Once Upon a Time... the power of a good tech story.
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Once Upon a Time... the power of a good tech story.



Keynote for the Library Technology conference (2011) by Sarah Washburn, Library Program Manager at TechSoup Global.

Keynote for the Library Technology conference (2011) by Sarah Washburn, Library Program Manager at TechSoup Global.



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  • Within a day
  • Bought software for the library that didn’t work. They spent time and money trying to solving, only deciding in the end to ditch it. The idea was that we bring people together to share stories, and build a network of people who are experts, or who have experience in certain areas, so that we can continue to learn from each other and contact the right person for the right issue.
  • "I'm pretty old and my life has proven to me generally that there are very few things that you can't reverse. If you're very careful when you're setting up something you can go slowly and see, 'Okay, well this works' and 'Okay, that's not a problem.'"
  • Public should invest in the resources the library provides.
  •  I invite everyone to introduce themselves to someone sitting nearby who they do not know. Be chatty: tell them the neatest characteristic of their library. After a few minutes, I have them share their biggest tech challenge with their neighbor. The room fills with chatting, and I have to get all shooshy after a while to quiet the room. Everyone has a challenge! And then, I ask folks to share. Every single time, someone has experienced that problem, which is helpful in itself. Doesn’t it make you feel better to know that someone else has had the same issue? Funny how we gain comfort from a shared sense of mediocrity. And then, I ask the group if anyone has a solution. Hands pop up, everyone has ideas! That’s where the magic happens. Even if someone hasn’t experienced it, they likely have a suggestion on where to seek an answer. Librarians rock, don’t they? I want to add something about the mediocrity joke. It’s true that even understanding that something may be an issue, can influence another person to ask for help. Consider this: a librarian at a small library is challenged by technology. She believes that she’ll never quite get it, so she continues to pay someone to fix stuff when it appears to be broken. She goes to a conference and meets someone who tells her about a situation she’s had, too. Suddenly, she feels better, knowing that someone else has shared her pain. And, she understands now that the issue isn’t what she thought, but something else that can be fixed with relative ease. She still has someone else fix it, but the next time she has more information, and the confidence to tell her fixit person what needs to happen. Confidence. Knowledge.
  • hold a meetup at another library! Tour the library, talk to the librarians, and use their meeting room to convene
  • What makes a good story?So we know how to organize it and where, and how to find resources on TechSoup, but what makes a good story? Be humble. Think about something that wasn’t going right. Tell why, and don’t be afraid to show yourself in imperfect light. People relate to problems, and can learn from your mistakes. Get local. Think of what you do each day that makes something easier. Think hard. Do you say to yourself, “that’s nothing!” Well, I’m here to tell you that what might be “that’s nothing!” to you might be an “aha!” to someone else.  Good stories aren’t always bleeding edge. That’s not to say that bleeding edge isn’t valuable, it’s just that many times, it’s the tip that can be implemented today, without a committee or series of meetings or research paper that makes a positive change. And often, it’s the daily things that you never considered might be interesting to anyone else.  Talk about a change. An outcome that made things better.

Once Upon a Time... the power of a good tech story. Once Upon a Time... the power of a good tech story. Presentation Transcript

  • Once upon a time…
    The power of a good <tech> story.
    LibTech 2011 conferenceMacalester College March 16-17, 2011
  • TechSoupforLibraries.org = stuff
    (save 80-90%)
    FREE content
    FREE events
    FREE resources
  • How we do it: we listen
    By phone
    By listservs
    At conferences
    By surveys, polls
    Drive bookmobiles to rural communities
    By blogs, Twitter, Flickr
  • Survey: which tools do you use?
  • MaintainIT Project Cookbooks
  • BTOP grantee resource
  • Why do we do this?
    Reinventing the wheel isn’t fun.
    Stories are powerful.
    You don’t know what might be happening in Tappahannock, VA.
  • A few good stories…
  • Once upon a time…
    There was a librarian named Madeleine.
    She wasn’t afraid to hack.
  • $$$
    Madeleine had a problem
  • Like a good librarian, she researched
  • “We now have a freeware self-checker that only cost us the price of the touch screen monitor, the scanner, an Internet connection and some retired hardware ($1200).”
    Madeleine Mundt
    Teton Cty Library, WY
  • Once upon a time…
    There was an “IT Guy” named Steve.
    He hated reinventing the wheel.
  • Regional workshop, inviting all library folk from Kansas who deal with technology, not just “IT Guys” like himself.
    Emporia Public Library
    Emporia, KS
    Steve had a problem
    "Why don’t we talk to other libraries in Kansas to see what they use?"
  • Once upon a time…
    There was librarian named Faye.
    She was fearless.
  • “You can't fear that you're going to screw up; you just have to get in there and say, 'Okay, I'm going to learn how to do this.'”
    Smithwelch Public Library
    Hearne, TX
  • Once upon a time…
    There was librarian named Bess.
    She was from Tappahannock, VA
  • Bess needed $$$
    “When it comes to the library's computer network, we've been very much like Blanche Dubois, depending on the kindness of strangers. (insert breathy voice here.)”
    Essex Public Library
    Tappahannock, VA
  • Adopt-a-Computer
    “Local organizations, businesses, or even individuals or families can adopt a computer by committing to donating $365 a year for three years.”
  • Once upon a time…
    Corporations and coders combined forces…
    …for good.
  • X
    Google, Microsoft, Yahoo!, NASA,& the World Bank
  • Why does TechSoup replay ?
    • To instill confidence
    • To promote your work
    • For advocacy
  • This is all great, but…
    How can YOU benefit from the stories around you?
  • Conferences (like this one!)
    Organize a sessionwhere librarianscome together to share challenges and successes.
    Outsiders welcome!
    ARSL 2010, Denver CO
    “Don’t just be a sage on the stage, be a guide on the side.”
  • Book clubs
    Short texts, nothing heavy-duty (unless that’s what folks crave)
    Advocacy opportunity
    Outsiders welcome!
  • Netsquared.org
    Get together to chat about technology challenges and solutions
    Get outside your library!
    Outsiders welcome!
    Why leave the fun of field trips to the kids?
  • Podcasts
    Maurice Coleman, Technical Trainer
    Harford County (MD) Public Library
  • What makes a good story?
    "It's not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."
    - Bruce Lee
  • Elements of a good tech story
    What might be
    “that’s nothing”
    to you may be an
    to someone else.
    Think daily grind
  • Homework!
  • Thank you!Sarah Washburn Sarah@techsoupglobal.org
  • Resources
    TechSoup for Libraries: www.TechSoupforLibraries.org
    Notes from a Great Conference: LibTech 2011blog post
    Broadband: Stories from the Field: http://broadband.wiki.techsoup.org/
    NetSquared: http://netsquared.org
    T is for Training: http://tisfortraining.wordpress.com
    Steve Stone post:http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/blog/sharing-it-experiences-from-kansas
    Bess Haile posts: http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/search/node/bess%20haile
    Faye Hover spotlight: http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/spotlight/faye-hover
    Random Hacks of Kindness: http://www.rhok.org/
    Madeline Mundt post: http://www.techsoupforlibraries.org/blog/a-cheap-er-self-checker-system
    Photo credits:
    Book clubs: flickr user New Jersey Library Association
    Second life: flickr user joannamkay
    Open book: flickr user Jo Naylor