Are We Really Better Safe Than Sorry


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  • K.Why do we fail
  • K. What word do you see?
  • K. Was it failure? You’re wrong!
  • K. The correct word: feelersBut you were conditioned to see failure
  • K. Which line is longer?
  • K. If you’ve seen this before, you assume they’re the same lengthBut they’re notWe’ve messed with your expectations
  • K. But we’re messing with your expectations – you’ve seen a word you think you know, but it’s notYou’ve seen a problem 100 times before, but the answer is wrong.The world is messing with you!
  • M. The world is changing faster than we can comprehend it. Look at all the sweet ways we’ve listened to music over the years. It wasn’t too long ago that the world was introduced to the iPod. Look where we’ve come since then.
  • M. Any foodies out there? Look at how serving sizes have changed.
  • M. This is what the London Underground looked like in 1908.
  • M. Here’s a look at it today. The world is changing.
  • M. How many people heard there would be a wave of librarian job openings in the next couple of years after all of the librarians retired? How’s that prediction panning out for recent library science grads? Hasn’t happened. Times changed, the economy tanked and it’s time for a new strategy.
  • M. Try as we might, we can only make guesses or predictions about the future. What will libraries look like in 30 years? What will patrons want from us in 8 years? How will our communities change in the next decade? The future is unkown. How many libraries had the advent of the internet and personal computers in their strategic plans before they arrived? We can make educated predictions but really we’re only making guesses.
  • M. Who saw this change coming a decade ago? Outside of science fiction and uber techies, no one probably expected to see people wearing a computer. The world is changing quickly. Where’s your place in this rapidly changing landscape?And you know what, the rules are changing too. A few years ago the prospect of wearing a pair of glasses like this would be laughable. I’m willing to bet most still think that’s the case, but who knows—maybe this will be embraced by all of this and just part of how we live.
  • M. It’s hard to make sure that our expectations meet reality in such a rapidly changing world.
  • K: How can we succeed?M: Commit to failure.
  • K. What is failure?
  • M. Merriam gives us three options. “Lack of success” & “a falling short” aren’t shockers. It’s that third one that really hits the hardest. One that has failed. How often do you internalize failure and how much harder does that make it on you? I think this last one scares us the most.
  • K.
  • M. Failure comes in two sizes. The first one is the lame kind. You know you should be doing something, but you don’t. You’re told weeding is an important part of collection development, but you don’t do itYou conduct a survey at a program, but don’t take the results into account when planning the next programYou only put events on your facebook page -- nothing elseYou have the resources to make something happen but you opt for inaction.  The second one is totally legit and what we’re going to focus on today. This is the good kind. There’s something that you’ve never done or your organization has never done and you’re willing to try it. You develop your graphic novel collection, which has never had its own selector.You plan a new fundraiser that closes the library and brings donors into the buildingYou try a new social media platform that no other libraries are on yet.
  • K. Let’s jump into some failure
  • M: First you’re going to start with an idea…
  • K. …to expand your library’s potential.
  • M. Here’s the first example. To expand your library’s potential you want to create a new collection.
  • M. In response to the downturn of the economy, Baldwin opted to create a “Tough Times” collection. We brought together career and personal finance materials from different Dewey ranges into a single collection.
  • K.
  • K. Set a goal
  • M. One goal: easier browsing for the patrons.
  • M. Another goal: to ease the necessity to ask a librarian for help on a sensitive topic.
  • K
  • K
  • K. Mediocrity is always easier than knowing when to quitBut when you give in to mediocrity, you’re expending time and resources that prevent you from being the best
  • K. So you have to know when to quit
  • K. Fail Point: Quit before you start. When you go into this, make sure that you know what your fail point is -- that way you’re not tempted when things get rough to give up. You can adjust your quit point once you get started on the project based on new information.
  • K. Just ask yourself three questions before you give up
  • K. Am I panicking?
  • K. Who am I trying to influence?
  • K. What sort of measurable progress am I making?
  • M. For the “Tough Times” collection, we needed a fail point.
  • M. Our quit point for this endeavor: A significant reduction in turnover
  • K.
  • K.
  • K. Evaluation comes in many sizes. First up, statistics. Most of think of numbers when we hear evaluation but it can be so much more. M. Programmer Experience
  • M. Surveys are another option. Get feedback from people who participated or experienced something. Ask them to rank things. Ask them to tell you a story. Ask them how it can be better next time. And if you declare your surveys unscientific, ask a mix of questions to get different types of information from the same group.
  • K. Observation can be a powerful way to evaluate how patrons are using your library, how they navigate the collection and how they interact with your resources.
  • M: The shoe on the left came into the library and asked for some resources on proper job attire. A few months later, I followed up with the shoe on the right to see if the information helped—I’d call it a success. Try the same after you teach a computer class—get in touch with people to see if the information helped and if they’ve put it to use.
  • K. Talk to people who attend your classes or programs. You can informally chat to get information or have formal interviews planned. Either way, they may have helpful insights for you.
  • M. The person who presented a program at the library is worth talking with for some information. What’d they like about the room? What would make it better? If you participated in the program or helped coordinate it, you can contribute to the evaluation as well.
  • M.Quantitative Evaluation: Here’s a turnover graph of the Tough Times collection from 2007 until the last copies were pulled in 2013
  • K. Often times the reward is high when you first start doing something
  • K. But eventually that reward gets reduced and people give up
  • K. If you push through (when appropriate) you can reap a bigger reward
  • K. The Dip
  • K. Example: Graphic Novels turnover at Baldwin since 2007
  • K. But that’s not the only way things can go.
  • K. Cul-de-sac and the Cliff
  • M. How does this play out with the “Tough Times” collection?
  • M. First you see the dip
  • M. But then you see, it’s really a cul de sac
  • K. Life isn’t all numbers.
  • M.Qualitative Evaluation is like story telling. You’re getting information from words. Here’s what librarians may have said about the “Tough Times” collection at Baldwin.
  • K.
  • K. Were you successful? Did you win the gold cup? Either way, what did you learn from the experience?
  • M. In the end, we opted to “Resign” the “Tough Times” collection.
  • M. Our goals were not met: It didn’t make it easier for patrons, and they ended up going to a librarian anyways.
  • M. So the “Tough Times” collection didn’t pan out as had hoped. Could we have made it work? Maybe, but it wasn’t worth it to keep it going. Plus, we found out people just like asking librarians questions…which is a good thing.
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • M. Let’s look at another example. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • M. First, the goal. Expand our library’s potential and reach out to young professionals.
  • M. So we started Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone: an evening book club at a locally owned coffee house.
  • M. Goals for this endeavor included…
  • M. Bring in young people. Find some way to connect with them and get them engaged in the library.
  • M. We also wanted to support a local business.
  • M. Then we needed our fail point.
  • M. Our fail point for this book club: A significant reduction in attendance.
  • M. Up next, evaluation!
  • M. A quantitative look: Here’s a attendance graph of Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone.
  • M. You’ll see a slight overall increase. It’s trending upward.
  • M. Here’s some qualitative evaluation for you. The local business wasn’t open any longer and the young folks weren’t hip to us.
  • Time to decide if we’re going to Re-joice, Re-tool or Re-sign
  • M. We could have quit, but we didn’t have to!
  • M. Our goals were not met: We didn’t attract young professionals and we didn’t support the local business enough to get other businesses to want to participate.
  • M. But we still had success!
  • Want to know what we learned?
  • We learned that an evening book club could succeed. People wanted to meet at night and talk about books. A dedicated group were interested enough to make it a regular thing. They ended up being a mixed demographic but that’s fine with us. We created something new that met the needs of our patrons.
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • K. Expand your library’s potential and reach out on a new social media platform
  • K. Pinterest: It’s a new way to reach out on social media
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • K. To reach out to new people using a new medium
  • K. To make creating online bibliographies easier
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • K. Quit Point: Unknown – sometimes you just have to feel it in your gut, when the work is too much for the reward
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • K. There are no qualitative evidence. You can generally watch re-pins and such, but there are no statistics and no tracking of social media other than followers
  • K. Last time we had facts, this time we have feelings
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • K. There are some things we need to quit. We shouldn’t be doing as much, but some things are working
  • K. We’re not really reaching out to new people, but we are simplifying how we make bibliographies. Ongoing bibs are much easier
  • K. Some success! Just editing as to how we use this medium!
  • K. Choose a programSet goalsSet fail pointEvaluateRe-joice/Re-tool/Re-signWhat did you learn?
  • K. What we learned
  • M. Declare this at your next board meeting or to your management team or whisper it to your co-workers.
  • K. Once you’ve committed to being extraordinary, you need to have no fear of failureAnd having no fear of failure
  • M. Uou can extend your library’s reach into new populations and new areas of service
  • K. You can expand you library’s potential
  • M. You can finally upend long-held assumptions in your library
  • K. Or you can re-affirm exactly what you knew already.
  • M. Sidenote: If you know that you’re working under wrong assumptions – or your assumptions have already been proven to be wrong – and you haven’t done anything about this then you are NOT being extraordinary. ACT UPON THAT INFORMATION.
  • K. Programming is one of the easiest places to breed failure. 1. If you don’t think that your community would participate in something, and you try it and succeed, you’ve realized a flaw in your thinking (your expectations)2. You can get away with doing something once or twice to see what kind of response you receive and then tailor your next steps (continue to offer it, tweak it or discontinue it)
  • M. Here’s one for collections:If you’ve never developed a collection under the impression that your community isn’t interested, and you try and find success, you’ve realized a flaw in your expectations.
  • K. TechnologyIf you think you won’t find your community in certain places online, and you try and succeed, you’ve realized a flaw in your expectations
  • M. Rooting out flaws in your expectations will help your library succeed in ways that it couldn’t have otherwise.
  • K. It will move you forward
  • M. It will help you to reach out to new demographics in your community.
  • K. It will help you to serve your patrons better.
  • M. I’ve got to thank Kevin King for introducing me to Seth Godin’s work. Really great stuff that you should check out if you dig these concepts. Seth’s got a motto for failure: fail fast, fail cheap and fail often. Failing fast is good—it gives you time to move onto something else. Fail cheap means you don’t need to invest much money or resources to try a new idea. And fail often means you’re going to keep coming back for more. Innovate, innovate, innovate.
  • K.
  • M. We all need to accept that failure’s going to happen—especially if we’re seeking out new opportunities. Failure is part of what makes success so great. To get there you, you need to fail.
  • Are We Really Better Safe Than Sorry

    1. 1. What are we doing here? Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Merriam Webster Be EXTRAORDINARY You Never Know Unless You Try Library Goal: Fail Often Making the best of it Admitting Defeat Failure in action
    2. 2. Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Changes By: David Bowie
    3. 3. F__L_R_
    4. 4. FAILURE
    5. 5. FEELERS
    6. 6. Grate Expectations
    7. 7.
    8. 8.
    9. 9.
    10. 10.
    11. 11.
    12. 12. Grate Expectations
    13. 13. How can we succeed? Commit to failure.
    14. 14. Merriam Webster
    15. 15. - lack of success - a falling short - one that has failed
    16. 16. goals: what you want expectations: what you have
    17. 17.
    18. 18. Jump into failure
    19. 19. Start with an idea…
    20. 20. …to expand your library’s potential
    21. 21.
    22. 22.
    23. 23. Set goals
    24. 24. 64135455_4c14304e48_b.jpg
    25. 25.
    26. 26.
    27. 27. How will you know IF you’ve failed if you don’t know what you’re expecting?
    28. 28. But, how do know WHEN you’ve failed?
    29. 29.
    30. 30.
    31. 31.
    32. 32.
    33. 33.
    34. 34.
    35. 35.
    36. 36. Choose our fail point
    37. 37.
    38. 38. And go!
    39. 39. Evaluate
    40. 40.
    41. 41.
    42. 42.
    43. 43.
    44. 44.
    45. 45.
    46. 46.
    47. 47.
    48. 48.
    49. 49.
    50. 50.
    51. 51.
    52. 52. Where does our program fall?
    53. 53. What about qualitative evaluation?
    54. 54. Patrons just end up asking one of us, and then we look confused when we have to take them to multiple places in the collection. - Anonymous Librarian 3 I think it was a really good idea for a hard time, but it didn’t really work out. - Anonymous Librarian 4
    55. 55. Re-joice/Re-tool/Re-sign
    56. 56.
    57. 57.
    58. 58.
    59. 59. People will always ask librarians questions… because librarians rule.
    60. 60. 1. Choose a program 2. Set goals 3. Set fail point 4. Evaluate 5. Re-joice/Re-tool/Re-sign 6. What did you learn?
    61. 61. Choose a program…
    62. 62.
    63. 63.
    64. 64. Set goals…
    65. 65.
    66. 66.
    67. 67. Set a fail point…
    68. 68.
    69. 69. Evaluate…
    70. 70. Facts: 1.The place where we were having our book club closed. Suddenly. 2.While the book club appealed to young professionals for the first year, but then stopped attracting them.
    71. 71. Re-joice/Re-tool/Re-sign…
    72. 72.
    73. 73.
    74. 74.
    75. 75. What did you learn?
    76. 76. We needed an evening book club. We could still get a regular contingent of book clubers, just not in our target demographic.
    77. 77. Choose a program…
    78. 78.
    79. 79.
    80. 80. Set goals…
    81. 81.
    82. 82.
    83. 83. Set a fail point…
    84. 84.
    85. 85. Evaluate…
    86. 86. Perceptions: 1.People aren’t using them, the bibs that we post on the website or those on Pinterest 2.The Pinterest bibs were proving useful in certain cases.
    87. 87. Re-joice/Re-tool/Re-sign…
    88. 88.
    89. 89.
    90. 90.
    91. 91. What did you learn?
    92. 92. We need ongoing bibs – like new items or Christmas movies. But we should use this for us, not for reaching out to other people It’s something that requires constant monitoring…like small children.
    93. 93. Library Goal: Fail Often
    94. 94.
    95. 95.
    96. 96.
    97. 97.
    98. 98.
    99. 99.
    100. 100.
    101. 101.
    102. 102.
    103. 103.
    104. 104.
    105. 105.
    106. 106.
    107. 107. - fail fast - fail cheap - fail often
    108. 108. Be EXTRAORDINARY
    109. 109. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. - Henry Ford
    110. 110. Slides from today? A blog of successes and failures? Visit