Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Presentation Notes: Teleconference on Finding Trends

Event took place October 26, 2007, but I have not found the time to put the notes in here until now. This was the "Finding the Trends That Matter" teleconference offered by the College of DuPage under their "Soaring to Excellence" series. Here at UT Tyler, we get the satellite hosting, as sponsored by the state library. We actually get a couple of librarians from other nearby libraries come and see these, which makes for a nice chance to meet new folks.

Anyhow, here are my notes then.

  • Recommended reading: Academic Librarianship by Design by Steven Bell (he was one of the speakers).
  • Keeping up is one way to spot trends.
  • It is about not missing the next opportunity to serve patrons.
  • The trendspotter is the antenna of society. However, you also have to think and put the knowledge in context.
  • Joking aside about the arcade image (there was a reference to libraries as arcades), Bell emphasizes that you do what works in your environment. [Catherine] Wilt [of PALINET, the second speaker] mentions the idea of library as a community center (I happen to like this notion, but within reason).
  • An environmental scan needs to be purposeful.
    • Have a process champion, an advocate.
    • Use formal and informal activities. For surveys, get someone experienced in creating and analyzing surveys. Gather the data, use it, and be transparent (this is one of the things I am thinking about as we do our student focus groups for the library's website redesign, at the least post to the library's blog highlights of the findings).
    • Change is the result, whether external or internal. But this could be based on timing, or it could be situational.
  • Make sure to review OCLC's various reports.
  • Important so we can focus more on users. Turn outward is what an environmental scan allows for. This can easily be done by anyone, and it needs to be social; share the information.
  • SWOT Analysis. The strengths and weaknesses we control locally. The opportunities and threats are external; we do not control those. This should be done as part of overall planning.
  • Design thinking. Approach library problems as a designer would a design problem. Thoughtful process to create new services.
    • Start with reflection. Look at the users' point of view.
    • Filter the information and visualize ideas.
    • Create a model and plan. Take your time, try various approaches.
    • Implement when ready.
    • See also the Designing Better Libraries blog (it's already on my aggregator). Also read the WSJ and NYT Biz sections.
  • Trendspotting is immediate (about a year). The environmental scan is finding the change before it catches on, more long term. Futurism looks further for future impact.
  • Any librarian can be a futurist.
    • Be a generalist.
    • Be curious and organized.
    • Keep a log or journal of change (you can use a blog for this).
  • Don't try to predict the future. Look at ways to shape it. Devise strategies and plans then to proactively create and shape change.
  • Recommendations for a futurist:
    • Pay attention to change.
    • Keep a journal.
    • Ask yourself, "what if?"
  • Some resources:
    • (I have it already on the aggregator)
    • Tim O'Reilly's blog. (this may be a bit much for me, and it looks like any highlights will get echoed in the librarian blogosphere anyhow or in other places I already track. I'll think about it).
    • Y Pulse, for YA. (already on my aggregator too).

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