One Last Round For the House

Today is my first day back at work since CIL. Wow, the inbox. Wow, the piles did not reduce in my absence. Alas, back to work. Time for new ideas and getting things done.
My last CIL post is up over at TechSource. It is about the opening session, which was fantastic and fact filled.

Even with a full day of meetings, I managed to get through my work email. I had about 260 messages and only 10-15 actually needed to be read or required a response. Overkill?

–Jane, she’d rather just use Twitter

CIL, the funability version

Sushi boat for 4

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

I realized this afternoon that most of my posts about CIL have been all business and no tales of hilarity. And boy, were there tails. On ponies. With monocles.

This week the fun was all about three things, in order of their importance:
Strippers named Strawberry

If it was cool, bad, hilarious, or you said the wrong thing, it was on Twitter. I may have a slightly biased view as all of my comrades were also on Twitter, thus creating a self-fulfilling mode of hilarity. Steven Cohen is obsessed with Twitter and was sending jokes to Twitter from the bar. He lives his life in 140 characters or less.

Alcohol. Beer. Scotch. Beer. Wine. Beer. A shot named something with a surfer. We had, last night (Tuesday) at the Irish pub, perhaps the largest bar bill I have ever been handed. Luckily, I was not the only one putting money in the pot. The drink challenge never really took off, as neither Steven nor I were truly in the mood. Plus, seriously, I was drinking things like Blue Moon and Smithwick’s and Steven was drinking Budweiser. “I’m just saying.”

Sometimes rumors get started. Sometimes the rumors include strippers named Strawberry. But only sometimes. Related to this rumor is another fiendish plan, brought to you by the team that delivers ponies and monocles. Meredith Farkas will soon be quitting her job, selling Information Wants to Be Free, and starting a blog about Judge Mathis. As Meredith said, “All life lessons can be learned on Judge Mathis.”

Tonight we are having sushi. A semi-tradition of Information Today conferences. I am sure there will be more silliness, but then, there always is.

Added retrospectively: The sushi boat was wonderful (see post picture). I miss everyone already.

–Jane, don’t stop believin’

Learning with Blogs and Wikis, CIL2007

Audience Right

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

CIL 2007

Meredith and I delivered ponies with monocles to a large room of people. It was different presenting to a room filled with people I respect and love. Different in a nerve racking fun way.

The talk went very well and we had a lot of great questions from the audience. They asked about getting participation from people who are not comfortable putting themselves “out there,” being able to lock certain parts of a wiki and leaving the rest open, what our planning process looked like (on a wiki of course!), and what blogging software we liked the best.

I can not stress this enough: We want people to take this idea and build their own online learning experiences. We are happy to answer questions at any time. We made a wiki in lieu of slides.
Presenting with Meredith was great. She is, as always, “fabulous.”

–Jane, now can we go karaoke?

It’s True

A brief CIL 2007 note:

Alan Gray is talking about the principles governing the new Darien Library building. He said the thing I say all the time:

It is not our library.

Indeed. It is not. We are only fooling ourselves when we think we should control the meaning of the library as space or place. We make all of these silly rules that mean nothing because we do not control the space.

You know that thing that you have a policy for? The patrons are not following it and doing what they want to anyway.

–Jane, think outside the library

Catalogs in the Future Could Be Fun

CIL 2007

A few of us were sitting on the floor outside of the Potomac room and Tim Spalding came to join us. Very cool. He is very personable and funny. We are camped out so that we can get good spots for his presentation in 15minutes.

We finally succeeded in getting some seats and floor space at the back of the room. Michael Sauers has the ever present power strip. He is a blessing and the most popular guy in the room. Now if the wireless worked, we would be golden.

Roy Tennant
Tim Spalding
Catalogs/OPACs of the Future

[my comments in brackets]

[Tim’s part of the talk is mostly one liners with pearls of wisdom.]

The Fun OPAC – Tim Spalding is up first.

The catalog needs to be fun. They need funability. The library is the most fun you can have with your pants on. [that got some laughs]

The OPAC and the website are not separate. Most libraries hide the link to their OPAC because they are ashamed of it. [He is right! I am!]

People want to be able to link to things in the catalog. The more you link out the more people come to you.

Why are librarians hesitant to link out to other business sites? (like Amazon and the local bookstore) Why not? People know where the bookstore is located. A mall tries to keep you inside. Libraries should stop being malls. A website should not trap you inside.

Dress up the OPAC. Add covers. Someone needs to create an open repository of covers.

Link to Wikipedia. Your patrons are going there anyway.

Get your data out there. There are other people that want to use your data. Librarians do not have the monopoly on fun.

People do not want your content they want their content. The goal is for these to things to be the same. Widgets for blogs are an easy and free way to advertise.

Tim shows some cool tags and tools that Library Thing has built. Tag data will require that libraries cooperate and share data.

Roy Tennant
Catalogs for the Future

Roy wants to do away with the O word. Catalogs as we presently know them and hate them do not have a future. We need to find new ways for people to find information. Discovery should be disaggregated from the ILS.

Users want to find anything they can on a topic. They are often confused about why they can not find articles in a catalog. [indeed. This is a constant problem in instruction. Finding articles requires too many steps.]

[I like that Roy is giving some practical ways that OCLC is trying to help libraries make their catalogs better. He shows a bunch of examples of libraries that have added things to their catalogs and created a different experience for their users.]

Roy exposes the underbelly of his mind. It involves murder, gypsy midgets, and prostitutes.

–Jane, Was she named Strawberry?

Who’s the Boss


I have heard twice today, in two separate contexts, that younger people think bosses are bad. The first was during Rebbecca Jones’ talk on Organization 2.0. She said, “Young people are not comfortable in a command and control environment.” Basically, the younger generations do not like to be in a strict structure. In Jenny Levine’s talk on gaming, she said that the younger generations that grew up gaming (that would include me) have grown up thinking that facing the boss is bad. The Boss in a game is the bad guy at the end of the level that you have to beat to progress on. The first instance of this that I recall in my life was Super Mario Bros.

In a recent discussion with my old boss, we were discussing how she, only a handful of years older then I, thrives in a strict organizational structure while I feel stifled and unhappy. I think this is an issue that has not been discussed nearly enough in our conversations about organizational culture. We do talk about generational issues, but I have not heard the issue from this particular angle.

I do not think gaming is the only thing to blame for this “I do not want to be bossed” mentality. I think many people my age and younger simply want some flexibility and trust that traditional organizational culture can not offer. When I try to think of alternative strutures though, my mind does not come up with much. I am a product of the structure I hate.

I do know that it would definitely be flatter. There would be less red tape and there would be more trust. It would also be flexible, as Rebecca Jones was saying, like an amoeba. The organization could be changed easily and would not require years of thought, after which the new structure is outdated anyway.

–Jane, flexibility is key

Organization 2.0 Presentation

Organization 2.0

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

CIL 2007

Rebecca Jones
Dysart &Jones Associates
Organization 2.0

[my comments in brackets]

[The picture is a little blurry but it is what a first round restructure should look like.]

Three things we have to think about:

  • People
  • Organizational structure and people processes
  • The technology

Many organizations are separated by the haves and the have nots of technology. Where do our professional blogs end and personal blogs begin? [do they always have to be separate?]

Organizational change is scary and that makes it difficult because it is about making choices.

The Basics: past structures are not effective, younger staff are more comfortable with technology, small groups move faster then large ones, leadership and fellowship, corporation evolves collaboration, technology impacts orgs, and the 85/15 rule (see below).

Young people are not comfortable in a command and control environment. [holy crap, yes!]

Web 2.0 and the future is about collaboration, the past is about cooperation. Collaboration is more like a choir then the past metaphor of the sports team.

85/15 rule – 85% of the time that there is a “people” problem, it is really a process problem

What does the Org 2.0 look like?

  • Design principles
  • Form follows function
  • Function changes quickly
  • Form drives behavior
  • Reporting relationships creates the “ties that bind”
  • Collaboration decreases as distance increases (more then 50 ft apart) People collaborate more closely with people who are not in their building. [This is very true of my life. I feel like my collaboration outside of MPOW are much more meaningful then what I have in my org structure.]

Structures should not even last two years. The org chart should fluctuate, always. [I wonder how many people this type of flexibility would completely freak out.]

How your org is shaped reflects your values as an organization. Our libraries do not support teams, they support individuals. Organizations should be like amoebas, always changing. Decentralization means that more people have control. The structure should exploit what makes you unique, not the technology. [Yes. It should always be about the people not the tech.]

If you redo an org chart, use post-its and make sure it says draft. The draft of the organizational structure should directly reflect the priorities of the institution.

The people that get 2.0 have the power in our orgs. [I disagree. Most of us are on the bottom of the structure. We have almost no power.] [I asked Rebecca to clarify this: she says it is not real power, but they are the go to people in the organization. True, which is why we are always overworked.]

–Jane, is that really power though?

Student’s World Photo Diary Presentation

Nicole Hennig

Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre.

CIL 2007

Nicole Hennig
MIT Libraries
Student’s World: Photo Diary Study

[my comments in brackets]

Students tracked their info seeking behaviors for a week. There were 16 undergrads and 16 grad students. They were asked to take pictures and then completed a survey at the end of the week.

Some of the statistics were interesting:

75% of undergrad tasks were about completing coursework
most of grad activity was on research for their thesis or dissertation [I missed the number]

Did the students think they were successful?
Grads 86%
Undergrads 93%

Did the librarians think they were successful?
Grads 77%
Ungergrads 85%

When they were searching for a topic, the librarians thought they were a lot less efficient then what the students thought. Librarians have knowledge of specialized databases and resources that the students did not know about. People go where they know first: Google, Wikipedia, and people they know. But they did not go to librarians; no one all week asked a librarian a question, in person or otherwise. {I am not surprised by this at all]

Students want a faceted search and the MIT Libraries has started looking at options for this. [good for them!] They also want a federated search for their licensed content. They want it to be self-teaching so that students can still “do it themselves.” Nicole uses the example of the interface of Library Thing which allows people to review items. MIT also wants a multi-university tagging system, like an expanded version of Penn Tags.

They are trying to find new ways to reach students in tools they are already using, like Google and Firefox. Nicole uses the example of LibX, an extension from Firefox that MIT has had great success using.

They created a page for their Betas: MIT Libraries’ Beta. [I like that they are actually creating a culture where their librarians can experiment. They want to try new things and they are giving their employees the ability to succeed and fail. Many libraries still have to learn this. Even if you want to be innovative, or you think you are innovative, and you are not providing a space to play, fail, and succeed, you are not allowing your employees to innovate. Giving a space to innovation matters. Giving time to innovation matters.]

[Great study. This is a study that could be duplicated anywhere.]

Responses to Q&A – [Oh!] Nicole says she would like all their librarians to have blogs and put their pictures on Flickr. [hooray!]

They compensated the students with a $50 gift card to Amazon. For their usual studies they give $15 gift certificates. [Nice.]

–Jane, time to pack up

CIL Post Uno

I arrived at Reagan Airport to a dreary Sunday. The cab ride through the business multiplex to the hotel was a bit disheartening. I think Monterey spoiled me.

A group of us went to dinner at a slightly snooty place for Italian food. The food was great, the service was ok, and the company was fabulous. We landed at the Hyatt Bar, which has good service if you are sitting AT the bar and terrible service if you are not. The bartender virtually ignored the people who walked up for drinks. The drinks were strong though so at least there was that.

Regardless, there was a large group of us who started out our week at CIL in proper fashion. We all behaved well and went our separate ways around 11. We decided we should all get good sleep at least one night.

I am sitting in my third talk this morning and they have all been great. Posts will be coming soon on my notes for each. It is again dreary outside.

I ran into Alan Gray, Darien Library, in the hall. They had some flooding yesterday so I would like to send my good thoughts their way. I hope all is well. I love you guys. (in my best Cartman voice)

The Twitter feed for the conference seems to be taking off and is amusing to boot. If you are not here and trying to avoid work, definitely check it out.
–Jane, happy to be here