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!

Resistance vs Management

Kathy left a comment on my Posting and Traffic post, saying “I started off being the only one posting to our library blog. Then management decided that everybody contributing to it would be a good idea, so they put out a schedule. People were resistant, and kept “forgetting”. Now it’s back to…just me posting..”

Instead of the volunteer problem in the last post, this time the problem is two-fold:

1: staff not doing what they’re supposed to do
2: managers not doing what they’re supposed to do

Let’s use the reference desk as an example again. Managers – would you let people say “Nah, I’m not going to show up at the ref desk today. It’s just not a priority for me.” Um, no. That person would be booted out the door pretty fast, I’m guessing.

So what’s happening here? Honestly, it could be any number of things, including:

  • managers don’t really think it’s a priority
  • managers think someone’s assigned to monitor it, but no one really is
  • someone really IS assigned to monitor it, but isn’t doing it
  • someone’s not reporting the problem back to the managers
  • there’s no follow-through with staff, as in training, prodding, reminding … and talking to his/her manager as a last resort
  • probably many more possibilities here!

But really, the problem and the solution lies fully on management. Those “resistant” staff? That solution’s easy. Assign the work, then monitor it – just like any other part of the job.

Managers – do your job. And write a few blog posts, too, while you’re at it. Model the way for your staff. But do YOUR job, that of managing people and resources, and see what happens.

pic by eflon