My Facebook Sabbatical

On October 3rd I decided to take a Facebook Sabbatical.  I was inspired by my friend Leah White and the Fast Company article by Baratunde Thurston entitled #Unplug: Baratunde Thurston Left the Internet for 25 Days, and You Should, Too.  Much like Leah, I decided to leave only Facebook.  My reasons are different from hers.  I have never been a heavy user of any other social media tool than Facebook.  My Twitter account is really only used while I’m at conferences.  I occasionally try to read through it, but I mostly feel overwhelmed by all the continual noise that comes from it.

Leah White describes her experience in a wonderful blog post.  She accurate describes the detox like withdraw from Facebook.  I highly suggest you give it a read.

My experience was slightly different.  Like Leah, I deleted the app from my phone.  However, on my first day I noticed myself mindlessly opening up a browser and typing Facebook.com.  I even did this in meetings, and when speaking to other people.  (I’m sorry if I ever did this to you, that was very rude).  So I installed page blockers to all of the browser on my computer (Safari, Chrome & Firefox).  This certainly helped me a lot.

There were some unintended consequences to my blocks.  Many people create content on Facebook and link to it from Twitter and other social media sites.  I couldn’t access any of this.  Facebook was also used to authenticate myself on a lot of sites.  For example, my Goodreads account login uses my Facebook for authentication.  I had to try and remember passwords for sites that I hadn’t actually logged into for some time.  This demonstrated how deep into my life Facebook has reached.

For the first week or so, I substituted Twitter and Instagram for my Facebook habit.  This waned as I entered my second week.  Something interesting happened during week two.  I start Yelping like crazy.  Weird, I know.  That has also waned.  Now I’m barely even using my phone.

One lesson I really learned with my substitution is that social media provides us with more than a network.  It provides us with a voice.  I think that is lost in most of our discussions of social media.  Whether I decide to use my voice or not, I know that I can and that is really important.

During this time I found more focus.  I started writing a lot more (the whole voice thing); expect more blog posts soon.  And I started to think more.  I kicked around a lot of ideas in my head.  Both of these could be caused by something other than my Facebook Sabbatical, but I don’t think so.  I had expected to read more, but no change in my readings habits occurred other than reading the Sunday paper.  I did find myself listening to NPR more though.  I also did more things.  Erika and I even went to the Science Museum (awesome) and I meet with more people face-to-face.  Again, all of this could be contributed to something else, but I don’t think so.

I also found myself more focused on the here and now.  I may not know what the social scene is like at Internet Librarian, and what were the good afterpartys, I do know that we have friends coming over for dinner tomorrow, I managed to learn all of my students names, what is happening in the city I live in and what important things are happening on a global scale.  I am also getting more in touch with myself.  I now, sometimes, find myself just sitting quietly.  A few days ago I had coffee with a new friend from Chicago.  As I patiently waited, I didn’t check Facebook or anything else, but I immersed myself in the coffee shop, the smells, the sounds, the taste of the coffee and the conversations happening near me.  This has happened so many times over the last 30 days.

Leah makes a great point about the social “highschoolish” pressure on Facebook.  I think that’s very true.  For the librarians, just take a look at the ALA Think Tank.  I, on the other hand, would extend this to other social networking sites as well.

I also think Facebook gives us a copout for not admitting friendships have met there natural conclusion.  This is really hard for us to admit.  But so many friendships in our lives are only for a season.  With Facebook, it seems we don’t have to come to terms with that.  Facebook gives us a way to not have to say goodbye.  Heck, my dad’s Facebook page is still active even though he has been dead for 2 years.

I certainly think my Facebook Sabbatical had a detrimental impact on my personal learning network.  A lot of articles that I read, I find through Facebook.  I was hoping that Twitter would take up this role for me, but it didn’t.  Perhaps its because I’ve had a Facebook for so much longer, or because it is my de facto social media site, I’ve devoted more time to my newsfeed and friends.  I am far stricter with who I friend on Facebook than on Twitter.

This whole experiment has gotten me to think a lot about social media from a librarian perspective.  For some years we have heralded the positives of social media with virtually little discussion of its negative impact.  Those who have been bold enough to question it are quickly labeled a luddite, dismissed, harangued and vilified (of course on the social media sites, grow up and while your at it get off my lawn).  We know that echo chambers and filter bubbles are detrimental to our society.  We also know that during the rise of the Internet and social media, our worldview has shrunk.  Some argue this is not a result of those phenomena (but they certainly cannot prove that).

So will I return to Facebook?  I think so, but I’m not ready yet.  I need to set some pretty strict rules for myself.  I think I will not add the app back (this whole experience leads me to wonder how much I actually even need a smart phone).  I think I want to limit myself to like 15 minutes a day.  Which on the one hand seems like a lot of time, and on the other hand is nowhere near enough time.

Overall the experiment has been great.  I certainly want to try more experiments.  Like the Matt Cutts TED talk about trying something new for 30 days.  I want to try using only a Chromebook for 30 days.  I want to write a letter a day for 30 days.  I think to get the full experience, next time I will follow Baratunde’s model and remove myself from the Internet entirely; a full digital detox.  I want to understand how truly locked in I am.

Are you considering a Facebook Sabbatical?  If so, may you find the experience and the experiment deeply fulfilling.  May you find spare time, deep connections with those you love, and to know yourself a little bit better.  And may you find your eyes open to all that we let into our lives and an honest dialog of positive and negative impact that has on us.

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IA Greatest Hits: What Librarians Lack: The Importance of the Entrepreneurial Spirit

A repost from June 17th

I have been around libraries for a while now.  I have been an administrator at both a public and academic library.  I have done some consulting work.  I write, publish, and present on a variety of library topics.  I am preparing to embark on teaching LIS at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.  From all of this experience, I have reached one important conclusion!  Libraries and librarians, by in large, lack entrepreneurial spirit.

In Nina McHale’s recent post on Breaking Up with Libraries she states:

Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology. We pay BILLIONS to ILS and other vendors each year, and for what? Substandard products with interfaces that a mother would kick to the curb. We throw cash at databases because they have the periodical content our clients need locked up inside them, and over a decade after the failure that was federated searching, we STILL do not have an acceptable product that provides a user-friendly interface and makes managing the data behind the scenes as easy as it needs to be for library staff.
Let’s face it, many of us feel this way.  We are completely frustrated with library vendors.  Book publishers are a never ending battle for us.  Much of our “supply chain” is controlled by for-profit companies  that simply are not interested in the user experience of our patrons (many of which would prefer us out of the game completely).  And what do we do about this?  We lament.  We complain.  We argue.  But we take it and throw our hands up in defeated disgust.
In the 19060s, 1970s and early 19080s, when librarians recognized a problem we took great risks to solve those problems.  As a result, many of the vendors we currently deal with were started by librarians.  But over time and for various reasons, those ventures were taken over by companies, often by equity firms. Just look at the new President and CEO of OCLC, Mr. Skip Prichard. While I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, he is not a librarian.  He is actually a lawyer by training (insert lawyer joke here).  OCLC, the nonprofit corporate that relies solely on member libraries, is run by a non-librarian.  Innovative Interfaces’ new CEO, Mr. Kim Massana, comes straight out of the corporate world with an MBA and an MS in finance.
Since the middle 19080s, we have engaged in some form of learned helplessness.  As a result, many of the newest (and often most used) technologies that deal with information have been created by folks outside of our profession.  For example, why wasn’t Netflix, or Good Reads or Google started by librarians?  I’m not sure what killed the entrepreneurial spirit in our profession, but it certainly appears to be dead.
So you may ask, what is entrepreneurship?  As a concept, it is as hard to define as innovation or creativity.  The single best definition I’ve see comes from a Harvard Business School Professor.  He states, “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” (Howard Stevenson) It takes several readings to fully grasp what he means.  For me, entrepreneurial spirit is about risk taking, problem solving, grit, innovation, perseverance, and resolve.
Until we can inject entrepreneurial spirit back into our profession, I think we will continue with the status quo.  I just don’t think that someone outside our profession is going to step up to save us, and more importantly, improve the experience for our patrons.
In a recent HBR article How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution and accompanying blog post we see a call that states:
  1. Revolutions start local. Start the revolution in one locale and spread it from there. Every ecosystem has its own idiosyncrasies, and skepticism is prevalent, so start with quick wins that make sense in that specific location. And make quick correctable mistakes. Once you get on the right track in one locale, you can spread the revolution quickly. You don’t have years to wait for measurable results before scaling up, just know you are on the right track.
  2. Revolutions need participants. The “shot heard round the world” will be a town-meeting-style, entrepreneurship stakeholder workshop to create excitement and commitment, and to learn. Convene representatives of banks, churches, universities, public schools, unions, cooperatives, entrepreneurs, the municipal and federal government, trade and industry associations, economic development organizations, some “foreign” diaspora resources, and the media. Meet with them individually to prepare them, and learn about the assets and liabilities of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  3. Revolutions require resources. In parallel, connect the community’s entrepreneurial support resources, both online, and bricks and mortar. It’s very possible to get that up and running in just a few weeks, and the same platform can be scaled immediately when the revolution heats up.
  4. Revolutions need revolutionaries. No society is devoid of entrepreneurs, ubiquitous protests of “we have lost our entrepreneurial spirit” notwithstanding. They may be under the radar, languishing in non-entrepreneurial positions, or channeling their entrepreneurial spirit in non-productive ways, but they are present. Find and enlist them. Support and mentor them. Galvanize the entrepreneurship resources and stakeholders to support them as well. Use your positions of power to help them find new customers, investors, advisors, and business partners.
  5. Revolutions need a call to action. Use the conventional and social media to generate unprecedented legitimacy for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Ask people with the hunger to create to come forward with their ideas and then “flood the zone”: give interviews, have television programs, bring in high visibility experts, create billboards, etc.
  6. Revolutions need an inner council. Convene a small band of revolutionaries to advise you, many of them entrepreneurs. Listen to them. Share your concerns openly. Engage in frank, candid, open dialog. Avoid speeches, politics, and grandstanding. Reach out to the people who have left your community and who became successful outside, because there are almost always pools of entrepreneurial talent living overseas, and most of them would love to help back home.
  7. And last but not least, revolutions need leadership. Public leaders and their co-instigators have a key role to play in sparking the revolution and keeping the torch lit. If you are not at the top, go and enlist the most senior public officials around — mayors, senators, prime ministers or whomever. Get them to go out and visit new ventures, large and small. Give them awards; tell your public that entrepreneurship is key to your future. Repeat the message, and repeat it again, on television, online, in tweets, blogs, and Facebook posts. Make sure they inspire everyone to do his or her part.

So may you start a entrepreneurial and innovation revolution.  May you see problems as challenges to be solved instead of things to complain about, and may you play an active role in solving the problems that we face.

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Mission Matters: Backtalk Library Journal

Last January I published this short piece on mission for libraries over at Library Journal.  The embargo period has ended so here is the entire piece:

Do you know your library’s mission statement?  Did you write it, but can’t remember it?  Maybe that says something about your library’s mission statement and the danger of statements that lack passion.

While mission statements may have fallen out of vogue, they are still the single most important statement guiding your library.  A mission statement spells out the library’s most fundamental goals, and it explains how and why you spend money.

But many statements are not memorable:

The mission of the public library is to provide materials and services for community residents of all ages for personal enrichment, enjoyment and educational needs.  The library is dedicated to providing practical access to all forms of media.  The educational needs of elementary and secondary students will be supported and programs developed to stimulate children’s interests and appreciation for reading and learning.

or

The library district provides a wide variety of materials and services to patrons of all ages. To fulfill this mission, the library district has two roles: that of provider and that of partner.

Do the above statements evoke the passion the library has for its community? Do they declare what that library really does? Are they memorable? Are they meaningful? Not really.

One of the best mission statements ever written is found in the preamble of the United States Constitution:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Does this move you?  It should!

The world we live in today requires passionate mission statements, because we need to provide passionate services.  Not only are we facing tough economic climates, but also we have more competitors.  It is our mission statement which differentiates us as well as guides us and holds us accountable.

Conventional bottom line approaches only work in organizations that make a profit, and I don’t know many libraries that pull that off.  The best way to measure positive social impact, which is our bottom line, is to benchmark performance to your own mission statement.

Here is my library’ mission statement. While it may not suit your organization, or your community, it is very meaningful to us:

 The Mission of the Prairie State College Library is to be the library of choice for students, faculty, staff and the community.  We will achieve this by creating innovative policies, services, and a physical and digital environment where members can explore and discover their world, relate and connect to their community, develop and foster their identity, grow and expand their mind, and find and inspire their creativity.

Ask yourself, does your mission statement capture all that your library does?  If not, perhaps it’s time to revisit it.  As librarians, we love to borrow from each other, but this is not the best place to do that.  Your library’s mission statement should be unique.  If your mission statement is the same as the library down the road, then why should people choose your library over that one? Or over Amazon?

The mission of the Prairie State College Library demonstrates our passion to our library users.  It expresses our commitment to the fundamental reasons that people read in the first place.  The mission inspires the staff to work harder to accomplish that mission, create an organization that patrons want to be a part of, and it allows us to tell the real story of the library to those who threaten it with reduced funding.

So, go out and write an inspiring and passionate mission statement for your library.  May that mission statement help transform your library into a library your community adores and regards as indispensable.  And may that mission statement provide you with a purpose to wake up to every morning.

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IA Greatest Hits: What Librarians Lack: The Importance of the Entrepreneurial Spirit

This post was originally published on June 17th.

I have been around libraries for a while now.  I have been an administrator at both a public and academic library.  I have done some consulting work.  I write, publish, and present on a variety of library topics.  I am preparing to embark on teaching LIS at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN.  From all of this experience, I have reached one important conclusion!  Libraries and librarians, by in large, lack entrepreneurial spirit.

In Nina McHale’s recent post on Breaking Up with Libraries she states:

Also in the mix is my general frustration with library technology. We pay BILLIONS to ILS and other vendors each year, and for what? Substandard products with interfaces that a mother would kick to the curb. We throw cash at databases because they have the periodical content our clients need locked up inside them, and over a decade after the failure that was federated searching, we STILL do not have an acceptable product that provides a user-friendly interface and makes managing the data behind the scenes as easy as it needs to be for library staff.
Let’s face it, many of us feel this way.  We are completely frustrated with library vendors.  Book publishers are a never ending battle for us.  Much of our “supply chain” is controlled by for-profit companies  that simply are not interested in the user experience of our patrons (many of which would prefer us out of the game completely).  And what do we do about this?  We lament.  We complain.  We argue.  But we take it and throw our hands up in defeated disgust.
In the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s, when librarians recognized a problem we took great risks to solve those problems.  As a result, many of the vendors we currently deal with were started by librarians.  But over time and for various reasons, those ventures were taken over by companies, often by equity firms. Just look at the new President and CEO of OCLC, Mr. Skip Prichard. While I’m sure he’s a nice guy and all, he is not a librarian.  He is actually a lawyer by training (insert lawyer joke here).  OCLC, the nonprofit corporate that relies solely on member libraries, is run by a non-librarian.  Innovative Interfaces’ new CEO, Mr. Kim Massana, comes straight out of the corporate world with an MBA and an MS in finance.
Since the middle 19080s, we have engaged in some form of learned helplessness.  As a result, many of the newest (and often most used) technologies that deal with information have been created by folks outside of our profession.  For example, why wasn’t Netflix, or Good Reads or Google started by librarians?  I’m not sure what killed the entrepreneurial spirit in our profession, but it certainly appears to be dead.
So you may ask, what is entrepreneurship?  As a concept, it is as hard to define as innovation or creativity.  The single best definition I’ve see comes from a Harvard Business School Professor.  He states, “Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” (Howard Stevenson) It takes several readings to fully grasp what he means.  For me, entrepreneurial spirit is about risk taking, problem solving, grit, innovation, perseverance, and resolve.
Until we can inject entrepreneurial spirit back into our profession, I think we will continue with the status quo.  I just don’t think that someone outside our profession is going to step up to save us, and more importantly, improve the experience for our patrons.
In a recent HBR article How to Start an Entrepreneurial Revolution and accompanying blog post we see a call that states:
  1. Revolutions start local. Start the revolution in one locale and spread it from there. Every ecosystem has its own idiosyncrasies, and skepticism is prevalent, so start with quick wins that make sense in that specific location. And make quick correctable mistakes. Once you get on the right track in one locale, you can spread the revolution quickly. You don’t have years to wait for measurable results before scaling up, just know you are on the right track.
  2. Revolutions need participants. The “shot heard round the world” will be a town-meeting-style, entrepreneurship stakeholder workshop to create excitement and commitment, and to learn. Convene representatives of banks, churches, universities, public schools, unions, cooperatives, entrepreneurs, the municipal and federal government, trade and industry associations, economic development organizations, some “foreign” diaspora resources, and the media. Meet with them individually to prepare them, and learn about the assets and liabilities of the local entrepreneurship ecosystem.
  3. Revolutions require resources. In parallel, connect the community’s entrepreneurial support resources, both online, and bricks and mortar. It’s very possible to get that up and running in just a few weeks, and the same platform can be scaled immediately when the revolution heats up.
  4. Revolutions need revolutionaries. No society is devoid of entrepreneurs, ubiquitous protests of “we have lost our entrepreneurial spirit” notwithstanding. They may be under the radar, languishing in non-entrepreneurial positions, or channeling their entrepreneurial spirit in non-productive ways, but they are present. Find and enlist them. Support and mentor them. Galvanize the entrepreneurship resources and stakeholders to support them as well. Use your positions of power to help them find new customers, investors, advisors, and business partners.
  5. Revolutions need a call to action. Use the conventional and social media to generate unprecedented legitimacy for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Ask people with the hunger to create to come forward with their ideas and then “flood the zone”: give interviews, have television programs, bring in high visibility experts, create billboards, etc.
  6. Revolutions need an inner council. Convene a small band of revolutionaries to advise you, many of them entrepreneurs. Listen to them. Share your concerns openly. Engage in frank, candid, open dialog. Avoid speeches, politics, and grandstanding. Reach out to the people who have left your community and who became successful outside, because there are almost always pools of entrepreneurial talent living overseas, and most of them would love to help back home.
  7. And last but not least, revolutions need leadership. Public leaders and their co-instigators have a key role to play in sparking the revolution and keeping the torch lit. If you are not at the top, go and enlist the most senior public officials around — mayors, senators, prime ministers or whomever. Get them to go out and visit new ventures, large and small. Give them awards; tell your public that entrepreneurship is key to your future. Repeat the message, and repeat it again, on television, online, in tweets, blogs, and Facebook posts. Make sure they inspire everyone to do his or her part.

So may you start a entrepreneurial and innovation revolution.  May you see problems as challenges to be solved instead of things to complain about, and may you play an active role in solving the problems that we face.

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Greetings LIS 7700

Greetings LIS 7700

You can find the syllabus through Kateway.

Please note that we will likely be meeting in CDC 20. You can expect an email from me closer to the start of class. I will provide coffee, juice and snacks for our first meeting, so don’t feel like you need to bring anything.

As I mentioned in the video, please read or listen to Getting Naked. Think about the importance of vulnerability in management and service. Also ponder other themes in the book and how they apply to LIS.

Please also read the Army Teams case study, chapters 1&2 in Bolman and Deal as well as the 3 articles mentioned in the syllabus.

Below you will find the list of context books. Remember that you don’t need to get started on this assignment before class starts. Should you decide to get a head start, please use the comments box below to make your book selection. Please only one person per title (first come, first serve).

LIS 7700 Context Books

Business Profile
Lashinsky, Adam. Inside Apple
Levy, Steven. In the Plex
Schultz, Howard. Onward

Change Management
Heath, Chip. Switch
Johnson, Spencer. Who Moved My Cheese
Kawasaki, Guy. Enchantment
Kotter, John. Leading Change

Emotional Intelligence
Goleman, Daniel.  Emotional Intelligence.
Tan, Chade-Meng.  Search Inside Yourself

Entrepreneurial
Kawasaki, Guy. Reality Check
Ries, Eric. The Lean Startup
Fried, Jason.  Rework

Human Resources & Motivation
Clifton, Donald, Now, Discover Your Strengths
Patterson, Kerry, Crucial Conversations
Pink, Daniel.  Drive

Innovation & Design Thinking
Anderson, Chris. The Long Tail
Belsky, Scott. Making Ideas Happen
Brown, Tim. Change by Design
Christensen, Clayton. The Innovator’s Dilemma
Isaacson, Walter. Steve Jobs
Kelley, Tom with Jonathan Littman. The Ten Faces of Innovation
Kelley, Tom. The Art of Innovation
Linker, Josh. Disciplined Dreaming

Leadership
Bennis, Warren. On Becoming a Leader
Covey, Stephen. The Speed of Trust
Maxwell, John. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership
Sandberg, Sheryl. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

Management
Blanchard, Ken. Gung Ho
Buckingham, Marcus. First Break All the Rules
Collins, Jim. Good to Great
Collins, Jim. Built to Last
Lencioni, Patrick. The Advantage
Lencioni, Patrick. Death by Meeting

Marketing
Kotler, Philip. Kotler on Marketing
Levinson, Jay. Guerilla Marketing
Marek, Kate. Organizational Storytelling for Libraries
Ries, Al. Positioning
Ries, Al. 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
Blanchard, Ken. Raving Fans
Blanchard, Ken. Whale Done
Duhigg, Charles. The Power of Habit

Negotiation
Fisher, Roger, Ury, William & Patton, Bruce.  Getting to Yes

Teams
Godin, Seth. Tribes
Lencioni, Patrick. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Lencioni, Patrick. Silos, Politics and Turf Wars

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My #ALA13 Schedule

I am so excited for ALA this year.  Here is my schedule, but its not nearly as fun as some other great librarians.  Administration has its drawbacks:(

Friday, June 28

9:00am – 12:00pm Annual Unconference

12:00pm – 3:00pm Library Journal Mover & Shaker Luncheon (Chicago Firehouse, 1401 S Michigan Ave.)

4:00pm – 5:15pm Opening Session

Saturday, June 29

8:30am – 9:30am Auditorium Speaker Series: Jaron Lanier

10:30am – 12:00pm Presidents’ Program: Standing on Marbles

11:30am – 12:00pm Ignite Session: Mismanaging Future Managers: Are Library Schools Failing to Adequately Prepare Administrators? 

1:00pm – 2:30pm Developing Next Generation Leaders in Your Library and the Profession: Grow Your Own

4:30pm – 5:30pm [Proud Mentor & Boss] Do What You Love: Make Your Talents and Passions Work for You & Project Sheldon

6:30pm – 8:00pm Private Dinner

9:00pm – 12:00am ALA Afterhours EveryLibrary & Librarian Wardrobe Party (Blue Frog’s Local 22; 22 E. Hubbard)

Sunday, June 30

8:30am – 10:00am Friction: Teaching slow thinking and intentionality in online research

10:30am – 11:30am Mergers & acquisitions: A roadmap for effective organizational change

2:30 – 3:00pm Poster Sessions

3:00pm – 4:00pm Cory Doctorow: More than a Book-lined Internet Cafe

Then who knows

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Management of Library & Information Centers Syllabus

Greetings All,

I just wanted to get St. Kate’s MLIS students a draft of my syllabus as soon as possible, so I thought I would just post it here. Here is a draft of my Fall 2013 LIS 7700 Management of Library & Information Centers syllabus.  I am also attaching the context books list.

LIS 7700 Context Books

7700 Syllabus Fall 2013-14

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