When this month’s theme was announced I got to thinking of some of the innovations that have entered into my world since I was a child. I should state here that I am defining innovation according to its “invention” and “evolution” roots. I wanted to think about what new systems/ideas/products have been brought into librarianship that have made me wonder how we could have ever done without.
I’ve been avidly following the 30 Days of Innovation series, and throughout the discussion I’ve been thinking about how keeping YALSA as an organization on the cutting edge is a continual process. I was reminded of the conversations the Board of Directors had when developing the Strategic Plan. With limited time, staff, and funds, the Board recognizes the challenge of developing innovation, and in response, created the Capacity Building goal in the plan. The key question is how can YALSA increase capacity so as to devote energy to innovation and the development of ideas that support members and the mission? Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #18: Capacity Building
I’m what some circles call a security wife – I think I’ve mentioned before that my husband is in information security.’ Lately, I’ve been sucked into helping plan their conference in November, which has furthered my immersion into the whole field. Yes, a lot of it goes way over my head, but I know more than the Average Jane. So what am I taking away from all of this to use in my own work? Well, I’ve increased my skill at designing the conference badges in GIMP, which is the open-source version of Photoshop. (If you need Photoshop, and the light version isn’t enough, beg your IT department to let you download GIMP. It’s free, and if you already know Photoshop, GIMP is a breeze). Open source shouldn’t be seen as innovative for our libraries in this day and age given how long it has been around, but it is. Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #17: Go Open Source
Can we finally put the argument to rest? E-readers are not killing reading, nor are they killing books. As research shows, people who own e-readers not only read more than people who don’t, but they read both e-books and print books. Not to mention, there are plenty of populations, from prison inmates to seniors, who will need print books for a long time coming. Neither one is going away.
That’s not to say that they’re the same, though. Far from it. In my experience, e-readers attract different types of readers than print books, and they’re also engaging more people who were previously non-readers. Anybody who thinks that’s not great, well… There are also scads of e-reading apps available for phones, tablets, and computers, so e-content is available to more than just people with Nooks and Kindles. People use e-readers for a variety of reasons, from pleasure reading to research, so it’s good to consider how many bases you can cover. The Pew Research Center released a report on reading, readers, and e-readers recently, and ALA of course responded. While Pew’s data is encouraging (among other statistics released, the study found that people who use e-readers read more books per year than people who only read in print), ALA pointed out that the stats of who reads at all, and who reads in what format, are also related to education and income level. So what can you do about it? Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #16.5 (bonus post!): E-readers as supplements
So often I’ll hear my colleagues say something to the effect that YALSA put out information such as programming ideas for Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week that we should consult to see how it might work at our own library. They’re absolutely right, and that’s the point of YALSA putting out information (so that it’ll be used by other libraries) in the first place. But sometimes I think they forget that they’re YALSA too (as members) and can share their own ideas and thoughts with each other as well. Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #16 It’s Not About the Title
We are creative people, we do a lot of creative things in our work, and we are subject to the kinds of fear and burnout that can come with being creative.’ How do you fight burnout? Take inspiration wherever you can get it.
I find a lot of inspiration in other people acknowledging the struggles and triumphs of creativity. One person who inspires me is Ze Frank, who I believe I once referred to as the father of modern video blogging.’ He had a successful Internet show, The Show with Ze Frank in 2006 and he is now, with the help of Kickstarter, returning to the Internet to start up a new show.
Ze says if you have an idea, you should just do it. Don’t worry about the skills or resources you might lack, just go for it. Because if you wait too long to get your idea out into the world, it becomes brain crack, an obsession with the perfect version of the idea that just gets more and more impossible to achieve.’ So fight brain crack, take the leap, put your ideas in motion, and don’t be afraid to fail.
His latest video, an Invocation for Beginnings is about just that.
Disclaimer: There is a bit of swearing in this video. (As there is often a bit of swearing in the creative process). I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily NSFW, but I also wouldn’t watch this on a public desk with the volume all the way up.
Last week as a part of the YALSAblog innovation series I posted about failure and how being ready and open to failing is a key ingredient in innovation. Once that post was published, in the comments, and via email and Twitter, I had lots of conversations with colleagues and friends about how one might be open to failure for themselves in the workplace, but if they didn’t feel supported in the possibility of failing in the profession or their work institution, then moving forward with failure as an option was pretty impossible. People I communicated with were particularly concerned about the tone of online discussions over the past couple of weeks. This tone makes those I talked with hesitant about presenting their innovative ideas. Who wants to open themselves up to failure when the profession (and colleagues) is going to call them out on it publicly, and sometimes in not the most supportive manner?
These conversations I had over the last week got me thinking more about how as a profession we need to breed a culture in which innovation can take place and where people feel safe in making mistakes and even in failing. I often talk with librarians about making teens feel safe in the library environment. And by safe I don’t mean safe from violence, I mean safe from bullies and from behaviors that center around putting one person down in order to make someone else feel better about themselves. In libraries in order for innovation to happen we need to make sure that staff feel safe from bullies, embarrassment, and plain old negativity. These are some ideas I have for making that happen: Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #14: Breeding the Culture
Have you looked at your library’s mobile website lately? Is it a little clunky but mostly functional, like mine? Is it just a squishy version of your full site? Does it work on all mobile platforms?
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not thrilled with the mobile version of my site, but then again I’m not thrilled with the full version of my site–it’s just a WordPress blog that I keep tweaking to suit my needs. It’s a huge step up from the site I inherited when I started here, though, which was really just a collection of links on a school website that looked like it was stuck in a mid-nineties time loop (as so many educational sites, unfortunately, do; ours has thankfully gotten a facelift since then).
I don’t have much control over my mobile site right now because I don’t host my own site or do much of my own coding–I use a WordPress template, although I do a lot with widgets and pages–but I do take a look at our site on my phone from time to time to see if WordPress has made any changes to the mobile version, and make sure mobile visitors still have access to the features they need. And what do they need? Continue reading 30 Days of Innovation #13: Go Mobile
Imagine this: You work in a library in which anything goes. Money is no object. Space is no object. Staffing is no object. Going out into the community is no object. And so on. If you worked in that library what would your wildest and craziest ideas for serving teens be?
Have libraries all over the community but not in a traditional library facility? For example, a library in the pizza place where teens go every day after school and every weekend? A library in the clothing store where teens go to see the latest fashions? A library in the park where teens hang out?
Make sure that every teen in the community – no matter what their book reading preference – was a library user in some way?
As a part of redesigning the teen space at my library we were looking for a way to partition off some space without building an actual wall. ‘ We thought about moving bookshelves, we daydreamed about sound proof glass, but nothing seemed feasible. ‘ Until my director came up with an idea: what about movable partitions that you can hang things on? ‘ Where would they go? Wherever we wanted. We could reserve the right to change our minds whenever we liked. ‘ What would we hang on them? Colored paper? Teen programming information? We settled on sketchbooks, figuring that would make it easy for content to change.