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Farewell to IL2018


IL 2018 has concluded.  It was an excellent conference, and I hope you have enjoyed the summaries I have written.  There were many other sessions of interest. You can see the speakers’ slides from many of them by clicking here.

IL 2019 has been scheduled for October 21-23 at the Monterey Marriott.

Libraries’ Biggest Challenges and Solutions For the Future: The Closing Keynote Panel

Closing Session Panelists

Closing Session Panelists: (L-R) Donna Scheeder, Jason Griffey, Susan Broman, Peter Raymond

This closing session, moderated by Jane Dysart, was a conversation discussing the challenges for libraries in the future and some solutions to them. Panelists were Donna Scheeder, Past President, IFLA, and Consultant, Library Strategies International; Jason Griffey, Founder, Evolve Project; Susan Broman, Assistant City Librarian, Los Angeles Public Library; ad Peter Raymond, Founder and CEO, SolveOS. Here is an edited transcript of the conversation,

Peter: Libraries are where you satisfy your curiosity. They give us access to things we don’t have access to every day and help you find what is important to a community.

Susan has worked in public libraries for 24 years. She became interested in how technology is changing our profession. The biggest challenges for urban public libraries are serving the homeless, gathering people together, breaking down silos, and offering services in a central place.

Donna noted that librarians in Serbia found that the main reason for homelessness was that people could not use the computers. They developed a program to teach veterans computer skills and use them to apply for jobs; as a result, 95 of 100 of them got jobs and are no longer homeless.

Jason discussed where technology, policy, and law come together and affect one another. Data drives decisions in the world.  We need to be aware of data and careful of it. AI and machine learning are only as good as the data used for training the system. Our role will increasingly be to train these systems to do what we want them to do. The world in which we have careful human analysis of things is finished. Machine learning will defeat that very quickly.

Donna: What IFLA is doing to respond to challenges: There are examples all over the world of people doing amazing things with few resources, but this work is disconnected. The library world has moved to action which is very good. The IFLA Global Vision project tested the theory that the issues and values are the same across the world. Its chief finding was that we are united globally in our values. We need to make the connections easy for people to come together. The Idea Store is where libraries can contribute to this project.

Jane: We need to listen to other people because that helps us learn. Try things out so they can be visualized. Libraries are doing “popups”.

Peter: If you see AI as the equivalent of a 2 year old child, we know it will grow rapidly like the child.  Now we have driverless cars that are driven by AI. It gets better and faster; we are processing a lot of information accumulated over time when we are driving. The machine learns in milliseconds how we live as a species every second of every day. Get some hobbies; if it can be done twice, it will be learned.

Donna: We deal with literacy issues all the time. Now we have change literacy; we need to understand how things work. Many people are afraid of the changes; we must help them get through the changes because they will happen whether we want them or not, which is why we need to engage with AI.

Peter: We have not been through the changes that are happening now.

Susan: The skills in the future of the library staff and how they transfer to other things are hugely important.

Jason: Things like self-driving cars have many wonderful implications, but the most frequent middle-income job is delivery. What do you do when that stops due to automation? As other examples, image recognition will remove the need for radiologists in several years when AI takes over diagnostic jobs. And MIT’s HAMLET system is amazingly good at analyzing theses.

Jane; Have you seen interesting opportunities that libraries could try or experiment with?

Jason: They could partner with newly emerging communications or storage services running on a series of computers rather than a central server. Libraries have lots of computers and spare processing power. They could partner with decentralized technical people.

Susan: Libraries need to lead the way in digital inclusion and equitable access, and remove the gap between the haves and have-nots to help build people’s skills. We have always provided materials to people. At one time it was to books, now it is to video cameras, games, drones, ukuleles, etc., etc.

Jane: What’s a new topic to talk about next year?

Peter: Climate is what matters and affects all of us. People don’t know where to go to hear about climate’s effects. Bring the UN Global Goals into your library.

Susan:Engage neighborhoods and measure climate change. Inclusiveness, diversity, and equity are important.

Jason: Citizen science projects are very significant for changing people’s minds. Everything is political now; we as carers of fact and need to be on top of that.

Donna: Libraries should have conversations with people and bring people together to have a new understanding. Take another look at the companies that provide us with social media platforms. How do we get social media back without the things that are turning it into an enemy of the people?




Google Analytics and My Business

Trey Gordner

Trey Gordner

Trey Gordner, Founder, Koios, presented the following top 10 tips for Google Analytics.

  1. Get certified. Google has an “Analytics Academy” giving courses on various aspects of Google Analytics.
    Get Certified
  2. Check for the code everywhere. Find out the purpose of the code for every subdomain on your site. If the code is not there, you will not be getting information from a part of your site.
    Check for the code everywhere
  3. Separate internal and external traffic.
    Separate traffic
  4. Connect all things: Google Ads, Google Search Console, etc.
  5. Set up goals: special actions for clicks that will find your best traffic. Events are a type of goal that is set up with Java script. You can count them and make a report.
    Set up goals
  6. Conversion: compare database interest. Get a sense of interest in items, which will let you learn as much as possible about site visitors.
  7. Acquisition: compare channels to determine where people are coming from.
  8. Behavior: Get to know your visitors—those who drop off, where they go next, where they give up.
  9. Locations: Learn who you are reaching (there might be some surprises).
  10. Consider advanced tools such as Google Tag Manager, or Google Data Studio.
    Advanced tools

Michael Buono, Reference and Community Services Facilitator at the Brentwood NY Public Library, discussed Google My Business which uses information gathered from crawlers or verified by users to control the business listing that appears to the right of the search results. Here are the steps in creating the listing:

  • “Claim this business” or “claim this knowledge panel” will appear below the listing. When this is clicked, Google will call you back to verify the listing. (This does not work well with extensions in which case Google will send a postcard).
  • Make sure you have only one listing.
  • Specify your hours or Google will make them up.
  • Enter data for the listing. You can provide different sections for the box which is part of the data that Google crawls. Many people stop at the listing and do not go on to the website. If people use Directions from Google Maps, you can see that.
  • Reviews will be public on your listing whether you claim the business or not.
  • Questions come to your cell phone and should be answered quickly. To use this capability, you must have your phone connected to the internet and awake. Your cell phone number is not public, but you can see the number of the person sending the message.

Changing Stakeholder Perceptions About Library Value

Bill Irwin and Kimberly Silk

Bill Irwin and Kimberly Silk

Bill Irwin, Assistant Professor, Huron University College and Kimberly Silk, Sr. Planning and Development Officer, Hamilton Public Library, focused on the good, bad, and ugly aspects of evaluation in the workplace. Good: evaluation can provide data to management on library users. Bad: how can you find it good if you don’t go anywhere with it? Ugly: People are disappointed when their measurements do not tell them what they wanted to hear.

Why Measure

Measurements tell us how we are doing and inform our audience, so it is important to make sure we share the data with everyone.

Evaluate so you will know how you can serve your clientele or your community. The purpose of a public library is to build a sustained community. Don’t confuse means and ends, strategy and tactics.

What Libraries Are Measuring Now

We need quantitative data because it adds visibility, and the social impact gives personal impact. You must determine what proxy measures actually measure. How are you using the data? Do you just record it and keep it, which is about all that some libraries do . How do you make your library better? By selection, weeding, etc. One library found that circulation tripled after it was advertised, which they used in promotional efforts. Are you using the data to increase the outcome metrics?

The Monster

Just using counts is not an effective way of describing what is happening in the library, how the library is evolving, how is it serving the community, and how we are Identifying meaningful metrics. How do you feel when things are not increasing? We have educated decision-makers to emphasize the metrics we collect. Or purpose is not circulation; that is a means to an end. We get too ingrained in the means. The true role of the library is to serve our communities. Metrics tell us which community needs more attention. How are we responding to communities that are larger than ever before? Don’t forget how hard change is.

Data is for everyone, not just the top management. Too often, the data are never seen by the library staff. Evaluation can change stereotypes of the library that are held by the stakeholders. Our biggest challenge is that we have created a sense of who we are that is not aligned with reality.

Measure the Future: Next-Gen Metrics for Libraries

Jason Griffey

Jason Griffey

Jason Griffey, a consultant formerly at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University, was also librarian at the University of Tennessee. The library staff wanted to measure the attention of library visitors: where people tended to go and how long they stayed there, which can be thought of as similar to Google Analytics for a building. 

Traditional Library Statistics

Traditional metrics did not work well for the planning they wanted to do. 

Commercial systems

Commercial systems exist that are used by big-box retail stores to drive purchase decisions, but they are not appropriate for spaces where one might have an expectation of privacy. So the library decided to build its own system, which was built on open source software.


Possible ways to measure where people go include putting sensors on doors, tracking cell phones (but this ignores people not carrying a device, particularly children and recent immigrants). So they decided to use a camera  as a sensor to see how movement happens in a space. No pictures are taken.  Sensors were tested in the reading room at the New York Public Library (NYPL). A webcam was used as a sensor inside a 3D printed case. 

Webcam in case

Webcam in case

The software is entirely open and runs on the Linus platform.  It tracks moving pixels and stores location and time data. No pictures taken—only data paths. Results are displayed as a “heatmap” of activity counts. No photos or videos of library users are saved, and data are recorded in 15 minute blocks.

The NYPL wanted to know whether people were using the reading rooms to read or whether they were just taking a picture and then leaving (which is what they did). Over about two weeks, there were 480 visitors to one area and 2,630 to another. Most of them took a picture. Most of them did not move into the main space. The raw data were put into a database for analysis of counts and times. 

At the University of Oklahoma, a local museum wanted to know how people were moving through it and which exhibits attracted the most people. An overlay of the data was created to see the popular exhibits. The goal of this project is to give it to as many people as possible so that spaces can be analyzed and changes tested. For example, one could evaluate how people use the stacks in a library and whether they are necessary, or give data to funders to prove how busy the spaces are. This project is built by librarians for librarians; it was not built by a vendor. See

From Makerspace to Solve Space

Makerspace Panel

This double session was a mini-workshop with tips and techniques on setting up a makerspace. Chad Mairn from the St. Petersburg College library said we need to try new things and not be afraid to fail but learn from them. If you don’t try out something, it will probably not be a good fit with your makerspace. Document what you are doing with pictures. Field trips to the community are very useful and will bring more people into the library. Your makerspace can be everywhere.

VR ad AR classes use the Merge Cube which lets you hold holograms in your hand. Kids will become coders. Use a “Gadgets for Good” program to recycle old phones, computers, printers, etc.  Tactile 3D prints help visually impaired students. Many companies will be glad to work with you; also invite local developers to share their prototypes. To demystify STEM, it is not necessary to be a scientist or engineer; you just have to be curious with a desire to figure things out. Critical thinking is important. Every chance you get, share what you do. Dream, think, and create.

Tod Colegrove, Head of the Library at the University of Nevada Reno (UNR), said that even as we are changing, some things are staying the same. Makerspaces support active learning. Many print materials about makerspaces have been migrated to open space. Many libraries now offer 3D printing as a service just like any other library services; UNR was the first academic library in the US to do this. We engage a different part of our brain when we are handling things.

Laser cutters cut by burning things apart, so get the fire extinguisher out when you get one! The cutters are used for prototyping things.There is lots of interaction between prototyping and coding.

UNR was featured in an article on the most interesting makerspaces in America.

Susan Considine launched the first makerspace in the US in a public library. While spaces and technology continue to change in libraries, what do we do when our staff feel threatened or not on board of the new changes? We need to ensure we are consider our most valuable resources—our people—first. It is necessary to apply new thinking to hiring and training new staff.

Brian Pichman helps libraries around the world with leadership strategies and funding partnership incentives. He founded the Evolve Project to renovate a Children’s Library. When he approached companies and asked them to market to libraries, he found that they thought libraries were only about books. When they remodeled the library, kids thought they would have to stand in line to get in. Libraries are evolving. Kids will have to learn to be solvers in order to thrive. see his video.

Following the presentations, the audience participated in a group discussion. A  “road map” is at Here are some points that were raised in the discussion.

  • The key to making makerspaces work is to find people who are passionate. It is important to find ways to contact all the demographic groups in the community and engage them to get them to come into the library.
  • Find out what people’s strengths are and use them to promote growth. Challenges include staffing and having people to commit to the goals and changing mission of the library.
  • Many people approach the makerspace like they are in a retail space; the message must shift to focus on the process instead of the product.

If you are just thinking about starting a makerspace, your most important resource is your people. Don’t leave the staff in the dark. Have a conversation with them about why you are doing this. Then bring them on board to do the work of having conversations in the community. Everyone is an ambassador; ask people if they would be willing to share their expertise and knowledge. Once the staff understands that they will be led by the community, they will become enthusiastic.

If you are planning tools and facilities, tap into what the staff is passionate about and what their expertise is, and have them understand that it will be shared. You will be amazed about your staff!  Those interests often translate into learning opportunities, and you will not need to hire more staff. The goal is for everyone in the organization to have the same level of general knowledge. Involving the staff at the beginning is essential.

If you are in the process of establishing a makerspace and are having challenges with the staff,  it is frequently because of their fear of what the changes will mean for them and their jobs. Find ways to do things better than you have ever done them before, and stop thinking that knowledge sharing has to come from a library worker. We are simply facilitators; let the community lead your development. Put surveys everywhere; you will be amazed at what people will tell you.

You may need a rebranding effort to make the community (and the staff!) know what the makerspace is for. The community should understand that they will gain an increase in their level of expertise.