MLA-blogging on the last day

Who cares about blogging on the last day of a conference at 8:30 a.m.? Well, apparently more than a few dedicated librarians. Good on them!

When I saw that our session “To Blog or Not to Blog” was scheduled for that dubious time-slot, I was not encouraged. Then, when I saw that we were in the same time slot as not only “Thinking Big: the State of the State Library” by Minnesota State Librarian Suzanne Miller but also “Cool Story Programs for Kids” by the legendary children’s programming guru Rob Reid, I was sure that I and my colleagues Aurora and Mary Beth would be talking to each other. How wrong I was!

Approximately 40 people attended our session and what fun we had! AJ, MB, and I get really pumped when we have an engaged audience, and this one was one of the best. We started with what is a blog, demoed how some libraries are using blogs to build community, and then brought up a real live audience member who set up her very first blog (thanks, Kathy!) I tell ya, reality TV has nothing on us.

I am really encouraged that so many people are open to using social software. There were many good questions and lots of head nodding. 2 years ago a team from our organization did a program at MLA on electronic communication and the part about blogging was by far the most popular. Now, this year again it’s been a real upper to bring something that I hope will enhance Minnesota library service through community building.
Aurora, Barb, Mary Beth

Sarah Long at MLA

When Sarah was president of ALA from 1999-2000, her theme was “Libraries Build Community.” She has worked in every type of library from starting out as a school librarian, to working in the Ohio State Library, to a stint as an academic librarian, to several public libraries and library systems. She is also a past president of the Public Library Association.

  • Sarah challenged us that it is no longer enough to keep the book — something has to be “going on”.
  • Talked about the difference between marketing and PR. She says marketing is research, what you do before. PR is telling the story.
  • She said (1) get rid of the old stuff; (2) build on your assets; (3) try some new stuff (don’t be afraid of failure)
  • Her take on the future of libraries (my question): get more IT and marketing staff. Library has got to change. “Will we change fast enough?”
  • We have a “fearsome” future – both fearful, but also wonderful. Left us with “this is the best time”


So very glad I attended this 11:15 MLA session on podcasting presented by Cody Hanson. Cody is an MLIS student at St. Kate’s/Dominican and works at the Carlson School of Management.

Kept his audience involved throughout the presentation. Gave the best explanation of RSS I’ve seen. Very knowledgeable about all things 2.0. He got a real chuckle out of the audience when he showed a MARC record and said if we understood that, we should have no trouble understanding XML, which is the basis for RSS. Very capably explained how to make a podcast and related his experiences with podcasting.

presentation online

Using data to demonstrate economic impact

Thursday morning session at MLA – Dr. Robert Williams shared what he learned as a primary investigator for the South Carolina Public Library Economic Impact Study. The study concluded that for every $1 spent on South Carolina libraries, the rate of return was $4.48. Dr. Williams shared significant results:

Among the findings are indications that the public library:
o Improves overall quality of life: 92% said yes
o Increases local property values: 47% said yes
o Attracts new businesses to the community: 38% said yes
o Attracts patronage to local businesses: 44% said yes
o Enhanced personal fulfillment: 73% said yes
o Nurtures a love of reading: 73% said yes
o Is a source of personal enjoyment: 64% said yes
o Helps manage personal finances or saved money: 32% said yes

Entire online report

Additional observations Dr. Williams made that I found interesting:

  • Thinks an “Educational impact of the library” study would be interesting – has no idea how to do it.
  • South Carolina library directors were not interested in getting any help in further analyzing survey data.
  • Suggests that every time someone tells you a good story about the library, write it down to use it in telling the library story.

Carbone-Getting Clued In to Experience Management

Lou Carbone of Experience Management spoke this afternoon at Minnesota Library Association. He said libraries are about transformation of thoughts – not being in the lend-em-out-check-em-in business. He said that the world we live in has changed from the former “make and sell” model to the “sense and respond.” People are concerned about how they feel about a service.

He cited Howard Johnson’s as an example; that they began their decline when they lost their marking site on how customers feel and focused on how shareholders feel.

It is not as important what patrons think about libraries, but rather how libraries make patrons feel.

Lou’s book is Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again

Jenny at MLA 2006

I’m live blogging Jenny Levine’s session at the Minnesota Library Association annual conference in St. Cloud. Looks like Jenny blogged the previous session at Shifted Librarian.

(Jenny says she’ll be posting her presentation on her site)
Jenny at MLA 2006 in St Cloud
She went over “what is a blog?” Different blog software. Felt sorry for anyone doing web pages with coded HTML (oops that’s us, but we’re re-designing)

Started out with the Ann Arbor site, discussing what it means to open yourself up to discussion with the community. 1,000s of comments. Pointed out that they’ve had 461 comments from teens; asked how many libraries got that many comments from teens. Teens talking about gaming, but also other things. New Book Blog. Libraries don’t have time to update websites, but can have vibrant websites if they let communities contribute. Ann Arbor has IT staff of 10. But this can be done easily.

Showed small public library blog. College of DuPage blog. Western Springs Local History Page, turned history project into a blog. Posted pictures. Comments allow community to contribute to local history.

Wiki of Directors’ Blogs – add yourself.

Photo Blog – picture is worth 1,000 words. Construction project. Display case at Western Springs. Colorado College – picture of signs. Library photo of little girl reading do you want to be the city council who cuts funding to this library?”)

Question about permissions – libraries have gotten varying opinions. Some take pictures of backs of heads. Some say it’s a public place.

RSS – lets you keep track of multiple sites.

Showed ProQuest. They’ve been promising for a year that there will be an RSS feed for specified searches. Can be displayed on a webpage. Jenny says homework is to contact ProQuest and tell them to implement it.

Demonstrated RSS in EbscoHost. “Ridiculous” how difficult. Homework – talk to vendor to simplify.

Reason she talks about RSS and Bloglines. . . when you start blogging, you’ll be more efficient. Automatically generates RSS, and you can use it to create community all over the place.

A few years ago, in order to create community you needed a server.

Book, “Small Pieces, Loosely Joined”

Riverdale IL (very poor), created community blog – free. Gave accounts to everyone in town.

Superglu – (example of library use) syndicates book marks from Delicious (which has RSS feeds). includes Flickr., web site, community calendar. Local newspaper. Pick template and instant community website.

Patrons would like libraries publish, so that they can use it.

Ever seen a library that publishes something like an Amazon wishlist?

Live Journal – someone marked library as a “Friend”, new books list.

Instant Messaging Reference
People can add library as a Buddy, part of Instant Messaging community.

More community – difference in using indicator “I’m online”

Meebo me

6 things you can do right now
Read blogs
Start what’s new blog for your library
Appoint Trend reporter
Train staff how to use RSS aggregators (about being efficient), use bloglines
Advocate for RSS in your products (been after III for 4 years to incorporate RSS)
Learn about Library 2.0 (understand what is going on)

Minnesota Book Awards update

Updating a previous entry to this blog, Starving Literacy, according to a Pioneer Press article today and an E-mail announcement by the Minnesota Library Association, the Minnesota Book Awards will be hosted by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library. While I’m glad to see such a venerable organization pick up the ball, I hope that other library groups will run together with it. As a Minnesota institution, it should have the broadest sponsorship possible.

Good luck Friends, and thank you!

Librarian recognition well deserved

The LaCrosse Tribune Monday Profile (September 4th) features librarian extraordinaire Chris McArdle Rojo, formerly one of our regional librarians. While the article relates her love of books as the influence that made her a librarian, she made sure the interviewer knew how technology has changed county libraries. The Wisconsin Library Association Blog also recognized Chris as a “Librarian in the News.” (wow, a library association that has a blog that goes back to April 2004)

The opening line of the article says: “God bless the teachers at St. James Elementary School. They’re the reason Chris McArdle Rojo became a librarian.” A great testament to the importance of school libraries.

The article closes with a quote from Chris, what I have always most admired about her — “It’s all about cooperation.” When she was in our region, she was all about cooperating with other libraries, and it’s why she’s so successful in Wisconsin.

Congrats, Chris!

The 8th of November

You can’t listen to the radio very long without hearing The 8th of November, a haunting song by Big and Rich, about a 1965 firefight in Vietnam. The song is the true story that a bartender told Big and Rich at the Buffalo Bar in Deadwood 4 years ago. The bartender is Niles Harris, and he was one of only 5 survivors of his platoon on November 8th, 1965. Harris points out that he is not unique — Vietnam vets all carry their memories.

Thank you to Harris for telling his story, Big and Rich for writing and singing it, and Pierre SD for the memorials.

The 7 foot statue, dedicated yesterday, is of a soldier holding the dog tags of a fallen comrade. It stands by the World War II Memorial and the Korean War Memorial on the shore of Capitol Lake in Pierre SD. All three memorials were designed by sculptors Sherri Treeby and Lee Leuning.
Photo by Rapid City Journal

Libraries for senior living places

The topic of libraries in nursing homes came up today on the American Library Association listserve, SeniorServ. A volunteer in a nursing home posed several questions about setting up library service in the nursing home: what to purchase, how to arrange, and collection management (control, multiple locations). The answers she received in just one day’s time were: a webliography companion to Serving Seniors: a How To Do It Manual for Librarians, a webliography from the National Council on Aging, roving library carts, maximizing use of the state’s library for the blind and physically handicapped, and the “Play Away” gadget I previously wrote about.

It struck me, as I thought through my multitype library hat, that once again the issues she’s raising are the same in other types of libraries. So, I thought I’d blog my response and send it to her.

Dispersed collections, for instance, are maintained in schools and hospitals. Many public libraries provide delivery or deposit collections in senior living facilities, as well as other places library materials are needed, such as day care centers, senior centers, community centers, or social service agencies. Library automation systems do a real good job of keeping track of where items are. Regional libraries provide rotating collections, such as large print or movies.

My organization just completed a project we called Senior Techies, funded through LSTA funds. We partnered with 14 libraries that provided training space and hospitality; we provided trainers for 5 classes at each library. We taught basic computing skills, including E-mail and digital photography. The program was a tremendous success, and demand for additional classes is so huge that we’re looking for additional funding to expand the program.

I encourage the writer to contact her local public library and build a partnership. If the library doesn’t have a program in place to provide this, I hope they will consider it. Libraries need to provide staffing and service to seniors, just as we provide children’s librarians. Perhaps the library and senior living facilities could build a jointly funded collaborative that maintains a rotating collection of books, movies, games, and discussion materials.

This topic is very near and dear to my heart, having become intimately familiar with nursing homes through 7 years of nursing home residence by my father and mother-in-law in separate cities. Neither of them would have benefited from library services on-site because of their mental and physical conditions. However, I met many other residents whose quality of life would have been greatly enhanced. Or, a library could provide picture books for reading to small visitors – or even reminiscing by the seniors themselves. A library would also have been welcomed by spouses who spent long hours during daily visits. A library could also provide computers and Internet connections, with appropriate adaptive technology for persons with disabilities.

Along the same lines, I ran into a new blog, Library Services to Boomers and Older Adults, by Allan Kleiman, who will be teaching a class in service to older adults for the San Jose State Library School. In one of his posts, he discusses the proposed merger into IMLS of the functions of NCLIS and NCES and states that he hopes that at least one member of the staff or advisory board should be knowledgeable in providing services to older adults. I echo his hope for all public libraries, that they equip knowledgeable staff to provide this important service.