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We’ve recently been interviewing candidates at my library. One of the most important questions that we ask is, “What do you love?”

Ok, that’s not exactly how we phrase it, but that’s what we want. What do you love?

One of the things that makes my library the vibrant and extraordinary place that it is, is that, as much as we are a community of staff members coming together for a common goal, we’re a community of individuals, and that individuality is important to us.

photo of Harry Potter themed yarn bombing display table

Two loves come together: Harry Potter and yarnbombing!

Today, I designed a display for our Harry Potter themed yarn bombing. #craftinglove

Next month, my boss will do a book club about a WWI book that I cannot imagine reading. #historybuff

In May, my Head of Adult will bring in an author who wrote about his life in the punk scene. #alternativeeducation

We are all different. And it’s those differences that allow our library to be an ever evolving organization. We can meet the needs of the many history aficionados in our service area, but we can also reach the crafters and the musicians.

It is not only in our unity that we are strong, but also in our diversity.

Prove Me Wrong

kathrynabergeron —  March 12, 2015 — 1 Comment

9880428234_8a18ed679e_bIn the past month or so, my Library has hired two new Department Heads. Both of these new hires report to me, and I am thrilled to get to work with them. But, in working through their training with them, I kept asking myself the question, “what is my goal for these new leaders?”

In thinking about this, I’ve been meditating on something that an employee of my father’s said at his retirement party last summer. She said that the thing that she appreciated most about working for my father was that there were days when he would disagree with her approach, but his answer was, “prove me wrong.”

My goals for my Department Heads are:

  1. That they’re willing to come to me with new and crazy ideas
  2. That they’re willing to respectfully and thoughtfully disagree with me
  3. That in situations where its appropriate, they are able to prove me wrong

What’s my goal for myself? To give them the freedom to succeed and to help them prove me wrong at every step. A little humility never hurt anyone.

photo credit: Sweet. via photopin (license)

photo credit: Sweet. via photopin (license)

Two of the most interesting things that happen in the tech world in January are the predictions of technology trends for the new year and CES (the Consumer Electronics Show). As a techie nerd and former Systems Librarian, I wanted to give you some brief (*cough*not-so-brief*cough*) words about each as well as some resources to learn more (I am a librarian, after all).

Technology Predictions:

I do not love the new year for the resolutions or the singing of Auld Lang Syne. I love the new year because of technology predictions. My top choices from last year were the Internet of Things (IoT) and the importance of social technology in driving application development. I hung my hat on IoT. But, since this article is about 2015 predictions, I’ll leave you with this article from American Libraries about the Internet of Things.

2015 Predictions: Here are some examples (with commentary):

  • PC Mag’s Predictions: Kind of lame. Wearables? Health and Fitness trackers? What is this, 2014? You can do better, PC Mag.
  • Fox Business: In general, do I recommend that you get your tech news from Fox Business? No. But, I think that they are least tried to predict. Mobile payments expanding? Yes. Google being evil? Kind of yes. Net Neutrality failing? Yes. Making lobbying illegal in government? Only in my wildest dreams.
  • IDC Predictions (via Software Development Times): First off, I’m biased because the reporter made it far easier to understand than a traditional IDC press release. 3rd platform is just a confusing term. I agree with IDC on a lot though, IoT will continue to affect you. Wireless data growth will be huge. Security will be a big thing.

There are a lot of others predictions. Use Google. Read them. Think about them. Maybe post a comment about how wrong I am in a year. I’m ok with it. Plus, I’ll probably just respond to your concerns by using made up acronyms until you give up.

CES:

Why do we, as librarians, talk so rarely about CES. It’s a huge thing. To get you started, some online coverage.

Will all of the products at CES develop into something marketable? No. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t alert the world to tech trends that are worth considering. For example:

  • Sling TV: Cable TV is going to have more problems. With already developed trends of people cutting cable and using Hulu, Netflix, and other content providers, another nail has been placed in Cable TV’s grave with Sling TV from Dish Network. Offering channels previously unavailable from not-to-be-named content providers (like ESPN and CNN), Sling TV is giving more access to content without your local megacorp.
  • Internet of Things: I wasn’t so off in my favorite 2014 predictions, and CES proved me right. Apple HomeKit and Google’s Nest are just two examples of improving your life with connected “things”
  • USB 3.1: Ok, this isn’t a “trend” per se, just something that I’m excited for. Imagine, a day when you don’t have to try your USB 3 times before it plugs in. And why is it always 3 times? It only has two sides! If you’ve already tried the first side, why didn’t it work? </rant> Will USB 3.1 ever become the standard? I can only dream of the 30 seconds that it would save me in flipping USBs over the course of my lifetime.

I know what you’re thinking. Library service vendors are not the best about getting us the latest and greatest tech. Somehow the latest and greatest is always 3 years past before similar tech is ever debuted. But that is a rant for another day. In the meantime, take a trip down the road of the technologically ideal, library-based thoughts conjectured from CES trends:

  • Libraries rent Rokus and AmazonTVs from the desk. Some libraries do. And I love them. What better way to help your patrons evaluate their new viewing options on their ridiculously-thin TV, then with the help of the Library. They’re going to be paying off that TV for a while, so they don’t have any money to waste.
  • Where could you use IoT at the Library? What if your displays told you when someone took an item off, so that you could refill it? Or, better yet, what if those displays offered suggestions of similar books to the person taking the book off the display? What if your automatic sorter could tell you when there was a back-up of books now being caught in the conveyor? Or what about telling you when the return bin was full?

Tends in consumer electronics mean changes for libraries, both in how libraries use their own technology and in how they serve their patrons.

Librarian sensibilities meet the assignments of the PBS video show “The Art Assignment”.

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photo credit: heath_bar via photopin cc

photo credit: heath_bar via photopin cc

If Dilbert comics are any indication, I should have given up on office work a long time ago. “TheOffice”, “Office Space”, and “The IT Crowd” all tell me that I should be done, that working in an office is awful and terrible and we’re only truly ourselves when we’re not at work.

I call a TISSUE OF LIES! (I just looked up synonyms in the Macmillian Dictionary site, and that was the best they came up with.) Librarianship must be the clear exception to this pop culture rule, because I see so many wonderful and enthusiastic individuals changing librarianship — old and young, new and seasoned. There’s everyone from Nancy Pearl to Buffy Hamilton, Stephen Abram to Justin Hoenke — we are overflowing with talented people of all ages, exploring ever-more interesting aspects of librarianship.
Admittedly, I’m only five years in to my career, so there’s still time for me to become jaded, but I don’t anticipate it. I think the key to my successful attempt to ward off disillusionment: I don’t accept things the way that they are.
The most disillusioned people that I have met (in libraries or otherwise) have always been content to accept things the way that they are. They are smart enough to see that things should be different, but they never stand up for making it better. Some would argue that accepting the bad aspects of a job is a symptom of a larger problem, and that is probably true. But I would respond that we are all driven to create: create art, create music, create programming, create better collections, create solutions. That drive to create and the sense of accomplishment when you’ve seen a project through are uplifting and motivating. Yes, you get more work. Yes, most of the time people don’t want to hear what you have to say. Yes, a lot of things never change. But, for me, that program, that collection, that solution is enough to keep me trucking and optimistic about my opportunity to change the library and impact our patrons..
So, Dilbert, you may be hilarious, and occasionally accurate, but I wouldn’t get your hopes too high on my becoming jaded, because I’m in it to win it.