Hiring the Best Fit

I’ve had several jobs in my adult life on a number of organizational levels, including being a supervisor or manager. My employment has not always been in library organizations, but I have found that organizational leadership does not vary significantly between different kinds of businesses. One of the most critical tasks of management is hiring the right people. Especially in service organizations like libraries or library service agencies, our most valuable asset is personnel. The principal of matching needs of the organization with desirable characteristics of the applicants is very much the same no matter what industry I’ve been in.

During the same time I am currently looking to fill a vacancy in the workgroup I supervise, I am also a peripheral participant in finding a new clergy leader for my church. Our affiliated synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has a blueprint for approaching the task. A particularly useful tool in the ELCA process is the worksheet the church is using in its mandated “Self Study” ministry assessment. The worksheet has four columns, one which lists ministries of the church. The other three columns are filled in by each member, then compiled into a profile by the call committee. In one column, the congregation identifies the priority of the skill for each area of ministry desired in the new hire, in the second column the skill level needed for each area of ministry, and the third column the four ministry areas of most need.

I suggest this process would be useful in a library agency, substituting the word “service” for “ministry”. Evaluating the resumes of applicants through the lense of the profile will magnify the strengths of the candidates in relation to the needs of the organization and aid us in finding the best fit.

Making the best fit for both the organization and the potential employee is critical for good service to our member libraries. It is also important hire a team member who will complement and complete our existing service team and a matter of good management, since hiring and training is a considerable investment in both time and money.

In memory of Challenger

20 years ago today the Challenger space shuttle exploded 73 seconds into flight and the 7 astronauts aboard “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God”. President Reagon loosely quoted the poem called “High Flight” in his speech to the nation. Full text and information about the author Chief Pilot Officer John G. Magee, Jr. is on the web at http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/prewwii/jgm.htm.

3 dates of national significance I remember distinctly, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, September 11th, and the Challenger Disaster. I had just arrived home to my apartment on Taylor Strasse in Berlin, when cousin Debbie called and said “don’t talk to me, just turn on the TV.” That I did, and watched in horror as Armed Forces Network (AFN) carried the live satellite images.

Debbie too has since “slipped the surly bonds . . . “

in memory of Commander Richard Scobee, pilot Mike Smith, astronauts Ellison Onizuka, Judy Resnik, Ron McNair and Greg Jarvis, and teacher astronaut Christa McAuliffe.
. . . . . and in memory of Debbie who shared so much with me

Too cool!

Here’s a great new product that I hope takes off. Someone fresh back from ALA introduced me to it just today. It’s (as the company describes it) a self-playing digital audio book. It almost looks like a book. It almost feels like a book. It’s an audio book – self contained in its own player. It’s a little pricey, but I’ll bet it more than makes up for the cost in ease of use for patrons and ease of support for libraries. The company says the price is that of a hard-cover book. The libraries can put it on the shelf, patrons can check it out and be on their way, happily listening.


Libraries are responding to patron service requests by implementing downloadable audio book service. I fear that this is another service demand to overwhelm library staffs. Libraries claim that they will provide the service but patrons are on their own with their digital audio players, I foresee that reality is that the patrons will expect some level of service. As easy as it is supposed to be to download and load audio books onto an MP3 player, it will be daunting to the technology challenged.

Even buying an MP3 player is humbling. I’m looking to buy one, and have spent a fair amount of time on Cnet, Amazon, Best Buy, Target, Walmart, even Sams Club, and talking to everyone I can find who might have one or know something. No, I don’t want an iPOD (will write about my reasons some other night). I now know all about playsforsure, flash players, hard drive players, players that interface with Outlook (yeah, I may be able to not carry both an MP3 and a PDA). But I still am pondering exactly what to buy. How many gigs, what kind of battery, does it bookmark?

I’ve mastered downloading an Overdrive Book. My first download took all-told about an hour after updating Media Player, reading FAQs, and installing the Overdrive player. This is of course, according to company rhetoric very simple. I’m a little smarter than the average bear when it comes to such things (heck, I have a blog!), so I suspect that Yogi or Booboo may have a little more trouble and of course will call their local public library from whom they intend to download their audio book.

Then there’s the whole, yes/no you can burn to CD, no your iPOD won’t hold it (under normal circumstances), maybe even what about a cassette player?

Anyway, so far I listen to my books on my PC (yes, even a media savvy librarian listens on a PC) while I’m riding my bike going nowhere in my family room. My logical next step is to get this book onto an MP3 device.

I expect that this Playaway Digital thing could be a godsend to libraries who want to circulate what looks to be the easiest possible digital device. So far, they have very few titles. It will be interesting to see how this new technology develops and competes in the market.

Books to order

It was a dark and stormy night . . . no, the stars were out, and it was warm (a warm January Minnesota is above 10 degress). But dark it was, and we were in our house at 10:00 p.m. Someone said, “Let’s watch a movie! But who will go to Hollywood Video. It’s at least 5 minutes away, and I have on my PJs.” We all slunk deeper into our chairs, until the smart one said, “Wait, there’s Charter on-demand”. And soon, without moving any more muscles than it took to click the remote, we’d ordered Mr. and Mrs. Smith and were on our way to movietime in our own comfortable living room.

Ironically, I’ve spent the last 2 days reviewing services of downloadable audio book providers. I’ve been a fan of books on CD for long car-trips for a while now. With this change in format, libraries can deliver books to citizens as easily as Charter brought our movie into our living room. Why, if I forget a book (or finish one) while I’m out of town, I will be able to download a new one right in my hotel room.

What great times we live in!

Radical, Militant Librarians – for Google?

For some time now, librarians and the private information they guard have been the target of the Feds. It has given us a considerable amount of credibility as to the value of libraries as an institutional part of the fabric of society.

It appears that Google now shares that platform, considering the subpoena issued by the FBI to Google to make available materials and search records for a one-week period, in order to identify illegal pornography.

While many librarians view Google as a formidable opponent in the battle for the title of Ultimate Search Engine, I suggest that we are closer kin than we acknowledge. How many of us secretly hit Google first, to get our heads around a reference question?

Will librarians defend privacy of personal information, even as it applies to Google?

“Radical Militant Librarian” buttons are on sale at the ALA website for $2. From the ALA website: Inspiration for the button’s design came from documents obtained from the FBI by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The request revealed a series of e-mails in which FBI agents complained about the “radical, militant librarians” while criticizing the reluctance of FBI management to use the secret warrants authorized under Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Of course, in part because of the efforts of “radical militant librarians” arguing on behalf of their users’ right to read freely, without government interference or surveillance, Congress voted to extend its debate on the renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act. https://www.ala.org/ala/oif/basics/basicrelatedlinks/radicalbutton.htm

Order your button for $2 from ALA

What a rush!

It isn’t very often that librarians get applause — I got some today! OK, so it was contrived, since my introducer said “let’s welcome her” and then “let’s thank her”. But the thanks I got were genuine.

My uplifting experience occurred at Wabasha-Kellogg school where I did 2 in-service sessions. My humble side says — all I did was show you what you already have. Indeed, I was in your district several years ago to tell you this very information. Unfortunately, at that time y’all weren’t sitting in the computer lab, with fingers itching to try what I was showing you.

In one hour, I whipped through 2 online catalogs (the SELCO iPAC and MnLINK ZPORTAL), and sample searches in the Kids InfoBits, Discovering Collection, EbscoHost, Biography Resource Center, and ProQuest. Whew! Let’s see, after a 10 minute introduction to regional services, and 5 minutes on each of the 7 aforementioned resources, we still had 15 minutes to play. Although the second of the 2 sessions (one primary, one secondary faculty audience) started 10 minutes late, so we didn’t really have time to play at all. The best affirmation a presenter can have is to be asked questions — and they certainly did ask questions.

The teachers were excited. It was like I’d given them a gift — and I hope I did. The gift of insight into what I hope they will give their kids. That’s what this multitype library thing is all about.

Now, if I can only package and sell this epiphany to the deep pockets who need to keep paying for it, so the citizens of Minnesota can keep using it.

Multitype Library Regions meet

Multitype regions are in their quarterly meeting . . . . being held in St. Cloud. We are a group that exists to mutually support and share. The group is truly multitype. None of the regions does the same thing, but may choose which of the statute-specified services to offer. Even the directors are multitype — librarians with backgrounds in a variety of areas. We are woefully underfunded, have even been described as being starved out of existence.

But I suggest that one thing is certain. That the very existence of these regions ensures that libraries will have the network underpinnings to work together. That somewhere there is an organization that understands that all libraries are multitypes when they perform most if not all types of services:

School libraries are academic libraries for the faculty using them for post-granduate work
Public libraries are school libraries for home-schoolers and kids after school
Academic libraries are public libraries for the citizens who live in the neighborhood
Special libraries are public libraries for the people in their business (some even buy best-sellers)

Blogger’s spell-check

How about this?

I spell-checked a post tonight, using Blogger‘s spell-check. It flagged the word “blogging” — suggested I change it to “flogging.” It also wanted to change “blogger” to “blocker”

Even Blogger doesn’t get it.

Blogging at MEMO

This evening Aurora and I gave a presentation about blogging for the southeast regional MEMO (Minnesota Educational Media Organization). This presentation was “canned”. The location has been having connectivity problems, so we didn’t trust the Internet for a live demonstration. Don’t-cha know . . . . if there’s one thing predictable about the Internet, is that it will bog down when you are in front of a tough audience, like a group of media specialists.

Incidentally, the other thing that is guaranteed to be unpredictable . . . . Minnesota weather. Unseasonably warm January mist was freezing on the road this evening, so travel was slow, and at times white-knuckle. We’re a hardy bunch though, and the meeting went as planned, and we even hung around for a very pleasant out-to-dinner at Grumpy’s.

BTW – what an experience, visiting the domed Grand Meadow School. Take a peak at: http://www.monolithic.com/gallery/schools/grandmeadow/index.html

Another class of bloggers

Aurora and I taught another blogger class today. Our training lab has a capacity of 9 for hands-on-classes. Enthusiasm is high as each participant created a blog. We won’t have another blogging class until Aurora’s BJ (Baby Jacobsen) arrives. Today’s class attendees included public libraries who want to use blogging as an easy tool to create and maintain a web presence. School participants are excited about the potential for inter-activity. 3 participants from one district are encumbered by a district policy that sanctions a single web tool for all online faculty presentations. I suggested that those media specialists should work with that web program/contractor to build a blogging tool into their application.