mobile reference and things online – younger generations
the people that want the things online are the people driving the trend
checkout is going to go away, that is not the word, access is the word
library as place is still a thing that matters – people still want to do that
unique programming happens in libraries and this brings in different users
children’s services are more traditional and this has not changed much
literature services on the other side of the digital divide
we still have books
Book Well – librarians trained to use books as a healing process (I was unable to find the link. I think it is in Australia?)

Web Usability, Next Gen websites
single search interfaces
requires a change in thinking from catalog vs database
need info from proprietary databases
does not always return the best resources
librarians hate it student love it – shallow searches
branding and various flavors available
high transaction costs means no availability – hard to get to resources behind closed doors
Ex. XC Extensible Catalog, Summon, Follet One Search, WorldCat Local, EBSCO Discovery service
search indexes
pushing data out
The Newberry Library – pushing geographical information out with digital collections, using local history and adding the places onto
resources are too fragmented in too many places so do we need to gather them to one place or push them out to more places

SWOT – Library Viability

Space – the library is a space in the community
Why – complacency, bureaucracy, lack of staff
Threats – poor management/leadership, areas of change/fear of change, budget/funding, lack of community awareness
Opportunities – marketing, advocacy (we do not always do well but they are things that we have to do), better operating models and standing up to publishers that are causing price problems for libraries, digital resources, community outreach

One of the participants turned their computer into a big timer to keep the groups on time. I love unconferences

You Be the Change
how do we deal with staff,colleagues and the PUBLIC that are resistance to change
asking some people to change is like a natural disaster to them and then you are dealing with the unknown
tips for dealing with change
proactive vs reactive – be thinking about the future and not what we did not what we did in the past. There will always be change victims, figure out how to work with them and how to make them feel valued
Get data to support the change
take initiative – do not wait for someone else to do it
build relationships
what are the needs of people in the org
be flexible if you are the change agent
your attitude – be positive
mentor – having a mentor in your org or not that will support you through the process
Training opportunities – synthesizing new knowledge
Time – it takes time
You be the change, you can be the change, it takes, time, effort, persistent. Sometimes you are so close to the change that you can not see it, the forest for the trees, so remember to occasionally step back and see what is going on.
Good question on when you get rid of/fire people who do not get on board with changes.. govt agencies always have malcontents, part of performance reviews
q – have a list of shared values, find the motivators for different actors in the conflict, find the contribution that individuals are making to the org especially if they are resistors
conversations are important – talking AND listening with intent

Digital Divide – avoiding the #epicfail

this group had a presentation on the computer but we have a technology fail and they are going “analog style” and using their notes
information literacy
access to technology
interpersonal interaction
online vs f2f
generations compressing in staff and users
They ask the group what their libraries have done to bridge some of the divide
checking out laptops – in the library
tried to give an 84 yr old Nook and did not like it bc of packaging, feel of books, liked buying used books
in India – costs of textbooks issue for students, small loans for students to buy books, FlatWorldKnowledge, company that makes books available for students in multiple formats
circ Kindles

Finding, Getting, and Keeping Library Jobs

be open minded about your future including looking beyond the word library and librarianship
don;t fear the job description
relocating
RSS feeds, websites, job boards, but most people get jobs through people so do that as much as possible
Getting the job
be a good presenter of yourself
network, know people, communicate with others
move out of your comfort zone – be flexible about your job
frame what you have done to get what you want, frame it for the job
interview well
Keeping the job
holding something back to avoid burnout
get a mentor, they’re awesome
politics – learn how to deal with them well
get involved with a bog project, complete small and and keep them moving forward
be versatile in what you do, do not say, “this isn’t in my job description”
awesome, they sang a song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

–Jane, has some new things to think about, thanks unala peeps!

Come unala With Us

Something that has the potential to be the most exciting and fun thing happening at ALA Annual this year still has a lot of spaces for people to attend. And it is a free event. And if you come, you will have a large say in what happens, what we talk about, and how what is shared in a few short hours could change the world.

Don’t you want to change the world?

Come to the Unconference at ALA Annual. Sean came up with the theme for the day: the theme is the number 9, the homophone for long lasting in Chinese. Long lasting friendships and long lasting impacts upon the library community.

Last year was fun, but this year could be better. We are mixing it up with flash debates, Pecha Kecha presentations, and a fishbowl at the end of the day. We are also in the conference center so there should be no wifi issues.

If you are looking at your schedule for Annual and thinking it needs some zip, some inspiration, or some fun, sign up to find all three Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm.

By the way, if you have to duck out for lunch plans or have to miss part of the day, sign up anyway and indicate that you will be gone for part of the day.

–Jane, only you know the best way to save the world, come tell others about it

unala10 Registration Opens May 24th!

Another (Un)Official announcement!

ALA Unconference 2010 or unala10 will be Friday, June 25, 2010 from 9am-4:30pm in room 207A at the Washington Convention Center.

Registration for the ALA Unconference will open on May 24, 2010 at 10am EST/ 9am CST.Registration will be limited to 100 people this year. Once there are 100 people on the list, there will be a waiting list. Last year we were able to get everyone in on the waiting list, so do not be too discouraged if you end up on the secondary list.

The schedule this year will include 9×9 Greetings, Pecha Kucha presentations, Flash Debates, a Fishbowl, and group discussion times whose facilitation style will be decided by the group engaging in them.

You do not want to miss this day of creativity, sharing, and planning to change the world.

Sean, my partner in chaos for this event, will be the Man Behind the Curtain during registration. If you have questions or problems, he is the man with the power. I will be drinking beer in Amsterdam.

–Jane, proost to unconferences everywhere