Tuesday, June 16, 2009

LJ Webcast -- Fail

Have you successfully gotten an LJ Webcast? I signed up for one, went through the test that the site suggested, was told that I am fine and set up. But I cannot get sound. A bunch of PowerPoint slides are nice, but with effective slides (which is what I have seen for two events), you need to hear the talking!

Their web site has no contact for technical problems. The web regsitration has no info. Even the "partner" site providing the software/hosting has no tech contact info. You can "Contact a Solutions Expert" which sure looks like signing up for a sales call to me!

Library Journal Webcasts = FAIL

(And even their web site sucks. Very small print for the articles/blogs which you cannot enlarge, very, very long load times, and the RSS feeds only send a limited number of characters, not the full blog entry!)

Links - Week of June 15

One-Third of U.S. Doesn’t Have Broadband
This is a big issue for the US. It also reports "3 percent of Internet subscribers say broadband is not available in their area."

And in the same vein, Free broadband won't entice all It is a British source (BBC), but these two quotes jumped out at me:
"Some 42% of adults said that they had no interest or need for the internet. This so-called self-excluded group tended to be older or retired, with 61% confessing to never having used a computer."
"For 30% of those currently offline the main reasons given for that choice was financial or lack of skills."

I have been reading Nicole Engard for several years now, she had two great posts recently:
Librarians as Writers
Phonebook on Facebook

ALA Council has been talking about standards for accreditation off and on for several years. At Midwinter, we passed competences for librarianship, and also sent to the Executive Board a document requesting revisions in the accreditation rules. It is only recently that library educators have sat up to take notice of what was passed, and for some reason, are upset. (Why weren't they upset when a public library director said that he would note hire an LIS grad from his state's flagship university -- and ALA accredited program -- because they did not know enough about libraries!) Here is where you can read and comment about the standards revisions.

I also read Roy Tenant (in print and electronically). He has some interesting comments on Google's new service.

I don't blog anonymously, but there are those who are anonymous/pseudonymous. Here is an interesting controversy in the law library world. And here is another take.

Every once in a while I hear the old story about how Texas could decide to become five (5) states if they want. (Which while it is technically true it is unlikely.) This article talks about another way to "break up" the US (and they call it: devolution).

Whither file sharing, and will the RIAA and music industry ever learn? An old case resurfaces.

Here is an interesting search engine which focuses on credibility, using librarians!!

Good budget news from NYC: Speaker Quinn and Mayor Bloomberg Announce Budget Agreement Council restorations preserve funding for firehouses, 6-day library service and ACS case workers
And in the press release, libraries come ahead of the firefighters!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ALA Council -- What's up?

Here we are, about a month away from the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. [I consciously chose not to link. I hate the way ALA Conference web sites are set up.]

The ALA Council list has been incredibly quiet, and free of content.

Interestingly the two most recent "hot topics" were about whether documents would be posted to the Council list or we had to go to ALA Connect to find them and a discussion about loyalty oaths brought about when a councilor found a 1950s era resolution on the topic.

[Geezer alert] I remember the day when the Council list [ALACOUN] was a very high traffic list with lots of posts and discussion of issues being raised before coming to the floor of Council. That has changed dramatically. I am unsure of the reason why, but I have a "gut feeling" that some of it has to do with the shorter terms. One point that proponents of shorter terms made was about having an opportunity for "new blood." Well, it seems we have had that, and the folks now elected are not nearly as vocal as those in the past.

Some of you who read this are my constituents (since I am a Councilor-at-Large). I welcome, indeed solicit, input. I will continue to speak out when I feel a need, but if there are burning issues, let me know.

Monday, June 08, 2009

ALA Calendar

Here is my attempt at inserting my ALA calendar using Google Calendar.

The only info in here is my ALA Schedule from July 10 - 15. It is (of course) still subject to revision.

Update 6/9: revised to actually work....I hope.

Sunday, June 07, 2009


My father died thirty four years ago next July 15. My mother died last April.

So, there are legacies and there are legacies. One is the money one. My youngest brother has been the executor for my mom's estate which will be settled a little more than a year after her death. (That is not bad for Connecticut.)

When my dad died, he had been working for an insurance agency. He had a good amount of insurance which helped support many of my siblings with their college educations. (That is what he intended.) Since he died six weeks after my undergrad was done (and we even had a ceremony in his hospital room in Boston), I did not necessarily benefit. Of the eight of us, six have undergrad degrees, and three of us have a masters, with two of us with two masters. (When you factor in that of the eight of us, only three of us attended only one undergrad colleges, the numbers multiply. It was so much that my mother at one time said "Only stickers from where I went and where people are currently attending can go on the car windows! )

When I started college, my mother went back to work. After college was over for my youngest sibling, my mother used the remaining funds, along with what she earned, and what she had inherited from her in-laws and her parents to both live and to travel the world. She had great stories, adventures, photos, and souvenirs. Hey, she raised eight children, she deserved it! She always said "Don't count on any money, I plan to spend it all!"

My youngest brother, who had lived with my mother for several years, served as the executor of my mother's estate. I cannot have been easy. If my mother had died three years earlier, it would have been my job to deal with the issues.

This week I got my share of the estate. You know what? My mom came close to spending it all.

She had a good life. She made the world a better place. The town she lives in has already named a place after her (a vernal pool which the USGS has accepted). There are books in the local public library in her name (appropriate for younger Girl Scouts, a love of my mom).

So what have been their legacies (my mom and dad)?

Well, let's take a look. Eight children: one librarian (me), four teachers/non-profit workers (Peter, Sue, Beth, Helen), one entrepreneur in the environment (Paul), two managers (Meg, Thomas). There are almost nineteen grandchildren. Over half of them have already graduated from college. Some work in the non-profit sphere. Many of the ones who do not commit some of their time to non-profit efforts. The grandchildren include three Eagle Scouts (so far -- Jason is only 10-ish). Many of the girls have been Girl Scouts.

Money? Well, some of us are working with the local Community College to establish a scholarship fund in my mother's name, to allow a deserving student to continue education in Early Childhood Studies. Isn't that a legacy? In addition to whatever else happens.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Links and miscellany

Most recently, I have been collecting interesting links from both Twitter and my Bloglines account. I have gotten into the habit of just leaving the link open in a tab in my browser. Well, it is time to clean up again. Some of the titles are self-evident, but I have added comments to some of them.

And now in categories!

Bringing Broadband to Rural America (the official FCC report)

Broadband Nation. A new blog about broadband issues.

Bringing in Broadband. The issues in one Florida county.

Mapping Broadband. This person/organization may well not be a friend for libraries.

Lobbying the FCC for access and no caps.
New technology and Web 2.0

Paper Highlights Pros and Cons of Twittering at Academic Conferences

"librarians express affection through information"

Resolving the 80/20 dilemma "End users are spending less time on gathering the information they need – but their search failure rate is going up." A great article of importance to all librarians, but this one is focused on special/corporate libraries.

Technological accommodation of conflicts between freedom of expression and DRM: the first empirical assessment This links to a much longer PDF file on the Cambridge University web site

Search is too important to leave to one company – even Google Cory Doctorow in the Guardian

Study: Unselfish Individuals Benefit in Social Networks

9 simple suggestions for using social media

Twitter in the workplace. This is a presentation for government leaders on the use of Twitter.

Intellectual Property issues (IP)
IP rights and the Blind The US, Canada, and the EU try to limit the rights of blind people to use technology to receive written material -- Cory Doctorow on Boing Boing

IP: File sharing and Copyright. I have not read the full article (a link to the PDF is here), but the summary presents the intellectual property issues in file sharing in a new light. (Hmmm, maybe a full post is coming.)

Publishers are trying to avoid the Music industry's mistakes.

All Dressed Up with Nowhere to Go: A Survey of ALA Emerging Leaders

General Library stuff:
Mommy haven takes a hit in down economy

How to love your library

The 'M' word always has good stuff about library marketing. Nancy Dowd does a good job, this one is on the future of the media we will need to deal with. {Memo to grammar caucus fans...I did that on purpose.}

Darien Library's new brand image was picked up from John Blyberg. Check out the other clients here.

Job seekers at the library. While this is not new, there are some interesting statistics at the end. I also have to comment that when I first looked at this site, I thought I was at NOLA.com which is the site for the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

Freemium A new way of thinking about library services and charging for them.

The Big Picture
Google takes on Amazon from the New York Times...and it is only for e-books.

Communicating a message. An interesting re-post from Stephen Abram on the differences that the wording of a message can make.
Free Range Librarian on where she is in her life and in her blogging life. It is actually a little similar to where I am.

Hot flashes -- a new perspective I found this one absolutely fascinating.

Want. Need I say more?

The rise and fall of LSU. I am not completely sure of the author's credentials, but it certainly is an interesting perspective on the positioning of state universities within the state power structure.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Silk Purses and Sows Ears? Assessing the Quality of Public Library Statistics and Making the Most of Them: PLA Spring Symposium 2009 - Morning I

The program began with an introduction by Joe Matthews. He went over the handouts (in paper) and reviewed the agenda review. He reminded ups that the only dumb question is the unasked one.

Is is possible to develop a "library goodness scale?"

What is good, what is a great library? This is an interesting challenge to define.

In a library organization management’s responsibilities are:

defining goals;

  • obtaining the needed resources;
  • identifying programs and services to reach the goals;
  • and using the resources wisely.

There are benefits and challenges: lots of performance measures -- most libraries have too many which are never used. (You have the authority to stop collecting data if it is not being used.)

A very important concept is "You get what you measure." He cited an example of police performance measurement. As a result of the measure used (minor quality of life issues) the community had man cops reporting pot holes – including the same pot holes day after day. The measure, reports filed, was incredibly high. The solving of crimes was not. As managers we need to refine the performance measurement system to reflect what you want.

Benefits and challenges: role of evaluation not to prove but to improve; provides feedback on actual performance; develops a culture of assessment. When data is disconfirming, report is often ignored rather than addressing the issue raised.

Efficiency & Effectiveness

Efficiency is the internal perspective: are we doing things right? Effectiveness is the external perspective: are we doing the right things? It is an important distinction.

The Library-centered view: how much, how many, how economical, how prompt?

Types of measures: Leading v. lagging: circ is lagging, what you did last month; historic data.

Leading is something that lets you forecast demand: pre-registration figures. In Joe’s opinion there is no relationship between inputs and outputs in libraries!

Leading indicator at reference: Very few libraries use reference data they have to change the staffing pattern at the reference desk. There is no leading data for reference queries...it may be the number of Google searches that month. He quoted OCLC Perception data on use of library reference as first source 3% of the time. You can forecast from past data trending. Should change staffing pattern, should get rid of reference questions....

A leading indicator could be a "high holds list" for items on order; another could be the school district calendar for staffing the reference desk.

Question on interpreting data when users asked what they want. Triangulation, partly asking what they want, customer satisfaction data, focus groups.

Measures need to be: SMART: Specific (accurate), Measurable, Action oriented, Relevant (clear), Timely

It is also important to review the data, and how it is collected and reported. In one library, the gate count suddenly doubled. When a manager went to check the manager discovered that there was a new staff member reporting it – the gate counted both those entering and exiting, and the former staff member correctly reported ½ of the number as the attendance. The new staff member did not.

Why do we use the data? There are several reasons: to help understand demand; to demonstrate accountability; to help focus; to improve services; to move from opinions to use of data, more responsive to customer needs; communicate value.

When we collect data we make some assumptions. For instance comparability (why does 3-week book count the same as 2-day DVD) [Joe also made an argument to not include renewals as part of circulation]; accuracy [how to count reference? ticks or argues to use gate count as an indicator; also argued for sampling--demonstrated busy-ness, need to demonstrate value] blow up reference desks....get rid of them.

Performance -- often bunch of numbers and no historical context, last 2-3 years of data.

Problem is failure to keep pace with ever rising expectations.

Larry Nash White presented next on the Library Quality Assessment Environment

He noted that he was raised by grandfather who was an efficiency expert.

Performance person in the library actually knows more about what is going on in the library. Statistics and metrics are like tight fitting clothes, they are suggestive, but not completely revealing.

History helps tells us where we have been. Most of what we measure we stole from somewhere else.

We have measured parts, how do we measure the whole. In 1934 Rider developed a way to maximize efficiency using costs. "If we don't assess things and do it correctly, then others from outside of the library will come and do it for us." (Rider 1934) About 100 library systems around the country are run by an outsourced firm (LSSI and others).

Google in 9 hours answers as many reference questions as all libraries in the US in 2006.

1939 was first customer service survey. 50s and 60s saw the quantitative crunch. Smile ratio as a measure? Especially when there are more smiles on the other side of the counter.

What is happening today? What are the influencing factors?

How many have enough resources (money, time, staff)? No one. [Great story about Santiago, Chile library. Single building of 275,000 square feet, 75 staff, 75,000 items to serve a city of over 5 million from one building.]

Increasing stakeholder involvement is important. When you want to keep your stakeholders out, that is a bad sign. They bring in own perceptions, biases, etc. which you must work with.

Technology is neutral, it is intent which the value. How we use it to deliver service it is made good or bad. How effective is our technology service. Total cost of ownership studies. Anti-tick marks. Use technology to count wherever possible. Use automation system to count computer use, reference questions, directional questions. An ILS is really good at counting. Can do location by location and hour by hour.

We are always borrowing from someone else. Libraries are using what business world gave up years ago. And they are tools that were often designed for something else.

Time is affecting what we do.

More quantitative data is wanted by stakeholder, more qualitative data is wanted by profession. This is a tension/division.

A wider scope is needed to assess and improve the process. Dynamic alignment: held up knotted string, not a macramé -- used as an analogy for our performance assessment environment (not much give). Do you have the right things in place, counting the right things and giving the right answer. (Pulled in the right way, and it became a single string.) When we align our assessment we need to continually align because of the changes in the environment.

Future predictions

  • More assessment.
  • More quantitative data to support quality outcomes
  • More intangible assessment. (Many things we do are intangible, and are important.) What would it look like if we started reporting the air.
  • More assessment of organizational knowledge
  • More assessment of staff knowledge (human capital) are we effectively assessing the use of that resource.
  • Increased alignment of assessment process.
  • [Intellectual capital. Human capital -- what people know. Structural value -- what is left when people go home. Value of the relationships: stakeholders, vendors, partners.] Report the value created. Wherever we spend money we need to report the value of what we do.

Ray Lyons then talked about Input-Process-Output Outcomes Models

IMLS has now embraced the United Way’s language. But there are also program evaluation sets, and a 1993 Government Performance Results Act.

He showed several graphics including "Program Evaluation Feedback Loop." It is considered to be a rational process. It is also very stagnant which ignores political issues.

If you remember why you are doing this, you can often come up with your own answers to your questions.

Evaluation questions include "merit." Orr's model does not include stakeholders very well, they are listed as "Demand" How can you produce demand?

Performance Assessment is often blind to unintended consequences. Does not ask: what are the real needs of the community?

Input statistics, should only be used only in connection with outputs, only potential for services. Output statistics measure current level of performance.

Goals are often related to the statistics. Aren't you going to reach a point where you can no longer improve?

Interpreting output statistics: interpret in relation to goals and is left up to the library. There are no standards for evaluating quality or the value of the items. We also don't look at the relationships between the data elements. (Or don't trust the judgments we make.)

PLA Spring Symposium Notes

So, I was looking in blogger, and found that I had not posted these.

They need some editing, the first will come up today. I am working on the others.

Info service? Bad name

I came in this morning to find the latest series of posts on PUBLIB about a new text answer service. If you go to the PUBLIB archives, look for the posts which have "Text to 542542" in the subject.

The second post mentioned the name of the service: kgb.com

My reaction was visceral and immediate. What kind of dummy would choose that as a name? But before I posted to PUBLIB, I checked. Yes, KGB is the Russian abbreviation of Komityet Gosudarstvjennoj Biezopasnosti (Committee for State Security). also known as the Soviet secret police.

As a quick reference (rather than wander downstairs, and to get "clippable quotes," I went to Wikipedia. Here is one quote which reflects part of the reason for my reaction:

During the Cold War, the KGB played a critical role in the survival of the Soviet one-party state through its suppression of political dissent (termed "ideological subversion") and hounding of notable public figures such as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Andrei Sakharov.
Here is a second quote:
One of the KGB’s chief preoccupations during the Cold War was the suppression of unorthodox beliefs, the persecution of the Soviet dissidents, and the containment of their opinions. Indeed, this obsession with "ideological subversion" only increased throughout the Cold War, primarily due to the rise of Yuri Andropov in the KGB and his appointment as chairman in 1967. Andropov declared that every instance of dissent, including for example religious movements that rejected the Communist Party, were a threat to the Soviet state that must be challenged. He mobilized the resources of the KGB to achieve this goal. Soon after Yuri Andropov's appointment one of the KGB departments was assigned to deal with religious leaders, churches and its members. Most dissidents were apprehended by the KGB and sent to gulags for indefinite periods, where their dissent would lack the strength it might have had in public.
Why would anyone in their right minds choose this as a name.Even worse, they call the people who work for them "agents." As a friend of mine would say: Holy cats!!

Now.....I have some other issues with the service including the fact that they pay the huge sum of 10 cents per answer. How trustworthy are the answers at that price.

I am about ready to begin a campaign against them on multiple levels.

DMV - Fail - Update

Just a final note, the third time was the charm, and now both cars have not only Louisiana plates, but "brake tags."