Additional Questions to Answer When Changing the Unchangeable

Barbara Kelly, from the Manage This! blog, just mentioned my How Can We Change the Unchangeable post – and added some amazing stuff. She added two questions, and then included a short commentary that’s hugely important to this discussion.

First, her additional questions:

  1. “What sort of leadership do we need from innovators and change instigators in librarianship and how can we as librarians learn the difference between leadership abilities and more traditional management/administrative skills?”
  2. “Is there necessarily a generational (X, Y or Z) or graduate cohort (1976 or 2006) difference in what librarians expect from the profession?”

Great questions! What do you guys think? Can you answer these?

And the commentary: “… its not just innovations in technology that we need to be discussing. There are changes as well in our understanding of how people learn, use physical space, work together and expect to be treated that inform our library services and professional values.”

I’d agree. I tend to focus on the techie stuff – that’s where my interests lie. But the whole library 2.0 thing is not just about technology – it’s about the MANY changes that affect the way librarians and customers interact… participate… and help to collectively build and tell the story of our local communities.

Great post!

David’s Video of the Computers in Libraries 2007 InfoTubey Awards

Quicktime .mov format | Youtube version

At the Computers in Libraries 2007 conference, Information Today held the first InfoTubey Awards. From their website, “[the Infotubey] awards will be presented to those organizations or individuals for outstanding YouTube productions. Premiering at the 2007 Computers in Libraries conference, these awards recognize those creating YouTube library-related productions. Awards will be presented to the top five productions that demonstrate creativity, humor, and sincerity (of course!) in marketing a library or library services or enhancing the library’s value.”

I created this video of the event… enjoy! Here’s the Powerpoint that went along with the event (some slides shown in the video).

*warning: this video is sorta big (41MB file), so it might take a little while to play/download/etc.*

**and it was a little dark in the room – I lightened it up a bit, but still dark nonetheless**

How Can We Change the Unchangeable, or David’s Rant

I learned one other thing at Computers in Libraries this year, and I’d like to share it in the hopes of starting a healthy discussion (and hopefully to collectively start figuring out how to fix this problem).

Here’s what I experienced during my Change Management talk:

Personally, I thought this talk would attract a smaller audience – I was wrong. I believe I had over 200 people in attendance… it was certainly a packed room! When I saw how many people showed up to hear about change, I decided to ask a couple of questions.

First, I asked if attendees had learned something innovative or new at the conference that they’d like to take back to their libraries. Almost everyone raised their hands. Then I followed up with this question: how many will take that cool, innovative idea back to their libraries, and hit a brick wall with administrators when they try to implement that idea.


This is not good.

Why? Well, during my Q&A time at the end of the session, the whys started coming out. Techie librarians are discouraged. Many have administrators and/or managers who don’t want to change, who refuse to learn new technology and who refuse to implement new ideas.

What happens to those discouraged techie staff? Probably one of two things:

  1. They’ll realize that library customers want to participate online (which should be obvious – just take a peek at Amazon or eBay if you don’t believe me), but their library won’t be implementing online participation any time soon. So they’ll settle back, and either simply stop caring, or wait for the administrators to move on to other libraries or retire. Or worse yet (but great for libraries that actually WANT to innovate), they’ll…
  2. Find a more innovative library, and move on. Some libraries (ie., Darien Library, McMaster University, and Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library are examples of this) are realizing that there’s a huge technology shift happening with online social tools and expectations, and will take steps to meet those changes. Some of those steps have turned into new, emerging jobs that are just waiting to be filled with an innovative thinker… who’s probably working at your library RIGHT NOW.

I have a question for the library administrators who sent staff to Computers in Libraries, but who also don’t plan to do anything with the new knowledge their staff gained from the conference. Why did you send them? Why did you pay good money for the conference, for the hotel, for the food, for the flight… probably $1000 or so – to go to a conference that’s geared towards sharing best practices for implementing emerging technology in libraries?

Why send them if you don’t plan to do anything with their new knowledge?

Now on to the final point of this rant… Readers – how can we change this? Does anyone have any ideas on:

  • Steps to take to convince administrators that the library world is different than it was in the 1970’s?
  • How to convince administrators that constant change and innovation is good, and that it’s also a necessity in our new millenial world?
  • How can we become change agents in a field that’s apparently not used to changing?

I’d like to hear your thoughts – comment here or blog your response. Either way, I think this is a hugely important topic, and I think it’s one we need to tackle NOW.