Category Archives: Leadership

April 23, 2013, 3:37 pm

Hubs and Centers as a Transitional Strategy

We’re still in the early stages of reshaping the role of our library but I wanted to share a document that outlines some of our thinking. Julie Speer, Tyler Walters, and I co-wrote a paper for the International Association of Technological University Libraries (IATUL) Conference.

 

Here is a piece from the intro:

Libraries of science and technology universities worldwide are adapting to a changing environment where cyberinfrastructure, eResearch, and new technology-intensive approaches to teaching and learning are transforming the very nature of universities. While many have adopted new technologies and the resources and expertise to manage them, this is only an initial step. Libraries are experimenting with organizational models that will transform their work capacity and expertise. The goal of these libraries is being an entity that feeds and produces collaborative synergies…

Read More

April 14, 2013, 8:57 pm

DIY vs. STARTUP: choose your flavor of change

I attended an ACRL session titled “From the Periphery into the Mainstream: Library DIY culture(s) and the academy” and I was expecting something about makerspaces and related DIY-eque topics, but that wasn’t the case. Instead the panel asked the attendees questions about org culture.

I was surprised by the attitude that the session generated. There was a lot of “damn the man” talk and being a library administrator I guess I’m part of the problem now. As I listened I kept contrasting their attitude with startup thinking. While both DIY and startup argue for change, they differ quite a bit. Here are a few quick notes:

 

Destruction vs. Disruption
Many of the DIYers mentioned the need for creative destruction. In startup the aim is for innovative disruption. DIY wants to rebuild from scratch whereas startup wants hack the code—redefine what something can do.

 

Read More

April 2, 2013, 2:56 pm

The Art of Problem Discovery (Invited Paper, ACRL 2013)

banner_problem_discovery

I was invited to present a paper at ACRL based upon my entrepreneurial writings. I decided to write about the pursuit of good problems, which has become a guiding philosophy in my work. I think it’s going to be a good talk. I’m having fun putting the content together and it addresses a different piece of the innovation discussion.

 

Friday, April 12, 1:30PM, Wabash 2-3, Indianapolis Convention Center

 

Here is the closing thought that sums it all up:

Our intention should never be to give people what they want. Rather, through the art of problem discovery, we can design and develop the capacities, service models, and solutions necessary to deliver what people need in order to accomplish the outcomes they desire.  (more)

 

 

January 28, 2013, 3:34 pm

Dear Mark Cuban… some thoughts I’d like to share about libraries

 

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…

Read More

January 23, 2013, 2:50 pm

ITERATE OR DIE: Reflecting on Blockbuster & Atari

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…

Read More

December 18, 2012, 6:28 pm

Cycles of Change & Innovation (two models together)

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More