Thursday, September 25, 2008

Forever and a day...

GoLibrary final grant report will be turned in tomorrow. Stage one completed, we now move on to getting it right in the wash. Problems continue with no solution in sight, though we do have a meeting set up with Sweden next week. Maybe we will get a little closer to our service goals now that some of the deadline pressure is off.
On another note, a recent conference in Sacramento hosted by the Association for Small & Rural Libraries has me thinking about the social networking phenomenon in libraries and how we get there from here. I heard a funny joke once about a New Englander giving directions and the punch line was "You can't get there from here." The line stays with me, though I have long forgotten the joke, and puts me in mind of local government IT departments and libraries as we try to break through to the otherside of IAAM (it's all about me) services.
At the Sacramento ASRL conference last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation by blogger, Jessamyn West, and asked her at the end if she could recommend sources for selling points for social networking to local governments. She suggested a best practices wiki that I had heard of but was not really familiar with. I had no idea that there would be so much good stuff at my beck and call. I've been going through the wiki a little bit at a time, instead of jumping right into an answer to my IT question, and I keep getting distracted by things to learn about and explore.
If there are any librarians out there who still question the validity of wikis as sources of information, they must immediately check out (ha!) this site.
Anyway, where was I, regarding the IT dilemma and social networking. We have recently upgraded our web site at my library (though it has only a portion of the changes I had hoped to include, it's still better than it was. Oh, yeah, and there are errors as well, so your continued patience is requested.) So, I had planned to join the social networking phenomenon and post this blog on our web page as the director's blog. I was motivated especially due to the need to promote our GoLibrary grant progress. (See previous posts.)
I discover indirectly, as no one has contacted me directly about the matter, that I was revealing too much information regarding the county's network and could be exposing us to hackers. OK, I thought, I'll take those bits out, no problem. But now the word is that we must take the matter to county counsel because of the no advertisements rule. Fine, is my response. But, actually, if we are going to go that route, we need to first take it to the Technology Review Committee for recommendation. By the time we get the go ahead, libraries will no doubt be heralding Web 3.0 and the blog will be obsolete.
So, I'll keep making notes of my progress on the front lines of introducing new and untried means of informing the community, whether of librarians or library users, and be satisfied that the process of jotting it down serves as a means of letting off steam if nothing else.

Monday, September 22, 2008

GoLibrary Grant Deadline

As the end date for our GoLibrary grant approaches, I have had an opportunity to slow down enough to evaluate our current state of chaos. We have continued to have communication difficulties, which translate as technical difficulties "please stay tuned" for overall evaluation. As I was composing an email to our contact in Sweden as my last act of another jam-packed day, I got into a discussion with my fellow project implementer about how we can get some results on the ongoing problems we're having.
Ultimately, I came up with the following conclusion: we're all going too fast. Every person on the project has a mind that works faster than the norm and we're all under deadline, so we're going even faster than our normal rapid clip. Consequently, we communicate in fits and starts and often in frustration and exhaustion. As an obvious result, we are not being clear and concise like good librarians should be. We haven't organized, numbered and classified like we might have had under more sedate circumstances.
The categories we have come up with are simple: ongoing, new and old problems.
We'll assign numbers to each and refer to them in communications so that we can all be relatively certain we are talking about the same thing.
We have been keeping a spreadsheet with an account on dates the machine has been down and reasons or error messages documented to the best of our abilities.
But we had not taken a deep breath and had not broken each problem into specific steps (in writing) about what happens with each occurence. We are now doing this with ongoing and new problems.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Regardless of distance or language, I think we are finally going to get some results based on this new procedure for documenting succinctly and comprehensively.
I kind of see this as a foreshadowing of what will be in the future of libraries.
We will have translation software (see Second Life) and gadgets galore, socially networks will become an integral part of our personality so that we are "mental hives" more than worker bees.
And I can learn from my own mistakes and yours as well or at least refine my mistake making abilities, if nothing else.