Friday, May 12, 2006

WAPL 2006 wrap-up & presenter materials

As a follow-up to MATS' blog coverage of the 2006 WAPL Conference, here are links to presenters' materials we've located so far:

As more PowerPoint presentations and handouts are found, we'll link to them here - and please feel free to add more in the comments on this post.

We had a blast "blogging the con", and hope to round up more MATSians to blog the WLA Conference this fall!

- Joy and Nichole

Update 5/17: Some post-WAPL conference info is now up on the WLA site.

Friday, May 05, 2006

WAPL 2006: Performance Appraisal: Why? What If? What Else?

Patty Dwyer's presentation provided an overview of the pros and cons of traditional performance appraisal methods, and offered alternative methods to provide your employees with valuable feedback.

A really good job description is necessary before a performance appraisal; update job descriptions if necessary.

Performance evaluation is defined as the process of evaluating how someone is functioning.
  • an employee's performance is rated
  • ratings are for a specified time period
  • one system is applied to all employees
  • mandatory
  • ratings are preserved by the employer, i.e. kept on file
Ratings in themselves are not motivational, and can instead be de-motivational.

Why do we do performance appraisals?
  • to assess how well the individual is doing their job
  • we want to them to have a motiovational impact for the employee
  • to award a pay increase
  • to justify a layoff
  • to develop coaching
  • as a basis for discipline
  • the board requires it
Traditional performance appraisal weaknesses:
  • they're time-consuming
  • personnel are not trained to provide feedback
  • the performance appraisal system isn't integrated well with other company systems
  • goals for the performance appraisal system are incompatible
Common rater biases & errors:
  • categorization and stereotyping
  • favoritism
  • gender, age and race biases
  • leniency
  • severity
  • halo and horn
  • recency (i.e., who can remember what happened 6 months ago)
Peer appraisal:
  • changes the psychological context
  • peers can provide relevant information
  • potentially more accurate than traditional performance appraisal
  • requires acceptance by all on the team
  • better for development than traditional performance appraisal systems
  • gives employees a voice when being appraised
  • raters need to see the value of their efforts
  • feedback seen as a valuable tool
  • still need to agree upon standards
Why do we keep performance appraisals if they don't work?
  • they're legally required
  • because we want the results
  • we think people need feedback
  • we need to determine merit raises
Reasons why you might want to abolish performance appraisal:
  • it erodes performance
  • it's damaging to morale and motivation
  • it fosters a short-term view
  • it fosters fear and lack of trust
  • the prcess is expensive and time-consuming
What do people value?
  • feedback & recognition
  • involvement in job design
Coaching the poor performer:
  • annual performance appraisal isn't the right place to coach the poor performer
  • instead use a separate evaluative process with goals and
Ways in which you can recognize employees that aren't monetrary or pay-based:
  • letter of commendation
  • announcement in newsletter
  • peer-nominated awards
  • passes to local businesses
  • best parking spot for a week
  • offer creative benefits like "bring your pet to work day"
  • consider sabbatical leaves
  • pizza party
Can give up performance appraisals?
  • eliminate ratings if you can; if not use pass/fail if you must; try a 1-5 rating system
  • make the process collaborative, giving the employee as much of the responsibility as possible; give employees a feedback source
  • provide an alternative annual feedback session
Tips for the recovering appraiser:
  • don't require appraisals to be placed in the personnel file; perhaps the supervisor and employee could keep it themselves
  • instead of performance appraisals, use a written feedback system with no reference to pay
  • require performance appraisals only for those who need improvement

WAPL 2006: Baby Sign Language

From "more," "milk" and "eat," to "The Itsy Bitsy Spider," presenter Vicki Patterson gave youth services librarians a head start on using ASL (the 3rd most used language in the US) to communicate with toddlers and babies. She recommended ASL instead of Baby Sign because more schools use ASL, and children raised on Baby Sign have the disadvantage of having to re-learn their signs. Here are some tips she shared:

  • The easier the book, the better - a picture dictionary is too much info.
  • Try flannel boards to make signing at storytime easier.
  • Touchy-feely flash cards with pictures of real things are better than flash cards with pictures of toys. B&N and Target have good ones.
  • For older kids, the Caterpillar Spring, Butterfly Summer pop-up book is a cute one.
  • Signs for Me by Ben Bahan and Joe Dannis
  • It's OK to use your dominant hand to sign
  • Signing Time videos are even better than Baby Einstein. Greg & Steve are also good.
  • Some signs can bite you in the butt :) - especially "share" and "more"
  • Toddler Favorites is a good CD.
Vicki led the audience in several sign-alongs, including "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," and more. A good time was had by all.

WAPL 2006: Have you Heard About...

Presenter Stef Morrill gave an animated show-and-tell of dozens of great ideas - books, web sites, services - that we can use in our libraries (and just for ourselves!). Without further ado:

Pandora - it's like reader's advisory for music; enter the title of a song you like and Pandora will find other music you might like

"squeezebox": a brand name for a small device you plug into your stereo that will stream music from your computer to your stereo if you have a wireless network "computers make us more productive...yeah, right!" - all about neat things and ways to work faster and better, with more fun - great sites, great tips, really cool stuff; it's a blog so you can subscribe to its RSS feeds - web-based word processor, you can have templates, share documents with other people

Open WorldCat - the OCLC database searchable through Google; enter your zip code to find a nearby library that owns the items you want; at Santa Monica PL, if you search the catalog, it will use Open WorldCat to tell you what libraries nearby also own the item

PEZ mp3 player - w00t

Web 2.0: a buzzy word for social-type applications on the web

Furl - a social bookmarking tool; see who else has Furled stuff you've Furled, and find other cool apps they've Furled; RSS feeds are generated; is similar

OPAL: Online programming for all libraries - great free CE content, programs about really interesting stuff (intro to eBay, etc.); past presentations are available as Podcasts - free PDF converter online, convert a file of up to 2MB; this one does MS Publisher format (as opposed to other PDF converter services)

EngagedPatrons.Org - small libraries <$1 million budget can get; they'll do free calendars, blogs, create RSS feeds, they'll host it for your library, custom web-enabled databases

Google librarian center - a monthly newsletter to inform librarians about what Google is doing

Beyond Bullet Points - a book that teaches you how to not make those bulleted-lists presentations

in2tv - from AOL, full episodes of old TV shows (F Troop, Growing Pains, Alice, Head of the Class, Perfect Strangers, The Fugitive, Welcome Back Kotter); you need Windows Media Player

Google Video: downloadable onlne video; how would libraries collect/catalog digital media like this? How do libraries help patrons who don't have fast internet access, use this stuff? mapping tools - Coolest. Mapping tool. Ever. Change from driving directions to walking directions. Drag places around, and it will re-adjust your route. You can map more than 2 locations. Provides geographical-types of maps.

Google Calendar - create calendars and share them with other people (refrigerator calendars for family members); cool Firefox extension makes it easy to add items; event reminders; connects with Gmail

Scrapbook - a Firefox browser plug-in; in seconds capture a web page on your PC's hard drive; great for making "canned" presentations where you might not have internet access

HD-DVD - it's coming now; another DVD format; Blu-Ray is a competing format (that'll be a cataloging nightmare, sigh) - every photo has a Creative Commons license instead of a copyright - image search area with thumbnails of images; hover over an image to see the larger version of it - image searching based on color or texture or theme or subject catalog your own books online - up to 200 free, a charge for more. It keeps track of your personal library; it's a social reader's advisory tool; see what other people who own a book are reading & get book recommendations; pulls in a book's cover art from Amazon, and catalog info from LC; instead of assigning subject headings to books "mundanes" tag books with keywords - Jess Bruckner's project, lists job openings in the state, if you're looking for a job subscribe to the RSS feed

Google SMS - text-messaging on a cellphone; use Google from your cellphone; put in your zip code and the movie you're looking for and you'll receive a quick answer via text message. Sports, translations, driving directions, etc.

My - a search engine web directory in multiple languages; Internet Basics handouts in multiple languages that you can link to from your library's web site; selected by librarians in Australia - create a map & link it to content you already have, add pictures and link it to your web site. Use it for local history, Wisconsin authors, historical markers, etc. - info on technology planning, fundraising tips, CE courses. An audience member recommends their tech atlas feature for keeping track of your tech inventory - roll your own search engine; define which web sites you want it to search. Maybe a library could roll their "internet search by subject" pages into a specialized search engine.

Playaway - self-playing digital audiobook; the book is pre-loaded on the device; libraries can circulate them like books (they're pretty durable); they're coming out with a library discount program this summer

Libraries411 - based on your zip code it pulls up a map of all the libraries in your area; you can edit the information about your library; you can use this map on your library's web site

Mashup (v): to take data from 2 or more sources and shove them on top of each other

Weatherbonk - mashup of Google/Yahoo maps and weather info

Sounddogs - sound effects galore; you can preview them for free and download them for cheap

Wink - a social tool search engine that searches other social tools; you can rank search engine results

U3 - operating system to load apps on a portable flash/thumb drive; load your browser & bookmarks

Wikipedia - great for definitions for technical terms

Clusty - search results grouped by type

Firefox browser: an amazing, free web browser


Thursday, May 04, 2006

WAPL 2006: What Are They Doing at the Capitol?

This session was presented by Michael J. Keane, Senior Legislative Analyst, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. He gave an informative program about the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, which is a service agency that is the main source of information for legislative business. The LRB has a statutory obligation to serve the public.

For answers to your questions you can call them at 608-266-0341 or find what you need at the LRB web site

On the LRB web site you can find answers to:
  • What committee hearings are going on?
  • Can I listen to the legislature online? Yes, real-time audio of floor debates, etc. is available.
  • What's going on in the legislature right now?
  • How did my legislator vote on a bill?
  • Who represents me; who are my legislators? You can find his/her name, photo, email address and web site
  • What district do I live in? Legislative districts change based on population shifts.
  • How can I follow a piece of legislation?
Sign up for the Legislative Notification Service to receive an email message each time there's action on a bill. You can sign up to keep up on the status of a particular bill, the author of a bill, a committee or a topic.

The Wisconsin Legislative Spotlight is a summary of what has recently happened.

The Wisconsin Legislature Infobase is a keyword-searchable database of bills and proposals, from 1995 to today. Prior to 1995 the information is available in hardcopy only; the LRB will make photocopies for just about anyone.

Wisconsin State Statutes are searchable online by keyword; if you're looking for the "lemon law" or "minimum markup law" they're searchable by their popular names.

The Wisconsin Law Archive has scanned copies of acts and statutes back to 1969, and they're continuing to add more.

Every State of Wisconsin Blue Book is available online, back to 1997.

Also available is a glossary of legislative terms.

The Eye on Lobbying shows you who's lobbying, what they're lobbying about and what organizations with which they're associated. Find which bills had the most lobbying effort.

WAPL 2006: Communication... That's the Key! Blogs, Wikis, Email... When to Use What!?

Stef Morrill and Nichole Fromm's enthusiastically-delivered session was all about technologies that can help you communicate with your patrons and with each other.

They said the most important thing to take away from this session is it's really easy to play with all these technologies.

Think about using some of these new technologies and environments to replace methods and techniques to do what you're already doing, but in a more efficient manner.

They talked about...
  • email lists
  • weblogs or blogs
  • wikis
  • RSS aggregators
  • instant messaging
  • web conferencing
Library newsletter format options:
  • paper
  • email
  • pdf - not a webfriendly format
  • blog - about as easy as a word processor to use, patrons can leave comments, automatic archiving
  • the verdict: if you're already doing a newsletter in paper format, keep that plus think of a doing a blog too (rather than email or pdf versions)
Publicizing library events:
  • fliers in the library - cheap & colorful, but people go poster-blind quickly
  • calendar on the libary web site
  • email
Keeping up professionally:
  • conferencespaper journals
  • email lists
  • RSS - it's like "putting your professional development on steroids"
Communicating with Co-Workers:
  • face-to-face
  • telephone
  • email
  • instant messaging
Holding a meeting:
  • face-to-face
  • telephone conference calls
  • videoconferencing
  • web conferencing
Collaborating on a project:
  • emailing documents
  • using wikis - one document with no confusion about which version is the most up-to-date; it's as easy as to edit as using a word processor
  • collaborative environments like Basecamp
How to get started with blogs and RSS:
  • Setting up a free blog in Blogger is an easy 3-step process; all you need is an email address to set up your free blog. You don't need to know any HTML to create your blog. Nichole set a new blog on the spot!
  • Setting up a free Bloglines account is even easier; all you need is an email address.
How to find blogs to add to your Bloglines account:
How to get started with wikis:
How to get started with with instant messaging:
How to get started with web conferencing:
Note: no gnomes were injured during this session.

WAPL 2006: Get in the Van: The State of the Wisconsin Libraries' Delivery Network

Library delivery service may not be a "sexy" topic (and I quote), but did you know delivery sorters are some of the best judges of the zeitgeist, just based on what flows through their networks every week? Bruce Smith, Tim Drexler, and Troy Baumann from SCLS Delivery made good mileage on the topic in this session.

Bruce thanked the tireless drivers and the early decisionmakers that contibuted to the current quality of the network. He cited the "Mendoza line" of any courier service to be the cost of postage, and any delivery that beats that price is a successful service.

He predicted that while demand for audio and video materials may eventually shift to digital versions, the demand for books was and is rising constantly. RFID is a technology to keep an eye on, but for now the complexity of a system that would get a good return on investment is still too high to be practical.

Tim covered special services, including the part SCLS Delivery is now playing moving a Very Special Arts show around the state. He also gave a tour of the Delivery web site and Joined at the Backbone blog for state delivery network news.

The Library Emporium garnered awe when Troy showed that proceeds to libraries have topped $30,000 and 3500 items, sold by 53 libraries to customers on almost every continent, through the Emporium's ebay store. People have told Troy he's "doing the Lord's work," but he himself says it's a reward to fill collections instead of landfills. He invited libraries to get in touch with him about participating in the Emporium.

Bruce mentioned the physical challenge that library delivery shares with the beverage industry, in that drivers lift 40-pound loads and cart them through tight, dockless spaces day in and day out. SCLS is piloting the use of hand carts to manage this challenge.

SCLS Delivery's new red hand truck at WAPL 2006

He wrapped up with some "badages" like, "We must sort to transport" and "The route must go out," with props to the late Johnnie Cochran.

WAPL 2006: Keynote: Avoiding Sandbars in the Seas of Uncertainty: Who is Charting the Course for Libraries in Times of Change?

J.D. Waggoner was an engaging speaker - when he's not too busy being the secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission, turns out he's also a volunteer firefighter and lead singer/rhythm guitarist in a band. His talk centered on perceptions of libraries (often mentioning the OCLC report) and librarians. He asserted that librarians are still the "gatekeepers of the world of information," but that we're also our own worst enemy in this time of identity crisis. He had some specific tips for success:

  1. Get out into the community.

  2. Make yourself indispensable (like a tugboat).

  3. Get political.

  4. Be *the* information source for the culture of your community.

  5. Explode the stereotype - don't be a LOLLy (with a word of praise for the Desperate Librarians of calendar fame.

He also challenged librarians not to give in to the doom and gloom surrounding rumors of libraries' demise, particularly because of the Internet. On a closely related note, he said he was thrilled the WAPL ("whopple") program was more than just technology, and that librarians need to see the "bigger picture." (editorial: Hm.)

Bonus! The crowd was interested in his book recommendations: Vince Flynn for suspense, Pearl Buck, Homer Hickam, and Cynthia Rylant, all from West Virginia.

WAPL 2006: Avoiding Sandbars in the Seas of Uncertainty: Who is Charting the Course for Libraries in Times of Change?

Keynote address by J.D. Waggoner, Secretary of the West Virginia Library Commission

If we were going to have the S.S. Librarian, what kind of librarian-ship would it be?
  • party barge? nah
  • Queen Elizabeth II? - probably not
  • a johnboat? - servicable, small, flat-bottomed, not good on the big water; gets you where you're going, gets it done -- this is the impression of librarians outside of the library community
  • why not a racing boat?
Part of the perception problem might be us. Quoting Pogo, "We has found the enemy, and they is us". The Librarian Action Figure -- is that right? Don't lets us advertise that's what we are -- it's great within our own community, we make fun of ourselves, but the "action shushing finger" is not the perception we want the public to see. G.I. Jane or G.I. Joe is the action figure we should have -- there's no bun, get rid of the comfortable shoes and put on the combat boots!

We are perhaps in the perfect storm.

We're very good at telling our story to each other, but not so good at communicating to others what it is librarians do.

Many people go into Google rudderless, and librarians are the best people to help navigate the the unfamiliar waters.

Technology won't diminish the importance of libraries. Libraries are not in trouble, perhaps only in our own heads are we in trouble. Studies say build your libraries larger than before; the community is depending on us more and more; the public needs librarians. We are a cruise ship; we need to build libraries bigger, to provide the public with services we need.

Stop looking at the dock.

The world of technology is just another piece of the puzzle that is the library.
The internet is not the problem; "we has found the enemy, and they is us".

Solutions that will help us:

1. Untie the good ship librarian from the dock; get away from the library, get out into the community. Talk to people in your community who don't use the library; find out why they don't use the library. Get out among them, do surveys of non-users.

2. Make the library indispensible in your community. Become the tugboat. The library's role is to educate the public.

3. Get political. If you are not, become so. You can't be apolitical. Your budget money comes from your town, county, state; those budgetmakers make decisions that affect your library. Be the information source for the cultural life of your community; open your library up to the community; have local concerts in the library. during hunting season, put "getting the trophy buck" videos in the front window to pull in non-readers and people who wouldn't think of using the library.

4. Explode the stereotype. Destroy the lollies (Little Old Lady Librarians). Let the public see that the johnboat is not what we are, we are the speedboat. Be a battleship not a dinghie.

In summary: if you give up the helm someone else will chart the course. But if you take the helm and make the decisions, you'll chart the course for change in your library.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A good sign

Free high speed internet banner at conference hotelFree internet access at the Hotel Mead bodes well for WAPL '06.

Monday, May 01, 2006

MATS Blogging the 2006 WAPL Conference

The 2006 WAPL Conference will be a happenin' place, but we know not everyone can get away to Wisconsin Rapids on May 3rd-5th. Good news -- two WLA Media and Technology Section (MATS) officers (Joy Schwarz and Nichole Fromm) will soon be posting their notes about conference programs & sessions, here on the WLA blog.