Monday, August 30, 2010

Interesting book vs. ebook graphic

Recently ran across this very interesting graphic that was produced for Newsweek. It draws out some interesting points about books and ebooks. Give it a look and tell me what you think.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MCLS Inaugural Event

MCLS put on a very nice inaugural event in the Southwest end of Indianapolis. I am so grateful I was able to attend! In this post I will focus on the keynote address by former State of Michigan Librarian George Needham. His presentation content and style were just excellent. His talk revolved around 5 assumptions, or myths about libraries.

1. Libraries are the "go-to" place for information

Anyone familiar with Project Information Literacy will be acutely aware of the fallacy of this assumption. Mr. Needham offered up a few suggestions that I think are valuable:
  • Eliminate barriers - make it easy to find the "good stuff"
  • Don't hide behind a firewall - our pages need to crawled
  • We need to "feed out" to bring our students in to our site and our building
2. Libraries are not all about books

This one threw me for a loop at first, but as he went on, I understood better:
  • When people think library they think books - we should capitalize on this not downplay it
  • Emphasize the "ing of the thing" - reading, learning, experiencing
  • Talk about results not commodities
  • Books are beautiful! Show off unique holdings.
  • Embrace new forms and formats - electronic publishing now permits the release of timely topics in book length
  • Emphasize abundance - not just the abundance of our own collections, but the incredible access we all have to so much information
3. People won't find the "good stuff" on their own

While we do need to continue our emphasis on teaching information literacy, Mr. Needham had some very good points:
  • Make our finding tools seamless and elegant - doing so is not "dumbing down" its making is smarter
  • Simplified way-finding - I think our tabbed search box on our homepage is a good example of this. It quickly gives students access to books, articles (from General OneFile), and textbooks (and other items) on reserve.
  • Redeployed reference - embed librarians in other departments to quickly show how great the library is and to provide valuable teaching and researching skills at the point of need.
4. Civilians Value library confidentiality
  • Librarians value confidentiality - most others do not understand our philosophies and practices in this regard
  • Patrons should be allowed to "opt in" to services
5. We need to educate these people

Once again, Mr Needham was not suggesting that we should give up on teaching, but he was suggesting that:
  • Our interactions with patrons should build relationships - they are not transactions
  • Only human beings convey meaning, only humans put context around information
To illustrate this last point we were asked to participate in an interactive exercise as follows:
  • Think of a favorite book, poem, song or piece of music, movie, website, etc.
  • Take two minutes to talk to your neighbor, then two minutes to listen to them about:
- What it is
- Why it is important to you
- How has it influenced your life

It quickly becomes apparent that the meaning, the context of these bits of information in our lives, this uniquely human characteristic invokes passion! It is this passion that we need to remember, to connect with when we are doing our jobs, when we work with our customers, when we think about our libraries, when we imagine our library's future.