Reading Convergence – How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector

This morning, I discovered a blog I hadn’t heard of before – the Leading Blog, at (subscribed). The post that interested me pointed to a report just released by La Piana Consulting, titled Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector.

Here’s a blurb from the report: “For the nonprofit sector to survive and thrive, everyone – nonprofits, fudners, and capacity builders alike – must become futurists. … being attuned to rapid and continual shifts in the environment; continually evaluating and interpreting how organizations can best adapt; and experimenting with new responses and approaches. Being a futurist requires both individual and institutional curiosity, and a willingness to take risks. No one of us can afford to rest on our laurels, assuming that the old ways of doing business will continue to serve us in this dramatically new and ever-changing environment.”

It goes on to discuss “five key trends converging to reshape the social sector”:

  • demographic shifts redefine participation
  • technological advances abound
  • networks enable work to be organized in new ways
  • interest in civic engagement and volunteerism is rising
  • sector boundaries are blurring

Interesting reading, so far – looks like the non-profit sector is dealing with very similar issues to us libraries!

Community Discussion Guidelines for our Digital Branch

Remember my post from last summer about comments at my library’s website? Here’s a follow-up post to that earlier discussion.

Because of all those comments (some of which were mean, snarky and personal), we needed a good, fair, “official” way to deal with them. So I started poking around other websites with commenting policies and guidelines, and came up with a library version of commenting guidelines.

I ended up adapting ours from NPR’s Community Discussion Rules. Want to see a whole bunch of these? Check out  the Online Database of Social Media Policies – good stuff.

Our discussion guidelines are posted (via a link) beside the comment box on each page of our website. Here’s what it says:


Community Discussion Guidelines:

Here are some guidelines to posting comments and content at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library’s digital branch. The goal? To help you have fun!

We encourage comments:

  • We want to hear from you! Please post comments, questions, and other thoughts … as you think them. That’s what we’re here for.
  • Stay on Topic – stick to the subject and issues raised by the post, not the person who made it or others that commented on it
  • Think before you press the publish button. Remember that this is a public forum, and your words will be archived on this site and available for anyone to find for a long time – the web has a very long memory.
  • If you can’t be polite, don’t say it. Respect is the name of the game.  You must respect your fellow commenters.

Some Don’ts:

  • Don’t post copyrighted materials (articles, videos, audio, etc) that you do not have permission to reproduce or distribute.
  • Don’t post content that installs viruses, worms, malware, trojans, etc.
  • Don’t post content that is obscene, libelous, defamatory or hateful
  • Don’t post spam
  • Don’t post personal, real-life information such as home addresses and home phone numbers.

What will we do?

  • We’ll respond to comments, answer questions, and provide suggestions as appropriate.
  • Sometimes we’ll join a comment thread to help focus (or refocus) the discussion, or to get people talking.
  • If you break one of the guidelines above (or come close to it), we’ll email you and ask you to stop. We might also post a reminder to the discussion. If it continues, we will delete your comments and block you from posting.
  • We will remove any posts that are obviously commercial or otherwise spam-like.
  • We will remove content that puts us in legal jeopardy, such as potentially libelous or defamatory postings, or material posted in potential breach of copyright.
Does your library or organization have similar policies or guidelines? Drop a link to them in the comments!

Photo Permissions at the Library

Photo 6A couple of weeks ago, Jessamyn over at posted about her experience with photo permissions at a library she was visiting. Interesting story – make sure to read the comments!

That reminded me that my  library recently redid our photo permission policy. Like many libraries, our previous photo policy required us to get everyone appearing in the photos to sign-off before we could use the photo … which was pretty hard to do. We ended up not taking many photos!

So, a group of us (admin, me, and a some of our marketing team) met with our lawyer to get some clarification … and ended up with a more flexible, modern photo permissions guidelines!

Here’s what we do now (reposted from our staff website):

A recent conversation with the library’s attorney led to some changes in how we proceed with taking pictures and/or video of our library customers. We hope this encourages more photographing and videotaping of library moments and publishing of them online.

When Do We Need to Use Photo Permission Forms?

For Models. For example, say you bring in your child, grandkid, cousin, friend, etc. and shoot photos of him or her, he or she is acting as a model and needs to sign a photo permission form.

For Close-ups. For example, you are holding a program. You take a close-up photo of one child because you love the expression on that child’s face. You need that child (or his or her parent in this case) to sign a photo permission form.

When Do I Not Need to Use the Form?

At programs held at the library. Want to take pictures at your program? Now it’s easier than ever. (yeah! no more backs-of-heads shots!) In lieu of photo permission forms, programers will need to announce at the beginning of each program that “the library may photograph or videotape you for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you do not want to be photographed.” HOWEVER,  if you zoom in for a close-up on one particular person in a large group, you will still need to get a photo permission form signed from that person.

In addition, Communications/Marketing has placed the following announcement in Oct./Nov.‘s connectnow, where it will be published with each edition. That does not mean you can neglect to make the announcement at the beginning of each program.

“Programs, events and classes are photographed or videotaped for library promotional purposes. Notify library staff if you prefer not to be photographed.”

That is not to take the place of the official announcement at the beginning of each event.

So – much easier paperwork for us (as in almost none). Also, this allows us to walk around the library and take random shots that we can use on our website, etc. This of course just applies to library staff. Patrons can take photos in our library – no problems. If they are setting up a formal photo session (we have that once in awhile) or if they are local news organizations, they need to talk to our head of marketing and communications first.

That’s what we do, anyway. What types of permissions does your library need for photographs at the library?

Game-Making Development Kit is Free

Ever wanted to make a game, but didn’t know where to start? Here’s one way -download the Unreal Developer Kit from NVIDIA. More from their site:

NVIDIA now offers the Unreal® Development Kit, a free version of the award-winning Unreal® Engine 3, the software development framework used to create computer and video games, 3D simulations, TV shows, films and more.

Anyone can download UDK and work with the same game development tools used to create blockbuster games, architectural walkthroughs and digital movies. UDK ships with the latest version of the Unreal® Editor, with its unrivaled content creation toolset and rapid prototyping functionality. It can be found on NVIDIA’s Developer Zone site at or at the UDK home site,

Read more about it here.

Library 101, One Week in – and that Hulu Thing

Library 101Michael Porter and I have been extremely pleased about the response to our Library 101 project so far. The video? Seven days in, it’s been viewed 11,200 times, and counting. The Facebook Page? 3157 fans and counting. Our Library 101 website with 23 essays? Lots of activity there as well.

And for the most part, response has been very positive. Sure, some of you loved the video and the essays … others, not so much – fair enough. So why do I say “positive?”

Because our goal with this project is being met – people are starting conversations about the changing face of librarianship and the future. In Facebook, at our Project site, and on other blogs and websites, too. Have we hit our mark so far? You bet. We hope those conversations continue, and grow into real change for libraries.

Interestingly, there’s a group of you that have questioned why we included Hulu, of all things, on our 101 list, so I thought I’d start up a conversation about that particular item.

Here’s what our 101 page says about Hulu and other multimedia tools: “Heard of new media tools and services, like iTunes (58), Netflix (59), Amazon (60), Hulu (61), and YouTube (62)? Yep – if you haven’t already, be sure to learn them like the back of your hand. Because you WILL be (more likely, ARE) getting questions about them! Even better, gain some in-depth understanding of these services so you, say, know the difference between YouTube and (63), for example.”

We didn’t actually focus on specific tools (though I can see why some would think so – Hulu’s #61 on the list, after all). The goal of that section wasn’t so much on individual tools, but more about understanding the differences between the tools, and what the future holds for that content.

Why? A couple of reasons. First of all, it’s to help to our patrons:

  • It’s important to be familiar with different search tools (and Hulu is a niche multimedia search tool)
  • It’s also important to know where to access content your library doesn’t own. For example, if a patron wants to watch the second season of I Dream of Jeannie – you might not own it, but it’s free to view on Hulu.

The second reason services like Hulu, iTunes, Netflix, etc were included brings up a slowly growing dilemma for libraries.

Hulu claims to make more money through online ads for a tv show than traditional broadcast companies make with traditional commericals (heard at a presentation by Hulu). That’s a game-changer for broadcast programming. Combine that with Hulu getting more licenses for streamed content, Netflix going all digital, iTunes doing the same, and the fact that most of these services are already subscription-based, or are rumored to be thinking about a subscription-based model … what does that leave libraries with?

Nothing. That is, nothing physical to check out in the library. No DVDs (which I’m guessing will be disappearing as multimedia content shifts to primarily online access). These companies – at least right now – don’t seem to be interested in working with libraries. They’re going after individuals.

At the very least, libraries need to begin working with these corporations to help set up organizational licensing and check-out models for libraries (because if they aren’t subscription-based yet, they will be). And that really only begins to scrape the surface of emerging online content (ie., do you catalog it? Include it in our digital collection? can patrons comfortably watch multimedia content in our libraries? Etc).

So again – thank you guys so much for watching, reading … and starting these important conversations! The goal is to move libraries forward, one step at a time. And I’m pretty confident we can do it. What a fun time to be a librarian!