Thursday, November 30, 2006
Let me start by saying how much I admire Walt, and his clear and concise prose. I get a personal ego boost that he even knows who I am, and even reads this modest collection of random thoughts. He has even said nice things about what I have written, and I take that as a huge compliment. (It may simply be that I have "self-esteem issues" about my writing and writing ability.)
I have heard many authors be asked by audience members about how they structure their day, and manage to write. Walt answers that question for his personal style in the latest issue. (And here is the html link, if that is all you care about ... but I cannot stress strongly enough, how important it is to read ALL of Walt's writing.)
It seems to me that every writer is different. Each successful writer has struggled with and found the way to write which works for her or himself. Walt is no exception. The one common thread I would note, is that all successful writers structure their day and their writing time. They have figured out what works, and just repeat it. I don't remember ever hearing an author say, "Oh, I just sit where ever I am and sometimes use my laptop, sometimes use the desktop machine, and sometimes write long hand." They all repeat the process.
I want to thank Walt for his piece. It offers me some insight (part of the goal of the title of his publication) and perhaps a model to use as I set up a new life. Perhaps writing will become more a part of my life, and Walt's clear and lucid explanation of what works for him, will help me become a better writer.
My last day at work was actually at the first meeting of the Bridgeport Alliance for Young Children. It was held at the North Branch of the Library, and since I committed to it, I was there to open up for the caterer, and to do my part of the program. I was worried when I saw that gift basket carried into the building, and my suspicions were confirmed...it was a gift for me!
I headed out after the meeting with my packed car and trailer. After a short stop in Norwalk to say a last good-bye, I hit I-95 at about 12:15 pm. I was happy, only 15 minutes behind my self-imposed schedule.
Traffic was stop-and-go until Stamford, and then cleared out pretty well for the rest of the day. Because of the trailer, I could not take the Merritt Parkway, and took I-95 into New York, then I-287 (Cross-Westchester) across the Tappan Zee Bridge and on into New Jersey. I got to I-80, and that's what I'll be taking all the way to Chicago! (Go ahead, do a web direction search on a trip from Bridgeport to Eau Claire....of the total trip of about 1,100 miles, there are 727 miles on I-80, and another 239 miles on I-94 [that's tomorrow].) I'll be spending tonight with Nann Blaine Hilyard, Publibber and ALA Exec. Board colleague. Then on to Eau Claire!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Thanksgiving was not quite as advertised in the "Farewell Tour." My son's fiancee did not make the trip from Maryland (which simplified the sleeping arrangements), and my brother Thomas did not come down with our mother. On the "plus" side, my brother Paul and his family did bring their dog, Rusty, the thirteen year old Chow mix. He is definitely getting old. He does not run up and down the stairs the way he used to, which was good for our cat who is terrified of him.
Contrary to Robert Putnam did bowling NOT alone. On Saturday noon time, we met my sister Sue and her family in Torrington for bonding and bowling. Some folks I know would find it strange to be in a crowd of 15, where you are related to all but three by blood and to those three by marriage, but that is how we bowled. My mother presided, and the siblings were Paul, Sue, and me. (In birth order that is #5, #4, and #1). Sue and I each have three children (who were all there), and Paul has two. Our spouses were the ones in the crowd who were related "only" by marriage. In typing this, it occurs to me that we were the first three to get married, also. I was first, Sue was second, and Paul was third. Hmmmm.
It was a nice holiday, and I am packing and finishing the house projects like a mad-man. Right now I am waiting to go to church before changing into work clothes and tackling the last of the wiring in the attic (for the new outlets) and then the sanding of the wall patches followed by priming to prep for painting. I'll do a little work at the office, too, just to finish up packing there.
U-Haul should call tomorrow to tell me where to pick up the 5-foot by 8-foot trailer which is what I'll be packing on Tuesday for the Wednesday departure. Wish me luck!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I received a wonderful card from one of the scouts I have worked closely with over the years. Here is what he wrote inside the card.
Dear Mr. Golrick,While I think that there others who will step up and do the jobs I have done in the troop....I appreciate incredibly the sentiment. When I read this note (on a very nice card, I got a tingle through my body, and a tear in my heart. While I was trying to do something good, much of what I did was because I was having fun.
Ever since I first joined Troop 68, you have been there. You've been there to teach and guide the troop. Your knowledge and wisdom have been an inspiration for all of us.
I will always remember how you helped my patrol fix the mess we were calling beef stew on our first trip to Webb Mountain. Our trip up to Maine was a great adventure that I will never forget. You were a major part of my turning from a troublesome boy into a leadership capable young man.
Your leaving the troop is one of the hardest thing to ever happen to it. Although nobody will ever fill your shoes, maybe one of these days we will find someone with the spirit to try.
I am sorry I wasn't able to come down to your surprise party last week.
You might be glad to know that all your grammar and personal management lessons haven't gone to waste. They have given me a leg up in my business classes. Hopefully I'll see you again real soon.
Yours in scouting.
What a pay day!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Back in July of 2005, I was just back from ALA in Chicago. First day back (a Friday) and a got a call from one of my staff that the FBI were in the building. I dashed to the front desk, no FBI. I then headed upstairs to the Information Services Department, where the department head met me and introduced the two agents. They were not here over a USA PATRIOT Act claim or terrorism, it was a simple criminal case. They could have not been nicer, and provided all the paperwork I needed to help them.
Well, about a moth ago I heard from a Fairfield (next town over) police officer. He has a great name for a Detective: Peter Bravo. Lest you think I am making this up, look at his card. I blurred the email and phone numbers to protect him slightly. He was working on tracking down someone involved in credit card fraud who had used library computers to perpetrate the fraud. Again, he had his paperwork in order. (My Board President, an attorney, and another board member, a judge, checked it over.) We happily complied with the request.
Just a little more excitement in an otherwise dull [NOT!] week!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
As one of today's three posts notes, the days are getting short. With the Thanksgiving holiday in the middle, I have only eight more work days before departure.
Meanwhile at home, live proceeds on a faster pace. While in Eau Claire, I ordered a new boiler. The plumber will come tomorrow to check for what parts he needs, and then will install it on Saturday. We've finished stripping and painting all the doors, and now the trim in the master bed room. I just need to pull some electrical wiring. Then it's time for scraping the ceiling and patching the walls before the final paint. Hope to get all but the scraping and painting done before I leave. If I am lucky, we might get the ceiling done. If I get the wall patching done, I can leave the wall painting to Jill and Brian. We'll see. Stay tuned here and for Flickr photos.
I probably blew right past Steven Cohen’s blog post on encouraging librarians to avoid teaching Google search strategies. But I did pick it up in his wonderfully titled column in the September/October issue of Public Libraries. [link??]Steven writes the “Internet Spotlight” column, and has two and a half pages on the topic (p. 28-30).
Maybe I am just an old fuddy-duddy. I certainly learned Boolean searching very early in my career. I remember sessions with staff from Dialog, and from the New York Times product. In those days connection speeds were so slow, and the price for connecting was so high that we scripted our searches in advance. It was great practice to think out what exactly you were looking for. I remember the shelves of thesauri at Tucson, Bridgeport, and Wilton. We invested in the thesaurus if we used the database frequently so that we could produce great results.
With the “one box” search solution, I often find myself constrained. This is most often true when looking for a known item. That one simple little box doesn’t offer options. Even the file searching options which are part of Windows are often frustrating when looking for a document produced on a certain date (or set of dates) and in a known format, and with some known key words. I don’t know about your files, but at the moment I have 25,145 files in 1,461 folders occupying 32.0 gigabytes of storage space.
Steven also talks about stemming/truncating. Since I try to be consistent in my naming practices, being able to stem is really important, and not allowed in many of the simple “box search windows.” Go read both items.
These days, I’m thinking I should have made up a t-shirt like those for band tours. It would be called the Michael Golrick Farewell Tour.
Here is what it might look like:
October 17 Trendspotting II (Connecticut Colleagues)
October 22-24 NELA, Burlington VT
October 27 – 29 Owaneco Lodge Fellowship – Final Cooking event
November 6 Bridgeport City Council Meeting
November 7 Last time to vote in CT
November 7 Pomperaug District Committee (Surprise dinner event)
November 8 Final FLAG meeting and lunch
November 15 Final Bridgeport Public Library Board of Directors meeting
November 16 BPL Farewell Party
November 17 Last Troop 68 Troop Meeting
November 19 Wood Badge Dinner
November 20 Final Owanceo Lodge Executive Committee Meeting
November 22-23 Thanksgiving in Bridgeport Guests include: all three kids, one fiancée, my mother, brother Thomas?, brother Paul and his family
November 28 Final Bridgeport Rotary Meeting
November 29 Bridgeport Alliance for Young Children
November 29 Leave Bridgeport – stay in Western PA
November 30 Chicago suburbs
December 1 Arrive Eau Claire WI
December 4 Start new job – Staff reception
Life has been hectic, and I finally caught up on my electronic clippings for blogging (from September!), and now am working on my paper files. The fattest is the one for the New England Library Association (NELA). This year’s conference was held in Burlington VT (about 5 hours drive almost due north from Bridgeport).
Because of family commitments, I arrived just in time for the banquet at which Lucy Gangone received the Emerson Greenaway award. Lucy is a former NELA President, has worked in a number of libraries in New England including Worcester Public Library and Hartford Public Library. She was the brains and energy behind NELA’s leadership development program, NELLS. She moved to Florida earlier this year, and I am sure will soon be a leader there. There are photos from the event, and others have appeared in places like ConnText.
Maureen Sullivan – Leadership and Emotional Intelligence
I’ve known Maureen for many years, having first run into her when she was at Yale. I worked with her most closely during ALA’s second Core Values Task Force. (That is worth several posts, some day!) Maureen was the facilitator for NELA’s successful NELLS leadership event. She started by reminding us that leadership does not happin in 90 minutes or even a week. It is developed over time and needs the full commitment of individuals. Among other points she noted how many administrators use “evidence based management” in dealing with problems and complaints. She cited as an example dealing with complaints about “noisy teenagers.” How many complaints do we get compared to the number of people using the library? Does it really constitute a problem? One of her handouts was a great “Six Leadership Styles at a Glance” which we reviewed after rating our own leadership skills. I found it fascinating having used a similar instrument as part of the screening which the City of Eau Claire did for the candidates for Library Director. One great quote: “It is hard to speak truth to power.” Maureen noted that millenials are seeking more feedback than many of us are used to giving. We need to set some new ground rules. She also noted that there are regional culture differences. (This is something I will need to pay more attention to!) Also, there is regional cultural bias in management theories which tend to reflect the cultures of the coasts, and not the middle or southern parts of the country, Effective leadership is about building a relationship with followers. One of my new personal goals is centered around this: seeking to understand and be understood.
I did snag the handout for Maureen’s later presentation which I did not attend, called Nurturing Leadership within Your Own Library.Based on the handout, it was much more concretely focused on how to do this in your library.
Bottom line recommendation – if you ever get a chance to hear Maureen present on leadership (or anything else, for that matter) GO! It will be well worth your time.
Emily Alling & Maura Deedy – Social Software: What you need to know These two recent library school graduates was focused on academic library uses of various social software opportunites. They showed several of them including discussion of myspace, Facebook, Flickr, and others. They noted that reference staff at some academic institutions have used these effectively to encourage students to call on library staff for help. In a way, it is finding students where they are and engaging them. They had some very interesting practical tips.
ALA President Leslie Burger presided over an ALA Forum. Most of the Chapter Councilors were present along with a number of other ALA junkies. We talked about a number of issues. Leslie was most gracious in giving me some of the credit for working on the ALA Council Photo Gallery [link]. She also credited my friends (and back row colleagues from ALA Council last year) Rochelle [link] and Jessamyn [link]. Staff continue to tweak how it operates, and so far about 120 Council members are pictured. One of the key tidbits I picked up was the spread of economic impact studies. I know that Florida [link] and South Carolina [link] have done surveys showing that the return on investment (ROI) of spending public tax dollars on public library services ranges from 4 to 12. Leslie noted that Pennsylvania is about to release a study which shows the value between five and six. She also noted that the New Jersey State Library has a calculator [link] vor valuing a library.
There was a great panel presentation on NELLS. One participant and one mentor from each of the two sessions talked about the incredible value of the experience. Having done the program twice, NELA has now committed to a schedule with will have NELLS alternate with Counterparts. Staff and member leaders have found it too difficult to organize both events in the same year, so henceforth, they will alternate.
Gregor Trinkhaus-Randall – Prepared or Not, Here I Come: Disasters Waiting to Happen Gregor works for the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and did a first rate workshop on disaster preparedness. I picked up a second set of the extensive handouts so that I can share them with both my current (Bridgeport) and future (Eau Claire) libraries. Great content!
Museum Reception (ECHO Center) There are many pictures of this event on my Flickr account. As I was waiting in the hotel lobby for the shuttle bus, who should I run into but, Jessamyn West! We sat together and even found Lichen and her mom (who is also a librarian). It was a nice opportunity to see a very nice museum which seemed to be aimed at young people, but also explained the geology and ecology of the area.
Nancy Davis – Leading for Libraries and Leadership Does there seem to be a theme in my program choices? Perhaps. Some of the choices were affected by the knowledge that any of the place-specific programs would have less applicability in my immediate future. Nancy gave credit to Maureen for what Maureen had covered. Nancy also had a leadership skills assessment. Part of her message is to remember that we will use different styles in different situations. A really good leader will be aware of this and will change style based on the specific situation and needs of the individuals involved. This was a great follow-up to Maureen’s program.
Jessamyn West – Web 2.0, Library 2.0, Librarian 2.0 I won’t say too much about the content here, since Jessamyn has it up on the web. This is the first time I have seen Jessamyn formally present. I have known her for a couple of years, and really like her on a personal level, and respect her knowledge and ability to communicate it on the web. In this presentation, I could see why she is rightfully beloved by the librarians and members of the public she serves in Vermont. She struck exactly the right tone of not condescending, but without making assumptions about the level of technical knowledge of her audience. And she did it with a wonderful light touch and sense of humor. I’ll even go this far: It was great!
Closing Lunch The closing luncheon speaker was Jack Canfield the creator of the Chicken Soup for… series. He is now a motivational speaker, and after he talked about how the series was started, he talked about his newest book, You’ve GOT to Read This Book. I had almost escaped the conference without buying a book, but the pitch he gave was just too good. The book has stories from notable people about books that changed their lives. So I bought one for me (and have only dipped into it a very little), and one for a friend who is going through a rough patch. I hope it is a help and inspiration.
Exhibits I did wander through the exhibits, not so much to plan on buying anything, but more as part of the Michael Golrick Farewell Tour. I talked with a lot of vendor representatives with whom I have dealt over the years,Some I will see again at national conferences, but others I may not (unless/until I return to the region). It was a bittersweet part of the conference.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Last night was the regularly scheduled meeting for the Pomperaug District Committee (Boy Scouts). But because the City Council meeting ran so late the night before (I got home at 10:30 pm), I had not completed my homework. It had been a busy day, and I toyed with the idea of going swimming, but it was not to be!
I got home just after 5 pm, to meet a plumber for an estimate on a new boiler installation. We talked, and after today's call, we have a deal. Then I went to finish stripping the trim in the closet in the master bedroom. For some reason it took longer than I expected. It was about 7:15 when I finished, and I needed to change clothes and eat. For some reason, Jill was particularly anxious about my being late, but I did not notice. I changed clothes, and ate. I almost went swimming instead of the meeting.
I got to the meeting place, and the District Executive was outside and said "Oh, the Boys and Girls Club is downstairs, we are up in the gym." Up I went. What a surprise when I opened the door. The room was full with somewhere between 100 and 120 people, all friends from scouts! I was speechless! [Mark the date on your calendar...it doesn't happen often.]
It wasn't a roast, but a celebration. Mike Abrahamson did a wonderful slide show with many photos I had never seen. [I've been promised a copy ... DVD since it is a couple thousand photos over the past dozen years.] The Scouts from Troop 68 gave me a framed neckerchief which they all signed, and the adult gift was a James E. West Fellowship. The latter means that $1,000 has been given to the endowment of the Council in my name. Cool.
Needless to say, there were speeches, and little gifts. I was kind of embarrassed! I was impressed that they had kept it a secret...and my wife and son were both in on it and managed to keep their mouths shut!
Anyway, that meant that when I got home, I still had all that work to do. I fell almost caught up with that having stayed up until almost 1 am to get everything done.
Today, was up for swimming, more painting, and then off to work. There was a meeting of the informal steering committee for the Bridgeport Alliance for Young Children, whose first big meeting on November 29, will be my last act. I left that early to go to the Fairfield Library Administrator's Group which is the local group of public library directors. I value that interaction incredibly. That involved lunch. (Yes, a liquid lunch). Now, I've finished my last City Librarian's Report for the Board, and the agenda. Since tomorrow at a really early hour I head to Hartford to fly to Minnesota and Eau Claire. Time to find a place to live!
Tuesday, November 07, 2006
Here is a topic I am living. Again Stephen Abram Readiness for Change writes eloquently about change. He compares reaction to change and starts with the classic stages of grief [Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance].
He gives credit to Sharyn at Libraries and Librarians Rock blog who quotes "The Four Levels of People’s Readiness for Successful Behavior Change by James Prochaska from the University of Rhode Island.
Those categories are:
- Oblivious—can’t see the problem; deny that they need to change, resist change efforts.
- Contemplation—see the need for improvement and think about how to do it. They will talk about it but are not yet ready to do it. A person can get stuck in this phase for a long time just thinking about change.
- Preparation—focus on solution—action plan; aware of problem, see ways to solve it and anticipate doing it. May be propelled to this stage of readiness by talk with supervisor, disaster, personal crisis. This is the time for a detailed action plan.
- Action–visible change begins. The plan is embraced, practiced, and actions begin to change."
Read the post. It is illuminating.
My last catch up post is from Ellyssa and TechEssence.Info. She wrote 5 Reasons NOT to Choose a Technology Solution.
It is a long and thoughtful (and humor-filled) post and let me simply cite the highlights.
- The IT department has worked with COBOL in the past and would LOVE to use it again.
- They sure do have snazzy marketing!
- Your boss heard about it at a conference.
- Your friend told you it was 'da bomb!
- It’s expensive, it’s cheap, it’s free.
I have to admit that I am guilty of advocating #3, and if it is free, I will often take a risk. Go read the full post.
With the list of Emerging Leaders selected for ALA’s new program imminent, it seems like a good time to talk about leadership and management. Helene B talked about it in Library TechBytes in her post called On control & empowerment ...
She starts “Lately, it seems that week doesn’t go by where I don't find myself in some discussion with a colleague over the topic of leadership vs. management.”
This is a critical and important distinction, not just for the issues of customer service (Library 2.0), but also for general library management. She has a great bulleted list talking about some of the questions she (and many of us) wrestles with. That list is: Are our services designed control? Or to empower the user with options?
- Are our services designed to manage processes? Or provide our users with a rewarding experience?
- Are our facilities built to contain the user’s use of areas? Or provide users with flexibility and options to collaborate and multitask?
- Are our collections built on a formula to fill shelf space? Or designed to keep our shelves empty and ideas and thoughts circulating within our communities?
She continues with this comment: “The bottom to all these questions seems to come down to the distinction between the foundations of management and leadership. Management for the most part is based upon the principle of control (managing people, managing processes, etc). Leadership on the other hand is based upon the principle of ‘guidance’ and empowering others.”
One of the exciting things about ALA’s Emerging Leaders program is the vision that we need to invigorate our profession. Teaching the difference between management and leadership will be critical. Helene ends with this pithy quote: “In reality, it's not a choice that needs to made, it's a balancing act. And as libraries continue to transform and evolve, the goal should not be to weight the scales of control vs. empowerment evenly, but to ensure that we tip the scales as far as we can in favor of empowering the user - without falling over.”
[Edited to correct link -- thanks Helene -- on 11/8.2006]
My last cribbing from Stephen Abram is about what you need in order to learn. 12 Really Necessary Things to Learn
He gives credit to Guy Kawasaki for this list of twelve things to learn this year. Here's the list:
- How to talk to your boss.
- How to survive a meeting that’s poorly run.
- How to run a meeting.
- How to figure out anything on your own.
- How to negotiate.
- How to have a conversation.
- How to explain something in thirty seconds.
- How to write a one-page report.
- How to write a five-sentence email.
- How to get along with co-workers.
- How to use PowerPoint.
- How to leave a voicemail.
I am glad that several of these are skills I already have, and am working on the rest. (#7 is particularly hard for me!) Read the whole detailed post here.
I have been hanging on to these items from my blog reader to post about. So since I have a little time to type while at a City Council meeting, I thought I would catch up. The first is from Stephen Abram. He started by giving credit to Steven Cohen for locating Suggestica.
While I don’t buy a lot of books, after all, I work in a building with over half a million books. But the categorization is important for library services, because while this is about book buyers, there is much similarity with library users. They broke users into four categories: Browsers, Trackers, Analyzers, and Seekers.
Take a look, it will inform our design of new libraries.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Michael also pointed to an interesting challenge from Brian Kenney of SLJ aimed at public library administrators. I posted a comment, which has never appeared. It certainly explains why there are no comments on articles, when the software does not take the comments and post them!
In that I note that while the challenge to public library administrators is great, but there are a few flaws in his argument.
First, as an urban library administrator, my budget has been flat in nominal dollars over the past three years. This means that to just stay open, I need to give something else up each year. Never mind adding a new service! Any new service also will require giving up something.
Second, I have survived being a boy, and in my non-work hours do some work with young men between the ages of 11 and 18. I can tell you that after spending the day cooped up in a box, with rules and rules, that the last thing that a boy wants is to come to another box where quiet and subdued behavior is expected.
Do libraries really need to be in this business when we have such limited resources? In my community, there is an emphasis on OST (Out of School Time), but some of that is driven by NCLB (No Child Left Behind), and the politically driven drive to improve the "failing schools." What that has resulted in is decreasing amounts of physical activity for students as the schools are spending more and more time teaching to the d--n tests!
Is this an opportunity for public libraries to do better? You bet it is! But for many of us, it means we will be asking, what are we giving up to do this!
Friday, November 03, 2006
Here is the Friday Funny:
A recent email to "all staff" asked: If you get a scrape, a cut, a boo boo, or whatever you would call it....which is your preference to use? Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide?
Well the hydrogen peroxide does that great foaming thing....that is a wonderful effect, but for patient reaction, alcohol is better. So, it depends is the cut on me, on someone I like, or someone I don't like?A quick witted fellow staff member also replied:
Yes, but on the western movies they DRINK the alcohol and use the branding iron for the woundÃ…Ã…I'm going to miss this staff and their humor. I'm sure that the folks in Eau Claire will be loads of fun. One of the things I am doing on my visit is joining their Reference Department's "annual game night." It sounds like fun, and I'll have a chance to get to know some of the staff.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
In a year, I have had just over 10,000 visits. Is that good or bad? I don't know. I suspect that after the first visit, some folks add the web address to their aggregator for regular reading. That is what I do for most blogs. The only ones I actually visit any more are ones whose entries show up truncated in Bloglines.
Here is a chart of some of the simple data from the free counter:
Total Page Views
Uniques / Page Views
Counter Start Date
October 31, 2005
There was a pie chart, but at the moment that is too much like work to add.