This meme started with Rachel Singer Gordon, but Helene Blowers was the one who tagged me, so here I am with my non-biblioblogs that I enjoy reading right now.
There’s a theme here: all of these’re concerned with online community building and/or social networking. Enjoy.

Smart Mobs – mobile, wireless, and pervasive computing for collective action. Giddy up.

Many 2 Many – a group blog on social software, including danah boyd and Clay Shirky. Crushable. Brain Candy. Yum.

Online Community Report – from my good friends at Forum One. Check out their online community jobs feed from Who knew there were so many cool jobs out there (beyond LibraryLand)?

Full Circle – Seattle-based online interaction consultant Nancy White keeps me in the know on new social tools, as well as thoughtful commentary on their purpose, especially for non-profits. It’s also fun to stay connected to the local geek crowd, since most of my work is focused on the national scale. On these points I also read Social Signal (Vancouver) and Common Craft (Seattle).

A Whole Lotta Nothing – from Matt Haughey, the guy who started MetaFilter. Wikipedia says that he’s a “leader in online communities,” but I read his stuff because he’s super smart and I learn a lot from him. (One time he pointed to one of my posts and I was so very proud of myself!)
I agree with Rachel that we can all fall prey to the inbred, repetitive, patting of each other on the backs. It has been fun seeing what some of us are reading outside of our own worlds! So, thanks to Rachel for starting this one. Now, who shall I tag? I think I’ll go with my WJ/OCLC colleagues. (Apparently, we’re the poster-children for inbred, repetitive, patting of each others backs anyway, so why not?!) To my friends at Libraryman, The Pacific, BlogJunction, It’s All Good, and Mr. Lorcan Dempsey – you’re (all) ‘it’. Have fun.

lbc + marketing @

I finally organized my smattering of online resources from the marketing/libraries research I’ve been doing into my account. You can find them through this search for lbc+marketing. Some of these are library-related, some of them are not.
Please, if you have others – let me know! I’m hoping to grow (and then weed) this collection as we get closer to final draft.


five years in

Are you between five and ten years into your career as a library or information professional? If yes, a few questions for you:

-What has been the most surprising thing about your first five years? (This is another version of “What do you wish you had learned in library school, but didn’t?”) How did you cope or respond to this surprise?

-In what ways have you changed, grown, or learned now that you have a bit more experience under your belt? Have your early career goals or intentions changed?

-What’s the most effective way you’ve found to impact your workplace and the profession?

-What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve found to impact your workplace and the profession?

-How do you stay connected to colleagues and peers – in your organization and beyond?
Don’t feel you need to answer all of the questions – you can just pick one or two and add your thoughts. I’m taking a short break from the marketing stuff to think on the “staying engaged” aspect of community building and library practice and I’d love to have your perspectives! Please reply by comment or privately by email – I’ll contact you for confirmation before we put anything you have to say into print.

Thanks as always…

LTR’s web 2.0 and libraries

Finally got around to reading my comp copy of ALA TechSource’s latest Library Technology Report on “Web 2.0 & Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software” by Michael Stevens. After introducing Web 2.0 and its current/potential impact on libraries, each chapter digs into a different technology (RSS, blogs, IM, wikis, and Flickr) and best practices (or hints) for using them in libraries. The issue concludes with some tips for getting tech projects like these off the ground. I think it’ll be a useful introductory resource for anyone who wants to wrap their brain around “web 2.0” stuff – and implement a few things as well.

I was most impressed, however, and it’s the reason I’m writing about it here, with the issue’s introduction on “creating conversations, connections, and community.” The intro (however brief) provides context and meaning for all the more practical techy stuff that comes later, and reminds us all that it’s not the technology that should drive our decisions to implement this or any new stuff in libraries, but the opportunity these innovations afford us for making more and new kinds of connections with our communities – especially those who may already be “living” on the Web.

As I’ve said in other pages, it’s sometimes difficult, especially for those who have grown up professionally with this stuff at our fingertips, to keep from falling for the technology just because it’s neat – and keep our heels (and hearts) grounded in the real reasons we’re doing this stuff in the first place.

more eval questions

In Joseph Matthews’ Measuring for Results (2004) he mentions that input measures have been used by SLA’s and ALA to develop minimum library standards. I looked around and found a few “Minimum Library Standards” still published on SLA sites. It doesn’t look like there’s still a standards committee at PLA and I wasn’t able to find any “minimum standards for library service” (or the like) posted on ALAs site. The article Matthews references was published by PLA in 1967 (!). Anything still out there on this? Or … are we talking ancient history here? (just curious. thanks in advance for any info you may have. and yes, i am being a bit lazy by asking here before i dig deeper.)

Finding Value in Victoria Public Libraries, Australia

Thanks to John for hooking me up with this fantastic 2005 Libraries Building Communities report from Victorian Public Libraries in Australia. From their site…
Libraries Building Communities is the first comprehensive Australian study looking at the value public libraries bring to their communities. One of the most extensive research projects undertaken in this area, the study included every public library in Victoria (44 libraries with 238 branches), and sought the views and ideas of almost 10,000 people via online and telephone surveys, focus groups and interviews.

The research aims to increase community awareness of the range of public library services and show how public libraries can help achieve government policy goals. For library staff it:

  • presents clear new data on the contribution libraries make to their communities
  • provides case studies that show how Victorian public libraries lead in innovation
  • identifies groups that are not currently well served by their libraries, and offer solutions
  • builds awareness of the critical social capital and community role of public libraries

Report One: Setting the Scene ~ Covers the concept of community building, the Victorian Government’s policy agenda, the Victorian public library network, project methodology, and relevant research.

Report Two: Logging the Benefits ~ Outlines the community views on the role and benefits of public libraries.

Report Three: Bridging the Gaps ~ Provides socio-economic demographic profiles of library users and non-user, as well as strategies for bridging the perceived gaps in public library service delivery.

Report Four: Showcasing the Best ~ Gives over 30 examples of innovation and excellence in Victorian public libraries.

Know what? This collection is remarkably similar to the themes that Steven and I have been working on. The key components of community building that we’re focusing on are: Assessment, Communication, Service/Program Development, Evaluation, and Sustainability.

It’s nice to see some of our ideas mirrored in other works. On the other hand, it takes me back to the question I’ve been struggling with throughout this entire process: is there anything new? anything fresh? I have a few reasons why the answer is yes (pulling tech services, traditional services & physical spaces together, for one thing) but I think we need to pull it out of the work more explicitly.Writing books is hard. I wonder if, when it’s done, you forget that.

Sirsi/Dynix Newsletter on Building Communities

I think this was supposed to go out a bit earlier, but SirsiDynix has published the latest issue of Upstream. I’m excited about this one because I helped pick the theme and suggested a few librarians to send the question. The issue deals with examples of community building.
You can download your copy here. The question posed was:

“What is the best example of libraries building communities that you have come across or experienced? How will libraries in the future be empowered to play even a greater role in their communities?”

Thanks to the 9 other librarians whpo provided answers. And a personal thanks to Thomas A. Tarantowicz for answering questions about the Brentwood Public Library, here on Long Island.

(cross-posted on Library Stuff)


Info Career Trends Newsletter on LBC

The March 2006 issue of Info Career Trends, published by the Rachel Singer Gordon (one of my library heroes) focuses on Libraries Building Communities. There are some fanstastic articles to read here. First, a quote from Rachel’s introductory note:

“”Libraries Build Communities.” Yes, we’ve all heard the tagline. We think less often, though, about the ways in which we create our own professional communities, about how we build the networks and forge the connections that allow us to be successful. Today’s contributors demonstrate that we are strongest in combination and when we work together, showing various ways to create these ties and benefit from our relationships with our fellow librarians.”

I’m going to print out this entire issue and delve deeply into it’s content. great work Rachel (and authors). And thanks for the LBC book link. 😉


Reading, Reading, and Reading

Guess what I’ve been doing lately? I’m in stealth reading mode, which is hard to do with weekly writing deadlines (Chrystie and I are being very strict about our process – we have to be with a project this extensive). So, what am I delving into these days? I’ve purchased three books so far:

1) Cooperative Reference: Social Interaction in the Workplace (Haworth, 2003) – This will help in the chapter on community building that takes place inside the library among colleagues. From the summary:

“Cooperative Reference: Social Interaction in the Workplace addresses the need for reference librarians to work together to keep the system running smoothly. This book explores the various means of developing social professionalism, collaborating on projects, and combining forces with other libraries to remain on the cutting edge of information services in this new century. Using this guide, you will learn from the first-hand experiences of on-the-job reference librarians. This book will give you—as a reference librarian, administrator, library science student, or educator—ideas to support cooperative efforts in the library and beyond.”

2) Libraries Beyond Their Institutions – Partnerships That Work (Haworth, 2005) – I had chills after reading the summary for this one. It will be one of the books that, after I get through it, will help to shape the LBC process. From the summary:

“Libraries Beyond Their Institutions: Partnerships That Work reflects the growing understanding of the key role played by libraries in the development of civil society. This unique book examines the variety of possibilities for collaborations outside institutions, including the ways librarians function in a variety of other campus settings, such as writing centers, teaching excellence centers, and academic departments in support of teaching, learning, and research; partnerships with graduate school, and information resources management to preserve theses and dissertations electronically; promoting civic partnerships; initiating a campus-wide information literacy resource; and partnering with government agencies to form a data literacy program.”

3) Beyond the Campus; How Colleges and Universities Form Partnerships with their Communities – (RoutledgeFalmer, 2001) – Perfect for higher education case studies and for looking beyond librarianship to see how other organizations work with communities. I’m hoping that we can draw upon the work of civic, educational, business, and other types of community associations to help form our own theories of how libraries should do it well. From the summary:

“In most cities in the United States and Canada, the local college or university is the largest employer. The role of the university and its relationship to the community has been a highly debated topic among educators, administrators, and local business leaders. David Maurasse, through an in-depth study of four schools, University of Pennsylvania; San Francisco State University; Xavier University and Hostos Community College in New York, offers a passionate appeal for community partnerships. Beyond the Campus goes further than a simple explanation of the problems at hand, it offers a roadmap for both the university as well as the local business to work together for the good of their community. Through his lively prose, Maurasse shows success stories of schools and communities that are forming positive partnerships in the community.”

So, that’s what I’m reading now. Any more suggestions?


Libraries/Community Review (intro)

I’ve been reading as an excuse to put off this next post, the first time I’ll sit down and write something that might, later, turn into something in print. To tell you the truth, I haven’t been reading much (outside of my day job and my regular addition to both Harpers and the New Yorker) since graduate school, so it’s nice to have two or three books around now that I’m trying to get through – makes me remember how much I liked being in school in the first place. This will be a new type of reading/writing experience – should be interesting to see if I like working outside of such a structured environment. But, I digress.

The first book is Andy Barnett’s collection of essays Libraries, Community, and Technology. A few things stick out for me: first, his essay on the “Death of Cataloging” which includes an interesting history of OCLC – excellent background for someone who doesn’t remember (adult) life without WorldCat. Second, his comments throughout about the mission, vision, and core values of libraries. Believe it or not, I’ve now got Michael Gorman’s book on my hold list b/c Barnett refers to it in this work and now I’m curious. Finally, and perhaps somewhat related to my last statement, Barnett has some pretty funny things to say about technology. “Librarians hate the Internet” is one of the highlights. (LOL!!) The other piece I’m (re)reading now is de la Pena McCook’s fantastic little book on community building for librarians A place at the table: participating in community building – I have to say that reading this book while in library school, I’m realizing now, influenced my current work and interests much more than I had realized. Essential reading for anyone interested in an alternate lens (community building – though, is it really an alternate lens?) from which to think about library practice. I look forward to taking the next step (it seems as if it’s the logical next step anyway) and look back over the years since McCook published at the progress we’ve made in terms of linking community building to library practice. Finally, I’ve got Foundations of Library & Information Science on my bed-side table (the light blue LIS101 text many of you may be familiar with) and I’m (re)reading the chapter about the history of libraries in society – Rubin’s using this history as a view into our core mission, principles and values.

I’ve had a hunch, since I started putting some of my “community building” thoughts down in text, that online community building takes us back to some of our roots – an ethic that pervades all of library practice – and that that alone is a good reason to do it. Reviewing (and in the case of Barnett, reading for the first time) these works is giving me some tools to sort that out in a bit more detail. I’m not so sure that new technologies are the path to those “roots” – they may be a tool that help us explore our purpose and practice, but is there anything explicit or inherent in current technologies that take us back to soemthing we’ve forgotten? Or, is new technology important/critical for some other reason? A few more weeks and I may even have something more concrete to say about it. (And, maybe by that time, I’ll also have a desk at home from which to write it. One can only hope…I’m having the most difficult time finding the right one.)

BTW, if anyone has any suggestions on library/community works that have influenced your own practice, let us know. I hope to build a good resource page here – the “must reads” for librarians building community.