It's summer so time to hit the road! There are many new directors ready for orientation visits and libraries I haven't been to yet. We've readjusted consulting assignments (now there are actually territories we are responsible for) so I plan to get out and visit all the libraries in my 2 federations.
I'd planned a trip to Lewistown and area libraries earlier this month but returned from vacation with a nasty cold, so that's been put off for a while. But I was able to get to 9 libraries in the southeast and eastern areas, with plans to head back that way next month for 2 new directors. Lots of miles on the car!
Next week is the Summer Leadership Institute - I've never been to one and am really looking forward to it. We had some "homework" ahead of time, and it sounds like we'll be kept pretty busy for the entire time. I think it will be a great experience.
The GoToMeeting pilot project has ended, which caught some libraries by surprise and disappointed others who hadn't had a chance to take advantage of their accounts. Several plan to get their own accounts now that they've seen the possibilities.
No ALA conference for me this year, but I will be heading to Little Rock for the ARSL conference in October. I'd submitted proposals to a few conferences and am still waiting to hear back from MPLA to see if it's been accepted for their joint Wyoming conference in September. It's been a few years since I've attended MPLA and I'd like to get there since Cheyenne is relatively convenient!
Just when I thought everything was under control...
There are 3 licenses for GoToTraining but 4 people involved, so last week the account I was using was switched to someone else. This means I lost access to my future trainings and everything associated with them (registration lists, polls I'd created). There is an available GoToWebinar license so I've recreated the two remaining sessions there and updated the link where people can register. When trying to recreate the polls I discovered the browser "remembered" much of what I'd entered, all I had to do was guess the first letter of each question. So that was helpful. Because I'd received confirmation emails when anyone registered (and hadn't emptied my deleted mail box!) I could find those, so sent an email to everyone who had been signed up with the new link so they could re-register. Whew!
But strange things are still happening - I got several confirmations of new people registering for the no-longer available sessions. Today I checked the new link, which shows next week's session "Full" even though only one person is registered and I set the limit to 15. And today I got the reminder email for the cancelled meeting! Trying to go to it brings up the message that the meeting room is no longer available (no surprise to me but others will be disappointed!). So a support request has been sent to Citrix and we'll see what can be done.
My re-scheduled GoToTraining event went very well this time around - participants contributed and everything worked as it should. I think I'll record the February session so it can be posted on the State Library's Vimeo channel. Even though we've got 3 different sessions planned, there will still be those who can't attend any.
In preparation for recording (and because I'm also slated to "host" this week's State Librarian's webside chat, which involves recording it as well) I created my own practice session. I started a meeting, then joined as a second participant (using my cell phone and the GoTo app). I was able to record a brief demonstration of a new database just acquired by the State Library (Hobbies and Crafts!). Pretty fun! After the demo was done, the video had to be converted to a usable format (.wmv - luckily Citrix has included the codec to do that in their software so it's very easy) and uploaded to Vimeo. I tried this in my own Vimeo account, and shared it with a relative just to find out how it worked on their computer. It was great! I'd like to get libraries to use this idea for creating short videos for their websites - things like how to place a hold, or find specific databases. Unfortunately I can't record that - the control panel (necessary to show How to do it) doesn't appear in the meeting session! So I'll talk it up, and probably will include that in the session we plan for MLA in April.
This morning I had a GoToTraining even scheduled - it's been on the calendar for about a month. As part of my effort to encourage use of the Discover IT search tool, I'm going to show how different settings can lead to widely differing search results. There are 3 of these sessions coming up, one each month. Then we'll move on to a session showing how libraries can actually customize their profile to get the results they think will be best for their patrons. I've been trying this out, using different terms and profiles, to get really comfortable with all the options. I've used GoToMeeting quite a bit, scheduling some new director training sessions, so didn't think this would be too different. I even created a few polls to go along, and had 10 people registered. People started arriving - 6 showed up - but there was no audio! I checked to make sure my microphone was correct (it was) and the Help menu didn't give any ideas. We even ended and restarted, just as a last resort. After 20 minutes I decided to reschedule and work on it without the pressure of having people waiting. The group was very agreeable. Checking settings in the scheduling section I came across audio settings - I had no idea! Don't know how I missed them when creating the event, and changing things now didn't help the already-set meeting. But it looks like future events will be better. But I'll be testing it ahead of time anyway! I've added an extra event, and 3 of this morning's folks have already registered. So it will be OK, but I still think I should have somehow known to check everything one more time.
CES - the Consumer Electronics Show - has always been a fascinating event, although I don't expect to ever attend. I started paying attention when even MSNBC started covering it on their financial programs. If 20,000 librarians in Las Vegas (ALA, 2014) can be fun how great would 160,000+ geeks (CES, 2014) be? I have to think it would just be wild!
So many cool products are demonstrated, although I suspect not many ever become mainstream. Still, it's a good place to see the way research is headed and get an idea of what new developments might be coming along in the future. See what you think. What product would you be most likely to buy?
Best of CES
I've mentioned the TPZ ("Technology Petting Zoo") sets we have, as a resource for showing librarians around the state various gadgets. Mine consists of an iPad, Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, Kindle Fire and Dell Venue. In addition I have my own Kindle Fire HD and Asus Transformer. Having so many gadgets is a challenge, requiring different accounts and passwords to keep track of. The iPad stands alone, of course. Since I don't have any other Apple devices that had to have a completely new and unique account. For the others, I was able to set things up with my Gmail account, and the Kindles work with my Amazon account so they seem a little bit easier to manage.
So what do I use most? So far it seems to be the Kindle - it's a nice size, not too heavy to carry and accesses just about everything I need (especially anything I had from Amazon in the cloud). My personal Fire HD developed a display issue so I haven't been using that one nearly as much (still trying to figure out the problem and how to deal with it). I've taken the Galaxy on a road trip and used it for Skype in the hotel, that worked nicely too - I like the larger (10") display. When attending ALA I chose the iPad because it's smaller (I have the mini version) and found it very convenient - it seems to connect to wifi very easily. On a recent vacation I took the Dell tablet because it has a keyboard and I expected to be accessing email. Trying to type anything substantial without a keyboard is just torture! Sadly, both Gmail and Hotmail proved to be extra security conscious and put several obstacles in the way, so accessing email turned out to be impossible when overseas (happily, Facebook was much more agreeable and I was still able to let people know where we were).
I try to use all the gadgets for a variety of tasks just so I can be familiar with each. I've got MtLib2Go on all, assorted web pages bookmarked, and a few library apps on them too. It's been a learning experience to figure out the different navigation styles (especially with the Dell Windows 8!) but at least I'll be able to help others when they have a question about a gadget.
Once again I feel the need to start a post with the "can't believe it's been so long" apology. Each year I begin with great intentions which seem to fall apart pretty quickly. Perhaps there is something to be said for consistency?
Since the last post, I attended ALA - overwhelming even when not combined with the Las Vegas environment (which included 108-degree temps one day, when the monorail stopped running and I needed to walk back to the hotel - I was sure I'd just dry up on the sidewalk and disappear!). Interesting sessions and author speeches, some fun meet-ups with friends made for a good experience. Will I go again? I think the regional, smaller conferences have more to offer so I'll focus on those.
In the fall I presented a session on Strategic Planning at the ASLD/PLD conference. I had just completed a planning exercise with Belgrade Community Library that went so well we wanted to share. It outlines a streamlined process for smaller libraries that can make it easier for them to achieve useful results without the overwhelming time and effort investment that is often a deterrent to even beginning the process. I'd like to submit this as a proposal to other conferences in the future (MPLA, ARSL, PNLA).
The State Library has developed a pilot program for GoToMeeting, giving an account to every public library in the state. We're curious to see how it gets used and hope to be able to continue it in future years. I spent October setting up accounts, and we've been offering trainings for people to become familiar with the software. Jo flick and I will present a session at MLA in April to help promote it as well as get ideas on usage.
Next month is the Offline conference in Billings. Always a fun time.
My big project now is promoting the DiscoverIT search tool, showing public libraries how it can be customized to be more useful to their patrons. Three online training sessions are set for this winter, demonstrating its use and showing options, then I'll move on to the actual customization process in later training. We've been promoting this for quite some time but still don't see everyone using it to the fullest.
I probably should schedule reminders on my calendar to encourage more posting - that might be helpful!