Creating a Culture of Innovation


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Presentation given at the CT Library Association's College & University Section 2011 Fall Program: "Libraries & Change"

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  • Reflections on my experiencesmanaging a fairly new department (nominally) charged with promoting innovation.
  • NYPL Reading Room
  • Exterior of Idea Store Chrisp Street in Tower Hamlets Borough, London. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Brown Most of us work in libraries that are somewhere between these points. This talk will focus on leading or promoting innovation while working within a traditional (print) library framework.
  • My Department’s staffing– 2 librarians, 1 library technician, 1 PT university assistant, student interns
  • Take advantage of talented, enthusiastic interns and students, who inject life, fun, and a different perspective into a department. SCSU maintains a list of internship opportunities. Periodically evaluate who’s doing what. The model of having the same person perform the same function over a long period of time doesn’t work in a department like mine. We would not be nearly as far along in our digitization efforts if we didn’t have a fantastic relationship with our Special Collections Dept. Having come from the reference dept. ERIS also works closely with the reference department on instructional vidcasts & digital reference.
  • Most students start their research in Google, and that’s actually ok!I’m not sure why some librarians fight this. Why not acknowledge it and try to put the library’s resources out on the open web as much as possible? -Holdings in Google scholar-Special Collections materials-Holdings crawled by Pubget-Worldcat local quickstart
  • In study after study we see that students carry around a great deal of stress, and sometimes the library with its Byzantine rules and policies contribute to that stress! Until very recently, we had a quite restrictive reservation policy for our two study rooms. If you were a student who came in and wanted to use an empty room, you were out of luck. As a result, the rooms were hardly ever used. We eliminated this requirement and guess what? The rooms are in near constant use. For any policy, you have to weigh the benefits against the potential for ill-will amongst patrons. Some policies can actually hinder innovation. It’s important to assess all policies to see if they’re fulfilling a purpose in 2011-- or are they in place just because “it’s the way we’ve always done it.” Always ask yourself what’s the absolute worst thing that could happen? In 2011 banning cell phones and food are untenable policies that engender ill will.LDAP integration for CONSULS – students use familiar campus credentials to log in (lower barriers to access)We’ve worked hard to make our web presence friendlier and easily navigable.
  • EDUCAUSE National Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 201187% have laptops, 55%(!) have smart phones and 37% use them for their academic work! 78% say having Wi-Fi is critical to academic success.
  • Mobile website and Android app. iPhone app is in the works. Digital collections crawled by Google. Digital images added selectively to Flickr.Digital preservation via a system that was developed in-house. Preservation master files and metadata with multiple copied stored locally and in the cloud.
  • They’re here in the library, but I don’t get the sense they feel it’s truly theirs… This was a fun way for students (and faculty) to blow off some steam around finals and for the library to gain some great qualitative feedback we can use for space planning. It was truly a win-win! I’ve noticed more flyers for student events in the elevators since our renovation and it makes me smile!
  • This seems like such a simple idea, right? But think about how many of us have miserable work lives either because we feel undervalued or our work lacks any meaning. In a fascinating series of experiments (one involving the assembly of LEGO bionicle figures), Dan Ariely challenges the basic assumption that people will seek to maximize reward for minimal effort.
  • Photo of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh’s bus. What began as a book turned into a bus tour and movement! Now companies around the globe come to Zappos for advice in creating a “happy” corporate culture.Zappos has its “family” culture – Happy employees = Happy customersSome of the core values (They even have their own mascot!): Embrace and Drive Change, Create Fun and a Little Weirdness, Pursue Growth and Learning, Build Open and Honest Relationships with Communication, Do More with Less, Be HumbleEvery institution should be able to articulate its own set of core values! These values will help attract the right employees to your institution. With Google’s 80/20 model, employees are rewarded by being able to pursue things that they care about and are meaningful to them.If you have a great idea– you are given the latitude to pursue it. This could be time to experiment with a new technology or to pursue an idea that might bear fruit over the long-term. It’s no wonder both companies consistently appear in Fortune’s top ten best companies to work for.
  • Sarah and Arianna – both MLS students at Southern Connecticut State. They get along extremely well, are both smart, enthusiastic, and incredibly creative, so I tend to let them work as a team. I like to give my staff or interns ownership of a project rather than having them do only a piece of it. It truly gives meaning to their work if they know their efforts will improve someone else’s life in some small way. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of working with so many wonderfully creative students and colleagues. If you let them have a little fun, they tend to do their best work! Last spring Sarah and Arianna collaborated on the CT Gay and Lesbian Film Festival digital archive, but they continued the collaboration by developing a site for their digital libraries course, Stitches in Time, using OMEKA.
  • My library looks like it was designed by MC Escher. This idea evolved over a series of very informal discussions in my department! Although we do have regular “formal” meetings, most of the really good ideas happen over coffee, lunch or chewing the fat!While it’s ok, and even welcome, to play with the shiny new toy, it must ultimately benefit our faculty and students by making their academic lives better!I’m contemplating adding a QR code component to this, but I’m still not sure. While I’m never been a huge fan of audio library tours (or any library tours for that matter) – and they’re usually a flop with students in whatever decade they’re tried– I do love the idea of having a “Where the hell am I?” QR stations throughout the library where a student could scan the QR code and view a 30-second video explaining where they are in the building.
  • Staff education is a new strategic goal for ERIS. We did a series of workshops over the summer and plan to continue offering them regularly. The next series will be recorded and accessible to all staff at any time.
  • Creating a Culture of Innovation

    1. 1. Debbie HermanElihu Burritt LibraryCentral Connecticut State UniversityCLA College & University Section Fall Program2011
    2. 2.  2004 – Materials budget for E-resources 45K 2004-5 – Luna Insight (Fine Art Images) 2006 – CONTENTdm & Link Resolver (SFX) 2008 – ERIS (Electronic Resources and Information Systems) formed 2009 – Metalib & ERM 2011- Amount spent on E-resources (A&I databases and licensed digital content): $360K
    3. 3.  Oversee and make accessible all digital content acquired through digitization, licensing or purchase. Develop and maintain library’s web presence, including all web applications and services. Provide library computer/technology support to patrons and staff.
    4. 4.  Interns!!! Spread the work around Collaborate with other departments Set goals that are realistic and measurable!
    5. 5. Our Users Expect…A Google-like searchexperienceA 24/7 ubiquitous libraryMobile, mobile, mobile!Assistance when andwherever they need it
    6. 6. A Desire to… Reduce student library anxiety by: Lowering barriers (physical & virtual) to library services and collections Making things findable (physical & virtual) – exposing collections to Google and other specialized search engines (Pubget, etc.) Giving students and faculty what they need, in the right format, when they need it (or very soon thereafter!)
    7. 7. “If you take people who love something and you place them in meaningful working conditions, the joy they derive from the activity is going to be a major driver in dictating their level of effort.” Dan Ariely, The Upside of Irrationality
    8. 8. It’s OK to have fun, really!
    9. 9.  1 Refurbished 1st generation iPad - $499 1 Library map web application created using jQuery mobile framework – Free! 1 Super chic iPad enclosure! - $169 1 iPad kiosk app - $2.99 1 slightly less confused patron… Very Poor PRICELESS! Artist’s Rendering!!!
    10. 10. Preparing library staff to support mobile technologies Creating a staff technology sandbox More staff training opportunitiesMore Technology Support Evenings and Weekends (possible collaboration with IT)Mobile optimization of digital collections
    11. 11.