Looking Back. Looking Forward.

At twenty-six years old, rocketing out of Silicon Valley at the dawn of the graphical web browser, I went to work as Electronic Media Librarian at University High School in San Francisco. It’s been twenty years since that day, and I have had a very rich and satisfying career serving students and faculty in four institutions. Twelve of those years were in the role of Library Director – four years at Notre Dame High School, Belmont and eight years at a Santa Barbara City College (SBCC). I have always had an outward facing attitude and spent significant time working outside the library. In all those years, my office has always been located in the library. That’s about to change.

Today I have accepted the position of Dean, Educational Programs at Santa Barbara City College. This is a good day! I feel excited, confident, honored, and ready for the challenge of my new role and new responsibilities.

What does this Dean, Educational Programs actually mean at Santa Barbara City College? I will be responsible to the Executive Vice President for Educational Programs and will serve as the academic and administrative leader for English as Second Language, School of Modern Languages, Physical Education/Health Education/Dance, Library, Faculty Resource Center, Student Learning Outcomes Coordination, Faculty Professional Development, Distance Education Lead, Liaison with the Information Technology Division, Grant Development and Administration, and New Program Development.

It’s a big job, but that’s how we roll at community colleges.

My office will move from the library to the administration building. That will certainly be strange for me, but I can still visit the library anytime (maybe even take some adjunct hours at the reference desk) and will continue to provide administrative leadership for the library. In this new role, I will have the opportunity to meet and work with so many more faculty, staff, and administrators across the campus. I will have the opportunity to learn more about these programs, departments, and services and bring my library experiences as an interdisciplinary academic leader. It’s a real opportunity to impact change, provide leadership, and facilitate community in the best community college environment in the country.

I have much gratitude for the confidence, trust, and respect from the colleagues I’ve worked with over the past nine years at SBCC and look forward to many more years to come.  The position will begin in July.

Fall Beginnings and Time to Breathe

Students, thousands of them, fill all spaces in the library. Lines form to use computers and textbooks. All library staff are on their feet every moment the library is open to direct and support any need. Students come and go with alacrity, which is a joy to experience, and I smile to our role as a central place on campus. It’s the fall semester and, as I write this letter, we have just completed our third week. Finally there is a calming energy after so much activity. It’s the space between beginning and middle. To add to the huge number of students, we also went live with the WorldShare Management Services platform this semester (eight other California community college campuses are actively migrating, with a few more still in the works). It’s been a very full three weeks for us and I am certain that each of our campus libraries can share a similar story for the fall semester beginnings.

Continue reading “Fall Beginnings and Time to Breathe”

The First Week with OCLC’s WorldShare Management

The power was completely out for half the campus on the first day of the fall semester at Santa Barbara City College. The library, already a crowded place, was even more crowded than usual. We experienced our continued record capacity with over 5,000 students each of the first three days. The Luria Library also went live with our new library system from OCLC – WorldShare Management Services (WMS). How did the first week go with the new system? What did we learn? Continue reading “The First Week with OCLC’s WorldShare Management”

Tomorrow we go live with WorldShare

With the arrival of students and the start of the fall semester, tomorrow is our go-live date for OCLC’s WorldShare Platform (WMS) at the Luria Library. I fully embrace this migration from our legacy platform (SirsiDynix Horizon), but I am clearly nervous and a little uncertain if we are ready for the switch on Monday morning. This has been an accelerated implementation with all the work having been performed since early May. The library staff, particularly our technical service librarian and circulation staff, have been working extra long hours focused on this migration. It’s an exciting opportunity that will serve our students and our staff into the immediate future.

The steps for the migration aren’t that difficult – export patron records, circulation data, and bibliographic data, configure our settings in WMS, and test, test, test. Unfortunately, the tests have uncovered a few hiccups to our migration and we’ve been working closely with our OCLC implementation team to get them resolved. A few aspects of migration are going to require significant manual effort. Specifically, creating the Reserves Collection, cleaning up the Serials Collection (holdings information is not accurate), item costs didn’t migrate well due to discrepancies in Horizon, and it seems we didn’t migrate local holding information for our 25k+ ebooks so linking doesn’t exist right now (unknown resolution).

Continue reading “Tomorrow we go live with WorldShare”

Friends of the Library

This week I’ve been working closely with our local Friends group. They have been in place for over twenty years and they operate under the umbrella of our district Foundation. This allows the Friends to operate fairly independently, with their own bylaws, without the ongoing burden of a full 401(c)3. As an entity of the Foundation, our Friends group is allowed to raise their own funds. In these times of fiscal uncertainty, the Friends have been a lifeboat for our library, as well as our students, by supporting services well beyond those funded by the State. For example, our library is open on both weekend days funded in part through this organization. The other large project they undertake is an annual Textbook Scholarship program for students.

As the Library Director, my role is to be the liaison to the Friends group and provide a vision for the type of library we would like to have at Santa Barbara City College. The Library does most of the administrative aspects of the Friends, such as collecting money and sending letters and announcements. I also must cultivate a relationship between myself and the members of the Board. One element that is particularly important is I am in regular contact with the Board president – this makes certain we are on the same page as we move forward with projects. The Friends operate through a 7-member board alongside a wider body of Council Members who contribute annual dues to fund the projects. In order to help keep them larger body engaged, we hold three luncheons per year with a special speaker from campus – typically a professor who is doing something interesting or unique, but who also has a relationship with the library.

There are challenges associated with a functioning Friends group, but the passion and creativity of the Friends of the Luria Library has created a positive exchange. Simply because we are in Santa Barbara, doesn’t mean that our Friends are all huge donors to the college. In fact, the percentage of large donors among the Board and Council is very small. They are passionate about student engagement, student success, and the library.

Next steps…completing the Friends web site.
#miscjoy #libraries

Using Technology in Management

Many managers may feel they don’t have the time (or perhaps inclination) to explore and use technology in order to be more efficient. In my experience as a manager, I’ve found a set of tools that put me out in front of the technology pack, provide me with more efficient methods for communication, and demonstrate an engaging and collaborative work environment. Though I happen to be a library manager, there is no reason why these tools couldn’t provide the same results to other types of managers.

Better Communication

No matter your age, it’s important to embrace new communication technologies. In particular, I’ve found text messaging and instant messaging to be highly effective in working with my staff. Most likely your organization has an instant messaging tool. Are you using it? Text messaging is particularly useful if you have a younger staff (under 40) and there are tools such as Group Me that lets you group message. By integrating around Google products such as gVoice, gMail, and gDocs managers have the ability to have a personal database with all the communication and document resources in one place. For example, collaborative work functions very well using Google Docs because it’s an anytime/anywhere solution with built in tracking. Do you post your email address on invoices and other communication from the organization?

In addition to tools that help you communicate and collaborate more effectively, managers should embrace the use of social media to stay informed and stay connected with the profession. The big players, who aren’t going away any time soon, are Facebook and Twitter. Have you taken the time to learn these tools and apply them professionally? In my career, these tools are one of my primary sources of professional development. Continue reading “Using Technology in Management”

Literacy and the Blogging Landscape

As a community college librarian, I’ve often experienced that it’s just go, go, go from day one of the semester. We do what we know because it’s easy and less time intensive.  Finding space for experimentation doesn’t always appear. Then, every once a while, something comes along where we can stop and consider the possibility. I’m at one of those moments thanks to a colleague at Santa Barbara City College.

Consider the possibility of framing critical thinking and 21st century literacy within the framework of blogging. It’s not really a new idea, nor a very innovative idea, but today I was afforded the opportunity to see what it might be like. I was invited to an English class, one level below college English, that has been using blogging this semester to share their writing. The professor asked me to come to the class and use blogs to open a discussion on critical thinking. There wasn’t really a “research” component to the visit, just more of a discussion. I was invited because we were recently talking about blogging and I had shared some recent research on the topic (see Beyond Peer Reviewed Articles)

The class was fun. It was interactive. It was informative. It was relaxed. It was engaging. And I’d love to do it again.

I’ve taught social media independently of my librarian role, and have definitely included elements from the social media landscape within the framework of my traditional library instruction sessions. This English class felt different. This felt richer. This felt more appropriate to student learning. We can all see the content landscape shifting and students need these skills to understand, think, and navigate effectively. Faculty need to embrace it.

This was my first time with this format, and I only prepared a most basic framework (links) for the discussion. I’d like to do this again with other classes. So much valuable content is provided using blogging foundations – even from traditional media sources. How can students capitalize on this content? How can faculty learn to embrace this content as appropriate for learning?

Expanding Library Hours? Yes!

In this economic environment, it’s not very often a library can expand hours. This semester, the Luria Library has been encouraged to expand our weekend hours and we have been given the funds to do so. The community donor met with me a couple weeks ago and she suggested the expanded hours. Over my other suggestions, she felt this would have the most immediate and direct impact for students – it’s not sexy, but it is practical. Our donor suggested tracking the usage over the next six weeks to see if it makes an impact for students. The funds also included advertising (which we haven’t completed).

The expanded hours do take a little juggling because of staffing — hourly workers, adjunct librarians, etc — but we made it work. The library will now be open from 10:00am-10:00pm on Sunday through the end of the semester. Today is the first day of our expanded hours and, ironically, I am working the circulation desk to cover for our regular staff person. It’s fun to be here on Sunday and see the type of work that occurs (and I can wear sneakers). The library is active and alive.

Until today, our normal opening time was 1:30. At 10am we had 3 people waiting to get into the building, at 11am we had 19 people in the building, at 12pm we had 44 people, and at 1pm we had 109 people. With limited marketing – a post on Facebook and Twitter earlier in the week and a few signs posted on the library doors on Friday – we have a minor success for the first day. I suspect that once the word gets out that we’ll see more students in the morning. The other side of the coin is remaining open until 10pm rather than 9pm; this matches our weekday hours.

How do we measure success? Is there a magic number of students to support the extra hours? Creating an excellent community college library means setting ourselves apart from the others. How many other community college libraries are open on Sunday?

Time will tell. Right now, I’m happy we can offer the expanded hours for those who are present.

Soil and Rocks. Breathing and Smiling.

We’ve all been there. The endless lists, multitude of projects, work/family/volunteer seemingly colliding together. Some days we feel like the rocks and soil are simply burying us alive with the anxiety and fear. It is in times like that when breathing and smiling can really save the day, at least in the moment. Even after gaining three hours over the weekend (flying west), I still came to work this week with the awareness of responsibility and tasks.

Being out front, wanting to lead, is something I’ve always done. I can manage many tasks at one time across a wide range of areas – committees, politics, spiritual, home. It seems to be a gift because it comes naturally for me . But the gift of abundance does also must have a balance. Most of the time my life feels in balance, but there comes a time when it feels like the house of cards will fall.

My goal is to present for those around me. This means that “my tasks” sometimes get put aside for the benefit of those who work for me and those who I mentor and support. Because this goal of presence is mine, I do it with joy and awareness. The others in my life, both at home and at work, hold no responsibility for my feeling of imbalance. As a Library Director, I let the day take me with it and there must be space in the calendar to allow for flexibility. As a husband and father, I let the evening take me with it even if the “work” tasks were left incomplete. Though I don’t do this 100%, it is an intentional goal and practice. As Catherine Hakala-Ausperk wrote in Be A Great Boss, “being prepared for permanent whitewater will give you the attitude you need for that day.”

The benefits of being available are immeasurable. There are costs, of course, but I believe the benefits outweigh the costs. It is the human connection that will have a lasting impact, not completing the report or reading the background material or finalizing that budget. Those things are important too, and they will get done, but I’ve set my priority elsewhere. When imbalance arrives, which it did yesterday, then I can use the tools of my practice to keep me centered. It could mean that I close my office door and focus on checking off a few items on the task list (which I didn’t do yesterday). It could mean staying up a little later or getting up a little earlier. Finding joy in the anxiety and fear is possible. Being present, sharing with someone, writing a blog post, they all contribute to balance.

(Recently I committed to writing 250-words a day, but I missed a couple days. That’s part of the letting go too, so here’s my post now.)

Interdependence and Hope

The theme of ACRL 2011 is interdependence. So much comes together each day to create our life experience. Some things are very tangible, like the keynote speech by Raj Patel giving very practical information about the world economy. Other things are a little less tangible, but no less real, like my wife’s support for my professional life. I also see my own past, including fears and dreams, seeking to surface.

I have a long history of seemingly radical politics, social justice efforts, and personal action to effect change in the world. In recent years I’ve probably become less radicalized because I’ve had a difficult time connecting with other radicals – the anger, the frustration, the drama are challenging.

I also have an awareness of the apparent contradictory nature of the world I live in – comfortable life, good work, professional travel, nice clothes, extreme hunger, poverty, economic collapse, environmental disaster, etc. This is my life and perhaps I judge myself to harshly. All these elements make up my being. They are connected.

Today I feel inspired to embrace this contradiction. People are so full of kindness, generosity, and intelligence. We are also full of many challenges and personal struggles. We smoke. We drink. We swear. We stumble. And yet it doesn’t mean we can’t be kind and generous. the people I’ve interacted with today demonstrate this to me.

I’m feeling the Interbeing nature of my life from experiences today. Thank you to those who touched me today. Good people are here. Please help me to keep my eyes open.