Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Basics

There are things we all take for granted and assume to be basic, shared cultural knowledge. The sun rises in the... east. Water flows... downhill. Fires are... hot.

When giving presentations on library resources, I don't want to spend valuable time discussing what everyone already knows. The problem, as it turns out, is what we in library land assume to be basic, shared knowledge is not always shared as widely as we think.

Case in point: I was recently hanging out with family and friends as we watched the super blood harvest moon lunar eclipse a few nights ago. The particular friend I was sitting next to as we sipped our beer and watched the moon do its thing is the president of a company headquartered in Florida but with production plants all over the country. As his position dictates, he spends a fair amount of time traveling. Also, as his position dictates, he's an audiobook fan. Seeing a seamless sales opportunity, I gave him the full rundown on our downloadable audiobook scene, complete with instructions on how to set up his account, download the app to his phone, search for titles, how the content would just automatically disappear after three weeks with no overdue charges or lost fees but he could renew them if he wanted, how to request a title not currently in our collection, yada, yada, yada.

He was duly impressed and after a few moments of moongazing, his question was this: How much does it cost?

Insert stunned silence on my part.

Now, this guy is a sharp, intelligent, well-educated, witty and wordly fellow. He knows a lot of stuff about a lot of stuff. But he didn't know that his library's services and products are FREE. As in already paid for. Zilch. Nada. 100% off sale all day everyday.

The very basis of what I do is provide free stuff. I assume that everyone knows that. But as it turns out, I'm now going to be spending 25 seconds in every presentation making sure that everyone in the room knows the basics. Otherwise, I'm just staring at the moon with my mouth hanging open. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Some inspiration

In Spokane's weekly alternative news publication, the Inlander, they do a number of awesome things.  One of the things they do is a weekly "Random Joe on the Street" type of survey where they ask a question on some given issue and record the responses.  Here is the column from 3/2/12:

It's not Kassie's or Luke's or Dixie's or Heather's fault that they are off base.  It's mine.  More work to be done.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Crisis? What crisis?

Fine.  I agree that public libraries have been taking some pretty wicked shots to the chin for quite a while now.  We all know the litany of issues: decreased funding, increased number of formats to purchase, publishers being squirrely about granting us access to their content... and so on.

All true.  All relevant.

And nowhere close to being the full picture.

Just last night a colleague from a neighboring library system and I did a presentation on library business resources for an entrepreneur/business plan class hosted by the local Chamber of Commerce.  To a chorus of many oohs and ahhs, we covered the content that we originally planned to cover. Comments ranged from "This is the best night of my life" to "I loooove the library" to "Who knew?!?" to "Get out!!!".  And then they wouldn't let us leave the room.  Beyond the library's straight up business resources they wanted to know about our ebooks. About our downloadable audiobooks.  Is there an app for that so I can listen on my phone?  What's this Zinio thing?  You have downloadable music?!  How does that work?  Grants research?  Yes?!  Could you show us?  And all of this is free? 

Seriously.  We couldn't break away.

Which leads me to believe two things: despite what we tell ourselves, there is no crisis in public library land.  There is only a communication crisis, or at the worst, a crisis of not looking for opportunities.  The second thing that became apparent last night is that people love to hear about their public institutions performing well.

Any time you can get a group of people to sit through a 2.5 hour long presentation and still be engaged and asking more questions at the end, you don't have a crisis.  You have a revolution.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


A quick shout out to the folks at the Washington State Library for hosting me this morning for a First Tuesday session.

If you'd like to watch the 1 hour presentation at your leisure, go ahead and link to it here.

Thanks again!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

This pretty much sums it up.  If you find yourself sitting comfortably at your desk, day in and day out, you're missing out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Being big

Although I have absolutely no scientific data to back me up on this assertion, I'm guessing that one of the top 10 reasons that librarians don't spend more time engaging with the public is the fear of being out in the public.  Kind of a weird trait for a public librarian to have, but there it is.

So how do you work around that?  How do you get comfortable with being uncomfortable?  For starters, give this a try:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012