Libraries MRRL Personal

Scared? Check. Excited? Check. Must mean I’m starting something new!

I put in my notice today at my current POW (Place of Work), the Missouri River Regional Library, in order to move to Lawrence, KS and take the position of Director of Technology for NEKLS (North East Kansas Library System). December 21, 2012 (I never realized – that’s the Mayan date, isn’t it?) would have been my 14 year anniversary at MRRL. That makes this a pretty big move and makes the “scared” part of the headline understandable, I hope. Heading out to Kansas to help Kansas libraries with their technology issues and to support what appears to be a *very* forward-thinking set of member libraries? That’s where the “excited” part comes in. I may be quiet for a while as I tie up loose ends at MRRL and begin to figure out just what I’ll be doing at NEKLS, but I’ll be around on my social network sites, I’m sure!

MRRL Writing

Blogging for work

I’ve found myself, more than once, sitting in front of my computer at work, desperately trying to come up with a topic, an idea – anything – that would be appropriate to blog about for the library’s blog. I’m sure those of you who blog for an organization have felt the same futile search for topics that are both interesting and relevant to your organizations. I’m doing something about it this year! Starting in January, my library’s blog will revolve around an editorial calendar that will also provide content for our Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.
The editorial calendar is created from the events and “special days” of the library. I’ve put out a call to the staff to let me know of events and programs they are working on for next year so that I can come up with 12 themes to base my posts upon. Each month, I’ll focus on the event or special occasion and work that theme into the majority of my blog posts. Of course, that won’t work for everything that needs to be posted over the course of the year, but it will give me a starting point when I’m staring at that blank editing box in WordPress.
My question is – what are other people doing when they need to blog for their organizations? Are you doing something similar? Flying by the seat of your pants? Something in between? While my decision to pursue the editorial calendar might be the best for us (and I don’t know that yet – only time will tell if this will work), I know that there are other methods out there that are being used – successfully. Tell me – what are you doing?
Update: David Lee King just posted a “how they do things in Topeka” post on his blog that is pretty much related to this one – go check it out for more ideas on work blogging!

collaboration 2.0 conference MRRL presentations Web 2.0 Writing

Updates and some cache clearing

I’ve finally gotten around to posting links to the last couple of presentations I’ve done on my Presentations page, as well as the latest information about the Publications I’ve put out (a link to purchase the Library Mashups book and a tentative publishing date for the Twitter/Friendfeed book). Also, I’ve updated the Raves and Reviews page with a new section called Awards. I found out on Friday that I’d won an Honorable Mention in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Awards in the Magazine Feature Article category. I’m not sure how prestigious that really is – I’m not among the top 100 listed winners in the category on the Writer’s Digest site, but the letter that accompanied the award certificate said that, “your success in the face of such formidable competition speaks highly of your writing talent”, so I suppose it is worth something…
Cache Clearing
— Google Wave – I’ve got an account and have been using it to conduct extended group IM-like chats with people and to follow the Real-Time Web Summit that happened in Mountain View, CA (Google’s backyard…) last week. The use of the conference wave was one of my favorite uses of Wave so far. Lots of great information at my fingertips!!!
–Drupal – I’m still in the process of working out the kinks in the new MRRL site, but it should be available for “sneak peeks” by the middle of November – it’s going live on the 17th of November. I’ll be posting more about my adventures with Drupal, but lets just say that I still have most of my hair… not quite all, but most. And, if anyone has a lead on a kick-ass editor that won’t eat my PHP code or re-write my content folk’s stuff at random, but will still give some help to those who are HTML-challenged, I’d appreciate it. That’s where most of my hair is going right now – crazy editors that either do too much or to little.


Exchange to Google Apps Transition

I haven’t written a whole lot about our recent experience in moving from Exchange 2003 to Google Apps because I ended up writing it up for a guest post on Michael Stephens’ blog, Tame The Web. I’m not going to re-write it here, but I would like to add a few notes about the experience from more of a distance, time-wise, at least.
As I said in the post on TTW, this was an amazingly smooth transition – from my staff’s standpoint. The vast majority of them came in on Monday, opened their browser, followed the directions from the 8 training sessions I provided and checked their email before starting their day’s work. Since I wrote that post, however, we’ve continued using the system and made some changes. I have uploaded many contact files (pretty easy – just saved the contacts from Outlook as a .csv file, and imported them into Gmail) without any major issues. We’ve also switched from an open-source, kinda clunky calendar system to manage our desk hours to the Google Calendar. Our address hosts all of the desk calendars and I shared them with the managers responsible for each desk. Once they entered the information and got them all up and running, I embedded each calendar into a web page on our Intranet and made them available for subscriptions if individual staff members wanted to add the desk calendar information to their own, personal calendar. The Circulation manager asked me if it was possible to share the calendar with her entire staff – I explained that this would put every shift on every staff member’s calendar and she said that was what they wanted. Since that is what they wanted, that is what I helped her do – share out the calendar with all of her staff so that they could see who was working the desk from their own calendars.
Responses from the staff have been overwhelmingly positive. I did have one staff member tell me that she was born too late, she didn’t like all this technology and she was having a hard time with the change. Despite having said that, however, she has been using it without any help from me (except to show her how to mute conversations – something she thinks might make all this change worth it…) successfully and is adapting well to the system. Other staff members have been stopping me over the course of the last week or two to tell me how much they like the new email. I’ve gotten many thanks from folks who really disliked Outlook and all the spam it let through!
All has not been wine and roses, however. The first Friday afternoon after the changeover, Gmail went down completely. Hosted and personal accounts were unreachable for almost 2 hours. All that cheerleading I’d done for how much we’d love our new email and the last couple of hours of the first week saw us down for the count. One of our staff members was having problems with accessing the secure Gmail option using Safari on her Mac, and in the course of looking for the answer, I found out that a hacking toolkit for Gmail accounts was being released. I set up the domain, that night, to require SSL security for all Google Apps that we use! I sent out an email warning folks that it may slow down their email and to let me know if they have problems. No one has, so far, but it did fix the issue with Safari… She just goes to the non-secure site, which comes up for her with no problems, then as she logs in, it redirects her to the secure site automatically. Problem solved!!
The changeover was, from my end, a lot of work and a lot of training, but from my staff’s perspective everything went quite well and most of them are more than pleased with the transition!

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