ellie <3 libraries

sooooo much!

TLA Conference – Transforming Texas Libraries: An Update on Statewide Visioning April 23, 2008

Members of the visioning team will update attendees on recommendations and seek feedback on the draft report. We want to learn from you. Help craft a vision that will make all Texas libraries stronger today and tomorrow.
Steve Brown, director, North Richland Hills Public Library; Peggy Rudd, director and librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Julie Todaro, dean of library services, Austin Community College.

First off for more on the Transforming Texas Libraries initiative please see the homepage and the blog. You can also read my comments on the keynote speakers.

This session was for gathering feedback from the community. It started with a brief overview of the progress so far.

The initiative started about a year ago. TLA president Steve Brown talked about wanting a process to bring Texas libraries together and to stay vibrant into the future.

What is the big question for libraries? How are we going to be relevant? How can we do new and different things?

Instead of having to play catch up to the world’s expectations, lets get ahead of the game and see what we can be like.

We’re looking at libraries in different ways, some ways are uncomfortable and some are exciting.

There was an aggressive time line to get some ideas going forward. They didn’t want a short term 6 month project that mounts a report that doesn’t get read. They see this as a living thing.

Hopefully you’re here because you want to continue the process an make it better.

We needed quick great thinking to give a framework to go forward. So they got together a steering committee. They wanted to bring in people from across the state so they made a task force, a strong group of people with new ideas with at least 50% being new to the profession. It didn’t make sense to craft a longstanding vision that wasn’t going to be fueled by the people who would have to take it forward. So there were young turks and veterans at the summit and folks from outside of library land – legislative especially. Decided it was best not to just talk to ourselves. Have to make a conscious effort to get that outside view. The summit consisted of people in work groups tackling questions. They wanted big ideas. From that process we had 6 emerging themes. [Link to the draft report]

  • User focus
  • Universal access
  • Partnerships and collaboration
  • Outreach
  • Marketing
  • Accountability and preparation

This is all available on the TLA website along with a podcast of the keynotes.

We need to stop talking about what libraries need and talk about what users need, stop talking about how to bring users in and start on how to go out to them. We’re still very much for universal access. There’s an ongoing need for partnership and collaboration between libraries and between libraries and other kinds of organizations and user communities. [Personal plug – do you know about 211? Do you let your constituents know about 211? It’s a nationwide initiative to help connect people to free information and referrals to health and human service agencies, nonprofit and faith-based organizations, disaster relief resources, and volunteer opportunities.]

The job of librarians today is to set up the candy store and let them have at it. It won’t hurt our jobs since there’s so much to organize.

There’s a need for statewide marketing.

This is the first of hopefully many feedback forums. The panel included:

Steve Brown, director, North Richland Hills Public Library and TLA president; Peggy Rudd, director and librarian, Texas State Library and Archives Commission; Julie Todaro, dean of library services, Austin Community College and Transforming Committee Chair.

Peggy Rudd told us that the transforming process begins now but will have to be handed off. How will we operationalize this? She hopes we all have a chance to read Gloria’s draft report. The question now is how is it we are going to step into this process? How is what we are going to do going to impact libraries across the state?

She’s going to talk about some of the things they’re trying at the state library. Libraries are instruments for innovation, success and self fulfilment. Our purpose is simple but profoundly important. How are we going to make that come true?

We have some of the most successful programs that are around that are statewide. We have a solid foundation to base future work but we need to continue pushing envelope. Public libraries must have a presence in the virtual world, not just a static web page with a picture. We committed – created/provided public library internet kit – website in a box toolkit. This allows these libraries to be more meaningful and more interactive. Libraries need to begin taking advantage of social networking sites, to work within the blogging sphere. That came up as a need and desire for libraries of all types, particularly public. How are we going to get many public librarians comfortable in these spaces with these new technologies? We need some training, preferably training online so it can be accessed when they’re ready.

In the area of statewide resource sharing – Texshare is the name that stands out as a brand. It has immediate name recognition among librarians, but the public is not aware. The term database means nothing, Texshare means nothing. How are we going to brand the Texshare experience – connecting people to info and materials quickly easily, take that as a brand and sell that to the public? What we need to do is connecting. We’ve got work to do in that area.

How can we market them so the public immediately recognizes a value? Compel them to reach out and grab what we make available to them?

Statewide authentication. What do we do about people who are not coming through a library? We’ve always pitched it as something available through your library. What about the people who have no library? Should we let them in at the state level or partner them with local libraries? Are we ready now to really talk about a statewide library card or statewide reciprocal borrowing card? How would that look?

What if we move it out into the world of other libraries at large?

If we’re thinking about the user, our answer is different than when we think about it as librarians. Remember it’s about the user.

They’re already rethinking ILL (at the state library). They have 3 models. The ILL implementation group is meeting to discuss a recent study.

In the area of cultural heritage and digitization of collections they’ve been lucky with grants etc. to be able to do a great deal of work. They’re testing a data collection instrument to identify historical collections, then they’ll push on public access to those resources.

How are we going to move in preservation so years from now people have the same or better access? Having access to primary resources makes students more interested.

How are we going to integrate library services so they have integrated full range access regardless of their purpose, income, location. Right now they’re working to tear down many silos so they can reach across.

Community colleges see that what access students had in high school has a huge effect on entering college.

Next up Steve Brown said there are two driving sentiments – enormous challenge to librarians looming on the horizon and change is hard. Users move more quickly than we do. He said we owe a great debt to Julie et al for pulling us together and giving us a beginning. Now how do we sustain that and take it down to a local level?

He found it easy to play the role of outside agitator, but now how to carry it on. He said that the incoming president is focusing on one Texas, one card, no barriers.

Change is not an easy thing, it doesn’t happen overnight. We need to keep pushing and keep it in the air til it becomes something they expect. About 80% of the cities and towns in Texas are smaller than the population of this conference. It’s very hard to tear yourself away from day to day concerns and look ahead.

They’re working with the idea of putting together toolkits that give people the working pieces. He said they want feedback more than talking, so he passed it over to Julie.

Julie talked about the need for repackaging so rather than the content she’s going to talk about the process. We had an agenda and she pointed to item 4b – events scheduled so far. She’ll be traveling and speaking about how you might do this in your environment. She mentioned they’ll be offering a very short edited down version of the keynote which was a discussion between 2 futurists.

Some of the options include:

  • elevator speech – 5 minutes
  • dinner speech – 30 minutes – to take and deliver to excite them about the fact that there’s some wonderful things going on out there and you need to have the discussion
  • workshop – plan to do with staff
  • webcast – less than an hour
  • video, ppt, handouts, discussion questions

They want to make it flat so that you can do it at any time, or synchronous.

There will be publications – handouts, press releases, discussion questions, articles with rationale, why should you as well as steps. Take handouts to district meetings.

The online toolkit is the structure to this entire event.

They’re also doing a poll of Texas – like a Gallup poll – of people who both use and don’t use libraries – constituents. [Constituents was the term proposed by the keynote speakers to talk about all the people the library serves. I like it.]

They’ll continue to update the blog as well as utilize the wiki system within TLA to provide content and feedback.

Then the floor was open to comments with the following questions as guidelines:

Which of these things is interesting to you? Who else do we need to talk to? [I made a note to myself here – there was a sign up list of who to talk to up at the summit and I would love to see that list online somewhere.]

Start today by using that content from Gloria (the draft report). Also think about how you might transform your own environment.

3rd – how you might use a piece of the repackaging.

An audience member encouraged the face to face structure. Another agreed, yes, we need face to face, we won’t do it just online.

Another suggestion was that perhaps next year the Texas Library Journal’s theme should be the transforming process.

The panel added that the 6 themes will also be the 6 programming themes for next year’s conference.

Partnerships – need to talk to others who share our ideals and would be happy to help us transform.

Harrington – 94 libraries, easy time changing because they’re always changing and growing.

Another plug for branding across the state.

The PR committee is actively involved in the poll they’ll be doing.

We’ve had a couple of statewide campaigns.

Will be doing RFPs and will work with a marketing company.

Why can’t we use the driver’s license as the statewide card? Cuts both ways – way too much info on one card and what about people who can’t get DLs?

Some of the past campaigns:

“Get the facts ask a librarian” – focused on environment and people

“read for your life” – outcomes based

Someone from a community college said that developmental learning is very front and center.

No time for MySpace.

Initiated several new programs with youth that have been successful

Another person said they don’t have the talent, the money to hire the talent, or the time to learn.

Transforming is to give you an idea of where you need to go.

Using other people’s energy – e.g. high school kids coming in and getting trained from local Apple Co.

Technology Petting Zoo – need to do something to increase the comfort level – ATRT will likely do this next conference. [I’m working on getting one together at my college too.]

We need to share ownership of library – invite the constituents into our system.

Question – how far is this going to go?

That’s on the agenda. The idea is that kits will be organized by what is realistic based on your size and constituents. Should give you ideas of what you can do within the resources you already have. Identify something you can do immediately. Really looking at things that are doable almost immediately, that’s the way they’re trying to steer people. Remember to use your TLA colleagues and library students.

The very nature of this technology is that it’s ephemeral. Transforming is not about “let’s all get on the technology bandwagon,” it’s about how can we change. Our constituents are changing, resources are changing. We need to address the basics. Helping people look at what they need to change and how.

Julie would be happy if in small areas people came in to talk about change and found out the databases were there. Would be thrilled if people knew what we have now and how we can enrich their lives.

Another person mentioned the viagra model – getting vendors to market directly to patrons.

Gloria said they have been in discussion with some database providers, the vendors had this idea already. Ebsco is planning to.

I think the most important take away from this session was the idea that we’re talking about looking at libraries and what they can be. People think transform and think 2.0, but it doesn’t have to be about technology. Focusing on our constituents and asking them what they want is a big and important change that doesn’t require any technology. The same is true for forming partnerships with other organizations and reaching out into the community. It’s about what we should be doing, not what tools we should be using to do it.

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One Response to “TLA Conference – Transforming Texas Libraries: An Update on Statewide Visioning”

  1. […] was a debriefing of the session the day before. We were reminded about the report and asked to keep in mind that this is a draft […]


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