Archive for the 'Advocacy' Category

Libraryman

We Are High Fidelity Libraries

A brief video snippet (with added graphics) that describes why the “hi-fi” in “hi-fi sci-fi library” is key to our present and future success.

Fighting the forces of evil and oppression with your high fidelity library/librarians!

From the last post you can see that David and I recorded a snappy little library song last week. We are really proud of the work we’ve produced and now YOU get a chance to be in the video!! It is jumpy little ditty about library futures, technology and how we will succeed as libraries.
Please listen to this short snippet and then…..shoot a brief video of you singing along! Thats all it takes! You can use a web cam, or any other camera you like and send it to the email below. It should really only take a few minutes on your end, and after we get the videos, we’ll take the best and put them in the video we are hard at work on! Of course, please also feel free to send other video that might go along with the title/theme of the song “hi-fi sci-fi library” (costumes are very welcome by the way!:)
So join in the fun and star in a video with us! This is your official invite! We are looking forward to seeing YOU in our upcoming video!

Here is a link to the very short snippet to sing along with (you can download it even if you want). The “hi-fi sci-fi library” part is what we really need to see you singing.

If you have you have a webcam, you really should be emailing your video to: michael.libraryman *At Sign**gmail.com

Please send your clips in to the above address no later than August 24th, 2008.

We are really looking forward to seeing you in the video with us!!!!!!!!!

-Michael Porter and David Lee King

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Now playing: David Lee King & Michael Porter – hi-fi sci-fi library

This still is taken from a promotional video about facebook*:
built by the people...for FACEBOOK

REALLY?
Well…maybe not so much.
You see, as things continue to evolve in relation to social networking and information access online, this premise starts to become something startlingly close to propaganda. And it is a premise I am beginning to disagree with more strongly. Why? Simply because facebook is a for-profit company. Their motivation as a business both officially and in practice is to make money. While I am positive there are many lovely people working there that are generous, kind and philanthropically minded, the bottom line is that facebook is a company that is very simply most interested in getting people to use their product; not so they can be useful to society, but so they can make money. And they will use they information they get from you to do just that. With no obligation beyond laws (largely constructed to facilitate money making in business) to guard your privacy. And they are under absolutely no obligation to return anything back to the community. Even if the *say* they are nice and want to do good, they are, in fact not formally bound to taking any actions in this regard.

Now, it is very true that facebook is an amazing service that many of us use, appreciate and are grateful to have access to (myself included). But society needs the opportunity to use these sorts of tools and features in a venue that both understands and guards privacy while at the same time protects information access rather then sells information paths of choice (through ads). An institution that is designed to build up the community it nurtures…you know, like libraries and schools.

And it goes beyond facebook-like tools (for community futures). I would suggest that Google-like tools (for search/basic information discovery) should have the same non-profit, ad-free (for the most part), purely motivated capacity as well for the greatest public benefit.

Problem is, when it comes to the future of libraries, and modern/connected civilization’s access to electronic (and physical) community and information access this is blatantly missing from the too dominant tools in electronic search (arguably, Google) and electronic community building (arguably, facebook). And what is missing is starting to feel more dramatic and chasm-like with each passing month.

Libraries need to continue (and significantly grow) their work as professional guardians of community access to information. This means we (libraries and library professionals) need to be the most highly trained facilitators the world has when it comes to information access, community connections, community interactions, privacy protection and electronic tools. You know, the things at the root of the popularity of tools like facebook and Google. The things libraries have been best at for decades (sans the electronic tools part, which is our only real achilles heel in this scenario).

I wish both information professionals and society at large would really seriously think about this. And then act on it in an organized fashion. College professors, primary school teachers, parents, politicians, students and anyone else concerned about the positive growth of humanity should think about this. The “market” does not always dictate what works best for society and this is an instance that requires larger forces than “the market” to intercede. If that doesn’t happen, because of Google-ish and facebook-like tools, our free, unbiased access to information and community stands at risk. There is a potential crisis brewing here and there are not enough people talking about solutions to this crisis in the context mentioned in this post.

It becomes more clear to me with every passing month: some amalgam of social networking tools (like facebook) and for profit search tools (like Google) should be a non-profit that helps people along in their community and information access journeys. All the while guarding their privacy in ways facebook and Google would never dare. Perhaps opt-in’s for users to accept ads could be built into that system to generate revenue to support the system, but in a less integrated way that didn’t affect workforce in the manner it currently does, particularly on facebook at the moment.

So far, facebook has been thumped on here, but Google is in the same boat. Like almost all of you, I use Google almost every day as well. And I am grateful for Google. But words like “Don’t be evil” as a corporate “Code of Conduct” legally means NOTHING (as opposed to a library’s mission statement and governance structure) If you do believe Google cares about ideals more than money, ask who controls their purse strings. Or look at the official Google URL the describes their code: http://investor.google.com/conduct.html. investor.google.com tells us quite clearly where their corportae priorities exist. And what their official mission and business plan entails. Compare Google’s “Code of Conduct” to ANY mission statement** at a Public Library and ask yourself: “Who do YOU want to control and steer you along as you seek information?” Which point of view would most people choose to support given this information?

Misleading content like that in the facebook video above and things like the Google Librarian Librarian projects hold more potential threat than it would first seem. At recent ALA conferences the Google booth was a very popular stop. Many librarians eagerly made videos about how great Google was for libraries…and then *poof* Google disappears from Libraryland for almost a year on their project blog and are nowhere to be found at this years ALA conference. It is that we aren’t importnat enough customers to get Google to stick with us? Did they get what they wanted from us (support) until they didn’t need it anymore? Each side has it’s perspective, but I assure you, Google attends the conferences it feels it needs to. They certainly aren’t staying away because they are short on funds. It most certainly is, at the very least a curious case of unexplained absence. Not the thing to do in the electronic information and community access environment we find ourselves today. It seems that if Google clearly understood this and did have their mission at the front of their minds, they would have thought this through more carefully and acted accordingly.

To this information professional and electronic community activist, it comes down to this: Google and facebook are both businesses, out to make money. Libraries exist to serve their community with information access and community connection opportunities. If individuals or corporations like Google, facebook, etc, really want to get good things done with community, and if you truly care about community and information access, I would implore you to work with library and information professionals, library schools and organizations like OCLC and ALA. Give them resources, support their work with what you are good at, bind yourselves intimately to their success. THAT would do no evil! Most importantly I would ask you to support your local library. And do so in a way that guarantees that participation as long as your company thrives. THEN I will think about giving you wider support and endorsement and not just think of you as a case study in what Libraryland needs to do to succeed without being taken advantage of and potentially usurped by you. Technology is a tool, and we simply mustn’t allow libraries to become a tool that gets less and less useful as it is usurped by a tool that is guided simply by money, with no permanent obligation to give back. That is one of the deepest societal tragedies I can imagine and its consequences would truly be severe and horrible.

*facebook image taken from this video. It appears you are required to be a registered user to view this video.

**Yep, that is a Google search result link.

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Now playing: Beck – Youthless

I usually spend a good 30-60 minutes making an intro slide for each presentation I do. I figure that the intro slide will be up there on the screen for 15 minutes or so before the session starts and people seeing it can start to get a sense of the session and the presenter and how they fit in as an attendee. And frankly, it’s just fun to try and take something that is not intrinsically beautiful (PowerPoint) and make something pretty or interesting to look that is appropriately evocative. Sometimes it works better than others, and themes tend to run in stretches, but the effort is always made. Most times, I’ll post a screen shot of the slide to flickr and often use it here on the blog as well. Well imagine my happy surprise a couple of weeks back when I saw the web site the folks from Inland Northwest Council of Libraries (INCOL) that had done the work for me. Check this out!:

The INCOL Workshop 2007 Banner

It’s a little silly and a little funny and says what we’ll cover and shows them who’s gonna be yapping at them for two hours. Fun! Thanks to who(m)ever whipped this little number up at INCOL. Nice work.

Oh, and btw, if you are in Coeur D’Alene this Friday, I still think you can get a ticket. If you’ll be there, pop in and say howdy!

Palo Alto Library General Public Presentation Web Page

A blog post, an event page and a press release. Thanks Palo Alto! Or more accurately: Excellent advocacy work, Palo Alto! Sure, it’s my ugly mug up there, but the fact of the matter is they are bringing someone from outside into their community to help. Carefully selected bits of specialized knowledge and experience can be used to help inform decisions, facilitate brainstorming and can lend a hand to libraries trying to be transparent to the community they serve. Working hard to decide how to best implement what users/patrons really want is more important now than ever before and bringing in appropriate amounts and types of outside thought can significantly assists libraries in making important decisions about the technological directions they take.

So this is exceptionally commendable of Palo Alto (and really has almost nothing to do with me individually). Having said that, perhaps I should have highlighted someone else’s public library tech presentation to make this point? While not entirely common, there are other examples, and each make me equally happy and hopeful for that community and their library.

As far as Palo Alto goes, I really do hope lots of folks show up. It’ll be a great chance to cover some important issues, issue a challenge or two and get some back-and-forth going on things that are driving libraries (and society at large).

As further example, here is the text from the press release for the event:

10/25/2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PRESS RELEASE #10/25/07
Subject :
Library Technology Expert Michael Porter to Speak at Palo Alto City Hall
Contact :
Mary Minto, Division Manager, Library (650) 329-2517

Palo Alto, CA – Library technologist, Michael Porter, trainer and author, will share his expertise November 8 from 7–9 p.m. on how public libraries use new digital tools to build communities. His presentation, “Your Library’s Future Has Changed: Technology, Content and Community,” will include a look at the web sites of innovative libraries that are using social networking tools and creative implementation to provide access to information and create connections in their communities.

Michael Porter is Community Associate for WebJunction, an organization funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to assist libraries and cultural organizations in meeting their objectives through the effective use of web-based technologies. His professional focus is on technology, community, and training. He co-authors the “Internet Spotlight” column in Public Libraries magazine and is writing a book about effective electronic communities.

The talk will be hosted by the Palo Alto City Library, which is gearing up to develop a library technology plan by early 2008. This free program is sponsored by the Friends of the Palo Alto Library.

· Date and Time: Thursday, November 8, 2007, 7–9 p.m.
· Place: Council Chambers, City Hall, 250 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto

Visit the Library web site at www.cityofpaloalto.org/library for more information.”

Very nice! I look forward to seeing everyone in Palo Alto (and Sunnyvale and Santa Clara Co. too) later this week!

-Michael

Libraryman

Big Announcement

It is party time ‘round Libraryman way my friends! And it’s a community party, which means that you are invited (see the next to last paragraph of this blog post for you invitation details). At this party, you get to tell me a story or two…..and I get to write. A book. For ALA Editions!
Libraryman Celebrates
While I’m bursting to tell you about my first book deal ever, Jenni Fry, Editor at ALA Editions tells the story in a much calmer and more reasonable voice:
“At Midwinter (2007) in Seattle, no fewer than three people sought me out, one even stopping me on the street, to tell me that “Michael Porter’s got an idea” for a book. Never one to be too slow on the uptake, I made sure to talk with him at a reception we were both attending. Several conversations and one contract later, I’m thrilled to say that Michael (aka Libraryman) will be writing for us.

Just what is this big idea, you say? Michael will be interviewing and gathering stories from individuals and institutions that have become leaders in successful electronic community engagement. He will use these stories as the basis for real-world lessons that libraries can use to more effectively engage the communities they serve. The work will be many things: part historical snapshot of this transition period in library service, part motivational storytelling, part benchmarking, and part practical handbook.”

Of course, Jenni is being a generous friend and editor because as I remember the story, it was I who tracked her down, two minute book pitch/elevator speech on the tip of my eager tongue. Regardless of how it happened, they did actually sign the contract so it is now legal and everything. In fact, I’ve taken a couple of stabs at an intro. Here’s one that is close:

“This is a book about effective and practical electronic community engagement. It is a book bursting with valuable, moving, entertaining, exciting and often times unusual stories and ideas. The stories all have lessons that center on people engaging with electronic community in ways that make the players more human. Each centrally themed collection of stories concludes with lessons learned, ideas and action items you can put to use in your library, business or personal life.”

I hope you like it, ‘cause unless the ALA folks say no, that’s how the book will go.
Now I get to thank a few folks that made this happen and then I’ll give you the official Michael Porter invitation to the party. Here goes:
Thanks to Jenni Fry and Patrick Hogan at ALA Editions for making this happen.
A whole slew of thank you’s to Chrystie Hill, who has a book coming out very soon herself and who also really helped align the stars that spelled out Y E S to this book proposal.
Also, thanks to Janie Hermann, who unbeknownst to me, also smiled upon this project.

The biggest thanks however go to the audience for and major subject matter of the book, that is, the inspirational and motivational colleagues I am blessed to know and work with. Does it crack anybody else up that simply thanking all the Jennifers’, Davids’, Michaels’ and Karens’ out there in Libraryland covers half of us?  Seriously though, thank you for helping to make this the most exciting time ever to work in libraries. This project will succeed because of you. Which leads me to your invitation to the party!

Your invitation:
This is my first public request for both library and NON-LIBRARY stories of community engagement. If you have had a story the has sprung to life from a single, or series of electronic community building tools and would be willing to share, please let me know so others can learn from it in this book! The more dramatic, intense, moving, informative, useful, practical and entertaining are obviously desirable. However, the beauty of subtlety is appreciated here as well. Even sending a one or two paragraph summary of a noteworthy community engagement story in your life could be a genuinely helpful inclusion in the book. So please think about your stories and consider sharing them with this book’s future audience. You can e-mail them to me at: michael.libraryman at sign gmail.com

I have some good content, substantial ideas and leads already, BUT we really need lots of stories like the ones described above from all over. In fact, they do not have to come from just library staffers. Non-library stories of electronic community engagement will make up the majority of those exemplified and examined in this book. That means if you have friends or family with stories that could enhance this book, I would LOVE to hear them!

Finally, this is my first book deal, so I am especially excited. I believe there is real benefit for Libraryland in the subject matter and approach here, which makes the project really pop for me as a librarian, practical tech advocate and author. But frankly, I don’t plan on trying to write a huge number of books. That means I truly believe in the idea and will work hard to make this useful, practical and helpful for us all. So for me, it is a big deal. And while it is a very happy project with lots of interesting work in store, I would like to end this announcement by thanking my dear grandma, Irene Porter-Baer. Grandma passed a way a few years ago but she was always one of my best friends, closest allies and strongest champions. I wouldn’t have been able to attend college or grad school without her help, so this opportunity would not have come to pass without her. I miss her and think of her often. I also try my best to make a proud legacy for her with my work. It is just another motivation to make this book be the best I can make it for us all. So either in the books’ introduction or conclusion I will thank you folks in Libraryland, and I will also thank my inspirational grandma that I owe a huge part of this current opportunity to.

Now please send me your stories of electronic community engagement, people! 

ALA Editions Book Deal Blog Post
PS-I’ll bet my editors are quaking in fear the the entire book will be as turgid as this blog post. Hey, at least I used the word “turgid”! :) <–Note to self, no emoticons in the book.

PART I:
365 Library Days Project
Woo Hoo!!! This weekend, the 365 Library Days Project (tag: 365libs) turned two months old! Amazingly (library folks are truly amazing), there are 297 participating libraries and already a library was written up in it’s local paper! All the person running their 365 Library Days Project did was call the paper and tell them they were working on it and they wrote it up! Wow! It works!

PART II
This an uplifting story for sure, but in ten months (or any time we like, really), the goal is to be able to start using the 365 Library Days Project as a more formal advocacy tool. Along those lines, an initiative has just begun to develop a Press Kit that we can give to media outlets and also a set of instructions/hints we can use to get the most value out of the historical document you are making as you participate in the 365 Library Days Project. Here is a link to the page where you can contribute to this phase of the project. Text of the original post is included too, so you can see what’s up:

Time To Write Our Press Kit and Instructions *this is a link*
“This weekend I started to write the press kit that libraries could just print out and give to their local newspapers, tv and radio stations to get attention to their 365 Library Days Projects. THen I thought, hey, there are almost 300 member libraries participating here, why don’t we make this a community project.

So, let’s do it! It seems that we will need to write:
1. A document we can give to media outlets.

2. A document we could give to library boards/governing bodies explaining the project and it’s value.

3. An brief, concise instruction sheet for librarians/staffer that explains how to use the two docs above most effectively.

So how should we write these? Perhaps we should start a wiki and do it there? Anyone have ideas or want to set that up for the group?

Also, if you need more proof of concept for the 365 Library Days Projects, as of this weekend we are just two months into the launch and there has already been one participating library that has received a write up in a local paper!

Please chime in here. You are the experts! :)

PART III
Finally, for the past two months, every time the 365 Library Days Projects got a legitimate plug from a participating library or a blogger, I’ve saved it in my del.icio.us feed. It’s grown to be an impressive collection of 38 links from folks on at least four continents with posts in five languages (if my count is correct). AMAZING! Here is a screenshot and a link to those posts:
365 Library Days Project Press So Far - Two Months In

Thanks everybody! Please contact me if you have any questions or if I can help you move your project along! Keep snapping these valuable photos in your libraries, keep having fun with this, good luck and see you around the 365 Library Days Project page!

Libraryman

Logo Evolution

Libraryman Logo Evolution So Far

Some really fun things have been happening behind the scenes lately with the whole idea of “Libraryman” having a logo. Actually, its a bit of a beta test for some ideas I’m working on for library advocacy and marketing. Working with the Libraryman persona and going along with the theory that play and “me” (and that is me in a good, not selfish way) is often the best way to approach learning something new, today you get a happy little picture that traces the evolution of the Libraryman logo. Fun! Well, for me anyway.

There will be a post/story about how the latest Libraryman logos just happened to show up in my email one day last month. Sam Morrison is the person I have to thank for that, and he’ll get another plug in a longer upcoming post about branding, marketing and electronic community turned into something substantive.

Libraryman Logo Evolution So Far

btw, if anybody gets an itch to draw another logo, well, it would make my day. In fact, along those lines, just yesterday, my coworker Laura sent me this picture of her son Carter in his Libraryboy costume. What?! A sidekick! Oh, man! Just think of the books we’ll read and the Summer Reading Program outreach we could accomplish! :) Thank you Carter, you rock!

Library Boy Rules!

Libraryman

Cram It In Your iPod

Or other electronic listening device of your preference:
Open Source – Passion: Libraries. It will mostly make you feel quite happy.

Go, go Amanda!!!

Here are some goodies for my Libraryland Brothers and Sisters out there joining in the 365 Library Days Project fun!

Use ‘em on your web page, your blog, your flickr stream…wherever you like. Go nuts!

Feel free to add you own banners here if you are inspired to make any!

Here are mine:
365 Library Days Project: Feel Free To Use This Banner!

365 Library Days Project: Feel Free To Use This Banner!

365 Library Days Project

I’ll be posting an update on the project this weekend with some numbers and side stories, but suffice it to say the participation level is pretty high! Libraryland never ceases to amaze! 365libs go, go, go! Library workers go, go, go!!!

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