Tuesday’s webinar on Organizational Storytelling for Librarians answered two burning questions about the topic: why the library should use storytelling and what makes a good story.
[Photo: Pawnee Story Bundle, courtesy of Kansas Historical Society]
First, the why.
“If you don’t tell your story first, someone else will.”
When you write your own story, you share your vision and select the elements that convey the vision most vividly. If you let someone else control the narrative, it will probably not be the picture you want to paint about your organization.
“Touch the heart to facilitate change.”
Facts, figures and dry logic don’t convince people to change. We all have “confirmation bias,” but stories can penetrate those entrenched beliefs.
“Stories are sticky.”
The brain is “neurologically organized to remember narratives” better than statistics and bullet lists. Even more so if the story engages the emotions of the audience.
“Stories build community.”
The concept of belonging to a community is powerful for people. When the library tells stories about its role in the community, it strengthens the ties among its members.
What makes a good story?
Most of us are not naturally gifted or trained as professional storytellers. Presenters Kate Marek and Chris Rippel both provided sound and reassuring advice for developing your ability to relate an effective story without formal training.
Kate outlined 7 basic ingredients for creating a good story:
Chris analyzed some of the key characteristics of story that draw us in and compel us to listen. I recommend reading his full article on How to tell library stories. Some elements that may be surprising include:
There’s much more to this story. To watch the entire webinar and connect to related resources, go to:
Organizational Storytelling for Librarians: Using Stories for Leadership, Community, and Advocacy
The title alone lets you know that this going to be a pretty hip blog post, right? And just look at the pretty logo over there…signs of good things to come! Edge is the name of an exciting initiative that is coming soon to a library near you. Earlier this year, WebJunction joined the Edge initiative, a coalition of 13 organizations working together to compile a set of benchmarks for public access computing in libraries (check out the press release). The intent of these benchmarks is to help ensure that all communities continue to have quality computer and Internet access at public libraries. One thing is clear about this work—it’s no small task! Public access computing is such a core resource in libraries, but the needs of the individual libraries and their respective communities vary greatly (queue the dramatic, challenging music).
I am sure this is a bit of preaching to the choir, but high-quality access to technology in public libraries is critical for people to succeed in today’s world. Without access to the information and opportunities that exist online, some people in this country will not be able to do homework, look for employment, obtain health and wellness information or connect with their government, community or civic organizations. Libraries have taken on a critical role in many communities to provide access to these services, but we also know that there is room to improve. Sometimes we need a little help to make our case for the importance of these services, both internally and with stakeholders. That’s where the benchmarks come in.
These benchmarks will be the examples of high quality services and offerings that help to improve the lives of patrons and the communities that libraries serve. We’ve been collecting feedback from coalition members and also working closely with the library field, local decision makers and community leaders to create benchmarks that are relevant, actionable and that can align with local community priorities. The work to date has included hundreds of hours spent pouring through data, reading reports, conducting focus groups and synthesizing all of the information into a usable resource – and we’re not done yet.
The project will soon be launching at pilot sites in several states and will be available for broader public use later in 2012. One of the key elements of participating in the benchmarks is an assessment that a library will complete. In some cases, the assessment results will shine a light on a library that is doing great work and should be recognized. In other cases, a library may be able to use the assessment to acknowledge that there are areas that could use improvements. The benchmarks will also include a wealth of information and resources that can be used to help advocate for public access computing improvements to local funders and decision makers. We’re going to give you the tools to help implement ideas and find out how to make improvements that will have an impact.
Now this is clearly a bit a teaser, because we’re not quite ready to share the actual benchmarks just yet…there’s more cooking going on in the kitchen, and we’re a bunch of picky chefs. But, we’re looking forward to bringing you more details as work on the Edge initiative progresses – stay tuned!
Join OCLC, host Chrystie Hill, WebJunction’s Director of Community Services, and guest speakers for a series of four free webinars designed to inspire and engage public libraries on topics of vital interest. Each program in the series will offer practical advice on issues that are top-of-mind in public libraries.
Stay up to date on the latest information and register for the first in the series at: www.oclc.org/go/buildingbridges
Building Bridges #1: Principles of Advocacy
Wednesday, November 2, 2011 2:00 pm Eastern/11:00 am Pacific
Public library professionals know the importance of demonstrating their value to their local communities. Are you looking for inspiration to jump-start your own advocacy efforts? Join us to better understand how ongoing community advocacy supports the vital role your library plays in the community.
Building Bridges #2: Community Outreach
Learn more about building successful community partnerships that really work.
Building Bridges #3: Communicating Your Value
Without sufficient funding, your service to your community can suffer. But you can effectively communicate your value to those who fund your library—learn how.
Building Bridges #4: Your Library’s Future
This look ahead will focus on (1) the critical services libraries should provide; (2) services that only the public library provides; and (3) communicating the library’s future plans to the community.
This week we had the pleasure of hosting Ioannis Trohopoulos, director of the Veria Central Public Library, for a one-hour webinar presentation about his 2010 ATLA award-winning library. Veria Central PL is setting an inspiring example for other libraries around the globe, demonstrating that even a small library operating under significant economic challenges can be a mover and shaker. We recorded the session, and it’s posted to WebJunction.org for you to view at your convenience.
Ioannis actually has a far-reaching vision to transform all public libraries in Greece. Beginning in his own small city of Veria, Macedonia (pop. 55,000), he champions the library as a “center for creativity, innovation, and learning.” As he described to us Veria Central PL’s approach to serving the unserved, building partnerships, and creating experiences, we noted that his vision and strategy aligns very closely with the IMLS 21st Century Skills Framework. IMLS is promoting the critical role of U.S. libraries and museums in preparing citizens for success, and emphasizes the importance of skills in creativity, innovation, technology literacy, self direction and lifelong learning. Ioannis’ library actively models and engages its users around those skills, striving to provide a user-centric library environment that offers up-to-date and new technology.
Their outstanding results led to Veria Central PL’s receipt of the 2010 Access to Learning Award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This award recognizes non-U.S. organizations for their efforts to connect people to information through free access to computers and the internet. Veria Central PL’s technology outreach programs, focus on children, and emphasis on digital libraries, has been recognized as a model of what can happen when a small public library focuses on meeting the needs of its users. Ioannis of all people understands the challenges around doing this, as illustrated by this equation he showed us:
Ioannis didn’t just present on the library’s past accomplishments, but also described their current strategy to reshape Veria Central PL to create experiences for “Generation Y,” renovate the building, foster civic engagement with offline and online social networking, and identify funding sources that will ensure long-term sustainability. But don’t forget that his vision goes beyond Veria: he is also working on a nationwide initiative to transform Greek public libraries into vibrant new resources sitting at the heart of their communities.
Please schedule an hour to listen to and view the presentation, and prepare to be inspired!
We’re gearing up for Wednesday’s special 2-hour Digitization & Preservation Symposium, from 2:00-4:00 pm Eastern and we hope you can join us! The session will feature presentations on current trends and practical approaches to library digitization and preservation projects. One of the presenters unfortunately had to cancel due to a family emergency, but we’ll have plenty of time for the other presentations and extra time for your questions and comments.
A few years ago, I had the privilege of contributing to Trends in E-Learning for Library Staff, a snapshot of how library staff in the U.S. viewed, and used, e-learning in 2005.
This spring and summer, Jennifer Peterson and I interviewed libraries to develop a new snapshot of how U.S. library organizations are utilizing online training tools in their staff development initiatives. Our resulting report is less about how online learning is viewed … in fact, we started with the assumption that online learning is an accepted, even expected, component of training programs today. From there, we examined why online learning was incorporated into the training program, which tools were used, how learner collaboration and ownership were encouraged, what successes were realized, and asked the program coordinators/trainers to offer any advice for other library organizations pursuing similar programs.
The paper we wrote was accepted for inclusion in this year’s IFLA program, and I’ll be presenting our findings this coming Friday, after immersing myself in the international library community for a few days.
I’ve also posted the paper, with practical approaches for adding online learning to your training program, and case studies about the training programs profiled on WebJunction, in our Training Program Management section.
Read the entire paper, or check out the case studies for each of the training programs profiled:
And on a related note, be sure to join us on September 1 for a free webinar with the folks from Baltimore County Public Library on Creating A Virtual Orientation for New Staff.
Free hour-long webinar on August 3, 2:00 pm Eastern.
Libraries are looking for ways to be better prepared for disaster response and recovery. Join guest presenter Lauren Mandel, research coordinator at the Information Use Management & Policy Institute at Florida State University’s College of Communication and Information, as she introduces a new key service role, Get to Know Your Emergency Operations Center (EOC), to the existing Hurricane Preparedness & Response for Florida Public Libraries Project. The Florida-based project helps libraries throughout the U.S. serve their communities through partnerships with fellow responders (e.g., emergency management, local government and other agencies) and become a safe haven, recovery center, information hub and evacuee resource. Come learn how this project can inform your library’s disaster preparedness plan and how your library can play an important role in community preparedness and recovery by working with your EOC. With updates to service roles and resources since the project’s fall webinar and relevance to any sort of partnership development, you won’t want to miss this session!
We’ll be exploring topics related to leadership during the month of May and who better than George to get us started. He’s been mentor and optimistic leader to many in the WebJunction community including a 5 year stint as I’m Curious George.
Join us for a free webinar, Accidental Leadership with George Needham on May 5 at 2:00 Eastern:
Leadership may not be something every library staff member aspires to, but in many cases, leadership is thrust upon the accidental leader unexpectedly. How do you find the internal and external resources you need to lead? What do you do when you’re younger than the people you are supposed to lead? How do you exercise authority without becoming either a tyrant or a pushover? Drawing on nearly 40 years of library experience, George will present some anecdotes, some strategies, some practical advice, and, hopefully, a few laughs as he explores this deeply personal subject.
He’s also teamed up with Joan Frye Williams and the pair continue to inspire regularly via Infopeople podcasts and *also next week*, an Infopeople webinar, George and Joan on Successful Middle Management.
Last week, Jennifer mentioned the department of agriculture’s recent announcement about $100 million in grants and loans for rural libraries. I wanted to know a bit more about the program, so checked into it a little bit more. Here’s what I found.
· The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has designated approximately $100 million in grants and loans (texas state library blog says they’ve learned it’s mostly loans and “a much smaller number of grants”) from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to support public libraries in rural areas or small towns. Loans can be repaid over 40 years, and are available to institutions who can’t otherwise get credit.
· Definition of rural is serving under 20,000 (similar to WJ definition of a small/rural library serving < 25,000).
· Administered through the Rural Development Housing and Community Facilities Programs, the funds will support the construction, enlargement, or improvement of public library facilities along with the purchase of facility equipment.
· Depending on funding availability, RD plans to provide up to $500,000 in additional grant funds to each State Office through the Community Facilities American Recovery Reinvestment Act grant account for library projects.
· Funds may be used for costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees, and purchase equipment required for a facility’s operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment, and bookmobiles.
· Applications will be accepted through the USDA Rural Development regional field offices (different for every state) http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/rhs
· Community Facilities Grants are authorized on a graduated scale. Applicants located in smaller communities with low populations and low incomes will receive a higher percentage of grants. Grant funding limitations are based on population and income, economic feasibility, and availability of funds
Links to more info
· USDA fact sheet on the program (PDF): http://www.wo.ala.org/districtdispatch/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/USDA.pdf
· ALA Washington Office press release: http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/news/pressreleases2010/january2010/usdadesignates_wo.cfm
The Secretary of Agriculture has allocated $100 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Community Facilities funding for public libraries to provide educational opportunities and improve public services in rural communities. The funding will be provided primarily through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. In 78 percent of rural communities, the library is the sole provider of no-fee Internet access,” Emily Sheketoff, executive director of the ALA Washington Office, said. “This funding specifically set aside for rural libraries is a lifeline for communities across the country who depend on their local libraries for basic needs such as Internet access as well as assistance with e-government services, literacy and homework programs, and much more. We thank the USDA for its recognition of the vital role libraries play in rural communities and their need for funding.” Funds may be used to construct, enlarge or improve public libraries. This can include costs to acquire land needed for a facility, pay necessary professional fees and purchase equipment required for operation. Funds can be used to purchase shelving, furniture, computers, audio-visual equipment, distance learning equipment and bookmobiles.
· Association for Small & Rural Libraries re-posted fact sheet information on their grants section: http://www.arsl.info/links/grant-news/usda-funds/
Selected blog mentions
These posts mostly repost the info; a few other state libraries, systems, or associations posted as well but this gives you a good sense for who picked it up.
· Marshall Breeding: http://www.librarytechnology.org/ltg-displaytext.pl?RC=14494
· TX state library: http://www.tsl.state.tx.us/ld/librarydevelopments/?p=2374
· Libraries in the News: http://www.ilovelibraries.ala.org/news/?p=686
· Southern Adirondack Library System: http://salsblog.sals.edu/index.php/2010/01/27/money-for-rural-libraries/comment-page-1/ (this post does offer a local contact for assistance)
To those of you who are investigating these loan and grant options and application process, is there anything that WebJunction can do to support this process for everyone? It might be helpful to share applications, tips or tricks for going through the process, or lessons learned once awards are made. Let us know what you’d like to see or how we can help.
Tracking the breaking news and resulting response around the various strains of influenza we are contending with this year has been rather confusing. I know that the big questions around our office and homes has been, “Should I get a flu shot? Should my children or parents? Which ones? By what delivery method?” But I do think that the government and Centers for Disease Control have been doing an admirable job of compiling the essential information and keeping us informed of how to best prepare for this unusual situation.
As WebJunction embarks on this month’s focus on emergency planning and response, I’ve been familiarizing myself with the resources out there that guide businesses and individuals through the process of disaster preparation and recovery. A great site is ready.gov. There is also a spinoff site called flu.gov, which includes a section that contains links to excellent guidance to business for preparing for the seasonal influenza epidemic as well as the N1H1 (aka “swine flu”) epidemic: http://pandemicflu.gov/professional/business/#
WebJunction is gearing up for an August focus on Technology Policies and we’d like to hear from you first. To understand how libraries develop, update and communicate technology policies we would like to invite you to complete a short survey. The short survey asks questions about:
We will share the results of the survey later in August and will address some of the key issues in an August 26 webinar. Thank you for taking the time to help share a current understanding of library technology policies!
If you’re not confused by all the acronyms flying around the federal stimulus package, then it’s a miracle! Everybody’s talking about what portion of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) should go to libraries, but there are certainly not enough folks who understand how to apply for the funds. Thankfully, ALA’s Know Your Stimulus site is helping libraries navigate through the minefield of red tape. I recommend registering for their upcoming ALA webinar on August 5: Nuts and Bolts – Broadband Grant Application Assistance. They’ll help distinguish the BTOP from the NTIA and the NOFA from the RUS (!) Honestly the only thing I feel fairly certain I understand is that there will be 3 rounds of funding and that the first deadline is August 15, so get crackin’!
Tell us what you’re learning about the Broadband Stimulus
A hot topic for libraries are how to manage access and use of computers and the internet by both patrons and staff. Questions like: Do we set time limits for computer use and, if so, how do we find a time that meets the needs of most patrons? Do we block certain sites? Do we disallow certain activity? Do we allow (or even encourage) staff to participate in social networking at work? How do we keep abreast of what patrons needs are so that our policies can adapt to them?
We’ll be putting focus on these questions next month, as we spotlight Computer & Internet Policies. For instance, we’ll have a webinar on August 26 that features staff from two library systems who will share their findings on the trends in computer- and internet-related issues and provide examples of different approaches to policies that libraries have developed. We invite you to share your own experiences or policy examples, so that others may learn from you.
Meanwhile, member Patrick McDonald has a question for you: He is looking for policies that address library staff performing professional duties via a personal, social networking profile. If you have some information for him, please reply to his post to the Social Networking & Web Tools discussion board.
I feel like I’ve spent much of the winter and spring planting competency seeds and I’m finally seeing the seedlings push up the soil and greet the light of day. So here’s what’s growing in the WebJunction competency garden …
Competency Index for the Library Field is a compilation of competency statements that address a broad spectrum of library practice and service. We aggregated and de-duped twelve leading competency sets from the field and then subjected them to a vigorous review by subject matter expert practitioners. We invite you to download the resulting publication and remix and reinvent it in whatever way best serves your library’s size, structure, and personnel development needs.
We have integrated a fourth set of competencies from the Index with the WebJunction catalog—The Personal/Interpersonal competencies. Also referred to as soft skills, foundational or behavioral competencies, they apply to most job roles and form the underpinning of effective and stellar practice and service. Start on the Competencies tab of the WebJunction Courses page and discover connections to courses and resources aligned with specific skills and knowledge statements. You can also explore learning opportunities related to library management, core technology, and systems & IT.
The results are in from the two competency evaluations WebJunction conducted in March and April. We asked respondents from across the field to evaluate themselves on a selection of skills and knowledge statements for library management and technology. Read the summaries and look for the detailed results in the PDF attached to each summary.
At WebJunction we talk a lot about partnerships because we truly believe in them as a way to leverage limited resources for the library community. And while we make a lot of individual partnerships with our members, we also partner with organizations. On the first Wednesday of every month, WebJunction hosts a conversation that addresses how we work with library organizations to provide customized, cost-effective resources to keep staff skills up-to-date and libraries relevant to current patron needs. This Wednesday, Michael Shapiro and me, Zola Maddison, will provide an overview of our tools, talk about our service options, and follow up with an open Q&A. We’ll also reflect on how our current partners are successfully employing WebJunction tools to save time and money while meeting the needs of their library staff. If you’re thinking about staff training and want to learn more about partnering with WebJunction, register for one of the upcoming WebJunction for Organizations sessions, online or at ALA. We hope to see you there!