Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday jams (10/30/2015)

One of my Libraryland heroes is Emily Drabinski. Emily is a badass librarian and also a badass runner.

Emily is running the NYC Marathon on Sunday, so this is a special jam. Good luck, Emily!


I would be derelict in my duty if I didn't post this video brought to the attention of the Unified Library Scene by friends of the blog Jaleh and Amy


Tuesday, October 27, 2015

One chance to stay something deep in the audio

Last Wednesday, I co-presented a webinar with my friend, and former colleague, Jaleh. We talked about establishing effective Technical Services/Public Services collaborations. It was a well-attended session and the attendees were engaged and asked great questions. Overall, it was a really enjoyable experience. When the recording goes up, you should give it a listen.

In the meantime, Jaleh storified the event because she is awesome. Check it out!

One of the questions during the Q&A portion of the event was about how to establish Technical Services/Public Services collaborations in a work environment that didn't encourage collaboration to the point of outright discouraging it.

I am not great at rapid-fire Q&A. I am one of those people who likes to think about something before I talk about it. In most meetings, I am the last person to give my opinion because I like to think about an issue and hear everyone's opinions before giving my own. So, in that moment, I kind of panicked and said what was true about my experience in libraries: I have never really been told no in my professional life. It's annoying and I recognize how fortunate I am.

Having spent almost a week considering the question, I feel like I have a better answer.

I should start by saying that I have never worked in a library that actively discouraged people from different departments working together collaboratively. More often, my experience has been that some departments have a more formalized structure where they require people to go "up and over" in the org chart in order to work with people in that unit. And even then, it wasn't a guarantee that you would be allowed to collaborate.

I feel like leaders put their departments under lock and key for a couple of reasons. One, I think, is that they are more oriented toward job duties than problem solving. A job duty orientation says that I am responsible for the processes and products that are mine--nothing more or less. And in that case, why would you collaborate? A person in that kind of department picks up a process where another functional area leaves off and drops off that process where the next department picks up. I think that this kind of mindset leads to problematic processes, full of unnecessary work and pain points for users. But it's a mindset that some leaders have.

Another reason I think leaders put their departments under lock and key is that the department has a lot of daily tasks to get done and the leader believes that the only way to get things done is to cut down on distraction. After focusing on one's daily work, there is little time left in their schedule for cross-departmental collaboration or problem solving. I think that those departments are often victims of the do more with less thing that libraries seem so fond of. This myopia also leads to pain points for users, but it's also a mindset that people have. what?

I think that quite often, we react to a situation where a department won't make space for collaborative work by going around them to get things done. So-and-so won't work with us, we think, so we just have to figure out a way to get things done. But here's the thing about that, it allows that group of people to continue not being collaborative. And if what you want is to build a culture of cross-departmental collaboration, you have to be deliberate about getting everyone to the table when it matters.

When we think about organizational silos, the thing to know is that different functional areas have different priorities. And sometimes those priorities compete. So the way to build collaboration is to build consensus by putting everyone's priorities on the table, knowing that everything is going to have to give something up to achieve that common goal.

So, how do you build collaboration between Technical Services and Public Services in a library that doesn't encourage collaboration?

When a process breaks down or a new service is about to be implemented, bring leaders from all of the functional areas together. Start by identifying the priorities of each functional area and being honest about where those priorities compete. Then, when you've done that, come to consensus about goals and commonalities and figure out how each functional area can both give something up and gain something.

And when you do this, invite everyone--not just the people who you know are good collaborators. It's how you start to build community.

Stay positive,

Friday, October 23, 2015

Friday jams (10/23/2015)

We need to get our collective groove back over here on the Blog. And what better way to get our groove back than through Friday jams?



Have a good weekend, friends!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

If I speak it then I mean it

I had already been thinking about LIS education when I read Kyle Shockey's post on Maria Accardi's blog. Shockey speaks thoughtfully about the burnout the LIS students experience and how it impacts them as job seekers and as budding librarians. I highly recommend that you give it a read.

I worked full time when I was a LIS student, first in a school library and then in a public library. I was a distance education student, so my courses were a combination of online courses taught by full-time faculty and in-person classes taught by adjuncts. With the exception of two cataloging courses--one required--and a collection development class, all of my courses were focused on public-facing functions of the library. I think to some extent that LIS programs change to reflect they way in which the profession changes. I looked at the website for the program from which I graduated and they've added a data management course and a copyright course. I wish that more LIS programs put courses in their core curriculum related to the back-room functions of libraries. Doing so gives LIS students a broader sense of what it means to be a librarian and prepares LIS students for a variety of jobs.

When I graduated from my LIS program, it took about eight months for me to find a full-time, Catalog Librarian job. In the intervening months, I continued to work as a paraprofessional cataloger. I lived in relatively close proximity to three graduate programs, which I think made finding a job and rising to the top of an applicant pool a significant challenge. A couple of years ago, I found myself on the job market again when I moved from the Midwest to NYC. In that situation, I was close proximity to three LIS programs and relatively close proximity to two more. It felt impossible to rise to the top of that applicant pool.

I have managed to find full-time, stable employment several times in my career. I have found work that I find meaningful and found opportunities to engage with colleagues in my profession. And I have had the luxury of forgetting what it was like to be a new LIS professional struggling to find my place in librarianship.

And that forgetting? That makes me part of the problem.

There are a million factors working against our next generation of library leaders. Real talk time: If those of us who have full-time, stable employment don't start addressing those factors, we're going to lose a generation of librarians. We're going to lose smart, talented people who push librarianship forward. We're going to lose the dreamers, the doers, the makers, and the teachers.

Kyle gives working librarian some ideas of how to help LIS students and new LIS program graduates. They are very smart ideas: advocate, mentor, support.

Here's what I would add:
1. Pay your LIS student interns for the work they do in your library. Paying a student for their work not only helps them support themselves, but also demonstrates that you value the work that they do.

2. Offer to read, review, and comment on application packets for new librarians. Are you headed to ALA Midwinter in Boston or ALA Annual in Orlando? ALA's New Member Round Table has a resume review service that is looking for volunteers. Surely you can give 30 minutes of your time to help the next generation of library leaders.

3. Engage with LIS students and new graduates and include them in your social media circles. Answer questions, listen to their stories, and offer advice. Remember what it was like to struggle.

So here's what I'm committing to doing: If you are a LIS student or a new graduate and you need someone to talk to, I'll be that someone. It's the least I can do with all of the amazing opportunities I've been given. Reach out to me on Twitter or leave a comment.

That's what I'm doing. What's that one thing you can do to help a LIS student or new graduate? How can your library help support our next generation of library leaders?

Stay positive,

ps--I should say that the signature I used is a reference to a song by the Hold Steady (the same song that the blog title comes from!) and not some sort of decree about always being positive. You should 100% feel how you feel.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday jams (10/09/2015)

I, too, just want to live my life like a son of a gun.

Roger McGuinn had a 12-string guitar and it was like nothing I'd ever heard.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

this is how it all ends up

This week the library marketplace heard about the second large merger of the year.  Earlier this year, EBSCO purchased YBP, and now ProQuest has purchased Ex Libris. There has been a lot of talk about a lot of related issues and I want to say a quick piece.

We asked for it. We've been asking for it.

It's not just that we say things that lead to press releases titled "ProQuest and Ex Libris Join to Accelerate Innovation for Libraries Worldwide" or "EBSCO Shows Major Commitment to Library Workflows: EBSCO Acquires YBP Library Services and its GOBI platform from Baker & Taylor, Inc." And let's be really honest, we say things that would lead to press releases titled similarly nearly constantly. We'll leave that for another time because today I want to talk about the other ways in which we've been asking for large mergers and acquisitions.

It's how the market works. We complain about it but we live in it and we act like we have no volition. But our actions personally and professional inform the market whether or not we say anything and often in spite of the things we say. What we do makes the difference, and each decision has an impact on future offerings.

By our actions, libraries have been demanding services that are easily provided through increased integration. Therefore, service providers seek increased integration through M&A. It isn't surprising. If it isn't what we want, why are we acting like it is. If we don't want the market to meet our needs, who do we expect to?

That's really all what I've got to say. I remain unsurprised by the market demanding capitalist actions by sellers and buyers. It's the whole point of it. If you want to do something about it, two steps from my point of view: 1) understand what is going on, & 2) figure out what you're do about it.

Let's Talk About Capitalism,

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday jams (10/02/2015)

It's Friday. And Rachel is busy winning friends and influencing people, so I'm kicking out the jams this week.

A lot of amazing new music was release last Friday, including Every Open Eye by Chvrches. It's a really great album featuring this really great song.

Another album that was released last Friday was the cast recording for Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical, Hamilton. Understandably, everyone is super excited about this production. Erin McKeown, my favorite musician, covered the opening number from the musical as part of her most recent episode of the web series Cabin Fever.

Have a nice weekend, friends!