Here I am again. There is so much to say in order to catch you up on things that I am going to instead say “a lot has happened” and “I look forward to being here again.” That will have to suffice for now.

Next Monday, I will have the honor and pleasure of facilitating a workshop at Aarhus Public Library’s Next Library conference. Our panel has six participants from five countries, two of them presenting virtually. We’re using a world cafe model to develop a dialog around building library communities locally. I am very excited about it and can’t wait to share some of my work with this audience. Here are my slides (re-using content that you have seen before). Thanks to my colleague Irina for her work on the title slide.

See you in Aarhus!

leave of absence

I’ve been gearing up for a new baby – and will be on maternity leave through early March 2011. You’ll still find shorter updates on twitter, flickr, and facebook until I’m back to more regular blogging.

My most recent presentation (and likely the last for a little while!) at PNLA / WLA this summer is now on sharepoint – enjoy!

LJ put a little star next to my name!

My book was reviewed in 4/15 issue of LJ, available online here:

book review #5

I searched for my book title in WorldCat today and learned Gwen M Gregory reviewed my book in Information Today back in October. However did I miss that!? Here’s an excerpt:

[Hill’s] writing and her professional activities reflect her passion for the social and community aspects of libraries. While she is sophisticated in her knowledge of technology, she always emphasizes that it is a means to an end. It isn’t the be-all and end-all of libraries, and we shouldn’t get stuck there. “[L]ibrary staff seemed more concerned with fixing their print- ers and arguing about why users didn’t find us as relevant as Google than they were with imagining the incredible op- portunity before us: to lead and facilitate the content creation and discourse of our communities and constituents,” she writes.


So what do we get from all this? Libraries are a valuable social commodity and provide social links. If we think we are just for sitting quietly and reading books, we will cease to exist before too long. If we jump into the community mix, get out there, and show off what we do, our communities will benefit and will appreciate our services. Best of all, we will be doing something that really matters.

Hill makes a great case for an expanded role for librarians. We can build social capital within our communities and grow to become an even more important part of the social network. This goes for all types of libraries. This book will inspire you to think hard about the role that your library now plays and where it may stand in a few years.

Thank you, Gwen. I appreciate your full synopsis of the work in your review. What took me a while to get down under a few hundred pages, you’ve summed up perfectly in just one! I hope that even as the work gets “dated” from the years we spent in the rush of user-generated content, it will still be relevant to library staff thinking about how we can evolve into new relevance with our users.

DOL gets collaborative

Update: I was going to be in a meeting this morning (for work) with representatives from the Department of Labor and IMLS – talking about how libraries and workforce agencies can work together to meet the needs of unemployed. But the meeting was canceled due to all that weather out in DC. As lead up to the meeting, this info below was included. I’ll let you know if I find out about other resources along these lines.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced the results of its Tools for America’s Job Seekers Challenge last week. Top-rated sites in each of 6 categories – general job boards, niche tools, career tools, career exploration tools, web 2.0 and “other” – are now available at www.careeronestop.org/jobseekertools.

From their press release: The job tools postings are the culmination of an eight-week effort to offer members of the public an opportunity to weigh in on their favorite career sites and to provide the sites themselves with a chance to raise awareness about the tools they offer. Government agencies, private companies, nonprofit organizations and many other entities came together to make the project a success. An alphabetical list of all sites will be available on www.careeronestop.org in the coming weeks.

Looks like a tool that may be useful for libraries working with patrons who are just jumping into the online job site world. Let us know if you find this (or other resources) helpful as you’re working to connect the unemployed in your library.

Building Collaboration, Participation, and Community in Libraries.

“Alliance Library System and TAP Information Services Announce Trendy Topics  2010:  Social Networking for Libraries! The first conference on Social Software for Libraries is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9.  Meredith Farkas of Norwich University and columnist for American Libraries, will be the opening keynote speaker at 11:00 A.M. Eastern Time, 10:00 Central, 9:00 Mountain, and 8:00 Pacific.  She will address “Building Collaboration, Participation, and Community in Libraries.”  Farkas will talk about how social software is opening up new opportunities for reaching out to patrons, providing library services, and transforming our websites.”

Register at http://www.eventbee.com/view/trendytopics/event?eid=65537
Registration for librarians for the one day conference is $40; for students $30; and for groups $100.
For more information on these workshops please contact Lori Bell at ALS, lbell@alliancelibrarysystem.com or Tom Peters at TAP Information Services at tpeters@tapinformation.com.

Alliance Library System is one of nine regional library systems in Illinois serving 260 libraries of all types in a 14,000 square mile area. TAP Information Services (www.tapinformation.com) helps organizations innovate.

Call 2-1-1 for help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more

From a librarian at the kitchen table: 2-1-1 provides free and confidential information and referral. Call 2-1-1 for help with food, housing, employment, health care, counseling and more. Learn more about your local 2-1-1 by looking it up here.

Also, last week’s WebJunction  webinar on workforce resources was excellent! The webinar and all related materials are archived; please check out all the great ideas shared and generated by this gathering.

My talk at TEDx

If you read It’s All Good, I apologize for the cross-posting, but I wanted to share this with LBC readers as well.

I have been shy about publishing this, but not for the reasons you might think. Last October I had the huge pleasure of speaking at TEDx Columbus, a local TED event organized by local folk. I was invited, at least one of the reasons, because I work at OCLC and they were interested in highlighting ideas and work from local organizations. This was my first time talking with a non-library audience about some of these ideas and I had a great time.

You can decide for yourself how you think it went – the whole 18 minutes are posted here. But the reason why I have been shy about showing it has less to do with the content of my actual speech and so I’ll just come clean…
I had this very cute little skirt and top to wear for my speech. When I arrived the day before, the organizers shared that I should not wear black. Seriously? I almost died. And so here I am on a TEDx video wearing boring pants and a sweater. (And now you know real the extent of my vanity!)

If you have a chance to review, I would love to have your feedback. This experience definitely drove home for me that we need to be out in the communities we serve talking about our work (and not just talking back and forth to each other). I hope to have more opportunities to talk to non-library audiences … this was such a good time. Note to self: always pack a cute color dress, just in case!

building community for the unemployed

Cheryl Napsha is a librarian after my own heart. I met her online while doing research for the LBC project and her words are the opening epigraph. And although it’s not the only reason I think of her as a kindred spirit, you can read her nice comments about the book on my reviews page.

I heard from Cheryl a few times in the last few months via email as my blog has been on hiatus (if you’re wondering why the hiatus: in part because I didn’t retain my clarity of purpose here after the book was published and in part because I was spending more time than usual worky-working) and each time she planted a new seed about the connection between community librarianship and service to the unemployed. In her most recent email, she shares some of the things she’s working on in her Michigan library:

We’re in Michigan, so while our ‘official’ unemployment is over 15%, our actual is well over 22%. Which means about 1 in 5 people who come to the library are desperately seeking work or social services.
We’ve done some things to respond, like: increasing the number of free computer classes (basic, Office applications, etc.); added a job seeker’s lab for 1-1 help in writing resumes, filing for unemployment, or anything even loosely related to jobs; and increased our 1-1 computer instruction. We’ve also offered lots of programming, including a 4-part ‘boot camp.’ We’re doing a lot more cultural and social programming, including concerts and family-oriented programming. All that is pretty normal. One of the unusual things we did was that, when we were faced with a 12% budget cutback last June, we INCREASED our hours by 10 weekly!!! So that was exciting.

I’m thinking there must be a more proactive solution, a way that the library could develop partnerships with social service or for-profit entities to help those in need. For instance, could we develop a partnership with a cosmetology school to offer free haircuts/makeovers at the library? Could we somehow create a job fair here? What about regular weekly sessions to practice interview people?

I’m thinking it’s way past time for information/referral for the public library, and that we should take advantage of this opportunity to really meet people where they need us.

Can you think of anyone I could connect with who’s on the same path?

Cheryl’s comments made me think of a project we’ve just started at WebJunction called Project Compass: libraries providing direction in tough times. This project is facilitating conversations and interactions for state library administrators around library services to the unemployed. We’re already learning a lot through this work, but are really looking forward to our five regional summits this spring, where we’ll raise concerns and jointly strategize about how to ensure libraries are making the most of scarce resources by sharing and in some cases even working together. As part of the compass project, WebJunction is also having a webinar on 1/28 that will highlight and facilitate more conversation about what’s happening in local libraries. If your library is struggling with unemployment issues, or has approached challenges of the last year in ways that you can share with others, please join us on Thursday. You can register to attend from the WebJunction homepage at www.webjunction.org. I’ll be there, and hope to learn from you all.

book review #4

Thanks Ms. Welton for your very kind words!

Inside, Outside, and Online: Building Your Library Community. Hill, Chrystie (Author) Jun 2009. 192 p. ALA Editions, paperback, $48.00. (9780838909874). 021.2. In this fluently written how-to manual, author Hill makes a potent case for community building as an essential form of service in public libraries, both for their survival and relevance and also for the needs of those Americans who find themselves “bowling alone.” She outlines five steps in the process she recommends public libraries follow to build communities: assess, deliver, engage, iterate, and sustain. Explanation of the stages is clear, and examples from librarians in the field serve as dynamic illustrations. Although the book was researched and written before the current economic debacle caused library use to skyrocket, Hill’s model remains applicable—and provides libraries with a method for taking full advantage of increased foot traffic as well as connecting outside and online. — Ann Welton, Booklist

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