Finding Your Way: Managing & Leading Through Change in Libraries

I’m in the beautiful city of Madison, Wisconsin to give the keynote at the Back in Circulation Conference. Below are the slides from my presentation as well as a link to a PDF of the slides.

Building a Personal Learning Solution: 10 Steps to Control Information Overload and Take Back Your Life

When you look at the statistics of how much training actually gets retained by learners and how much training actually transfers back to the workplace, you have to ask yourself two questions. Why are we doing training? What can we do better? The problem with most training is that it doesn’t fill an immediate need. What’s the point in taking a class on Microsoft Access if I’m not going to use it for six months or worse don’t even have the software installed. Sounds crazy but believe me it happens. One of the other problems with training is that of ownership. We’ve grown up in this 20th century idea of training with the “sage on the stage”–of one person disseminating information and the learners hoping to learn it all through osmosis. It just doesn’t work that way.

Real learning is a participatory act or a dance between the learners and the facilitator and the learners among themselves. But what to do with information pouring in daily by the gigabyte? Too much to do and too much to keep up with. Enter the personal learning solution = personal learning environment + personal learning network. The 23 Things Program was the first widely distributed example of a personal learning solution. Participants used a blog to keep track of their learning, participants connected with other bloggers, and participants learned a lot about Web 2.0 and technology that was new to them.

In many ways PLSs are ideal for library staff who must manage lots of information with a limited amount of time. The following slides were used this week for a presentation for LibraryLinkNJ. Take a look at them to learn more about PLSs.

View more presentations from Lori Reed
My PLS has and will continue to change over time. Initially it consisted of thousands of RSS feeds in Google Reader. But then I got tired of seeing the count of 1000+ unread items. My true unread count–Google can’t even count as high. Next I navigated to Facebook and Twitter where I made more personal connections with other trainers and library staff. I like that the information is instant, timely, and doesn’t give me a read versus unread count. If I miss something, I can be sure that someone else out there will share the information. This past summer I migrated towards having all my information come into my Gmail account where I set up filters to organize and file the information. Your PLS will be unique to you and it will and should change over time.
If you are creating or thinking about updating your PLS, I’d encourage you to start with the end in mind and think about your goal. No one can keep up with everything. Is your goal to be a better trainer? To stay informed on local, community events? To learn more about one topic? To keep up with the latest tech news? Or to keep up with library news in general? Start with a specific goal and add more content only when you feel comfortable with the amount you already have.
In the following weeks as I embark on a new job and new phase in my career, my learning and information needs will definitely change. As I transition from a focus on “training” to a broader scope of customer relationships and end-user experiences, my information needs will look very different. With my thousands of feeds, I’ve decided to delete them all and start over fresh with a limit of 100 feeds. By effectively filtering information as it comes in using Google Alerts and Twitter Searches I should be able to keep my list of feeds to a manageable size. I’m reminding myself daily that quality should be chosen over quantity.
As we enter to into an early Spring, at least here in North Carolina, I invite you to do some early Spring cleaning and take stock of your information consumption by doing the following:
  1. Mark all your RSS feeds as read. I hear stories of people who get stressed just thinking about the number of unread RSS feeds they have. Remember that technology is here to serve us not the other way around. If you miss something important your sure to see it again from another source.
  2. Prune your RSS subscriptions to an amount that is manageable for you, or delete your feeds and start over.
  3. Know when to subscribe to RSS versus when to bookmark a site. Do you really want to read every post? Or do you want to make sure you can find the site again? Delicious and Pinboard are great bookmarking tools.
  4. Use lists in TweetDeck to manage the people and information you follow. Set up groups based on how much you want to see from the people in the group. The smaller the group, the more you will see. Add keyword columns to search on topics that are relevant to you. Twitter can easily get unmanageable without tools to manage lists.
  5. Unsubscribe from people who complain or are just generally negative all the time. Why surround yourself with negativity.
  6. Unsubscribe from people who post little of value to you. The information may be great, but as your needs change so should the people you follow. Get over the Twitequette that says you need to follow back anyone who follows you.
  7. Learn to use Facebook’s lists feature. You can create lists of coworkers, personal friends, family, librarians, or just about any list imaginable. The benefit is two-fold. First, you can click a button and see only the updates from those most important to you–close friends and family. Second, you can post updates that only specific lists of friends can see. If I’m posting about my cat or children, I may not want all 500 of my friends to see the post. Likewise if you are at a conference, you don’t want to overload your non-library friends and family with ALA totebag posts.
  8. Schedule time each day for online information consumption. 30 minutes should be adequate for most people. If you are in a PR, marketing, or role that requires you to keep track of more information, then adjust the time accordingly. If you are a manager who expects your staff to stay current on library news and information, make that expectation clear and schedule time for staff to do it. If it’s not scheduled it won’t happen.
  9. Schedule time each day to play and set a timer! Facebook is a time suck! Acknowledge that and do something about it. If you are ok with spending hours each night playing Words With Friends or preparing a new crop for Farmville, and it doesn’t affect your personal life, great! But if it interferes with your family relationships or causes you to neglect other parts of your life, do something about it and set a timer. Did you know that inpatient centers are popping up to treat Internet addiction? Internet addiction is real and is more prevalent than you might realize. If you are using the Internet to escape some part of your life, get help. Life is too short to live in a virtual world like the folks in the movie Wall-E.
  10. Don’t forget to take time to participate in your networks. Comment on blogs. Post links to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Add to the discussions taking place. If you don’t have anything to add, offer encouragement to someone having a bad day. This is your social network karma.

I hope this information and tips are helpful. I’d love to hear from you in the comments? What does your personal learning solution look like? And how are you controlling the overload of information?

UPDATE: If you are looking for a tool to manage multiple social media accounts. Check out this great review of three products from the Social Media Examiner.

Generations in the Workplace, Generations in the Library

Generations in the Workplace, one of my most popular courses, has also been the course with the most discussion, debate, opinions, and follow up conversations long after the course is over. Lyrasis will  offer this course later this year. Keep an eye out for their continuing ed schedule because you will definitely get a lot out of this course.

Before you take the course or look at the slides below, take a few minutes to take the How Millennial are You Quiz from the Pew Research Center.
I’m not surprised at how high my score is, and I would guess most library workers will score high as well. It’s the nature of our work that we stay abreast of technology. From the quiz: I have only a cell phone, have a piercing, play video games, don’t read a newspaper, and don’t watch TV programming. I am the complete opposite of my Boomer parents.

The opening slides with Professor WTF are based on an actual incident that happened while my husband was the Help Desk Manager at a College. Yes generational mishaps occur!

I think the reason the idea of generations struck me is that as a member of GenX, I realize that we often get a bad reputation by default. Without ever stepping foot in a room, someone can see your birthdate or graduation date and make immediate assumptions about everything from your attitude to your tastes in music. It’s going to be an interesting time the next few years as we see the multiple generations expand and see the second baby boomers, the Millennials, not only enter the workforce en masse but quickly move into leadership positions. However younger workers still have much to learn from older, more seasoned workers. It’s a two-way street, and each generation has just as much to learn from the other.

I also find the concept of shared generational experiences fascinating. Think about high school and how important that time was no matter how good or bad. There is a bond with your high school class like no other. The teen years are some of the most formative for setting the final hard wiring of your brain and emotions. For my generation the Challenger Explosion along with the OJ scandal were two of the events that helped make us who we are–skeptical, distrusting of organizations, realists. For Millennials, September 11, 2001 is permanently etched in their memories. Granted 9/11 impacted us all, but imagine experiencing 9/11 as a child or teenager. Imagine never knowing what it is like to fly without full body scans and pat downs. Imagine never knowing a world without terrorism on our home soil. We’ve seen many Millennials search for faith, maintain strong connections to family, and think less about “me” and more about community. My Unitarian Universalist minister was a senior in high school when 9/11 happened. She notes that the events of that year played heavily in her decision to choose a path of spirituality and in helping others.

One can’t talk about generations without some stereotyping of the generations. I invite you to look at this with an open mind, realizing that not all people fit their generational profiles, and to look at this information as a way to open doors and come to a deeper understanding of our fellow coworkers, library users, and fellow man.

View more presentations from Lori Reed
If you are interested in having this training for your library, contact Russell Palmer at Lyrasis at russell.palmer@lyrasis.org or at 404.892.0943 x4916. This session works exceptionally well in a live, online format.

Upcoming Online Workshops

An Introduction to E-Readers for Libraries

In this four hour class taught in two, two hour increments on consecutive days, participants will first examine the history of e-text and free sources for e-content as well as digital rights management. Next we’ll examine the variety of e-readers on the market today as well as the pros and cons of each. On the second day we will discuss ideas for circulating and programming with e-readers and look at examples of libraries with successful e-reader programs.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understand the basics of digital rights management.
  • Be familiar with at least three resources for free e-content.
  • Be able to recognize a Barnes and Noble Nook and Amazon Kindle as well as discuss the pros and cons of each.
  • Know what needs to be considered in planning to circulate or plan a program with e-readers.

Lyrasis, Tuesday, January 24 and Wednesday, January 25, 2012 10am-12noon EST

Register here: http://www.lyrasis.org/Classes%20and%20Events/Catalog/A/An%20Introduction%20to%20EReaders%20for%20Libraries%20Live%20Online.aspx

 

Cultivating a Culture of Learning in Your Library

How much time does your library spend on “training?” Statistics show that most learning takes place on the job or with a coworker, yet as trainers we spend an inordinate amount of time preparing for and delivering classroom training. In this webinar you will learn why you need to get your staff out of the classroom and instead focus on creating a culture of learning in your library. We explore:

  • The differences between training and learning
  • The benefits to libraries for creating a culture of learning
  • The key elements of a learning organization
  • Tips for creating a culture of learning in any size library

NEFLIN, Tuesday, January 26, 2012 10am – 11:30am EST

Register here: http://neflin.actevapsn.com/view_my_events.php

Free for NEFLIN members. Anyone outside of Florida should contact register@neflin.org for fees and registration procedures.

 

Building a Personal Learning Solution

Learning never stops and no one person can know it all, do it all, or learn it all! Get help fast, when you need it, by calling on experts in your personal learning network. Take advantage of additional opportunities to learn from your network of peers, with tools like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. By the end of the session, participants will develop an action plan for creating their own personal learning solutions.

In this session, participants will be able to:

  • Crowdsource answers to questions big and small from your personal learning network
  • Employ tips from learning professionals to stave off burnout and information overload
  • Create their own personal online learning environments
  • Develop strategies for cultivating and using learning networks

LibraryLinkNJ, Tuesday, January 31, 2012 3-4pm EST

Register here: http://librarylinknj.org/content/building-personal-learning-solution

Free for New Jersey library staff.

The Power of Changing Your Thoughts

I’ve given a lot of thought about what I want to write as the first post of 2012. Hence the date on this post. I want to share something will you that has changed my life in many ways–personally, professionally, spiritually. Ironically this gift came to me on New Years Eve 2008, and I felt it apropos to share this with you at the new year.

This isn’t another post about resolutions. Been there. Done that. I can’t think of a resolution that I’ve stuck with for a whole year or that has been life changing. So please keep reading.

There is a reason why we celebrate the new year. It’s a time of reflecting on the past year, a time to think about the upcoming year, and a time to take stock of our lives in general. It’s also an arbitrary day. We could pick any day of the year to do these things.

On New Years Eve 2008 I thought about my life. I was not happy. I did not feel successful, and I knew something needed to change. I looked at the people around me who were most successful and asked myself what it is that they did differently. I determined it came down to one thing–attitude. OK it’s more than one thing. It’s attitude. It’s perspective. It’s finding the silver lining no matter how bad things get.

I had picked up a book on positive thinking earlier that year and began reading it on that New Years Eve. I applied the principles and my life changed almost immediately. Once I got the grasp of positive thinking I began using the technique of visualization. Many people balk at visualization but athletes, actors, musicians all visualize their performances before any event. I’ve used visualization for years before public speaking or training sessions. Envision yourself as you want to be. The book I read said to start small. I tried envisioning myself with a diet coke. No one came and gave me a diet coke.Dismissing the whole idea as ridiculous, I took out a dollar, went to the vending machine at work, and bought a diet coke. As I stared at the diet coke I questioned whether there was anything to this. But then it hit me. I did in fact have the diet coke, but I was envisioning the wrong thing. We have to envision the outcome not the solution as the solution can come in many and often unexpected ways.

After time small things began to happen. I wanted a fish-tank for my desk to help with relaxing. I envisioned the fish-tank on my desk. The next day I stopped by a coworker’s office and mentioned off-hand that I wanted a small fish-tank for my desk. Her office-mate overheard this and happened to have a small fish-tank, brand new, under her desk that she didn’t want. She gave it to me. You could say this is completely random and it is. But seriously, a fish tank? What are the chances?

When small things like this started to happen I tried envisioning bigger things. I know that visualization and positive thinking are not the solution to all of life’s challenges. But it doesn’t hurt.

When my library faced budget cuts two years ago my family was already struggling with a mound of medical bills and debt accrued from a pregnancy that had me out of work and on bed rest for more than nine months. When the library budget became so bad that my husband and I took a total of a temporary 15% pay cut we knew that we were in serious financial trouble. We tried to get by. We consolidated debt. Moved debt to zero interest credit cards. But it was too much. Eventually we lost our house and ultimately filed bankruptcy. In mid-life we basically started over with nothing. In no way am putting blame on the library. The recession affected millions of Americans. We happened to be part of that group.

If you’ve ever read about the top life stressors, you know that foreclosure and bankruptcy are right up there with the death of a spouse. What we discovered was that though the process is hard, it is also freeing. We’ve moved three times in the past two years, each time downsizing and simplifying our life. While it would have been easy to be in our situation and become depressed or overwhelmed, we chose to find the silver lining, even when it was only a small glimmer.

The icing on my cake of another stressful life event came when I was laid off in June of this year. I’m not saying it was easy but again there was a silver lining. Being laid off meant that I was eligible for unemployment and allowed me the buffer and time I needed to get my own business up and running–something I had wanted to do for years. I fully believe that had I not had a positive outlook and looked for that silver lining, I may have sunk into a pit of despair. Business has been good and I enjoy the work I do immensely.

The outlook and attitude we have in life and in facing life’s challenges are so important and affect everything we do from our interactions at work and home to our health and happiness. If I could suggest one goal for you in this new year it is to look for the silver lining and to always look for the positive in even the bleakest of situations.