Thursday, September 28, 2006
To some degree, the words networking, politics, and influencing, sound threatening to me - like they're about manipulating other people and gaining power. Those two goals - manipulation and pursuit of power - I find to be distasteful. However, I understand that in the right hands, for the right reasons, people do need to find ways to work effectively with one another & move forward. And moving forward usually does require "political" and "networking" skills. So I'm glad that I listened to the seminar.
The key to what she presented sounds deceptively simple:
* influence is based on trust
* trust is based on relationships; relationships are based on trust
* networks are a key to relationship building
There was obviously a very strong ethical undercurrent to the discussion. The point being - you cannot feign trustworthiness - and you must be trustworthy to be successful. You must be positive, helpful, open, willing to compromise -- in short, constructive.
You cannot go into meetings and throw bombs (unexpected little negative nuggets that are designed to discredit individuals and the projects they are conducting) - if you do, you're a negative influencer. There is only one thing that can be done with a negative influencer, I might add, and that is to minimize their influence.
I don't understand the negative ones, I'll admit - because once you lob that bomb, what do you expect? You'll destroy all others' trust of you, thus jeopardizing or preventing strong relationships, thus reducing your ability to influence events in any positive way in the future.
She talked about preparing/doing your homework in order to effectively build relationships, influence outcomes, network, etc. For example, when I asked her about how best to run a committee/committee meetings, she did say that I should pre-meet with individuals in a newly formed committee that I'm to run ahead of time. This sounds like a lot of work - but it sounds like an excellent way to begin things - because it would allow us to have some 1-on-1, f2f time before the first meeting. Also, she gave me advice on the balance between efficiency in meetings and relationship-building (one of the reasons the pre-meeting meetings can be extra useful).
I don't do justice to the presentation, so - if you're interested in the topic or just feel a little doubtful about your networking and political skills, go to: http://www.sirsidynixinstitute.com/seminar_page.php?sid=70 and watch the archived webinar.
Oh - another helpful thing about Donna's presentation - she reassured those librarians out there who are shy that it doesn't hurt to try the "three-foot rule" (when you're at a party or similar gathering, introduce yourself to anyone within 3 feet of you) because most people will be grateful for the chance to talk about themselves, many may be glad that someone has helped them overcome their own shyness, or - in the case the person who responds to your intro negatively - you'll have learned a key thing about that person, so you still get something out of the interaction.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Posts so far:
Jessamyn's list of resources: http://www.librarian.net/stax/1864 (Jessamyn was an awesome moderator of the session that she & I coordinated on the accessibility, good website standards, etc.; and also took the lead on the Web2.0 free-for-all discussion)
from Rebecca, of SCSU - http://frequanq.blogspot.com/2006/09/library-camp-east.html
from Casey - http://maisonbisson.com/blog/post/11458/
from Lichen - http://www.remainingrelevant.net/remaining/139
blog entries on library camp east as found by Technorati:
Then this whole Web2.0/Library2.0 thing got popular. Librarianship started looking a little more hip. But I've started to feel more & more left behind by the trend, I have to admit. (Why? I’m trudging through legacy 1.0 stuff as L2.0 stuff evolves into L3.0. And I wonder why I'm working so hard at some of these tasks when there are new webby tools that could do so much of this old-school work for us.)
I felt like I was talking to celebrities of a sort when I met Jessamyn West (http://www.librarian.net) & Jon Blyberg (http://www.blyberg.net). Anyhow, each of these people has done great things in their little corners of library land - some of them have spread to national repute, as well. All are big-league L2.0 bloggers, in my mind!
Ultimately, what did I get from Library Camp East? Enough. It's hard to give you a concrete of what it was though, since it wasn't like the kind of conference where you take away a big binder stuffed full of PowerPoint printouts that no one will ever read, despite their best intentions. I met some cool people and took away a few gems/reminders of gems I haven't yet taken advantage of:
- APIs & mashups – you should see what Blyberg (http://www.blyberg.net/) – one of the conference’s organizers & developer of the award-winning http://www.aadl.org/ website (Ann Arbor District Library) is up to now! He’s calling it PatRest - http://www.blyberg.net/tag/patrest/ - it interfaces with their III system! it lets their users incorporate their library catalog or even their own patron info (e.g., to keep a running list of holds in the foreground of their personalized Google or Yahoo page) into the body of their own personalized homepages; it lets patrons create “mashups” with the library's information themselves, so they can create innovative and useful tools for other patrons. APIs are becoming the expectation of the net-savvy folks who are up-and-coming, so libraries are eventually going to have to figure out how to supply them (vendors aren't moving nearly quickly enough on this front!)
- LibraryThing – http://www.librarything.com/ - does it get much better than that? Social software built around a love of books, leveraging library catalog records... Essentially, put all of your book collection online - make your own personal ILS (without the circ feature, obv.) - recommend the books you like to others on LibraryThing, etc. I can't describe it well, you have to see it/try it for yourself
- HTML Tidy – http://tidy.sourceforge.net/ - html validator / code cleaner that’s open-source [can anyone tell me how to run a batch of files with this thing – and I know it’s a stupid question, but I have to ask it anyway (pride is nothing if you can’t get the job done)]
- Flickr – http://www.flickr.com/ photostreams (such as the one for Library Camp East - http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Library+Camp+East ), tagging, groups, sharing; what I learned: the default – “none” - permissions = “All Rights Reserved” – how awesome is that? I'd been concerned that this might be Flickr's downside for an institution like ours, which carefully protects all of its web-based content & does not allow it to be coopted for commercial purposes
- Web developers’ toolbars – one for Firefox - https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/60/ - one for IE (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?familyid=e59c3964-672d-4511-bb3e-2d5e1db91038&displaylang=en . The Firefox one I hear about all the time, it's supposed to be primo, don’t know as much about the IE one. You’ll need Firefox & Greasemonkey - http://greasemonkey.mozdev.org/ for the first one, obviously, but it’s all good, folks. If you haven’t taken the time to install these guys, do so now!
Also, I learned what an unconference was. Jon, Alan, & organizers (et al.) used the Open Space conference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_space_conference format. The conference starts out open-ended – no preset programs - only a common theme/goal– then the users come up with the schedule & issues to be covered while there.
The beauty of the concept is that it recognizes the intelligence of the crowd. In general, unconferences arise from the notion that so often we learn more at conferences by networking with our fellow audience members than we do from presenters. It also recognizes that a single presenter or even small panel of presenters are likely not as well-versed in a topic than the dozens of attendees (each of whom has some knowledge about the topic) put together.
Personally, if I was choosing what worked best for me, I’d settle for a setup in-between the more amorphous unconference and a completely scripted conference – sort of like the old CARL Users’ Group meetings used to be, only slightly less pre-set. My theorized perfect in-between conference would be partially prepared ahead of time, maybe online. That way, participants could really prepare for the event. Jon Blyberg offered a good explanation of the groundrules of the type of conference we had in his wrapup today (unfortunately with traffic I'd gotten into the room too late to hear them before the event - which might've made me appreciate the format even more than I did initially - mea culpa for missing these key points at the time):
- Whoever comes is the right people
- Whatever happens is the only thing that could have
- When it starts is the right time
- When it’s over, it’s over
It would be somewhat similar to what we did. It might look like the following: you’d open up a wiki, state the broad goal/theme/subject matter of the conf. Then you could ask folks to contribute brief descriptions of what they’d want to see there. Then have a page setup for each topic that conf sessions will be about. If people know that’ll they want a specific thing answered, they could put it there. A couple of people could volunteer as moderators of said section, quasi-experts – not quite like the full experts that conference presenters are billed to be, but people who are not completely new to the topic. Then, on the day of, the moderators could center themselves around a couple of specific questions/problems. Something like that anyway. Off the top of my head that’s what I come up with. Someone else could probably refine this concept – hey, want to have a conference about it?
Anyhow, as a local librarian, I have to give huge kudos, applause, etc., to Darien Library – to Alan Gray & Louise Berry and their participating staff members – for taking a leadership role in Library 2.0 development in Connecticut (and also to thank CLC for their cosponsorship of the workshop earlier this summer on L2.0). It’s very important that institutions as well-developed as Darien continue to reach out to libraries who aren’t there yet but who – with the aid of the development opportunities Darien's sponsored – can move in that direction, regardless of their own levels of funding/resources. Of course, we have an excellent Div. of Library Development here at the State Library (self-serving, shameless, but true, plug) that offers courses and coordinates events that provide great staff development opportunities, but sharing resources among institutions is what we're all about - and Darien really stepped up to the L2.0 plate. Why not? They're leading us all with their blogs and institutional focus on user-centered services. Honestly, it’s also something of a gauntlet - a challenge, if you will - to other libraries who may have resources that they can share. The whole endeavor serves Darien well, too, because it helps them to develop their own staff and recruits potential staff members interested in working for a library as innovative as this one. Not to gush but I can’t help myself… Hey, if I didn't start out cool - how can I stay cool?
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
In addition, Marshall Breeding's The Systems Librarian column, from CIL in May reminded me that despite the need for movement forward with social software, etc., we also needed to get our code fixed up.
As such, I've been using the W3C validator at http://validator.w3.org/
It's scary! What I don't understand - though - is the level of importance of this. Officially, it's important to validate your pages - and certainly, by law and by ethics, accessibility for everyone is an overriding concern, BUT I see (as Marshall himself rightly pointed out) that some of the best websites are still not valid, officially speaking.
For example, the award-winning Ann Arbor District Library site, which I love (http://www.aadl.org), has - as of today - 74 errors. (use this link to run the validation yourself). This blog - as of today - has 34 errors. Our Wordpress blog is almost perfect, but still will not validate, having 1 error as of today. But in each case, I'm guessing, we're all constrained by the limitations of our third-party provided systems - e.g., Blogger, Wordpress, and I dunno for AADL). And if those programmers can't get it right, what's to say little 'ol me - just an html coder for all intents & purposes - should be perfect?!
oh well, have to go, I've got a lot of code cleaning ahead of me.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
- the big one? Automation had several ugly days with the web server (which didn't involve me, some of which I didn't even know about... and yes, like you I'm unpleasantly surprised when I try to get onto the web server in the early AM (around 7, usually) and it's unavailable (particularly disturbing when I'm trying to publish something up to it)), so I've been trying to help t-shoot issues with it. Our primary sys/dev is no longer with us and we have no replacement as yet, so the folks in Automation are scrambling. The server has always been a little unstable from what I've been told, but without our sys/dev available, the situation has become more acute, or should I say - noticeable? If I had to guess at the cause of the larger issue, I would say that one of the major issues is that the date of the OS' manufacture is old (it would be considered old if it were a car, let alone software). The second big thing is that the web server is not just a web server, it also serves up a piece of software designed to manage the public access computers. This piece of software is very resource intensive and seems to lock up. I've analyzed event logfiles for the Automation crew & offered them my summary. I've also been running bandwidth tests in the pm since the Inet is often SO slow here these days. I suspect that with students returning to campus & us having a fractional T1 that goes out through said campuses' pipeline, we're just competing with a lot of traffic.
- of course, the ongoing updates, etc., inc. converting reports, minutes, and financial reports take some time, because of the way we do them at this point in time. It's open for workflow improvement discussions.
- I've written a column for CT Libraries on blogging and created a wiki for the 4 of us who are involved in creating the technology column.
- Some behind the scenes stuff is being hammered out related to how we conduct biz - i.e., a committee's being put together re: the website
- I've done some instruction for another member of the staff w/FP questions, had to t-shoot FP problems, etc.
- I put new software on the test server, ran it successfully, then installed on the live server - had to wait until after hours
- Began getting together curriculum for the website accessibility
- Continuing to clean up code, as it comes
- Began converting the Wm. Webb stuff - soon to be a new addition to the website
- Agencies - oy - the code for the Agencies pages is coming in really ugly. I find myself cleaning it by hand. It might be quicker to have access to the original .docs or to database the info than to work converting each badly-coded html page myself, but it's gone back and forth so many time that there's just no good answers. It's one of those things that - when it's done without input ahead of time (couldn't have been input, anyway, because I wasn't here, but...) it ends up taking 4 x as long as it ought to.
Just a lot of troubleshooting overall. And that's what takes the extra time. Wondering if I'll be ready for next week's Library Camp in Darien.
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
- Library Terms that Users Understand - http://www.jkup.net/terms.html
- Terms found on usability-tested library home pages - http://www.jkup.net/terms-on-tested-pages.html
- Links to Library Usability Studies - http://www.candice.cc/usability.html
- Library terms evaluated in usability tests and other studies - http://www.jkup.net/terms-studies.html
- Heuristic Principles for U. Va. Library Usability Testing - http://www.lib.virginia.edu/usability/heuristics.html
- Usability Tests: Guidelines for Developing Tests - http://www.lib.virginia.edu/usability/tests/index.html
Thursday, September 07, 2006
I disappeared for a while, but here's some of the things I've learned recently:
(1) when using include pages (a FrontPage Web Component - similar but not equal to other types of server-side include statements), you need to (a) make sure that you don't have the startspan clause in the statement - if it appears there, you'll have to remove the whole statement & re-add through FP... someone who doesn't use FP the way that I do tried to copy the include statements the way they looked in the source code of the pages served up online - but those served up pages added the span segment of the code... all content disappeared after that header include statement as a result... what I did to fix it was to find the original .htm files (pre-addition of the include statements), copy them to the server (used the FP import function), then added the FP Web Component - Included Content - Page once they were there; (b)
(2) when running the WordPress blog software on an IIS installation, don't forget that last little detail of adding index.php to the default documents for the homepage. If not, you'll get a 403, access Forbidden type error.
So I've successfully gotten the combo of PHP, MySQL, and IIS to run on a test machine. I just have to figure out how to customize the look of the WordPress blog (using their custom CSS). I'll also have to double-check the security of PHP, MySQL, and Wordpress and learn what settings would work on a real server, test them on the test machine, then intranet here we come. (along the way, I'll have to document the process so I can repeat my successes and avoid my original mistakes). There are already three outstanding blog projects awaiting a solution using our own servers. There will likely be many more once the proof of concept is demo'd.
and yes, I've been busily working on getting large content projects up (legislative tutorial, agencies pages, library board meeting minutes and reports) and meeting with people who are at various stages in their content creation projects. The museum is among my next big things to get online, as is an h & g project. There are others in the pipeline - don't get nervous if I didn't mention yours! My kingdom for a true CMS. But the right one...
In the meantime, the web team is being formed by the powers that be - the sooner it's up, the better, even though it means more work for me. I'd like to run the museum options past them for feedback. I'd also like their opinion on our survey results & perhaps on the web statistics issue.