Archive for May, 2007

And the Results Are…

Salado Public Library will continue with its current slate of board members as the two incumbents were re-elected as of 7:38 p.m. on Saturday evening. Although I will not be serving on the board, I am delighted by the following:

  • I had a fabulous campaign watch party surrounded by interesting, forward-thinking, supportive individuals.
  • I make WAY too much food so I won’t have to cook for a week!!!
  • We actually HAD an election. It’s a poor reflection on our civic-mindedness when we can skip elections because we don’t have enough people who WANT to serve.
  • I only lost by 31 votes which means that at least 435 people liked my ideas and I’ll continue to bring those ideas forward from outside the board.
  • I made a public statement that I care about enough about this community to put myself out there and risk rejection.
  • A good many people out there know about my qualifications as a university library degree instructor, a consultant to libraries across the country, a frequently invited library keynote speaker, and an active member of American Library Association. The two gracious incumbents commended me for my ideas and I in turn pledged my support to them during their tenure. Even without an elected position, I feel like I can do just as I have done with dozens of other libraries across the country…lend my expertise and be a consultant as my voice is needed.

I celebrate the democratic process and am thrilled I participated in this small way. I congratulate the winners – Patty Campbell and Susan Krals – and I especially congratulate my fellow non-incumbent, Thad Wilson who served on the library’s Long Range Planning Committee. Only he knows how courageous it is in a small town to throw your name into the hat. Based on my brief encounters with him, I’m sure he feels just as honored as I do to have had this marvelous experience and to be a part of the democratic experiment.

I’m sure there is much more I need to say, including personally thanking some fabulous people. But the prawns are in the trunk and need to be iced, there are scraps of chocolate cake that would go down nicely with a hearty Merlot, and there a more dishes than I can count that need to be rinsed before the caked food becomes part of the decoration. Just as I wished for more colleagues to enjoy the bounty of my afternoon cooking fenzy, so do I wish those same colleagues were here for the cleanup!

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Virtual Campaign Watch Party for my Out-of-Town Friends

On Saturday May 12, I will be hosting a Campaign Watch Party from 6:30-8:00 Central time in Salado in celebration of democracy and hopefully celebration of my election to the Salado Public Library Board. It’s a small town and 90% of the votes were already cast in early voting so we should have the results by about 7:30. The in-person party will be at the Salado Wine Seller.

Since I’ve received so much encouragement and support from so many people who can’t be with us in person, I’m hosting a virtual campaign watch party.

To join, go to: using your pc and Internet explorer. UNFORTUNATELY THIS TECHNOLOGY ONLY WORKS ON PC!

If this is your first visit, you will need to download something minor that takes about 20 seconds. After that, click on “Enter the Room”. You’ll be asked for a user name and password. ENTER WHATEVER NAME YOU WANT AS “USER NAME”…IT DOESN’T MATTER…AND IGNORE THE PASSWORD.

Once you are logged in, you will be able to send a text message, talk if you have a microphone on your computer (by clicking on the microphone in the lower left hand corner) and hear others if you have speakers hooked up.

I have another virtual room that works with Macs, but I only have space for three computer log ins. To join that room, go to: http://www.elluminate.com/live/md.html?rk=5KB3XCXCZNDWNW0N. Again, you will have to download a minor piece of software. Every time I go to this site it tells me I don’t have the required software, but I know I’ve downloaded it so I ignore it!

Once you log in, you will see my austin-pacific web site where I have been blogging about this experience. Once I get the results, I will update this blog so you will be able to see whether or not I won. Of course you can go straight to the blog (http://www.austin-pacific.com) and ignore the virtual room, but you’ll miss out on being able to talk to people attending the party and hearing our voices. I may even have a camera handy and upload photos until we get the results.

I hope you can join me. I know this is a bizarre experiment, but would you expect any less from me?

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Week 3 Answers to Village Voice Questions

Below are my responses to the questions posed by the Salado Village Voice which will be printed in the newspaper on May 9, 2007.

1. What do you see the role of a Library Director as being? (100 words)

The Director manages the daily operations according to policies and procedures developed between the board, director and staff with input from the community. The director ensures adherence to the budget established by the board with oversight from the Finance Chair, prepares reports to ensure transparency and accountability to the community and the board, manages staff and creates an environment for learning, mutual respect, and innovation. The director must be a visionary leader who stays abreast of emerging technology, new theories of management, innovative programming, opportunities to meet community needs, grant opportunities, and resources from the state library and professional associations.

—100 words—

2. What is the relationship between the Library Board and the professional staff of the library? (100 words)

The library director’s role is articulated above. The Board’s relationship with the staff is to ensure that they have adequate tools to perform their job under the direction of the library director.

I will increase professional development opportunities for staff through a comprehensive professional needs assessment and funding for staff to access training through conferences, workshops, and free online opportunities provided by the Texas State Library, American Library Association and OPAL (online programming the for all libraries). The board and the director according to the long-range needs of the community will orchestrate these professional development opportunities.

—96 words—

3. What one thing would make SPL the best small town library in the state? (100 words)

Eliminate “small town”, “in the state” language and be THE best library in the country – period!

Writing this from a conference of library instructors in San Diego inspires me to say that we should:

1. recognize that technology and the talents and skills of our local citizens make it possible for us to enjoy the same resources, programming, and access to information available to large urban libraries,
2. teach our community how to access those programmatic and technological resources,
3. be innovative beyond what other rural libraries are doing,
4. provide professional development for staff.

(see: http://www.austin-pacific.com for details)

— 100 words —

3. When the Library District was formed before Salado’s incorporation, it was stated at that time that a referendum could be called to release a portion of the half-cent sales tax the Library District collects so that the Village could collect those taxes. Would you support such a measure? Why or why not? (100 words)

With rural libraries closing at unprecedented rates, we are fortunate the Salado library can meet its short-term financial obligations. However, it would be irresponsible to support a tax release while our reserves are inadequate to fully meet the current and anticipated needs, especially when our library’s contribution to the economic and cultural vitality of Salado can exceed the value of its meager half-cent sales tax. The library can be the unbiased source of information about Salado’s economic and cultural opportunities – an information portal for new and current small businesses and new families, and a destination for tourists.

—98 words—

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More Notes on Library Services to Seniors From Flight #1566

I’d love to host gaming parties for youth at the library. This is not without controversy in some of the most progressive communities and is likely to face resistance in Salado. But I often wonder what young people who are not engaged in extracurricular activities DO in our community. Where do they go? They seem to be a hidden population.

But at the same time I’m concerned about engaging young people, I’m also interested in expanding the wildly popular computer classes my parents have taught to seniors. In fact, I’d like to connect our youth who are comfortable with technology as techno-mentors to the elderly population who are intimidated by computers.

Who could have predicted that an idea to address both interests would come from a seat mate on my flight home from San Diego?

Jim, a retired businessman who owned a Certified Public Accounting firm, described how he would spend the first hour with his new employees introducing them to the office, their workspace, the facilities and the coffee maker. Since it was the mid-80’s, many new employees were unfamiliar with computers so the second hour of their first day was spent playing computer games like solitaire. What a great way to get techno-phobes over the hurdle!

AND two generations later, what a great way of demonstrating the fun and value of computer games to seniors who might question library-organized teen gaming activities.

So now, I’m off on a really wild hair…can you imagine an intergenerational gaming night with seniors playing solitaire, free cell, or tetris next to a middle schooler playing world of warcraft?

OK, maybe that’s a bit far fetched, but I do think we need innovative ways to bridge the generations through technology and other interactions that let the youth be the experts for a change.

BTW, Thanks Jim and Janis for making the flight home so enjoyable! I hope you made it home to St. Helena safely and are recovering from your cruise. Do a couple of deep knee bends every time you approach the refrigerator and you’ll be over that week of non-stop eating in no time!

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Managing Organizational Change in the Library

[cross-posted at: http://texasforums.wordpress.com/2007/05/06/172/]
I am attending a conference called LOEX. This is a group of library instructors and the theme “Uncharted Waters: Tapping the Depths of Our Community to Enhance Learning” was perfectly aligned with my interests in libraries and community engagement.

The 11:15 – 12:15 time slot on the LOEX Conference Schedule in San Diego posed a real challenge for me. First, it is tough to be inside for a workshop at a beachside resort.

Second, there were two excellent presentations that both apply to my interest area and research.

  • The Role of the Library in Achieving Co-Curricular Activites in Civic Engagement on College Campuses, and
  • Sailing off the Map: Managing Organizational Change in the Library

I teach Change Management for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but I’m also researching civic engagement of libraries. Fortunately, they were both on board the William D. Evans Sternwheeler so I could bounce between the two and my colleague, Ann Bishop attended the civic engagement workshop. I introduced myself to Mary Reddick, CSU Sacramento and Susan Metcalf, University of S. Indiana who invited me to join them at the end of their presentation and collect e-mail addresses and introduce myself to their attendees.

So off to learn about Organizational Change from Wendy Holliday, University of Southern Utah and Kristen Bullard, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Wendy and Kristen used a conflicting values assessment tool to evaluate the organizational cultures at UTK and USU. This Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (free!) was developed by Kim S. Cameron and Robert E. Quinn in Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. Through a series of questions, the tool measures organizations according to four quadrants or dominant characteristics with each quadrant given a numeric ranking for a total of 100 points:

  • Clan Culture: very friendly place like an extended family where teamwork, participation and consensus are the dominant modes of decision-making.
  • Adhocracy Cuture: places an emphasis on entrepreneurship and creativity. People are encouraged to stick their necks out and take risks. The organization encourages individual initiative and freedom.
  • Market Culture: the focus is on results and getting the job done. Leaders are drivers, tough and demanding. The organizational style is hard-driving competitiveness.
  • Hierarchy Culture: formal and structured, this culture emphasizes procedures and managers are good organizers who focus on efficiency.

They asked members of each organization to respond to the questions two times – first assessing what is and secondly responding with what they would like for the organization to be. Not surprisingly, both organizations leaned heavily toward the clan or adhocracy culture and the primary difference between the current state and the preferred state was less hierarchy even when hierarchy ranked lower than either clan or adhocracy.

But the real value of the tool is not the picture of the current culture or even the preferred culture, but the conversation that takes place about what factors of each culture speak to their core values for the organization and what they reject from each cultural characteristic. For example, a discussion at the workshop revealed a bias against the Market Culture because of the competitive nature, and yet everyone valued the idea of getting the job done and focus on achieving goals. Although the description provided by the workshop leaders did not include “response to the market demands” I can imagine this is an element of the Market Culture and one that library instructors who are concerned about meeting the information needs of students would certainly support.

So the value is not in where the lines get drawn, but in the conversation about why the lines are drawn such…what elements fall within the box of acceptable behaviors within our culture and what elements fall outside of what we are willing to tolerate.

I can imagine that the skills a moderator uses in deliberative forums would be extremely useful in moderating a group reflection of this tool and its results. Essentially, the four quadrants represent four different ways of managing an organization and conducting business. They are each driven by a different set of values that take priority. No one method is the right answer. Elements of each are appealing, but too much of one over another may lead to unintended consequences. These are all criteria used by National Issues Forums in framing an issue for deliberation. Here are some generic questions we use to train deliberative forum moderators that could be useful in leading a discussion of this organizational culture tool:

  • Why does this particular approach appeal to you?
  • What might be the consequence of following this approach completely?
  • I know that you resist approach X, but what do you imagine is important to those who support it?
  • Can you make the best case for the approach you like the least?
  • What would it take to make this approach more palatable to you?

It would be interesting to use this tool and my experience in deliberation together! Perhaps I will find a way to integrate this tool into the course I teach at the University of Illinois Graduate LIbrary and Information Sciences program.

The presenters did an excellent job and I’m sorry I had to duck out early, but it was well worth it to connect with the civic engagement contingent on the top level of the William D. Evans Sternwheeler.

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Notes on Services to Seniors from a LIbrary Information Conference in San Diego

I am writing this from a boat in San Diego where we are about to have a presentation on Discovering Buried Treasure: Teaching Strategies for the Aging Population led by Juliet Kerico and Susan Frey from Indiana State University. This is part of the LOEX Conference for instructional librarians. Earlier today I attended a workshop on using podcasting and videocasting to introduce people to the resources of the library.

I figure between these two sessions, I will have lots to say about how the Salado Public Library can expand its services and the ability of teens and our senior population to tap into those resources. I know that there are resources housed in the Salado library that the public does not know about or do not fully know how to use. I also know that a number of interest areas, such as basic computer skills, could be augmented through innovative instruction and broader use of technology.

The Discovering Buried Treasure presentation was led by two instructional librarians from Indiana State University. The reference library department started a program teaching seniors, but learned lessons that they are applying to their library instruction courses on campus. ISU embarked on this project with senior citizens because it has a strong community engagement component – even to the point of expecting that the work of the university will benefit the local community. The library conducts programs for the community, provides a neutral space for community conversations, and other seminars on an almost weekly basis and has received a Carnegie classification as Curricular Engagement and Outreach category. One outreach effort to the senior community was the Dewey Institute, which teaches information literacy to seniors and eventually led ISU to offer programming at the Westminster Village Retirement Community in Terra Haute called, Bits and Bytes.

The focus on the Bits and Bytes was issue-based rather than skills-based. For example, the participants might use the internet to learn about medicare, health issues, or privacy. The format initially started with a 30 minute traditional lecture with power point slides printed out as handouts, followed by a trip to the lab. The structured series did not seem to work well because the participants were frequently interrupting to ask specific questions moving ahead of the steps, talking off topic (as the presenter noted, “chaos ensued”), while the lecture was very low-keyed and less interactive. To address why this was occurring and why it seemed to bother the course leaders, but not the participants, the ISU librarians used Martinez’s Learning Styles which documents four learning styles:

  • Performers: persistent, impatient to perform, want to do well, willing to challenge the methodology.
  • Conformers: want routine, will wait until shown next step
  • Transformers: highly motivated, want to learn, willing to challenge relevancy, not interested in the grade.
  • Resisters: extremely intelligent, but not interested in classroom work.

What ISU learned is that the elders they were working with are primarily Performers and Transformers, the two categories most willing to challenge. This required the instructors to change their perspective and approach. There was a mismatch between the teaching style and the learning style or learner preferences. The changes they made:

  • Eliminate lecture
  • Introduce a theme and have a lesson plan, BUT
  • The class owns the lesson and the instructors will go with the flow

What was fascinating is how these library instructors used what they learned from the senior classes in their own classes with university students. For example, they began encouraging storytelling to help make a connection between what students were learning and their own experiences. One tool they used was to engage the students in collaborating in creating a fictitious student who needs research assistance. That becomes the starting point for learning. In this way, the on-campus class owns the learning.

Not surprising, these innovative instructors saw the opportunity to draw in student volunteers into their work with the seniors. The Westminster site is now a field site for professors and students.

I am excited about applying some of the lessons learned by these two library instructors in the Salado Public Library. I will encourage our librarians and community volunteers to lead issue-based computer workshops for our seniors and will be standing by to offer advice based on what I have learned from this presentation. Obviously we will need to be sensitive to the learning styles of seniors and how we may need to adapt our own preferences. We will also need to find out what seniors are interested in learning – genealogy, privacy and identity theft, online banking, evaluating online resources.

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