CIL Notes: Innovation, Services & Practices at the Darien Library

"It's for you."

The way libraries in general approach the future is not sustainable.

– John Blyberg

Trust is the watchword at Darien Library. All the new, supposedly radical innovations they’ve launched hinge on a highly cultivated sense of trust with their public. Bear in mind that I’m not saying this to be dismissive. These things are “supposedly radical” because they seem to take much of what we claim to offer as libraries/public institutions/community organizations and push them to a level that actually makes patrons feel trusted. The “trust” embodied by more traditional library structures feels downright perfunctory by comparison.

To illustrate: would you consider loaning out (ETA: for in-library use only, as I discovered upon asking Blyberg)  a “Creation Station” for children – a media creation kit consisting of a digital still camera, a Flip video camera, a digital audio recorder, and a MacBook? And loaning out to kids in your youth department? Would you put out game hardware in your teen area for kids to use freely and largely unsupervised after school?

I’m hugely impressed at how much they’ve been able to accomplish simply by seeing how much they can let go. Anything else I could say would just be redundant.

Raw notes (with more examples) after the jump. My annotations are in italics.

Innovation, Services & Practices at the Darien Library

John Blyberg, Gretchen Hams, Sarah Ludwig, and Kate Sheehan

JB: The Darien Library roadshow

“We do a lot of thinking about the future at Darien Library”

The way libraries in general approach the future is not sustainable.

- our expectations are misaligned with those of our users

being mindful of customer service, empowerment

Allow innovation to guide change (not always pertaining to technology)

If you build change and innovation into your culture, your staff and users will come to expect it.

Delete reference desk, delete circulation desk – present materials that actually make sense at each level

Give yourselves the opportunity to fail

Failure as an opportunity to adapt and retool – agility is v.v. important

Even though we’re small, we can still have a big impact.

Stars aligning: money, board support, staff expertise, supportive public

Development of UX department – see things from 40k feet. (a reminder that staff are the library’s biggest users.)

Eye toward aesthetics, community, usability

Users do not see drastic change, they see org responding to our needs.

SOPAC: library-as-portal, leads to sustained social digital presence

- follow other reviewers

- Feeds of other reviews

- summer reading guided by SOPAC

GH: youth services at DL

Traditionally children’s departments work as islands unto themselves – need to bring them into the process, and help develop future of library

“Guess what? Children don’t come to the library to themselves.”

High circ, high program attendance

Assumed knowledge – Section headings

Library as third place – drawn to picture book area

Picture books as format – didn’t include nonfiction, etc.

Who is it for? What is it about?

New DL does not have a picture book area – items are classified according to what they are about. (Microsubjects, tagging of items)- first 5 years of growth and behavior/subject areas

Simple in concept, incredibly difficult in practice.

Each book had to be handled individually, to determine proper placement

Items also colorcoded for youth connection

Huge response: “The library is nolonger a disapproving mother, but a place that wants to reach out to us”

Using connection to adults to help them make decisions for their children

Connecting to library as third place

MS Surface as device for learning. Fascinating to watch people come up with new ways to use it

“Libraries should not be a one-way conversation” – experience should invite participation

Video production – Creation Station: MacBook, Flip camera, audio recorder, dig cam

Not barcoded, kids take ownership of item

Playing to the new generation of families – digital natives now having kids

SL, Head of Teen and Technology Services

DL never had a teen section before the new library

New space for teens

Space is theirs, but possible to monitor

SoHo – small office/home office – kinko’s type material

Teen liasions

Teens are our Beta users. Put the tech in their hands and see how comfortable they get with it.

Teen space: iMacs

big screens encourage group activity

Furniture is easy to move

gaming: is a big duh

Days after school: Set up the games and just walk away.

Most people get involved through Facebook

Using Facebook to drive programs – create a professional account and only friend teens

Teens + tech programs: Oral history project for 1book1community

Working to provide MP3s to students

KS: Reference is dead, long live reference

All roving, no desk, non-standard arrangement

too large to go BISAC

Long-term: more collaborative model

Developing 1-on-1 research assistance (book a librarian)

document this stuff – encourage people to show off their library-aided efforts!

Meet people at their point of need without being invasive

IM gateway at OPAC site?

Tiny eee PCs used to walk around Wireless (cordless) phones

Certain sections – non-Dewey arrangements

“Personal finance” – 300 stuff plue 650 stuff – combined into section called “Work”

Tools that are free and tools that cost money:

Cost: laptops, phones

Name tags are super-important

Why we make mistakes

Growing pains: Meebo – new website has caused IM reference to skyrocket

With a roving reference model, Meebo doesnt work on the small computer

Moving to Library H3lp

“Reorganizing your collection is a really great bonding experience”

it’s OK for things not to work if you use it right

People who aren’t happy aren’t going to tell you they’re unhappy. They’re just not going to show up.

“What we’re giving away more of is not just information, but ourselves.”

Practicalities: more standing

More thinking like a cataloger

More mindful of signage

Maintaining a genuineness

Can we hybridize our reference desk to be more friendly to roving and decrease the intimidation factor?

exploring the intersection of libraries, technology, and community

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