January 28, 2013, 3:34 pm
This is an actual note that I sent:
Dear Mr. Cuban,
I’m a fan of Shark Tank. I’ve learned a lot from watching the panel evaluate business prospects. Thanks for making the show exciting and educational.
I wanted to share a note regarding your recent post Will Your College Go Out Of Business Before Your Graduate? There are a lot of conversations right now about where higher education is heading. I appreciate your focus on the business model aspect. As a father myself, the affordability of education is definitely on my mind too.
I’m writing because of a comment you made questioning why anyone would construct new libraries. Today, libraries are some of the busiest buildings on campuses across the country. As more and more information migrates to online platforms, library spaces are transforming into knowledge or content creation centers. They are hubs for…
January 23, 2013, 2:50 pm
I’ve been thinking a lot about the downfall of Blockbuster and Atari. Both companies are in the news because of financial collapse. Can you believe that Blockbuster was once a $6 billion company? And Atari had the jump on everyone with regards to consoles and games. I spent countless hours playing Pitfall! and never beat it. Today I don’t even own a game console– everything I play is on my phone or iPad.
Articles about why they fell apart all point to failure to innovate despite knowing that change was necessary. This quote sums it up:
“Blockbuster continued to see itself as a provider of movie and game rentals rather than a distributor of entertainment. By locking itself into this narrow view, they ignored the innovations happening around them and believed that people wanted to come into the store and talk to their staff, get recommendations, and make their…
December 18, 2012, 6:28 pm
I wanted to share a quick post before we jump into the holidays.
Our leadership group has been talking a lot about change—particularly managing change or guiding change. Like most libraries we have a lot of things in motion; change is constant, not just a transition and then it’s done.
I’ve worked at a number of different libraries and it has been interesting to see how individuals react to change. Take for example demand-driven acquisition. Some people are very opposed to this model while others welcome it. This is a polarizing issue because it shifts control of collection development and actually starts to redefine what a library collection is and why it exists. But I’m getting off topic.
Two familiar models came up in our discussions this week:
I’m not going to of…
October 30, 2012, 9:39 pm
Yesterday at the Library Assessment Conference I presented my paper about R&D. I wanted to share a bit on how we’re actualizing this philosophy and combining it with startup thinking at Virginia Tech.
We’re working on outlining a CORE & HUB model:
CORE functions and services are foundational programs, processes, and services that are executed by library faculty and staff. They currently exist as mature program offerings. Examples are: reference, circulation, instruction, cataloging, etc. Core functions and services are managed and carried out by existing library departments.
HUBS are organizational units consisting of library faculty and staff working together on emerging themes of strategic importance.
Hubs work in a number of ways:
1) as an ‘R&D lab’ to explore, imagine, and brainstorm new roles and activities for the Libraries and deeper…
October 22, 2012, 1:08 pm
In seven days I’ll be giving a talk on R&D for academic libraries but here is the enhanced version of the conference paper. This is a follow-up (actually a sequel) to Think Like A Startup. I described the intentions of this paper last month so I’ll save us all from repetition. The key point is that assessment programs should be engines for change seeking progress not sustainment.
I reread the paper on Saturday and the thing that stood out was how much content I had to cut in order to get it into the ballpark of the conference’s word limitations.
If this paper is too long for you (or if you think assessment is boring) then at least go watch Dan Pink’s Ted Talk. The part about “functional fixedness” is critical and it highlights the potential tunnel vision we can develop preventing us from empowering the evolution of libraries.
Another key point is the need to…
April 4, 2012, 1:19 pm
This project has been in the works for a long time. I think that the initial seed was planted during my time at Georgia Tech. It simmered while I was out in California. And it crystalized as soon as I arrived in Blacksburg. I thought this document would be a one-pager that I could finish over a weekend, but it grew into something much more involved.
I’ve been fascinated with startup culture for a long time and as I considered all the changes happening in academic libraries (and higher ed) the parallels were quite stunning. No, we’re not developing new products to bring to market, and no, we’re not striving for an IPO payday, but we are being required to rethink/rebuild/repurpose what a library is and what it does. The next twenty years are going to be an interestingly chaotic time for the history of our institutions.
Here’s a snippet that frames the paper:
November 29, 2011, 8:36 pm
Stewardship. This is a word that gets thrown around all the time. The concept being—we (library employees) don’t own the spaces, collections, processes, or technologies—we’re just stewards of the institution’s investment.
It wasn’t until this year that I started to get that. (more on that later) Previously I viewed things very personally: my reference desk, my online chat service, my collection, my learning commons, my website, etc. Well, maybe not mine, but ours, as in those of us who worked in the library owned these assets.
And sure there is a user-centered movement—we want to strive to involve users in design or design with users in mind—but ultimately it is library employees who make decisions and who make changes happen. This is our thing.
Along these lines I was struck by a passage in Nickel & Dimed where the author reflects on her…
April 8, 2010, 12:02 pm
One of the projects I’m working on right now is a web redesign. Actually I’m calling it a renovation because we’ve pretty much demolished everything and are rebuilding from scratch. This has been a very long process but I think I can see some light around the bend. Pushing for an August launch.
We’re moving into Drupal. This will give us a new look—a more modular flavor. It will change the workflow of managing our site and content, hopefully for the better. But regardless of the site’s architecture we’ve had some good conversations about what a library website should be. The trend (which I’m guilty of myself) has been to talk about features, rather than functions. We’re trying to make our site extremely useable, not in the sense of ease-of-use (although I hope for that too!) but rather as a core utility in the learning experience. There are some 2.0 elements, but…