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PROVOCATIONs : Library Leadership in the International Arena. Thursday May 22, 2014 NATO Libraries Stephen Abram, MLS. What leadership is needed?. Top down or bottom up? Culture of experimentation and pilots? Relationships? Network effect? Competencies and Skills?

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provocations library leadership in the international arena

PROVOCATIONs: Library Leadership in the International Arena

Thursday May 22, 2014

NATO Libraries

Stephen Abram, MLS

What leadership is needed?
  • Top down or bottom up?
  • Culture of experimentation and pilots?
  • Relationships?
  • Network effect?
  • Competencies and Skills?
  • Attitudes or Aptitudes?
  • What is the nature of ‘conversation’?
NATO is very complex and complicated
  • Secret and Public
  • Management and Implementer
  • Local and distant service populations – end users
  • Trans-national and global
  • Difficult barriers to success
  • You’re a rare instance of a multi-type system (that lacks a system basis)
    • Special Libraries (Government, Military, Policy, etc.)
    • Academic Libraries: College, University, Professional and continuing Education
    • School Libraries
    • Public Libraries
    • Infrastructure Librarians (IT, IS, Content, Intranet, etc.)
Partnerships and Collaboration
  • The only choice
  • Internal partnerships matter – don’t give power or seek power – act as a peer
  • Purchasing and developing products and services alone is the MOST expensive ways to achieve. It’s also the slowest.
  • ASK and No is not an answer, or at least a full answer.
The 8 Elements of a Well-launched Project
  • An Idea
  • Clarify the Situation
  • Convert the Idea to a Statement of Work
  • Clarify what the task is Not
  • State the Expected Results, key milestones and major deliverables
  • Select the People needed to complete the task
  • Allocate Resources to do the job well
  • Specify how Success will be measured, rewarded and sustained over time
differences in the private and public sector approaches to development
Private Sector

Competitive advantage is the ideal

Innovation is key to long-term existence

Focus on clients and marketshare

Business strategies

Responsibility to shareholders or owner/investors

Increasing revenue

Risk oriented

Economic success is a prime personal motivator

Competitors, partners and allies

e-Business is the challenge

Focus on “results”

Public Sector

Collaborative advantage is the ideal

Good service is the key to long-term existence

Focus on citizens and social contract

Political agendas and government imperatives

Responsibility to parliament and to citizens

Wise use of tax dollars

Risk averse

Making a positive impact on society is a strong motivator

Other departments, levels of government, unions

e-Government is the challenge

Focus on “process”

Differences in the Private and Public Sector Approaches to Development
Stop the InsanityTech is a toolTech is an opportunityInnovation involves riskThe biggest risk is not taking any.
Stop Having and Engaging in BS Discussions
  • Libraries are more relevant than ever
  • We have no good reason to be on the defence
  • Reading is UP
  • E-Books aren’t replacing p-Books - the dynamic is a new hybrid marketplace
  • E-Books have benefits that p-Books don’t
  • Librarians are being hired and doing well
  • Change is our tradition
  • This new normal requires specialized professionals like us.
understand the difference between search and find

Understand the difference between Search and Find

Roy Tennant and I have been saying for years: “Users want to find not search”.

Librarians enjoy the challenge of search and try to create mini-librarians.

Information literacy is different than contextual information fluency.

The user experience is mostly “elsewhere”.

Learning, research and decision-making processes trump search.

understand the difference between the roles of discovery services and native search

Understand the difference between the roles of discovery services and native search

Search & Find

Integration of internal/external information

Search is the identification of potential objects to read or view in either a known item retrieval scenario or – more importantly – an immersion environment where choices are made.

Until recently, we handled immersion environments in the context of defined subsets of content (a single database or small group).

Discovery services are one step before search – the identification and discovery of the resources (databases) that are worth searching.

and the algorithm understanding failure
And the Algorithm Understanding Failure

The power of algorithm is in the target user needs, the institutional needs, and the behavioral history

. . . Not the underlying content

Are there any real national initiatives to understand and differentiate library end user behaviors from Google commercial constructs? (yes but …)

get the naming and labeling right

Get the naming and labeling right

Vendors must develop unique names and brands for their services to meet positioning, marketing and sales needs to you.

There is no need for you to fall in line and pass through these names – or worse try to train end users to know hundreds of them!

Can anyone defend using these titles to be the single most important label for end users? MLA, Scopus, Compendex, ABI/Inform . . .?

Honestly! The needs of trademark law don’t match the needs of users to identify resources.

are you using numbers strategically

Are you using numbers strategically?

Statistics versus measurements

Satisfaction and Impact

Visual versus data

Stories build on data springboards

Are your numbers showing customer satisfaction or just activity?

Do you trust your numbers (It’s easy to mess with an interface and increase hits or whatever statistics you’re using.)

How can the vendor help your numbers issues and insights?

Until lions learn to write their own story, the story will always be from the perspective of the hunter not the hunted.
Library Advocacy: The Lion's Story
  • Are you framing your library's story well?
  • Are you sharing measurements about your impact, or still beating the drum of raw statistics that show funders where to cut?
  • Are you using great gift of social media to engage and get your message out.
  • Has your library's marketing and communication plan stepped up to the 21st Century?
  • Are we ready for advanced data mining of our websites, circulation and membership records?
  • Are you ready for the reach beyond outreach?
  • What are the skills and competencies that library teams need?

First . . .

Let’s stop using the word advocacy

Let’s discuss influence and being influential . . .


Second . . .

Let’s start using verbs to describe ourselves in the context(s) of our members, audiences and communities.










Third . . .

Learn and use the language of benefits – not features, functions and processes.


Fourth . . .

Let’s build on our legacy of trust and respect and our foundation of collections and places to shine


Fifth . . .

Let’s emphasize the humans that make the magic happen . . . Library staff


Sixth . . .


What’s the music and magic you hear? Play? Do?

RockStar Librarians


It’s the stories that happen inside your library that matter . . . Not just the ones you have on the shelves.

Tell those stories

Encourage the heart . . .

Better yet . . . Collect the stories in your users’ voices

sustaining relevance

Sustaining Relevance

Being Relevant

Communicating VIP

Real relationships

Being a ‘real’ professional

personal and institutional impact strategies and tactics

Personal and Institutional Impact: Strategies and Tactics

Let’s talk . . .

Why is the staff invisible on your virtual presence?

Important Strategic Issues
  • Investing for success
  • Strategic budgeting
  • Developing a culture of controlled risk
  • Learning to de-invest, sacrifice, stop, and grow.
  • “A library is a growing organism.”
library land

Library Land

What changes, disruptions and shifts are already in the environment?

short list
Short List

Millennials & changing user behaviours


Algorithmic search and mapping

Streaming media content and new forms

Advanced text –not just easy e-books

eLearning & MOOCs


Mobility and fluid content

Discovery and metadata vaults (DPLA, OCLC, Eurpeana)

new forms of spaces
New forms of spaces

What kinds of community spaces are needed in the future?

Can you support learning spaces, community meeting spaces, performance spaces, maker spaces, real advisory spaces, true relationship and consultation management . . .?

metadata vaults
Metadata vaults

What if all metadata and content discovery is freely available using open APIs through the OCLC WorldShare vault and the Digital Public Library of America / Europeana vault of open and free metadata?

What does your experience portal look like? Top questions?

what should library priorities be

What Should Library Priorities Be?

And what would you sacrifice?

1 liaison and relationship management engagement
1. Liaison and Relationship Management: Engagement

Up Your Game

Know your local community demographics

Focus on needs assessment and social assessments

Prioritize: Love all, Serve all, Save the World means nothing gets done

Priorities are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Time bound

Look for partnerships that add value

2 programs more more more
2. Programs --- More, more, more

Up Your Game

Align with Collections – every collection must be justified by programs

Force strategic investment budgeting

Look for partnerships that add value

Don’t go it alone. Focus on large scale sustainable programs

Connect to the longer process not just events

Virtual and in-person - in the Library and reaching out with partners

SCALE: eLearning and Surveys – e.g. citation methods

what are the real issues
What are the real issues?
  • Craft versus Industrial Strength
  • Personal service only when there’s impact
  • Pilot, Project, Initiative versus Portfolio Strategy
  • Hand-knitted prototypes versus Production
  • e.g. Information Literacy and Fluency initiatives
  • Discovery versus Search versus Deep Search
  • eLearning units and program dissemination
  • Citation and information ethics
  • Content and repository archipelagos
  • Strategic Analytics
  • Value & Impact Measures
  • Behaviours, Satisfaction
  • Economic and strategic alignment
3 experience portals the virtual user is different
3. Experience PortalsThe Virtual ‘User’ is different

Up Your Game

Align with Collections – But add virtual experiences

Look for partnerships that add value

Ensure the program delivery person is embedded including librarians

What are your top 20 question domains? Start there.

Don’t go it alone. Build scalability and sustainability.

Look for replicability – every neighbourhood

4 learning strategies
4. Learning Strategies

Up Your Game

Start offering diplomas and certificates

Look for partnerships that add value like HR and IT

Offer real educational opportunities not just adjacencies

What does your community need for economic advantage?

What courses to you offer or recommend? (TED, Khan Academy, MOOCs, Coursera, Udacity, edX, Learn4Life (ed2go), Online High Schools, Homeschooling, etc.)

5 get real about partnerships
5. Get real about Partnerships

Up Your Game

Learn two-way relationship and consultation competencies

Understand Communities and have deep partnerships

Understand Pedagogy in the context of government and educational goals

Know where your programs are heading

Consider deep partnerships especially IT and HR

Consider coaches, peer, and tutoring partnerships

6 take branding to the next level
6. Take Branding to the Next Level

Up Your Game

The strong ‘library’ brand – but add dimension

Personal branding – Who are your stars? Promote them. You?

Program branding

Take risks for attention (AIDA)

Embed your brand beyond the library walls and virtually

the virtual handout
The Virtual Handout
  • The Value of Public Libraries
  • The Value of School Libraries
  • The Value of Academic and College Libraries
  • The Value of Special Libraries
  • Library Advocacy: Save the Library Campaigns
8 start to get the cloud
8. Start to ‘get’ the cloud

Up Your Game

Move the ILS to the Cloud

LinkedData models – OCLC WorldShare, Europeana, DPLA, etc.

Look at TCO and look at all costs incurred and not just hard costs

Review opportunity costs in soft costs

9 develop and use personas
9. Develop and Use Personas

Up Your Game

Stop using meat cleavers and use paring knives


A meat cleaver is undergrad versus grad vs. faculty

A meat cleaver is kids, teens and adults

A meat cleaver is medical versus legal

10 upgrade your teaching skills
10. Upgrade Your Teaching Skills

Up Your Game

Learn how to reach and teach online

Teach how to learn online

Teach how to research online

Everyone in academic libraries should be focused on teaching/researching first, then library

Learn more systems than one!

Be obsessive about consultation, recommendations and advice

Social alignment rules and use the tools

11 know your data but data is not enough
11. Know your data but data is not enough

Up Your Game

Use your data to derive insights

Mine your data for measurements


Prove value and impact

Avoid print and in-person measures alone

12 uncomfortable bonus sacrifice
12. Uncomfortable Bonus: Sacrifice

Up Your Game

Dog, Star, Cow, Problem Child?

Reduce investment in successes

Increase investment in early strategic innovation

Be patient and learn, it can take years

Look at TCO

Look at all costs incurred and not just hard costs

Review opportunity costs in soft costs

research support
Research Support





story hours
Story Hours
  • Record your Story Hours
  • YouTube Your Story Hours
  • Tie in to collection
  • Parenting
  • Children’s Health
  • Continuing Education
  • Moms and Caregivers Social Glue
  • Teddy Bears, PJ’s, Pets, Toys
  • How do you find kids’ books?

3D is 4D




Changing Life Arcs

And so much more…

authorship writing
Authorship & Writing

Douglas County and Colorado Models

Lulu, Amazon Singles, Self-publishing

Fifty Shades of Grey

This is an economic activity

events and programs
Events and Programs

Hand-knitting Sweaters or an Industrial Revolution for libraries

Consider scalability and replicability

Cooperation on a massive scale

Mobility of programming

Thinking big – over 1000 attendees or 30?

Mobile Makerspaces

Mobile staff talent

photography video
Photography & Video

Green Walls

Video editing





learning or education or homework
Learning or Education or Homework

Top Questions Pattern

Common Core Curriculum

promotion and social media
Promotion and Social Media

Websites and e-mail





Vimeo / YouTube / Vine




Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLA

Consultant, Dysart & Jones/Lighthouse Consulting

Cel: 416-669-4855

Stephen’s Lighthouse Blog

Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr: Stephen Abram

LinkedIn: Stephen Abram

Twitter: @sabram

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