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Christina's LIS Rant
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
  CIL2007: Notes from our session Innovative Libraries
Thanks to everyone who came - the room was actually pretty full and we really appreciate your support. Jill has the slides posted on her page and she mentioned trying to post her notes on her blog.

In this post I'll talk a little more about my motivations for the study, some comments on what we found, some responses to questions we received during and after, and our intentions for future work.

First, I've attended a few Computers in Libraries and similar conferences and heard some amazing young librarians describe all of the wonderful technologies they've implemented. I wondered a bit at the time how their parent organizations were able to support this what with all of the policy, social, financial and other barriers to innovation. I've also heard many library managers say things like: I wish I had person x at my library so we could do that or there's no way we could implement x because {my boss OR my customers OR my budget OR my policies OR my staff} presents insurmountable barriers. So, on one hand, you have lots of libraries doing all of these amazing things -- presumably with management support -- and you have a bunch of managers who want -- presumably -- to innovate, but see these barriers insurmountable. My hope was that we could talk to some of the managers of "innovative libraries" to see how they overcome these barriers and create the environment that fosters innovation.

This was actually borne out because people during and afterward asked (paraphrased): what about x type libraries and their particular barriers? My manager does x, did your participants provide any advice that might help me? -- Whether or not we were able to help is a question for the audience members :) Note, too, that the actual innovations are not important in and of themselves. That was another question but here's a partial list:
blogs
wikis
checkout processes
DVD management processes
podcasting
rss
teen programming
catalog updates
tagging

Some comments on the findings:
I think the audience expressed some of the surprise that I felt: the constraints on the school libraries are extreme. The financial situations in special, school, public, and academic libraries are so unique that it's hard to understand how anything can be gained by talking to managers across all of these. The customers of special libraries and public libraries are so different. What we found, though, is that some of the strategies are transferable between settings -- or more precisely, with no leading from us, the participants reported similar strategies. Nobody's got the money they need, if they do have enough money, then they've realized long ago that money wasn't the (or their) answer, etc.

From here:
We'd like to make this into a journal article. This should include a few more interviews, maybe, including some of the types of libraries we didn't get a chance to fully explore. Also, we'll need to continue analyzing some more. I think the writing up part will be key, because we need to make the case about what our work actually was and try to get it published where it might help the most people.

At the same time, this is not in my research areas for my doctoral work, so will have to be deprioritized until my schoolwork and ASIST papers are done.

I may add more here if I think of more that needs saying... right now, it's time to move on to my other projects ... If you are a library manager who has problems seeing ways to deal with barriers, consider cold-calling the manger of a library you admire (now don't everybody pick on the famous libraries -- pick someone in your region) and ask if you can talk to them for a little bit and pick their brains...

UPDATE: Jill's notes are posted. It was a pleasure to work with her, too! And she got my name right :) (although Laurel is *not* Baltimore, lol)

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This is my blog on library and information science. I'm into Sci/Tech libraries, special libraries, personal information management, sci/tech scholarly comms.... My name is Christina Pikas and I'm a librarian in a physics, astronomy, math, computer science, and engineering library. I'm also a doctoral student at Maryland. Any opinions expressed here are strictly my own and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer or CLIS. You may reach me via e-mail at cpikas {at} gmail {dot} com.

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Christina's LIS Rant by Christina K. Pikas is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

Christina Kirk Pikas

Laurel , Maryland , 20707 USA
Most Recent Posts
-- Jill and I at CIL2007
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-- CIL2007: Andy Carvin's Keynote
-- CIL2007: Social Bookmarking and Folksonomies
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-- Article First in Open Worldcat?
-- CIL2007: Innovative Libraries
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