Professional Development

Susan’s Final Morning at ALA Midwinter 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 8:31 am

I had two sessions on my itinerary this morning, both at the Convention Center. So my roommates and I checked out bright and early and hopped the shuttle down to the BCEC one last time. It was a snowy ride, as the wet weather W-S experienced yesterday made its way to New England and turned wintry.

I attended the LITA Town Hall Meeting for the first time. It is a discussion gathering where members get to provide input on what they would like to see from their organization in the next year. What I didn’t realize is that it is a breakfast meeting (with real,hot good food) so I wasted $11 buying a fast food meal from the convention hall vendor. Oh well, it wasn’t too hard managing two breakfasts :-)

It turns out that LITA is in a strategic planning process and used this meeting to ask the members to look at what has been created so far and provide input. Each table was assigned a “theme” area (ours was “innovation”) and we reviewed the goals and suggested others. It was an interesting process as most of us were coming in fairly uninformed as to the history of the planning process and how it is anticipated this will fit in with the larger ALA organization. Still, it was a lively discussion and I believe several good ideas were generated by the various groups.

My final session was one that Lynn recommended. It was titled “From Ideas to Reality: Trends to Embrace in 2010″ and was led by Arnold Hirshon, LYRASIS’s Chief Strategist & Executive Consultant. He cautioned that every topic discussed in the session would not necessarily become a trend but all bear watching.

Three broad areas that drive library trends were discussed: technology, content and people. The presentation was engaging but the content didn’t surprise me as many of these ideas are ones that we have have under discussion or for which we actually have existing projects.

The summary of the technology trends he discussed were:
*computing is migrating to the cloud
*Open source software market is moving to maturity
*devices portability is diversifying
*social networking is experiencing growing pains
*bandwidth demand is insatiable

In the area of content, the economics of information is shifting. There will be a shift from free web content as ad revenue models are failing. Providers will be looking to augment ad revenue with other approaches, for instance, raising the cost of mobile applications. Currently free content may not continue to be free. Another content-related trend concerns the devolution of crowdsourcing. The decrease in Wikipedia content authors may be a bellwether of things to come. It might be that many topics are already covered, the rules discouraging participation have turned people away, or boredom has set in as the newness of participatory authorship fades. The biggest content trend concerns e-books. Roz has discussed this issue at length, but I’ll just add that Hirshon believes that e-books are at the tipping point and predicts they will continue to see rapid deployment, innovation and adoption.

People are numbered among library directors’ biggest problems (along with the economy and speed of change). However, some assumptions about staff are not borne out.

Studies on age-related traits find that when comparing under-30 and over-50 year old staff:
*over 50’s are more cooperative, contributing, and risk-taking.
*Under 30’s are slightly more more competitive.
*both groups are looking for flexible work arrangements and opportunities to give back to society.
*the best teams are ones that include both age groups.

Another staff trait that is important to understand is that achieving results and receiving support in that endeavor is the top motivator for most staff (over recognition or incentives).

Hirshon concluded by cautioning that it is hard to innovate and transform by embedding change within your existing operation. It is best to create a separate group to get an initiative started and then move it into normal operations after it is established. Finally, he encouraged us to stop believing that everything must be perfectly prepared and analyzed before you take action.The final advice he had for the room filled with library directors was: Act!

One Response to “Susan’s Final Morning at ALA Midwinter 2010”

  1. Thanks for covering Arnold’s session. Sounds like we’re on the right track!


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