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Leadership and Librarians Stephen Abram, MLS Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila Manila, Philippines April 15, 2013
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Leadership and Librarians

Stephen Abram, MLSRizal Library, Ateneo de ManilaManila, PhilippinesApril 15, 2013

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What is Leadership?

Leaders see an improvement to be made – a desirable future state, sometimes before others, and actively seek to achieve those



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Who is a Leader?

Everyone can lead.Leadership is different from

managing or supervising.


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Lies we tell ourselves

• Shyness versus introversion• I don’t do presentations to management• People will notice my good work• They’ll read my report, memo . . .• Leadership is someone else’s job• I don’t make the decisions around here…• That’s their responsibility – not mine.


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Future Driven Leadership Training for Librarians

• ALA Emerging Leaders• Mountain Plains Leadership Institute• Tall Texans• Snowbird• Northern Exposure to Leadership• iSchool at Toronto e.g. Public Library Institute• Crucial Conversations• Etc.

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Research PhD Dissertations on Leadership in Libraries

Mary-Jo Romaniuk, San Jose State Univ.Cheryl Stenstrom, San Jose State Univ.Donna Brockmeyer, Univ. of Saskatchewan, Thomas More CollegeKen Haycock, Marshall School, University of California


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Insights into what Makes a Difference

• Passion is foremost• Advocacy• Risk Taking• Change Management• Flexibility• Dealing with Ambiguity – having the aptitude

to introduce change aligned with the future state.

• Influencing Skills

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What doesn’t help or work

• Not taking the long view• A dysfunctional view of time• Being risk averse• Playground competition• Lack of cooperation• Backbiting and blamestorming• Fear of change

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SLA Alignment ResearchKey Highlights:• Relationships, Networks, Collaboration• Speed – Save Time• Packaging for Added Value Answers• Educate and Train


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Positioning the Library and Librarian / Library Staff

What is your value proposition?You versus the library versus the institution?Why do you, the library, or your institution exist?

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Librarian Magic

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The Complex Value Proposition

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Risk Taking in Librarianship

Avoiding the triple diseases of:1. Conflict avoidance2. Passive resistance3. Risk aversion

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Too Much Respect for Rules

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Fear of Looking Silly

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Too Little Time

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Studying Things to Death

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Fear of Success

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So Much Complication!

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Are there any of these in your library?


The Black Hole

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Grocery Stores

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Cookbooks, Chefs . . .

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Cookbooks, Chefs . . .

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The new bibliography and

collection development





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Up Your Game• Embedded team member• Embedded teacher• Embedded research coach• Embedded personal librarian• Re-intermediation

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UNCOMFORTABLE CHOICES: SACRIFICEUp Your Game• Dog, Star, Cow, Problem Child/?• Reduce investment in successes – This isn’t a typo• Increase investment in future successes – learn from failing• Look at TCO - Do NOT value your own time at zero• Look at all costs incurred and not just hard costs• Review opportunity costs in soft costs

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Being Open to Ambiguity

Be the Change We Want to See

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Source Doc Searls blog

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Entering the Knowledge Era

• Right answers/facts give way to consensus answers/informed guesses

• Information combined with Insight rules• Knowing where and how to look is infinitely

more valuable than knowing facts• Knowledge is an immersion environment -

an Information Ocean - where are the maps that work here?

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Five Laws of Library Science

• Books are for use.• Books are for all; or, Every reader his book.• Every book its reader.• Save the time of the reader.• A library is a growing organism.

S.R. Ranganathan

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Five New Laws of Library Science

• Libraries serve humanity.• Respect all forms by which knowledge is

communicated.• Use technology intelligently to enhance

service.• Protect free access to knowledge.• Honor the past and create the future.

Walt Crawford and Michael Gorman

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Librarian Core Value Commitments• Democracy• Stewardship• Service• Intellectual Freedom• Privacy• Literacy and Learning• Rationalism• Equity of Access• Building Harmony and Balance

– Michael Gorman,Library Journal, April 15, 2001


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To have the right staffGet the right information

In the right format To the right people

At the right timeTo make the right decision


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Differences in the Private and Public Sector Approaches to Development

Private Sectorq Competitive advantage is the idealq Innovation is key to long-term

existenceq Focus on clients and marketshareq Business strategiesq Responsibility to shareholders or

owner/investorsq Increasing revenueq Risk orientedq Economic success is a prime

personal motivatorq Competitors, partners and alliesq e-Business is the challengeq Focus on “results”

Public Sectorq Collaborative advantage is the idealq Good service is the key to long-term

existenceq Focus on citizens and social contractq Political agendas and government

imperativesq Responsibility to parliament and to

citizensq Wise use of tax dollarsq Risk averseq Making a positive impact on society is a

strong motivatorq Other departments, levels of

government, unionsq e-Government is the challengeq Focus on “process”

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A Few Definitions

• "Successful knowledge transfer involves neither computers nor documents but rather interactions between people."

Tom Davenport

People like librarians, teachers, counselors, advisors, . . .

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Taking The Knowledge Positioning

• Data >>>• Transformations are:• Applying standards• SGML, HTML, Fields,

Tags, MARC, normalizing . . .

• Information >>>• Transformations are:• Representing data:• Display, Chart, Format,

Publish, Aggregate, Picture, Graph, Sort, Rank, Highlight, etc.

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Taking The Knowledge Positioning

Data >>> Information >>>Knowledge >


TangibleRepresentationsof Data


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Knowledge is not the path to:


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Taking The Knowledge Positioning

• Behaviour• Decisions that result in action, even if that

action is non-action• Key success factors are intelligent, informed

and impactful results• Has value in proportion to its results in the

context of the individual or social organization

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Taking The Knowledge Positioning





Apply Stand-

ards Store


Display Chart Graph Publish Picture Format

Knowing Learning Filtering Evaluating


Do Decide Choose Apply Enact


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Transformational Process

• Data• Information • Knowledge• Behaviour

• Norm• Form• Transform• Perform


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The Five Stages of Technology Adoption

• Awareness• Interest• Evaluation• Trial• Adoption

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The $60 Million Dollar Question

How do we more speedily process our organizations through this cycle?


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• Innovators• Early Adopters• Early Majority• Middle Majority• Laggards• Non-Adopters

2.5%13 %17.5 %33.5 %17.5%16%

The Classic Corn Research

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The Classic Corn Research

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What Favours Rapid Adoption?

• Relative Advantage• Compatibility• Complexity• Trialability• Observability

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The Market Adaptation Sequence

• Product Acceptance• Motivation• Confidence Level• Education / Attitude• Acceptance Criteria• Selling Strategy

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Understanding Adoption Types: Innovators

• Technology fascination• Motivation -- Implement New Ideas• Confidence Level High -- experiment, risk• Self taught, independent• Latest technology, few features, performance• Self sold, when turned on, word of mouth

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Understanding Adoption Types: Early Adopters

• The coming thing• Motivation -- leap frog the competition, prove

business• Willing to try new things, reasonable risk• Will attend night school to learn• Innovation, better way to do job, selective• Sold on benefits, references, word of mouth

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Understanding Adoption Types: Late Adopters

• Obvious solutions to problems• Motivation --social pressure, fear of

obsolescence• No risk, slow to change, needs references• Seminars, proven products, hand holding• Brand important, pay for needed features

only, terms & conditions important• Examples, address cost/technical support

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Understanding Adoption Types: Laggards

• Absolute need• Extreme competition/social pressure • Reluctant to change• Will send someone to a seminar, needs proof,

ease of use• Lowest cost, competitive terms, brand• Productivity increases, fear

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What kind of librarian are you? Critical thinker or Criticizer?What is your library culture around change or innovation?

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Four Key Questions

• What changes will be offered (i.e. the breadth and depth of the product line)?

• Who will be the target users (i.e. the boundaries of the market segments served)?

• How will the products reach those users (i.e. the distribution channels used)?

• Why will users prefer these product(s) to those of competitors (i.e. the distinctive attributes and value to be provided)?

• Bonus: Are they different from you, librarians?

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Making Decisions and Sacrifices

• Tools for effective decision management:– Four Square– Six Thinking Hats– Six Action Shoes– SWOT– Diverge / Converge– Post-its– Mind Maps– Fish Bone

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Making Decisions and Sacrifices

Nice to have

Must have

Low Value High Value

The 4-Square Value Decision Box

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Making Decisions and Sacrifices



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Making Decisions and Sacrifices





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De Bono’s Six Thinking Hats

• White Hat• Red Hat• Black Hat• Yellow Hat• Green Hat• Blue Hat

• What do we need to know? • How do I feel about this?• Let’s ask critical questions.• What are the opportunities here?• How can we grow this idea?• What’s the process here? Have

we thought of everything?

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De Bono’s Six Action Shoes

• Navy Formal Shoes• Grey Sneakers• Brown Brogues• Orange Gumboots• Pink Slippers• Purple Riding


• Routine Behaviour• Collect Information• Pragmatism and

Practicality• Emergency Response• Human Caring• Use Your Authority

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Bringing the User into the Loop

• Advisory Boards• Editorial Boards• Reactor Panels• Neighbourhoods• Feedback tools (e-mail, etc.)• Focus Groups• Surveys• MBWA

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Leaders have many modes.

They choose to use the dimension that works in the situation.


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• "An optimist is someone who says a glass is half full. A pessimist says it's half empty. A re-engineering consultant says, "Looks like you've got twice as much glass as you need."

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Are you on the ‘hits’ train?

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Are you locked into library financial mindsets?

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What about value and impact?

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Or shall we stick with this?

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• Search differentiator• Commercial algorithms versus those based on big

data • Measuring end user success versus known item

retrieval…• “Romeo and Juliet”• Problems with the unmonitored trial

– Wrong tests– Poor sampling– Mindset issues

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Sharing Learning and Research• Usability versus User Experience• End users versus librarians• Known item retrieval (favourite test) versus immersion

research • Lists versus Discovery• Scrolling versus pagination• Devices and browsers and agnosticism• Satisfaction and change• Individual research experience vs. impacts on e-courses,

LibGuides, training materials, etc.

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Focus and Understand on the Whole Experience

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Statistics, Measurements and Analytics

• Counter & Sushi data are very weak metrics that don’t provide insights into the critical stuff

• Database usage (unique user, session, length of session, hits, downloads, etc.)

• Web and Google Analytics (6,000+ websites)• Foresee satisfaction and demographic data• Search Samples (underemphasized at this point.)• Time of Year Analysis • ILS Data (from clients &n partnerships)• Geo-IP data, analytics and mapping.• Impact studies and sampling.

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What do we need to know?• How do library databases compare with other web

experiences and expectations?• Who are our core virtual users?• What are user expectations for satisfaction?• How does library search compare to consumer

search like Google?• How do people find and connect with library virtual

services?• What should we ‘fix’ as a first priority?• Are end users being successful in their POV?• Are they happy? Will they come back? Tell a friend?

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Good not Perfect It’s not the steps that cause delays in development -

it’s the space between the steps No mistake is ever final. Freeze and Go! The right metaphor is seasonal

change - not revolution or evolution Prefer action over study: If you’re studying

something to death - remember that death was not the original goal!

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Mock-Up, Build, Rebuild, Beta, Pilot, Launch, Re-Do

Remember the rule of six (6). You get very diminishing returns after asking the same question of like people.

Remember the 15% rule: Humans have extreme difficulty in actually seeing a difference of less than 15%.

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Use the 70/30 rule: “I agree with 70% and can live with the other 30%.”

Remember the old 80/20 rule standby: No matter how few or many users you have, 80% of your usage/revenue/etc. will come from 20% of your users.

Remember the 90/10 rule. 90% of your costs are in implementation, not development.

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

“Productize”: Be able to physically point at your product or service.

Get out of your box! It is unlikely that you are the alpha user profile.

You can’t step in the same river twice. Your knowledge of the new development means you probably cannot see the potential pitfalls.

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Understand the differences between features, functions and benefits.

Understand your customer and don’t assume - TEST.

Don’t just ask your clients what they do, will do or want. OBSERVE them.

Have a vision and dream BIG!

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Ask the three magic questions:What keeps you awake at night?If you could solve only one problem at work, what

would it be?If you could change one thing and one thing only,

what would it be? Never underestimate the customer. Seek the real customer.

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Respect information literacy, learning styles and multiple intelligence.

Understand the adoption curve. Do research for yourself too. Set up alerts on

your hot issues. Bring management on side first, then

customers and users, BEFORE you launch.

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Conclusion: 28 Key Tips

Feedback is a gift - you can keep it, return it, hide it in the closet. Don’t overvalue one piece of out-of-context feedback or let it loom out of perspective and balance.

Measure - don’t just count: Decision-makers CANNOT interpret your statistics.

When you have 100 options to choose from the critical skill isn’t choosing 5 but sacrificing 95.

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The Library as Sandbox

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Stephen Abram, MLS, FSLAConsultant, Dysart & Jones/Lighthouse Partners

Cel: [email protected]’s Lighthouse Blog

http://stephenslighthouse.comFacebook, Pinterest, Tumblr: Stephen Abram

LinkedIn / Plaxo: Stephen AbramTwitter: @sabram

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