Which Comes First – Strategic Plan or Technology Plan?

Last week at the Future Tech Strategies for Libraries symposium, Rebecca Jones (of Dysart & Jones Associates) spoke about digital strategy. She always has good things to say, so I always listen closely.

She said this (my summary of it): Technology drives what the organization does. So, should the organization’s strategic plan come first, or should the technology plan come first? It’s starting to shift to the technology plan.

On the one hand, if you have a good strategic plan that is including technology … meaning that your tech manager is with it and has helped develop those strategies … then following a good organizational strategy makes sense. That’s how I’ve always operated. There’s no need for a real technology plan, because it’s embedded in the plans of the library.

On the other hand, today’s technology is driving the organization in many ways. Even something as “traditional” as new computer purchases, updating an OS, or replacing a telephone system (doing that this year!) can have a big impact on the organization’s budget, on planning, on training, and on organizational capacity for the year.

Then, when your “new phone system” is moving from an out-of-date system to a VOIP system with unified messaging, hand-off capabilities to a mobile device, internal chat messaging, etc … that can have a HUGE positive impact in how the organization does its work, and can … yes … have a big impact on the library’s strategic plans.

So – what do you think? Chicken or the egg? Strategic plan first, or technology plan first? Please share!

Pic by Kyle Van Horn

Moo Cards and Customer Delight

Moo CardsMoo Cards really knows how to make me smile. They recently did just that – by sending me some free stuff!

Right before Christmas, I received a small package from Moo. Odd, because I hadn’t ordered anything from them. What was in it? Some blank cards and envelopes. Designed by Rob Lowe (not the movie actor).

The note that came with the package said this: “Did you know you’re one of MOO’s best customers?” My best guess is that they thanked all their 2014 customers by sending stuff out to them.

Pretty nice of them. And sorta cool, too. I know I’m NOT one of their best customers. I’ve ordered some business cards from them … a couple of times. Nothing more!

And yet, the way they treat their customers – like you really are one of their best customers – is refreshing.

And makes me want to buy from them again.

So … do we work on delighting our customers? I’m not sure. If we work really hard at having the best, newest books in the library, or having the fastest internet, or setting up a new bookmobile stop … that’s not customer delight. That’s business as usual. Delight comes from something unexpected, and these types of things are something our customers expect. All good things – just not something that warrants customer delight.

If you really, truly worked harder in 2015 on delighting your customers … what three things would you focus on?

Hmm… I’ll have to think on that one myself.

Five Things to Remember when Opening a Makerspace

My library just opened our new makerspace, called the Make-It Lab, on Monday. If your library has opened a makerspace, or is thinking about it, remember this – it’s a very different type of service to create, and you most definitely WILL be surprised by something.

Here are some things we have learned through the planning and opening of our makerspace (I’m sure there are more than these!):

1. You can’t train for everything. When you create a service involving stuff you simply haven’t done before, like digital music creation, 3D printing, or offering Mac computers … I guarantee you will be surprised at something. So make sure to train for flexibility, and know who to call when you get stumped.

2. You don’t have all the equipment your customers want. You won’t have everything your customers want. On our opening day, an older gentleman who was interested in seeing the space started asking questions. He liked our VHS-to-digital transfer tools, but wondered if we could also do cassette tapes, VHS-C tapes, and DVDs. We had to say no to some of that because we don’t have all the equipment needed, but told him that we’d keep track of the request and see what we could do as we adjust the room for our customers.

And that was just the first day.

3. You have more stuff than you realize. You didn’t just buy a camera, a 3D printer, and a microphone. You bought a camera (and a power cable, and a battery, and [hopefully] a battery charger, and an instruction manual), a 3D printer (and probably an extra spool or two of filament), and a microphone (and probably a microphone holder, maybe a mic stand adapter, a mic stand, and an XLR cable). You have to figure out where to put everything, how to label all this stuff so it makes sense for customers and staff, and how to check that nothing “accidentally” walks away.

4. There are a TON of details. I’ll admit – details are not my strong suit. Thankfully, I work in a library with some remarkable detail-oriented staff! We had to work through some processes like: how do you check out the room; do you check out the room or the computer; how many people can be in the room at the same time; how, exactly, do you pay for your 3D print; how do you go about getting equipment to customers, etc.

And each of those processes have multiple steps behind them.

5. 3D printers are persnickety. We first bought a Makerbot 5th Generation 3D printer (my earlier post about the Makerbot still holds true – no improvement). As of now, it has not worked well enough for us to feel comfortable putting it out for public use. Makerbot’s “SmartExtruder” is not so smart – it jams every couple of prints. So we did some more research, and purchased an Ultimaker 2. In the week or two that we’ve had it, it has worked great – no jams!

Bonus point – have fun! If you’re opening some type of makerspace/hackerspace/digital media lab, you have a good chance to attract people to your library that don’t usually use your services, or you might introduce a regular, more traditional customer to a fun, new experience.

What’s not to like about that?

What did we do before the Web?

Google Hangout with people from SpainOn Wednesday, I was at Rutgers University for the day, visiting with LIS students and giving an evening presentation on makerspaces. The presentation went great – here’s a link to my slides.

That afternoon, I had the privilege of visiting Joyce Valenza‘s LIS class. Her class is focused on social media, and the students discussed QR codes and AR (augmented reality).

Most of the students had smartphones, so they were able to test out some AR apps, like Layar and ChromVille, during the class. I even helped a bit, by answering questions and showing how the app connected to the book The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore works.

But this is 2014, so Joyce also called the ChromVille developers (who live in Spain) using Google Hangouts, and the LIS students were able to have a really cool conversation with them (and with Shannon Miller, who also visited via the hangout).

The photo in this post shows the developers previewing their not-yet-released updated version of ChromVille to the students.

Just sorta mind-boggling to me. I graduated from Library School in 1995 (University of Tennessee). Technology things like LCD projectors existed, but were hard to deal with. Video conferencing was around, but didn’t work all that great. Most of my classes involving that type of technology were spent, quite honestly, watching the professors trying to make things work.

Today however, that stuff is so much easier. If you have adequate wifi, you can connect to practically anyone in the world. Wow.

Besides Google Hangouts, Joyce was using some online content curation tools, some Ed Tech stuff I’d never heard of, and Dropbox as part of her class. And probably a whole bunch of other handy online tools, too. All of which help make her class easy to deal with – collaboration and connecting with her and other students (and app developers in Spain) is a breeze.

The coolest thing? All of this technology helps make the face-to-face class time that much more enriching.

We’ve come a long way, huh?

 

Change, Adaptation, and Revolutions in Libraries – my MLA2014 talk

Last week, I gave the opening keynote presentation at the Missouri Library Association‘s annual conference. Fun stuff! My talk swirled around the topics of changes taking place in the library and the technology world; services and processes that we need to adapt in order to be a modern library; and how to start small and larger revolutions in your library and in your job.
Here are my slides – enjoy!