Posts tagged under: Library Management

Hitting the sweet spot in leadership training

Kyle Willis

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In my career, I’ve been through several leadership training programs and have read many articles on career development. Some were great … some not so much. What I’ve noticed, though, is that the successful ones always seemed to feature the following:

  • Hands-on activities as well as theory
  • Access to engaged peers on a similar journey
  • Respect for the experience of participants

With so many training options to choose from, it’s satisfying when you participate in a program that has the right combination of factors and qualities to give you a rewarding experience and an arsenal of skills—the leadership training sweet spot.

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The problem with data

Don Hamparian

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We’re being inundated with data. That’s what we’re told, right? We hear all the time how many exabytes of new data are being created every day. There’s just one problem: maybe none of it is the data we actually need.

I recently had the opportunity, along with several of my OCLC colleagues, to attend the Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) Conference. I’ve been going to this great conference for the last two years, and each year it offers a really valuable look into how libraries manage e-resources. This year, several topics across multiple presentations led me to the conclusion that actionable data is actually pretty hard to find and even harder to wrangle successfully.

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Build joy into your library’s website

What libraries can learn from eCommerce

I’m passionate about Web analytics. This passion ignited before I came to OCLC as I’ve spent most of my career working on eCommerce teams for brands like American Eagle Outfitters and DSW. eCommerce teams use web analytics to optimize experiences for shoppers to ensure that they can find what they are looking for and ultimately click that purchase button.

Honestly, we often pushed past passion to complete obsession. We used to get our key metrics emailed to us every hour on the hour before one VP requested that the emails stop coming out after midnight so the team could get some sleep. Since I’ve been here at OCLC, I’ve found that a lot of what we do in eCommerce can be leveraged for improving library websites as well.

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Bringing order to the chaos of digital data

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530 million songs. 90 years of high-definition video. 250,000 Libraries of Congress. That’s how much data we produce every day—2.5 exabytes according to Northeastern University. I guess that’s not surprising, given the amount of activity that goes on in social media, websites, email messages and texting.

Much of that data, though, is personal and ephemeral. Videos, photos, tweets and stories that can be passed along and deleted without any thought or care about accuracy or archiving.

But in the scholarly community, a similar and perhaps more significant explosion of digital data is occurring. Here the stakes may be much higher. Without trusted stewardship, data from research will not be effectively collected and preserved for reuse. And when this happens, research innovation and advancement slows significantly.

This is new territory in many ways. Data have been collected and preserved for thousands of years, but never at the volume we see today, nor with some of the deliberate (and in some cases, legally mandated) intentions for reuse.

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Why aren’t you asking “Why?”

Drew Bordas

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At home, I get asked “Why?” all the time. I have three young children and their capacity for questioning is nearly endless. Some recent examples: “Why can’t we have a small pig as a pet?”; “Why do we say better instead of gooder?”; and the classic, “Why do I have to take a nap?” As parents, we do our best to answer these questions because we want to encourage curiosity and an understanding of how the world works.

It struck me recently, though, that as adults at work, we sometimes lose this natural curiosity…or it is discouraged to the point where we just quit asking.

And that’s a bad thing.

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Ranganathan on shyness: Get over it!

Saskia Leferink

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Advice from the father of library science

In 1931, S.R. Ranganathan, a mathematician and librarian who is widely regarded as a founder of modern library science, published his seminal work, The Five Laws of Library Science. His five principles about managing the library get most of the publicity, but tucked away on page 65 is a gem of a quote sometimes overlooked but extremely important in our fast-changing world.

“If you want to be a reference librarian, you must learn to overcome not only your shyness but also the shyness of others.”

Ranganathan used this quote to describe behavioral change librarians needed to make in his day, when they were transitioning to serving readers from preserving books. No longer were readers considered a nuisance—they became the focus of the library. Librarians had to lose their shyness and come out from behind the desk to serve users, as well as overcome any reader shyness.

As we in the library community wrestle with change management, Ranganathan’s words ring as clearly today as they did 85 years ago. You can’t be shy when tackling change. Change requires a boldness that leaves reticence behind in order to embrace something new.

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Are you too comfortable in your culture?

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Culture matters

A lot has been written about organizational culture, but there is little consensus on what it actually is and how to change it. Two things we know for sure: organizational culture exists and it plays a crucial role in shaping behavior.

Why should we think about culture? Because your culture is how your organization does things. And how you do things is critical to your performance and success.

According to the Katzenbach Center, 96% of employees say some change to their organizational culture is needed, and 51% think their culture requires a major overhaul. So even if you’re comfortable, you probably should be thinking about how your organization’s culture impacts both goals and the quality-of-life for your employees.

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Beating Watson at a different game

Eric van Lubeek

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Recently I attended a meeting of the Dutch Association of Information Professionals (KNVI) where an IBM representative demonstrated Watson, the company’s famed supercomputer. Watson uses natural language processing and machine learning to reveal insights from large amounts of data. The system can be fed an enormous collection of information and used to support complete knowledge domains or industries.

The demonstration was fascinating as I watched Watson receive and answer questions in natural language about cancer treatment and diagnosis.

As I left the meeting, I wondered what the impact of technology platforms like Watson will have on libraries. Clearly, the use of Watson, with its incredible ability to organize and analyze data, offers endless possibilities that will result in further automation of the information profession. What place will libraries have in a world of Watsons?

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Happy Customer Service Week: Hitting the mark

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What’s the best customer service you’ve ever helped provide?

The first week of October is Customer Service Week, an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis. Librarians understand customer service as well as anyone. They wear their customer service hats every day in addition to all of the others they wear. So to celebrate Customer Service Week, we asked some of the folks at OCLC to share the service they’re most proud of having provided.

It was a hard question to get answers to because, like most good support staff, they want every interaction to be the best from the customer’s standpoint. But I think it’s important to share the stories we’re proud of. They inspire us to do more every day in hopes of hitting that mark again and again.

I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do. If you have any suggestions or ideas for how your experience as an OCLC member could be improved, please don’t hesitate to email me directly at bordasd@oclc.org.

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Happy Customer Service Week: Wow Moments!

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What’s the best customer service you’ve ever received?

At OCLC, the goal of our customer service team—and all of our staff—is to support libraries better than anyone in the world. One way we do this is by focusing on “Wow!” support moments. Not every support interaction is going to be a “Wow!” moment, but when you have one, you remember it for a long time. We know that many librarians wear the “Customer Service Representative” hat in addition to all the others they wear, and that it’s a challenging and rewarding role. So to celebrate Customer Service Week here at OCLC, we thought it would be fun to ask our own staff around the world for their “Wow!” moments on the receiving end of customer service.

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