In order to better integrate my blog with my website, better manage comment spam, and reduce my dependence on Google, this blog has moved to In order to avoid broken links I won't be deleting content from here, but no new content will be added, so please update your bookmarks and feeds.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

What would you do?

Developing and sharing creative solutions (aka Doing More With Less)
Elizabeth Whyte, Paul Sutherland
"90 minutes of user-generated discussion. In the spirit of Unconference and Pecha Kucha, hear rapid-fire presentations of ideas and challenges from your colleagues. Then break into groups, design solutions, and get inspired to do more with less."

Going to watch presentations, ask questions without answering, and then break into groups ("of at least two people because otherwise it wouldn't be a group") to generate answers.

I started with my suggestion box presentation, which I'll upload later. (ETA: it's here.) Questions about this were:
- How responded to allegation that AU is better than CU?
- How are questions and answers distributed?
- Staff training for social media sites
- Should we forego paper suggestion boxes completely?
Break-out groups came up with: (ETA - there was much more discussion that I've noted of course! These only include the 'takeaway' summary reported back at the end of the session.)
- If people ask a question/complain, respond in public so everyone can see.

We got another presentation on "What would you do about disruptive youth in a public library?" This library is the only free sheltered space in the area. So kids will congregate which is great, but some associated behaviour (especially age 9-14) is less than delightful. Verbal abuse of staff, customers; bullying; assault; gang activity. Long-term they want kids to stay in the library and keep reading. Diagnose much activity as boredom. Are having holiday programs. Want low-key, low-cost, low-advertising, low-efforts. Have used trespass orders but a 2-year tresspass order to an 11-year old is icky. Police relationship, contacts with schools and other agencies. Blogging on an internal incident archive. Training staff. What else can be done?
Questions from the audience:
- How do older kids respond to incidents?
- Does library employ extra staff in holidays?
- What's the scope of the youth worker role?
- What about ways of getting youth to interact with library knowledge other than passive reading?
- Can you create an alternative space?
- How do you engage with parents of children?
- What are their interests?
Break-out groups came up with:
- It's good that youth are coming in; they're disconnected and libraries are connecting them into society.
- Lots of other ideas and going to work it into something coherent.

Jack Goodman
Libraries have lots of fans but not necessarily outspoken ones. Library is the cool place to hang out because we're about people. Talks about building relationships with businesses, universities, polytechs, future generations of educators. Sporting clubs. WIIFM? What's in it for me/libraries? Innovation is essential. Normally takes a lot of resources, money. Denmark $122 per capita funding for libraries; NZ ~$60, Aus ~40.
Have we thought about partnerships with local gardening centre? Example of garden centre referring to library for care instructions.
Questions from the audience:
- Can you get a supplier to support a project within the library?
- How would you make the first approach?
- Have you done this yourself?
Break-out groups came up with:
- Libraries shouldn't sell themselves short re potential partnerships. Build relationships.

Ellen Thompson from Queensland University of Technology on the unconference "It functions better when more traditional meetings fail." Traditional meeting boring - either nod off or get surly and disruptive. Would like more dynamic ideas movement going on in meetings. Wants an un-meeting. So did it - convinced boss to have a fortnightly agenda meeting and every second week have an un-meeting:
  • whoever comes is the right people
  • whatever they talk about is the right topic
  • when it starts it's right, when it's over it's over
  • law of two feet
To get a quick meeting: have it standing up. (Audience suggestion to secretly take the chairs away.) Are there any systems, practices, procedures in our organisation that we can "un-"?
- un-performance and strategic direction
- un-jargon
- joking: un-reference interview
- un-email (talk to colleagues instead)
- un-bureaucracy
- un-heirarchy of information and power
- un-serious
- un-noncontroversial
(Put the "un" in "fun"!)
- un-risk averse
- ungry!
Break-out groups came up with:
- A well-run meeting can be a beautiful thing.
- Need to have purpose and time and place.
- Don't try to mash-up agenda-meeting and unmeeting - will get the worst of both worlds.
- Some people have standup meetings and they work, so it can be done!

Claire Stent from Statistics New Zealand
We try to offer the silver service "everything to everyone all the time". But then people are in the food court! They know Google's not the best search tool but it's quick and easy and has no tutting librarian over their shoulder. They don't feel *comfortable* with our portals. So what do we do? We improve our portals and our processes. So it's not silver service any more, but there's still no people because nothing's changed: the same service is still under the hood. Uni students get a course reader - a chapter here and a journal article there.
What do we want? Something different, like a picnic or barbecue? Why be a restaurant if people don't want that? So now if people go to their research page they get training, emails, etc to do with research. Also has pictures! Getting lots of good feedback.
People don't want journals and issues; they want one subject-related article. So instead of table of contents, get a subject-related alert. RSS feed search alerts from Ebsco or ProQuest.
Don't invent your same service in a new way; invent a new service!
Questions from audience:
- Why second-guess what people want rather than asking them? (or watching what they use)
- Do your staff understand alerts and RSS feeds?
- Is the value of libraries in the food or the service or the menu?
Break-out groups came up with:
- Vote that we're about service.
- We're not convinced people know what they want. Should observe them rather than ask.
- People like different delivery methods - need to do a variety of things.

LIANZA Ning - if people sign up we can write up what we came up with today.