Dale Askey, Mark Jordan, Catherine Steeves, & MJ Suhonos
I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but I am still amazed at the number of students, especially in library school that do not understand that applying for jobs is hard work and might as well be a part time job. So much of this will sound redundant or obvious to those who know what they’re doing, but I have been asked by a few people before what I’m doing to get jobs, so here are all my “secrets” spilled. Continue reading
Stuck in a Bubble?
So often working in a library, I feel like we’re stuck in the bubble that is the “library world”. While there are many aspects that are “special” to libraries or information/collection based organizations, so many aspects of librarianship are not: customer service, teaching, marketing/communications, space usage/design, web and IT services, etc. Yet for whatever reason, I find so many that are reluctant or never think to look outside the little bubble that we live in. Working in academic libraries, at least many people will think to expand into the higher ed world sometimes, but then stop there. Continue reading
So I started at CILS 3 weeks ago, and oh boy does it feel longer. My first week was a lot of getting settled in sort of thing (which means orientation and a lot of paperwork), and being given the simplest of stuff. After the first week, I was thrown into the deep end. Continue reading
It felt a lot longer than 18 months with the amount of stuff that happened. The list of activities and projects at for my one year review was definitely a lot longer than I expected. I’m not sure I even know where to begin, but maybe I should begin at the beginning. Continue reading
- Lisa Grayhart, UofT Continue reading
Want to talk about communities and community building. It was a partial contextual shift as to her place in a number of communities.
Thought a lot about where she fits in. Have had a lot of identities, and thinks of herself as: nerd, geek, wonk, curator, archivist, woman, leader. Originally thought of herself as just another person, but everyone in this room should take on the role of leader.
Everything we do is part of the community, everywhere. Everyone in code4lib is part of a
community that succeeds through relationships.
Take the ethos of code4lib back to each organization.
Every software requires a community. Each person is part of it cares. Sustaining software requires a community of people who really care. We need to think about who uses our software. This
community is not just about people who write code,
it’s also about people use the software.
The most important thing is to work with those groups of users.
These communities are built using communication, inclusiveness, consideration, even more communication, and sense of ownership.
Need to think about users, stakeholders, researchers.
Everyone should read this blog post on backchannel conference talk.
Seen projects fail because they’re shared with the world but no one really takes ownership. Ownership goes both ways. Owning what you release, but also helping other projects be a success. Not everything fails, but it needs a community to thrive.
This is what we’re looking for in our communities and in our projects.
That they thrive.
You want a community that participates, looks out for each other.
What Defines a Successful Community or Project?
Participation. One project was a massive failure because no one participated.
Enthusiasm. Who would even want to fund it?
A sense of pride. ‘I’m part of that, made it happen, succeeded in part because of me.’
Learn from the history and the people who can be your mentors. Look at what you’re doing and what came before. Part of inclusiveness is acknowledging that you’re not the only person who has ever worked on the problem, who can work on the problem.
Adoption. A sign of success is that they’ve take it, use it, and contribute to it.
Now we will discuss.
This supposedly not shy group, but is actually shy a lot of time.
Do we not think we’re not ‘real’ coders? Have the self imposter syndrome. But actually, she is a coder too.
Why does this community has to self-organize? Actually, awesome that this community has self-organized. Used to think every collection is unique and not doing the same thing, but we’re seeing emergence of communities that are realizing this is not true. For example, linked data community cross-fertilizing regardless of the type of collections they had. We self-organized was a sense of shared problem and shared passion.
No one organization can do it alone. We all need to work on it together.
Two most attributes to fail projects. One person thought it was a good idea, but no one else knew they were working on it. It didn’t succeed because there was no sense of participation, because no one was invited to participate. No one should work alone. We fail because we don’t collaborate.
How do you convince someone that they are a leader? Tell them that they are a success.
How do you adopt something when the leaders are not on board? ‘But everyone else is doing it, dad.’ Adoption by others. It’s really hard to be the first one though, we know.
Data-Driven Documents: Visualizing library data with D3.js
Bret Davidson, North Carolina State University Libraries
Being a smaller session, there was a lot of tangents and what not, so apologies if the notes seem a little disorganized.
How do you measure “value” or success of projects in library setting where ROI is not measure in the amount of money?
Some Flavours of Failure
- technical failure
- failure to effectively address a real user need
- outreach/promotion failure
- design/UX failure
- project team communication failure
- failure to start
- launch failure
- no usage
- missed opportunities (risk-averse failure)
Most of these issues boil down to a break down of communications of some sort.
What does a Project Manager Do?
Sometimes the problem is not knowing what a project manager does. The person who comes up with the idea thinks they run the project; think that they know everything to make the decisions. Or, they become the one dictating all the requirements.
A lot of the issues are political. No way to move it over to having systems oversight.
Making the Distinction?
Project manager is in charge of day to day operations. Project lead is thinking about high level requirement, more strategically, and becomes liaison between systems and the rest of the library. (e.g. public services project, would have public services librarian) Decisions are made collaboratively.
Once it settles in, make an oversight team for maintenance purposes.
The Culture of Process
Product is the reflection of the process? But, want to see evidence of process. Without ‘evidence’ of the process, what about accountability and transparency? The evidence can also be a good reference so that you don’t have to explain.
Get people to meet to discuss what they’re going to do. Can cut down a lot in the amount of time spend doing things that aren’t needed, and waiting for dependencies.
Staff frequently also think they know what users want better than users.
Project FUBAR Lightning Talk
- Islandora + digital repository initiative on campus
- Sierra – ILS
- Islandora: lots of delays in development
- ILS: had to go beta early
Option for Failure?
- mission critical projects, must be salvaged
- how to deal with other people’s projects failure – vendors didn’t deliver
- plan for the worst before the worst happens
How to Successfully Survive a Mandated Project
- practice good communication
- know the political ramifications of your actions to yourself and the chain of command
- work to manage expectations
- be prepared to clean up any messes and make any changes
- Souce: Ellern, Jill. “How to Successfully Survive a Mandated Project,” Computers in Libraries 31, no. 9 (Nov 2011): 16-20.
The Right Approach
This is a reference to the Dilbert comic called “The Right Approach”, which a porcupine says that “we must stick them with quills – it’s the only way!”, because the ‘correct’ approach in any situation is the only approach you know.
While the project I worked on wasn’t quite like this, it was more the ‘the status quo’ is the best approach.
- “seagull manager flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything then flies off again leaving a big mess behind” -urbandictionary
Examples – Fail Projects
Never went live
- statistics dashboard for collections and services
- web app to add photo information to specific photo collection
Fail by Bloat
- Instruction workshop scheduler – supports weird business rules
- building diverse teams
- expecting dead ends
- having fall-back plans
- learn to say ‘no’ (preventing project creep), list features and possibly impact and complexity
- fault-tolerant schedules
- establishing flexible goals at the start
- making sure it fits in the strategic plan (helps with funding)
- prototype/drafting to make sure it’s feasible
- make product resilient, assuming someone will try to break it
- launch checklist by VCU
It’s All About Communications
Need to communicate with the staff. Present and allow feedback. Need to give people an outlet to provide feedback and response to feedback. You don’t need to implement most of it.
Don’t assume that the person is ignorant, dumb, or just out to get you. You’re not always right, and sometimes ideas are tossed in just to make people think.
When a Project has Failed
Do a post-project review and go over the failure points. Post-mortem meetings can be very cathartic (even if it ends up being a rant).
Learn from your mistakes. You should always do this even if the project didn’t actually fail.
Now it’s back to braving the cold at the end of the pre-conference day.
For more than half a year now, I’ve been trying to get an issue tracker fully implemented for our IT team within the library. I admit that I’m still working on it. Getting the system up and running was easy enough, but trying to work it into people’s workflow isn’t so easy.
Choosing the Issue Tracker
There are a lot of issue trackers out there, but we are a small team and I wanted the issue tracker running easily and quickly. It’s not something I wanted to spend a lot of time getting up and running, because we had a lot of other projects happening.
Other requirements included:
- support multiple projects
- non-members being able to report issues
- support email issue management (either built-in or plugin)
- low to no cost
- support CAS or LDAP login (either built-in or plugin)
- documentation area and/or wiki
- code repository integration
- open source
I asked around a little bit, and these were the recommendations I got:
- Asana: 2
- FogBugz: 1 Against: 1
- Footprints: – Against: 1
- Github: 2
- JIRA: – Against: 2
- Pivotal Tracker: – Against: 1
- Redmine: 5
- Request Tracker: 1 Against: 1
- SupportPress (for WordPress): 1
- Trac: 3 Against: 1
Trac and Redmine seemed to be the two forerunners. My problem with Trac was that it didn’t have clear project organization, and no one could confirm that the email issue management plugin worked.
Installation & Setup
Our system administrator took a couple of (not full) days to get it installed and going, and following the instructions were apparently fairly easy. Then it took me maybe half a day to set up all the projects and users with the settings I wanted. The e-mail creation also worked well out of the box. We just had to make sure we had the right settings for what we wanted.
Staff Issue Creation & Management
In order to make it so that staff can file issues without ever having to see Redmine, I created a form in our Intranet (webform module in Drupal). The form had most of the standard fields:
- Name: automatically filled in with username
- E-mail: also automatically filled in
- Related to: options which were essentially the project names
- Need: options equivalent to tracker e.g. Support, Bug Fix, etc.
- Priority: options equivalent to priority
- Summary: email subject line, which then turns into issue name
- Description: issue details
Once it’s submitted, a copy is sent to our team’s email. Through a cron job (every 5 minutes or so), the email is picked up, and filed.
If the user already exists in the system, Redmine will use the email from the user account to match it to the user, they will automatically become the ‘reporter’ of the issue, and get a copy.
If the user does not exist in the system, Redmine will say that ‘Anonymous’ reported it. This will always happen the first time someone reports an issue as I did not add everyone on staff to the system. So, the first time this happens, I then add the user to the system, and add them as a watcher to the issue.
The one issue I ran into was that I forgot you have to set both the email plugin and each project to accept issues from anonymous users. Simple carelessness really.
Getting Staff to Change their Workflow
I think the hardest part with implementing any issue tracker is getting staff to use it. Within the team, it hasn’t been too difficult. We have a small team and the developers in particular have no problems using it. The only problem I sometimes have is making sure they close issues when they’re done with them.
But even within the team, sometimes it can be difficult to get people to report issues using Redmine. While our manager wanted us to start using it just for the website, it has worked well enough, so we’re strategizing how to get the rest of the staff using it now.
We’ve concluded that it kind of needs to be an all or nothing. So we’ve decided that all non-urgent issues should be done through the intranet form regardless of the project, and that should people email us, we’re going to be emailing them back to submit it through the form.
For any urgent issues and for immediate support, they can still call us. After all, trying to walk someone through editing something on our website or intranet is much easier by phone anyway.
Before we start enforcing it, we’ll be introducing this workflow to staff through various committee meetings in part to gather feedback.
So… we’ll see how it goes.