Baby Library Issues

Library Building update

Besides being way too long since my last post (it is getting busy around here, and Eliza hasn’t even shown up), it’s about time for an update on the Library Building Project.

If you take a look at the wiki, we’ve basically filled it with information about all our existing square footage, projected square footage, and basic collection decisions. At the last building committee meeting, we received the go ahead from the committee to look at compact shelving for our entire collection. This was a huge concern, we weren’t sure that everyone would see the benefits…the numbers are there in the wiki, but it saves us nearly 20,000 sq ft that could be used for patron-centered services.

I’m particularly happy with the feedback form. People are starting to use it to tell us what they want out of the new space, and we’re marching ever toward a shiny new patron centered library.

Library Issues

Library Building 2.0

As a follow-up to my previous post discussing the current mania at MPOW regarding our new library building, I can now share with the world our wiki:

UTC Library Building Project

So far, I’m thrilled with the way this is coming together. Using 2.0 tools to put this project in motion has saved us enormous amounts of time, and just allowed us to do things that couldn’t have been done before. Tagging Flickr photos to let the designers know which chairs you like? Annotating video of your site visits so that the architect can see just what that reference area has that you want to mimic? Brilliant!

Anyway, we’re making this entire process as transparent as possible, to the point of actually rejecting mechanisms if they aren’t transparent. We’re committed, so it’s time to see what the rest of the world thinks.

We’re on track to complete our program plan in April. The external committee has just been formed, and will meet for the first time next week. Wish us luck, and let me know if you have a cool idea for us to use, or just tips for moving forward with the project.

Library Issues

Thinking about the catalog

I’ve been thinking a bit about the library catalog lately, mainly due to my time at CiL talking with Tim from LibraryThing, as well as being on the NGC listserv.

We know that OPACs suck. They suck because they don’t meet the expectations of patrons, and are written for librarians and not the public. But we hate the OPAC because it just fails to deliver the information cleanly, and doesn’t allow for serendipity. But the OPAC is only one part of the ILS, and the other parts are where I feel like I’ll get pushback from within my library.

In thinking and planning in my still-new-to-me position as Head of Library IT, I’m looking at the next year, the next 3 years, the next 5 years. It’s clear that getting out of our current system will benefit us, and that’s not really a question. The question is: where do we go? I don’t want to jump from, I want to jump to.

So what do I want out of an ILS? I know what I want out of an OPAC…and I know how I want it to look, act, feel. But I don’t feel like I’m quite comfortable making judgements about the rest of the ILS quite yet. I know I want flexibility, but that’s like saying I want color…there needs to be more specificity before there is any usefulness in that word. And I’m just not quite sure.

Those of you with more ILS experience, or more experience in other parts of library administration (especially Access or Circ or Acquisitions)…what do YOU want out of an ILS?

Library Issues

Uses for Five Weeks

Just an idea that others might find useful…after participating in the remarkable 5 Weeks to a Social Library course offered by my heroes, I began to think of ways to re-use all of the incredible content.

As you may have noted, at MPOW we’re hiring two new librarians. Hiring new librarians is always accompanied by some type of orientation process. The Head of Reference and I are going to collaborate on the orientation process, and the plan is to use some of the 5 weeks presentations as introductions to tools we’re using and concepts we’re interested in pursuing. Here at UTC we’re using WordPress, Joomla, RSS,, GAIM, and the plan is to implement other things discussed during 5 weeks…why reinvent perfectly good introductions and explanations of those tools?

I’m thrilled with the thought that all of this content can be used for free, and for any number of things…learning takes many forms. I know that it’s going to save me enormous amounts of time at MPOW. Thanks to the organizers, and also to the participants who graciously allowed your work to be licensed for reuse.

Digital Culture

the devil’s plaything

My hands have been far from idle these last few days. In fact, they’ve been nearly frantic…you certainly wouldn’t know it was Spring Break around here. I know that my life has gotten overly full when I realized that I didn’t realize that I hadn’t written here in days. Days!

In no particular order, here’s some of what’s keeping me up at night.

Old database page at UTCThe complete overhauling of our Database pages at UTC. We’re moving away from this organization eventually (going to be aiming for a more holistic presentation of our informational sources) but for the interim we still needed to update to the new website look and feel. While I was at it, we worked up some better ways to present the information, like collapsing the database descriptions using javascript. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way it turned out. The pic is of the old page, the new one can be seen here. Throw me some feedback if you have any.

LITA podcast logoThe LITA election podcasts have started, and over at LITAblog things are getting good and busy. Some really amazing content in the podcasts…I’m thrilled with the way they turned out. I heartily recommend people head over and listen or subscribe to them before voting for LITA officers. Congrats go out to Jane, Karen, and David for helping make this a reality, and to the existing LITA officers for supporting it. More podcasts to come from LITA, so stay tuned to LITABlog for those…we’re hopefully going to seriously up our audio/video capture of portions of ALA Annual this year.

Lupton Library Alert BlogThe launching of the first official Lupton Library blog. I’m not linking to it, and it’s not google-able, because it’s designed to be an internal communications device…we’re trying to reduce the number of emails that get sent around updating people on status of things. Plus, its handy that it’s searchable and categorizable and such, so that we can return to it and see that, for instance, our printing system has been down 3 times this week. The goal is to get people familiar with seeing/using a blog, and the move forward more aggressively with a public one.

On top of the above projects, its Goal/Evaluation time around the old UTC. This is a hard year for me to evaluate, as I’ve officially had three positions this year, and my goals I wrote 12 months ago seem less than appropriate now. Oh, and, of course, today was the application review date for our two open positions, so I have stacks of applications to look at.

I’ve also been giving a lot of thought to technology usage. While we are using a blog (WordPress, of course) as an alert system, I made some concessions to existing technology usage and comfort. For instance, rather than teach everyone in the library the blog interface, as simple as it may be, I set up the blog so that it can be posted to via email (and only from the email addresses of our faculty and staff). In this way, there’s no learning curve for use…simply add the blog to your address book, and send away. It’s a bit of a hack (using Postie for WP and a cron job to force Postie to grab the pop email) but it works.

My question is: when does helping people move into the realm of enabling? Is there a point where, in moving forward, you risk leaving people behind, and how does that get managed in your organization? Libraries haven’t had to deal with this issue for very long…as I said to someone today, prior to the online catalog, libraries really hadn’t changed significantly in a long, long time. There are plenty of librarians who made it through that change…how was that handled, and did you have people who just refused to move away from the card catalog? Did you just have to remove the catalog to get them to move on, and how was that handled politically?

And after all that, what I should have really been doing was writing my due-all-too-soon book chapter. *sigh*

Digital Culture

Writing projects

Well, now that both contracts are signed, I can talk a bit about my next two writing projects.

First up, I’ve agreed to write an article for Library Journal. The topic? A new reference/instruction project here at UTC involving podcasts and iPod rentals. We’ve got grand plans that we hope to put into practice over the course of 2007 that involve video and audio production and leverage our new website (just launched today!). We’re looking for integration and experimentation from our reference/instruction team, and I have faith they’ll come up with uses that I can’t now imagine. But for LJ, I’m going to write up the entire planning process, from grant writing to how we’ll handle the various challenges involved in a project of this scope.

Second…I’m currently under contract to write a book for Linworth Publishing, tentatively titled Biblioblogging (almost certainly that will change), along with my partner in crime Karen Coombs. I plan on blogging portions of the work, research, and process involved in this writing as well.

These two things, along with the new job…well, let’s just say that 2007 is promising to be interesting if nothing else.

Digital Culture

What do I need to know?

I call upon the wisdom of crowds: I will be moving into my new Head of Library Information Technology position in the new year. What information sources must I now attach myself to in order to fully embrace and excel at this job? I’m thinking:

  • Listservs?
  • Conferences?
  • Blogs?
  • Publications?

Lay the world of Info Tech management on me, and tell me where I should be participating and consuming!

Digital Culture

Back from Thanksgiving

And there’s a bevy of stuff happening at MPOW. We’ve launched the official beta of our new website, and I’ve signed to write an article for Library Journal.

Yeah, yeah…let the stoning commence!

To be fair, I did request and get the “better” publication agreement from Reed, as well as request and receive permission for a clarifying line of text to be added to the agreement (the clarification was in the realm of the term of the contract, and what rights reverted to me after 6 months). I will be able to self-archive the work, which was a big deal. I feel like I was treated fairly in the negotiations, now I just have to write.

So what am I writing about? There’s a great opportunity at MPOW revolving around our instruction section and podcasts/vidcasts/netcasts/whatever the cool kids are calling it these days. I wrote a grant proposal for 30 ipods and supporting equipment (including everything we need to produce nearly professional level videos), and we’ll be moving forward with integrating podcasts into our new instruction/outreach efforts. So my work for LJ will be chronicling that process, as well as looking at ways that libraries can leverage this technology to greatly enhance their efforts towards patron education.

I’ll be blogging some of the process…it’s exciting, because it’s a completely new feature for MPOW, plus it will involve a lot of integration with the new website and the instructional team.

Digital Culture

Reference as Help Desk

One of the things I’ve been thinking about a lot over the last few months as I worked through the website redesign at MPOW is how reference departments interact with patrons in the virtual world. In conjunction with the re-launch, we’re going live with our IM reference service, and re-visiting how we take virtual reference questions. As I think about how we do things, I realize I’m not happy with the overall way we’re dealing with email reference…it’s distributed, so there’s no single record that can be browsed for common questions. It’s not archived in a meaningfully searchable way. It’s not flexible. It requires us to manually forward emails and potentially miss a followup.

So in re-envisioning email reference in a new way, I realized that what I really wanted was a Help Desk/Trouble Ticket system. Is anyone out there using a formal Trouble Ticket system as a reference tool? Or, is anyone using one at all, in any capacity, and could recommend a good Open Source php/MySQL system?

I’m looking for something that presents a browser-based form for collection of issues, with a big plus if it also allows email reception into the system. Anyone got a favorite?

Library Issues

And yet more on the website redesign…

So, a bit of an update.

CMS? Check.
Install? Check.
Template? Check.

Got the rough template design done earlier this week, and while there will be lots of updates to it, the very rough structure is in place. Now it’s all about verifying the migration plan. We’ve got a test server that I’ve been doing all the experimenting on, and the question is now do we do content addition on the test server, or go ahead and move on the production server, with the risk that entails?

In the spirit of answering the question, I’m going to attempt to move my current Joomla installation to another spot on the server…fresh install, and then move the database over. We’ll see if that works, and that will answer the above question, I hope.

Next week? Actual, honest-to-god content migration begins! (I desperately hope…)