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ACRL response, ALA solicits website input, varied cheezburgers

Kudos to Mary Jane Petrowski, Associate Director of ACRL, who in response to my May 29 post wrote today, “I’m painfully aware that we are contacting new members long after they join. … I’m going pursue a solution to this problem with my colleagues here at ALA.” She playfully added, “How hard can it be, right?” Good luck, Mary Jane, and keep that sense of humor working for you.

Meanwhile, take some time while you’re at the annual conference to see proposed new designs for the ALA website. The announcement for this was in AL Direct, but I missed it; as much as I like the concept of AL Direct and enjoyed its early days, as of late I find myself skimming it more often than I read it, and I am not sure why.

You might think I’d be critical of ALA debuting these draft designs at a walk-in conference. Why not just put it all out there on the Web… radical trust, transparency, don’t limit input to walk-ins, etc. … right? … Hmmm, well, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to do it this way.

At FPOW Minus One, we launched design drafts quietly and conservatively to small groups. For one thing, sometimes we were wrong — even at times very, very wrong. (Ever since the last design I participated in, I have added the “Grrrr” factor to assessing written input for user frustration with a design, as in, “Grrrr, I couldn’t do X.”) That’s why it’s called iterative design: because you keep doing it until you get it right. But once a design is online, it’s too easy to take a proposal and flog it to death.

I hope these viewing opportunities are just part of a larger usability effort [update: good grief, I should  RTFB!] but I don’t fault their methods.

ALA is now cheerfully spamming me with vendor garbage love letters, and today I received this from Elsevier: “The folks at Scopus, Scirus and ScienceDirect are glad to hear you’re attending ALA.” Clearly they missed my NASIG presentation!

I appreciate the writing/consultation queries that have come my way, as well as suggestions for distance MLS programs to teach in… keep those cards and letters coming. I’m dedicating two hours today to writing MLS programs about adjunct work (I keep forgetting: I could teach a killer 2.0 class and work in a section on writing for the Web), in between working on an article about what makes nonprofit technology management so diffi– uh, different, I mean to say. Thanks to all of you who responded to my requests for input, and it’s not too late, as I’m finishing that piece up today and tomorrow. (Yes, you are allowed to vent, and I won’t tell.)

Finally, to repeat a point I make when I give presentations, there are all kinds of social software and some of it may fit you and some of it may not. I happen to like Twitter because it fits my work flow and my socialization behavior: work for a while, walk down the hall to make a cup of tea, chat with a person or two, sit down again, work some more. I tried Meebo chat rooms but have concluded they are just not my style: too much time commitment, too much of a “secret clubhouse” feeling, too many people at once. (I even like workshopping one-on-one, just as when I was a child I had playdates with one child at a time. Suits me.)

Aging is all about finding your style. I keep wanting to write a blog post, “50 is the new 50,” discussing some of the joys of midlife: how you’re freed from some obligations, have a better sense of self, have more acute awareness of time. But, having that acute awareness of time, I keep setting it aside for my paid work, and my workshopping, and the stuff for Steve the Accountant, and oh, you know…

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11 Comments

  1. Rob Carlson wrote:

    The ALA website has been going through a usability and redesign process since August of 2006. Remember when we invited you to the retreat in December? All part of the same process. Since December we’ve done a card sort and prioritization process, content inventory, and drafted the IA that’s behind the wireframes we’re showing in DC.

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 11:47 am | Permalink
  2. kgs wrote:

    Hmmm, yes, I do remember that invitation… I’m surprised you would bring that up!

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 12:06 pm | Permalink
  3. Rob Carlson wrote:

    Sorry, I was just confused when you said “I hope these viewing opportunities are just part of a larger usability effort…” I thought you knew about the UA.

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 12:54 pm | Permalink
  4. kgs wrote:

    When I couldn’t attend the retreat, I recommended a young, web- and usability-savvy librarian who was rarin’ to go, but was told that the retreat had enough of that demographic. With that went my one chance to have a better-than-average insight into what was going on with the redesign.

    At the time, I cautioned about doing things the old ALA way, that is, emphasizing face-to-face meetings of the usual suspects. Keith reassured me (this is list traffic from the ALA list webplanningretreat, not private correspondence) that “I’m all for trying some of the approaches you’ve suggested, but they don’t need to preclude the f2f.”

    Except, of course, they did. The upshot is that I and the rest of the great unwashed don’t really have any idea what the “usability and redesign process” has been up to. I’m not ranting… just observing.

    The good news is that ALA is doing usability evaluation and that it seems as if it’s going really well, and we have a chance to see and react to the proposed designs.

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  5. Rob Carlson wrote:

    We have tried to keep everyone in the loop with the web planning blog and wiki.

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 1:18 pm | Permalink
  6. kgs wrote:

    Uh… there’s a blog? Well, my bad, Rob. Perhaps the last few months have been more distracting than I realized!

    Thursday, June 7, 2007 at 1:55 pm | Permalink
  7. The “secret clubhouse” feel was an unfortunate side effect of some pr0n spambots. I don’t like it either, but until Meebo gets its act together, there’s not a whole lot of choice. :(

    Friday, June 8, 2007 at 9:40 am | Permalink
  8. kgs wrote:

    I understand that side of things, but most chatrooms and IRC channels feel “secret clubhouse” to me anyway. It’s really more how I feel in that kind of realtime environment (did I just say, it’s not you, it’s me?)…

    Friday, June 8, 2007 at 10:07 am | Permalink
  9. Peter Murray wrote:

    as much as I like the concept of AL Direct and enjoyed its early days, as of late I find myself skimming it more often than I read it, and I am not sure why.

    Heaven knows that I’ve been critical of ALA, but for what it’s worth I find the AL Direct publication a refreshing change of openness. I do more skimming than reading (just the nature of the content) as well, and I like the layout, timeliness, and frequency of publication.

    Hmmm…perhaps I should say “Good Job!” to someone at ALA headquarters…

    Friday, June 8, 2007 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  10. kgs wrote:

    You should, and George Eberhart and Leonard Kniffel come to mind!

    I didn’t get my AL Direct, but I suspect it’s Me, not Them.

    Friday, June 8, 2007 at 3:40 pm | Permalink
  11. Anna wrote:

    I think we had only one or two folks from Elsevier at NASIG this year, and perhaps they missed your presentation. ;)

    There has been a serious decline in publisher participation in recent years, and it is a frequent topic of discussion among board members. NASIG won’t mean much if it becomes a librarian-only organization.

    Monday, June 11, 2007 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

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