Digital Branch Managers Sound Off – Panel at Internet Librarian 2010

Yesterday, I headed up a panel on Digital Branches. Sarah Houghton-Jan, Bobbi Newman, and Matthew Hamilton were on the panel with me, and we basically answered questions – first some that I started us off with, then questions from the audience.

Here are some of the tweets generated from the discussion/panel (our hashtag was #dbranch) – hopefully, this sheds some light into what we discussed (and a ps – if you want to browse through the actual tweets, go to this twapperkeeper archive)!

  • cougarlibrarian: Ooh – no slides. I like it. #dbranch #intlib10
  • AspenWalker: Interactive session. #dbranch #intlib10 Meaning of digital branch evolving.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 a digital branch needs content, bldg, staff, a janitor #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 when Topeka turned on SMS reference, patrons in the branch used it too. And that’s great. Tools, not rules!
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 the #dbranch is not just 4 users outside the physical bldg – users inside at computers may use #dbranch features 2, like IM
  • cougarlibrarian: #dbranch Does one person edit/review staff contributions to website before publishing? #intlib10
  • wiredoriginals: Love the idea of ALL staff being involved #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 patron-created content @ the digital branch. Libraries can bring communities to world.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 #dbranch teen-generated content is the prevalent model, but college-age & adult is emerging
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 #dbranch digital storytelling grant funded projects for all ages archived on library’s site
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 who monitors user created content? “we’re not moderating crap-it goes right on” vs “each dept head proofreads/moderates” #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 I’m a fan of having radical trust, personally #dbranch
  • GMLGeek: #dbranch do you think press releases should be monitored?
  • cougarlibrarian: The #dbranch panel is answering my question! Thanks, guys!
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 @davidleeking a blog post should starts conversation, don’t treat it like a press release. Let’s talk, not FYI.
  • TeensTelluride: Digital storytelling – community projects to add content, start conversations, and engage. #INTLIB10 #dbranch
  • infogdss29: @shifted s’ok – this session is Made of Win without any bells and whistles like wifi & candy :p #intlib10 #dbranch
  • wiredoriginals: #intlib10 #dbranch like staff directory…why hide? Also like dividing blog topics to teams.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 focus on issues not format ie if you have to wear a nametag/sit behind the public desk, why not use your RL identity? #dbranch
  • cougarlibrarian: Trusting the staff to write appropriate content goes a long way in boosting morale, says @TheLiB. #dbranch #intlib10
  • zbriceno: Baby steps to online presence. #dbranch #intlib10
  • TeensTelluride: Wondering how to bridge the gap between IT and librarian roles? Administration & public services? #IntLib10 #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 good question: how do you balance collaboration and digital content creation with security? A tech conundrum.
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 good ?: how do you balance collaboration & digital content creation with security? Balance, conversation, beta.
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 BETA programs!!! (tip from @TheLiB : pretend it’s a beta!) #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 IT subsumed into Digital Services Dept #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 great reminder that there are different types of and skill levels for technology #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 requirements for digital managers: inspiration, perseverance, communication #dbranch
  • AspenWalker: #dbranch #intlib10 wanted in dig br mgr: creativity, marketing, communication, bravery (willing to try & maybe fail), mgt, perseverance
  • infogdss29: #intlib10 day-to-day job: LRP, RFP, experimenting, managing tech training, databases, eBooks, #dbranch
  • infogdss29: #intlib10. Cheerleading and networking is also part of the #dbranch manager job description
  • detailmatters: #dbranch is proof that a good panel is made from good chemistry and humor. Thanx y’all!

Day 1 at Internet Librarian 2010

I’m at Internet Librarian 2010 in Monterey, CA – wonderful conference full of librarian techie joy. Here are some of the highlights I picked up yesterday:

The keynote presentation was: Why Libraries Have a Future: Adding Value to your Community, presented by Patricia Martin, CEO Litlamp Communications & Author, Renaissance Generation: The Rise of the CUltural Consumer and What it Means to Your Business

Her book = what it looks like right before a renaissance.

Here’s what she means by that:

as soon as something is deemed less relevant, it starts getting shed… her goal is to help us figure out how to still be relevant (so libraries don’t get shed)

Interesting aside – capitalism is based on conformity (ie., 9 billion people eating the same hamburger)

Cool idea – Irene Au at Google – created a team that looked around the org, and proposes improvements to the user experience at parts of google. This can work for a library!

She asked users what the minimal user experience should be, then works to get those integrated.


Managing Your Library’s Online Presence

Jennifer Koerber, Boston Public Library

think about voice. Be consistent in your voice online. use a styleguide with a team of authors.

pre-load some preferred tags, so when busy authors are ready to tag … they can pick some “good” ones.

fonts can give you a voice

banners – you can add these to websites, youtube, separate blogs, etc – it is a visual way to pull everything together visually

Logos – easy way to anchor your sites and services


SuHui Ho – University of California

Managing today’s e-Library

it takes a village to build, staff, and manage an e-library.


Colleen Brazil -Sno-Isle Libraries

Used Overdrive as example – said we should always continue the conversation about when patrons have a bad experience with a product we use – keep the dialogue open, communicate with vendor and patrons

Two Pieces of Ebook Silliness

Just came across a couple of posts from The UK Publisher’s Association and from the CEO of Overdrive. Gotta say, it’s very interesting to watch and listen … but it’s a bit disappointing, too. Here’s a couple bits of what each of them said:

From Richard Mollet, Chief Executive, The Publishers Association, in his PA statement regarding our position on library e-lending post: “Ultimately, the activities of selling and lending have to be able to co-exist with neither unduly harming the other. If ebook lending were untrammelled (as some comments seem to propose) it would pose an extremely potent threat to the retail market which in the long-term would undermine the ability of authors, and the companies which invest in them, to see a reward for their creativity.  This would be hugely a negative outcome for everyone, including libraries and their communities.”

What? Did Mr. Mollet just say that if library patrons could download ebooks in an “untrammeled” way (which for them, I think means being able to check it out and download it from home), it would be a huge threat to the retail ebook market. Really? I’d love to see your numbers to back that up.

And how in the world would patrons checking out ebooks remotely “undermine the ability of authors … to see a reward for their creativity” ??? Come on.

Translation – We think ebook lending, if made too easy, will put us out of business. And, he very obviously doesn’t know how the whole checking out an ebook thing actually works (see below for a little more on that). Explains a lot, I think.

Next up: Steve Potash, CEO of OverDrive, with A statement on the Publishers Association’s position on eBook lending, writing in response to the silliness above: “OverDrive licenses eBooks under a “one-book, one-user” lending model … This model has successfully worked for years around the world, providing libraries with access to premium content while generating revenue for publishers.”

“Successfully worked” – if that means that libraries subscribe, then ok. But if it means our customers get it, then not so much. This statement sorta reminds me of the automotive industry CEOs, when they say “going to the gas pump is a time-honored tradition.” Hmm…

And I found this statement weird – maybe I’m not understanding it: “In 2009, visitors to OverDrive-powered library websites viewed more than 401 million pages. Among unique visitors to these download library pages, 80 percent did not check out a digital title, yet still visited 13 pages on average.”

Is he really saying that lots of people visited Overdrive’s service … but a whopping 80% didn’t check anything out??? Cause that’s what it sounds like to me. And if so … Well, that’s because Overdrive is SO VERY HARD TO USE.

Here’s an example from my library that happened last week. Topeka is currently participating in the Big Read, a grant-funded community-wide reading program. We picked The Maltese Falcon as our Big Read book – it’s available in paper and in a digital audiobook version from Overdrive. One of Topeka’s library customers (who happens to be the general manager of a local TV station) decided to checkout the digital audiobook version … on his Mac. After an hour of frustration on his part, he called the library for some help.

Were we able to help him? No, not really. For some reason, his web browser didn’t like the Overdrive website (he tried Google Chrome and Apple Safari). He wasn’t able to download the “unlimited use” version of the digital audiobook, because it was in the Microsoft Windows-based wma format. Although he could download the Mac-friendly mp3 format, it was checked out and therefore unavailable … which of course didn’t really make much sense to the patron.

Our library customer ended up frustrated at Overdrive, at the library (and told us so), and had a bad experience with our digital content.

Overdrive, Publisher’s Association guys, etc – you can do better than this.

Pic by Dick Rochester

Experimenting vs Not Doing

me, experimenting

Recently, I’ve been working on a video project (a not-for-work video project). And it’s been fun. And a little irritating at times, too.

Irritating? Why?

Glad you asked! Because lighting has been a struggle, among other things. I’m creating these videos in my basement, and started out using some umbrella lights and my trusty Sanyo Xacti HD1A video camera.

And in the process, I’ve discovered that I have A LOT to learn about lighting. And sound. And scripting (because I generally have a hard time winging it). And because my trusty Sanyo Xacti video camera has started to act up (whack! There, it’s fixed).

But guess what? Instead of giving up, I decided to experiment a bit and improve my skills. The pic accompanying this post is just that – it’s me in action, playing with a new backdrop and a couple of new lights, and figuring out how to use the white balance on my video camera (as in hey, what’s this thing do?).

My point?

I’ve discovered that a little experimentation goes a long way to improving what I saw as problems. Color problems? Fixed. Weird lighting problems? Getting better. Audio irritations? I fixed those, too. Camera problems? (Whack, whack! Fixed again – ok, more improvements needed there, I think).

These days, most of us are NOT experts. Sometimes, we have to wing it. And we have choices when presented with one of those “oh-shoot-I’m-no-expert” projects:

  1. Don’t do it. You can always say “I can’t do that – I’m no expert.” boo, hiss.
  2. Do it, but don’t learn from the experience. marginally better than boo, hiss.
  3. Do it, learn from the experience, and improve it next time. Yay!

Want to improve something? You HAVE to start. You HAVE to keep on doing it, purposefully experimenting during the process, and learning from those experiences. Simple to say, much harder to do.

That’s all for now (whack. whack, whack, whack. Whew!).

Libraries on Alltop

libraries on Alltop

Finally! Libraries now have a home on Alltop, along with a bunch of other interesting topics (ok, I emailed them and asked for it – and they listened. Nice.).

You’re familiar with Alltop, right? It’s basically a list of blogs/news sites for a variety of topics. From their About page – “The purpose of Alltop is to help you answer the question, “What’s happening?” in “all the topics” that interest you.” It’s sort of a subject guide for the web.

So, it’s a quick way to get an overview of what’s going on in any given topic. I use it to follow web design, for example – I subscribe to the topic via the RSS feed, then skim through the topics in my RSS reader. It’s easier than hunting down individual blogs that I wouldn’t necessarily know.

Anyway, thought I’d share!