Freak Out, Geek Out, or Seek Out Presentations

The last couple of weeks, I’ve given my Freak Out, Geek Out, or Seek Out presentation a few times. On May 6, I gave the three-hour version at the “Social Media For the Social Good” event hosted by ohioNET and the Ohio Library Council.

I gave the two-hour version (embedded above) at Omaha Public Library on May 14. Both were fun times – lots of good discussion, and lots of nice people, too.

thanks ohioNET and Omaha Public Library!

UGame ULearn: Michael Stephens

Michael Stephens talkingMichael Stephens spoke last, and gave an inspiring talk on change and libraries. Again, my random notes and tweets:

let our core values guide everything we do.

encourage the heart – satisfy their curiosity, encourage users, etc

Showing examples of good vs bad practices.

A “do not move the furniture” sign vs an academic library giving over the 1st floor to the students – putting in chairs and tables, and saying ‘ move them anywhere you want … and then watching what the students do with it, and plan new areas of the library around how the students move stuff around. Nice.

What gets in our way?

  • institutional culture – “we’ve always done it this way” that type of mindset
  • embedded staff – the staff that has hunkered down, it’s their stuff…
  • silos of knowledge – what if they leave?
  • outdated methods…
  • organizational structure
  • barriers and rules
  • mindset …

technolust – wanting tech because it’s sexy. Don’t do that – do it because it helps your mission

Guides, not gatekeepers. what we should be doing.

augmented reality – we need to be the ones adding content to physical spaces via augmented reality.

“A whole new mind” – Daniel Pink – a book to read

learning 2.0 – after going through a learning 2.0 program, there’s more confidence in libraries, new users, more awareness, etc. It will change your staff – new ways of thinking and working. They feel more included, confident.

confidence, use of new technologies, etc…

self-directed exploration.

non users – how do we find them?

find them, talk to them, GO to them. Ask them.

put the library everywhere – in the palm of your hand, in a beautiful building, etc.

Break down barriers – ex – your policy manual Can you change it, simplify it?

Develop your personal learning network – reading tweets, following blogs, etc – important to always be learning.

balance is key. Twitter will be there tomorrow. It’s ok to take a break, balance life.

Zigzag bridge

  • Sign with it – walk a bit, stop, then turn. Every time you turn, you change your point of view, your experience, etc.
  • “evil spirits” can’t follow you, because they fear change.

And one tweet:

if you’re not having fun, something is off. @mstephens7 #ugul10 9:38 AM Apr 1st via web

UGame ULearn: Michael Edson

Michael EdsonMichael Edson is the Smithsonian Institution’s Director of Web and New Media Strategy, and spoke about change and different cultures within organizations, and gave ideas of how to bridge the gap between the two. Here are my rather random notes from his talk:

Empowering citizen scholars – goal at the Smithsonian

What environments will we need to make new ideas happen?

Cultural institutions have millennials, and have older, more traditional staff – …

Chris Anderson – he’s received two strong reactions to his book “Free” – Huh? and Duh! Younger people had the Duh moment – of course that makes sense. Older people had almost a hostile reaction – they didn’t get it.

There’s tension there, and we need to move past it.


  • complacency. We have existed for hundreds of years…
  • Urgency – we need to build a sense of urgency in these complacent institutions in order to grow a sense of change

We need to find a model that helps us drive change

the most interesting ecosystems are in border habitats between technology and content – we should not treat them separately

What is our work, and how should we do it? At those discussions should be things like mobile internet issues, 2.0 stuff, continually growing and adapting, etc.

Asked visitors to the Smithsonian if they have ever used the Smithsonian’s website – no, they haven’t.

Ex – Google search on oceans – wikipedia,, discovery education (discovery channel), NASA of all things, etc all come up in the first page of search results. But the Smithsonian is more like result #66 – even though they do a ton of ocean research.

point – Smithsonian doesn’t have a big reach with something they think is important to them.

talked about – the Smithsonian is way down on the list

compared two pages about an aircraft in the air & space museum. Their page (spaceship one) vs wikipedia, flickr, youtube videos, etc – other sites win hands-down. hyperlinks, music, video, better pictures, etc. vs a curatorial explanation with one pic.

“We’re competing with … everybody!”

Their content is now only one chunk of the greater content on any one thing.

quote – “the Smithsonian is not an organization that understands me” – used to be the other way around.

So – they are being very transparent as they develop social media strategy – they’re using a wiki, allowing people to add stuff (I think)

new media strategy structure:

three themes –

  • update the Smithsonian digital experience – act as if the digital experience is just as important as the physical experiences
  • update the SI learning model
  • balance autonomy and control within SI

eight goals – things like mission, brand, etc.

Creating a digital commons is a goal they have.

A commons should be free, findable, vast, and shareable

showing a video prototype of what the commons should look like. Walked through how an amateur astronomer can use content from SI to share his own stuff – nice.

Presentations in Garland, TX

Garland libraryLast Friday, I spoke at the Nicholson Memorial Library System in Garland, TX (a suburb of Dallas). It was a fun time – nice library, great people wanting to learn new things. Can’t beat that!

I spoke at their annual Staff Day, and gave two presentations: one on emerging trends, and one on change (both whopping 3-hour presentations). Both are embedded below.

Towards the end of the day, we poked around on the web a bit, and played with some of the websites I talked about in the presentations. So – for the Garland folks – here’s a list of websites we played with:

And for the presentations (fyi – for those wanting to see both presentations, click through to the actual post. For some reason, posting two embedded Slideshare presentations in the same posts makes the second embed disappear int he RSS feed version of my post):

And the afternoon presentation:

Fishing in the Rivers of Change … While Wearing Your Hip Boots

View more documents from David King.

Thanks, Nicholson Memorial Library System!

We’ll Answer Within Two Business Days

is this your electronic reference service?Here’s a pic of the reference desk at Anywhere Public Library in Fakeola, USA. As a service to their customers, they decided to create a sign letting their patrons know that their questions might not be answered right away.

After all, some questions simply aren’t answered instantaneously – staff might need to wander out in the stacks to find an appropriate resource, or the question might lend itself to a lengthy reference interview. And once in a great while, questions really DO take up to 2 days or so to get answered, so it seemed like the right thing to do to post this sign.

When asked about their sign, here’s what library staff said:

  • “in my experience, most questions do NOT take 2 days to answer, but isn’t it better to give a max time in the event that a question needs more thorough research? Librarians actually DO have other things to do with their time after all.”
  • “While it’s nice to say “We’ll get back to you as soon as possible”, some patrons want a definitive time frame.”
  • “We posted the “factual” limits and the 48 hour turnaround to buy ourselves wiggle room and to avoid the open-ended questions”
  • “Why does every question have to be answered right NOW? Honestly, if you need an answer right away, there’s this lovely invention called a telephone.”

OK – obviously, I’m fudging a bit. My reference desk pic is fake (my Photoshop skills astound no one). But the answers from “library staff?” These are all quotes from real librarians, commenting on my two previous posts about electronic reference service needing a reboot.

Some readers who thought my post was a bit over the top said one of three things:

  1. you have to give patrons a time frame [even though we mostly answer these questions pretty fast].
  2. you simply can’t answer lengthy reference questions via email or IM.
  3. We’re not discriminating and how dare you suggest we are! [OK, you’re right. I used that word on purpose – made ya look! :-) ]

So – what do you think? Do you have to give patrons a time frame online? Are most of your email/electronic reference questions answered pretty fast? Do you think that long or detailed reference queries can be handled online?