Meta Social: Online Interactions & how to make them ROCK

Here’s my presentation from today’s Handheld Librarian III web conference. It was a fun talk, and a great conference – lots of good food for thought.


Patron-Created … Commercials!

Check this out… John Ary, a guy who lives in Topeka, has been making videos talking about why he loves Topeka, KS. Some of his videos have helped with that Google Fiber project thing that many cities have hoped to be a part of.

In this video, John talks about loving a good deal … and shows off our library’s media dispenser in the process! He did a great job of it, too – it’s a professionally-done video … and a great advertisement for our library, in the process!

The coolest thing about this video? We didn’t ask him to make it. He just found something he loves about our library, and decided to share it. How cool is that?

ps – yes, we have a big, honkin, Mediabank media dispenser (yikes – for some odd reason, their website uses frames, so you can’t easily link to the actual product page. Hmm…). We keep popular movies and video games in it. Ours will hold about 3000 items, I think… made by Libramation. It took awhile to iron out details and get it to work right, but now it’s working well for us.

Help Others Get Permission

A lot of people read, commented, and tweeted about my last post, Getting Permission. First off – thanks! It’s an important topic, and one with no easy answers.

More than one commenter asked a similar question – Emily Ford, at the cool In the Library with the Lead Pipe blog, sums it up nicely. She asks:

Do you have any tips about how to try to move forward and get permission and get things done in an organization that has its issues? How can we be proactive without having to leave our organizations to be able to do good things?

My answer to that? I want YOU to answer it! I’m guessing some of you have some great answers to Emily’s question – experiences, best practices, etc. Stuff that worked for you, ideas you read about but haven’t yet tried, etc.

My goal here is to answer Emily’s question … AND to create a list of useful ways to move forward and get permission when you have a less than stellar boss, a conservative organization, a traditional IT department, etc.

And  if you want to tweet your answer, please use the hashtag #getpermission – could be a fun way to share.

So – how do YOU get permission?

photo by flying white

Getting Permission

Last week, Emily Lloyd at Shelf Check (very funny librarian comic strip and a fine blog, too) posted What would you do if you didn’t need the approval of 15 committees? And mentioned me. Here’s what she said (make sure to read the whole post AND comment on it. It’s good):

“I think of what, for ex, David Lee King does for Topeka & Shawnee. David has lots of talent; David has lots of gear…but a lot of folks who work in libraries have lots of talent and lots of gear. What ultimately matters most, it seems to me, is lots of permission. David has that, I think–at least it looks like it from here–and most of us don’t. Many of us don’t need to be told or taught at conferences how to engage with patrons via social media, how to market our libraries via YouTube or Facebook, etc–we need our administrators to be told or taught that they should allow us to do so … You can’t seize the moment; you can’t seize the day; you’re lucky if you can seize the year. Old Spice/New Spice practically seized the nanosecond.”

She’s right – I DO have a boatload of permission. How do I get that permission? I don’t think there’s an easy answer to that, but I’ll try! Here’s what I do to get that permission:

  • Most importantly, I’m actually trusted to do the right thing … so I have permission in advance. That permission was granted through my original job description, and continues through a ton of talking with my peers and with administration.
  • Did I mention talking? Yes – I actually ask for permission. All the time. I asked for permission to do things at least three times last week – on two smaller things, and on one huge thing that won’t happen for 2-3 years (if at all).
  • I sometimes get permission without asking. I share ideas and direction with other managers and with administration, and back it up with stats, with outcomes, etc. If an idea takes off, I don’t have to ask for permission – instead, I’m asked “when are you going to start?”
  • I make sure everything I’m asking for relates to our strategic plan. Or at least to the goals of the project at hand. When I ask for permission to do something, I make sure it relates to one of our big strategic initiatives. Thankfully, that’s pretty easy for me, because building and growing the digital branch IS part of the plan. But only because a big strategic goal we have is to reach people in the county … digitally.

But I’d be lying if I said that’s ALL that happens. The organization plays a big part in my permission, too:

  • Administration is full of healthy, happy people that I love to work with! Gina and Rob, our director and deputy director, are great bosses (fun people to hang with, too). They know how to give people responsibility and let them run with it. Our other managers are the same way.
  • The library works hard to hire and train people we can trust (so I can get that permission in advance thing). But then, we go one step further – we actually let our staff “do stuff.”
  • My job is a manager-level job, so I have a say at the planning table (actually, everyone who works at my library has a say – mine’s maybe a bit more direct).
  • We have a strategic plan, and we actually follow it.

Not getting that permission? Here’s what might be going on:

  • You’re not working in a healthy organization. Your library director’s not effective, you have bosses that aren’t trusting or are control freaks (or simply don’t know how to manage people and projects).
  • Your library doesn’t have a strategic plan or goals. Or you DO have them, but aren’t really following them. Maybe someone’s scared to act on those plans.
  • The things you’re trying to get permission to do don’t align with the library’s (or your supervisor’s) goals.
  • Or … you’re simply not asking for permission. End all your meetings with some next steps and a timeline.

Something to think about – no, you can’t change administration. If you have a bad library director or bad managers, the only real way to change that is to find another job (or wait it out, if you’re extremely patient, I suppose). Sorry about that.

But did you notice? The other three points under “not getting that permission” are things you can change, or at least have a say in – even if you’re not a manager. Maybe your library doesn’t have a strategic plan – you can still set annual goals for your job with your supervisor, and start working on those things. You can focus on aligning your projects with the library’s strategic goals. And you can ask for permission.

OK – I’m sure I’m missing something here, but it’s a start!

Update – make sure to read the next post, Help Others Get Permission … and make a comment!

pic by Sean Dreilinger

Three Nice Microphones

A couple of people have recently mentioned they like the quality of the sound in my videos, and have asked what microphones I use for videos and screencasts. Here’s what I’m using right now:

Audio-Technica ATR3350 lavalier

I usually plug this lavalier mic into my Sanyo Xacti videocamera. It’s cheap, it sounds fine, and it allows me to improve the sound of my videos. Did I mention it’s cheap (like $20 or so)? And for my Xacti anyway, it’s very easy to use – I just plug it into the viceocamera’s external mic input and forget about it – nothing else to mess with.

Samson C01U USB Studio Condenser and the Blue Snowball

When I’m making a screencast, I usually plug one of these two mics into my laptop via a USB cable. I like the Samson better – it sounds better to my ears. Also, the Blue Snowball had an issue with Windows Vista (as in it didn’t work for me), so it hasn’t gotten as much use at work (my work laptop has Windows Vista loaded). I have used it without a hitch on my Mac laptop – it sounds great, and has a couple of different mic signal patterns that you’d use for different micing situations.

RØDE VideoMic

We have a semi-pro videocamera at work (the Canon GL 2). It has an ok mic built into it, but the RØDE mic is a fine shotgun mic. Plug it in, aim it at someone, and they’ll sound like they’re talking into the mic, even if you’re 10 feet away from them.

Tips on using these mics:

  • If you plan to plug the mic into your computer, buy a USB powered mic. Otherwise, you will also need to buy some type of soundboard or analog/digital signal converter to boost the audio signal up loud enough to play with. You might like doing that – if so, great! You’re sorta like me. But even though I happen to have some of that type of recording equipment, for a quick Jing screencast, nothing beats plugging the Samson USB mic into my laptop. One step and I’m done.
  • Batteries (the lavalier mic I use needs them) – buy two at a time. Because you WILL sit down, all ready to record, and find out that the battery’s dead … because you didn’t turn the mic off last time you used it. Been there, done that.
  • While we’re talking about on/off switches – if the mic has one (the lavalier and the RØDE Videomic do, doublecheck that you flipped it “on” before recording. I had to do some fancy editing on a video because part way through recording, I realized the mic was off (one of my more watched videos, too).
  • The really long cable (20′) on the lavalier mic will get frustrating. It gets tangled easily. But then, it only costs $20, so I can put up with that. I guess.