Is Technology Catching Up?

February 18, 2010

Even non-techies can offer cutting-edge services right away, says Ellyssa Kroski in her cover story for the March  issue of American Libraries. Social media such as Facebook and Twitter make it easier for all of us to communicate and collaborate, she says, and her main point is that you no longer have to be an experienced video producer to create a library video tour, or a diehard gamer to put together a Guitar Hero tournament at your library.

Clearly something marvelous is going on with technology—and rapidly—when our favorite curmudgeon, Will Manley, knocks blogger babble in January, saying that librarians must help an “increasingly clueless public separate fact from fiction and information from invective,” and then starts his own blog instead of working on a new book.

What’s happening is that the technology has become easier, so the technologically challenged can turn our attention to the content of our blogs instead of the novelty of publishing one.

At ALA's Midwinter Meeting in Boston, I talked with Julie Powell, author of Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously, who was able to parlay a blog into a book and then a motion picture starring Meryl Streep. How did she do it? Luck, she said. Blogging was still in its infancy when she started eight years ago, and no one understood that it would “become an industry.”

In the March issue, Ruth Metz argues for coaching as a way to help library staff adapt to the realities of our changing profession. Simply defined, coaching consists of one individual working with another to achieve specific work performance goals. What is confounding many people in librarianship is that the coaches are often younger staff members, and their success depends on the willingness of senior staff to be coached, to embrace change, and to learn. One of the primary obstacles to success that Metz identifies is that “staff is resistant to change.”

Also in the issue, Kay Ann Cassell and Kathleen Weibel remind us that March is Women’s History Month, and as a profession that has always been predominantly female, librarianship owes much to those valiant pioneers who paved the way for the careers we enjoy today. The article also points out that focusing on women as a library market segment is a logical way to connect with your community.

Finally, check out for the new blogs we’ve added: Perpetual Beta by Jason Griffey, Green Your Library by Laura Bruzas, and Ask the ALA Librarian. We are also publishing new features, columns, and news to the web every week. Combined with the American Libraries Direct e-newsletter, we want to deliver more information sooner and in the format you want to receive it. Gradually, we will also be adding archival material. Everything on the website is comment enabled, so please let us know what you think. It’s all for you.



Coaching in the Library

A professional coach can help leaders and staff up their game in dealing with an ever-changing environment and shrinking resources