Books, Yarn, Ink and Other Pursuits

Sep 28, 2013

Programming Unconference Northeast

Friday I drove down to Darien, CT, heading for Darien Library and the Programming Unconference Northeast. This unconference brought together a lot of librarians from several states (CT, MA, NY, NJ, and RI were all represented) to discuss topics that we submitted at the time of registration.

The wonderful Erin Shea!

Our program was kicked off by opening words by one of the co-facilitators, Erin Shea, who I was lucky to finally meet in person at ALA this summer. I find her programming at Darien to always be inspiring, so I wasn't surprised she brought this idea to her library.

Andy Woodworth

Lisa Carlucci Thomas

Our other co-facilitator was Andy Woodworth, who was another Twitter colleague I got to meet finally. He also introduced our keynote, given by Lisa Carlucci Thomas. Moving from academic libraries to her own consulting business, Design Think Do, Lisa gave an inspiring talk about programming in libraries needing three building blocks: Creativity, Community, Content.

I tweeted some of what I thought were key points through her talk (check out Twitter hashtag #pun13), but one thing I put up on Twitter seemed to catch the eye of a lot of people.

This statement actually came from Josh Linkner, who presented at The Risk & Reward Conference (R Squared Conference). It's available online, so I am really intrigued to see the rest of his presentation. Knowing that youth have a self-perception about not being creative as they get older, it takes gatherings like this, networking, and all the other librarian peeps out in social media land to remember that we are doing good things.

So many good ones to choose from!

After voting for the top eight discussion topics, then came the decision of which two was I going to attend? That would be the worse part of this conference - I could not attend them all! I decided I wanted to see what other librarians were doing to "Collaborate with Community Organizations." With about fifteen of us in a room built for six, we still had wonderful discussion about programs with outside collaboration, how do we get groups interested in working with us, what kinds of things we are working on. From oral histories to seed libraries to microwave cooking class (no burners or open flame!), libraries are doing things that engage the community and the organizations that are within those communities.

Then I went to "Makerspaces with No Space or Budget", which I admit was a topic I sent in (along with, I am sure, many other librarians). I have a small library, open floor plan with no community room. Yet, the idea of makerspaces is something that sets off the buzzers in my head, and I was hoping that others were creating them, using them, and willing to share their ideas. What was interesting was that some really didn't have any idea on what makerspaces were. So, is this one of those "jargon" words that many do not understand, even within our own culture? Or, as we began to discover, makerspaces can be outlets of creativity that do not need their own room, as some libraries have resorted to "flex walls", like are used by schools for portable space classrooms. You can put them up and take them down, adjusting the space to the people who are there. Makerspaces are more than just technology: button makers, embroidery and sewing machines, portable Lego and duct tape makerspaces (shout out to Karen at Teen Librarian Toolbox for sharing this info with me!). Got a big weeding project? Use those old hardcovers, VHS and books on cassette for recycled art!

We gathered back after lunch to share what went on in the different sessions. I wish they could have been recorded, however hopefully the note takers in each room gets their notes over to Erin, who will be making them available to all who went.

I love how they do staff picks.

Patron Picks!

The TEA Room: 3D printer, music, a tracing board, Ellison Die cut and more!

Part of their Teen Room. 
Along with all of this I still had to take a walk around the library. Besides being happily envious of the space, the aesthetics, the rooms! I enjoyed seeing how the Darien staff do passive programming through displays, through their newly opened TEA (Technology, Engineering, Art) Room for kids, and just how available their collections and staff really are. It is a wonderful library.

My final thoughts: Creativity, Community, Content. These building blocks that Lisa shared in her keynote are truly key points to creating programs. As few resources as I think I have to do programs with, I realize that my library has already done a lot. With our new strategic plan, and the community survey that accompanied it, I can learn what else people are looking for. I have staff that are passionate about the things they do, and I can tap into so much inside and outside of the library.

I thought back to this August, during the women's conference I was leading, and attending a session about finding your personal inspiration and aspirations. We needed to cultivate an affirmation, a mission statement, if you will, for our own Self. Driving home I remembered what mine was: "I Celebrate My Creativity."

I just need to remember that.

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Jul 9, 2013

ALA Part Two: Presentation Day - All About ARCs

Saturday. Saturday was filled with people and places and not enough food - but it was also filled with my presentations!

My first presentation was "All About ARCs: The Ins and Outs of Using and Abusing Advance Reader Copies." I have always held a fondness for them, and when ARCgate hit last year (I am not even getting into it now, it's over and done and was covered by some much better than I), I believed that this could be a good topic for ALA. So did my co-presenters, Kelly Jensen and Liz Burns, along with Jennifer Childs from Random House and Victoria Stapleton from Little, Brown. These women all have their own uses for and perspectives on ARCs and galleys, and it was great to listen to them speak on this subject. I just wish that we had not been competing against some other great programs, because I think the conversations that came out of this program, not just from the presenters but from those that attended, were important to hear.

Kelly complied all of the statistics into an amazing set of graphs based on two surveys that we conducted earlier this year, and placed them into Prezi. Unfortunately these were not shared during our program as we drew the ire of the technology gods who decided we didn't need an internet connection -- at least not on the presentation computer. All the other devices worked just fine. However, Kelly put up a great review of what we learned during our surveys on Stacked.

My section was about digital galleys and ARCs and their growing use and importance. I joined both NetGalley and Edelweiss as they grew in popularity. As the adult fiction selector for my library and a reviewer for Library Journal e-original romances, I am a big user of digital galleys. Both of our publisher reps confirmed that print galleys, while still a major part of the publishing process, are being produced less and digital galleys are bring increased. With the lower cost point for distribution, and the DRM (digital rights management) included in most, giving an average 60 day window for reading, there is certainly a lot less paper out in the world. I have to admit, sometimes 60 days isn't enough time. You forget, you get caught up with all the other things you have to do in your life, and then all of a sudden, the title you wanted to read is gone. However, in most cases (in my own experience, mileage may vary) I find this window more than enough.

I spoke of NetGalley and Edelweiss, which are the two most well-known places to get digital galleys. If you read on a tablet or ereader and do not have accounts with these two places, get thee to the nearest computer and sign up! NetGalley was designed for "professional readers" -- librarians, bloggers, booksellers, teachers, etc. Edelweiss was developed as a digital catalog repository for publishers and booksellers, but having access to these catalogs can definitely enhance collection development for librarians. You can request digital galleys from the publishers, and it is very important that you include a complete profile! Publishers (as emphasized by Jen and Victoria) definitely take a look at those, and even if you do not have the time to write up reviews (which both NetGalley and Edelweiss allow you to do, which in turn are sent through to the publishers) if you explain how and why you use ARCs (collection development, reader's advisory) then you have a better chance of having your requests approved.

I also touched on two new projects: Penguin's First to Read, which is their early e-ARC access to new titles. This one is being promoted to all readers, not just librarians and bloggers. With its emphasis on using Facebook for logging in (you can also create an account with an email address) and ways to acquire points for more benefits, it gives more of a gaming aura to acquiring digital galleys. I will be interested to see the success of this project.

The other one is LibraryReads, which was announced at ALA Annual. LibraryReads is a new recommendation program that will highlight public librarians’ favorite new books and will launch in Fall 2013. This program is open to all public library staff, will serve as a kind of national “library staff picks,” and will list the ten adult titles each month that staff have read, loved, and cannot wait to share with their patrons.

You can find a lot more information at the LibraryReads website, follow us (I am part of the social media group) on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest!

This was just my morning presentation, wait until you hear about the afternoon!
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May 27, 2013

Show Me The Awesome: Strategic Planning

"Artwork by John LeMasney,"

"Show Me The Awesome!" was started by Kelly, Sophie, and Liz to give bloggers a chance to step up and discuss something special or that they want to promote. Today is my opportunity to discuss something that many may not quite think of as awesome, but is important to a lot of libraries: strategic planning.

For those who may not know, a strategic plan is a document that defines the library's vision of itself within its community and outlines how it will achieve that vision through various goals. Those goals will usually have related actions that follow, creating a template for building the library in a specific direction. Usually this document is structured around five years. In Massachusetts, libraries must have a strategic plan, along with a yearly action plan, to qualify for LSTA grants administered by the state.

At the time I left a network position to become the director at my library, I was serving on the Strategic Planning Committee for the network. As a member of that committee, I had a voice in what I believed were the goals of the network and its constituents--member libraries. Switching from my "inside" job to running a member library meant that I had a unique perspective on the process, and I've appreciated the experience I gained when helping to develop the vision and goals for the network's next five years.

Fast forward to this spring: with a full year as a director under my belt, I knew that one of my goals was to implement a new strategic plan. The last plan was woefully out of date--about ten years--and the library had gone through many changes since it was written, including automation. Needless to say, serving on a committee and being the person who is actually responsible for forming that committee are two different things. I believe that the public library should be an anchor in the community; to make sure that happens, we need key community members to help create a strategic plan. This means not only people involved with the library directly, like board members or wonderful patrons who use the library every day, but also people who may not step through our doors, but are in and out of doors throughout the city.

So, I went after the big names: the Mayor, the President of the Chamber of Commerce, the heads of the School Committee, Council on Aging, and the Arts Collaborative. I sent them personal letters letting them know that the library needed their help. We need their perspectives from the community and their knowledge--or lack of knowledge--about the library. I wanted people that could see our past, but who would also have a vision of our future.

I was extremely pleased when many of them responded positively! The Mayor, the head of the Senior Center, and a member of the Arts Collaborative are all on the committee. It also includes the Headmaster of the private secondary school in the city, plus a devoted library patron and a library volunteer. These people, along with board members, are all working with me to define the library's presence in the community and how it can provide support for people, businesses, arts, schools, and city government.

While this can certainly be a long process, our regional office of the Massachusetts Library System has streamlined the process using Sandra Nelson's New Planning for Results, outlining a three-meeting system that is concise yet thorough. We complete a visioning exercise for the library and one for the community, conduct a public survey, and use information from all of these to develop the strategic plan. Once the library board approves the document, it goes to the Mass Board of Library Commissioners for approval. Each year we will also have to submit a revised action plan detailing what we will accomplish in the coming year.

We had our first meeting earlier this month, outlining our process and participating in a SOAR (Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, Results) analysis to start building the library's goals. It was amazing to hear the perspectives of committee members, and hear what was already great about the library and what we can do better. I have no doubt I have the right committee for this work, and I am pleased that I didn't hold back from asking the people I really wanted to join us.

What's your experience with strategic planning?
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Apr 15, 2013

ARC Use Survey for ALA Annual

We need your help!

If you are a follower of Stacked, or SLJ's A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy, you will have already seen this call for help, but for those that haven't...

I am going to be presenting at ALA Annual this summer along with Kelly Jensen and Liz Burns on Advance Reading Copies. We did a quick little survey a few weeks ago about how authors see their books change from ARC or galley to final print/ebook, and now we want to know how librarians, teachers, bloggers and others acquire and use them.

Please take a few minutes to respond to our survey and pass the link ( on to others that use them. All of your information will only make our presentation better.

If you are heading to Chicago in June for ALA, we will be presenting "All About ARCs" on Saturday, June 30 at 10:30 AM.

Thank you!

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