Teaching My City to Build Us a Bookbike

So this is my latest project and I’m really excited about it. Excited enough to blog! Which is something I haven’t done very often the last couple of months. But, anyway… We are going to be building a book bike for my library and I’m far more excited about our process for building it, than the actual bike itself. Let me tell you all the details.

1) Genesis
I’ve seen a bunch of book bikes in other library systems and they seemed like a really amazing idea. I was especially excited because in the community of one of the branches that I manage it would work out perfectly. You see, our bookmobile is too big to get down some of our streets, our community is only 3-4 square miles large, and its really really flat. There are also about a dozen charter schools in the area and small places that only need something for an hour or so and not long enough to necessitate an entire visit from the book mobile. There are also a bunch of small fairs and festivals and parades that happen in the area that the bookmobile is unavailable for. The bookBike would be perfect.

2) 99 Problems but a Boobike Ain’t one

I had been trying to find someone to build us one for a while but ran into some problems. I called quite a few custom bike builders and never heard back and from others I got some outrageous prices. There are a bunch of custom, kind of fun digital things I want to incorporate into the bike like Jason Griffey’s Library Box, wifi, usb ports, solar panels to power it all, and a bunch of other ideas. Because of all of that, and the complexity of the project, I kinda just put it on hold for a while.

3) Solutions are Always Good
A couple of months ago, I went on a tour of Techshop San Jose organized by Paul Sims and Ann Awakuni and then I organized a tour for just my library system. At our tour I met the manager of the shop and one of my staff started talking to him about a bunch of different projects (secret projects that I’ll tell you about later). We started talking about the BookBike idea. The manager said something to the effect of building it there. That discussion led to an idea of having our community come and build the bike! Two of my staff members were so enthused about this whole thing that they went and took some metal working and welding classes and are now the real leaders behind this project.

4) The Moderately Well Thought-Out Plan
We thought, what if we taught the community members to build the bookbike? Tech Shop has all of the tools, another organization unofficially (I’ll tell you who when its official) has said they’d be interested in donating materials, and we’d just need to pay for short memberships and classes from Tech Shop to cover their expenses. By doing this, the community members would learn to weld, solder, work with lasers, and learn a bunch of other skills and tools and we’d get a bookbike for free! It was a win, win, win!

5)The Execution of a Fail and a Win
Here’s where there is a slight fail and a slight win. About two months ago we put together some flyers, about two weeks ago we sent out a bunch of press releases, it was on our website, on our social media, we used the #maykermonday program as a kickoff point, we talked to a bunch of people, and just about everything else we could think of.

Well, only one person showed up. But it turns out that he was an architecture major, recent grad, and his thesis project was designing a library! He seems to be really excited about the project and we have three staff of mine, plus two of techshop, and he wants to get a couple of his buddies involved. In the end, I think this will be a really great project for our library and we’ve already thought of some other ways we can make some future ones even bigger and better! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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30 Awesome things I’ve done for #30awesome (June 30th)

Photo credit: John Lamasney

So, I can’t let my last blog entry to go without my own example of self-promotion. There are links to most of the stuff for more information, otherwise there is a summary of what I’ve done below the title. So, here are 30 Things I’ve Done that I’m proud of for #30awesome.

1) Elementary School Volunteer Team

My first job was as an elementary school librarian. To this day, this was the best job I have ever had (except for the pay of course). While working at this library, I created a volunteer team of students who ordered my books, shelved my materials, helped with storytimes, and did many other things. This was the start of my ideas around the importance of community member involvement in libraries and collection development. (more on that later)

2) Co-Chair of ALASC

While in Library school I was the co-chair of the Student Chapter of the American Library Association. This was a fun job where I blogged about the work that we were doing, helped organize social events, and first got involved in ALA.

3) Associated Students Award for Social Media Campaign

As Co-Chair, I created our social media presence online. This was back in the days of Myspace and youtube dominance on social media. We even won an award for my work on our social media.

4) Coordinated the Opening of a Library

After working as an elementary school librarian, I got job coordinating the opening of a 40 thousand square foot, joint use facility. This was an amazing experience where I got to hire my own staff and create my own policies and procedures for not only a library, but the beginnings of a library system. There was only one library previously and this library made two and therefore a library system lacking all of the procedures and policies that a library system needs. It was great fun and long hours.

5) Innovative collection development strategy

While creating this library, we had to fill it with materials and books that we didn’t have. Because we didn’t know what books to order for a library so large, we opened with a modest collection and allowed the community to decide what books filled it. Each staff member (and some volunteers) were taught how to order books and if anyone asked for anything, we simply ordered it immediately. So, the library was filled with the community’s books!

6) Volunteer Program

At this same library I developed a volunteer program that boasted over 150 volunteers with over 1200 hours of volunteer time each month. It was the only way we could maintain a library and while it was successful, I have some pretty mixed emotions on it.

7) Started a Teen Advisory Committee

At this same library, I created a group of teens who advised the library on the kinds of things that teens wanted from their library. Not much to say here, there are lots of examples.

8) Redesigned a workroom

At my current library, our workroom needed a redesign badly. It was poorly organized and the workflow was terrible. All the staff gave input and the aides especially assisted in creating the final plan. It was a fun process!

9) Built a Library website

I built a library’s website. Pre-Drupal. It sucked, but we did it and it worked for what it needed to do. I probably won’t ever do that again.

10) One of the first 6 folks in the original ALA Think Tank.

One day JP Porcarro called me and asked if I wanted to stay at this house for ALA. I said yes and I have been there ever since and eventually springing out of this house came the online version of the ALATT.

11) Seed Libraries

We have a seed library to help combat the food desert that is the East Palo Alto Community.

12) Nooks

We check out eReaders because fuck eBooks.

13) EveryLibrary

I am a board member of the nation’s first and only Political Action Committee for libraries. Its an amazing experience and I’m learning a ton of great things about American Politics and how it really works.

14) The Story Sailboat

This is a library and literacy advocacy campaign by sailboat in the San Francisco Bay funded by a kickstarter project. We deliver books to communities through book seeding after the Urban Libraries Unite model and other guerilla advocacy techniques.

15) The Great Librarian Write-Out

So far we have given away $1,050 to two people who write about libraries in non-library in-print publications.

16) Librarian’s Maker CookBook

The Librarian’s Maker Cookbook is a google doc that any librarian can contribute maker program ideas to and learn from.

17) MaykerMondays

This is the nationwide program that’s happening in May to get librarians to promote their Maker Programs and share them with other librarians in social media using the hashtag #maykermonday. In retrospect, I would have called it #maykermonth

18) Bay Area Librarians

One of the first geographical library pages on Facebook created to help librarians interact with each other online. It was created before FB changed the way Pages work, if I did it now, I’d create a group and not a page.

19) Meetups and Socials

Out of this page came a bunch of great meetups and socials in the bay area that are getting librarians to grow their social networks and meet and create some great stuff together.

20 ) Emerging Leaders

I was in Emerging leaders for ALA. It was fun, you should do it too. Not for the projects, but for the people you’ll meet.

21) Eureka! Leadership Program

This is basically the same as Emerging Leaders, but it was a lot more powerful for me personally. I spent a lot more time with CA Librarians and had some great times.

22) Guitar Libraries

The Eureka Leadership Program allowed me to create a guitar library. Now our library circulates guitars and folks get free private guitar lessons when they check them our for 8 weeks. Its rad.

23) ALA Council

I’m on ALA Council… Again. I’m not sure if this is a brag or a complaint yet. Even after the last three years.

24) Great Librarian Roadshow

Lisa Carlucci, Josh hadro, and myself had an amazing opportunity to travel the east coast of the United States and visit libraries in order to show off all of the amazing things that they were doing. We had a fantastic time doing it and all of our videos and information are still available on the Library Journal Website.

25) Zombie Month

Our library had a month dedicated to Zombies in October. Basically it was public safety information that was framed around the context of zombies to get our kids interested. We had huge turnouts for programs that, I believe, would have not gotten as many kids involved.

26) Social Media Plan

I created our library system’s social media policy. I don’t have a whole lot to say about that, if you want to see it, I’m more than happy to share it.

27) Lots of Presentations

I present at conferences… A lot. I recommend that all librarians do this. Its very good for your own confidence and self-promotion. Get out there and MIH!

28) Mural Arts Project

At our library, I collaborated with the Mural Arts Project to create large graffiti murals across our back wall that says our library system’s vision statement. It was a great collaboration with an amazing organization.

29) CLA Conference Committee

I’m currently working on the California Library Association’s Conference Committee. If this year’s conference sucks… It’s probably my fault. If it’s great, give Derek Wolfgram full credit.

30) ALA Flash Mob
At ALA in New Orleans I organized a flash mob to get people excited about libraries. It was a lot of fun dancing and singing in the rain. We had a really great time.

You are more than welcome to steal anything I’ve done. If you have any questions or want to learn more, I’m always around to give you more info. If you want me to speak on any of these subjects, I’d be more than glad to! (except social media, I won’t talk about social media anymore, you should just be doing that already). But the real point is that you should start talking about what you’re doing.

Bonus- I also made this store to raise money for library advocacy projects.
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Shamelessly Self-Promote Yourself #30awesome

Sometimes I feel like librarianship is one of the weirder professions. Not for all the reasons that you’re probably thinking of, but because of the part of our professional culture that has a kind of disdain for success. Its not hard to point instances of this out. If you look (and you don’t have to look too far) there are a bunch of blog posts that basically just hate on how successful other people are. There are a bunch of people in ALATT who hate on people’s project’s when they get too successful (“OMG, if I have too see this video of ___ library one more time,” etc…). Or, you can just look at people’s reaction to Library Journal’s Movers and Shakers award, or the way people comment when you promote your awesome stuff. My big fear is that this is causing professionals to keep from promoting their awesome stuff for fear of appearing too successful and getting that hater backlash.

This is why I love this #30awesome project. You all are doing rad things and you need to talk about them… Shamelessly. This is the best fucking profession in the world, tell people about it.

Let me just mention my experiences real quick… I ran a contest called the Great Librarian Write-Out where the winner would get $800 for writing about libraries and librarianship in a non-library and in-print forum. I only had 4 legitimate entries after a year. I’ve only had 6 in total after two years. Also, Librarians have a direct line to one of the world’s largest online blogs (boingboing.net) where we can write articles about the amazing stuff that libraries and librarians are doing. The great stuff that you are doing!! We’ve had 23 articles when we should have had a hundred. What is up with this? Am I wrong? Do we not fear shamelessly promoting ourselves and I’m totally mistaken?

Even if I’m completely wrong about the culture of our profession, you are all doing awesome things and you need to promote it far more than you do already. Because the deal is, that by promoting yourselves and your work as a librarian to the world (and to the profession) you are actually helping librarianship as a whole. This is largely due to the fact that according the PEW Internet Research Center and OCLC the number one most effective technique for building library support is creating a relationship with your community as a librarian. Even if you disagree with that, you still help the profession with you self-promotion because we will all learn about the awesome things you’re doing and get better at our jobs.

So, while I completely support this #30awesome project, I really hope that it is the the spark of a fire of the shameless promotion of librarians, libraries, and everything that we do. Now, go out and tell people that you’re awesome and why.

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Have authors in your library for #MaykerMondays!

Hey librarians! Do you want some authors to come take part in your MaykerMonday events? We have a partnership with Togather to get authors interested in maker spaces into your libraries. Take a look at the details below and contact the amazing Dana Skirut for more details and questions.

About:
Togather is a free marketing tool that enables librarians to engage local communities with more great in-person experiences. Library events are an important way to connect and build relationships with new audiences, but turnout is hard to predict. Too often the programming doesn’t find demand, and valuable resources go to waste. Togather helps change this dynamic by making it easier to collaborate with local interest groups to plan more well-attended events. With Togather, libraries can leverage their strengths in research and curation to create enriching events that drive buzz about their services and bring in more patrons.

How Togather can help:

  • Access to authors: Togather has over 500+ authors on board, with some makers listed below. Have an author that you’re interested in, but not sure how to get in touch? They’ll do their best to make the connection!
  • Ideas for events: Not sure of the format for your event? Depending on your space, they can brainstorm some ideas for how to make the most of your class, talk or workshop — whether it’s in-person or the author is joining via Skype.
  • Custom event pages: Togather allows you to create a custom event page with plenty of sharing features to make it easier to promote your event. They’ll help set it up, and also provide a home for your library showing all upcoming Togather events.
  • All-or-nothing model: Not sure if people will want to attend? Set up a Togather event with an author and define a minimum attendance goal (e.g. 15 participants). Ask people to RSVP in advance to show their support. If there isn’t enough demand by a certain date, you won’t have to host an event for just two participants.
  • Raise funds: If your local Friends of the Library organization is involved, Togather can help you raise funds by making it easy to sell affordable tickets to your event.

Authors:
Here are just a few of their “maker” authors who are already interested in connecting with libraries around the country:

  • Kelly Rand, author of Handmade to Sell, which is full of useful business advice for those looking to make the leap into full time crafting, or wanting to expand into other areas of the indie marketplace.
  • Jeni Britton Bauer, author of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home, an essential resource for making delicious and uniquely flavored ice creams, yogurts, and sorbets in your own kitchen.
  • Denise Grollmus, author of The Ohio Knitting Mills Knitting Book, which explores decades of traditional knitting patterns
  • Lori Sandler, author of the Divvies Bakery Cookbook, which features recipes for vegan treats that are sensitive to those suffering from major food allergies.

Contact:
If your library is interested in participating in MAY-ker Mondays with Togather’s help, please feel free to contact them directly to set up your event: dana@togather.com

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33 and Sorting It Out

So, I’m about to turn 33 and I decided that for this birthday, I wanted to start making some changes as a kind of present to myself. Some of them are big, some are pretty small. Why did I pick this year to make this decision? You know, I have no idea. Jesus died at 33? But really I don’t know. This post is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, but I still don’t have it completely sorted out yet. And that’s ok, I plan on blogging my journey to figure it out as I figure it out.

First things first… Some goals
In case you read it before I had a bunch of goals that I set out to do about 3 years ago. Turns out, I didn’t do very many of them. I did some big ones, but kinda dropped off from doing some of the things that I just want to do.

Spanish
I really need to learn Spanish. I was studying really well for about a year, then I stopped. I’m going to study at least one hour every day from now on. I have plenty of books and workbooks and people to speak Spanish to so I just need to MIH.

Guitar
I’m going to practice my guitar again. This is another thing that I just kinda stopped doing. I would love to play guitar a lot better. Not really because I have any significant musical aspirations outside of wanting to do a musical storytime with my guitar. So, I will also practice guitar everyday. I don’t know for how long though because this will be the most difficult to make some time for. But Every. Single. Day.

Political Astuteness
As a board member of EveryLibrary, and as a librarian, and as an American citizen, I need to get my political game together. This is something I realized recently when I hung out with John Chrastka last weekend and listened to him talk at the CPLA workshop. He is real smart on the politics and I need to get there too.

Sail More
Basically, that’s all. Whether it’s for the Story Sailboat, for my own fun, in races, or whatever… I just need to sail more for my own health and wellbeing.

Reading More
I also need to read a lot more. I plan on reading every night before I go to bed. There are just so many books that I want to read that I get overwhelmed and stop reading. Luckily I have some good advice on what to read next.

Dropping Things
Just as important as setting goals to achieve is learning which things I need to drop. I have a bunch of habits and traits that I want to stop doing, but also some bigger things.

Coffee
I LOVE coffee, but I really started drinking too much of it. This wouldn’t be so bad except for all the things I put in my coffee. So I’m switching to unsweetened strong tea. A good strong dark tea is something I got into in Hong Kong and for some reason lost sight of when I came home. I already started this one and I love it.

Television and Movies
I spend too much time watching television shows and movies on my boat. If I cut these two things out, I’ll have much time for everything else. Maybe not completely, but a whole lot less.

Skipping out a little on the social medias.
I’d like to start by saying that I absolutely love talking to everyone on social media. But really, its become a bit too much for me to handle. Between Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, and *G+, its really just become more of an anxious tick than an enjoyable experience. So, because I use Facebook the heaviest and more twitchy, and also because it’s easiest to do, I’m going to drop my Facebook account but only for a couple of weeks in an attempt to try to reign that in. This is basically just so that I have one less thing to worry about. Anyway, I’ll still be checking the other things so we can talk there, but I probably won’t be there as much. Facebook has just kinda become… Too much for right now.

Anyway, that’s where I am now. If you don’t see me on Facebook or on the other social media for a while, it’s cool, I’m coming back! But I’m coming back better.

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Announcing the winner of Round Two of the Great Librarian Write-out.

With much delay, we are very excited to announce the winner of the second annual Great Librarian Write-out. We had many fine entries this year and our team took longer than expected to make a decision. But no worries, we’ve made our choice of articles. This year’s winner was Anne Marie Madziak who published an article in Municipal World Magazine entitled Public Libraries: Helping Communities Thrive in a Changing World. Her award for this article amounted to 800 dollars thanks to contributions by LibraryAware, Andy Woodworth, Tina Hager, and Sue Anderson.

Municipal World is the oldest continuously published monthly municipal magazine in the world. Founded in 1891, the magazine is devoted to promoting effective municipal government.

Anne Marie Madziak is a library development consultant with Southern Ontario Library Service, an Agency of Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. In her work with public libraries she has trained both staff and trustees on a wide range of topics, assisted with board development, and facilitated planning sessions. She authored the SOLS publication, Creating the Future You’ve Imagined: A Guide to Essential Planning. More recently, Anne Marie coordinates the APLL Institute, a leadership development program for public library staff.

Over the past few years, Anne Marie has been busy consulting with municipal leaders and developing strategies and best practices for better positioning the public library in the municipal environment.

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Introducing Library #MAYkerMondays.

3D Printer

Recently a lot of libraries have been developing ideas and spaces around the maker movement and the maker culture. We have seen a giant leap in libraries as spaces for makers to make and for the Do It Yourself (DIY) community to come together and learn. Of course, libraries have always provided the knowledge for these kinds of things through our print and digital collections, but now we are seeing an emergence of libraries giving dedicated space, programming, and occasionally the tools to help our communities make it happen.

One of the big complaints that I’ve heard from librarians is that they don’t know anything about maker spaces or communities or programming. I have to say that this is almost entirely untrue. I am not at all involved in the maker movement or the community and I only just recently realized how many maker programs my library does. For example, how many of us do programs with our kids and teens making duct tape wallets? What about jewelry? How about almost any kind of craft project? These are all maker projects although we don’t think of them that way.

While maker programs like these are not about computers and technology, there are a lot of programs that you can do that are. Some examples of those things are Jason Griffey’s Library Box, renting or buying a 3D Printer, utilizing Arduino, and something as simple as taking electronic devices apart. There are tons of cheap and easy things that libraries can do to take part in the electronic/tech part of the maker movement.

In order to help us come up with some great resources for library maker programs, I created this google doc called the Maker Cookbook that you can contribute too if you have some maker ideas of your own or need something to help you come up with new ideas.

Another problem is that we need to come together around the Maker Movement and give it a good try. In order to move that conversation along and get people motivated and into the maker movement, we presented an idea at the ALA Midwinter Conference. This idea stemmed from the Library Lab (library Boing Boing) group and became #MAYkerMonday. We’d love to have more people participate! Read the details below and click this link to the FB page to let people know that your library will participate.

#MAYkerMonday will be held nationwide in libraries throughout May on every Monday. The idea is to encourage librarians to host a program for the maker community on every Monday in May. This is will be a way for libraries to show that they are participating in the maker movement and for librarians to try out some maker activities that they may not have tried before. It’s also a great way to introduce your staff to the make movement if they seem skeptical. By doing these programs, hosting a maker meetup, or maybe staff training around maker spaces for your staff each Monday in May and by using the hashtag #MAYkerMonday libraries can promote the idea that they are community spaces for creativity and learning. Sign up and join in the fun!

As part of this, we would also love for our blogging, Tumblr, Twitter, and other posting communities to use the #MAYkerMonday hashtag to promote the maker movement in libraries on every Monday in May.

This should be easy because for most libraries there are only three open Mondays in May. The fourth and the last #MAYkerMonday will be a great opportunity for librarians to use their day off to do their own maker project and join in the fun!

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