Jun 30

Blog every day of June – Managing challenges – Mon 23 June

Wow, its the last day and I can’t believe I blogged every day of it.  It’s a challenge that I took and I fulfilled – yay to me!

That and the many things that are going on, both at work and personally, got me thinking about challenges, which I admit I have more than a few of at the moment, in all areas of my life.

I love challenges, they stretch me, they drive me, they teach me, they enthuse me. But sometimes you can find yourself dealing with a few too many challenges, either in one aspect of your life (home, work etc) or across them all.

I can hope really well if I have too many challenges in one area of my life, because at least another area of my life is relatively stress free. But when it happens across all areas of your life, what then?

I have found a couple of really great ways to cope when the challenges become too challenging…..

  • Delegate – take the things off your agenda that maybe shouldn’t have been there in the first place
  • Ask for help – more than likely you will get it
  • Talk to someone – whether its just to vent or to get advice on how to proceed – even just the act of talking about it can help lessen the overwhelming nature of it all
  • Take a break – this is vital – if you are getting stressed it may seem like the worst thing to do, because it is taking time from your deadline, your focus.  But I have found that taking a break is the best thing, because after it, you are fresh, more focused and can get more done – even with the loss of time.

I hope your situation are full of positive challenges, that teach you and take you places you love and never imagined.  And if they are not, I hope these ‘words of wisdom’ help.

Thanks for journeying with me during Blog Every Day of June 2014 – I have enjoyed it and hope that you found some value in it all as well.

Michelle

Jun 29

Blog every day of June – What new technologies should we know about? – Sun 29 June

Been thinking about what the future holds in terms of technology, which is difficult at the best of times, because new tech is always coming out and you never know what is really going to impact in significant way.

For example, we have all seen how much smart phones and tablets have changed the way people access the internet and how content is presented there, but how many of us could have imagined this happening before the first iPhone and iPad came out?

However, some technologies are maturing as they are already in the market and so we can be a bit forewarned. I can see libraries having a bit to do with the following technologies, or they are already…..

  • 3 D Printing – ala Makerspaces – alongside other new and old technologies
  • Augmented reality – Google Glasses, mobile apps and beyond
  • Everything in the cloud – a lot of university libraries are pretty much there, other libraries are headed that way
  • Mining library data – making the most of the information we have, without comprising privacy

Security is going to be a concern underlining of all this, but libraries have always had the privacy of the users at the forefront, so I have no real problem with how they will work through those concerns.

What else are you seeing on the horizon for the future of technology in libraries?

Jun 28

Blog every day of June – Teamwork – Sat 28 June

I worked at our biggest branch today. It was quite busy already, but made busier and more of a challenge by a couple of unexpected situations.

First, we had to send one of our team members to another library, that had two staff call in sick.  Second, our phones were playing up (just had a new system implemented) and we spent a bit of time trying to work things around that. Then of course there were the little things that pop up as they do.

In addition, our team was made up of three people who don’t usually work in this team, but who came due to illness or swaps.

Doesn’t sound like much pressure, but it can make a difference when you are very busy and understaffed.

But it wasn’t a disaster, in fact it worked very well, because we worked as a team.

Even with people who don’t always work together, everybody knew what the job was, what the expectations of a Saturday were and enough of how the branch worked, to be able to do their job and do it well, without having to be told, directed, supervised, cajoled or anything else.

As the manager for the day, I was only called upon for my expertise in IT related areas, or when a library user questioned a library procedure and they required a more senior staff member to intervene and fortunately there were not many of those situations.  And I trusted their experience, knowledge and expertise and let them do what they needed to do.

Tonight I am tired, but I am satisfied. Today i have worked with a great team, who got the job done and got it done well, provided excellent customer service, required little in terms of management intervention and got us all out of the building at the end of day with our good humour intact.

I am very fortunate indeed to work with an amazing group of people in my library service, who adapt, know and love their jobs and provide excellent customer service to all.  It may not always be the same team in terms of the make-up of staff, but the results are the same.

And you can’t ask for much more than that.

 

Jun 27

Blog every day of June – Website redesign can be good because….. – Fri 27 June

We are in the early stages of producing our new website. Many of you would know how long and complicated such a process can be, but it has to be done. To improve usability, to give the site a fresh look and to enhance our online services.

But some other benefits can come out of a website redesign and even though we are just at the beginning of our process, I have already discovered some:

  • Everything on your website doesn’t have to have it’s own page – its amazing how many small bits and pieces I have been able to easily gather together on one page. This is better for managing the site and also is beneficial to the user who may come across something serendipitously whilst also finding exactly what they are looking for.
  • You do still need some extra pages for some things. We have separated out our Jobs and Work Experience pages from the general library background information, because many people will actively seek this information.
  • You can de-duplicate much easier.  When looking at moving content to a new site, its amazing how much content you find is duplicated. So rather than duplicating content, we will just add links where needed, to get to that content.
  • Serendipity can be your friend.  Copying of an existing page led to a non-white background colour, which was not planned but which we think we will keep, because it works!

I am sure we will discover much more as we continue on this process. What wisdom or gems have you discovered in a website redesign project?

Jun 26

Blog every day of June – Paperless office?? – Thu 26 June

We all heard the stories.  Computers were going to eliminate the need for paper and we would all experience the tidiness, efficiency and eco-friendly environment of the paperless office.

This was emphasised for me again today at my office.  I work in our regional headquarters and this was the paper that I utilised today:

  • printed out several articles to read (professional development)
  • when cleaning out my file folders, discovered several things that needed to be followed up, so printed them out and put them in my in-tray as a physical reminder
  • flyers on library event details that I used to input into our events booking software, calendar and website
  • notes that I took at two brief meetings, with action points to follow up and directions to take
  • several short notes to remind myself of tasks that needed to be completed today
  • procedures for use of a particular software package
  • more procedures for review in light of software changes
  • and more…..

And that was just my paper production.

Pretty much all of these things could have been achieved if left in digital form, but weren’t for several reasons, including:

  • easier to look from paper to screen, rather having to change from screen to screen
  • still like to hold paper when reading – its easy to handle, use, read and file or discard when finished with
  • notes in front of me are easier to see than notes on the desktop which get obscured by open software
  • being consistent in the way our events promotions look – the flyers comes first
  • having items in my in-tray works better for me as a reminder than long lists – I can pick them up, work on them or delegate a task by handing it to someone else.

For someone whose job is the online side of libraries, I still use a lot of paper and I’m OK with that.

Paperless office?  Not in mine.  How about yours?  Are any of you anywhere near the ideal of the paperless office? If not, share your confession here, you are amongst friends.  If you are, I would love to hear how you have done it.

Jun 25

Blog every day of June – From whence we came – tech version – Wed 25 June

One of our managers is retiring.  We have worked together in the same library for decades and as both our roles have had a technology focus, we have seen a wide range of changes in that time.

As she has been cleaning out her files and organising things for the new manager, she has discovered many interesting things that have been good at reminding us of how far we have come.

The first was a 3 1/2 inch floppy disk.  I brought it home to show my children, who couldn’t believe it was so big (well compared to a USB stick to them, to me it was so small compared to a 5 1/4 disk) and that it held so little in terms of capacity.  They were also intrigued when I then took it apart to show what it was made of and it reminded me of all the stories of people who had discarded outer covers down to the magnetic tape, who had folded or cut disks to fit them into drives etc.

Then today she showed me an article that I had forwarded to her in 1997, on cable modems and whether they were worth waiting for.  One of our biggest concerns now is ensuring we have speedy and reliable Wi-Fi – cable modems were off the agenda for us a long time ago.

We have all in one PCs now at ridiculous screen sizes, compared to our old drives and monitors that were twice the size of the hardware that was using them.  Mobile phones were suitcases and now disappear into your hand. We had VDU’s for our library system and OPACs, and although they were as dull as dishwater, they never broke down or were hacked or got viruses.  Well most things have improved anyway, lol.

I love where we are now with technology in libraries – we just got our first touch tables, we have mobile devices and specialist computers and software for people to use in the library and that is just scratching the surface.

We have seen a lot of progress in technology in libraries, but it is good to be reminded occasionally just how far that is.

What is the most fascinating ‘blast from the past’ technology that you have come across?

Jun 24

Blog every day of June – Finding inspiration – Tue 24 June

Was sitting at my computer looking for a topic to blog about today, basically looking for inspiration, when I realised the irony, because that was to be my topic.

So where do you find your inspiration with your library work?

I find it in the most amazing places. In an offhand comment by a colleague at work, in the conversations and emails that I have with colleagues in other libraries. I have also found it in the expected places – conferences, journal articles, books (and not always library related ones) and book reviews, Twitter and Facebook.

But I also enjoy the unexpected delight of being inspired by something totally unrelated to libraries.  For example, a brochure from Australia Post got me thinking about how we could make our online services more streamlined for library users (still thinking on that one).  I love movies and more than one idea has come out of watching them.

What has been your most unusual source of inspiration for your library work and where do you find regular inspiration?

Jun 23

Blog every day of June – Future of libraries – Mon 23 June

ALIA has produced a series of reports entitled Future of the Library and Information Science Profession.

The project aimed to answer the following questions:

  • How will libraries remain relevant for users?
  • What changes will institutions and individuals in the sector experience?
  • Will ‘library and information professional’ continue to be a necessary and desirable occupation?

I say series, because there seven reports:

Future of the Library and Information Science Profession Report Action List

Future of the LIS Profession: Professionals Report

Future of the LIS Profession: Collecting Institutions Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: Public Libraries Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: Special Libraries Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: School Libraries Report | Summary

Future of the LIS Profession: Tertiary Libraries Report | Summary: University | Summary: VET

If you haven’t read the one for your sector at least, you need to.  They are a very interesting insight into where ALIA and its members and partners see libraries going.  I have read the public library report and plan to do so again.  I will also be taking a sneak peak at the other reports, because there is always value in cross-sectoral sharing.

Happy future viewing.

Jun 22

Blog every day of June – Celebrating achievements – Sun 22nd June

We are very low key in libraries and besides major anniversaries of our library branches, or are introducing a new whiz-bang service, we rarely make a fuss.

But we need to.  We need to celebrate our achievements – our personal ones as well as our organisational ones.

I was looking back at last year’s Blog every day of June posts and came across my goals looking forward.  I was quite pleased to discover that I had achieved them all:

  • This blog got a new look and I’m still writing
  • I wrote an article on Events Booking service online, which was published in Online Currents
  • I had a paper and a workshop with a colleague accepted for VALA and both were favourably received
  • I have survived our big year at the library and am already planning for the next big year.

We get acknowledgement in our annual appraisal process which is nice, but I think it is just as important to acknowledge your successes to yourself.  We can be our own worst critics, so even as we berate ourselves for when things go wrong, we should congratulate ourselves for our successes.

Regardless of what form that congratulations takes, we all need and deserve to “take that bow” when we achieve. As I am sure we have all had successes in this last year, I applaud you all – so take your bow and remember your successes, especially the next time you berate yourself.  Job well done!

Jun 21

Blog every day of June – Mobile device friendly libraries – Sat 21 June

We all know how much tablets, smart phones and similar devices have penetrated our society.  A look around you when you travel, when you’re in a cafe or even in your library, will show many different people working on many different devices.

How easy do we make it for our users to use library services on these devices?

I have to admit I am torn with library service online.  We have nearly ten apps related to services that we offer online, from language learning to event booking, from our catalogue to downloading and reading e-books, there is an app to cover each of these items.

But that is where I am torn.  It is an app for each of those items.

The library website covers some of it, to the point where you can at least start the process of borrowing an e-book or booking an event before being taken off-site.  But more often than not we have to point to services off-site.

Will there come a day where the library website will be the whole one-stop shop?  We are working towards it.  Our ILMS vendor is working with e-book providers to give us plug and play type access to our e-books through the catalogue, where discovery, borrowing and downloading all happen through the one site.

Although this is our ideal, it is not going to be possible with everything we offer, definitely not in the short term and maybe not even in the long.  And whether an app could even cover it all is also in some doubt.

And that’s not even getting to the point of preference…. would our users prefer an app or a website or a combination of both? For mobile devices there is limited choice – in most cases its one or the other, irrespective of the user’s preference.

So we manage with what we have and make the most of those things that are available and wring our hands at knowing that there is so much more that our library users are missing, if only they visited that part of the website, or read that flyer, or saw that poster.  If only……

 

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