Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Michigan Library Association 2013 Presentations

Getting ready to head up to Lansing for the 2013 Michigan Library Association Annual Convention. I am fortunate to present twice. One during the regular session and one during the Ignite MLA Session on Thursday October 17th. I will be the first of seven librarians presenting in this format: "Get ready for a rapid fire session of ideas that will inspire, challenge and motivate you. Ignite MLA will feature speakers who each have just five minutes and 20 slide to share an idea, story or solution that ingnites their passion for the library community." Here are my session information and the presentation slides & handouts available via Deep Blue. Please write me at cseeman@umich.edu with any questions, thoughts or comments.

Program Title: Where is the Hospitality in Your Library?
Date: Wednesday October 16 at 4:15-5:15pm (Room 101-102 - Lansing Center)
Abstract: In the library and information fields, we spend countless hours focusing on making our world a more self-service environment. While many patrons much prefer to work independently and easily find resources on their own, we have placed our emphasis on creating a self-service environment that removes the “middle man” from the information equation. And with the move that many have made away from conventional reference desks and reference service, we can (at times) look more like self-check express lanes at the grocery stores than like the libraries that we used to be. And while our patrons most certainly enjoy accessing resources in an unmediated fashion, there are many instances (especially with more difficult research projects) where they do need assistance with finding print and electronic resources. This presentation takes a look at how we have used methods from the hospitality and service industries at the Kresge Business Administration Library (University of Michigan) to ensure that we are not only meeting the information needs of our patrons, but also being available to assist them when it is needed. In this presentation, we will discuss the role of public service in the library and how the lessons on the hospitality industry can improve our interaction with the patrons. NOTE: This is a program I have been giving for a few years, but it is continually evolving and growing. I am hoping to write this up more definitively in the coming year.

Program Title: Bitter Coffee & Watered-down Bourbon: Lessons for Libraries from Chase & Sanborn Coffee and Maker’s Mark
Date: Thursday October 17 at 3pm (Ignite MLA session runs from 3pm to 4pm (Banquet Rooms 1-4 - Lansing Center)
Abstract: The story of Chase & Sanborn Coffee provides all organizations a great morality tale for all organizations, including libraries, about how small changes may lead to larger problems down the road. Chase & Sanborn ranked with Maxwell House as one of the leading coffee brands in the early 20th century. They were known not only for their fresh sealed coffee, but also for the Chase & Sanborn Hour variety show that featured many stars including Don Ameche, Nelson Eddy, and Edgar Bergen with his wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy. In the years after World War II, there was a belief at the company that they could make small changes to the process to reduce costs, without changing the quality that much. A similar decision was made earlier this year by Maker’s Mark to reduce their alcohol for their Kentucky Burbon as a cost reduction plan to help boost profits. Using these two examples from the business world, the presentation will explore how small decisions can, over time, fundamentally change the very nature of any organization. For the library, the presentation will show how modest and sometimes seemingly consequence free decisions about resources and services that a library provides can snowball into a complete change in the overall perception of the library. So changes that seems minor at the time, when considered together, transform and (more importantly) potentially undermine what the library is attempting to provide for their community. In the light of continued encroachment on a libraries space and budget, this type conundrum might be easier to fall into than we might think or like. NOTE: This is a program that I am very excited about. I am very interested in the use of library services by our communities and what I see as erosion of the 'library brand'. While this is starting off as a small presentation (like the hospitality one), I am hoping that it grows into a more full exploration of library identity and services in the era of declining resources.

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