Thursday, March 27, 2014

Louisiana Library Association Conference 2014 - Day 1

Benefits after BTOP Laptops

The program was a panel of library directors who talked about the success of the program. They included stories about people sitting in the parking lot to use Wi-Fi. One even mentioned that they received phone calls from people in the parking lot asking them to re-set the router!

The best of the stories was from one library director who went out to retrieve an overdue laptop. She walked up to the trailer where the person lived. With no argument the woman gave it back. As the library director was leaving, the patron said: "Oh, would you sign me up so that I can borrow it again when it comes back."

One of the directors noted that the BTOP-funded classes were very popular, and that he would willingly take more laptops.

[Cypress - software for writing resumes - more to come]

Patron on the Edge: Customer Service in Difficult Circumstances

Sarah Creekmore, Admin Assistant to the library director in Lincoln Parish presented the program. Prior to her current position, she had worked in reference, and had an extensive experience in customer service in banking and retail. She notes that one of the differences is that in public service, we are the product, and we need to focus on delivering the best possible product.

React v. Respond
Reaction is generally negative "gut feeling" "not thinking, feeling"
Respond, thought out, have a plan, able to see alternatives, logical tools in advance of the situation
Observe behavior, and respond in a way that is most effective

Mood Swings
  • Anxiety (necessarily a problem....)
    • Give them your undivided attention
    • Speak more softly and calmly
    • Let them vent (don't interrupt)
    • Make it right (if library is wrong)
  • Belligerence
    • Acting Angry
    • Accusatory
    • Bad language
    • Take control quickly 
    • Keep eye contact (otherwise may think trying to get away, but don't look down -- submissive look)
  • Control (Out of)
    • Communicating threats, intoxicated = call the cops
    • Get additional staff/co-workers for back up
    • Safety is paramount
  • Calm
    • Not usually a problem (unless, just out of control, if this happens don't fall for it)

Attack Strategies
  • Bullying/Manipulating
    • Sometimes need to think through to figure out what they want
    • Critical to find some truth in what they say
    • Disagree without arguing
    • Ask for input
  • Smarty Pants-ing
    • Patrons who know the rules better than you do
    • Attempt to overwhelm with information
    • Energizer bunnies -- going and going and going (try to paraphrase briefly)
    • Ask specific questions, the more specific the better
    • Thank for input
  • Back Stabbing
    • Call them out.....ask for their direct input/opinion
  • Gloom and Dooming 
    • Eyore - perpetual pessimists
    • Acknowledge the part which is true
Derailment Tactics (deny, defend, or counter-attack)
  • Broken Record
    • Repeat: "Really sorry you feel that way, but this is our policy"
    • Can apologize for the inconvenience (not necessarily effective)
  • Fogging (for manipulations and counter-attacks)
    •  Acknowledge remark (take the meat of what they are saying)

  • Bargaining
    • Alternative solutions
  • Defusing Triggers
    • Triggers are personal (bad bullies will find them and poke)
    • Sometimes you need to have someone else intervene and deal with patron
Keeping Cool
  • Avoid losing control
    • Accepting emotional responsibility
    • Find the trigger
    • Put things in perspective
    • If necessary, use an exit line
  • If you lose control
    • Interrupt yourself
      • (scream stop inside your head...take a breath and tell patron what is going on)
    • Communicate your feelings (no blame or apology needed*)
    • Continue or reschedule as needed
    • *Unless actions were negative, i.e. throwing or yelling
 Examples/Real Life

ADA does allow you to ask for service animals to leave if they urinate or defecate in the building or if they are creating a disturbance. Can ask if a service animal and can ask what their function is. Can ask the animals to leave, cannot ask the patron to leave.

State of the State Library

Presentation is on the State Library web site. Full presentation is here.
The good news? The current budget proposal includes $1.4 million in State Aid. This will help the State meet the federal MER (Minimum Expenditure Requirement).

Overview of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA)

States used to produce their own codes. But then they came to realize that there were companies that were doing it, so they chose a private publisher to do it. In Louisiana, West Publishing is the official publisher. Many states have moved to online to "save money."

There is a site which AALL maintains which indicates sources of online codes and whether the online copy is official and the copyright status. (List is state by state.)

In 2007, NCUSL (National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws) approved a study explore digital authentication. in 2011, the new legislation was approved.

UELMA definition is narrow: constitutions, session laws, codified laws, and administrative rules. States may expand the definition if they want, but it is a local decision. The act applied to electronic legal material that has been designated official.
  • Official designation
    • Must name and agency or official as the the "official publisher" for each set of materials
    • No definition of relationship between state and commercial publishers
  • Authentication
    • Provide a method for the user to determine that the record is unaltered from the official version
  • Preservation and Security
    • Publisher shall ensure integrity and preservation of the record
  • Public access
    • Should be permanent
    • "Reasonably available"
Adopted in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, and Oregon.

There was conversation that AALL was going to target Louisiana for enactment, but searching for bills does not find any proposed legislation. will come to be that the online version will be official.



(Re)Organization: Recruiting, Training, and Retaining a Diverse Library Staff

State Librarian Rebecca Hamilton, and LSU professor Robin Kurz did an excellent presentation on the topic of diversity. Full presentation is here.

LLA Book Dinner

Richard Paul Evans was an absolutely captivating speaker. I only took notes on my phone, and here are a couple of gems:
  • He told a very humorous story about how one day he appeared for an early morning talk show (Atlanta?), and there was a dispute between his publicist and the show's producer. The result was that the station agreed to promote his book signing, and he came back the next morning. While being set up with his microphone the next morning, the technician let slip that he had been "bumped" the previous day. For whom? Elvis Presley's podiatrist. Who arrived with a container of Elvis' toenail clippings!
  • "The map you see is not the road. The way you see the world is not how the world really is."
  • Every revolution started with a book.
He talked extensively about his philosophy about life as contained in his book on the "four doors."

It was a great end to the day.

ALA Executive Board Elections

There has been a recent discussion on the ALA Council List about parts of the process for electing ALA Executive Board members. Anyone can read the postings. Go to the ALA List of discussion lists and look under Governance for the Council list. Once you click on it, look for the box on the left side of the page for Archives, or look here for the threaded discussion.

As background, you may want to read Bobbi Newman's wonderful post The First Rule of ALA Executive Board is You Don’t Talk About ALA Executive Board. It gives all the foundational documents (and links) and some insight on her experience, which is more recent than mine. I highly recommend that you read the comments also, not just because I commented. Peggy Sullivan, who was both on the ALA EB as President and as Executive Director, offers some perspective as well.

In the comments I said a couple of things that I want to repeat for those who don't bother to go there:

I served on the ALA EB from 2003 – 2006, and started my blog most of the way through my term. I did talk some about being on the Board, and certainly on the blog have talked about service on Council. ...

One of the wonderful things that happened when I ran was that the six of us nominated by the Committee on Committees all went out to dinner at that Midwinter. It was a very congenial group. Two of those six were elected (the other person elected was nominated from the floor and could not join us for dinner). Of those not elected two were elected in later years.
One of the important points that Karen has raised, is the fact that it is easier to publish, even share, intentions today than it was. It is also true that there was (I am no longer a member of ALA Council, so I can't judge the current climate) a climate of this election being one of "standing for election" unlike for President, Treasurer, or even Council itself, of "running." After all, I have helped candidates with handing out flyers, talking up platform issues, even doing electronic mailings. I did so gladly when I felt that I could, and that it did not compromise my position.

[An aside: I spent my first two terms on Council as a Chapter Councilor. I perceived my role as that of representing my state, and of representing ALA to my state. For Presidential and Treasurer elections, I was (well, tried to be) as even-handed as I could. The only opinion I would offer would be a private one, privately. As a member of the Executive Board, I felt that I could not in good conscience campaign since I would wind up serving with the successful candidate, and if I had vocally backed the "other candidate" that would have felt awkward to me. That is a statement of why I acted the way I did. As a Councilor-at-Large, I did as I wished, and did publicly endorse and actively support candidates.]

A part of me agrees with the idea that there should be more discussion prior to Midwinter, and more opportunities to interact with the candidates. When I "stood" for election, I did not really stand still. I made it a point to talk to fellow Councilors at the reception (Midwinter only event) for new Councilors. I chatted with them before and after sessions, each meeting of the Council Forum/Caucus, at the Chapter Councilor meeting, at committee meetings, etc. I did ask those I knew to vote for me. As many know, I am usually vocal, and did not silence myself during the period. Today would be different.

There is also not always someone nominated from the floor. There was the year I was elected, and that person was one of the successful candidates.

ALA Elections 2014 - My list

Some years I have written more about this, and other years less. This year is going to be a minimal post. Below are listed the folks for whom I will vote for ALA Council. I am still undecided about ALA President, I know both candidates slightly, and am still trying to make up my mind -- unlike in some past years where I had a clear favorite.

Not making the list does not mean that I dislike or disagree with a person. More likely, I just do not either know them well enough or know their work well enough to support them. The list below is alphabetical, because that is the way my ballot is/was.

Vivian Bordeaux
    I worked with Vivian at the Bridgeport Public Library. She is very thoughtful.
Matthew Ciszek
    I met Matthew through working on Council. He is very well-spoken and articulate. (Plus usually agree with him!)
Emily E. Clasper
   Emily is a dynamic library trainer from New York. I think she would be a great addition to Council.
Roberto C. Delgadillo
    Like several of the folks on this list, I met Roberto through Council. He brings a wealth of knowledge to Council.
John Desantis
    Like several of the folks on this list, I met John through Council. He is in tech services which is a part of the 
    profession often under-represented on Council, and John is articulate on the issues he chooses to address.
Ed Garcia
   Ed has been the Rhode Island Chapter Councilor, and is articulate and thoughtful.
Rhonda K. Puntney Gould
   I have known Rhonda for a number of years. She is active in ALSC, and has worked with the Wisconsin Library
   Association prior to her recent "removal" to Washington (and a different WLA).
Dora Ho
   Dora is a former ALA Exec Board member. I worked with her on the Membership Committee. She has the 
   broad perspective that is important on Council.
Em Claire Knowles
   Em Claire is a former ALA Exec Board member. She has the broad perspective that is important on Council.
Susan L. Jennings
    I met Susan as part of my work on Council.
Margaret L. Kirkpatrick
    Margaret is a long-time support of Youth Services issues. She has a long and distiguished record on Council and, 
    I think deserved to be elected.
Charles E. Kratz
   Charles is another former ALA Exec Board member. He has the broad perspective that is important on Council.
Rodney Eugene Lippard
  Rodney is a former Chapter Councilor who is also thoughtful and well-spoken.
Mike L. Marlin
   Mike is a vocal advocate for people with disabilities, and I have come to respect his expertise in this area
Dale K. McNeill
   I have known Dale electronically for many years, initially from the PUBLIB discussion list. He would be a great 
   addition to Council.
Michael J. Miller
   I have worked with Michael on several committees over the years. He is thoughtful and articulate
Jerome Offord
   I got to know Jerome primarily through his work in diversity at OCLC, and our overlapping group of friends. He is
   thoughtful and well-spoken.
Andrew Pace
   Andrew is a well-spoken and thoughtful person who also is an advocate of appropriate use of technology.
Kevin Reynolds
  Kevin is another former ALA Exec Board member. He has the broad perspective that is important on Council
  He previously had served as the Tennessee Chapter Councilor. It is important for the Chapter perspective to 
  be represented by more than just the official Chapter Councilors.
Jules Shore
   I know Jules mostly from social media. He is a medical librarian, and as such, would represent a segment of libraries
   which is under-represented on ALA Council.
Christian Zabriskie
   Christian is one of the founders of the Urban Libraries Unite, an important new library advocacy group. 

So...that is my list.


Monday, March 03, 2014

Mardi Gras - some reflections

Today is Lundi Gras. Those who know a little French, recognize that as being "Fat Monday," after all, "Mardi Gras" is French for "Fat Tuesday." It is the sixth Mardi Gras since I moved to Louisiana, and I thought I would share some reflections.

First of all, in South Louisiana, Mardi Gras is not just one day. It is a SEASON. The season begins on January 6, the Roman Catholic Church's Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. For purists here, that is traditionally the first day on which you can eat King Cake.

For the record, I love King Cake. It seems like each bakery takes great pride in the quality of its King Cake, and everyone seems to have some special touch. The very simple description is that it is a twisted, filled sweet roll/bread, usually with at least a cinnamon filling, if not some other flavor, which is in the shape of an oval, and is frosted and sprinkled generously with colored sugar. (More on colors in a moment.) Today, many come filled with cream cheese, fruit (strawberry), or even candy mixtures (praline). They can be so sweet as to make your teeth ache.

Celebration of Mardi Gras started with the arrival of the French in Mobile. [Mobile was actually the first capital of Louisiana, a fact often lost in the quick trip that many of us make through the history of the US outside of our home areas.]

The traditional colors of the New Orleans Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold. All three colors were used by the Catholic Church throughout history and thus continued to be used in relation to Mardi Gras which was Catholic in origin. The traditional meanings assigned to the colors are:
         Justice (purple)
         Power (gold)
         Faith (green).

From early January on, South Louisiana is decked out in these three colors.

Then there are the parades. Ah, yes, the parades. While New Orleans is most famous for them, there are parades throughout the region. Some have floats which are very family friendly, some have floats which are bawdy, and some floats are downright raunchy. In New Orleans, none of the motorized parades go through the Quarter any more, and there is a complicated scheduling algorithm and set of routes for most of the parades.

Like for so many holidays, people here seem to fall into one of two camps: Love it (want more of it) and Hate it. Once in a while you find folks who are neutral, but not so often.

Those who live here and love it, point to the family events and activities. Parades are often an opportunity for families to gather. Many of the parades (day and night) are visually stimulating. They can even be very educational in talking about the classic, mythical creatures who are either portrayed or used as the theme for the Krewes which put the parades on. Parades outside of New Orleans are often daylight parades, and are really family events. Unlike (well, my experience of them) "Northern" parades, parades here are all about the "throws." "Throw me something, mister!" is a cry heard all along the parade route. Most parades have beads (classic, you can buy them in the French Quarter year around), some simple and in the basic Mardi Gras colors, and others with added decorations, often reflecting the theme of the Krewe or float. For example, the parade Muses (in New Orleans) usually includes throws with ladies high-heeled shoes. One year we caught a bracelet from that parade which was just plastic shoes. There are many, many traditions, and many people love Mardi Gras and all its traditions.

For those who hate it, there seem to be as many reasons as there are people. Let's go backwards from the "love it" list above. Many "natives" resent those "from away" who have come in and adopted the Mardi Gras celebrations, often without any understanding, or appreciation of the traditions. This year, I observed a set of heated conversations about who should be allowed to carry a "flambeaux" (the lighted torches used to illuminate the night parades). I am not sure that I understand all the subtleties of the debate, but the carriers are traditionally masked, and, at one time, were limited to male slaves (and this was the only way that they could see the parades). I live near where the Baton Rouge parades travel. I can tell you, for all those beads, there is a huge amount of trash generated, and left on the ground for "someone" to pick up. Last Saturday, as I was heading out, some of the floats were headed in along a street over a mile from the assembly point. I saw floats departing as I returned home. One of the things I noted was the huge number of clear plastic bags blowing around, along the street which was over a mile away from any parade activity. It was even worse when, late that afternoon, when I drove down one of the streets of the parade route! What a mess of plastic bags, beads, plastic cups, and assorted trash. Finally, while many of the parades are suitable for families, there are many parades, or even floats within other parades, which are bawdy at best and borderline obscene at worst. I have seen some things which I would not want to have to explain to a young child!

Where do I fall? In between. I can appreciate the visual appeal. Night parades can be dramatic. I appreciate the camaraderie which develops for a krewe, including the year around work, fund raising and social events. It is definitely fun for kids -- at appropriate parades, and many are just fine. It is an important part of the culture of South Louisiana, and this would be a very different place without it. Oh, and I love King Cake!

What I am not so fond of is the madding crowd and often bad behavior which accompanies the parades. Much of this is the result of those "from away" who come here to party, forgetting that there are those of us who live here. There is a fair amount of disruption of the routines of daily living. These range from having to recalculate travel times and routes, to the unannounced road closures.

It is a season. It has a beginning, and, thank goodness, an end.

Happy Mardi Gras.