Library Issues and Challenges

Internet Librarian 2012
General Conference — Monday, October 22, 2012
Track D – Library Issues & Challenges

This discussion stream with a roomful of colleagues at roundtables focuses on a series of topics of interest to innovative librarians. From benchmarks and indicators to open source trends to hot topics and the next big thing, lively discussions will definitely ensue! Join us.

Jennifer Koerber, Web Services Librarian, Boston Public Library
Michael P Sauers, Technology Innovation Librarian, Technology & Access Services, Nebraska Library Commission

The following notes form the whole day were taken by the “Madam of Awesome” Louise Alcorn of the West Des Moines Public Library:

Track D: Library Issues and Challenges – Internet Librarian 2012

Moderators:  Jennifer Koerber and Michael Sauers

Helper:  Louise Alcorn



D101:  Public Access and Library Tech Benchmarks

First Speaker:  Samantha Becker – Uwash Info school – Researcher

Area of research: How do we create public policy to foster digital inclusion.

EDGE Initiative – latest research.  Discussing today.

Coalition of library leaders and city/county assns. – creating benchmarks for public libraries in access, staffing, etc.

Gates grants put libraries on track for digital inclusion.  Now PL’s generally have online resources.  So how do we now sustain – get communities to support sustainably.  Talk to policymakers and stakeholders about the benefits and value of public digital access.

How do we measure this?  For all size libraries.

Three strategic areas – based on Mark Moore’s Creating Public Value:

Community Value – looking upward.  What are the real assets we create that makes difference in people’s lives.

Engaging Community.  Making sure they see the value.

Org Mgt.  How do you sustain in your community.

These are called facets.  Within facets, have benchmarks.

Comm value:  promoting dig literacy, supporting community priorities

Engaging:  community leadership, partnerships, communications

Org Mgt:  policies and planning, staffing and volunteers, tech infrastructure

Came up with resources for each of these benchmarks – tools to help you meet benchmarks.  Plus online assessment tool.

Help for communicating with policy makers – packet of info that reflects where you are in relation to benchmarks.

Goals for test:  actually measures what it needs to measure; easy to use for busy libraries; continuous improvement.

Beta:  got 152 libraries to respond.  Big difference at single-outlet/medium vs. multi-outlet/medium public library in terms of funding and resources.

Bell curve of results.  Question throughout:  is this fair to small libraries with few resources?  They found that smallest libraries could achieve the highest level.

Stats:  single-location libraries and smaller libraries have similar staffing/tech savvy levels.

Why did larger libraries score higher?

Audience Response (AR):  money, staffing levels, rural vs. urban.  Not solely money per capita.  Also local support at the policymaking level (director, council, board).  Staffing – availability, skill levels, time for training.  Is there an answer?  Samantha:  yes.

Single consistent predictor of high scores on Edge assessment:  not money, not per capita – it was the type of IT support that the library has.

Best approaches:

In-house tech admin and maintenance, with dedicated, IT professionals.  Mostly large and medium multi-outlet libraries.

Regional/County/CityITservice level agreements, link to larger system and expertise; less common in all library types.  Service level agreements important, or city IT sets the priorities.  Example:  disabling right-click.

Less successful:

IT contractors.  Mostly trouble calls, not part of planning, most common in medium single-outlet.

Librarian/library director:  competing priorities, time,

Volunteers/trustees:  small libraries

She reviewed a case study with similar per capita funding, diff populations, device hours per capita (access), tech support.

Where do you invest your time and dollars?

AR:  you cannot rely on IT contractor for policy/planning.  They must work for you.

AR:  did you get any responses that were hybrid IT situation?  Samantha: no, but they exist.

AR:  is value of dedicated IT person their knowledge or their dedication to that job?  Samantha: both.  Big thing: need someone who can do analytics, so they can adjust to real use.

AR:  so…does a small library fire a librarian and hire an IT person?  This is a question happening right now.  Implication of research is that increasing IT support improves a number of benchmarks.

From case study, what are biggest differences?:

Offering special resources, servies and staff training in purpose areas; strategic partnerships seem to be key.  This increases the resources the library has.  Also strategic planning and policies in place, including digital inclusion goals.

AR: what input from the library user populations was put into the Edge initiative?

Samantha:  they had previously done large project looking at user profiles of libraries.

Final thoughts:  planning and strategy important – important to have digital inclusion and benchmarks on any strategic planning.

Per capita funding was not an important factor (surprising) in predicting performance on benchmarks.

AR:  support and vision more important than the money.

AR:  need for standards at state and national level!  This is what we need to have a good library, and these are resources we need to create this library.  We would need to commit to these standards.



D102:  Open Source Trends and Issues

Presenters:   Marshall Breeding and Nicole Engard


FUD:  Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt – common question:  is open source insecure?  Nicole:  no.  No more than any other software.  Also:  “I don’t want to share my data” – open source is not open access.  “How can it be good if it’s free?” It’s not free – free as in freedom (to use, to change, to adapt).

Open source definition – able to be adapted, often grown/changed in community.

Nicole believes that open source only works with shared knowledge, community.

Ways to collaborate:  write code; write documentation; debug; educate others.  Librarians are good debuggers.

Everyone uses open source even if they don’t know they are.  Ex: google runs on Apache.

Open source doesn’t mean it’s hard to use.  Story:  ref desk loading Ubuntu, to delight of librarians.  Open source CAN be easier to use than standard services like Windows.  (quote)

AR:  question:  issue of training people to use a non-standard OS, may not be helping patrons who need to know what is being used in most environments.

Nicole:  one advantage:  less money for license agreements.

AR: any role for partition drives or emulators?

Nicole:  yes.  Michael:  wuubi – way to try Ubuntu in a window.  For training?

Security Fears – stems from issue 1:  lack of education. Open source is software – if you have good community checking their work, better chance of it being secure.  Use your librarian research skills and do your homework – which is better option for you?

Marshall Breeding:

Q: How many use open source ILS?  (4-5 hands)

OS ILS vs regular ILS – biggest difference is license.

Library automation trends:

Moving away from legacy ILS model

Large-scale consolidation of automation:  regional, state, national

Converged workflows:  print, elec, digital

Increased reliance on cloud tech

Enterprise-level infrastructure

Platform of open APE’s for customized functionality

Stats:  open source is making large gains in ILS arena.  Nearly all open source ILS is being implemented in partnership with a commercial company (like Bywater Solutions – Nicole’s employer).

Big three:  Koha, Evergreen, OPALS.  Out of 5700+ installations, 3-5% using one of these three.  Respectable.


Definitions of “open” – open source vs. open API

AR:  Countries (China, Italy, France) pushing for open source – how does this affect?  Our US govt also pushing for this (DoD).  This can work for us, as additional push/driving force.

AR:  what are libraries doing on open source besides ILS’s? – open community about open source in libraries.

AR:  biggest challenge for open source ILS besides unified support?

Changing policies, procedures, “where is the button?”, huge project.

Nicole:  the change.  Changing an ILS – difficult.  Michael:  working with support vendor.

Nicole:  with OS, you can change support company, unlike with proprietary software.

AR:  UN involved in driving for open source?

Marshall:  in Library world, UNESCO has been pushing for this internationally, primarily targeting developing world.

Education and Communication are key. – slides


D103:  Engaging and Inspiring Staff

Presenters:  Lisa Hardy, Michelle Boule

Michelle Boule @wanderingeyre

Humans vs. Zombies

Using the crowd, your crowd

Book:  Mob Rule Learning

Give your crowd the means to survive:

Give them a goal

Let the crowd choose their weapons – Gdocs, email, whatever.

Celebrate their successes and failures alike.

Learn “gloriously from your mistakes” – we are better at this now.

Your crowd needs to believe in and be engaged in your organization.

Lisa Hardy: Engaging Staff and Keeping them Engaged

Calgary PL, Calgary, AB

From This Week in Libraries (twil) discussion group – if you had three wishes for your library, what would they be?

Big response: Staff being different – more engaged, more tech savvy, strong customer services

Calgary created a Future Action Team – leadership devt, board engagement and strategic planning, staff engagement.

Those on team felt motivated – work of this small group has spread throughout organization, engaging and inspiring staff.  Important that this group had an end point.  Three year project.

During three years, had meetings – formal and informal – to engage staff, let them know what was happening.  After three years, created Future Action Think Tank.  Voluntary instead of mandatory.  One day event, open to staff at all levels.

“Tell us why you are coming, and what mindset you’re bringing with you”.  Response:  “we will hear new voices and be stirred by provocative and rogue thinking.”

They didn’t bring in speakers, but used talents of their own staff.  Started with Futures Fair – talking about projects they were working on, learned new things about people in organization.  This was popular part of the day.

Part of the day was field trips – sent library staff to local organizations in city.  Talk about future of those organizations instead of library, to see similarities and differences.  Examples:  UCalgary, zoo, immigrant agencies, youth agencies, etc.  Sent staff off with bag lunches (only cost) to these field trips.

September in Colorado – the RSquared conference.  Similar concept.  New way of training for libraries.

How kept it going?  More events – Dragon’s Den as model – bring ideas to “dragons” and present.  Pitched for funding.  Staff also got to vote for favorite – separate reward.

20-60-20 rule:  20% of staff open to change, will follow anywhere, 20% will stand in way; 60% will go either way.  Focus energies on open to change 20%.

AR:  Future Action Team – was that chosen by admin?  Yes.

AR:  crowd-sourcing – do you let them choose their own leader?  Michelle:  Yes.  Democratizing process.

AR:  concerns from staff that they cannot really speak up in the crowd, due to retribution.  Michelle:  unconferencing or crowd doesn’t work in an environment where that is too stratified.  One way to get around:  have some kind of moderator to level the playing field.  Or take the managers out of the room, but that can diminish the input and buy-in.  Jennifer:  some sort of anonymous feedback loop.  Ideas pulled out of hat, etc.

AR:  sometimes the 20% of “negative nellies” like to disguise themselves as agents of change, when their purpose is the opposite.  Suggestion:  moderator useful here, too.

AR:  problem of dominance by 20% engaged, taking over.  Moderator here, too?  Lisa:  think about the type of activity you’re doing – how do you get them engaged, how do you build the activity to allow/promote that.

AR:  test you do with team – assign team roles – discuss the roles in the team.  Makes clear who is doing what.   Belbin test.

AR:  reassign people to different roles than their every day (board, staff, manager) and have them work a problem from that perspective.

AR:  for Michelle:  have you used outside people in you unconferences?  Michelle:  yes, good suggestion, she hasn’t used, but it’s good for outside perspective.  We are moving in good directions, but we still have a lot of organizational issues that are continuing and not being dealt with.

AR:  go to other conferences than library conferences, to expand your perspective.

Task given to audience:  define a problem, discuss a solution or methodology for dealing with that problem (5 minutes, one problem per table)

Some sample table’s problems/solutions:

Problem:  one org cannot find a manager for their group – multiple rounds of hiring – upper level manager, librarian, technology, but won’t be able to do tech during the day.  Solution:  they hired someone, but they got promoted up.  Thoughts:  we need to get people more interested in management.  Leading from within.  Why don’t people want to be a manager?

Problem:  Lifelong learning – how do you get staff to learn?  Solutions:  make it mandatory (bad), train the trainers by starting with those enthusiastic; make it part of the workday – spend 20mins each day working on learning.

Problem:  non-managers feeling feedback was ignored.  Solution:  form a committee with one person from each department to work on issues.

Problem:  libraries putting in systems to track reference.  Worries over how this will be used against staff.


D104: Dig Deeper: Hot Topic Discussion

9 tables, 9 main areas of discussion, chosen by the crowd (2 min brainstorm)

  • Technology
  • Pop-up Outreach
  • User Engagement
  • Difficult Staff
  • Leveraging Local Expertise
  • Engaging Library Staff as Learners
  • Maker Spaces
  • eBooks (table ended up empty!)
  • Search Skills, Mind Hacking

Gave them about 30 minutes for discussion.

Why was eBooks table empty?  It’s still a big deal…but we’re tired of talking about it.

Maker Spaces – hands on creative spaces; important to explain to policymakers/stakeholders about why this is important for building community.  Important to use outcome-based evaluation.  Want sustainability beyond initial grant/test.

Search Skills – carryover from other session on using the right side of the brain for searching.  Visual searching, using visuals to make search engines more effective.  How do you standardize?  Are there universal pictures/visuals?

Engaging Library Staff as Learners – how to get staff involved in the library process.  Dealing with resistance (busy, overwhelmed, fear).  Perhaps an “exchange program” – let them learn somewhere else, bring it back.  Reference vs. cataloging conflict – get those people in a room, discuss their viewpoints.

Leveraging Local Expertise – we have local experts do events at libraries.  Escondido:  LibraryYou – help with making videos.  The Human Library – check out a person to engage on differences.  Special librarian would like experts in organization to talk about doing research on their expert areas.

Difficult staff – Four areas:  staff overreaching, use intermediary; staff resistance to tech changes, send staff to other libraries to observe; negative people, they are competitive, so “marble jar” idea.

Technology – How we’re expected to be experts on multiple devices, how keep up?  Bringing tech in the box to the library expecting complete setup help.

Pop-up Outreach – library/school cooperation, outreach to schools.  Get Smart Car or scooter and going to places (bar, community) to explain why still relevant.  In Canada, they provide fact-checking services at the polls.  Going to where people are, making library relevant to where they are.  Branding with the Smart Car or similar.

User Engagement – way people use study spaces in library.  Have people who use tables, but don’t engage, so nothing to measure or connect.  Give them the option of visiting via wi-fi login (chat widget, bulletin space); let them tell their story of how/why they use the library.



D105:  Starting a New Library in the Google Age

Ronald Snijder

OAPEN Library – Open Access Publishing in European Networks

Monographs mainly in humanities and social sciences, quality controlled (like peer review), open access

Over 1000 titles, 11 languages including Latin, 35 publishers.

Serials costs through the roof vs. budgets not raising at same rate.

Why OAPEN?  Publishers can showcase their titles.

Used open source XTF software as platform.  Enables serendipity – combo of searching and browsing.  Full text search.

Multi-lingual search.  Export in RIS format:  EndNote, Mendeley.  Social media.  Can integrate/share with other repositories.

Search engines don’t always pull OAPEN results on first page.  Competing with Amazon, Google Results, publishers.  Content is mainly PDF – hard to get indexed.

Why not Google Scholar?  They don’t index books.  Google Books requires uploading via publishers.

OAPEN is about usage, regardless of the platform, so get connected to other libraries.  Several types of metadata to be able to serve through your ILS.  They are searchable in Worldcat.

DOAB – Dir of Open Access Books.  – discovery services for peer-reviewed Open Access books.  Contains descriptions of books which are “free to share”.  Maintained by publishers, they upload, they maintain metadata.  Full contents of books are only in OAPEN, not DOAB.  DOAB is description-only.

Is this actually used?  Stats.  They measured number of downloads of books, not visitors.

Analytics – Google Analytics didn’t quite get them what they needed.  No ready-made solution for stats at book level.  Still working on it.

40K downloads/month at this point.  Users tend to take more than one book, tend to come back.  Good!

Sustainability.  Money.  Trying to attract more publishers and also research funders for sponsorship.

Working on long term preservation with the Dutch Royal Library.

Audience Response (AR):  What kind of marketing are you doing?  Asker hadn’t heard about it before today.  Ronald:  mostly they use their metadata, and try to get academic libraries to load/connect to it.

AR:  percentage of books in what languages?

Ronald:  40-50% in English, 20% in Dutch, rest varies.

AR:  How get through Serial Solutions?

AR:  What social media tools?  RS:  every page, every book, has a social media link (G+, FB, etc.) with direct links.

AR:  There are other OA aggregators, yes?  RS:  mostly articles, not books.  OAPEN is focusing on books.

AR: What has it been like working with publishers?  What is the business case for the publisher – do they make money?  RS:  they make publicity for authors.  Many of the publishers they’re aggregating are not-for-profit publishers.

AR: as to sustainability, is there an ultimate goal in mind?  RS:  would like to be repository for online monographs for Europe.

AR:  is PDF only output format?  They get content from publishers, and most of them only have PDF versions at this time.  XML is unusual.  PDF is lowest common denominator for publishers.  They *can* take other formats, but publishers not providing them.

AR: will “eyeballs” on content model work with US publishers?

AR:  is it new titles, or primarily back catalog?  Answer:  mix of both, depending on publishers.

AR:  Who are your competitors?  Google Books.

AR: There are some libraries that catalog open access books online – is that a problem?  Nope, because that’s the whole point.

AR: What sort of agreement do you have with the publishers?  Ronald:  there is a contract.  If publisher wants to retract something, OAPEN will remove (rare).

Ronald is working on breaking down the usage as to kind of users – academic, other.  Be able to say a bit more about the impact of those books.

Viewed OAPEN live.

AR:  community college librarians – concern that textbooks will go UP in price if a lot is online, to compensate.  Argument could go either way.

AR:  comment from someone from PLOS – public library of science.  Yay to more open access!



D106 – The Next Big Thing

Sarah Houghton, Brian Pichman, Dave Hesse, Ben Bizzle

They will each take a few minutes to present The Next Big Thing from their perspective.  Then we’ll take Audience Response (AR).

Dave Hesse

New projects for the kids – tie in with books (laser tag for Hunger Games).  Squirrel balls – begin conversations.  Let kids do book reports – video, out to QR code.

Show Off Technology – let kids use gesture-based software.  Traditional gaming as well.

Brian Pichman

Interactive bookends – mounting tablets – sleep mode will display author names, but when kids touch them, they can read user reviews from their peers.  They can also check out books via QR codes.  Plays videos on subjects in area (e.g. bears).

Sarah Houghton

Cutting things!  Cutting a lot of stuff from library.  When we return from conferences, we get depressed we can’t implement all the good things we saw.  Sarah is making everyone “earn their program” or display or collection.  Make more business-level decisions about what we provide, why we provide them, justify why we have them.  We’ve not been good at using data – instead use anecdotal evidence – we need to turn to the numbers and use empirical data as part of our decision-making process.

Ben Bizzle

Jonesboro has also been running their library more like a business.  Next Big Thing:  marketing and advertising libraries.  We’ve traditionally been bad at this.  He’s been doing a lot of work on Facebook “a more permanent platform than many others in social media”.  Once they Like your page, you’ve already “paid” for that person – you can market to them over and over again.  San Rafael and Topeka-Shawnee were test libraries in recent study on Facebook marketing.

Ben shared San Rafael’s numbers during 28 day test run.  Over doubled their fan numbers.  Within two months, had quadrupled fan base from where it had been after four years online.  Is Facebook ad more effective than print ad?

Topeka-Shawnee.  4119 fans after 5 years online, added over 1500 in one month using ads!  54.8 fans/day.

Chicago PL.  8630 after four years online.  Added nearly 2000 fans in 28 days.

These environments create a space where you can market and outreach directly to your community.

Audience Response (AR):

Amy Mather, Omaha PL:  Q: when they put Events on FB, little response, but when they go into engagement process, they get better response.  What next?

Ben Bizzle:  Events are a clunky mechanism.  People don’t like that.  They want to interact with you in ways that don’t interrupt what they were trying to do.  If you entertain/engage them, they will come to your page.  Speak to them in a colloquial way.

Lucy Ludwig:  she works for research science org – 40 content providers, no good way for them to get to content because of mobile issues as travelers.

Programming – in January started programming for Spanish-speaking community.  2-3 transcultural programs, as well, bringing cultures together, focusing on food, music, etc.

New way to self-publish materials – integrating local author ebooks with ebook rollout.  Local focus. Hope to get artists, musicians, etc. over time.

Emily C. Suffolk Co:  if you’re having to justify expenditures by showing real return on investment, look at metrics and find ways to measure success.   Circ stats just won’t cut it anymore.  Programs, engagement with community, etc. are things we need to bring out.

Snow Isle WA State:  project for next few years – people most trust info from people they know – community investors and active volunteers.  Getting rid of a lot of paper-based PR.

Cecily Walker, Vancouver PL:  Hired a marketing person who actually understands social media.  Huge project launching next week.  Huge citywide event, being handled by library PR department.

Anna Creech, URichmond:  figure out why usage of electronic resources is actually going down.

Michael asks Sarah:  what did you cut that you didn’t want to cut?  Sarah:  had big music implementation project with Magnitune (DRM free music), now on hold.

Public librarian:  they looked at everything they were doing, realized one PR person couldn’t handle it all (public library system); went to e-newsletters, centralized posters (not branch individual).  Making people do written proposals for programs, and numbers have to be there.

Moving to more part-time, more non-librarians.

Moving away from MARC, enhancing metadata.

SJSU library school – need to do more advocacy.  Her students having hard time finding jobs due to cuts.  The people who control the money are not Facebook generation, you need to spend some face-to-face time with politicians.  What are demographics of people who control your budgets.

Public librarians:  Maker Spaces and BYOD, bring your own device.  Wants to hear how to bring such things to academic libraries, where students already have devices, but need help?

John Bramble, National Network of Libraries of Medicine –  created game-based wordpress tool to let people get training, and get credit for it.

Michelle Boule – learning more about how publishers actually work by interacting with authors, publishers, etc. on social media.  Don’t need to have adversarial relationship with publishers.  There is a better way – not sure what that is.  Need to do it quick – we’re getting written off.

Los Angeles County Lib – lifelong learning concept.  Take to next level.  Making library hub of self-directed learning.

Being a platform for local content from the community.  Creating downloadable database of music from local musicians, plus create archive of this music.

Whether or not to curate info – questions about this.  Creating folksonomies.

Podcasting – looking for others doing this work to network.

SnoIsle – digitization project with their community – they cross two counties.  Engage with community, teach them about copyright, etc. in process.

Next Big Thing:  keeping library’s head above water, keeping up standards.

County library in IN:  changing ILS from legacy to open source ILS.

Jezmynne Dene:  ID – two new things:  reaching out to atypical, non-users, running ads in Thrifty Nickel talking about having consumer reports, gun catalogs.  Lock-in gaming nights – 8pm to 8am – for teens.


October 24th, 2012 by