Monthly Archives: April 2011

Strategic Plans & Strategic Partnerships

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 7 – Goals and Objectives of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“One of the areas of planning that has developed from a 21st Century environment deals with strategic partnerships. Considering that this is a relatively new area of library endeavor, here is a suggestion about incorporating it into your next strategic plan. Remember that goals are the desired results we want to achieve to accomplish the mission, expressed in general terms.

* Goal #7.—Develop Strategic Partnerships.
Expressed in general terms, this Goal is broad enough to allow for more specific Objectives.

• Objective #O7.1—Seek out organizations, companies, agencies of any type within the community that have potential strategic partnership value to the library.
This description defines a specific objective to be proactive in determining what entities within your community have potential benefits for the library through a strategic partnership.

• Activity #A7.1.1 ….” [Pg. 48]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

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Libraries, Internet Filtering and CIPA

As routinely happens, this topic of libraries “having to allow customers access to pornography” on their Internet access computers has reared its ugly head, unfortunately on LISNews Blog this time. And, as also consistently happens, peoples’ opinions are unbelievably skewed by their personal morals and lack of knowledge. (I’ll clearly state up front that my own personally held opinion is that while pornography may be protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution – that’s the Supreme Court’s fault – NOT the library’s, and libraries should do whatever is necessary and legal to uphold every customer’s rights, but not facilitate one customer’s rights over the rights of others, unless they happen to be in a special class of protected citizen.)

City libraries say ‘checking out’ porn protected by First Amendment according to The New York Post article published today. The writer goes on to quote (or more likely misquote) the Brooklyn Public Library spokeswoman Malika Granville who supposedly stated “Customers can watch whatever they want on the computer,” … describing the anything-goes philosophy that’s the rule at the city’s 200-plus branches.” Anyone who knows anything about CIPA or libraries knows this is not true, assuming BPL is making any effort to comply with the law, assuming also that they receive federal funding. (If not, as is the case in a surprising number of public libraries, CIPA does not apply to them, and “Customers can watch whatever they want on the computer,” at their own peril of law suits from offended customers.)

In the last lines of the article, the writer correctly quotes New York Public Library spokeswoman Angela Montefinise as stating “In deference to the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech, the New York Public Library cannot prevent adult patrons from accessing adult content that is legal,” which is no doubt what Ms. Granville said, or meant. The emphasis is on “legal”, and believe it or not, not all sexually overt materials are protected viewing.

One of the issues that seldom gets coverage in these articles (no doubt intended to stimulate peoples’ fears and moral outrage on whichever side of the issue) is the fact that Congress passed the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) to protect minors from the liberty granted to adults by the Supreme Court to indulge in pornography. AND, even more importantly, the law makes clear distinctions between sexual depictions that are “pornographic”, “obscene” and “harmful to minors”.

Most people don’t know that “obscene” material is prohibited, even for adults, and sexually oriented depictions that are considered “harmful to minors” are prohibited in the library, but not to adults, thus the filters to prevent minors from viewing such material. (If one wanted to get more deeply into the “harmful to minors” aspect of the law, there is a vast multitude of hate crime, white supremacy, anti-almost everything Internet sites that could easily qualify as “harmful to minors”. I suggest these are issues for local jurisdictions to address.)

The full text of the FCC Rule implementing CIPA states in relevant part ( TITLE XVII–CHILDREN’S INTERNET PROTECTION);

(2) Libraries. The billed entity for a library that receives discounts for Internet access and internal connections must certify, on FCC Form 486, that an Internet safety policy is being enforced. If the library is an eligible member of a consortium but is not the billed entity for the consortium, the library must instead certify on FCC Form 479 (“Certification to Consortium Leader of Compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act”) that an Internet safety policy is being enforced.

(i) The Internet safety policy adopted and enforced pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 254 (h) must include a technology protection measure that protects against Internet access by both adults and minors to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or, with respect to use of the computers by minors, harmful to minors.

(ii) The Internet safety policy adopted and enforced pursuant to 47 U.S.C. § 254(l) must address all of the following issues:
(A) access by minors to inappropriate matter on the Internet and World Wide Web;
(B) the safety and security of minors when using electronic mail, chat rooms, and other forms of direct electronic communications;
(C) unauthorized access, including so-called “hacking,” and other unlawful activities by minors online;
(D) unauthorized disclosure, use, and dissemination of personal information regarding minors; and
(E) measures designed to restrict minors’ access to materials harmful to minors.

Most interesting is 2(i) “a technology protection measure that protects against Internet access by both adults and minors to visual depictions that are obscene, child pornography, or, with respect to use of the computers by minors, harmful to minors.” [Emphasis added.] Which BEGS the question; “OK, so what’s the distinction between “obscene” that is prohibited to adults as well as minors, and “pornography” that is not addressed, but we all know is not prohibited to adults?

“(G) OBSCENE.–The term `obscene’ has the meaning given such term in section
1460 of title 18, United States Code.” And FINDLaw (Copyright © 2011 FindLaw, a Thomson Reuters business ) website 20 U.S.C. § 9101: US Code, General Definitions states:

As used in this chapter:
(1) Determined to be obscene
The term “determined to be obscene” means determined, in a final judgment of a court of record and of competent jurisdiction in the United States, to be obscene.

(7) Obscene
The term “obscene” means, with respect to a project, that –
(A) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find that such project, when taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
(B) such project depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and
(C) such project, when taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

So, the bottom line of this whole “pornography in the library” debate is basically that the definitions, implementations and enforcement of Internet protection standards for any specific public library’s customers, both children and adults, are largely local.

Virtually all states have adopted their own CIPA laws, but they tend to mirror the federal law. Most jurisdictions also have community standards ordinances for decency and obscenity and public displays of pornography. Smart and innovative library directors and boards have already implemented policies that use every legal resource at their assistance to control pornography and obscenity within their library to protect all of their customers’ legal rights – both legal access to information, as well as legal right to freedom from an uncomfortable (some might use the term ‘hostile’) library environment.


18 USC Chapter 110 – Sexual Exploitation And Other Abuse Of Children

Privacy Online: A Report to Congress 1998. Covers the essential notices that should be given to consumers who use online services.

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Answers for Library Leaders

Back in August last year, I Posted 21st Century Library – “Rebooted” Into Relevance that highlighted an exceptionally thought provoking article by Scott Corwin, Elisabeth Hartley & Harry Hawkes – “The Library Rebooted” published at Booz & Company website strategy+business.

That article is without question THE BEST single source of advice for library leaders I have read regarding answers to address the multitude of challenges facing libraries today. So much so that it bears repeating – often!

“7 Imperatives for Library Leadership”

    1. Rethink the operating model
    2. Understand and respond to user needs
    3. Embrace the concept of continuous innovation
    4. Forge a digital identity
    5. Connect with stakeholders in ways that pure internet companies cannot
    6. Expand the metrics
    7. Be courageous

The full article (seriously, you should read it) contains direct answers to the many elements of change that are facing library leaders, and which issues are being discussed ad nauseam in the library community regarding the future of libraries. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel so we can claim a unique strategy or solution. All we need is a successful strategy – and this is it!

1. Rethink the operating model.
Many of the old assumptions about running a library — that the measure of a library’s quality is the size of its book collection, that there’s value in keeping even infrequently loaned books on the shelves, that library staffing decisions shouldn’t be questioned — are outmoded and need to be set aside. This is not to say that libraries will be able to re-create themselves as purely digital, service-oriented organizations; …. But many libraries today, operating in paper and film, haven’t changed some of their operating practices since World War II. Their role as the preservers of recorded history means they have to spend a lot of their resources just maintaining the assets they already have. … They should … explore new ways of serving users more conveniently, effectively, and efficiently. Perhaps they can create an online reservation system that patrons can use for a small fee if they want to have a book waiting for them at the front desk when they arrive. … Such analytically enabled improvements are necessary as libraries come under increasing budgetary pressure.” [Emphasis added.]

2. Understand and respond to user needs.
“Libraries have only the most general information about their users — how many of them there are, what they do when they are at the library, and what they borrow. … [Due to] some provisions of legislation enacted after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. … the solution most libraries have settled on — namely, to avoid gathering any detailed information about users’ needs and activities — is far too timid. Libraries should develop advanced capabilities to build aggregated profiles of users, or what retailers call customer segmentation analysis. Who is visiting the library and how often are they coming? What are they doing once they get there? Which books do they borrow most often? Which books never leave the shelves? Which services get used most often; which least? Merchandisers and retailers have tools to help them answer these kinds of questions. Libraries, too, should adapt or create these and similar tools.” [Emphasis added.]

3. Embrace the concept of continuous innovation.
“This is not the time for libraries to shy away from new strategies. Library executives need to do more than innovate, however. They need to approach the innovation challenge with an entrepreneurial mind-set: test, measure, refine. And if something does not work, they must go through the process again: Test, measure, and refine using new ideas and concepts. The innovation doesn’t have to be of any one type; it can happen across the whole library value chain. …, there might be changes in format, including the opening of smaller library “outlets” in what is essentially a variation on a theme already being practiced by retailers like Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, and Tesco. Libraries should appropriate the many traffic-building enhancements that retailers are making to their stores.” [Emphasis added.]

4. Forge a digital identity.
“Clearly, there is no way that libraries could transform themselves into leading-edge Internet organizations even if they wanted to. … But some experimentation is in order. Should libraries let people reserve books remotely, from their home or office? Should they adopt a convenient delivery-to-home model, à la Netflix? Should they make their librarians available at all hours to respond to online inquiries? And to the extent that they do these things, should they (as part of rethinking their operating model) charge for some of these services, as the Toronto Library does with a fee-based custom research service? Finally, should libraries pursue these initiatives alone or in concert with one another?” [Emphasis added.]

5. Connect with stakeholders in ways pure Internet companies cannot.
“Libraries can’t provide faster online data retrieval than a search engine, and that’s not where they should try to compete. What they can do, on the community library side, is take advantage of their local strength…. Community library leaders who get out and make connections in the community will successfully transform their institution into a fulcrum for many of the issues and concerns that touch local residents. Their programs, services, and offerings will all be better off as a result of this outreach and connectedness.” [Emphasis added.]

6. Expand the metrics.
“… Keeping track of the number of monthly and annual physical visitors … monitoring the number of books … in circulation” must give way to “online-specific metrics … especially as libraries invest more resources in digital initiatives and put bigger parts of their collections online. And it will be important … for the measurements to move beyond the strictly countable … into attitudinal areas like level of engagement and customer satisfaction. … [I]n the bigger context of changes, this resistance to [measure staff performance] should be easy to surmount. Institutions that proactively measure performance, embrace change, and look for ways to serve users will have an easier time getting financial support in an era of reduced public resources and private donations.” [Emphasis added.]

7. Be courageous.
The library “… world has changed — a lot. … the environment in which libraries operate has certainly shifted, and the challenge for those running them is to figure out the evolutionary path they should follow. There is no one answer, which may provide an advantage to those with an appetite for intelligent risk taking. After all, nothing nowadays — nothing at all — is written in stone.” [Emphasis added.]

Librarians have always been courageous. Now is not the time to allow that most useful trait to disappear!


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Library Strategic Planning Process Overview

The information in the original Post has been included in Chapter 1 – Why Develop a Strategic Plan of my new book – “Crash Course in Strategic Planning

“Technology is changing. Customers are changing. Employees are changing. Communities are changing. Doing things the way we’ve always done them is shortsighted and impractical in the face of drastic 21st Century change. Strategies and processes that worked in the past will not be as effective in the future because both the internal and external environments are dramatically changing. At best, old methods will lead to stagnation, which will leave your library further behind what it should be to survive in the current environment. At worst, maintaining a status quo will lead to your library becoming irrelevant to your community, and eventually to its closure.
A strategic plan requires you to consider the changes in your environment, and to establish and prioritize goals and objectives, which will achieve your mission and vision in the face of these challenges.” [Pg. 1]

“Why is this important?” It is imperative before you begin the process to ensure that you have a consensus among the organization that strategic planning is an important and essential tool for success. Only then will you have the true commitment as opposed to empty agreements. True commitment will be required for participants to provide meaningful contributions to a process that will result in a useful plan with the possibility of effective implementation on all levels.” [Pg. 5]

(Matthews, Stephen. Matthews, Kimberly. (2013). Crash course in strategic planning. Santa Barbara, CA: Libraries Unlimited.)

Our book is now available from Libraries Unlimited. Visit their website for more information and your book orders.

Thank you for your interest and support of the 21st Century Library Blog.


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From Ownership to Access

In case it hasn’t become evident already, I’m a Baby-Boomer. So is my wife who was my high school sweetheart. We were both raised in Middle America with traditional values which we adopted – get educated, work at a career, own a house and two cars, support your local school and church, enjoy the American Dream.

The American Dream is, according to our friends at Wikipedia (sorry to those of you who think it’s a site that makes kids dumb, but I find it very much a modern encyclopedia that is highly useful and mostly filled with very useful information):

In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, “life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement” regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.

[BTW: Can you spell E-N-C-Y-C-L-O-P-E-D-I-A from memory? Did you learn to spell it from Jiminy Cricket too.]

Anyway, the American Dream also included a good steady job which was secure (if not enjoyable), traditional family values, and “things” – cars, boats, color TVs, golf clubs and country club membership, community and social activities including civic clubs and churches – along with grand kids, retirement, etc. A less proclaimed element of this American Dream was that one’s children would have more and better than their parents. The children of the Great Generation were ‘encouraged’ to go to college and become a professional something and try to make more money than their parents. The children of Baby-Boomers were ‘expected’ to go to college, maybe graduate school, and have better careers and make even more money than their parents.

The children of Gen X were expected to ??????? This is where the American Dream began to break down, or at least change to something else – just what is the big question. We’ve already seen that many children of Boomers are back home living with Mom & Dad because the economy is in the crapper, jobs are scarce, careers are indeterminate, employment is unstable, creative young people are taking their college fund and doing something else with it, families are fragile and less permanent, and a myriad of factors have been instrumental in altering that original post-Depression Era American Dream.

This may seem like a long way around to my point. But, a serious understanding of the “ownership” culture, and its demise is essential to understanding an “access” culture. Previous generations expected to own “things”, whether as a simple convenience to enjoy, or as a status symbol for some. Ownership was the only thing previous generations have known.

I offer myself as an example of the typical transition from the “ownership” culture to an “access” culture. My wife and I (Boomers), and our daughter (Gen X), are all avid moviephiles. We have spent many hours going to the movies, and hundreds of dollars collecting our favorite movies on VHS – beginning in 1984 when we bought our first VCR – and the brand new boxed set of Gone With The Wind that prompted that purchase. (Last Christmas we gave our daughter the boxed set GWTW on Blu-ray.) We moved on to collecting DVD movies, because digital gives a much better quality picture and sound, has non-linear access features, is in the original theatrical format, easier to store, and again, we satisfied that “ownership” culture. (Only a few very special Blu-ray movies today, since that new media is not yet affordable enough. One has to wait for the next generation of technology and media to emerge before the previous generation is truly affordable to the average consumer.)

We’re so much moviephiles that we often respond to conversation with movie quotes, and we can pretty much quote whole sections of our favorite movies back and forth. We have a DVD collection of about 50 of the 83 Academy Award Best Picture winners, out of a total collection of 300+ DVD movies (and a whole bunch of VHS movies not yet produced or affordable on DVD). You have to realize that this collection goes back to the days well before Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, and even before libraries began to develop a media collection. (Holy Cow!) So, “access” was not a natural or economical vision of the future.

Back to my point. For Christmas our daughter bought us a subscription to Netflix. “I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man.”1 at the thought of 100,000 film titles, even though there may be 10 million other subscribers competing for the same movie. (My favorite excited quote is what Clay Stone says about a happy puppy in City Slickers, but that wouldn’t be appropriate here.)

Thus, we Baby-Boomers have begun the transition from our deeply ingrained “ownership” culture to an “access” culture.

So far, this “access” situation has shown only advantages. It is hard to find any fault with 24/7 access to our favorite movies we don’t own (assuming uninterrupted Internet service, which is pretty much a sure deal these days since I can’t remember the last time our service went down), or at least get the DVD within two days. When we move next time, and hopefully to our retirement (dreams Die Hard with a Vengeance) location, we will have fewer “things” to pack and move – possibly only the Best Picture award collection (some habits Die Harder).

Even though there is an anxiety that goes with attempting to rely on “access” after being raised in an “ownership” culture, as I sit here typing and listening to The Beatles classic “Let it be” on YouTube, I now have a better appreciation of the “access” culture that borders on respect. Gen Y and Gen Net young people take “access” for granted, and the totally 21st Century generation may never understand “ownership”, because they expect “access” to become better and even more accessible – continuous mobile connectivity.

1. Alastair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge, “A Christmas Carol” (1951)


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Library Paradigm vs. Library Model

Last week I introduced my perspective and perception of the 21st Century Library Paradigm, which stated; The 21st Century Library will be defined by those librarians running the library to meet the needs of its local community, more than by the profession, or schools of library and information science, or by any association of librarians’ principles.

This paradigm obviously deserves more explanation, but I first want to address The Paradigm vs. The Model.

I stated a definition of a paradigm.

Kuhn argued that science is not a steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge. Instead, science is “a series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions” [Nicholas Wade, writing for Science], which he described as “the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science.” After such revolutions, “one conceptual world view is replaced by another” [Wade]. [Emphasis added.]

Back in January this year I wrote about the 21st Century Library Model developed by professionals at the Utah State Library.

The USL Mission and Strategic Plan, … [addressed] these external influences on libraries, a 21st Century Library Model emerged as a pyramid with the professional development and retraining of the librarian as its base, upon which rests the full understanding and integration of technology using business processes that form the building blocks of a 21st Century Library, that support the absolute purpose for the existence of libraries – customer centered, relevant library services for 21st Century Library customers.

Is there a disconnect between the two ideas? Not in my mind.

The paradigm is “one conceptual world view” of the 21st Century Library. It is overarching and general by nature, and describes a library as viewed from a broad philosophical perspective.

The model is a smaller version of the real thing that should contain:

• All of the basic elements of the real thing, only simpler. (A model of a car doesn’t need all the working parts, but should have all the essential components of body, windows, light fixtures, wheels, etc.)

• It certainly should look enough like the real thing to be recognizable. (A model of a house should not be easily confused with a barn, or office, or church.)

• It should be useful in creating the real thing. (A model house provides the basic design, proportions, layout and appearance of the real house it represents.)

The 21st Century Library Paradigm is the concept of a library, and the 21st Century Library Model is the blue print for a library.

But, doesn’t a blue print describe a specific house? Yes.
How can all 21st Century libraries be unique if there is a “model” for one? Because the blueprint contains the details for building a specific structure, which presumably has a foundation, walls, windows, roof, plumbing, etc., that makes it a house – as opposed to an office skyscraper, or a sports arena.

The basic elements of a blueprint are common, but the way in which the architect assembles the specific parts to make a unique house is what makes it a unique house. Many decades ago after WWII when the suburbs accompanied the baby boom, houses were all pretty much alike – they were called cookie cutter houses. That is also a good analogy for the 20th Century Library – cookie cutter libraries. The cookie cutter library did the job of the 20th Century paradigm of the library – provide books.

The 21st Century Library is no longer all about books. It has to be so much more to fulfill the vastly different information needs of its citizenry and their advanced technology and information literacy capabilities.

The 21st Century Library Paradigm is the concept of a library, and the 21st Century Library Model is the blue print for a library. The concept of the library defines what the blueprint of the library will create. You are the architect of your 21st Century Library.

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21st Century Library Paradigm – Even More Evidence

While reviewing IMLS publications, I came across their “For Further Reading” link to a 21st Century Skills reading list that contained this resource, “Libraries: A Vision. The Public Library Service in 2015.” England: Laser Foundation. 2004.


This discussion paper is the outcome of a two-day seminar for librarians held at Bedford in 2004. It was organised by the Laser Foundation (see Appendix). Those who attended were mainly young middle managers (The Futures Group). Each section of this paper was drafted by a different hand, and then edited to achieve some uniformity of style.
It has not been found possible to remove all duplication, nor would all delegates agree with all of the sections. This is, after all, a discussion paper on one of the most contentious, but important social questions of today: the future of our public library service.

Some Conclusions

• There will continue to be a need for a public library service which is “free at the point of delivery”; there will also be a need for premium services (Section 4) which may be home delivery, professional research services, access to the national back catalogue etc, all of which should be on a full cost recovery basis. (Section 14)

• Library services must follow retailing in being “customer-led”. (Section 5)

• The introduction of Radio Frequency Identification systems into libraries can revolutionise allocation of staff time. (Section 6)

• In a world of rapid social and technological change libraries too must learn both to change and to encourage the careers of those who can manage change. (Section 6)

• Library staff may have to adopt a corporate appearance, wearing a uniform, or adhering to a dress code. They must spend more time “on the floor”, and be as well trained as good shop assistants in customer relations. Good staff must be properly paid; less than adequate staff must be helped to leave. (Section 9)

• Management skills are in short supply; library school syllabuses are out of touch with today’s needs. (Section 9)

• The division of responsibility for libraries between national and local government is serving the public badly. A radical change in both governance and method of funding is needed. (Section 10)

• In the future there will be no “one size fits all” library. Each will reflect local needs. Some will share a site with other local services, or with commercial premises; others may be “virtual libraries”. (Section 15)

[Emphasis added.]

When I read this paper, I was concerned that loyal readers might think I stole my ideas from this paper, but I swear I had not read this before now. The similarities are amazing even to me. A group of “young middle managers” got together for a “two-day seminar for librarians” in 2004 and developed this vision of the public library 10 years into their future. I was so blown away by the similarities I had to bold those items that are exactly what I’ve been advocating for many months – AND THEY CREATED THIS VISION SEVEN YEARS AGO!

They envisioned libraries operated using a business model, librarians with business acumen, customer driven services, a responsive organization, updated curriculum in SLIS, and finally my proposed 21st Century Library Paradigm – “In the future there will be no “one size fits all” library. Each will reflect local needs. Some will share a site with other local services, or with commercial premises; others may be “virtual libraries.”

[If I had found this paper sooner, it might have saved me a whole lot of brain cells. 😐 ]


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