Monthly Archives: March 2013

Follow The Leader? – Sometimes!

Have you ever noticed that life presents analogies that are useful in understanding work. I’m finding that commuting to work is offering more of them about 21st Century Librarianship than usual. Like the near blizzard on the second day of Spring.

It was still dark, the pavement was a black mirror, the golf ball size snowflakes were blowing straight at my car like the Enterprise at warp speed, and visibility conditions were the worst I’ve experienced in a long time. Fortunately the pavement wasn’t slick because it wasn’t below freezing and the snow was melting on contact. The visibility was horrific. What do you do? Follow the tail lights of the car in front of you, of course. Maybe not the best strategy, but under the existing conditions it is better than not seeing the road ahead at all. It’s also better than pulling off the road and never getting to your destination.

You’ve probably figured out where I’m going with this analogy, but let’s explore the details and ramifications anyway.

When you are unable to see the road ahead clearly because of the conditions which exist for you – maybe less than adequate visibility, glare from distractions, ineffective wipers – you have to do something to keep moving ahead. Does the person leading the way in front of you have the same conditions? Some are the same, like the driving snow in their face and the road surface – the external conditions. But, their internal conditions may be very different, like better vision, better wipers, better tires, better familiarity with the road’s turns, and more confidence about their ability to cope with the driving conditions.

On the other hand, maybe the person in front of you has worse internal conditions – really bad wipers, ineffective defroster, unfamiliarity with the road, less experience – and following them will prove disastrous. But, initially you follow because they are in front, and when the opportunity presents itself you can stop following and move into the lead yourself.

The same situation applies to moving forward with your 21st Century Library.

The external factors that affect your community and library are pretty similar to every other community and library. The economy is bad and not getting better any time soon. Competitors providing information to your library customers are everywhere. Resources are scarce, although that’s not a new situation. Technology advancements are continuing like a speeding train. Library customers are becoming more information literate than ever before, and demanding more technology-based services.

Your internal conditions are unique to your library. You may or may not be able to clearly see the path ahead, have the vision necessary to know the right way to go, or have all the resources necessary to meet the challenges in front of you. You may need more technology expertise among your staff. You may need more support from your community funding decision makers.

So, until you get to a situation where you feel confident in your conditions and capabilities, it’s OK to follow the leader. In order to keep moving ahead, go where the leader goes. Implement the technologies and provide the services that other leading libraries are, until you can clearly see that you can do better leading yourself – leading your own library into your 21st Century future. Kind of like the song Life is a Highway – your choices are to drive it or sit on the side and let the world pass you by.

It’s OK to follow the leader, sometimes. But not for too long, because then you lose the confidence and capability to lead yourself, and your library.

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eMovies From The Library – What Next?

It appears this is just a continuation of the inroads that libraries are making into the other-than-print eMaterials being made available to library customers. eBooks have been the major topic of discussion in the profession – as well as the publishing industry – for the past few years as more and more library customers are demanding more and more eBook titles be made available for FREE access. eMovies seems the next logical extension into digital materials for library patrons.

According to the Dagger News Service March 17 posting,

Harford County Public Library is pleased to introduce hoopla! Customers can now borrow thousands of movies, television shows, music albums and audiobooks right from a smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. With an HCPL library card, hoopla makes downloading and watching movies, television shows, and more easy, and it’s free.

Even better news –

Harford County Public Library is one of seven national libraries to Beta test hoopla and provide critical feedback to hoopla’s vendor, Midwest Tapes, before it is made available nationwide. Harford County Public Library staff has been testing hoopla and now it is time for Library customers to test it, too!

“hoopla is terrific addition to the Library’s array of downloadable products and it is significant that our customers will now be part of the developmental piece of this new service,” explained Mary Hastler, Library Director.

The six other libraries Beta testing hoopla are:
• Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC)
• Columbus (OH)
• Los Angeles (CA)
• Orange County Library System (FL)
• Seattle (WA)
• Toledo (OH)

Rumor has it that copies of the eMovies from hoopla are unlimited, so – NO WAITING LISTS!

As if this wasn’t excellent enough news for library customers, DHX Media is also getting into the action.

HALIFAX , Feb. 19, 2013 /CNW/ – DHX Media Ltd. (DHX.TO), a leading independent producer, distributor and licensor of mainly children’s entertainment content, has signed a major new VOD “Video On Demand” deal with Midwest Tape-owned digital platform HOOPLA.

This three year deal marks the first time DHX has sold to HOOPLA and underscores the company’s aim of exploiting digital opportunities for its library of programming on emerging platforms. Yahoo Finance

In my Post Technology Advances – SERIOUSLY! from March 24, 2011, I stated;

I’ve said “nature abhors a vacuum”, and where there is a demand commercial vendors are stepping in to fill that void. Business is more nimble and responds to market demands MUCH faster than any library organization. But librarians MUST keep in touch with our customers just as surely as any business, and respond accordingly with innovative services.

Watch to see what a free market will make available next for library customers! Is your library ready?

According to a reader Sally Bryant at Pepperdine University, hoopla is only offering their service to public libraries – hoopla’s loss.


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Perception 3 – Millennial Thinking

The other day my good friend urban library director asked me what came after Library 2.0. I had to think for a minute to realize that “Nothing” came after Library 2.0. There was “23 Things” that went around the world as the right information for the right time. Then as Web 2.0 was sweeping the nation, somebody dreamed up Library 2.0 which was simply new technology that might be used by a library. Since then there has been nothing new – of substance that the majority of the library world embraced – to come along to explain or elaborate on how we go about developing a 21st Century Library. Library 2.0 implied there were more iterations to come. There weren’t, and there aren’t.

Of course, that got me thinking on the subject and reflecting on many of my posts over the past couple of years. Many ideas and perceptions flooded into my mind and what surfaced was “Perception 3” – not 3.0 because there is no subsequent iteration to a new perception and millennial thinking. Even before I had a clear concept of what it was, Perception 3 stuck in my mind as maybe what comes next for the 21st Century Library. Let me elaborate.

Most of my life I’ve believed that when approaching any task, there is a right way, a wrong way and then there is another way – the Army way – or the government way – or the Dallas Cowboys way – or the Smallville Chamber of Commerce way – or Douglas County (CO) Library way – or whoever’s way. This essentially makes three ways of approaching any task or challenge or problem. Let me further elaborate.

The right way is the conventional wisdom way of approaching something. This is usually based in experience – we’ve always done it this way – and takes a safe conventional approach based on a generalized conventional perception that all conditions are equal to all previous conditions where this approach was successful. Only in the most simplistic sense can this be true. No two conditions or set of circumstances can ever be identical. The world is coming to understand this more as more and more actual situations prove that to be the case. Every situation is unique in some way, usually unique in many ways.

The wrong way is simply that. The solution flies in the face of reason and common sense – one does not use a sledge hammer to drive a picture hanger nail into wall board. One does not ask a prospective hire if they are married or have children. The wrong way is often the easy way, short-term solution with no regard for the long-term effects. The wrong way may also be the popular way, or fad way, or any other simplistic perspective on any task. The vast majority of the time it won’t work.

“Perception 3” is about approaching a solution to a challenge in a situational way. What are the circumstances, conditions, factors that influence the outcome and the root issue/cause of the situation that needs fixing? More importantly, what are your capabilities or resources to address the issue?

I recently read a review by Brian Kenney of Douglas County (CO) Library Director Jamie LaRue’s model for an e-book platform – Giving Them What They Should Want – at Publishers Weekly website. The thrust of the article was regarding the title, providing collection materials that librarians determine are what library customers should read, as opposed to what they want to read. Kenny raised the question: “That strategy seems to represent a new chapter in a debate public librarians in America have had for 150 years: should we be providing our readers with the material they want, or should we be providing books we think they should read?”

That’s actually not what this post is about, because what I got from the article was a clear sense that Douglas County Library is doing what’s right for it and its community. LaRue had the capability to create his own e-book platform and buy materials from non-traditional publishing/distribution sources to provide his customers with more choice than he could have provided through traditional sources. It works for them!

Serving an affluent, totally wired population of 300,000, the seven-branch DCL system was ripe for e-book experimentation. Well funded – with a materials budget of $3.3 million – the library was an early adopter of e-books, and remains both an Overdrive and 3M customer. Furthermore, DCL has LaRue, an entrepreneurial director, who has assembled a like-minded team.

So when the e-book drama with libraries began, LaRue went to his board and got its blessing to invest in the technology and software for DCL to host its own e-book platform. The library system acquired an Adobe Content Server, a MySQL server, and VuFind, a discovery layer that provides a unified, simplified front end, serving up results from the catalogue and the e-book collections in one user-friendly set.


LaRue didn’t wait for conventional thinking to tell him it was a good idea. He assessed his situation, he considered the circumstances, conditions, and factors that influenced the issue, as well as determined the WHY of the issue and established a goal. He determined the outcome he wanted for the situation that needed fixing, as well as the constraints on his library’s capabilities. There should be no criticism of what works for somebody else.

My point is: It was the right thing for DCL – LaRue knew it and used Millennial Thinking to make it work.

My other point is: It isn’t right for other libraries unless they have highly similar resources and communities. So, it would be wrong for them to try to adopt the DCL Model that LaRue developed. It’s actually even misleading to refer to it as a “model,” because it has very limited general application as it exists in DCL. Although someone else might be able to adopt some of what LaRue accomplished to fit their library’s circumstances, capabilities and community.

“Perception 3” is a new way of looking at YOUR specific situation, and finding the solutions that work for you. Perception 3 is rooted in organizational perception and framed in organizational capabilities. Perception 3 is Millennial Thinking!

Obviously, this flies in the face of traditional thinking and problem solving, but honestly, what has that accomplished since the beginning of the 21st Century? What have our professional organizations and schools of library and information science provided in new ideas and approaches to make 20th Century libraries relevant for the next 100 years? or even for next year for that matter? The drastically rapid technology, education and social advancements have impacted the way libraries are perceived and what services customers demand to the extent that the “right way” – the safe and traditional way – is useless. When libraries are on the threshold of irrelevance, shouldn’t somebody say “business as usual won’t save us” and strike out into new ways of librarianship? Librarians like LaRue and Kansas State Librarian Jo Budler appear to be doing just that.

Sun City Library, San Diego (CA), developed an advertising/sponsorship idea and consider it a win-win for the library and local businesses. Gwinnett County (GA) Library Board recently voted against it. Some solutions work for some libraries, but not all.

That is the Perception 3 approach – Millennial Thinking – What works for your library!


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