Saturday, January 27, 2007

Gaming and more @ your library

Hey I just wanted to post a brief report on the NJLA Information Technology meeting that was held on Thursday at the East Brunswick Public Library. LG's Tyler Rousseau gave a great presentation on Gaming in Libraries! The full presentation and handouts will be available very soon on the "Links of Interest" section on the NJLA IT page.

After Ty's presentation everyone got a chance to do some hands-on gaming! We provided Play Stations with Dance Dance Revolution and Guitar Hero (one of my personal faves); some online gaming and the new Nintendo Wii. The only downside to this event was that NOW I MUST HAVE A Wii!!! ;-)

I don't consider myself to be much of a "gamer," but once I tried this I found out what all the fuss is about! It comes with the sports game that includes bowling, tennis and a few other things. I played the bowling game (against a very formidable opponent, Mary Martin, who kicked my butt!) and I am really hooked! The "real action" play of using the wireless hand-held controller while performing actions very similar to "real" bowling was just so much fun! I am officially saving up my money as of yesterday!

Funny aside: The other night a newscaster was reading from the teleprompter and read "Wii" as "World War II"!

Also, if anyone is interested, our next meeting will be held March 8, location TBA, and will focus on Vodcasting! Check our page on the NJLA website for more information!

And, I wanted to point people to a great tool shared by Jessica Adler at the meeting (one of the regular features of our meetings is sharing information and sites or tools of interest)! The tool is Snipshot and it allows you to edit photos online before you share them. There is nothing to install - it is 100% web-based, with a one-click important from any site, and you can save to a free, permanent URL. I haven't tried it yet but it looks great! Thanks, Jess!!!

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

ALA Midwinter in Seattle

At some point I'll post some thoughts about ALA Midwinter, but at least I've gotten my pix uploaded to Flickr.
For a variety of reasons, this midwinter meeting was one of the most useful, practical and fun conferences I've been to. There were a few people that I had hoped to see and didn't (my fault for not reaching out--I always think "Oh, I'll run into them at..."), but generally speaking the social networking was superb, the meetings were highly informative, the food was yummy, as were the local spirits--what few sips I had here and there -- and the rain pretty much held off.
More when I get a chance.


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Get your head out of your OPAC

So stipulated: Library OPACS, uh, lack the functionality we desire. We're all agreed. OPACS should be much, much better.

Here's my question: How does the quality of the OPAC ultimately affect the total quality of customer experience and customer satisfaction? I think the answer to that question may be quite different from library to library, depending on the needs of our different user populations. Public library users may be more inclined to be browsers, and may not really care that much about how good the OPAC is. Academic, school and special library users may be more inclined to search for specific titles, or titles within specified subject areas, and may therefore care more about the quality of the OPAC.

But even in libraries where customers rely heavily on the OPAC, I'm not sure that the quality of the OPAC figures that greatly into the customers' overall satisfaction. (I suspect it often doesn't…) I worked in a small special library that had a truly awful, terrible OPAC. It was one of them home-grown government agency deals--ugh! But our small, dedicated staff gave great customer service, did a lot of outreach, offered a good deal of training, and our user satisfaction was quite high. While I'm sure our users really would have valued a better OPAC, their overall library experience was not greatly affected. If we instead had offered a really super-great OPAC, but lousy customer service, I don't think our users would have been quite so satisfied…

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey suggests that we are most effective when we focus our energy at those points where our concerns intersect with our ability to influence. Clearly the OPAC falls into our collective sphere of concern. But I'm not sure how much influence we have over the quality of the OPAC. I'm not suggesting that we don't try to influence the quality of the OPAC -- by working with vendors, creating our own systems, or a combination of both. I'm truly thankful that John Blyberg and Casey Bisson are out there. But I do think that for many libraries, or more perhaps I should say for many librarians, we may be able to get more bang for our limited buck, more return on the investment of our time and resources, by focusing our energies elsewhere.

I'd like to see libraries looking at their own spheres of concern and influence and making critical choices about where their time, energy, and resources can best be used to improve the quality of customer experience. In many cases, I suspect that we can have a much greater impact on customer experience by focusing on (in no particular order) the quality of the library's environment ("library-as-place"), the library's customer service, the library's webpage, the library's collection, the library's programs, the library's outreach, and the library's marketing (they can't experience us if they don't know about us.)

I'm particularly interested in how libraries can create better customer experiences and be more relevant to their user populations by improving their physical environments. How do our customers experience the actual library space including, the visual (displays, colors, lighting, layout), the tactile (comfy furniture) the olfactory (yum… coffee…), and the aural (zones of quiet, zones of noise, background music)? How does the library staff improve the quality of the environment? Are they warm, friendly, and hospitable? Are they visible? Are they proactive and helpful?

As Joshua Neff recently pointed out, I'm not the only one thinking about these things. Meredith Farkas, (in a must-read, smart, sensitive, insightful, and mostly-polite post) says that she doesn't use her library because she, "found the whole atmosphere really unwelcoming." Nicole Engard found that her local librarians "were not very approachable, knowledgeable, or friendly." Jennifer Macaulay , "admits" that she's not a library user either (and how many of us would "admit" the same?)

Now how many of you don't use your library because the OPAC sucks? Just wondering.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, January 04, 2007

From today's New YorkTimes...
Town Considers Guards for Library Disrupted by Students
By TINA KELLEY, Published: January 4, 2007


The Maplewood Township Committee is asking the public library’s board of trustees not to follow through with a plan to close its two buildings during after-school hours and is considering providing security guards to help quell disruptive behavior, Mayor Fred R. Profeta Jr. said Wednesday.

The committee discussed a plan late Tuesday night to provide the library with security guards. "The township will pay for that, because it’s a public safety issue, though it may go through the library budget," Mr. Profeta said in an interview.

The mayor said he would petition the library board to rescind its initial decision before the planned closing on Jan. 16. “I think the closure’s a very bad idea,” the mayor said. “I think that it was not warranted, because a lot of the programs we have in the works are designed — and well designed — to alleviate the situation. We just have to put those in place.”

But David Huemer, who represents the Maplewood Township Committee on the library board, said the library had already indicated that a plan for guards was not enough to rescind its vote on the closing.
More at:

Labels: ,

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

...And I tag

Oops... Forgot the most important part of the Five Things meme. (my fiveish things are here.)

I tag: Nancy Dowd, Steve Backs, Darlene Fichter, George Needham, and Stephen Abram.

Five things about Pete

Thanks to Amy for tagging me in the "Five Things" meme. I'm going to do the Creating Passionate Users twist and answer Kathy Sierra's fivish questions. Here goes...

1. What's the most fun work you've ever done, and why?
The most fun work I've ever done has always been the work I'm doing at the time, so my current job is the most fun work I've done. Why? I get to work in a supportive environment on diverse projects (QandANJ, wireless projects, audiobooks, etc.), have a lot of freedom and can exercise my creativity in many ways, and I get to interact with lots of people (f2f and virtually).
2a. Name one thing you did in the past that you no longer do but wish you did?
I wish I did a better job staying in touch with family and friends. I used to write a lot of letters. Now I barely pick up a phone or email. :-(
2b.Name one thing you've always wanted to do but keep putting it off?
I'd like to take formal guitar lessons. I walk around with the phone number of a guitar teacher in my wallet. I've been meaning to call him for a couple of years now, but then I started watching Buffy on DVD and, uh, other priorities asserted themselves. (How lame is that? But to be fair, Buffy was quite a show!)
3a. What two things would you most like to learn or be better at, and why?
As I mentioned, I'd like to achieve some measure of competence on the guitar. Why? Because I love music, and I would especially like to be good enough to create music with other people. I just finished reading This is Your Brain on Music and I'm feeling so jazzed (heehee) that I just might pick up the phone and call Mr. Guitar Teacher (that is, as soon as I finish watching Angel on DVD. Curse you Joss Whedon!)
3b. If you could take a class/workshop/apprentice from anyone in the world living or dead, who would it be and what would you hope to learn? (two more sentences, max)
I'd want to do an apprenticeship with Marshall Rosenberg. I would hope to learn how to use the principles of Non-violent communication to better connect with other people.
4a. What three words might your best friends or family use to describe you?
Kind, funny, non-judgmental. At least, that's how they better describe me if they know what's good for 'em. You listening family and friends??
4b. Now list two more words you wish described you...
Organized, effective
5. What are your top three passions? (can be current or past, work, hobbies, or causes-- three sentences max)
Love to play the tennis, spend time with my wife, and listen to live music (which I do now, once every two years or so. Hmm... Self-care much?)
6 Write--and answer--one more question that YOU would ask someone (with answer in three sentences max)
If you take cranberries and stew them like applesauce, do they taste much more like prunes than rhubarb does? Let me rephrase: What's funny? Answer: Groucho Marx, Coen Brothers, Woody Allen, Jon Stewart, Adam Sandler singing about his red-hooded sweatshirt, Seinfeld, Joss Whedon, Scrubs, and a lot of other stuff.
[Bonus: What is one question you wish people would ask themselves?]

Is this worth paying attention to... and...If it bothers me, is there another way of looking at this?
Bonus Fact about me me me!
I've lived most of my life with in New Jersey but have almost no identifiable accent (so I've been told.) I think that's because most people in NJ talk good.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Northeast

Judging by how you talk you are probably from north Jersey, New York City, Connecticut or Rhode Island. Chances are, if you are from New York City (and not those other places) people would probably be able to tell if they actually heard you speak.

What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Labels: ,