Tag Archives: news


10 Jan

I love Library Journal‘s articles this month.  I also love Annoyed Librarian, but that’s an unrelated comment I just had to add.

For me, LJ is typically a love/like/hate relationship because I use it for collection development (the love), the occasional article (the like), but what doesn’t work is the seemingly single-minded focus on public libraries with the passing nod to academic libraries (the hate).  My library doesn’t fit into any of those, so for the most part LJ gives me information I have to do Pilates on in order to derive some applicable meaning.

Not this month.  January 2012 has a great article called “Moving from Outputs to Outcomes” and if you’ve ever wondered or had to justify your existence to anyone, I recommend you read it.  There are a lot of great ideas in there, but one stuck with me: librarians like numbers we can show to people, like X% increase in circulation over last year with only Y% new volumes added to the collection, all with a budget of $Z!  Those are all output numbers, and are important in the running of any business.  As we (should) all know, libraries are indeed businesses.

The article then discusses a logic model that suggests a new measure for your library’s value, based on outcome instead of output.  They called it “squishy” versus “hard”, squishy being outcomes.  The formula is something like: In this year, we will implement X policy/procedure/etc, which will lead to Y result/action/skill, ultimately leading to Z outcome for the library/patrons/the community.  It’s assessable because it has steps that must go in sequence and each step is measurable.  Did you implement X?  Why not, or how did that happen?  Did it lead to Y result, and why or why not?  What was Z, and was it what you expected?  The outcome itself is intangible, but think of it like the workshops we conduct, on a larger scale.  A person comes with X goal, we teach them Y, and they leave knowing how to Z.  We can certainly say that by doing a workshop on Facebook, patrons come to learn how to use it, we teach them to set up a profile/timeline/page, and they leave better able to connect with family and friends or market their product.

What do you think of this outcome-based assessment (OBA)? Do you think outcomes are more important than outputs, vice versa, or equal?  If outcomes are more important, why haven’t we taken to illustrating that import in a way that makes sense for what we attempt to accomplish, instead of numbers?  Does your library use any methodology like this?  I’m eager to hear your thoughts!


Netflix shenanaigans: what libraries can learn

19 Sep

So.  Like most people, you’ve heard of Netflix.  I’m going to venture into uncertain territory, and say you knew about them raising their prices and changing their services.

The customer outcry was horrendous, and earlier this week on Sunday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had an apology for everyone.  The part I’m interested in is as follows:

In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success. We have done very well for a long time by steadily improving our service, without doing much CEO communication. Inside Netflix I say, “Actions speak louder than words,” and we should just keep improving our service.


I’m hoping I wasn’t the only one to see the similarity to libraries.  There is a lesson in there, that we’re learning slowly, and maybe getting at least a little bit right.

Librarians work hard to improve service, but aside from putting up some flyers, how much do we communicate those changes?  We want to believe that our changes matter to our patrons, matter for librarianship.  But do we overlook effective, user-centered communication in favor of change or action?

I think sometimes we do.  I know it’s happened where I work: we put together great programming, got caught up in taking action elsewhere, and expected that if we built it, they would come.  Guess what?  They didn’t come.  We should have been more outspoken about changes in scheduling, programming and subscriptions, because once people knew about the changes we’d made they were enthusiastic.

Is there anything you can think of that we could learn from this?

In the News: Amazon Media Room: News Release

20 Apr

Amazon Media Room: News Release.

What do you suppose HarperCollins has to say about this?  Note the many omissions from this release; things librarians and archivists like to know, such as who owns the materials (or rights to the materials), how long it may be loaned out, if it will expire after certain usage, and some sort of protection from changes in terms of service.

Not all peaches and cream, and I predict there will either be significant changes made to the plan or outcry once unfavorable terms come to light.

In the News: Rare Bible Exhibition Tours the Country

13 Apr

Rare Bible Exhibition Tours the Country – FoxNews.com.

The power of private money is astounding.  I don’t know a lot of rare book librarians who wouldn’t love to get their hands on a collection like this.  Nor archivists, for that matter.  I know we all try to collect within our mission statements, but we all know we make exceptions for really, REALLY cool stuff.  Incunabula fall into that category, as well as the personal histories potentially contained in the old bibles, often referred to as “Family Bibles.”

Did you know that family bibles can, under certain circumstances, be used as identity-verifying documents?  It never ceases to amaze me that the capability of books has grown so far beyond what was common in 1450.

FBI Unveils ‘The Vault,’ Including Unseen 9/11 Records – FoxNews.com

6 Apr

FBI Unveils ‘The Vault,’ Including Unseen 9/11 Records – FoxNews.com.


FOIA, as I see it, doesn’t entitle a person to 100% unrestricted access for all documents, nor do I support WikiLeaks, for the same reason.  Here is the proof that eventually documents move out of the “active” portion of their life-cycle, and then are safe for the public.

What’s the Buzz? – 2,500-Year-Old Preserved Human Brain Discovered – FoxNews.com

28 Mar

2,500-Year-Old Preserved Human Brain Discovered – FoxNews.com.


This is, from an archival standpoint, really cool.  This kind of preservation is almost unheard of; ideal conditions are pretty much never achieved outside of carefully controlled environments and the best we as professionals can hope for is to limit the damage already done to artifacts such as this.  We hope that we can preserve and restore.  When we find something like this brain, or the Nag Hammadi scrolls from the 1970s, it’s exciting because we don’t know why it was preserved but we have an incredible opportunity to look at something that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

What’s the Buzz? – Self Publishing and digital content

22 Mar

Best Selling Author Turns Down Half A Million Dollar Publishing Contract To Self-Publish | Techdirt.