Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Rollins on YouTube

Like every other college, Rollins is on YouTube and our students show the College in a good (or this) and a bad light. This is just zany. Who knew compact shelving could provide so much pleasure? I am heartened to see that the various safety features on this shelving worked perfectly.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

We have a New Mission Statement!

Exceptional services, information resources, and a welcoming environment for the Rollins community.

It passes my tests. It is short, it sets a high standard that we must work hard to reach, and I can easily communicate it to people with just the fingers of one hand -- services, resources, environment, and Rollins. I am publishing in in this rather informal place because it still needs to go through a few more trials by fire. I spent some time Friday showing it to various people in the library to gauge their reaction (perhaps the best summary of their reaction would be "cautiously optimistic") and it needs to be presented to the Library Advisory Committee (probably at our April meeting.) We will see how it fairs over the next few weeks.

The staff are now invited to write vision statements based on this mission statement. The idea is that such statements will enable them to fill in some of the gaps in the mission. Because it is short, it doesn't explicitly state whether an environment is physical or online, how the Rollins community is defined, what might constitute exceptional services, what kind of information resources, or whether we own or access them.

In my own opinion our environment is both a physical place and online, the community is the students, faculty, and staff of the College, exceptional services are customer services like circulation and ILL, educational services like group and individualized information literacy teaching and learning, and library services, like collection, description, organization, and preservation, that make a user want to recommend us to their colleagues, and to come back, and we will own some, access others, and provide a portal to still other information resources -- in all formats -- that our users need to fulfil the College's mission to educate responsible leaders and global citizens.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

What I like about the new British Library website

Take a look

  1. I like the clean white page with a single striking (and changing) graphic in the background that is clearly linked to what the library collects.
  2. I like that a federated search box is front and center.
  3. But that search function lets you know exactly what collections you are searching and provides easy access to advanced searching.
  4. I like the uncluttered news feature.
  5. I like that all the business links ("about us" "collections" "services" etc.) are right on the front page, but not the first thing you see
  6. Finally, those cute graphic boxes along the bottom for featured "stuff" are cool. I particularly like the support us box.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Seen my tattoo?

The story in the library is that one of our student workers said that a mission statement should fit on a tattoo. We have started calling it the "tattoo test." So as we held the last mission statement meeting today everyone got tattoos. Here is mine -- Read or Die.
We will have a mission statement (knock on wood) by the end of the month.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Leapfrogging social networking

Librarians are exercised these days about social networking sites and whether to jump on this trend (fad?), just watch it roll by and wait for the next wave, or whether it is even relevant to libraries at all.

We even have a couple of staff people in the Olin Library working on this issue. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

So I was interested to see this piece in Wired (Feb 2007) about MTV's attempt to leapfrog social networking sites like Second Life, MySpace, Facebook, etc. with a site called Virtual Laguna Beach.

"With its headlong leap into virtual worlds, MTV hopes to forge MySpace 2.0—and find its way back to the cutting edge. “It’s like the moment you went from listening to music to watching it,” Bostwick says. “Now we’re taking it from watching the show to actually becoming the show.”"

If library users are listening or watching the show -- passively searching and reading documents, what would it mean for them to "become the show"? I am not suggesting we should try and compete with Laguna Beach, but is there a connection here to the undergraduate research movement and the concept of institutional repositories? Will students not only be consuming information in (I use the preposition loosely) libraries, but also creating it? Of course, they always have, but will it be shared more widely (no longer just between student and professor) and stored more permanently?

As they say in my country, "I dunno."

Iraqi National Library and Archive

The news that the Director of the Iraqi National Library and Archive, Dr. Saad Eskander, was blogging on the British Library website was reported by the New York Times yesterday and taken up by American Libraries Direct on that same day.

His blog is a harrowing diary of what it is like to live and try and continue to work as a librarian in the midst of a country that is spiralling out of control. Libraries are build by functional, stable societies and are destroyed quickly or deteriorate slowly as those societies -- what would be the appropriate word here -- implode? devolve?

Kudos to the BL for publishing this and best wishes to everyone at the Iraqi NLA.

To say things in Baghdad look bleak is an understatement, however, this quote from Dr. Eskander's diary shows his , and his staff's, determination to continue their work to reconstruct the Iraqi NLA and to build for the future. "Marco rang me from Rome to tell me that a conference would be held in the city of Florence on next Tuesday, and that he wanted me address it. I agreed to talk about the impact of violence on my staff, the reconstruction of the NLA, and its future projects. "

Build for the future: this is what librarians do.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Planning: the mission statement

Long ago I wrote an entry here on planning. It was mostly about listening. While we will continue to listen to our users, our colleagues, and to the general hubub in the "infosphere", we are now entering a new stage in our planning. This month we are reviewing and perhaps revising our mission statement, in March we will be moving on to developing a short list of strategic goals or directions for the library to pursue over the next three to five years, and then in May we will get down to the level of an operational plan with annual projects etc.

One book I like on mission statements is Linda Wallace's "Library Mission & Marketing: Writing Mission Statements that Work." Chicago, ALA 2004. As Wallace puts it a mission statement should be a source of guidance and inspiration, define the unique contribution of your library, and be easy to say, read, and remember. (p. 16)

Our current statement is "The Olin Library provides instruction, information, and services to support the teaching and research needs of the Rollins Community." I like that it is short, and it covers the bases, but if it did not start with "the Olin Library" would it be unique to us? Couldn't IT or the Writing Center say much the same thing?

A couple I like from other Oberlin group schools include, from Union College, “Schaffer Library is a teaching library. We provide access to information resources that support the educational mission of Union College and we teach the critical and analytical skills necessary for the intelligent use of those resources.” It is blunt and to the point. The other is from Connecticut College "“Keeping you CONNected: Partnering with the college community to provide innovative, reliable, and universal access to information resources in support of academic and administrative endeavors.” I think I just like the creative use of CONN.

The other thing about mission statements is how you write them. Democracy and consensus can create buy-in which is important, but it can also lead to overly long, inclusive, and forgettable statements.

We have decided to do the following:

Having supplied them with some examples and some guidance from Wallace I asked everyone to write a mission statement for the library on their own. I also invited the Library Advisory Group (mostly faculty) to contribute their ideas if they wanted to. Then we held a 1 hour all library personnel meeting at which we did the following:

a) discussed the purpose of a mission statement.
b) Swapped all the individual mission statements are so that everyone had someone else's statement.
c) Everyone read the statement they had to the group and said what they think was positive/strong/exciting about the statement and why.
d) We divided everyone into four groups.

Each group was asked to appoint a facilitator (who will make sure the group gets its work done) and a reporter (who will report back to the next all library meeting.) Each group is asked to prepare a mission statement for the Olin Library before the next meeting. They can do this is a group meeting, via e-mail, whatever works for them as a group. It is the facilitator's role to make sure everyone gets to participate to the extent that they want to.

Then we will hold another 1 hour all library personnel meeting at which:

a) each group presents their mission statement.
b) we all discuss and arrive at a consensus (or as close as we can get) for what our mission statement will be.

If necessary, the librarians will meet afterwards and wordsmith the final product. Once we are satisfied, we will present it to the library and the Advisory Council for comment, and we hope endorsement.

The final product will be a revised mission statement by the end of February 2007. This puts us in good shape for the librarians to begin goal formation at an all day workshop during Spring break.

Wish us luck.