Friday, November 30, 2007

Why make something more complicated than it has to be?

Adrienne, from What Adrienne Thinks About That has a fabulous post about how she simplified her library's Summer Reading Program.

You should read it, because it's pure genius.

The key to the changes was based on this logic:
"the more children visit the library, the more likely that they’re reading. Well, DUH, in most cases, that’s going to be because their parents value the library enough to bring them there frequently, and I’m going to wager those parents are also reading to their kids and even reading themselves in their spare time."

So instead of tying the prizes to how many books a kid read, the prizes were given out in the form of weekly drawings. The more times a kidlet came to the library each week, the more times that kidlet could enter the drawings.

Adrienne's library backed this newer, simpler program up with a good collection, strong programming, and free "make-and-take" activities.

This version of the SRP resonated well with me. When I was a college student, I worked for a public library during the summer. I saw kids come into the library, pull a stack of books of the shelf, flip through them, and bring them to me for credit. It always seemed to me like a slap in the face to kids who actually read the books they were trying to get credit for. But, since it wasn't against the rules, I had to give these kidlets the credit for "reading" the books.

Bravo to Adrienne and to her library for helping to change the thinking about what a Summer Reading Program should be.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bitter is a four (wait...six) letter word

I started to read this article about Timothy Ferriss, author of The four hour work week, with a hope that it would teach me about unplugging from technology to make me a more productive person, both personally and professionally.

What I ended up with was a bitter taste in my mouth.

Ferriss doesn't unplug from technology. He pays someone else to plug in for him.

Maybe he doesn't use MySpace or Ning or Twitter, but he still receives correspondence electronically. Only he has personal assistants who sift through his messages and only send him the important ones.

I don't know why this article bugs me so much, but it does. I think it's because it makes technology out to be the enemy.

Technology is not, in my opinion, the enemy. We allow ourselves (myself included) to get overloaded by the presentation of too much information. And maybe this is the point that the article was trying to make: be selective with what information you allow into your world. But I thought it missed the mark.

Teaching the masses to fish

Kate at Loose Cannon Librarian has has a great post about how Library 2.0 is more about people than about technology.

What I love about this post is this:
"stamping our feet and scolding patrons about the quality of their Googling is not going to endear us to them. The 2.0 push has made a huge effort to harness technology to meet people where they are and reshape the library as a facilitator, not an intermediary."

Do you ever have a moment where you jump up and down and high-five the computer screen while shrieking "Yes!" at the top of you lungs like a crazed maniac?

No? It's just me?

Well, okay's just me.

I often feel like it's Librarians vs. Google in a competition for who owns information. Not just who owns information, though, but who owns the right to pass that information on to users. And, it sometimes seems to me that in an attempt to keep all of the information inside our physical and virtual walls that we forget that our users don't care about federated searching or controlled vocabulary as much as they care about getting access to the information they need in a timely manner and without too much headache.

It's a good reminder, then, that libraries should be less about standing between users and the information they need in a specific instance and more about helping users develop the skills to find the information they need in every instance.

Libraries that "get it" often get associated with the label "Library 2.0." But, as Kate points out in her post, it isn't about technology or widgets. It's about connecting people with the information they need to be successful.

Does your library have a blog?

Sophie Brookover has written a fabulous article about libraries whose staff communicate via blogs. She devotes equal time to blogs that are written by staff for library users and blogs that are written by staff for other staff.

Brookover makes an important point in her article about how blogs shouldn't be used in place of face-to-face communication but should, instead, be used to augment conversations already happening at your library.

It seems like old news to stay that your library should be reaching its users by way of the blogosphere. But it isn't. And as every student, parent, grandma, and sports fan starts blogging, it's important for your library to be there too. Programming information, new materials, or explanations of policies can be great things to blog about and can make your library more accessible to users.

But we don't just blog to reach our users who are already using blogs as a means of communication. We blog to reach people for whom the idea of blogging as a means of communication is new. By putting a blog on our library's web page, we engage the user who might not know about this form of communication. And, once engaged, we challenge them to look beyond the world of information they know is available online.

It's just another reminder, I think, that libraries can (and should) reach people on both ends of the technologically savvy spectrum.

Catching up

I feel like I'm always in the stay ahead-fall behind trap, much like everyone else I suppose.

I have let my reading of Library Land blogs slack, which means that I haven't been updating my blog. I finally got myself sorted out feed reader-wise, and separated my Library Land blogs from my personal ones. This will help me, I think, keep up with my professional reading and, thus, my blogging.

I have a few things I want to touch on, so you'll see a flurry of postings from me today. Hopefully within a few days things will be getting back to normal around here.