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As a librarian, I’m pretty familiar with the concept of Metadata – the information about information that we use to catalog items in our libraries and arrange information in our websites, among other things. A concept I’m just starting to become more familiar with, however, is the concept of Metawork. This is work we do in order to work – the email processing and the time management required to get to work on time as well as to get work done by deadlines and the understanding how to attend, take notes and process work from meetings as well as general “how to make sure we can do the work we learned how to do in college or in our training” activities. These skills are rarely, if ever, taught in school – most people just sort of pick them up as they learn the ropes in their first few jobs, but those first few jobs would be far more productive and useful for both the employee and employer if the ideas behind the metawork that we all have to learn how to do is more explicitly taught.

I just finished reading a book: Charnas, Dan. Everything in Its Place: The Power of Mise-En-Place to Organize Your Life, Work, and Mind. New York, New York: Rodale, 2017. In it, the author compares the chef’s practice of Mise-En-Place to the office worker’s need to get things done efficiently and effectively. He begins the book with a story of a *really * bad day at the office that bleeds over into the “hero’s” home life and just sounds miserable – because most of us can relate. Dan then goes on to describe a way of thinking about what is essentially metawork that happens in order for the “real” work of your office to get done.

Many of the elements of metawork I listed above (time management, meeting management, etc.) I cover in a piecemeal fashion in the classes I teach on Project Management, Personal Knowledge Management and Time/Task Management. I’m really not familiar with any course or webinar or collection of good articles that covers the entirety of what you should know before you start working, besides the details of your profession, of course. I don’t cover email management, though that is touched on in the GTD time management classes I’ve done and meeting management I’ve glanced over in various classes like my Project Management course at Library Juice Academy.

One way to tackle the problem of metawork was mentioned in R. J. Nestor’s Weekend Upgrade Newsletter on the idea of recurrant work needs to be templated. In my job, I make a fair number of training and tutorial videos and having a process that I can use as a checklist to ensure that I’ve:

  1. Created a storyboard document outlining the scenes and information I want to include
  2. Applied the template that I’ve created in Camtasia to the video and set up the production settings for each video properly.
  3. Created handouts and other documentation for each video
  4. Uploaded and posted and advertised the video to my libraries for their use

Those kinds of tasks (and this is a simplification of the actual process I go through, of course, but it hits the high points) are things I have to be able to do in order to produce the work that I’m being paid to produce by my employer. It’s a form of metawork as well – and knowing that coming up with a template that outlines the process and how to store/navigate/use that template as you do your work are all metawork kinds of skills.

So I’m toying with a metawork class, but I’m not sure where to put it (Library Juice? ALA Ecourses? Somewhere else?) and what *exactly* the course would cover, but the idea of getting a class together that young professionals could access in order to give them a bit of a leg up on how to do the work around the work they do sounds interesting to me…

business Drupal Libraries

North Kansas City – a new Drupal-based library site

I’ve been spending some of my free time lately working on another library’s Drupal-based website (don’t tell my library’s site that I’m cheating on it!!). The North Kansas City Public Library just went live with their new website last week. As with all websites, the site isn’t *done*, but it is ready for the public, so I thought I’d point to it and discuss, briefly, what I did to help get the site ready for prime time.

When I started work on the site, they had the Drupal backend installed and a theme chosen, but they wanted a couple of things tweaked. The first thing they asked for was the slideshow that you see on the home page. I did that with Views Slideshow and a wee bit of CSS trickery to get it to sit so tightly against the sides. Now all the staff has to do is create a slideshow content node and it automatically shows up in the slideshow! One of the other things that they wanted was some modification of the Sky theme that they are using.  I took out most of the thin grey lines that border the content and a lot of the extra space between blocks and various bits of content. Let’s just say that I got to know Sky’s CSS files very well…

Another thing that they asked me to set up for them was the News and Updates blocks below the slideshow on the home page. That was done by creating a News View, getting it set up to grab all News content types (a new content type created through CCK – the Content Creation Kit) and publishing it. When I had it the way I wanted it, I cloned the View and created the Updates block very easily!

The only big challenge that I faced with this site had to do with the Event calendar. On the big calendar of events (they use the Event module to make that happen), repeating events were being displayed once in a particular month, but none of the repeats were shown later in the month. This seems to be a weakness of the Event module and I couldn’t find a good solution for it, so they enter each event as a separate event – no repeating… If you have come across this issue and figured out a better solution, please let me know!!

I also set up event sign-up capabilities for them through the sign-up module that works with the Event module. That was a little less straightforward – the sign-up module requires that you actually edit the PHP array that produces the form if you want more information than it gives you. I did so, but for people who are using Drupal because they aren’t comfortable with editing code, this could be a deal-breaker. Other than that, though, the sign-up and Event modules work nicely together!

While I did much of the backend development, the content and graphics were provided by the North Kansas City Public Library. They have a very talented graphic designer on staff (Nicole Parigo) who made all of the gorgeous icons, slideshow images and other graphical bits on the site. It’s easy to make a site pretty when the images are so very well done! Steven Campbell worked on the content and had installed and put into place many of the modules needed for the site to function before I started work on it, which meant I didn’t have to start from scratch!

The three of us working together put a, if I may say so myself, very nice site together for the North Kansas City Library – one that will be easy to update and maintain for the staff and useful for the library’s patrons.


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Content strategies

My previous post about the editorial calendar is sort of related to something I read last week about developing a content strategy. The information wasn’t really suited to libraries, but there are some points that I felt I could take and run with, even at a non-profit, B2C sort of place.

1) Identify trending topics
2) Meet with marketing regularly
3) Evaluate and refine

1) I keep a pretty close eye on our web/social sites stats. I’ve noticed, over the course of the last month or so, that mentioning any sort of e-materials (our Overdrive service, e-books, iPad and Nook tutorials, etc.) makes the stats for our blog jump pretty significantly. I’ve also tried to keep an eye on what people are searching for when they come to our site. This can show me what people are interested in right now so that I can go out and solicit content from our staff on that topic. That’s how I do the identification part.

2) I work just a few feet from our PR person and we have a pretty good working relationship – so she feels free to come to me with stuff she wants emphasized on the social sites and I have no problems going to her for help with promotion of the sites themselves. It’s a symbiotic relationship – and we work on keeping those lines of communication open so that I know what is important to her and she knows what is important to me – and we can each try to focus on those things.

3) This is where I fall down – like I said, I spend a lot of time perusing stats and I use them to inform my content decisions, but I don’t do so well at going back after the fact and determining what wording worked for what program. This is something that I need to work on in the coming year. I’d like to start out by actually creating *purposefully* different texts for Twitter/Facebook/Blog posts and see which ones get more responses. That would help me create more effective posts for everything, I’m sure. It’ll go on the list of “stuff to do”…

I have a social media strategy that includes some content strategizing within it for my library, but we could use a better articulation of what sort of content we’ll be promoting as well as what kind of content we’ll be asking for from our patrons (Flickr pictures of the library and/or library events, just as an example). This is something I’ll be working on – have any of you done anything like a formal content strategy for your sites? Wanna share?? 😉

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