Your Boss is … you.

Just saw this Seth Godin post (via Stephen Abram – thanks!) – The world’s worst boss. The whole post is worth a read – here’s the part that really struck me:

If you had a manager that talked to you the way you talked to you, you’d quit. If you had a boss that wasted as much as your time as you do, they’d fire her. If an organization developed its employees as poorly as you are developing yourself, it would soon go under.

Can you relate to that? Better yet – what are you going to do about that for 2011? Here’s some assumptions I’ll make about YOU:

  • Those ideas you have? Probably good ones. Certainly worth trying anyway.
  • Those improvements you want to make? Personally or in your job? Why haven’t you started yet?
  • Those hesitations you’re having about taking a first step? Get over it already and take that first step. You won’t know if you’re going the wrong way until you actually start moving.

Me? Gee whiz – I’m writing this for myself :-) So get moving, start acting, and see where you end up going in 2011. Should be a fun journey, to say the least.

pic by asma

Ebook After Christmas Rush

Overdrive apparently experienced an “after Christmas rush” that has caused their service to temporarily slow down. Here’s what they say about it:

“In the last few days, you and your users may have experienced error messages or slow page loads when visiting your library’s ‘Virtual Branch.’ This temporary slowdown was due to an unprecedented spike in traffic on our library websites following Christmas. While we expected a surge in usage after the holiday, your customers’ interest in eBook and audiobook downloads was greater than anyone anticipated. Many of your websites saw usage double overnight, up from what were already record levels prior to Dec. 25.”

Wow. Ultimately, that’s a good thing – once Overdrive gets the service fully functional again, it means more users. Not a bad problem at all.

But it made me think:

  • have YOU experienced an after Christmas rush? Anyone visit your library with their new ebook reader yet?
  • and was your staff able to help them?

pic by goXunoReviews

Delicious and other Services – Have a Backup Plan?

So last week, some of you probably heard that the Delicious.com service was possibly being – their term – “sunset.” Then they announced that it wasn’t, and that they hope to find another home for the service outside of Yahoo.

My library doesn’t use Delicious for our website – but some libraries rely pretty heavily on the service for things like a linkroll. I know of more than one library who replaced in-house reference web link databases with the Delicious service. I’m guessing a couple of us were scrambling around, looking for alternatives (Diigo is one good one that I’m familiar with), and figuring out how to export their links out of Delicious.

Here’s what I’m interested in – how much do we depend on these third party services for essential parts of our website? Delicious is one example … what if Yahoo decided to do the same thing to Flickr, or if Google decided to do that to Youtube or even their Google Accounts (many organizations have switched their email/storage/messaging systems to Google from hosting them in-house)?

There are definitely alternatives to most of these services, and I’m not sure that dumping content into one primary service and one “just in case” backup service is worthy of our time (though I personally do that with my Flickr photos). And honestly, I’m not sure that people who read my blog would have that much trouble finding alternatives (I know my library wouldn’t, anyway).

But what about understaffed, or smaller libraries that don’t have dedicated web dudes? For example, Topeka could easily build a links database – we have those skills in-house. But many libraries and organizations don’t have those skillsets, which is one reason why they chose a 3rd party tool in the first place – free/cheap and easy. And 3rd party tools are great – I certainly don’t want to store and host all the videos Topeka creates on an in-house server.

I think one way to tackle this is to simply be vigilant:

  • stay up-to-date on web tools by trying them out, reading about them, etc
  • pick the best tool at the time – look for features and stability – ok, and awesomeness :-)
  • switch services when the next, better tool comes around – instead of waiting until one service closes its doors

That’s one way to deal with it – are there others?

pic by Ronn Ashore

Can You See Me Blushing This Morning?

Guess what? I’m a bit embarrassed. Why is that? well, I was wrong about a couple of things that my library does. And I HATE being wrong. Especially in such a public forum. But – I can admit when I goofed up, so here goes.

Here are the facts about Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library (as they apparently stand this fine Sunday morning, pointed out to me by one of my colleagues):

  • nametags – managers use full names, other staff not so much
  • names on the website – everyone uses their real name and has a pic by it – but most staff are only using their first names.
  • The Digital Branch Manger – is saying “oh dang oh dang oh dang oh dang” right now. A lot.

So – I think I’ll go make a couple small edits to my last three posts, to correct those bits of wrong info. And maybe pay a bit more attention to nametags for the next couple of weeks.

Let the public flogging commence…

Volunteering, Job Duties .. and an apology

OK – first for the apology. Some of you have told me I was dismissive in my last three post, especially when I used phrases like “up in your grill.”

I apologize for that. I really didn’t mean to sound dismissive – it was an attempt at humor while talking about a difficult subject. Honestly, it usually works – but it’s also not usually about such a sensitive issue. In this case, I failed miserably, and for that, I definitely apologize.

Now on to the next part of the post – While my views on names and pics on websites haven’t really changed, it does bring up an interesting issue I’m seeing. With the name/pic thing, some of you have asked for what you would see as a more reasonable “opt in” approach. Here’s where I fall on that – opt in/volunteering usually doesn’t work to it’s full potential. In Topeka, it’s either someone’s job or it isn’t – we’re not fans of the opt-in approach.

That said, of course we get staff buy-in for new projects first, which makes the whole “this is now part of your job” thing much easier.

But this opt-in idea … in many libraries, it’s not just for whatever personal info goes on the library’s website. It’s also for other job duties, even for services of the library, like programming, teaching classes, or IM reference. I’ve seen volunteering for posting to a blog or for maintaining the library’s Facebook presence.

I think a much better way to do things is for the library to set strategic goals, with staff input into those goals. After that, it’s management’s job to change/adapt the work to be done to meet those organizational priorities. There’s really no room for opt-in there.

See where I’m going with that? And I know – some of you strongly disagree with me about the name thing – I get that. But isn’t an opt-in approach in disagreeing, you’re also asking for a sort of wishy-washy implementation, from an organizational perspective?

Isn’t it better to have an either do it or don’t do it approach?