On Organizations and French Fries

Picture of weird French Fry guyI finally just finished reading Scott Berkun’s wonderful book “The Year Without Pants:  WordPress.com and the Future of Work.”  I’ve been reading it for a while, and even re-reading some parts.

At my library, we are planning on changing and consolidating some service points over the next few years, which has some folks concerned over the future of their work.  Berkun has a nice analogy of organizations, rules, and side dishes that I think applies to almost any organization undergoing significant change.  He writes:

 

Organizations become bureaucratic as soon as people define their job around a particular rule, or feature, rather than a goal. For example, if you tell me my job is to cook the French fries, I will resist anything that threatens the existence of French fries, since when they go away, so does my job. But if you tell me my job is to make side dishes for customers, I’ll be open to changing from fries to onion rings or other side dishes, even ones we’ve yet to invent, since my identity isn’t tied to a particular side dish but instead to the role side dishes play.  pp. 187-188.

Image hat tip: Scary Fry Guy by fschroiff, on Flickr
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Some quick thoughts on the 2015 Collective Conference

picture of Chad in front of Knoxville Sunsphere

Obligatory Sunsphere selfie, proof I was there.

Most library conferences I have been two lately are mega events, often requiring trips to strange (and hot) lands like Las Vegas. Some colleagues found a new conference, that was cheap, small, and offered an alternative to those traditional sage-on-the-stage venues.   The conference was called The Collective, and happened to be located in a town where I had lived for 7 years.  These are some ideas and observations from The Collective 2015 Conference in familiar (and cold) Knoxville, Tennessee.

Returning to a city that you lived in for 7 years, having been in your profession for 13 years since you left, can make you feel really old. I visited my old apartment building; it looked the same. However, so many things have changed, like why did they get rid of O’Charley’s on the Strip?

One would hope that by driving 400 miles south, one would be greeted with warmer temperatures.  It was -10 in Knoxville, and -18 in Athens.  So I guess that’s a little warmer?!?

There are always those one or two people who have to ask the last question, or have an opinion or insight in every single conference session. This can be exacerbated by smaller conference settings.

I’d like to make a Collective-like mini-conference-like thing for library staff in our building to sign up and present. My initial idea is that folks could do a 10-minute-max show-and-tell (wow-that’s-a-lot-of-hyphens) of productivity apps, email hacks, or just about how they work.  I envision that folks could submit proposals via a Google form, then the organizer(s) of the mini-conference could organize the session in a logical order.   I also envision lots of coffee and homemade baked goods.

I like to play with others, and enjoy doing so. However, attending two 1.5 hour sessions back-to-back where “we will break into small groups and talk” is a bit much. I left the second session to attend a more “sit-back-and-listen” presentation. I’m all for group activities, but they can be draining as well. I appreciated that the Collective gave a mix of both listen/question and active/workshop/engage/discuss program formats. Kudos for choice.

I’m still a sucker for PowerPoint versus the “let me live demo this for you” presentation. I’m a big fan of a loose script, not so much of the freestyle.

For an upcoming presentation on how to make videos, I want to do some video success stories of some of my colleagues. The plenary speaker had a couple of video testimonials, which added a great deal to her PowerPoint presentation. I think my colleagues offer some great insight, and this could showcase more than one expert on the topic.

Sched.org rocks. That is all. I loved how easy it is to choose what I want to attend. I even got an email each morning telling me what my conference schedule was for the day. Very cool.

Best catch phrases (likely paraphrased):

  • On leadership: “Sometimes when you are good at something, you keep doing the same thing. ” You don’t grow and it limits you.
  • On solving a problem: “We talked a lot. We’re academics, so we formed a committee.”
  • On library streaming video:”Discoverability preceeds usability.”
  • On the hours and scheduling of the library at NCSU:  “It’s complicated.”

Favorite session:  “Staffing the Commons”  .  Good, practical advice, and the discussion after the presentation was great as well. Writeup to follow once I can wrap my head around things.

Session I had higher hopes for:  “Project Management Tools and Tips“.    I read “tools” to mean productivity and teamwork applications, such as Evernote and Trello, but it was rather Word templates for asking the right questions about a project.  Another colleague had a similar interpretation, so perhaps a different description would have led me to another session.

Attendee dinner reception: It’s very hard to beat beverages, BBQ, blues, new and old librarian friends. ‘Nuff said.

Water bottles and messenger bags make for great conference swag.

Being able to stay in the same hotel as the conference is pretty awesome.

We drove 800 miles round trip for the conference, and planned to make our stay a little longer and more leisurely.  However, snow going down forced me to drive 35 mph all the way to Cincinnati, and the threat of more snow pushed us to leave the conference early on Friday, missing the final two sessions.  Regardless of the drive, I thought it was a good conference and would love to attend (and perhaps even present) again.

I applaud the folks at University of Tennessee libraries for putting on a great conference.  This conference serves as a model of what small conferences should be.

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Are you real?

My library  offers an awesome chat service, open 24 hours, 5 days a week (plus weekend hours), where patrons can get their questions answered by caring and knowledgeable library reference staff.

Sometimes it seems too good to be real.   And sometimes librarians have funny answers.  ;-)

picture of library chat

 

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A decade of hits and future directions

Things have changed a bit in 10 years

Things have changed a bit in 10 years

On January 5, 2005, I stepped out into the blogosphere with my first post here at Library Voice.  My intention at the time was to use my blog to keep up with my professional community of librarians and technology enthusiasts, while also contributing to the conversations among those groups.  Through my work on this blog, I’ve managed to meet a bunch of great people, learn a lot, and share quite a bit as well.

With Facebook and Twitter and other social media apps, blogging has fallen by the wayside, especially in the library blogging community.  Many of us who were blogging like there was no tomorrow back in 2005- 20010 just aren’t blogging that much anymore.  We’ve decided it’s easier to participate in the community via  140 characters, pictures, or status updates.  Some would argue that the library blogosphere is largely dead.  Others have said the same about blogging in general.

My lack of blogging over the years can mostly be attributed to my professional and personal busyness, as well as changes to my roles at work.  I’ve historically blogged about the projects that I was working on at my library, but with moving into more of a management position, there’s only so much that I can really blog about.  With less library-specific content to write about, Library Voice has gone largely dormant.

My blogging slowdown has nagged me quite a bit over the years.  I’ve thought about taking the blog down, but then have also found the historical record of past projects or events very helpful.       I also know that there are topics that I still want to write about or things that I want to share that are best done in a longer-form venue.  I find there is something really awesome about putting your words to paper (albeit virtually) and hitting the publish button.  It is something that I have missed quite a bit.   It’s especially awesome when the content you publish on the open web helps someone out or gives them joy.

My most-popular posts on this blog cover a variety of topics.  While more library-focused content tends to get the most hits, I’ve found that many of the more-general topics are appreciated as well.  For some reason I used to think that if a topic couldn’t be tied back to libraries, I really didn’t need to write about it here.  I was censoring myself largely because I had a self-imposed niche for my content (largely driven by my domain name and original purpose back in 2005).  However, over the years I’ve developed multiple interests including gadgets, gaming, the great outdoors, photography, music, fitness, and much more (my wife jokes that I change hobbies every week) that fall outside of just libraries.  I also know that many of my librarian friends also share my many interests as well.  As such, I’ll be using this blog not only to continue writing about issues in my library profession, but also to share things I have learned through my other hobbies and interests.

If you’ve been reading my blog for the last 10 years, or just the last 10 minutes, I hope you’ll stick around for what’s to come.

 

This post as well as the TL;DR version below , was inspired by Jason’s Revisiting my Medium post as well as the first #blogging101 assignment.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been blogging for 10 years.  To keep this blog, and my online presence, going for the next 10 years, I’ll be branching out beyond just libraries and tech to write and share about many of my other interests including gadgets, gaming, the great outdoors, photography, music, and fitness.  I hope you’ll find what I share informative and fun.

 

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Either a little late or a lot early

This spam I received to my work email account made me laugh. Not only am I happily married, I also have a fond appreciation for timeliness.

A bit late to the party

A bit late to the party

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