book review #3

these book reviews are facinating to me. but i’m starting to wonder — to you? maybe that’s a sign that i should stop posting them? tell me what you think…

at any rate, here’s the third book review.

A library is more than a building that grants access to information. “Inside, Outside, and Online: Building Your Library Community” is a guide for librarians to adapting one’s library to the community around it. Every community is different, and therefore every library should be different to suit local needs. With advice on identifying the needs and desires of the communities, attracting the community, and more, “Inside, Outside, and Online” is of strong recommendation for any librarian who wants their library and their community to be successful – Library Bookwatch, James A. Cox Editor-in-Chief, September 2009.

i checked in with my ALA Editions representative and she said that the book was sent to Library Journal for potential review, but I have not seen it there yet – hoping it makes it, still. i am so grateful for this feedback. it’s really great to hear and gives me quite the boost for continuing the conversation, so, thank you.

Welcome LIS 5937 – Libraries and Community Building

Welcome, Libraries and Community Building (LIS 5937) students from USF!

This is a special welcome to the students currently taking Kathleen de la Pena McCook’s course on community building and libraries. If you can believe it, Kathleen is using my book as her required text for the class, and this is such an honor for me because it is her book, A Place at the Table, that inspired me to pursue community building as library practice in the first place!

Kathleen has been in close communications as the class has started and then worked through the first few chapters of the text, and I’m just thrilled to have received some of the thoughtful comments that Kathleen has shared from her students. *Continuing* the dialog in our profession about community building was my primary ambition with this project, and I am so glad to see that happening in Kathleen’s class! Can I go so far as to say “mission accomplished”? I don’t think so. We need to keep the conversation going.

I would very much like to meet some of you (online or in person), and invite you to post questions, comments, or ideas on the blog here in the comments section, or send me an email to chrystie(at)itgirlconsulting(dot)com. I am thrilled to have you all engaged in the work and look forward to hearing from you.

book review #2

This is exciting. Another positive book review, this one published in Reference & Research Book News (August 2009). It’s really great to hear that this reviewer recognizes (can I go so far as to say appreciates?) the “scholarly and historical context” that I provide for the community building elements you all told me about in our research. My thesis advisors from Sarah Lawrence College (where I got my MA in History) would be so proud…

Hill, a librarian and consultant, provides practical advice and inspiration for building the library community through identifying user needs and designing services to meet those needs, engaging communities with service selection and creation, and using new technologies. The book begins by setting the author’s research in context with broader scholarship, research, and trends. It examines ways in which both people and libraries have been impacted by recent developments in networks, technology, and community, and looks at the implications these developments have raised for library practice. Stressing the urgent need for libraries to consider their work thorough the lens of building community, the author outlines the components of community building, drawing on the experiences of libraries surveyed in her research, and sets each component in its historical and scholarly context. (Annotation ©2009 Book News Inc. Portland, OR)

In other news, I’d like to thank Cheryl Napsha for her excellent suggestion (via email) about a refreshed direction for this blog. I’m thinking more about it, but I think she’s definitely onto something. I’ll leave it a mystery, for now, but it’s amazing what sorts of ideas and blessings come to you when you put questions out into the universe. I tell ya. Amazing.

it’s here: book review #1

Apparently, people are reading my book. Or at least skimming it. The way that I know this is that book reviews are starting to appear. Does anyone know about the business of LIS book reviews? How does your book get selected for a review? Within what time frame will they start to come out? Please, if you’re a seasoned LIS author and have any kind of scoop for me, please dish…

Thank goodness, the first one was very nice and pleasant and here is what it says: inspirational! valuable resource! encourages reading from cover to cover! must have!

Hill, Chrystie. Inside, Outside, and Online: Building Your Library Community. Chicago, American Library Association, 2009. 175p. index. $48.00pa.; $43.20pa. (ALA members). ISBN 13: 978-0-8389-0987-4.

Authored by the director of community services at WebJunction, this inspirational and research-based work outlines principles to support building a strong library community.  Drawing on her background as a writer, librarian, and community builder, Hill outlines the process of making the library the center of your community and thereby raising the perceived value of the library.  Separated into seven chapters, the work begins with people and networks, followed by libraries and communities.  The following chapters address the steps in the process: Assess, Deliver, Engage, Iterate, and Sustain.  Bringing examples and guiding questions, Hill engages the reader to seriously think about how to make their own library community emerge successfully inside the library, in the community the library serves, and in the online community.  References, additional resources, and an index make this a valuable resource, while the writing style encourages reading from cover to cover.  This work is a must have for any library wanting to reach out beyond their present users.—Sara Marcus

This appeared in ARBA online (American Reference Books Annual) in July 09. Thank you Sara Marcus for being so kind.

brief break from blogging because

I’m on a brief break from blogging because I just had a wedding and have yet to find my way back to normal life where one reads, writes, blogs, and generally keeps up with colleagues in library land. It has even been hard keeping up with my day job, but oh so glorious to be spending big chunks of energy on the personal (and not the work). My mom tells me that you get to be a bride for a year (really? how weird!), but I don’t suppose I’ll be gone that long…I agree with Meredith that when we’re not here, I miss us.

I’m going to spend the next few weeks dusting off and clearing out my reader in preparation for some kind of comeback. Any suggestions?

Happy Birthday Rosie


a long list of things i’ve been meaning to say to you

1. the book that started this blog is sitting on the coffee table next to me as I write this post. ten copies, actually. each has a little post-it note with the name of a person who is also mentioned in the acknowledgments. next to that is a stack of 28 additional stickies that include everyone else in the acknowledgments, my boss, our new city librarian, and everyone who contributed selections within each chapter. this list includes, but should likely not be limited to:

Michael Porter
Roy Tennant
Sharon Streams
Rebecca Miller
Walt Crawford
Susan Hildreth
Jennifer Peterson
Rachel Van Noord
George Needham
Marilyn Mason
Helene Blowers
Brian Bannon
Zac Ray
Jenni Fry
Rachel MacNeilly
Rebekkah Smith-Aldrich
Brenda Hough
Cindi Hickey
Cynthia Fuerst
Catherine D’Italia
Joanne Roukens
Molly Rodgers
Jill Stover
Cheryl Napsha
Marlena Boggs
Valerie Wonder
Rachel Singer Gordon
Meg Canada
Steven Bell
Jeff Scott
Chris Jowaisis
Meredith Farkas
Sarah Reynolds
My ‘e-group’
Everyone at ALA Editions
Hundreds of you who responded to the LBC survey

And of course, Steven Cohen.

Thanks again to you all for your support and contributions.

2. Seattle has a new city librarian and I’ve been remiss in telling you how fabulous I think this is for us. I’m excited by the vision and direction that Susan Hildreth has for our city library and I feel that we are very fortunate to have her here in this fabulous city that loves its libraries! Read more about her appointment…


3. an unusual “living (or not living) online” thing happened to me this week. I’m checking my email and I notice a reminder from (which I usually like to see, truth be told). But this one said: Rose Hill’s Birthday is in 7 Days! Thanks Amazon, as if I wasn’t already thinking about that. A few seconds in my private settings and I realized that I could turn off the reminders without “deleting” her as my “friend”. This precious little wish list my sister left on Amazon I couldn’t bear to separate from, but the email? Too much.

4. WebJunction is six this month and (though unrelated to the birthday)

5. Nancy White is coming to visit our office in two weeks. She’ll be doing a webinar on Technology Stewardship and I strongly encourage you to register to attend if you’re into building online community of any kind, but especially if you’re working for online engagement on behalf of libraries.

6. I eloped for the “official” part of my July wedding in February. The video is now on you tube so I suppose that it’s not really a secret any more.

7. tonight i had dinner at the FareStart in Seattle and witnessed the graduation of two individuals from this intensive 16 week program that was obviously transforming for them, all while eating an exceptional meal from Seattle’s famous Little Italy chef Luigi. I admit I cried while listening to the graduates talk about the incredible community they had been a part of in this program. It reinforced what I said several weeks ago about what I’d read recently in Made to Stick. You want stories? They got stories. It must be so rewarding to go home every day from a job where you are visibly and dramatically changing people’s lives. I know I help the people who help the people, but right this minute I feel very far away from the real stories about where it has helped and why it matters. if you’re a big WebJunction fan and are reading this, drop me a line and tell me why WJ matters to you – I’d love to hear *your* stories!

the book is (almost) here

isn’t this fun?

you may now order it and it will be shipped to you when it is available.

the curse of knowledge

I highly recommend Made to Stick.

Over the course of the last six weeks or so I’ve been working to get up to speed on a renewed area of responsibility at my day job: marketing communications. My boss brought in his marketing textbook, which I keep as a reference on my desk, but then he suggested that I read Say It and Live It: 50 corporate mission statements that hit the mark and Made to Stick. Both were extremely helpful and I wish I had read them before I wrote the chapter on community engagement. Ah well, it was the first book and there will likely be more chances to pull in all the things I’m bound to learn tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

At home I’ve been working with Aaron on his new project at We set up his domain, used a word press template to set up his site and blog, and even hosted with LIS host (where Blake was again extremely helpful in getting our site set up when I was too bugged out to remember you have to load word press before you load the theme). But you would not believe how easily, relatively, the concept, brand, name, and even the tagline came to us. Because citycrops is new and we’re essentially building the concept into a brand from scratch, all it took was a little brainstorming over maybe 10 days and Viola! 

At work I came into an organization with an existing name and brand. We updated our brand to a more “grown up” and “professional” though some would say “corporate” look and feel last summer when we relaunched our platform. Now we’re working hard to *refine* our messaging in an attempt to crystalize and effectively convey what we do, why it’s different, and why it matters. My colleague Sharon Streams (WebJunction Content Manager) has been extremely helpful in this process – not only is she the kick-ass-est of copy editors but she keeps reminding me of the principles that underly those clear, consistent, and memorable messages. Michael Porter is also reminding me whenever he gets the chance – we have to be concise, or there’s too many words. 

The reason that I need these reminders, at almost every turn, is because I am the Czar of WebJunction Knowledge. And when it comes to “making it stick,” too much institutional knowledge is like a solvent. I’ve been with this organization since 2003, before we even launched our first website. What WebJunction is “about” is like oxygen to me. How we are different and why it matters is in my blood. But having passionate knowledge and interest in your project, turns out, doesn’t help you write a mission statement that’s worth it’s weight in bytes.

Which got me thinking about libraries. Libraries have been “what we do” for many hundreds of years and “why we’re different” and “why it matters” are questions that we can get defensive about when called upon to answer them. If I’m the Czar of Knowledge at WJ, and that’s more of a liability than it is an asset, then what when we’re all Czars of Knowledge (it’s part of the professional identity)? I’m thinking that this makes it even more difficult for us to get to what Made to Stick authors call SUCCESS in our messaging about library missions.

If your library is revising your mission statement, or you think you need to look at it again for accuracy and effectiveness, I’d recommend going back to those three questions that Sharon reminded me sit at the core of any mission and vision: 

-What do we do?

-How is it different?

-Why does it matter?

And again I say, read Made to Stick. I’d love to hear what you think and if you’re applying it in your library.

book cover is here


book cover is here

I’d like to thank Jill at ALA Editions for listening to my thoughts about the book cover, and for working with me to get to the final. I really appreciate all the attention you gave to this process!

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