October 15, 2013
Michigan Library Association 2013 Presentations
Getting ready to head up to Lansing for the 2013 Michigan Library Association Annual Convention.
I am fortunate to present twice. One during the regular session and one during the Ignite MLA Session on Thursday October 17th. I will be the first of seven librarians presenting in this format: "Get ready for a rapid fire session of ideas that will inspire, challenge and motivate you. Ignite MLA will feature speakers who each have just five minutes and 20 slide to share an idea, story or solution that ingnites their passion for the library community."
Here are my session information and the presentation slides & handouts available via Deep Blue. Please write me at email@example.com with any questions, thoughts or comments.
Program Title: Where is the Hospitality in Your Library?
Date: Wednesday October 16 at 4:15-5:15pm (Room 101-102 - Lansing Center)
Abstract: In the library and information fields, we spend countless hours focusing on making our world a more self-service environment. While many patrons much prefer to work independently and easily find resources on their own, we have placed our emphasis on creating a self-service environment that removes the “middle man” from the information equation. And with the move that many have made away from conventional reference desks and reference service, we can (at times) look more like self-check express lanes at the grocery stores than like the libraries that we used to be. And while our patrons most certainly enjoy accessing resources in an unmediated fashion, there are many instances (especially with more difficult research projects) where they do need assistance with finding print and electronic resources. This presentation takes a look at how we have used methods from the hospitality and service industries at the Kresge Business Administration Library (University of Michigan) to ensure that we are not only meeting the information needs of our patrons, but also being available to assist them when it is needed. In this presentation, we will discuss the role of public service in the library and how the lessons on the hospitality industry can improve our interaction with the patrons.
NOTE: This is a program I have been giving for a few years, but it is continually evolving and growing. I am hoping to write this up more definitively in the coming year.
URL: Slides and Handouts
Program Title: Bitter Coffee & Watered-down Bourbon: Lessons for Libraries from Chase & Sanborn Coffee and Maker’s Mark
Date: Thursday October 17 at 3pm (Ignite MLA session runs from 3pm to 4pm (Banquet Rooms 1-4 - Lansing Center)
Abstract: The story of Chase & Sanborn Coffee provides all organizations a great morality tale for all organizations, including libraries, about how small changes may lead to larger problems down the road. Chase & Sanborn ranked with Maxwell House as one of the leading coffee brands in the early 20th century. They were known not only for their fresh sealed coffee, but also for the Chase & Sanborn Hour variety show that featured many stars including Don Ameche, Nelson Eddy, and Edgar Bergen with his wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy. In the years after World War II, there was a belief at the company that they could make small changes to the process to reduce costs, without changing the quality that much. A similar decision was made earlier this year by Maker’s Mark to reduce their alcohol for their Kentucky Burbon as a cost reduction plan to help boost profits. Using these two examples from the business world, the presentation will explore how small decisions can, over time, fundamentally change the very nature of any organization. For the library, the presentation will show how modest and sometimes seemingly consequence free decisions about resources and services that a library provides can snowball into a complete change in the overall perception of the library. So changes that seems minor at the time, when considered together, transform and (more importantly) potentially undermine what the library is attempting to provide for their community. In the light of continued encroachment on a libraries space and budget, this type conundrum might be easier to fall into than we might think or like.
NOTE: This is a program that I am very excited about. I am very interested in the use of library services by our communities and what I see as erosion of the 'library brand'. While this is starting off as a small presentation (like the hospitality one), I am hoping that it grows into a more full exploration of library identity and services in the era of declining resources.
URL: Slides and Handouts This entry was posted in the following categories: Business Librarianship , Conference Presentations , Librarianship , Management Philosophy
October 26, 2012
On Library Annual Reports (ALAO 2012)
Presenting today at the Academic Library Association of Ohio's Annual Conference on Library Annual Reports.
Here is the presentation abstract: The library annual report can be a powerful tool in showcasing its impact on campus. Even modest annual reports can be an important element in a library’s marketing program. This presentation will show how we have grown the Kresge Business Administration Library’s annual report over the past five years and how it demonstrates ROI (Return on Investment) for the library to our Deans and Provosts.
Here are some resources that I will use today:
- PowerPoint slides are available online at Deep Blue.
- Kresge Library's Annual Reports from the Kresge Library Wiki.
Please note that the 2012 Annual Report (which will cover the 2011-2012 academic year) will not come out until later this year. We want to match with the release of the Ross School of Business Strategic Plan.
Some of the key takeaways from the presentation are:
- Creating a library annual report is easier than you think.
- Most libraries already compile most of the data you need to produce a great report.
- Creating a library annual report can be much less expensive than you might think (does not need to be printed).
- A library annual report allows you to share stories (especially outcomes) with your community.
- I am not a huge fan of benchmarking or dashboards. I do not think that they provide a compelling reason why a school or a community should invest more in the library.
I also presented on this topic at the 2011 Charleston Conference. I hope to start working on a written version of this article within then next year or so. If you have any thoughts or comments - please write me at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis entry was posted in the following categories: Librarianship
June 05, 2012
Where is the Hospitality in Your Library & Patron-Driven Services (Farmington Community Library Staff Day 2012)
I have been working a lot on this idea of hospitality in the library over the past year. I am very excited that I get to present on this at the Farmington Community Library's Staff Day on Friday June 8, 2012. This presentation gave me opportunity to explore and expand the topic. This is all moving towards publications somewhere down the road, as the idea gets formed.
What I am excited about also is the notion of the Patron-Driven Services. This is an idea that I have been kicking around and will write about it this summer. So much has been written about Patron-Drive Acquisitions (or Patron-Drive Collections), but this might be a better way to connect with the communities that we work with. Without naming it before, I began to realize that this is what I have been doing at Kresge for the past six years. I have been solely focused on the user experience and the user needs since becoming director here in 2006. With each passing year, I feel more and more confident that we are going to good to great (or Great to EVEN Greater).
Here are the slides & handouts:
Where is the Hospitality in Your Library? (expanded presentation for Farmington Community Library Staff Day 2012)
ABSTRACT: Presentation given for the Staff Day at the Farmington Community Library on Friday June 8, 2012 (Farmington Hills, Michigan) by Corey Seeman. This is an expanded version of the presentation given elsewhere. In an increasing self-service environment, we will explore the Kresge Business Administration Library at the University of Michigan has used methods from the hospitality and service industries to reinvigorate the way that we connect with our community. We have established a service ethos to ensure that we are not only meeting the information needs of our patrons, but also being available to assist them whenever it is needed. In this presentation, we will discuss the role of public service in the library and how the lessons on the hospitality and service industries can improve our interaction with the patrons. In addition to discussing hospitality, I am also using this to introduce the concept of Patron-Driven Services, a adaptation of Patron-Driven Acquisitions (or Collections) which has been very popular in academic circles.
If you have any thoughts on the topic, please let me know at email@example.com.This entry was posted in the following categories: Librarianship
May 08, 2012
Where is the Hospitality in Your Library?
Looking at the issue of Hospitality in one's library has been a recent subject of mine. I have given brief presentations on this topic at the Charleston Conference and the ABLD joint meeting last month (for business library directors).
On Friday, my colleague Tom Marini and I will be giving an expanded presentation on this subject. One of the important things that I wanted to look at was not just how to bring hospitality into the library, but how to do it when the budget is not working in your favor. When librarians at huge academic libraries like Michigan, Chicago, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Illinois, etc. talk about innovation and new services/programs, people can think that it is possible only because of large budgets and the good fortune of having a large operation. So what I wanted to do was to start to look at the hospitality services that we provide here at Kresge Business Administration Library that people can implement with modest or fundamentally no cost. This is a real takeaway that I think all librarians can use. It is not even a matter of people saying - "we can do this in our library" - but more along the lines that not all services have a price-tag. Additionally, sometimes its the little things that get people thinking differently about a service organization like the library. And lots of small things that are beneficial can really get people to appreciate and love (yep - LOVE) the library.
Here are the presentations (all in Deep Blue, the University of Michigan's institutional repository.
Title: Where is the Hospitality in Your Library? Developing and Improving Services with the Patron in Mind. (Michigan Library Association's Academic Libraries 2012)
Authors: Corey Seeman & Tom Marini (Kresge Library)
NOTE: This is the most recent version of the presentation. This is where I am starting to develop a notion of what we can do to bring hospitality into our library with little or no cost. That is a very significant issue when large libraries share what they are able to do. That is not always transferable to medium sized or smaller libraries. So I want to look more specifically at that notion as I build this thought out.
--older presentations on hospitality --
Title: Where is the Hospitality in Your Library? (Original presentation at Charleston Conference, November 2011)
Authors: Seeman, Corey
Abstract: In the library and information fields, we spend countless hours focusing on making our world a more self-service environment. While many students and faculty much prefer to work independently and easily find resources on their own, we have placed our emphasis on creating a self-service environment that removes the “middle man” from the information equation. And with the move that many have made away from conventional reference desks and reference service, we can (at times) look more like self-check express lanes at the grocery stores than like the libraries that we used to be. And while our patrons most certainly enjoy accessing resources in an unmediated fashion, there are many instances (especially with more difficult research projects) where they do need assistance with finding print and electronic resources. This presentation takes a brief look at how we have used the methods from the hospitality industry at the Kresge Business Administration Library (University of Michigan) to ensure that we are not only meeting the information needs of our patrons, but also being available to assist them when it is needed. In this presentation, we will discuss the role of public service in the library and how the lessons on the hospitality industry can improve our interaction with the patrons. We hope that attendees will be able to take away some tangible hospitality methods that have worked, as well as those that did not work. In focusing on hospitality, it allows us to think in a whole new fashion for the services that we provide.
Title: Where is the Hospitality in Your Library? (expanded presentation for a workshop with a group of librarians in Texas)
Same abstract as above.
I want to use this to get more discussion and works on this subject. This can be a real game changers for academic libraries!This entry was posted in the following categories: Librarianship
April 11, 2012
Library Service for watching personal belongings?
There was recently a great question asked of the ULS-L list about providing a library service for watching personal belongings.
This is part of the question posed by a librarian at the University of Texas:
"For the last year or so, we’ve been brainstorming potential ways to provide students with a safe and reliable service that would allow them to leave their personal belongings behind while they ran to the restroom or grabbed a coffee. We have a 6-floor main library and seats with access to power outlets are highly treasured, so students studying alone never want to deal with giving up their spot for a quick errand. The building is one of the easiest targets for thieves on campus and laptops left behind for just a moments are easily stolen. "
This is my response - thought it would be good to share via my blog as well.
There is a really good discussion about this on the list and I think it is an important consideration for libraries. Shortly after this was posted to the list, we received a message from University security that addressed this issue:
Thefts of unattended belongings on the University of Michigan campus significantly have increased in the first three months of 2012 compared with 2011. U-M Police remind students, faculty and staff to secure their valuables at all times.
From January 1 to March 31, 2012, the U-M Department of Public Safety received 190 reports of larcenies, a 32% increase from 144 reported in the same time period in 2011. Most larcenies are thefts of unattended belongings. Of the 190 larcenies this year, 38 laptops and 27 cell phones were reported stolen.
Be sure to reduce the opportunities for thefts by not leaving laptops, wallets, cell phones, purses, backbacks and bookbags unattended even for a couple of minutes. It takes less than a minute for a thief to take your belongings.
The issue is that many students are both very comfortable in a library and very distracted – which leads to leaving material around. This leads to thefts.
At Kresge Library (an independent library at the University of Michigan) we rolled out a similar coat/bag check program in the Winter of 2011. The funny thing is that we expected (like with many services that we rolled out) that it would take a while for people to learn about it and that we could handle the added work load. Much to our surprise, there was immediate interest in the service and we found that we did not have the capacity to handle all the demand. The problem that was happening (from my POV) is that students were handing material to the Reference Librarians (we share a large desk with the circulation operations). It became a real problem when we were working with students to have others drop their bags off and interrupt our reference meeting. At the end, we decided that while this was a good service, we just did not have the staff to manage the operations. As I tend to roll out programs, we see everything as a pilot, moving flexibly to make sure that it is indeed something that is needed and we could support it. Here is a case where we did not feel we could support it properly and pulled the plug.
In regards to the liability issue (what if something is lost or stolen while under our care), we did not have an issue, though we realized the possibility of this happening. We did not run the service long enough to run into any problems. It is possible that we were lucky or maybe this issues might not have come to pass. But the reality is out there and certainly one that we needed to be aware about.
This is what I wrote about it in the 2011 Kresge Library Annual Report:
Another program proved to be too great an imposition on Kresge staff and was not continued. Kresge Staff had noticed that during interview season, many students left their backpacks and jackets unattended while interviewing in the suites at Kresge
Library. The result is that some students have had items stolen when they left them unattended. In an effort to come up with a way to help prevent theft, we proposed a coat check behind the circulation desk for students during their interview. While many
programs take months or years to develop a following, this took off right from the start. The problem was that it became a major distraction at the circulation and reference desks that led to interruptions to our key library services. For example, it was very
difficult to manage a reference interview at the desk when someone is dropping off boots prior to an interview. So with this service, we determined that despite a successful pilot program, we did not have the space or the staff to adequately support this role. The
program has not been brought back for the 2011-2012 academic year.
In closing, I believe a great deal in providing patron-driven services (something I am working on) in a welcoming, hospitable and safe environment. If there is something that we can do to ensure that students are safe and their belongings are as well, then it is something to consider. With this particular service, we discovered the need greater than our abilities.
August 21, 2011
Drowning By Numbers, Part II
In 1993, I had a great opportunity to write an article in Pittsburgh History, the journal of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania where I worked at the time. The article was called
“Drowning by Numbers: The State of Baseball History (full text)” and it bemoaned the fixation (as I saw it) with numbers in baseball history. My goal in writing the piece was to encourage baseball historians to see the social significance of sports – rather than just “recounting and re-recording the numbers baseball players assembled over time.”
While the numbers-driven approach can remove the context of sport in American Culture, the appeal of this approach does make sense. Every action and reaction in baseball produces a number. Almost like a business has a balance-sheet recording revenue and expenses, a baseball team has numbers for everything – making this type of historical approach logical.
In the 18 years since I wrote that piece, I am not sure baseball history changed all that much, but I certainly have. As the director and librarian of the Kresge Business Administration Library of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, I am working with numbers all the time. I want to revisit this concept and see where I can apply it in two of my key areas in librarianship. As a director, I am focused on ensuring that we share our work with the school via annual reports. These are driven by numbers, some with more value than others. I am working on a Charleston Conference session on using Annual Reports for marketing purposes. So I will talk more about that later.
But I want to write today about my other world at Kresge Library. Even though I am the director of the library, I still have an active role in helping the Ross Community with library reference. I think this is a critically important part of my job to help faculty and students with reference. I believe this for a few reasons. First, it is a tremendously grounding part of my job. It allows me to know what the other librarians and staff are going through. If I am working on reference as well as the other librarians, I have a better sense of the ebbs and flows of the work.
So thinking about the baseball world when every action and reaction has a number associated with it, many see business the same way. At Kresge, we get questions from faculty, students and community members that ask for numbers that seem like they are tracked – but are hard to find. This represents one of our biggest challenges at the library – being asked a question about numbers that seem like they should be kept – but are nowhere to be seen. Or possibly the data is not kept in the fashion that the person wants. We have been asked all sorts of questions, like “how many shrimp are served by Red Lobster in a year?” Some have answers and others do not.
From a librarian point of view, we work hard on trying to figure out what they are hoping to do with the data, so many we can find proxy information. Maybe you do not get the exact count of how many shrimp are served at Red Lobster, but you get information (maybe anecdotal) on much money people spend on shrimp there. That is also a tough number to get, but sometimes it is available.
So where I am going with this is a question I got on Friday. What is the size of the “total retail product selection in the United States.” It is a cool question, and a tricky one. Basically, if I wanted to buy one of everything available in the retail marketplace in the US, how many things would I have…. What I was able to provide to this patron is some industry reports on the US retail sector, information from the BLS, and (later that weekend) , information about UPC barcodes. According to the UPC Database, there are 1,387,455 unique numbers. While that does not include everything sold, it is a pretty good start.
But in thinking about this question, I was wondering if Barry Schwartz’ Paradox of Choice” had any number. The examples in the excellent book all focused on products – like 85 different jams – rather than all the products available to consumers. But I did find this in searching via Google.
Now that is ironic…the "Paradox of Choice" is one of almost 1 million books you can get for your Kindle...talk about having a hard time making a decision...
I will be playing with this some more – but I wanted to get the conversation started.