Why the Internet Will Never Replace the Public Library

stackswithlightAs a librarian, I am sometimes asked why we still have public libraries.  Those who ask the question assume the Internet has made libraries obsolete, and besides, they believe no one goes to them anymore anyway.  After resting the urge to slap them, I quickly set about correcting the error of their ways and share why libraries matter as much today as at anytime in their history.

In a new article I set out to dispel the myths and shed light on the role of the modern library.  For example, in the except below I discuss how libraries are vital to our educational system:

“So how does a public library contribute to a strong community?  Primarily, public libraries are one of the three pillars of education in our society.  Alongside schools and colleges, libraries provide educational opportunities for residents and compliment the curriculum of the other two institutions.  However, public libraries have a key difference from schools and colleges, in that they are open to all. Whereas children age out of the school system and colleges may only be a 2-6-year long experience, public libraries provide services from cradle to grave.  They are also one of the few places in our society that embrace the democratic principles of openness and equality. No one is turned away from the public library and its resources are typically free to its residents. Income and background are irrelevant to obtaining a library card.”

Read the rest of the article on my site.

 

The Efficient Librarian on the Library Leadership Podcast

I am pleased to share that my interview about Efficient Librarianship is now available on the Library Leadership Podcast.

Hosted by Adriane Herrick Juarez, the Executive Director of the Park City Library in Utah, she invites notable library leaders on to her show to discuss a wide range of topics.  Some of her prior guests, Lance Warner, Felton Thomas, and Peter Bromberg,  are library leaders who participated in my recent article Go For It! Advice From Library Directors.  Adriane has also interviewed two ALA Presidents, Jim Neal and Loida Garcia-Febo.  Here is the teaser to the interview:

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“As information professionals, we have a lot coming at us. Is it possible to keep up with the rapid-fire pace and stay stress free? According to today’s guest, it is. Doug Crane is the Director of the Palm Beach County Library System. He has a blog called the Efficient Librarian and teaches workshops and webinars on this topic.

“He explains how to organize our workflow systems, develop our personal knowledge management structures, take effective action-steps for success, and even have an email inbox that is empty at the end of each day. By tuning in, you will get simple steps to make all of this efficiency a reality.”

List to the whole interview at Library Leadership Podcast or download it to your favorite podcast app.  Please provide comment and feedback.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Taming Unproductive Habits

Have you thought about your habits recently?

A habit is the name given to an action that we repeat on a regular basis.  Most habits are mundane, such as the steps done in the morning before heading out the door for work.  Others can be self defeating or destructive.  Charles Duhigg wrote the definitive book on the habits in in 2012, which included steps on how to start and change habits.

Recently Darius Foroux wrote an article for Pocket that examined unproductive habits.  This is because he says “The reason I study productivity is because I’m an unproductive person. I truly am.”  In the article he identifies 11 unproductive habits to quit.  Some of them are familiar to those who study GTD, such as:

“Relying On Your Memory
Not writing down your thoughts, ideas, tasks, etc, is insane. Why? Because you’re wasting a lot of brain power when you rely on your memory. When you write everything down, you can use your brainpower for other things. Like solving problems. That’s actually useful and advances your career.”

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Other unproductive habits include overworking, worrying and complainingExplore these and the rest and then see which ones you want to quit.

Tidying for Guests

mariekondoWith stores now selling Christmas decorations in the middle of summer, I don’t need to remind you that the holiday season is upon us.  Aside from shopping for gifts, the holidays also bring guests to our door.  And since these friends may not visit often, many a host wants to make a good impression.

In the spirit of the season, Marie Kondo has provided on her blog some quick tips to ensure that your house is looking its best for invited (or uninvited) guests.  For example, she suggests the following:

Do a “Joy Check”

We become so accustomed to living in our space that it is difficult to see it objectively. Start by walking through the front door as if you were a guest. Move through each room, looking at it with fresh eyes. Perhaps you’ve stuffed things in a closet or piled items you’re feeling unsure about. Take this opportunity to ask yourself if these things really spark joy. If they don’t, thank them and let them go.

Explore the rest of her quick tidy tips on the Konmari web site.

Get Ready to Unfocus?

officeyogaWe often associate success at work or in a creative endeavor to be the result of focus.  With so many distractions in the world, people search for ways to focus their mind in order to get things done.  While it is important to focus, does this mean that being unfocused is a waste of time?

Not necessarily according to Srini Pillay in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review.  Titled, Your Brain Can Only Take So Much Focus, Pillay explains why too much focus can be problematic.

“The problem is that excessive focus exhausts the focus circuits in your brain. It can drain your energy and make you lose self-control. This energy drain can also make you more impulsive and less helpful. As a result, decisions are poorly thought-out, and you become less collaborative.”

Deliberately unfocusing the mind shifts it in ways that are extremely beneficial.

“When you unfocus, you engage a brain circuit called the “default mode network.” … Under the brain’s conscious radar, it activates old memories, goes back and forth between the past, present, and future, and recombines different ideas. … you develop enhanced self-awareness and a sense of personal relevance. And you can imagine creative solutions or predict the future, thereby leading to better decision-making too.”

Learn more about the power of “unfocus” and techniques to do it by reading the rest of the article.

Rethinking Projects

How many projects are you working on right now?

When I ask this question in my seminars, most people answer in the range of 1-10.  The reason for this answer is that they believe projects are big and involved endeavors which take weeks or months to complete.   But I ask in this case are they thinking too big?

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According to GTD, a project is anything that requires more than one action to complete.  By this definition, the number of projects we are working on balloons to fifty or more!  Of course, many of these projects are quickly dispatched in less than a day or even an hour.  The catch is that when we fail to recognize these small items as projects, they tend to pile up around us.  Each little incomplete project takes up mental space, leading to an ongoing background sense of anxiety.

The solution according to GTD is the complete project list.  It asks you to assess your total life work at the moment by listing every project in one place.  Remember, a project is something that can be completed, as opposed to an area of responsibility which is ongoing.  For example, an area of responsibility is personal health, and a project to support it could be to sign up for exercise classes.

This project list helps in at least three significant ways:

1/ The project list serves as a reminder of incomplete items.  This can alleviate worry about losing track of projects that may come back to haunt you later.

2/ A project list forces people to get specific about the next physical actions needed to move the item from an open loop to a completed project. It accelerates completion of work.

3/ By having a full inventory of current workload, it becomes easier to recognize limitations and enables people to safely reject new projects in order to keep their professional dignity and sanity intact.

As David Allen, creator of GTD says, “You can only feel good about what you are not doing when you know what you are not doing.”   Helpful project tips are listed on the Getting Things Done web site.

So draft a project list and keep it updated.  You may be surprised at how much you are really doing!

Fine Free @ PBCLS

pbclslogoDoes anyone like overdue fines?  Library members hate paying them, the staff dislike collecting them, and do they even work to get people to return items on time?

That is why I’m happy to announce that the Palm Beach County Library System has become fine free.  By doing so we have joined the ranks of public libraries across the country that realized library fines are an antiquated notion.  Starting on October 1, the Library System moved to the fine free model.  In a recent Palm Beach Post article, reporter Hannah Morse quoted from my presentation to the Board of County Commissioners the reasons why this change was required.

“Across the nation, public libraries now view fines as an impediment to service,” said Douglas Crane, director of the county library system. “Late fines actually stand in opposition to the library’s core values of equitable service, supporting early literacy and free access to information.”

Crane added that fines “act as a barrier and create inequitable service, disproportionately impacting children and community members with limited financial means.”

Learn all about the change on the library’s web site. And remember, you still need to bring your items back.  We just won’t nickel and dime you about it if you are a few days late.