Ontario Library Association (OLA) Annual Meeting, 2002
This is brief travel log outlining my experiences at the Ontario Library Association Annual Meeting 2002, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
After numerous introductions to introductions, Buffy Sainte-Marie spoke at the plenary session. "Hello, my name is Buffy, and I'm a biblioholic." An engaging presenter, Ms. Sainte-Marie essentially communicated two ideas both through the metaphor of a tour through her personal library. The first idea was that we, as people, should cherish and nurture the natural artist that resides in all of us. This natural artist should be cultivated and is more valuable than the more "constructed" art born of "in betweenees" -- people such as critics, reviewers, and other middlemen. She reminded the audience that many of the best things in life are free -- including libraries. "I love that which is the song from within." She also enjoys her (Macintosh) computer because it is great at remembering things. By using a computer she can free her mind of ideas making room for new ideas as they appear.
The second idea surrounded her present project, Cradleboard ( www.cradleboard.org ). As described on project's website:
The Cradleboard Teaching Project turns on the lights in public education about Native American culture - past, present, and most important for the children - the Future. It comes out of Indian country, and reaches far beyond, into the mainstream classroom and into the future of education.
Backed by lesson plans and an excellent curriculum, the Cradleboard Teaching Project is also live and interactive, and totally unique; children learn with and through their long-distance peers using the new technology alongside standard tools, and delivering the truth to little kids with the help of several American Indian colleges. Cradleboard reaches both Indian and non-Indian children with positive realities, while they are young.
She closed her presentation with, "Libraries are clinics where we administrate to people's needs." To say the least, her presentation was well-received.
Presented by Michael Hick, Vice-Chair, Cobourg Public Library Board, OLTA Council Member
Michael Hick introduced himself as an engineer, and the purpose of his presentation was to provide an understanding of team behavior, when to use teams and when not to use teams, how to use a team, and how to avoid the pitfalls of using teams. In essence, he thought well managed teams can be beneficial in analyzing complex problems, and teams are not such a good idea when the problems are simple and straight-forward.
A team is a small group (6 - 10 people) with complementary skills (technical, facilitating, interpersonal skills, listening, different backgrounds) who feel mutually accountable to each other and have clear measurable goals.
Teams are deemed effective when their outcome is seen as satisfactory, when the experience by the team is beneficial, and when the team members are pleased with the efforts. An effective team is one where the people work well together and know other people in the organization.
Teamwork is hard. It requires a lot of energy, co-operation, and communication. When creating a team, pick the best people and set clear challenges. Motivation for the team comes from setting clear, challenging goals -- stretch goals. Make sure the goals are measurable.
The team must have the right mix of skills and backgrounds, and be sure to provide training when shortfalls in skills are apparent.
Teams develop appropriate approaches to problem solving. The process includes: collecting information, identifying root causes, developing solutions (through brainstorming, consensus building, and evaluating), and making changes. Hick was not really strong on brainstorms, and believed really inciteful individuals create the best ideas because they attack the ideas and analysis them thoroughly. Brainstorming is sometimes superficial. Teams are good at evaluating ideas.
There are at least two types of teams. Special teams are set up for one specific thing, and examples of this type of team work includes: strategic planning, quality improvement, project planning and implementation.
The other types of teams are work units or multi-functional self-directed teams. Work teams are high performance organizations, flatter (less bureaucratic, customer focused, internal control instead of "top down" control), and the challenge of these teams is to integrate them into the overall organization.
Pitfalls of teamwork is disruptive behavior, "group think", and wasteful of time and energy. Strive for a balance between debate and too consensus minded.
In order for teams to work successfully, they must be highly motivated, highly trained, have a good information systems to control work, need a good performance measures, and continuous improvement.
Working in teams
Presented by Ken Haycock, the Director of the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies, University of British Columbia
I missed the first few minutes of this presentation, but as I arrived Ken Haycock was describing in more detail the for stages of team development: 1) forming, 2) storming, 3) norming, and 4) performing. The forming part of the process is often called orientation.
The second stage, storming, is sometimes called resistance. It is at this stage where people start of get a feel for the other team members, and the ground rules are being layed out. Ground rules are very important, and it is important to talk about them before you need them. This way future comments are not seen as personal. Examples might include:
- one person talks at a time
- no personal attaches or strong language
- length of meeting (beginning and end times)
- sticking to the items on the agenda
- have an agenda, arrive on time
- will there be social time
- no cheap shots
- no hidden agenda
- length of time a person can dominate the conversation
- location of meeting
When the ground rules are broken there must be consequences, and "progressive discipline" was advocated whereby the team leader first speaks privately to the rule breaker, then the leader speakers to the rule breaker in a semi-private environment, and finally, the problem is address in a public environment. One ultimate consequence of breaking the rules might be exclusion from the team. Again, it is very important to talk about consequences before you need them.
In the norming (reconcile) stage criticism is intended to be seen as constructive because it is presented in a way that is about the material and not the person. The team leader revisits the goals. There is a firming of the norms, making sure the ground rules are established. If they are not, then the team will not get out of the storming stage.
By the time the team is in the final, performing stage, participants should be working together as colleges, working through the problems, and the team leader should be linking the feelings and processes of the team to the larger organization. This stage also includes a review of the process in order for people feel comfortable continuing with it.
Haycock outlined a number of criteria for success:
- clarity in team goals
- clearly defined roles/responsibilities
- established ground rules
- beneficial team behaviors
- balanced participation
- well-defined decisions
- awareness of both content and process
- productive use of conflict - This was especially interesting. He often uses the following sentence to make sure the conflict is addressed in a less defensive manner. "When you ____ I feel ____ because ____. [Discuss.] I would prefer ____. What do you think ____?"
- use of evidence (scientific approach) - Again, this was especially interesting since we, as profession, regard our job as one assisting them in having the right and enough information but we do not use the information ourselves. Too many times our decisions are based on "gut" feelings, one or two email messages, or too much antidotal evidence.
- an improvement plan
Haycock advocated the inclusion of a process observer in the team. This person sounds a little bit like a referee, a person who looks at what goes on a makes sure the ground roles are being used. The observer is trying to give the team a bit of self-assessment.
While other roles within the team (recorder, observer, etc.) may rotate, Haycock did not advocate the rotation of the leader since a level of confidential trust must be developed between members and the leader, and this trust can be broken if the leader changes.
Establish rules of behavior at the beginning of team building. This way issues do not become personal issues later.
Define consensus. Is it that the group can agree or is it simply something we can live with.
Common problems in teamwork include:
- overbearing participants
- dominating participants
- reluctant participants
- feuding members
- wanderlust digressions and tangents (no bird walks)
- discounts and "plops"
- unquestioned acceptance of opinion as fact
- rush to accomplishment
Dysfunctional behaviors in teams include:
Ways to managing conflict are:
- decide if the conflict is worth confronting
- remove conflict in a non-defensive non-threatening way
- define the problem (identity specifics, listens, agree to causes)
- generate feasible solution(s)
- plan the implementation reconizeing the different view points
- plan to evaluate
The most important role of the leader is to move people through the four stages: forming, storming, norming, and performing.
Integrating electronic resources in the union catalog
This session described three different institutions' methods of integrating electronic resources in the online catalog.
The session began with Eva McDonald of Bibliocentre ( www.bibliocentre.ca ) who provides centralized technical processing for Ontario colleges, maintains the union catalog, and makes consortial deals with many (two dozen) subscription databases. Their primary question, like everybody else, is, "How do we know what we have access to?" Serials solutions and jake, as well as their in-house solutions, made people go to multiple interfaces to find different sets of material. They were dissatisfied with these approaches and consequently they formed a committee to deal with the following content: subscription databases, free government sites, free websites, for-fee government documents on the Web. Deciding they needed to scope the content in the catalog, only records for full-text should be included in the OPAC. The records they got from the vendors were/are not very clean -- not CONSER level records. Consequently, they had to compromise their high standards of cataloging. They created a local solution to make CDROMs distinguished from other computer files. They created a local field that allowed things to be searchable as electronic-only. No de-duping was done; there are a lot of duplicate records. They created a location code for each of the subscriptions and matched location codes to the subscribing college seemingly solved their holdings problems. McDonald advocated, "Get user input", but in her case the users were librarians, not patrons.
Linda Day from the University of Guelph hit the nail on the head when she said, "They key to your success is often what system (ILS) you have because it allows you to do, or not do, things when it comes to recording items in your catalog." At Guelph they have agreed on various MARC tags for various attributes for the resources in the catalog. They agree what the display should looks like, and there is an ejournals group working on a separate ejournals database. Their issues are: in what record do the links reside (bibliographic record, holding record, or item record), do the implement single versus multiple records in the catalog, and finally, what access restrictions must be put into place. They maintain a separate database of ejournals, and this service seems to be more popular with users since it contains just the information people desire, not everything.
Trina Grover of Ryerson University was the third speaker. Her goal was to represent the licensed material in the OPAC. They use a proxy server to manage access. They license the usual suspects. They can limit searches to electronic materials since this is a feature of their vendor's software. The ultimate goal is to provide "one stop shopping" for these items. She shared how they: acquired, edited (uses various editing tools) and batch loaded, maintained, and display their content.
None of these presentations were very innovative. Giving these people some credit, they are extremely limited by the software running their catalog. At the same time, they seemingly have done little to discover what the users want or to create services to meet their needs. Where are the usability studies, and where is the evidence demonstrating what they have done improved things?
This is the second time I have had the opportunity to go to the OLA Annual Meeting. The meeting is small enough that it is easy to get around. Yet it is big enough to provide meetings for all types of librarians. I share my experiences about MyLibrary@NCState at the meeting. I was surprised there was so much interest, and my presentation generated a bit of discussion. Like others in the profession, I need to back up my professional decisions with more empirical facts.
Creator: Eric Lease Morgan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Source: This text was never formally published
Date created: 2002-02-03
Date updated: 2004-11-20
Subject(s): Toronto, Ontario; travel log;