Changing People is Harder than Changing Technology

confused dudeJust a follow-up thought to my post on strategic and technology planning. I’m sure y’all know this, but guess what? The technology planning and implementation is the easy part.

The hard part is the people.

Here’s an example of what I mean: Last year, my library’s biggest technology project was our RFID/Self Check project. It included tagging every item in the collection with an RFID tag and installing eleven self check kiosks throughout the building.

The technology part was easy – we worked with our vendors to make sure the kiosks worked, the new RFID gates went up, and the RFID tagging stations worked.

The hard part was “everything else,” which included:

  • planning a bunch of RFID tagging teams and schedules (we closed for a week and staff did the tagging)
  • rethinking customer flow in our circulation lobby and around the building
  • teaching our customers the “new way to check out”
  • Working through a new process for our technical services and circulation departments

And I’m sure I’m forgetting something. Has the technology been flawless? No – it’s technology. Something WILL go wrong.

But the “people” part – that affects everyone. You want to make sure the technology parts are done right. But also make certain to get the most important parts of your project right, too. The people parts.

Image by Jonny Wikins

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

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?

My Presentations at Internet Librarian 2014

 

Last week, I gave four presentations at Internet Librarian 2014. As usual, it was a really useful conference, full of takeaways for me.

Here are the presentations I gave:

Web Trends to Watch in 2015: web design trends to watch for, think about, and maybe adapt (included in this post).

Emerging Technology Trends in Libraries for 2015: 10 emerging technology trends, and how they might affect libraries. This was a three hour pre-conference session.

Make your Website UX ROCK: All about basic website UX improvements.

Five Firsts of Website Strategy: This one was presented at the Library Leaders Digital Strategy Summit, which ran concurrently to Internet Librarian. Fun time! I prepared slides, and then the format changed at the last minute. So instead of slides, I gave short table talks about my topic. Much fun and some good discussion happened.

Enjoy!

Guidelines for our Makerspace

The team of staff working on my library’s makerspace gave some good thought to policies, procedures, and more functional guidelines for use of the space and equipment.

For policies … well, we don’t have any. Other policies like our customer behavior policy and our computer use policy really cover everything we need. So we have a list of more functional “procedures” that can change as the space changes. Here’s what we have so far.

MakeIT Lab Procedures

Customers:

  • Normal customer behavioral guidelines apply
  • “Respect the space, respect the staff, respect the equipment, respect each other”
    • Hang this up in the room
    •  Refer to the customer conduct policy
  • Age limits:
    • Kids with supervision (under age 12)
    • Ages 12 and up without supervision

3D printer:

  • What can you print?
    • Whatever you can print in 3 hours
    • Stay with your print job
    • If the print has to finish after hours (i.e., customer started printing at 8pm, but print won’t finish until 11pm), staff will put finished print behind desk, and customer can pay the next day
  • How to print:
    • $5 per print
    • Pay using the checkout Kiosk, then get a receipt
    • Take receipt to Media Desk
    • Media Desk staff will set up the print job for customer

Room Procedures:

  • No prerequisites for room use
    • We will have tipsheets and some “getting started” videos, plus staff will know how to turn on the Mac, open up software, plug things in, etc.
    • If more help is needed, customer should schedule an appointment with a librarian
  • How many people in the room at the same time?
    • Up to 6 people in the room at a time
  • Checking out the room & time limits
    • 3 hours a day
    • Two door keys, with barcodes. We’ll technically check out the keys.
    • Customer will check out a key using Polaris (MakeIT Lab Key #1 and #2)
    • No reserves – first-come-first-serve basis
    • Staff will need to monitor the room to make sure customers aren’t going over 3 hours
    • Close when the library closes at 9pm

Reserving Media bags:

  • Use Polaris, like the other bags
  • 7-day check out
  • Customers can place it on hold
  • Pick up at the Reference desk

That’s what we have right now. Are some of your policies, procedures, or guidelines different than ours? Please share!

Guideline image from Make Magazine