Until recently, I hadn’t had much need to think about recruiting. Suddenly, it’s critically important that I know how to do it well.

One of the things I’ve picked up is that often, particularly for leadership positions, the applicant you want won’t necessarily be looking at job ads or necessarily thinking about taking a step up on the career ladder. A person may be willing to make a move for the right opportunity, but in their day to day, they’re doing well, getting on with their jobs and their lives, and not spending their evenings cruising job boards. If you’ve got a role to fill, you have to go out and find the people you need.

So how do you do that? Pull a group of canny staff together to comb your networks and figure out who we know, dig into conference proceedings for rising stars, search Twitter for opinionated superheroes? (Done it; it was fun!) Cold call? (Hi there, you don’t know me, but WHY NOT WORK HERE, MY TALENTED FRIEND? HELLO? HELLO?)

What else can you?

I’m in the very interesting position of trying to recruit across sectors. I’m looking for a public librarian to potentially fill an academic position. How does someone deeply entrenched in the academic sector break out of a silo and get their job ad in front of a public librarian looking for a leadership opportunity? I can’t use our usual channels. I can’t just relax on this.

How about Twitter?

My colleague Lindsay Cronk (Mover and Shaker) and I hatched a plan; we’ll do what others before us have done: Twitter chat! Ask us anything! Let us tell you about our jobs! We’re hoping that answering questions on Twitter will help us find the people who might want to join us.

This is all a grand experiment for us. We haven’t really been active recruiters before. But we have some great jobs, and we’re looking for some great librarians. And we live in a great town that we love. And we have big, big plans to change the world, starting here, and we need co-conspirators.

So here we go: Monday, Sept 11, noon to 2pm EST, we’re hoping we can get the attention of some folks who might be interested in our jobs, or might know some people who might be interested in our jobs. Or might just want prod at us and help us understand how to be better recruiters. Which all of us are going to need to be.

See you there?

Leadership, Authority, Hierarchy, and Supervision

Leadership, Authority, Hierarchy, and Supervision

This is what I’ve learned: either you think library leadership roles must always come with direct supervisory responsibilities in order to be successful, or you think these two pieces can be disentangled. I fall into the latter category. I have recently encountered a number of people in the former category, and I am dismayed.

The general feeling seems to be that any “coordinator”-type role without a bunch of direct reports is a sign of bad management and the role is doomed to failure.

I suppose, if you imagine that a leader can only influence, direct, or lead the people they supervise, then sure, a role where a lot of leadership is expected but no dedicated staff might seem like it’s set up for failure. But that’s a very traditional view of library structure and library work, and I think we’ve moved past that. That doesn’t describe every workplace. I believe what must be missing from this picture is an understanding of how a project-based environment works.

In an organization that functions in projects, work is organized not around a supervisor and their team, but by cross-departmental, short-term projects with specific, time-limited goals. The leader of a project team doesn’t need to approve vacation time in order to function as a fully-fledged leader.

It’s true that, without the power of hierarchical authority, convincing your peers and others outside your department that your idea is good can be hard. It’s hard for a reason. Our peers have good ideas of their own, and experiences to drawn on, history with the subject matter, and judgement; if your ideas doesn’t have the legs to convince intelligent library staff to get on board, do you want the weight of authoritarian power to be there for you to silence objections? That feels good, but is it a good idea? Isn’t it healthier to hear the skepticism, take the feedback, and make the idea better? Isn’t that a better way to learn to be a leader? To learn to take feedback, to be collaborative, to develop good, functional ideas?

Leaders who rely on the power of their roles rather than the strength of their vision and their ideas concern me. If you don’t have the skills to manage work without that power, are you really a leader?

What does it mean for the profession if we link up hierarchical, supervisory power with leadership in this way? What kinds of opportunities do new professionals get to even discover if leadership is of interest to them? How do we give staff a safe, lower-risk opportunity in which to learn how to lead, where failure is absolutely an option to learn from?

There are only so many supervisory roles to go around, and not everyone gets one. But everyone in a library can be a leader. I feel strongly about this; why can’t we open up this black box and give other people a chance to put their fingerprint on the organization? This is what it comes down to for me. If we can’t decouple leadership and supervision, we shut down a lot of learning and opportunity. Giving staff project-based leadership is great training and frankly great, fun, effective and sustainable work. The risk is low and the reward is huge.

To me, the real skill-building in leadership is being a leader among your peers, a leader without the power of the performance review to fall back on. Can you construct a viable idea? Can you get buy in? Can you take on feedback make your idea better? Can you get a project off the ground, through planning, through implementation, and into something sustainable? This isn’t easy work, but it doesn’t require anyone to be a supervisor. And it is work you can learn over time. It’s forgiving work that lets you try, fail, and try again.

Project-based work lets you break down silos of your organization. It lets you bring together skills and talent that don’t sit right next to each other. It lets staff have a chance to spread their wings and try something new. It gives hungry staff real, valuable opportunities to show their stuff. How do you know if you want to take a supervisory role if you’ve never had a real chance to lead?

A project-based environment asks a lot of an organization. It requires libraries to give staff the opportunity to be on a diverse project team, to get to know staff they don’t work with every day, to see a idea take form and participate in its formation, to see things go wrong in a safe place that anticipates things going wrong. It gives staff a chance to chair a meeting without their supervisor in the room, to have a deadline and a responsibility of their own, to have their own team. Any member of staff can be the one who updates library leadership on the status of a project. Project-based work is a forgiving structure in which staff at any level can have the opportunity to learn how to lead.

As someone who writes job ads and chairs search committees, I think it’s important that we learn to recognize leadership outside of direct supervision and respect it for what it is. It’s not only the department heads who lead.

This is particularly important to me because I leapt into senior leadership without ever having been a department head. There are other paths, and if we don’t provide these opportunities, and understand what this kind of leadership means on a CV, we’re going to overlook people with really great skills who can be an asset to our organizations.

At my library, a position with leadership but no staff means a position that will lead all staff at one point or another. It means a project-based role that works with the hierarchy to set expectations for the entire organization. It means collaborating with supervisors and partnering with them in managing staff. It means leading across the organization. It means breaking barriers and doing conference-worthy work, and finding talent where we didn’t know it existed. It means experimentation and taking chances.

I think we need this. I think it’s important. Non-supervisory leadership is also leadership, and it has value.

The Digital Academy: The Power of Audio

The Digital Academy: The Power of Audio

It’s funny: we can create images and video, and even animation, so much more easily than we used to, yet it’s now that we’re turning back to the power of pure audio. Below are two examples of games that are using audio instead of video to evoke a sense of mission and place. Rather than try to build something that looks immersive, these games let your imagination to that part.

The Nightjar is an entirely audio-based iOS game narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch. In it, you are abandoned in a failing space station and need to find your way to safety.

Put your earphones on and listen:

Another approach is Zombies, Run! This game also employs only audio, but it’s relying on a far more higher resolution image than they can produce: the real world. Zombies, Run! is a running app. You switch it on when you’re going for a run, and Zombies, Run! provides the motivation. The app pays attention to how fast you’re going and provides feedback based on that. It turns a run into an escape from zombies. Using pure audio and some data from its whereabouts, app makers are using the real world as their interface, overlaying information on top of it through audio.

Are there ways we can use audio? Can we overlay audio information on the library, or campus? On the stacks?

The Digital Academy: Record your Reflections

The Digital Academy: Record your Reflections

  1. Scan through your reflections and thoughts about the tools we’ve explored during the first two days of this workshop, and the prework for today.
  2. Choose three ideas you’d like to share. Focus on ideas for ways you can use these tools in your work. Feel free to include ways to use these tools if they were slightly different.
  3. Using  Quicktime, make an audio recording of yourself reading (or paraphrasing) these ideas. Record a separate file for each idea.
  4. Give each audio recording a descriptive file name including your name so we can easily see what it’s about.
  5. Upload your files to this Box folder.
Keener Task #1: Pixlr

Keener Task #1: Pixlr


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Yes, you are a keener. Be proud! All the best people are keeners! Since you’re done with everything else, try this:

  1. Go to pixlr.
  2. Create a picture. You can either a) take one with your webcam, or b) head over to your instagram account and take a screenshot of one of your photos.
  3. Modify your photo. Check out the overlays and stickers, and of course the effects. Make a collage!
  4. When you’re done, download your modified image(s).
  5. Upload them to your blog.
  6. Tweet your photos using the hashtag #digitalacademy!
One Bright Idea: University of Rochester River Campus Libraries’ Digital Academy Presents

One Bright Idea: University of Rochester River Campus Libraries’ Digital Academy Presents

Please join us at 3pm EST on Thursday, August 6th for our livestream broadcast, One Bright Idea, where the participants of the Digital Academy media creation workshop will share with friends and colleagues what they’ve learned during the workshop, and what they’ll experiment with as part of their work in future.

The Digital Academy: Video Editing

The Digital Academy: Video Editing

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There’s lots of fancy and expensive software you can use to edit video. Oftentimes, the many steps and $$$ required excludes a lot of people. But there are video editing tools that are available to anyone with a computer and an internet connection. Like youtube!

Log into the google account listed on the sheet inside your envelope.

  1. Go to the Youtube video editor. (You can find it linked under the upload link.)
  2. Create a new video merging at least three of the videos you see listed in the youtube channel.
  3. Edit the videos you’ve chosen. You can trim the videos by dragging the left or the right side of them. You’ll need some buffer room on either side of them if you want to use transitions! It makes them overlap slightly.
  4. Add transitions, text, and/or other effects.
  5. If you want to, add a soundtrack.
  6. Put your name in the title of your video so you’ll be able to see which one’s yours!
  7. When you’re happy with your video, press the create video button.
  8. Embed your edited video on your blog. (How to)
  9. Tweet your video using the hashtag #digitalacademy!
The Digital Academy: Quicktime Screencast

The Digital Academy: Quicktime Screencast

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 2.25.03 PMRemember how you thought about something on the library’s website that you’d like to show a brand new student? Something that would be useful to them?

  1. Use Quicktime to create a screencast less than 1 minute long showing students how to do one thing on the website.
  2. Upload your screencast to youtube using the username and login on your card.
  3. Embed your screencast on your blog. (Here’s how.)
  4. Tweet your post using the hashtag #digitalacademy!