Springing the Numbers

At the onset of April, we posted Infopeople’s busy and rich offerings for the month. And, wow, library staff got busy, too, and signed up, signed in, and signified a grand scale of engagement! Here’s a scan of how all that busy busy busy quantified:

  • Online courses that opened in April have 137 participants engaged.
  • Free webinars broadcast in April met with a combined audience of 707 viewers of the live events, and their archives were tapped 966 additional times!
  • Online independent learning series continued to draw new registrants, and currently have a combined total of 49 independent learners working through these service focus areas.

And here are the numbers we see in our social media presence:

  • As April drew to an end, @infotweets has 714 followers on Twitter, and received three to five notices a day of retweeting or favoriting by library leaders, staff and library staff development fans of posts we tweeted.
  • Infopeople’s Facebook page collected four new friends, bringing the total there to 414. We share our own events as well as compelling library world stories there, with our posts in April earning 134 Likes and/ Shares.
  • With the news that Google+ is likely on its way out, Infopeople is refocusing energy from that venue to Tumblr. An update on that will appear here soon.

Moving the Infoblog back to WordPress has made it much more discoverable. April’s podcasts and written posts on the blog saw 700 visitors beside all of you who subscribe directly or catch blog posting alerts on Twitter or Facebook.

With all that for April, there is no laurel resting now that May has bloomed. Upcoming this month are four new online courses, for which you can still register; at least five new free webinars; and ongoing opportunities to dive into our three currently open online independent learning series (Teaser: we’ve got another couple of those, on very different topics, in the works, planning for debut before the end of summer). In addition to all that, two of three limited enrollment sessions of an onground course opportunity, Mentoring: Challenge and Support in Equal Measures, are slated for May (with the third iteration in June).

So count yourself in and spring into some accessible professional development!

Irons in the fire

In spite of some public appearances, Infopeople isn’t limiting our scope of activities to the various projects required in order to get library staff up and aware of the Affordable Care Act. Here are some other initiatives that have us busy—so that we can better help library staff with the variety of training and information needs we face:

The Infopeople website is being updated with the latest Drupal release and with an always improving interface for users. If your interest in coding and content management systems is limited, your attention to this project need not be: presentation of upcoming trainings and webinars are better displayed and the new registration interface should make it easier for would-be training participants to make their selections and go through the enrollment process.

Eureka! has been rolling along for some years now. One effect of that is a growing number of Eureka Fellow cohorts working on specific projects and celebrating reunions. You can dig into the archived webinars Fellows have provided as well–another way to harvest great library leadership info or to access when you mentor someone else in the library field.

And on the topic of webinars, tomorrow (20 August), we have a much needed and welcome one on the boards at 12 Noon, Pacific Time, when Kathy Middleton, Noelle Burch and Alison McKee address Inclusive Library Programming for People with Intellectual Disabilities. As with all Infopeople webinars (including 9 September’s Get Covered @ the Library: Affordable Care Resources for Libraries), there’s no registration fee and the session will live on the webinar archives page after production.

We also have a mostly developed–and rich–slate of online course offerings for the Fall. There are eight online courses now open for registration,  You can also use the Calendar tab on the training page to get a view into September, October and even November. Whether you’re planning your personal professional development, or formulating the training calendar for staff you manage, it’s not too soon to look ahead!

 

Socrates in the Library Manager’s Office

How does a library leader manage him/herself when someone else is the library manager? That was the first part of the question posed to me by a colleague yesterday. How does the leader, in such a position, maintain that internal flame of creativity? How does such a leader lead in practical terms?

My own go-to resource, when faced with a matter that requires a political frame in which to examine how best to synthesize a way forward where paths appear to divide, is Socrates.  (If you know all matters of library management are political, then you can probably manage–not knowing this already, however, is no preclusion to your blossoming as a leader–albeit, a leader who best learn that all library management matters do, indeed, have a vein of politics threaded through.  Thus the big[ger] bucks). Socrates, unlike a manager, did not direct, supervise or set performance standards. Socrates asked questions, and not just random questions but questions that demand reflection, imagination and a willingness to experience some level of personal ambiguity or discomfort on the part of the person who works to find the best response to each such question.

The nonmanager leader in the library needs to learn how to frame such questions. The best questions a leader poses bring the management forward; they don’t push a personal agenda, coerce, or belittle management as it is. The best questions focus management attention on how to synthesize the leader’s new, perhaps strange (to the nonleader) vision with political reality.

And what do managers who are fairly certain that their forte is administrative rather than visionary have to offer such leaders to forestall their disaffection with outgrowing the library that needs their guiding light? Cetainly the top of the possible heap of responses to that one is a willingness for ambiguity and mild intellectual discomfort (conditions from which no one dies and unfortunately too many recover with no after effects).

Managers and leaders rarely stumble unconsciously into a healthy symbiotic relationship. It takes conscious–and conscientious–work on the parts of both to synthesize how to manage and move a library forward.

Mountaintop Experiences

Next week, Infopeople is sending a few California librarians to a new and unusual library conference. “R-Squared” (Risk x Reward) promises an exciting “mountaintop experience,” both in that cheesy life-changing sense and also in a completely literal sense, as we’ll be spending a few breathless days in Telluride, Colorado, at close to 10,000 feet. We’ve received advisory emails about drinking extra water, toning down weekend exercise goals, and coming with open minds. The conference focuses on experiences that will vividly demonstrate how to lead libraries in taking healthy but meaningful risks–risks with rewards that will revitalize libraries, keeping us relevant and even innovative in a changing world.
 
Although I now live and work at sea-level in Los Angeles, I grew up on Cobb Mountain in Lake County, and just a few summers ago spent 13 weeks in the Sierra, so I’m pretty familiar with mountaintop experiences. I remember the exhilaration, the inspiration–and needing to sleep a lot. Here’s hoping for a week of beautiful perspectives on the Rockies and libraries, new dreams and ideas to bring back to California, and a conference schedule with mandatory nap-time built in!
 
Sarah Vantrease is a Branch Manager at Los Angeles Public Library and was a participant in the 2010 Eureka! Leadership Institute.

Stacey Aldrich, Libraries, and Planning for the Future

Acting State Librarian of the California State Library Stacey Aldrich will be helping current and prospective library leaders use current tools to explore the future in her Infopeople workshop, “Building Leadership Skills: Planning for the Future,” scheduled in libraries throughout California in June 2009.

“We’ll be looking at what kinds of sources you should be scanning for clues to the future and why; what kinds of triggers you should be looking for; and how you ask the right questions about the future,” she said during a conversation earlier this week. “The key here is that the more tools that you have for thinking about the future, the more proactive you can be about creating the future. This workshop is an opportunity to learn and practice some future-thinking tools and then spend some time thinking about the future so you can find opportunities.”

Included in the curriculum are explorations of scenario planning, a concept explored by futurist in his book The Art of the Long View: Planning for the Future in an Uncertain World; environmental scanning; and top trends which library leaders need to watch.

“We need to look outside of libraries for the forces and trends that are changing people’s expectations about information, technology, and community,” Aldrich says. “If we’re asking the right questions about our future, we can keep developing services that meet the needs of the people we serve.”

Among the sources she cites are the TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) conferences with talks which are archived at Ted.com; the Pop!Tech conferences with similarly archived materials at Pop!Tech.org; and trendwatching.com, which offers a variety of resources including free monthly “trend briefings.”

Using these tools will help library leaders engage in more effective environmental scanning and scenario thinking. Environmental scanning, she suggests, is “taking an interest in observing the world around you…reading and observing things you may never do,” and scenario building, “in its simplest terms, is creating stories about the future to help your library think about possible futures, and then build strategies that will help you thrive in each of them, and to help your library create its preferred future.”

The workshop is the latest offering in Infopeople’s multi-stage Eureka! Leadership Program with its “Building Leadership Skills” series, and it will remain available as a contract workshop through Infopeople for those who are not able to attend the currently scheduled sessions. Registration ($75 per person) for “Building Leadership Skills: Planning for the Future” and other “Building Leadership Skills” sessions is continuing on the Infopeople website; instructors for other sessions in the series include Marie Radford and Steve Albrecht.

Sessions of “Building Leadership Skills: Planning for the Future” are currently scheduled for Buena Park Library District (6/4/2009); San Diego County Library Headquarters (6/5/2009); San Francisco Public Library – Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Room (6/11/2009); Belle Cooledge Library in Sacramento (6/12/2009); Fresno – Woodward Park (6/16/2009); and San Jose Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (6/23/2009).