Category Archives: Leadership

October 30, 2012, 9:39 pm

R&D @ VT — a quick glance @ LearnHUB

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…

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October 22, 2012, 1:08 pm

Containers for Information or Platforms for Scholarship? R&D and the Networked Perspective

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…

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April 4, 2012, 1:19 pm

Think Like a Start-Up: a White Paper

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:

The me…

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November 29, 2011, 8:36 pm

Do you own your library?

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…

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April 8, 2010, 12:02 pm

Think Like The Beatles: tapping into the expressive nature of web redesigns

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…

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