Saturday, May 5, 2012

Taking it to the next level

"Elevator buttons" photo by Jaded one under Creative Commons to share

Today I reread Brian Matthews white paper "Think Like A Startup: a white paper to inspire library entrepreneurialism" which can be found for download by selecting the hyperlinked title. Brian Matthews has written this for Academic Libraries but most can be transferred to the School Library setting.

As we approach the last few weeks of this academic year, my thoughts are turning to the annual report, budgeting and plans for next year. They are all interrelated. The annual report will summarise what we had planned for this year and how well we reached these goals. The report will also have a brief outline of what is planned for next year. The services we plan to supply will require money, how much will depend on priorities which will depend on what we plan, some of which will be reflection on what happened this year.

Some of the points and questions that Matthews presents has made me think about how we plan, and what we plan for. The following had a particular resonance with me with regard to offering services  ".... we ought to consider a more central question: how can libraries support 21st century learners?" What are our particular students doing in their lives that we are ignoring, challenging or supporting through the library?  How do we find out? How can we access? How can we use this information?

With reference to innovation Matthews asks "Is your library ready for disruption?"and "We can’t just talk about change; it must be embedded in the actions of employees. Innovation is a team sport that has to be practiced regularly." Are our school staff and students also ready for disruption?  How can we move them forward along with us?  As a leader of a team, do I encourage innovation in our every day work across the team? Are we thinking bigger than the library program? Are we thinking about what is best for our users or what is best for us when we make plans and changes?

With regard to thinking and making change, Matthews offers a few insights.
I need to think about the these questions in planning :-
"What opportunities exist to help people in new ways?"
"What are the areas of untapped potential? "

And when thinking about launching a new service, product etc
"When it’s good enough, go with it. Build upon success." Don't wait until the idea is ready enough to launch - have a go at it, "Test it, improve it, and then try it again"

All good plans for change need the all of the following three factors ...
"Usability. Feasibility. Value." These also need to be considered when evaluating new or old practices. His white paper illustrates some great examples of each of these elements.

When planning library programs I need to consider the "design principles, critical success factors, or cultural and pedagogical outcomes" that I want or am basing the changes and program on, this takes the planning and thinking to a much higher level to be building "a curriculum to prepare students for 21st century literacies.” I need to be thinking beyond "just training students how to search database interfaces, but about building their fluency with data, visual, spatial, media, information, and technology literacies."

I particularly like and try to work by this quote :  "Libraries are about people, not books or technology. It’s about the outcome for patrons interacting with everything we do and offer." 
How can our library team make this interaction better?

If you haven't read this white paper, I would recommend you do. It will make planning a little more challenging but far more meaningful. Take your program and services to the next level.

Another blog post which relates to this topic is 10 things school libraries can learn from the Apple Store!'  on Novanews blog.

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