Digital Managers Sound Off

Bobbi Newman, David King, Sarah Houghton-Jan, Matt Hamilton

#dbsoundoff — session hashtag on Twitter

Panel Job Titles

David King: Digital Branch Manager, Topeka-Shawnee County Public Library

Sarah Houghton-Jan: Digital Futures Manager, San Jose Public Library. IT at Sarah’s library doesn’t want to support software on the machines, so she’s started doing that and making the decisions.

Bobbi Newman: Digital Branch Manager, Chatahoochee Valley Libraries. No staff, no funding. Liaison between IT and the rest of the library staff. Translates between tech & non-techie. Does the technical training for the staff.

Matt Hamilton: missed his title, Boulder Public Library.

The panel arranged itself in gadget order: iPad–> Full-size laptop.

What do you really do in your job daily (not job title/description) ?

Matt Hamilton: lots of meetings; tries not to get too hands-on, tries to avoid micro-managing, but spends lots of time on server administration.

Bobbi Newman: library looking for ILS — asks hard questions about how system will look to patrons — what she care about; staff & patron training; OverDrive; goes to manager meetings; teen service & children services meetings — what they need in the digital branch; web site redesign moving forward. Bobbi spends a lot of time explaining things.

Sarah Houghton-Jan: Spends more than half her time in meetings. Group wants a tech expert on hand, but isn’t doing much. Serves on 16 teams/formal committees & chairs 4 of those. As a result, doesn’t do a good job managing her own staff. Balancing needs of public library uses vs. merged entity. Wishes she could do more project management.

David King: goes to a bunch of meetings; types & talks a lot. Managers meetings, department meetings. Lots of emails, since he works in the basement. Project management — starts out heavily involved with it, and then hands it off (like Facebook page). Techs good at the tech stuff, not the people stuff. David deals with much of the people stuff as a result.

Educational background

David King: started touching computers in high school; college — found out you could get 10% extra credit by typing papers on computers. Went to library school. First job as electronic services librarian (involved putting ProQuest CDs in every month). Put in charge of that library’s website. And everything just developed and took off from there. No formal IT background, except for not being afraid to tinker & break things.

Sarah Houghton-Jan: English/math background. Got interested in libraries. Took HTML class, Dialog class during MLS studying. Nothing else available at the time. Got told one day that she was the webmaster because she took an HTML class & “good luck!”.

Bobbi Newman: wouldn’t take no for an answer. Has history degree, then got MLS. Worked with engineers for awhile. Then switched to public library sector. Saw something on a listserv about newer technologies. Fought with IT staff to implement some of those things, and implemented it anyway. No formal training. Always been technogeek.

Matt Hamilton: Interest in computers for a long time. He went into it backwards from the others. Technology wasn’t interesting to him; wanted to help people. Libraries were a good fit. Tendency to ask for forgiveness, rather than permission on doing technology tasks at his library.

“r u designing virtual or digital spaces for service delivery using the same approach that physical spaces have been designed?” —rebeccajones

Sarah: library wanted digital branch to match the physical space. Fonts, colors, spaces.

David: keep 3 things in mind: we have two libraries: physical & digital ones; some stuff we can do digitally different from physical (and some stuff we can’t or can only do digitally); for some the digital branch will be our only library. Physical collections being divided into neighborhoods, zones. Example: Travel physical neighborhood. Digital branch has a travel blog. Customers are still customers regardless of the branch they enter.

Bobbi: 4-county library. some areas are the poorest, old buildings. but very new buildings also exist in her library system. How to make an approachable website for that drastic of a different community/library?

Matt: current websites of the library don’t necessarily reflect, refer back to the library itself. Spending current time, getting the sites under the Boulder Library banner. Currently moving library’s web presence into Drupal.

Do you let others post content to the websites?

Matt: allows others to post, tries to find those with expertise in certain areas to post. Lots spend time encouraging people to post. Helping people realize they can add content to the site.

Bobbi: Old site still up since she arrived a year ago. Marketing department only one that posts content to the site. Teens/Children/Senior Citizens/New Materials/Genealogy areas would have sections on the section. Bobbi’s job is to facilitate the content, not create it.

Sarah: marketing department of 1 and that person had most of the control of the site at the time; that control has mostly been taken away. She thought she could moderate social media presence and comments. Sarah tries to encourage people to post and create. About 70 people are content creators are on the site.

David: marketing person didn’t want to manage all the content after all. Also, inherited a job where a lot of stuff was locked down on staff and patron computers throughout the library. Took awhile to get rid of that locked down stuff. Content creation? He doesn’t do much of this. He encourages, mentors people on their own content creation. He does write a bit for the site, and creates videos weekly for the site about technology. Staff then say “that if he’s doing that, I can write a blog post.”

Archiving Issues

David: doesn’t have to do this at his library.

Sarah: state law requires archiving — including Facebook. Utter waste of staff time.

Matt: discussion has gone on, but city record manager so far has said the library doesn’t need to.

Question: lots of time spent on building communities. How much time do you spend on looking at technology trends and how to leverage those?

Matt: attends local community tech groups, Drupal groups. Brings people from the community into some of the libraries’ discussion.

Bobbi: her library is moving slow — part of a school district. Wishes she’d be able to do more community engagement and content creation.

Sarah: does all of that on her own time. Research & trend-spotting has to be done at home. Gets into trouble looking at her PDA at work. Wishes she had more time.

David: doesn’t have a lot of time to do it. Keeps up shallowly (email, twitter running in the background at all time). Takes a look at RSS feeds at home. It’s a hobby, looks at it at home. Enjoys looking at this stuff at all times.

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