January 25, 2007

Chat .... as a work tool

I was the editor of my state library association journal and recently moved to another state. Not all that bad except as the editor I did the layout and sent to the printer, etc. Problem - the software belonged to the association not to me and I was moving! I couldn't take it with me. Tine to the rescue - she volunteered to lay it out for me. I couldn't have been more grateful. With the exception of one meeting before I actually left town (at a Pizza Inn, no less) we've collaborated on this issue using Yahoo! IM and e-mail. Yes, we've done it virtually and have what I think is a pretty good product to boot. I've coordinated many items with the Associate Editor via e-mail, but I believe chat improved this a great deal, including walking me through changing the page numbers, as it is "real time." There is no delay. And, in many ways it's better than the phone, because conversations usually remain on "target." Not to mention the multi-tasking that can be done while chatting.

We wound up using different software, Microsoft Publisher, rather than Adobe InDesign, but in the end it worked out. I actually have Publisher at my new job, which made it possible for me to do some of the edits. Publisher has presented a couple of challenges with the printer, but we're on the downswing now. The important thing was getting it laid out and ready for the printer. Tine and I have always done professional collaboration using chat, but I'm a little impressed that we managed to put together an issue of a state library journal virtually.

Academic Library Makeover - Part 2

Volunteers were solicited for participation on the Mission and Vision team. This group spent some time this fall semester synthesizing and refining the work that was started in the one day retreat in August. At each revision the drafts were reviewed by not only the Dean and the Provost but also our retreat leader. (Our end product can be found at: http://library.ualr.edu/whatsnew/missionvision.htm.)

Once a consistent message was crafted, the Dean took us on our next level of organization building - Goals and Objectives. The nine vision points were consolidated into six major themes - Assessment, Collections & Access, Collaboration & Outreach, Excellence through Staff Development, Physical Environment, and Fundraising. Six work groups were established with volunteer participation to develop one goal and three to five objectives to be attained in the next one to three years.

Each work group met and strived to stay focused on the goal and objective level of the assignment. It was obvious how passionate some participants were for their theme as they seemed to jump right into troubleshooting/task mode. Some groups, including ours, had to continually remember that we were not at the "tasks or strategies" level. In the end, each group was successful and submitted their completed pieces of the plan.

The Mission and Vision team was reconstituted as the Goals and Objectives team (GOT) to pull a cohesive document together. This document was then again submitted to the Dean, Provost, and retreat leader. Our Provost offered several suggestions which were easily incorporated and one that took some detailed effort. This one observation was to the whole document being too inward focused. The GOT chair was charged with further refining the document with special attention for connecting the Library's Strategic Plan directly to the University's Strategic Plan.

At the chair's request, I was involved in this process. We sat with the document and made two major enhancements - links to the University Strategic Plan at both the theme and goal levels AND adjusting goals to directly address students, faculty, and staff where possible. With these adjustments in place, the Dean approved the GOT's presentation of the plan to the Dean's Council meeting in December 2006. (Feel free to email for copies of resulting document or presentation.)

Our next steps are to form new task forces to develop strategies, prioritize those tasks, and begin our work with a new purpose.