Spring Assembly: The anythink story

http://www.anythinklibraries.org/ | Spring Assembly | 4/19/2012 | Pam Sandlian-Smith

“It’s more than just transforming libraries, it’s about transforming as an individual and a professional.” – Pam

Headline: “Adams library system worst in state”

Formerly at West Palm Beach (where she made news and presented about Hospitality at PLA), then moved back to Colorado in 2007 to direct Adam county libraries with a new tripled levy…from $4 million to $12 million.  Opportunity to start fresh.  $43 million Capital Campaign at the start of her tenure, built on a typical library program and designed for bookshelves and not much else.

Design libraries for People and make the Books FIT around the PEOPLE!  (So true.)  Had to shift gears quickly and re-design and re-think.

Becoming Anythink: Started with a visioning exercise – staff and board contributed adjectives to describe the kind of library they wanted:  enchanting, friendly, cozy, dynamic, modern, magical – great!  That’s what they wanted to become, but not what they had been.  Opportunity to design a library for the future.

Conventions:  quiet, homework, research, books

Disruptions: community and connection | ideas | creativity | open doors | sparks and fuel

People + Info = Interaction!  70% of people who think about libraries, think about books.  Change the paradigm to the INTERACTIONS between info and people.  Need an outcome.

“We Open Doors for Curious Minds” – Mission of Anythink

Spaces – Same architect, added pizazz to the buildings (and rocking chairs).  Designed spaces around “Why People Shop” ideas.  Give people space to get oriented in the front of the library.  Open space, fire places, and unique personalities at each branch.  Local cabinet maker for wood shelving ($5 a sq ft).  Service desks – 90% self-service – Perches instead – friendly.  Look at these cool Visual Merchandising Guidelines!

Children’s area – Tree house in all of our libraries (it’s not her, it’s her staff – that was an idea from her HR director) – museum quality fake trees.  Experiences that float from the libraries, such as silk leaves they can rake out.  Play ‘fall’!  Provide opportunities for kids to connect with nature in the city, with collaboration with Arbor Day foundation.  Water features, tree cookies, outdoor spaces.

Displays on nice tables, indoor/outdoor spaces (outdoor fireplace), and Book Mobile – brand new (red and shiny – “Anythink in motion”)

Culture – Spaces, self-discovery, home-away-from-home, and all with a moderate budget.  Focus on hospitality, warmth and comfort.  Need happy, helpful staff, too!  Hardworking and Optimistic culture – work and play hard.   Staff Manifesto:

Part Wizard
 Part Genius
Part Explorer

Start of the culture shift to help staff understand the library is MORE than circ.  Re-wrote job descriptions, based on 13 competencies.

I am: customer focused | cooperative and a collaborator | understanding and compassionate | Strong work ethic | flexible | effective communicator | problem solver | responsible and honest | emotionally mature | continuous learner | innovator | leader  I am an Anythinker  

Can train to do a job, but not to love people.

  • Wrangler:  product placement, inventory control, display technician (circ clerk/page)
  • Concierge: customer service, tech assist, RA, product promotion (Circ staff)
  • Guide: Customer education, reference advocate, event planner (librarians)
Barn Raising – TEAMS.  Weeded collection as a team, mostly in one day.  Big party.  They allowed all staff to re-apply for a new job, without the fear of not being re-hired and the new job would have the same pay rate as their current position.  Some went for Wrangler roles that had less involvement with people, while others sought to be Concierge folks.  Many changed branch locations.  GREAT idea.
Disruptions: “SHHH is a Four-Letter Word” – (t-shirt) – Libraries aren’t quiet.  They are changing – libraries as active learning places.
Hospitality – exists when you believe the other person is on your side.” – Danny Meyer Setting the Table   How do people feel when they walk into your library?  Do they feel welcome? smart? feel like the staff are on their side?  “Stand back, I can get technical on you” – t-shirt worn by staff
Disrupting Dewey – abandoned Dewey.  Wordthink – “Travel” or “Cooking” – converted entire collection in one year, with opening day collections and weeding.  Bookstore model.  Cooking > Baking > Alpha by title.  Easy to orient.  In catalog with words.
mySummer – Blew out Summer Reading.  Read about something, think about it, and do something.  Intergenerational and about doing things.  Family programming.  Starts with a summer journal.  Example: Project Runway Experience – brought in fashion designers, designed a dress, constructed without sewing, teams, and a fashion show/runway judging.  The teams ended up helping each other out.
Experiences – Interact.  Tree sculpture at one of the branches.  Joan Frye Williams – library as laboratory.  Tinker, build, learn and communicate.  Make the library the community Kitchen – loud, messy and the center of everything.
Power of Creativity – Creative People ARE:  original, curious, open-minded, risk-takers, connectors, productive 
Example: Zen Garden that turned into sandbox as soon as the kids found it.   Intergenerational Programming and Community Gardens (grant-funded with Denver Urban Gardens)  It’s about growing community, not vegetables.  Gives neighbors an opportunity to get to know each other!
Branding – A brand is more than a logo.  As you think about marketing the library, pay attention to features at the bottom, Benefits in the middle,and Unique Ideas or Value at the Top (most important).  Simon TED Talk again!!!  People need to connect with you on the unique emotional space.   Hired a Marketing company to develop “anythink: A revolution of Rangeview libraries” – logo is a squiggle.  Big risk, but great reward.  Building a Brand – touchpoints include systematic signage – more behind the brand than the logo.  Connector that reenforces the brand and feel of the library.. Spark – newsletter – all have a cohesive link.
Results – People love the libraries and have a pleasant experience | Circ quadrulpled | 1.4 mil visits with 94% self-cehck, from 30,000 to 110,000 cardholders, and 300% increase in public computing.
NATIONAL MEDAL from Museum and Library Service!  Woot!
 Library had to write the application and 7 months later, they won!  December 2010, visited the White House.
What’s Next?
  • YOUMEDIA Project – Expand for all customers, not just Teens [Post about this]  “Hanging around, messing around and geeking out!”
  • Strategic Plan:  learning organization | experience Library | Community | Tech supports creativity | Shift perception of library
The world is changing, so the library must change, too.
Ended with a great video
Associated Articles about Pam:

Spring Assembly: Broadband Everywhere Town Hall Meeting

Carol Barta | NCKLS | Apr 19, 2012

Kaned is going away and there are rural communities in Kansas that do not have ANY commercial providers available.  Senate Bill 2390.  Conference Committee consists of top three advocates and top three opponents.  Senator Apple is from Louisburg – is “wicked awesome” according to Kiersten Allen.

Possibility of losing Kaned funding right away.  Content has already been removed, but money has been put into the State Library Budget to fund databases.  Topic at the Advocacy Council is quality control – NOC calls immediately – but can you get equally good oversight from commercial providers?

Video network will be maintained

Kaned funded through the Kansas Universal Services Fund ($64 million a year) – and Kaned funding went from $10 to $6 million.  The rest goes to the providers across the state by formula (proprietary info)…in part to regulate the cost of providing telephone and internet to very rural areas.  Money is waiting to be spent – will it go to the ISPs or back to the public?

Bottom line is:  Have to budget for the cost of Internet, as Kaned T1s are going away.  The National broadband plan will also change how the federal Universal Services Fund is distributed.  Some companies are worried (rural utilities service) because the funding they receive may change.  New rules – more of the money will go to Urban areas.  Prepare for Change (e-rate may change)…and costs may change for business customers.  Internet is going to COST MORE.  Ugh and we are not in control of the situation.

Budget in the entire amount, if you get refunds from e-rate – great – if not, you are still covered.

What to do?

  • Lobby for Internet Service and Library Services
  • Find ways to involve the community in solving this problem
  • Grant provided to each system to educate/advocate for Broadband – NCKLS worked with KSU Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracyto develop Town Hall meetings
    • Governor’s Town Hall meeting on Childhood poverty (in the news)
    • Opportunity to get together and discuss/solve/learn more about issues

Town Hall Meetings:

  • Start with a video describing the issue and needs
  • Handout with terms, libguide info and key players
  • Send out a press release and work with the Libraries to advertise
  • Ground Rules for Public Discussion – for example:  seek understanding and common ground | Listen respectfully | Stay focused on the issues – and ask for agreement
  • Facilitators and note takers at each table.
  • Questions: How do you use the Internet today? | Are your needs being met? | What do you think you will do with Internet in Five years? | How do we define the Internet?  Is it a utility like Rural Electric or is it a luxury, not a basic service? (ISP’s were the ones to say Internet is a luxury!!!) | How do we pay for it? | So What, Where do we Go from Here??
  • Everyone is given the opportunity to talk
  • Lead to very interesting (and entertaining) conversations – most came to the conclusion that there will need to be a Public/Private partnership…and the public part will need to be more than just the local city budget.
  • Encourage competition in communities, some communities are considering building their own ISP – maybe with a private partnership.  Chanute has done this.  Hillsboro is considering.
  • Some communities have continued and hosted several Town Hall Meetings (Abilene and Marysville)
  • Finish the sentence, “I will…”

Spring Assembly: Business meeting

Jim speaks, we listen…NEKLS Members have a history of being innovators (KLOW and Courier and NExpress). We are risk-takers.

Two of our major programs have reached a state of ‘relative’ stability. NExpress has mellowed out and we are well-connected. Courier Service is operating well, too.

Less Clear: Legislative issues that we need to be aware of include the State Library’s Budget Proposal (continuation budget and an enhancement budget (hopes and wishes for the Governor’s budget)) – the Senate added back in all the enhancement budget for electronic services, databases and some other things. While the Senate is supportive, the House usually is less supportive and there is a fight going on. Jim suggests that the libraries let House Representatives know that you support the State Library Budget. Kan-ed was covered by Carol Barta…

Removal of the exemption of libraries from the right to carry concealed weapons law. Passed the House, may not pass the Senate. Library can pass a resolution to prohibit firearms.

LAVTR – Tax reduction measure that supposedly provides STate fund to local governments, so they’ll lower local taxes…but the Bills would require that the tax reduction. One form in the House has an opt-out provision (Library would have to pass a resolution / protest – same process as a charter ordinance) – similar to 90’s tax lids. Other version is very different.

Plan and Budget for 2013:

  • Board has decided that we need a System Business meeting in August – 20 for a Quorum – we need to follow the Statute and approve the Budget in August (not just the estimated budget, which we approve in April).
  • FullfILLment – New ILL software (OSS). NEKLS has agreed to do a pilot test (Summer or Fall). After the test, we will decide if it’s best to replace Autographics with this different service. Management of NExpress and FullfILLment would be similar. Equinox = Koha support vendor. Would lead to additional support staff for NEKLS.
  • eContent – Constantly changing, but will work with the State and look at other alternatives and have a small grant program (Role of Libraries in the eBook era – what other things do libraries do??) Experiment and explore.
  • Increase Grants to Public Libraries (increase each year) by 3%.
  • More with Children’s Services, including a new Fall workshop and support of 6 by 6 program. Any economic impact on a participating library? Staff time would be the main cost.
  • Broadband – A LONG TERM project – how to maintain bandwidth that meets needs. Regardless of Kan-ed – how do we get adequate bandwidth in our libraries??
  • New Strategic Planning Process later this year. “Exceptional Important” – pulls us up to 2015.


  • We need to adjust our levy rate (for the first time since 2008) because of changes in assessed valuations. We have increased library Grants by 15% over last 5 years, with additional 3% for next year. Not enough carry-over, now. We have to quit doing something or raise our tax rate. Increase to 1.35 Mil – increased 1/10th of a Mil. Held the last increase for 5 years.


Fall Assembly – Joan Frye Williams – woot

Oct 21, 2010 | Kansas State Historical Society | Topeka

  • Keynote Speaker: Library futurist Joan Frye William | http://georgeandjoan.com
    “Make it count: Where to put your energy in the coming years”
  • “NEKLS State of the System” – Jim Minges
  • Discussion Groups
  • Lunch and visit from Nancy Pickard

Joan Frye William (update: Two Podcasts from 2/2009 on iTunes and there are some here, too.)

  • Here to raise issues and cause conversations…make you ‘entertain ideas, without necessarily accepting them’
  • We can’t do everything | Some things we do now have passed their ‘use-by’ date
  • Image: Spock doing a mind-meld “We need to get inside civilians’ heads” and learn what is true for them and hear what they are telling us.
  • When they tell us something we don’t agree with…we do NOT need to “straighten them out”.  We need to understand them, not the other way around.  Their reality drives their behavior.
    • Civilians are stressed for time – time is valuable. Impression is that the library is slow and takes time to use it.  Folks don’t have time for a slower place
    • Civilians think that information is just floating around in the Cloud – it’s just lying around.  Believe info is an unlimited, free commodity.  Librarians think information is precious…it’s love to us – we give info to people we like 😉  Our relationship with information is NOT the same one people have.
    • Civilians are confident in their own skills and are self-reliant.  “I can do it myself.”  Is the seat by the reference desk perceived as “the seat of shame”??  Desire to feel competent. Does it run counter to our desire to feel useful?  When someone says “I know this is a stupid question”
    • Civilians want to use the device they are comfortable with – they’re packing ‘heat’ and don’t want to switch over to yours…integrates with their life and makes them feel confident.  Smart phones are the bridge to the digital divide. More cell phones than housing.  Serve up what we do to as many smart phones as possible.
    • Deliver services instantly – whenever and wherever – real time!
    • Civilians have reunited learning and pleasure – “I learn more when it’s fun”  We are enjoying ‘free choice learning‘ – we OWN this.  Need to overcome negative stereotypes
  • Where’s the smart money going? (Scrooge McDuck)
    • Re-balance our portfolio…
    • Hospitality – “Welcome to the Library” – How do people come when they come to us?  Front door full of rules, a messy desk, the back of a computer, armed guards, creepy greeters?  That first impression is pass/fail! Lights, clean bathrooms, unfriendly staff – VERY important
    • Multigenerational destinations – welcome ALL generations – They can Hang Together and that’s a good thing.  We still have people who say, “Those children are enjoying themselves in the library…Smite Them!”  Programming is pleasurable in a multi-generational setting – adults like the programs the kids like, too!  Family learning experience – niche we have for the future
    • All staff are first responders and everyone needs to engage – Civilians are alarmed when staff don’t know how to use the technology and tools THEY are suppose to be able to use! Staff = civilians.  Don’t need to go to some specialized staff member.
    • Ubiquity – You need to be everywhere – here, now, information all around them – have to be where the people are.
    • Reading and learning evangelism – we are expected to be proactive.  Beat the bushes to help people ‘get smarter and better read’ – show some energy.  Reading is an elective, now. Futurists believe in 50 years we will be back in an oral society – what would that mean for libraries??  If we believe reading is good for us and builds brains and strong communities – then we need to spread the word.  All librarians should think like childrens’ librarians.  Developmental approach.
    • Be available around the clock – automatic book dispensers “Library a-go-go.  Used in urban environments, but also in rural areas where library hours are limited ($80,000, but how does that compare to opening a satellite branch?).  People who connect with the ATM, then find the bricks and mortar library (gateway drug).  Proves that libraries “get it” – they fill a need and people respond favorably to them.
    • 24/7 Programs – Capture and re-purpose programming  – podcast, excerpt sample with permission from presenters – Civilians say they want the library to “have a web site” (good lord) – put the programming on YouTube, Facebook – put it where the people are…then they can find it 24/7.  Again, they’ll beat a path back to your door.
    • Mobile services – Agonize about apps, not ILSs.  Phones…phones…phones.  Library apps a better investment for your technology access dollars.  Growing market, consumer fueled, trickle-up.  See what people are getting for Christmas – that’s the trend to watch (ebook readers, ipads).  See how we align.
    • Embedded services – take the library on the road, “have laptop, will travel”.  More exposed, somewhat uncomfortable, but helps Civilians understand better who we are AND what we do.  Story: student died in a research trial at John Hopkins because important information about her childhood asthma was published pre-MedLine.  After the death, all research teams have a medical librarian on the team.  Take our service with us where we go.
    • “It’s a better investment of your resources to be in somebody else’s conversation in one of these social media than to begin your own.”  Don’t set up a separate silo – missing part of the potential – join the existing conversations.  Add your $.02 to the YouTube/Twitter/Flickr/Facebook conversations.  Information added at the point of need is the MOST valuable.  Example, find the new parents group on Facebook.  Conversation rather than Publication (and leave electronic breadcrumbs back to your site.
    • Independence – looking stuff up is no a civilian task, not a professional task.  All politics are personal.  All discovery, learning, etc. is personal and independent.  “EverQuest” slide – you are self-reliant, you choose your tools and your alliances.  There’s more than one way to ‘get it right’ – we need to be more tolerant.  Librarians are orderly and like to control our environment…need to overcome this.
    • Use mainstream tools – Google scholar – use mainstream for the civilians and keep the specialized tools for us.  Stores don’t show us their inventory system and sku numbers!  Tools have become too simple for librarians and too complicated for civilians
    • Situational signs – “Pay here” or “circulation” or no sign at all?  If you want someone to DO something, tell them what to do and where.  Burger joint:  “Ask” and “Get”  Say what they’re suppose to do, not what we call it.
    • Services keyed to predictable life passages – for example, a lot of people will get preggers for the first time.  Where is that information?  Health, redecorating, finance – all in different locations – or we can pull that information together and be ready to help that person when they go through that experience.  Be about the People, not about the Collection. Topical/information neighborhoods (a good start), but the situation of choosing a sport because of a medical diagnosis or because of a desire to begin exercising.  How will the information be used?  Tremendous value added!  (Read the article in the Oct 2010 Public Libraries by Paula Brehm-Heeger and the re-purposing of the Main library of Cincinnati)  What are people trying to accomplish?  How can we help?  Job seekers
    • Zoning by activity, not age group – Styling by age group is a trend that is softening.  Manga is read by all ages – so is the collection sequestered by age??  Not a smart idea.  Teens will take over any area of the library with diner-style seating and technology.  Zone by noise level.  Zone by time of day.  Merged congregation and activity areas.
    • Cardholder-defined privileges. Like with credit cards, you set your payment date.  Library cards come with set rules “this is the deal we are offering” – if loan periods do NOT match a person’s reading style…that makes it difficult to be a library patron.  If it’s OK to take 10 books for 3 weeks, why not take 3 books for 10 weeks?  Same economics.  Pick a plan to fit your style.  (check box on application – ILS systems can provide this flexibility.)  Let people manage their accounts and pick their due dates.  Can ILS allow hold queue list can be ranked personally? Quit petting the inventory and pay attention to how it’s going to be used.  Orange County Florida is testing this with Joan.
    • Hyperlocalism – Why one library in one locale?  Because that locale is unique.  Library used to be the window on the world (now google and amazon take care of that), but they don’t know what it’s like to be in that location.  The stories, the history, unique local content put together in unique ways.  “Content that speaks to the story of where we are.”  Collect stories – cookbooks, yearbooks, local photographs, ‘hunger for local identity’  What brought people to your location?  How is that reflected in your library?
    • Patron versus Customer controversy.  Joan interviewed 227 people and asked, “writing an annual report, need a respectful term” – Members!  It’s about community, not the individual.  Hunger for place – we can serve something people don’t even know they need – pride in local identity.
    • Community convening – Candidate School at TSCPL.  Neutral ground, no political agenda – get the ideas out in a civil environment.
    • Support Creative Economy and the “new creatives” – Big box retail stores and commodities industries are unstable.  Creative endeavors can’t be sent offshore.  Build small businesses – cooking, writing – brain-power is the commodity.  Well-positioned to serve these enterprises.  Get out of the house and still work…AT the Library.  Provide stimulating environment, smart people, information, tools, meeting space, technology, bandwidth – a need to be social, even when working alone.  Economic development issue.
    • Sustainability – rethink longstanding library traditions – be scalable, can’t just grow and expand
    • Service life cycles – Rise, plateau and then tail off.  Shouldn’t be surprised or worried – it’s normal to ebb and flow.  Plan for it.  Plan for failure AND success.  Don’t ration!  More demand = more supply, not less! We don’t get supply and demand and don’t plan for success.
    • Behavioral metrics – how do people use our stuff?  Measure what the people are doing, along with what the collection is doing?  Would it be useful to know HOW people use your resources?  “We should not chose ignorance in the name of confidentiality” – aggregate, ask, watch and learn.  Predict work load, service success – look at both sides of the equation.
    • Surprising new alliances – (Nixon and Mao image) – Have a customer or service community in common.  Know where your people are when they are not with you…and use that to your advantage.  Alliance, not sponsor/partner/donor.  What can we do to advance their mission and vice versa?  If not on the table, on the menu.  If you are part of someone elses success, you have a strategic value for service and funding.
    • Carbon positive facilities – sell energy back to the grid.  Solar roof at Fayetteville.  What is the difference between lending materials (books) and buying them.  Greener to borrow than to buy books.  Carbon credit!
  • When in doubt, choose:
    • Simplicity (the easy button) – invest in simple services, technologies, policies
    • Generosity – opposite of perfectionism.  Put own work out there and allow colleagues to strengthen it with you.  Suggestions, not criticism.  Be open to collaboration.  Shares feedback without getting personal
    • Flexibility – roll with challenges (think Gumby) – what are MULTIPLE good outcomes?
    • Urgency – John cotter – Doing nothing is taking a risk.  The gap between “I can’t believe the library has this” to “I can’t believe the library doesn’t have this” is shrinking.  Have fast failures
    • Relationships – values people and ongoing connections to them.  Book back v. person back – get the person back.  The relationship is more important than the transaction.  Solid working relationships improve innovation. Don’t sacrifice that to be right.
    • Trust – develop trust, earn trust – go into the situation looking for an outcome of trust.
    • Show the passion! – Find something about the work that you can be passionate about.  Passionate library worker can sway a vote in favor of the library…OCLC study.  Childrens librarians are known for it.  Harley plant – 3/4 of the workers had the company logo tattooed on their body – made it a great place to work.
    • Libraries won’t tank on my watch – her 6 word biography!

State of the System with Jim

  • System finances – Things are better than they looked 6 months ago.  Budget in good shape.  Thank the good folks in Brown and Nemaha county and their pipeline.
  • Priorities – CE and Advocacy issues.
    • Brenda’s job one – reviewing and seriously reconstructing and needed our CE program to meet the needs of our members and introducing new ideas.
    • Discussion questions will center on CE.
    • Telling library stories through advocacy – state and local.  Statewide library promotion campaign – I wonder if we’re geeking??
    • Meet with local legislators before the session starts.  KLA Push Card 2011 (pdf)
    • Appointment of a lobbyist to help with KLA.
    • Advocacy page on the Web site (which we need to add more stuff too)
    • Trustee workshops – early Spring, budget workshops – beginning of the budget process, when it matters for promotion to local funding bodies.
    • Advocacy presentation at Spring Assembly – emphasize nuts and bolts of advocacy at local level
    • Accreditation/standards – early next year will re-examine those with committee.
    • Significant changes to Resource Sharing program (NExpress and Courier).  Moving to a new support company.  (WOOT!!)
    • Courier will eventually connect to Colorado courier (OCLC ILL first, then Kicknet later)
    • Examine and Upgrade Internet Bandwidth – Gates Grant/Broadband – T-1 is no longer a minimally adequate Internet service.  State Library spear-heading the committee.  “Challenging effort to deal with how to fund and obtain Internet service that will be adequate into the future.”