Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Emerging technologies and the library manager

One of my favorite programs this conference has been Richard Jost's decidedly non-flashy OBS program entitled "Emerging technologies and the library manager." It was just Richard, and his friend Simon Canick, Associate Dean of Information Resources at William Mitchell College of Law in St Paul. Simon provided the administrative perspective. Richard discussed a case study from his own experience. He had wanted to set up a digital repository. Investigation revealed that the best product for this was B-Press's Digital Commons. Not getting the go=ahead from his director (but also not a clear "no"), and not getting the funding for Digital Commons, he went ahead with a free alternative product which ended up being not as good -- which he knew -- but also a wasted effort. He talked about what he had learned from the experience, and the talk turned into a larger discussion of how to approach administration to get what you want, and what to do when they are not receptive to one's great ideas. Simon's zen-like 5 points regarding committee work were especially helpful They are:

1. Avoid committees. Especially big ones. No more than 5 members -- 5 is okay. 3 is great.
2. If you have to chair a committee, pick the people yourself. Have a limited charge -- something you can achieve.
3. Do the legwork. Investigate what your committee members are concerned about int advance. Talk to everyone.
4. There's nothing to defend. You're just trying to get to the truth.
5. Always be constructive. Don't be "that guy."

The informal nature of the program prompted lots of participation from the audience.

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