Avant Garde

Today I’m looking at a site called The Daily Post from WordPress, and discovered that every day they publish a new “daily prompt” for bloggers to use when they’re having trouble blogging that day.  The daily prompt pushes them to write about that prompt.  I studied a list of these prompts and picked Avant Garde to write about today:  “From your musical tastes to your political views, were you ever way ahead of the rest of us, adopting the new and the emerging before everyone else?”

Me?  No, never, I don’t think so.  In fact, I’m often a late-adopter.  I confess, I’ve read exactly one full Overdrive eBook from my library.  BUT, let me say, as libraries, I think we DO have to try to be early adopters.  Libraries are a great place for our users to try out new technologies, before they buy them for themselves.  At one time this was things like digital cameras and MP3 players—I confess, I’m not sure what it is today.  Maybe 3D printers?

And from my experience, this may mean that sometimes you’ll offer “emerging” things that don’t catch on.  And that’s OK.  But it’s hard for us to accept that, I think, and to explain it to our funding bodies.  How can we justify offering something that doesn’t become popular?  I think we can by explaining that we want to offer choices and options for the public, and we want to keep up with current trends, and remain relevant.  Sometimes the only way to know if something will be successful is to try it.  One way to do this is to call a new initiative a “pilot project,” which indicates that it may or may not become permanent.

So, I’m curious.  How avant garde are you?  How avant garde is your library?



Posted in Change, Collections, Customer Service, Information Services, Library in Community, Library Partnerships, Library Programs, Library Services, Public Libraries, Services, Technology | Leave a comment

Challenging Assumptions

I ask that you read and think about all points in this post today:

Showering in the Library (from Walking Paper )

That is all.

shower(It’s not really about “showering in the library,” at least that’s not all it’s about.)

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Keeping it Simple

I have a confession to make.  Sometimes I make things too complicated.  Do you?

In libraries, and in other organizations, as in our lives, isn’t is really best to keep things simple?  And isn’t it best to explain things in the simplest ways?

So it was a good reminder to me about keeping things simple when I read the post Keep it Simple Like Einstein.  Read it.  Do it.  Really.  Take this nugget with you:  “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”    If it was good enough for Einstein, it’s good enough for me.  ‘Nuff said.


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Prepared for the Job

Public libraries in Wisconsin, and probably every other state, are overseen by a board of trustees.  We love and need our trustees.  But sometimes we forget that they are volunteers, and don’t always know what their job involves/includes.

I’m teaching an Advanced Management class for Wisconsin public library directors, in partial fulfillment of their public library certification requirement.  For the assignment they just completed, they wrote about problems with trustees (real or fictional) and how to address them.  I used the videos at Wyoming’s Trustee Trouble to give them some ideas, but I could have just as easily used Tales from a New Trustee, or some other collection.  You might want to take a look at these.


The overwhelming conclusion (and the right one!) is that errors by public library trustees can and should be headed by off by providing them with a comprehensive orientation when they join your board.  How are you orienting your board?

In Wisconsin, a good start is going through our Trustee Essentials and Chapter 43 of the Wisconsin Statutes.  Don’t forget information about your library, ethics of elected and appointed officials, and Parliamentary Procedure.

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On Emptiness

Dear Empty:

You are an interesting word.  Are you a good thing or a bad thing?

Empty things that are good:

  • An empty email “In” box.
  • An empty dishwasher.  (They’re all clean!)
  • An empty clothes hamper. (They’re all clean!)

Empty things that are bad:

  • A feeling of emptiness, like a sad and lonely heart.
  • A feeling of a glass that is half empty.
  • An empty gas tank.

Some empty things can be good or bad.  Like an empty plate, which can mean:

  • I ate too much!  Ugh. (Bad)
  • I am poor and can’t afford food.  (Bad)
  • My little boy cleaned his plate–he got a balanced meal.  (Good)

Now let’s talk about libraries.  I guess an empty library can be good—when you close the library at closing time, you want everyone to leave.  You want the library to be empty.  That’s good.  But when you’re open, you want the library to be full of staff and happy customers.  We also don’t want lovely libraries to be closed and empty because the municipality doesn’t appropriate enough money for them to be open the necessary number of hours.

Indeed, Empty, you are an interesting word.  I’m glad I spent more time with you, thinking about you and getting to know you better.




author’s note: This post was written in response to a Writing 101 assignment.  I’m dabbling with the course.


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This is NOT Good Service

So, I’m apparently a little late to this party.  Yes, I knew some folks, and some “states” don’t like the Affordable Care Act (abbreviated ACA, and also sometimes called Obamacare).  My own state refused federal money to expand healthcare coverage for the poor, under the act.  But I didn’t know that some states have decreed that only certain state-certified agents can help people enroll in the health care exchanges.   Guess what?—That means librarians and library staff can’t help.

I didn’t know this until I read a librarian complaining in Facebook about the fact that he wasn’t allowed to help patrons with the ACA:

Was at a staff meeting today and found out that georgia libraries are not allowed to assist in any way with educating or helping people with the affordable care act because of a new state law. We can’t use money, staff time, or library publicity to educate people about a real law.

This is wrong on so many levels.  We’re libraries, people, that’s what we do.  We help people.  We answer their questions.  Color me unhappy.

Caduceussad face

Posted in Censorship, Customer Service, Information Services, Library in Community, Library Programs, Public Libraries, Services | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Listen. Just Listen!

Really, it’s so easy.  Just listen.  Don’t talk, don’t butt in, don’t think about what you’re going to say.  Just listen!  That is all.

How to REALLY Listen by Jesse Lyn Stoner.


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