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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.